Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Israel steps up campaign to stop flotilla sailing to Gaza in defiance of blockade

Organisers say ships carrying humanitarian aid and peace activists, not ‘extremists’ as claimed by Israeli intelligence

in Jerusalem, The Guardian, June 28, 2011
 
Gaza flotilla
 
The Mavi Marmara ship, above, the lead boat of a flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip was stormed by Israeli naval commandos last year. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP
Israel has stepped up its campaign to stop a flotilla of ships breaching its blockade of Gaza by accusing some of the passengers of intending to harm Israeli soldiers if they board the ships.

An Israeli government official said intelligence agents had discovered that extremists aimed to infiltrate the peace activists travelling on the 10-ship flotilla. “On the flotilla, there’s an unofficial division of labour. There are activists, writers and politicians who say that they are not aware of anyone with bad motives. We believe them but the people that we are concerned about are avoiding the television cameras like the plague.

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Andy Worthington: US Supreme Court Refuses to Allow Abu Ghraib Torture Victims to Sue Military Contractors

 Andy Worthington, uruknet.info, June 28, 2011
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With what can only come across as cynical timing, the US Supreme Court on Monday, the day after the UN International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, declined without comment to take up a lawsuit filed on behalf of 250 Iraqis — formerly prisoners at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, home of the most significant scandal in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” which surfaced in April 2004 with the publication of photos showing the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners in US custody at the prison. The prisoners were seeking to hold Titan Corporation, which provided Arabic translation services, and CACI International, which provided interrogators, accountable  for their role in the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2003 and 2004.

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Haaretz: Let the flotilla go

It appears that even though a year has passed since the first flotilla fiasco, Israel is showing that it has learned just one lesson: the military lesson.

Haaretz Editorial, Haaretz, June 29, 2011

The term “flotilla” is understood in Israel as a declaration of war. This is the case with respect to the latest Gaza-bound flotilla, just as it was with the one that set off from Turkey in May 2010. Furthermore, due to unstable relations with Turkey, Israel is still feeling the repercussions of its deadly raid on that maritime convoy.

The latest flotilla, which has already begun heading toward the Gaza Strip and is scheduled to reach its shores Thursday, will apparently be far larger than the previous one. It will include about a dozen ships holding some 500 activists, along with food and medicine that is considered to be humanitarian aid for Gazans.

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Crackdown in Cairo continues

by Sharif Abdel Kouddous, The Nation, June 29, 2011

Cairo, Egypt

Over 1,000 people were injured on Wednesday after Egyptian security forces responded to protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square with tear gas and rubber bullets. The crackdown began on Tuesday night after police reportedly beat and arrested family members of those killed during the eighteen-day uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, at an event commemorating martyrs of the revolution. On Sunday, the family members had erupted in angry protest and hurled rocks at police vehicles after a judge in Cairo again postponed the trial of former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six of his aides.

The state still controls the media in post-revolution Egypt, but an independent press is emerging.

Mubarak’s armed thugs violently attacked peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square, injuring hundreds. But many demonstrators vowed to stay in the streets until the dictator leaves.
Al-Adly, one of the most reviled figures of the Mubarak era, was in office for fourteen years before being forced out in the early days of the January 25 revolt. Under his leadership, the Interior Ministry acted as a giant lawless militia, spying on, kidnapping, threatening, humiliating and torturing Egyptian citizens. The State Security branch employed at least 100,000 people and maintained a vast network of informants, all for the single purpose of keeping the regime in power.

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P C Roberts: A World Overwhelmed By Western Hypocrisy

By Paul Craig Roberts, OpEdNews.com, June 29, 2011
 
Western institutions have become caricatures of hypocrisy.

The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are violating their charters in order to bail out French, German, and Dutch private banks. The IMF is only empowered to make balance of payments loans, but is lending to the Greek government for prohibited budgetary reasons in order that the Greek government can pay the banks. The ECB is prohibited from bailing out member country overnments, but is doing so anyway in order that the banks can be paid. The German parliament approved the bailout, which violates provisions of the European Treaty and Germany’s own Basic Law. The case is in the German Constitutional Court, a fact unreported in the US media.
 
US President George W. Bush appointed an immigrant, who is not impressed with the US Constitution and the separation of powers, to the Justice (sic) Department in order to get a ruling that the president has “unitary powers” that elevate him above statutory US law, treaties, and international law. According to this immigrant’s legal decisions, the “unitary executive” can violate with impunity the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prevents spying on Americans without warrants obtained from the FISA Court. The immigrant also ruled that Bush could violate with impunity the statutory US laws against torture as well as the Geneva Conventions. In other words, the fictional “unitary powers” make the president into a Caesar.
 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pakistan: At Least 29 Slain in US Drone Strikes Against South Waziristan

Attacks Target House Full of Tribals in Mandoi

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, June 27, 2011
 
At least 29 people were slain and an unknown number of others wounded today in a pair of US drone strikes against South Waziristan Agency, Pakistan. The first strike targeted a vehicle, killing eight people in Shawwal.

The second strike hit a home full of tribesmen in Mandoi, killing the 21 people inside and wounding a number of people surrounding the area. The toll in Mandoi is expected to continue to rise through the evening, as people were continuing to be pulled from the rubble.
The attacks were the latest in a flurry of escalating attacks launched by the US since early May. In June alone the death toll is now nearly 100 killed, with all termed “suspects” but none conclusively identified as an actual militant, including one “confirmed” kill that was later retracted.

Pakistan’s government has repeatedly demanded that the US halt all drone strikes against the tribal areas. Today’s strikes once again suggest this won’t be happening any time soon and that if anything, the Obama Administration is looking to escalate even more.

Petraeus Says Torture an Option for US

Disgusting, Depraved And Illegal

By Ken Dilanian, Information Clearing House, June 26, 2011


David Petraeus, Barack Obama’s choice to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, says the US should consider using special interrogation techniques when a captive is withholding information that is immediately needed to save lives.

 In the vast majority of cases, General Petraeus said, the ”humane” questioning standards mandated by the US Army field manual were sufficient to persuade detainees to talk. But while he did not use the word torture, General Petraeus said ”there should be discussion … by policy makers and by Congress” of something ”more than the normal techniques”.

 Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, General Petraeus described an example of a detainee who knew how to disarm a nuclear device set to explode under the Empire State Building. Congress might want to give the President the option of taking extraordinary measures to extract that information, he said.
 Continues >>



Israel PM orders navy to stop aid flotilla


OpEdNews.com, Mon Jun 27, 2011

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel’s security cabinet has ordered the navy to use all possible means to prevent the incoming international aid flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip.
After two days of closed-doors meetings, the ministers committee on security affairs on Monday voted in favor of the navy plans to stop the convoy of vessels known as Freedom Flotilla II from breaching the Israeli-imposed naval blockade on the Palestinian territory, giving the army authority to use “all necessary means” during the operation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The statement also said that the cabinet has also ordered Israeli troops to operate with “maximal restraint and avoid clashes with activists on board the vessels.”
Israeli officials say navy commandos have revised their tactics in the wake of the May 31, 2010 attack, which killed nine Turkish activists on board the leading ship, Turkish-flagged MV Mavi Marmara, and drew international condemnation.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Criminalizing Palestinian Solidarity in the U.S.

Campaigning against Israeli apartheid has resulted in 23 Palestinian solidarity activists facing US federal grand jury.

by Maureen Murphy, CommonDreams.org, June 27, 2011
The United States government has criminalized the Palestinian people, and now it is increasingly treating US citizens who stand in solidarity with Palestine as criminals as well – including those courageously putting their lives on the line to break the siege on Gaza.

I am a Palestine solidarity activist in the US, and one of 23 US citizens who have been issued with a subpoena to appear before a federal grand jury as part of what the government has said is an investigation into violations of the laws banning material support to foreign “terrorist organizations”.

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The Lie Behind the Afghan War

Exclusive: A recurring refrain about the Afghan War is that the United States must stay for the long haul now to avoid repeating the “mistake” made in 1989 when Soviet forces left and Americans supposedly disappeared, too. But this conventional wisdom, spread by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and others, is a lie, Robert Parry writes.

By Robert Parry, Consortium News,  June 24, 2011

In Official Washington, there’s one “fact” about the Afghan War that nearly everyone “knows”: In February 1989, after the Soviet army left Afghanistan, the United States walked away from the war-torn country, creating a vacuum that led to the rise of the Taliban and its readiness to host al-Qaeda’s anti-American terrorists.

It is a point made by senior administration officials, including incoming Ambassador Ryan Crocker and departing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who once summed up the conventional wisdom by saying: “We will not repeat the mistakes of 1989, when we abandoned the country only to see it descend into civil war and into Taliban hands.”
And Gates was there at the time, as President George H.W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser. So, he should know.

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ASIA: Outdated policing systems rely on the use of torture as the most important tool in criminal investigations

AHRC, June 25, 2011

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A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the Occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26, 2011 

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Due to the enormous changes in the popular consciousness of people throughout the Asian countries there is an increased demand for the elimination of the practice of torture. In the recent decades due to changes in education as well as communications people have undergone significant changes regarding their attitudes to governance. The rejection of the abusive use of force for social control is one of the marked features of the present times.

However, the states of the Asian countries are still resorting to the use of torture on an extensive scale. The failure to improve the law enforcement agencies in keeping with modern times and the continued use of outdated policing and other law enforcement practices remains one of the major causes of torture. The reliance on such outdated instruments is mostly due to the refusal of the state to allocate adequate funding for the administration of justice in general and on policing and other forms of law enforcement in particular.

Syria: Statement by people of Kesweh

Local Coordination Committees of Syria

uruknet.info, June 26, 2011

We, the people of the city of Kesweh in Damascus, announce our resolve and determination to continue our peaceful revolution against the criminal, corrupt and dictatorial regime. And we stress to the proud Syrian people that we will not betray the blood of our martyrs, who sacrificed their wellbeing for the sake of our freedom and the freedom of our sons and daughters, and that we remain steadfast in covenent we made to them and marching in their path.

In this regard, we like to extend our condolences to the families of the heroic and honorable officers who were shot dead by the treacherous hands of the security forces in the city of Kesweh on a Friday of The Fall Of Legitimacy when they refused to execute orders to fire live bullets at peaceful protesters from the city of Kesweh and ended up dying as martyrs.

China: Ai Weiwei Case Reflects Disregard for Rule of Law

Unlawful, Unwarranted Detention, and Onerous Restrictions Loom

Human Rights Watch, June 22, 2011

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Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei waves from the entrance of his studio after being released on bail in Beijing.
© 2011 Reuters
The Chinese government’s decision to arrest Ai Weiwei was political, and so is his release. But it is also an example of how international pressure works, since Beijing was paying a high cost to its reputation for his detention.
Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch
(New York) – The release of the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei on June 22 is a relief for his family, friends and supporters, but leaves troubling unanswered questions about his arrest, detention and conditions of release, Human Rights Watch said today. In particular, Human Rights Watch is concerned about the political nature of his arrest, the conditions under which the police may have extracted a “confession” from him, and possible restrictions on freedoms he faces following his release.

Ai’s release on bail was followed by a statement from Xinhua, the official government news agency, saying he had been released because of his “good attitude in confessing his crimes” and because he suffers from an unspecified chronic disease. The statement added that Ai’s release resulted from consideration of the fact that he had repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes that the government alleges that he has evaded.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Unchanging Imperial Paradigm

by Sheldon Richman , fff.org, June 24, 2011

Despite President Obama’s trumpeted force drawdown in Afghanistan, by the end of next summer more than twice as many U.S. troops will be fighting in that country’s civil war as there were when he became president in 2009. His soothing words notwithstanding, a force of about 70,000 will remain there at least until the end of 2014. We can be sure, however, that that won’t stop the president from campaigning for reelection on a peace platform.

Obama’s speech the other night was mostly show, a spectacle to make the war- and deficit-weary public think he’s taking substantial steps toward disengagement. He did something similar in Iraq, though 50,000 troops remain and are still taking casualties.

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Uri Avnery: Sacred Mantras


By Uri Avnery, MWC News, June 26, 2011

Palestinian State

The Palestinians are planning something thoroughly obnoxious: they intend to apply to the UN for statehood.

obnoxious? Any Israeli spokesman (not to mention spokeswoman) will tell you readily: because it is a “unilateral” move. How dare they proclaim a state unilaterally? How dare they do so without the consent of the other party to the conflict - us?

A stickler for detail might ask at this point: “But was the State of Israel not proclaimed unilaterally?” Our state, it may be remembered, was declared by David Ben-Gurion and his colleagues on Mai 14, 1948, without asking anyone.

But who would dare to compare?

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Stephen Lendman: Violating Palestinian Rights

By Stephen Lendman, Countercurrents.org,  25 June, 2011


Besides its Knesset, security forces and intelligence services, Israel’s High Court and Civil Administration ravage Palestinian civil society repressively. Two examples illustrate the problem.

On June 22, a B’Tselem press release headlined, “Sharp increase in West Bank home demolitions,” saying:

Through late June, Israel’s Civil Administration, its Judea/Samaria (West Bank) governing body, illegally “demolished more Palestinians homes….than in all of last year.” Most often, soldiers and Border Police accompany them, forcefully evicting longtime residents.
Over the most recent seven day period, 33 residential buildings were demolished in Jordan Valley Fasayil, al-Hadidiyeh, and Yarza communities, as well as southern Hebron Hills Khirbet Bir al-’Id. As a result, 238 Palestinians, including 129 minors, lost homes.

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Eric Margolis: A Real Pullout from Afghanistan or a Shell Game?

by Eric Margolis, CommonDreams.org, June 26, 2011

Far-called our navies melt away— On dune and headland sinks the fire— Lo, all our pomp of yesterday Is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Rudyard Kipling “Recessional” NEW YORK – War is waged to achieve political objectives, not to kill enemies. In this sense, the United States has lost the ten-year Afghan conflict, its longest war. Afghanistan remains the “graveyard of empires.”

The US has failed to install an obedient regime in Kabul that controls Afghanistan. It has made foes of the Pashtun majority, and, in pursuing this war, gravely undermined Pakistan. Claims that US forces were in Afghanistan to hunt the late Osama bin Laden were widely disbelieved.

Last Wednesday, President Barack Obama bowed to public opinion, approaching elections, military reality and financial woes by announcing he would withdraw a third of the 100,000 US troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer.   Pentagon brass growled open opposition.

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Israel warns foreign journalists: Joining Gaza flotilla is illegal

Letter from head of Israel’s Government Press Office warns that taking part in convoy of boats sailing to Gaza could result in being barred from Israel for 10 years.

By Haaretz, June  26, 2011

Israel’s Government Press Office issued a letter Sunday to foreign journalists, warning them that participating in the upcoming flotilla sailing to Gaza is illegal under Israeli law, and could result in anyone who joins the convoy being barred from Israel for up to 10 years.
The letter, signed by GPO director Oren Helman, states that the flotilla “is a dangerous provocation that is being organized by western and Islamic extremist elements to aid Hamas.”

Israeli forces approaching Gaza flotilla Israel Navy forces approach one of six ships of an aid flotilla bound for Gaza on May 31, 2010.
Photo by: Reuters 
 
Helman asks editors to inform journalists that the Israel Defense Forces have been ordered to stop the convoy of ships from reaching Gaza, given that “The flotilla intends to knowingly violate the blockade that has been declared legally and is in accordance with all treaties and international law.”
 

Saudi Arabian torment of migrant workers at mercy of abusive ‘madams’

Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia send £17bn to families back home annually. But for some, the cost in physical and mental abuse is too high, writes Jason Burke

Jason Burke, The Guardian, June 25, 2011

A Saudi woman applies makeup
A Saudi woman applies makeup to a woman at a cosmetics exhibition in Jeddah. Photograph: Amer Hilabi/AFP/Getty Images
 
Shortly after dawn, as the sun rises over the hills behind the city, tens of thousands of women will wake in the Saudi Arabian port of Jeddah and go to work. Maybe 14 or 16 hours later, their day will be over.

They are maids, almost all from the Philippines or Indonesia, working for £100-£200 a month. There are more than 500,000 of them in Saudi Arabia, among nearly nine million foreign workers who sweep roads, clean offices, staff coffee shops, drive the cars that women are banned from driving and provide the manpower on the vast construction projects.

The story of the maids rarely receives attention, except when a new shocking incident reveals once again the problems many of them face. . . .

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Jemima Khan: The things you say sound great, Mr President. So why do you end up disappointing us?

The Saturday Column

 The Independent, June 25, 2011

President Obama is a hit with US troops, but don't be fooled by his Afghan 'withdrawal' REUTERS President Obama is a hit with US troops, but don’t be fooled by his Afghan ‘withdrawal’

Alhamdulillah! President Barack Obama is finally withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.
Except he’s not – only those extras that he deployed in the “surge” of 2009; 68,000 will remain, double the number sent by his predecessor, George Bush.

Obama keeps doing this. Sounding marvellous, then, in retrospect, disappointing. After eight long and bloody years of Bush, everyone outside America, especially Muslims, welcomed this voice of reason, sobriety and perhaps even empathy. Scribbled on a bullet-punctured wall in Gaza was “Obama Inshallah!”. Even in Pakistan, the only ally of the US, which the US regularly bombs, people came out on the streets – any excuse, admittedly – to celebrate his election victory.

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With the Gaza Aid Flotilla: Israeli Assault on the Flotilla is Well Underway

by Joseph Dana, CommonDreams.org, June 24, 2011

Source: The Nation

UPDATED

ATHENS, Greece  — Israeli diplomatic and economic pressure is looming large over preparations of the second Gaza aid flotilla, set to sail from a number Greek ports at the end of the month. Israel has clearly stated that it will use every diplomatic and military avenue to maintain its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. The events of the past few days in Athens confirm that Israel is making good on its claim. Learning from last year’s botched military operation against the flotilla– which left eight Turkish civilians and one Turkish-American civilian dead– Israel is seemingly applying pressure directly on the Greek government to stop the flotilla boats from setting sail.

Early this morning, I discovered that a ‘private complaint’ had been filed against the US boat to Gaza. The complaint, it is still unclear who filed it, stated that the US boat to Gaza is not ’sea worthy’ and requires a detailed inspection. The harbor master where the boat is in port has declared that until the complaint is resolved the boat is not permitted to leave. Currently, lawyers representing the US boat are looking into the origins of the complaint and whether it was filed as a result of Israeli economic or diplomatic pressure on the Greek government. The boat is US flagged and registered in the United States.

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Destination: Gaza strip

By John Haylett, Morning Star Online, June 24, 2011

 Pulitzer prize-winning author Alice Walker will take her place this week on the US boat The Audacity Of Hope, which is part of the Freedom Flotilla 2 – Stay Human initiative.
Around 10 boats carrying 500 human rights activists will set sail for Gaza to challenge Israel’s ongoing illegal blockade of the Palestinian territory.

The Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which was attacked in May 2010 by Israeli special forces who killed nine humanitarian campaigners, will not be part of this year’s flotilla.
Announcing last weekend that the Mavi Marmara is unable to sail, the international coalition said that this would expose Israeli government misinformation that the flotilla is exclusively a “Turkish” and “Islamist” effort.

“This is a rainbow coalition of human rights defenders. It does not only concern Muslims but everyone, be they Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, secular or whatever. This is world citizenry united,” it asserted.

The coalition added that Israel’s siege persists, pointing out that the “established channels” cited by world leaders to suggest that the flotilla is unnecessary do not meet the Palestinian people’s needs.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Obama’s 10,000 Troop Spit In The Ocean– Not Even Close to Good Enough

By Rob Kall, opednews.com, June 23, 2011  

The experts this morning are all agreeing that a 10,000 troop reduction is tiny and insignificant. But we knew that and didn’t need the experts to tell us that.
Even reducing troops by 33,000 is totally weak, completely unacceptable. There were 35,000 troops in Afghanistan when Obama donned the mantle of president.
Of course, the media is saying that Obama stood  up to his generals and cut more than they wanted. Bull!!
 
            Obama, telling the nation he kept his promise
 
What we are witnessing is one more example of failure of leadership, failure to stand up to the people Obama is supposed to be commanding. Instead, he is, as people now expect him to do, “listening to the Generals.”  That’s not what Obama was elected to do. He was elected to make hard decisions.
 
We must face the reality that military leaders are like crack addicts, totally unable to cut down on troops, let alone embrace the idea that our mlitary must be cut to one quarter or less of its current size.
 

Michael Parenti: Imperialism 101

Michael Parenti, Information Clearing House, June 22. 2011

Imperialism has been the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries, carving up whole continents while oppressing indigenous peoples and obliterating entire civilizations. Yet, it is seldom accorded any serious attention by our academics, media commentators, and political leaders. When not ignored outright, the subject of imperialism has been sanitized, so that empires become “commonwealths,” and colonies become “territories” or “dominions” (or, as in the case of Puerto Rico, “commonwealths” too). Imperialist military interventions become matters of “national defense,” “national security,” and maintaining “stability” in one or another region. In this book I want to look at imperialism for what it really is.

Across the Entire Globe

By “imperialism” I mean the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.The earliest victims of Western European imperialism were other Europeans. Some 800 years ago, Ireland became the first colony of what later became known as the British empire. A part of Ireland still remains under British occupation. Other early Caucasian victims included the Eastern Europeans. The people Charlemagne worked to death in his mines in the early part of the ninth century were Slavs. So frequent and prolonged was the enslavement of Eastern Europeans that “Slav” became synonymous with servitude. Indeed, the word “slave” derives from “Slav.” Eastern Europe was an early source of capital accumulation, having become wholly dependent upon Western manufactures by the seventeenth century.

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Calls for Mass Rally to Bring Egypt Revolt ‘Back to Basics’

CommonDreams.org, June 24, 2011

Source: Agence France-Presse

CAIRO – Egyptian activists are calling for a massive rally on July 8 to “save the revolution” that toppled Hosni Mubarak, urging politicians to drop debates on the timing of elections and focus on restoring basic freedoms.


Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate minutes after the announcement on television of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Now, more than four months later Egyptian activists are calling for a massive rally on July 8 to “save the revolution” that toppled Mubarak, urging politicians to drop debates on the timing of elections and focus on restoring basic freedoms. (Photograph: Amel Pain/EPA) On a Facebook page entitled “The 2nd revolution of anger”, activists say the fundamental demands of the uprising — to protect rights and freedoms — have not been met, and have instead become clouded by arguments on whether elections or a constitution should come first.

“To all rival political forces debating which should come first, constitution or elections, save your revolution first, save Egypt first. Our revolution is collapsing,” the activists said on their Facebook page, which by Friday had garnered over 55,000 members.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over when nationwide protests forced Mubarak from power in February, has scheduled parliamentary elections for September.

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“Victory” Is the Verbal Equivalent of a Yeti

By Tom Engelhardt, ZNet, June 24, 2011

 
Now that Washington has at least six wars cooking (in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and more generally, the global war on terror), Americans find themselves in a new world of war. If, however, you haven’t joined the all-volunteer military, any of our 17 intelligence outfits, the Pentagon, the weapons companies and hire-a-gun corporations associated with it, or some other part of the National Security Complex, America’s distant wars go on largely without you (at least until the bills come due).

War has a way of turning almost anything upside down, including language. But with lost jobs, foreclosed homes, crumbling infrastructure, and weird weather, who even notices? This undoubtedly means that you’re using a set of antediluvian war words or definitions from your father’s day. It’s time to catch up.

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PAKISTAN: Government purposely avoids making law against the torture in country

 AHRC, June 24, 2011
 
 
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the Occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26, 2011 

Torture in custody is a serious problem affecting the rule of law in Pakistan. It is used as the most common means by which to obtain confessional statements and also for extracting bribes. Torture in custody has become endemic and on many occasions the police and members of the armed forces have demonstrated torture in open place to create fear in the general public.

The absence of proper complaint centres and no particular law to criminalise torture makes the menace of torture wide spread. The torture cases have to be reported to the police, therefore the police, being the main perpetrators of torture refuse to register the cases. This is the main reason why official data about the cases of torture is not available.
As yet, there has been no serious effort by the government to make torture a crime in the country. Rather, the state provides impunity to the perpetrators who are mostly either policemen or members of the armed forces. . . .

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Forgotten Terrorist Attack

by Malcom Lagauche, uruknet.info, June 21, 2011

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Layla al-Attar

With all the talk of terrorist attacks, one ordered by Bill Clinton in June 1993 eludes the media each year. Soon, it will be the 18th anniversary of the US terrorist attack that killed Layla al-Attar, Iraq’s leading artist at the time.

 Many countries have one or two days a year that indicate a national tragedy. In the U.S., December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, is labeled a “day of infamy.” Almost 60 years later, September 11, 2001 surpassed December 7 as a rallying cry for U.S. solidarity.

Iraq, a country much smaller than the U.S., and never as large a player on the international scene, can claim several days of infamy: January 17, 1991 (the beginning of Desert Storm); February 14, 1991 (the destruction of the Amiryah Bomb Shelter); March 20, 2003 (the start of the U.S. illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq); and April 9, 2003, (U.S. forces enter Baghdad) among others. But, one date that gains little international attention is imbedded in the hearts and minds of many Iraqis: June 26, 1993. 

New Egypt? 7,000 civilians jailed since Mubarak fell


By Mohannad Sabry | McClatchy Newspapers, June 13, 2011

CAIRO — Egypt’s military rulers told human rights advocates Monday that at least 7,000 civilians have been sentenced to prison terms by military courts since Hosni Mubarak was ousted — an astoundingly high number likely to fuel debate over how much the revolution has changed the country.

Advocates said the military promised to review the cases and vacate any improper guilty verdicts and commute the sentences. But the advocates voiced skepticism and demanded more information about civilians in military custody.

“This is not the first time they’ve promised,” said Mona Seif, a member of a rights group called No Military Trials that met with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt’s ruling body. “We were offered no guarantees whatsoever.”

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INDONESIA: Police ill-treat peaceful protesters and charge them with rebellion in a flawed process

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-117-2011

Asian Human Rights Commision, 23 June 2011
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INDONESIA: Police ill-treat peaceful protesters and charge them with rebellion in a flawed process

ISSUES: Freedom of expression, Right to fair trial, Right to health, Prison conditions, Police negligence
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AHRC-UAC-117-2011-01.jpg
Dear friends,

After the Manokwari District Police in West Papua arrested peaceful protesters following a flag raising event on 14 December, 2010, seven persons were charged with rebellion. The detainees were ill-treated and denied medical care for weeks resulting in serious health conditions. Police forced the victims to sign the dossier of the case before its transfer to the prosecutor without access to a lawyer. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is concerned about the serious flaws in the criminal process, demands the immediate release of the victims, and an investigation into the illegal practices of the Manokwari police. West Papua suffers from a lack of fair trial for political activists, violence by security forces and the stigmatisation of political protesters. Peaceful protesters are frequently charged with rebellion and imprisoned for years. 

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Amira Haas: The truth behind another Israeli expulsion trick

The artificial division between Areas A, B and C was supposed to be erased from the map, and dropped from the discourse, in 1999. Instead, Israel has sanctified and perpetuated it.

By Amira Hass, Haaretz, June 22, 2011

Of all places, it is in Azzariyeh, east of Jerusalem, that one can really learn to appreciate the activities of Palestinian law-enforcement authorities in cities like Ramallah and Nablus. In those cities, Palestinian security forces are seen as authority figures who are trying to protect and serve Palestinian citizens, not just as extensions of Fatah or subcontractors of the Israel Defense Forces or the Shin Bet security service.

Unlike Ramallah and Nablus, which are categorized as “A” areas, Azzariyeh and its neighbors Sawahra and Abu Dis are holed up in an enclave of type “B”, where the IDF does not allow the Palestinian police to be fully functional. The interim Oslo 2 agreement determines that the Palestinian Authority is responsible for maintaining public order in Area B, but in the same breath it limits the PA’s authority and the means by which it can protect the people from disruptions of public order. Almost every action taken by the Palestinian police in Area B requires IDF approval.

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With Eye on Pleasing US, Pakistan Promises Three Dozen CIA Visas

Officials Term Effort a ‘Confidence-Building Measure’

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com,  June 22, 2011
 
With tensions between the US and Pakistan at an all-time high and repeated US efforts to “save” the relationship ending with the visiting US official angrily condemning Pakistan, the Zardari government is now trying its hand at improving ties.

In this case, it means that the Pakistani government will grant more than three dozen visas to CIA officers who want to come to Pakistan for spying missions. Pakistan had previously expelled large numbers of spies in the wake of the Raymond Davis fiasco and the revelation that the US was deploying spies and claiming they were consulate employees.

Davis, who was nominally an employee of the Lahore consulate but was actually the de facto head of the CIA in Pakistan, killed two Pakistanis on the streets of Lahore. Murder charges against him were dropped after the payment of a large sum of “blood money.”

Pakistani officials said the additional visas would not only be a “confidence-building measure” but would improve intelligence sharing. With US officials repeatedly accusing Pakistan of leaking shared intelligence to the militants, that remains to be seen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Glenn Greenwald: Today in Endless War

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon, June 21, 2011
Today in Endless War
Reuters/Larry Downing
President Barack Obama
 
As usual, there are multiple events from just the last 24 hours vividly highlighting the nature of America’s ongoing — and escalating — posture of Endless War:

(1) In December, 2009, President Obama spoke at West Point and, while announcing his decision to (yet again) deploy more troops to Afghanistan, he assured the nation in a much-heralded vow that “after 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.”  He repeated that claim in May, 2010, prompting headlines declaring that Obama has set July, 2011 as the target date for when ”withdrawal” from Afghanistan will begin.  Now we’re less than two weeks away from that target, and The New York Times today makes clear what “withdrawal” actually means:
 President Obama plans to announce his decision on the scale and pace of troop withdrawals from Afghanistan in a speech on Wednesday evening . . . Mr. Obama is considering options that range from a Pentagon-backed proposal to pull out only 5,000 troops this year to an aggressive plan to withdraw within 12 months all 30,000 troops the United States deployed to Afghanistan as part of the surge in December 2009.. . . .
Even after all 30,000 troops are withdrawn, roughly 68,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan, twice the number as when Mr. Obama assumed office.

Bahrain sentences opposition leaders and activists to life in prison

The National, June 22, 2011

Agencies

MANAMA // Bahrain sentenced 8 prominent activists and opposition leaders to life in prison on Wednesday on charges of plotting a coup during protests in the Gulf island kingdom earlier this year.

Among those who received life sentences was the Shiite dissident Hassan Mushaimaa, leader of the hardline opposition group Haq, and Abduljalil al Singace from the same party. Haq joined two other groups in calling for the overthrow of the monarchy during mass protests in February and March.

Ibrahim Sharif, the Sunni leader of the secular leftist Waad party, was sentenced to five years in prison. Waad and Bahrain’s largest Shiite opposition group Wefaq had called for reform of the monarchy.

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The Egyptian army’s mask has slipped

Those in control have draped themselves in the revolutionary flag – but trials by military tribunals show how phony this is

The Guardian, June 22, 2011

Egypt protesters
Egyptian activists chant slogans and carry banners that read in Arabic ‘No to military courts, no to confiscating our freedom of speech’ during a protest in front of the military prosecutor’s office. Photograph: Nasser Nasser/AP
 
The growing practice of sending Egyptian civilians for trial by military tribunals is one sign that the armed forces council now ruling the country is not serving the goals of the revolution.

Since 1962, when a law passed by President Nasser allowed civilians to be put before military tribunals, such trials have been used to convict political enemies of the regime – often on evidence too flimsy for civilian courts.

Following the revolution earlier this year, many hoped that such trials would cease. But the supreme council of the armed forces (Scaf), which assumed power after the fall of President Mubarak, has not only continued resorting to military tribunals but has been using them more and more. Now, rather than communists or Islamist groups, it is democratic activists, and indeed the population at large that have become the targets.

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Obama Talks Afghan Drawdown, But No Words About 865 Foreign Bases

By Sherwood Ross, opednews.com, June 22, 2011

President Obama may claim he’s got to go slow in drawing down U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan but what’s his excuse for keeping open 268 U.S. bases in Germany? Is he expecting an attack by the Red Army? There are folks living well on those 268 bases at public expense as well as the military contractors supplying them.

No other nation begins to operate even a tiny fraction of the 865-plus bases the Pentagon runs overseas to, depending on your viewpoint, (a) protect America from dangerous potential enemies who are lurking everywhere, or (b) to dominate the rest of the world. And since 95% of all overseas bases located in somebody else’s country are operated by the USA, millions of people suspect (b) is the answer; indeed, foreigners fear Uncle Sam might subjugate them.

Should Americans care? Only if they don’t mind spending $140 billion a year. That’s what it’s costing them. The U.S. Conference of Mayors the other day voted to shift Pentagon spending of $126-billion a year from Middle East wars to our struggling cities. But we’d get an even bigger savings by removing the ring of steel with which the Pentagon has girdled the planet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lies, Damn Lies, and Liberating Wars

By Stephen Lendman, MWC News, June 20, 2011
 
airstrikes

America’s imperial wars are for wealth, power, and unchallenged dominance, never for humanitarian concerns or liberation, notions Washington contemptuously spurns.

Yet rhetorical posturing claims otherwise. In April 1986, Ronald Reagan arrogantly said US air and naval forces “launched a series of strikes against (Gaddafi’s) headquarters, terrorist facilities, and military assets, (carefully) targeted to minimize casualties among the Libyan people with whom we have no quarrel. From initial reports, our forces have succeeded in their mission.”

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Ron Paul: Strange Definitions of War and Peace

Rep. Ron Paul, Infowars.com, June 21, 2011

Last week I joined six Republican and three Democrat colleagues to file a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its illegal war against Libya. Now that more than 90 days have passed since the president began bombing Libya, no one can seriously claim that the administration has complied with the clear requirements of the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

Ron Paul

In a remarkable act of chutzpah, the administration sent to Congress its response to the growing concern over its abuse of war powers.  Its argument, in a nutshell, is that the War Powers Resolution is not relevant because US armed forces are not actually engaged in hostilities because Libya is so militarily weak it cannot fight back!  This explanation would be laughable if not so horrific.  The administration wants us to believe that there is no real violence because the victim cannot fight back?  Imagine if this standard was applied to criminal law in the United States!  I am sure Libyans on the receiving end of US and NATO bombs feel hostilities are quite definitely taking place.

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P C Roberts: Conspiracy Theory

By Paul Craig Roberts, opednews.com,  June 20, 2011
 
 
While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition.
A “conspiracy theory” no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy. Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government’s explanation and that of its media pimps.
 
For example, online news broadcasts of RT have been equated with conspiracy theories by the New York Times simply because RT reports news and opinions that the New York Times does not report and the US government does not endorse.
 
In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.
 
When piles of carefully researched books, released government documents, and testimony of eye witnesses made it clear that Lee Harvey Oswald was not President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, the voluminous research, government documents, and verified testimony was dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”
 

Kyrgyzstan: Don’t Stifle Dissent

Parliament Targets Commission Chief, Website

Human Rights Watch, June 21, 2011
Allowing open and free discussion in Kyrgyzstan is more important than ever. Stifling voices that do not agree with the government version of last year’s violence will only exacerbate those tensions and could cause unforeseen consequences.
Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher
(New York) – Two resolutions recently adopted by the Kyrgyz parliament could undermine freedom of expression in Kyrgyzstan, Human Rights Watch said today. In a letter to parliamentary leaders on June 21, 2011, Human Rights Watch urged them to rescind the resolutions.

In one resolution, on May 26, parliament gave instructions to bar from the country the chairman of a commission investigating the violence in June 2010 in southern Kyrgyzstan. In the other, on June 16, parliament instructed the Culture and Justice Ministries and the prosecutor general to “take measures to block the site Ferghana.ru in the informational space in the republic.”  The site extensively covered the June events, often challenging the official version of the events.

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Robert Fisk: No Wonder They Were Rioting in Damascus

By Robert Fisk, ZNet, June 21, 2011
 
 
It was sad. It was ridiculous. It was totally out of touch. The thousand Syrian dead (and counting) were, according to President Bashar al-Assad, victims of that well-known Arab animal: the plot, the conspiracy, the “foreign hand”, the same dastardly enemy that confronted Mubarak (before he was chucked out) and Ben Ali (before he was chucked out) and Saleh (before he was driven out, wounded, like an animal) and which still supposedly confronts Gaddafi and the Khalifas and, well, Bashar al-Assad.

The idea that the thousands of mourners, the tens of thousands of bereaved Syrians whose sons and brothers and fathers and uncles – and, yes, wives and daughters and mothers – have been gunned down by Assad’s Alawi armed gangs and his brother Maher’s special forces, are going to be assuaged with a “national dialogue”, “consultative meetings” for “a few days”, chats between a hundred “personalities” to discuss “mechanisms” after which “dialogue will begin immediately”, is not only patronising. It is a sign of just how far the “sea of quietness” in which all dictators live has cut Assad off from the lives of the people he claims to rule.

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Humans against Israeli strangulation of Gaza

by Jane Hirschmann, Dissident Voice,  June 20th, 2011

People often ask me why I am part of a team to organize a U.S. Boat to Gaza that will be sailing this month with the next International Flotilla to break the siege of Gaza. They often make clear they are asking because I am an American Jew, whose family survived the Holocaust with some surviving family members ending up in Israel. And my only answer is: How could I not?

My parents raised me with stories about what happened in Germany and their family’s escape. I came to see that Israel represented for them a safe haven should there be another attempt at annihilating Jews. And yet, at the same time, they worried it was not so safe a haven given the animosity and physical threats and violence in the area.

But no one ever mentioned the displacement of 750,000 Arabs that was the result of the creation of Israel. . . .

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Monday, June 20, 2011

US missile attacks hit vehicle, house in northwest Pakistan, killing 12

The Washington Post, June 20, 2011

Source: Associated Press,

PARACHINAR, Pakistan — Suspected U.S. drones fired missiles at a vehicle and a house in northwest Pakistan, killing 12 people Monday in a rare attack in an area where some of NATO’s fiercest enemies have reportedly traveled, Pakistani officials said.
 
The first attack in the Kurram tribal area hit a vehicle, killing five people, said Noor Alam, a local government official. As tribesmen rushed to the scene, the vehicle was struck again, killing two more people, he said.

Minutes later, a suspected U.S. drone attacked a nearby house, killing five people, Alam said.

Seven of the 12 people killed in the attacks were Afghan militants whose bodies were taken across the border to be buried, Alam said. The attacks were confirmed by two Pakistani intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters.

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The Super Rich Sabotage The Arab Revolutions

By Shamus Cooke, Countercurrents.org, June 20, 2011

With revolutions sweeping the Arab world and bubbling-up across Europe, aging tyrants or discredited governments are doing their best to cling to power. It’s hard to over-exaggerate the importance of these events: the global political and economic status-quo is in deep crisis. If pro-democracy or anti-austerity movements emerge victorious, they’ll have an immediate problem to solve — how to pay for their vision of a better world. The experiences thus far in Egypt and Greece are proof enough that money matters. The wealthy nations holding the purse strings are still able to influence the unfolding of events from afar, subjecting humiliating conditions on those countries undergoing profound social change.

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Gaza and American ‘Security’

Exclusive: Despite opposition — and even warnings — from the U.S. government, a group of Americans will join a small flotilla of boats challenging Israel’s blockade of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern explains why he is joining this protest.

By Ray McGovern, Consortium News, June 18, 2011

Stuffing my backpack before setting out to board “The Audacity of Hope,” the U.S. boat to Gaza, I got a familiar call from yet another puzzled friend, who said as gently as the words allow, “You know you can get killed, don’t you?”

I recognize this caution as an expression of genuine concern from friends. From some others — who don’t care about Gaza’s plight or who do not wish us well – the words are phrased somewhat differently: “Aren’t you just asking for it?”

That was the obligatory question/accusation at the end of a recent interview taped for a BBC-TV special scheduled to air this coming week as we put to sea to break — or at least draw attention to — Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza and the suffering it inflicts on the people there.

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Uri Avnery: ‘Jewish State’ Nonsense

Uri Avnery, MWC News, June 18, 2011

Jewish State

I am fed up with all this nonsense about recognizing Israel as the “Jewish State”.

It is based on a collection of hollow phrases and vague definitions, devoid of any real content. It serves many different purposes, almost all of them malign.

Binyamin Netanyahu uses it as a trick to obstruct the establishment of the Palestinian state. This week he declared that the conflict just has no solution. Why? Because the Palestinians do not agree to recognize etc. etc.

Four rightist Members of the Knesset have just submitted a bill empowering the government to refuse to register new NGOs and to dissolve existing ones if they “deny the Jewish character of the state”.

This new bill is only one of a series designed to curtail the civil rights of Arab citizens, as well as those of leftists.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Haaretz: Netanyahu is dooming Israel to live eternally by the sword

By declaring the conflict insoluble, Netanyahu is leaving no opening for reconciliation and understanding with the Palestinians and the Arab and Muslim world.

Haaretz Editorial,  Haaretz,June 17, 2011

Author Etgar Keret, on assignment from Haaretz, accompanied the prime minister on his trip to Italy this week and reported on Benjamin Netanyahu’s perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“This is an insoluble conflict because it is not about territory,” Netanyahu said. “It is not that you can give up a kilometer more and solve it. The root of the conflict is in an entirely different place. Until Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, there will be no way to reach an agreement.”
 On Wednesday, Netanyahu reiterated this position in the Knesset. “The reason for the conflict, and for its continuation, is the refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s nation-state in any borders,” he said.
 

The Syrian Peoples Rebellion, They Are On Their Own

By Dave Lefcourt, opednews.com,  June 18, 2011


(source)

You have to feel for the Syrian people up against the relentless brutality of Bashar Assad.
The people continue to resist and refuse to back down against Assad’s crackdown that has killed hundreds, perhaps thousands even in the face of snipers and tanks using live fire and killing scores. Their quest for freedom seems unshakeable.

In Syria the army and the security forces come mainly from the minority Shiite Alawite sect while the majority of the Syrian people are Sunni and thus the sectarian divide of the ruler and the ruled.

So when we hear of Assad and his forces firing on his “own” people the great qualifier is the people are not represented in Assad’s inner circle or those in the military and security forces having allegiance to him.

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Syria: They came at dawn, and killed in cold blood

As Syrians flee, conditions worsen in Turkey’s border camps

By Kim Sengupta in Idlib province, The Independent, June 19, 2011

A Syrian woman sits with her children in a camp in a Turkish border town in Hatay province. More children are falling ill as basic medical supplies start to run out
REUTERSA Syrian woman sits with her children in a camp in a Turkish border town in Hatay province. More children are falling ill as basic medical supplies start to run out The houses looked abandoned, windows and doors locked, a broken shutter clattering in the wind. Then, one by one, they began to appear from their hiding places, mainly women and children, a few elderly people. The residents of this village had learned to their cost that being caught unawares in this violent conflict could have lethal consequences.
The raid by the secret police – the Mukhabarat – and the Shabbiha militia had come at dawn. The killings had been cold-blooded and quick, three men shot dead as, barely awake, they tried desperately to get away. A search for others had proved fruitless; they had fled the day before. The damage to homes vented the frustration of the gunmen at missing their quarries.

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“Don’t Look Away—The Siege of Gaza Must End”

by Kathy Kelly, CommonDreams.org, June 17, 2011

In late June 2011, I’m going to be a passenger on “The Audacity of Hope,” the USA boat in this summer’s international flotilla to break the illegal and deadly Israeli siege of Gaza. Organizers, supporters and passengers aim to nonviolently end the brutal collective punishment imposed on Gazan residents since 2006 when the Israeli government began a stringent air, naval and land blockade of the Gaza Strip explicitly to punish Gaza’s residents for choosing the Hamas government in a democratic election. Both the Hamas and the Israeli governments have indiscriminately killed civilians in repeated attacks, but the vast preponderance of these outrages over the length of the conflict have been inflicted by Israeli soldiers and settlers on unarmed Palestinians. I was witness to one such attack when last in Gaza two years ago, under heavy Israeli bombardment in a civilian neighborhood in Rafah.

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SRI LANKA: A report on 323 cases of police torture in Sri Lanka

 
 
The Asian Human Rights Commission which has documented over 1500 cases of torture and ill treatment by the Sri Lankan police has now compiled a report of 323 cases. In this presentation Mr. Basil Fernando, the Director of Policy and Programmes explains the causes of police torture in Sri Lanka and the consequences of having a policing system that has lost its internal control structure. Fernando also explains how the CAT Act, Act No 22 of 1994 is no longer being implemented in the country and how there is no credible complaint mechanism or witness protection law available to the citizens. The overall consequence of losing a law-based policing system is the creation of extra-legal measures to control crime. These extra-legal measures include torture, and extra-judicial killings. “Wide spread torture is only a symptom of the much larger problem of lawlessness created by the operation of 1978 constitution”, tells Fernando.

This video is available at: http://blip.tv/asian-human-rights-commission/a-report-on-323-cases-of-police-torture-in-sri-lanka-5280908

Egypt’s military regime prepares clampdown on strike wave

By Harvey Thompson, wsws.org, 17 June 2011

The upsurge of industrial struggle by Egyptian workers that preceded the January revolution shows no sign of diminishing.

Workers are now in a mounting conflict with the post-Mubarak military regime in Cairo.
With workers pressing their demands on pay, conditions and official corruption―demands that accompanied the toppling of former President Hosni Mubarak and remain unmet―the military regime is employing ever more repressive measures.

On June 8, the government confirmed that the law it approved in April criminalising protests, strikes, public gatherings and street assemblies, is now to be enforced.

Al Masry Al-Youm notes, “The law stipulates that protesters or strikers disrupting work at state institutions, public authorities, and public or private institutions will be arrested, fined and/or imprisoned, with fines ranging from LE30,000 to LE500,000 (from US$5,000 to US$83,000), and prison sentences of one year or more. Even those promoting strikes or protests but not participating in them are subject to imprisonment and fines reaching up to LE50,000 (around US$8,300)”.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Nobel Peace Laureate Obama’s War Is Peace

by Sheldon Richman, fff.org, June 17, 2011

President Obama demonstrates his utter contempt for the American people — and the law — when he says the War Powers Resolution does not apply to his intervention in Libya because, as the White House put it, “U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve U.S. ground troops.”

Apparently bombing military forces and government facilities while taking sides in a foreign country’s civil war no longer constitutes participation in hostilities. Obama apparently read Orwell’s 1984 … and learned the wrong lesson.

Thus the president thumbs his nose at a lawsuit filed by several members of Congress aimed at forcing him to comply with the law.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Bahrain’s Dictatorship and the Pentagon

by Jacob G. Hornberger, fff.org, June 14, 2011

Sometimes it’s good to look at foreign dictatorships to see what the president and the U.S. military have done to our country. Consider, for example, the trial of 20 doctors that is currently taking place in Bahrain.

As most everyone knows, Bahrain is ruled by a brutal dictatorship, just as many other countries in the Middle East are. Bahrain is also besieged by anti-government demonstrations, just as other countries in the Middle East are. Like other dictatorships in the Middle East, Bahrain’s dictatorial regime is using brute force to suppress the protests.

What distinguishes the Bahrain dictatorship from, say, the Libyan or Syrian dictatorships, is that the U.S. government supports the dictatorship in Bahrain while opposing the Libyan and Syrian dictatorships. Thus, not only does U.S. foreign aid flow into the Bahrain dictatorship, the U.S. military also has a major base there.

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The Reactionary Bloc in Egypt

By Samir Amin, ZNet, June 11, 2011 
 
Source: Mr Zine
 
Just as in past periods of rising struggle, the democratic social and anti-imperialist movement in Egypt is up against a powerful reactionary bloc. This bloc can perhaps be identified in terms of its social composition (its component classes, of course) but it is just as important to define it in terms of its means of political intervention and the ideological discourse serving its politics.

In social terms, the reactionary bloc is led by the Egyptian bourgeoisie taken as a whole. The forms of dependent accumulation operative over the past forty years brought about the rise of a rich bourgeoisie, the sole beneficiary of the scandalous inequality accompanying that “globalized liberal” model. It is a class of some tens of thousands — not of “innovating entrepreneurs” as the World Bank likes to call them but of millionaires and billionaires all owing their fortunes to collusion with the political apparatus (corruption being an organic part of their system). This is a comprador bourgeoisie (in the political language current in Egypt the people term them “corrupt parasites”). They make up the active support for the integration of Egypt in contemporary imperialist globalization as an unconditional ally of the United States. . . .


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‘Permanent’ Despair: Did Egypt Really Open Rafah Crossing?

By Ramzy Baroud, Foreign Policy Journal, June 17, 2011

For most Palestinians, leaving Gaza through Egypt is as exasperating a process as entering it. Governed by political and cultural sensitivities, most Palestinian officials and public figures refrain from criticizing the way Palestinians are treated at the Rafah border. However, there is really no diplomatic language to describe the relationship between desperate Palestinians—some literally fighting for their lives—and Egyptian officials at the crossing which separates Gaza from Egypt.

The Rafah Crossing (Reuters)

“Gazans are treated like animals at the border,” a friend of mine told me. She was afraid that her fiancĂ© would not be allowed to leave Gaza, despite the fact that his papers were in order. Having crossed the border myself just a few days ago, I could not disagree with her statement.

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Sri Lanka: Confronting the Killing Fields

By Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International Asia-Pacific Director,
Amnesty International, June 15, 2011



Sri Lanka’s civil war killed up to 100,000 people and displaced thousands©Amnesty International


Far from the lenses of television cameras and the print of news headlines that typify war reporting today, tens of thousands of civilians – perhaps as many as 40,000 – were killed in the last terrible phase of fighting of Sri Lanka’s civil war between the brutal Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lankan government.

No reporters were allowed near the war zone, blocked by the Sri Lankan Government in an attempt to hide the death and destruction from the world.

But in this era of mobile phones and digital technology, hiding the truth is difficult.

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