Archive | September 14th, 2011

Turkey: Erdogan will not visit Gaza during regional tour

NOVANEWS

The Two Zionist’s

Turkish PM’s visit to Egypt – the first by a Turkish leader in 15 years – will be closely watched by Israel and by the United States; Erdogan will also visit Libya and Tunisia

Turkey’s foreign minister said on Sunday that the prime minister will not cross the border into the Gaza Strip during his trip to Egypt but warned that Israel faces “growing isolation” in the region.

Ahmet Davutoglu said Sunday that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who visits Egypt Monday, will also travel to Tunisia and Libya, but will limit his itinerary to those destinations.

Earlier, the Zaman Daily reported that Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ prime minister in Gaza, said his administration was continuing with preparations for a possible visit by the Turkish leader despite uncertainties whether the visit will take place.

“We continue our preparations as if it is certain that Prime Minister Erdogan is coming,” Haniyeh told Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency in an interview in Gaza on Sunday. He said a high-level commission formed by a Cabinet decision was in charge of conducting the preparations.

Erdogan’s “Arab Spring tour” comes against a backdrop of escalating tensions with former friend Israel over the killing of nine Turkish activists last year — a standoff that has strengthened support for Ankara in large parts of North Africa and the Middle East.

Arab countries, in the throes of popular uprisings, have watched the economic growth and influence of Turkey’s secular democracy with a mixture of fascination and trepidation.

Under Erdogan’s AK Party, rooted in political Islam, Turkey has boosted political and commercial ties with a region the country ruled under the Ottoman empire.

Last week, Erdogan threatened to back up his growing diplomatic clout with military action by saying he would dispatch the navy to protect flotillas against Israeli patrols — an announcement analysts said could also alarm Arab powers.

The Arab revolts have forced Turkey to rethink its foreign policy, particularly in Syria, where former ally President Bashar al-Assad has defied Ankara’s calls to end a bloody crackdown on protesters, and in Libya, where Turkey had billion-dollar investments before Muammar Gaddafi was ousted.

Besides seeking closer economic and military ties with the new rulers of regional heavyweight Egypt and oil-rich Libya, analysts say Erdogan will use his Sept 12-15 trip to cast himself as the champion of the Muslim world.

Erdogan is expected to give a speech on Monday at Cairo University, where his aides say he will set out Turkey’s vision for the region.

“With the resounding victory of the elections in June, Erdogan has complete control at home and now he wants to assert himself as the leader in the Muslim world and the Middle East,” said Gareth Jenkins, an Istanbul-based security analyst.

Concern in Washington

Erdogan’s visit to Egypt — the first by a Turkish leader in 15 years — will be closely watched by Israel and by the United States, which has seen with alarm the deterioration of ties between Turkey and Israel and between Israel and Egypt.

Israel’s peace deal with Cairo has come under increasing pressure since the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Jewish state would regard with suspicion signs of closer alliance between Egypt and Turkey at a time Ankara has taken a more confrontational attitude towards Israel.

Erdogan will meet the head of Egypt’s ruling military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and representatives of the pro-democracy movement that ousted Mubarak.

“Turkey is using the Arab-Israeli conflict and the recent rising tension in the Arab region against Israel to publicize itself,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah, political analyst at the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

“All its moves against Israel are only meant to promote itself as a political power in the Arab region and spread its influence on the new generation of the Arab youth who are longing for change and power.”

Israel crisis

Ankara has already downgraded diplomatic relations with Israel and halted defense trade following the Jewish state’s confirmation last week that it would not apologize for the 2010 assault on a Turkish boat challenging its Gaza blockade in which nine Turkish activists were killed.

But Ankara is likely to stop short of doing anything to alienate Washington, said Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert at Chatham House.

“At the end of the day, Turkey sided with Washington on its key policies in the region — hosting NATO’s radar system, condemning Assad and distancing itself from Iran,” Hakura said.

“Americans can live with Turkey’s emotional outbursts unless, of course, they translate into a naval confrontation but I don’t think that will happen.”

Erdogan would be the first head of government to visit Libya since rebels fighting to end Gaddafi’s 42-year-old rule entered Tripoli.

Hesitant at first to dump one-time friend Gaddafi and to back NATO operations, Turkey is taking a lead role in efforts to rebuild Libya, eyeing billion dollar deals.

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Official: Al Qaeda Terror Threat Looking More Like a ‘Goose Chase’

NOVANEWS

terror-threat_090911

 

An Amtrack police officer stands guard at a track entrance at  Pennsylvania Station on Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 in New York.

A possible Al Qaeda plot to launch an attack during  the 10th anniversary weekend of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is “looking more  and more like a goose chase,” a senior U.S. official told Fox News on  Saturday.

Federal authorities have been questioning all day  the credibility of a tip from a previously reliable source that Al Qaeda had  planned to attack Washington or New York, putting though both cities on high  alert.

But authorities have not been able to corroborate  any of the information from the source.

“The threat is looking less and less credible,” the  official said, adding that the entire plot as outlined by the source “doesn’t  seem feasible.”

“The time frame doesn’t make sense for when these  operatives would have been moving into position,” the official said. “We are  going back to the original source. The president will be briefed on it again in  the morning, but people are questioning the credibility of this information at  this time. Something is not adding up.”

But officials say they won’t rest until they review  every last detail.

Word that Al Qaeda had ordered the mission reached  U.S. officials midweek. A CIA informant who has proved reliable in the past  approached intelligence officials overseas to say that three men of Arab  descent — at least two of whom could be U.S. citizens — had been ordered by  newly minted Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahri to mark the 10th anniversary of  the 9/11 attacks Sunday by doing harm on U.S. soil.

According to the intelligence, they were to detonate  a car bomb in one of the cities. Should that mission prove impossible, the  attackers have been told to simply cause as much destruction as they can.

It’s still unclear whether any such individuals even  exist, according to U.S. officials.

“We don’t have a smoking gun yet,” Brenda Heck, a  top counterterrorism official in the FBI’s Washington field office, told Fox  News.”It is going to take a little bit to completely flush this out. We  certainly — hour by hour — we are learning more.”

Earlier Saturday, the head of the FBI’s Washington  field office, James McJunkin, said he doesn’t expect that there will be any  problem “over the anniversary weekend.”

If the the tip had not come on the eve of the 9/11   anniversary, the intelligence community likely would not have acted and  alerted the public to this degree, the senior official said.

“We couldn’t ignore it,” the official said. “But  something doesn’t add up: the routing, the timing of the assets moving into  position.”

Heck said it’s “absolutely possible” authorities  will never know whether the alleged plot was in fact real.

In the meantime, extra security was put in place to  protect the people in the two cities that took the brunt of the jetliner attacks  that killed nearly 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the  Pentagon a decade ago. It was the worst terror assault in the nation’s  history, and Al Qaeda has long dreamed of striking again to mark the  anniversary. But it could be weeks before the intelligence community can say  whether this particular threat is real.

The New York Police Department was paying special  attention to the thefts of three vans Sunday, scrutinizing them them to  eliminate the possibility of their being tied to a larger threat. One van was  stolen from a Jersey City facility, while the other two were stolen last week  from a company that does work at the World Trade Center site.

Also Sunday, an explosives detection K9 unit alarmed  on a cargo pallet as it was being loaded onto a plane at Dulles International  Airport. Authorities evacuated several gates as a precaution, but determined  there was nothing harmful about the suspicious boxes.

Briefed on the threat Friday morning, President  Obama instructed his security team to take “all necessary precautions,” the White  House said. Obama still planned to travel to New York on Sunday to mark the  10th anniversary with stops that day at the Pentagon and Shanksville, Pa.

Heck, the FBI counterterrorism official, said the  government’s response to the latest threat “has been a little different” than at  other times.

“We have been very open with the public on this,”  she said. “I think there will be some debate about that after we get through  this weekend. [But] I think there’s a very positive side to letting the public  know a little bit more about what we are doing behind the scenes.”

In particular, she said, by letting the public know  about a threat quickly, “They can help us with what’s going on out in the public  areas so that we can respond if something is suspicious.”

In fact, Washington Police Chief Cathy Lanier said  suspicious reporting has surged by as much as 30 percent, a change that she  called “very reassuring.”

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LOL!!! Zionist, Egypt to “preserve peace deal”-Netanyahu aide

NOVANEWS

 

IsraHell and Egypt are working to preserve the landmark peace accord they signed in 1979, Prime Minister Benjamin Naziyahu’s spokesman said on Saturday after rioting forced the evacuation of Israel’s Cairo embassy.

 ”There is a new Egyptian administration with which we are fully and painstakingly coordinating. And it is the intent of this Egyptian administration, as it is that of the government of Israel, to preserve the peace that has been preserved for more than 30 years,” spokesman Zionist Roni Sofer said.

 Speaking on Zio-Nazi Army Radio, Sofer said Naziyahu sought to return Zionist Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon to Egypt “soon, under the appropriate security arrangements.”

Zionist  Sofer commended Egyptian forces for extricating six guards who had been besieged by hundreds of protestors at Zionist embassy but said IsraHell was not yet “turning the page” on the unprecedented incident.

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“The other pretenders to the title appear to have forgotten the poor in their tents”

NOVANEWS

Yuval Albashan (not exactly a saint I know) writes in Haaretz:

This time, except for the charming Daphni Leef – who is continuing to run around between the tents – the other pretenders to the title appear to have forgotten the poor in their tents. It seems that the compliments they have received from the establishment about their show of responsibility and levelheadedness (by the way, who wants to see a young rebel leader acting like an old member of Mapai? ) have had an effect. This is not merely sad and disappointing, it is also dangerous. As great as the magnificent hope they created was, the frustration and desperation among those who have been forgotten will be equally great. The price, in the form of deepening alienation and social polarization, will be paid by us all.

Just a few questions for the comrades: if the tent protests and the social mobilization for which they are a short-hand fail totally, or end up bringing the Zionist left in from their long winter — at the moment, both are distinct possibilities — who will pay the heaviest price? Who paid the price of the 40 years of Labor Zionist hegemony, who will pay the price of a severe right-populist reaction if the real needs of Israel’s colored poor are not attended to? Who will pay the price of re-born Mapai hegemony, who will pay the price of National Socialism? More than a few people are clapping, really exulting, at the “failure” of J14, which is yet to fail, and chortling at the naive hopefulness of those looking at J14 with worried hope. I’m sorry if I don’t share your joy.

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Zio-Nazi regime faces worst crisis with Egypt for 30 years as diplomats flee

NOVANEWS

Protesters in Cairo

Zio-Nazi regime is facing its worst crisis with Egypt for 30 years after being forced to airlift diplomats and their families to safety during the storming of Zionist embassy in Cairo by a violent mob.

The siege of the embassy ended, with the 86 Zionist fleeing, only after intervention from the White House following phone calls between Zio-Nazi prime minister, Binyamin Naziyahu, and US President Barack Obama.

The attack was the latest diplomatic storm to engulf the Zionist state, whose relations with another ally, Turkey, have worsened over the past nine days. Zionist is also facing a “diplomatic tsunami” at the UN later this month when a majority of countries are expected to back recognition of a Palestinian state.

Zio-Nazi embassy attack, in which a security wall was demolished and a group of protesters reached the door of the embassy’s secure area, threatened to cause “serious damage in peaceful relations between our two countries”, the prime minister said.

He added that it was a “grave violation of accepted diplomatic practice”.

He spent the night with senior officials in a foreign ministry operation room dealing with the crisis. Eighty diplomats and their families were airlifted on Zionist military plane at 4.40am, but six personnel were trapped inside the building.

“There was one door separating them from the mob,” said the official, who described the night as “very dramatic and tense”. Eventually the six were rescued by Egyptian commandos following behind-the-scenes intervention by the US.

Obama spoke to Netanyahu during the night, the White House said. He also appealed to Egypt to “honour its international obligations”.

Zionist David Cameron condemned the attack and urged Egypt to meet its responsibilities under the Vienna Convention to protect diplomatic property and personnel.

Three people died during the overnight protests in Cairo and at least 1,093 were injured, according to Egypt’s deputy health minister.

Anti-Zionist sentiment in Egypt has been vociferous since the killing of five Egyptian soldiers by Zio-Nazi forces in the aftermath of a militant attack last month near the border between the two countries in which eight Zionist died. Thousands of people mobbed the Zionist embassy in Cairo, and Zionist was forced to issue a statement regretting the deaths in the hope that it would contain the anti-Zionist mood.

Zio-Nazi regime has been nervous about the future of its peace treaty with Egypt, signed 30 years ago, since its staunch ally, former president Hosni Mubarak, was forced out of office in an uprising earlier this year. It fears the temporary military government is more attuned to anti-Zionist sentiment on the street.

Zionist is also deeply alarmed by its rapidly deteriorating relationship with Turkey, whose prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is to visit Cairo  amid fears that he will attempt to forge an anti-Zionist alliance with the new Egyptian government.

“The situation with Turkey is not good, and the situation with Egypt is not good,” said Zionist official. “We hope this is not a sign of things to come.”

Both Turkey and Egypt are supporting the bid to have a Palestinian state recognised at the UN general assembly. Zionist is braced for what its defence minister, Ehud Barak, described as a “diplomatic tsunami”.

The US – which has pledged to veto Palestinian statehood – is frantically trying to find a way of averting a vote, fearing further alienation within the Arab world. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said US efforts to encourage the parties to return to negotiations had come “too late”.

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Turkish FM Slams Israeli Counterpart Over Calls to Back Terror

NOVANEWS

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has condemned the reports coming over the past few days that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is planning to arm the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) terrorist organization to “punish” Turkey for threatening a lawsuit over the Mavi Marmara killings.

“No one will extort us,” insisted Davutoglu, adding that he was optimistic about the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office’s denial that such a plot would be carried out, adding he “hopes to see Israel back its denial with actions.”

The Netanyahu government has long had to carry out its foreign policy with Turkey independent of its own foreign ministry, which has regularly tried to impose “harsh measures” on them. The latest series of reports, however, coming with the report that Lieberman had “scheduled meetings” with PKK leaders in Europe to discuss arming them, appears to be a bridge too far.

While Turkey has mostly shrugged off the Lieberman factor and talked directly with Netanyahu over the prospect of restoring ties, the prospect of Israeli weapons flowing into the coffers of the PKK at a time when the organization has been launching growing attacks against the Turkish military, is something Ankara cannot possibly ignore. Even if it never extends beyond the talking stage, the very fact that it was mentioned by Lieberman as a reasonable possibility will not only harm Israeli-Turkish relations for years to come, but will likely do serious damage to Israel’s coalition.

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Sharia Hysteria: Neocon Hatemongers Peddle Disinformation

Sharia Hysteria: Neocon Hatemongers Peddle Disinformation

By Michael Collins Piper

There’s nothing “grassroots” about the growing national campaign—some would call it “hysteria”—focusing on the supposed threat of Islamic sharia taking hold in America.

Sharia refers to a code of conduct or laws that have been derived from the Muslim holy book, the Koran, and from the teachings and example of Mohammed. Although some initially condemned AMERICAN FREE PRESS for suggesting that pro-Israeli ideologues have been the primary

force behind the constant chatter about “the Muslims” and sharia, no less than The New York Times revealed in a detailed and lengthy story beginning on its front page on July 31 that, in fact, a small, well-financed clique of Israeli lobby intriguers are the source of the agitation. The Times’ revelations speak for themselves:

[The] campaign’s air of grassroots spontaneity,which has been carefully promoted by advocates, shrouds its more deliberate origins. In fact, it is the product of an orchestrated drive that began five years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in the office of a little-known lawyer, David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew with a history of controversial statements about race, immigration and Islam. Despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about sharia.

Working with a cadre of conservative public-policy institutes and former military and intelligence officials, Mr.Yerushalmi has written privately financed reports, filed lawsuits against the government and drafted the model legislation that recently swept through the country—all with the effect of casting sharia as one of the greatest threats to American freedom since the Cold War.

This admission by the Times (and the extensive documentation it provides) should prove embarrassing to a number of otherwise independent-minded American nationalists—including more than a few well-known patriot leaders and figures in the white separatist movement—who have been energetically parroting the anti-Muslim rhetoric promoted by Yerushalmi and his associates, the foremost of whom is Frank Gaffney.

Gaffney’s antecedents alone are revealing and point to the origins of the campaign against sharia and Muslims in general. A ubiquitous longtime advocate for Israel in high level Washington policy-making circles, Gaffney—one of the now infamous neo-conservative “high priests of war”—is the founder of the Center for Security Policy (CSP),which has been described as being known for its support for “extreme right wing Israeli causes.”

Yerushalmi—who spent time in Israel working for a conservative think tank—happens to be the CSP’s general counsel.

Gaffney will be remembered as one of the founding associates of the hard-line pro-Israeli Project for the New American Century, which openly declared the need for a “new Pearl Harbor” to energize and popularize support for American military intervention in the Middle East and around the globe.

In fact, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001—attributed to “the Muslims”—provided that new Pearl Harbor of which Gaffney and his colleagues dreamed.

Going back to the 1970s, Gaffney worked alongside the infamous Richard Perle on the staff of Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), who was one of Israel’s primary cheerleaders in Congress. They have worked closely ever since, including a stint by Gaffney working under Perle in the Defense Department during the Reagan administration. Perle himself has served on the CSP board of directors as has Morris Amitay, former director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is no coincidence that—at one time or another during the 1980s— Perle and others among his and Gaffney’s close associates—including the late Stephen J. Bryen, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith—were all investigated by the FBI on various matters relating to espionage on behalf of Israel.

Meanwhile, some prominent names in the Republican presidential arena—including Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, Herman Cain, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich (whose political ventures have been funded to the tune of millions by Las Vegas gambling kingpin Sheldon Adelson, who calls himself “the richest Jew in the world”)—have all joined in warning about sharia law gaining a stranglehold on the Americansystem.

So while the United States is in freefall with unemployment not going away and healthcare and all manner of public and social services being disrupted— not to mention the collapse of our national infrastructure—Wall Street (which is not controlled by Muslims, by the way) is getting away with looting the economy.

But a growing number of politicians and allied interest groups are pointing toward sharia as the biggest danger facing the American way of life.

THE TRUTH ABOUT SHARIA

Although there are many nations that have predominant Muslim populations and of which there are many that have adopted Islam as the official state religion, all of these “Muslim” nations base their systems of government on secular law, not sharia. This even includes Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population of any nation, and Pakistan, which was founded as an Islamic state.

As for the mistreatment of women, often attributed to Islam and to sharia, all the cases that have been propagandized regarding this issue fail to mention that they have nothing to do with the enforcement of sharia. These incidents are the work of some elements that live in Muslim countries, and their actions are not related to Islamic teachings.

Orthodox Judaism—which many Christians revere—has a history of organized oppression of women, quite readily visible in Israel today and in some Jewish communities in America. This is not so widely publicized in the mass media as are the constant stories relating to alleged Muslim misdeeds in regard to women.

One can go on the Internet and find countless cases of rape and molestation of women in western countries, but it would be wrong to say they reflect the mindset of the entire community these people come from or perhaps share religious beliefs with. Every year more women are raped in the United States than in any other nation—which is most assuredly not a Muslim-dominated country.

Michael Collins Piper is a world-renowned author, journalist, lecturer and radio show host.

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A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

NOVANEWS

Are we training Afghan forces to torture and kill?

Posted: 12 Sep 2011

 

We are constantly told in Australia that our brave boys in Afghanistan are training the local army.

A new Human Rights Watch report reveals the reality of so much Western training (some of which is privatised); corruption, torture and death squads is what we appear to be leaving behind, presuming we ever depart:

Militias and some units of the new US-backed Afghan Local Police are committing serious human rights abuses, but the government is not providing proper oversight or holding them accountable, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Afghan government and the US should sever ties with irregular armed groups and take immediate steps to create properly trained and vetted security forces that are held accountable for their actions.

The 102-page report, “‘Just Don’t Call It a Militia:’ Impunity, Militias and the ‘Afghan Local Police,’” documents serious abuses, such as killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs, and illegal raids by irregular armed groups in northern Kunduz province and the Afghan Local Police (ALP) force in Baghlan, Herat, and Uruzgan provinces. The Afghan government has failed to hold these forces to account, fostering future abuses and generating support for the Taliban and other opposition forces, Human Rights Watch found.

“The Afghan government has responded to the insurgency by reactivating militias that threaten the lives of ordinary Afghans” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Kabul and Washington need to make a clean break from supporting abusive and destabilizing militias to have any hope of a viable, long-term security strategy.”

UN vote on Palestine puts two-state solution in permanent freeze

Posted: 12 Sep 2011

 

The “dream” is over, liberal Zionists. It’s never going to happen in any reasonable way. So the alternatives are clear; one state or permanent apartheid. Which side are you on?

Ilan Pappe writes in Electronic Intifada:

We are all going to be invited to the funeral of the two-state solution if and when the UN General Assembly announces the acceptance of Palestine as a member state.

The support of the vast majority of the organization’s members would complete a cycle that began in 1967 and which granted the ill-advised two-state solution the backing of every powerful and less powerful actor on the international and regional stages.

Even inside Israel, the support engulfed eventually the right as well as the left and center of Zionist politics. And yet despite the previous and future support, everybody inside and outside Palestine seems to concede that the occupation will continue and that even in the best of all scenarios, there will be a greater and racist Israel next to a fragmented and useless bantustan.

The charade will end in September or October — when the Palestinian Authority plans to submit its request for UN membership as a full member — in one of two ways.

It could be either painful and violent, if Israel continues to enjoy international immunity and is allowed to finalize by sheer brutal force its mapping of post-Oslo Palestine. Or it could end in a revolutionary and much more peaceful way with the gradual replacement of the old fabrications with solid new truths about peace and reconciliation for Palestine. Or perhaps the first scenario is an unfortunate precondition for the second. Time will tell.

The recent disruption of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra performance at the prestigious BBC Proms in London shocked the gentle Israelis more than any genocidal event in their own history.

But more than anything else, as reported by senior Israeli journalists who were there, they were flabbergasted by the presence of so many Jews among the protesters. These very journalists kept depicting in the past the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and BDS activists as terrorist groups and extremists of the worst kind. They believed their own reports. To its credit, the mini-intifada at the Royal Albert Hall at least confused them.

In Palestine itself the time has come to move the discourse of one state into political action and maybe adopt the new dictionary. The dispossession is everywhere and therefore the repossession and reconciliation have to occur everywhere.

If the relationship between Jews and Palestinians is to be reformulated on a just and democratic basis, one can accept neither the old buried map of the two-state solution nor its logic of partition. This also means that the sacred distinction made between Jewish settlements near Haifa and those near Nablus should be put in the grave as well.

The distinction should be made between those Jews who are willing to discuss a reformulation of the relationship, change of regime and equal status and those who are not, regardless of where they live now. There are surprising phenomena in this respect if one studies well the human and political fabric of 2011 historic Palestine, ruled as it is by the Israeli regime: the willingness for a dialogue is sometimes more evident beyond the 1967 line rather than inside it.

The dialogue from within for a change of regime, the question of representation and the BDS movement are all part and parcel of the same effort to bring justice and peace to Palestine. What we will bury — hopefully — in September was one of the major obstacles in the way to realizing this vision.

Nothing like a good war that enriches the leeches

Posted: 11 Sep 2011

 

The list of private companies gouging America and its allies since 9/11 is long and dubious. For example (via Mother Jones):

In 2007, US planners decided to pave a 64-mile mountain road between the Afghan towns of Khost and Gardez. They figured it would take $69 million to complete, but the cost swelled to $176 million. Much of that was spent on security, including a lot that went to a local big-swinger known as “Arafat,” who’s now believed to have been working for the insurgents. In May, the New York Times reported that “a stretch of the highway completed just six months ago is already falling apart and remains treacherous.”

A recently released US report found that up to $60 billion had been lost or spent on corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan in the last decade. What glorious wars! And America has still lost both conflicts. Almost comical. Almost.

Charles Tiefer of the Wartime Contracting Commission speaks to Democracy Now!:

There’s no question that while President Obama came in—and you quoted his—you had the recording of his statement when he came in—enthusiastic for more competition, there has not been follow-through. During the budget debates, you do not see enough real reform. The commission looked and found that the current system for providing services, logistic services, like dining facilities, depends on what we called mini-monopolies. There is one company, Fluor, that gets all the logistics work in northern Afghanistan, the new work. There is one company, DynCorp, that gets all the logistics work in southern Afghanistan. And so, there’s no competition over the billions of dollars in new work. None at all.

We had the top officials in the Pentagon came in. And when we asked them, “Why haven’t you made changes?” — let me give you another example, although—which is—could fit with the previous ones: a $2 billion contract for bringing in bulk food commodities in Afghanistan to Supreme Foodservice. Its time was up. It was supposed to be competed. They weren’t ready to compete it. It was extended another $2 billion. And when we asked why, the answer came back, “Well, we weren’t ready. We didn’t have the people. We didn’t have the preparations ready to conduct a competition of that.” The Under Secretary of Defense, Under Secretary Carter, I asked this, and he said, “Well, you just sometimes have to extend these contracts. It’s the wrong thing to stop the incumbent at the end of them.”

This is how writers with spine relate to the real world

Posted: 11 Sep 2011

 

Literary events aren’t devoid of real world politics (well, they shouldn’t be, anyway). The recent cancellation of a proposed Kashmir literature event was a stunning example of such issues being brought into the public domain.

One of the key players behind protesting the event, Basharat Peer, writes wonderfully in The Hindu about why he acted as he did. A writer with real conscience (who I saw speak at this year’s Jaipur Literature Festival about the troubles in Kashmir):

A few days back, the Harud Literary Festival, which was due to take place in Srinagar from September 21 to 24, was cancelled amid great controversy. The event was to be held on the campus of Delhi Public School located outside Srinagar, next to the biggest military camp in Kashmir, the Badami Bagh cantonment. Vijay Dhar, who owns the school, was the main sponsor of the Harud festival. A businessman with strong Congress Party connections, he was an adviser to Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s. Recently, Mr. Dhar was cheerleading the Indian Army’s “normalcy drive” in Kashmir by hosting an army-sponsored and organised cricket tournament, the Kashmir Premier League, on the grounds of his school.

Before the Harud was talked about in the press, I had conveyed my apprehensions to the organisers — the novelist and festival producer Namita Gokhale and her partners, Teamwork Productions headed by Sanjoy Roy and Sheuli Sethi — and suggested holding the festival independently, without any political connections. They chose otherwise. It thus became impossible for me, as an independent writer, to be part of such an event. If I had decided to attend the festival, given the obvious political connections of Harud’s lead sponsor, then tomorrow I would not be able to say no to an event funded by people connected to other political establishments and ideologies. This was the same reason I stayed away, despite several invitations, from the conferences organised by Ghulam Nabi Fai, the Kashmiri-American lobbyist who turned out to be on the payroll of Pakistan’s Inter Services Agency.

We did write an open letter raising political questions, along with several other journalists, academics, and writers, and it was posted on the blog, Kafila.org, giving others the option to sign it if they wished. After describing the situation in the State, our letter said: “We fear, therefore, that holding such a festival would, willy-nilly, dovetail with the state’s concerted attempt to portray that all is normal in Kashmir. Even as the reality on the ground is one of utter abnormality and a state of acute militarisation and suppression of dissent, rights and freedoms”. We added that we would “firmly support the idea of a literary/artistic festival in Kashmir if we were convinced that its organising was wholly free from state interference and designs, and was not meant to give legitimacy to a brutal, repressive regime.”

A few days later, the Harud organisers called off the festival citing threats of violence and a movement to boycott the festival. “A few people who began the movement to boycott the festival have no qualms in [sic] speaking on and about Kashmir across international forums, but have refused to allow other voices, including writers, poets and theatre people from the Valley and across India to enjoy the right to express themselves at the Harud festival,” the statement announcing the cancellation alleged.

This statement essentially implies that Mirza Waheed and I, who have spoken and written across the world about Kashmir, are censors throttling other writers, poets, and theatre people from expressing themselves. This is completely untrue. We did not attempt to persuade anyone who wanted to attend Harud from not attending. We didn’t call for a boycott of the festival. Our Open Letter, in fact ended on the following note: “This letter is an attempt to state our position and to urge the festival participants to ponder some of these issues and concerns.” All we did was to make and state our decision to stay away. The decision to cancel the festival was not ours, but that of the organisers.

It has also been said that our opposition to the festival has denied young Kashmiris a chance to interact with several visiting authors. Let this be clear: Young Kashmiris don’t depend on a glance or a hasty chat with a visiting author to understand the mechanics of writing. An intense conversation about the craft and politics of writing has been going on, away from the glare of the press and frenzy of social media, in many rooms in Kashmir. The journalist Muzamil Jaleel has been running a writers’ workshop every Sunday from his living room for several years now, where scores of young Kashmiri boys and girls discuss their writing and read the best and the brightest of fiction and non-fiction writers. It is a room I have visited on several Sundays to talk to Muzamil’s students.

In my parents’ house, in coffee shops in Srinagar, in online chats and emails, that process continues. When I was a 21-year-old struggling to learn to write, a writer friend told me what to read and how to read. Many of us who signed the open letter critiquing the Harud festival have been passing on the torch, editing short stories, reading personal essays, bringing graphic novels and tomes of fiction and non-fiction for the boys and girls who are growing up to tell the story of Kashmir and the stories of places and ideas beyond Kashmir. It is in those quiet and committed engagements spanning years that Kashmir’s writers are being made, not by pitching a few shamiyanas.

They are not desperate for an autograph; they are reading, thinking, writing in the solitude of their rooms. They won’t be seeking crumbs at a table, they won’t mortgage their souls to government cultural academies and Doordarshan Kashmir, they won’t go begging at the doors of DAVP offices in Delhi. The strength of their work will tear open the gates.

Cluey firms making good money from Australian government’s privatisation obsession

Posted: 11 Sep 2011

 

The Canberra Times reveals who is making a killing, largely invisible in the public domain and likely to only make more money in the years ahead; privatisation is a bi-partisan disease:

Detention centre operators, an international training company, a NSW Government department and a multinational IT firm are the big winners from the Federal Government’s immigration policies.

An analysis of tender data by The Canberra Times has identified, for the first time, the companies that have won the most lucrative contracts from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship since 2008.

Combined with information from DIAC, a fuller picture has emerged of the true cost of the Federal Government’s asylum-seeker policy, with a refugee advocate saying the money could be better deployed in cheaper community-based alternatives.

The tenders data shows that multinational detention centre operators G4S and Serco have been the biggest financial beneficiaries of the Federal Government’s mandatory detention policies.

Detention centre operator Serco tops the list, thanks to its five-year contract to run Australia’s immigration detention network. The contract, worth $279million in 2009, was quietly revised upwards to $712million in July.

Serco also has another contract worth $44million to provide ”Immigration Residential Housing and Immigration Transit” to DIAC.

Serco won the tender from rival G4S, which had been running the detention centres since 2003 under a $580million contract.

DIAC said yesterday that as of September 8, 4873 boat people and crew members were being held in Christmas Island and mainland detention facilities. This did not include the boat, carrying 72 people, which landed on Friday.

In June, 6403 people were being held in immigration detention.

The department expects the cost of detaining asylum-seekers to fall in the current financial year to $628.7million. It says the cost of running the Curtin detention centre – this year $108million – will fall $20million next year.

Asylum Seeker Resource Centre chief executive Kon Karapanagiotidis said his non-profit organisation cared for asylum-seekers in the community for just $4.80 per person per day, providing food, public transport, legal services, a GP, and other services.

Hooters remembers September 11 in a way that smells of class

Posted: 11 Sep 2011

 

No, this isn’t cheapening the memory of 9/11 and the disastrous decade since:

 

Former NYT head admits backing for Iraq war because he wanted to be manly

Posted: 11 Sep 2011

 

The New York Times after 9/11 was notorious for consistently siding with the Bush administration, especially backing the Iraq war thanks to the stenography of Judith Miller.

Bill Keller has just stepped down from his role as Executive Editor of the paper and writes this revealing essay about why he and many “liberals” embraced the Iraq war. His main reason (and we can be thankful for his honesty)? He wanted to be manly and tough and not be seen as a weak-willed liberal.

If this is the cream of the media crop, the corporate press should be trusted even less than we thought.

Here’s Keller:

During the months of public argument about how to deal with Saddam Hussein, I christened an imaginary association of pundits the I-Can’t-Believe-I’m-a-Hawk Club, made up of liberals for whom 9/11 had stirred a fresh willingness to employ American might. It was a large and estimable group of writers and affiliations, including, among others, Thomas Friedman of The Times; Fareed Zakaria, of Newsweek; George Packer and Jeffrey Goldberg of The New Yorker; Richard Cohen of The Washington Post; the blogger Andrew Sullivan; Paul Berman of Dissent; Christopher Hitchens of just about everywhere; and Kenneth Pollack, the former C.I.A. analyst whose book, “The Threatening Storm,” became the liberal manual on the Iraqi threat. (Yes, it is surely relevant that this is exclusively a boys’ club.)

In several columns I laid out justifications for overthrowing Saddam Hussein. There were caveats — most significantly, that there was no reason to rush, that we should hold off to see whether Iraq’s behavior could be sufficiently contained by sanctions and inspections. Like many liberal hawks, I was ambivalent; Pollack said he was 55 to 45 for war, which feels about right.

But when the troops went in, they went with my blessing. Of course I don’t think President Bush was awaiting permission from The New York Times’s Op-Ed page — or, for that matter, from my friends in the Times newsroom, who during the prewar debate published some notoriously credulous stories about Iraqi weapons. The administration, however, was clearly pleased to cite the liberal hawks as evidence that invading Iraq was not just the impetuous act of cowboy neocons. Thus did Tony Judt in 2006 coin another, unkinder name for our club: “Bush’s Useful Idiots.”

Iraq was not, as Afghanistan had been, the host country and operational base of the new strain of Islamic fascism represented by Al Qaeda. It is true that Hussein hosted some nasty characters, but so did many other dictators hostile to America. At the time, Iraq was one of seven countries designated as sponsors of terrorism by the State Department, and in the other six cases we settled for sanctions as recourse enough. And his conventional military — what was left of it after it was laid waste in the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq in 1991 — was under close supervision.

That leaves the elusive weapons of mass destruction. We forget how broad the consensus was that Hussein was hiding the kind of weapons that could rain holocaust on a neighbor or be delivered to America by proxy. He had recently possessed chemical weapons (he used them against the Kurds), and it was only a few years since we had discovered he had an active ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Inspectors who combed the country after the first gulf war discovered a nuclear program far more advanced than our intelligence agencies had believed; so it is understandable that the next time around the analysts erred on the side of believing the worst.

We now know that the consensus was wrong, and that it was built in part on intelligence that our analysts had good reason to believe was cooked. Should we — those of us without security clearances — have known it in 2003? Certainly we should have been more suspicious of the administration’s assurances. Kenneth Pollack, the former C.I.A. analyst who is now at the Brookings Institution, concedes that he should have drilled deeper into the claims of the intelligence crunchers; he was misled, he says, by the fact that they had seriously underestimated Hussein in the past. A few journalists — notably Jonathan Landay and Warren Strobel of Knight Ridder newspapers — emphasized conflicting intelligence that questioned Hussein’s capabilities. But assuming we couldn’t know for sure, what would have been acceptable odds? If there was only a 50-50 chance that Hussein was close to possessing a nuclear weapon, could we live with that? One in five? One in 10?

Colin Powell, who oversaw the campaign that drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait in 1991 and who was the most cautious member of President Bush’s war cabinet, was reluctantly convinced (duped, he would later say) that the W.M.D. risk merited military action. His word carried great weight. The journalist and author Fred Kaplan was one of many, I suspect, who joined the hawk club on the strength of Powell’s speech to the United Nations Security Council six weeks before the invasion.

“I was particularly struck by the tape-recording of an intelligence intercept that Powell played — a phone conversation in which one Iraqi Republican Guard officer tells another to clean out a site before the inspectors get there,” Kaplanrecalled. We learned much later that the Iraqi officers wanted to erase traces of chemical weapons that had been stored before the first gulf war. Kaplan dropped out of the hawk club within a month when he concluded that, whether or not an invasion was morally justified, he doubted the Bush administration was up to the task. The rest of us were still a little drugged by testosterone. And maybe a little too pleased with ourselves for standing up to evil and defying the caricature of liberals as, to borrow a phrase from those days, brie-eating surrender monkeys.

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In Poor Taste: East Bay Jewish Federation twee

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Zionist Navy ship “accidentally” enters waters of neighboring Arab nation

NOVANEWS

Commander sent to jail after a navigational error caused his reconnaissance vessel to cross several hundred meters into neighboring waters before being ordered back by IsraHell radar station.

An Zionist Navy reconnaissance vessel accidently entered the territorial waters of a neighboring Arab nation last week, in an incident first reported by Channel 10 on Sunday.

According to a probe by Zionist Defense Forces, the ship’s commander reputedly committed a navigational error, which caused the “Dvora”-class ship to enter 700 meters into the neighboring country’s waters.

The infiltration was not detected by the neighboring country’s forces, with Zionist Navy radar warning the vessel and directing it toward international waters.

Zio-Nazi spokesperson said in response that the military conducted “an operational investigation in which the ship’s commander was tried and sentenced to prison,” stressing that the ship “went over by only a few hundred meters.”

The incident took place only two days after another naval mishap, one which caused seven Zionist employees of a private security firm to be briefly arrested by the Egyptian Navy near the Straits of Tiran in the Red Sea.

The four security men and three other crew members were arrested on a yacht Wednesday after they reportedly threw their personal weapons overboard in a fright upon noticing a nearby Egyptian Zionist puppet  naval patrol.

The Zionist yacht was escorted into the Sinai port city of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the Zionist were interrogated. At that point, official contact between the Zio-Nazi foreign ministry and its Egyptian counterpart began in order to clarify what the Zionist side said was a misunderstanding.

Following several hours of detention, the seven were released early Thursday morning, and made their way to the southern city of Eilat.

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