Monday, July 24, 2006

Tyre still under heavy bombardment (video)

Israel has kept up its air attacks on southern Lebanon, with the city of Tyre heavily targeted. Fergal Keane spoke to some residents still in the city, and some who have been injured. Some viewers may find images in this report disturbing.

A must watch BBC Video (windows media required)

Other BBC videos on the conflict.

UN appalled by Beirut devastation

Two die in rocket attacks on Haifa

Anti-war Tel Aviv rally draws Jewish, Israeli Arab crowd

More than 2,500 people on Saturday attended a demonstration against the war in Lebanon, marching from Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to a rally at the Cinemateque plaza.

The rally was the first of its kind protesting against the IDF's offensive in Lebanon. Unlike previous anti-war protests in israel, major Arab organizations in Israel - among them Hadash and Balad -participated in the event in large numbers.

They were joined by the left flank of the Zionist Left -former Meretz leader Shulamit Aloni and Prof. Galia Golan, alongside the radical left of Gush Shalom, the refusal to serve movement Yesh Gvul, Anarchists Against the Wall, Coalition of Women for Peace, Taayush and others.

These Jewish and Arab groups ordinarily shy away from joint activity. They couldn't come up with a unifying slogan this time either, except for the call to stop the war and start talking. However, protest veterans noted that in the Lebanon War of 1982 it took more than 10 days of warfare to bring out this many protesters, marking the first crack in the consensus.

The protest drew some new faces, like Tehiya Regev of Carmiel, whose two neighbors were killed in a Katyusha attack on the city. "This war is not headed in the right direction," she told Haaretz; "the captured soldiers have long since been forgotten, so I came to call for an immediate stop to this foolish and cruel war."

The rally, which received wide international press coverage, had a theme unfamiliar from previous demonstrations here. Beside the usual calls for the prime minister and defense minister to resign, this was a distinctly anti-American protest. Alongside chants of "We will not kill, we will not die in the name of Zionism"

there were chants of "We will not die and will not kill in the service of the United States," and slogans condemning President George W. Bush.


Also worth reading Orthodox Jews Demand End to Zionist Atrocities in the Middle East

U.S.: Soldiers Tell of Detainee Abuse in Iraq

Torture and other abuses against detainees in U.S. custody in Iraq were authorized and routine, even after the 2004 Abu Ghraib scandal, according to new accounts from soldiers in a Human Rights Watch report released today. The new report, containing first-hand accounts by U.S. military personnel interviewed by Human Rights Watch, details detainee abuses at an off-limits facility at Baghdad airport and at other detention centers throughout Iraq. In the 53-page report, "No Blood, No Foul: Soldiers' Accounts of Detainee Abuse in Iraq," soldiers describe how detainees were routinely subjected to severe beatings, painful stress positions, severe sleep deprivation, and exposure to extreme cold and hot temperatures. The accounts come from interviews conducted by Human Rights Watch, supplemented by memoranda and sworn statements contained in declassified documents.

"Soldiers were told that the Geneva Conventions did not apply, and that interrogators could use abusive techniques to get detainees to talk," said John Sifton, the author of the report and the senior researcher on terrorism and counterterrorism at Human Rights Watch. "These accounts rebut U.S. government claims that torture and abuse in Iraq was unauthorized and exceptional ? on the contrary, it was condoned and commonly used."

Read the full article Here

Report: Hizbullah willing to talk

Hizbullah agreed to allow the Lebanese government to begin negotiations regarding kidnapped IDF soldiers, speaker of the Lebanese Parliament Nabih Berri revealed on Sunday.

Berri stressed that prior to any talks on a prisoner swap, a cease-fire must be in place. Earlier, Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh told a French news agency that the soldiers, Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, were in "good physical condition."

This was the first time the Lebanese government released any statements about the two soldiers, who were captured by the Hizbullah 12 days ago. He also called on the UN - or any other third party - to mediate a prisoner exchange between the Hizbullah and Israel.

No word had been heard from Goldwasser, 31, and fellow reservist Regev, 26, since they were captured July 12 by Hizbullah guerrillas who attacked their patrol on the Israeli side of the Lebanese border.

Goldwasser's father, Shlomo, 59, said last week that he was desperate for word on his son's condition. "I'm not a politician. I can speak only as a father," he said. "I'm hoping the kidnappers will make demands to prove that my son is OK." The family has previously asked for the guerrillas to let international humanitarian organizations visit Ehud Goldwasser so they can find out their condition.

Israeli officials appealed last Wednesday to a gathering of about 100 diplomats to ask their respective governments to help get information on the captives, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.

"It would be very valuable and very welcome to the families. It would be valuable humanitarian information," he said.

"Everything has a price. I don't think there will be some sort of move to free Gilad without a price. That's not the way it works in the Middle East," said Noam Shalit. "There is no reason not to consider this after this incident in order to free someone who was sent by the state to the front lines," he said.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Tsunami death toll rises to 650

A tragic story that has been missed by so many who are focusing on the crisis in the middle east is the tragic deaths of over 650 innocents after the tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Java on Monday.

The tsunami, triggered by an undersea earthquake, struck a 200km (125-mile) stretch of Java's southern coast. Towns hardest hit are showing signs of a return to normal, but many people are still too scared to return home.

Read more on the tragedy Here

America's domestic policy vs America's foreign policy

This week, George Bush used his presidential veto to block a bill on stem cell research, saying he couldn't support the 'taking of innocent human life'. In Iraq, six civilians are killed by a US air strike, while casualties in Lebanon and Israel mount. George Bush (and Tony Blair) oppose UN calls for an immediate ceasefire

An interesting read Here

From Israel to Lebanon

Take a look for yourself

U.S. Rushes Bombs to Israel

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

Continue reading at the Source

Click here to view the results of Americas bombs (warning ) shocking images

My source ICH and of course a HT to Stefan for sending me the original New york times link

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stocks and Bombs

From :

"Meanwhile, the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniya, called again for an exchange of Palestinian prisoners for an Israeli corporal, Gilad Shalit, whose capture by Palestinian militants on June 25 touched off the crisis in Gaza. Mr. Haniya said the call for a prisoner swap was “a national Palestinian demand.”"

- It seems even the New York Times believes that the capture of Gilad Shalit was the cause of, and not merely excuse for, the current conflagration. Of course, as the proud U.S. example has shown, justifications for war are entirely mutable and Israel now speaks little of Mr. Shalit, shifting its speeches instead to the need to defend against a "regional threat".

One suggestion for the demanded prisoner exchange: perhaps Mr. Shalit could be exchanged for 15 or so Palestinian prisoners, that being approximately the current value of one Israeli life compared to one non-Israeli life.

1.0 to 0.06

If you're trading in lives and you happen to be a son of's a very good market.

Handwritten letter from President Saddam Hussein to the American people.

By Saddam Hussein

To the American people:

Peace upon those who believe in peace and desire it, and the mercy of God and His blessings.

I address you in this letter from the place of my confinement, as my attempt on the basis of my moral, human, and constitutional responsibility so that no one among you might say that no one came to us with a message of peace after the war began, refuting the arguments for it and desiring peace for you and for our upright, loyal, heroic people. And as I say this, I do no know whether my brothers and comrades who are leading the Resistance outside the prison have come to you with a letter before or not. That is because the “democracy” of your leaders has prevented me since my arrest and until now from getting newspapers and magazines or hearing radio and television and has isolated me from the world and has isolated the world from me so that I might not hear or see anything from outside my place of confinement.

Read the full letter Here : Translated from the original Here (pdf)

Collective Punishment Isn't Self-Defense

Neither the United States nor Israel is equivalent to Nazi Germany, yet both countries have adopted a Nazi-like obsession with collective punishment. Israeli Defense Forces, which subject centers of Palestinian resistance in the occupied West Bank to curfews and encirclement by barbed-wire fences, taught their techniques to U.S. occupation troops in Iraq.

After Islamist suicide pilots killed 3,000 Americans in the September 11 attacks, the U.S. government justified the killing of 200,000 Afghans and Iraqis as an act of "self-defense."

Read the full article Here

"Swearing to Success"

Another clasic animation from Mark Fiore.


U.S. Is A Terrorist State

Interview with Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky explains the reality of Israel's actions to Canadian interviewer Evan Solomon.

The show is Hot Type on CBC

Part 1

Part 2

Chomsky: ... Let's take a look at the Middle East, let's take a look at facts. The facts are, for 35 years, there has been a harsh, brutal, military operation. There has not been a political settlement. The reason that there has not been a political settlement is because the United States, unilaterally, has blocked it for 25 years. Just recently, Saudi Arabia produced a highly praised plan for political settlement. The majority of the American population supports it. The majority of the population also thinks the United States ought to be more active in the Middle East. They don't know that that's a contradiction in terms. The reason that's a contradiction in terms is the following: In the Saudi Arabia plan is a repetition of a series of proposals, which go back to 1976 when the UN Security Council debated a resolution calling for a settlement, in accord with the Saudi plan, to state settlement on the internationally recognized borders. With arrangements to guarantee the rights of every state in the nation to exist in peace and security within secure and recognized borders.

That was January 1976. OK, that was actually in accord with official U.S. policy. Except for one thing. It called for a Palestinian State in the territories; Israel wouldn't leave the occupied territories. That was vetoed by the US. It was supported by the Arab states, it was supported by the PLO, supported by Europe.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Israeli press on the mess

From Ha'aretz with help from Jez:
Every neighborhood has one, a loudmouth bully who shouldn't be provoked into anger. He's insulted? He'll pull out a knife. Spat in the face? He'll draw a gun. Hit? He'll pull out a machine gun. Not that the bully's not right - someone did harm him. But the reaction, what a reaction! It's not that he's not feared, but nobody really appreciates him. The real appreciation is for the strong who don't immediately use their strength. Regrettably, the Israel Defense Forces once again looks like the neighborhood bully. A soldier was abducted in Gaza? All of Gaza will pay. Eight soldiers are killed and two abducted to Lebanon? All of Lebanon will pay. One and only one language is spoken by Israel, the language of force.

The war that the IDF has now declared on Lebanon and before it on Gaza, will never be considered another "war of no choice." Let's save that debate from the historians. This is unequivocally a war of choice. The IDF absorbed two painful blows, which were particularly humiliating, and in their wake went into a war that is all about restoring its lost dignity, which on our side is called "restoring deterrent capabilities." Neither in Lebanon nor certainly in Gaza, can anyone formulate the real goals of the war, so nobody knows for sure what will be considered victory or an achievement. Are we at war in Lebanon? With Hezbollah? Nobody knows for sure. If the goal is to remove Hezbollah from the border, did we try hard enough over the last two years through diplomatic channels? And what's the connection between destroying half of Lebanon and that goal? Everyone agrees that "something must be done." Everyone agrees that a sovereign state cannot remain silent when it is attacked within its own borders, though in Israel's eyes Lebanese sovereignty was always subject to trampling, but why should that non-silence be expressed solely by an immediate and all-out blow?

In Gaza, a soldier is abducted from the army of a state that frequently abducts civilians from their homes and locks them up for years with or without a trial - but only we're allowed to do that. And only we're allowed to bomb civilian population centers.

Lebanon's 9/11 or Why Do They Hate Us?

What exactly do our politicians mean when the say we support Israel in its action against Lebanon? What is it that they support? Surely not this carnage?

Warning . Graphic images depicting the reality and horror of Israel's Invasion and destruction of Lebanon.

These images are very distressing and I strongly advice you not to click on the following link unless you are prepared to see Images of death and destruction and you are confident that you will not be adversely affected by these shocking images. If you are not sure you are able to view such a sickening scene then please do NOT click on the link

If you have accepted the warning and decide to proceed then the link to the pictures are Here

Civil war spreads across Iraq

Civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims is spreading rapidly through central Iraq, with each community seeking revenge for the latest massacre. Yesterday a suicide bomber driving a van packed with explosives blew himself up outside the golden-domed mosque in Kufa, killing at least 59 and injuring more than 130 Shia.

In the past 10 days, while the world has been absorbed by the war in Lebanon, sectarian massacres have started to take place on an almost daily basis, leading observers to fear a level of killing approaching that of Rwanda immediately before the genocide of 1994. On a single spot on the west bank of the Tigris river in north Baghdad, between 10 and 12 bodies have been drifting ashore every day.

In Kufa, a city on the Euphrates 90 miles south of Baghdad, the suicide bomber drove his vehicle into a dusty square 100 yards from a Shia shrine at 7.30am. He knew that poor day-labourers gathered there looking for work. He reportedly said: "I need labourers" and they climbed into his van, which exploded a few moments later, killing them and other workers near by. "Four of my cousins were killed," said Nasir Feisal, who survived the blast. "They were standing beside the van. Their bodies were scattered far apart by the blast."

The severe escalation in sectarian killings started nine days ago when black-clad Shia militiamen sealed off the largely Sunni al-Jihad district in west Baghdad and slaughtered every Sunni they identified, killing more than 40 of them after glancing at their identity cards. Since then there has been a tit-for-tat massacre almost every day.

On Monday, gunmen - almost certainly Sunni - first attacked Shia mourners at a funeral near Mahmoudiya, a market town 20 miles south of Baghdad. They then shot another 50 people in the local market.

The failure of the newly formed government of Nouri al-Maliki to stop the mass killings has rapidly discredited it. The Shia and Sunni militias - in the latter case the insurgents fighting the Americans - are becoming stronger as people look to them for protection. After the explosion in Kufa angry crowds hurled stones at the police demanding that the militiamen of the Mehdi Army, followers of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, take over security in the city. Others chanted at the police - who began to fire in the air to disperse them - "you are traitors!" and accused them of being "American agents".

In much of Baghdad the militias have taken over and are killing or driving out the minority community. It has become very easy to be killed anywhere in central Iraq - where a third of the 27 million population lives - through belonging to the wrong sect. Many people carry two sets of identity papers, one forged at a cost of about $60 (£30), so they can claim to be a Sunni at Sunni checkpoints and Shia at Shia checkpoints.

Even this may not be enough to ensure survival. Aware of the number of forged identity papers being used, Mehdi Army checkpoints in the largely Shia Shu'ala district in west Baghdad have started to ask drivers questions about Shia theology which a Sunni would be unable to answer. One man, a Shia, passed the test but was still executed - because he was driving a car with number plates from Anbar, a wholly Sunni province.

While the White House and Downing Street still refuse to use the phrase "civil war", Iraqis in the centre of the country have no doubt what is happening. Baghdad's mortuary alone received 1,595 bodies in June, and it has got worse since then.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Teaching hate

A very sad image from the Sydney Morning Herald [with help from dining]:

Israeli girls write messages in Hebrew [and English - ed] on shells ready to be fired toward Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon.
Photo: AFP

Help for posting comments: 1) read the posting policy, violations will not be tolerated, so spend your time and energy wisely; 2) learn what a tu quoque ad hominem is, then recognise it is a fallacy and thus an invalid argument.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lebanon civilian deaths morally not same as 'terror victims' -- Bolton

US Ambassador John Bolton said there was no moral equivalence between the civilian casualties from the Israeli raids in Lebanon and those killed in Israel from "malicious terrorist acts".

Asked to comment on the deaths in an Israeli air strike of eight Canadian citizens in southern Lebanon Sunday, he said: "it is a matter of great concern to us ...that these civilian deaths are occurring. It's a tragedy."

"I think it would be a mistake to ascribe moral equivalence to civilians who die as the direct result of malicious terrorist acts," he added, while defending as "self-defense" Israel's military action, which has had "the tragic and unfortunate consequence of civilian deaths".


Somewhere contained in the above post is a key to the reasoning behind the upsurge in anti US sentiment around the world. I am quite sure Mr Bolton would not spot it but I have no doubts that the family of the eight Canadian citizens would.

We would be hard pushed to find any kind of moral equivalence for Mr Bolton.

In full: Bush and Blair's unguarded chat (video)

A full transcript of the off-the-cuff conversation between US President George W Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair during a break at the G8 conference in Russia.

The president was caught on tape using an expletive as he described the actions of Hezbollah in attacking Israel. watch the video here (windows media plaer)

The two men start by discussing an exchange of gifts:

Bush: And thanks for the sweaters - I know you picked em out yourself...

Blair: Oh yes absolutely - in fact I knitted it!!!


Bush: What about Kofi Annan - he seems alright. I don't like his ceasefire plan. His attitude is basically ceasefire and everything sorts out.... But I think...

Blair: Yeah the only thing I think is really difficult is that we can't stop this without getting international presence agreed. I think what you guys have talked about which is the criticism of the [inaudible word). I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.

Bush: Yeah I think Condi's [US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) gonna go soon.

Blair: Well that's all that matters but if you... You see at least it gets it going.

Bush: I agree it's a process...I told her your offer too.

Blair: Well it's only if she needs the ground prepared as it were. If she goes out she HAS to succeed whereas I can just go and...

Bush: You see the irony is what they need to is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's all over...

Blair: Dunno... Syria....

Bush: Why?

Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing...

Bush: (with mouth full of bread) Yeah

Blair: Look - what does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine. If you get a solution in Israel and Palestine. Iraq goes in the right way

Bush: Yeah - he's [indistinct]

Blair: Yeah.... He's had it. That's what all this is about - it's the same with Iran

Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.

Blair: Yeah

BUSH: [indistinct] blaming Israel and [indistinct] blaming the Lebanese government....


BBC Travels into Southern Lebanon as Attacks Increase

Early this morning, a BBC crew ventured into Southern Lebanon where Israel's military is focusing the latest round of attacks. Often the sky is darkened by burning buildings. They pass one paper tissue factory that still has a few walls standing.

Israel had dropped leaflets warning civilians to get out of southern Lebanon and many were leaving. Everyone they talk to supports Hezbollah while anger at Israel has reached a boiling point

Sunday, July 16, 2006

continued israeli bloodshed ...

Kind of made me think a little bit; I don't necessarily agree with the last two phrases in the video, or at least how they are worded.

Wildly disproportionate attack on Lebanon seems like pretext to confront Iran

As Israeli firepower rained down on Lebanon last week, pundits here in the West wasted no time pinning the blame on — Iran.

"Iran and its radical allies are pushing toward war," wrote Washington Post columnist David Ignatius.

Washington defence commentator Edward Luttwak weighed in: "Iran's leaders have apparently decided to reject the Western offer to peacefully settle the dispute over its weapons-grade uranium-enrichment program."

In fact, Iran's leaders haven't rejected the "Western offer;" they've said publicly they will respond to it by Aug. 22. This isn't fast enough however to satisfy Washington, which considers the "offer" more of an ultimatum.

Is it really Iran that is pushing for war? Think about it. Why would Iran want to provoke a war with Israel and the U.S. — both heavily armed nuclear powers — when it has no nuclear weapons itself?

The U.S. and Israel, on the other hand, are very keen to attack Iran. In a recent series of articles in New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has detailed Washington's plans to attack Iran. Israel has called Iran a "major threat" that "must be stopped" from developing nuclear weapons.

But the U.S. and Israel don't want to look like aggressors. They insist their intentions are purely defensive. Recall that Washington also claimed its invasion of Iraq was purely defensive — to protect itself from Iraq's arsenal of deadly weapons, which, it turned out, didn't exist.

So when Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon seized two Israeli soldiers last week, a perfect opportunity arose. Since Hezbollah has links to Iran, presto, here was a prima facie case that Iran was gunning for confrontation.

Did the Western pundits who quickly embraced this theory ever consider that the Hezbollah militants, as well as the Palestinian militants in Gaza who captured a single Israeli soldier last month, might have had their own motives for striking Israel?

Certainly the Palestinians have endless grievances against Israel. In addition to four decades of Israeli military occupation of their land, Israel has attempted to destroy the Hamas government, which was democratically elected by Palestinians last January.

Hezbollah's seizure of the two Israeli soldiers was probably an act of support for the Palestinians in Gaza, who have been under Israeli military siege since the capture of the first soldier. Hezbollah also said it seized the soldiers because it wanted to trade them for Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails. A similar Israeli-Hezbollah prisoner exchange took place in 2004.

Abandoning Canada's traditional role as an honest broker in the Middle East, Prime Minister Stephen Harper unabashedly supported Israel last week, calling its devastating attacks on Gaza and Lebanon "measured."

If Israel is simply trying to "defend" itself, its actions are wildly disproportionate.

On the other hand, if Israel and the U.S. are looking for an excuse to attack Iran, the capture of the Israeli soldiers is as good as any.

Source Comment rules

Saturday, July 15, 2006


The situation in the middle east seems set to spiral out of control with reports coming in that the Israeli Air Force Will Likely Make a Pre-emptive Strike Against Syria. It appears that the slaughter and chaos raining down on Gaza and Lebanon is not enough.

To realise the death and destruction that is already being created by the Israeli air force, we need do no more than turn to Robert Fisk, whose article From my home, I saw what the 'war on terror' meant , certainly brings the reality back down to earth, regardless of the altitude that bombs in question were dropped from.

Israeli planes dropped a bomb on to the home of a Shia Muslim cleric. He was killed. So was his wife. So were eight of his children. One was decapitated. All they could find of a baby was its head and torso which a young villager brandished in fury in front of the cameras. Then the planes visited another home in Dweir and disposed of a family of seven.

I again find myself wondering about the differential in the value of human life . Of course every decent human being on planet earth understands the desire of Israel to protect its soldiers . Its need to have safe and secure borders and the right for its citizens to live in peace inside the 1967 internationally agreed boundaries. But the deaths of at least 63 Lebanese civilians seems to have less value to the worlds media than the fate of the missing soldiers. Violence breeds violence and Israel is already mourning the deaths of more of its soldiers than the operation was designed to save after an Hezbollah attack on an Israeli Navel vessel.

The escalation intensified when Israel Bombed the Beirut office of the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, He wasn't there and very quickly made that point clear by broadcasting and address where he called for 'open war' against Israel.

Of course as we have already seen, when politicians overreact it is always the innocent civilians that receive the pain . It has not just been the Lebanese that are suffering due to this unnecessary tragedy. At least two Israelis , a woman and her 5-year-old grandson were killed, and four others were injured, when a Katyusha rocket fired by Hezbollah slammed into a home in Moshav Meron on Friday evening. It seems that the middle east is spinning into a roller coaster of destruction that will lead to nothing but more misery and hell in the Holy Land.

If you wish to comment on this article please take note of our Comment rules before posting.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bolton vs. Ha'aretz and the Observer

From his bully pulpit, U.S. ambassoador to the UN, John Bolton, had this to say yesterday regarding the recent events involving Israel:
"The United States worked hard with other delegations to achieve a more balanced text. One which acknowledged that Israeli military actions were in direct response to repeated rocket attacks into southern Israel from Gaza and the June 25th abduction of Israeli defense force corporal Gilad Shalit by Hamas. Regrettably we were not able to reach agreement."

There we have it: the "they started it" arguement. Did they start it? Let's turn to the Israeli media on the matter. Let's see what Ha'aretz had to say on that very topic:
"We left Gaza and they are firing Qassams" - there is no more precise a formulation of the prevailing view about the current round of the conflict. "They started," will be the routine response to anyone who tries to argue [Israeli actions]...


So, who really did start? And have we "left Gaza?"

Israel left Gaza only partially, and in a distorted manner. The disengagement plan, which was labeled with fancy titles like "partition" and "an end to the occupation," did result in the dismantling of settlements and the Israel Defense Forces' departure from Gaza, but it did almost nothing to change the living conditions for the residents of the Strip. Gaza is still a prison and its inhabitants are still doomed to live in poverty and oppression. Israel closes them off from the sea, the air and land, except for a limited safety valve at the Rafah crossing. They cannot visit their relatives in the West Bank or look for work in Israel, upon which the Gazan economy has been dependent for some 40 years. Sometimes goods can be transported, sometimes not. Gaza has no chance of escaping its poverty under these conditions. Nobody will invest in it, nobody can develop it, nobody can feel free in it. Israel left the cage, threw away the keys and left the residents to their bitter fate. Now, less than a year after the disengagement, it is going back, with violence and force.

What could otherwise have been expected? That Israel would unilaterally withdraw, brutally and outrageously ignoring the Palestinians and their needs, and that they would silently bear their bitter fate and would not continue to fight for their liberty, livelihood and dignity? We promised a safe passage to the West Bank and didn't keep the promise. We promised to free prisoners and didn't keep the promise. We supported democratic elections and then boycotted the legally elected leadership, confiscating funds that belong to it, and declaring war on it. We could have withdrawn from Gaza through negotiations and coordination, while strengthening the existing Palestinian leadership, but we refused to do so. And now, we complain about "a lack of leadership?" We did everything we could to undermine their society and leadership, making sure as much as possible that the disengagement would not be a new chapter in our relationship with the neighboring nation, and now we are amazed by the violence and hatred that we sowed with our own hands.

What would have happened if the Palestinians had not fired Qassams? Would Israel have lifted the economic siege that it imposed on Gaza? Would it open the border to Palestinian laborers? Free prisoners? Meet with the elected leadership and conduct negotiations? Encourage investment in Gaza? Nonsense. If the Gazans were sitting quietly, as Israel expects them to do, their case would disappear from the agenda - here and around the world. Israel would continue with the convergence, which is solely meant to serve its goals, ignoring their needs. Nobody would have given any thought to the fate of the people of Gaza if they did not behave violently. That is a very bitter truth, but the first 20 years of the occupation passed quietly and we did not lift a finger to end it.

Instead, under cover of the quiet, we built the enormous, criminal settlement enterprise. With our own hands, we are now once again pushing the Palestinians into using the petty arms they have; and in response, we employ nearly the entire enormous arsenal at our disposal, and continue to complain that "they started."

We started. We started with the occupation, and we are duty-bound to end it, a real and complete ending. We started with the violence. There is no violence worse than the violence of the occupier, using force on an entire nation, so the question about who fired first is therefore an evasion meant to distort the picture. After Oslo, too, there were those who claimed that "we left the territories," in a similar mixture of blindness and lies.

Gaza is in serious trouble, ruled by death, horror and daily difficulties, far from the eyes and hearts of Israelis. We are only shown the Qassams. We only see the Qassams. The West Bank is still under the boot of occupation, the settlements are flourishing, and every limply extended hand for an agreement, including that of Ismail Haniyeh, is immediately rejected. And after all this, if someone still has second thoughts, the winning answer is promptly delivered: "They started." They started and justice is on our side, while the fact is that they did not start and justice is not with us. [Source]

Alright, that's all well and good, but what about the abduction of Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25th? June 25th. Why did I type that twice? Let's turn to the Observer and find out why:
Few readers of a British newspaper would have noticed the story. In the Observer of 25 June, it merited a mere paragraph hidden in the “World in brief” section, revealing that the previous day a team of Israeli commandos had entered the Gaza Strip to “detain” two Palestinians Israel claims are members of Hamas.

The significance of the mission was alluded to in a final phrase describing this as “the first arrest raid in the territory since Israel pulled out of the area a year ago”. More precisely, it was the first time the Israeli army had re-entered the Gaza Strip, directly violating Palestinian control of the territory, since it supposedly left in August last year.

As the Observer landed on doorsteps around the UK, however, another daring mission was being launched in Gaza that would attract far more attention from the British media – and prompt far more concern. [Source]

We hear plenty about the June 25th abduction, but barely a peep about the June 24th abduction. Why is that?

A reminder: to avoid typing into the void read the comment policy.

Bush defends Israel, EU, Russia condemn attacks

RUSSIA and the European Union condemned Israel's strikes in Lebanon as a dangerous escalation of the Middle East conflict but the United States said Israel had the right to self defence.

US President George W. Bush spoke up for Israel's attack on Beirut airport, but warned the Israelis they should be careful not to weaken the fragile Lebanese Government.

"Israel has the right to defend herself," Mr Bush said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. His comments contrasted with comments from Russia and the European Union, which said there could be no justification for Israel's air and sea blockade on Lebanon.

"Actions, which are contrary to international humanitarian law, can only aggravate the vicious circle of violence and retribution," the EU presidency said in a statement. The comments came as a three-strong United Nations team headed to the Middle East to seek to defuse the crisis.

Mr Bush and Ms Merkel made clear at a joint news conference they felt Israel's actions in seeking kidnapped soldiers and responding to Hezbollah rocket attacks were justified.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denounced both Israel's attack on Lebanon and its operations against the Palestinian territories.

"This is a disproportionate response to what has happened and if both sides are going to drive each other into a tight corner then I think that all this will develop in a very dramatic and tragic way," he said.

Israel struck three airports including Beirut's and began enforcing a naval blockade of Lebanon, intensifying reprisals after Hezbollah seized two Israeli soldiers and killed eight in cross-border attacks yesterday. The Israeli attacks have killed 52 Lebanese civilians.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy called Israel's bombardment of Beirut airport "a disproportionate act of war", saying there was a real risk of a regional war.

Mr Douste-Blazy also condemned Hezbollah's firing of rockets into northern Israel and the seizure of the soldiers, telling Europe 1 radio these were "irresponsible acts".

"The only solution is a return to reason by both sides," he said. "We are calling for a lowering of tensions."

Hezbollah fired barrages of rockets into towns across northern Israel, killing one civilian and wounding 29 others in their heaviest bombardment in a decade. The violence is the worst between Israel and Lebanon since 1996 when Israeli troops still occupied part of the south.

Mr Bush said there was concern that any activities by Israel to protect herself would weaken the Lebanese Government.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

U.S. Arrests known terrorist - for fraud

Emmanuel Constant, former Haitian death squad leader, has been arrested in New York for mortgage fraud. Constant was convicted in absentia by a Haitian court for his crimes during the Raboteau Massacre of 1994. Constant had fled to America and ironically at the time the U.S. was demanding the extradition of Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks despite a lack of evidence against him, the U.S. was ignoring Haitian requests for the extradition of Constant, who was already convicted for his terrorist acts. The Haitians, of course, did not bomb the United States in response.

For more, please go to Democracy Now!

Israeli use of poisonous material alleged

The Palestinian health ministry accused Israel of using a new type of banned explosives containing poisonous material.

A ministry report released Monday said testimonies from surgeons in Palestinian hospitals indicated that "all 249 casualties inflicted by the Israeli war machine during the operation on Gaza which started on June 27 resulted from shrapnel of new and developed shells and explosives which cause amputation of limbs and burning of all the injured parts."

The ministry called on the international community and human rights organization "to send medical committees to examine the wounded and verify the existence of poisonous material in their bodies caused by Israeli weapons."

It also urged international organization to put pressure on Israel to stop using internationally banned arms against inoffensive and unarmed civilians.

The report indicated that "most casualties who were submitted to surgeries were caused by strong explosions that led to the amputation and carbonization of limbs while shrapnel caused small openings in the body through which internal parts, including intestines and spleen, are burned."

In a related development, the foreign ministry warned Monday that Israel's military operations and threats to expand its incursion in Gaza will not contribute to finding a diplomatic solution to the crisis of the Israeli soldier abducted by three Palestinian factions, including Hamas which leads the Palestinian government.

The ministry said in a statement that "international idleness and silence over Israel's crimes do not contribute to boosting the rule of the law but encourages the law of the jungle and Israel's ignoring of all international norms."

Israel launched operation "Summer Rains" in Gaza two weeks ago in an attempt to free Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was abducted in an attack on the crossing of Keer Shalom between Gaza and Israel by militants from Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Islamic Army.


Further reading on the latest events in Israel/Palestine and lebanon....

Israel kills 23 in Gaza:
Nine Palestinians, including seven children, killed in Israeli airstrike :
UN impotence laid bare as Gaza suffers:
Report: Abbas threatens to resign:
End this punishment of the Palestinians :
The Influence of Israel and its American Lobby over US Middle East Policy:
Hezbollah Captures 2 Israeli Soldiers:
8 soldiers killed, 2 snatched in Hezbollah border attacks :
Israel hits Beirut targets :
U.S. blames Syria, Iran for kidnappings: (war pimp alert)
Brian Whitaker: Borderline beneficiaries:
Yesha rabbis call for 'extermination of the enemy': (Hmmm)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Tuesday, July 11, 2006

US detainees to get Geneva rights

All US military detainees, including those at Guantanamo Bay, are to be treated in line with the minimum standards of the Geneva Conventions. The White House announced the shift in policy almost two weeks after the US Supreme Court ruled that the conventions applied to detainees.

President Bush had long fought the idea that US detainees were prisoners of war entitled to Geneva Convention rights. The Pentagon outlined the new standards to the military in a 7 July memo.

The directive says all military detainees are entitled to humane treatment and to certain basic legal standards when they come to trial, as required by Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.

The Bush administration has come under intense and sustained international criticism for its treatment of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The military has been using the site to house hundreds of detainees, many believed to have been picked up off battlefields in Afghanistan.

At the end of June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that the Bush administration did not by itself have the authority to order that the detainees be tried by military commission. It said its decision was based on both US military law and the Geneva Conventions - asserting for the first time in US law that the detainees were entitled to Geneva protections.


India : 140 dead in rush hour terrorist attack on surburban trains

At least 140 people were killed and 257 injured in a string of seven terror blasts that tore through first class compartments of suburban trains around 6 p.m during the evening peak hour traffic here today.

As the blasts ripped apart train compartments, mangled bodies of passengers fell on the tracks and survivors, many of them bleeding profusely, jostled to come out leading to chaotic scenes.

The blasts occured between 6 p.m and 6.30 p.m at Mahim, Bandra, Matunga, Borivili, Mira Road, Jogeshwari and Khar when people from offices were returning home. Maharashtra Chief Secretary, D K Shankaran, put the number of death at 138 and the injured 257.

Hospital authorities in the city have confirmed arrival of over 100 bodies by 8:30 pm. A large number of injured, including commuters of the blasts-hit trains, were admitted to various government and private hospitals in various parts of the city.

Mumbai Police Chief, A N Roy, said "we are busy with rescue operations. Our first priority is to rescue the injured,'' he said. However, heavy monsoon downpours were hampering the effort.

AP Reports: Police were also reportedly carrying out raids across the country following the explosions, presumably in search of suspects. A television report said a suspect was in custody.

A senior Mumbai police official, P S Pasricha, said the explosions were part of a well-coordinated attack. The country's Home Minister said over television that authorities had information that an attack was coming, but did not know the time or place.

Witnesses reported seeing body parts strewn about stations, and television news channels broadcast footage of bystanders carrying victims to ambulances and searching through the wreckage for survivors and bodies. Some of the injured were seen frantically dialing their cell phones.

Continue reading Here

War Is Not A Game

This video is rapidly becoming a "defining" song for the peace movement. War Is Not A Game is written by combat veteran, emergency room physician, and congressional candidate Dr. Bill Durston.

Runtime 4 Minutes

Monday, July 10, 2006

Iraq to ask UN to end U.S. immunity after rape case

Iraq will ask the United Nations to end immunity from local law for U.S. troops, the human rights minister said on Monday, as the military named five soldiers charged in a rape-murder case that has outraged Iraqis.

In an interview a week after Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded a review of foreign troops' immunity, Wigdan Michael said work on it was now under way and a request could be ready by next month to go to the U.N. Security Council, under whose mandate U.S.-led forces are in control of Iraq.

"We're very serious about this," she said, blaming a lack of enforcement of U.S. military law in the past for encouraging soldiers to commit crimes against Iraqi civilians, such as the alleged rape and murder of a teenager and killing of her family. "We formed a committee last week to prepare reports and put it before the cabinet in three weeks. After that, Maliki will present it to the Security Council. We will ask them to lift the immunity," Michael said. "If we don't get that, then we'll ask for an effective role in the investigations that are going on. "The Iraqi government must have a role."

Analysts say it is improbable the United States would ever make its troops answerable to Iraq's chaotic judicial system. The day before handing formal sovereignty back to Iraqis in June 2004, the U.S. occupation authority issued a decree giving its troops immunity from Iraqi law. That remains in force and is confirmed in an annexe to Resolution 1546, the Security Council document that established the U.S.-led force's mandate in Iraq.

Many Iraqis have complained for the past three years about hundreds of civilians killed by U.S. troops and abuses such as those highlighted in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal of 2004. But a handful of new U.S. investigations into incidents including the killing of 24 people at Haditha and the quadruple murder and rape at Mahmudiya have caused an outcry that prompted the newly formed national unity government to speak out.

Some government supporters have also added their voices to calls for U.S.-led forces to start withdrawing from Iraq soon. Michael said a failure by U.S. commanders to hold soldiers to account had fostered a climate of impunity among troops: "One of the reasons for this is the U.N. resolution, which gives the multinational force soldiers immunity. Without punishment, you get violations. This happens when there is no punishment."

U.S. commanders insist troops are not immune from justice and must answer to U.S. military law. But officials concede that a flurry of cases reflect a crackdown aimed at restoring their credibility with Iraqis. Sixteen troops were charged with murder in Iraq in recent weeks, as many as in the previous three years.

Four soldiers were charged on Saturday with rape and murder in the Mahmudiya case, dating from March. A military official named them on Monday as Privates First Class Jesse Spielman and Bryan Howard, Sergeant James Barker and Specialist Paul Cortez. All are accused of conspiring with Steven Green, then a private in the 502nd Infantry Regiment, who was charged as a civilian with rape and murder in a U.S. court last week.

Civilian prosecutors say four soldiers went to the home after drinking, intending to rape 14-year-old Abeer al-Janabi and left a fifth manning their nearby checkpoint. They say Green shot Janabi's parents and 6-year-old sister, before he and one other raped the teenager and Green also then shot her dead. Sergeant Anthony Yribe was charged with dereliction of duty for failing to report what he knew of the case.


Further reading...

U.S. officials had said the girl was aged over 20. However, documents obtained by Reuters on Sunday showed she was 14.

Big Brother calls for backdoors

When I was a boy growing up in the 70s, I would often see or hear proclamations of America's greatness (I lived withing range of their broadcast towers) with various freedoms cited as evidence for that greatness. Though freedoms are nearly always under attack from those holding power, there seems to be attempts to formalize the the restriction of freedoms.

From CNET News:
The FBI has drafted sweeping legislation that would require Internet service providers to create wiretapping hubs for police surveillance and force makers of networking gear to build in backdoors for eavesdropping, CNET has learned.

FBI Agent Barry Smith distributed the proposal at a private meeting last Friday with industry representatives and indicated it would be introduced by Sen. Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, according to two sources familiar with the meeting.


Breaking the legislation down
The 27-page proposed CALEA amendments seen by CNET would:

• Require any manufacturer of "routing" and "addressing" hardware to offer upgrades or other "modifications" that are needed to support Internet wiretapping. Current law does require that of telephone switch manufacturers--but not makers of routers and network address translation hardware like Cisco Systems and 2Wire.

• Authorize the expansion of wiretapping requirements to "commercial" Internet services including instant messaging if the FCC deems it to be in the "public interest." That would likely sweep in services such as in-game chats offered by Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming system as well.

• Force Internet service providers to sift through their customers' communications to identify, for instance, only VoIP calls. (The language requires companies to adhere to "processing or filtering methods or procedures applied by a law enforcement agency.") That means police could simply ask broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast or Verizon for wiretap info--instead of having to figure out what VoIP service was being used.

• Eliminate the current legal requirement saying the Justice Department must publish a public "notice of the actual number of communications interceptions" every year. That notice currently also must disclose the "maximum capacity" required to accommodate all of the legally authorized taps that government agencies will "conduct and use simultaneously."

According to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America,
...No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States....

According to the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights,
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
If history provides us with any usable pattern, it is that the proposed law would be used to aid in violating the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights. This news ought to be as alarming to non-Americans as to Americans. What has been described as the "slow creep towards fascism" is a phenomenon that is occuring globally.

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

Sunday bloody Sunday

Gunmen in the Iraqi capital Baghdad have killed at least 40 people at a fake police checkpoint, in an apparent sectarian attack against Sunni Muslims. Police say Shia militants stopped cars in the western Jihad district, separated Sunnis and shot them.

Later, at least 25 people died when two car bombs exploded near a Shia mosque in the capital, police said. There has been an upsurge in sectarian violence in Iraq in recent months, raising fears of a civil war. Sunni Arabs say government-backed Shia militias are behind many of the attacks. But officials have denied any involvement.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Baghdad says the style and scale of Sunday morning's incident was breathtaking. Witnesses said Shia militiamen entered Jihad and set up roadblocks. Drivers were reportedly pulled from their cars and their identity cards inspected. Any Sunni Muslims identified were then separated from the rest and killed.

"They also went into certain Sunni houses and killed everyone inside," said a witness quoted by AFP news agency. Another told the Associated Press news agency: "They came and started shooting. One of my relatives tried to help but was also shot while doing so. What crime have my people committed, I ask?"

Officials say they are getting reports of drive-by shootings in the area, and the number of deaths is expected to rise. Security forces have sealed off the area and imposed a curfew, in an effort to prevent revenge attacks. Officials said the shooting could be in retaliation for a car bomb that killed at least two people at a nearby Shia mosque on Saturday.

Radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr appealed for calm following the shootings. Mr Sadr calls on Sunnis and Shias to "put our hands together for the sake of Iraq's independence and stability", AP quoted him as saying.Mr Sadr's Mehdi Army militia was suspected of involvement in the attacks, but Mr Sadr's office denied any responsibility.

In more bloodshed hours after the shootings, Baghdad's northern Kasra district was rocked by the double car bomb attack.

Police said the vehicles exploded in a market place near the local Shia mosque, killing at least 25 people and wounding dozens of others.Our correspondent says it may have been revenge for Sunday morning's attack or it may have been planned beforehand.

But he says whatever the motive, the impact is the same: Iraq's capital is tearing itself apart.A wave of sectarian killings has engulfed many parts of Iraq - especially Baghdad - since the bombing in February of a revered Shia shrine in Samarra.

In other violence on Sunday, an Iraqi army intelligence officer was shot dead in Karbala, south of Baghdad.Several policemen and civilians were also killed in separate attacks around the country.


The Top 10 Power Brokers of the Religious Right

Who they are, what they want, and why these American ayatollahs must be stopped.

The United States is home to dozens of Religious Right groups. Many have small budgets and focus on state and local issues; the most powerful organizations conduct nationwide operations, command multi-million-dollar bank accounts and attract millions of followers. They have disproportionate clout in the halls of Congress, the White House and the courts, and they wield enormous influence within the political system.

What follows is a list of the nation’s Top Ten Religious Right groups, as determined by publicly available financial data and political prominence. Additional information describes the organizations’ leaders, funding and activities.


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Hegemonic Tyrant Courts Doom

Finding itself in Republican sights and with no Democratic power center to offer protection, National Public Radio is turning into an upscale version of Fox "News." Nevertheless, information still gets out if the listener is sufficiently attentive.

On July 5, NPR’s "All Things Considered" interviewed two warmongers for their views on the North Korean missile test. One was Ashton Carter, a Clinton administration Assistant Secretary of Defense, now at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. The other was Ambassador Christopher Hill, an Assistant Secretary of State in the Bush regime.

The Clinton DOD assistant secretary is coauthor of a recent article advocating a unilateral US military attack on North Korea. His first pitch on NPR was that the whole region, not just the US, is threatened by North Korea and that everyone should gang up on North Korea to make them behave. The NPR interviewer asked Carter to reconcile his multilateralism with his own recommendation for the US to unilaterally attack North Korea. Carter replied that North Korea’s missile was developed to attack us, so we had to protect ourselves.

When the NPR interviewer asked Carter why deterrence would fail with North Korea when deterrence succeeded in the case of the more powerful Soviet Union, Carter agreed that North Korea was not sufficiently insane to launch an attack on the US. So, if the US is not in danger of being attacked by North Korea, why does Carter want to attack North Korea?

The answer is, well, you see, if we permit North Korea to develop any weapon with which they might be able to stand up to us on some issue critical to North Korea, well, they might not do as we want them to do. Carter could not conceive of a world in which any country existed that might be able to behave differently than the US dictates.

Ambassador Hill agreed, but he came at it in a different way. Hill’s view is that it is China’s, Japan’s, and South Korea’s responsibility to make North Korea behave as the US wants it to behave. Both Hill and Carter agreed that no country, with the exception of Israel, has a right to any interests of its own unless it is an interest that coincides with US interests. No other interest is legitimate.

Listening to the pair of hegemonic maniacs, I realized that the US is the new Rome – there is no legitimate power but us. Any other power is a potential threat to our interests and must be eliminated before it gets any independent ideas. The US, however, is far more dangerous than Rome. Rome saw its world as the Mediterranean and, for a while, Northern Europe, but the US thinks the whole world is its oyster. The Bush regime is busy trying to marginalize Russia, and neocons are preparing war plans to attack China before that country can achieve military parity with the US.

Gentle reader, consider what it means when our government believes other countries have no right to their own interests unless they coincide with US interests. It means that we are the tyrant country. We cannot be the tyrant country without being perceived as the tyrant country. Consequently, the rest of the world unites against us.

How is the US, which has spent three years proving that it cannot successfully occupy Iraq, a small country of only 25 million people, going to control India, China, Russia, Europe, Africa and South America?

It’s not going to happen.

What it does mean is that the US government in its hubris and delusion is going to continue starting wars and attacking other countries until a coalition of greater forces smashes us. Even among our European allies we are already perceived as the greatest threat to world peace and stability.

Our power is not what it once was. We are weak in manufacturing and dependent on China for advanced technology products. We are dependent on China to finance our wars, our budget and trade deficits. How long will China accommodate us when China reads about Bush’s plans to prevent China from achieving military parity?

The Bush regime thinks that it can have every country under its thumb. Neocons are fond of proclaiming that it is a unipolar world in which the US is supreme. This is a fantasy, and it is rapidly becoming a nightmare.


It's OK

Friday, July 07, 2006

Rosa Brooks: That's the GOP's big gun?

ACCORDING TO the media, Republican strategists hope to make the fight against terrorism a "campaign cornerstone" in the run-up to the November elections.

Great idea! If these same strategists had been around in 1932 during the Depression, they'd probably have urged President Hoover to run for reelection on the strength of his economic policies.

Why would the Republicans want to make their record on fighting terrorism a campaign centerpiece? It's been almost five years since the 9/11 attacks, yet a recent bipartisan study found that 84% of the foreign policy experts surveyed disagreed with the president's often-repeated assertion that we're winning the war on terror. Iraq has become a magnet for the world's aspiring terrorists; in Afghanistan, the Taliban is resurgent and security is worsening; Osama bin Laden remains on the lam.

Unless I'm really missing something, the problem is not only that the GOP anti-terror strategy has been largely counterproductive. Much of the time, it also seems impressively unfettered by logic.

Of course, it could just be me. Maybe the strategy is actually devilishly sophisticated and not incoherent at all.

Here are a few examples. You be the judge.

First, naturally enough, we want to kill terrorists. I get that part. But although we are allowed to kill terrorists, terrorists are not allowed to kill themselves. When they kill themselves — as three terror suspects at Guantanamo did recently and more than 25 have attempted in the past — their suicides are part of an unacceptable campaign of "asymmetrical warfare" against us. Go figure! Gotta hope Bin Laden doesn't catch on — if he realizes that self-destruction is the best way to fight us, next thing you know, he'll kill himself too. And then where would we be?

Then there's this: We want to interrogate terror suspects. Who wouldn't? In fact, we want to use "enhanced" interrogation methods (translation: torture) against terror suspects, and when it's inconvenient for us to torture people ourselves, we regularly trundle them off to foreign states that don't mind getting their hands dirty. Yet we don't want to release any of the remaining detainees at Guantanamo because we're worried that their home governments might … torture them!

And another thing: We want to detect terrorist plots and prosecute terrorists for their crimes. That's why we want to undertake ever more sophisticated electronic surveillance and why we want to create military commissions to try suspected bad guys at Guantanamo. But for some reason, the Bush administration prefers to do all this illegally, which I really don't get.

When you're contemplating programs that pose major potential legal problems (to put it charitably), why not get congressional authorization and follow the law? It saves you a big headache down the road — the kind of headache you get when the Supreme Court slaps you down hard, as it did in the June 29 Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld decision, which held that the administration's military tribunals violated both U.S. and international law.

Previous presidents made a fine art of seeking legal loopholes to do things Congress and the American people probably wouldn't approve of. This president has made a fine art of seeking illegal ways to do things Congress and the American people probably would approve of. But then … maybe President Bush thinks that thumbing his nose at our system of checks and balances is a form of asymmetrical warfare against the terrorists. As he's fond of reminding us, terrorists hate us because "they hate our freedoms." And following this weird logic, if the administration throws our freedoms out the window, maybe they'll stop hating us!

Or not.

I know, I know. Some of you will be shaking your heads now, saying, "Hey, give the Republican anti-terror strategy a little credit here. After all, we haven't had another 9/11-style attack, have we?" True. But if you think the lack of another major terrorist attack means the GOP approach to fighting terror is working, remember the old joke:

A guy is throwing sawdust out the window. Another guy comes along and says, "Why are you throwing sawdust out your window?"

"To keep the elephants away," says the first guy.

"But there are no elephants around here!"

"See? It works!"

But I don't want to be unfair. There's no denying that the Republicans' anti-terror strategy is having a real effect — in one area, at least. In its annual survey of global public opinion, released in June, the Pew Research Center found that people in 13 of the 15 countries surveyed see the U.S. war in Iraq as a greater threat to world peace than Iranian nuclear ambitions. Overall, the study found, "America's global image has again slipped" and "support for the war on terrorism has declined even among close U.S. allies."

Was it something we said?


Imperial racism

Racism, the ideology that came into full flower as a justification for European conquest of most of the planet, is now headquartered in the United States – with an annex in Israel. Tel Aviv is a very active annex.

There could be no justification for George Bush’s aggressions, without the underlying assumptions of racial superiority. Bush has committed multiple crimes against peace – a capital Nuremburg offense for which a number of Nazis were hanged. He is a war criminal, many times over. However, he will never be prosecuted in the United States, because of the pervasive ideology of imperialism, which is racist at its very core: it dehumanizes the victims.

Race is, indeed, a construction – a very convenient one when you want to take someone else’s property, or kill them, or enslave them. It is this construct that animates the American debate about foreign policy – or even domestic policy when it comes to “aliens” of one kind or another.
But it is deadly. It swarms countries, and consumes cities. Fallujah was flattened, with its main hospital the first target. Three hundred thousand people are now refugees in their own country, because of US actions, and an unknown number are dead. That is a war crime – but is not seen as such by most of the US public, who are under the sway of the ideology of imperial racism. The death of an entire city does not matter to them, because there were no real people there. Racism does more than color the situation – it defines it. How do you kill a city and call it victory? Why is this celebrated as a benchmark of “progress”? Is the assumption that the white man’s triumph is, inherently, progress?

Of course it is. That’s what imperial racism is all about. There are “enemies” and “others” who are not “Western” – a euphemism for “non-white” – the construct they keep making up every time they want to steal something.

The hard-right Israelis are very good at this game. They are on totally racial mission, and have made their construct. Jewishness is a race, in Israel, with rights that only accrue to Jews. We are supposed to believe that Jews have a right to shape Palestine in such a way that they always have a majority. How does that conform with any democratic principle?

Now the hard-right regime in Jerusalem is making war against the entire Palestinian society, destroying its infrastructure – its bridges, roads and energy facilities – to make all 1.2 million inhabitants of Gaza pay some kind of price. However, it is a price that can not be paid. The extremist Israelis are racial imperialists who are not looking for anything other than the mass elimination of a people from the land. They have invested the firing of tens of thousands of rounds of artillery into one of the most crowded corners of the world to achieve this purpose: but their motives are well understood by everyone who is not a racial imperialist.

Everyone, that is, except the (white) Americans, who eat this crap up. The uniform reaction of the American corporate media to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that something resembling the rule of law must prevail at Guantanamo Bay and other U.S. installations, has been to frame the issue in domestic political terms. The Bush administration had been politically tarnished, was the conclusion: not that it had violated international law, and was in fact an outlaw among nations. The situation has been framed as one of domestic political peril for Republicans – maybe in November – but not how the U.S. gets along with the rest of the world.

In the same way, the Israeli “incursions” into Gaza and the West bank have been framed as defensive measures, even as the world’s forth-strongest military power relentlessly pounded a people who have virtually no military with thousands of rounds of artillery a day. As the entire world knows, Israel could not possibly have amassed such an amazing war machine, unless they had been subsidized by a superpower. And, of course, they were.

In the Arab world, and the larger Muslim world, the “incursions” are seen as alien invasions, and as a threat to their own societies. The Israeli Zionist project is never discussed in the U.S, and now it has become forbidden to speak of it. Meanwhile, a reign of terror exists in Gaza and the West Bank. The terrorists are the Israeli government and armed forces, but instead our own media keeps showing us pictures of a goofy-looking Israeli soldier, while a whole people are being strangled and bombed.

None of this could happen, if there were not racial imperialism, in which the Jews of Israel were considered “white” – and, therefore, had inherent rights. White Americans also think they have rights that not nobody else possesses. There is a connection between the extremist Zionist scheme and the umbilical cord of imperialism. Here is the result, that places the Zionist perspective and the “American” worldview in proper place.

Just as the Americans obliterated Fallujah, Zionists in Israel want to wipe out whole cities. Gaza City has to go. Up in flames. Member of the Knesset, Moshe Sharoni, taunted his Arab colleagues in the Israeli parliament. He said:

“We need to obliterate Gaza and call it the City of Murderers, the City of Terrorists."

This is the mentality of mass murderers.

But then, you can only murder real people. Imperialism kills non-people. That’s the nature of the beast. It can only act that way. Who is wagging this dog? Many of these people are from Brooklyn. American racism and imperialism are the same thing. It appears to have been efficiently exported.


This article is the cover story from the latest edition of Black Commentator. Please comply with our Posting policy if you wish to comment on this article.

New al-Qaeda in Iraq leader is already jailed.

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the purported successor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi as leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, is in an Egyptian prison and not Iraq, a lawyer has claimed.

Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri al-Yawm has quoted Mamduh Ismail as saying he met al-Muhajir, also known as Sharif Hazaa, or Abu Ayub al-Masri, in Tura prison in Cairo, where he has been held for seven years.

"Sharif Hazaa [al-Muhajir] is in Tura prison, and I met him two days ago while I was visiting some of my clients," Ismail, a lawyer known for defending Islamist groups, told the newspaper.

Al-Muhajir is on the "most wanted" list issued by the Iraqi government last week. The US military in Iraq has put a $5million price on his head. The US army media centre in Iraq said: "We cannot comment on the news that ... al-Masri is in an Egyptian prison and not in Iraq, we have to clarify that from the Egyptian government."

The US military had announced after the death of al-Zarqawi that al-Masri had been appointed the leader of al-Qaeda's organisation in Iraq. The military said al-Masri was born and brought up in Egypt. He then went to Afghanistan, where he trained in bomb-making before going to Iraq in 2002.


So if true, Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the man that the US military claim to be the new evil nemesis that has replaced Zarqawi. Is in fact already in an Egyptian jail and has been there for the last seven years !

How convenient.

The Occupation of Iraqi Hearts and Minds

A Dig led by Nir Rosen

Three years into an occupation of Iraq replete with so-called milestones, turning points and individual events hailed as “sea changes” that would “break the back” of the insurgency, a different type of incident received an intense, if ephemeral, amount of attention. A local human rights worker and aspiring journalist in the western Iraqi town of Haditha filmed the aftermath of the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians. The video made its way to an Iraqi working for Time magazine, and the story was finally publicized months later. The Haditha massacre was compared to the Vietnam War’s My Lai massacre, and like the well-publicized and embarrassing Abu Ghraib scandal two years earlier, the attention it received made it seem as if it were a horrible aberration perpetrated by a few bad apples who might have overreacted to the stress they endured as occupiers.

In reality both Abu Ghraib and Haditha were merely more extreme versions of the day-to-day workings of the American occupation in Iraq, and what makes them unique is not so much how bad they were, or how embarrassing, but the fact that they made their way to the media and were publicized despite attempts to cover them up. Focusing on Abu Ghraib and Haditha distracts us from the daily, little Abu Ghraibs and small-scale Hadithas that have made up the occupation. The occupation has been one vast extended crime against the Iraqi people, and most of it has occurred unnoticed by the American people and the media.

Continue reading this fascinating insight at the Source

Iraqi PM urges review of foreign troop immunity

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called for a review of the blanket immunity enjoyed by foreign troops following new allegations of violence against civilians by US soldiers.

"We have to review the immunity enjoyed by members of these forces or look for ways in which Iraqis can participate in the investigation," Maliki told reporters on his return from a tour of the Gulf.

"A lot of mistakes have been committed before Mahmudiyah that have caused grief and anger in the Iraqi people who cannot tolerate these brutal crimes for very long."

US prosecutors on Monday charged a former soldier with raping and killing an Iraqi woman and gunning down three members of her family, including a five-year-old girl, in March in the town of Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad.


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Go to Venezuela, You Idiot!

I don't usually take the advice of rightwingers. But I did this time. After receiving inflamed email messages from dozens of angry rightists that I should get the hell out of the USA and go to Venezuela, I accepted their challenge and flew to Caracas.

Read the full article Here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Worthy reading

Whilst doing my usual rounds over the last couple of weeks, I have come across a few lengthy articles that are worth taking a a second look at.

The First is from the aptly named Everyone is doomed and is a wonderfully emotive piece analyzing in depth the view and attitude of Josh Block (from American Israel Public Affairs Group) in regard to his bizarre defence of the collective punishment of Palestinians. A must read for those that have been following the events in Palestine like me, with the utmost concern.

The Second is an excellent piece by Betmo over at Life's Journey . Its an exquisitely detailed look at world politics in order to establish how we as a planet got to the point we are at today. A wonderful examination of the big players on the world stage . You could certainly add to the list covered in the article and no doubt we could expand the time frame back even further in order to finish the Jigsaw puzzle . A great starting point for those wishing to examine modern political society and the myriad of intricate elements contained.

The Third is yet another wonderful piece by Peter from So much trouble in the world highlighting the tragic events in Uganda. As he so accurately states , Uganda is a place that certainly deserves a moment or two of your attention and Peter certainly presents a compelling case for the plight of the Ugandan people. An essential read for anyone and everyone of conscience.

Iraqi .rape victim was a 15 year old child

Fifteen-year-old Abeer Qasim Hamza was afraid, her mother confided in a neighbor.

As pretty as she was young, the girl had attracted the unwelcome attention of U.S. soldiers manning a checkpoint that the girl had to pass through almost daily in their village in the south-central city of Mahmoudiya, her mother told the neighbor.

Abeer told her mother often in her last days that the soldiers had made advances toward her, a neighbor, Omar Janabi, said this weekend, recounting a conversation he said he had with the girl's mother, Fakhriyah, on March 10.

Fakhriyah feared the Americans might come for her daughter at night, at their home. She asked her neighbor if Abeer might sleep at his house, with the women there. Janabi said he agreed. Then, "I tried to reassure her, remove some of her fear," Janabi said. "I told her, the Americans would not do such a thing." Abeer did not live to take up the offer of shelter at Janabi's home.

Instead, attackers came to the girl's house the next day, apparently separating Abeer from her mother, father and 7-year-old sister. Janabi and others knowledgeable about the incident said they believed the attackers raped Abeer in another room. Medical officials who handled the bodies said the girl had been raped, but they did not elaborate.

Before leaving, the attackers fatally shot the four family members — two of Abeer's brothers had been away at school — and attempted to set Abeer's body on fire, according to Janabi, another neighbor who spoke on condition of anonymity, the mayor of Mahmoudiya and a hospital administrator with knowledge of the death certificates and of the case overall.

The U.S. military said last week that authorities were investigating allegations of a rape and killings in Mahmoudiya by soldiers of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division. The mayor of Mahmoudiya, Mouyad Fadhil Saif, said Sunday that the case was being investigated by the U.S. military as an alleged atrocity.

Janabi was one of the first people to arrive at the house after the attack, he said Saturday, speaking at the home of local tribal leaders. He said he found Abeer sprawled dead in a corner, her hair and a pillow next to her consumed by fire, and her dress pushed up to her neck.

"I was sure from the first glance that she had been raped," he said. Despite the reassurances he had given the girl's mother earlier, Janabi said, "I wasn't surprised what had happened, when I found that the suspicion of the mother was correct." The U.S. military has not identified the victims. U.S. military officials contacted this weekend said they did not know the names of the people involved or most other details of the case.

The military official pointed to one discrepancy in the accounts. Preliminary information in the military investigation put the age of the alleged rape victim at 20, rather than 15, as reported by her neighbors, officials and hospital records and officials in Mahmoudiya.

U.S. soldiers at the scene initially ascribed the killings to Sunni Arab insurgents active in the area, the U.S. military and local residents said. That puzzled villagers, who knew the family was Sunni, Janabi said.

Three months after the incident, two soldiers of the 502nd came forward to say that soldiers of the unit were responsible, a U.S. military official said last week. The U.S. military began an investigation the next day, the official said.


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Post for peace

A most admirable effort on this 4th of July has been made by Glenda from the land of Oz to try and encourage all free thinking bloggers everywhere to put aside a few moments in an effort to Post for peace.

Of course It is very unlikely that any desire for peace can or will be fulfilled by such an effort. But holding such commitment and passion for what you believe certainly does present considerably more effect and influence than many would be willing to admit. For a simple idea such as this, can and will spread like a positive virus and infect others into also making a stand.

I have watched this idea develop from the sidelines on a few of the blogs that I read and can not help but be impressed at the speed at which fellow bloggers have shown their willingness to help spread this positive virus that we could call hope.

Looking at the list of blogs joining in , the response seems to be most praiseworthy and I highly recommend popping over to Glenda's place to get access to the full list of all those taking part.

Do something positive today. If you have a blog then why not join them in this effort and if you don't own a blog, then you could spend some time popping into the sites (listed at Glenda's) and adding you're support to the many readers who have woken up today and decided to stand up for something they believe in.

BTW, Happy 4th of July to all the Americans out there. To the rest of the planet, have a lovely and insignificant early in July type of day.