Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Terror in Gaza




Haaretz
The Israeli human rights organizations Adalah and Gisha yesterday petitioned the High Court of Justice for an urgent interim injunction to prevent Israel from continuing to restrict the industrial diesel oil supply to the Gaza Strip. They said the shortage deriving from Israel's deliberate cuts in recent weeks culminated in the dramatic closure of the border crossings on Friday. The power cuts caused a shortage of drinking water and damage to the hospitals' function already on January 5, when Gaza's electric power's production was cut by 30 percent. But the High Court of Justice dismissed their request.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bypassing the blockage of nations

From the BBC

Solving the world's environmental ills may mean re-thinking the role of nations and national governments





'And before anyone hits the comments form at the bottom of the page to say this is just the sort of leftist, neo-socialist, anti-libertarian, collectivist rubbish they would expect from a BBC environment correspondent, I want to emphasise that I am certainly not advocating some kind of global government'...

Here

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Bush calls for contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian state

US President George W Bush has said Israel must end its occupation of some Arab land to enable the creation of a viable Palestinian state.

He also urged a solution to the issue of Palestinian refugees that would involve paying them compensation. It is thought to be Mr Bush's strongest public statement pressing Israel to give up land it seized in the 1967 war.



He was speaking in Jerusalem following two days of separate talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. He has been trying to encourage the two sides into peace talks, and says he wants a peace deal signed by the time he leaves office in January 2009.

Mr Bush said in a statement: "It is vital that each side understands that satisfying the other's fundamental objectives is key to a successful agreement."

He said this would require:

A secure recognised and defensible borders for Israel

A viable, contiguous, sovereign and independent Palestinian state


He added: "Agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people."

Article from the BBC

The saying 'give a million monkeys a million typewriters and a thousand years and they'll give you Shakespeare' comes to mind. Well it appears that if you give George Bush enough time eventually he will say something sensible! It is a rare, yet notable occasion when this site gives praise to this current U.S. President but this is one such occasion. Will his words bring forth change... almost certainly not, but we will see...

Please read our Comment rules before commenting on this article.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Iranian TV: Pentagon Video, Audio Fake

Iran accused the United States on Wednesday of fabricating video and audio released by the Pentagon showing Iranian boats confronting U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.



The video from Sunday's incident shows small Iranian boats swarming around U.S. warships in the Strait of Hormuz. In the recording, a man speaking in heavily accented English threatened, "I am coming to you. ... You will explode after ... minutes.''

"The footage released by the U.S. Navy was compiled using file pictures and the audio has been fabricated,'' an official in Iran's Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying by the state-run English-language channel Press TV.

State TV did not give the name of the Revolutionary Guard official and did not offer more details about how the official knew the footage was ``fabricated.''

Source

The video footage can be seen Here

I have seen more provocative acts of naval aggression the last time I went to the Seaside. Take away the audio and you are left with two men in a small boat. It would not surprise me if the audio was faked, but assuming that it's genuine then it seems we are left with what looks like a juvenile prank.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Why U.S. strategy on Iran is crumbling

'Everywhere you turn, it is the policy of Iran to foment instability and chaos," Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Gulf dignitaries in Bahrain last month. But in reality, everywhere you turn, from Qatar to Saudi Arabia to Egypt, you now see Iranian leaders shattering longstanding taboos by meeting cordially with their Arab counterparts.

The Gulf has moved away from American arguments for isolating Iran. American policymakers need to do the same.

Continue reading at the Source.

Common sense at last? Or simply a lack of any reasonable cause?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Unicef report: 'Little respite for Iraq’s children'

' An estimated two million children in Iraq continue to face threats including poor nutrition, disease and interrupted education'.





'Iraqi children were frequently caught in the crossfire of conflict throughout 2007. Insecurity and displacement continues to cause hardship for many in the most insecure parts of the country and further eroded access to quality essential services country-wide. Iraq remains volatile; however conditions begin to allow for more a concerted effort to deliver assistance'.

“Iraqi children are paying far too high a price,” said Roger Wright, UNICEF’s Special Representative for Iraq. “While we have been providing as much assistance as possible, a new window of opportunity is opening, which should enable us to reach the most vulnerable with expanded, consistent support. We must act now.”

Available information from different sources shows that:

Children in remote and hard-to-reach areas were frequently cut off from health outreach services.

Only 20 per cent outside Baghdad had working sewerage in their community, and access to safe water remains a serious issue.

An average 25,000 children per month were displaced by violence or intimidation, their families seeking shelter in other parts of Iraq.

By the end of the year, approximately 75,000 children had resorted to living in camps or temporary shelters (25 per cent of those newly-displaced since the Samarra shrine bombing in February 2006).

Hundreds of children lost their lives or were injured by violence and many more had their main family wage-earner kidnapped or killed.

Approximately 1,350 children were detained by military and police authorities, many for alleged security violations.

Only 28 per cent of Iraq’s 17 year olds sat their final exams in summer, and only 40 per cent of those sitting exams achieved a passing grade (in south and central Iraq).

Many of 220,000 displaced children of primary school age had their education interrupted, adding to the estimated 760,000 children (17 per cent) already out of primary school in 2006'.

Source

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Television is not the truth!

'A movie made many years ago that perfectly describes the situation today about television and the main stream media. It resonates louder and sounds more accurate today than it did when the movie was made'.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

24,000 civilian Iraqi deaths in 2007 - report

Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007

'Eritrea has replaced North Korea in last place in an index measuring the level of press freedom in 169 countries throughout the world that is published by Reporters Without Borders for the sixth year running'.


'There were slightly fewer press freedom violations in the United States (48th) and blogger Josh Wolf was freed after 224 days in prison. But the detention of Al-Jazeera’s Sudanese cameraman, Sami Al-Haj, since 13 June 2002 at the military base of Guantanamo and the murder of Chauncey Bailey in Oakland in August mean the United States is still unable to join the lead group'.

Check out the position of your country on the list here.

This report has been out for quite a while now, but I was unable to post it at the time of release. I feel that it is important to keep up with these yearly reports as we did in back in 2006 and 2005.

Monday, December 31, 2007

The 2007 International Privacy Ranking

(click map to enlarge)

Each year since 1997, the US-based Electronic Privacy Information Center and the UK-based Privacy International have undertaken what has now become the most comprehensive survey of global privacy ever published. The Privacy & Human Rights Report surveys developments in 70 countries, assessing the state of surveillance and privacy protection.


According to this survey, if you live in the USA, Russia, China or The United Kingdom then the battle for your privacy is already lost...

Hat tip to life's journey who posted on this yesterday.

Is this the beginning of the end in Iraq?

Source: The Independent

Some 19 US soldiers have been killed so far in December, the lowest number of American military fatalities in a single month since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. As recently as May this year, 135 US soldiers were shot dead or blown up by Iraqi guerrillas.


The fall in US casualties is one of the most surprising events of 2007. At the beginning of the year, the American army in Iraq seemed to be clinging on by its fingertips as more and more of the country came under the control of Sunni and Shia warlords. Twelve months later, US units are peaceably patrolling districts of Baghdad where once they faced ambushes at every street corner.

Viewed from the White House, events in Iraq seem to be one of the few optimistic developments in the series of crises facing it in the central core of the Islamic world, as the fragility of the US position is underlined by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, one of its main allies, in Pakistan.

Iraqis and the outside world are equally perplexed as to what this means. Are we seeing the beginning of the end of the fighting in Iraq, a conflict which has now gone on for longer than the First World War? Or is it a lull in the violence that is bound to end because Shia, Sunni, Kurd and American are as divided as ever?

Significant changes have taken place in Iraq this year. The most important is that part of the Sunni Arab community, the core of the insurgency against the US occupation, has changed sides and is now fighting al-Qa'ida in alliance with the US military. This dramatic switch in allegiance occurred primarily because the Sunni Arabs, only 20 per cent of Iraq's population, were being overwhelmed by the Shia, the branch of Islam to which 60 per cent of Iraqis belong.

The US and British armies have examined many past guerrilla wars, looking for parallels which might prove useful in combating the Iraqi insurgency.

British generals were once particularly keen on proudly citing their actions in Malaya and Northern Ireland as providing rich experience in anti-guerrilla warfare. Most analogies were highly misleading. "Basra was the exact opposite of Northern Ireland and Malaya," a British officer told me in exasperation. "In the latter we were supported by the majority communities while we fought the Roman Catholic and Chinese minorities. In southern Iraq our main problem is that we had no real local allies."

The Americans suffer from a similar problem in central Iraq. Outside Kurdistan, it is difficult to find an Iraqi who supports the US occupation for more than tactical reasons. Seldom mentioned, for obvious reasons, is the one recent anti-guerrilla war which has many similarities to that being fought by America in Iraq. This is Russia's successful re-conquest of Chechnya between 1999 and the present.

In a similar way to al-Qa'ida in Iraq, the Islamic fundamentalists in Chechnya, invariably called Wahabi, played an increasingly central role in the armed resistance to the Russian occupation. But the savagery of their fighters alienated many anti-Russian Chechens and eventually split the insurgency. I remember being astonished that Chechen human rights workers, who usually denounced Russian atrocities to me, were prepared to co-operate with the Russian army to attack the Wahabi. Often their motive was a blood feud against a Wahabi commander who had killed their relatives.

The parallels between Iraq and Chechnya should not be carried too far. The US has effectively raised a Sunni militia force which may soon total 100,000 men, many of them former insurgents. They are armed and paid for by the US, but regard the Shia-Kurdish government with deep suspicion. Many Sunni commanders speak of taking on the Shia militia, the Mehdi army, which has been stood down by its leader, Muqtada al-Sadr.

It is a bizarre situation. One experienced Iraqi politician told me that al-Qa'ida in Iraq, which never had much connection with Osama bin Laden's organisation, had effectively split last year. A sign of this was when somebody betrayed the location of its leader, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, to the US military, which bombed his hideout and killed him. Some of the so-called "Concerned Citizens" militiamen now on the US payroll are former al-Qa'ida fighters, though the US is still holding hundreds of men in Guantanamo, accusing them of being associates of al-Qa'ida.

The US has had real operational successes on the ground in Iraq this year, but there is little sign yet of Iraq being pacified. Local warlords in Sunni areas have switched from attacking US forces to working with them, but they might easily switch back tomorrow. As with the British in Basra, the Americans lack long-term allies that can stand on their own feet without US assistance.

This is one of the dangers of the continuing US presence. The longer it goes on, the more the government of Iraq becomes incapable of existing without US support. The government in the Green Zone is a hothouse plant that would wither and die without the American military presence. Although prime minister Nouri al-Maliki complains about the way in which the US controls the Iraqi army, he makes little practical effort to move out of the Green Zone or establish his practical independence. The US may say that it will leave when the Iraqi government can stand on its own two feet, but the continuing occupation makes sure that day does not come.

Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are very different countries, but they are the terrain in which President Bush chose to test America's status as a superpower. They are also countries where it is difficult to win a decisive victory because power is so fragmented. Successes often turn out to be illusory or exaggerated. For instance, the Taliban was so swiftly overthrown in 2001 because the local warlords, whom the Taliban had bribed or intimidated into supporting it, found that the US offered bigger bribes and its bombers were more intimidating. They changed sides once again, though very few of them went out of business.

The same is true of Iraq today. Iraqi parties, movements and communities have an extraordinary ability to withstand outside pressure. Most of them survived Saddam Hussein and are not going to buckle under anything the US can do to them.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bhutto : a reaction