“They want us to be loyal to the occupation”Posted: 15 Jul 2010

Jewish American journalist Max Blumenthal interviews one of the Palestinian politicians targeted by the Israeli occupation forces, a world away from the “only democracy in the Middle East”:

On 9 July, as Israeli Border Police officers brutalized demonstrators at the weekly protest in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem, forcing them away from a street where several homes had been seized by radical right-wing Jewish settlers, I visited the Jerusalem International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) headquarters just a few hundred meters away.
Though the din of protest chants and police megaphones could not be heard from the ICRC center, the three Palestinian legislators who had staged a sit-in there for more than a week to protest their forced expulsion from Jerusalem insisted that their plight was the same as the families forced from their homes down the street.
“All the Israeli steps in East Jerusalem are designed to evacuate Jerusalem of its Palestinian heritage,” remarked Muhammad Totah, an elected Palestinian Legislative Council member who has been ordered to permanently leave Jerusalem by the Israeli government. “Whether it’s through home demolition, taking homes or deporting us, the goal is the same.”
According to the Israel’s Ministry of the Interior, the three legislators are guilty of a vaguely defined “breach of trust,” ostensibly for their membership in a foreign government. The charge leveled against them recalls nothing more than the campaign platform of the far-right Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, which demanded the mass expulsion of “disloyal” Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Max Blumenthal: The Israeli government says you are guilty of a “breach of trust.” Does this mean they are accusing you of disloyalty to the state?
Muhammad Totah: The main reason they are expelling us is that we are accused of disloyalty. And every one on the list [of 315 Palestinian civil society members Israel seeks to expel] is accused of disloyalty. They want us to be loyal to the occupation. This is insane! So they are seeking any excuse to get rid of us. They want us to leave at any price. Basically, they want to finish the project that they began in 1948 because it has taken too long.

Kurds and pro-war Americans clean upPosted: 15 Jul 2010

Who says the Iraq war was a disaster?
The American corporate world and some Kurds are making a killing.

Americans love the image of IsraelPosted: 15 Jul 2010

Decades of false propaganda have served the Zionist state well but these numbers will start to change soon enough:

Support for Israel among Americans is at a near record high, a new poll showed.
According to the Gallup Poll, 63 percent of Americans say their sympathies in the Middle East conflict are with Israel, while 15 percent side with the Palestinians. The rest favor both sides, neither side or have no opinion.
Support for Israel was higher only in 1991, shortly after Israel was hit with Scud missiles during the Gulf War, when it was at 64 percent.
The poll, conducted in early February, was part of Gallup’s annual World Affairs survey in which Americans were asked a series of questions about their opinions of 20 countries or entities, including Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s ranking, at 67 percent favorable, was among the highest of the countries surveyed. The Palestinian Authority, at 20 percent, was among the lowest.

Has Washington just experienced an Iranian spy in its midst?Posted: 15 Jul 2010

The curious case of Iranian scientist Shahram Amiri and his recent return to Tehran raises many fascinating questions, not least what happened to him over the last 18 months.
Tehran Bureau wonders whether he may have been an Iranian double agent:

The…possibility is that his defection was fake and that Amiri was in fact tasked with the mission of acting like a genuine defector in order to embarrass Iran’s adversaries, gain knowledge of their “methods and techniques,” and score a noteworthy political and diplomatic victory. Already, hardline papers are touting it as a major “intelligence coup” on their front pages. Though it is likely that Amiri divulged some state secrets to his interrogators — as it is assumed he did concerning the Fordo nuclear plant — if he was indeed a double agent, his superiors must have weighed the cost and benefits of his “defection” and concluded that there was more to be gained by his going over to the other side than not. It is also possible that they suspected the West knew about Fordo already.

Israel should not wonder why few people love herPosted: 15 Jul 2010

A wonderful column by Larry Derfner in the belly of the Zionist beast, the Jerusalem Post:

Given the way Israel behaves now, it’s pretty sad to remember that it was envisioned as a country where the Jews ran their own national affairs – but nobody else’s.
Now it’s not enough for Israel to have its own coast, its own territorial waters, its own airspace – no, we’ve got to control Gaza’s coast, Gaza’s territorial waters, Gaza’s airspace, too. The Gaza Strip is part of our sphere of influence. Let any Turkish ship, Libyan ship or any other ship we don’t like try to sail into Gaza, and they’ll get a taste of gunboat diplomacy, Israeli-style. Let anyone try to fly a plane in or out of Gaza and they’ll be at the mercy of the Israel Air Force.
Is this what any decent, fair-minded, peace-loving Zionist ever had in mind?
We’ve gone from being a Jewish state to being a Jewish mini-empire. A Jewish hegemon.
We fly spy planes over Lebanon on a daily basis. We blew up the beginnings of a nuclear reactor in Syria. We run the lives of two million Palestinians in the West Bank and take their land piece by piece.
Why? Because might makes right. If anybody tried to blockade our coast and our airspace, if anybody flew spy planes over us, if anybody blew up one of our nuclear installations, if anybody ruled our lives at gunpoint and built foreign settlements on our land, we’d kill whoever we had to kill to stop it.
But the Arabs are weak and we’re strong, so we get away with it.
And we wonder why we’re not so popular in the world?

Britain’s hands are blooded with torturePosted: 15 Jul 2010

The British investigation into the previous Blair regime’s complicity in torture and terrorism is becoming clearer by the day. Such studies, while inevitably flawed due to a generally bi-partisan belief in keeping the worst details private, are a far cry from anything undertaken by America or Australia:

The true extent of the Labour government’s involvement in the illegal abduction and torture of its own citizens after the al-Qaida attacks of September 2001 has been spelled out in stark detail with the disclosure during high court proceedings of a mass of highly classified documents.
Previously secret papers that have been disclosed include a number implicating Tony Blair’s office in many of the events that are to be the subject of the judicial inquiry that David Cameron announced last week.
Among the most damning documents are a series of interrogation reports from MI5 officers that betray their disregard for the suffering of a British resident whom they were questioning at a US airbase in Afghanistan. The documents also show that the officers were content to see the mistreatment continue.
One of the most startling documents is chapter 32 of MI6′s general procedural manual, entitled “Detainees and Detention Operations”, which advises officers that among the “particular sensitivities” they need to consider before becoming directly involved in an operation to detain a terrorism suspect is the question of whether “detention, rather than killing, is the objective of the operation”.
Other disclosed documents show how:
• The Foreign Office decided in January 2002 that the transfer of British citizens from Afghanistan to Guantánamo was its “preferred option”.
• Jack Straw asked for that rendition to be delayed until MI5 had been able to interrogate those citizens.
• Downing Street was said to have overruled FO attempts to provide a British citizen detained in Zambia with consular support in an attempt to prevent his return to the UK, with the result that he too was “rendered” to Guantánamo.
The papers have been disclosed as a result of civil proceedings brought by six former Guantánamo inmates against MI5 and MI6, the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and the Attorney General’s Office, which they allege were complicit in their illegal detention and torture.
The government has been responding to disclosure requests by maintaining that it has identified up to 500,000 documents that may be relevant, and says it has deployed 60 lawyers to scrutinise them, a process that it suggests could take until the end of the decade. It has failed to hand over many of the documents that the men’s lawyers have asked for, and on Friday failed to meet a deadline imposed by the high court for the disclosure of the secret interrogation policy that governed MI5 and MI6 officers between 2004 and earlier this year.
So far just 900 papers have been disclosed, and these have included batches of press cuttings and copies of government reports that were published several years ago. However, a number of highly revealing documents are among the released papers, as well as fragments of heavily censored emails, memos and policy documents.
Some are difficult to decipher, but together they paint a picture of a government that was determined not only to stand shoulder to shoulder with the United States as it embarked upon its programme of “extraordinary rendition” and torture of terrorism suspects in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, but to actively participate in that programme.

More here:

Early January 2002. The Taliban regime in Kabul had been toppled, Nato forces were spreading out across Afghanistan, and the initial military response to the events of September 11 appeared to be running smoothly.
But in Whitehall – and particularly at the Foreign Office – there were the first signs of nervousness over the proposed manner of dealing with one problem that had arisen in the country: a small number of British citizens and residents, all Muslims, had been detained by US forces.
A mass of documents disclosed during high court proceedings show how rapidly the government became involved in the abduction and torture of these individuals in its attempts to secure the UK against attack by al-Qaida.
They also appear to show how little regard was given within the government to the illegality of its own actions.
On 4 January 2002, a memo circulated to the secretaries of the junior Foreign Office ministers Ben Bradshaw and Lady Amos, as well as to the Foreign Office press office and the department’s senior legal adviser, Sir Michael Wood, notes: “Public opinion has on the whole shown little concern about the welfare of the British detainees, or the legal terms of their detention. But the issue is clearly of sensitivity to Muslim opinion in the UK and abroad.”
It adds that the FCO should be “seen as applying our normal standards of consular assistance as far as possible”. Consular officials had not seen these detainees, however, and “our holding line, that we are first seeking to establish identity details, is wearing thin”, not least because extensive reports about one individual had already appeared in the press.
At this time, the fact that “rendition” – abducting an individual and moving them against their will from one country to another – was illegal appears not to have been a concern. A document disclosed by the Foreign Office, dated 10 January 2002 and entitled Afghanistan UK Detainees, expresses the government’s “preferred options”. It states: “Transfer of United Kingdom nationals held by US forces in Afghanistan to a United States base in Guantánamo is the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objectives, to ensure they are securely held.” The “only alternative”, the document adds, would be to place these individuals in the custody of British forces in Afghanistan, or to return them to the UK.

More journalists must take risks, says Wikileaks headPosted: 14 Jul 2010

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the Guardian:

There has been an unconscionable failure to protect sources. It is those sources who take all the risks. I was at a journalism conference a few months ago, and there were posters up saying a thousand journalists had been killed since 1944. That’s outrageous. How many policemen have been killed since 1944. How many have died in car accidents since 1944? Probably 40,000. Police officers, who have a serious role in stopping crimes, far more of them die. They take their job seriously. They [journalists] don’t take their job seriously. Nearly all of the thousand who’ve died since 1944 have been stringers in places like Iraq. Very few western journalists have died. I think it’s an international disgrace that so few western journalists have been killed in the course of duty, or have been arrested in the course of duty. How many journalists were arrested last year in the United States, a country of 300 million people? How many journalists were arrested in the UK last year?

Sri Lanka and Israel continue to cross pathsPosted: 14 Jul 2010

From Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror, an insight into the workings of the UN:

According to Sri Lanka Foreign Ministry sources, Pakistan and Malaysia were two of the main countries  among the Muslim countries of  Non Aligned Movement (NAM)  which were reluctant to place their signatures to the  letter signed by the member countries opposing the panel of experts appointed by Ban Ki-Moon against Sri Lanka . It is well to recall that Pakistan was one of the main countries which helped Sri Lanka to defeat terrorism. When Sri Lanka was experiencing difficulties in procuring arms and weapons during the war, it was Pakistan which came to its rescue. After the war was over and when charges were levelled against Sri Lanka before the UN Human Rights Commission (UNHRC), Pakistan again helped Sri Lanka to defeat the resolution. Hence, it is worthwhile probing why Pakistan , a friend of Sri Lanka is  reluctant now to oppose the panel appointed by Ban Ki-moon.
The principal reason for this is , the Muslim countries including Pakistan are focused on intensifying their pressure on Ban Ki-moon to take action against Israel’s recent attack on a vessel, and are therefore unwilling to oppose Ban Ki- moon‘s action in relation to Sri Lanka. Malaysia is also one among those  countries so focused, sources say.

Israel, the uneven societyPosted: 14 Jul 2010

18 Israeli families control fully 60% of the equity value of all Israeli companies.

Israel’s Better Place continues its human rights-free push into AustraliaPosted: 14 Jul 2010

In June I wrote about the Israeli electric car company Better Place and serious questions over its human rights record in Palestine and the Middle East.
Today’s Australian features the following story about the company and proves how human rights so rarely enters the corporate media’s understanding of “progress”:

The California-based Better Place electric car company has picked Australia to test the technology before rolling out the cars in the US.
The firm will have charge points and battery-swapping stations in Israel by the end of this year, with Denmark and Australia by the end of next year.
“Australia is a proof of concept for North America,” Better Place Australia chief executive Evan Thornley said yesterday.
“Australia is continental size and it has a federal structure, so part of our role is to prove the network can scale.”
Mr Thornley, founder of the Nasdaq-listed search engine company LookSmart and a former Victorian MP, said the Australian launch would start with Canberra and southern NSW by the end of next year, and then expand nationally. The US states of Hawaii and California would follow soon afterwards.
The Better Place concept is similar to subsidised handset plans in mobile phones. The company covers the cost of the battery — the most expensive component in an electric car — and the driver pays a monthly subscription to recharge or replace the batteries. Heavy-use motorists would probably sign up for unlimited use.
Charging the batteries can take more than an hour, but Better Place would install a charger at the customer’s home and workplace to minimise inconvenience. For trips of more than 160km, motorists would use a battery-swapping station to replace the battery in less than a minute.
Mr Thornley said the distances in Australia were not a problem. “We will electrify the Hume Highway, but the vast majority of driving in this country is in the outer suburbs of the major cities. This is liberating working families from the tyranny of petrol prices.”
By the time the national network was complete in 2013, Better Place should offer full coverage for 80 per cent of Australian motorists, Mr Thornley said. Australians paid $25 billion a year for petrol, and oil prices would rise in the coming decade while electric car battery prices would drop.
On the environment, the car would emit zero emissions because Better Place was committed to getting all its Australian electricity from renewable sources.
Mr Thornley predicted fleet owners would be the first to adopt electric cars because they would see the cost advantage. This would mean a strong second-hand market in coming years.
Better Place Australia has an agreement with Macquarie Bank to raise $1bn over five years and has secured $25 million in funding from AGL, Lend Lease and RACV.

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