Thursday, September 30, 2010

American hero Bradley Manning

By Marjorie Cohn , ZNet, September 29, 2010
Marjorie Cohn’s ZSpace Page

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is accused of leaking military secrets to the public. [His] supporters are holding rallies in 21 cities, seeking Manning’s release from military custody. Manning is in the brig for allegedly disclosing a classified video depicting U.S. troops shooting civilians from an Apache helicopter in Iraq in July 2007. The video, available at, was published by WikiLeaks on April 5, 2010. Manning faces 52 years in prison. No charges have been filed against the soldiers in the video.

In October 1969, the most famous whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, smuggled out of his office and made public a 7,000 page top secret study of decision making during the Vietnam War. It became known as the Pentagon Papers. Dan risked his future, knowing that he would likely spend life in prison for his expose.

The release of the Pentagon Papers ultimately helped end not only the Nixon presidency, but also the Vietnam War, in which 58,000 Americans and three million Indochinese were killed. Dan’s courageous act was essential to holding accountable our leaders who had betrayed American values by starting and perpetuating an illegal and deadly war.

Manning’s alleged crimes follow in this tradition. The 2007 video, called “Collateral Murder,” has been viewed by millions of people on the Internet. On it, U.S. military Apache helicopter soldiers from Bravo Company 2nd Battalion 16th Infantry Regiment can be seen killing 12 civilians and wounding two children in Iraq. The dead included two employees of the Reuters news agency.

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US soldier admits gruesome killing of Afghan civilians

M&G News, Sep 27, 2010

Washington – One of five US soldiers charged with premeditated murder described his unit leader as ordering the gruesome death of unarmed Afghan civilians in a military interrogation video obtained by US media on Monday.

Corporal Jeremy Morlock, who faced a pretrial military hearing Monday in Washington state, admitted in the interrogation his role in the slayings of three Afghans. He described how his ‘crazy’ Staff Sargent Calvin Gibbs would seek out civilians and order them killed by the military unit.

‘We identify a guy. Gibbs makes a comment, like, you know, ‘You guys wanna wax this guy or what?” Morlock told the military interrogators.

The soldiers allegedly cut off fingers and other body parts of their victims to keep as trophies, according to charging documents released earlier this month. The murders were allegedly committed in January, February and May by the soldiers from an armoured brigade out of Washington that was deployed to Afghanistan’s Kandahar province.

Morlock, Gibbs, Specialist Adam Winfield, Specialist Michael Wagnon II and Private First Class Andrew Holmes face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted by a military court.

Aside from premeditated murder, they also face charges of using hashish, obstructing justice, possessing human body parts and retaining mortar rounds for personal use.

Will They Raid My Home For Writing This?

Mary Shaw, Information Clearing House, Sep 28, 2010

It’s like McCarthyism all over again.

On September 24, FBI agents raided the homes of some anti-war activists in Chicago and Minneapolis on suspicion that they were providing material support to terrorism.

This follows only a few weeks after it was discovered that Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security had been spying on activist groups in the Keystone State.

The Chicago Tribune quotes one of the harassed activists in Minnesota as calling the searches “an outrageous fishing expedition.”

Indeed. But this is apparently how our tax dollars are being used.

Apparently the authorities still subscribe to the George W. Bush-style assumption that if you’re not in lockstep with the government’s policies, then you must be with the terrorists.

And the Bush administration’s knee-jerk, fear-based policies in response to 9/11 have arguably made it legal for agencies to conduct these witch hunts.

The Patriot Act broadened the definition of domestic terrorism to an extent that it “may have a chilling effect on the U.S. and international rights to free expression and association,” says Amnesty International USA.

Amnesty continues: “The law defines ‘domestic terrorism’ as acts committed in the United States ‘dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws,’ if the U.S. government determines that they ‘appear to be intended’ to ‘influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion,’ or ‘to intimidate or coerce a civilian population.’ Such ambiguous language allows for loose interpretation that might violate civil liberties and international human rights.”

As we’re seeing right now.

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Obama Argues for Continuation of Afghan War

Insists War Not Technically a Failure Since It’s Still Going On

by Jason Ditz,, September 28, 2010

The latest in a growing list of things which President Obama has admitted wound up being harder than he thought is the disastrous war in Afghanistan, which is approaching its tenth year with worsening security and no end in sight.

But the war can’t technically be called a failure, Obama insisted, even though it has all the trappings of one, since it isn’t technically over yet. He also insisted the war would have to continue primarily on the basis that he can’t think of anything better to do.

Obama insisted that the Taliban’s return wouldn’t make the world safe, and therefore he wasn’t going to end the war, he also conceded that it is likely to continue for many years to come, which is in keeping with what a number of military officials have been saying.

Oddly President Obama blamed the lack of military victory in Afghanistan on the war in Iraq, which is strange because only weeks ago the president was championing the claims of military victory in Iraq and thanking President Bush for his “commitment.”

Pakistan: Gen. Beg demands right for Pak Air Force to shoot down ISAF copters, drones, Sep 29, 2010

Islamabad, Sept 29 : Former Pakistani army chief, General Mirza Aslam Beg, has criticised the government for involving Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the conflict between the executive and the judiciary, and also demanded that the Pakistan Air Force should be given the task to shoot down ISAF helicopters and drones involved in attacks in the county’s territories.

The Nation quoted Gen Beg as saying that the army chief was not supposed to be part of the statement issued after the meeting.

“This was a prohibited area for him. The president and the prime minister had involved the army chief in a matter from which he was supposed to keep away,” he added.

Referring to the implementation of the Supreme Court’s verdict on the National Reconciliation Ordinance as a matter between the judiciary and the government, he added: “The government has set a very bad precedent – in fact done a disservice by sucking in the army chief in a field which was not his domain”.

He said it appeared that the government was trying to make the army a party to the dispute.

Gen Beg further said that the meeting that took place on Monday had quite different implications as it took place on a day when the Supreme Court was hearing a case of the government’s failure in an attempt to urge the Swiss authorities to re-open President Asif Ali Zardari’s money laundering case.

The case was earlier closed on the basis of an unauthorised communication sent by the previous government.

Walkout on Ahmadinejad at UN: The Craven Whores Doth Protest Too Much

Dr K R Bolton, Foreign Policy Journal, Sep 28, 2010
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

While it is all very easy for the news media, sundry interest groups, and government functionaries throughout the world to dismiss Dr Ahmadinejad as a Mad Mullah beyond the ken of rational debate, perhaps that is because Iran’s president poses questions that are too near the mark to allow a sensible hearing.

As if it weren’t enough being the leader of a large Islamic nation that does not kowtow to the USA and to Israel, Dr Ahmadinejad put himself beyond redemption for eternity by suggesting that “holocaust revisionism” should be subjected to the same standards of scholarly scrutiny as any other historical matter,[1] and like the Left-wing Jewish academic Prof. Norman G Finkelstein, suggested that the holocaust was being exploited for political and economic motives.[2] Being Jewish, Left-wing and the son of parents who had survived both the Warsaw Ghetto and Nazi concentration camps,[3] didn’t save Finkelstein from the Zionist smear-brigade, so Dr Ahmadinejad is not about to be cut any slack.

When Dr Ahmadinejad reached the UN podium on September 24, it is certain that Israel, the USA and sundry lackeys to both states, waited with baited breath to see what the president would do this time to try and expose their corrupt system before what remains of states that have any sense of national sovereignty and dignity. The reaction of the delegates from the USA, Australia, New Zealand, all 27 delegates from the EU states, Canada, and Costa Rica was to walk out en mass — the response of those who have nothing thoughtful or honest to offer. In New Zealand’s case, our state relies of moral posturing at world forums to compensate for national impotence.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Badri Raina: Ayodhya and what it Implies

Badri Raina, Sep 29, 2010

The Supreme Court having dismissed a Special Leave Petition seeking deferment of the Allahabad High Court judgement which was slated to be delivered on the 24th of September, the decks have been cleared for the said judgement to be pronounced now at 3.30 afternoon tomorrow, the 30th of September, 2010.

At the heart of the issue in court is a title suit to determine who is in rightful possession of the site where the demolished mosque stood—a Muslim organization or a Hindu one.

Remarkably, after some sixty years of litigation in the matter, all parties to the dispute have welcomed the prospect of a legal determination regardless of who wins or loses, or whether the judgement-to-come confronts the parties with a mixed bag of determinations. But leaving the way open to all to go in appeal to the Supreme Court depending on how the chips fall.

It is to be recalled that one justification preferred for the demolition of the Babri mosque in 1992 was that the courts were taking forever, and that the Rambakhts were thus obliged to take matters into their own gruesome hands to level the ground for the construction of a “grand” temple to lord Ram, who they simply believe was born at the very exact spot where the main dome of the mosque stood.

Interestingly, the BJP whose stalwarts were in the forefront of the demolition event on December 6, 1992, and which till now had been holding to the view that the Constitution and the Courts have no locus standi in the matter of “civilizational” convictions, seems suddenly as fervently favourable to the judicial pronouncement as the Muslim litigants who have consistently argued that any final legal determination of the matter will be accepted by them without demur, however it turns out for their side.

The BJP’s new stance of course may not be as straightforward or upright as it seems. As much as we can forsee, having understood that the national mood in India is visibly transformed, it will be their further tactics to “go to the people” come national hustings and ask for a legislative majority in parliament so as they can legislate that “grand temple” to be “lawfully” constructed at Ayodhya—something they have tried before and failed to achieve. Which suggests importantly (something that tends to be brushed under the polemical carpet) that however they have sought to make the temple issue a “Hindu” one, endorsement for such a read has not been forthcoming. Remarkably, to this day, the BJP has failed to obtain the electoral patronage of some 70% among the Hindu electorate.

Cannily, most Hindu Indians who after all are not averse to a Ram temple being built also understand that it is not the temple so much that the BJP and the Sangh Parivar want as an anti-Muslim political and civilizational assertion, and a seal on the fascist view that the concerns and convictions of the sectarian-cultural majority must take precedence over electoral majorities as mandated by the Constitutional regime. A programme that ordinary Indians across the board do not concur with.

We have often defined India’s democracy as indeed still work-in-progress. There has been no better evidence of that than the manner in which two momentous arms of the state have through the years tended to deal with the Ayodhya imbroglio, namely the Executive and the Media.

In 1992, the year of the watershed demolition of the mosque, the central government led by the “secular” Congress party simply went into deep siesta the whole day long, allowing the vandals and the criminals to finish off the job in glee and glamour. And even now when there is overwhelming demand on all sides that the court be allowed to pronounce on the title suit, the characteristic pusillanimity of the Congress remains unaffected: it would much rather avoid having to assert the Constitutionally obligatory mandate of the State to sort out the publicly disorderly consequences, if any, of the judicial pronouncement, but will reluctantly do so if the parties to the suit fail to reconcile—something they have failed to do over six long decades of trying.

All that in stark contrast to its willingness to launch “operation greenhunt” against recalcitrant tribals in some six states of India and to fire real bullets at stone-pelting teenagers in the valley of Kashmir.

At the heart of the pusillanimity, let us repeat, has been the peculiar version of secularism adopted by the State from its inception, namely not a separation of church and state, but an “equal” regard of all religious faiths.

Clearly, where some 85% of all Indians are Hindus of one kind or another, that mandate of “equal” regard finds its own disequilibrium in the politics of “mainstream” India. Just as dependable citizenship remains coloured by denominational proclivities and preferences.

For those reasons, therefore, (and especially when a “new” young India refuses to be much drawn to the dispute), it will remain to be seen how the Congress party and the state led by it now rise to the occasion. No more inspiring words than those of the Supreme Court that just as the judiciary cannot be prevented form doing its job, it is for the State to do its.

As to the Media, especially of the big corporate variety: its class allegiance willy nilly obliges it to oscillate between the Congress and the BJP, its dream of long that such a two-party dispensation comes to gel to the exclusion of the plethora of other political formations whose agendas tend to be either inimical to big business or wholly localized and “socially retrograde.”

And between the Congress and the BJP, it has tended to prefer the latter for its more openly and completely market-friendly predilections. And where the BJP practices a non-lethal variety of religiosity, this is also seen as a boon, to the extent that such a stance taps the energies of the mass of working Hindus whose devotions to the deities are legendary, keeping them away from mobilizing on livelihood issues. No better ploy to keep the pretentious politics of the Left in its sidelined place. It is only when a communal mayhem is let loose that the corporate media begins to fidget, since the image of an India on the march to accumulation and profit maximization is then severely dented and thwarted.

In the current moment, there is evidence that some sections of this media are more boldly out to support the Constitutional assertion of the judiciary and the state than they have been hitherto.

Some others who have been more closely in embrace with the BJP are strangely and distressingly heard to counter the general mood in favour of a judicial determination of the Ayodhya issue with the old “tea party” argument about the non-justiciability of “faith.” A sort of back-up to the clandestine BJP position which the party itself for now seems to have suspended in the hope that any further prolonged career of the dispute in the Supreme Court will open the route to its demand for an electoral majority so that the temple construction be legislated.

But, finally, more than all these, a great deal of what may or may not transpire will depend on new civil society and mass attitudes to the judicial verdict due tomorrow.

A distinct watershed moment then in the post-Independent history of “modernizing” India which will tell us whether the Constitutional clock moves ahead or suffers a circum ambulatory regression in time.

How Bush holdovers trapped Obama

By Robert Parry ,, September 27, 2010

President Barack Obama trapped himself in the morass of Afghanistan by his post-election decision to show bipartisan continuity and to keep in place George W. Bush’s military command structure, particularly Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus.

After his solid victory in November 2008, Obama rebuffed recommendations from some national security experts that he clean house by installing a team more in line with his campaign pledge of “change you can believe in.” He accepted instead the counsel of Establishment Democrats who warned against any disruption to the war-fighting hierarchy and who were especially supportive of keeping Gates.

The results are now in. Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, makes clear that it was Bush’s old team that made sure Obama was given no option other than to escalate troop levels in Afghanistan. The Bush holdovers also lobbied for the troop increase behind Obama’s back.

According to Woodward’s book, Gates, Petraeus and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, refused last year to even prepare an early-exit option that Obama had requested. Instead, they offered up only plans for their desired escalation of about 40,000 troops.

Woodward wrote: “For two exhausting months, [Obama] had been asking military advisers to give him a range of options for the war in Afghanistan. Instead, he felt that they were steering him toward one outcome and thwarting his search for an exit plan.

“He would later tell his White House aides that military leaders were ‘really cooking this thing in the direction they wanted.’”

Woodward identified Gates, Petraeus and Mullen as “unrelenting advocates for 40,000 more troops and an expanded mission that seemed to have no clear end.”

The effort to box Obama in reached a crisis point on Nov. 11, 2009, in the White House Situation Room when Obama confronted the three and complained, “You have given me one option [for the escalation]. We were going to meet here today to talk about three options. … You agreed to go back and work those up.”

Mullen protested. “I think what we’ve tried to do here is present a range of options.” But Obama shot back that two options were clearly unfeasible and the other two were variations of the 40,000-troop increase request.

The Bush holdovers even resisted passing along a “hybrid” plan that came from outside their group, from Vice President Joe Biden who had worked with JCS vice chairman, Gen. James Cartwright. The plan envisioned a 20,000 troop increase and a more limited mission of hunting Taliban insurgents and training Afghan government forces.

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How Corporations Own Congress

By Shamus Cooke, ZNet, September 19, 2010

Shamus Cooke’s ZSpace Page

With the November elections quickly approaching, the majority of Americans will be thinking one thing: “Who cares?” This apathy isn’t due to ignorance, as some accuse. Rather, working people’s disinterest in the two party system implies intelligence: millions of people understand that both the Democrats and Republicans will not represent their interests in Congress.

This begs the question: Whom does the two party system work for? The answer was recently given by the mainstream The New York Times, who gave the nation an insiders peek on how corporations “lobby” (buy) congressmen. The article explains how giant corporations — from Wall-mart to weapons manufacturers — are planning on shifting their hiring practices for lobbyists, from Democratic to Republican ex-congressmen in preparation for the Republicans gaining seats in the upcoming November elections:

“Lobbyists, political consultants and recruiters all say that the going rate for Republicans — particularly current and former House staff members — has risen significantly in just the last few weeks, with salaries beginning at $300,000 and going as high as $1million for private sector [corporate lobbyist] positions.” (September 9, 2010)

Congressmen who have recently retired make the perfect lobbyists: they still have good friends in Congress, with many of these friends owing them political favors; they have connections to foreign Presidents and Kings; and they also have celebrity status that gives good PR to the corporations.

Often, these congressmen have done favors for the corporation that is now hiring them, meaning, that the corporations are rewarding the congressmen for services rendered while in office, offering them million dollar lobbyist jobs (or seats on the corporate board of directors) that requires little to no work.

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How U.S. Jews strangle peace talks

Mideast talks fall apart, as Israel lets West Bank settlements begin anew. Peter Beinart on how American Jewish groups tie Obama’s hands—and work against peace.

Peter Beinart,, Sep 27, 2010

This just in, for anyone in the United States who still cares: Israel has not renewed the partial settlement freeze it imposed ten months ago. Which means that the direct talks with the Palestinians born this month may die in the crib. Which raises an interesting question: What would it take to make American Jewish groups admit that an Israeli prime minister is not serious about peace?

You could hardly find a better test case than Benjamin Netanyahu. Until last year, Netanyahu had not just spent his entire political career opposing a Palestinian state; he had repeatedly compared such a state to Nazi Germany. He opposed the Oslo peace talks at their inception, and as prime minister in the late 1990s so consistently reneged on commitments made by his predecessors that U.S. envoy Dennis Ross later noted that “neither President Clinton nor Secretary Albright believed that Bibi had any real interest in pursuing peace.” In 2005, when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed dismantling Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu resigned from his cabinet in protest. Netanyahu was still on record as opposing a Palestinian state in 2009, when he again ran for prime minister. He hewed to this position when forming his coalition government, even though doing so helped keep Tzipi Livni’s centrist Kadima party from joining his cabinet, thus preventing Netanyahu from assembling the national unity government he claimed to want in order to confront Iran. Through all of this, the major American Jewish groups still refused to publicly entertain the idea that Netanyahu was anything but a champion of peace.

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Hillary Clinton and State Dept. to Celebrate War Criminal Henry Kissinger, While the White House Repeats His Deadly Mistakes

Future historians will marvel at how U.S. leaders failed to learn from their horrific crimes in Indochina, and are instead repeating many of them today.

By Fred Branfman, AlterNet, September 28, 2010

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger addresses a keynote on the theme of power shifts and security at the opening day of the eighth Annual IISS Global Strategic Review conference in Geneva.
Photo Credit: AFP – Fabrice Coffrini

Nothing more symbolizes how the temptations of power can corrupt youthful values and idealism than Secretary Hillary Clinton’s invitation to Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke to keynote a major State Department conference on the history of the Indochina war. As an idealistic college student, Clinton protested Kissinger’s mass murder of civilians in Indochina. She knows full well that had the international laws protecting civilians in war been applied to Kissinger’s bombing of civilian targets in Indochina he would have been indicted for crimes of war.

But on Sept. 29 she will introduce Kissinger at the State Department Historian’s conference, giving him a platform to continue 40 years of Orwellian deception in which he has sought to blame Congress for the fall of Indochina rather than accepting responsibility for his massive miscalculations and indifference to human suffering.

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CIA Dramatically Escalating Drone Strikes Against Pakistan

At Least 20 Separate Attacks Launched in September

by Jason Ditz,, September 27, 2010

Though the attention tonight is squarely on the US military’s brief incursion into Pakistani territory and the 60 people killed in that attack, the CIA continues to escalate their policy of drone strikes against Pakistani territory to alarming levels.

In fact, a flurry of strikes over the weekend has brought the total number of strikes to at least 20 in the month of September alone. From a rarely used tactic during the waning days of the Bush Administration, hardly a day goes by when US missiles aren’t killing someone in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

President Obama has made the drone strikes the centerpiece of his foreign policy, and has killed well over a thousand people inside Pakistan since taking office. The vast majority of those killed have turned out to be innocent civilians, while large numbers of others remain unidentified but classified as “suspects.”

But despite the growing disquiet in Pakistan over the large number of civilians killed, the number of attacks is continuing to escalate beyond all reason, and the US continues to tout it as a “precise” tactic. Despite this, of the 20 attacks this month none has led to a confirmed kill of a high value target, and a number of civilians have been confirmed slain.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rev. Howard Bess: Must Christianity Dominate America?

By the Rev. Howard Bess,, September 27, 2010

Editor’s Note: Some Christians and Jews are seeking harsher policies against Muslims to counter Islam’s purported desire for dominance over other religions, ironically even as right-wing Christians and Jews themselves demand greater dominance over Muslims and others who practice different religions or none at all.

And, just as Muslims cite the Koran as a holy book that they feel must guide human behavior, many Christians and Jews trace their political agendas back to the Bible and the supposed “word of God.”

For instance, in defending the resumption of Jewish settlement expansion on the Palestinian West Bank, hard-line Israelis claim the Bible justifies the land grab.

Reflecting this fundamentalist and fundamentally racist view, Gershon Mesika, a settlement leader, lectured President Barack Obama on Sunday by saying: “I say to Hussein Obama: This Land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel. The Jewish people have the strongest title deed in the world, and that is the Bible.”

In the United States, Christian nationalists have taken up their own political-religious banner in demanding that the Christian Bible and the Ten Commandants become the basis for the American government, superseding even the U.S. Constitution.

In that context, retired Baptist minister Howard Bess examines this internal debate within Christianity (and Judaism) over where the Bible should stand as a factor in civil governance and whether one religion should dominate others:

One of the great sins of Christianity over the centuries is that it has sought dominance over believers in other religions as well as non-believers.

Somehow most Christian leaders have decided that their particular brand of religion should be dominant in the world and that the world would attain its greatest ideal if everyone were Christian.

Though there is material in the Bible to support this supremacist view, there is also a great body of Bible literature that looks at life from a very different perspective. According to this alternate point-of-view, the calling of the people of God is to be a servant people.

I have long maintained that the Bible should be read and studied with a recognition that both sides of the arguments are found in the same collection of writings, that the Bible is not monolithic on this and other key questions. The task of the Bible student is to join in the argument and to bring the argument to the most modern of settings.

The dominance side of the argument is rooted in the Bible story of King David, tracing his life from a humble shepherd boy to supposedly the most powerful king in the Near East. According to the story, he claimed power as a bloody, conquering tyrant and established a great capital city in Jerusalem as home to Jehovah God.

This story (which many historians consider largely mythical) has become the model and symbol of all Christian dominionists.

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Review: Norwegian doctors’ “Eyes in Gaza”

Raymond Deane, The Electronic Intifada, 27 September 2010

Eyes in Gaza is a detailed and harrowing account by the Norwegian doctors Mads Gilbert and Erik Fosse of their experiences in al-Shifa Hospital during Israel’s deadly assault on Gaza in December 2008-January 2009. For a time, they were not just the only western doctors in Gaza, but the only western witnesses to what they repeatedly call Israel’s “massacre” of some 1,400 Palestinian men, women and children. Hence the book’s title, bearing witness to their status as witnesses.

At noon on New Year’s Eve 2008, four days after the start of Israel’s onslaught, Gilbert and Fosse entered Gaza from Egypt. On the morning of 10 January 2010, with Israel’s campaign still having a week to run, they returned to Egypt and were replaced by another Norwegian medical team. During the intervening period they assisted their Palestinian colleagues — whose “historic heroism” (112) they praise unstintingly — in performing an average of twenty operations daily on the civilian victims of Israel’s orgy of shooting and bombing. In the absence of western media they also acted as reporters (“white voices” — 121-122), giving ten to fifteen interviews daily.

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US Helicopters Attack Pakistan, Killing More Than 50

NATO Confirms Apache Helicopters Launched Attacks Against Pakistani Territory

by Jason Ditz,, September 26, 2010

NATO spokesmen are confirming tonight that a pair of US Apache helicopters crossed the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan, launching an attack against tribesmen in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) which killed over 50.

NATO says that the tribesmen they attacked were believed to be the same ones responsible for an attack against a NATO base in the Khost Province of Afghanistan. The Khost Province borders FATA’s North Waziristan Agency, a regular target for US drone strikes.

Though it is not the first time US forces have crossed the border and launched attacks into Pakistan, such attacks have been exceedingly rare (and followed by angry reactions from Pakistan’s military and civilian government). NATO has also repeatedly tried to distance itself from previous attacks, insisting there is no basis for crossing the border.

NATO depends on Pakistani territory as a supply route for its troops in land-locked Afghanistan, and following a pair of 2008 raids by US troops into Pakistan the nation’s government briefly blocked the supplies. With many, many more NATO troops in Afghanistan now than in 2008 the supply route is all the more vital, though simultaneously all the more fragile.

UN Fact-Finding Mission Says Israelis “Executed” US Citizen Furkan Dogan

By Gareth Porter, Truthout, | Report, Sep 27, 2010

Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was aboard the Mavi Marmara when he was killed by Israeli commandos. (Photo: freegazaorg; Edited: Jared Rodriguez / t r u t h o u t)

The report of the fact-finding mission of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla released last week shows conclusively, for the first time, that US citizen Furkan Dogan and five Turkish citizens were murdered execution-style at point blank range by Israeli commandos.

The report reveals that Dogan, the 19-year-old US citizen of Turkish descent, was filming with a small video camera on the top deck of the Mavi Marmara when he was shot twice in the head, once in the back and in the left leg and foot and that he was shot in the face at point blank range while lying on the ground.

The report says Dogan had apparently been “lying on the deck in a conscious or semi-conscious, state for some time” before being shot in his face.

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Obama Argues His Assassination Program is a “State Secret”

by Glenn Greenwald,, Sep 26, 2010

At this point, I didn’t believe it was possible, but the Obama administration has just reached an all-new low in its abysmal civil liberties record. In response to the lawsuit filed by Anwar Awlaki’s father asking a court to enjoin the President from assassinating his son, a U.S. citizen, without any due process, the administration late last night, according to The Washington Post, filed a brief asking the court to dismiss the lawsuit without hearing the merits of the claims. That’s not surprising: both the Bush and Obama administrations have repeatedly insisted that their secret conduct is legal but nonetheless urge courts not to even rule on its legality. But what’s most notable here is that one of the arguments the Obama DOJ raises to demand dismissal of this lawsuit is “state secrets”: in other words, not only does the President have the right to sentence Americans to death with no due process or charges of any kind, but his decisions as to who will be killed and why he wants them dead are “state secrets,” and thus no court may adjudicate their legality.

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Kashmir, India’s historically manufactured nemesis

Prof. Angana Chatterji, Asian Human Rights commission, Sep 27, 2010

“Freedom” represents many things across rural and urban spaces in India-ruled Kashmir. These divergent meanings are steadfastly united in that freedom always signifies an end to India’s authoritarian governance.

In the administration of brutality, India, the post colony, has proven itself coequal to its former colonial masters. Kashmir is not about “Kashmir.” Governing Kashmir is about India’s coming of age as a power, its ability to disburse violence, to manipulate and dominate. Kashmir is about nostalgia, about resources, and buffer zones. The possession of Kashmir by India renders an imaginary past real, emblematic of India’s triumphant unification as a nation-state. Controlling Kashmir requires that Kashmiri demands for justice be depicted as threatening to India’s integrity. India’s contrived enemy in Kashmir is a plausible one – the Muslim “Other,” India’s historically manufactured nemesis.

What is at Stake?

Between June 11 and September 22 of 2010, Kashmir witnessed the execution of 109 youth, men, and women by India’s police, paramilitary, and military. Indian forces opened fire on crowds, tortured children, detained elders without explanation, and coerced false confessions. Since June 7, there have been 73 days of curfew and 75 days of strikes and agitation. On September 11, the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, the violence continued. The paramilitary and police verbally abused and physically attacked civil society dissenters. Summer 2010 was not unprecedented. Kashmir has been subjected to much, much worse.

The use of public and summary execution for civic torture has been held necessary to Kashmir’s subjugation by the Indian state. Militarisation has asserted vigilante jurisdiction over space and politics. The violence is staged, ritualistic, and performative, used to re-assert India’s power over Kashmir’s body. The fabrications of the military — fake encounters, escalating perceptions of cross-border threat — function as the truth-making apparatus of the nation. We are witness to the paradox of history, as calibrated punishment — the lynching of the Muslim body, the object of criminality — enforces submission of a stateless nation (Kashmir) to the once-subaltern postcolony (India).

Kashmir is about the spectacle. The Indian state’s violence functions as an intervention, to discipline and punish, to provoke and dominate. The summer of 2010 evidenced India’s manoeuvring against Kashmir’s determination to decide its future. The use of violence by the Indian forces was deliberate, their tactics cruel and precise, amidst the groundswell of public dissent. This was the third summer, since 2008, of indefatigable civil society uprisings for “Azaadi” (freedom).

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Jewish activists set sail for Gaza planning to break blockade

Voyage by boat carrying supporters of Jews for Justice for Palestinians comes four months after Israeli attack on flotilla

Associated Press in Cyprus, The Guardian, Sep 26, 2010

Four activists board the catamaran, named Irene, before their departure from the port of Famagusta in Cyprus. Photograph: Hasan Mroue/AFP/Getty Images

A boat carrying Jewish activists from Israel, Germany, the US and Britain set sail today for Gaza, hoping to breach Israel’s naval blockade there.

Richard Kuper, an organiser with the British group Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said one goal was to show that not all Jews supported Israeli policies toward Palestinians. Kuper said the boat, which set sail from northern Cyprus flying a British flag, would not resist Israeli authorities.

The voyage by the 10-metre catamaran Irene comes nearly four months after Israeli commandos boarded a flotilla of Gaza-bound ships, killing eight pro-Palestinian Turkish activists and a Turkish American aboard the Mavi Marmara.

Rami Elhanan, an Israeli passenger whose daughter Smadar was killed in a suicide bombing at a shopping mall in Jerusalem in 1997, said it was his “moral duty” to act in support of Palestinians in Gaza because reconciliation was the surest path to peace.

“Those 1.5 million people in Gaza are victims exactly as I am,” Elhanan, 60, said.

Alison Prager, another organiser from Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said many Jews had been on previous “blockade-busting trips” to Gaza, but this was the first time Jewish groups had banded together to send a boat of their own.

Continues >>

Murderers, Cowards, Morons and Thieves: Portrait of an Empire in a Political Season

Written by Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque, Sep 22, 2010

Jason Ditz at continues his lonely vigil of documenting the carnage being inflicted upon civilians in Pakistan by the increasingly frenzied drone missile attacks ordered by the Peace Laureate in the White House.

Almost every day, Ditz has fresh hell to offer up on the story of this remarkably brazen campaign of outright war crimes. Most of his pieces draw on foreign sources; there is almost nothing in the American press about this literally inhuman invasion of the sovereign territory of a nation allied to the United States. It is truly a bizarre situation; then again, in a militarist system whose pervasive moral depravity has long reached lunatic proportions, murdering the children of your allies is perhaps not so unusual. Certainly, the guardians of our public discourse don’t consider it newsworthy in any way.

Continues >>

Dr Aafia Siddiqui: Pakistan Government In A State of Obfuscation

The Guilt Shall Haunt to The Graves

By Yvonne Ridley, Opinion Maker, Sep 26, 2010

Dr Aafia

Obfuscation, is an awkward word but it essentially sums up the behaviour of all of the Pakistan government ministers, diplomats and politicians who have had a hand in the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui.

Now they’re scrambling over each others backs like a bucket of frogs clawing their way to the top in a bid to speak to the media to feign shock at the silly sentence dished out by New York judge Richard Berman a few days ago.

And on top of all of this over-acting that other major obfuscator America has said Pakistan will have to sign two international treaties dealing with the exchange of prisoners to enable the return from the US of Aafia.


Why don’t these spineless chumps in Islamabad grow a backbone and their gin-soaked counterparts in the US State Department to get stuffed.

Exactly what difference would it make if Pakistan were a signatory to the Council of Europe Treaty and the OAS Treaty? Please don’t tell me US Administration would abide by these? Of course they wouldn’t. The USA has continually violated and ignored the Geneva Conventions and still a serial offender by keeping open Guantanamo Bay and other secret detention centres.

And in Aafia’s case it has also thrown the Vienna Conventions out of the window.

The shameless, outgoing US Ambassador Anne Patterson based in Pakistan lied to the world from her barbed wire bunker in Islamabad when she claimed Dr Aafia Siddiqui was given full consular access at all times – I can prove Aafia wasn’t.

Continues >>

Where’s the outcry over Pope arrests?

Morning Star Online, September 24, 2010
Paddy McGuffin

What the hell has happened to the tradition of questioning authority and and holding the state to account in this country?

Last week six cleaners in Westminster were arrested in dawn raids, detained and smeared as would-be assassins of the Pope with the willing connivance of the fourth estate.

Twenty-four hours later all six were – in now time-honoured fashion – quietly released without charge, the Met having found no evidence of a plot, weapons, explosives, fundamentalist materials or anything incriminating whatsoever in fact.

It was like arresting someone for a murder that hadn’t happened and where the “victim” kept appearing on prime-time TV every day for a week giving live addresses.

These six men, all of north African origin conveniently enough, who I repeat have been charged with no crime and against whom there is apparently not a shred of evidence have had their rights massively infringed by the state.

They have been labelled terrorists and extremists involved in a plot to assassinate the leader of one of the world’s largest religious institutions. It has been reported that a shared joke in a staff canteen may have led to this scandalous situation, something the Met strenuously deny.

Well they would wouldn’t they?

The other claim was that they were arrested because they were in “a position to do something” due to their jobs.

Continues >>

Call for ‘Gaza style’ inquiry on Afghan deaths

Former UN official demands investigation into coalition link to deaths revealed by WikiLeaks

Mark Townsend, The Observer, Sep 26, 2010

An angry crowd burns a makeshift U.S. flag as they accuse NATO forces of killing civilians in an overnight raid, at Surkh Rod, Afghanistan, last May. Photograph: Rahmat Gul/AP

A United Nations investigation into alleged war crimes in Afghanistan should be launched to identify and prosecute individuals responsible, says a former top-ranking UN official on extrajudicial killings.

Philip Alston called for the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the “conduct of the war” in Afghanistan amid rising concern over the level of civilian casualties caused by coalition forces, including Britain, and by the Taliban. It should be modelled, he said, on the inquiry into Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip.

Continues >>

James Petras: Imperialism and Imperial Barbarism

Imperialism, its character, means and ends has changed over time and place. Historically, western imperialism, has taken the form of tributary, mercantile, industrial, financial and in the contemporary period, a unique ‘militarist-barbaric’ form of empire building.

James Petras, James Petras Website, Sep 19, 2010

Within each ‘period’, elements of past and future forms of imperial domination and exploitation ‘co-exist’ with the dominant mode. For example, in the ancient Greek and Roman empires, commercial and trade privileges complemented the extraction of tributary payments. Mercantile imperialism, was preceded and accompanied initially by the plunder of wealth and the extraction of tribute, sometimes referred to as “primitive accumulation”, where political and military power decimated the local population and forcibly removed and transferred wealth to the imperial capitals.

Read essay [PDF]

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Aafia Siddiqui Sentenced: A Grievous Miscarriage of Justice

by Stephen Lendman, Dissident Voice, September 24th, 2010

On September 23 in federal court, US District Court Judge, Richard Berman sentenced political prisoner, Aafia Siddiqui, to 86 years in prison. Outrage most accurately expresses this gross miscarriage of justice, compounding what she’s already endured following her March 30, 2003 abduction, imprisonment, torture, prosecution, and conviction on bogus charges.1

In modern times, she’s one of American depravity’s most aggrieved victims, now given a virtual life sentence for a crime she didn’t, and couldn’t have, committed, explained in the above articles.

In recent months, she’s been in New York’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in maximum security solitary confinement, during her trial, conviction and September 23 sentencing. Importantly, her life was effectively destroyed by years of horrific tortures, repeated rapings, and other abuses in Bagram Prison at America’s Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

Continues >>

President Obama at the UN: The arrogant voice of imperialism

By Bill Van Auken,, Sep 24, 2010

President Barack Obama used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly Thursday to defend US wars and state terror abroad and to proclaim that the economic crisis has been resolved thanks to his Wall Street bailout.

The US president received a noticeably tepid response from the assembled UN delegates. While in his first address to the body last year, he was able to pose as a fresh alternative to the crimes carried out by the Bush administration, by now it has become clear to most on the international stage that his administration’s policies are largely in continuity with those of its predecessor.

In its tone and its content, the Obama speech was the authentic and arrogant voice of US imperialism.

Parroting remarks delivered by George W. Bush from the same podium, Obama began by invoking September 11, 2001, once again exploiting the terrorist attacks of that day to justify the acts of military aggression committed by both US administrations in the intervening nine years.

Continues >>

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Supporting Pakistan Relief Efforts

By Yasmin Qureshi and Abira Ashfaq, ZNet, September 19, 2010
Yasmin Qureshi’s ZSpace Page

More than 20 million people are impacted by the floods in Pakistan and more than 1.2 million homes destroyed. The media has highlighted a growing concern that the floods could strengthen militant groups that are engaged in relief efforts. However, the Pakistani military is in a greater position to benefit, particularly in the absence of a strong democratic leadership as their rescue efforts are glorified over the work of progressive organizations, and even the government.

It is for these reasons the international community must support the work of progressive grassroots Pakistani groups. These are organizations that have ties to the flood affected regions where they have worked with famers, laborer, women and children to bring about the much needed social change. They will be there working for long term rehabilitation as waters recede, and after the international relief organizations are gone, and individual efforts diminish.

In addition to progressive organizations, the international community must compel the government at provincial, district, and local levels to remain accountable by strengthening the National Disaster Management Authority (which provides updates of affectees), and ask for oversight and coordination between thousands of individuals and NGOs. Instead of an unceasing focus on the corruption of top level bureaucrats and politicians, there is a need to build grassroots institutions.

The Sindh Rural Support Organization (SRSO) loosely collaborates with the government. Through a World Food Program, the SRSO targets to deliver one month ration to about 42,000 families in five districts in Sindh. It is also collaborating with USAID and UNICEF. It has been installing hand pumps and dry toilets. “Camps need drinking water supply, toilets and food supplies – the very basics which are somehow missed by our government,” wrote Saqib Khan, an SRSO volunteer, from a relief camp in Sukkur, Sindh. Established in 2003, SRSO’s mandate is to alleviate poverty by harnessing the people’s potential and to undertake development activities in nine districts of Sindh.

Continues >>

Tony Blair’s Journey: Questions Before Charge

Evidence of Extensive War Crimes Committed by a British Prime Minister

by Dr. David Halpin, Global Research, Sep 19, 2010

Your ‘Journey’ has been long on miles but absent of humanity, reason and law. ‘It can only get better’. Could it have got any worse?

Your vapour trails have left millions weeping. One million of those are widows in Iraq, at least 1.2 million humans with their Allah, five million orphans and four million refugees. We will leave out the blood and the mayhem you have left in Afghanistan, Somalia and the Yemen. You sprang from each jet with strange eyes ablaze, with more lies and plans for yet more Muslim decimation. You had been re-fuelled at high altitude by your fellow psychopath Campbell and other ‘advisers’ like Manning.

You joined the dummy Bush over blood-oozing steaks in April 2002.

The false flag of 9/11 had been repeated by the media megaphones of the UK/US/Israel axis and the absence of a judicial inquiry ensured the ‘big lie, oft repeated’ sank into irrational, Mammon possessed populations. All that was modelled in the ‘think’ tanks with the aim of breaking Iraq, the Arab bastion, for ever. You, and another three of the mafiosi, Aznar, Barroso and Dubya met for an hour in the Azores 16 March. Two of these mafiosi have fascist connections. The capo, Dick Cheney, was home pushing buttons and pulling strings for shocking and awing and burning and blasting. In your ‘book’ you wrote that Cheney wanted a wholesale reorganization of the political map of the Middle East after 9/11. The vice president “would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it — Hezbollah, Hamas, etc,”. [1]

Continues >>

Some Killing More ‘Moral’ Than Other

By Mel Frykberg, Inter Press Service,

RAMALLAH, Sep 18, 2010 (IPS) – Controversy is building up over a 91-year-old man, his 17-year-old grandson and a 20-year-old neighbour, all farmers, who were killed by Israeli shelling and gunfire as they tried to tend their land 700 metres from northern Gaza’s border with Israel.

The narrative according to the Israeli and foreign media is one of “self- defence”. During the last few weeks a number of crude missiles have been fired at the Jewish state by Gaza-based Palestinian fighters, causing little damage and no casualties or injuries.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) claimed the three were “terrorists” trying to shoot rockets at southern Israel.

Israel has declared a 300-metre “security zone” within Gaza and next to the Israeli border, no-man’s land. This buffer area is where some of Gaza’s most fertile land is situated. The Gaza strip is approximately 40 km long and eight km wide, and home to 1.5 million.

The exclusion zone has been strictly enforced by the IDF since the takeover of the coastal territory by the Islamic movement Hamas in 2007.

Since the blockade a number of Gazan farmers and shepherds have been killed by the IDF as they tried to farm their land and attend to their livestock. More have been injured and maimed. Some of the deaths and injuries took place outside of the buffer zone.

Controversy has been raging on the Internet between Palestinians and their supporters and supporters of Israel, over the way events were presented by the mainstream media.

Continues >>

Iraq: a country of orphans

Azzaman, September 13, 2010

One in every six Iraqis is an orphan. That is the toll Iraqi children are paying in a country which is supposedly under the occupation and protection of the world’s only superpower.

Not all the orphans are the result of the violence that swept the country in the aftermath of the 2003-U.S. invasion.

But the invasion has caused untold miseries for Iraqis, surpassing those inflicted on them by their former tormentors, the clique that ruled Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

There were unconfirmed reports that Iraq has turned into a country of orphans. But the exact figure only became a reality recently, when the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs made public its own statistics.

The statistics points to dangerous demographics with grave social, health and economic consequences for a country which still lacks basic infrastructure.

These are the voiceless Iraqis. Their U.S. occupiers have almost cut and run and their Iraqi rulers are not so much concerned about their livelihood and well-being.

In a violent country like Iraq, where U.S. marines with bullet-proof jackets and thick armor, cannot feel safe, there is not so much room for an orphan.

Hundreds of thousands of them live on the street. There is no social security system to look after them.

Continues >>

The Obstacles That Probably Will Kill Any Israeli-Palestinian Deal

By MJ Rosenberg, Senior Foreign Policy Fellow, The Huffington Post, Sep 18, 2010

The Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are reported to be going well — or as well as they can go with the United States maintaining its insistence that no attempts at Palestinian unity are made.

This is Israel’s demand, conveyed to the lobby, enforced by President and Congress, and then rammed down the throat of even the forces within the Palestinian Authority who want to coordinate with Hamas.

But, forgetting that for a moment, the big worry about the current talks continues to be what will happen after September 26th, when Israel’s partial settlement freeze ends. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu says that he won’t continue the freeze while President Mahmoud Abbas says he will end the talks if the freeze lapses.

The whole settlement freeze issue is one of the three most unnecessary obstacles to peace . The other two are the belief, on the part of some Palestinians, that the 1948 refugees and their progeny are returning to Israel (rather than to a Palestinian state) and Netanyahu’s insistence that Palestinians recognize Israel “as a Jewish state.”

Continues >>

India continues to kill Kashmiri protesters

Indian troops shot dead two more people in Kashmir in firing on demonstrators who condemned army killings and India.

World Bulletin, Friday, 17 September 2010 16:03

Indian troops shot dead on Friday two more people in Kashmir in firing on demonstrators who condemned army killings and India after the calls for new protests outside Indian army garrisons next week.

One of Kashmir’s most influential leaders, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has called for peaceful sit-in protests on Tuesday outside army camps across Kashmir, defying threats of Indian troops to ”shoot on sight” in a three-month long uprising in one of the world’s most militarised regions.

Indian troops killed more than 90 Kashmiri civlians in a summer of protests that Kashmiris says peaceful, fuelling anti-India anger in the Muslim-majority valley.

Kashmiris see India as an “occupier” and has called for independence since decades.

In 1948, the United Nations adopted a resolution calling for a referendum for Kashmir to determine whether the Himalayan region should be part of India and Pakistan. But India has rejected to hold referendum in Kashmiri territory.

Continues >>

Saturday, September 18, 2010

United Nations silent over Indian brutality in Kashmir

Kashmir Watch, Sep 16, 2010

By Zaheerul Hassan

Despite curfew massive protests which started on Eid Day from Srinagar have extended to all over the Kashmir including major districts Anantnag, Pampore and Sopore towns. The masses refused to obey occupied forces and defied the curfew. Since last Saturday (September 11,2010) till today death toll rose up to 95, more than 2000 injured and about 3000 freedom fighters have been abducted by Indian occupied forces. The properties of innocent Kashmiri’s people are being burnt by the local police with the help of extremists Hindus in Jamu valley and all other parts of Hindu’s dominated areas. In this regard occupied Indian forces are providing them fully support.

The army aggression in Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK) is even worst than Israeli brutality in Palestine. Pakistan, China and Arab countries have strongly condemned the ongoing Indian barbarism against women, children, young’s and old individuals. Cries of women and children can be heard from every second house of the valley. Thus in retaliation, young girls and boys whenever find chance fight back the forces with stone throwing. As Parvaiz Bukhari, a journalist, said early this week that the stones flung randomly by protestors have become “the voice of a neglected people” convinced that the world deliberately ignores heir plight There only demand now is “liberation of Kashmir and it accession to Pakistan”. Pakistani and Iranian news channels have been banned by state authorities, reported a Koran desecration in the United States. It is also notable here that local authorities have forcefully stopped the publishing of newspaper since September 13, 2010.

Continues >>

Swaziland, a convenient tyranny

By Mike Marqusee, Morning Star Online, September 17, 2010

Swaziland is a small country with a big problem. The 1.1 million inhabitants of the land-locked southern African kingdom live under the thumb of one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, a venal and repressive regime whose plunder of the country is systematic and comprehensive.

Now presiding over the 37th year of the world’s longest-running state of emergency, King Mswati III controls the parliament, appoints cabinet ministers, judges and senior civil servants, and makes and breaks the law at will.

Political parties are banned, along with most demonstrations and meetings. Shouting the wrong slogan or wearing the wrong T-shirt can get you locked up as a “terrorist.” The media is subject to constant harassment and intimidation. Strikes are illegal. Trade unionists and human rights activists face surveillance, house searches, arbitrary detention and torture.

In May democracy activist Sipho Jele was arrested, interrogated and then allegedly “found” by police hanging from the rafters in a prison toilet.

Earlier this month police swooped on activists organising a week of pro-democracy events. Among the scores detained, abused, assaulted and threatened with death – “you’ll get what your friend Sipho Jele got” – were representatives of South African trade unions and Danish and Zimbabwean human rights organisations.

Continues >>

Israeli army assassinates Hamas leader

Ma'an News, Sep 17, 2010

A relative mourns over the body of Iyad As’ad Shelbaya at the Thabit Thabit Hospital on 17 September 2010. [MaanImages]TULKAREM

(Ma’an) — Israeli forces entered the home of a Hamas leader in Tulkarem on Friday morning and shot him three times in the neck and chest before withdrawing, family members said.

Medics at the Thabit Thabit Hospital in Tulkarem confirmed that 38-year-old Iyad As’ad Shelbaya, a known Hamas leader, was dead, killed by three bullets to the neck and chest.

Shelbaya lived in the Nur Shams refugee camp east of Tulkarem. Security sources said he was assassinated during a raid on his home at 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning.

Officials said several armored vehicles entered the area to carry out the assassination. Palestinian forces were said to have coordinated with the Israeli military in getting Shelbaya’s body from his home to the hospital.

Continues >>

Afghan War Lies

Support for Occupation Relies on Lies and Spin

Ted Rall, Information Clearing House, Sep 15, 2010

There’s an exception. It is a limited set of circumstances. If the armies of another nation invade your country, there is no need to resort to lies to sell war. The battle is already joined. The threat is palpable. Anyone with a smidgen of patriotism and/or the instinct of self-preservation will rush to enlist.

Mostly, this does not happen. It sort of happened in 1941, with Pearl Harbor. But Hawaii, itself recently seized by U.S. marines without the thinnest veneer of legality, was merely a distant possession. It sort of happened in 1848 when Mexican troops crossed the Rio Grande (after being deliberately provoked by the Americans). It definitely happened in 1812. But you see the point: every war the United States has fought, at least since 1945 (really since 1814), has been just for fun.

Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Gulf War I, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq—the U.S. didn’t have to fight any of them. They were optional. At minimum, they were wars of imperialism. Mostly, they were wars of aggression: undeclared, immoral, violations of international law.

Lies and spin are essential tools of “leaders” who want to convince the public to support wars for fun and profit.

Continues >>

Homes for 27,000 constructed during Israeli settlements freeze

Philippine Times, September 15, , 2010
(Nasouh Nazzal – Gulf News)

The so-called settlement freeze in the Palestinian territories is a myth. No freeze has ever been implemented, in fact the settlements have been expanding dramatically during the moratorium. Additionally, another 13,000 homes have been approved for the West Bank, together with two new colonies near Nablus and the Jordan Valley.

Israelis never actually ceased construction on the West Bank or in East Jerusalem and the number of home units in these areas has grown dramatically during the so-called moratorium.

Khalil Al Tafakji, the head of the Maps and Colonies Department in East Jerusalem, said that colony construction in the West Bank has not ceased — even during the freeze.

He also said more than 13,000 homes for Israeli colonists in the West Bank would soon be built, in addition to two new colonies to be set up near Nablus and in the Jordan Valley area.

Al Tafakji said the Israelis had never actually ceased construction on the West Bank or in East Jerusalem and that the number of home units in these areas had grown dramatically during the so-called moratorium.

Continues >>

Friday, September 17, 2010

In two days American Drone strikes kill 37 in Pakistan

13 US Strikes in 12 Days in Restive Agency

by Jason Ditz,, September 15, 2010

Yesterday a pair of US drone strikes against Bushnarai and Datta Khel in North Waziristan Agency killed at least 16 people. Today, two more US drone strikes involving at least 10 more missiles struck.

The new attacks hit homes in Dandi Derpakhel and Datta Khel, killing at least 21 more “suspects” and wounding an unknown number of others. This brings the total to four attacks in two days with 37 dead.

All of the slain have been termed “suspects” primarily because North Waziristan, which has only a nominal Pakistani government presence, is known to be home to the Haqqani network. None of those slain in the attacks have been “high value” targets, which is to say people conclusively linked with the group.

The attacks also mark the 12th and 13th attacks by US drones against the region in the past 12 days. Though a number of civilians have been confirmed killed (including several children) none of the attacks appear to have killed anyone “high value,” though officials were bragging that a drone strike inside Afghanistan managed to kill a cousin of a top Haqqani family figure.

EDITORIAL: Barack Obama, war criminal

The president brings back the credibility gap

The Washington Times
, August 18, 2010

The discovery of tapes of Sept. 11 plotter Ramzi Binalshibh being interrogated in Morocco has drawn the attention of Justice Department investigators. The tapes were made in 2002 at a facility the CIA used near Rabat and purportedly were found “under a desk” at the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center. Ninety-two other such tapes are said to have been destroyed.

The Justice Department‘s dogged quest to root out alleged war criminals raises the question of when it will begin investigating the Obama administration. Mr. Obama‘s increasingly public dirty little secret is that he has widened the use of covert actions against terrorists that were pioneered by his predecessor, President George W. Bush. Mr. Obama‘s secret war is disturbing mainly to his left-wing base, whose members apparently believed the sanctimonious rhetoric of the early days of the administration, when it seemed that war-crimes show trials against members of the Bush national security team were imminent.

That notion of targeting the previous administration faded quickly, in part because it would have destroyed the gossamer fabric of trust necessary for the intelligence community to operate – and also because Mr. Obama discovered that there are significant advantages to waging a covert war against terrorism. Much of what is being done in the name of the United States would not fit well with Mr. Obama‘s finely cultivated internationalist image. Best to keep it out of the public eye. Official secrets mean never having to say you’re sorry.

Continues >>

Noam Chomsky: President Obama is involved in war crimes right now

The NS Interview: Noam Chomsky

Alyssa McDonald, New Statesman, 13 September 2010

Do you consider yourself to be primarily a scientist or a political activist?

If the world would go away, I would be happy to keep to the science, which is much more interesting and challenging. But the world has an unfortunate habit of not going away and the problems are quite urgent.

What are your thoughts on President Obama?

He’s involved in war crimes right now. For example, targeted assassinations are war crimes. That’s escalated quite sharply under Obama. If you look at WikiLeaks, there are a lot of examples of attacks on civilians.

What did you think when he was given the Nobel Peace Prize?

Considering the history of the Nobel Peace Prize, it’s not the worst example. It was given to him before he had the time to commit many war crimes.

Continues >>

Never Forget: Bad Wars Aren’t Possible Unless Good People Back Them

by Michael Moore,">, Sep 16, 2010

I know we’ve been “free” of the Iraq War for two weeks now and our minds have turned to the new football season and Fashion Week in New York. And how exciting that the new fall TV season is just days away!

But before we get too far away from something we would all just like to forget, will you please allow me to just say something plain and blunt and necessary:

We invaded Iraq because most Americans — including good liberals like Al Franken, Nicholas Kristof & Bill Keller of the New York Times, David Remnick of the New Yorker, the editors of the Atlantic and the New Republic, Harvey Weinstein, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and John Kerry — wanted to.

Of course the actual blame for the war goes to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Wolfowitz because they ordered the “precision” bombing, the invasion, the occupation, and the theft of our national treasury. I have no doubt that history will record that they committed the undisputed Crime of the (young) Century.

But how did they get away with it, considering they’d lost the presidential election by 543,895 votes? They also knew that the majority of the country probably wouldn’t back them in such a war (a Newsweek poll in October 2002 showed 61% thought it was “very important” for Bush to get formal approval from the United Nations for war — but that never happened). So how did they pull it off?

Continues >>

Obama said U.S. combat mission in Iraq over but US-Iraqi raid kills seven civilians

Yahoo! News, Sep 15, 2010

by Azhar Shalal Azhar Shalal – Wed Sep 15, 11:46 am ET

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AFP) – Seven civilians were among 18 people killed in Iraq on Wednesday, shot dead as US and Iraqi troops tried to nab a top Al-Qaeda leader in Fallujah, sparking public anger in the former rebel base.

Two Iraqi soldiers were also killed in the firefight west of Baghdad, while a roadside bomb in northern Iraq claimed the lives of nine other troops travelling home on leave.

The latest violence comes two weeks after Washington declared an official end to combat operations here, and with no new government having formed since elections in March.

The early morning shootout in Fallujah — long a base for Sunni Arab rebels who waged attacks against US forces and the Iraqi government — left nine people dead overall.

Major General Baha Hussein al-Karkhi, police chief for Anbar province, where Fallujah is located, said “a joint force from Baghdad was ordered to raid a terrorist’s house in Jbeil (central Fallujah).

And Major Rob Phillips, a US Army press officer, said the raid had been conducted to catch a “senior AQI (Al-Qaeda in Iraq) leader.” He could not say whether the individual targeted had been killed, captured or had escaped.

Karkhi said seven civilians were killed and four wounded, and that two Iraqi soldiers also died.

Others sources gave different tolls.

Phillips said six people were killed, while Fallujah police director Brigadier General Faisal al-Essawi and the city’s media chief Mohammed Fathi put the death toll at eight civilians.

Essawi said of the eight killed were two women and two children, while the other four included a former colonel in the Iraqi army during the rule of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

The raid sparked public anger in Fallujah, with the municipal council labelling it a “provocation”.

“This brutal operation is an act of provocation against the population of Fallujah and the city’s security forces,” said a statement issued by the council and read out by council member Ahmed al-Dulaimi.

It called for an investigation into the shootings, and declared three days of mourning.

A vehicle ban was imposed on Fallujah, and the area that was raided was cordoned off by security forces.

A US Army press officer, Major Bryan Woods, said an inquiry would be started into the shootings.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of the main northern city of Mosul, nine Iraqi soldiers were killed when the minibus they were travelling in was struck by a roadside bomb. Another six were wounded, a police official said.

All were members of the Iraqi Third Division and were headed home on leave.

Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province remain among the most violent areas of Iraq, even as attacks in the rest of the country have dropped off after peaking in 2006 and 2007 during a brutal sectarian war.

US forces said combat operations in Iraq had concluded at the end of August but nearly 50,000 soldiers remain in the country with a mission to train Iraqi soldiers and police, and conduct joint counter-terror operations.

They are also allowed to fire in self-defence.

Since the September 1 declaration, US troops have shot at insurgents in Baghdad and restive Diyala province, north of the capital, and two American soldiers were killed by an Iraqi comrade after a row on an Iraqi base.

Violence appears to have risen again in recent months, with July and August recording two of the highest monthly death tolls since 2008, according to Iraqi government figures.

Saudi splurges on weapons … for what?

By Teymoor Nabili , Al Jazeera, September 14th, 2010

Saudi Arabia is about to buy another $60bn worth of military hardware from the US, and even The Guardian is dutiful in parroting, without question, the accepted western narrative :

The sale, under negotiation since 2007, is aimed mainly at bolstering Saudi defences against Iran, which the US suspects will achieve a nuclear weapons capability within the next few years. The transfer of advanced technology, mainly planes, is to provide Saudi Arabia with air superiority over Iran.

Ignoring the fact that miltary aircraft (which form the bulk of the deal as we know it) are prettty much useless against a nuclear missile, especially one that does not exist, $60bn buys a mind boggling amount of firepower, so that must mean that Saudi Arabia’s military capacity right now is woefully insufficent compared to Iran’s, right?

Continues >>

Gypsies and the infinite hypocrisy of the West

By Fidel Castro, ZNet, September 15, 2010
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Fidel Castro’s ZSpace Page

Although several articles on this subject were published before and after September 1st, 2010, on that day the Mexican daily La Jornada published one of great impact entitled El holocausto gitano: ayer y hoy (The gypsies’ holocaust: yesterday and today) which reminds us of a truly tragic history. Without adding or deleting a single word from the information contained in the article, I will quote some lines referring to some events that are really touching. Neither the West nor -most of all- its colossal media apparatus have said a single word about them.

“1496: boom of humanist thinking. The Rom peoples (gypsies) from Germany are declared traitors to the Christian nations, spies paid by the Turkish, carriers of the plague, witches and warlocks, bandits and children kidnappers.

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Eric Margolis: Bombshell from London

By Eric S. Margolis, Sun2Surf, Sep 16, 2010

The London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), is the world’s leading think tank for military affairs. It represents the top echelon of defence experts, retired officers and senior military men, spanning the globe from the United States and Britain to China, Russia and India.

I’ve been an IISS member for over 20 years. IISS’s reports are always authoritative but usually cautious and diplomatic, sometimes dull. However, two weeks ago the IISS issued an explosive report on Afghanistan that is shaking Washington and its Nato allies.

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Drill Held to Detainee’s Head: Ex-CIA Agents Confirm Torture at Polish Black Site

Spiegel Online International, Sep 13, 2010

The Szczytno-Szymany airport in northeastern Poland, close to the suspected black site prison (2005 photo).

Former CIA agents have confirmed rumors that the agency tortured terror suspects at a detention center in Poland. One agent allegedly held a drill to a prisoner’s head while he was naked and hooded.

Former CIA agents have confirmed for the first time that the agency tortured prisoners at a “black site” detention center in north-eastern Poland at the height of the war on terror. According to the Associated Press, a former CIA agent identified only as “Albert” tortured the terror suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri multiple times with an electric drill at the converted Stare Kiejkuty military base near Szymany in the Masuria region of Poland.

Al-Nashiri is the suspected mastermind behind one of the first large al-Qaida attacks, which targeted the US destroyer USS Cole in the Gulf of Aden in October 2000. According to former CIA agents who prefered to remain anonymous, Albert tortured the suspect for two weeks in December 2002. The claim is backed up by a review by the CIA’s inspector general, which reads: “The debriefer entered the detainee’s cell and revved the drill while the detainee stood naked and hooded.”

Albert is said to have repeatedly held the drill and a handgun to al-Nashiri’s head and threatened him with death. The agent was later reprimanded and left the CIA. An attempt to pursue legal proceedings against him was abandoned, however. Albert has since returned to work for the CIA as an intelligence contractor, the AP reported.

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American Drone Strikes Kill 16 in North Waziristan

No Indication of Any ‘High Value’ Targets in Latest Killings

by Jason Ditz,, September 14, 2010
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A pair of US drone attacks against North Waziristan Agency today have killed at least 16 people and wounded a number of others. The slain were termed “suspected terrorists” by Pakistani security officials, though there was no indication of any high value targets slain.

One of the strikes destroyed a home in the village of Bushnarai, while another destroyed a car in Datta Khel. The two attacks mark the 10th and 11th US strikes in the agency in the past 11 days.

And while Pakistani officials have conceded that a number of civilians, including children, have been killed in the strike, they have yet to identify any of them as a known militant, terming the vast majority of them suspects.

Which has been the case with most of the massive drone campaign of the Obama Administration. Though a handful of named militants have been confirmed kills, the vast majority of the “suspects” are never identified, or turn out later to be innocent civilians whose guilt was assumed because of tribal affiliations.

One Palestinian killed as Israel bombs “Gaza tunnels”

World Bulletin, Sep 15, 2010

One Palestinian has been killed as Israeli aircraft bombed wthat they said tunnels under the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt on Wednesday, witnesses said.

The violence coincided with a visit to Jerusalem by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was taking part in negotiations between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Witnesses in the Palestinian town of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, said the Israeli air strikes killed a tunnel worker and wounded two other people.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said a rocket and eight mortar bombs fired from the Gaza Strip, landed in southern Israel. No one was hurt.

1.5 million Gazans live under heavy Israel siege, leaving Gazans desperate to digging tunnels underground and risking their lives since 2007.

Gaza is still considered under Israeli occupation as Israel controls air, sea and land access to the Strip.

Human rights groups slam Israel’s siege of Gaza, branding it “collective punishment.”

SRI LANKA: Nations don’t die, they are murdered!

(A response to Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka)

by Avinash Pandey Samar, Asian Human Rights Commission, Sep 15, 2010

Nations do die, in fact they get murdered despite all the claims on the contrary. Only problem is that one needs to have a little understanding of both the social sciences and the society in its everyday life to see that happening. This is no mean task though, especially, for the academicians living in their ivory towers. It helps, also, if the ivory towers have been provided to them by the powers that may. No wonder then that such academicians keep coming up with justification for unjustifiable atrocities committed on people and institutions alike.

If not for this selective amnesia, all of the twentieth century has been an evidence for the birth and death of nations. After all, what is a nation if not an ‘imagined community’ in the words of Benedict Anderson. He calls it imagined because “the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their community.” And yet, he asserts that this imagined community is no less real, and no less legitimate.

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Democracy – Everywhere? Nowhere?

Immanuel Wallerstein,Commentary No. 289, Sept. 15, 2010

Democracy is a very popular word these days. There is virtually no country in the world today whose government does not claim to be the government of a democracy. But at the same time, there is virtually no country in the world today about which others – both inside the country and in other countries – do not denounce the government as being undemocratic.

There seems to be very little agreement about what we mean when we say a country is democratic. The problem is clear in the very etymology of the word. Democracy comes from two Greek roots – demos, or people, and kratia, or rule, the authority to decide. But what do we mean by rule? And what do we mean by the people?

Lucien Febvre told us it is always important to look at the history of a word. The word, democracy, was not always so universally popular. The word first came into common modern political usage in the first half of the nineteenth century, primarily in western Europe. At that time, it had the tonality of terrorism today.

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Good News: Norwegian princess Martha Louise claims she can contact the dead

by Igor I. Solar, Digital Journal, Sep 13, 2010

Oslo – Princess Martha Louise of Norway stated last week in an interview that she can establish connections with the spirit of dead people and intended to take a course to improve her ability.
Martha Louise, 38, revealed last week her “ability to establish a relationship with the spirits from beyond” in an interview with Stavanger newspaper Aftenbladet. “It is not difficult to contact the dead as well as the angels. We can establish contact at any time, whenever we wish,” said the princess according to Aftenbladet. The princess arranged for her and a colleague to take a course to improve her skills for contacting angels at a facility owned by the Norwegian Missionary Society (NMS). . . .

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Polly Toynbee: Sex and death lie at the poisoned heart of religion

Why invite the pope on a state visit – at a cost of millions in a time of cutbacks – when the vast majority are secular?

Polly Toynbee, The Guardian, Sep 14, 2010

A dispute with BBC TV’s religious slot, Sunday Morning Live: would I join a debate on the pope? As president of the British Humanist Association, I was glad to – but there was a problem. Discussion was divided into a first debate on whether Catholicism was over-obsessed with sex, but I was to join a second: is the Catholic church a force for good? How could you answer that without saying that sex lies at the poisoned heart of all that is wrong with just about every major faith?

Repression of sex, banning contraception, gay rights, abortion, stem-cell research and IVF treatment cause untold misery. Not to the “liberal” Catholics who proclaim for reform and use contraception themselves – as Cherie Blair so distastefully revealed – yet support a church whose denial of it damages and kills poor mothers with no choice. As Ben Goldacre pointed out in this paper on Saturday, while this pope claims condoms “aggravate the problem” of HIV/Aids, two million die a year. Ann Widdecombe’s riposte that the Catholic church runs more Aids clinics than any single nation was like suggesting the Spanish Inquisition ran the best rehab clinics for torture victims.

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