Archive | April 5th, 2013

Fidel Castro to North Korea: nuclear war will benefit no one


Retired Cuban leader sternly cautions North Korea and US of dangers of nuclear war in first column in nearly nine month.

Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro said he was was appalled by the level of debate in the Republican race. Photograph: Reuters

Retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro published his first column in nearly nine months on Friday, urging both friends and foes to use restraint amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In the brief piece published in Communist Party daily Granma and other official media, Castro warned of the impact that nuclear war could unleash in Asia and beyond. He said Havana has always been and will continue to be an ally to North Korea, but gently admonished it to consider the well-being of humankind.

“Now that you have demonstrated your technical and scientific advances, we remind you of your duty to the countries that have been your great friends, and it would not be fair to forget that such a war would affect … more than 70% of the planet’s population,” he said.

Castro used stronger language in addressing Washington, saying that if fighting breaks out, President Barack Obama’s government “would be buried by a flood of images that would present him as the most sinister figure in US history. The duty to avoid (war) also belongs to him and the people of the United States.”

North Korea has issued a series of escalating threats in recent weeks as the United States and South Korea have conducted joint military exercises beginning in March, and expressed anger over U.N. sanctions imposed after it held a nuclear test in February. Pyongyang says it needs nuclear weapons for self-defense, and on Tuesday it announced it would restart a plutonium reactor that was shut down in 2007.

Analysts say the elevated rhetoric is probably calculated to push for concessions from South Korea, prod Washington into talks and bolster the image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But Castro called the situation “incredible and absurd,” and said war would cause terrible harm to the people of both Koreas and benefit no one.

“This is one of the gravest risks of nuclear war since the October Crisis in 1962 involving Cuba, 50 years ago,” he wrote, a reference to what is known in English as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Castro last published one of his columns known as “Reflections” on June 19, 2012. In October, amid the latest round of rumors of his purportedly dire health, he said he had stopped writing them not due to illness but because they were occupying space in official newspapers and state TV news broadcasts that was needed for other uses.

Letters signed by him have been released periodically, however, including a message of condolences last month following the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close friend and ally.

He also appeared in person in February at a voting station, bantering for more than an hour with poll workers, island reporters and children.

Castro has been out of office since 2006, when a near-fatal intestinal ailment forced him to hand power to his younger brother Raul.

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In Hezbollah stronghold, Lebanese Christians find respect, stability


In Hezbollah

In a home in a Shiite neighborhood in southern Beirut, images of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah share mantel and wall space with the Virgin Mary.

Randa Gholam, a Christian living the Hezbollah stronghold neighborhood of Harat Hreik, stands next to a poster of Hasan Nasrallah in her home on November 15, in Beirut, Lebanon. Gholam supports and admires Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, and says she feels and free to worship as a Christian in a predominately Shiite neighborhood.

The face of the revered Shiite militant leader appears on posters, a calendar, and in several photographs nestled amid those of Christian homeowner Randa Gholam’s family members. Mr. Nasrallah is, Ms. Gholam asserts amid a string of superlatives, “a gift from God.”

Lebanon’s sectarian divides are legendary, and the residents of the historically Christian neighborhood of Harat Hreik, now a Hezbollah stronghold, remember well the civil war that set Beirut on fire. They were literally caught in the middle of some of the most vicious fighting, with factions firing shots off at one another from either side of their apartment buildings.

But in the intervening years, as Hezbollah cemented its control over the suburb of Dahiyeh, which includes Harat Hreik, the militant group has been an unexpected source of stability and even protection for the few remaining Christian families. Just a few blocks away from Nasrallah’s compound is St. Joseph’s Church, a vibrant church that Maronite Christians from across Beirut flock to every Sunday.

“I feel honored to be here. They are honest. They are not extremists. It’s not like everyone describes,” Gholam says. “I can speak on behalf of all my Christian friends. They would say the same thing.”

The Christians living in Harat Hreik are a bit of an anomaly, to be sure. Christians represent a sizable population in Lebanon, though no census has been held in decades. And while Beirut’s neighborhoods are gradually becoming more integrated, they still divide largely along religious lines. The fragile peace is under deep strain as regional tensions swirl because of the conflict next door in Syria.

Not fanning the flames

In Hezbollah’s early days, its creed was “virulent,” and in the past, it may have been responsible for fanning some of those flames. But as Hezbollah gained power and joined the political system, that changed, says Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Endowment Middle East Center.

“It doesn’t carry with it an anti-Christian strain anymore,” he says. “That’s almost entirely gone. It’s not in their rhetoric, it’s not in their creed.”

Recently, when the Shiite holiday of Ashura was approaching, the streets were choked with residents shopping and passing out sweets and blanketed with black banners commemorating the martyrdom of Hussein Ali. But Christians live openly here, and they describe Hezbollah as a tolerant group that has steadfastly supported their presence, even sending Christmas cards to Christian neighbors like Gholam.

Gholam, who throws a party every year in honor of Nasrallah’s birthday and places a photo of him in her Christmas tree, is certainly an anomaly. But other Christian families also speak approvingly of their life under Hezbollah, especially when compared to its predecessor, Amal, which they say forced many Christian residents to sell their homes. In contrast, Hezbollah extended financial support to the Christian families when Dahiyeh needed rebuilding after the civil war and the 2006 war with Israel.

Rony Khoury, a Maronite Christian who was born in Harat Hreik and still lives in the same apartment, says he feels comfortable drinking alcohol on his front porch, in full view of members of Hezbollah, and his wife feels no pressure to don a head scarf or follow other rules governing Muslim women’s attire. They have property in a predominantly Christian area of Beirut, but have no desire to move.

“After Hezbollah came, we didn’t have any worries,” Mr. Khoury says, citing safe streets. “The security is No. 1 in the world. I leave my car open, I forget something outside…. It’s very safe now, under Hezbollah.”

Only between 10 and 20 of the pre-civil war Christian families remain, out of the thousands who lived there before the fighting. While the numbers are low, Khoury insists that many would come back, if only they could afford it. But property values have climbed, and many of those who left can’t afford to move back.

Of course, there are calculations behind Hezbollah’s magnanimity. Hezbollah’s political alliance with the Lebanese Christian political party, the Free Patriotic Movement, is important to the group, and it “bends over backward to keep those relations comfortable,” Mr. Salem says.

It might also be a way to one-up Sunnis in Lebanon, with whom Shiites are constantly vying for dominance. “They pride themselves on saying they’re more tolerant, more open than Sunnis. In Lebanon, it’s a point of pride,” Salem says.

Both Khoury and Gholam, as well as neighborhood Shiites who dropped by their homes, said there are far more issues with Sunnis.

“Shiite extremists like Hezbollah, they come to our church” as a show of support, says Khoury. “But Sunni extremists, like Salafis, they kill me, they kill you.”

Things could change

Ultimately, it is Hezbollah’s foreign backers dictating the mood in Harat Hreik. If it became politically expedient for Hezbollah to abandon its acceptance of Christian neighbors, Hezbollah would be compelled to make life difficult for them.

“For Iran and Syria, their main backers, Hezbollah is mainly a strategic force against Israel. That’s the point – not creating an Islamic state or fighting a sectarian war,” Salem says. “Hezbollah is a very top-down organization. If Iran decrees something else, something else will happen.”

But that’s not something Gholam can fathom.

“I will never even think about Hezbollah giving anyone a hard time. I can’t even think about answering that question,” she says.

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‘Habemus Papam’–Praise of new Pope by war-hungry Israel not a good omen for a war-weary world


Mark Glenn

Pt 1– ‘Our man in the Vatican’

At a time when organized Jewish interests worldwide are in perpetual screech mode over the fact there isn’t quite enough war, lawlessness, and human suffering, it’s a bad sign—bad sign indeed–when these same interests gather to sing the praises of a new Pope, said to represent the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.

Did we say ‘singing the praises’ of a new Pope? Our apologies then for short-changing the reader. It—the reaction on the part of organized Jewish interests to the election of one Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio–has been nothing less than a quiet riot of sorts, or at least mildly Purimesque.

And not just any ‘Jewish interests’ mind you, but the ‘capi di tutti capi’ of Mundus Judaica, meaning Abe Foxman of B’nai B’rith’, Ron Lauder of the World Jewish Congress (and others) who recently commented  to wit–

“We congratulate the new Pope and wish him well…Under his leadership in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio made important strides in maintaining positive relations with the Jewish community…He celebrated various Jewish holidays, including Chanukah where he lit a candle on the menorah, attended a Buenos Aires synagogue for Slichot, as well as a commemoration of Kristallnacht, the wave of violent Nazi attacks against Jews before World War II…In 2010, during a commemoration of the 1994 bombing, Cardinal Bergoglio called it ‘a house of solidarity’ and added ‘God bless them and help them accomplish their work,’ which showed his dedication and support in standing up against extremism…–Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director


“Pope Francis I is no stranger to us…In recent years he attended many events organized by the WJC and the Latin American Jewish Congress…We look forward to continuing the close relationship that has been fostered between the Catholic Church and the Jews over the past two decades and we are convinced that the new pontiff will continue on this path, that he will speak out against all forms of anti-Semitism both within and without the Catholic Church, that he will take action against clerics who deny or belittle the Holocaust, and that he will strengthen the Vatican’s relationship with Israel.”–WJC President Ron Lauder

All this kissy-face posturing on the part of players such as these (and the power centers they represent) is by itself more than a little disconcerting, considering the historical dislike these interests have maintained for all things Christian these last 20 centuries. After all, this is–as if we needed reminding–the era where Jewish-produced television programs with titles such as ‘Good Christian Bitches’are as mainstream as Wal Mart and McDonalds. Judaism–while indeed it has a long list of declared enemies, nevertheless maintains a contempt for Jesus Christ (and anything associated with Him) that is uniquely visceral and unlike anything else.

After all, who else receives the same ‘honor’ that Jesus Christ does within the pages of Judaism’s ‘holy of holies’–the Talmud–where He is depicted in a vat of boiling excrement?

So, indeed we’re on terra firma here in saying that goombahs like Foxman, Lauder and the rest of the gang simply DON’T do things like this, i.e. praising the head of the most powerful Christian church in the world…Not only is it not in their contract, it’s not in their constitution or character. The equivalent would be Al Capone throwing one of his made-to-order all-nighters, complete with wine, women and song, to celebrate Elliot Ness’s glorious arrival in Chicago. Foxman, Lauder and their affiliated Jewish organizations (both past and present) view Christianity in general (and Catholicism in particular) as enemy # 1 and across all fronts–religious, political, economic, social, cultural and moral.

So, as we said, at a time when the world as we know it is in full meltdown mode, and much of it due to the toxic influence that the same aforementioned entities of the non-Gentile persuasion have over the affairs of mortal man, the 666-dollar question that the wiser of us are forced to ask is obvious–

What gives here?

Truth be told, there isn’t an issue on which the Catholic Church and organized Jewish interests agree, beginning first and foremost with Jesus Christ, who (as indicated earlier) is as much reviled by Jews as He is revered by Catholics. And from there it’s as downhill as a piano falling out of a 300 story window, as you literally cannot get more polar opposite than the two.

And yet, not only Foxman and Lauder, but indeed the Jewish state itself–all are in near unanimity that something miraculous has just befallen God’s Chosenoids worldwide, as if the new CEO of Catholicism, Inc. were the reincarnation of Moses, Joshua or Herzl…Out there in the highways and byways of life, dancing the Hora and toasting the recent election of one Jorge Bergoglio, a.k.a. Pope Francis I, with shouts of ‘Mazel Tov’ and bottle after bottle of Magan David…

And lest the commentary from Foxman and Lauder be insufficient in accurately depicting an otherwise peculiar phenomenon, let us consider some of the other commentary on this issue–

‘Israel welcomes new Pope as ‘friend’ of the Jews’…

‘World Jews welcome Pope Francis’…

‘Why Jews should celebrate the ascent of Pope Francis’…

‘Israeli ambassador formally invites pope to visit’

‘Jews find early signs from Pope Francis encouraging’

‘New Pope pledges good relations with Jews’

Certainly disquieting words for sure, but not as ominous in their implications as this one–

‘Jews worldwide see an ally in Pope Francis’…


A simple, 4-letter/2 syllable word that sounds harmless enough, until you consider the Titanic-sized baggage accompanying it. There are friends, acquaintances, amigos, confreres, even comrades, but ‘ally’ conveys something else entirely, as it is a military term used solely within the context of war, struggle, conflict, etc…

So in what kind of ‘conflict’ do organized Jewish interests imagine themselves engaged where the former Cardinal Bergoglio can be counted upon to give aid and comfort? What are these interests doing (or planning to do) where the good offices of one Pope Francis can be called upon to provide intelligence, political support, muscle, money, or boots on the ground, literal or figurative?

Well, some of the statements–including those from the aforementioned Foxman and Lauder–do indeed shed some light on an otherwise curious question mark in this regard. Lauder states confidently that Francis will ‘speak out against all forms of anti-Semitism’, will ‘take action against clerics who deny or belittle the Holocaust’and will ‘strengthen the Vatican’s relationship with Israel.’

First and foremost, let us take note of both the verb and tense Lauder uses here–


Not ‘may’ or ‘might’, but rather ‘WILL’, as in the sun WILL rise in the East and WILL set in the West…

Secondly, there is the issue of–surprise, surprise–’anti-Semitism’ against which Pope Francis WILL ‘speak out’…

Now, a statement such as this–’speaking out against anti-Semitism’ conjures up ideas no more problematic in scope than statements, memos, maybe an Op-ed, etc, and nothing more…

However, the fact we have to remember is that when it comes to orgs such as ADL, WJC and individuals such as Foxman, Lauder & co, ‘speaking out’ carries much deeper and dramatic significance than would normally be the case. As the world has witnessed time and again, when organized Jewish interests get involved in the business of ‘fighting anti-Semitism’, one or more of the following things occurs–

A. People lose their ability to earn a living, or

B. People go to prison, or

C. People die, sometimes lots of them

Suffice it to say then that rarely is it anything less than loud and messy, and if it is one thing that organized Jewish interests do well, it is loud and messy, as evidenced not only by the various Judaic religious festivals celebrating the despoilment and slaughter of gentiles, but as well how they reenact these religious festivals in real time in places such as Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, etc.

Let us call to mind the rebellious, unruly ‘anti-Semite’ Jesus Christ and how he was ‘handled’ by the ADL and WJC of His own day–definitely a ‘loud and messy’ event if there ever was one…Fast forward to the as-yet unindicted war criminal George W. Bush who ‘spoke out’ against ‘anti-Semitism’ by invading and destroying several countries on Israel’s orders and murdering more than a million people…

And today of course we have his successor, Barack Hussein Obama, who ‘speaks out’ against ‘anti-Semitism’ by funding, training and arming terrorists in places such as Libya, Syria, etc, and who is personally responsible for having murdered hundreds of thousands of innocent people through the use of heavy bombers and drones…

Therefore, when Lauder, Foxman & co speak in innocuous terms such as these, what those within earshot must understand is that it is coded language, similar in species to the ‘making an offer you can’t refuse’ line from The Godfather, where a dialect of gangsterese is being used and with layers of meaning and innuendo attached that are not readily audible to the naked ear.

And it is within this context then that the ascendency of Jorge Bergoglio to the Holy See–LOUDLY hailed by organized Jewish interests worldwide–becomes as foreboding as chest pains to an elderly chain-smoker 50 lbs. overweight.

What kind of ‘favors’ can he be expected to perform in settling accounts with those pro-Zionist interests who pulled all sorts of magic strings on his behalf during the recent Papal election? Like every Western leader who owes his/her political victory to the behind-the-scenes players who put them there and who are expected to ‘ante up’ at the end of the game, what maneuver will the new Commander in Chief of an army of 1.2 billion hearts, minds and souls perform on the great chess board of Zionist geo-politics?

And yes, we can assume that indeed this is precisely what took place with the election (selection) of one Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new Pope, for as history has proven all too well, of the many things offered as ‘daily specials’ at the Kosher Kafe’, rigged elections always feature at or near the top. With the snap of two fingers, powerful Jewish interests ‘swayed the electorate’ of Jerusalem, 33 A.D. to pull the lever in the voting booth for the acquittal/release of a murderer named Barabbas while at the same time condemning a political rival named Jesus of Nazareth to death. More current to those with long-term memory problems, it was these same Jewish interests who brought about the election of a black man with a very Muslim-sounding name to the American presidency (twice) in the aftermath of events such as 9/11.

Certainly then, having achieved the aforementioned with both success and ease, these same interests could ‘persuade’ a handful of Cardinals to elect a man pre-selected to act as Israel’s personal agent in the Vatican.

Those who doubt (or fail to see) the importance that such a man as Bergoglio (who by his own admission is very favorably-inclined towards the Jewish community) portends within the larger chess game involving Israel and her place in the great contest of political wills need to consider a few facts and figures. As head of the Catholic Church, he is–at least in terms of numbers–the most powerful Western leader in existence today. He commands the loyalty and obedience of 1.2 billion followers, many of whom–like their crusading cousins of centuries past–would be willing to give their lives in any venture he were to endorse. With the same 3 simple words uttered by Pope Urban II in 1095  in blessing the 1st European invasion of the Middle East–’God wills it’–Jorge Bergoglio could effectively mobilize hundreds of millions of Catholic men (and women) in various Western countries either to fight (or support) whatever wars organized Jewish interests have decided must be fought for Israel’s benefit, whether it is Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, or any other Islamic (or non-Islamic) country on ‘the list’ of locales to be ‘wiped off the map’.

So, in other words, as far as these organized Jewish interests are concerned, the new Pope–whom they have praised inordinately–is the custodian of an enormous reservoir of political, economic and social energy almost equal in size to that of the Islamic world.

How fortuitous…Certainly not some shmuck with a tin cup in his hand on the street corner pleading for assistance, would the reader not agree?

As the old saying goes, numbers don’t lie, and in this case the math is both clear and simple–When the election (selection) was over and white smoke flowed out of the chimney of the Sistine chapel and the words ‘Habemus Papam’ (We have a Pope) were announced from the balcony of St. Peter’s, it was not the Catholic Church rejoicing the arrival a new leader, but rather the Synagogue and its satellite offices spread throughout the world celebrating a new puppet, just as various newspaper headlines have indicated all too clearly.

We can safely say then that the nut has been cracked in explaining the otherwise inexplicable joviality amongst these same Jewish individuals and organizations that normally have as much positive regard for the Catholic Church and its leaders as syphilis and gonorrhea have for penicillin.

In this case, it is more than obvious–based upon the fearless, shameless celebrating taking place within various power centers worldwide that the active ingredients of the antibiotic have been removed from the capsule and replaced with something else entirely, making it the ultimate political placebo.

And it is within this context then that a war-weary word has much to fear from all the celebrating taking place on the part of war-hungry elements closely associated with Zionist interests.

A bad omen, bad omen indeed…

Coming up–PT II–Argentina, False Flag Terrorism and the planned for ‘Latin American Spring’

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Must read, an amusing exemplary case of tribal progressive tantrum. This time it is because the outspoken George Galloway referred to me as ‘one of the world’s greatest’ (along side Julian Assange). Apparently Wiki’s vandal Roland Rance , Tribal commissar Haim Bresheeth and, Sabbath Goy Ben White are all there amongst other notorious AZZs, and they are in a state of panic. For some reason, their anti Atzmon capaign is leading nowhere.. my work has been endorsed by every person in this movement with IQ over 110.
Watch tribal operator Roland Rance lobbies (PDF),  AIPAC can learn a lot..
and this:
Those liberal Zionist have got only one motive to attack Gilad Atzmon, that motive is to please their racist Jewish masters. Mr Atzmon is the only writer who has the courage to criticize the racist Talmudic hate. My advise to them is to direct their criticism to the racist Zionist regime of of IsraHell.
Yours, Shoah


قراقع: انخفاض حاد في نبضاب قلب عيساوي وقد يرتقي شهيداً

قراقع: انخفاض حاد في نبضاب قلب عيساوي وقد يرتقي شهيداً

راديو ناس :  رام الله:قال وزير الأسرى والمحررين عيسى قراقع إن الأسير سامر العيساوي في وضع خطير جداً وأنه يمر بحالات غيبوبة بشكل مستمر وأن قلبه قد يتوقف في أي لحظة. 

وأضاف قراقع في اتصال مع زمن برس” أن وضع الأسير العيساوي مقلق للغاية وأن أطباء السجن قالوا بأن وضعه أصبح خطيراً وشكلوا لجنة من الاطباء للإشراف المباشر عليه بسبب احتمال حدوث أي تطور صحي طارئ على حياته وصحته.

وتابع قراقع قائلاً لمحرر زمن برس” نرجح أنه اذا استمر هذا الإضراب واستمر وضع الأسير بهذا الشكل، فإنه ربما يرتقي شهيداً، ولذلك تكثفت الاتصالات في الساعات الأخيرة من أكثر من جهة من أجل إنقاذ حياته”.

وأشار قراقع إلى أن الأطباء قالوا بأن قلب العيساوي قد يتوقف في أي لحظة، إضافة إلى إنخفاض حاد في نبضات قلبه، وآلام في الكلى وضعف في النظر.

يذكر أن إدارة مستشفى كبلان سمحت بشكل مفاجئ لمحامي عيساوي بزيارته ثم منعته من رؤيته عندما وصل.

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Gitmo hunger strike spreads amid protests at US embassies



Guantanamo Bay.(AFP Photo / Randall Mikkelsen)

Guantanamo Bay.(AFP Photo / Randall Mikkelsen)

On Day 56 of the Gitmo hunger strike, officials report the number of strikers has risen to 39, with 11 being force-fed. However, detainees say the number stands at some 130. Demonstrators in Yemen say US authorities are downplaying real numbers.

A prison spokesperson alleges that the number of self-starving strikers now stands at 39, rising from the previously stated numbers of 28 a week ago and 37 on Friday. However, one of the most widely-know prisoners, Shaker Aamer, has said through his lawyer that that the protest now encompasses some 130 men.

Saudi-born Aamer says he has lost 32lbs (14.5kg) since it began on February 6. He was confined in Guantanamo in 2002, and has since been the subject of an Amnesty International campaign requesting an end to his indefinite detention.

Lawyers say prisoners’ lives are at risk. Three were hospitalized last Tuesday as a result of the strike.

Representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross arrived on March 26 to investigate activities at the camp.

Of the 166 currently imprisoned in Guantanamo, only six are facing trial.

Carlos Warner, a defense lawyer for a Kuwaiti detainee called the hunger strike the biggest in the history of Guantanamo.

“The entire camp is striking as of today,” he told TruthOut on Monday.

Hundreds of protesters flocked to the streets of both Kuwait and Yemen over the weekend, with Yemeni demonstrators taking their banners to the US embassy.

The Yemeni government has requested that the US government send its nationals imprisoned in the US to Sana’a for possible rehabilitation – a practice employed with repatriated Saudis. However, the request has not yet received a response from Washington.


Relatives of Yemeni inmates held in the US detention center "Camp Delta" at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, brandish their portraits during a protest to demand their release, outside the American Embassy in Sanaa, on April 1, 2013.(AFP Photo / Mohammed Huwais)

Relatives of Yemeni inmates held in the US detention center “Camp Delta” at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, brandish their portraits during a protest to demand their release, outside the American Embassy in Sanaa, on April 1, 2013.(AFP Photo / Mohammed Huwais)

Some 90 protesters in the Yemeni capital were relatives of Guantanamo inmates.

Some banners mentioned prisoners by name, most notably Kuwait’s Fouzi Khalid Abdullah al Awda, who has also been detained without charge since February 2002. Most have been imprisoned for more than a decade.

There are two Kuwaiti prisoners in Guantanamo, and both have been subject to force-feeding – a practice which is tantamount to torture, according to a UN Human Rights Commission report in 2006.

Lawyers have reported that their dire situation matches that of the other striking detainees, and are prepared to die in the process of securing assurance that their requests will be met.

However, spokespeople continue to maintain a veneer of nonchalance. Earlier this month, Captain Robert Durand, a Guantanamo spokesperson, downplayed the plight of the prisoners to RT, saying that prisoners were housed in a “safe and humane environment.” Warner says that the severity of the strike is still being downplayed.

“The military is doing what it has always done at Guantanamo,” he said.

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The Palestinian children – alone and bewildered – in Israel’s Al Jalame jail


Special report: Israel’s military justice system is accused of mistreating Palestinian children arrested for throwing stones.

Palestinian children locked up in solitary confinement by Israel. Link to video: Cell 36: Palestinian children locked in solitary confinement in IsraelThe room is barely wider than the thin, dirty mattress that covers the floor. Behind a low concrete wall is a squat toilet, the stench from which has no escape in the windowless room. The rough concrete walls deter idle leaning; the constant overhead light inhibits sleep. The delivery of food through a low slit in the door is the only way of marking time, dividing day from night.

This is Cell 36, deep within Al Jalame prison in northern Israel. It is one of a handful of cells where Palestinian children are locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks. One 16-year-old claimed that he had been kept in Cell 36 for 65 days.

The only escape is to the interrogation room where children are shackled, by hands and feet, to a chair while being questioned, sometimes for hours.

Most are accused of throwing stones at soldiers or settlers; some, of flinging molotov cocktails; a few, of more serious offences such as links to militant organisations or using weapons. They are also pumped for information about the activities and sympathies of their classmates, relatives and neighbours.

At the beginning, nearly all deny the accusations. Most say they are threatened; some report physical violence. Verbal abuse – “You’re a dog, a son of a whore” – is common. Many are exhausted from sleep deprivation. Day after day they are fettered to the chair, then returned to solitary confinement. In the end, many sign confessions that they later say were coerced.

These claims and descriptions come from affidavits given by minors to an international human rights organisation and from interviews conducted by the Guardian. Other cells in Al Jalame and Petah Tikva prisons are also used for solitary confinement, but Cell 36 is the one cited most often in these testimonies.

Between 500 and 700 Palestinian children are arrested by Israeli soldiers each year, mostly accused of throwing stones. Since 2008, Defence for Children International (DCI) has collected sworn testimonies from 426 minors detained in Israel’s military justice system.

Their statements show a pattern of night-time arrests, hands bound with plastic ties, blindfolding, physical and verbal abuse, and threats. About 9% of all those giving affidavits say they were kept in solitary confinement, although there has been a marked increase to 22% in the past six months.

Few parents are told where their children have been taken. Minors are rarely questioned in the presence of a parent, and rarely see a lawyer before or during initial interrogation. Most are detained inside Israel, making family visits very difficult.

Human rights organisations say these patterns of treatment – which are corroborated by a separate study, No Minor Matter, conducted by an Israeli group, B’Tselem – violate the international convention on the rights of the child, which Israel has ratified, and the fourth Geneva convention.

Most children maintain they are innocent of the crimes of which they are accused, despite confessions and guilty pleas, said Gerard Horton of DCI. But, he added, guilt or innocence was not an issue with regard to their treatment.

“We’re not saying offences aren’t committed – we’re saying children have legal rights. Regardless of what they’re accused of, they should not be arrested in the middle of the night in terrifying raids, they should not be painfully tied up and blindfolded sometimes for hours on end, they should be informed of the right to silence and they should be entitled to have a parent present during questioning.”

Mohammad Shabrawi from the West Bank town of Tulkarm was arrested last January, aged 16, at about 2.30am. “Four soldiers entered my bedroom and said you must come with us. They didn’t say why, they didn’t tell me or my parents anything,” he told the Guardian.

Handcuffed with a plastic tie and blindfolded, he thinks he was first taken to an Israeli settlement, where he was made to kneel – still cuffed and blindfolded – for an hour on an asphalt road in the freezing dead of night. A second journey ended at about 8am at Al Jalame detention centre, also known as Kishon prison, amid fields close to the Nazareth to Haifa road.

After a routine medical check, Shabrawi was taken to Cell 36. He spent 17 days in solitary, apart from interrogations, there and in a similar cell, No 37, he said. “I was lonely, frightened all the time and I needed someone to talk with. I was choked from being alone. I was desperate to meet anyone, speak to anyone … I was so bored that when I was out [of the cell] and saw the police, they were talking in Hebrew and I don’t speak Hebrew, but I was nodding as though I understood. I was desperate to speak.”

During interrogation, he was shackled. “They cursed me and threatened to arrest my family if I didn’t confess,” he said. He first saw a lawyer 20 days after his arrest, he said, and was charged after 25 days. “They accused me of many things,” he said, adding that none of them were true.

Eventually Shabrawi confessed to membership of a banned organisation and was sentenced to 45 days. Since his release, he said, he was “now afraid of the army, afraid of being arrested.” His mother said he had become withdrawn.

Ezz ad-Deen Ali Qadi from Ramallah, who was 17 when he was arrested last January, described similar treatment during arrest and detention. He says he was held in solitary confinement at Al Jalame for 17 days in cells 36, 37 and 38.

“I would start repeating the interrogators’ questions to myself, asking myself is it true what they are accusing me of,” he told the Guardian. “You feel the pressure of the cell. Then you think about your family, and you feel you are going to lose your future. You are under huge stress.”

His treatment during questioning depended on the mood of his interrogators, he said. “If he is in a good mood, sometimes he allows you to sit on a chair without handcuffs. Or he may force you to sit on a small chair with an iron hoop behind it. Then he attaches your hands to the ring, and your legs to the chair legs. Sometimes you stay like that for four hours. It is painful.

“Sometimes they make fun of you. They ask if you want water, and if you say yes they bring it, but then the interrogator drinks it.”

Ali Qadi did not see his parents during the 51 days he was detained before trial, he said, and was only allowed to see a lawyer after 10 days. He was accused of throwing stones and planning military operations, and after confessing was sentenced to six months in prison.The Guardian has affidavits from five other juveniles who said they were detained in solitary confinement in Al Jalame and Petah Tikva. All confessed after interrogation.

“Solitary confinement breaks the spirit of a child,” said Horton. “Children say that after a week or so of this treatment, they confess simply to get out of the cell.”

The Israeli security agency (ISA) – also known as Shin Bet – told the Guardian: “No one questioned, including minors, is kept alone in a cell as a punitive measure or in order to obtain a confession.”

The Israeli prison service did not respond to a specific question about solitary confinement, saying only “the incarceration of prisoners…is subject to legal examination”.

Juvenile detainees also allege harsh interrogation methods. The Guardian interviewed the father of a minor serving a 23-month term for throwing rocks at vehicles. Ali Odwan, from Azzun, said his son Yahir, who was 14 when he was arrested, was given electric shocks by a Taser while under interrogation.

“I visited my son in jail. I saw marks from electric shocks on both his arms, they were visible from behind the glass. I asked him if it was from electric shocks, he just nodded. He was afraid someone was listening,” Odwan said.

DCI has affidavits from three minors accused of throwing stones who claim they were given electric shocks under interrogation in 2010.

Another Azzun youngster, Sameer Saher, was 13 when he was arrested at 2am. “A soldier held me upside down and took me to a window and said: ‘I want to throw you from the window.’ They beat me on the legs, stomach, face,” he said.

His interrogators accused him of stone-throwing and demanded the names of friends who had also thrown stones. He was released without charge about 17 hours after his arrest. Now, he said, he has difficulty sleeping for fear “they will come at night and arrest me”.

In response to questions about alleged ill-treatment, including electric shocks, the ISA said: “The claims that Palestinian minors were subject to interrogation techniques that include beatings, prolonged periods in handcuffs, threats, kicks, verbal abuse, humiliation, isolation and prevention of sleep are utterly baseless … Investigators act in accordance with the law and unequivocal guidelines which forbid such actions.”

The Guardian has also seen rare audiovisual recordings of the interrogations of two boys, aged 14 and 15, from the village of Nabi Saleh, the scene of weekly protests against nearby settlers. Both are visibly exhausted after being arrested in the middle of the night. Their interrogations, which begin at about 9.30am, last four and five hours.

Neither is told of their legal right to remain silent, and both are repeatedly asked leading questions, including whether named people have incited them to throw stones. At one point, as one boy rests his head on the table, the interrogator flicks at him, shouting: “Lift your head, you.” During the other boy’s interrogation, one questioner repeatedly slams a clenched fist into his own palm in a threatening gesture. The boy breaks down in tears, saying he was due to take an exam at school that morning. “They’re going to fail me, I’m going to lose the year,” he sobs.

In neither case was a lawyer present during their interrogation.

Israeli military law has been applied in the West Bank since Israel occupied the territory more than 44 years ago. Since then, more than 700,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained under military orders.

Under military order 1651, the age of criminal responsibility is 12 years, and children under the age of 14 face a maximum of six months in prison.

However, children aged 14 and 15 could, in theory, be sentenced up to 20 years for throwing an object at a moving vehicle with the intent to harm. In practice, most sentences range between two weeks and 10 months, according to DCI.

In September 2009, a special juvenile military court was established. It sits at Ofer, a military prison outside Jerusalem, twice a week. Minors are brought into court in leg shackles and handcuffs, wearing brown prison uniforms. The proceedings are in Hebrew with intermittent translation provided by Arabic-speaking soldiers.

The Israeli prison service told the Guardian that the use of restraints in public places was permitted in cases where “there is reasonable concern that the prisoner will escape, cause damage to property or body, or will damage evidence or try to dispose of evidence”.

The Guardian witnessed a case this month in which two boys, aged 15 and 17, admitted entering Israel illegally, throwing molotov cocktails and stones, starting a fire which caused extensive damage, and vandalising property. The prosecution asked for a sentence to reflect the defendants’ “nationalistic motives” and to act as a deterrent.

The older boy was sentenced to 33 months in jail; the younger one, 26 months. Both were sentenced to an additional 24 months suspended and were fined 10,000 shekels (£1,700). Failure to pay the fine would mean an additional 10 months in prison.

Several British parliamentary delegations have witnessed child hearings at Ofer over the past year. Alf Dubs reported back to the House of Lords last May, saying: “We saw a 14-year-old and a 15-year-old, one of them in tears, both looking absolutely bewildered … I do not believe this process of humiliation represents justice. I believe that the way in which these young people are treated is in itself an obstacle to the achievement by Israel of a peaceful relationship with the Palestinian people.”

Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan, who witnessed the trial of a shackled 14-year-old at Ofer last month, found the experience distressing. “In five minutes he had been found guilty of stone-throwing and was sentenced to nine months. It was shocking to see a child being put through this process. It’s difficult to see how a [political] solution can be reached when young people are being treated in this manner. They end up with very little hope for their future and very angry about their treatment.”

Horton said a guilty plea was “the quickest way to get out of the system”. If the children say their confession was coerced, “that provides them with a legal defence – but because they’re denied bail they will remain in detention longer than if they had simply pleaded guilty”.

An expert opinion written by Graciela Carmon, a child psychiatrist and member of Physicians for Human Rights, in May 2011, said that children were particularly vulnerable to providing a false confession under coercion.

“Although some detainees understand that providing a confession, despite their innocence, will have negative repercussions in the future, they nevertheless confess as the immediate mental and/or physical anguish they feel overrides the future implications, whatever they may be.”

Nearly all the cases documented by DCI ended in a guilty plea and about three-quarters of the convicted minors were transferred to prisons inside Israel. This contravenes article 76 of the fourth Geneva convention, which requires children and adults in occupied territories to be detained within the territory.

The Israeli defence forces (IDF), responsible for arrests in the West Bank and the military judicial system said last month that the military judicial system was “underpinned by a commitment to ensure the rights of the accused, judicial impartiality and an emphasis on practising international legal norms in incredibly dangerous and complex situations”.

The ISA said its employees acted in accordance with the law, and detainees were given the full rights for which they were eligible, including the right to legal counsel and visits by the Red Cross. “The ISA categorically denies all claims with regard to the interrogation of minors. In fact, the complete opposite is true – the ISA guidelines grant minors special protections needed because of their age.”

Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, told the Guardian: “If detainees believe they have been mistreated, especially in the case of minors … it’s very important that these people, or people representing them, come forward and raise these issues. The test of a democracy is how you treat people incarcerated, people in jail, and especially so with minors.”

Stone-throwing, he added, was a dangerous activity that had resulted in the deaths of an Israeli father and his infant son last year.

“Rock-throwing, throwing molotov cocktails and other forms of violence is unacceptable, and the security authorities have to bring it to an end when it happens.”

Human rights groups are concerned about the long-term impact of detention on Palestinian minors. Some children initially exhibit a degree of bravado, believing it to be a rite of passage, said Horton. “But when you sit with them for an hour or so, under this veneer of bravado are children who are fairly traumatised.” Many of them, he said, never want to see another soldier or go near a checkpoint. Does he think the system works as a deterrent? “Yes, I think it does.”

According to Nader Abu Amsha, the director of the YMCA in Beit Sahour, near Bethlehem, which runs a rehabilitation programme for juveniles, “families think that when the child is released, it’s the end of the problem. We tell them this is the beginning”.

Following detention many children exhibit symptoms of trauma: nightmares, mistrust of others, fear of the future, feelings of helplessness and worthlessness, obsessive compulsive behaviour, bedwetting, aggression, withdrawal and lack of motivation.

The Israeli authorities should consider the long-term effects, said Abu Amsha. “They don’t give attention to how this might continue the vicious cycle of violence, of how this might increase hatred. These children come out of this process with a lot of anger. Some of them feel the need for revenge.

“You see children who are totally broken. It’s painful to see the pain of these children, to see how much they are squeezed by the Israeli system.”

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on The Palestinian children – alone and bewildered – in Israel’s Al Jalame jail

MK accuses IsraHelli prison administration of slow murder

Zoabi demanded an urgent investigation into medical negligence in prisons with a focus on this particular caseZoabi demanded an urgent investigation into medical negligence in prisons with a focus on this particular case

An Arab member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, has accused the country’s prison administration of “slow murder” following the death in custody of Maysara Abu-Hamdiyya. Haneen Zoabi, MK, blamed the Internal Security Minister for medical negligence after Mr Abu-Hamdiyya was prevented from having proper treatment for his throat cancer. Reports say that he was only given painkillers and water for several months in an Israeli prison.In a message addressed to Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, Ms Zoabi said that the circumstances of the prisoner’s death point to “murder” through “medical negligence”. The care of prisoners is the responsibility of the Internal Security Ministry, she added, so the minister must also take full responsibility for the protests by other prisoners in the wake of Abu-Hamdiyya’s death.

Zoabi demanded an urgent investigation into medical negligence in prisons with a focus on this particular case. She wants to know why the prisoner was not given adequate treatment even after the late diagnosis of his disease. An earlier diagnosis through proper screening could, it is alleged, have prevented the rapid spread of the cancer. The MK also called for independent observers to look at the work of the Internal Security Ministry and prisons, especially with regards to medical follow-up and treatment of prisoners.

Naming the following Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel, Ms Zoabi insisted on a statement from the minister on their health status: Samer Al-Issawi, Iyad Jarjawi, Nasim Kattab, Yahya Salama, Akram Alrikhawi, Ashraf Abu Zraie , Nabil Natsheh, Abdul Salam Bani Odeh, Tamim Salem, Alaa Hassouna, Zakaria Hassan, Mahmoud Shabana, Alaa Al-Hams, Walid Akl, Ahmed Abu Al-Rub, Raed Drabiah, Abdelkader Musalma, Mourid Al-Akhras, and Samer Abu Ayash.

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on MK accuses IsraHelli prison administration of slow murder

New WikiLeaks cable reveals US embassy strategy to destabilize Chavez government

Hugo Chavez (AFP Photo / Leo Ramirez)

Hugo Chavez (AFP Photo / Leo Ramirez)

In a secret US cable published online by WikiLeaks, former ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to infiltrate and destabilize former President Hugo Chavez’ government.

Dispatched in November of 2006 by Brownfield — now an Assistant Secretary of State — the document outlined his embassy’s five core objectives in Venezuela since 2004, which included: “penetrating Chavez’ political base,” “dividing Chavismo,” “protecting vital US business” and “isolating Chavez internationally.

The memo, which appears to be totally un-redacted, is plain in its language of involvement in these core objectives by the US embassy, as well as the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), two of the most prestigious agencies working abroad on behalf of the US.

According to Brownfield, who prepared the cable specifically for US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the “majority” of both USAID and OTI activities in Venezuela were concerned with assisting the embassy in accomplishing its core objectives of infiltrating and subduing Chavez’ political party:

This strategic objective represents the majority of USAID/OTI work in Venezuela. Organized civil society is an increasingly important pillar of democracy, one where President Chavez has not yet been able to assert full control.”

In total, USAID spent some one million dollars in organizing 3,000 forums that sought to essentially reconcile Chavez supporters and the political opposition, in the hopes of slowly weaning them away from the Bolivarian side.

Brownfield at one point boasted of an OTI civic education program named “Democracy Among Us,” which sought to work through NGOs in low income regions, and had allegedly reached over 600,000 Venezuelans.

In total, between 2004 and 2006, USAID donated some 15 million dollars to over 300 organizations, and offered technical support via OTI in achieving US objectives which it categorized as seeking to reinforce democratic institutions.

Much of the memo details efforts to highlight instances of human rights violations, and sponsoring activists and members of the political opposition to attend meetings abroad and voice their concerns against the Chavez administration:

“So far, OTI has sent Venezuelan NGO leaders to Turkey, Scotland, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Chile, Uruguay, Washington and Argentina (twice) to talk about the law. Upcoming visits are planned to Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia.”

In his closing comments, Brownfield remarked that, should President Chavez win re-election during the December 2006 elections, OTI expected the “atmosphere for our work in Venezuela” to become more complicated.

Ultimately, it seems that the former ambassador’s memo wisely predicted a change in conditions. Following his re-election, President Chavez threatened to eject the US ambassador from Venezuela in 2007, amid accusations of interfering in internal state affairs.

Posted in USA, VenezuelaComments Off on New WikiLeaks cable reveals US embassy strategy to destabilize Chavez government

Zio-Arab League lacks legitimacy


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad

On March 26, the Arab League handed Syria’s seat to the so-called National Coalition during a two-day summit held in the Qatari capital, Doha.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the Arab League ‘lacks legitimacy’ as it gave Syria’s seat to the Western-backed opposition coalition.

“The Arab League lacks legitimacy. It’s a league that represents the Arab states, not the Arab people, so it can’t grant or retract legitimacy,” Assad said in an interview with the Turkish media published on the Syrian presidency’s Facebook page on Thursday.

On March 26, the Arab League handed Syria’s seat to the so-called National Coalition during a two-day summit held in the Qatari capital, Doha.

The Arab League also authorized its member states to send all the means of what it called self-defense, including weapons, to the foreign-sponsored militant groups inside Syria.

President Assad also stated, “Real legitimacy is not accorded by organizations or foreign officials or other country… legitimacy is that which is granted by the people. All these theatrics have no value in our eyes.”

Turkey’s Ulusal television and Aydinlik newspaper reportedly conducted the interview with Assad on April 2. It is scheduled to be aired in full later on Friday.

In other extracts of the interview published on Wednesday, the Syrian president accused Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of not having said “a single word of truth since the beginning of the crisis in Syria.”

Damascus says Ankara has been playing a key role in fueling the turmoil in Syria by financing, training and arming the militants since violence erupted in the country in March 2011.

Posted in Middle East, SyriaComments Off on Zio-Arab League lacks legitimacy

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