Archive | April 13th, 2012

When My Partner Went to Jail

NOVANEWS

Me and Mousa in court.

Jonathan Pollak going to jail

Originally posted on Rajeefsworld.posterous.com

A lot has been written recently about my good friend Jonathan Pollak’s recent incarceration in Israel for his participation in demonstrations. Understandably, there was international outrage at his sentence—3 months for non-violent assembly. It made me reflect, however, on a totally different incarceration in my life, one that can only further illustrate the extent of Israel’s apartheid. Jonathan’s partner, activist Eilat Maoz, wrote a piece about walking Jonathan to prison, and the glimpse it gave her of the life of the families of other political prisoners. I also got a feel for that life, with one critical difference: my partner is Palestinian.

In December, 2007, I said goodbye to my then fiance (now husband), and left Palestine for a trip home to the United States. I hugged him goodbye in the streets of Jerusalem, where he had entered illegally to see me off. It was the last hug I gave him for a year and a half. I, too, was in a relationship with an activist, a man committed to justice and liberation. He just happened to be Palestinian.

I did not get to say goodbye to Mousa when he was imprisoned on April 11, 2008. I didn’t know he would be going to jail. He was held for 9 days without charge, before his lawyer (the same lawyer who represented Jonathan) was informed that he was going to be held in administrative detention. This meant that he would be imprisoned immediately and indefinitely. His court hearings were held in secret; none of his family (not even me, who holds Israeli ID) was allowed to attend. While Jonathan’s trial and sentencing were a farce of a civilian “democratic” legal system, Mousa’s was not even that. Hearings were held in secret at the prison in the middle of the Negev desert, evidence was presented without his lawyer being present. We spent months guessing what the Shabak might be accusing him of; we still don’t know for sure.

The only physical contact I had with Mousa was a handshake we sneaked at the end of his Supreme Court hearing in May, 2008, the only time he entered a civilian court, and the only hearing his supporters, and myself, were able to attend (his family, of course, were not even allowed to this, since it was held in Jerusalem).

In September, 2008, after just over 5 months in detention, Mousa’s detention was extended for another 5 months. When it became clear that he may spend years in jail, that there was no way to know when we’d be able to continue our lives together, we decided to marry so that I would be allowed to visit him. None of his siblings were given permits to travel into Israel by Red Cross buses, to visit him. His elderly father did receive clearance, and visited him for the first time after Mousa was in jail for three months (common for “security” detainees, who are not allowed contact with visitors or, oftentimes, lawyers, for the first three months of “investigation”). Mousa signed a power of attorney with the International Red Cross and empowered a member of his family to stand in for him in signing our marriage contract; we could not meet even for that.

I visited Mousa for the first (and what ended up being the only) time in December, 2008, a year after I said goodbye to him. As an Israeli ID-holder, I was afforded a few privileges my father-in-law was not. I got to choose where to board the Red Cross bus that takes families from all over the West Bank to visit the families of the nearly 3000 prisoners at Al-Naqab (Ketziot) prison. I chose the bus from Jerusalem, which left at 6am, rather than the one from Hebron, closer to my home and to the prison but leaving at 4:30am because of the time it took to get through the checkpoints. I couldn’t just drive up to the prison to visit. Palestinian prisoners are treated by the International Red Cross the same way prisoners of war are in many ways and visits are coordinated with the military prisons through them.

On the three hour trip down the coast and along Gaza (this was during “Operation Cast Lead” and the dozens of women on the bus looked anxiously at the horizon over Gaza, watching the jets and helicopters flying over), I made quick friends with two women who gave me a crash course on the process of the visit. The entire experience would take 10 hours (plus my 2 hour trip back and forth from our town in Hebron District) for a 45 minute visit. You had to pay close attention to the guards, who call out the names of the prisoners when it is their turn for a visit. I had not brought lunch, and the women, whose husbands, though from Jerusalem, were being held in Israeli military prison, gladly shared food with me.

As we entered the yard outside the visiting hall, I soon realized why this was an all-day affair. Visits were coordinated for several districts on the same day. Over 600 women and children (only a handful of men are given permits for these visits) filled a cement courtyard. I spent most of the next two hours pacing around the fenced-in area, trying to keep an ear out for my husband’s name.

My group was finally called and we went into an indoor holding area where we were strip-searched and led into another waiting area. One man asked me if he was allowed to wash his hands. I pointed him to the sinks, confusedly thinking that he didn’t know where he could wash up. When Mousa’s name was called and I walked through the maze to the visiting room, chuckles rose through the room. An older woman explained they had thought I was a guard, insisting, when I asked, that it was because of my navy-blue jacket, and not because of my light complexion. I sat across a window from Mousa for exactly 41 minutes. We talked about nothing through phones attached to the wall that made it sound like he was a million miles away. I scanned his face for evidence of the event even more horrific than his sudden incarceration—when he narrowly missed being shot in the head by an Israeli soldier in January, 2008 but was hit with shrapnel which cut his eye and head.

The visit was over too soon, and I lined up with the other women to gather our packages (another strange Palestinian tradition, since heads of households are so often in jail, they are allowed to buy gifts from the canteen and have them given to their visitors. Mousa bought me a big jug of my favorite cola and chocolate bars).

For the next 6 months I was prevented from visiting Mousa. His father visited once, and multiple visitors were not allowed, and on three other occasions the military decided he needed to be moved to court dates (sometimes days ahead of time) or other prisons on the days of visits.

The worst thing about administrative detention, even worse than the secret hearings and the security excuses for preventing visits, is the uncertainty of it all. As the day of his current term of imprisonment would approach, his entire family and I would wait, virtually holding our breath, to see if his attorney would be informed of the Shabak’s intention to extend his detention. For Mousa, it was even worse, as the guards would not tell him even when a decision was made. In early January, 2009, we received a phone call from another man in the village who’s relative was also in An-Naqab. Mousa had managed to pass on the message that he was being released. In total disbelief, I called his lawyer, who assured me that Mousa was not being released. But other prisoners had heard the guards telling him he was free, and watched him walk out with a bag of his belongings. His family slowly gathered at the house. Kids were scrubbed, food was prepared, and even though I thought the lawyer would know, I too put on a clean shirt and waited.

At around midnight, when it was clear that Mousa was not coming home that day, I received a call. On a smuggled phone Mousa told us that the guards had in fact told him he was being released, and went so far as to escort him to the gate of the prison, before essentially saying, “just kidding.” This final torture, giving him hope and then tearing it away, temporarily broke him. He agreed to be exiled-to stay out of Palestine for 3 years in exchange for his freedom. Again, hope was dangled in front of him—the prosecution agreed to the deportation, and he was taken to the bridge to Jordan. His father and I raced to meet him, I began making plans for a life in Jordan, or Dubai.

After hours of waiting at the bridge terminal, he was put on the bus over to the Jordanians, and was able to sit with his father as they crossed (Israel would not allow me to cross over the same bridge, so I had to travel two hours north to the bridge to Jordan from the Galilee, where Israelis were allowed to cross). Minutes before I crossed into Jordan (I had already paid the tax for crossing, in fact) I received a phone call. Mousa told me to wait, he was not being allowed into Jordan. Jordanian officials said the Israeli government hadn’t coordinated the deportation with them, and he would not be allowed in. Once again, I thought I was hours away from seeing him again, only to be heartbroken.

I cannot imagine the ride back over the bridge, Mousa having to get off the bus and return to the prison guards. I know his father returned home broken. When Mousa and I spoke again he told me the shabak at the bridge terminal was very interested to know about this strange American girl with Israeli ID who had come all that way to see him. When told that I was his wife, they laughed, telling him no international girl would ever wait for him, and he should give up on ever having a life with me.

His family and I returned to waiting. In February, 2009, when the Shabak requested and received a third extension of his detention, another lawyer was able to get the court to reduce the time from 6 months to 4 months, and a commitment that it would not be renewed. Even with a court order indicating his day of release, we were not convinced. On June 14, 2009, the family once again began to gather at our house. We studiously discussed anything other than Mousa. Just after 5pm, I received a phone call.

“I’m free”. He said.

3 hours later he was home. He had been in jail for 14 months and 3 days. I hadn’t seen him free in over one and a half years.

When I read Eilat’s piece on Jonathan’s incarceration, I thought it would be a good idea to present the experience of the spouse of a Palestinian prisoner. I asked friends of mine in Beit Ommar why no one wrote an article for the newspaper about the experience of Palestinian wives of prisoners, and if they’d like me to help them write one in English. Everyone of them laughed. “Ya Bekah”, they said, “who would read it? It’s not news, it’s life.” The wife of a Popular Committee member in Beit Ommar asked me if I’d like to write something about how to cook chicken “the Palestinian way”; it would be more news-worthy.

My experience was entirely average for Palestinian women. It is estimated that over 90% of the Palestinian adult male population has been in prison, often several times (this was Mousa’s 3rd imprisonment). Palestinian women carry their households and maintain hope in the face of unbelievable odds. Even for the majority of Palestinians who are sentenced to fixed periods of time, their release is not a given (as is the case with two activists from Bil’in, who were detained after their release dates and had their detentions extended). Life in Occupied Palestine is marked by uncertainty. An entire society lives in limbo, never knowing when a family will be torn apart, and when it will be reunited.

There has been quite a bit of Israeli and international media attention around the imprisonment of Jonathan Pollak, as well as other signs of increased repression of left-wing Jews inside Israel. 10,000 people, some wearing stickers of Jonathan, marched in Tel Aviv against the Israeli Knesset’s plan to investigate Israeli human rights and other progressive organizations last month. Yossi Sarid, a former Israeli cabinet member and now journalist with Haaretz, wrote about a recent visit to Jonathan while in prison, lauding Jonathan’s commitment to justice and activism.

The attention is well-deserved: Jonathan has been one of the most hard-working, dedicated activists I have ever known. And yet I can’t help but feel a little frustrated with all the attention his case has received. Israel didn’t ‘finally’ cross a line when it started oppressing Jews. Jonathan’s case should be used as a plum line, to measure just how racist, how undemocratic Israel really is. He is the worst there is of the unarmed variety of Israeli political activists (a designation he should be proud of), and he is getting a third of his sentence reduced for “good behavior”. No one should be held in prison, least of all for fighting the injustice of a state, but let’s not forget the greater outrage: how Israel treats the 4.5 million non-citizens, and 1 million more second-class citizens, under its control.

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Mitt and Bibi Joined at the Hip

NOVANEWS

 

By Philip Giraldi

One of the more outrageous articles to appear recently describes how likely Republican Party presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enjoy a close personal relationship based on their simultaneous employment at the Boston Consulting Group in 1976. The article also explains how that relationship has continued, with Netanyahu briefing Romney on the subject of Iran before the March Super Tuesday primaries. Earlier, in December, Romney criticized Newt Gingrich over a comment about Palestinians, asserting that “Before I made a statement of that nature, I’d get on the phone to my friend Bibi Netanyahu and say ‘Would it help if I say this? What would you like me to do?’”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Romney is handing the exercise of US foreign policy on the Middle East over to Israel. And it also doesn’t take any particular insight to realize that if a foreign head of state is advising a presidential candidate on foreign policy in any context it is completely unacceptable interference in the domestic politics of the United States. So why isn’t the media screaming in outrage? Well, the usual reason: that Israel is untouchable.

As loathsome as Obama has been in his craven surrender to Israeli interests, there has always been to the saving grace that one knows deep down that the president despises Netanyahu even as he fears him and the power of the Israel Lobby. Not so with Mitt, who will be an enthusiastic puppet in whatever game the Israelis decide to play.

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Zionist ambassador to New York Times: ‘Netanyahu does not interfere’ in U.S. elections

NOVANEWS

 

Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, submits letter to the editor to NYT, complaining about article detailing the close relationship between Netanyahu and likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

ed note–just one of many instances delineating the psychosis and dual-nature of Jewish thinking. On the one hand, Jews LOVE to throw their power around and brag about how they control ‘this and that’ but then when they are QUOTED saying thus in a discussion outlining how indeed they do control certain things such as American politics, all the sudden the sirens begin screeching ‘CANARD!!! PROTOCOLS OF LEARNED ELDERS OF ZION!!! ANTI-SEMITIC CONSPIRACY THEORY!!!’

And the thing is this–OREN KNOWS THIS, but being a member of a religion that extols the art of lying as a moral virtue, he has no compunction against speaking that which he konws is patently dishonest, just one of the MANY ‘qualities’ that Judaism has conferred upon this peculiar people and why they have (rightly) earned a reputation throughout history for being adept in bending the truth to suit their needs.

Haaretz

The duel between the New York Times and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers continues. Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren submitted a letter to the editor to the New York Times’ editorial board, with a complaint regarding an article which was published several days ago about the close ties between Netanyahu and the likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

In the letter, which was published on Thursday, Oren rejected the allegations that Netanyahu is intervening in the presidential race in the United States.

“Israel does not interfere in internal political affairs of the United States — contrary to the article’s insinuation — and greatly values the wide bipartisan support it enjoys in America,” Oren wrote.

In Michael Barbaro’s article, which was published on the front page of the New York Times on Monday, it was mentioned that several weeks ago on Super Tuesday, Netanyahu personally briefed Romney on the phone regarding the situation in Iran.

The article also said that the relationship between Netanyahu and Romney began in 1976 and remained intact until today.

The article gave several examples of the open lines of communication between Netanyahu and Romney.

“When it was Mr. Gingrich’s turn to leap to the top of the polls, Mr. Netanyahu was startled in January by an article exploring why Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire casino executive and outspoken supporter of Israel, was devoting millions of dollars to back Mr. Gingrich. It described Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Adelson as close friends,” the article stated.

“Mr. Netanyahu’s office quickly relayed a message to a senior Romney adviser, Dan Senor: the prime minister had played no role in Mr. Adelson’s decision to bankroll a Romney rival.”

In the letter submitted to the New York Times, Oren claimed that the phone call on Super Tuesday that was mentioned was actually Romney calling Netanyahu, who was in Washington for the AIPAC conference.

“The call lasted a few minutes and covered a range of topics, not just Iran,” Oren wrote.

“Israeli leaders have a longstanding practice of meeting the candidates from both parties. On July 23, 2008, for example, Senator Obama, then the presumptive Democratic nominee, met in Israel with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as well as the head of the opposition, Mr. Netanyahu,” he added.

Oren’s complaint letter to the New York Times has already turned into the norm in the loaded relationship between the newspaper and the Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu. Just several weeks ago, Netanyahu’s adviser Ron Dermer sent his own letter to the New York Times in which he emphasized that the Israeli prime minister does not plan on writing any op-ed pieces in the newspaper, due to its constant criticism of the Netanyahu government’s policies.

A month later, Jerusalem Post editor Steve Linde said at a closed event that Netanyahu told him that the New York Times is one of the main enemies of Israel, since it “sets the agenda for an anti-Israel campaign all over the world.”

Shortly afterward, following pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, Linde issued a clarification and recanted.

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Welcome to AmeriKa: Mental Health Clinic Facing Closure Occupied by Patients and Advocates

NOVANEWS

Mental Health Movement barricaded inside Woodlawn Clinic until Rahm Emanuel backs off clinic closures

URGENT UPDATE: 20+ arrested at Woodlawn Clinic Submitted by geo on Fri, 2012-04-13 01:22 Author: CIMC repost Locality: Local

UPDATE 1:12AM: 20+ arrests so far, police arresting other mental health patients inside. First live stream here (inside): http://www.ustream.tv/channel/spmoberg Second live stream here:http://www.ustream.tv/channel/tangello#utm_campaign=t.co&utm_source=9907...

URGENT UPDATE: 12:30 AM, 4/13/12 — 30 police have entered the Woodlawn Clinic and are cutting down the barricades that patients and supporters have erected as a prelude to arresting dozens of patients and health workers who occupied the clinic today at 5PM to protest Mayor Emanuel’s plan to close Woodlawn, among half the city’s mental health clinics slated for closure.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Press Contacts: Corey Barnes (773) 319-7268 / Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle (773) 355-8222 Mental Health Movement / Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP)

Patients and Advocates Occupying Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic Hold Press Conference at 10am Friday Mental Health Movement barricaded inside Woodlawn Clinic until Rahm Emanuel backs off clinic closures

WHAT: Press conference from occupied mental health clinic WHEN: Friday April 13th at 10am WHERE: 6337 S. Woodlawn Ave. WHO: Patients of mental health clinics facing closure who are occupying the Woodlawn Clinic

Dozens of people who use Chicago’s mental health clinics along with other advocates are still barricaded inside the Woodlawn Clinic at 6337 S. Woodlawn, one of 6 clinics facing closure. They intend to remain there until Mayor Emanuel agrees to keep all of Chicago’s public clinics open, fully funded and fully staffed. The will hold a press conference at 10am on Friday April 13th to release their first statement.

Two of the clinics slated for closure – the Northwest Clinic in Logan Square and the Northtown Clinic in Rogers Park – shut their doors last Friday. Four others (Woodlawn, Auburn/Gresham, Back of the Yards and Beverly/Morgan Park) are scheduled to close April 30th. The Mental Health Movement, which put out a report and a video undermining the Chicago Department of Public Health’s claim that all patients will continue to receive care, has been calling for hearings on the clinic closures since October. Despite repeated promises and a resolution calling for hearings, the Emanuel Administration has prevented any hearings from taking place in order to avoid public scrutiny of the plan, which has come under fire even from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

“We have tried everything we could to be heard. We visited Mayor Emanuel when he was a candidate. We delivered him over 4,000 letters. We have talked to almost all 50 Alderman. We have held press conferences, rallies and even sat-in for 10 hours on the 5th floor of City Hall. We are the ones who know the disaster these clinic closures will mean for our communities and our city but Mayor Emanuel been unwilling to listen to us, so we are taking drastic measures to avoid a tragedy and defend our human rights,” says N’Dana Carter, who goes to one of the city clinics and is a spokesperson for the Mental Health Movement.

The people barricaded in the clinic have enough food and supplies to stay for months and are threatening to do so unless Mayor Emanuel meets the following five demands:

  • Keep all 12 city mental health clinics public, open, fully funded and fully staffed
  • Stop plans to privatize Chicago’s 7 neighborhood health centers
  • Hire more doctors, therapists, nurses, social workers and other clinic staff
  • Reinstate the drug assistance program
  • Expand the public mental health safety net to cover unmet community needs
  • 30 –

Click HERE for the livestream from inside the clinic. Click HERE for the livestream and HERE for the Facebook page. Twitter hashtag #SaveOurClinics | follow @OccupyChicago | @STOPChicago

UPDATE, 11PM 4/12: Patients and their supporters will hold a press conference at 10AM on Friday, 4/13 press conference AT THE CLINIC. Be there if at all humanly possible and support the patients’ resistance of privatization and disinvestment in public services.

Dozens of people who use Chicago’s mental health clinics along with other advocates have barricaded themselves into the Woodlawn Clinic at 6337 S. Woodlawn, one of 6 clinics facing closure. They intend to remain there until Mayor Emanuel agrees to keep all of Chicago’s public clinics open, fully funded and fully staffed.

Two of the clinics slated for closure – the Northwest Clinic in Logan Square and the Northtown Clinic in Rogers Park – shut their doors last Friday. Four others (Woodlawn, Auburn/Gresham, Back of the Yards and Beverly/Morgan Park) are scheduled to close April 30th. The Mental Health Movement, which put out a report and a video undermining the Chicago Department of Public Health’s claim that all patients will continue to receive care, has been calling for hearings on the clinic closures since October. Despite repeated promises and a resolution calling for hearings, the Emanuel Administration has prevented any hearings from taking place in order to avoid public scrutiny of the plan, which has come under fire even from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

“We have tried everything we could to be heard. We visited Mayor Emanuel when he was a candidate. We delivered him over 4,000 letters. We have talked to almost all 50 Alderman. We have held press conferences, rallies and even sat-in for 10 hours on the 5th floor of City Hall. We are the ones who know the disaster these clinic closures will mean for our communities and our city but Mayor Emanuel been unwilling to listen to us, so we are taking drastic measures to avoid a tragedy and defend our human rights,” says N’Dana Carter, who goes to one of the city clinics and is a spokesperson for the Mental Health Movement.

The people barricaded in the clinic have enough food and supplies to stay for months and are threatening to do so unless Mayor Emanuel meets the following five demands:

  • Keep all 12 city mental health clinics public, open, fully funded and fully staffed
  • Stop plans to privatize Chicago’s 7 neighborhood health centers
  • Hire more doctors, therapists, nurses, social workers and other clinic staff
  • Reinstate the drug assistance program
  • Expand the public mental health safety net to cover unmet community needs

Posted in USA, HealthComments Off on Welcome to AmeriKa: Mental Health Clinic Facing Closure Occupied by Patients and Advocates

Scum of the Earth, Blood Hungry for the Kill

NOVANEWS
ed note–some spicy language but nevertheless an extremely well-done video discussing ‘who dunnit’ and who continues ‘doinit’

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Expect War. It’s Coming

NOVANEWS

By Stephen Lendman

When Washington plans regime change, wars are waged if other methods fail.

For over a year, Western-generated violence ravaged Syria. Assad remains firmly in control. As a result, expect war. All signs suggest it.

Annan’s so-called peace plan is sham cover for what’s planned. A longstanding imperial tool, he’s part of the problem, not the solution. Instead of pointing fingers the right way, he blames Syria for insurgent crimes.

So does Ban Ki-moon, calling Assad “fully accountable for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” He added that government forces are using the so-called April 10 halt to violence deadline as an “excuse” to increase it.

Assad deplores it and accepted deadline terms provided both sides comply. Under orders, Western-controlled insurgents refuse. Peace and stability assure status quo conditions Washington rejects. Regime change requires violence, the more the better.

On April 8, Itar-Tass headlined, “Syrian opposition refuses to give authorities guarantees on ceasefire,” saying:

Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Colonel Riad al-Asaad said the FSA “does not recognize the (Assad) regime and will not give any guarantees.”

Disingenuously he added that if government forces withdraw from cities, they’ll lay down arms. Doing so lets insurgents regain control over areas they previously held. Letting them assures continued violence, including appalling atrocities.

As a result, Syrian authorities responsibly demand written ceasefire guarantees. They only work when both sides comply. Insurgents refuse. Conflict won’t end. War winds blow stronger. Washington’s dirty hands escalate them.

Already waging multiple wars and numerous proxy ones, Obama craves more. While disingenuously supporting peace, Washington, rogue NATO partners, and regional allies continue arming, funding, training, and actively aiding insurgents other ways to violently oust Assad.

So-called Friends of Syria support “measures by the Syrian population to protect themselves.” In other words, they’re armed and supported to subvert, not advance, peace.

At the same time, on April 7, ahead of Easter Sunday, Obama’s holiday message belied his rage for war and violence. Wishing everyone “joy,” he’s planning more carnage and destruction.

Peace won’t be tolerated. War is policy. Mass killing always follows. At issue is global dominance. Body counts don’t matter. No holds barred hardball tactics escalate violence. Blame game strategy holds victims responsible. Fingers point the wrong way.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Reverts to Form

After accusing insurgents of targeted killings, summary executions, kidnappings for ransom, torture, hostage taking, and other violent crimes, HRW reverted to form as a reliable imperial ally. For decades, it served the same purpose. It’s doing it again now

In late March, it accused government forces of using local residents as human shields. So-called witnesses say so. Who they represent wasn’t explained.

On April 9, HRW went further headlining, “Syria: Extrajudicial Executions,” saying

“Syrian security forces summarily executed over 100 – and possibly many more – civilians and wounded or captured opposition fighters during recent attacks on cities and towns….

“Government and pro-government forces not only executed opposition fighters they had captured, or who had otherwise stopped fighting and posed no threat, but also civilians who likewise posed no threat to the security forces.”

Well-documented accounts report mass executions and atrocities carried out by insurgents. HRW, in fact, provided some evidence. Now it shifted gears. It’s blaming victims, not aggressors.

Its report titled, “In Cold Blood: Summary Executions by Syrian Security Forces and Pro-Government Militias” focused solely on Assad. Insurgent crimes were excluded. Doing so shows what’s involved.

War winds blow harder. HRW’s a willing agent. Being one leaves its hands bloodstained. It played that role many previous times.

No End of Violence in Sight

Ahead of the so-called April 10 deadline for both sides to halt violence, killer gang violence rages. Aleppo’s military headquarters was attacked. So was the nearby Minakh Air Base.

Daily, civilian and security force deaths mount. On April 8, the Syrian Human Rights Network (SHRN) called Western and regional insurgency support blatant hypocrisy.

It stressed that US control assures “double-standards” and “unipolar” policies. It added that supporting armed terrorist groups violates international law and UN Security Council Counter-Terrorism Resolution 1373.

Adopted unanimously on September 28, 2001, it calls for confronting international terrorism by “suppressing financing” and “criminaliz(ing) the willful provision or collection of funds for such acts.”

It addition, it said “States should also refrain from providing any form of support to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts; take the necessary steps to prevent the commission of terrorist acts; deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, commit terrorist acts and provide safe havens as well.”

The Security Council “expressed its determination to take all necessary steps to fully implement the current resolution.”

In fact, Washington, Britain, France, and other SC allies, did precisely the opposite. They reigned terror across North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. They lurched from one war to another. They plan more now.

On Saturday before Easter Sunday, Gregory III Laham, Melkite Greek Catholic Church Patriarch of Antioch, said Syrians are united against plots targeting their country.

“Syria is a central and pivotal country, which explains why the world’s countries are ganging up on it.” He added that they won’t prevail, that Syrians are united to protect their national identity, and they’re entitled to defend themselves against terrorist crimes.

Syria’s Grand Mufti, Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, said common sacrifice will let Syria emerge victorious. He added that “the blood of these martyrs will be a light and an illumination for all Syrians and a fire that burns those who sent weapons or wished destruction upon this country.”

The forces of evil will be defeated, he stressed. Syrians certainly hope so. The know the stakes and who’s at fault.

On April 8, Today’s Zaman headlined, “Military intervention in Syria not completely ruled out,” saying:

According to Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies (ORSAM) regional expert Veysel Ayhan:

“The situation in Syria could evolve into a military intervention with the support of global powers.” Arming insurgents subverts peace, he added. “If the Syrian opposition received armed support, then nobody should expect a truce at the end.”

Indeed not because Washington won’t tolerate it. On April 8, Ria Novosti said Annan’s plan won’t stop violence “because opponents of the Syrian Government are funding armed opposition in the country” while claiming to want peace.

According to Moscow State University’s Vladimir Bartenev:

“The situation is a mockery of the very idea of conflict settlement.”

He added that Assad had to accept Annan’s plan because rejecting it would have made matters worse.

Moscow Carnegie Center’s Alexei Malashenko said:

“The schizophrenic situation will go on while Assad is scrambling for a way to survive.”

Days earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Assad opponents of “egging on” violence. He added that efforts to oust him have little chance to succeed without direct NATO intervention.

Moscow-based Middle East Studies Institute head Yevgeny Satanovsky agrees, saying Assad so far prevails. He controls major cities. Insurgents were pushed out. They’re resorting to guerilla war.

At the same time, both analysts think Assad won’t survive long-term. Constitutional reform alone may replace him. Syrians will choose their own leaders. It’s their choice, not outsiders. Whether they’ll get it remains to be seen.

Washington has other ideas. Another client state is planned. Getting one assures the worst for Syrians. Most understand. Why else would Assad have majority support.

The longer Western backed violence rages, the more it grows. Alone, it’s not enough. It didn’t save Gaddafi. NATO, not insurgents, ousted him.

As a result, direct Western intervention against Assad is coming. When isn’t clear. It may happen sooner than imagined.

Washington wants regime change. When other tactics fail, war’s the final option. Expect it.

A Final Comment

Violence won’t end unless both sides agree. Syria justifiably wants written ceasefire guarantees. Opposition forces refuse.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dismissed the demand. She called it “more chaff being thrown up in the air at the last minute to deflect attention from the fact that the regime is not meeting (its) commitments….”

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said Assad began fulfilling Annan’s peace plan. He noted his active cooperation.

Nuland reveals Washington’s hand. It rejects Syrian good faith efforts. It blames Assad for insurgent violence. It plans greater intervention.

Turkey’s involved. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants a new Security Council resolution. Violence continues, he said, including cross-border clashes. Syrian fire allegedly hit a Turkish refugee camp.

He accused Assad of violating his territory. He warned that Ankara will “use its rights as guaranteed by international law,” without further elaboration.

He wants SC members “tak(ing) whatever steps they ought to under these circumstances.” He considers all options open and nothing ruled out. He may be following orders from Washington and other NATO powers.

Perhaps they plan a 1999 Yugoslavia-type intervention. Without Security Council authorization, NATO acted on its own. Mass killing and destruction followed.

Syria may be ravaged the same way. Erdogan’s comments suggest he’s on board. In 2011, he participated with Western powers against Gaddafi.

On April 10, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem affirmed government forces withdrew from some provinces. Nonetheless, opposition violence continues.

Lavrov agrees. Over 100,000 Russians live in Syria. It’s embassy got reliable information about insurgent landmines, explosives, heavy weapons use, and terrorist attacks on civilians and state security forces, in violation of Annan’s peace plan.

Responding to Erdogan, al-Moallem said Syria is entitled to defend its sovereignty. Turkey’s involved in the violence. It hosts insurgent forces. It lets them conduct cross-border raids. It supplies them with weapons. Doing so violates international law and hopes for peace.

Lavrov wants insurgents pressured to halt violence. Washington’s involved in arming them. It eggs them on. It wants protracted violence. It spurns peace and stability. So do other NATO powers and supportive regional states.

April 10 came and went. Violence continues. Signs suggest greater intervention. Washington holds back nothing for what it wants. It’s about total regional dominance to China and Russia’s borders, no matter the body count. Expect war. It’s coming.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Expect War. It’s Coming

What’s goin’ on at the Turkish-Syrian border?

NOVANEWS

By Pepe Escobar

There is a video that could be loosely translated as “Terrorist Turkish border opening fire on the Syrian side” that pretty accurately sums up what’s going on at the ultra-volatile geopolitical hotspot of the moment.

The voice over says, “This is the Syria-Turkey border, and this is an operation of the Free Syrian Army [FSA] … The Gate [that would be the Syrian side of the border, housing the Gate checkpoint] is going to be seized.”

What this means is that Turkey is sheltering the FSA right on the border, only a few meters – and not kilometers – away from Syrian territory. Way beyond hosting a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) command and control center in Iskenderun for months now – a fact already reported by Asia Times Online – Turkey has now advanced right to the border, enabling a back-and-forth by heavily weaponized guerrillas/mercenaries to attack a sovereign state.

Imagine a similar scenario happening, say, at a Mexican-US border in Arizona or Texas.

This can be seen as a very peculiar Ankara interpretation of “safe havens” and “humanitarian corridors” as outlined by what can be seen as the prime blueprint for regime change in Syria: a report [2] by the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, authored by the usual cocktail of Israeli firsters and Qatar-affiliated Middle East “experts”.

So expect to see this movie generating countless sequels; the FSA attacking a Syrian border checkpoint, killing soldiers and then retreating under a hail of bullets, which will inevitably hit a nearby Syrian refugee camp.

The border escalation graphically illustrates the wider scenario: civil war.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu – of the fabled “zero problems with our neighbors” policy – had to abruptly cut short his trip to China and return to Turkey because of the border escalation. It would be very enlightening to learn how the Beijing leadership told him that Turkey’s agent provocateur gimmicks amount to playing with a ball of fire.

The border escalation also proves that NATO has less than zero interest in the success of the ceasefire widely brandished as the Kofi Annan plan (that’s in fact a diluted version of both the Russian and Chinese plans). Trouble will escalate further – as suggested by a RT report. [3]

Obviously, a sovereign government – in this case Syria – had to demand written guarantees that its weaponized opponents would also abide by the Annan ceasefire.

The single-most important reason that they won’t – and they have already stressed so publicly – is that not only the FSA and splinter guerrillas will continue to be weaponized by Qatar and the House of Saud, and sprinkled with Libyan “rebels” flown into Syria; it’s that two United Nations Security Council permanent members – Britain and France – also have their own special forces on the ground, engaged in training, intel and combat operations.

The trillion Turkish lira question is whether Ankara will go one step beyond and actually implement those “safe havens”; that would amount to being directly involved in the Syrian civil war, ie, a declaration of war against Damascus. That’s exactly what the FSA has been begging the Turks to do. But even that would not be enough to topple the Bashar al-Assad regime.

As for the Assad police state/military apparatus, it just has to be wily enough not to be provoked into an orgy of torture, summary executions and artillery bombardment – the necessary condition to maintain the key diplomatic support of BRICS members Russia and China. Once again, it’s average Syrians, caught in the middle, who will be the tragic losers.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on What’s goin’ on at the Turkish-Syrian border?

Syria: Fighting rages in countdown to Syria truce

NOVANEWS

ed note–remember as you read this–the whole ‘truce’deal is a set-up. Even if Assad were to agree to the truce, the Western/Zionist funded & trained ‘rebels’ would continue killing both Syriantroops and civilians. The whole charade is made to fall apart in order to justify Nato or some other military ‘coalition’ stepping in and ousting Assad, PER ISRAEL’S ORDERS.

Reuters – Syria was due to observe a ceasefire from dawn on Thursday, but its fierce attacks on opposition neighborhoods in the run up to the U.N. deadline fuelled widespread doubts it would comply.

The Syrian army also showed few signs of withdrawing troops from urban areas, something supposed to have begun on Tuesday under the peace plan agreed with international envoy Kofi Annan.

Activists reported more tanks moving in to a major city even as a pledge to halt operations on Thursday morning was broadcast on state television. The Defense Ministry source quoted by the television giving the pledge on Wednesday also said the army would confront “any assault” by armed groups.

Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said on Wednesday night an advance planning team negotiating how U.N. observers would monitor the ceasefire had left Damascus after a week of talks.

He had no further comment on any progress reached by the team led by Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood so it was not clear whether the deployment had been agreed or called off.

Insurgents, who lack a clearly coordinated command structure, said they would stop shooting if Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces withdrew and observed the truce.

“The Defense Ministry announcement is a detour on Annan’s plan which clearly says he should pull back the tanks and end violence. We will wait until tomorrow and see. We will not act before tomorrow,” Qassem Saad al-Deen, Free Syrian Army spokesman inside Syria, told Reuters on Wednesday.

At least 12 people were killed on Wednesday, activists said.

Western powers have scorned Assad’s truce pledges, but so far lack an effective policy to curb the bloodshed, given their own aversion to military intervention and the resistance of Russia and China to any U.N. Security Council action.

Quoting from a letter to Annan from the Syrian foreign ministry, Fawzi said the government had undertaken “to cease all military fighting throughout Syrian territory as of 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) tomorrow, Thursday, 12 April, 2012, while reserving the right to respond proportionately to any attacks carried out by armed terrorist groups against civilians, government forces or public and private property”.

He also stressed that troops should pull back.

Few in the Syrian opposition believe Assad has any intention of complying with Annan’s plan to end 13 months of bloodshed.

“On the eve of the deadline for the full implementation of the ceasefire in Syria, there is no sign on the ground of compliance by the regime,” the main opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) said in a statement.

Activist videos posted on YouTube showed a shopping mall engulfed in flames after it was hit in bombardment of the Juret al-Shayah district of Homs and bombs crashing into the city’s Khalidiya district. The videos could not be verified and the Syrian government bars most independent media from the country.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said three people were killed in Homs and shelling killed a man, woman and child in Qusair near the border with Lebanon. Three people were killed near Damascus, the British-based opposition group said.

“Fighting is still raging as we speak, reflecting what has been an intensification of the violence that the Syrian government has pursued since April 1 when it committed to cease all hostile actions by yesterday,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said in New York on Wednesday afternoon.

“Its commitments, therefore, have little if any credibility given that track record,” she told reporters.

MORTAR BARRAGE

The SNC called for an international ultimatum to Assad if he failed to respect the ceasefire.

“We would like to see a unanimous decision by members of the Security Council that sends an ultimatum to the regime with a deadline that is not too far down the road that says on such and such a date enforcement measures will intervene,” SNC spokeswoman Basma Kodmani said.

U.N. action would need the support of Russia and China, which have blocked previous Security Council draft resolutions on Syria, citing concerns about a Libya-style intervention that would breach Syrian sovereignty.

“We will have another go at trying to persuade the Russians that the situation is deteriorating and the likelihood of regional conflict and civil war is increasing,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

China expressed “deep worries” about the violence in Syria and called for all sides to respect a ceasefire.

Russia stressed rebels battling to oust Assad must hold fire.

Turkey, hosting nearly 25,000 Syrian refugees, said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would speak with counterparts from the Group of Eight major nations on Wednesday by telephone. Across its border with Syria, fighting raged on Wednesday evening, refugees at the border town of Kilis said.

Ankara has urged the Security Council to adopt a resolution that would protect the Syrian people, saying Damascus had not kept its troop withdrawal pledge and had increased the violence.

An activist in the city of Hama said at least 20 armored vehicles had newly moved into two central neighborhoods, while an opposition supporter in Rastan, between Hama and Homs, said heavy shelling of the town began after the announcement by the Syrian government that it would respect the ceasefire.

The SOHR said two people were killed in army raids in Deir al-Zor in the Euphrates river valley far to the east. Artillery shelled the Jebel Akrad area in the coastal province of Latakia.

In Deraa, cradle of the revolt against four decades of Assad family rule, activists said troops backed by armored vehicles had flooded the city and were making house-to-house raids.

Activist Omar al-Hariri said he had never seen so many troops: “The army is exploiting the ceasefire to arrest more dissidents than ever and security forces are burning houses.”

“PART OF THE SOLUTION”

Annan, at a news conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, urged Iran to help resolve the violence and warned of “unimaginable consequences” if it worsened further.

Salehi said Syrians should be able to have free elections contested by political parties, but reiterated Iran’s opposition to any outside interference in Syria’s affairs and made clear the Islamic Republic wanted Assad to stay in charge.

“The opportunity must be given to the Syrian government to make changes, under the leadership of Bashar al-Assad,” he said.

Iran has unstintingly backed Syria, the only Arab nation to support Iran in its 1980-88 war with Iraq and the conduit for Iranian arms to Lebanon’s Shi’ite Muslim Hezbollah movement.

Syria, where Assad’s Shi’ite-rooted Alawite minority dominates a Sunni Muslim majority, has become an arena for a sectarian-tinged regional contest between Shi’ite Iran and Sunni Arab rivals aligned with the West and led by Saudi Arabia.

Assad’s forces have killed more than 9,000 people in the past year, according to a U.N. estimate. Damascus says rebels have killed more than 2,600 soldiers and security personnel.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Syria: Fighting rages in countdown to Syria truce

N-Korea’s rocket crashes into sea

NOVANEWS
Check this anti communist rhetoric and the useage of language with terms such as ‘reclusive’.
Note the contradictory tone and message from the following passage:

‘The US North American Aerospace Defence Command said it detected and tracked the launch of the rocket – which it called a missile – over the Yellow Sea; the first stage fell into the sea 100 miles west of Seoul, South Korea, while stages two and three failed.

 

“At no time were the missile or the resultant debris a threat,” Norad said in a statement.

 

The US, Japan, Britain and other nations had been urging North Korea to cancel a launch seen as a covert test of the rocket technology also used to send a long-range missile to strike the US’

With regards
Mark
Apologies for Saturday as I have family commitments, hope to see you all next week at study group.
Have a good week

The Tongch'ang-ni launch facility on North Korea's north west coast (© AP/DigitalGlobe)

AP/DigitalGlobe

 

The Tongch’ang-ni launch facility on North Korea’s north west coast (AP/DigitalGlobe)

North Korea’s much-anticipated rocket launch has ended in failure, splintering into pieces over the Yellow Sea soon after lift-off.

The reclusive communist state admitted in an announcement on state TV that a satellite launched hours earlier from the west coast failed to enter into orbit. The US and South Korea also declared the launch a failure.

The Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite was fired from the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, along the west coast, at 7.38am on Friday (11.38pm Thursday BST) but failed to reach orbit, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

“Scientists, technicians and experts are now looking into the cause of the failure,” KCNA said.

US and South Korean officials said hours earlier that the rocket splintered into pieces about a minute after lift-off over the Yellow Sea, calling it a provocative failed test of missile technology.

In response to the launch, Washington announced it was suspending plans to contribute food aid to the North in exchange for a rollback of its nuclear programmes.

The US North American Aerospace Defence Command said it detected and tracked the launch of the rocket – which it called a missile – over the Yellow Sea; the first stage fell into the sea 100 miles west of Seoul, South Korea, while stages two and three failed.

The foreign ministers of the G8 nations meeting in Washington condemned the launch, and the UN Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for later on Friday to discuss a response.

Despite the setback, Kim Jong Un, who has been given several important titles this week meant to strengthen his rule, was named on Friday as first chairman of the powerful National Defence Commission, while the late Kim Jong Il became “chairman for eternity”. The announcement came during a meeting of the Supreme People’s Assembly in Pyongyang, state media said.

At a massive gathering in Pyongyang, Kim Jong Un and other senior officials watched the unveiling of an enormous new statue of Kim Jong Il, which stood beside an equally large statue of Kim Il Sung.

Posted in North KoreaComments Off on N-Korea’s rocket crashes into sea

Defending Journalism – Judicial Review

 

Not FIT design © Jason N. Parkinson

On Wednesday 25 April 2012 freelance journalists and broadcasters will enter the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand in London, to fight for Judicial Review on the Dale Farm Production Order.

The National Union of Journalists has called the “Not FIT” protest at 9.15am outside the court, to defend journalism and to send a clear message the police – we will not be forced through production orders into being evidence gatherers for the police. ”Not FIT” refers to police evidence gather units known as Forward Intelligence Teams (FIT).

All those involved in the Dale Farm production order case have shown great concern at the increase in the use of production orders against the media over the last 18 months and the fear is journalists are being forced into becoming the eyes and ears of the state. The consequences of this can have serious implications towards the impartiality and safety of journalists in the future.

Please come and show your support in the latest battle for press freedom, to tell the police and the state, we are “Not FIT”.

The protest will be held at 9.15am, Wednesday 25 April 2012.

The Defending Journalism Parliamentary Meeting will be on Thursday 19 April 2012.

Previous posts

NUJ and Broadcasters Granted Judicial Review

Why I’m Resisting the Dale Farm Production Order

Journalists Not Evidence Gatherers

We Are Press Not Police Intelligence

Protecting Journalistic Material

Posted in Campaigns, UKComments Off on Defending Journalism – Judicial Review

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