Monday, February 28, 2011

Jocks 4 Justice: John Carlos, Billy Hunter and Keyon Dooling Stand with Wisconsin Workers

By Dave Zirin, ZNet, Feb 27, 2011

Source: The Nation
Unions across the country are standing with the workers of Wisconsin against the unprecedented attacks by Gov. Scott Walker. Count the National Basketball Association’s Player’s Association among their ranks. The NBAPA have been threatened with layoffs, contraction, and steep cuts in pay and benefits in their current collective bargaining negotiations with NBA commissioner David Stern and the assorted team owners.

Considering that no one ever bought a ticket to look at Mark Cuban, a Maloof brother or (shudder) Donald Sterling, their’s is a struggle worthy of support. Well solidarity is a two way street and it is a very positive development to have NBAPA Executive Director Billy Hunter  and Milwaukee Buck Keyon Dooling – also an NBAPA VP speak out on behalf of Wisconsin’s workers. Thursday’s late night vote in the state assembly to strip the public sector employees of their very rights to collectively bargain was, for Hunter and Dooling, a bridge too far.

“Last night’s vote by the Wisconsin Assembly was an attempt to undermine organized labor and the men and women across the country who depend on their unions for a voice in the workplace,” said Hunter. “The NBPA proudly supports our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin and their stand for unequivocal collective bargaining rights.”

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‘62 Afghan civilians killed in Nato strike’

Pak Tribune, Feb 25, 2011

KUNAR: A recent Nato air strike in an eastern Afghanistan valley killed at least 62 civilians including women and children, an Afghan government investigation said on Thursday. On Sunday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai accused Nato of having killed more than 50 civilians in eastern Afghanistan’s troubled

Kunar province, and sent a team to inquire into the alleged civilian deaths. “After three days of investigation, we found out that 62 civilians, including women and children, were killed and 10 others injured in the Nato operation,” the head of the probe team, Shahzada Massoud, who is a Karzai adviser, told reporters in Kunar. He did not clarify whether any insurgents were killed in the operation, but a member of the probe team, Shahzada Shahid, separately told AFP that 14 Taliban militants had also been killed, on top of the 62.

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Working around America: a new strategy on Israel/Palestine

Jeff Halper, Information Clearing House, 25 Feb 2011
Last Friday’s vote in the UN in which the US refused to follow the other 14 members of the Security Council in condemning Israel’s ongoing settlement project – including, it should be noted, such traditionally pro-Israel stalwarts as Britain, France and even Germany and India (for whom Israel is the #2 supplier of arms, as it is with China) – revealed what international isolation into which the US has fallen. Without being pollyannish over the human rights records of the other members of the Security Council, human rights does, nevertheless, motivate the foreign policy of many countries of the world, if only because to be seen respecting human rights has become a standard of national legitimacy. Israel’s blatant violations of international law threaten the consensus upon which the international order rests, even if it is upheld in the breech.

The Security Council vote show that this is not true for the United States, whose perceived cultural and legal exceptionalism rests upon a rapidly eroding economic and military hegemony. The very message of the American vote – that we do not see ourselves subject to international law and human rights; we set the policies and rules, not the UN or international courts – sends a chill down the spine of people everywhere, especially those, such as the peoples uprising in the Middle East or those in Burma, the Congo, China and in American prisons, who cannot revolt yet hold out hope that struggles for human rights will eventually each them.

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Kashmiri leader stages hunger strike against arrests

Daily Times, Feb 27, 2011
SRINAGAR: A prominent Indian-held Kashmir (IHK) leader staged a day-long token hunger strike on Saturday against large-scale arrests in the aftermath of massive anti-India protests last year. Yasin Malik, head of the pro-independence Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, said more than 4,000 young people and separatists had been jailed by Indian police since 114 people were killed last year, mostly shot by police. “This is a peaceful protest against the unabated crackdown on our youth,” said Malik, flanked by over a dozen separatist leaders, as some 400 protesters shouted “We want freedom.” The demonstration took place in the centre of Srinagar, the summer capital of IHK, which has been wracked by a more than two-decade armed revolt against Indian rule. afp

LA rallies in solidarity with Wisconsin workers

By Carlos Montes, Fight Back! News,February 26, 2011
Los Angeles protest in solidarity with Wisconsin workers, 2/26/2011
Los Angeles protest in solidarity with Wisconsin workers, 2/26/2011 (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Los Angeles, CA – Thousands of workers rallied at Los Angeles City Hall, Feb. 26, to show solidarity with the struggle of workers in Wisconsin, who are fighting to keep their right to collective bargaining. The union members proudly wore their union shirts and carried signs reading “This is about freedom.” From AFSCME, SEIU, Teamsters, CWA, IBEW and ILWU, to name a few of the participating unions, workers expressed their anger at Wisconsin’s Republican Governor Walker’s attack on public workers.
A delegation of Los Angeles union workers had just arrived from Wisconsin and told about camping inside the Wisconsin State Capitol building. Mike Garcia, president of SEIU 1877 told the rally, “the bosses are our real enemy,” to loud cheers from the workers of all nationalities.

The militant rally was organized by, along with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. Jose Calderon, professor of Chicano Studies at Pitzer College, pointed out how Chicano, Latino and Black workers are paid less and how immigrants are exploited by the bosses.

A march of Women for Choice joined the rally to join to protest the attack on unions and workers in Wisconsin. The chants included “We are one! We will win!”

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Greek PM: Zionism and the IMF’s Last Best Friend

by James Petras, Dissident Voice,  February 26th, 2011

In the midst of the Arab uprisings throughout the Middle East, at a time when even the European Union  (EU) has publically condemned Israel’s blockade of Gaza and its illegal land seizures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou promised a visiting delegation of American Jewish leaders, that he would do everything possible to undermine EU opposition and promote Israeli economic, diplomatic and political interests in Europe. US Zionists, recently returned from a visit to Athens described Papandreou as by far the most amenable (‘servile’) European leader they have met in recent memory. Papandreou’s slavish submission to Israeli interests includes his promise, to a delegation of U.S. zionist notables, to use his influence to pressure the new Egyptian military junta to continue to uphold the Mubarak agreements with Israel.1 These include the continued blockade of Gaza and support of Israel’s military assaults on Lebanon, Syria and Palestinians. In other words Papandreou is openly supportive of Egypt’s past collaboration with Israeli clandestine assassinations and kidnapping of Arab militants.

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Professor Maguire Criticizes U.S. Veto in U.N.

By Daniel C. Maguire, Consortium News, February 26, 2011

Editor’s Note: On Friday, Daniel C. Maguire, professor of moral theology at Marquette University, wrote an open letter to Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, criticizing the veto she cast on behalf of the Obama administration to block a U.N. resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian lands:

Dear Dr. Rice, A criticism and a comment: “Settlement” is, as you know, a euphemism for expropriation of Palestinian property.

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Your casting that vote on February 18, to veto the Security Council Censure of these ongoing ethnic cleansings when all other members of the Council voted for it and when there were 100 co-sponsors among other nations is not a vote you will remember with pride.

It is also not a vote that serves American interests. Yours is the latest in a long line of American officials bowing to Israeli and AIPAC pressure and sacrificing the national interest of the United States.

The price we pay for that subservience is high. As the Congressional report on 9/11 said, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed cited our biased support of Israeli policies as a motive for the 9/11 attack. That is a high price to pay and Homeland Security experts say we will pay it again.

Even Dick Cheney has cited our kind of support of Israel policies as one of the “true sources of resentment” against us, a point also made by General [David] Petraeus. Your vote endangered us and our soldiers. Resignation before casting such a vote would be honorable.

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P.C. Roberts: War Über Alles

The United States government cannot get enough of war.  With Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s regime falling to a rebelling population, CNN reports that a Pentagon spokesman said that the U.S. is looking at all options from the military side.

Allegedly, the Pentagon, which is responsible for one million dead Iraqis and an unknown number of dead Afghans and Pakistanis, is concerned about the deaths of 1,000 Libyan protesters.

While the Pentagon tries to figure out how to get involved in the Libyan revolt, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific is developing new battle plans to take on China in her home territory. Four-star Admiral Robert Willard thinks the U.S. should be able to whip China in its own coastal waters.

The admiral thinks one way to do this is to add U.S. Marines to his force structure so that the U.S. can eject Chinese forces from disputed islands in the East and South China seas.
It is not the U.S. who is disputing the islands, but if there is a chance for war anywhere, the admiral wants to make sure we are not left out.

The admiral also hopes to develop military ties with India and add that country to his clout. India, the admiral says, “is a natural partner of the United States” and “is crucial to America’s 21st-century strategy of balancing China.”  The U.S. is going to seduce the Indians by selling them advanced aircraft.

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Gates Warns Against More Wars Like Iraq and Afghanistan

by Thom Shanker, The New York Times, Feb 26. 2011
WEST POINT, N.Y. — Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates bluntly told an audience of West Point cadets on Friday that it would be unwise for the United States to ever fight another war like Iraq or Afghanistan, and that the chances of carrying out a change of government in that fashion again were slim.

“In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here. “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it,” Mr. Gates told an assembly of Army cadets here.

That reality, he said, meant that the Army would have to reshape its budget, since potential conflicts in places like Asia or the Persian Gulf were more likely to be fought with air and sea power, rather than with conventional ground forces.

“As the prospects for another head-on clash of large mechanized land armies seem less likely, the Army will be increasingly challenged to justify the number, size, and cost of its heavy formations,” Mr. Gates warned.

“The odds of repeating another Afghanistan or Iraq — invading, pacifying, and administering a large third-world country — may be low,” Mr. Gates said, but the Army and the rest of the government must focus on capabilities that can “prevent festering problems from growing into full-blown crises which require costly — and controversial — large-scale American military intervention.”

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John Pilger: Behind the Arab revolt is a word we dare not speak

John Pilger,, Feb 24, 2011

Shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I interviewed Ray McGovern, one of an elite group of CIA officers who prepared the President’s daily intelligence brief. McGovern was at the apex of the “national security” monolith that is American power and had retired with presidential plaudits. On the eve of the invasion, he and 45 other senior officers of the CIA and other intelligence agencies wrote to President George W. Bush that the “drumbeat for war” was based not on intelligence, but lies.

“It was 95 per cent charade,” McGovern told me.

“How did they get away with it?”

“The press allowed the crazies to get away with it.”

“Who are the crazies?”

“The people running the [Bush] administration have a set of beliefs a lot like those expressed in Mein Kampf… these are the same people who were referred to in the circles in which I moved, at the top, as ‘the crazies’.”

I said, “Norman Mailer has written that that he believes America has entered a pre-fascist state. What’s your view of that?”

“Well… I hope he’s right, because there are others saying we are already in a fascist mode.”

On 22 January, Ray McGovern emailed me to express his disgust at the Obama administration’s barbaric treatment of the alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning and its pursuit of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. “Way back when George and Tony decided it might be fun to attack Iraq,” he wrote, “I said something to the effect that fascism had already begun here. I have to admit I did not think it would get this bad this quickly.”

On 16 February, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech at George Washington University in which she condemned governments that arrested protestors and crushed free expression. She lauded the liberating power of the internet while failing to mention that her government was planning to close down those parts of the internet that encouraged dissent and truth-telling.  It was a speech of spectacular hypocrisy, and Ray McGovern was in the audience. Outraged, he rose from his chair and silently turned his back on Clinton. He was immediately seized by police and a security goon and beaten to the floor, dragged out and thrown into jail, bleeding. He has sent me photographs of his injuries. He is 71. During the assault, which was clearly visible to Clinton, she did not pause in her remarks.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Egypt’s revolution and Israel: “Bad for the Jews”

By Ilan Pappe, ZNet, Feb 24, 2011

Source: Electronic Intifada

The view from Israel is that if they indeed succeed, the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are bad, very bad. Educated Arabs — not all of them dressed as “Islamists,” quite a few of them speaking perfect English whose wish for democracy is articulated without resorting to “anti-Western” rhetoric — are bad for Israel.

Arab armies that do not shoot at these demonstrators are as bad as are many other images that moved and enthused so many people around the world, even in the West. This world reaction is also bad, very bad. It makes the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and its apartheid policies inside the state look like the acts of a typical “Arab” regime.

For a while you could not tell what official Israel thought. In his first ever commonsensical message to his colleagues, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked his ministers, generals and politicians not to comment in public on the events in Egypt. For a brief moment one thought that Israel turned from the neighborhood’s thug to what it always was: a visitor or permanent resident.

It seems Netanyahu was particularly embarrassed by the unfortunate remarks on the situation uttered publicly by General Aviv Kochavi, the head of Israeli military intelligence. This top Israeli expert on Arab affairs stated confidently two weeks ago in the Knesset that the Mubarak regime is as solid and resilient as ever. But Netanyahu could not keep his mouth shut for that long. And when the boss talked all the others followed. And when they all responded, their commentary made Fox News’ commentators look like a bunch of peaceniks and free-loving hippies from the 1960s.

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Mass protests continue in Bahrain

By Niall Green,, 24 February 2011

Tens of thousands of anti-government demonstrators took to the streets of Bahrain’s capital, Manama, this week. Defying government demands to end protests, amid vicious police attacks on crowds last week that left an estimated eight people dead and hundreds more wounded, crowds called for the fall of the regime and justice for slain protestors.

Manama’s Pearl Square has become the focal point of the protests in Bahrain, a tiny island kingdom in the Persian Gulf that is home to a major United States military base. King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa and his family rule the country with the support of Washington and the neighboring kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Police had brutally attacked sleeping demonstrators in the square in the early hours of Friday morning, firing teargas and shotguns, and beating men, women and children. Following the withdrawal of security forces from Pearl Square over the weekend, hundreds of people have re-established a protest camp there.

Monday’s demonstration was billed as the “march of loyalty to the martyrs,” in reference to those killed by the regime. Many chanted for the removal of the ruling dynasty, though the main object of popular rage is the prime minister, Prince Khalifa bin Salman, the king’s uncle, who has headed the government since 1971.

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Gaddafi goes Tiananmen

By Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, Feb 24, 2011
“The unity of China was more important than the people of Tiananmen Square.” 

“It’s impossible for the youth to follow anyone else. If not Gaddafi, who else would they follow? Somebody with a beard?”
                                                   Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, February 22,

Talk about The King’s Speech; this was The African King of Kings’ Speech. A furious, delirious, possessed, prophet-as-psychopath Muammar Gaddafi may have improvised the ultimate lunatic rant to send chills down the spines of the Libyan people and the whole world – delivered right from the family house bombed by the United   States under president Ronald Reagan in 1986. His message: there will be blood.

What else is new? After all, Gaddafi is a master of the politics of fear. He threatened those opposing his 41-year rule with the death penalty; called them “greasy rats” and drug addicts; and victims of a conspiracy by foreigners, the US, al-Qaeda, Britain, Italy, satellite television and hallucinogenic drugs. He rallied his supporters to “cleanse” the nation “house by house”, inspired by his unsavory collection of deadly offspring. One could not help being reminded of the last days of Saddam Hussein before he was bombed by another US president, George W Bush.

Abdulmoneim al-Honi, who resigned as Libya’s representative to the Arab League, says Gaddafi is barricaded at the Bab al-Azizia base. Only two other bases may be under his full control, al-Saadi and Sirte; “The rest of the country is controlled by the youth.” These are the ones Gaddafi calls “rats”. There’s no sign these democracy-addicted rodents will be intimidated, even with the prospect of facing – again – squadrons of MiG-23 jets, piloted by Ukrainian, Serbian and Pakistani mercenaries, and equipped with rockets and heavy machine guns. The stage is set for the final showdown.

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Libya: 2,000 reported killed in Benghazi, 1,000 in Tripoli

By ASSOCIATED PRESS AND JPOST.COM STAFF , The Jerusalm Post, 02/23/2011 19:32

“They carried out a real massacre,” French doctor says; Fighter pilots crash planes rather than strike protesters.

Militiamen loyal to Moammar Gaddafi clamped down in Tripoli, with the sound of gunfire ringing in the air, while protesters who control much of the eastern half of Libya claimed new gains in cities and towns closer to the heart of Gaddafi’s regime in the capital.
Protesters said they had taken over Misrata, which would be the largest city in the western half in the country to fall into their hands. Clashes broke out over the past two days in the town of Sabratha, west of the capital, where the army and militiamen were trying to put down protesters who overwhelmed security headquarters and government buildings, a news website close to the government reported.

WikiLeaks cables portray Gaddafi as a master manipulator
‘Gaddafi orders explosion of Libya’s oil pipelines’

A French doctor working in Libya’s eastern city of Benghazi told Le Point Magazine that over 2,000 people were killed in that city alone in the past days of fighting, AFP reported.
“From Tobruk to Darna, they carried out a real massacre… In total, I think there are more than 2,000 deaths,” he said.

The 60-year-old anesthetist who has been living in the Libyan city for over a year, said that one the first day of fighting in Benghazi, “out ambulances counted 75 bodies…200 on the second [day], then more than 500.” On the third day, he added, “I ran out of morphine and medications,” according to the report.

Two air force pilots jumped from parachutes from their Russian-made Sukhoi fighter jet and let it crash, rather than carry out orders to bomb Libya’s second largest city, Benghazi, which is now in opposition hands, the website Quryna reported, citing an unidentified officer in the air force control room.

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Thus Conscience Can Make Good Indians of Us All

By Badri Raina, ZNet, Thursday, February 24, 2011

“During my interaction with Kaleem, I learnt that he was previously arrested in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case and he had to spend about one-and-a-half years in prison. During my stay in jail, Kaleem helped me a lot and used to serve me by bringing water, food,etc. for me. I was very moved by Kaleem’s good conduct and my conscience asked me to prayaschit by making confessional statement.”

(Swami Aseemanand in his confessional statement to Magistrate.  The statement was recorded on December, 18 under section 164 of the IPC, and is thus admissible in evidence. Kaleem, the Muslim boy, has been accused of the crime, namely the blast at the Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, that Aseemanand says was infact committed by Hindutva terrorists.)

I was asked the other day what kinds of people I thought to be the greatest danger to the  “idea of India.”  Hopelessly enough, as many in the audience must have thought, I came up with  a complicated answer, contradicting the clarity that seems rampant these days.
Yet my simple point was that the answer to the question must depend greatly on how one is placed within the nation-state.
Ask the question of  a Tata, a Birla, an Ambani, or those that comprise the country’s  land and mining mafia, or those in politics and the bureaucracy who largely do their work, or those in the  corporate media who remain busily occupied in  peddling with penchant  the ever-more avaricious aspirations of India’s upwardly mobile  classes, or the endowed  non-resident Indians impatient to do away with the  uncouth habits of the masses and to pave some ten percent of the “homeland” (which they have deserted) with gold (that they may also  own), and  the answer you might get is left-wing extremism, trade unionism, NGO activism, wasteful social spending and so forth.

Ask the other eighty or so percent of Indians who sweat in fields, farms, factories, or vend the day for a pittance, forest-dwellers who are told not a tree, a bush, a  patch of land, or a drop of water  belongs to them anymore, or millions of children who rag-pick, or slave in  shops or  homes, who feed on crumbs and get roundly abused and beaten routinely and die like flies in the cold and heat, and they might not even comprehend the question you ask, being past all conceivable danger all their wretched lives.  The “idea of India,”– what might that be?  Ask those who still scavenge for a living, and get treated like lepers for their labours of keeping the rest of us clean, and they might say that the greatest danger is that they may be dispossessed even of the privileges of scavenging which keeps them just this side of starvation.

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Playing God in the Middle East

Accounting for the Human Toll in Iraq

By MICHAEL BRENNER, Counterpunch, Feb 24, 2011

We are now in the 10th year of the first decade of the ‘war on terror.’ So the inevitable anniversary assessments are beginning to appear.  Iraq reappraisals specifically are back in vogue.  They favor the drawing of balance sheets.  Most will be skewed in an alchemic attempt to put the face of success on an unmitigated disaster.  Even a more tempered approach at calculating cost/benefits, though, leaves something missing – something of paramount importance.  It is the effects on Iraqis themselves.  Not Iraqis in the abstract, not as figures in a statistical tabulation of sects.  Rather, as flesh and blood and feeling persons.  Frankly, most of the discourse about Iraq from day one has had a disengaged quality to it.  That is the norm for dominant powers on the world stage, and for the seminar strategist.  That was not always the norm by which Americans referenced war and violence abroad in the 20th century when we truly believed in our proclaimed ideals.

To illuminate the point, here are some too readily slighted facts.  100,000 – 150,000 Iraqis are dead as the consequence of our invasion and occupation.  That is the conservative estimate.  Untold thousands are maimed and orphaned.  2 million are uprooted refugees in neighboring lands.  Another 2 million are displaced persons internally.  The availability of potable water and electricity is somewhat less than it was in February 2003.  The comparable numbers for the United States would be 1.1 – 1.6 million dead; an equal number infirmed; 22 million refugees eking out a precarious existence in Mexico and Canada; 22 million displaced persons within the country.  We did not do all the killing and maiming; we did most of the destruction of infrastructure.  To all these tragedies we are accessories before and during the fact.

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Thousands march in Delhi against embattled govt

Demonstrators attend a protest rally in New Delhi February 23, 2011. Tens of thousands of trade unionists, including those from a group linked to ruling Congress party, march through the streets of the capital on Wednesday to protest food prices, piling pressure on a government already under fire over graft. REUTERS/B Mathur
Demonstrators attend a protest rally in New Delhi February 23, 2011. Tens of thousands of trade unionists, including those from a group linked to ruling Congress party, march through the streets of the capital on Wednesday to protest food prices, piling pressure on a government already under fire over graft.
Credit: Reuters/B Mathur

By Krittivas Mukherjee

NEW DELHI, Reuters,  Wed Feb 23, 2011 4:33pm IST

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – At least 100,000 trade unionists marched through New Delhi on Wednesday in a protest against high food prices and unemployment, piling pressure on an administration under fire over corruption scandals.

The demonstration was the biggest in New Delhi in years and included members of a trade union linked to the ruling Congress party, reflecting disquiet within the party over food inflation which hit a high of over 18 percent last December.

It was also the latest in a wave of protests that have swept the world, ignited by a worldwide spike in food prices. But unlike the protests that have toppled autocratic leaders, there have been no calls to overthrow India’s democratic government.
“We have come here so that our voices reverberate inside the house (parliament) and they can see what pain the common man is going through,” said Akhil Samantray who had come from Orissa to take part in the march.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Ex-Libyan minister: Gathafi will die like Hitler

Former justice minister expects embattled Libyan leader to make good on his pledge to die on Libyan soil rather than slink into exile.

Middle East Online, Feb 24, 2011

His days are numbered
STOCKHOLM – One of Moamer Gathafi’s former ministers has predicted that the Libyan leader will follow in Adolph Hitler’s footsteps by committing suicide, rather than give up power.

Mustapha Abdeljalil, justice minister until he quit over the bloody crackdown on protestors, told Sweden’s Expressen that he expected Gathafi to make good on his pledge to die on Libyan soil rather than slink into exile.

“Gathafi’s time is up. He is going to go like Hitler, he is going to commit suicide,” Abdeljalil said in Thursay’s edition of the newspaper.

Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin in April 1945 as he witnessed the disintegration of the Nazi German empire.

In comments published on the paper’s website on Wednesday, Abdeljalil told Expressen that Gathafi had personally ordered the 1988 Lockerbie plane bombing that killed 270 passengers, saying he had proof to back up his accusations.
Libyan national Abdelbaset Ali Mohmet al-Megrahi was in 2001 convicted of the bombing of Pan AM Flight 103 over the Scottish town of Lockerbie but he was freed in August 2009 after doctors said he was suffering from terminal cancer.
In his interview, the former minister also endorsed claims that Gathafi had hired mercenaries from other parts of Africa who witnesses have said are at the forefront of the crackdown designed to shore up his 41-year rule.

“I knew that the regime had mercenaries before the uprising. The government decided in several meetings to grant citizenship to the (mercenaries) from Chad and Niger. That was something that I objected to and that is documented,” he told the paper.

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PAKISTAN: Council urged to tackle endemic torture and impunity, or become irrelevant

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status 
ALRC, Feb 24, 2011

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to again bring the Human Rights Council’s attention to the widespread and endemic nature of the use of torture in Pakistan. The ALRC has raised this issue repeatedly with the HRC and the Commission on Human Rights before it, as well as the Special Procedures and the UPR process. International action concerning grave human rights abuses in Pakistan, including torture, forced disappearance and the like, remains elusive.

The recent situation in Egypt, in which violations of human rights perpetrated over prolonged periods have led to a historic popular uprising to overthrow the system of abuse, must bear lessons for the international community. No longer can the members of the Human Rights Council expect to continue with business as usual, trading in the rights of their citizens as expendable commodities to be haggled away for political gain as part of a diplomatic game in Geneva. As the battle to advance the enjoyment of human rights and democracy plays out on the streets of Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, will the Human Rights Council find itself increasingly out of touch and isolated from a reality that demands progress and tangible change?

As the 2011 review of the Human Rights Council reaches its culmination, member-States must re-consider their misconstrued approaches that seek to limit the capacity of the international system to fulfil its role in upholding rights on the ground. The HRC must be able to go beyond the ritual expression of concern at flashpoint crises around the globe, which typically remain either too timid or go unheeded, and begin to tackle the fundamental components of the systems of human rights abuses that pervade the world. The fact that members of the HRC, such as Pakistan, can hold membership in the world’s apex rights body while endemic torture persists within their borders, shows how much progress is still required.

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A false friend in the White House

Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, Feb 20, 2011

Last Friday the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council Resolution condemning Israel’s continued expansion of settlements in the occupied territory of the West Bank. The resolution didn’t question Israel’s legitimacy, didn’t declare that “Zionism is racism,” and didn’t call for a boycott or sanctions. It just said that the settlements were illegal and that Israel should stop building them, and called for a peaceful, two-state solution with “secure and recognized borders. The measure was backed by over 120 countries, and 14 members of the security council voted in favor. True to form, only the United States voted no.

There was no strategic justification for this foolish step, because the resolution was in fact consistent with the official policy of every president since Lyndon Johnson. All of those presidents has understood that the settlements were illegal and an obstacle to peace, and each has tried (albeit with widely varying degrees of enthusiasm) to get Israel to stop building them.

Yet even now, with the peace process and the two-state solution flat-lining, the Obama administration couldn’t bring itself to vote for a U.N. resolution that reflected the U.S. government’s own position on settlements. The transparently lame explanation given by U.S. officials was that the security council isn’t the right forum to address this issue. Instead, they claimed that the settlements issue ought to be dealt with in direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and that the security council should have nothing to say on the issue.

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Tripoli: a city in the shadow of death

Gunfire in the suburbs – and fear, hunger and rumour in the capital Thousands race for last tickets out of a city sinking into anarchy

Robert Fisk, with the first dispatch from Libya’s war-torn capital, reports

The Independent, Thursday, 24 February 2011

A fire burns in a street in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours of yesterday morning
AP: A fire burns in a street in the Libyan capital Tripoli in the early hours of yesterday morning 
Up to 15,000 men, women and children besieged Tripoli’s international airport last night, shouting and screaming for seats on the few airliners still prepared to fly to Muammar Gaddafi’s rump state, paying Libyan police bribe after bribe to reach the ticket desks in a rain-soaked mob of hungry, desperate families. Many were trampled as Libyan security men savagely beat those who pushed their way to the front.

Among them were Gaddafi’s fellow Arabs, thousands of them Egyptians, some of whom had been living at the airport for two days without food or sanitation. The place stank of faeces and urine and fear. Yet a 45-minute visit into the city for a new airline ticket to another destination is the only chance to see Gaddafi’s capital if you are a “dog” of the international press.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The USA’s veto of shame

The USA does not stand for international law, Washington does not follow an ethical foreign policy, the Obama administration’s pledge to produce change has to all intents and purposes been assimilated. In vetoing the UNSC resolution condemning the Israeli settlements, the USA takes the dark side in an act of crass stupidity by the State Department.
43452.jpegThe United States of America does not stand for international law, Washington does not follow an ethical foreign policy, the Obama administration’s pledge to produce change has to all intents and purposes been assimilated by the Clinton/AIPAC axis. In vetoing the UNSC resolution condemning the Israeli settlements, the USA takes the dark side. A black day for the rule of law. And an act of crass stupidity by the State department.

Shortly after taking office, Barack Obama stated in Cairo: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements [colonies]. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements [colonies] to stop”.

On Friday, the United States of America vetoed the Arab-sponsored draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council condemning the Israeli settlements in the illegally-held West Bank, territory seized and held by Israel against international law in defiance of countless UN Resolutions.

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New US Drone Strikes Kill 15 in Waziristan

All Slain Termed ‘Suspects’ by Officials

by Jason Ditz,, February 21, 2011
At least 15 people were killed today in a new flurry of US drone strikes against Pakistani tribal areas. The first strike killed seven people in South Waziristan, while a second strike killed another eight in North Waziristan.

The strikes were the first in nearly a month, an atypical lapse that has fueled reports that the detained CIA spy and US ‘consulate worker’ Raymond Davis, who police say was captured with GPS tracking devices on him, played a key role in the strikes.

As is always the case in such strikes, Pakistani officials immediately termed everyone slain in the strike a “suspect,” but provided no indications to suggest that any of the slain were “high value” targets, nor indeed any indication that they were militants at all, beyond the fact that missiles hit their homes.

Such strikes have killed over a thousand people in the last two years, but only a trivial number of them have ever been conclusively tied with militant factions, and the vast majority of them appear to have been simply innocent tribesmen.

Alan Hart: The Veto And The Case For Impeaching Obama

Written by: Alan Hart, Eurasia Review

Never before has an American President’s fear of offending the Zionist lobby and its stooges in Congress been so exposed as it was by Obama’s decision to veto the Security Council resolution condemning continued, illegal Israeli settlement activities on the occupied West Bank and demanding that Israel “immediately and completely cease” all such activities. In a different America – an informed America – some might think, I do, that Obama should be impeached. The charge? TREASON.

After she had exercised the Obama administration’s first veto, the plea made by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice for understanding of America’s position could not have been more absurd. “Our opposition to the resolution before this Council today should not be misunderstood to mean that we support settlement activity. On the contrary, we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”

So why the veto? Ambassador Rice said:

“The United States has been deeply committed to pursuing a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, In that context, we have been focused on taking steps that advance the goal of two states living side by side in peace and security, rather than complicating it. That includes a commitment to work in good faith with all parties to underscore our opposition to continued settlements.”

What nonsense! If the Obama administration really wanted to underscore its stated opposition to Israel’s on-going colonization of the occupied West Bank including Arab East Jerusalem, there was no better or more effective way of doing so than voting for the resolution or abstaining. In either case the resolution would have passed and that would have opened the door to real global pressure on Israel if it continued to defy international law.

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What Next for the ‘Mad Dog’ of Libya?

by Jamal Elshayyal, Al Jazeera English/Blogs
2011 has already proven lie to the idea that the Arab world ever needed foreign help in order to achieve democracy; and now it could prove false the notion that the American administration and other Western governments ever cared about human rights or self determination. Unfortunately, this will be done through the massacring of hundreds if not thousands of innocent Libyans.

It has already become apparent that fear and apathy no longer cripple the Arab world, the volcano that is the Middle East of today is no longer dormant, and as it begins to erupt, those who foolishly continue to try and suppress it eventually burn or melt away.
For decades, the Arab world has settled for corrupt, ignorant, treacherous despots as their leaders. For a generation, and in some cases two, Arabs lived in constant fear of expressing dissent, a fear so crippling it deemed them useless, incompetent and ultimately irrelevant . But the region has now been revived by its youth who have shown in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya that they know no fear, that they would rather die standing than live on their knees.

But still, like with Egypt, the West fails to see the inevitability of freedom, America and Britain fail to understand that they can not continue to do business with dictators and still say they are “friends of the people”.

The European Union buys 79 per cent of Libya’s oil. American companies and expats have practically taken over parts of Libya in recent years as the “free world” began to flirt with Gaddafi in the most scandalous of relationships. How can Europe put pressure on the Libyan government (freezing personal assets of Gaddafi for example) to immediately stop the butchering of innocent civilians when 10 per cent of Europe’s oil originates in Libya?

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Revolution in Libya: Protesters Face Gaddafi’s Murderous Backlash as US, UK Ooze Hypocrisy

by Andy Worthington,, Feb 22, 2011

“Now people are dying we’ve got nothing else to live for. What needs to happen is for the killing to stop. But that won’t happen until he [Gaddafi] is out. We just want to be able to live like human beings. Nothing will happen until protests really kick off in Tripoli, the capital. It’s like a pressure cooker. People are boiling up inside. I’m not even afraid any more. Once I wouldn’t have spoken at all by phone. Now I don’t care. Now enough is


These are the words of a young woman in Libya — a student, a blogger and a member of the youth protest movement in Libya that is part of a growing uprising against the tyrannical 41-year reign of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Speaking to the Guardian by phone from her home on the outskirts of Benghazi, the eastern city where the revolution in Libya began just six days ago, and where hundreds of protestors have been killed by Gaddafi’s security forces, she said, “I’ve seen violent movies and video games that are nothing compared to this. I can hear gunshots, helicopters circling overhead, then I hear the voices screaming. I can hear the screeching of four-by-fours in the street. No one has that type of car except his [Gaddafi's] people. My brother went to get bread, he’s not back; we don’t know if he’ll get back. The family is up all night every night, keeping watch, no one can sleep.”

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Richard Falk: The United States Stands Alone with Israel in the UN Security Council

Or How Honest is the Honest Broker?

by Richard Falk, Foreign Policy Journal, Feb 21, 2011

In what appears to be as close to a consensus as the world community can ever hope to achieve, the United States reluctantly stood its ground on behalf of Israel and on February 18, 2011 vetoed a resolution on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that was supported by all 14 of the other members of the UN Security Council. The resolution was also sponsored by 130 member countries before being presented to the Council. In the face of such near unanimity the United States might have been expected to some respect for the views of every leading government in the world, including all of its closest European allies, to have had the good grace to at least abstain from the vote. Indeed, such an obstructive use of the veto builds a case for its elimination, or at least the placement of restrictions on its use. Why should an overwhelming majority of member countries be held hostage to the geopolitical whims of Washington, or in some other situation, an outlier member trying to shield itself or its ally from a Security Council decision enjoying overwhelming support? Of course, this American veto is not some idiosyncratic whim, but is an expression of the sorry pro-Israeli realities of domestic politics, suggesting that it is Israel that is the real holder of the veto in this situation, and the U.S. Congress and the Israeli Lobby are merely designated as the enforcers.

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Governor: NATO Offensive Killed 64 Civilians in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province

NATO Insists It Has Video Showing Killing of ‘Armed Insurgents’

by Jason Ditz, February 20, 2011
A four day NATO offensive in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province has left at least 64 innocent civilians dead and several others wounded, according to both the provincial governor and the provincial police chief.

Gen. Ziayi, the police chief, said that of the slain, 15 were men, 20 women and 29 were children. The governor later confirmed the overall total but reported only 26 children, with 16 men and 22 women.

The public health director for Kunar says that eight civilians are still being treated for major injuries sustained in the offensive, including four children. He also said that officials have called on the Red Cross to investigate the attacks.

NATO has also promised an investigation, but insisted that they had video showing their ground troops killing “36 armed insurgents.” Since this was just one incident over the course of four days of offensives, it is unclear why they thought the existence of such a video would refute the claims of massive civilian deaths.

American who sparked diplomatic crisis over Lahore shooting was CIA spy

• Raymond Davis employed by CIA ‘beyond shadow of doubt’

• Former soldier charged with murder over deaths of two men
• Davis accused of shooting one man twice in the back as he fled  

• Special report: A CIA spy and a diplomatic whirlwind

Declan Walsh in Lahore and Ewen MacAskill in Washington,

The Guardian, Feb 20, 2011

In Karachi, scores of demonstrators call for the execution of Raymond Davis, the US consulate employee who has been jailed in Lahore for killing two Pakistanis Link to this video

The American who shot dead two men in Lahore, triggering a diplomatic crisis between Pakistan and the US, is a CIA agent who was on assignment at the time.
Raymond Davis has been the subject of widespread speculation since he opened fire with a semi-automatic Glock pistol on the two men who had pulled up in front of his car at a red light on 25 January.

Pakistani authorities charged him with murder, but the Obama administration has insisted he is an “administrative and technical official” attached to its Lahore consulate and has diplomatic immunity.

Based on interviews in the US and Pakistan, the Guardian can confirm that the 36-year-old former special forces soldier is employed by the CIA. “It’s beyond a shadow of a doubt,” said a senior Pakistani intelligence official. The revelation may complicate American efforts to free Davis, who insists he was acting in self-defence against a pair of suspected robbers, who were both carrying guns.

Pakistani prosecutors accuse the spy of excessive force, saying he fired 10 shots and got out of his car to shoot one man twice in the back as he fled. The man’s body was found 30 feet from his motorbike.

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Law professor says Egypt was a common destination for torture of detainees sent by U.S.

by Marjorie Cohn and Amanda Bronstad, ZNet, Feb 18, 2011

Source: National Law Journal

On Feb. 11, outgoing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned, leaving the country’s government under military rule and its hopes for democracy uncertain. Also unclear is whether the country’s history of human rights abuses and torture will continue in Egypt, according to Marjorie Cohn, editor and co-author of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse. The book, published last month, is a collection of essays on torture in various countries, including Egypt.

Cohn, who is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild, talked to The National Law Journal about her new book’s relevance in light of the recent events in Egypt. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

NLJ: Why did you decide to publish this book?

MC: I had been researching and writing and speaking about the policy of torture and abuse that came to light during the Bush administration. So I collected a number of people from different disciplines to write chapters that would shed light on different aspects of this problem of torture and the U.S. involvement in it. Unfortunately, people don’t get the full picture from the mass media about what the United States is doing — the policy of cruel treatment set during the Bush administration and the history of U.S. involvement in torture, which goes way back. The CIA wrote a torture manual. The School of the Americas in the United States trained many dictators from Latin America and military leaders in the art of torture, and the CIA pursued a program of research on psychological torture. It didn’t start with the Bush administration. It was a continuation of a long policy in this country of not just engaging in torture ourselves but also supporting, training and financing repressive governments that torture and abuse their people.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Law professor says Egypt was a common destination for torture of detainees sent by U.S.

by Marjorie Cohn and Amanda Bronstad, ZNet, Feb 18, 2011

Source: National Law Journal

On Feb. 11, outgoing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned, leaving the country’s government under military rule and its hopes for democracy uncertain. Also unclear is whether the country’s history of human rights abuses and torture will continue in Egypt, according to Marjorie Cohn, editor and co-author of The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration, and Abuse. The book, published last month, is a collection of essays on torture in various countries, including Egypt.

Cohn, who is a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law and past president of the National Lawyers Guild, talked to The National Law Journal about her new book’s relevance in light of the recent events in Egypt. This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.

NLJ: Why did you decide to publish this book?

MC: I had been researching and writing and speaking about the policy of torture and abuse that came to light during the Bush administration. So I collected a number of people from different disciplines to write chapters that would shed light on different aspects of this problem of torture and the U.S. involvement in it. Unfortunately, people don’t get the full picture from the mass media about what the United States is doing — the policy of cruel treatment set during the Bush administration and the history of U.S. involvement in torture, which goes way back. The CIA wrote a torture manual. The School of the Americas in the United States trained many dictators from Latin America and military leaders in the art of torture, and the CIA pursued a program of research on psychological torture. It didn’t start with the Bush administration. It was a continuation of a long policy in this country of not just engaging in torture ourselves but also supporting, training and financing repressive governments that torture and abuse their people.

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Libyan government massacres demonstrators as uprising spreads

By Patrick O’Connor,, 21 February 2011
The Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi is attempting to violently suppress an uprising centred in the country’s eastern cities and towns. US-based organisation Human Rights Watch has said it has confirmed 173 deaths in the protests, which began last Thursday, but according to some reports more than 500 may have been killed by regime

One of Gaddafi’s sons, Saif El Islam Gaddafi, spoke live on state television at around 1 a.m. this morning—he declared “we are not Tunisia and Egypt”, warned of civil war, and menacingly threatened to “fight to the last minute, until the last bullet”.

Most of the killings have been in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, on the north-east coast. Reports are limited due to government censorship and strict restrictions on foreign journalists. Al Jazeera’s broadcasts have been jammed, and the internet has been almost entirely shut down.

The demonstrations in Benghazi against the Gaddafi government appear to have developed into an open insurrection. Many people in the city who have been able to speak with the media have described the situation as resembling a war zone, with guerrilla fighting between government and anti-government forces.

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Next stop: The House of Saud

Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, Feb 19, 2011

Here’s a crash course on how one of “our” – monarchic – dictators treats his own people during the great 2011 Arab revolt.

The king of Bahrain, Hamad al-Khalifa, has blood on his hands after his mercenary security forces – Pakistani, Indian, Syrian and Jordanian – with no previous warning, attacked sleeping, peaceful protesters at 3 am on Thursday at the Pearl roundabout, the tiny Gulf country’s version of Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

In the brutal crackdown, at least five people have been killed – including a young child – and 2,000 injured, some by gunshots, two of these in critical condition. Riot police targeted doctors and medics and prevented ambulances and blood donors from reaching the Pearl roundabout. A doctor at Salmaniya hospital told al-Jazeera there was a refrigerated truck outside the hospital, which he fears the army has used to remove more dead bodies.
The resourceful Maryama Alkawaka of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights was there; “It was very violent, [the police] were not showing any mercy.” An avalanche of tweets from Bahrainis denounced an “Israeli-style” sneak attack and shoot-to-kill approach. And many have denounced al-Jazeera for not having kept a live satellite link as it had in Cairo, and for implying that this was only a Shi’ite protest. The Pearl roundabout is now surrounded by nearly 100 tanks at every entrance and exit. Downtown Manama has been turned into a ghost city.

The Shi’ite opposition described it as “real terrorism”. Reem Khalifa, senor editor at the opposition newspaper al-Wasat, said, “The regime forces just came and massacred a crowd of people as they slept.” They had been “chanting together, shouting ‘neither Sunni nor Shi’ite but Bahraini’. We have not seen this before. And this is what annoyed the government agents the most – they are always trying to divide the people … And now the regime is spreading lies about me and other journalists who are trying to say what is happening.”

Khalifa had the courage to stand up and harshly confront Bahrain’s foreign minister at a press conference, totally debunking his version of events (he called the deaths “regrettable” but insisted protesters were sectarian, and armed).

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Libya: 200 dead as Gaddafi’s forces fire on protest mourners

Libyan forces fired machine-guns at mourners in the eastern city of Benghazi Sunday, a day after commandos and foreign mercenaries pummeled demonstrators with assault rifles and other heavy weaponry

The Telegraph, Feb 20, 2011

2:10PM GMT 20 Feb 2011
Libyan security forces opened fire on mourners at a funeral for anti-government protesters in the eastern city of Benghazi again, a day after commandos and foreign mercenaries loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gaddafi attacked demonstrators with knives, assault rifles and other heavy weaponry.

A doctor at one city hospital said he counted 200 dead in his morgue alone since unrest began six days ago.

The crackdown in Libya is shaping up to be the most brutal repression of the anti-government protests that began with uprisings that toppled the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. The protests then spread quickly around the region to Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, Algeria, Morocco and outside the Middle East to places including the East African nation of Djibouti and even China.

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American Zionism against the Egyptian Pro-Democracy Movement

One of the least analyzed aspects of the Egyptian pro-democracy movement and US policy toward it, is the role of the influential Zionist power configuration (ZPC) including the leading umbrella organization – the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO) – Congressional Middle East committee members, officials occupying strategic positions in the Obama Administration’s Middle East bureaus, as well as prominent editors, publicists and journalists who play a major role in the prestigious newspapers and popular weekly magazines.
The James Petras Website,  Feb 20, 2011 

This essay is based on a survey of every issue of the Daily Alert (propaganda bulletin of the CPMAJO), the NY Times and the Washington Post between January 25 – February 17, 2011.

From the very beginning of the Egyptian pro-democracy movement, the ZPC, called into question the legitimacy of the anti-dictatorial demands by focusing on the “Islamic threat”. In particular the ultra-Zionist Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the Daily Alert harped on the “threat” of a “Islamic takeover” by the Muslim Brotherhood even as the overwhelming number of non-Zionist experts and reporters in Egypt demonstrated that the vast majority of protestors were not members of any Islamic political movement, but largely advocates of a secular democratic republic (see the Financial Times 1/26/11-2/17/11).

Once their initial propaganda ploy failed, the ZPC developed several new propaganda lines: the most prominent of which was a sustained defense of the Mubarak dictatorship as a bulwark of Israel’s ‘security’ and guardian of the so-called “Peace Accord” of 1979. In other words the ZPC pressured the US administration, via Congressional hearings, the press and AIPAC to support Mubarak as a key guarantor and collaborator of Israel’s supremacy in the Middle East; although it meant that the Obama regime would have to openly oppose the million-member Egyptian freedom movement. Israeli journalists, officials and their US Zionist counterparts willingly admitted that although the Mubarak regime was a bloody, corrupt tyranny, he should be supported because a democratic government in Cairo might end Egypt’s decades-old collaboration with the brutal Israeli colonization of Palestine.

Once it became clear that uncritical support for Mubarak was no longer a viable position and the Obama Administration was appealing to the democratic movement to “dialogue” and negotiate with the dictator, the ZPC demanded caution in backing a “dialogue” and assurance that the dialogue did not lead to any abrupt changes in the Mubarak-Israeli treaty. The ZPC and its scribes in the Washington Post presented Mubarak’s hand picked “Vice President” Omar Suleiman, a notorious torturer and long-term collaborator of Israel’s Mossad, as the legitimate interlocutor for the dialogue – even as he was unanimously rejected by the entire pro-democracy movement.

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Report of Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council on Occupied Palestinian Territories

by Richard Falk, Foreign Policy Journal, February 15, 2011

Citizen Pilgrimage — I am posting the official text of my most recent report to the UN Human Rights Council on Israeli human rights violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The period covered ends in December 2010, and the report will be formally presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on March 21, 2011. Of course, the impact of recent events, especially in Egypt, is not considered. Of primary interest will be the approach taken by the new Egyptian leadership to the Rafah Crossing, especially whether humanitarian goods will be permitted to enter freely and whether Gazans will be allowed to leave and return without difficulty. Also, important will be whether there will be continued cooperation with the Israeli authorities with respect to maintaining the unlawful blockade. These issues will be one litmus test with respect to the depth of democratization in Egypt. We can only hope that the ordeal endured for so long by the Gazan people will be ended as a collateral benefit of the great Egyptian Revolution, but it will not happen automatically. The time for vigilance and solidarity is now!

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A Middle East Without America?

by Patrick J. Buchanan,,  February 18, 2011
The fever sweeping the Middle East is now coursing through Libya, Yemen, Iran and Bahrain, where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based.

In all four nations, state violence is being used to crush the rebels, and regime survival hangs on whether security forces and the army stand behind the government or stand aside.

A new Middle East is dawning. What will it look like?

Perhaps the nation to study is Turkey, which has already gone through a democratic and dramatic transformation.

In 2000, Turkey was a reliable U.S. ally, a friend to Israel, an aspiring candidate for membership in the EU. Since then, Turkey has set a different course, welcomed by her people, that has measurably enhanced her prestige.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s regime is far more Islamic than any Turkish government since the caliphate. He and his Justice and Development Party have effected constitutional reforms to curb the power of the judiciary and military, guardians of the secular state established by Kemal Ataturk in 1923. Scores of generals have been indicted for treason.

Turkey refused President George W. Bush permission to use its territory to invade Iraq. Denied a fast track to membership in the EU, Turkey now looks to the south and east. Relations with Syria have been repaired. Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been welcomed in Istanbul.

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Brutal Bahrain Plays Vital Role to U.S. Govt.

Gulf State that Attacked Pro-Democracy Demonstrators Serves as Key Port for U.S. Navy since World War II

CBS Evening News,  Feb 17, 2011

(CBSNews) THE PENTAGON – The free flow of oil, the containment of Iran and the defeat of al Qaeda, those are the stakes in the Persian Gulf and why the U.S. Navy has about 30 warships assigned to its 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports.

The world’s attention was focused Thursday on the tiny Persian Gulf kingdom. Bahrain’s capital is under lockdown after government troops attacked protesters overnight. At least five people were killed. Hundreds were wounded. In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Bahrain’s government to show restraint.

(Scroll down to watch a video of this report)

The U.S. Navy has maintained a presence in Bahrain since World War II. The kingdom plays a vital role in protecting American interests.

“This whole area depends upon the ability to maintain naval and air forces in the region,” said David Mack, a scholar at the Middle East Institute who once served as U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

And it’s not just Bahrain. It’s Kuwait, which is the staging area for operations in Iraq. It’s Qatar, where the headquarters for U.S. military operations throughout the Middle East is located along with an air base used by bombers flying strikes in Afghanistan.

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Arab Voices Matter

By JAMES ZOGBY, Counterpunch, Feb 17, 2011

If one lesson is to be learned from the remarkable events unfolding in Egypt, it is that Arab public opinion matters. For too long Arab voices have not been listened to, nor have Arab sensibilities or aspirations been respected. The Egyptian people have not only risen up, demanding to be heard, they have also challenged other Arabs and the West to pay attention to what they are saying.

Last Thursday night, I watched a remarkable scene unfolding on television. As my dinner partner, Patrick Seale, and I sat transfixed watching the BBC, there, on one half of a split screen, was president Hosni Mubarak making a last ditch effort to save his rule. On the other half screen were throngs in Tahrir Square.

The disconnect was real. Mubarak was talking, but he simply wasn’t listening. He played every card at his disposal: the caring father, the patriot, the xenophobe, the reformer and more. Maybe, I thought, he was reaching out beyond the square to those he thought might also be listening. But if his imagined and hoped-for audience was there, they were not responding. The crowd in the square was listening, and his lack of responsiveness to their concerns only served to inflame them and deepen their resolve.

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Where’s the American Outrage against U.S. Support of Dictatorships?

by Jacob G. Hornberge, The Future of Freedom Foundation, Feb 16, 2011 

Once it became clear that Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak was on the way out, U.S. officials quickly shifted gears and took the side of the demonstrators, the people who had suffered for 30 years under the brutal Mubarak dictatorship. U.S. officials even offered their guidance for moving Egypt toward a democratic political system. 

Of course, all this pro-democracy hoopla was designed to disguise the fact that the U.S. government has been the prime partner and enabler of this brutal dictatorship for the entire 30 years under which the Egyptian people have suffered. It has been the U.S. government that has been providing the $60 billion in U.S. taxpayer money to Mubarak and his henchmen in the Egyptian military and secret police. It has been the U.S. government that has been paying the salaries of Egypt’s jailors and torturers for the past three decades. It is the U.S. military that has been training the Egyptian military. 

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Gaza scholars ask Egypt to end siege

Ma’an News Agency, Feb 14, 2011 
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A group of well respected religious scholars in Gaza City congratulated the Egyptian people on “ending the tyranny and injustice” of the nation’s former president, and called on the new leadership to continue the trend by opening the Rafah crossing.

Calling themselves the Palestinian Scholars Association, the group issued a statement on Sunday, two days after former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announced his stepping down from power.

“The scholars of Palestine have followed closely the developments of the Egyptian revolution,” the statement said, adding that the group believed the new Egyptian cabinet and the military council could make “serious changes for the better,” and said they hoped that one of the changes would be to the policy of closure at the Rafah crossing.

Closed in 2006 after the Palestinian Authority was ousted from power, the crossing remained sealed for two years, after which it was opened for four days every four months to allow students, patients and international passport holders in and out of the coastal enclave. In June, the crossing was opened permanently, but travelers still had to have officials permission to leave the Strip.

The closure of Rafah followed only a few months after Israel began imposing restrictions at its crossing points with Gaza, in the wake of the capture of an Israeli soldier by resistance factions.

Closures and openings at Rafah have been seen to be coordinated with Israel, and accusations against the Mubarak regime for collaboration have frequently been launched.
With a new leadership barely in Place, the association of scholars urged a quick reconsideration of the crossings closure policy.

Recalling the Slaughter of Innocents

By Ray McGovern, Consortium News, February 14, 2011

Twenty years ago, as Americans were celebrating Valentine’s Day, Iraqi husbands and fathers in the Amiriyah section of Baghdad were peeling the remains of their wives and children off the walls and floor of a large neighborhood bomb shelter.

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The men had left the shelter the evening before, so their wives would have some measure of privacy as they sought refuge from the U.S.-led coalition bombing campaign, which was at its most intense pre-ground war stage.

All of the more than 400 women and children were incinerated or boiled to death at 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 13, 1991, when two F-117 stealth fighter-bombers each dropped a 2,000-pound laser-guided “smart bomb” on the civilian shelter at Amiriyah.
It was one of those highly accurate “surgical strikes.” The first bomb sliced through 10 feet of reinforced concrete before a time-delayed fuse exploded, destroying propane and water tanks for heating water and food.

Minutes later the second bomb flew precisely through the opening that had been cut by the first and exploded deeper in the shelter creating an inferno.

Fire rose from the lower level to the area where the women and children were seeking shelter – and so did the boiling water. Those who did not burn to death immediately or die from the bombs’ impact were boiled or steamed to death in the intense heat.

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A False Peace: Egypt’s Relationship with Israel — and Ours

When the tumult in Tunisia and Egypt shattered the deep freeze that has afflicted Arabs for almost four decades, countries fond of touting democracy should have been leading the celebrations. Instead, the reigning mood among elites in the United States, and especially in Israel, was one of fear and trepidation.

Though the Obama administration sounded a supportive note for the popular rebellion near its beginning — and later, when Mubarak’s ouster was a foregone conclusion — it has also issued nervous caveats, citing the dangers of rapid change and the merits of Mubarak’s intelligence chief, torturer Omar Suleiman. The reversal came on the back of pressure exerted by America’s other clients in the Arab world and Israeli leaders, who both dread the prospect of region-wide revolt.

Accompanied by a chorus of spineless pundits, America and its allies began mouthing the rationales of the dictator himself: stability is good; change is bad; horrors will befall us if the Muslim Brotherhood wins a share of power.

The hand-wringing of other Arab autocrats should not be discounted, but it is the potential disruption to the Egypt-Israel relationship that animates American concern. The Israelis have made known their fear that change in Egypt will leave them bereft of friends “in the neighborhood” — a serious predicament for a state founded, through ethnic cleansing, on top of the neighborhood.

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