Saturday, April 30, 2011

May Day Greetings

Nasir Khan, May I, 2011

May Day greetings to all friends and comrades who struggle for human rights, social justice and peace in the world and to those who support the oppressed people of Palestine living under the curse of Zionist occupation and terror.

Fraternal greetings to  the people of North Africa and the Middle East in their heroic struggle for democracy and human rights, denied to them by  despotic Arab ruling families and their tyrannical system of control and manipulation. 

We condemn the political oppression and social injustice in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Syria, Libya,  Iran, Afghanistan, Burma, Sri Lanka, Occupied Palestine, Indian-held Kashmir and in various other countries and regions.

Foreign workers in the Arab Middle East are mistreated and exploited; they have no  civic rights or any redress against the violations of their basic human rights . They live and work under primitive conditions. We ask the international  trade union movement, democratic organizations and writers and journalists to speak out on behalf of the migrants workers. 
We  condemn the militarist policies of  U.S. imperialism, its neo-colonial wars of aggression, the occupation and control of the  third world countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and  its crimes  against humanity with the support of  the NATO partners. American war of terror in Pakistan by drone attacks  kills ordinary tribal people of  Pakistan; such killings are war crimes under international law.

Die Internationale

Friday, April 29, 2011

In Memory of the Haymarket Martyrs of Chicago, May 1, 1886

May Day turns 125 years old this year. Elizabeth Schulte tells the story of the fight for the eight-hour day--and of the Haymarket Martyrs who gave their lives for it.

 Socialist Worker, April  30, 2011

The Haymarket Martyrs

ON MAY 1, 1886–125 years ago this month–hundreds of thousands of workers were taking the streets of cities around the U.S. to demand an eight-hour day.

The epicenter of this great labor struggle was Chicago, where the eight-hour movement inspired defiant protests and strikes–and inspired fear and repression from bosses and their loyal servants in law enforcement.

Two days after the massive May 1 actions, Chicago police fired on a protest of workers at a South Side factory, killing four people. A protest demonstration was called the next day for Haymarket, just west of downtown. The rally was peaceful, but as it was nearing a close, police waded into the crowd. At this point, a bomb was thrown into the ranks of police–and this became the excuse for a deadly rampage by the authorities.

Eight working-class radicals were arrested and charged with conspiring to commit the bombing–even though most weren’t even at Haymarket when the explosion occurred.

Continues >>

The Kabul airport killings: what are US troops dying for?

Bill Van Auken,, April 29, 2011

Wednesday’s execution-style slaying of eight US troops and a civilian contractor at a supposedly secure military facility at Kabul airport underscores the crisis of the nearly decade-old US war in Afghanistan.

It was the seventh―and deadliest―such attack this year on American or other foreign occupation troops by a member of the US-trained Afghan security forces―or someone dressed in their uniform.

The Americans killed in the attack were airmen assigned to train the fledgling Afghan air force, which consists of less than 50 aircraft―helicopters and transport planes―which are largely confined to routine transport missions.

This, under conditions in which the Pentagon is waging a massive air war in Afghanistan, with US Air Force and Navy warplanes flying nearly 35,000 close air support sorties last year alone. Bombing and strafing runs set new records every month, with 387 such attacks in January, compared to 157 during the same month in 2010.

Continues >>

Petraeus at CIA: Can He Tell the Truth?

By Ray NcGovern,, April 29 – May 1, 2011

The news that President Barack Obama has picked Gen. David Petraeus to be CIA director raises troubling questions, including whether the commander most associated with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will tolerate objective analysis of those two conflicts.

What if CIA analysts assess the prospects of success in those two wars as dismal and conclude that the troop “surges” pushed so publicly by Petraeus wasted both the lives of American troops and many billions of taxpayer dollars? Will CIA Director Petraeus welcome such critical analysis or punish it?

The Petraeus appointment also suggests that the President places little value on getting the straight scoop on these key war-related issues. If he did want the kind of intelligence analysis that, at times, could challenge the military, why is he giving the CIA job to a general with a huge incentive to gild the lily regarding the “progress” made under his command?

Conitunes >>

Increasing Calls for Iraq War Probe of Bush Administration

by César Chelala, CommonDreams.0rg, April 28, 2011
In his just published memoirs, The Age of Deception, former chief United Nations nuclear inspector Mohamed ElBaradei asks that George W. Bush and officials in his administration face international criminal investigation for the war in Iraq. One thing he learned from the Iraq war, he says, is that deliberate deception is not limited to small countries ruled by ruthless dictators.

ElBaradei is harshest in is comments when criticizing the 2002-2003 drive for war with Iraq, when he and Swedish inspector Hans Blix led UN missions looking for signs that Saddam Hussein’s government had revived nuclear, chemical or biological weapons programs. They found no evidence that Saddam Hussein actually did so.

The Egyptian nuclear expert tells about a meeting he and Blix held with leading Bush administration officials. In that meeting, held in October 2002, they met with, among others, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. They tried to convert the UN mission into a cover for what Bush officials wanted to be a United States-directed inspection process.

Continues >>

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Israel: We won’t deal with unified Palestine

Morning Star Online, April 28,  2011

by Tom Mellen
Israel: We won't deal with unified Palestine
Israel’s hard-line foreign minister warned on Thursday that the Netanyahu administration will not negotiate with a new Palestinian unity government that includes the democratically elected Hamas resistance movement.

Avigdor Lieberman spoke a day after the two main Palestinian factions, Islamist Hamas and secular Fatah, reached a unity deal in Cairo to end their five-year dispute.

The Egypt-brokered deal revived hopes of ending the bitter infighting that has undermined the Palestinian struggle for national self-determination and caused the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians in internecine clashes.

Emerging from the reconciliation talks on Wednesday, a jubilant Azzam al-Ahmed, the chief Fatah negotiator, said: “We have a comprehensive agreement now – we have agreed on all the issues.”

Continues >>

Lies, Damn Lies, and Misreporting about Gitmo Detainees

by Stephen Lendman,, April 27, 2011

Post-9/11, The New York Times became the lead misreporting source about Guantanamo detainees, largely characterizing them as dangerous terrorists threatening US security.
For example, on July 25, 2007, (like its many other reports) William Glaberson headlined, “New US study calls Guantanamo captives dangerous,” saying:

A new Pentagon study “argues that large numbers of detainees were a direct threat to United States forces, including Al Qaeda fighters, terrorism-training camp veterans and men who had experience with explosives, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.”

It paints a chilling portrait of the Guantanamo detainees, (saying) 95 percent were at the least a ‘potential threat,’ including detainees who had played a supporting role in terrorist groups or had expressed a commitment to pursuing violent jihadist goals.”

More on The Times’ reassessment below.

Continues >>

At Home And Abroad, Israelis Ignore The Rest Of The World

by Gideon Levy, ZNet, April 28, 2011
Source: Haaretz
More than 300,000 people are on their way home now. They once again traveled and vacationed abroad. The traveling nation is visible, very much so, but blind. You’ll see and hear them in all four corners of the earth, but they’ll come home without seeing much and understanding even less. 

 Some 20,000 will come from the Sinai without seeing Egypt, thousands of students come home from Poland every year without exchanging a word with a Pole, and tens of thousands come back from Goa or the Tierra del Fuego without listening to what the Indians of South America or the Indians of India have to say. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis have “done” America and Europe, east and west, and they will come home as oblivious and closed in as they were when they left. 

 No one seems to travel as much as the wandering Israeli, and no other nation turns it back as much on the rest of the world. You might expect such a tourism-loving people to open its eyes and ears to what can be seen and heard around the globe; instead, we keep walling ourselves in against what the world thinks and feels. 

Continues >>

About the roles of Jesus and Muhammad

by Nasir Khan, 2006
NOTE: In 2006,  the Norwegian philosopher and sociologist Dag Österberg wrote me a letter (in Norwegian) asking a few questions about Jesus and Muhammad after seeing my article in response to Pope Bendict’s version of God and Islam in Klassekampen. Perhaps some readers may find my reply to his letter of interest; therefore, I am posting it on my websites.

Dear Dag Österberg

You had raised some important points regarding Jesus and Muhammad in your letter of 31 October 2006. I do appreciate your point of view, but apart from general historical information I have, I do not regard myself an expert on either of these two great men who (and their followers) have influenced the course of world history. My views on the matter should not be regarded anything more than a tentative attempt to understand the historical role and the ‘rational’ kernel of the teachings of the two men.

My reference to Jesus' saying: 'I did not come to bring peace but a sword' (Matthew 10: 34-36) was in reply to the Pope's views, which I found to be at a primitive level of theological and historical exposition of the two religions. I am aware that Jesus had also spoken about loving our enemies, etc. In my view, the two religions, Christianity and Islam are the branches of the same tree, and in this respect all mutual recriminations and polemical views, which their respective spokesmen and authorities come up with, are simplistic and uncalled for that need to be overcome.

How can the message of Jesus be interpreted? There are divergent views. I had used about two years to investigate the historical sources on Jesus and the emergence of Christian dogmas when I wrote Perceptions of Islam in the Christendoms: A Historical Survey. The result I presented in a summary form in the first two chapters. If you have time, please take a look at these once again. I find them interesting to read myself!

You see Jesus’ sayings/message in the context of Hegelian dialectics. In fact, when we look at some of his sayings, for instance, in the Gospel According to Mark, we come across many radical and innovatory ideas from a man who was a Jewish rabbi, an unconventional preacher and a radical young man in his late twenties or early thirties. He was very much a part of the Jewish cultural tradition who upheld the strict Mosaic Law. I believe you are well aware that there is a great controversy about the authentic sayings of Jesus. What is attributed to him in the Gospels has been the subject of serious disagreement amongst scholars; biblical scholars of the Jesus Seminar had narrowed down his sayings to only a few. In judging the teachings of Jesus, new research needs to be taken into consideration. But if we assume for the sake of argument what one gospel-writer, Mark, says about the sayings of Jesus is authentic then we are left with many otherworldly paradoxical teachings. I will quote a few lines from the Gospel According to Mark to illustrate the point:
  • Jesus feeds four thousand people from seven loaves of bread (Mk 8: 1-8). Well, this narrative and many others belong to the unending saga of miracles and I don’t see any need to comment; I agree with many other scholars who regard these as nothing more than fairy-tales narrated by the Pauline gospel-writers.
  • ‘If anyone should cause one of these little ones [!] to lose faith in me, it would be better for that person to have a large milestone tied round his neck and be thrown into the sea. If your hand makes you lose your faith, cut it off’ (Mk 9: 42-43). Not a bad prescription for the neck or the hand of a wavering follower!
  • About marriage and divorce: 'He said to them [his disciples], “A man who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against his wife. In the same way, a woman who divorces her husband and marries another man commits adultery”'  (Mk 10: 11-12). And we should keep in mind the punishment for adultery under the Mosaic Law.
  • Jesus cursed a fig tree because he was hungry and the tree bore no figs simply 'because it was not the right time for the figs. Jesus said to the fig-tree, “No one will ever eat from you again!” ' (Mk 11: 13-14). It is strange that a tree gets a curse for the rest of its life for not giving figs to the Teacher but it would have been obvious to Jesus that it was not the season for the figs in his homeland!
  • Indeed, there are great rewards awaiting those who follow Jesus: ‘Yes, ‘Jesus said to them, ‘and I tell you that anyone who leaves home or brothers and sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me will—and persecutions as well; and in the age to come he will receive eternal life’ (Mk 10: 29-30). The promise of eternal life may be too good an offer to ignore. Besides, in the Kingdom of God everything is in abundance and there is no shortage of anything.
  • The next verse says: ‘But many who now are first will be the last, and many who are now last will be the first’ (Mk 10: 31). What this really means is that those who enjoy wealth, power and prestige now and those who are poor, powerless and marginalised will change their roles. But when and where? Again, this is not going to take place in the material world inhabited by the people but in the Kingdom of God. However, in the Kingdom of God everything is possible; the haves and have-nots will simply swap their places. This is an interesting perspective, but is there any practical use of it? To my mind the answer is: None whatever. Thus nothing is changed and nothing is resolved in the real world for anyone.
  • Jesus by all accounts was an apocalyptic figure whose message was that the end of the world was near (Mk 1: 15a: ‘The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand’ and that the kingdom of God/Heaven was within our reach). It is interesting to note that the Kingdom of God is more in the Platonic sense a perfect ‘kingdom’ as an ideal Form. It is both here and now (Luke 17: 21: ‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’), but it is also found in the world hereafter. In one way, this notion adds to the traditional Paradise of the Jewish faith by including our present life; and the location of the Kingdom of God is said to be within our own hearts (or our spiritual consciousness of it), but the old traditional Paradise and Hell in afterlife seem to be intact and fully operational.
Some of the paradoxical sayings of Jesus mentioned above show the mystical nature of Jesus’ teachings. His message is idealistic, utopian and otherworldly. There is no need for me to comment on any of the claims we come across about his supernatural powers. In my view everything within the material world is a result of the place of Matter in Space and Time and the role of cause and effect in bringing the change or transformation of Matter. We can explain what is within the realm of Nature by the study of natural phenomenon. I find the whole notion of super-nature, supernatural beings, supernatural powers and miracles to be utter nonsense. But the basic question for a thoughtful inquirer remains the question of the relationship of consciousness to being, of the spiritual to material. What we associate with the spiritual is in reality an aspect and manifestation of the material.

I do appreciate when you apply Hegelian dialects to some of the issues about which Jesus spoke. Seemingly Jesus resolves or dissolves some of the contradictions. But the fact remains that all his solutions are utopian and idealistic to the degree where they have no place in practical affairs of our life on Earth. If his message does not alter anything at the practical level of our life, what else does it achieve? I think the very impracticability of his teachings has also for many been attractive; it still continues to captivate many. Perhaps the root cause of it lies in our human situation. Man, the sentient being is also a suffering being, who needs an escape from the reality of being. And when it is delivered to him in the form of a full package of salvation and numerous lucrative rewards, he finds consolation and joy; this is for him the Good News. In Hegel the interplay of thesis and antithesis in the world is resolved by  the interplay of opposites; yet this resolution/negation is also the Aufhebung, the coming into being of new facet of reality in a new form that has taken place and transformed what was before. To this extent, I find Hegelian dialectics of interest in understanding the world. But I find it difficult to apply Hegel in the case of Jesus’ paradoxical sayings. In any case, I find such sayings refreshing that, at least, provide some temporary refuge or escape from the harsh realities of human existence.

Now I come to the last part of your question: Is Muhammad also a dialectician in the same way as Jesus is? I think we have to approach this question from a different angle that, first of all, takes into account the fact that these two religious figures in the world history belonged to different societies, different religious and cultural traditions. The control mechanism of religious power in their respective societies was different. But the message of Muhammad can be said to be the continuation and revival of the essential teachings of old Hebrew prophets as well as to re-establish the monotheistic tradition of Abraham. His teachings involve all the paraphernalia of the Judaic tradition, but they also introduce some new changes. Despite the persistent existence, as in the old religious tradition, of supernatural beings (God, Satan and angels, etc.,) and the rewards for our actions in the life-to-come, there is no ready-made package of salvation available if humankind does not make an effort. Man is not a sinner but a vicegerent of God on Earth, having a free will and capacity to change the world. At the same time, he is responsible and accountable for his actions. Only our actions—praxis—can lead us to the eternal bliss in the gardens of Paradise or the horrors of that other terribly undesirable place! There are no paradoxical utterances of Muhammad. No great merit is attached to miracles performed by anyone. Muhammad’s God is not a ‘Jewish’ or a ‘Christian’ God but a universal God, the creator of heaven and earth and the giver of life to inanimate matter. Jesus preached for less than two years about the Kingdom of God in the world of Spirit or the next world; Muhammad thought his mission was to establish the rule of God on Earth and he struggled for 23 years of his life to that end.

I hope I have not misrepresented any of the two great religious figures of history in this letter. Finally, believers’ dependence on the higher powers is beyond doubt, but it seems they expect too much from their God/gods and the holy men who may not be able to deliver all that is demanded from them.

Sincerely yours

Nasir Khan

10 November 2006

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Why Nuclear Power Must Go

by: Chris Williams, The Indypendent, April 26, 2011
From the very beginning, unlocking the power of the atom for “peaceful” energy production was about waging war to its logical endpoint: the power to destroy life on a planetary scale.

People around the world were aghast at the apocalyptic destruction wreaked on Japan during a few hellish minutes when the United States dropped the nuclear bombs codenamed Little Boy and Fatman on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. The immediate loss of life, in the tens of thousands, coupled with the invisible and long-term effects of radiation sickness and cancers, brought the world up against the sharp razor edge of the nuclear age.

Subsequently, during the Cold War, NATO’s nuclear war policy was officially named MAD: Mutually Assured Destruction, a point parodied in the outstanding black comedy Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Continues >>

Study: Gitmo Doctors Ignored Signs of Torture

Officials Shrugged Off Data Suggesting Beatings

by Jason Ditz,, April 26, 2011

A newly released study details a number of cases in which government doctors at Guantanamo Bay ignored strong evidence of torture and other signs of detainee abuse. The study cited nine cases in particular where the “enhanced interrogation” was in line with torture, all of which doctors explained away as “personality disorders.”

That was every day life in Guantanamo Bay, it seems, where doctors shrugged off broken bones, didn’t ask about lacerations and nerve damage, or other signs of savage beatings. Even hallucinations were “routine” and the doctors just assumed they were “temporary.”

The report concluded that the evidence documented by the doctors was largely consistent with the detainee’s claims of torture, beyond that fact that the doctors dismissed the conclusions. The report has spawned new criticism of the detention center and the mistreatment of detainees therein.

Pentagon officials have yet to comment on the report. Officials have constantly maintained that the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay has always been within the letter of the law (such as it is for extralegal detentions), but these claims always revolved around the doctors’ assertions. With those in doubt, officials will need a new justification for the sordid behavior at the facility.

New song of Egypt’s elite

They hail the revolution as easily as they praised Mubarak. But they’re still Mister President’s men

Nawal El Saadawi in Cair, The Guardian, April 26, 2011

What makes revolutionary thought unique is its clarity and dignity, and its clear grasp of freedom and justice: simple, clear words that are understood without the need for any help from elite writers or thinkers.

In the columns of many of Egypt’s national newspapers, the same face-lifted, hair-dyed dignitaries who spent years justifying and beautifying the corruption of past rulers still write regularly. They now praise Egypt’s revolutionaries just as they once praised Hosni Mubarak and his ministers.

Their words jumble everything, until the truth disappears – the simple, plain truth that the law and the constitution must be fair, and must be applied equally to everyone; that a leader should not be spared a just trial, nor punishment if he is found guilty of killing demonstrators or stealing money, or corruption, or any other charge.

Continues >>

Capitalism and Class Struggle

By James Petras, Axis of Logic, April 26, 2011


The class struggle continues to play a central role in the process of capitalist accumulation, albeit it takes different forms depending on the socio-economic context. In order to map out the unfolding of the class struggle it is necessary to specify key concepts related to the (a) varied conditions and dominant sectors of capital in the global economy (b) nature of the class struggle (c) the principle protagonists of class struggles (d) character of the demands (e) mass struggles.

Capitalist accumulation is unfolding in a very uneven pattern with important consequences for the nature and intensity of the class struggle. Moreover, the particular responses by workers and especially the capitalist state to the general condition of the economy has shaped the degree to which class struggle intensifies and which of the two major “poles’ (capital or labor) has taken the offensive.

Continues >>

Pope Benedict XVI and his version of ‘God’ and ‘Islam’

by Dr Nasir Khan, October 10, 2006

Pope Benedict XVI is the ruler of the Vatican City State and the spiritual head of more than one billion Christians across the world. What he says has an impact on political and religious thinking as well as on interfaith relations in the world. On 12 September, he delivered a well-prepared theological lecture before his home crowd of Bavarian academics and students in which he made a thinly veiled attack on the Prophet Muhammad and the notion of Holy War (Jihad). But instead of making a frontal attack on Islam, he used the derogatory remarks against Islam by a 14th century Byzantine emperor, Manuel II Paleologus, to convey his own message and thus to absolve himself of any responsibility for such remarks. Manuel II Paleologus had said:
‘Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by sword the faith he preached.’
Now, before I say anything whether such a remark has any basis in historical fact or is a mere crude misrepresentation of Islam, we should turn our attention to the method the Pope has used. It is common knowledge that whenever we use a quotation from other sources in our written or spoken words, we seek support for the particular point we may be making or we reject the view advanced by such a quotation by challenging it. To use a quotation in the former case does not need our comment; our using it evinces our – either direct or tacit — approval.

It seems the Pope has used the emperor’s words in support of his own criticism of Islam and of his theological standpoint. It may be a clever device, but it was in reality an unhealthy and unfortunate thing for a number of reasons.

First, Manuel’s formulation and accusation belongs to a particular era and historical setting in which the emperor was a direct participant in military and political struggle against the expanding Ottomans; however, his views on the Prophet and Islam have no relation to historical facts.
Secondly, the Pope is an influential leader in world affairs and he has a moral and political responsibility to help reach out to other faiths, especially Islam, to promote better interfaith relations in a world where conflicts and violence seem to be increasing; gross violations of human rights are taking place, and we are living through a time when international law and the norms of civilised behaviour are being eroded and ignored by the powerful and mighty states.

Thirdly, behind the seemingly scholarly rhetoric lies the Pope’s theology according to which Christianity is compatible with rationality, thus negating a similar compatibility in the case of Islam.

I do not intend to go into the details of such a theology, but such exclusivist views about the divine are excessively capricious and uncalled for in this century. His provocative and historically untenable remarks about Islamic teachings have led only to negative results; his ill-chosen words have inflamed the passions of Muslims throughout the world. In no way do I condone such violent responses, but at the same time we should be aware of the religious sensitivities of believers and not provoke them without good cause. We need to keep in mind that most believers, ‘the flock’, believe in a Divine Being and hold their holy books in high esteem. Indeed, they take their faiths seriously; they should not be assumed to be a gathering of philosophers, historians or doctors of theology capable of entering into dispassionate academic discussions. There are far too many people who are certain of their traditional beliefs and the authorities they rely upon. The British philosopher Bertrand Russell rightly says that the whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves but wiser people so full of doubts.

Political objectives?

The Pope’s speech comes amidst the growing anarchy and destruction in Iraq. The American war of aggression against Iraq has not gone according to the wishes of the Bush Administration. As a result of the militaristic policies of America in Iraq and its so-called ‘war against terror’, there is growing anger and frustration throughout the Muslim world against the American wars and terrorist policies in the Middle East. Some observers see the Pope adding his voice to throw his support in favour of President Bush and his allies in what they call ‘Islamic terror’ and portray Islam as a violent religion.

Evidently much of the Islamic world is going through an extremely difficult phase at this stage. Two Muslim countries, Afghanistan and Iraq, have been invaded and occupied by the armies of the New Crusaders – Bush and Blair – and two puppet regimes have been installed in these countries to serve the imperial interests. Also among the Western allies is Pakistan, whose ruler General Musharraf has admitted that America had threatened to bomb Pakistan back into the Stone Age if he did not join the American ‘war against terror’. This he did. I addition to launching major military operations in the Frontier Province and Balochistan, Pakistan has rounded up any of its nationals who showed hostility towards American policies in the region. This has been carried out by the intelligence services of Pakistan in return for millions of American dollars and more than seven hundred such victims handed over to the CIA. Where and how are these prisoners being held or what has happened to them? The American government gives no information. Thus the crimes against humanity continue to mount and the only explanation is the flat statement that there is a ‘war against terror’.

We all know that the Christian Right, especially evangelical and born-again Christians, are open supporters of the American invasion of Iraq, the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and the systematic killings of Palestinians on a regular basis, not to mention the recent Israeli war against Lebanon.

The Pope is a learned theologian. He certainly knows what is happening in the Muslim world at the hands of the Christian Powers. But instead of siding with the victims, he attacks them by distorting Islam and its Prophet as well as the true message of Jesus. This is quite a sharp reversal of the path pursued by his predecessor, John Paul II, who had stood for interfaith dialogue and called for respect for other religions. It is well known that as a cardinal in the Holy See, Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) was opposed to John Paul II’s pursuit of dialogue. But the Vatican Council II (1962-65) had already taken some important decisions in the Catholic approach towards Islam and other religious traditions. To undermine these decisions of the Second Vatican Council by anyone, by whatever means, will constitute a leap in the wrong direction.

Benedict has held Christianity to be the foundation of Europe and just a few months before he was elected, he had spoken out against the Muslim country, Turkey, joining the EU. He has argued that Christian Europe should be defended. Turkey should seek partners in Muslim countries, not in Christian Europe.

Now, a brief comment on the charge against Muhammad and his so-called use of the sword to spread his faith. The Christian polemic against Islam is almost thirteen centuries old and Christian apologists have said and written much about it. To situate the whole discussion in a historical context, I did research for more than seven years on the topic. It has resulted in the publication of my book Perceptions of Islam in the Christendoms: A Historical Survey (Oslo: Solum Forlag, 2006). (The Norwegian Research Council had paid the cost of production to the publisher, and thus I have no financial interest in the sale of the book!) I have tried to show the problematic nature of such distorted views in detail, whereas Professor Oddbjørn Leirvik in his new book Islam og kristendom, Konflikt eller dialog? has given a brilliant account of the interaction between the two faiths and explored the possibilities of dialogue and cooperation, instead of confrontation, crude misrepresentations and mutual recriminations. I believe all those who are interested in historical facts will find these two books useful for study and reflection.

The present attempt by the Pope to claim that ‘violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul’; in other words, that such a view of God cannot be extended to Islamic teachings because here ‘God is absolutely transcendent’. He is ‘not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality’. I find such a formulation and explication simply baffling. This reminds us of the Holosphyros Controversy during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenus (r. 1143-80), where the official Melkite theologians had held that ‘the God of Muhammad was said to be holosphyros [made of solid metal beaten to a spherical shape] who neither begat nor was begotten’. If the Pope needed a good source for inspiration then he did choose the right epoch and the right mentors!

Finally, I would add only a short comment on the old Christian cliché that Muhammad stood for war and violence while Jesus stood for love and peace. There are many Christian believers who still believe this. There is no historical or scriptural evidence that Muhammad at any time in his life advocated war or encouraged his followers to spread Islam by means of the sword. But what did Jesus say?
‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; a man’s worst enemies will be the members of his own family’ (Matthew 10:  34-36).
I wonder if the Christian apologists by some strange mental confusion exchanged the roles of Muhammad and Jesus. But why do they still continue to ignore what the Bible says on the matter so clearly?

At the same time, I want to emphasis that self-serving myths and dreams are not an alternative to historical facts. The question of forcible conversions in Islam is another big distortion because all the historical evidence points to the contrary. During the early period of Islamic Caliphate the Umayyad caliphs practically discouraged conversions to Islam. Far too many people had converted to Islam and that created administrative and financial problems for the State! In the Ottoman Empire, if any Muslim forced any Christian or Jew to convert to Islam, he was beheaded.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Harper’s Attack on the Arab and Muslim Communities

Canada Election 2011

by Edward C. Corrigan, Dissident Voice,  April 26th, 2011

During the Israeli attack on Lebanon in 2006 – and in the five years since – Stephen Harper has strongly defended Israel’s policies even when other allies like the United States and Britain have made the occasional criticism of Israeli policy or called for compromise between the Israelis and Palestinians. This virtually unqualified support from the Harper government for Israel runs contrary to the view held by the vast majority of the World community.

Film producer Robert Lantos was the first of several prominent members of the Liberal Party who defected to the Harper Conservatives. “We are fortunate to live in a country whose Prime Minister is Israel’s closest friend,” Mr. Lantos said. “That outweighs all other considerations from my point of view – and should for all Jews.”

A large number of Canadian Jews, but clearly a minority, do not support Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians. The use of word “Jews” and the implication that all Jews support Israel is not correct and is a distortion of the facts. It is more correct to say “Jewish supporters of Israel” as not all Jews share same views on the “Jewish State.”

Continues >>

Syrian dictator’s attacks on protesters escalate

 Bodies lying on the streets of Deraa as residents come under artillery and sniper fire, according to witnesses

Barry Neild and agencies, The Guardian, April 26, 2011A Syrian woman gestures at the Jordanian border
A Syrian woman, who has relatives in Deraa, on the Jordanian side of the border with Syria which has been closed. Photograph: Majed Jaber/Reuters
Fresh gunfire was reported in the Syrian city of Deraa, which has been at the centre of three weeks of unrest, as the government pushed on with a crackdown against pro-democracy protesters, despite growing international condemnation.

Bodies were left lying on the streets of Deraa on Tuesday as residents sought shelter from artillery and sniper fire, witnesses said, a day after tanks rolled into the city, marking a dramatic escalation in efforts to crush the uprising.

A resident told the Associated Press that families had been unable to recover the bodies of protesters killed by gunmen loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Continues >>

Double Standard in U.S. Hurts Palestinians Most

by Ira Chernus,, April 26, 2011

“Terrorist attack” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charges. “Murder!” cries Defense Minister Ehud Barak. “Nothing can justify the opening of fire at innocent people.” “Killed because he is Jewish,” claims Science and Culture Minister Limor Livnat.

Livnat might be forgiven for emotional exaggeration. It was her nephew who was killed, apparently by Palestinian policemen, after he and several carloads of Jews ran through a Palestinian security blockade in Nablus on the West Bank. They had failed to stop when the police fired warning shots in the air.

Palestinian police officials say they are investigating, and the local Palestinian governor said that the shooting was “a mistake.” A Palestinian security official said the police had “identified suspicious movements.” The Israeli military says it was not a terrorist attack. The Jews threw stones at the police and had violated rules barring them from the site — the purported tomb of the biblical Joseph — without permission.

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Pave Benedikts versjon av Islam og Muhammad

Pavelige vrangforestillinger
Av Nasir Khan, Klassekampen, 17.10.2006

Pave Benedict XVI er statsoverhode i Vatikanstaten, og åndelig leder for flere enn en milliard kristne over hele verden. Det han uttaler har innflytelse på både politisk og religiøs tenkning, så vel som på forholdet mellom verdensreligionene. Den 12. september i år holdt han en velforberedt, teologisk forelesning for sitt hjemmepublikum av bayerske studenter og akademikere, hvor han kom med et dårlig tilslørt angrep på profeten Muhammed og forestillingen om hellig krig ( Jihad).

Til å overbringe sitt eget budskap benyttet paven seg av et nedsettende utsagn som opprinnelig ble fremsatt av den bysantinske keiseren Manuel II Paleologus, for på den måten å frita seg selv fra ansvaret for påstanden. Utsagnet fra Manuel II Paleologus lyder: «Vis meg bare hva Muhammed brakte som var nytt, og alt du vil finne er slett og umenneskelig, slik som hans ordre om å spre med sverdet den troen han forkynte.»

Før jeg sier noe om hvorvidt utsagnet har noen støtte i historiske fakta, eller ganske enkelt er en ondsinnet forvrengning av islam, la oss vende oppmerksomheten mot den metoden paven har benyttet seg av. Det vanlige når en benytter seg av sitater fra andre kilder i skrift eller tale, er at en på den måten søker støtte for et synspunkt en selv har, eller at en tar avstand fra utsagnet ved å motgå det. Å bruke et sitat på den førstnevnte måten krever ingen utfyllende kommentarer fra egen side. Det faktum at en bruker det, røper samtidig ens egen – direkte eller stilltiende – godkjenning.

Det synes som om paven har brukt keiserens ord til støtte for sin egen kritikk av islam og sitt eget teologiske standpunkt. Det kan være et smart virkemiddel, men i virkeligheten var det av flere grunner både usunt og uheldig.

For det første hører Manuels utsagn hjemme i en bestemt æra og historisk sammenheng der keiseren selv var en direkte deltaker i den politiske og militære kampen mot et ekspanderende Ottomansk rike. Imidlertid har synspunktene hans ingen rot i historiske fakta.

For det andre er paven en innflytelsesrik verdensleder som har et moralsk og politisk ansvar for å strekke ut en hånd til andre trosretninger, især til islam, for å bedre forholdene mellom de store religionene i en verden hvor konflikter og vold synes å tilta, og hvor menneskerettigheter blir brutt i stor skala. Vi lever i en tid da internasjonale overenskomster og normer for sivilisert oppførsel uthules og blir oversett av mektige stater.
For det tredje ligger pavens teologiske synspunkt bak den tilsynelatende lærde retorikken. Dette synspunktet tilsier at kristendommen er forenlig med rasjonalitet, samtidig som det fratar islam den samme rasjonalitet.

Jeg har ikke til hensikt å gå inn i detaljene i en slik teologi, men et slikt ekskluderende synspunkt på det guddommelige er inkonsekvent og upassende i vår tid. Hans provoserende og historisk uholdbare bemerkninger om den islamske læren har utelukkende gitt negative resultater. De dårlig valgte ordene har hisset opp muslimer over hele verden.
Jeg støtter på ingen måte slike voldelige reaksjoner, men samtidig må vi være klar over troende menneskers religiøse nærtagenhet, og ikke provosere dem uten god grunn. Vi må være bevisst på at de fleste troende, «menigheten», tror på en guddommelig skapning og holder sine egne hellige skrifter høyt i aktelse. De tar troen sin på alvor.

En kan ikke forutsette at de er en ansamling av filosofer, historikere og teologidoktorer som er i stand til å delta i lidenskapsløse, akademiske diskusjoner. Det finnes alt for mange som er skråsikre på sin egen tradisjonsbundne tro og de autoriteter den bygger på. Den britiske filosofen Bertrand Russel sier så treffende at problemet med verden er at dårer og fanatikere alltid er så sikre på at de har rett, mens de kloke er så fulle av usikkerhet.

Pavens tale kommer midt i en tid med økende anarki og ødeleggelser i Irak. Den amerikanske angrepskrigen mot Irak har ikke gått slik Bush-administrasjonen ønsket. Som et resultat av USAs militaristiske linje i Irak, og den såkalte «krigen mot terror», er det nå tiltagende sinne og frustrasjon i hele den muslimske verden over amerikanske kriger og terrorpolitikken i Midtøsten. Noen observatører ser pavens tale som en støtte til president Bush og hans allierte i kampen mot det de kaller «islamistisk terror», og i fremstillingen av islam som en voldelig religion.

Store deler av den islamske verden befinner seg for tiden i en vanskelig situasjon. To muslimske land, Afghanistan og Irak, er begge invadert og okkupert av armeen til de nye korsfarerne – Bush og Blair – og to marionettregimer er innsatt i disse landene, for å tjene imperialistenes interesser. Blant Vestens allierte finner vi også Pakistan og general Musharraf som har innrømmet at USA truet med å bombe Pakistan tilbake til steinalderen om han ikke gikk med dem i «krigen mot terror». Så det gjorde han.

I tillegg til å sette i gang store militæroperasjoner i grenseprovinsen og Baluchistan, har Pakistan pågrepet et hvert medlem av befolkningen som har vist tegn til fiendtlighet mot den amerikanske politikken i regionen. Dette er blitt gjort av den pakistanske etterretningstjenesten, i bytte mot millioner av amerikanske dollar. Flere enn sju hundre offer for dette har til nå blitt overlevert til CIA. Hvor og hvordan blir disse fangene holdt? Hva har hendt med dem? Den amerikanske regjeringen gir ingen informasjon.
Altså fortsetter økningen i brudd på menneskerettighetene, med erklæringen om «krigen mot terror» som eneste forklaring.

Vi vet alle at den kristne høyrefløyen, især de evangeliske og gjenfødte kristne, er åpne tilhengere av den amerikanske invasjonen av Irak, den israelske okkupasjonen av palestinske områder og de jevnlige, systematiske drapene på palestinere, for ikke å glemme Israels nylige krig mot Libanon.

Paven er en lærd teolog. Han er fullt klar over hva som skjer i den muslimske verden, i hendene på kristne stater. Men i stedet for å ta parti med ofrene, angriper han dem, ved å gi et vrengebilde av islam og profeten Muhammed, så vel som av det sanne budskapet fra Jesus. Dette er en kraftig reversering av den linjen forgjengeren hans, Johannes Paul II, fulgte, og som innebar dialog og respekt mellom de forskjellige religioner.

Det er et velkjent faktum at Ratzinger, nå Pave Benedict XVI, sto i opposisjon til Johannes Paul IIs dialoglinje mens han var kardinal ved pavestolen. Men det andre Vatikan-konsilet (1962 – 65) hadde allerede tatt noen viktige valg når det gjaldt forholdet til islam og andre religioner. Å undergrave disse beslutningene vil bety et stort skritt i feil retning, uansett på hvilken måte og av hvem, det gjøres.

Pave Benedict XVI har fremholdt kristendommen som å være selve grunnlaget for Europa, og bare noen få måneder før han ble valgt, hadde han tatt til orde mot at det muslimske Tyrkia skulle få bli medlem av EU. Han hevdet at det kristne Europa måtte forsvares. Tyrkia burde søke seg samarbeidspartnere blant andre, muslimske land, ikke i det kristne Europa.

Så en kort kommentar til angrepet på Muhammed og hans påståtte bruk av sverdet for å spre troen. Den kristne polemikken mot islam har pågått i nærmere tretten hundre år, og kristne forsvarere av troen har skrevet og sagt mye i den forbindelse.

For å sette hele diskusjonen inn i en historisk sammenheng forsket jeg på temaet i over sju år. Det har resultert i utgivelsen av min bok «Perceptions of Islam in the Christendom: A Historical Survey» (Oslo: Solum Forlag, 2006). Der har jeg forsøkt å vise i detalj den problematiske natur som ligger i et slikt forvrengt syn som det paven utviser, mens professor Oddbjørn Leirvik har i sin nye bok «Islam og kristendom; Konflikt eller dialog?» gitt en glimrende fremstilling av samspillet mellom de to religionene, og har utredet mulighetene for dialog og samarbeid i stedet for konfrontasjon, ondsinnet mistolkning og gjensidige beskyldninger. Jeg tror at alle som er interesserte i de historiske fakta vil finne disse bøkene nyttige til studier og ettertanke.

Paven forsøker å hevde at «vold er uforenlig med Guds og sjelens natur»; med andre ord, at et slikt syn på Gud ikke kan finnes i den islamske lære, siden den hevder at «Gud er hevet over alt annet». Han er «ubundet av alle våre egenskaper, også rasjonalitet». Jeg finner en slik formulering og utlegning forbløffende. Dette minner oss om Holosphyros-striden under den bysantinske keiseren Manuel I Comnenus styringstid (1143 – 80), hvor de offisielle melkite-teologene (gammel, gresk ortodoks trosretning, red.anm.) hevdet at «Muhammeds Gud blir sagt å være holosphyros (‘kompakt metallklump hamret til en kule’, men ofte mistolket til å bety ‘evig, uten begynnelse eller slutt, overs.anm.) som verken hadde avlet eller var avlet». Hvis paven trengte en god kilde til inspirasjon, valgte han riktig epoke og de rette veilederne!

Til sist vil jeg knytte en liten merknad til den gamle, kristne klisjeen om at Muhammed sto for krig, mens Jesus sto for kjærlighet og fred. Det er fortsatt mange troende kristne som mener dette. Det finnes ingen bevis, verken historisk eller i skriftene, for at Muhammed på noe tidspunkt gjorde seg til talsmann for krig eller oppfordret sine tilhengere til å spre islam ved sverdets hjelp. Men hva sa Jesus? «Tro ikke at jeg er kommet for å bringe fred på jorden. Jeg er ikke kommet for å bringe fred, men sverd. Jeg er kommet for å sette skille: Sønn står mot far, datter mot mor, svigerdatter mot svigermor, og en manns husfolk er hans fiender» (Matt. 10.34-36).

Jeg undres om ikke forsvarerne av den kristne tro på en eller annen merkelig måte har kommet til å bytte om Muhammeds og Jesu rolle. Men hvorfor fortsetter de med å overse det Bibelen så tydelig sier om saken?

Samtidig vil jeg understreke at egennyttige myter og drømmer ikke er alternativer til historiske fakta. Spørsmålet om konvertering under tvang til islam, er en annen betydelig forvrengning. Alle historiske bevis peker mot det motsatte. I den første tiden under det islamske Kalifatet, motarbeidet nærmest kalifene under Umayyad-dynastiet, omvendelser til islam. Altfor mange mennesker hadde konvertert, og hadde dermed skapt administrative og økonomiske problemer for staten! I det ottomanske riket ble en hver muslim som tvang en kristen eller en jøde til å konvertere, halshugget.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pakistanis Rally Against Drone Strikes, Block NATO Supply Route

by Aizaz Mohmand,, April 24, 2011


PESHAWAR, Pakistan - - The main supply route for NATO troops in Afghanistan was temporarily closed on Sunday after thousands of people blocked a key highway in Pakistan to protest against U.S. drone strikes, officials said.

Pakistani cricket legend-turned politician Imran Khan addresses the crowd during a rally against the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistani tribal areas, Saturday, April 23, 2011, in Peshawar, Pakistan. Pakistan stopped NATO supplies from traveling to Afghanistan on Saturday as thousands of protesters rallied on the main road leading to the border, demanding U.S. Washington stop firing missiles inside the country. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul, however, said the two-day blockade would have no impact on the alliance’s operations in Afghanistan.
“Coordination with Pakistani government officials has been conducted and we understand the government will maintain security,” an ISAF spokesman said. “There is no impact on ISAF sustainment.”

The routes through Pakistan bring in 40 percent of supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to the United States Transportation Command. Of the remainder, 40 percent come through Afghanistan’s neighbors in the north and 20 percent by air.

The call for blocking the supply line came from cricket-turn-politician Imran Khan after U.S. officials rejected Pakistan’s demand for sharp cuts in drone strikes in its tribal regions where al Qaeda and Taliban militants are based.

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Misunderstanding Jesus’s Execution

By the Rev. Howard Bess,  Consortimum News, April 23, 2011

Editor’s Note: Because Western civilization embraced Christianity as the ruling religion, the teachings of Jesus lost much of their insurrectionist, pacifistic and egalitarian origins. In effect, Christianity was bent to the interests of kings, politicians, generals and the rich.

Similarly, the story of Jesus’s fateful last week in Jerusalem has been reshaped to minimize perhaps its central event, his overturning of the money tables at the temple, a direct challenge to the merging of religious and political power of his day, as the Rev. Howard Bess recounts in this guest essay:

 Christians have special celebrations for the key events of Holy Week, but they often overlook one of the most important.

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Palm Sunday celebrates the entry of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. Maunday Thursday is a solemn replay of his last meal with his disciples. Good Friday takes us through his mock trial and his death of horror on a Roman Cross. Easter is the Christians’ triumphant celebration of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

But there is a missing piece. The incident that gives sense to the week’s climactic events is Jesus’s overturning of the money tables at the temple.

Tradition says that the incident was a ceremonial cleansing of the temple of its commercial enterprises because those in charge of the temple had turned a house of worship into a commercial enterprise.

Jesus disrupted the commercial operation by upsetting the tables where the temple lackeys sold required animals for sacrifice.

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The “Bradley Manning Exception to the Bill of Rights” Devastates the Credibility of the Military Justice System

By Kevin Zeese, OpEdNews, April 25, 2011

Stand With Brad by Kevin Zeese

President Obama Makes a Fair Trial of Bradley Manning Impossible By Declaring Him Guilty 

The credibility of the military justice system is being undermined by the prosecution of Bradley Manning.   His abusive punishment without trial violates his due process rights; his harsh treatment in solitary confinement-torture conditions violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment; and now the commander-in-chief has announced his guilt before trial making a fair trial impossible.   A Bradley Manning exception to the Bill of Rights is developing as the Obama administration seeks Manning’s punished no matter what constitutional protections they violate.

On Thursday April 21, 2011 in San Francisco a group of Bradley Manning supporters protested the prosecution of Manning at a Barack Obama fundraising event. One of Manning’s supporters was able to question the president directly afterwards and during the conversation, Obama said on videotape that Manning was guilty.

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The Myth of Humanitarian Catastrophe: Counter-insurgency Deceptions in Afghanistan and Iraq

By Anthony Dimaggio, ZNet,  April 24, 2011

Despite a 2008 U.S.-Iraqi agreement requiring a total withdrawal from Iraq by the end of 2011, U.S. Admiral and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen is now “warning” Iraqi leaders that they only have a few weeks to decide if they want troops to remain in the country past the formal withdrawal date.  In recent weeks, Democrats and Republicans have also recently taken up “debate” over Obama’s alleged plan for “withdrawal” from Afghanistan.  U.S. military planners love to frame their violent occupations as necessary “humanitarian” interventions, aimed at “saving” the poor and downtrodden of the third world.  These claims have always been disingenuous, and the gravity of recent evidence suggests that efforts to entertain the humanitarian myth amount to little more than propaganda.
 Take for example, Iraq and Afghanistan.  Both occupations were vehemently defended by liberal and conservative political officials, as well as their counterparts in the mass media under the guise of pure intentions and selfless sacrifice.  Both occupations are opposed by the majority of Americans, Afghans and Iraqis on the grounds that the destruction they’ve caused leave countries worse off than if the U.S. had simply not intervened in the first place. 

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Israel Prize winners call for Palestinian state on 1967 borders

Winners of Israel’s highest honour call for end of Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

Middle East Online, April 4, 2011

Among the prominent signatories is painter and sculptor Danny Karavan

JERUSALEM – A group of 17 winners of the prestigious Israel Prize are calling for the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, according to a copy of a petition on Wednesday.

The laureates plan to sign the petition, also inked by several dozen other Israeli artists and intellectuals, on Thursday, in a symbolic ceremony in front of the building where the state of Israel was proclaimed on May 14, 1948.

Among the petition’s prominent signatories are Menachem Yaari, the former president of Israel Academy of Sciences, Shulamit Aloni, the founder of the leftist Meretz party and Danny Karavan, a painter and sculptor.

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Will Syrians topple a dictator?

Imam Khaled Hamoui considers the dynamics of the rebellion underway in Syria.

Socialist Worker, April 21, 2011,

THE SYRIAN Intifada has simmered and effervesced intermittently for decades. On March 12 of this year, the revolutionary mood prevalent in the Middle East stirred the town of Qamishli to sedition anew.

Qamishli is the largest town in the Northern Hassake province of Syria. Many non-Arab inhabitants of that region, like Sunni Kurds and native Christian Assyrians, regard it as their communities’ secret capital. The city is renowned for throwing parades around Christmas time, and celebrating Newroz, a Kurdish spring festival, every year in March.

In March 2004, during a soccer match, hooligans started raising Kurdish flags and hailing U.S. President George W. Bush–who is perceived as liberator of the Kurds in neighboring Iraq. This triggered riots that gained momentum outside the stadium and led to what became known as the Qamishli Massacre. Thirty Kurds were killed by the security services.

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Ancien Régime Dying, New World Painfully Rising in Syria

By Mac McKinney, OpEdNews, April 23, 2011

Once you have to start mass-murdering your citizens to crush dissension, that is the beginning of the end. The emotions that led to mass protest within the body politic only become more inflamed with each death, and even if the State can drive everyone into stony silence, strong emotions remain, repressed and festering, someday to again erupt, be that in a number of days, weeks, months or years.

The Syrian government has descended into the same maelstrom of violent State repression by authoritarian regimes that we have seen engulfing Yemen, Bahrain and, of course Libya. It remains to be seen how horrific the violence will become, and whether it will force the nationwide Syrian protest movement to take up armed struggle. Right now, however, things are looking more polarized than ever, as the regional pro-democracy movement manifest in Syria locks horns with yet another Ancien Régime in the Middle East, as shown in this al Jazeera photo and the following videos:

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Friday Massacre: At Least 88 Protesters Killed in Syria Crackdown

Hundreds Reported Wounded as Protests Sweep Nation

by Jason Ditz,, April 22, 2011

The protest movement in Syria delivered on a promised record turnout on Friday, with massive rallies reported in virtually every city nationwide. The regime’s security forces were also out in force, however, shooting massive numbers of demonstrators.

A very preliminary count has at least 88 protesters killed and several hundred others wounded. The toll is almost certain to rise in what has been dubbed by opposition members the “Good Friday Massacre.”

Syria’s state media was largely mum on the protests, but accused “armed groups” (the regime’s chosen term for demonstrators) of injuring firemen in an attack in Damascus. Interestingly for an “armed” group, the attackers were said to have thrown stones at the firemen. They also accused al-Jazeera of “distorting facts” in covering the protests, saying it amounted to “incitement.”

The protesters were by far the most widespread Syria has seen, and the death toll was likewise much larger than in previous days. Each Friday has seen a larger rally than the last, with a tiny demonstration along the Jordan border five weeks ago swelling to a massive rebellion calling for regime change.

Leaders of the protest movement issued a statement today demanding the abolition of the Ba’ath Party’s system of single party rule in favor of full democracy. They also demanded that political prisoners be released and the existing security state replaced.

US atrocities reach all time high in Afghanistan

by Zia Sarhadi, Media Monitors Network, April 21, 2011
The purpose for which Afghanistan was invaded — to secure safe passage for a gas and oil pipeline from Central Asia and lay hands on the rich mineral deposits of Afghanistan — has not been achieved so far. Yet there is growing anxiety among ordinary Americans over the extended military mission that has nearly bankrupted America. Unemployment is high, the debt is rising and American cities are crumbling while the US pours billions of dollars into a war that appears to have no end or any identifiable benchmarks by which to measure progress. US officials talk optimistically about training Afghan police and army but the targets they have set have not been met so far.

Even as American officials optimistically talk about starting troop withdrawal from Afghanistan according to schedule in July, news about their atrocities continue to send shock waves globally. Recent reports and photos of torture and mutilation of Afghan civilians make Abu Ghraib look like a mild affair. These crimes are compounded by denials that the Americans have done or are capable of doing anything wrong since these are contrary to American “standards and values.” Their victims know better.

This past winter, American troops murdered even more Afghan civilians than in previous years. And true to form, they routinely claim the attacks were aimed at militants and that no civilians were killed . . .

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‘The Palestine Cables’: Obama administration killed off independent U.N. investigation into Israeli war crimes in Gaza

by Alex Kane,, April 23, 2011

Source: Mondoweiss 

It was a shocking event in a twenty-two day assault filled with them:  the Israeli military shelled a United Nations compound in Gaza City January 15, where humanitarian aid like fuel and water pumping stations were stationed as well as hundreds of Palestinians displaced by the Israeli bombardment.  John Ging, the Gaza Director of Operations of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) described the scene on Democracy Now!
This morning, there were three rounds of white phosphorus which landed in our compound in Gaza. That set ablaze the main warehouse and the big workshop we have there for vehicles. At the time, there were 700, also, people displaced from the fighting. There were full fuel tankers there. The Israeli army have been given all the coordinates of all our facilities, including this one. They also knew that there were fuel tankers laden with fuel in the compound, and they would have known that there were hundreds of people who had taken refuge.

Friday, April 22, 2011

US missiles kill 25 people in Pakistan tribal area

Yahoo! News, Apr 22, 2011

In this photo released by Inter Services Public Relations, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen, left, listens to Pakistan's Ch  
AP – In this photo released by Inter Services Public Relations, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff … 
By MUNIR AHMED and ANWARULLAH KHAN, Associated Press  Fri Apr 22, 6:21 am ET
ISLAMABAD – U.S. drones fired a volley of missiles into a militant-held Pakistani region close to the Afghan border on Friday, killing 25 people, Pakistani intelligence officials said. The strike came a day after Pakistan’s army chief denounced such attacks, and could further sour deteriorating relations between Washington and Islamabad.

Ten missiles hit a house in Spinwam village in North Waziristan, a region home to Taliban militants targeting American and NATO troops just across the border in Afghanistan, as well as international al-Qaida terrorists, three intelligence officials said.

Three children and two women were believed to be among the dead, they said. There was no way to immediately independently confirm that.

America has been regularly firing missiles into the border region for 2 1/2 years now, but does not formally acknowledge the CIA-run program. U.S. officials rarely comment on specific strikes but have said in general terms that they accurately hit militants.

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A new jail for Bradley Manning – but the controversy rages on

By Rupert Cornwell in Washington, The Independent, Apr 21, 2011

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has been a high-profile critic of Bradley Manning's treatment GETTY IMAGES Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has been a high-profile critic of Bradley Manning’s treatment

Private Bradley Manning left his tiny cell in a United States Marine Corps prison for a long-term military detention centre in Kansas yesterday, as the Pentagon tried to cut short a deepening controversy that was turning into a stain on the reputation of Barack Obama’s administration.The transfer of Pte Manning, suspected of leaking thousands of classified cables to the WikiLeaks website, from the Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia, where he has been held since last June, to the main Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, was hastily announced by senior Defence Department officials on Tuesday evening. In the last few months, the harsh detention conditions of Pte Manning, as yet convicted of no crime and whose trial appears to be months away, have generated bewilderment and mounting anger in the US and abroad. 

Syria unrest: ‘Bloodiest day’ as troops fire on rallies

BBC News, April 22, 2011

Click to play
Amateur video purportedly showing large protests across the country

Protesters in Syria have reported 60 people killed by security forces – the highest death toll in five weeks of unrest against President Assad.
Demonstrators were shot when they gathered following Friday prayers, a day after the country’s decades-long state of emergency was lifted.

Many of the deaths reportedly occurred in the village of Ezra and in the Douma suburb of the capital, Damascus.

At least 260 people are said to have died since unrest began last month.

Protesters across the country chanted for the overthrow of the regime, Reuters news agency reported.

President Bashar al-Assad’s lifting of the emergency had been seen as a concession to them.

In their first joint statement since the protests broke out, activists co-ordinating the mass demonstrations demanded the establishment of a democratic political system.

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U.N.: Sri Lanka’s crushing of Tamil Tigers may have killed 40,000 civilians

By Colum Lynch, The Washington Post, Thursday, April 21, 2011

Eranga Jayawardena/ AP – Sri Lankans walk past a billboard on President Mahinda Rajapaksa and a campaign slogans for people to join the protest against the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s expert panel proposals on the country’s civil war, in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Thursday, April 21, 2011.

UNITED NATIONS — Sri Lanka’s decisive 2008-09 military offensive against the country’s separatist Tamil Tigers may have resulted in the deaths of as many as 40,000 civilians, most of them victims of indiscriminate shelling by Sri Lankan forces, according to a U.N. panel established by Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The panel recommended that Ban set up an “independent international mechanism” to carry out a more thorough probe into “credible” allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which held more than 300,000 civilians “hostage” to enforce a “strategic human buffer between themselves and the advancing Sri Lankan army.”

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Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq

By Paul Bignell, The Independent, April 19, 2011

A British Army soldier investigates a large fire near Basra's Shuiba refinery Reuters A British Army soldier investigates a large fire near Basra’s Shuiba refinery

Plans to exploit Iraq’s oil reserves were discussed by government ministers and the world’s largest oil companies the year before Britain took a leading role in invading Iraq, government documents show.

Graphic: Iraq’s burgeoning oil industry

The papers, revealed here for the first time, raise new questions over Britain’s involvement in the war, which had divided Tony Blair’s cabinet and was voted through only after his claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

The minutes of a series of meetings between ministers and senior oil executives are at odds with the public denials of self-interest from oil companies and Western governments at the time.

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Falk: What Future for the Goldstone Report? Beyond the Name

by Richard Falk, Foreign Policy Journal, April 22, 2011

Ever since it first struck the raw nerve of Israeli political consciousness, I thought it misleading to associate the Goldstone Report so exclusively with its chair, Judge Richard Goldstone. After all, despite his deserved prominence as an international jurist, he was the least qualified substantively of the four members of the mission. Undoubtedly, part of the intensely hostile Israeli reaction of their highest political leaders had to do with the sense that Goldstone as a devoted Zionist had been guilty of betrayal, even of ‘a blood libel’ against the Jewish people, because he seemed to be elevating his fidelity to the ‘law’ above that of tribal loyalties, and according to Tel Aviv he should never have been mixed up with such a suspect entity as the UN Human Rights Council in the first place.

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Chomsky: Is the World Too Big to Fail? The Contours of Global Order

There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the U.S. and in the Arab world.

Noam Chomsky,, April 21, 2011

The democracy uprising in the Arab world has been a spectacular display of courage, dedication, and commitment by popular forces — coinciding, fortuitously, with a remarkable uprising of tens of thousands in support of working people and democracy in Madison, Wisconsin, and other U.S. cities. If the trajectories of revolt in Cairo and Madison intersected, however, they were headed in opposite directions: in Cairo toward gaining elementary rights denied by the dictatorship, in Madison towards defending rights that had been won in long and hard struggles and are now under severe attack.

Each is a microcosm of tendencies in global society, following varied courses. There are sure to be far-reaching consequences of what is taking place both in the decaying industrial heartland of the richest and most powerful country in human history, and in what President Dwight Eisenhower called “the most strategically important area in the world” — “a stupendous source of strategic power” and “probably the richest economic prize in the world in the field of foreign investment,” in the words of the State Department in the 1940s, a prize that the U.S. intended to keep for itself and its allies in the unfolding New World Order of that day.

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Bahrain’s secret terror

Desperate emails speak of ‘genocide’ as doctors who have treated injured protesters are rounded up 
By Jeremy Laurance, Health Editor, The Independent, Apr 21, 2011

Medical staff of the Salmaniya Medical Complex rush a victim of the clashes between security forces and opposition protesters to the hospital in Manama, Bahrain
EPA Medical staff of the Salmaniya Medical Complex rush a victim of the clashes between security forces and opposition protesters to the hospital in Manama, Bahrain
The intimidation and detention of doctors treating dying and injured pro-democracy protesters in Bahrain is revealed today in a series of chilling emails obtained by The Independent.

At least 32 doctors, including surgeons, physicians, paediatricians and obstetricians, have been arrested and detained by Bahrain’s police in the last month in a campaign of intimidation that runs directly counter to the Geneva Convention guaranteeing medical care to people wounded in conflict. Doctors around the world have expressed their shock and outrage.

One doctor, an intensive care specialist, was held after she was photographed weeping over a dead protester. Another was arrested in the theatre room while operating on a patient.

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