Archive | August 22nd, 2011

The Murdochs’ Casablanca Moment


Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

by Leonard Levitt

What lessons can New Yorkers draw from the Rupert Murdoch phone-hacking scandal in England? What lessons can we draw about the NYPD?

Lesson Number One: The Shock Factor.

Why are so many leaders shocked at things they should have been aware of? Rupert Murdoch and his son James pronounced themselves shocked to learn that illegal phone hacking was widespread at the Murdochs’ British newspaper, the News of the World.

This sounds like the same shock a federal judge accused Police Commissioner Ray Kelly of experiencing after he supposedly learned for the first time that NYPD detectives had questioned anti-Iraq war demonstrators about their political activities.

In 2008, James Murdoch, who runs the Murdoch European and Asian operations, had just been given authority over the News of the World when subordinates asked him to authorize a secret $1.4 million payment for a phone hacking victim — a record amount for a privacy case. He did, but testified before Parliament last week that he never realized this was but one of numerous instances of the paper’s phone hacking.

Nor, if James can be believed, did he seek advice from his father, who knows more about newspapering than anyone on the planet.

As for Kelly, in May, 2003, U.S. District Judge Charles Haight mocked his assertion that he and Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence, David Cohen, knew nothing about the “data debriefing form” that the police had used in questioning hundreds of the anti-war demonstrators in their jail cells.

Haight compared Kelly’s reaction to the scene in the movie Casablanca, where Police Prefect Claude Rains says he is shocked to discover gambling in Rick’s café just as the croupier hands Rains his winnings.

Lesson Number Two:The Accountability Factor.

Commissioner Ray Kelly and NYC Mayor Bloomberg

Scotland Yard’s two top guys have resigned after revelations that they failed to conduct a thorough investigation of the phone hacking. Police are usually held more accountable for their misdeeds than any other occupation — i.e., doctors, lawyers and newspaper executives.

Except in New York City. Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg, police accountability stops with the rank and file cops.

Nearly two years later, we are still waiting for Police Commissioner Kelly to explain why police hauled off whistle-blower Adrian Schoolcraft to the psych ward of Jamaica Hospital after he reported that crime statistics were doctored in the 81st precinct where he worked.

We are also waiting for the results of Kelly’s crime statistics commission, which grew out of Schoolcraft’s revelations. The results are nearly a month overdue.

As for the ticket-fixing scandal, how long has Kelly known that such practices have gone on? Perhaps he is as shocked as Rupert and James Murdoch.

Lesson Number Three:  The Coziness Factor.

The phone-hacking scandal has exposed the too-cozy relationship between the Murdoch newspapers and the London police. There have been reports about lunches and dinners between Scotland Yard officials and Murdoch news executives; of Scotland Yard’s hiring as its spokesman a Murdoch editor linked to the phone hacking scandal; and even of payoffs by the News of the World to Scotland Yard officials for information.


Well, in New York, no one is cozier with the NYPD these days than the Daily News, having taken that mantle from Rupert Murdoch’s Post.

So far as we know, there have been no payoffs, although in 2004 Deputy Commissioner David Cohen did use Intelligence Division detectives to conduct a private investigation for Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman, who claimed he was being followed and imagined his pursuers were terrorists.

Of course, this coziness existed long before Zuckerman purchased the paper in the 1990s.
But in 2009 when a sergeant in the NYPD’s Public Information office harassed and threatened a News reporter after he asked for details about a subway stabbing, the News rolled over.

Instead of writing about the incident, the News finessed it behind the scenes. It accepted the department’s refusal to discipline the sergeant in return for a promise that such mistreatment of its reporters would not be repeated.

Last week, the News‘ pre-eminent sports writer, Mike Lupica, apparently seeking to enlarge his portfolio, wrote that Kelly should be the city’s next mayor, noting that he “brought a painful humanity” to the funeral service of a murdered eight-year-old boy. (Mike, better keep your day job.)

Lesson Number Four: The Lord Acton Factor.

With the possible exception of Mark Zuckerberg, Rupert Murdoch is probably the world’s most powerful and influential person. Besides having corrupted the British body politic, here in the good old USA, he seems to have placed half the likely Republican Party presidential nominees on his Fox News payroll.

Now serving his third term as mayor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is probably this burg’s most powerful and influential person.

Just recall how he obtained that third term.

First he went to the city’s three daily newspapers to explain how he wanted to change the two-term limit law that he had supported when he ran in 2001. He went directly to the papers’ owners. Zuckerman at the News. Mr. Murdoch at the Post. Even the naifs at the Times went along with him.

Then Bloomberg bribed enough city councilmen to vote to overturn the law.

As Lord Acton famously put it, power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Lesson Number Five: The Transparency Factor.

Now that the phone hacking scandal has hit the front pages, everyone in England — from the Murdochs to all its politicians — is talking about the importance of transparency.

Here in New York Bloomberg also talks about transparency, saying there is more of it in his administration than ever before.

In fact there is less. Bloomberg even refuses to tell the public when he leaves the city for Bermuda.

In the police department, there is no transparency whatsoever. None. Nil. Nada. Kelly even refuses to reveal his public schedule.

Other than Kelly, no one in the NYPD is allowed to speak to reporters. No one has any idea what is going on in the department. No one has any idea what is going on in the non-profit Police Foundation, which, with its $3 million budget, has become a professional slush fund for Kelly, who has spent $30,000 of foundation money for free lunches and dinners at the Harvard Club, supposedly for police business.

Lesson Number Six: The Hypocrisy Factor.

Rupert Murdoch says he wants to get to the bottom of the phone hacking scandal. Kelly says how important it is for the NYPD and the FBI to cooperate in fighting terrorism.

Kelly reiterated that claim last week following the conviction of Mohammed Wali Zazi, the father of convicted terrorist Najibullah Zazi, who had plotted to bomb the New York City subway system in 2009.

But while the FBI tracked Najibullah Zazi from his home in Colorado to New York, NYPD officials, seeking to one-up the Bureau, ordered Intelligence Division detective Dan Sirakowky to show Zazi’s picture to an NYPD informant without informing the FBI, as Sirakowsky testified last week.

The informant, Queens Imam Amid Wais Afzali, tipped off Zazi’s father, who tipped off his son, who cut short his trip to New York, forcing the FBI to scramble and arrest him prematurely.

After Mohammed Wali Zazi was convicted last week for conspiracy to obstruct justice, Kelly said: “One of the reasons for New York’s safety in the decade since 9/11 was manifested in today’s verdict. The collaboration between NYPD detectives and FBI agents, and the prosecutors’ pursuit of justice in the case, has once again demonstrated the importance of that partnership.”

Lesson Number Seven:  The Love Factor.

Joel Klein: Beware.

So now we have Rupert Murdoch professing his everlasting admiration for the city’s “transformative” former Schools Chancellor, Joel Klein, who sat directly behind him and son James at the Parliamentary hearings.

Back in the day, Rupert Murdoch and this reporter became somewhat chummy. (I think he was impressed that I followed him into the men’s room to pin him down on a question.)

Mr. Murdoch persuaded Your Humble Servant to sign on (albeit briefly) with the New York Post.
“Dear boy,” advised its editor, a brilliant but diabolical Englishman, “just remember that Rupert falls in and out of love very quickly.”

To Joel Klein: Beware.

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Falsified Major Media Reports on Libya


by Stephen Lendman


Major media specialize in what they do best: truth inversion (aka bad fiction), not doing what journalists are supposed to do – their job, especially covering imperial wars for dominance and rich spoils.

With Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) falling apart and rebel forces in disarray, today’s headlines belie the truth, reported by independent “un-in-bed-with” journalists and other sources.

On August 16, Lizzie Phelan’s Libya diary “clear(ed) up the latest media rubbish on Libya,” saying:

Gaddafi forces liberated the “hitherto rebel-held” town of Misrata. “Last night, the Libyan army moved into the center of the city, and now the rebels are trapped between Misrata and Tawergha.”

About three-fourths of the city, including its port, is secured, “which was a lifeline” for shipping rebels arms and other supplies.

At a press conference attended by around 200 tribes (including the four largest comprising half the population), Libya’s media spokesman, Dr. Moussa Ibrahim, confirmed it.

Th major four, including Wafalla, Tarhouna, Zlitan and Washafana, all support Gaddafi.

“The tribal leaders also confirmed that Zawiya and Sorman are secure, in contrast to (falsified) claims by (in bed with) foreign reporters in Tripoli and Djerba (Tunisia) that they have been taken by the rebels.”

In addition, claims that rebels control Ghuriyan are untrue. Ongoing clashes there continue.

Major media reports lie, although pockets of rebel resistance remain. Nonetheless, they’re “isolated and surrounded by the Libyan army and tribes.”

Falsified major media reports stand in stark contrast to “Libyan tribes who, of course, know their land with great intimacy.”

It’s clear media bosses want Libyans demoralized to think all is lost so give up. In addition, NATO’s “been desperately trying to secure some victory before August 17 (Ramadan’s 17th day), a very important date in the Islamic calendar.

On Ramadan’s 17th day in 624 AD in the Islamic calendar, the Prophet Muhammad won an important Battle of Badr victory in present day Saudi Arabia. It was a key turning point against his opponents.

Fast-forwarding to today, major media sources falsify reports “to create confusion and panic on the ground.” I

n an August 15 telephone address to supporters massed in Green Square, Gaddafi “reasserted his calls for the Libyan people to remain steadfast in defeating NATO’s allies on the ground and NATO itself.”

Phelan also said unconfirmed reports say rebel commander Khalifa Hefter was captured, the former army officer turned CIA asset, having formerly lived near its Langley, VA headquarters since the early 1990s.

If true, it’ll will create more disarray among TNC leaders, perhaps better described as the gang that can’t shoot or get their stories straight.

“So the media war goes on,” said Phelan, on the ground in Tripoli, reporting important truths on her Lizzie’s Liberation site, accessed through the following link:

Contrasting Falsified Major Media Reports

The vulgarity of lying needs no comment. Doing it for a living is beyond reproach. It doesn’t deter takers, however, like New York Times writers David Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim headlining, “A Top Libyan Official Appears to Defect, as Rebels Defend Recent Gains,” saying:

Interior Minister Nassr al-Mabrouk “landed in Cairo in a private plane with nine family members who were traveling on tourist visas….The defection would signal a new crack in the Qaddafi government….”

Fact check:

Al-Mabrouk didn’t defect as widely reported. He left for an operation in Cairo, saying he stands firmly with Gaddafi. It’s unsurprising he’d want family members with him for support.

Kirkpatrick and Fahim continued saying, “(R)ebels, emboldened by their gains in recent days, are losing incentive to make concessions.”

Fact check:

Falsified rebel gains are, in fact, unreported losses and disarray. Moreover, without NATO air support, they’d have been routed months ago. Air cover also gave NATO a chance to slaughter and injure thousands of Libyan civilians, as well as cause horrific mass destruction, related to imperial, not military, aims.

Both Times writers also reported rebel claims of having Tripoli surrounded as well as key supply lines cut off. None of it is true, but fact-checking isn’t part of Times writers’ job description – just reporting accounts ordered by their bosses.

From Tripoli, independent journalist/Middle East/Central Asian analyst Mahdi Nazemroaya explained in a morning email:

“The insurgency was defeated in Misurata. NATO responded with massive bombing. One route is controlled. Zawiya and Sorman have not fallen. There have been attacks on the route. They are trying to cut the supply routes off” but haven’t succeeded.

On August 15, Washington Post writer Leila Fadel was no better than other accounts headlining, “Gaddafi isolated as rebels advance, aide flies to Cairo,” falsifying the same agitprop as their Times counterparts, claiming rebels have “a stranglehold on the Libyan capital, Tripoli.”

London Guardian writers are also complicit, headlining the following August 15 and 16 stories, better described as media lies:

  • August 15: “Libya’s interior minister flies to Egypt in apparent defection”

  • August 15: “Libyan rebels enter oil town where decisive battle may yet be fought”

  • Fact check: Zawiya was referred to, securely controlled by Gaddafi’s forces.

  • August 15: “No stalemate in Libya – the writing is on the wall for Gaddafi”

  • August 16: “Libya shows signs of slipping from Muammar Gaddafi’s grasp”

  • August 16: “Live Syria, Libya and Middle East unrest – live updates,” many, in fact, falsified like others.

Al Zajeera is also complicit in misreporting on Libya. On August 16, it headlined, “Libyan rebels push to isolate Tripoli,” sounding more like CNN, Fox News, and The New York Times than legitimate journalists.

The report repeated the same misinformation about isolating Tripoli, controlling most of Zawiya, and other distortions.

An earlier August 12 report claimed “Fleeing Libyans say Gaddafi regime crumbling” as rebels advance toward the capital. Again untrue.

Al Jazeera, of course, is based in, funded by, and controlled by Qatar, a coalition NATO partner against Libya, its armed forces supporting rebels on the ground.

As a result, it reports lack credibility and should be avoided. Angry Arab editor As’ad AbuKhalil says they’re “like watching MSNBC after being purchased by Murdoch.”

Of course, it’s worthless under its current owner, Comcast, and previous one, General Electric, especially on issues of war and peace, as well as lawless US imperialism.

A Final Comment

The battle for Libya continues. Overwhelming numbers support Gaddafi and want their country free from imperial control. They’re also prepared to fight for it, knowing the unacceptable alternative – colonization, pillaging, loss of freedom, and perhaps their lives.

What better reasons to resist than those!

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Blues band ‘Tuba Skinny’ cancels Eilat, reportedly responding to boycott appeal

Aug 20, 2011

Philip Weiss

Tuba Skinny is an upandcoming New Orleans jazz and blues band. It has cancelled a show in Eilat, Israel, scheduled for tomorrow night, without explanation at its website. Electronic Intifadah says Tuba Skinny did soafter receiving cultural boycott materials, and an urgent plea not to play Israel… EI:

The group has joined the picket line of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Elvis Costello, The Pixies, the late Gil Scott-Heron, Carlos Santana, Pete Seeger, Massive Attack, Faithless, Gorillaz Sound System, The Tindersticks and the Klaxxons.

Michael Rubin says Obama/Khalidi will support Palestinian statehood so as to wreak ‘Israel’s demise’

Aug 20, 2011

Philip Weiss

I kept one eye on former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin during the Iraq War drumming because he was young and red-cheeked and not as smooth as the grownup monsters (Abrams/Perle/Feith) and I thought he was trying to sound halfway-reasonable. But it turns out that under the gloss of International Relations he’s… gosh, a pro-Israel zealot like so many of the rest.  This piece at Commentary is nutty in a very entertaining way, and lends further latter-day support to the Walt and Mearsheimer thesis that the Iraq war couldn’t have happened without the Israel lobby. In Rubin’s view, Samantha Power is an anti-Israel intellectual (a thoughtful, careful woman who praised Marty Peretz and Leon Wieseltier, the “wisest man in Washington,” in her breakout book). The Palestinian statehood initiative would spell “Israel’s demise.” And Rashid Khalidi is still a close adviser of Barack Obama. On what evidence?

Though I like Rubin’s Truman analogy: Truman defied the establishment to recognize Israel; Obama would have to defy it to OK a Palestinian state. True. And why did the establishment change? Because the nature of American leadership culture changed, because Jews were at last permitted into the power structure. Robert Kaplan, ushering out the Arabists, could state that the recognition of Israel was a great “liberal” advance, and Michael Beschloss and Walter Russell Mead and everyone else agreed, for the time being anyway…  Rubin (thanks to Jim Lobe):

Rashid Khalidi, a current adviser to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, remains a close Obama confidante. WhileThe Los Angeles Times continues to withholdthe tape of Obama’s toast to Khalidi prior to the professor’s departure for a post at Columbia University, Obama’s speech perhaps gave an inkling of his sympathy toward the Palestine Liberation Organization and his antipathy toward Israel.

Obama entered office with strong opinions. His understanding of the real reasons for the lack of peace in the Middle East was shoddy, shaped as it was by a former PLO activist and an Ivy League bubble. He reportedly still remains enthralled by anti-Israel intellectual Samantha Power.  Intellectual arrogance, however, appears to prevent Obama from reconsidering his assumptions. Rather, he digs in his heels.

That the State Department has come out against unilateral recognition is irrelevant. After all, Secretary of State Clinton also came out against any demands that Syrian President Bashar Assad step aside just days before Obama demanded that Assad step aside. In his speech about the Middle East last May, Obama appears to have left himself too much wiggle room for comfort. Certainly, a US vote in favor of unilateral Palestinian statehood would unleash chaos. The question is whether when the smoke cleared, President Obama thought he might be remembered positively for the fait accompli.

Harry Truman defied the establishment to recognize Israel. We should not discount the possibility that Obama might defy the establishment to advance Israel’s demise. Beware the September surprise.

Actually, I think this piece is hysterical. Israel exists; no one is going to destroy it. The Palestinians are powerless. Before too long, the society will likely be transformed– and if you take Omar Barghouti’s Algerian analogy, which is an outcome I don’t pray for, many Israelis will leave the place. But what everyone on this site actually seeks is a transformation that honors equal rights…

Activist files suit against Netanyahu supporters who attacked her in Capitol

Aug 20, 2011


Code Pink announces a lawsuit filed by Rae Abileah stemming from anincident during the Israeli prime minister’s speech to Congress.The defendants are unnamed in the suit because if the suit goes forward, Abileah willl seek to discover their names in police records.

Rae Abileah, a peaceful demonstrator who was physically attacked and injured on May 24, 2011, while protesting the occupation and oppression of Palestinians during the speech of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, filed a civil action in District of Columbia Superior Court [Thursday] against the unknown individuals who attacked her in the House Gallery, and caused her serious physical injury.

Ms. Abileah is a 28 year old American Jew of Israeli descent, who works as the Middle East Campaigns Coordinator for CODEPINK, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice organization that seeks to end U.S. wars and the U.S. funded occupation of Palestine. After a security check by the Capitol Police, she was given a seat in the House Gallery, as were other individuals who were given passes by members of Congress for the May 24, 2011 session. About 10 minutes after Mr. Netanyahu began speaking, Ms. Abileah stood up from her seat in the Gallery and opened a banner that read “Occupying Land is Indefensible,” and shouted, “No more occupation. Stop Israeli war crimes! Equal rights for Palestinians! Occupying land is indefensible!”

Four to five other persons sitting in the House Gallery began to attack her, including one man who used his hand to attempt to gag and suffocate Ms. Abileah, and then violently yanked her head back, injuring her neck. As a result of the attack, Ms. Abileah suffered severe emotional trauma and sustained a neck strain, swollen neck and muscle strain, and has since suffered from frequent headaches.

The Capitol Police, who witnessed the attack, have begun an investigation into her assault. One of the police officers present during the attack told Ms. Abileah that it was clear that some of the people present had “roughed [her] up.”

“I am hopeful that my filing suit will be a clear signal to those who attempt to silence us from protesting the Israeli occupation of Palestine, that they will be held accountable for their illegal actions,” said Ms. Abileah.

“Ms. Abileah’s actions were in a long line of peaceful actions intended to bring public attention to grave injustice. The violence against Ms. Abileah mirrors the ongoing violence in Israel and Palestine against peaceful demonstrators,” said Lynne Bernabei, one of Ms. Abileah’s attorneys.

Eilat deaths count

Aug 20, 2011

Philip Weiss

Israel kills Palestinians all the time. On average, the IDF kills one Palestinian civilian every two days with impunity in the occupied territories, as B’tselem documented last year. Just the other day here, Seham did a post about three arbitrary killings in the occupied territories. One of the dead was a 75-year-old woman. There will be no accountability. No American politicians are raising their voices about Selma Al Sawarka, a mother of seven who was grazing her goats when the Israeli forces shot her early in the morning.

The reason that our media and politicians get so exercised about Israeli dead is –I believe– because of the Holocaust and Never-again-ism. Even one Jewish death is seen as a tragedy recalling the extermination of Jews in Europe. And the Holocaust was the world’s rationale for voting to establish Israel.

The result is that a moral imperative, Never-again, is used to justify exceptionalism. But as Norman Finkelstein’s mother, a survivor of the Warsaw ghetto and a Nazi death camp, used to tell her son, the meaning of the Holocaust is that her Jewish experience should be shared with everyone– to prevent it ever happening to anyone else.

Americans have dealt with this kind of racist exceptionalism, and (I’m a liberal) we’ve largely defeated it. Mark Twain skewered the attitude in Huck Finn. Late in the book he brings Huck to a farm in Arkansas, and Sally Phelps wonders what’s taken him so long to get there (warning, n-word coming)

“What kep’ you–boat get around?”…

“It warn’t the grounding–that didn’t keep us back but a little. We blowed out a cylinder head.”

“Good gracious! anybody hurt?”

“No’m. Killed a nigger.”

“Well, it’s lucky; because sometimes people do get hurt.”

Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn  long after slavery. The point of his book is that racism was perfectly “respectable” — his word — back in the 1840s. Today, too, we must work to destroy respectable racism.


JINSA says that Israel has been all for an Arab state since Partition

Aug 20, 2011

Philip Weiss

The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs’ latest email report is pure propaganda:

Since 1947, Israel [sic] has agreed to a “two state solution” in which there would be a Jewish State of Israel and a Palestinian Arab State. Through wars and intifadas and BDS movements, Israel has asked only that its democratic existence as the national homeland of the Jewish people be recognized by its neighbors – and that the “secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” promised by UN Resolution 242 be accepted.  The Arab states (save Jordan and Egypt) and the Palestinians have refused.

This is horse manure. Israel didn’t exist in 1947, for one thing. The Zionists accepted Partition, but they never acted in good faith to effect that Partition. And this is the lesson: Partitions are imposed on conflicting ethnicities.Those groups don’t happily agree to them.

Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo. Still, Kosovo got a state. If the world had asked India or Pakistan to sign off on the existence of the other as constituted by that UN Partition, there would not be states there either (many disputed territories between the two).

The truth is that Partition was never imposed in Israel/Palestine; no the whole cake was given to Israel, with you-know-who’s-blessing.

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Egyptian becomes hero after removing Zionist flag from embassy


Ahmad A-Shahat says he ‘insisted on climbing on the roof and take down the flag of the Zionist entity because that was one of the goals of the revolution – to depose Mubarak and all his friends, among them the Zionist entity’

“When I went up the steps of the embassy, I thought of the blood of the Egyptian victims,” that was how Ahmad A-Shahat described his “act of heroism,” which won the support of the masses in Egypt – taking down the Zionist flag from its embassy building in Cairo.

The unknown Egyptian managed to climb on the embassy’s roof on Saturday, switch the Israeli flag with the Egyptian one to the cheers of thousands, and then burn the Zionist flag.

A-Shahat’s star was quick to rise: “I insisted on climbing on the roof and take down the flag of the Zionist entity because that was one of the goals of the revolution – to depose Mubarak and all his friends, among them the Zionist entity,” he told Al-Jazeera.

“If we want to take down Mubarak, we must take down all his allies and especially the Zionists in Egypt. They had many investments during Zionist Mu-Barak’s era. We must expel them and their investments if we want to eradicate Mu-Barak’s regime,” A-Shahat said after coming down from the roof.

A-Shahat said he had succeeded in climbing on the roof by taking advantage of a swap between the security patrols. As expected, he also became a hit on Facebook and several glorifying fan pages have already been established in his honor.

The young Egyptian also linked his actions to events on the border on Thursday, when six Egyptian soldiers were killed, saying that it was “the simple reaction to what Israel did to Egyptian soldiers in Sinai.” He expressed hope that his actions would be repeated by “a billion Arabs.”

The incident on the border stirred a diplomatic crisis between Jerusalem and Cairo. Egypt’s cabinet said on Sunday that an Zionist statement expressing regret for the border deaths was not enough, but it stopped short of saying if it would recall its Tel Aviv envoy.

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‘Ground operation in Gaza possible’




Vice Premier and Minister for Regional Development Silvan Shalom toured the south on Sunday, as Gaza Strip’s terror group continued their nonstop rocket fire on the area’s communities.

Shalom addressed the escalation in the south during a visit to Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba, where he looked in on those wounded in Saturday’s barrage: “The deterrence of has exhausted itself. We’ll need to respond, and we’re not ruling out the possibility of a ground operation,” he said.

Members of the Knesset’s Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee also toured the area on Sunday. Committee chairman and former IDF chief Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said that “Israel must decide – will we continue with this intolerable reality of a war of attrition, or will we strive for an unequivocal decision with regards to Hamas, including targeting its leaders and infrastructure, with aim of toppling its reign in Gaza.

“Any decision made by the government with aim of rehabilitating the State of Israel’s power of deterrence vis-à-vis Hamas, which has dissipated over the past few years, will be approved by the Knesset,” Mofaz said.

“It’s not right that over one million citizens cannot go about their normal lives. We must change this equation, where Hamas tells us what to do, because this past week’s terror attacks are some of the worst the State of Israel has ever known.”

Be’er Tuvia’s Regional Council Head Dror Shor attended the meeting as well, noting that the have been preparing for the upcoming school year opening next week, wondering whether it would be wise to open the schools given the recent escalation. “Some of the communities put up portable shelters independently. It’s not a bad idea, securing 30 to 40 people,” he said.

“It’s pretty frustrating to know that we have deterrence equipment such as Iron Dome – but that getting supplies is a matter of budget,” said Committee member MK Avi Dichter.

Kiryat Malachi Mayor Motti Malka informed committee members that there are many factories surrounding his city, containing tons of hazardous materials which he said could cause a catastrophe should they be hit by a rocket.

MK Meir Sheetrit noted that “once a battery will be placed, it will lesson the anxiety of the public. Changes must be made in the State’s priorities.”

Dichter added that authority heads must place portable shelters in the streets, explaining it’s not a very complicated or expensive thing to do. “It’s frustrating to see children in schools where the have no place to run, hiding under tables. It’s embarrassing. Eventually we’ll have to look them in the eyes.”

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Zio-Nazi Spokesperson: We DIDN’T say PRC was behind Eilat attack


Joseph Dana

Yesterday morning, I wrote a piece questioning the journalistic ethics of some in the Israeli media and, to a larger extent, the entire international press corps over of their rush to adopt the Israeli government claim that Gaza-based terror organization Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) were behind Thursday’s triple terror attack near Eilat. As the terror attack was unfolding, Israeli warplanes were warming up to carry out airstrikes in the Gaza strip without revealing any concrete proof  to the public confirming that the culprits of the attack were from Gaza.  After a night of bombing, a number of senior operatives in the PRC were killed along with a handful of civilians including children.

The Real News Network’s Lia Tarachansky asked IDF Spokesperson Lt. Colonel Avital Leibovitz  for evidence that the PRC was, indeed, responsible for the Eilat terror attack. Liebovitz responded that the Israel “did not say that this group was responsible for the terror attack.” This quote  distanced the IDF spokesperson from the public statements Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made on the evening of the attack placing clear responsibility on the PRC.  Backtracking in the interview, Liebovitz said,

We did not say that this group was responsible for the terror attack. We based this on intelligence information as well as some facts that [we] actually presented an hour ago to some wires and journalists. Some of the findings that were from the bodies of the terrorists, and they are using, for example, Kalashnikov bullets and Kalashnikov rifles [which] are very common in Gaza.

In response to this quote,  Paul Woodward at War in Context responded “So, the IDF says it “knows” the gunmen came from Gaza because they were using Kalashnikovs. That’s about as logical as saying they know they came from Gaza because they appeared to be Arabs.”

The simple yet difficult to answer question remains open, who is responsible for the Eilat terror attacks? If the PRC and Hamas, both of which have denied responsibility, are not the culprits, as Lt. Col Avital Liebovitz alleges in the Real News interview, why is Israel attacking targets in Gaza with overwhelming force?  Why are senior members of the Israeli and international press corps reporting unsubstantiated Israeli government claims as fact without doing the necessary legwork of revealing sources and providing verifiable proof of their material.

If the PRC episode is a harbinger of how the media is going to handle the next Israeli offensive in Gaza one sorry conclusion can be made, Prime Minister Netanyahu will be left unmolested with obloquy demanding that his government provide factual evidence to support their rationale for war.

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Iran convicts US ‘hikers’ as spies


Americans Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal sentenced to eight years in prison for illegal entry and espionage.

Al Jazeerah

Iran has sentenced two American hikers detained in the Islamic republic to eight years in prison on charges of “illegal entry” and “espionage”, reported Iran’s state television website.

“According to an informed source with the judiciary, Shane Bauer… and… Josh Fattal, the two detained American citizens, have been each sentenced to three years in prison for illegal entry to the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the website reported on Saturday.

It also stated that the two have separately been “sentenced to five years in prison on charges of espionage for the American intelligence agency”.

The report added that “the case of Sarah Shourd, who has been freed on bail is still open”.

The lawyer for the Americans, Masoud Shafii, told international news agancies he had not been informed of any decision since the trial ended on July 31.

Victoria Nuland, a spokesperson for the US State Department, said that the US is “working to confirm these reports and are in contact with the Swiss Protecting Power to obtain more information”.

“Shane and Josh have been imprisoned too long, and it is time to reunite them with their families,” she added.

Reporting from Washington, DC, Al Jazeera’s Monica Villamizar explained the State Department’s worries:

“Top US officials say that they are very concerned because they have no access to the prisoners, and they have no recent assessment of their mental health and their physical health. They don’t know what conditions they’re being kept in. As you know, the US and Iran don’t have any type of relations.”

The two Americans have 20 days to appeal the sentence.

Sadegh Zibakalam, professor of Political Science at Tehran University, told Al Jazeera:

“We mustn’t rush to any hasty conclusions because their lawyer has about two weeks’ time to launch an appeal on behalf of the accused. And there is a possibility; there is a chance that the appeal court may actually quash the sentence.”

Bauer and Fattal, both 28, were arrested along with Shourd, 32, on the unmarked border between Iran and Iraq on July 31, 2009. The three claimed they were hiking in Iraq’s northern province of Kurdistan when they innocently strayed into Iran.

They had earlier pleaded not guilty to spying charges.

Shourd is being tried in absentia. She returned to the United States after being freed on humanitarian and medical grounds in September, paying a bail of around $500,000.

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Russia against Western calls for Assad to resign



MOSCOW – Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday cautioned the West against encouraging the Syrian opposition, and said it doesn’t support Western calls for President Bashar Assad to resign.

Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement that Russia believes Assad must be given sufficient time to fulfill promises of reform as he has already made “some significant steps” — including lifting the state of emergency and issuing a decree allowing peaceful demonstrations.

He added that Russia disagrees with the United States and the European Union, who have urged Assad to step down.

Lukashevich said Russia is concerned about the situation in Syria, and reports of “people dying there.”

He described Syria as “one of the fulcrums of the Middle East,” adding that “its destabilization would have the gravest consequences for the entire region,” and called for the international community to give Syrians a “clear and unequivocal signal about the need to end all kind of violence.”

His call for an end to the violence, however, was not just aimed at Assad.The opposition, he said, must be encouraged to “enter a dialogue with authorities and disassociate itself from the extremists.”

“Our deep belief is that radical forces that are stirring up tensions in Syria mustn’t be encouraged from the outside,” Lukashevich said.

Russia, which had close political and military ties with Syria during Soviet times, has opposed a Western push for sanctions against Assad’s regime.

Moscow also has continued to provide Syria with weapons despite U.S. and Israeli protests. On Thursday, the chief of Russia’s state arms trader Rosoboronexport, Anatoly Isaikin, said Moscow will keep supplying combat jets and other military gear to Syria under contracts totaling about $3.5 billion (euro2.43 billion).

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had said earlier this month that he had warned Syria’s leader that he will face a “sad fate” if he fails to introduce reforms in his country and open a peaceful dialogue with the opposition.

Medvedev also signaled that Russia may change its approach to Syria if Assad fails to conduct reforms.

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21 Killed as Tit-for-Tat Attacks Embroil Gaza, IsraHell, Egypt


Zio-Nazi Warplanes Pound Gaza After Infiltration From Sinai

Violence is on the rise across a span of territory covering southern Israel and the southern Gaza Strip today, after a series of attacks inside Israel left eight Israelis dead and Israeli warplanes attacked targets within Gaza killing several more. Five people in Egypt, all members of security forces, were also slain at the border.

Israel said the original attacks were coordinated by the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, and responded by bombing an office of the organization. The leader and five others were reportedly killed. After Gazans fired rockets toward Israeli cities, Israel blamed Hamas and bombed Hamas facilities. Hamas says two children aged 3 and 13 were killing in the strikes.

Israeli officials confirmed that they had been informed earlier in the week about a possible terrorist attack coming out of Sinai, though internal disagreements about how serious a threat it was prevented them from preparing more seriously for it. The attacks targeted the city of Eilat, just 20 km from the Egyptian border.

Five Egyptian police were killed in Sinai as Israeli troops pursued the PRC attackers into the territory, probably caught in crossfire.

The Egyptian junta has expressed growing concern about its lack of control over the Sinai Peninsula, and has increased the number of troops operating there in recent days. A long-standing peace deal with Israel has made it extremely difficult for Egypt to deploy troops in the once-occupied peninsula.

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Egypt protests at deaths, demands IsraHell probe



Egypt lodged a formal protest with Israel on Friday over the killings of three members of its security forces during an Israeli border raid against Palestinians.

An army officer and two Egyptian security men died when Israeli troops pursued suspected Palestinian gunmen who killed eight Israelis on a road running close to the Egyptian border on Thursday. Seven other Egyptian security men were wounded.

“Egypt … demands an urgent investigation into the reasons and circumstances surrounding the deaths,” the army said in a statement after a meeting of the ruling military council.

Thursday’s attack was a major test for ties between Israel and Egypt following the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak and strengthened forces hostile to the Jewish state. Israel expressed concern about security in the Sinai peninsula.

A cabinet spokesman said the army-sponsored government of Prime Minister Essam Sharaf also planned to hold an emergency meeting later on Friday with members of the military council and the intelligence service to assess the situation in the region.

Dozens of Egyptians demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo following Friday prayers, denouncing the border raid.

Presidential candidates Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabbahi also denounced the loss of Egyptian lives: “Israel must realize that the day when Egypt’s sons are killed without an appropriate and strong reaction are over,” Moussa told Reuters.

Israel said the assailants came from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip through Egypt’s Sinai region and it launched attacks in Gaza which killed several Palestinian militants and others.

But Sinai governor Khaled Fouda dismissed Israeli government suggestions that Egypt’s new rulers were doing less to stop Palestinians: “We reject such statements and have increased security patrolling and checkpoints in Sinai,” he said.

Egyptian forces have been conducting their own operation against militants in Sinai. An Egyptian policeman died in clashes with gunmen in the el-Kuntilla region near the Israeli border in central Sinai on Friday, security sources said.

Two other policemen were injured in heavy clashes in the area, where Egyptian forces have been hunting those behind a string of recent attacks on Egyptian installations and a pipeline used to export Egyptian gas to Israel and Jordan.

Egypt raised its security alert in Sinai and deployed more troops in the north of the peninsula, officials said. It also closed the Auja border crossing with Israel, which lies about midway between the Mediterranean and Red Sea transit points.

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