Archive | June 8th, 2012

Does the Devil Own all these Companies ???

NOVANEWS

brotherhoodss01_02.jpg

 

Left, Baphomet -Notice the crescent moon down at the right corner 

A reader, DD, wrote: “Please notice that all corporate logos now have the crescent half moon sickle. For example Bud Light ,AOL, Capital One, Minuteman Press, Weight watchers, Comcast , Ryder Trucking, Newport cigarettes, Sandisk, Washington Wizards and plenty more — too many to be a coincidence. With all copyrights laws etc. why are they all using the crescent half-moon? Do Freemasons own them? “

The crescent moon is an occult symbol that predates Islam. 

See also “Satanic Signs are Everywhere”  and

Masonic Corporate Logos 

logos.jpg

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Memories That Won’t Die–First Hand Account of Israel’s Murder of 34 American Servicemen on the USS Liberty

NOVANEWS


‘When the first missile hit, I thought one of the main lines from the boiler had blown. The whole ship shook so hard it felt like an earthquake. About 15 seconds later when I smelled what seemed like burned gunpowder and heard the Captain order everyone to General Quarters on the ship, I knew it wasn’t no blown pipe, but that the ship was under attack. Everything that took place afterwards moved in slow motion’.

So says ‘John Doe’, a survivor of the attack on the USS Liberty who spoke with American Free Press on condition that his name and rank remain anonymous. Lest anyone think that he is being dramatic or overly-paranoid when it comes to what might happen to him as a result of exercising his right of free speech in the land of the free and home of the brave, the truth is that he has good reason for being concerned. 40 years ago he was told in no uncertain terms by 2 Navy lawyers that he was not to divulge what he personally saw and heard on June 8, 1967 when the state of Israel attacked an unarmed naval vessel of the United States and murdered 34 American servicemen in cold blood. In the 40 years since that time, he has watched as those with the blood of his fellow shipmates on their hands have gotten away with murder and has no illusions about their willingness to do the same to him, a theme that has been made explicitly clear to him on many occasions through threatening phone calls and harassing emails.

‘We had no idea who was attacking us until it was all over…It seemed like it would never end, and the only reason I think it stopped was that they ran out of ammo. Had that not happened, I have no doubt that they would have finished us off for sure. They were out to sink us that day, plain and simple.’

He is surprisingly calm when he speaks about what he witnessed that day. At least by superficial appearances he does not wear any of the typical psychological scars commonplace with men who have seen battle up close and personal. For him, the scars he does wear are those of outrage–outrage that 34 Americans lost their lives in a Pearl Harbor-type sneak attack and that the government for which he worked bent over backwards to cover it up. Rather than swallowing the anger and allowing it to destroy him though (as it has done to so many others) he projects it outwardly, as evidenced by his comments–‘Those SOB’s oughtta get on their knees and thank God everyday that I have a wife and kids, because if I were a single man with nothing to lose I would’ve tracked them down a long time ago and dealt them a dose of justice they would never forget.’

He–like the rest of the crew of the Liberty that day–was taken completely by surprise when the attack began, just as Israel had planned. John Doe had started off the day executing his duties in the engineering plant, the heart of the ship that provided the lifeblood for all its vital functions. He–like the rest of the crew–knew that hostilities were taking place in nearby Sinai, but went about his duties confident that he was safe, as the Liberty was in international waters, and–as Americans are never permitted to forget–Israel was America’s ‘greatest ally’.

Besides this, the Liberty was not a vessel of war. In fact she was the most advanced intelligence gathering ship in the world, with no heavy guns, 45 antennae on top and flying a flag a blind man could see from a mile away. Looking back, the only thing that caused him to sense that strange events were afoot was the fact that there were over-flights taking place every 30-45 minutes by low-flying Israeli reconnaissance aircraft in the 6 hour period immediately preceding the attack and that Capt. McGonagle called the Duty Photographic Teams to the deck to document them. Other than that, everything was just another normal peaceful day–until the first missile struck.

‘When the skipper called for Battle Stations, we grabbed our life jackets and helmets…My job was to go and secure all the hatches in deck 01 to ensure watertight integrity for the ship, and it was at this point,’ he tells AFP, that ‘things begin to blank out.’

‘As I said, everything kind of moved in slow motion. We did what we spent months training to do and did so without thinking much about it.’ But there are some things that he will never forget and which wake him at night sometimes.

‘I’ll never forget that first guy I saw, running down the hall towards me, covered in blood, screaming for someone to help him, or that other guy with a hole in his neck and blood gushing out of him. I’m ashamed to say I don’t even remember who they were, even though they were my own crewman.’

He continues–‘Around midnight I came up to the mess hall and saw that it had been turned into a make-shift triage room. The blood was everywhere…on the floor…on the walls…you could smell it and tried not to slip on it.’ One of the things John remembers best is what he calls the ‘incoherent murmur’–the sounds of men, lying on the floor fighting to survive as the ship’s one doctor–Lt. Kiefer–and 2 navy corpsmen tried desperately to save them. ‘Unless you honed in on one of the men and concentrated, it all just sounded like noise, but then once you did, you could hear what was going on. Some prayed out loud, begging God to let them live. Some called out for their moms. We ran out of medical supplies pretty quick and so the men had to lie there until help came 18 hours later, groaning in agony. We later found out that Doc Keifer had taken several pieces of shrapnel in the gut that none of us knew about and didn’t even tend to himself until he did what he could for the rest of the men.’

Going up top to survey the damage, he saw that it was just as bad there as it was below. ‘The deck was usually clean as a whistle, but now it was covered with blood and littered with pieces of flesh, shards of bone and various other body parts of the fellas who had been up there when Israel unleashed hell on us. Bullet holes everywhere you looked. Seemed like there was a million of them.’

He related to AFP some of the other scenes visible on the deck that day–A shipmate lying near the main gun whose body was gone from the waist down…What looked like 5 gallons of blood that pooled in a low spot as it sloshed back and forth with the rocking of the ship…Another crewman whose foot was caught in a cable as he hung upside down, suspended a few feet above the deck, and a few feet from him, one spent casing from the gun. The gunner only managed to fire off one round in the attack before the lower half of his body was blown off.

In John’s opinion, the fact that only one round had been fired was just more proof as to how effective Israel had been in getting the Americans to lower their guard before they were sucker-punched with the sneak attack. John told AFP that Capt. McGonagle, the ship’s skipper, himself covered with blood from shrapnel he caught in his arm and leg, limped out on to the deck and ordered the bigger pieces of flesh and bone be collected and the smaller ones washed off the deck with the firehose. The larger remains were later buried in a singular grave at Arlington National Cemetery.

John Doe could go on all day if pressed to do so, but out of consideration for him the interview is cut short. He had a few parting words though about the matter–

‘Those SOB’s murdered 34 Americans and for the last 40 years our government has covered it up and protected those who did it. It started with one Texas clown named Johnson and continues to this day with another Texas clown named Bush. Had the Liberty attack been dealt with as it would have were it any other country, we wouldn’t find ourselves in this mess today. That region is not worth one drop of American blood, and the thought of them getting away with this is what p***** me off more than anything else.

John was told 4 decades ago by the US Government that he would get his chance to speak one day. ‘Well, it’s been 40 years and they haven’t contacted me yet, although I did manage to get $200.00 after the State Department filed a claim against the state of Israel for what took place that day. I was lucky, some of the other guys only received $56.00 for what they went through.’

‘Forty years ago they told us that speaking about it would be doing a ‘disservice’ to the dead. Hell, I can’t think of a bigger disservice than what’s been done to the fellas than the 40 years of silence they’ve gotten on this issue from their own government. We are tired of the silence, tired of the lies. We have been fighting the devil and his advocate for 40 years now, in this case, Israel being the devil and the US government being his advocate.’

For more on what took place that day, readers of AFP are encouraged to go to the website dedicated to the memory of the men of the USS Liberty found at www.ussliberty.org. Those interested in watching the video documentary on what took place entitled ‘Dead in the Water’ can write to the USS Liberty Veterans Association, c/o Moe Shafer/4994 Lower Roswell Rd, Suite 33/ Marietta Georgia 30068. The cost of the video is $25.00 and all proceeds go to the LVA for purposes of keeping the Liberty story alive.

2007 Mark Glenn

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Death in the Afternoon: The USS LIBERTY, Israel and You

NOVANEWS

Prologue

Forty five years ago on June 8th, 1967, the USS LIBERTY was deliberately attacked by Israel and two thirds of those on board the LIBERTY were either killed or wounded. The cover up began that very day and continues now all these years later. Today’s post commemorates that solemn event and is in three parts.

The third part is by “Cat” who is a long-time supporter of the men of the USS Liberty and who has also produced two haunting songs about what happened on June 8th, 1967. Part 3 is followed by one her songs from youtube. The video and music together will affect the coldest of hearts.

The second part is a partial and lightly-edited transcript of an interview that USS LIBERTY survivor Phil Tourney did recently with a young American veteran of the war in Afghanistan. There’s lots to ponder in their conversation – two ordinary working class Americans neither of whom understood that they were about to be involved in extra-ordinary things nor why. Lot’s to ponder. If you read nothing else in this post, read that transcript.

The first part is an excerpt from Phil’s book about the USS LIBERTY entitledWhat I Saw That Day. It is his own personal account of the attack and its devastating impact on his life and the lives of others ever since. It also will help explain Skulz’s depiction above of that awful day.

Part 1

As the [Israeli] helicopter hovered over us at about fifty feet above the deck, I could see that my worst suspicions had been proven correct. This was not a rescue helicopter. Instead, like a hornet-swollen hive there were commandos on board, special forces, armed with sub machineguns used for close-quarter combat.

I knew immediately they were not there to give us help. They were here to finish what their fellow assassins had been unable to accomplish. They were going to murder the entire crew of the USS LIBERTY. Then, once we were all dead and they were free to move about as they pleased, they would place explosives in strategic areas of the ship, detonate them and sink us all. The perfect crime, leaving no witnesses.

As the helicopter hovered for a moment, I saw that the troops inside were preparing to board the ship. From no more than 75 feet away, I stood like a dumb-ass in an open doorway where they had a clear shot at me. I locked eyes with one of my would-be assassins who was sitting on the floor of the helicopter. His legs were hanging out and he had one foot on the skid below as he waited for the order to repel down to the ship’s deck and finish us all off.

I stepped out of the hatch and stood on the deck of my battered and bloody ship. I thought about everything that had happened over the course of the last hour or so. My good friend, Francis Brown, his brains splattered all over the bridge. ..David Skolak, who was left in chunks of flesh, bone and internal organs. . .and all the other men whom I had never gotten to meet or know and who were now gone forever.

And so, the only thing I could do in that moment in letting my killers know what I thought about what they had done to my ship, to my friends and to my country, was to give them the finger. The one Israeli with whom I had locked eyes merely chuckled at the sight of something as impotent and harmless as my middle finger in the midst of all his machine gun-toting buddies, he simply smiled and gave me the finger back.

Suddenly, without any apparent reason or warning, the helicopter hauled ass out of there like a vampire being exposed to sunlight. The sight of them scurrying off sent a wave of euphoria through the crew.

Phil Tourney

What I Saw That Day

Part 2

The following partial and lightly-edited transcript is from Phil Tourney’s April 7, 2012 interview with a young sergeant who served in Afghanistan. The interview took place on Phil’s show on RBN. In many ways it is much more important than Phil’s account of the murder and betrayal of Phil’s shipmates on the USS LIBERTY. This story is one of the many sons (and daughters) of that betrayal.

Phil: Bryce I know that you are a person who went into the United States Army and a young man. What encouraged you to join the army at a time of war?

Bryce: Well, I wanted to serve my country. I wanted to do some good and I also wanted to make myself feel better and hopefully help eradicate who attacked the US.

. . .

Phil: What were your feelings about going to war in Afghanistan? Were you thrilled, were you happy, were you ready to go?

Bryce: Well my original feelings were that I originally wanted to go to Iraq because that is where all the hype and the media was – you know was focusing their – the media attention was on Iraq – so I was a little upset that I didn’t go to Iraq. So I said “Well, you are going to Afghanistan, there’s really not much going on there. [That] was my initial feeling and then when I got there I was immediately reminded that this is still an active war zone and that there is a lot of things happening over there.

Phil: Okay Bryce, I don’t need to go into exactly what your MOS was, what you did. [Note: MOS = Military Occupational Specialty.] But I do know that you stood in, that you went on a lot of missions and you kicked in a lot of doors. Let’s start there. When you first got there did you get an initiation type of thing? Did you get right on the front lines? How did that work for you?

Bryce: Well, when I initially landed and I landed in Bagram, Afghanistan, in the airfield. It was on Christmas Eve, 2008. My first encounter in Afghanistan was the first 15 minutes. We stood on the flight line getting ready to in process into the base. And actually my first encounter there was a fallen soldier. We stood on the flight line and we saluted his body wrapped in an American flag as he drove by. That was my first 10 minutes in the country. . .

Phil: I believe you said you went out of country, excuse me not out of country, but out of Bagram. Where did you go from there?

Bryce: Well I headed south with my unit to a little place called (drops out) in Logar province.

Phil: What was that again Bryce, I didn’t quite get it?

Bryce: It was FOB Shank. [Note: Foward Operating Base Shank in Logar province.]

. . .

Bryce: We got there and it was immediately non-stop action from there.

Phil: Okay, now when you say “non-stop action” I take that to mean that you were pulling a lot of duty, going on missions and doing things like that is that correct?

Bryce: . . . But mainly I mean just the enemy, the rocket attacks, the IEDs, the small arms fire. You know it was just constant. We would get rocketed three or four times a day.

Phil: . . . How do you know who is the enemy? . . . I can’t imagine the mental strain that was put on you every minute, every hour of the day not knowing who was going to blow you up, if it be a child or an old man or an old woman. How does a person handle that type of pressure?

Bryce: Well Phil the way I did was I treated everybody as the enemy. I mean there really is no way to tell who is harboring the Taliban or who is the Taliban or who is planting the IEDs at night that you run over or who is shooting at us when we drive by, you know. I mean we did everything we could for those people. We built them a mosque, we gave them humanitarian aid. We’d teach them how to use the weapons, try to build up their army. But at the same time even their army (drops out) are embedded with Taliban. You cannot trust a single person over there. It was really really tough to distinguish friend from foe over there.

Phil: . . . Did you ever do that and try to help the kids? Were they a hindrance or were they helpful? How did that work out for you Bryce?

Bryce: The children actually were terrible. They would come up in hordes, I talking like an entire elementary school back home. They would come just rip every piece of clothing and equipment on you that wasn’t attached. Then when you leave they throw rocks at you. They throw rocks, they just ask you for a Pepsi or a biscuit. You wanna help them out but at the same time these little kids are even [want] to throw rocks at Americans when they drive by. . .

. . .

Phil: . . . with the Afghan people and Bales. Now as I said before, I don’t condone what he did. As I didn’t condone the Mai Lai massacre . . . In your mind Bryce after being there, what were you there 14, 15 months?

Bryce: I was there for almost 13.

Phil: Okay 13 months in combat. You are a seasoned combat vet. And here we’ve got Bales that had spent three tours in Iraq and then they sent him to Afghanistan when they said they wouldn’t. Can you understand the stress and strain under a person – of his combat experience. Can you understand him going off like that or is there no excuse for it?

Bryce: Well I wouldn’t say there’s no excuse and I can’t say I can understand because being myself a disabled combat veteran I’ve learned that you can never understand what’s in someone else’s head. You know he must have been tormented and I don’t know what was going through his head or how he felt. But at the same time I don’t condone it and I do feel bad for the guy because he (drops out) such extremes and I feel bad for the families because I’m sure they were innocent civilians – at least some of them. I can’t really say one way or the other. I do feel bad for him but at the same time I don’t know what was going through his head.

. . .

Bryce: I think the army didn’t give him sufficient help. Yes, I think he probably needs a lot of help.

Phil: Yes. Absolutely he needs a lot of help. Absolutely. . . . Now you can answer this if you want to Bryce. Did you kill anybody in the service of your country in Afghanistan?

Bryce: Yes.

Phil: Okay, okay. Uh, How do you feel about that? Does that work on you pretty hard?

Bryce: Um, you know, I ah, I’ve learned to kind of just block it out. and a – try to forget about it but you know there’s um, there’s times where it does bother me yes. Um, you know I guess it’s just part of the process. But it is difficult at times, yes.

Phil: How about your fellow soldiers? What do they feel about Afghanistan? And be as honest as you can Bryce about it. Do they feel it is worth fighting these wars? Or do they feel like hey, we got Obama, Obama – excuse me. Osama bin Laden. And I know who killed him. I know who killed bin Laden and I’m not going to out the people that did it like the President of the United States and these other people to make headlines because I think it is disgusting, disgraceful, despicable, treasonous and dishonest to out the people that killed this guy. All they would have had to have done was say “Hey, we got him” instead of instead of bragging about who did it, all for political gain. And not two or three weeks or a month later we lose some of our finest people in the world in a helicopter that was shot down. And I think you’ll agree with that won’t you Bryce?

Bryce: Well I definitely agree that that was a terrible tragedy but I don’t speak for any other soldier than myself. When I was over there the consensus was to kind of put the politics out of your mind because you had your friend to your left and right and yourself to look after. We didn’t really think about really why we were there. We thought about just continuing the mission, completing it and going home safe.

Phil: I understand that. Now that you are home and you are out of the army, I know that you spent 14 or 15 months in the wounded warrior program debriefing yourself back into civilian life. As a sergeant honorably discharged twice out of the United States Army would you go back and fight in another war for a country that isn’t our country? And I mean that with all sincerity because I believe that in my heart and soul the two wars we were fighting with Iraq and Afghanistan is all for the benefit of Israel. We have bases all around surrounding Iran right now. And we have our soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen all in harm’s way all for a foreign government. What are your thoughts on that Bryce?

Bryce: My thoughts are I would not go back for any amount of money. I wouldn’t go back if it was – the only way I would go back to war is if it was on our shores. And meaning who we are fighting for – I can’t really say. But I know it’s not for the United States.

Phil: . . . And did the wounded warrior program after that – was it 15 months you spent in that trying to get yourself back together?

Bryce: It was 17 months.

. . .

Phil: Well Bryce, I honor you for your service. It is a blessing to America to have people like you that go (into) the military and do what they can for their country. What bothers me is when you go into the military and your country puts you in harm’s way as they did me and my shipmates and other people that we don’t even know about, put you in harm’s way to be murdered or slaughtered or blown up or just forgotten about. No I would never do it again either. . .

Bryce: . . . I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and when I was leaving my regular unit for the wounded warrior unit my commanding officer told me that he should have knocked me down to E-1 because I could no longer catch bullets for him.

Phil: Repeat that.

Bryce: My commanding officer when he (found out) I was leaving his unit for the wounded warrior unit he told me he would have knocked me down to E1 because I could no longer catch bullets for him.

Phil: Boy that’s a nice way to leave army, isn’t it?

Bryce: Yeah.

Phil: That’s a nice farewell, that’s a very nice farewell. Well, I’ll tell ya, I know your ears are messed up, your legs, your (psyche) and everything else. Bryce remember there’s people out there who love you and care about you and honor you and respect you and always will – and always will for your service. As well as all the other people that have served their country, dead, they are long gone, and the people will be long gone after you and I are gone and everybody else that has served this country. Let’s just pray that we don’t have to fight any more wars for Israel. . .

. . .

Phil: . . . What struck was that you said you had to relearn things, learn how to sleep again. How is that going for you?

Bryce: Well, it’s an ongoing battle that I’m dealing with. You know with suicidal tendencies and regrets. You know relationships that I have in my life are being affected. Every aspect of my life is being affected.

. . .

Phil: Welcome back folks. Here we go with the last few minutes of “Your Voice Counts” and I wanted to thank Bryce, Bryce Evan Tourney, my son, for your service, your honor, your dignity. I never knew the day you were born that you would still be fighting the war that I fought back in 1967 but you are. And I honor you son. Stay well, your family loves you and your country appreciates what you do, the country that really cares. Bryce we have another caller . . .

Part 3

Below is a copy of a comment Cat made to an earlier post on this blog. Treason seems to cross generations.

THIS IS A STORY YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CONCERNING THE USS LIBERTY!
http://america-hijacked.com/2012/05/30/john-mccain-calls-american-patriot-a-jerk-for-questioning-him-about-uss-liberty-cover-up/
One Response to “John McCain Confronted About USS Liberty Cover-up Memorial Day 2012”

Cat says:
May 31, 2012 at 12:47 pm
This so-called “heckler” is a true American patriot–who has dedicated a big part of his life–for many years– fighting for the Liberty crew, to get their truths out, and to help them finally get their justice! He was not “heckling”, he was asking a question, and speaking up for the USS Liberty survivors, and for the men that died who cannot speak for themselves!
The only “jerks” in this story are John McCain (http://america-hijacked.com/2011/09/02/john-mccain-praises-fathers-whitewashing-of-israels-attack-on-the-uss-liberty/), and all the people who booed James, didn’t stand up for him or let him ask his question, or tell his story–and also the people in the media who never even bothered to ask what the “heckler” was saying! They know nothing of the USS LIBERTY ATTACK, know nothing of the 34 brave young men who were killed that day, know nothing of the 171+ who were wounded that day (many severely), and they know nothing of the coverup of the attack, and of the threats made to these men if they told what they knew! They have gone through all of these 45 years being ignored, pushed aside, called conspiracy theorists, threatened, and called many other things that these ignorant people use when they are still living under their rocks, who turn away when anyone mentions the Liberty, and those who still stand by Israel–who is fooling and bullying far too many! Lyndon Baines Johnson wanted the Liberty “sunk to the bottom: “Two groups of fighter aircraft were sent to defend the Liberty but unbelievably they were recalled by the White House. The Admiral in Command of the sixth fleet called Washington to confirm the recall order. Secretary of Defense MacNamara came on the line followed by the president himself who told the Admiral, “I want that God-Damn Ship going to the bottom” One of the Navy bigwigs pushing hard for a sanitized Liberty inquiry was none other than Sen. McCain’s father, Admiral John S. McCain, Jr., Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces Europe. He wanted the investigation done in less than a week. Boston said a “proper inquiry would take at least six months.” Admiral McCain also wouldn’t permit Admiral Kidd to travel to Israel or to contact any potential Israeli witnesses. In fact, according to Boston, the written affidavits of 60 witnesses from the Liberty itself, who were hospitalized at the time of the restricted Inquiry, were also excluded from the final report and not considered as part of the evidentiary record. Boston is convinced, too, that the Israelis’ machine-gunning of the Liberty’s lifeboats, while the crew was trying desperately to assist their colleagues that were seriously wounded, was “a war crime.” Boston said higher ups wanted “to put a lid on everything” concerning the Liberty. THIS IS NOT OLD NEWS OR ANCIENT HISTORY–PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE UP, LEARN ABOUT THE LIBERTY, AND IT IS NOW TIME TO BE GIVEN A LEGAL PROPER INVESTIGATION, INSTEAD OF THE FRAUDULENT ONE THAT WAS DONE IN 1967! THE TIME HAS COME TO GIVE THESE MEN THE JUSTICE THEY HAVE WAITED FOR FAR TOO LONG!!
http://www.thecheers.org/Politics/article_3097_GIVE-US-THE-USS-LIBERTY.html#commentbox

Epilogue

Listen to the reed flute, how it tells its tale of separation

From the Masnavi of Jalal al-Din Rumi


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Chossudovsky’s New Book: “Wipe Israel off the Map” Statement by Iranian Leader was Gross Distortion

NOVANEWS
By Sherwood Ross
 

Global Research

The inflammatory statement that Israel should be “wiped off the map” attributed to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “was never made” by him, a distinguished Canadian economist says. in a recently released book entitled: Towards A World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War

To begin with, says Professor Michel Chossudovsky of the University of Ottawa, the words were not those of Ahmadinejad when he uttered them on October 25, 2005.

Rather, he was quoting the late Ayatollah Khomeini, and the point of Khomeini’s thrust was not to wipe Israel, the nation, “off the map”, but to change the Israeli regime, which is far different. “The rumor was fabricated by the American media with a view to discrediting Iran’s head of state and providing a justification for waging an all-out war on Iran,” Chossudovsky writes.

Examining the actual quote word by word, Ahmadinejad said in Farsi:

“Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.”

Readers will recognize the word “rezhim-e” which translates into English as “regime” and will note that the word “Israel” does not appear in the quotation. What Ahmadinejad did use was the specific phrase “rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods” which is a reference to “the regime occupying Jerusalem.” (For details, see analysis of Arash Norouzi)

As for wiping Israel “off the map,” the word “map” was never used, nor could it be as the Persian word for “map” is “nagsheh,” and it was not contained anywhere in Ahmadinejad’s speech. (Norouzi, op cit)

“Nor was the western phrase ‘wipe off’ ever mentioned,” Chossudovsky writes. “Yet we are led to believe that Iran’s President threatened ‘to wipe Israel off the map’ despite never having uttered the words ‘map,’ ‘wipe out’ or even ‘Israel.’”

The full Ahmadinejad quote translated directly into English is “The Imam (Khomeini) said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time,” Chossudovsky writes.

The word for word translation is as follows:

Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) shghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).(Norouzi, op cit)

The thrust of Ahmadinejad’s statement was a need for “regime change” in Israel, says Chossudovsky:  “Compare Ahmadinejad’s bland statement on ‘regime change’ with that of former Deputy Defense Secy. Paul Wolfowitz, who called for ‘ending states that sponsor terrorism.’ What Wolfowitz had in mind was the outright destruction of nation-states.”

“The alleged ‘wiped off the map’ statement has served not only to justify a pre-emptive attack against Iran but also to subdue and tame the antiwar movement.” It has succeeded in achieving this as in the U.S. “there are very few antiwar events focusing on U.S.-Israeli threats directed against Iran,” Chossudovsky writes. He adds:

“Iran is viewed by many within the antiwar movement as a potential aggressor. Its non-existent nuclear weapons are considered a threat to global security.”

The news article reporting the Iranian President’s speech was written by Nazila Fathi and appeared on Oct. 27, 2005 in The New York Times.  The lead sentence of that article was as follows:

“TEHRAN — Iran’s conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be ‘wiped off the map’ and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.”

Chossudovsky lifts the veil of distortion concerning the Iranian leaders’ comments in his new book, Towards A World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War (Global Research).

The author’s analysis focusses on how the “Wipe off the Map” statement has been used to portray Iran as a threat to Israel’s security, thereby justifying the formulation of a US-Israeli preemptive nuclear attack against the Islamic Republic.

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New campaign! Adidas exploitation: Not ok anywhere

NOVANEWS
 Dear aLL
 

As Adidas take centre stage as the official partner of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the abuse and exploitation of the workers who make their clothes has been exposed.

Adidas still refuse to make the most basic commitments like ensuring all the workers who make their clothes are paid a living wage. With just 50 days until the start of the Olympics, this is a unique opportunity to demand Adidas change their ways.

Today we’re turning up the heat and launching a new campaign for you to send Adidas a simple message: Exploitation. It’s not ok here. It’s not ok anywhere.

Not ok anywhere videoWorkers making Adidas clothes around the world are paid poverty wages, have little or no job security and face harassment or dismissal if they try and organise trade unions to defend their rights.

This is exploitation. It’s not ok for Adidas to treat workers like this here and it shouldn’t be ok anywhere else.

We are launching the campaign with a website and a hard hitting new campaign video.

Watch the video and share it with everyone you know.

You can also order a whole range of new free campaign materials and email Adidas demanding they respect workers’ rights

This summer we’re pulling out all the stops and piling on the pressure to demand that they change their ways.

We’ve exposed their abuse of workers’ rights, we’ve got them in the spotlight. Now we need you and everyone you know to get involved and demand Adidas end the exploitation of workers around the world.

Thank you,

Murray Worthy
Sweatshops campaigner

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Egypt Rings in the Old

NOVANEWS
Why Voters Went for Mursi and Shafiq
Egypt’s Salafi parties sacrificed their principles to back Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fatouh in their country’s presidential elections. But his downfall will likely discourage such bargaining in the future, holding back the rise of a pragmatic political center in Egypt.

The disqualification of ten candidates from Egypt’s presidential race, including the Muslim Brotherhood nominee, has convinced the Brotherhood that the military is conspiring against it to win the election. It’s now attempting to grab power from the army and threatening to take to the streets — potentially sparking a new round in Egypt’s revolution.

The disqualification of ten candidates from Egypt’s presidential election has not fundamentally changed the nature of the race. As before, voters are facing a decision about the scope and nature of Egypt’s coming transformation. And there are still candidates representing almost every position.


Election posters in Egypt (Jonathan Rashad / flickr)

A powerful sense of innovation and possibility surrounded the February 2011 protests that pushed Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak from office. If the results of the first round of Egypt’s presidential elections last week are any guide, that sense has all but disappeared. The old guard is back, and the revolutionary youth and the populists are out. The two remaining candidates, Muhammad Mursi and Ahmed Shafiq, represent the most hierarchical institutions in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood and the military. These institutions have been battling each other for more than half a century, and they won the first round not by finding creative ways to attract the center but by energizing their traditional bases.

Earlier this year, it seemed that things might turn out differently. One contender for power was the ad hoc youth coalition that pushed the revolution forward in January and February 2011. The young revolutionaries, including the Google executive Wael Ghoneim, shunned political hierarchy. Instead, they sought to establish a rhizomatic organization that stressed peer-to-peer communication. Disdainful of smoke-filled rooms and political intrigue, they asked supporters in May 2011 to submit questions via Facebook that they should ask the military (they got 850 suggestions), and they posted summaries of their meetings with the country’s top brass on the Internet. In a world of political transition, they were giving postmodern politics a try.

But as postmodern politicians they could not bargain with powerful interest groups in Egypt, including the military. Tahrir Square had been great theater, but when the stage lights switched off there was no way to keep the attention of the masses. In fact, the revolutionaries’ first defeat came more than a year ago in March 2011, when less than 25 percent of Egyptian voters joined them in opposing a slate of constitutional amendments meant to set the terms of Egyptian politics going forward. The group was defeated even more soundly in parliamentary elections last winter, when avowedly pro-revolutionary parties won just a handful of seats. Their disdain for formal leadership cost them influence; as one analyst put it in a private meeting, “It’s unclear if the revolutionary youth dislike politics or they’re just bad at it.”

In a race between Mursi and Shafiq, the edge likely goes to Mursi, whose advantage is not so much personal charisma as the Muslim Brotherhood’s countrywide network of activists.

So if Egypt wasn’t ready for postmodern politics, what about just plain modern politics — the kind one might find in any other country? Two candidates who bore that standard in the recent election were Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fatouh, an independent moderate Islamist, and Hamdeen Sabahi, an opposition leader since the days of Anwar Sadat.

In the run-up to the elections, Abou el-Fatouh had assiduously courted a diverse coalition by, among other steps, employing a Marxist political adviser and a secular media expert and stressing the importance of citizenship and personal freedoms. In doing so, he managed to win the confidence of conservative Salafis and liberal secularists. He also seemed willing to have measured confrontations with the military. For example, he insisted that the budget for the armed forces be transparent and part of the overall national budget. He also argued that the military needed to restrict its role to defending the country. In part, what was so refreshing about Abou el-Fatouh was that he was a normal politician. After decades of politics based wholly on loyalty — to religion, region, or institution — Abou el-Fatouh was different. His speeches were both vague and charismatic. His style allowed diverse constituencies to project their own views onto him.

Meanwhile, longtime opposition leader Sabahi ran as an unabashed nostalgist who sought to return to the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser and resurrect Egypt’s role as regional leader. Sabahi’s populist politics — his election slogan was “One of us” — resonated with tens of millions of Egypt’s poor. He called for boosting the minimum wage by more than 50 percent and for strengthening social welfare programs. In poor neighborhoods and villages, his posters were everywhere. His message also found favor among some revolutionaries looking to upend the status quo.

But, in the end, normal politics were not enough, either. In part, too many postmodern and modern candidates were competing for the same disaffected voters, diluting their power. Further, new candidates were relatively unskilled at get-out-the-vote efforts, so turnout favored the old guard. Now Egypt will return to the days of traditional patronage networks.

In a race between Mursi and Shafiq, the edge likely goes to Mursi, whose advantage is not so much personal charisma as the Muslim Brotherhood’s countrywide network of activists. He is likely to draw the totality of the Islamist vote — bringing conservative Salafis under his wing in addition to the modernist Muslim Brotherhood — along with revolutionaries and others who feel an urgent need for change.

Meanwhile, Shafiq enjoys support among Christians who fear an Islamist government, Egyptians yearning for normalcy after 15 months of tumult, and the clients of the old security state. He has the tacit support of many of the Gulf monarchies, the military, and others who seek to preserve as much as possible of Egypt’s Mubarak-era order. Yet his mere presence on the ballot incenses many of the revolutionaries. Much of the public fears that his thugs will wreak havoc before the election so as to boost the vote for the stability he claims to represent. Others worry that the military and intelligence organs of the government will steer the election results in his favor.

Many Egyptians seem disgusted by the choice and are likely to sit out the election. Turnout for the parliamentary elections was close to 60 percent, but in the first round of presidential polling, turnout was below 50 percent. If many of Abou el-Fatouh and Sabahi’s supporters stay home, as they threaten to do, turnout will be lower still. That would favor Mursi, whose well-oiled political machine excels at get-out-the-vote operations among his supporters. The Brotherhood faces strong opposition, it is true, but animus toward the ancien regime runs even deeper.

It is too early to know what Egypt’s exact future will be, but it is relatively clear what issues will shape it. The first is the relationship between civilian and military authority. The press had emphasized the financial side of this equation, positing that the military will be loath to give up any influence, given its considerable economic holdings.

Yet something even more important is at stake for the military: civilian oversight in general and the autonomy to decide promotions. Since the 1952 military coup that brought Gamal Abdel Nasser to power, Egypt’s military has controlled its own budget and been able to shape its own officer corps. The military had reason to pay special attention to the makeup of this body; Egypt’s civilian government had changed the nature of it in 1936, when it decided to open admission to the military academy to the sons of non-aristocratic families. In so doing, it created the cadre that, sixteen years later, overthrew Egypt’s monarchy.

Mubarak, a former Air Force general, was careful to cultivate senior officers who did not evince much interest in change. Rather than being creative and strategic, the officers who got ahead in Egypt tended toward the obsequious and exacting. As Mubarak aged, so, too, did the leadership on the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The average age in that body is well over 60. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the former minister of defense and, since 2011, the chair of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of Egypt, is 76. Without the octogenarian president to preside, retirements are imminent. And in the absence of either a president or a constitution, Egypt’s factions are set to battle over the shape of its officer corps.

If today’s military has a free hand on promotions, the new senior flag officers will be in the SCAF’s mold. If the parliament or an Islamist president is able to influence promotions (or if both are), the officer corps will increasingly reflect change and dynamism. Sympathies toward the Muslim Brotherhood had been enough to blacklist an officer in the past, but that may change with Egypt’s new political map.

Alternatively, an unreconstructed military is likely to seek to sustain its autonomy in Egyptian politics. If it were in the current mold, it would also likely see itself as a firewall against Brotherhood control of Egyptian politics and an antagonist to the Islamist civilian leadership.

The other fulcrum for Egypt’s future is the economy. It was already slowing at the time of Mubarak’s fall, in part due to a decline in foreign direct investment (much of which came from the Gulf). In addition, the sluggish global economy has cut into tourism and tolls from the Suez Canal. Political change in Egypt has accelerated the drop in each of these areas, and capital flight has set in. Indeed, many of the Gulf monarchies that helped propel Egypt’s economy in the past are now playing passive roles.

The concerns of those countries’ leaders are twofold. First, as one observed to me, “It’s easier to put money into Egypt than to get money out of Egypt.” Decisions now, as under Mubarak and his predecessors, are squeezed through an opaque and ponderous bureaucracy. Second, the Gulf monarchies are deeply disturbed by Egypt’s current course. Over three decades, they had grown to appreciate Mubarak for his deference, reliability, and caution. They mourned his fall and shudder at the humiliation of his trial. Meanwhile, they have no truck with the political Islamists coming to the fore. These countries are religious, but religion, as they see it, should be used to reinforce rulers’ power, not to challenge it. Gulf kings and emirs carefully cultivated their own clerical establishments to stress religious teachings that preach obedience to the ruler.

Since most Gulf states are interested in Egypt’s return to secular authoritarian governance, they quietly support Shafiq. Although countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have pledged billions of dollars in aid to Egypt, the money has been slow in coming. If Shafiq loses the general election, as most predict, few of those funds will come to Egypt at all.

Similarly, many Western powers have proclaimed an interest in Egypt’s economic success, but have been slow to promote it. Their own weak economies are one cause for their caution, but they, too, are concerned about what an Islamist-leaning Egypt might look like. For its part, Egypt has been unable to agree on the terms of a needed International Monetary Fund loan, as political parties battle over who should set those terms and who should get the credit.

At some point, after the presidential election and constitution have been settled, Egypt’s new leadership will seek to renegotiate its relations, including its economic ties, with the rest of the world. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party has talked about attracting more than $50 billion in investment by 2014, once the military has left power. Doing so would require spectacular creativity on the Egyptian side and spectacular confidence on the investor side. But if the presidential race is any guide, the political class is becoming less innovative, not more so.

 

 

 

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Egypt: Where the Salafis Go From Here

NOVANEWS
Why the Islamists Will Not Compromise
Zack Gold

The first round of presidential elections in Egypt pushed the revolutionary and populist candidates out of the running. The only options left are representatives of the old order — the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, which have been battling for power for more than half a century.

A supporter of Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fatouh holds a poster during a presidential rally in Cairo. (Asmaa Waguih / Courtesy Reuters)

Throughout the spring, many analysts covering Egypt’s presidential elections argued that Abdel Moneim Abou el-Fatouh, a Muslim Brotherhood leader until last summer, would at least secure a place in any runoff round, if not win it. In the months leading up to the vote, Abou el-Fatouh appeared to have captured a broad coalition of supporters, including several Salafi parties, which, this past January, had won a surprising 25 percent of the seats in Egypt’s new parliament. Yet their expected electoral power never materialized. Meanwhile, Abou el-Fatouh’s popularity faded, and he placed a distant fourth in the first round of voting on May 23 and 24.

Abou el-Fatouh’s downfall disappointed his many supporters, from secular revolutionaries to Christians and former Brotherhood youth. But it represented a particular defeat for the Salafi parties. They compromised their principles to back him, and his loss will likely discourage such pragmatism in the future.

As the Salafi parties now realize, their endorsement of Abou el-Fatouh, however politically practical, alienated their base.

From the beginning, Abou el-Fatouh attracted a diverse array of supporters. After he announced his candidacy in May 2011, the Brotherhood expelled him for violating its policy, at that time, of not fielding a contender. Even so, he retained the sympathy of many youth figures in the organization, who saw him as a champion for much-needed reform. Some even risked expulsion to endorse his campaign. As one of the first Brotherhood leaders to join the Egyptian revolution, Abou el-Fatouh also enjoyed the backing of many secular activists. And some Christians supported him in hopes that he would take a more moderate position than the Brotherhood or the Salafis on the role of religion in the state.

But Abou el-Fatouh’s real break came in April, when Egypt’s election commission disqualified Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an independent Islamist, and Khairat al-Shater, a deputy guide in the Brotherhood, from the race. For non-Brotherhood Islamists, Abou el-Fatouh and the underwhelming Mohamed Morsi became the only viable candidates to support. And despite being Islamist groups with similar hopes of making Egypt a state governed by sharia, the Brotherhood and the Salafi parties often disagree on how best to achieve those goals. Whereas the Brotherhood has called for the gradual introduction of Islamic law as a frame of reference for legislation enacted by the state, the Salafis have advocated for its immediate implementation as an actual code of law, complete with Koranic penal regulations. Seeing themselves as purists, the Salafis have argued that the Brotherhood is tainted by years of participating in politics and tacitly cooperating with the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

Unwilling to back a Brotherhood candidate, the two largest Salafi factions — the Nour party, which holds the second-largest bloc in parliament, and the Building and Development party — chose to back Abou el-Fatouh. This decision appeared to be more about politics than principle. Although a Brotherhood president would more likely move Egypt in the direction that the Salafis seek, they had more to gain politically by playing kingmaker to an independent Islamist candidate than by remaining in the shadow of the Brotherhood.

At first, the Salafi endorsement appeared to make Abou el-Fatouh one of the strongest candidates in the race. As Shadi Hamid, a Brookings Institution scholar, has noted, Abou el-Fatouh’s campaign was a “big-tent movement” because everyone from the Islamists to the revolutionaries saw him for what they wanted him to be rather than for what he actually was. But his diverse coalition quickly began to dissolve. In a debate with him, Amr Moussa, the former secretary-general of the Arab League and another presumptive front-runner in the race, repeatedly called his rival a flip-flopper, accusing him of being “a Salafi with the Salafis and a liberal with liberals.” As Moussa attacked from the left, telling secular voters that the ex-Brotherhood official was really an Islamic radical, the Brotherhood’s spokesman, Mahmoud Ghozlan, attacked from the right, claiming that Abou el-Fatouh was not Islamic enough.

Under this pressure, Abou el-Fatouh’s momentum collapsed. As his candidacy receded, the two most polarizing candidates, the Brotherhood’s Morsi and a former Egyptian air force commander, Ahmed Shafiq, took almost half the vote combined, and both moved on to the runoff election. Their success demonstrated that Egypt has yet to form a coherent political center. Although Abou el-Fatouh attracted a wide variety of constituents, those constituents did not rally around a unified agenda so much as choose the most palatable candidate, an unsustainable formula. In many ways, the Salafis had staked their endorsement of Abou el-Fatouh on their ability to mobilize conservative voters to support the more centrist candidate. To a large extent, Salafi voters either backed Morsi or simply stayed home. The recognition that the Salafi bloc could not sway them to Abou el-Fatouh will likely alter its strategy dramatically.

As the Salafi parties now realize, their endorsement of Abou el-Fatouh, however politically practical, alienated their base. Salafi voters did not display any enthusiasm for backing a candidate with whom they strongly disagree on a number of issues. Salafi parties either wrongly assumed that their adherents would follow the party line, or else did a poor job of explaining why they should vote for Abou el-Fatouh. Recognizing that Egypt’s Islamic conservatives will not sacrifice religious goals for political expedience, it is likely that the Salafi parties will avoid similar compromises in the future.

In fact, the Salafi factions are already shedding the language of political pragmatism. Failed candidates and their parties have attempted to win promises and concessions from the two front-runners before declaring their new allegiances. Abou el-Fatouh himself presented Morsi with a four-point plan that would help the Brotherhood address concerns over its monopolization of Egyptian politics, and the secular parties conditioned their support on the acceptance of several of their own conditions, such as a coalition that includes all political forces. But the Salafi parties backed Morsi without any such requests. Shaaban Abdel Latif, a leader of al-Nour, went so far as to say that it was not worth negotiating with the candidates for the party’s endorsement: Backing Morsi, the Islamist candidate, was a religious obligation.

To be sure, Salafi political parties will work with a non-Islamist president and remain open to working with other factions. But they are likely to do so only to advance their religious agenda. If they can strike deals on issues that matter less to them, such as relations with the United States and Israel, in order to influence Egyptian policy on education, social programming, or religious policies, then they can justify such bargains to their constituents without losing support. Beyond that, however, the Salafis will likely avoid compromise for the sake of gaining political power, hampering the rise of a pragmatic political center.

 

 

 

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Saudi Arabia: The Scramble for Domestic Help

by American Bedu

Ramadan 2012 will begin on or about 19 July 2012.  Many families are already beginning their Ramadan preparations.  Among many Muslim women in the Kingdom, a first priority may be engaging additional domestic help.

 

During Ramadan, Muslims around the world will fast without food or water from sunrise to sunset for a full month.  As a result, the two meals which take place respectively prior to the fast of the day and breaking the fast of the day are important.  

 

Prior to starting the fast and before the sun rises, Muslims will have “suhoor.”    This is the meal which must sustain them throughout the day while they fast.  “Iftar” is the meal during which the fast of the day is broken.  These meals are special occasions and it is not uncommon for large families and friends to gather and have these meals together.  Ramadan is also after all, a time of celebration of all Muslims.

 

During the last two weeks of Ramadan schools, businesses, banks, government offices and other organizations all close down until Ramadan and its subsequent celebration, Eid al Fitr, are over.  Families will generally gather at the home of the patriarch (or matriarch if the father is deceased) to spend the remaining two weeks of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr.  It is not uncommon to have 50 or more men, women and children at each suhoor and iftar.  My late husband was one of ten siblings who in turn were all married with children, plus some of the children were already married with children.  We had well over 100 family members together during Ramadan!

 

     Therefore, it is not surprising that Saudi women and other Muslim women in the Kingdom engage additional domestic help during Ramadan.  Family members who have housemaids will bring their own housemaid to wherever the family gathers to help out. Usually one or more housemaids are hired for a six to eight week period to accommodate the extra preparations for food and taking care of the home.

 

This is the time of year when an “independent” housemaid can double if not triple her monthly salary because there are usually not enough available housemaids for the demand.

Presently the going monthly rate for domestic help in the Kingdom is between SR 1300 – 1800   (US$345.92 –  478.97).  At Ramadan it is not unusual for a housemaid to receive SR 3000 – 3500  (US$798.29 – 931.33) per month.  The rates will vary depending on the nationality of the housemaid, her experience and whether she has a valid iqama.

 

Yes, many runaway housemaids or umrah visa overstayers (female) will seek positions as a housemaid.  This is not legal but continues to happen.  Of course anyone found harboring or supporting an illegal will face charges.  Yet Ramadan is a popular time for these women to find additional employment opportunities.

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Zionist puppet Abb-A$ sons get U.S contract

NOVANEWS

EXCLUSIVE-Firms run by President Abbas’s sons get U.S. contract

By Adam Entous

RAMALLAH, West Bank | Wed Apr 22, 2009 11:28am EDT

(Reuters) – Firms run by sons of President Mahmoud Abbas won U.S. government aid contracts to repair roads — and America’s image — in the Palestinian territories, previously undisclosed documents show.

A review by Reuters of internal U.S. government records about aid programs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip found that construction and public relations firms managed by Tarek Abbas and Yasser Mahmoud Abbas received over $2 million in contracts and subcontracts since 2005, when their father became president.

Other ventures backed by President Abbas’s allies have received loan guarantees, grants and agricultural assistance, the review showed. But U.S. agencies would not disclose the identities of all of the Palestinian firms which have been awarded contracts, grants or guarantees.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said Yasser Abbas’s Falcon Electro Mechanical Contracting Company and Sky Advertising Company, where Tarek Abbas is general manager, won the contracts through “full and open” competitive bidding.

Family ties were not a consideration, the U.S. agency said.

Likewise, Kareem Shehadeh, a lawyer for Abbas’s sons, told Reuters their ties to the president were not a factor, calling any suggestion of favoritism “unethical and baseless.”

U.S. support for President Abbas, including hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for Palestinians, and the business dealings of his sons and closest advisers are sensitive issues in the Palestinian territories, where joblessness more than doubled after the outbreak of a Palestinian uprising in 2000.

The sensitivity, and the secrecy, surrounding Washington’s role in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has only been heightened by Abbas’s power struggle with the Hamas Islamist group, shunned by Washington as a terrorist organization.

Hamas won a Palestinian election three years ago in part by tapping into popular anger over allegations of corruption and favoritism under Abbas’s long-dominant Fatah faction and predecessor as president, Yasser Arafat.

INFORMATION

Reuters has no information suggesting wrongdoing by anyone involved in the USAID contracts. Diplomats said USAID’s delay in releasing information requested by Reuters under the Freedom of Information Act may suggest a degree of political embarrassment.

Reuters obtained copies of USAID’s two prime contracts with Falcon and Sky but the agency redacted the names of company officials and employees listed on the contracting documents.

In doing so, USAID, which says it is a leader in promoting transparency, cited confidentiality and security concerns.

Dozens of other documents obtained by Reuters detailed how USAID, ahead of the 2006 election, funded projects to promote Abbas’s administration without disclosing its role. A 2007 U.S. “fact sheet” described a post-election strategy of providing “targeted, discreet support to emerging leaders, independent media, and selected civil society efforts.”

Watchdog groups questioned USAID’s level of transparency.

“When we’re supposed to be promoting democratic ideals and restoring trust and faith in the American system of government, it’s ridiculous that the American government isn’t releasing complete and accurate contract information,” said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight in Washington. He called the USAID redactions “disingenuous.”

According to USAID documents obtained by Reuters, Falcon signed a 2005 prime contract for a sewage project in the southern West Bank, while Sky launched a PR campaign in 2006 to improve America’s image in the Palestinian territories.

The two prime contracts initially totaled $2.5 million, of which nearly $1.9 million was paid out between 2005 and 2008.

Shehadeh said bidding on the prime contract won by Falcon began before Abbas senior was elected president in January 2005.

The total does not include subcontracts, a large portion of U.S. spending in the Palestinian territories. After initially saying the information was not readily available, USAID disclosed nine subcontracts totaling $28,144 for Sky between October 2007 and July 2008 based on a “quick search” of records.

In addition to its prime contract with Falcon, USAID said First Option Project Construction Management Co., another construction firm run by Yasser Abbas, was awarded $296,933 in subcontracts by one of the agency’s largest Western contractors in the West Bank, Colorado-based engineering giant CH2M HILL.

First Option’s Website lists “Yasser Mahmoud” as its managing director, without mentioning the Abbas family name.

ENTREPRENEURS

Shehadeh said there was nothing secretive about the USAID contracts and subcontracts, describing Tarek and Yasser, both U.S.-educated, as hard-working entrepreneurs who were trying to help their fellow Palestinians by developing the economy.

He said Yasser, whose ventures in the Middle East run the gamut from construction and cigarettes to life insurance, has lost out on business since his father became president. Tarek, whose business interests span from shopping malls to public relations, has also suffered, the lawyer added.

U.S. officials said there were no rules barring U.S. government contracts from going to the family members of top government officials, including sitting presidents.

“The selection process in both the cases of Sky and Falcon was done in strict accordance with U.S. government contracting rules,” Howard Sumka, USAID’s local director, said. “At no time was any consideration given to the fact that these firms were in any way associated with President Abbas’s sons.”

Describing Sky Advertising as the oldest and largest public relations firm in the area, Shehadeh said its selection by USAID “had nothing to do with Abbas being president.”

To make that case, Shehadeh noted that Sky had sought additional USAID contracts but did not get them. “We won it fair and square and we lost it fair and square,” he said.

Explaining its redactions of the identity of people working with USAID, the agency said revealing their names could expose them to groups in the West Bank and Gaza “including designated foreign terrorist organizations under U.S. law.”

 

(For copies of contracts and other supporting documents about this series, go to blogs.reuters.com/axismundi)

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Abb-A$ majority of Palestinians “collaborate with Israel.”

PA officials scandalized at disclosure by Abbas’s son of vast personal fortune
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Yasser Abbas blasts Hamas for crisis, says PA owes him money, most Palestinians collaborate with Israel.

PA officials scandalized at disclosure by Abbas's son of vast personal fortune

Photo: AP

Yasser Abbas, the son of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, revealed this week that he’s a self-made millionaire who started his own business shortly after the signing of the Oslo Accords. In an interview with the Dubai-based Al-Aswak.net economic magazine, Abbas’s son, who was named after former PA leader Yasser Arafat, also declared that “a majority of Palestinians,” including himself, “collaborate with Israel.” Yasser Abbas’s remarks raised many eyebrows in Ramallah, where one PA official described the interview as “scandalous and harmful.” “It would have been better if Yasser did not speak out, especially about his wealth,” the official told The Jerusalem Post. “His comments have embarrassed the Palestinian leadership.” In the interview, the first of its kind, the 46-year-old Yasser, who is aCanadian national, claimed that 25 percent of his income went to the PA budget. In return, he said, the PA government had never offered him so much as a free airline ticket or one pill of Aspirin for his daughter. He revealed that the PA owed him a lot of money, but that he was unable to use his influence and status to collect the debt as he wished to avoid being accused of exploiting his father’s position. “I worked very hard to collect my fortune,” he said. “I became wealthy before my father was elected president and I will continue to do business after his term in office expires.” The son also revealed that he owns a number of companies (FalconTrading Group) with an annual income of $35 million. He complained, however, that he had never received any privileges due to the fact that he’s the son of the PA president. He said that he first arrived in the PA territories in 1996, obtained a PA-issued ID card and established his first construction company – First Option – with a relatively modest capital. He said that his business was so successful that within a short period of four years he established a major real estate firm. One of his smaller companies, Falcon Tobacco, has a monopoly over the marketing of US-made cigarettes such as Kent and Lucky in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, he added. Yasser also launched a scathing attack on the Hamasgovernment, holding it responsible for the current economic crisis in the Gaza Strip. He said that he didn’t expect the international aid to be sent to the Palestinians as long as the power struggle between Hamas and Fatah continued. “I have noticed that the so-called Hamas government has spent 50 million euros,” he said. “I don’t know where they got the money from and how they spent it.” Asked if he was doing business with Israelis, Yasser replied: “How can you get merchandise into the Gaza Strip if the Israeli and Palestinian ministers of economy don’t talk to each other? Dozens of Hamas supporters are receiving medical treatment in Israeli hospitals. Most Palestinians collaborate with Israel, while the rest live on the rain.”

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