Archive | September 5th, 2015

‘Jimmy Carter’s cancer is God’s punishment for his behavior toward Jews’


Former president recently announced he has cancer that has spread to his brain.


Former US president Jimmy Carter

Former president Jimmy Carter, 90, recently announced he has cancer that has spread to his brain.

For some Jews (and evangelical Christians), the cause apparently is obvious. No, it’s not his genetic makeup, or the spread of a mass from his liver to his brain. It’s divine punishment for his behavior toward the Jews.

Not so fast, writes Rabbi Benjamin Blech on, ” DIRTY ZIONIST WEBSITE”   the website of Orthodox Jewish outreach organization Aish HaTorah: “Don’t presume to know that his illness is a result of his anti-Semitic views.”

Blech, an Orthodox Jewish author and professor of Talmud of at Yeshiva University, writes:

“There are those already proclaiming with prophetic certainty that Jimmy Carter is being punished by God for his sins against Israel and the Jewish people. Carter’s cancer is the divine edict for his anti-Semitism. And with that smug analysis of heavenly justice these false prophets have unwittingly besmirched millions of righteous and God-fearing people who similarly find themselves suffering from incurable diseases and facing painful deaths.”

“Carter is not the only one dying from cancer. People in my own family were victims; pious and holy individuals I knew personally were targets of agonizing final ailments. But the Torah taught us not to dare make judgments based on equating someone’s suffering with sin and be guilty of the crime of the friends of Job.”

One can only guess how those who believe Jimmy Carter’s cancer is divine retribution are explaining the 90-plus years he has lived in relatively good health, trotting around the globe, selling books and maintaining a position of great influence.

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Another Weapons Deal Inked as Saudis Zio-Wahhabi Strike Yemen with US Bombs ”Video”


Just Foreign Policy’s Robert Naiman discusses Saudi King Salaman’s meeting with President Obama 



Robert Naiman is Policy Director of Just Foreign Policy. Naiman has worked as a policy analyst and researcher at the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. He has masters degrees in economics and mathematics from the University of Illinois and has studied and worked in the Middle East. Naiman edits the Just Foreign Policy daily news summary and writes a blog on Huffington Post.


Another Weapons Deal Inked as Saudis Strike Yemen with US Bombs

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

Saudi King Salman met with President Obama at the White House this Friday to discuss a billion-dollar arms deal and foreign policy disagreements between the two countries. These of course include the nuclear deal with Iran, and ongoing civil war in Syria and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Joining me now to discuss all of this is Robert Naiman. Robert is policy director at Just Foreign Policy.

Robert, thank you so much for joining us today.


PERIES: So Robert, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have had a longstanding public disagreement over policy towards Iran and Syria. Give me a sense of what they are and what came out of this meeting in terms of those issues.

NAIMAN: Well, like the Israeli government, the Saudi government has been critical of what they fear is the coming rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran, of which I would say the most prominent part is the Iran nuclear deal, with everybody wondering what comes next. Is this isolated, or are there other things coming out of this? Many people want other things to come out of it. Many people wanted the U.S. and Iran to talk about Syria and Yemen and other regional issues. That of course is something that the Saudis fear.

However, the Saudis have had a very different kind of dispute with the U.S. than the Israeli government has. Not nearly as confrontational, and in fact the Saudis have accepted that the Iran deal is going forward. So that, those I think are the fundamental dynamics. As you said, there’s a list. The U.S. has supported Saudi Arabia in Yemen, I think inadvisably, but perhaps understandably from their point of view. That’s a lot of human destruction. The U.S. has somewhat significantly supported Saudi Arabia in Syria. Again, that’s led to a lot of human destruction. We’re seeing some of the consequences of that now spill over to Europe in terms of their refugee crisis.

So there’s a lot of questions to be answered going forward. I’m in the camp of people that hope this will, we’re going to see a more fundamental turn where the U.S. will move on from this to try to use diplomacy to resolve other regional conflicts, including the civil war in Syria and including the civil war in Yemen.

PERIES: Now, though the U.S. officials consistently refer to the destabilizing activities of the Iranians they often miss to point out the destabilization activities that the Saudis are conducting in the region, including the war in Yemen, support for opposition groups in Syria and propping up regimes against the Arab Spring revolts in places like Egypt and Bahrain. Not to mention their role itself in the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and so on. Their role in supporting that.

Why is the relationship between the Saudis and the U.S. in spite of all of this in the region and in spite of 9/11 so tight?

NAIMAN: Well first of all, you know, the word ‘destabilizing’ is a very funny word. Regardless of what you think of Iranian policy in Syria or the Russian policy in Syria, to call it destabilizing is quite odd. Regardless of what one thinks of the Assad government, it is the internationally recognized government. It does hold a seat at the United Nations. So it’s strange to call Iran and Russia destabilizing when they’re supporting the internationally recognized government. Again, that’s different from whether you like the government or not. Its legal status is clear, and of course the Saudis and also the U.S. to some degree, at least until recently, supporting armed opposition groups attacking the Syrian government. Which you know, again, if the word ‘terrorism’ has any objective meaning surely apples to armed groups fighting the Syrian government. In fact, some of these groups are classified as terrorists by the U.S. government, like Al-Qaeda, like ISIS, like Al-Nusra, which is the Al-Qaeda affiliate.

So that’s, that sort of Iran destabilization, I think that’s a boilerplate thing that probably nobody in the U.S. government really believes. That’s something that they put out to say that we’re concerned about Iran and Syria, we’re concerned about Russia and Syria. Of reassuring our allies.

The relationship between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia goes back to World War II when the United States took over from Britain as the European patron, as the colonial power, as the guarantor of the Saudi monarchy. And this has been something sort of outside of question in the United States. Certainly up until 9/11. And even after 9/11 was not really subjected to public scrutiny, although it did lead to a shift in Washington of people saying, okay, well maybe we have to be allies with the Saudis, but we need to figure out some kind of shift because these people are crazy. You know, the 15 of the 19 hijackers being Saudi, questions of links to these people from the Saudi royal family. We don’t really know. That section of the 9/11 report is still classified.

But what we do know is, what’s been in dispute, is that something like 90 percent of the ISIS ideology, something like 90 percent of the Al-Qaeda ideology, is basically the same as the ruling ideology of Saudi Arabia. We saw in the last week Thomas Friedman in the New York Times have a column calling out the role of Saudi Arabia in promoting this ideology in the Arab and Muslim world, which has clearly fostered anti-American terrorism, anti-pluralist terrorism, sectarianism, so on and so forth. And it’s unfortunately been a long-standing U.S. policy to tolerate this and even sometimes connive with it. As I wrote in my chapter on Syria in the WikiLeaks book that just came out, it was actually U.S. policy to support Saudi efforts to promote sectarianism in Syria, with consequences that we see today.

PERIES: Now Robert, at the heart of this visit is also a billion-dollar weapons deal, when Saudi Arabia is pounding the hell out of Yemen at the moment with those weapons. And this is a situation where one of the richest countries in the region is attacking the poorest country in the region. How does the U.S. justify this kind of arms sales to a nation that’s doing this to Yemen?

NAIMAN: Well, I’m sorry to say that selling arms is so practiced in Washington as a normal currency of U.S. foreign policy that it’s rarely controversial. It is considered sort of, this is a thing that we do. This is how we reward our friends, is we sell them U.S. weapon systems. And of course it doesn’t hurt that the Pentagon-industrial complex profits handsomely from these relations. We saw it in the case of the military coup in Egypt, when supposedly, according to U.S. law, U.S. aid to the Egyptian government should have been cut off.

The Pentagon contractors screamed and cried [inaud] wait, those are our contract. That’s our money. Don’t you dare cut that off. So of course, the Pentagon contractors love it that the United States is selling more weapons to Saudi Arabia. And from the point of view of the Obama administration this is something very easy to give. We have the weapons. Nobody’s going to–hardly anyone will complain if we sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia.

I don’t think the conflict in Yemen is going to end by us blocking the U.S. government from selling weapons to Saudi Arabia. I think what’s more likely, I hope, is that there will be political pressure on the administration to use its influence to push for diplomatic and political resolution.

PERIES: Let’s hope so. Robert Naiman, thank you so much for joining us today.

NAIMAN: Good to be with you.

PERIES: And thank you for joining us on the Real News Network.

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‘Victory for the People’ as Guatemalan President Resigns in Disgrace


U.S.-backed Otto Pérez Molina stepped down over corruption charges, but Guatemalans say his crimes include torture and acts of genocide

Protesters in Guatemala City on Thursday. (Photo: Esteban Biba/European Pressphoto Agency)

Protesters in Guatemala City on Thursday. (Photo: Esteban Biba/European Pressphoto Agency)

School of the Americas-trained Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina, who oversaw acts of torture and genocide during the country’s decades-long civil war, stepped down just before midnight Wednesday disgraced by unprecedented corruption charges—and by a popular movement against impunity for the ruling elite.

Pérez Molina tendered his resignation just one day after Guatemala’s Congress voted to strip him of immunity from prosecution for corruption, which includes fraud, receipt of bribe money, and a customs fraud scheme. His downfall follows that of numerous other government officials, including the country’s former vice president, who is currently incarcerated as she awaits trial.

But many argue that it is the popular protest movement led by ordinary people—which some have called the “Guatemalan Spring“—that brought justice to the highest echelons of government. Adding to regular protests mounted since April, Indigenous people, workers, and students across the country staged a general strike in late August demanding the ouster of the president.

“They got him for corruption charges, but he is a war criminal.”
—María Luisa Rosal, School of the Americas Watch

“The resignation is a victory for the people of Guatemala who have been on the streets, not just since April but for decades, struggling to build a counter memory to the impunity that exists in Guatemala,” María Luisa Rosal, a field organizer for the rights group School of the Americas Watch, toldCommon Dreams.

Rosal is from Guatemala and her father was disappeared during the country’s internal armed conflict in 1983. She declared: “This is the first time something like this has happened in Guatemala, a country that has been historically repressed through dictatorships and coups with U.S. backing, especially through the 36 years of internal armed conflict that ended in 1996—but also after, through free trade agreements.”

La Prensa Libre reports that as news of Pérez Molina’s resignation broke Thursday morning, crowds gathered in the streets in front of the judicial palace to celebrate the “triumph of the people.”

Pérez Molina, for his part, told Congress in a letter that he is resigning to “face justice and resolve my personal situation.”

Many from within Guatemala’s protest movement say that the push for Pérez Molina’s resignation is just the beginning. “It’s important that our citizens continue this movement with courage and with deep maturity,” Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Indigenous rights campaigner who was persecuted during the civil war, recently declared.

“They got him for corruption charges, but he is a war criminal,” said Rosal, who also turned her focus towards the United States.

“The United States has a historic and huge responsibility for human rights atrocities in Guatemala, not only because they trained and funded them, but there were people on the ground—CIA operatives in torture centers in Guatemala in the 1980s,” said Rosal. “We need to begin holding U.S. leaders accountable for overt and covert roles in human rights violations.”

The White House and U.S. embassy in Guatemala have so far remained silent on the former president’s resignation.

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‘Despair of a Generation’ as Violence Blocks Education for Millions


UNICEF report finds nearly 14 million children across the Middle East and North Africa prevented by war and conflict from attending school

Syrian refugee children at a UNICEF-backed kindergarten in Turkey in January 2014. (Photo: UNICEF/Noorani)

Syrian refugee children at a UNICEF-backed kindergarten in Turkey in January 2014. (Photo: UNICEF/Noorani)

Even sanctuaries of learning are not spared from the war and upheaval sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, where nearly 14 million children are prevented from attending school both within their home countries and as refugees, a devastating new report from UNICEF finds.

Released Thursday, Education Under Fire (pdf) concludes that the school systems in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Palestine, Sudan, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey are profoundly impacted—either directly or indirectly—by war.

The report comes amid growing outcry at the inhumane treatment of refugees, many of them children, who cross the Mediteranean Sea to Europe in a bid to escape war, violence, and poverty.

Roughly 2.7 million Syrian, 3 million Iraqi, 2 million Libyan, 3.1 million Sudanese, and 2.9 million Yemeni children are currently not receiving their education, bringing the total to 13.7 million, the report concludes.

In many cases this is because direct attacks on schools and related infrastructure make attending classes impossible. Just looking at Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya alone, nearly 9,000 schools are not being used, either because they have sustained too much damaged, are sheltering displaced people, or have been overtaken by combatants.

“I have seen children trying to write on the ground because they want to learn so much,” Jameela, head teacher at a school in Sa’ada in northern Yemen, told researchers.

In Gaza, where young children have already “lived through three major military confrontations in six years,” Israel’s 50-day military assault last summer caused “massive destruction to infrastructure including schools—and left deep scars in the psyche of children and their caregivers,” states the report.

Meanwhile, the school systems of other countries are not absorbing refugees. In Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, over 700,000 Syrian refugee children are unable to receive an education.

“The destructive impact of conflict is being felt by children right across the region,” said Peter Salama, regional director for UNICEF in the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement accompanying the report. “It’s not just the physical damage being done to schools, but the despair felt by a generation of schoolchildren who see their hopes and futures shattered.”

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As Young Refugee Boy Identified, Photos Representing His ‘Outcry’ Reverberate


Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi drowned along with his mother, Rehan, and older brother, Galip, while the family attempted to cross the sea from Turkey to Greece on Wednesday

A paramilitary police officer carries the lifeless body of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi after he drowned when the boat he and his family members were in capsized near the Turkish resort of Bodrum early Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015. (Photo: Nilüfer Demir/DHA)

As new details emerge about the young Syrian boy, now identified as three-year-old Aylan Kurdi—who drowned along with his mother, Rehan, and older brother, Galip, while the family attempted to cross the sea from Turkey to Greece on Wednesday—the global impact of the pictures has perhaps fulfilled the “sorrowful” hopes of the photographer who took the images in order to “make heard his outcry.”

It has now been reported that the father, Abdullah Kurdi, was the only member of the family of four to survive when the boat they and other refugees were traveling in capsized off the Turkish coast. In all, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency, 12 people drowned when two boats attempting to reach the island of Kos capsized. Eight of the 12 were children. The news agency subsequently reported that several individuals had been arrested on smuggling charges related to the incident.

Other new information includes how the Kurdi family—which had fled their war-torn hometown of Kobani to reach safety—had been sponsored by a relative for asylum in Canada, but that the application had been rejected.

“I heard the news at five o’clock in this morning,” Teema Kurdi, Abdullah’s sister, told theNational Post on Wednesday. Teema described how the telephone call came from Ghuson Kurdi, the wife of another brother, Mohammad. “She had got a call from Abdullah, and all he said was, my wife and two boys are dead.”

According to the Post:

Teema, a Vancouver hairdresser who emigrated to Canada more than 20 years ago, said Abdullah and Rehan Kurdi and their two boys were the subject of a “G5” privately sponsored refugee application that was rejected by Citizenship and Immigration in June, owing to the complexities involved in refugee applications from Turkey.

The family had two strikes against them – like thousands of other Syrian Kurdish refugees in Turkey, the UN would not register them as refugees, and the Turkish government would not grant them exit visas.

“I was trying to sponsor them, and I have my friends and my neighbours who helped me with the bank deposits, but we couldn’t get them out, and that is why they went in the boat. I was even paying rent for them in Turkey, but it is horrible the way they treat Syrians there,” Teema said.

Just over twenty-four hours after his tragic and untimely death, the emotional power of the images of Aylan’s lifeless body have become undeniable.

As the Wall Street Journal notes,  broadcast shows across Europe on Thursday “were already comparing the image’s power to Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1972 photograph of a nine-year-old Vietnamese girl running naked, suffering agonizing burns from a napalm attack.”

Nilufer Demir, the photographer from Turkey’s Dogan News Agency who captured the haunting photographs, described the scene on the beach by saying she was “petrified” by the moment but took the pictures to fulfill her role as a journalist and make an attempt to give the young boy some kind of voice.

“Three-year-old Aylan Kurdi was lying lifeless face down in the surf, in his red t-shirt and dark blue shorts fold to his waist,” she said in an interview with Dogan. “The only thing I could do was to make heard his outcry. At that moment, I believed I would be able to achieve this by triggering the shutter of my camera and took his picture.”

And what did she feel as she witnessed this? “Pain and sorrow,” she responded to the question. “I have pictured, witnessed many migrant incidents since 2003 in this region, their deaths, their drama. I hope from today, this will change.”

Meanwhile, of course, the photos sparked conversations about the ethics of publishing such images prominently in news stories or sharing them unadulterated on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. For his part, Peter Bouckaert, director of emergencies for Human Rights Watch, described in a blog post why he contemplated long and hard before making his decision.

On the personal side, he explained of the photographs, “What struck me the most were his little sneakers, certainly lovingly put on by his parents that morning as they dressed him for their dangerous journey. One of my favorite moments of the morning is dressing my kids and helping them put on their shoes. They always seem to manage to put something on backwards, to our mutual amusement. Staring at the image, I couldn’t help imagine that it was one of my own sons lying there drowned on the beach.”

In the end, and despite reservations, he explained why he did share the photo:

Some say the picture is too offensive to share online or print in our newspapers. But what I find offensive is that drowned children are washing up on our shorelines, when more could have been done to prevent their deaths.

It was not an easy decision to share a brutal image of a drowned child. But I care about these children as much as my own. Maybe if Europe’s leaders did too, they would try to stem this ghastly spectacle.

Social media continued to be the biggest driver behind the sharing and discussion of Demir’s photographs of Aylan, even as joyful pictures of the young boy and his older brother emerged and people urged the world to see them as they “should be remembered“:


Aylan Kurdi and his older brother, Galip. (Photograph: Twitter)


Aylan with Galip

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New Research Documents Growth of Extreme Poverty


‘We must reform our public policies to ensure that nobody faces a poverty so deep that many of us wouldn’t even believe it exists in this wealthy nation.’ (Book detail: $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America)

A new book by two of our nation’s foremost poverty researchers, Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, reveals the desperate circumstances that hundreds of thousands of children and their parents increasingly face: living with virtually no cash income in an economy that requires it to meet nearly every human need.

In $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Edin and Shaefer trace this disturbing trend to the 1996 welfare law, which has gradually but inexorably gutted the cash assistance safety net for families with children. Attention to this often neglected side of our nation’s extreme economic inequality is especially timely as policymakers from both parties consider reauthorizing the 1996 welfare law. As the book vividly shows, we are long overdue to take a different path — one that upholds our nation’s values, including our responsibility to protect and empower the most vulnerable by eliminating extreme poverty.

Living on less than $2.00 per person per day is the World Bank’s standard for measuring poverty in developing countries. Through rigorous data analysis and in-depth interviews, Shaefer and Edin document the dramatic rise in extreme poverty since the 1996 welfare law. Similarly, research by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities confirms a rise in “deep poverty” — income below half the poverty line, or below roughly $10 per person per day for a typical family — and shows that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), created in 1996, reduces deep poverty far less than its predecessor, Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Research shows that early childhood poverty causes short- and long-term harm, in turn posing enormous costs to our economy.

To be sure, many experience $2.00-a-day poverty for months, not years. But trying to make ends meet with such minimal cash resources can be devastating even for the shortest periods. For many families, perilous work, unpredictable work schedules, and housing instability add up to much longer periods of destitution. Through story after story, Shaefer and Edin show how the inability to afford basics like personal hygiene items and transportation, combined with insufficient work and meager public benefits, can drive people towards abusive relationships, precarious housing, mistreatment by employers, and impossible choices between breaking the law and feeding a child.

How did we get here, and how do we get out?

First, when policymakers supposedly shifted to a work-based safety net in 1996, they didn’t ensure that there would be enough decent jobs for everyone who wants one. While President Clinton’s proposed welfare overhaul in 1992 guaranteed a public-sector job for anyone who couldn’t find one, the 1996 law had no such guarantee. Both the labor market since 2000 and the experience of the successful but short-lived TANF subsidized jobs program in the Great Recession have made clear that many more people want jobs than can find them, in good times and bad.

Second, changes in the structure and funding of welfare have given states incentives to keep people out of TANF and to kick off many of those who do manage to enroll. As much as other programs like the EITC and SNAP (formerly food stamps) have done more over the past two decades to help families in poverty, including deep poverty, these improvements have been little match for the continued underfunding of housing assistance and the huge hole blown in our cash assistance safety net by the 1996 law.

$2.00 a Day shows that charities and individuals provide some help to extremely poor families, often making the difference between spending the night on the street and having shelter. But Shaefer and Edin also observe that people with the greatest need often live the farthest from available assistance. And even the communities with the most resources can’t meet the need without government help.

Shaefer and Edin suggest a straightforward strategy to change the unacceptable status quo: create jobs and prepare the most disadvantaged adults for them; update labor standards to reflect the reality of work in America today; invest in affordable housing; and provide a real safety net for times when people who want to work simply don’t find work possible given their caregiving responsibilities and other challenges.

We hope that this new book forces us all to grapple with the destructive circumstances we have allowed to persist for our nation’s most vulnerable families. We must reform our public policies to ensure that nobody faces a poverty so deep that many of us wouldn’t even believe it exists in this wealthy nation. We can’t ignore the shortcomings of our safety net that are exposed by the growth of $2.00-a-day poverty in America.

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Help nail Binyamin Naziyahu

Arrest Netanyahu for war crimes

The cause of much misery and desperation in the Middle East is coming to London next week and a petition demands his arrest for war crimes

By Stuart Littlewood

The image of a small child washed up on a Turkish beach like flotsam has finally shocked the Western world into action to help the refugees surging across Europe. Ordinary citizens are not prepared to wait while officialdom – and particularly the European Union – dithers. They are mobilising to provide aid. Hardline leaders like David Cameron are shamed by public outrage into backtracking on the hasty words they “mis-spoke” earlier, for fear of being branded inhuman.

Newsreels and video footage have hit people here in the UK hard. The organiser of a candle-lit vigil in George Square, Glasgow, said:

A lot of things I have seen this week have enraged me. I watched a video of a family trying to get through an armed border. I could see they were hungry and desperate, but were being shot at.

They were just mothers, desperately trying to help their children.

But we’ve seen much worse lately. Last summer the world was appalled by the murder of three youngsters when an Israeli gunboat shelled Gaza’s beach during the regime’s 51-day onslaught against Palestinian civilians in the tight-packed coastal enclave. During that vicious blitz (mis-named Operation Protective Edge) we saw many, many burnt, blasted and shredded little bodies among the smoking rubble that used to be their home.

No doubt Palestinian mothers would like to escape with their children to Europe but they are trapped in Gaza, like fish in a barrel, serving as convenient guinea pigs in the Israeli arms industry’s experimental laboratory.

Nearly 500 children were slaughtered and 3,000 maimed or wounded. And nowhere to run. Can you comprehend such horror?

It was the third major Israeli military operation against helpless Gaza in the past six years, and came on top of seven years of economic blockade. As everyone knows, this has been a never-ending nightmare for Palestinians, starting with the Jewish terror campaigns of 1947/08.

No doubt Palestinian mothers would like to escape with their children to Europe but they are trapped in Gaza, like fish in a barrel, serving as convenient guinea pigs in the Israeli arms industry’s experimental laboratory. They are forced to live indefinitely surrounded by almost total devastation, a partial list of which was published by the UN:

(a) 18,000 housing units destroyed or severely damaged and 44,300 units damaged
(b) 26 schools destroyed and 122 damaged
(c) 15 hospitals and 45 primary health centres damaged
(d) Gaza’s sole power plant affected by damage and lack of fuel and widespread damage to electricity lines
(e) 20–30 per cent of the water and sewage network damaged
(f) Water desalination plant in Deir al-Balah damaged
(g) Total damage to the agricultural sector at USD 550 million
(h) 220 agricultural wells destroyed or badly damaged
(i) At least 40,000 people employed in the agricultural sector affected through damage to agricultural lands and the loss and/or death of productive animals
(j) 247 factories and 300 commercial establishments fully or partially destroyed
(k) Damages to Gaza Industrial Estate estimated at USD 5 million
(l) Widespread damage to landline, mobile and Internet infrastructure, including destruction of switches, fixed-line networks, cellular stations, networks, cables and the headquarters of companies
(m) Loss of existing contracts and partially approved future contracts of information and communications technology (ICT)-related businesses and software outsourcing centres
(n) A number of tourist sites destroyed or damaged, including sites being considered for application for World Heritage status from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

Furthermore, the UN set up a board of inquiry to investigate incidents affecting United Nations personnel, premises and operations in the Gaza Strip at that time. The secretary-general deplored “the fact that at least 44 Palestinians were killed as a result of Israeli actions and at least 227 injured at United Nations premises being used as emergency shelters”. He stated that it was “a matter of the utmost gravity that those who looked to [United Nations premises] for protection and who sought and were granted shelter there had their hopes and trust denied”.

War is intolerable, is it not? And those who go to war without just cause should be clapped in irons.

So, here’s the thing: If you care about the refugees currently arriving on our doorstep from Syria and Iraq, desperate for help and safety, you’ll also be concerned for the 5 million plus Palestinians refugees, many of whom still live in squalid camps (some in Syria) after 67 years, prevented by Israel from returning home. They are the most numerous and longest suffering refugee group in the world – six decades of misery and chronic deprivation, caused by the Israelis’ illegal occupation, theft and blockade of their homeland and its resources.

No, Mr Cameron, some elements of the British Establishment, such as yourself, may be friends of Israel but the people of the UK are definitely not.

Therefore, will you and your friends at least sign the petition and help push signatures to 100,000? Wanted war criminal Netanyahu, the Palestinians’ chief tormentor and a major player in fomenting the Middle East crisis that has caused millions to flee, arrives in London next Wednesday at Cameron’s invitation – a move that is an affront to decent people and especially our Muslim bothers and sisters. He flies in ahead of the streams of Syrian and other refugees he is partly responsible for.

Cameron arrogantly dismissed the petition, saying that visiting heads of foreign governments, such as the Israeli prime minister, have immunity and cannot be arrested, and that the UK is a close friend of Israel. No, Mr Cameron, some elements of the British Establishment, such as yourself, may be friends of Israel but the people of the UK are definitely not. Netanyahu is probably the most loathed individual on the planet but for reasons that don’t stand close examination enjoys the admiration of most of the Conservative Party, whose members will flock to shake his blood-soaked hand, just as the US Congress has done in the past.

Britain, like all states that are party to the Geneva Conventions, is under a binding obligation to seek out those suspected of having committed grave breaches of the conventions and bring them, regardless of nationality, to justice. There must be no hiding place for those who commit crimes against humanity, against peace and war crimes.

So, please send a clear message to Cameron. Arrest Netanyahu and his ilk if they ever set foot here. They know all about arrest and abduction – it is one of their regime’s specialities, often carried out in the dead of night by armed thugs breaking the door down.

If Cameron wants to meet his “friend” Bibi he should do so well away from these shores.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI1 Comment

Why I Shared a Horrific Photo of a Drowned Syrian Child


(Photo: AP)

I thought long and hard before I retweeted the photo. It shows a lifeless toddler, lying face down on a popular Turkish beach, one of eleven Syrians who have almost certainly died as they tried to reach safety in Europe by boarding a smuggler’s boat. Instead they ended up as the latest victims of Europe’s paltry response in the face of a growing crisis.

What struck me the most were his little sneakers, certainly lovingly put on by his parents that morning as they dressed him for their dangerous journey. One of my favorite moments of the morning is dressing my kids and helping them put on their shoes. They always seem to manage to put something on backwards, to our mutual amusement. Staring at the image, I couldn’t help imagine that it was one of my own sons lying there drowned on the beach.

I am currently in Hungary, documenting the journeys of Syrian refugees, the very journey that today took another young life. It’s easy to blame the parents for exposing their son to such deadly danger, but only if you forget the barrel bombs and Islamic State (also known as ISIS) beheadings that they are fleeing. All morning yesterday at the Serbian-Hungarian border, I saw Syrian parents determinedly walking with their children – trying to remove them from the horrors of the slaughter in Syria, which have been allowed to continue for four years, and to the promise of security in Europe. Those parents are heroes; I admire their sheer determination to bring their children to a better life.

Sadly, all along the journey, they are faced with hurdles and hostility. Some smugglers are so organized they even give receipts for their criminal business, but they care little for the lives of those they transport and make fortunes from. Their brutality may be expected, but what is inexcusable is the indifference and obstacles placed in their path by Europe’s leaders.

Almost every Syrian I have interviewed has had a close brush with death on their journey, often involving sinking boats. Now, in Hungary, they find their path blocked again, with thousands made to sleep in the streets without any help from the Hungarian authorities.

My notebooks are full of tragedy. Ali Pintar, a Syrian Kurd, fled with his three children after ISIS tried to take control of his hometown of Qamishli by sending suicide car bombs into the town. He has his train tickets to Munich, but police are preventing him from even entering the train station, so he has been sleeping rough for the last three nights with his children. He is utterly dejected, telling me of the humiliation he has faced: “It would have been better to stay in Syria. There, you only die once when there is an explosion or something. Here, I feel like I die a thousand deaths each day.”

Some say the picture is too offensive to share online or print in our newspapers. But what I find offensive is that drowned children are washing up on our shorelines, when more could have been done to prevent their deaths.

It was not an easy decision to share a brutal image of a drowned child. But I care about these children as much as my own. Maybe if Europe’s leaders did too, they would try to stem this ghastly spectacle.

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The US and the Militarization of Latin America

By: Eric Draitser 

Honduras police have been accused of being active in death squads.
Honduras police have been accused of being active in death squads.

The United States is countering the independent development of Latin American countries by using its military power and influence.
For more than two centuries, the United States has viewed Latin America as its “back-yard,” a geopolitical sphere of influence  where it  acts as undisputed hegemon. The history of the Western hemisphere, broadly speaking, reflects this reality as the U.Shas influenced, dominated, and otherwise controlled the political and economic devel-opment of most of the countries of Central and South America,as well as the Caribbean.  

However, recent years have borne witness to a growing independence and assertiveness from many nations in the region, owing in no small part to the rise of Hugo Chavez inVenezuela. Indeed, with Venezuela as the exemplar, and Chavez as the initiator of theprocess of regional integration and collective security, Latin America has grown inc-reasingly independent of its imperial neighbor to the north.  

And it is precisely this political, economic, and cultural independence that the U.S.has moved to counteract in the most effective way it can: militarily. Using pretexts ranging from the “War on Drugs” to humanitarian assistance, and the “War on Terror,” the U.S.seeks to regain its military foothold in the region, and thereby maintain and further its hegemony.

The Silent Invasion

The deployment of U.S. military forces throughout Central and South America calls to mind the dark days of U.S.imperialism in the region, when Washington installed clientregimes and fascist dictatorships for the purpose of  controlling the political and  economic development of nations that might otherwise have pursued the path of socia- lism and independence.And it is the  memory of those years that is immediately evoked when one critically examines what the U.S. is doing militarily.

RELATED: Central America Rising

In Central America, U.S. military forces have penetrated key countries under the pretext of counter-narcotics operations. In Honduras for  example, the U.S. has played a key role in supporting, advising and directing the military of the right-wing govern-ment that took control of the country after the 2009 coup,supported by then Secretaryof State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration. As the North American Congresson Latin America (NACLA) reported:

The steady increase of U.S. assistance to [Honduran]  armed forces [is] an indicator of tacit U.S. support. But the U.S. role in militarization of national police forces has been direct as well ...The US [DEA] Foreign-deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST set up camp in Honduras to train a local counternarcotics police unit and help plan- and execute drug interdiction operations … these operations were nearly indistinguishable from military missions ... According to the New York Times, five “commando stylesquads” of FAST teams have been deployed across Central America to train and support local counternarcotics units … In July 2013, the Honduran government created a new   “elite” police unit called  the  Intelligence  Troop and  Special Security Group, or TIGRES (Spanish for “tigers”). The unit, which human rights groups contend is military in nature, has been deployed in tandem with the new  military police force and has received training in  military  combat  tactics from both U.S. and Colombian Special Forces units.

The deployment of this sort of combination of military, paramilitary, and militarizedlaw enforcement is indicative of the U.S.strategy for re-militarizing the region.    Rather than simply overt military occupation, Washington “provides assistance” in theform of military aid. This is  further  demonstrated by the recent announcement of a contingent of U.S. Marines deployed to Honduras, ostensibly to help with relief efforts during hurricane season.

Such deployments keep with recent U.S. initiatives to further penetrate these countries militarily, using small contingents of troops and Special Forces. In 2013, it was reported that in Colombia, former commander of the U.S. Special  Operations  Command William McRaven, “sought the authority to deploy [Special Operations Forces] teams tocountries without consulting either U.S. ambassadors there or even the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) … McRaven’s command even tried to work out an agreement with Colombia to set up a regional special operations coordination centre there without consul-ting SOUTHCOM or the embassy.” In fact, under McRaven Special Forces troop deployments ballooned to more than 65,000, with many spread throughout Latin America.

Colombia has long been a centerpiece of U.S. military strategy. Perhaps the most well-known U.S. regional program is Plan Colombia, launched by the Clinton administrationand expanded under George W. Bush.As Foreign Affairs documented in 2002, “The Clintonadministration shifted its emphasis from a comprehensive counterdrug program …  to a policy that focused on the provision of military assistance and helicopters.”

RELATED: Central America: US Pushes Militarization and Neoliberalism

Undoubtedly, Plan Colombia was always about  militarization and  protecting economic interests. In fact, just totaling the military, police, and economic aid to Colombia for 2010-2015, the U.S. has given nearly US$3 billion to Colombia in the form of “aid” to fight the so-called “War on Drugs.”

Under Obama, the U.S. military has expanded on the Clinton/Bush administration progr-ams, especially with the Mérida Initiative (launched in 2008 by Bush) and the CentralAmerican Regional Security Initiative (CARSI) created by Obama in 2011. According to the Igarapé Institute, CARSI and Mérida alone received more than US$2.5 billion (2008-2013). It is an open secret that the massive funding has been channeled primarily into military and paramilitary programs.Though the U.S. touts these programs as successstories, their expansion has coincided with increased militarization in every country where U.S. funds have been provided.

In El Salvador, the Funes government has consolidated military control of law enforcement in the interests of its U.S. backers. These changes took place  simultaneous to the implementation of CARSI, and should be seen as an outgrowth of U.S militarization. In Guatemala, the government of Otto Pérez Molina, a former military leader with a record of atrocities and genocide, has further militarized the country.  

Similarly, Honduras has been transformed into the U.S. military’s primary foothold inCentral America. U.S. Coordinator of the National Popular Resistance Front (FNRP) andRefoundation Party (LIBRE) Lucy Pagoada explained in a 2015 interview that “[Honduras] has turned into a large military base trained and funded by the U.S. They even haveSchool of the Americas forces there … There  have  been  high levels of violence and torture since the [2009] coup.”

Of course these examples merely scratch the surface of U.S. military engagement.Aside from its long-standing partnership with Colombia, the U.S. military has now further entrenched its position thereby establishing NATO-Colombia cooperation. Naturally,   such announcements have been met with consternation by  independent  leaders such as Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua who described the  NATO-Colombia deal as a  “knife in the back of the people of Latin America.”

The US Agenda

Ultimately, U.S.militarization in Latin America is an attempt to check militarily the rise of regional cooperation and independence. The development of ALBA, Unasur, PetroCaribe, and other multilateral institutions  not controlled by the U.S. has alarmed many in Washington who see their former “backyard” slipping out of their  grasp. And so, the U.S. has moved to block this development with military force.

The regional component is also critical to the U.S. militarization agenda. Washington wants to block any further integration, while also checking the growing influence of China and other non-western actors who are increasingly penetrating the region thro-ugh investments. Essentially, the U.S. is doing in the Americas,  what it is doing in Africa, the Middle East, and the Asia-Pacific regions: using its military to block  independent development.  

Perhaps  this is an unavoidable  part of imperialism. Perhaps it is indicative of an Empire’s waning  influence and its desperate  attempt to  recapture lost  spheres of influence. However one interprets its motives, the U.S. is unmistakably consolidatingits military  power in Latin  America. Whether  this  allows the Empire to  reassert control, or is simply a doomed  attempt at  reestablishing hegemony,  only time will tell.

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Kerry ‘Convinced’ of Need for Syria Ground Invasion

Image result for john kerry cartoons

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

"There will need to be people on the ground. I am convinced there will be at the app-ropriate moment,” said the U.S. Secretary of State.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hinted that a ground invasion of Syria was forth- coming, but that U.S. troops would not play a part.

Until now, the White House has been careful to avoid suggestions of U.S. soldiers on Syrian soil, instead coordinating an alliance of airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, purpo-rtedly against the Islamic State group.

RELATED: 10 Steps to Wean US Foreign Policy off Militarism

But in the interview with CNN,Kerry said that he believed the moment would arrive for Middle Eastern countries to send soldiers.

"We  are talking  about very  specific ways to do  that with  other countries in the region," he said. "There will need to be people on the  ground. I am convinced there will be at the appropriate moment.”

"The president has made it very clear that American troops are not part of that equ- ation," he added. "But I do know that there are others who are talking about it. There are people in the region who are capable of that."

The official declined to say which countries might partake in the ground operation.

Last week, the U.S. firmed up a  deal with Turkey to  start taking part in the fight against the Islamic State, after six months of resistance. Ankara announced its firstairstrikes on  neighboring  Syria  Saturday  using smart bombs without crossing into Syrian airspace.

However, Kurdish fighters allied with the leftist PKK guerrillas have accused Turkey of collaborating with the Islamic State.

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