Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How Active Is Blackwater in Pakistan?

This notorious private contractor is spreading its tentacles in Pakistan for undercover activities on behalf of the US agencies

Shahid R. Siddiqi, Foreign Policy Journal, Aug 30, 2010

[Editor's Note: As noted below, Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services last year, but is commonly still referred to by its former name.]

Not too long ago, a wave of concern had swept through Pakistan when the local media began screaming about Blackwater’s growing infiltration in the country and its dubious activities. The mounting pressure to expel this infamous US defense contractor put the Zardari government in a corner. It could neither ignore public pressure nor displease its benefactors in Washington. In the end, it chose to vehemently deny these stories. Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, said publicly he would resign if Blackwater is found operating anywhere in Pakistan, as if his resignation would be a great loss for the people.

Blackwater founder Eric Prince giving testimony during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in October 2007.

These stories were also denounced as false propaganda by US officials. Responding to accusations that the US Embassy was sponsoring Blackwater, the US Ambassador, Anne Patterson, insisted that “Blackwater is not operating in Pakistan.” She claimed that Pakistani journalists were “wildly incorrect,” and blamed them for compromising the security of US personnel in Pakistan. Secretary Clinton, during her visit shortly thereafter, also dodged questions on the subject.

The information that has now emerged proves the fear of the Pakistanis to be correct. Not only has Blackwater been working in Pakistan, but it grows stronger by the day.

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India’s brutality has turned Kashmir into a living hell

“But you’re a Westener. You see how things are here. We have been living like this for twenty years. When you go back to your country you tell them. You ask them why they aren’t helping us.”

By Giogiana Violante, The Comment Factory, August 29, 2010

Police brutality in Kashmir

This is the first time in weeks I have had access to the internet. I have not been allowed to receive or send text messages for three months. Just like all Kashmiris my telephone has been barred from such contact. The local news channels have been banned. India controls everything here. And then kills it. The situation is horrific. Over these months of food rationing and persistent curfew whereby all is closed and the streets totally deserted in utter silence, suddenly a protest arises and then spreads throughout the whole city in a surge of frustrated and famished rioters shouting ‘AZADI AZADI AZADI’ (freedom) until it dissipates suddenly into a cacophony of gunshots and clouds of teargas.

I observe all this going on at a safe remove of only one metre by a big thick brick wall interrupted by the Mevlana Rumi gate to Kashmir University, where I am residing. I see through the iron bars hordes upon hordes of protesters being shot at randomly, and I stand there repellently incapable of doing anything. An endless cycle of silence and violence. The Indian army own total control and freedom to shoot at will, to shoot to kill, anyone whom they choose to.

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INDIA: Random firing upon civilians in Kashmir


August 30, 2010

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from credible sources in Jammu and Kashmir concerning the arbitrary shooting of civilians by the security forces stationed in that state. It is reported that the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) stationed in the state often fires small projectiles at civilians while engaging in patrol duty so as to force the civilians stay indoors. In one such incident reported from Tarzoo Sopur at least 26 civilians have been injured including a 15-year-old boy, Danish who is feared to permanently loose his sight in his left eye after being hit by a projectile.


The AHRC has received information from credible sources from Srinagar, that on August 19, the CRPF while on patrol duty at Tarzoo Sopur in Baramulla district started firing randomly at civilians in an attempt to force the civilians remain indoors. The officers fired at random into alleyways and on the main street, using rifles loaded with cartridges that could fire several small, but high velocity projectiles, like those fired from a 12 gauge shotgun. It is reported that at least 26 persons were injured in the firing, of which one is 15-year-old Danish Ahmad Shiekh who was hit when he was returning from the local mosque after offering prayers.

It is reported that four small projectiles hit Danish; one his forehead, two on his back and one in his left eye. Danish was taken to Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) in Srinagar, where he is currently undergoing treatment. The doctors treating him has reported that it is unlikely for Danish to regain sight in his left eye, which was hit and injured badly by a small projectile. Danish is a student at the Government School Takiabal, in Sopur.

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Glenn Beck in Washington: Preaching the gospel of Mammon and militarism

By Bill Van Auken, wsws.org, Aug 30, 2010

The Washington rally organized by right-wing Fox News TV personality Glenn Beck on Saturday offered a twisted mix of religion, potted history and the glorification of the military under the banner of “restoring honor” to the USA.

Crowd estimates for the rally varied wildly. Beck and his supporters claimed over half a million. Most media outlets put the figure at “tens of thousands” or approximately 100,000. CBS News provided a more precise figure, relying on a company that performed analysis of aerial photographs to produce a figure of 87,000.

Whatever the real number, this amorphous event received immense promotion and coverage, not only by Beck’s own employer, Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, but by every section of the media. This treatment stood in stark contrast to the media’s virtual blackout of far larger demonstrations held in recent years against the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Beck, who has described himself as a “rodeo clown” and entertainer, while using his television and radio programs to promote right-wing conspiracy theories, reinvented himself for Saturday’s appearance at the Lincoln Memorial. He came before the crowd as the nation’s preacher-in-chief, promoting a gospel of Mammon, Americanism and militarism that reflects the very direct interests of the powerful financial figures who have turned the former drug addict into a multi-millionaire.

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Kenya refuses to arrest Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir

African states renewed an African Union decision to not arrest President al-Bashir
© APGraphicsBank

Amnesty International, 27 August 2010

Amnesty International has criticized the Kenyan government for its failure to arrest Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir during his visit to the country to join celebrations ushering in Kenya’s new constitution, viewing the refusal to arrest President al-Bashir as an obstruction of justice for victims in Darfur.

The President of Sudan is the subject of an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur.

“Kenya has regrettably followed the example of Chad, which violated its obligations under international law by providing safe haven to President Bashir during his visit to the country last month,” said Michelle Kagari, Deputy Director in Amnesty’s Africa programme.

As Kenya has ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the national authorities are obliged to cooperate with the Court, including arresting persons it has charged.

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Saudi readies charges against prominent activist

Middle East Online, Aug 30. 2010

Reshoudi will be finally tried

Reshoudi’s lawyers have filed lawsuit against Saudi authorities, demanding they formally charge him or release him.

By Habib Trabelsi – PARIS

The General Investigation Directorate (GDI, or “Al-Mabahith al-’Amma”) succeeded in “pulling the rug from under the feet” of the Grievances Court (or “Diwan Al-Mazalem”), which was preparing charges against a prominent Saudi activist and Al-Reshoudi.

Former judge Sheikh Suliman Ibrahim Al-Reshoudi has been jailed without trial since 2007 after he and other activists were arrested after drafting a petition demanding political reforms.

Reshoudi’s lawyers have filed a lawsuit against the authorities, demanding they formally charge him or release him and other activists.

The GDI transferred Reshoudi to another “competent tribunal” in Jeddah, prompting the Grievances Court to “dismiss the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction” in its eighth court session on Saturday in Riyadh.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Shas spiritual leader: Abbas and Palestinians should perish

Army Radio reports Rabbi Ovadia Yosef denounces Palestinians as bitter enemies of Israel ahead of upcoming direct peace talks.

By Haaretz Service/Israel, August 29, 2010
Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef
Photo by: Daniel Bar-On

Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef denounced upcoming peace talks with the Palestinians, which are set to start September 2 in Washington, and called for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to “perish from this world,” Army Radio reported overnight Saturday.
“Abu Mazen and all these evil people should perish from this world,” Rabbi Ovadia was quoted as saying during his weekly sermon at a synagogue near his Jerusalem home. “God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians.”

The Shas spiritual leader also called the Palestinians “evil, bitter enemies of Israel” during his speech, which is not the rabbi’s first sermon to spark controversy.

In 2001, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox faction gave a speech in which he also called for Arabs’ annihilation.

“It is forbidden to be merciful to them,” he was quoted as saying. “You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”

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We condemn the demonisation of the Jews

Desert Peace, August 29, 2010

Both images by Pete Pasho,

Articles have appeared on this site exposing the demonisation of Islam and those behind it. We have always condemned this. At the same time, when we see articles on the Web doing exactly the same thing to Judaism, we feel compelled to condemn these as well.
Case in point are two recent articles posted by one Elias Akleh*, one appears HERE, the other HERE. Both of these were reposted widely on Pro Palestinian and anti zionist sites. Here are two questions that I seek answers to; are these Pro Palestinian viewpoints that will help the Cause? … Or are they anti Semitic viewpoints simply disguised as anti zionism? THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.
My answer to the first question is a resounding NO! …. and YES to the second one.
The second article linked ends with; A blood thirsty genocidal destructive god such as this Judaic god cannot be the real God. He is a pagan god. Indeed he is really Lucifer himself in the soul.
Nowhere in Islamic texts is that view given… it is the personal view of the author.

I am in no way saying that there are not ‘leaders’ of the Jewish religious community that use the Talmud as a means to justify the destruction of the Palestinian people, as well as all those who are not Jewish. I have endlessly posted about those neanderthals and exposed their hatred. But, to make claims such as the above is no different, all it does is incite hatred towards the Jews themselves, most of whom do not follow those ‘leaders’ or believe in the garbage that spouts from their mouths.

It must also be remembered that there are a growing number of Jews getting involved in the Pro Palestinian Movement. Many of them are observant, why are they being demonised as well? Many of them are actively involved in fighting aginst Islamophobia as well. Do they deserve to be demonised?

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In Defiance of the U.S. Constitution, 49,000 Troops Still Deployed in Iraq

Written by Joe Wolverton, II, New American, August 24, 2010

Many of the nearly 50,000 combat troops waking up in the same Iraqi bivouacs would be surprised to learn that the “final combat brigade” has left Iraq and that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended.

As the cameras rolled, so did the tracks of the heavy mechanized vehicles carrying the troops of the Army’s 4th Stryker Brigade. Entering Kuwait, the soldiers would populate tent cities, awaiting their re-deployment home to their stateside headquarters in Fort Lewis, Washington.

As the 4th Brigade boards military transport aircraft for the flight to Germany and then home, many of their comrades are moving into the barracks they quickly abandoned in their zeal to leave behind the less-than-friendly confines of their desert camp.

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A Tea Party Foreign Policy

Why the growing grassroots movement can’t fight big government at home while supporting it abroad.

BY RON PAUL, Foreign Policy, AUGUST 27, 2010

As one who is opposed to centralization, I am wary of attempts to turn a grassroots movement against big government like the Tea Party into an adjunct of the Republican Party. I find it even more worrisome when I see those who willingly participated in the most egregious excesses of the most recent Republican Congress push their way into leadership roles of this movement without batting an eye — or changing their policies!
As many frustrated Americans who have joined the Tea Party realize, we cannot stand against big government at home while supporting it abroad. We cannot talk about fiscal responsibility while spending trillions on occupying and bullying the rest of the world. We cannot talk about the budget deficit and spiraling domestic spending without looking at the costs of maintaining an American empire of more than 700 military bases in more than 120 foreign countries. We cannot pat ourselves on the back for cutting a few thousand dollars from a nature preserve or an inner-city swimming pool at home while turning a blind eye to a Pentagon budget that nearly equals those of the rest of the world combined.

Continued >>

Saturday, August 28, 2010

CIA secretly pays members of Karzai govt: Washigton Post

The CIA is making secret payments to a significant number of officials in Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

World Bulletin, Friday, 27 August 2010

The CIA is making secret payments to a significant number of officials in Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration, The Washington Post reported on Friday.

Citing current and former U.S. officials, the paper said the payments were long-standing in many cases and intended to maintain sources of information within the Afghan government.

Some Karzai aides were CIA informants and others received payments to ensure their accessibility, the Post said, citing a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

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To Honor Dr. King, Bring the Troops Home NOW!!

Harvey Wasserman

by Harvey Wasserman, The Smirking Chimp, August 27, 2010

Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” is one of history’s greatest orations, as well as one of its most beautiful arias.

To truly honor him and the heartfelt genius he brought us, we must do the one thing that most hurtfully blocked his Dream: we must end the imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, at long last, bring our troops home from all over the world.

Because I use it in my US history classes, I have heard Dr. King’s speech scores of times. I play it on a scratchy video whenever possible and never tire of it. It is more sung than delivered, and his sonorous voice and perfect cadence are the equal of any operatic oratorio ever written. Close your eyes and you are in the greatest of all concert halls.

But its message cuts the core of our entire history. It contains beautiful descriptions of much our national landscape. It references Stone Mountain, Georgia, where we suffered the formation of the Ku Klux Klan, and Lookout Mountain in Tennessee, the origin of the infamous Scottsboro Boys legal persecution.

It sings with perfect pitch of our most spiritual president, Abraham Lincoln, and the promise made to African-Americans still being given a bad check for 250 years of unrequited labor.

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Send in the Clowns – More Pointless Talks with Israel?

By Stuart Littlewood, Dissident Voice, Aug 27, 2010

The Palestinians’ champion – their White Knight – is preparing to ride forth next week and do battle at the negotiating table with the racist regime’s Black Knight and his minder, the Great Satan.

The rules of chivalry don’t apply, so the outcome is not in doubt.

However, the White Knight is not quite as white or brave as he seems. Eager to do his lord’s bidding, Mahmoud Abbas is a willing fall guy. On this occasion Obama has imperiously snapped his fingers and announced he wants direct talks started “well before” the Black Knight (aka Israeli prime minister Netanyahu) ends the partial freeze on illegal settlements in a month’s time.

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Why the Wars can’t be Won

By Prof. John Kozy, Global Research, Aug 20, 2010

Edmund Burke’s statement, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it” is frequently cited, but in truth, even history’s obvious lessons are unrecognized by many who know history very well.

There was a time when every school child could recite the Gettysburg Address from memory, especially its famous peroration: “we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” But that resolution has largely gone unfulfilled. So exactly what did the Civil War accomplish?

Most certainly, it preserved the union territorially and abolished slavery—two noteworthy things. But the slaves who were freed, rather than being benefited by their freedom, were left in the lurch, and the prejudicial attitudes of Confederate whites were most likely hardened; they certainly were not softened. So although the war united the nation territorially, it failed to unite its peoples, and that division is still evident today.

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Hawks Box in Obama on Afghan War

By Ray McGovern, Consortiumnews.com, August 26, 2010

Just back from Afghanistan, Marine Commandant, Gen. James Conway held a news conference to add his voice to the Pentagon campaign to disparage the July 2011 date President Barack Obama set for U.S. troops to begin leaving Afghanistan.

On Tuesday, Conway claimed that intelligence intercepts suggest that this deadline has strengthened the conviction of those resisting the U.S.-led occupation that it is just a matter of time before most foreign forces leave. Conway said:

“In some ways … it’s probably giving our enemy sustenance. … We think he may be saying to himself … ‘Hey, you know, we only have to hold out for so long.’”

Conway, however, was quick to reassure supporters of the war in Afghanistan that Taliban morale is likely to drop when, “come the fall [of 2011] we’re still there hammering them like we have been.”

Conway began his press conference by adding a new measure to the refrain led by Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan, that considerable time will be required before Afghan forces can take over from U.S. troops.

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Chilcot inquiry accused of fixating on west and ignoring real victims

Iraq Body Count group claims attention paid to Iraqi casualties has been derisory

Jonathan Steele, The Guardian/UK, August 27, 2010

The Iraq Body Count group has criticised the inquiry led by John Chilcot, above, for ignoring Iraqi casualties. Photograph: Matt Dunham/PA

The Chilcot inquiry has “fixated” on decision-making in Whitehall and Washington, obsessed over the ”war at home” and given “derisory” attention to the plight of the main victims, the Iraq Body Count (IBC) claims today.

Releasing correspondence with Sir John Chilcot, the IBC, which is widely considered as the most reliable database of Iraqi civilian deaths, says a proper “Iraq War Inquest” may be the only way to fill the gap his inquiry has left.

The inquiry closed its public hearings last month after seeing 140 witnesses but none dealt specifically with civilian casualties, which the IBC calculates as between 97,000 and 106,000.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

The Long Road to The Hague: Prosecuting Blair — Part 2

by Lesley Docksey, Dissident Voice, August 24th, 2010

Regime Change

There are few legal justifications for waging war. Where individual states are concerned, every state has the right to self defence (Article 51, UN Charter), but one must prove an attack on one’s territory has taken place (a breach of the state’s sovereignty) or that an attack is genuinely imminent. The only other legal military action is that properly authorised by the Security Council, whether for peace-keeping, intervention or to enforce international law.

People want to see Blair tried for war crimes, crimes against humanity and the supreme crime, the crime of aggression. But another crime was committed when we invaded Iraq and, more importantly, which has now been confirmed by papers released since the invasion and by evidence from the Iraq Inquiry. The crime that Blair committed knowingly, deliberately and because, in his own words “I believe I was right” is regime change.

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Pakistan floods unleash desperate economic crisis

By Ali Ismail, wsws.org, Aug 26, 2010

The catastrophic floods spreading across Pakistan have dashed any hopes of an economic recovery in the poverty-stricken country. The estimated death toll is around 1,500, but this number is expected to increase significantly in the coming weeks.

Millions of displaced Pakistanis are threatened with starvation and an epidemic of water-borne diseases. According to the United Nations, there have already been over 120,000 documented cases of dengue and malaria, while hundreds of thousands have been affected by skin infections and diarrhea. The World Health Organization stated that there has been a 30 percent increase in cases of diarrhea around the country since the flooding began.

The Pakistani economy had already been reeling from the global economic crisis and the militancy fueled by Islamabad’s partnership with US imperialism even before the onset of the floods. Over 30 percent of the country’s cultivated farmland is submerged while nearly 20 million Pakistanis, 13 percent of the population, have been displaced by the floods. The Pakistani ruling elite and its allies abroad fear that widespread social unrest could arise out of food shortages and inflation caused by the devastation.

Continues >>

US Wars: People vs Generals

by Marwan Bishara, Al jazeera, Aug 26, 2010

While the Obama administration continues to affirm its intention to withdraw US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, the US’ military presence in the Muslim world is actually expanding and this is exacerbating tensions and inflaming animosities.

Barack Obama’s promise to open a new page with the Muslim world on the basis of mutual respect and interests – supplemented and enforced by the use of soft rather than hard power — now rings hollow.

This is most evident in the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq and the corresponding surge in Afghanistan — an exercise in redeploying military forces, not extracting them.

As the gap between words and deeds; declarations and policies; public diplomacy and military strategy deepens, so the political and strategic crisis facing the Obama administration continues to deepen.

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PAKISTAN: Government urged to commute all death sentences and abolish the death penalty

ALRC-CWS-, Aug 26, 2010

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status

The Asian Legal Resource Centre welcomes the discussion by the Human Rights Council during its 15th session concerning the report of the Secretary General on the question of the death penalty. In light of this discussion, the ALRC is hereby submitting information pertaining to the death penalty in Pakistan.

The government of Pakistan has failed to abolish the death penalty in spite of the pledge it made in 2008 to commute death sentences to life imprisonment. According to estimates, there are around 7400 prisoners on death row1, the largest number in any country in the world. This number constitutes around one third of the death row prisoners in the world. It must be noted that the government has not carried out judicial executions since September 2008, which are typically carried out by hanging in Pakistan, but condemned prisoners remain seriously concerned for their future, as do their family members, while the death penalty remains in place. Many among them have already spent more than 10 years in prison. The ALRC recalls that prolonged detention on death row is at the very least cruel and inhuman treatment and therefore constitutes a violation of these persons’ rights in of itself.

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Turning Back From the Point of No Return – Implications of the Threat to Bomb Iran

Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, August 26, 2010

The drums for war on Iran have been banging louder than ever lately, with a spate of articles by political commentators either directly encouraging the bombing of the Islamic Republic or otherwise offering a narrative in which this is effectively portrayed as the only option to prevent Iran from waging a nuclear holocaust against Israel. A prominent example of the latter is Jeffrey Goldberg’s article last month in the Atlantic magazine, “The Point of No Return”.[1] Goldberg’s lengthy piece essentially boils down to this: Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons poses an existential threat to Israel’s existence comparable to the Nazi Holocaust, and although the U.S. recognizes this threat, the Obama administration is weak, so Israel will have no choice but to act alone in bombing Iran to ensure its own survival.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mossad in America

Israeli intelligence steps up its activity in the U.S. — and gets away with it.

By Philip Giraldi, The American Conservative, August 25, 2010

Israeli government claims that it does not spy on the United States are intended for the media and popular consumption. The reality is that Israel’s intelligence agencies target the United States intensively, particularly in pursuit of military and dual-use civilian technology. Among nations considered to be friendly to Washington, Israel leads all others in its active espionage directed against American companies and the Defense Department. It also dominates two commercial sectors that enable it to extend its reach inside America’s domestic infrastructure: airline and telecommunications security. Israel is believed to have the ability to monitor nearly all phone records originating in the United States, while numerous Israeli air-travel security companies are known to act as the local Mossad stations.

As tensions with Iran increase, sources in the counterintelligence community report that Israeli agents have become more aggressive in targeting Muslims living in the United States as well as in operating against critics. There have been a number of cases reported to the FBI about Mossad officers who have approached leaders in Arab-American communities and have falsely represented themselves as “U.S. intelligence.” Because few Muslims would assist an Israeli, this is done to increase the likelihood that the target will cooperate. It’s referred to as a “false flag” operation.

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Wikileaks posts classified CIA memo

Al Jazeera, Aug 25, 2010

The report mentions David Headley, who pleaded guilty to helping the Mumbai attackers in 2008

The whistleblower organisation Wikileaks has released a classified CIA document asking what would happen if foreign countries began to view the US as an “exporter of terrorism”.

The document was prepared by the CIA’s “red cell”, a unit responsible for preparing analysis papers from an adversarial perspective.

It notes that a number of Americans have travelled overseas to commit violent acts, like David Headley, the Pakistani-American man who helped the Mumbai attackers in 2008; and Baruch Goldstein, the Jewish extremist who killed dozens of Palestinians in Hebron in 1994.

US citizens also provided “financial and material support” for armed groups in Northern Ireland: much of the funding for the Irish Republican Army, for example, came from Irish-Americans.

“Contrary to common belief, the American export of terrorism or terrorists is not a recent phenomenon,” the report said.

“Nor has it been associated only with Islamic radicals or people of Middle Eastern, African or South Asian ethnic origin.”

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A Statement to the Palestinian People

In the interest of resisting external pressure aimed at imposing direct negotiations under Israeli conditions

Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP, Palestine Monitor, August 16, 2010

To our Palestinian People:

We have followed with great concern the increasing external pressure, especially from the U.S. and Israel, on the PLO leadership to shift from indirect negotiations (which have not resulted in any progress) to direct negotiations without clear and binding terms of reference regarding a complete halt of all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory – including in Jerusalem. The terms of reference should be based on international law and UN resolutions and to include a predetermined timetable to reach a final status agreement. The agreement will necessarily include ending the Israeli occupation of all territories occupied in 1967 and enabling the Palestinians to exercise the Right of Return, right to self-determination, and the right to an independent and sovereign state in the territory occupied in 1967 – with Jerusalem as its capital.

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Pakistan floods: 800,000 can only be reached by air

Some 800,000 people have been cut off by floods in Pakistan and can only be reached by air, according to the United Nations.

by Rob Crilly in Islamabad and Ashfaq Yusufzai in Peshawar, The Telgraph/UK, Aug 25, 2010

Pakistani flood affected villagers receive food delivered by an army helicopter in the outskirts of Rajampur
Pakistani flood affected villagers receive food delivered by an army helicopter in the outskirts of Rajampur Photo: AFP
Flood survivors use a camel cart to reach areas in Taunsa near Dera Ghazi Khan in Pakistan
Flood survivors use a camel cart to reach areas in Taunsa near Dera Ghazi Khan in Pakistan Photo: AP
Pakistan closes militant-run aid camps
A Pakistani boy swims as he tries to keep his food dry in a flooded area near Basira village in Punjab Photo: AFP/GETTY

The UN added that it needs at least 40 more helicopters to ferry lifesaving aid to increasingly desperate people. More than 1,500 people have been killed as floods swept from north to south across the country, while more than 17 million have been affected.

The flood chaos has raised concerns that the humanitarian crisis is being exploited by Islamist militants.

At least 16 aid camps run by militant Islamist groups sites have been shut according to the authorities in the northwestern region of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, as Islamabad to stop the spread of extremists.

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Turkish aid train “Mercy” leaves for Pakistan flood victims

World Bulletin, Tuesday, 24 August 2010

A train carrying humanitarian aid left Turkey for Pakistan on Tuesday to heal the wounds of the flood disaster.

The train, known as “Mercy Train” is loaded with humanitarian aid collected by Sabah (daily newspaper)-ATV (TV channel) Group and Turkish Red Crescent.

“Pakistan has supported Turkey whenever Turkey faced a hard time whatever its (Pakistan’s) conditions were,” Turkey’s State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Cicek said when seeing off the train from Ankara.

Cicek said international community had not dispatched enough aid to Pakistan.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Israel tells schools not to teach nakba

Jonathan Cook, Foreign Correspondent, The National, he August 21, 2010

Palestinians flee to Lebanon with only what they can carry during the nakba in 1948. Eldan David / EPA

NAZARETH // Government officials warned Israeli teachers last week not to cooperate with a civic group that seeks to educate Israelis about how the Palestinians view the loss of their homeland and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

Israel’s education ministry issued the advisory after Zochrot – a Jewish group that seeks to raise awareness among Israeli Jews of the events of 1948, referred to as the “nakba” by Palestinians – organised a workshop for primary school teachers.

The ministry said the course had not been approved and told teachers not to participate in Zochrot-sponsored activities during the coming school year.


Pilger: Truth is concrete

John Pilger, Morning Star Online, August 24, 2010

On July 26 WikiLeaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented.

In file after file the brutalities echo a colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name – WikiLeaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing in both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian are a fraction.

There is understandably hysteria on high with demands that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be “hunted down” and “rendered.” In Washington I interviewed a senior official in the defence department and asked: “Can you give a guarantee that the editors of WikiLeaks and the editor-in-chief, who is not American, will not be subjected to the kind of manhunt that we read about in the media?” He replied: “It’s not my position to give guarantees on anything.”

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Pakistan flood: many more will die unless more aid is delivered quickly

By John Cook, Axis of Logic, August 23, 2010

When you immerse yourself in the climate debate, it’s easy to get lost in the peer-reviewed papers, data and science. But I try not to lose sight of the fact that the reason I care about climate change is because of its impact on humanity. Right now, people are being affected by extreme weather events such as the Pakistan flood which has rendered 20 million homeless by the “slow-motion tsunami“. While a few thousand died due to the floods, many more people will die from disease and malnutrition unless more aid is delivered quickly. It’s crucial right now that people send donations to relief efforts.

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Waging Peace from Afar: Divestment and Israeli Occupation

A growing grassroots movement is using the techniques of the anti-apartheid movement to challenge U.S. support for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories.
Document Actions

by Phyllis Bennis, Yes! Magazine, Aug 20, 2010

When Israeli commandos launched their assault on the unarmed flotilla of ships carrying hundreds of humanitarian aid workers and 10,000 tons of supplies for the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least nine activists and injuring scores more, part of the operation was “Made in the USA.”

Decades of uncritical U.S. financial, military, and diplomatic support has ensured that Israel’s military power—nuclear and conventional—remains unchallengeable. A U.S. pattern of using UN Security Council vetoes to protect Israel from accountability has ensured that Israel can essentially do whatever it likes with those U.S.-provided weapons, regardless of what U.S. or international laws may be broken.

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US Drone Strike Destroys House Full of Children in Pakistan

Several Civilians Among 20 Killed in US Drone Attack

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, August 23, 2010

The Obama Administration’s policy of escalating drone strikes took another hit today, after the explosion from a drone attack against the house of “suspected militants” in North Waziristan also destroyed a neighboring house full of women and children.

The combined toll from the blast was 20 people killed, with at least four women and three children among the slain. At least 13 other civilians were also reported wounded, including a number of other children.

Pakistani intelligence officials say most of the “suspects” killed in the attacks were Afghans, but it is unclear how much evidence they had of wrongdoing. Large numbers of Afghan civilians have been living as refugees in the tribal areas since the 2001 US invasion.

The large numbers of civilians (700 in 2009 alone) killed in the US drone strikes has fueled considerable anti-American sentiment in Pakistan. When pressed during a previous visit Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shrugged off concerns about the civilians, saying only “there’s a war going on.”

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

There Are No Heroes in Illegal and Immoral Wars

by Robert Jensen, CommonDreams.org, August 23, 2010

When the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division rolled out of Iraq last week, the colonel commanding the brigade told a reporter that his soldiers were “leaving as heroes.”

While we can understand the pride of professional soldiers and the emotion behind that statement, it’s time for Americans — military and civilian — to face a difficult reality: In seven years of the deceptively named “Operation Iraqi Freedom” and nine years of “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan, no member of the U.S. has been a hero.

This is not an attack on soldiers, sailors, and Marines. Military personnel may act heroically in specific situations, showing courage and compassion, but for them to be heroes in the truest sense they must be engaged in a legal and morally justifiable conflict. That is not the case with the U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq or Afghanistan, and the social pressure on us to use the language of heroism — or risk being labeled callous or traitors — undermines our ability to evaluate the politics and ethics of wars in a historical framework.

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New provocation against WikiLeaks

Patrick Martin, wsws.org, Aug 23, 2010

The World Socialist Web Site denounces the ongoing campaign by the US government and its military and intelligence agencies against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. The rape charges against Assange, announced Friday by Swedish prosecutors and then withdrawn Saturday, bear all the hallmarks of a US-inspired provocation against the Internet-based organization in retaliation for its exposure of US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Obama administration has evidently exerted enormous pressure on the Swedish government to fabricate the charges against Assange. Not since the Nixon administration compiled its “enemies list” has an American government proceeded so brazenly to target its political opponents for what Assange described accurately as “dirty tricks.”

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Wikileaks’ Assange: Pentagon may be behind rape claims

Raw Story, August 22, 2010
By Agence France-Presse

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said in an interview published on Sunday that he believes the Pentagon could be behind a rape accusation against him that was later dropped by Swedish prosecutors.

The country’s prosecution service meanwhile justified the chaotic situation when authorities first issued an arrest warrant for the Australian whistleblower late on Friday night but then withdrew it the following day.

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The Long Road to The Hague – Prosecuting Blair, Part 1

Lesley Docksey, uruknet.info, August 22, 2010

Ex-Prime Minister and post-Downing Street millionaire Tony Blair, to celebrate the publication of his book A Journey, is holding a ‘signing’ session at Waterstones, Piccadilly on 8 September. That this man, responsible for taking us into an illegal war, playing his part in the ruination of an ancient country because he ‘believed he was right’, should advertise himself in this way has caused outrage. Time, I think, to look at where we, and Blair, actually stand in terms of what we can and cannot do to call him to account.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

Odierno says Iraq failure could see US combat role resume

Middle East Online, Aug 23, 2010

Refusing to rule out a return to US combat missions

Top US commander in Iraq says American troops could remain in war-torn country beyond 2011.

By Andrew Gully – WASHINGTON

The top US commander in Iraq admitted Sunday that a “complete failure” of Iraqi security forces could oblige the United States to resume combat operations there, but he called this an unlikely scenario.

The last US combat brigade withdrew from Iraq on Thursday. On August 31 combat operations officially end and the role of the remaining 50,000 American troops switches to one of providing advice and assistance.

General Ray Odierno told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the ability of the Iraqi police and army to keep a lid on the violence was improving, but refused to rule out a return to US combat missions if things went sour.

Security advancements meant Iraq was on target to be able to handle its own security after 2011 when the remainder of the US troops are due to be withdrawn, the commanding general of American forces in Iraq said.

“My assessment today is they will be (ready),” he told CNN, speaking from Baghdad. “I think that they continue to grow. We continue to see development in planning, and in their ability to conduct operations.

“The Iraqi people are resilient. They want this. They want to have a democratic country. They want to be on their own. They want to be moving forward and be a contributor to stability in the Middle East.”

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Dejected Palestinians see no hope in peace talks

By Tom Perry, Reuters, August 21, 2010

RAMALLAH West Bank (Reuters) – A resumption of Middle East peace talks inspires little hope among Palestinians who say the prospect of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel seems no more than a dream.

“There has been a lot of talk of peace, but we have seen no results. We no longer have hope,” said 30-year old Luay Kabbah, who was still at school when Palestinian and Israeli leaders first began talking peace nearly two decades ago.

His despondency reflects deep pessimism among Palestinians, mirrored in Israel, on the prospects for a new round of U.S.-mediated peace talks that are due to begin in September.

The talks are the latest chapter in a peace process which, interrupted by several years of violence earlier this decade, has given Palestinians limited self-rule but no state on lands occupied by Israel since a 1967 Middle East war.

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Israeli Soldiers Sell Gaza Flotilla Passengers’ Computers and Steal Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars in Cash

Israeli Government Refuses to Secure Criminal Evidence

by Ann Wright, CommonDreams.org, Aug 22, 2010

Despite appeals from 750 passengers on the Gaza flotilla to their governments to pressure the Israeli government to protect and return their personal belongings that were taken by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010, when they forcefully boarded the six ships of the flotilla, the Israeli government has left millions of dollars of computers, cameras and cell phones and hundreds of thousands of cash unsecured and un-inventoried.

An Israeli newspaper has revealed that four to six computers among the hundreds that were taken from passengers on the six ships have been sold by an Israeli First Lieutenant to three junior military personnel. On August 18, a second officer was arrested in connection with the theft. An Israeli military official described the case as “embarrassing and shameful.” Eitan Kabel, a member of parliament from the Labour party, told Israeli media: “This is an embarrassing, humiliating and infuriating act.”

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Michael Moore Praises Bradley Manning, Suspected WikiLeaks Source ‎

by David Dishneau, Associated Press, August 20, 2010

US Army Private Bradley Manning

HAGERSTOWN, Md. — Michael Moore, the Oscar-winning filmmaker, will contribute $5,000 to help defend the Army private suspected of leaking classified documents to an Internet whistle-blower from serving time in prison.

A champion of liberal and left-wing causes, Moore told The Associated Press in a telephone interview he also hopes to make the public understand that Pfc. Bradley Manning exposed what Moore called “war crimes.”

“He did a courageous thing and he did a patriotic thing,” Moore said.

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Israeli army’s female recruits denounce treatment of Palestinians

Facebook images of an Israeli servicewoman posing with blindfolded Palestinians have caused a storm. Now two former female conscripts have spoken out about their own experiences

Harriet Sherwood, The Observer/UK, Aug 22, 2010

Israeli servicewomen train to become army instructors Israeli servicewomen train to become army instructors. Some former recruits have spoken out against the military action in the occupied territories. Photograph: IDF/Polaris ImagesIt was a single word scrawled on a wall at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem that unlocked something deep inside Inbar Michelzon, two years after she had completed compulsory military service in the Israeli Defence Force.

The word was “occupation”. “I really felt like someone was speaking the unspoken,” she recalled last week in a Tel Aviv cafe. “It was really shocking to me. There was graffiti saying, ‘end the occupation’. And I felt like, OK, now I can talk about what I saw.”

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Curfew, restrictions continue in Kashmir valley

Kashmir Media Service, August 22, 2010

Srinagar, August 22 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the authorities continued impose curfew and restrictions in major cities and towns to thwart anti-India demonstrations.

Curfew remained imposed in the area in Srinagar falling under the jurisdiction of nine police stations including Batmaloo, Bemina, Qammerwari, Kralkhud, Nowhatta, Khanyar, Maharajganj, Safakadal, Rainawari, Maisuma and Khotibagh besides Bijbehara in Islamabad and Trehgam in Kupwara. Restrictions were in place in Baramulla, Pulwama, Islamabad and other towns.

However, markets remained closed and transport was off the roads in all parts of the Valley.

Meanwhile, police and CRPF personnel, today, launched a crackdown in Rainawari area of Srinagar.

‘Indian agencies communalising Kashmir liberation movement’

Kashmir Media Service, August 22, 2010

Srinagar, August 22 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, the Chairman of All Parties Hurriyet Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and other pro-movement leaders and organisations have deplored that Indian intelligence agencies are trying to give a communal colour to Kashmiris’ liberation movement.

The APHC Chairman in a media interview in Srinagar lashed out at the forces bent on branding the liberation struggle as Islamist. “The letters urging Sikhs to embrace Islam were a part of this game plan. The indigenous nature of the ongoing uprising has unnerved some forces, which have started conspiring against the movement,” he said.

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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Poll: Nearly 6 in 10 oppose war in Afghanistan

‘We can’t do this forever and lose more lives,’ Mass. electrician says

Mary Schwalm / AP

“I think we really need to give them an opportunity to economically, socially grow,” says Mary Campbell, 56, a Mass. city worker. She joins the growing number of Americans who see no end in sight in Afghanistan.

By GLEN JOHNSON, AP Associated Press, Aug 20, 2010

LAWRENCE, Mass. — A majority of Americans see no end in sight in Afghanistan, and nearly six in 10 oppose the nine-year-old war as President Barack Obama sends tens of thousands more troops to the fight, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

With just over 10 weeks before nationwide elections that could define the remainder of Obama’s first term, only 38 percent say they support his expanded war effort in Afghanistan — a drop from 46 percent in March. Just 19 percent expect the situation to improve during the next year, while 29 percent think it will get worse. Some 49 percent think it will remain the same.

The numbers could be ominous for the president and his Democratic Party, already feeling the heat for high unemployment, a slow economic recovery and a $1.3 trillion federal deficit. Strong dissent — 58 percent oppose the war — could depress Democratic turnout when the party desperately needs to energize its supporters for midterm congressional elections.

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UN calls Pakistan floods world’s ‘worst-ever disaster’

Morning Star Online, August 20, 2010

United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon has declared the Pakistan floods one of the world’s worst-ever disasters.

Mr Ban was addressing a UN general assembly meeting aimed at reaching the organisation’s $460 million (£296m) target for immediate aid.

“This disaster is like few the world has ever seen,” Mr Ban told representatives of the world’s governments.

“It requires a response to match.”

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Petraeus: We’re Not Leaving Iraq

Pentagon Surprised to Hear Reports that War Ended

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, August 19, 2010

As Obama Administration officials and a willing mainstream media report that yesterday was the end of the Iraq War it would likely surprise many that 56,000 US troops remain on the ground engaging in combat operations.

But it seems like the spin is even more surprising to the Pentagon leadership, as Gen. David Petraeus was pressed today on whether this was the right time to have left Iraq, and he said what he most likely wasn’t supposed to say.

“First of all we are not leaving,” Petraues insisted, adding that “there are 50,000 US troops that are remaining in Iraq” and that they retain an “enormous capability.” It is a capability that is tough to reconcile with the official story that these are all just trainers.

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Last of the Combat Troops Leaving Iraq? Only in your Dreams

By Bill Noxid, Information Clearing House, August 20, 2010

Watching MSNBC’s coverage of ‘the last combat troops leaving Iraq’ for 3 hours reminded of a few brutal realities that still plague this country and this planet. The first being just how far this country remains from any semblance of reality. It’s the kind of delusional denial that truly can only be believed when witnessed from within. As Keith Olbermann was describing the cinematic quality of the “Strykers driving into your living room,” I could really think of only one thing – The aftermath of a 7.5 year all out United States operation to decimate a people and their society.

There’s no way to comprehend the scope and facets of this operation, because you would need a Pentagon for that. From the first day after initial conquest when the money disappeared from the banks and their record of civilization was decimated by the looting of their museums, it was like any other colonial conquest in history, except every excruciating moment of this one was on television. The following 7.5 years of the assimilation of a country went as diagrammed.

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Iraq: Torture. Corruption. Civil war. America has Certainly Left Its Mark

Robert Fisk, The Independent/UK, August 20, 2010

Some of the last US combat soldiers to leave Iraq race for the Kuwaiti border. Around 50,000 troops will stay in the country to train the Iraqi army

Some of the last US combat soldiers to leave Iraq race for the Kuwaiti border. Around 50,000 troops will stay in the country to train the Iraqi army

When you invade someone else’s country, there has to be a first soldier – just as there has to be a last.

The first man in front of the first unit of the first column of the invading American army to reach Fardous Square in the centre of Baghdad in 2003 was Corporal David Breeze of the 3rd Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment. For that reason, of course, he pointed out to me that he wasn’t a soldier at all. Marines are not soldiers. They are Marines. But he hadn’t talked to his mom for two months and so – equally inevitably – I offered him my satellite phone to call his home in Michigan. Every journalist knows you’ll get a good story if you lend your phone to a soldier in a war.

“Hi, you guys,” Corporal Breeze bellowed. “I’m in Baghdad. I’m ringing to say ‘Hi! I love you. I’m doing fine. I love you guys.’ The war will be over in a few days. I’ll see you soon.” Yes, they all said the war would be over soon. They didn’t consult the Iraqis about this pleasant notion. The first suicide bombers – a policeman in a car and then two women in a car – had already hit the Americans on the long highway up to Baghdad. There would be hundreds more. There will be hundreds more in Iraq in the future.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Pilger: Why WikiLeaks must be protected

John Pilger, New Statesman, Aug 19, 2010

The case of the Afghanistan war logs and the hounding of Julian Assange prove that there’s never been greater need to speak truth to power than today.

On 26 July, WikiLeaks released thousands of secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan. Cover-ups, a secret assassination unit and the killing of civilians are documented. In file after file, the brutalities echo the colonial past. From Malaya and Vietnam to Bloody Sunday and Basra, little has changed. The difference is that today there is an extraordinary way of knowing how faraway societies are routinely ravaged in our name. WikiLeaks has acquired records of six years of civilian killing in both Afghanistan and Iraq, of which those published in the Guardian are a fraction.

There is understandably hysteria on high, with demands that the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, be “hunted down” and “rendered”. In Washington, I interviewed a senior official in the defence department and asked: “Can you give a guarantee that the editors of WikiLeaks and the editor-in-chief, who is not American, will not be subjected to the kind of manhunt that we read about in the media?” He replied: “It’s not my position to give guarantees on anything.”

He referred me to the “ongoing criminal investigation” of a US soldier, Bradley Manning, an alleged whistleblower. In a nation that claims its constitution protects truth-tellers, the Obama administration is pursuing and prosecuting more whistleblowers than any of its modern predecessors. A Pentagon document states bluntly that US intelligence intends to “fatally marginalise” WikiLeaks. The preferred tactic is smear, with corporate journalists ever ready to play their part.

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Union Activists in Iran – Repression Continues

Iran Labour Report, August 18, 2010

The massive crackdown on the independent labor activists continues in Iran. Several leaders and activists in the union movement remain in jails while others have been subject to summons and terminations from their jobs. A sketch of the repression of the independent union activism in today’s Iran follows.

Mansour Osaloo, the legendary leader of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate, was taken to court on August 1 and tried under the pretext of having connections with the illegal opposition groups. The trial lasting an hour and ten minutes commenced at 9:00 a.m. at the branch one revolutionaly court in the city of Karaj. At the trial, Osaloo did not have his lawyers present and they were also uninformed about the court session.

While the Iranian Labor Minister had given a promise of release of Osaloo to ILO, the Vahed Union leader remains in jail and new cases filed against him. At the said court session, Osaloo was sentenced to a new one year term. He is currently serving a five year term in Karaj Gohardasht prison. His attorneys will file a petition against the ruling within the twenty day period allowed.

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Fidel: The United Nations, Impunity and War

Fidel Castro, Periodico, Aug ust 19, 2010

Resolution 1929 of the United Nations Security Council on June 9, 2010 sealed the fate of imperialism.

I’m not sure how many noticed that among other absurdities, the Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, fulfilling orders from above, committed the blunder of appointing Alvaro Uribe (when he was about to complete his mandate) as vice president of the commission to investigate the Israeli attack on the humanitarian fleet carrying essential food to the besieged population in the Gaza Strip. The attack occurred in international waters and at a considerable distance from the coast.

That decision gave Uribe, accused of war crimes, total impunity: as if a country full of mass graves of the bodies of murdered people, some with as many as 2,000 victims; and seven US military bases, plus the rest of the Colombian military bases at its service, had nothing to do with terrorism and genocide.

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Exclusive: Obama’s pledge to close down Guantanamo is ‘not even close’

Commander says camp will take months to shut – and he’s still waiting for the order

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor

The Independent/UK
, August 19, 2010

Barack Obama’s pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay will not be honoured until at least a year after the President’s self-imposed deadline – and may not be completed in his first administration.

The man in charge of the seven prison camps at the US naval base in Cuba is yet to receive direct orders to begin the transfer of prisoners so he can close the detention facilities.

In his first media interview since taking up the post three months ago, Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson said that even if President Obama implemented his order today it would take him six months to complete the job, a year after the January 2010 deadline imposed by the President when he signed the executive order in 2009.

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As Pakistan drowns, Washington focuses on security threats

By Patrick Martin, wsws.org, Aug 19, 2010

As the toll of death and destruction in Pakistan from unprecedented flooding continues to mount, US government officials and the American media are raising concerns not over the colossal human tragedy, but over the potential threat to political stability and US security interests in the region, the focus of American military action for nearly nine years.

Flood victims on Monday and Tuesday blocked highways to demand state help and show their opposition to the government of President Asif Ali Zardari. Tens of thousands of villages have been inundated and there is little sign of aid, either from the government or from the huge and heavily armed Pakistani military apparatus.

According to a report by Reuters, “Dozens of stick-wielding men and a few women tried to block five lanes of traffic outside Sukkur, a major town in the southern province of Sindh. Villagers set fire to straw and threatened to hit approaching cars with sticks.”

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Philippines: Torture by ‘cop’ caught on cam

Posted at 08/17/2010 8:01 PM | Updated as of 08/18/2010 10:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines (1st UPDATE) – ABS-CBN News has obtained exclusive video of a robbery suspect being tortured by an alleged police officer inside a precinct in Tondo, Manila. (Click on abs-cbnNEWS.com for the video.)

“Emil” (not his real name) said he got the cellphone video from a friend who witnessed the torture of the victim. He said his friend has gone into hiding for fear of suffering the same fate as the man in the video.

The video showed a naked man in a fetal position on the floor of an alleged police precinct, his genitals supposedly bound with a rope.

Another man wearing a white shirt and shorts is then seen whipping the victim’s face and torso with a rope while heaping curses on him. “Dito bawal ang snatcher ha,” the man said.

The man is also seen ordering the victim to remove his hands from his genitals while pulling the rope, making the victim cry out in pain.

The video also shows a police officer seemingly using his cellphone to text someone.

Emil said the victim was a notorious criminal who was being tortured to own up to a hold-up incident. He said the torturer is allegedly the chief of a police community precinct in Asuncion, Tondo, Manila.

He claimed police usually torture suspected criminals, and sometimes even kill them.

“Madalas daw talaga nangyayari lalo na tuwing maraming napapansing holdaper. Sasabihin nila nanlaban tapos papatayin (It happens a lot when they notice a lot of hold-up suspects. They say the suspects tried to fight back and then kill them),” he said.

Asked what happened to the victim in the video, Emil claimed the victim has also died “after making it appear that he tried to fight.”

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The marginalization of Muslims in America

By Amy Goodman, rabble.ca, August 18, 2010

Salman Hamdani died on Sept. 11, 2001. The 23-year-old research assistant at Rockefeller University had a degree in biochemistry. He was also a trained emergency medical technician and a cadet with the New York Police Department. But he never made it to work that day. Hamdani, a Muslim-American, was among that day’s first responders. He raced to Ground Zero to save others. His selfless act cost him his life.

Hamdani was later praised by President George W. Bush as a hero and mentioned by name in the USA Patriot Act. But that was not how he was portrayed in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. In October, his parents went to Mecca to pray for their son. While they were away, the New York Post and other media outlets portrayed Hamdani as a possible terrorist on the run. “MISSING — OR HIDING? MYSTERY OF THE NYPD CADET FROM PAKISTAN” screamed the Post headline. The sensational article noted that someone fitting Hamdani’s description had been seen near the Midtown Tunnel a full month after 9/11. His family was interrogated. Hamdani’s Internet use and politics were investigated.

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Afghans protest at US killings of ‘insurgents’

Morning Star Online, August 18, 2010

Fresh protests have erupted in Afghanistan over the killing of two men branded insurgents by the US.

Hundreds of people blocked the main road from the eastern city of Jalalabad into neighbouring Pakistan for several hours.

Carrying the bodies of the two men, they chanted anti-US slogans and condemned Western-installed President Hamid Karzai.

Nato had labelled the men who died on Tuesday as Taliban who had been involved in roadside bomb attacks and said their deaths would “create a safer environment for the Afghan people.”

But locals reported that the pair were a father and son who had been shot by US troops during a raid on their house.

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Pakistan: From Natural Disaster to Social Catastrophe

by Snehal Shingavi, Global Research, Aug 18, 2010

The floods which have devastated huge areas of Pakistan may be an act of nature, but the worsening humanitarian crisis that followed is a direct result of the failures of Pakistan’s venal leaders – and the impact of the U.S. “war on terror.”

According to official estimates, more than 20 million people have been displaced and another 1,600 are dead as a result of one of the worst floods in Pakistani history. In some places, the rains have made the Indus River 15 miles wide, some 25 times broader than normal.

The flooding started when the monsoon rains tore through the mountains in the northwest part of the country (called Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa). As the waters raged through the Sindh and Punjab provinces, they destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and over 1.7 million acres of farmland. Several large cities were also been submerged, like Naushera, Muzaffarabad and Abottabad. The people who have made it out of the flood-ravaged areas are crammed in makeshift shelters or in overcrowded government buildings.

Those who escaped the floods find themselves without access to food, clean drinking water, sanitation and medicine. All of this has exacerbated the crisis, as many more are likely to die as the result of diarrhea, cholera and other diseases.

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It was never suicide, says Dr Kelly’s cousin as family finally breaks silence

By Miles Goslett, Daily Mail/UK, Aug 17, 2010

A close relative of Dr David Kelly broke the family’s silence yesterday to voice fears that he was murdered.

Wendy Wearmouth said she found it ‘incredibly unlikely’ that he committed suicide and suggested he was assassinated.

She said that committing suicide would have been ‘totally against his whole way of being’.

The 62-year-old spoke out as Dr Kelly’s death was further shrouded in mystery - when one doctor claimed to have read the post-mortem report despite it having been kept classified after the weapons inspector’s death.

Miss Wearmouth is Dr Kelly’s first cousin and the only member of his family to speak publicly since renewed speculation about the circumstances his death.

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Desperation Grows Over Pakistan Flood Damage

The New York Times, Aug 17, 2010

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Mohammed Hanjan washed near his destroyed home in Charsadda, Pakistan, on Tuesday. More Photos »


Flood survivors told stories of taking the search for aid upon themselves, swimming to dry areas to find food for people still marooned and waiting for rescue.

As many as 8.5 million people in Punjab have been affected, and property damage is in the hundreds of millions of dollars, the chief minister, Shahbaz Sharif, told reporters. Punjab’s provincial cabinet met Tuesday and ordered development funds to be used for emergency aid.

The floods have caused lasting damage to roads and other infrastructure, livestock and agriculture. On Tuesday, the World Bank pledged to reroute $900 million from other projects in Pakistan to help in recovery and reconstruction efforts.

Across southern Punjab, scenes repeatedly played out of people seeking food and aid on their own as they remained isolated by floodwaters that reached as high as five feet.

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The Ugly Truth: None Dare Call It Tyranny

By Sheldon Richman, Counterpunch, Aug 18, 2010

Thanks to Wikileaks and heroic leakers inside the military, we now know the U.S. government has killed many more innocent Afghan civilians than we were aware of heretofore. We also know that American military and intelligence personnel roam Afghanistan assassinating suspected bad guys. Sometimes they kill people they later acknowledge weren’t bad guys at all. “Bad guys,” like “Taliban,” is implicitly defined as anyone who resists the U.S. occupation force and the corrupt puppet government it keeps in power.

What other atrocities are our misleaders and misrepresentatives committing in our name?

Let’s get something straight: to be an enemy of American occupation, bombing, and “nation building” is not the same thing as being an enemy of America or its people. It’s time Americans understood that. When you invade another country and people there object, even forcibly, they are not aggressors. You are. To understand this, imagine our being invaded by a foreign military force. Would resistance be aggression?

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gen. Petraeus Goes to Media War

By Norman Solomon, ZNet, August 17, 2010
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Norman Solomon’s ZSpace Page

It’s already history. In mid-August 2010, the U.S. commander in Afghanistan launched a huge media campaign to prevent any substantial withdrawal of military forces the next summer.

The morning after Gen. David Petraeus appeared in a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” to promote the war effort, the New York Times front-paged news of its own interview with him — reporting that the general “suggested that he would resist any large-scale or rapid withdrawal of American forces.”

In fact, the general signaled that he might oppose any reduction of U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan a year from now. During the NBC interview, the Times noted, “Petraeus even appeared to leave open the possibility that he would recommend against any withdrawal of American forces next summer.”

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Pakistan floods affect 20 million people as disaster worsens

By Vilani Peiris, wsws.org, Aug 17, 2010

The flood disaster in Pakistan is worsening with 20 million people or 12 percent of the population affected, according to the latest government estimates. After visiting the country on Sunday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described the devastation as the worst that he had ever seen. “In the past, I have witnessed many natural disasters around the world, but nothing like this,” he said.

“Thousands of towns and villages have simply been washed away. Roads, buildings, bridges, crops—millions of livelihoods have been lost. People are marooned on tiny islands with the floodwaters all around them. They are drinking dirty water. They are living in the mud and ruins of their lives. Many have lost family and friends. Many more are afraid their children and loved ones will not survive in these conditions,” Ban said.

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IDF soldier posts images of blindfold Palestinians on Facebook, from ‘best time of my life’

uruknet.info, August 16, 2010

By Haaretz Service

Female soldier smiles for camera in front of bound prisoners, before joking online with friends; army calls photos ‘ugly and callous’.

A former Israel Defense Forces soldier has raised a storm on the internet after posting photographs of herself posing next to blindfold Palestinian prisoners on Facebook.

Photographs uploaded by Eden from Ashdod and labeled “IDF – the best time of my life” show her smiling next to Palestinian prisoners with their hands bound and their eyes covered.

“That looks really sexy for you,” says a comment posted by one of Eden’s friend on the social networking site, alongside a picture or the soldier smiling in front of two blindfold men.

Eden’s repose, posted below, reads: “I wonder if he is on Facebook too – I’ll have to tag him in the photo.”

Because Eden was discharged a year ago, the army has no power to prevent her from publicizing the photographs.

The pictures have since been removed from the site – but not before being duplicated across the web by a variety of bloggers and news sites.

The IDF said in a statement: “These actions are ugly and callous; details of the incident have been forwarded up the chain of command.”

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The Death Toll Does Not Lie — Afghanistan Is Obama’s War

Robert Naiman, The Huffington Post, Aug 16, 2010

575. That’s how many U.S. soldiers have lost their lives in the Afghanistan war since Barack Obama became President at noon on January 20, 2009, according to the icasualties.org website, which tracks U.S. soldiers’ deaths using reports received from the Department of Defense — and which is widely cited in the media as a source of information on U.S. deaths.

According to the same website, 575 is also the number of U.S. soldiers who lost their lives in the Afghanistan war during the Presidency of George W. Bush.

Therefore, total U.S. deaths in Afghanistan have doubled in Afghanistan under President Obama, and when the next U.S. soldier is reported dead, the majority of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan will have occurred under President Obama.

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In praise of … Mordechai Vanunu

He survived his vindictive spell in isolation, and pariah status, with head unbowed – now Israel must allow him to go


The Guardian/UK
, August 16, 2010

When the nuclear whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu, was released from prison in 2004 after serving 18 years, 12 of them in solitary confinement, he said he was ready to start a new life. The authorities in Israel were not. He was charged with breaking the terms of his parole which forbade him from speaking to foreigners, a restriction which can be traced to the emergency regulations of the British Mandate. A week ago Vanunu was released once again, after serving 10 weeks for that so-called offence. He said he hoped the prime minister and the head of Shin Bet would solve the problem of having to rearrest him by letting him leave the country. The idea that 24 years after he leaked details and pictures of Israel’s nuclear bomb programme to the Sunday Times, and six years after he completed his sentence, this junior technician from Dimona would still have sensitive secrets up his sleeve is plainly ludicrous. It is one that no serious Israeli military analyst accepts. He survived his vindictive spell in isolation, and his pariah status as Israel’s most reviled man, with his head unbowed. As Daniel Ellsberg, the man who released the Pentagon Papers has said, Vanunu is the preeminent hero of the nuclear era. By telling the truth, and revealing that his country’s stockpile was much larger than the CIA and others had guessed, he certainly caused it mild problems 24 years ago, when Norway announced a ban on exports of heavy water. He causes no problems now. Israel must allow Vanunu to go.

Storm over Israeli ‘abuse’ photos

Al Jazeera, August 17, 2010

Eden Abergil’s pictures of Palestinian prisoners
have sparked controversy in Israel

A former Israeli soldier has sparked controversy after posting pictures of herself on Facebook posing with bound and blindfolded Palestinian prisoners.

The photographs show Eden Abergil positioned provocatively with the men, prompting lurid comments from other users of the popular social networking site.

The pictures, which were uploaded into a folder entitled “Army – the best time of my life,” and associated comments were discovered by bloggers, who circulated them on the internet on Monday.

Palestinians have long claimed that they are subject to humiliating and degrading treatment while held in Israeli custody, but Israeli authorities have always rejected such allegations.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Symonds: Obama’s covert wars

By Peter Symonds, wsws.org, Aug 16, 2010

A lengthy article in the New York Times on Sunday entitled “A Secret Assault on Terrorism Widens on Two Continents” has provided a glimpse into the extent of the Obama administration’s covert wars. Obama has not only continued, he has expanded the murderous operations that were waged under the banner of the “war on terror” by the CIA and Pentagon during the Bush administration.

As the authors explain: “In roughly a dozen countries—from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics [in Central Asia] crippled by ethnic and religious strife—the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.”

Obama has dramatically intensified the CIA’s drone missile attacks against alleged insurgents inside areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan. The White House has “approved raids inside Somalia,” it has “carried out clandestine operations from Kenya,” and it has collaborated with European allies in covert operations in North Africa, including a recent French strike in Algeria.

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‘What Happens if We Stay in Afghanistan’: A Response to TIME Magazine

by South Asia Solidarity Initiative, CommonDreams.org, Aug 14, 2010

The August 9, 2010 issue of TIME magazine featured a striking cover photograph of an 18-year-old Afghan woman, Aisha, who was disfigured by the Taliban last year. The cover title read, “What happens if we leave Afghanistan.” While Aisha’s story and the stories of many other women like her may depict some part of the reality of women’s lives under the Taliban, TIME’s conclusion that continuing the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is necessary, is highly misleading and troubling.

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