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Showing posts from June, 2010

Simple! Just ship 'em out!

That Israel is sitting on a time-bomb is now almost beyond question. Amongst the many issues confronting the State is that the Arab-Palestinian population will in the next 5-10 years exceed that of the Israeli Jews. Then what? A minority ruling a majority?

Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman seems to think he has the answer, whether it be democratic, legal or let alone humane. Just ship out the Arab-Palestinians one way or the other - as Jonathan Cook reports in "Blueprint for a Purely Jewish State" on CounterPunch:

"Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s far-right foreign minister, set out last week what he called a “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders.

Warning Israel faced growing diplomatic pressure for a full withdrawal to the Green Line, the pre-1967 border, Mr Lieberman said that, if such a partition were …

A real journalist does what Michael Hastings did

John Pilger on Democracy Now:

"It's been a week since Rolling Stone published its article on General Stanley McChrystal that eventually led to him being fired by President Obama. Since the article came out, Rolling Stone and the reporter who broke the story, Michael Hastings, have come under attack in the mainstream media for violating the so-called "ground rules" of journalism. But the investigative journalist and documentary filmmaker John Pilger says Hastings was simply doing what all true journalists need to do."

The same topic is taken up by Glenn Greenwald at Salon in "The two poles of journalism":

"With his Rolling Stone article on Gen. McChrystal, Michael Hastings has become both the personification of, and spokesperson for, Real Journalism, and as a result, has provoked intense animosity from establishment-serving "reporters" everywhere. He apparently committed the gravest sin: he exposed and embarrassed rather than flattered an…

All of that loss of life, mayhem, injury and cost......for about 50-100 Al Qaeda?

What the some 40 countries are supposed to be doing in Afghanistan is just about anyone's guess. First, post 9/11 it was to eradicate those terrorists. Now, it's to bring stability to the country and protect the West from terrorists. What terrorists? Good question.

Over to none other than the CIA Chief himself to reveal all.....as reported on abc BostonMed:

"In an EXCLUSIVE interview on “This Week,” CIA Director Leon Panetta told host Jake Tapper that there were “at most” only 50-100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

“How many Al Qaeda, do you think, are in Afghanistan?” Tapper asked.

“I think the estimate on the number of Al Qaeda is actually relatively small,” Panetta said. “At most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less. It’s in that vicinity. There’s no question that the main location of Al Qaeda is in the tribal areas of Pakistan.”

So, all that loss of life, upheaval of people, injuries to locals and the military and huge cost....is directed to some 50-100 Al Qaeda pe…

Whose rights are being protected here?

As Spain joins a number of countries seeking to ban the burqua a piece "Are Women's Rights Really the Issue?" on SpiegelOnLine considers the critical question of who is protecting whom in all this debate.

"When it comes to burqas, everyone, it would seem, is a feminist. In 2006, Dutch right-wing populist Geert Wilders argued that the burqa -- the full-body robes with just a mesh screen to look through -- is "a medieval symbol, a symbol against women." Last year, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called it "a sign of subservience." And on Wednesday, the Spanish Senate gave its approval to an anti-burqa motion supporting the outlawing of "any usage, custom or discriminatory practice that limits the freedom of women."

Spain, in fact, became the latest to join the European movement to ban the burqa and the niqab -- similar to a burqa but with a slit for the eyes instead of mesh. It joins France, Italy and Belgium with Holland, Austria and Swit…

All is not what it seems in Sri Lanka

The Sri Lankans are almost copycats in the way they emulate what the Israelis do and their responses to world opinion.

The general view, certainly as conveyed in the media, is that all seems to have settled down in Sri Lanka now that the war with the Tamils is over. Not so!

FPIF reports in "Sri Lanka's Wartime Abuses":

"Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa, both famous and infamous for his government’s May 2009 military victory over the 25-year Tamil Tiger insurgency, was in India earlier this month. And he promised to resettle the war-displaced Tamils and find a political solution to the ethnic issue – assurances his government gave to the United States two weeks earlier. But will he deliver on his pledge?

In Tamil Nadu, a south Indian state separated by a narrow strait from Sri Lanka, and home to around 65 million Tamils, people and parties protested Rajapaksa’s visit. They hold him responsible for the death of innocent Tamils in his government’s war against the …

Afghanistan: Not looking good

The reverberations from the Rolling Stones article on General McChrystal continue.......on a number of levels, not the least a questioning of where the whole theatre of operation in Afghanistan is headed. The outlook isn't all that great!

FAIR [reproduced on CommonDreams] takes up the issue of what the mainstream seems to have missed:

"The real significance of the piece is in the criticism--voiced by soldiers in Afghanistan and military experts--of the war itself. "Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages to accomplish in Afghanistan, it's going to look more like Vietnam than Desert Storm," wrote Rolling Stone's Michael Hastings.

A senior adviser to McChrystal stated, "If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular." Hastings added that some officials see the war requiring a much larger troop presence: "Instead of beginn…

Talking Tough on Torture

It may be a fond hope that words will lead to real action but what the head of the UN Human Rights Commission has said about eventually catching up with torturers provides one with some hope of justice being seen to be done. An interesting question though? Will it only be the torturers themselves who will be caught in the net? - or also those who authorised it, such as the likes of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

CommonDreams[reproducing Agence France Press] reports:

"UN human rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday warned torturers that they could not escape justice even if they might benefit from short term impunity.

Can the United Nations spell "U.S.A."? UN rights chief says torturers will face justice. (AFP)"Torturers, and their superiors, need to hear the following message loud and clear: however powerful you are today, there is a strong chance that sooner or later you will be held to account for your inhumanity," Pillay said.

"Torture is an extremely serious c…

Are you listening General McChrystal?

Credited to Mike Luckovich

Why the Hacks Hate Michael Hastings

Why the hacks hate who? Michael Hastings, the journalist who writing for Rolling Stone revealed far too much for General Stanley McChrystal's liking - or good!

Hastings was at one time employed by Newsweek and worked out of Baghdad during the early part of the Iraq War. He is a man much wounded by what he experienced in Baghdad, including his fiance being killed by a roadside bomb and he having to take the remains of her body, as such parts of it as could be found, back home to the US.

From Vanity Fair's piece "Why the Hacks Hate Michael Hastings":

"Here, finally, Lowry has hit upon a valid point. McChrystal and Co. would have exhibited far better judgment had they looked into Hastings’s career and writings and come to the obvious conclusion that this sort of journalist has nothing to lose in reporting a series of demonstrable facts. Unlike many of this country’s most respected commentators, Hastings did not spend the better part of a decade repeating c…

The Inquiry which isn't one really

Yet another example of Israel bluffing its way with its PR - and many unthinkingly accepting what is dished up. The so-called inquiry into the attack on the flotilla headed to Gaza last month which Israel has announced isn't really an inquiry worth a pinch of salt.

This piece "Israel's Dubious Investigation of Flotilla Attack" on FPIF [Foreign Policy in Focus] explains:

"Few decisions of the Obama administration have outraged the peace and human rights community as much as its successful efforts to block an international inquiry into May's Israeli aid flotilla attack. Instead, supported by leading Republican and Democratic members of Congress, the Obama administration has thrown its weight behind an investigative committee handpicked by right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to examine the incident.

The three-member panel is not a full committee of inquiry as defined under Israeli law, so it does not have subpoena power or the ability to …

Yep, the General [?] sure was dumb

Credited to Mike Lester, Rome News-Tribune

No union for the European Union?

Stephen Walt on his blog on FP has an interesting extract from a book about to be published on the EU and its questionable future. In fact, the author of the upcoming book asserts that the unified Europe which was supposed to happen hasn't been so for some 20 years now:

"Everyone, it seems, has an opinion about Europe's debt crisis. Optimists, such as Princeton political scientist Andrew Moravcsik, declare that "it is too soon to count Europe out." The European Union has survived plenty of crises in its time and will get through this one as well. Pessimists like Harvard historian Niall Ferguson disagree, arguing that what has happened in Greece is likely to happen elsewhere. To his mind, Europe could be on the verge of a "disastrous Europewide banking crisis" that has the potential to bring down the euro.

Given the amount of ink spilled on the Greek drama, it's easy to lose sight of the real tragedy here. Regardless of how the EU navigates the cu…

Sounds and looks like the drumbeat of war

The signs are ominous.....

If this report in Haaretz is correct it would seem that the Israelis, with the US aligned, is readying itself for an attack on Iran. What that would unleash is all too horrible to contemplate.

"A semi-official Iranian news agency reported Wednesday that Israel Air Force helicopters recently landed at a Saudi Arabia airport and unloaded equipment intended for attacking targets in a Muslim state.

This follows last weekend's reports of an American fleet passing through the Suez Canal, triggering fears that the United States and Israel were preparing for an attack on Iran, with Egypt's cooperation, the Arabic language newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi said."

Continue reading the Haaretz piece "Report: IAF helicopters unload equipment 'meant for attacking a Muslim state' at Saudi airport" here.

War: So what! Who cares?

AlterNethas an article "5 Million Iraqis Killed, Maimed, Tortured, Displaced -- Think That Bothers War Boosters Like Christopher Hitchens?" on those who are proud flag-bearers for war without nary a thought for the consequences. It's a disturbing piece. The writer has in its sights the seemingly ubiquitous Christopher Hitchins - he who takes himself ever-so seriously!

"In 1970 a Lao villager who had survived five years of U.S. bombing wrote: "In reality, whatever happens, it is only the innocent who suffer. And as for the others, do they know all the unimaginable things happening in this war? Do they?"

Do we? And if we did know about the innocent men, women and children our leaders kill, would it matter? Does it matter that those who justified the Iraqi invasion in the name of the people of Iraq have largely ignored their unimaginable suffering under U.S. occupation, as more than 5 million civilians have been murdered, maimed, made homeless, unjustly im…

Obama, the US Supreme Court and a slippery-slope

Who would have thought that the Obama Administration would actively support, and advocate, for what the US Supreme Court has now just decided.

The decision represents a dangerous slippery-slope when Governments can act as the US will now be able to. Bear this in mind as you read the report of the court decision in "Court Affirms Ban on Aiding Groups Tied to Terror" in The New York Times.........at one time Sinn Fein was a banned organisation. Not now!

"In a case pitting free speech against national security, the Supreme Court on Monday upheld a federal law that makes it a crime to provide “material support” to foreign terrorist organizations, even if the help takes the form of training for peacefully resolving conflicts.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., writing for the majority in the 6-to-3 decision, said the law’s prohibition of providing some types of intangible assistance to groups the State Department says engage in terrorism did not violate the First Amendme…

Editorial in Haaretz: Palestinians don't have equal rights

Haaretz has more than a blunt editorial on how Israel, despite all the pronouncements that it is a democracy, actively discriminates against Palestinians:

"Dr. Immad Hammada and Dr. Murad Abu-Khalaf are both lecturers in electrical engineering born in East Jerusalem. Their families have lived in the city for generations. They both left years ago, each one separately, to study in the United States, and after graduating and consolidating their careers they want to return to live in their home town.

But their right to be reunified with their families is being denied by the Interior Ministry, as Amira Hass reported in Sunday's Haaretz. Hammada has been living in his city for some three years illegally, without any rights and under constant danger of being arrested and deported, while Abu-Khalaf is finding it difficult to return, even for a visit.

Judge Noam Sohlberg of Jerusalem District Court is hearing their cases against the ministry this week.

Interior Ministry regulations provid…

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot

Credit to Nate Beeler, The Washington Examiner

Robert Fisk on Fighting Talk: The New Propaganda

There is no doubting Robert Fisk.

In his latest column for The Independent he once again tackles the way journalists report and the terms they employ in doing so. After reading Fisk's piece, you may well read the next dispatches you come across in the media with a different perspective.

"Following the latest in semantics on the news? Journalism and the Israeli government are in love again. It's Islamic terror, Turkish terror, Hamas terror, Islamic Jihad terror, Hezbollah terror, activist terror, war on terror, Palestinian terror, Muslim terror, Iranian terror, Syrian terror, anti-Semitic terror...

But I am doing the Israelis an injustice. Their lexicon, and that of the White House - most of the time - and our reporters' lexicon, is the same. Yes, let's be fair to the Israelis. Their lexicon goes like this: Terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terror, terro…

First you pay 'em and then you try and kill 'em

There is surely something perverse in all this........the report in The Washington Post that the US military is paying the Taliban, as part of a protection racket, to assist securing and keeping roads into Afghanistan open.

"The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country, according to congressional investigators.

The security arrangements, part of a $2.16 billion transport contract, violate laws on the use of private contractors, as well as Defense Department regulations, and "dramatically undermine" larger U.S. objectives of curtailing corruption and strengthening effective governance in Afghanistan, a report released late Monday said.

The report describes a Defense Department that is well aware that some of the money paid to contractors winds up in the hands of warlords and insu…

Definitely advice NOT to be followed!

Credited to Daryl Cagle, MSNBC.com

Naomi Klein's wake-up call

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and all that that has entailed and lead to, is the subject of much discussion around the world. That it is devastating is beyond doubt. More of concern is how the world is going to see what has happened and the effect for the globe, and its people, of how seemingly rampant capitalism [ie development, etc] needs to be reined in, if not stopped altogether.

Naomi Klein, writing in "Gulf oil spill: A hole in the world" in The Guardian:

"The experience of following the oil's progress through the ecosystem is a kind of crash course in deep ecology. Every day we learn more about how what seems to be a terrible problem in one isolated part of the world actually radiates out in ways most of us could never have imagined. One day we learn that the oil could reach Cuba – then Europe. Next we hear that fishermen all the way up the Atlantic in Prince Edward Island, Canada, are worried because the Bluefin tuna they catch off their shores are b…

One nation, online

We have almost reached the stage of taking the internet for granted - certainly in the West.

The Boston Globe has an interesting op-ed piece which raises the issue of whether the internet now represents a civil right:

"But as the Internet grows more and more important to modern life, some are now asking a different kind of question: Should broadband access be a civil right?

It may seem strange to put the technology that brought us Facebook in the august category where we place voting, or trial by jury. But increasingly, activists, analysts, and government officials are arguing that Internet access has become so essential to participation in society — to finding jobs and housing, to civic engagement, even to health — that it should be seen as a right, a basic prerogative of all citizens. And in cases where people don’t have access, whether because they can’t afford it or the infrastructure is not in place, the government should have the power — and perhaps the duty — to fix that.

T…

Now?.....or pain later?

If, as it is said, much of the world's economy is dependant on how the US economy fares, then this assessment by Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winner in Economic - writing in The New York Times - of what America must do to avert a fiscal crisis down the track makes for sobering reading:

"Spend now, while the economy remains depressed; save later, once it has recovered. How hard is that to understand?

Very hard, if the current state of political debate is any indication. All around the world, politicians seem determined to do the reverse. They’re eager to shortchange the economy when it needs help, even as they balk at dealing with long-run budget problems.

But maybe a clear explanation of the issues can change some minds. So let’s talk about the long and the short of budget deficits. I’ll focus on the U.S. position, but a similar story can be told for other nations."

Continue reading here.

Two Perpectives: That of a 62 year od historian and a 14 year old

Tony Judt is a well-known historian and author of many well-received books. His son, Daniel, is aged 14.

The New York Times has an interesting co-ed contribution "Generations in the Balance" from both".

Example.....

Daniel: "I have become hugely pessimistic about the moral resolve of our government and corporate world."

Tony: "Well, I am 62 and I did vote for Barack Obama. I held out no great hopes. It was clear from the outset that this was someone who would concede rather than confront — and that’s a shortcoming in a politician, if not in a man. We have seen the consequences: not in the Middle East, nor in economic regulation, nor over detainees, nor in immigration reform has Mr. Obama followed through. The audacity of hope?

As for the corporations, we baby boomers were right to be cynical. Like Goldman Sachs, oil companies are not benign economic agents, serving a need and taking a cut. They are, in Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “malefactors of great weal…

US Stands, and Lies, With Israel

They headline to this post, from truthout, could not be more direct and blunt.

The author, makes the point, very well indeed, that what Israel is undertaking with its so-called enquiry into the attack on the flotilla headed for Gaza is a farce. All too sadly the US stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel in supporting Israel's big lie.

"For all these reasons, as Ha'aretz concluded, the panel is bound to fail both at finding the truth and at appeasing the international community. It will be obvious to anyone watching closely that the investigation is intended to substitute appearance for truth, that the results of the investigation have already been determined in advance.

When truth disappears, all that's left is lies. So, if the US stands with Israel on this matter, as the State Department says, it stands with an Israeli government that seems ready to lie."

And:

"The popular picture of Israel as a defenseless ghetto, packed with innocent, vulnerable Jews surro…

Aung San Suu Kyi: Desperate plea to the world

Burma hardly rates a mention in the media. It ought to.

From The Independent more than a timely reminder to remember Burma, its regime and no less importantly Aung San Suu Ky - who makes a plea to the world:

"As Aung San Suu Kyi prepares to celebrate her 65th birthday tomorrow, confined in the house in which she has spent most of the past two decades, a confidante of the Burmese opposition leader has made a simple but passionate appeal to those in the West to use their freedom to help his country achieve the same.

In a hand-written letter smuggled out of Burma and passed to The Independent, U Win Tin writes: "I want to repeat and echo her own words – 'please use your liberty to promote ours'. I want to add more to it. Please bring more and more liberty to us, to our country, Burma. We are starving for it and we are waiting for someone or some institutions or some countries to bring it to us."

The plea from Ms Suu Kyi's friend and senior political ally, who h…

Far too, too cosy for comfort

Some have said it before....and others have pooh pood it! The media ought not be too close, if not downright "entangled" with politicians.

It's a subject Glenn Greenwald takes up on Salon in his column "Versailles sleeze"

"As I finish up my lengthy piece on the detention of accused WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning, which will be posted very shortly, I wanted to make certain you were up to date on the latest glamorous gatherings of White House officials and the aggressive, adversarial press corps which holds them accountable. From the gossip column of Politico's Mike Allen, this morning (apologies for that triple redundancy):

WOLFGANG PUCK is in town from Beverly Hills to cook for YOUSEF AL OTAIBA, ambassador from the United Arab Emirates, where more U.S. Navy ships are ported than any other foreign country. The ambassador (who was G’town classmates with Norah O’Donnell and knows the Morrells) hosted 14 young Washingtonians for dinner and convo at his M…

How the World views the USA

Interesting poll results, from PewResearch Center on how the world views the USA.

Be scared! Obama could close down the internet

Any user of the internet ought to be more than concerned about what Daily Beast reports is a bill before the US Congress which would, in effect, allow Obama to close down an ISP's access to the World Wide Web in the case of a "national cyber-emergency".

"A new bill rocketing through Congress would give the president sweeping powers to police the Web for national-security reasons. Could this be a way to block WikiLeaks? By Philip Shenon

Confronting threats ranging from Chinese superhackers to the release of secret documents on WikiLeaks and other whistleblowing websites, the Obama administration may be on the verge of assuming broad new powers to regulate the Internet on national-security grounds.

The powers are granted to the White House under a bipartisan bill that was introduced in the Senate only last week but is already moving quickly through Congress toward passage. The legislation has generated considerable buzz on tech blogs—but drawn little notice so far by maj…

An irony, if ever there was one

From CommonDreams a report of what can only be seen as an irony - given the "history" of Jews in Germany and Europe, in general and the events of WW2.

"A group of German Jews planning to take a boat with humanitarian aid to break the Gaza blockade now says it's looking for a second boat because so many European Jews have asked to join them. Jewish Voices for a Just Peace, which includes the offspring of German Jews who fled the Holocaust, want to take children's food, clothes, medicine and school supplies as well as musical instruments, "food for the soul."

"We just see that a Jewish state is occupying Palestine, laying a siege, and depriving children of the things that they need. We as Jews are saying, 'not in our name.'" - Kate Katzenstein-Leiterer, a leader of the new flotilla effort.

BP, Bhopal and double standards

Justice is sorely missing in all of this. Here is the tragic aftermath of Bhopal 25 years ago and the way the US has sought to tackle BP in relation to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Reuters reports:

"Indian activists seeking justice in the Bhopal gas tragedy, the world's worst industrial disaster, are accusing the United States of "double standards", saying it was punishing firms polluting American soil but ignoring their mistakes abroad.

The Obama administration on Wednesday pushed oil giants BP Plc to agree a $20 billion fund to pay damages for a massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that has threatened fishing and tourism and killed birds and marine life.

That fund has ignited calls in India for Washington to show similar accountability for U.S. firm Union Carbide. Its Indian factory in Bhopal leaked a poisonous gas 26 years ago, killing 3,500 people.

Activists say 25,000 people died in the immediate aftermath and ensuing years. Former chairman of Union Ca…

Oh oh! WikiLeaks about do it again

If this report from The Guardian is right, Wikileaks is about to do it again......

"The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks says it plans to release a secret military video of one of the deadliest US air strikes in Afghanistan in which scores of children are believed to have been killed.

WikiLeaks announced the move in an email to supporters. It said it fears it is under attack after the US authorities said they were searching for the site's founder, Julian Assange, following the arrest of a US soldier accused of leaking the Afghanistan video and another of a US attack in Baghdad in which civilians were killed.

WikiLeaks released the Baghdad video in April, prompting considerable criticism of the US military. It says it is still working to prepare the film of the bombing of the Afghan village of Garani in May 2009.

The Afghan government said about 140 civilians were killed in Garani, including 92 children. The US military initially said that up to 95 people died, of which about 65 w…

BP and US officialdom: Preventing the truth coming out

AlterNet reports in "4 Ways BP and Officials Are Working to Suppress the Outrageous Facts About the Gulf Disaster" on what can only be described as a scandal even if only half right:

"From intimidating reporters to trying to enforce no-fly zones, there seems to be a concerted effort to block public access to information."

Meanwhile, over at WIRED, this:

"BP, in a move destined to go down as one of the bestest public relations moves ever, has apparently hired a private security company to help to keep pesky reporters from covering the unfolding catastrophe on the beaches of the Gulf Coast. The report comes via New Orleans’ 6WDSU reporter Scott Walker, who last week ran into representatives of a “Talon Security” trying to block him from interviewing cleanup workers on a local beach. Just which of the various companies named “Talon Security” is storming the (public) beaches for BP, however, remains unclear.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time a private securit…

Obama: An Evaluation of The Man

For a person in whom so many held out hope that he would "deliver" on many fronts after 8 years of George Bush, Obama has been seen to be a disappointment.

"How can a man who was a dazzling enough politician to become the first black president at age 47 suddenly become so obdurately self-destructive about politics?

President Obama’s bloodless quality about people and events, the emotional detachment that his aides said allowed him to see things more clearly, has instead obscured his vision. It has made him unable to understand things quickly on a visceral level and put him on the defensive in this spring of our discontent, failing to understand that Americans are upset that a series of greedy corporations have screwed over the little guy without enough fierce and immediate pushback from the president."

So writes Maureen Dowd in her latest op-ed piece for The New York Times. And she goes on to say:

"Robert Gibbs on Tuesday continued the White House effort to emo…

Expert: BDS the only way to go

Stéphane Frédéric Hessel is a diplomat, former ambassador, French resistance fighter and BCRA agent. Born German, he obtained French nationality in 1937. He participated in the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948.

So, here you have a man with impeccable credentials who writes in a piece "Gaza Flotilla: Global Citizens Must Respond Where Governments Have Failed " on The Huffington Post, in the clearest terms what the world must do post the Israeli attack on the flotilla carrying aid to Gaza and the treatment, in general, by the Israelis of the Gazans, Palestinians and its own Arab citizens.

"The absence of meaningful action from governments to hold Israel accountable to international law leaves open one path for citizens of conscience: to take this responsibility upon themselves, as done against apartheid South Africa. Non-violent citizen-led initiatives, exemplified by the Flotilla and the various boycott and divestment campaigns around the world…

Those untold riches in Afghanistan. Be sceptical.....very sceptical

Scepticism seems the order of the day when one reflects on the Pentagon having just made it know that Afghanistan possesses considerable mineral wealth.

InterPress reports in "Timing of Leak of Afghan Mineral Wealth Evokes Scepticism":

"The timing of the publication of a major New York Times story on the vast untapped mineral wealth that lies beneath Afghanistan's soil is raising major questions about the intent of the Pentagon, which released the information.

Given the increasingly negative news that has come out of Afghanistan - and of U.S. strategy there - some analysts believe the front-page article is designed to reverse growing public sentiment that the war is not worth the cost.

"What better way to remind people about the country's potential bright future - and by people I mean the Chinese, the Russians, the Pakistanis, and the Americans - than by publicising or re-publicising valid (but already public) information about the region's potential wealt…

The U.S. wins the right to abduct innocent people with impunity

Not for the first time has Glenn Greenwald, lawyer and now blogger on Salon, taken up the issue of the US abducting innocent people with impunity.

In his latest piece on Salon he deals with the astounding case of Maher Arar:

"The Supreme Court today denied a petition of review from Maher Arar, the Canadian and Syrian citizen who was abducted by the U.S. Government at a stopover at JFK Airport when returning to Canada in 2002, held incommunicado for two weeks, and then rendered to Syria, where he spent the next 10 months being tortured, even though -- as everyone acknowledges -- he was guilty of absolutely nothing. Arar sued the U.S. Government for what was done to him, and last November, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal of his lawsuit on the ground that courts have no right to interfere in these decisions of the Executive Branch. That was the decision which the U.S. Supreme Court let stand today, ending Arar's attempt to be compensated for what was don…

BP - and all that oil

Credited to Daryl Cagle, MSNBC.com

The Legacy of the Vietnam War continues....tragically

There are more than credible reports that the attack on Fallujah, in Iraq, as part of the war in Iraq some years ago, has caused abnormal birth defects and cancers in those who were in the city at the time of the military onslaught by Coalition forces. The world has still learned from its earlier devastating effects of using chemicals as part of its warfare.

All to sadly the legacy of the West's attacks in Vietnam using the agent Agent Orange continues. It's an indictment of the Americans, in particular, not only for their use of the chemical, but that they have done so little to assist those Vietnamese still suffering from the effects from it.

AP reports:

"Her children are 21 and 16 years old, but they still cry through the night, tossing and turning in pain, sucking their thumbs for comfort.

Tran Thi Gai, who rarely gets any sleep herself, sings them a mournful lullaby. “Can you feel my love for you? Can you feel my sorrow for you? Please don’t cry.’’

Gai’s childr…

Racism Europe can well do without

Recessions, and worse, like the GFC, as breeding grounds for all sorts of negatives in society.

Sadly, Europe is encountering more than its fair share of racism as a result of many economies being in dire straits.

FPIF [Foreign Policy in Focus] reports:

"Of the many undesirable effects of the ongoing — and increasingly policy-induced — recession in Europe, has received relatively less public attention: the resurgence of racist and xenophobic attitudes. This was already something of a problem, especially in Western Europe in the past decade, when right-wing political forces demanded major restrictions on immigration and sporadic episodes of violence broke out against migrant and Roma groups.

As the economic crisis bites deeper, and as the "austerity measures" enforced by governments cause more unemployment and more failure of small family-run businesses, bitterness and anger among the population will inevitably grow. The danger is that it will be directed not at powerful…

Don’t Try Contacting BP’s Wildlife Expert: He’s been dead for five years

Oh my! BP has really got a problem.....as do those who were supposed to administer oil-drilling in the USA.

Yahoo Newsreports:

"BP PLC’s 582-page regional spill plan for the Gulf, and its 52-page, site-specific plan for the Deepwater Horizon rig vastly understate the dangers posed by an uncontrolled leak and vastly overstate the company’s preparedness to deal with one, according to an Associated Press analysis. The lengthy plans were approved by the federal government last year before BP drilled its ill-fated well…

Among the glaring errors in the report: A professor is listed in BP’s 2009 response plan for a Gulf of Mexico oil spill as a national wildlife expert. He died in 2005. The plan lists cold-water marine mammals including walruses, sea otters, sea lions and seals as “sensitive biological resources.” None of those animals live anywhere near the Gulf.

Also, names and phone numbers of several Texas A&M University marine life specialists are wrong. So are the numbers for…

Hello! - Has anyone thought of this?

So the UN has placed another set of sanctions on Iran. Sighs of relief all round as those resisting sanctions came on board.

Yes, perhaps there are legitimate concerns in Iran acquiring a nuclear capability, but rather than follow the sanction route, might not talking to the Iranians been a better idea? - let alone considering the consequences which might follow from the imposition of those sanctions.

Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the first "shot" the Iranians might well fire in "Iran to Inspect Gulf Ships If Sanctions Used on Cargo":

"Iran will inspect ships in the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for any action against its own shipping stemming from the latest United Nations nuclear sanctions.

“If only one Iranian ship gets inspected, we will take the necessary measures,” Hossein Ebrahimi, a member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, was cited as saying today by the state-run Mehr news agency. “We will…

More than time for Obama to intervene

"In an op-ed essay in the Wall Street Journal (04/26/2010), Richard Haass, the President of Council on Foreign Relations, argues that advocates of a more forceful U.S. intervention in the Middle East peace process have exaggerated that conflict's impact on America's interests elsewhere in the region.

I don't know anyone among those who have cited the damage the Israel-Palestine conflict is causing U.S. interests in the region who believes this concern to be anything other than a secondary reason for a more muscular U.S. initiative to bring this conflict to a close. For everyone, the main reason is the human cost to millions of Palestinians who have lived under the boot of a military occupation for over 40 years, and to Israel's citizens who, while living increasingly undisturbed and prosperous lives, nevertheless exist in the shadow of the threat of recurring wars and Qassam rockets.

The second compelling reason for a quick end to the conflict for all those who advo…

Flotilla attack: Israel's PR machine at it yet again

On the face of it Israel has bowed to international pressure in setting up an enquiry into the attack on the flotilla headed for Gaza a couple of weeks.

Sounds and looks good. But wait!..... the true picture about this so-called enquiry actually emerges from this editorial in Haaretz:

"But Netanyahu's panel will have no powers, not even those of a government probe, and its proposed chairman does not believe in such a panel. In an interview to Army Radio, Tirkel said there is no choice but to establish a state committee of inquiry. He opposed bringing in foreign observers and made clear that he is not a devotee of drawing conclusions about individuals and dismissing those responsible for failures. When a Haaretz reporter confronted Tirkel about these remarks, the former justice evaded the question saying, "I don't remember what I said."

A search for morality in South Africa

All eyes may be glued to watching how the various teams fare in the World Soccer Cup now underway in South Africa, but there is another "fight" afoot which goes back to South Africa's bad days of apartheid.

Spiegel OnLine International reports in "Daimler Targeted by Victims of Apartheid":

"Did Daimler support the racist apartheid regime in South Africa? A group of victims has sued the German company because it supplied vehicles used in the oppression of anti-apartheid activists. The group wants to use the World Cup to draw attention to its struggle."

They seek him here.....they seek him there

Wikileaks founder is out there, somewhere, and the Pentagon wants to get to him - The Daily Beast reports:

"Anxious that Wikileaks may be on the verge of publishing a batch of secret State Department cables, investigators are desperately searching for founder Julian Assange."

And:

"Pentagon investigators are trying to determine the whereabouts of the Australian-born founder of the secretive website Wikileaks for fear that he may be about to publish a huge cache of classified State Department cables that, if made public, could do serious damage to national security, government officials tell The Daily Beast."

And:

"As The Daily Beast reported June 8, Manning, while posted in Iraq, apparently had special access to cables prepared by diplomats and State Department officials throughout the Middle East, regarding the workings of Arab governments and their leaders, according to an American diplomat.

The cables, which date back over several years, went out over interagency…

Afghanistan War: Headed where?

The news today that June is shaping up as the deadliest month for deaths of US military in Afghanistan, once again raises the critical question whether this can ever be a war that the Coalition fighting there can win.

Two interesting pieces in The New York Times puts things in something of a context.

First, "Karzai Is Said to Doubt West Can Defeat Taliban":

"Mr. Karzai had lost faith in the Americans and NATO to prevail in Afghanistan.

For that reason, Mr. Saleh and other officials said, Mr. Karzai has been pressing to strike his own deal with the Taliban and the country’s archrival, Pakistan, the Taliban’s longtime supporter. According to a former senior Afghan official, Mr. Karzai’s maneuverings involve secret negotiations with the Taliban outside the purview of American and NATO officials."

Then this op-ed piece "The Courage to Leave" by Bob Herbert:

"There is no good news coming out of the depressing and endless war in Afghanistan. There once was merit…

Actual video of the Israeli assault on the Mavi Mamara

A Democracy Now! exclusive of previously unseen raw footage from the Mavi Marmara that will be formally released at a press conference at the United Nations later in the day. The footage shows the mood and the activities onboard the Mavi Marmara in the time leading up to the attack, and the immediate reaction of the passengers during the attack. We are joined by filmmaker and activist Iara Lee, one of the few Americans on the Mavi Marmara ship. Her equipment was confiscated, but she managed to smuggle out an hour’s worth of footage.

Iran One Year On

Who can easily forget the scenes, some bloody, of the street-protests post the rigged election in Iran a year ago.

The Washington Postappraises the situation in Iran now:

"When office clerks, housewives, students and other urban Iranians took to the streets a year ago to protest what they said was massive election fraud by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, they hailed the birth of a leaderless popular movement that embodied their aspirations for a more open society.

"We are all together" became a favorite slogan of the Green Movement, which sprang to life last year after Ahmadinejad was proclaimed the landslide winner of the June 12 presidential election. Defeated opposition candidates Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi, who quickly turned into figureheads, said it was not they, but ordinary Iranians, who were leading the massive anti-government demonstrations that followed the vote. There was no agenda other than a demand for new elections; no goal other than th…

Afghanistan: The news gets worse by the day

Interviewed on ABC Radio National yesterday, so-called "criminal" Daniel Ellsberg said the Afghanistan war was destined to go for 15 years plus.

Reading today's news report on InterPress it could well be that Ellsberg is spot-on. Things are getting worse in Afghanistan despite the huge commitment of military and manpower to the war.

"While U.S. officials insist they are making progress in reversing the momentum built up by the Taliban insurgency over the last several years, the latest news from Afghanistan suggests the opposite may be closer to the truth.

Even senior military officials are conceding privately that their much-touted new counterinsurgency strategy of "clear, hold and build" in contested areas of the Pashtun southern and eastern parts of the country are not working out as planned despite the "surge" of some 20,000 additional U.S. troops over the past six months.

Casualties among the nearly 130,000 U.S. and other NATO troops now deploy…

The blockade of Gaza. The truth is out!

The facts speak for themselves. The real reason for the blockade of Gaza has been revealed - and it has been as everyone has suspected and the Israelis have consistently denied......

CommonDreams reports:

"Even as Israel slightly modified its blockade of Gaza to allow in ridiculous things like cookies and chips, an Israeli human rights group published documentation of what much of the world knew but could never prove: that the blockade of Gaza is meant, not to stop the flow of arms as officially stated, but as collective punishment of the Palestinian people for the rule of Hamas. Alas, Israel's "economic warfare" against the beleaguered people of Gaza will now give them jam and juice, but still not the cement they need to rebuild their homes.

"They will send the first course. We are waiting for the main course." - Palestinian Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh.