Saturday, 6 November 2010

Big Tough America - The Railroading of Omar Khadr

The Railroading of Omar Khadr

By Becky Akers – Campaign for Liberty – 11/03/10
This time, it’s not just liberty’s lovers excoriating Our Rulers: their persecution of so-called “child-soldier” Omar Khadr has infuriated many international elites, albeit for the wrong reasons.
Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen whose family travelled back and forth between there, Afghanistan and Pakistan throughout his boyhood. Omar’s late father may actually be among the world’s very few genuine terrorists, as opposed to those the Feds manufacture to substantiate their silly war: he was a friend and financier to Osama himself.

Monday, 1 November 2010

CIA Not Very Intelligent

The suicide bomber who killed eight people inside a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan a few weeksago  was a Jordanian doctor recruited by Jordanian intelligence, a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a foreign government official confirmed Monday.

The bombing killed seven CIA employees - four officers and three contracted security guards - and a Jordanian intelligence officer, Ali bin Zaid, according to a second former U.S. intelligence official.  Ali bin Ziad introduced the good doctor to the gulled CIA officers, and that was that. He wasn't even frisked as he entered FOB Chapman.

They said the bomber was Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a 36-year old doctor from Zarqa, Jordan.

(If you remember, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al Qaeda scourge of Iraq, came from the same town and country). It is an Army barracks town, with some grim industry, and the usual industrial blight.

For more information see: The Black Iris of Jordan /

Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Prez is Coming to Town!

Obama is going to India. With 40 aircraft and 6 armoured cars. Mrs Obama also insisted their two kids should come along as well.

Prepare for a holiday snap of Mr and Mrs Prez standing in front of the Taj Mahal with their entire White House and 'security' staff around them.

This is going to be a quiet, unassuming visit.

Friday, 29 October 2010

More Silly Hats

These guys are not only wearing Al Capone fedoras, and a ridiculous kippah, but the man in the middle is wearing a daft turban (and an over-frogged jacket).

The man in question, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was recently quoted:
"Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel...In Israel, death has no dominion over them... With gentiles, it will be like any person – they need to die, but [God] will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money... Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat."

What could be more offencively Israeli-exclusive than this raving lunatic?

I'd bet 100:1 that you, dear reader, are a goy (not Jewish). In which case this nonsense applies to you. 

POTUS Afraid of a Hat

The President of the United States of America, probably the most powerful nation-state on earth, has cancelled a visit to the Sikh Golden Temple at Amritsar, for fear that photos taken of him wearing an obligatory simple head covering are construed by ignorant Americans as proving he really is a Muslim







He had no problem wearing a ridiculous kippah when he visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, in deference to Israeli religious customs.

Who are this man's advisors?

Note: He is standing right next to the low wall that separates male from female worshippers at the wall. This is, presumably, to show that he is a liberal anti-sexist.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Chicken Ham - Sensation!


I don't know if you've ever eaten petto d'oca, smoked goose breast; it is seriously delicious and good, and puts mere pork ham in the shade. I used to make a trip to a special shop to buy it every time I visited Italy.

So I decided to try a different version; smoked chicken. I bought a plump one, de-boned and quartered it, (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzmjtTUQS6g & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFjFtMA-TJE&feature=related) then soaked it in a strong brine for 4 hours.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Crabs That Made It Out Of Water - Osong; Mud Lobster

 
This weird inhabitant of our mangroves and creeksides is an Osong or Mud Lobster; Thalassina anomala.

It builds large mounds of mud around its burrows, and this is all I've ever seen of it, so I've stolen the rest of the information from Wikipedia.

T. anomala is a lobster-like animal which grows up to 30 centimetres (12 in) long, but is more typically 6–20 cm (2.4–7.9 in) long. Its colour ranges from pale to dark brown and brownish green. The carapace is tall and ovoid, extends over less than one third of the animal's length, and projects forward into a short rostrum. The tail is long and thin, and, like many burrowing decapods, the uropods are reduced in form, and do not form a functional tail fan with the telson.[4] Various rows of setae on the legs and gills are used to prevent sediment from reaching the gills and for expelling any which does reach them. T. anomala also makes use of "respiratory reversal" to keep the gills free of dirt.

Crabs That Made It Out Of Water

Besides Birgus latro, we have several quite different land crabs around here. They're true crabs that have taken to living on land, or at least halfway between land and sea.

They have all managed the transition between water and air breathing, although often in quite different ways. These are fairly momentous evolutionary steps for mere crustaceans.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Andreas the Asshole - Again

My wonderful next door neighbour has done it again - first he stole the copy from my website and pretended he'd written it himself. Now he's copied a map that I spent a lot of time making (from naval charts, etc). So I'm going to sue him. Not that it will do much good - his wife (Elizabeth) is closely related to the Surigao City legal mafia.

I try to get  people to avoid Patrick's On The Beach, because they will certainly be screwed. Firstly, he charges extra VAT (that is not paid to anybody), and the Service Charges go to him; not to his staff.

Smoked Eel


You might not think that this is a very appetising looking fish. I can assure you it is, and very much sought after.

This English site sells roughly 100gm portions of vacuum packed smoked eel for £6.45 (that's P450/$10/100gm, or P4500/$100 per kilo)

Viktor (phone (+63 920 287 2450) sells exactly the same self-smoked stuff without all the fancy packaging for P401/$7/kilo. It's the same species as American or European eels (or at least one of the two - you have to count their vertebrae to tell the difference, so good luck to you).

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

RIP Herbert

Herbert died last night, just before his scheduled release into the wild (well, my garden). I don't know why he expired so suddenly; I fed him on coconuts, and he seemed very active. There are plenty enough coconuts in my garden to have sustained him.

These crabs never go through a seafood stage; they graduate to a wholly terrestrial lifestyle after only a month's infancy in the sea. The young ones are very common indeed; they are virtually every terrestrial hermit crab you might come across here, and they all have a characteristic large left claw, which closes off their shelter shell..

Piglet Feast

My piglets are now 6 weeks old, so I am going to sacrifice 2 of them as lechon de leche - genuine suckling pigs, and invite a few friends to try them.

Filipinos call anything grill/roasted a Lechon (even a chicken - Litson Manok) so this is just a personal gesture against misunderstood Spanish words.

We're having smoked chicken and various strange pickles as well. Will tell you how they go.

I will be making a stunning pork pate with the heads and feet, plus the livers and hearts. It will be sealed with a mixture of butter and pork fat, and will probably last me a couple of years lke the last one.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Crowd 9

Cloud 9 - The best surf break in the Philippines is not doing very much in this photo, which is why there are so many aspiring surfers trying their stuff.

Too many.

When the break is really pumping, and the rollers are coming in huge from some passing typhoon, none but the brave and foolhardy will even try to surf it.

Very Junior Coconut Crab

 
This is a fairly junior Coconut Crab (Birgus latro), a crab almost completely land-adapted, except for about a month in the sea in its extreme youth.

This particular one has been visiting my house regularly over the past few years, but I didn't recognise its species.

This very crab has woken me up at night by scrabbling up my book-cases, and falling off.

It has been using the very same Fox Shell (Pleuroploca trapezium) for all this time, but it's getting a bit battered, mainly because I got fed up with it, and used to kick it into the middle distance every time it turned up on my front doorstep.

These, to the right, are part of a harvest of shell-bearing crabs from my garden, collected by my neighbour's little boy. You can probably recognise the fox shell shown above at the top centre. I can't be sure, because I didn't recognise them at the time, but I would bet that most of them are Birgus latro wannabes.

In which case, most of them have very little chance of ever making it to monster size. There are simply not enough large shells on land, or washed up to the top of the beach, to give them ways to grow.

Probably many of these shells will be used over and over again, in a crab's vain hopes of growing up. There is a lot of competition for new houses. Many are called but few are chosen.

Some may well turn into monster terror crabs, if they get a lot more chances, but I think most will have run out of large shells to inhabit in the meantime.

Because of the offshore reef in GL we get very few wavy storms within the lagoon, so very few larger shells get washed up. Most that do end up on land have been harvested by local fishermen. Certain of those, like baler shells, helmet shells, and conchs, are plenty large enough, but have strangely shaped apertures that can't accomodate a crab comfortably. They like a circular aperture that they can easily plug with their major claw and one leg.

About the only local shell that a large Birgus latro can use is a Triton, but these are becoming very rare. If one is seen walking around, the crab is casually sacrificed so the shell can be sold.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Tatos the Terror Crab



Tatos is the local name, but we know it better as Coconut or Robber Crab (Birgus latro). It is reputed to be able to rip apart a whole coconut with its formidable claws; (they are very strong indeed, and the only way to get them to let go, is to tickle its belly, I'm told).

Its only real enemy here is human; this one was the first I've seen in 12 years on this island, and my first thought was to eat it.
This was brought to me a few days ago, and the next day, another smaller one.

This is a juvenile; its tail has not yet acquired its armour, and its two claws are not yet 'straight'. It betrays its youth, which was spent as a hermit crab, in a shell.



At first I kept them in an improvised cage made from two thicknessess of coiled chicken wire with a closure of a single thickness over each end. Hearing a noise later in the evening, I found the big crab halfway out of a hole it had cut in one end of the cage, so I up-ended the cage, and put a pastry board and a couple of heavy books on top of the hole.

That night at about 1:30am, hearing a scraping noise in one corner of the bedroom, I saw the big crab trying to climb the bedroom wall. I got it off the wall with the help of my large cooking spoon, and it faced me off about a foot away, so I whacked it on the head with my spoon. It ran, with astonishing speed, backwards under my bed. No way was I going to crawl under there in the dark, so it stayed there until 7:30 the next morning, when I'd accumulated enough courage to tackle it. (Or rather, I'd told Ron to pick it up).

And here's Uncle Dick breathlessly explaining the Coconut Crab.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2_YYQrYTAg&NR=1

Monday, 30 August 2010

Checkpoint: 1

This week, I'm going to be featuring the reality of life in Occupied Palestine, beyond the 'Green Line':

Punishment for performance in front of "mixed audience."

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
27/08/2010

A singer who performed in front of a “mixed audience” of men and women was lashed 39 times to make him “repent,” after a ruling by a self-described rabbinic court on Wednesday.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, founder of the Shofar organization aimed at bringing Jews “back to religion” (hazara betshuva), has made it his recent mission to fight against musical performances for both men and women.

His “judicial panel,” with Rabbi Ben Zion Mutsafi and another member, sentenced Erez Yechiel to 39 lashes in order to “rid him of his sins.”

Friday, 27 August 2010

Reconciliation With Taliban is ‘Ultimate Goal’ - Petraeus:

This is very nearly the 'Saigon moment' in Afghanistan

by Jason Ditz, August 25, 2010

Speaking today to Fox News, US Commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus insisted that the “ultimate goal” of the nearly nine year long war is to enable the “reconciliation”of the Karzai government with the Taliban.

And while such talks have actually taken place (mostly with official US ambivalence), Gen. Petraeus says the war must continue until it “creates conditions” for a more favorable reconciliation.

According to Petraeus, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has laid out a number of “redline” demands, including that they accept the constitution and disarm, and that the war will have to continue until the insurgency meets those demands.

The Taliban has demands of their own, of course, and has repeatedly said that they would only accept a reconciliation deal if the international troops were to leave Afghanistan. In both cases the demands appear unlikely to be met.

Of course the failure of the peace talks so far has not happened in a vacuum, and earlier this week officials with the Pakistani government confirmed that they had sabotaged a previous peace deal involving Taliban moderates by arresting them en masse. Pakistani officials say they were worried that the deal was happening “behind their backs” and that the deal would hand Afghanistan over to pro-India interests

Thursday, 26 August 2010

A People That Shall Dwell Alone - Israel-Palestine: A Condensed View

A People That Shall Dwell Alone – Israel’s Attack On The Gaza Flotilla

August 25, 2010 posted by Niall Bradley · 14 Comments

By Joe Quinn, Editor of SOTT.nethttp://www.sott.net/
Originally published in the July-August 2010 issue of The Dot Connector Magazine.
Spyros Fragias/SOTT.net

At approximately 4am on May 31st 2010, a group of vessels attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza were attacked by the Israeli navy in international waters off the coast of the occupied Palestinian territories. Nine civilians aboard the largest vessel, the Mavi Marmara, were shot dead by Israeli soldiers and dozens more were wounded. The Israeli government claimed it was exercising its right to self defence. Flotilla members, and much of the international community, saw it as an act of piracy and murder on the high seas that has exposed deep flaws in the Israeli mentality and further alienated it from the rest of the world.

Albert Einstein: Plagiarist and Fraud ?

Ian Moseley – Altermedia August 17, 2010

Albert Einstein is today revered as “the Father of Modern Science”. His wrinkled face and wild hair has become a symbol for scientific genius and “his” famous E = mc^2 equation is repeatedly used as the symbol for something scientific and intellectual. And yet there has for years been mounting evidence that this “Father of Modern Science” was nothing but a con man, lying about his ideas and achievements, and stealing the work and the research of others.

Israel Penetrating Lebanese Institutions

WMR has learned from its Lebanese intelligence sources that the Lebanese government is coming to realize that Israeli intelligence penetration of all political groups in the country is worse than originally believed.

Israel’s Mossad, once content on penetrating the Christian and Druze parties in the country, has now thoroughly infiltrated the top echelons of Sunni and Shi’a parties, as well. Recently, Lebanon charged retired General Fayez Karam, a senior member of retired General Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, which is allied with Hezbollah, with spying for Mossad.

What I learned from Jared Diamond - Stephen M. Walt

Posted By Stephen M. Walt Wednesday, August 25, 2010 - 12:38 PM Share

Earlier this summer I mentioned that I was reading Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, and I promised to sum up the insights that I had gleaned from it. The book is well-worth reading -- if not quite on a par with his earlier Guns, Germs, and Steel -- and you'll learn an enormous amount about a diverse set of past societies and the range of scientific knowledge (geology, botany, forensic archaeology, etc.) that is enabling us to understand why they prospered and/or declined.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Bread

I've started out making my own bread (Or rather, Tata does the basic mixing, and I finish it off)

Bread is one of my very basic foods, and I haven't yet got it quite right, but I'm getting there slowly. It's as much a question of cosmetics as anything else.

I can get a beautiful semi baguette (like this one) or a total collapsed mess, and I don't understand yet why the same starter dough produces such different results

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back Into the Water

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Note to Gaza Flotilla activists: you may be able to buy your IDF impounded laptop on Ebay if you're lucky.

Ynet has a lengthy expose in Hebrew here about the arrest of Israeli soldiers for trafficking in stolen laptops – with the high possibility that the laptops came from one of the ships of the Gaza Flotilla. If true, then "the most moral army of the world" will soon be prosecuting soldiers for stealing laptops from human rights activists. Of course, nothing new here; if you can steal from Gazans, you should be able to steal credit cards and laptops from folks who are coming to help the Gazans.

You can read a short version in Haaretz here.

Pity the poor folks in the IDF Spokesperson's office. After running around telling foreign journalists that Eden Abergil's Facebook posting was disgusting and atypical (a view not, apparently, shared by the majority of Israelis, or at least those who answer polls, in the Jerusalem Post), they now have to deal with this.

It's not easy advocating for the IDF nowadays.

Update: Captain Renault of the IDF once again reacts: "I'm shocked, shocked to find gambling going on in this establishment!" Read about it here

Update: Now the supporters and detractors of Eden Abergil are running neck-in-neck in the Jerusalem Post poll. Great going, hasbaraniks! (In fairness, the poll is open to readers outside of Israel, so presumably there are still leftwing readers outside of Israel disgusted by Edn Abergil's Facebook page.)

Islamophobia as the New Antisemitism

Magnes Zionist
Thursday, August 19, 2010

Daniel Luban has written a timely and well-researched article in Tablet on what he calls, the "New Antisemitism," the anti-Islamic bigotry that is on the rise in the United States. Using the term "New Antisemitism" to describe this bigotry is much more appropriate than using it to describe anti-Zionism or anti-Israelism; the latter often have nothing to do with anti-Semitism, and when they do, it is with the old anti-Semitism. While it is true that the term "anti-Semitism" originally arose in Germany as an explanatory euphemism for anti-Judaism, the exclusion of an "alien semitic and oriental religion" goes quite nicely with current Islamophobia, although, of course, there are important and fundamental differences. (For both similarities and differences see Luban's article.)

Start Out Yet Again

I'm starting out yet again on my 'Paradise Island' blog; about life in a small tropical paradise.

It's a great place, but with one major problem; Food.

Filipino cooking is terrible. It is almost worse than Nigerian food.

So the next few posts will be about what you can do with simple Filipino ingredients

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

First they came for the Muslims; then they came for the Roma…

One would have thought it was too soon for France to forget its Vichy past.

After destroying their homes and giving them $383, France is flying 700 Roma people to Romania and Bulgaria. The government has been dismantling Roma settlements, saying they were havens for illegal trafficking, child exploitation, begging and prostitution. But Romania’s foreign minister says he’s worried France’s action is creating xenophobia. Al Jazeera’s Estelle Youssouffa looks at the man leading the French drive for security and public order.

Could the U.S. mission in Afghanistan fall apart simply because of bad translation?

BY NEIL SHEA
AUGUST 23, 2010


The effect of bad translators on the Afghan mission is difficult to estimate -- but I believe that it's vast. Terps have a different stake from the Americans in the outcome of the war, and by definition they're working with people who can't understand half the things they say, meaning that there's no accountability if they're translating an English message into something totally different. I once asked the lieutenant colonel in charge of the Korengal Valley how many messages he thought were lost this way. I wagered that at least 40 percent of his troops' words were not getting through to Afghans. He thought it was more like 50 percent. At the time, January 2010, his soldiers were literally delivering U.S. President Barack Obama's new strategic message to Afghans. I watched them announce that the United States would soon begin withdrawal and that Afghans needed to take responsibility for their own future. If half that message were lost in translation, which half would you want it to be?

US Pulls Protection From Pakistan Floods - Shades of Katrina!

US diverts floodwater on town to protect airbase in Pakistan, refuses use for relief operations
by The Asian Human Rights Commission

PAKISTAN: Minister tasked with saving US airbase at the cost of the displacement of thousands

The presence of Pakistan army personnel speaks to the fact that the breach of Jamali bypass was intentional and ordered from above.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Light For Another Monday

A man and his ever-nagging wife went on vacation to Jerusalem.
While they were there, the wife passed away. The undertaker told the husband, "You can have her shipped home for $5,000, or you can bury her here, in the Holy Land , for $150."
The man thought about it and told him he would just have her shipped home.
The undertaker asked, "Why would you spend $5,000 to ship your wife home, when it would be wonderful to be buried here and you would spend only $150?"
The man replied, "Long ago a man died here, was buried here, and three days later he rose from the dead. I just can't take that chance".
http://www.flintstories.com/short_funny_stories/anecdotes.php?npage=71

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Last of the Combat Troops Leaving Iraq? – Only in your Dreams

Attention 101
Bill Noxid

Watching MSNBC’s coverage of ‘the last combat troops leaving Iraq’ for 3 hours reminded of a few brutal realities that still plague this country and this planet. The first being just how far this country remains from any semblance of reality. It’s the kind of delusional denial that truly can only be believed when witnessed from within. As Keith Olbermann was describing the cinematic quality of the “Strykers driving into your living room,” I could really think of only one thing – The aftermath of a 7.5 year all out United States operation to decimate a people and their society.

There’s no way to comprehend the scope and facets of this operation, because you would need a Pentagon for that. From the first day after initial conquest when the money disappeared from the banks and their record of civilization was decimated by the looting of their museums, it was like any other colonial conquest in history, except every excruciating moment of this one was on television. The following 7.5 years of the assimilation of a country went as diagrammed.

From control (denial) of power, water, and even seed monopolization, to toxic contamination of the gene pool and re-education ‘schools,’ to monopolization of natural resources, to fostering drug addictions and self-perpetuating violence, etc., what took a hundred years to do to Native Americans was accomplished in under a decade. Quite an example of lessons learned from hundreds of years of colonization.



And in the name of all that is Holy, please do not delude yourself into believing this war is over. 50,000 troops will remain, an ‘unknowable’ number of contractors / mercenaries, and an embassy that makes the Vatican look like the summer home will remain. Certainly, the colonization of Iraq was one of the fastest and most efficient in history. It also needs to be the last.



So there are no delusions of the reality we have left for the Iraqi people, please watch the short videos below. Then, while you’re sitting with your family watching the MSM pundits debate whether the war was ‘worth it’ or not, think about how long you could survive the kind of ‘Freedom’ we have heaped on the Iraqis. Face the reality, and forget the cinema.

1.5M Iraqi War Widows: http://ow.ly/2rBGR
The poisoning of Iraq: http://ow.ly/2rBJv
Iraq – Unknown Illness Spreads: http://ow.ly/2rF0K
Iraq – Another little girl’s house gone: http://ow.ly/2rEYX
Still no electricity in Baghdad: http://ow.ly/2rBJM

Bill Noxid http://billnoxid.wordpress.com/ Twitter http://twitter.com/attentionalert
Buzzflash: http://ow.ly/2sqih
Infowars: http://ow.ly/2slJ2
Prison Planet: http://ow.ly/2sqnc
South Lebanon: http://ow.ly/2sqx4
Information Clearing House: http://ow.ly/2sqHV
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------































RT @buzzflash Last of the Combat Troops Leaving Iraq? – Only in your Dreams: Bill Noxid http://ow.ly/2s7Kb #P2 #P2b @MSNBC 1 day ago

FOX creates the ignorant, @MSNBC & @CNN poll them, and you're surprised half the sheeple think he's from Mars? #P2 #P2b 1 day ago

These aren't polls, they are advertising focus groups. How do you 'journalists' not know this? #P2 #P2b @MSNBC @Park51 1 day ago

These 'polls' don't gauge reality. They gauge how many people believe misinformation. #P2 #P2b @MSNBC @Park51 1 day ago

The Community Center isn't an insult to 9/11 victims. This controversy is an insult to intelligence. #P2 #P2b @MSNBC @Park51 1 day ago

Stop flashing those polls of the ignorant like they matter. New York community voted IN FAVOR. #P2 #P2b @MSNBC @Park51 1 day ago

Last of the Combat Troops Leaving Iraq? - Only in your Dreams: Bill Noxid http://ow.ly/2rOTk @chucktodd @savannahguthrie #Iraq 1 day ago

Hamas must rebrand and take the wind out of Israel's and America's sails

Stuart Littlewood*
Sabbah Report
http://www.sabbah.biz/

In the five years since I became interested in the Palestinians, only two things of positive note have happened in the occupied territories.

The Palestinians held full and fair elections in 2006 to establish themselves as a democracy – and much good it did them.

And in Gaza these amazing people have resolutely survived a vicious land and sea blockade imposed by Israel and aided and abetted by the Western powers as soon as those elections put Hamas into government. They have resisted almost daily air strikes and armed intrusions for four years and courageously withstood the cowardly Israeli blitzkrieg of 20 months ago.

Obama's pledge to close down Guantanamo is 'not even close'

By Robert Verkaik, Law Editor
Thursday, 19 August 2010
http://www.independent.co.uk/

Barack Obama's pledge to shut down Guantanamo Bay will not be honoured until at least a year after the President's self-imposed deadline – and may not be completed in his first administration.

The man in charge of the seven prison camps at the US naval base in Cuba is yet to receive direct orders to begin the transfer of prisoners so he can close the detention facilities.

In his first media interview since taking up the post three months ago, Admiral Jeffrey Harbeson said that even if President Obama implemented his order today it would take him six months to complete the job, a year after the January 2010 deadline imposed by the President when he signed the executive order in 2009.

The stalled timetable reflects growing opposition from the US public, and Congress, to the transfer of prisoners to the US mainland. Plans to move the bulk of the 176 detainees to a specially built maximum security prison close to Chicago have run into fierce local and national opposition, while Congress has also blocked the allocation of more money to build new facilities.

Criminal trials for the Guantanamo detainees accused of crimes linked to the September 11 attacks have also ground to a halt over arguments about what process the suspects should face. There is also little international enthusiasm for a settlement involving the transfer of the bulk of the remaining detainees, from 30 different countries, to new locations around the world.

Admiral Harbeson, the 10th commander of the camps since they were opened in January 2002, told The Independent that as a "ball-park figure" it would take his Guard Force six months to close Guantanamo. Asked if he had received an instruction to implement President Obama's order, he replied: "No."

On the closure operation he added: "Any movement of the detainees that we do will mean there are a lot of folks who go with them to ensure safety and security – [that means] medical personnel, regular security and interpreters. That's the tail...."

He continued: "Once you do that, [and] the detainees are safely transported to different locations, then you come back to the infrastructure and the security aspect and the personnel who are here, turning off the lights, turning off the power..."

The camps themselves are protected by a court order which means that after Guantanamo is closed the infrastructure must be maintained as evidence in ongoing legal action being brought by detainees against the US government.

Admiral Harbeson, who took up his year-long post in June, also admitted that the CIA has dramatically scaled down its interrogation operations at Guantanamo Bay and now only interviews al-Qa'ida and Taliban suspects who volunteer to speak to its agents.

The US intelligence-gathering operation is now restricted to monitoring the mail sent in and out of the camps, but the Admiral insists there is still intelligence to be gleaned from the detainees. "These individuals were picked up on the battlefield and belong to various organisations, so they still communicate through mail and phone calls," he says.

Despite this, living conditions in the camps have greatly improved since the detainees were held in the cages of Camp X-Ray in the early months of 2002, Admiral Harbeson added.

The international focus on Guantanamo remains fixed on President Obama's promise to close the camps. In October last year Admiral Harbeson's predecessor, Admiral Tom Copeman, said that he could close down Guantanamo by January this year. He added that a "substantial number" of the then 223 detainees were "still hoping" they would be repatriated to their respective home countries.

But his replacement says the closure of the base is not his chief concern and that he doesn't necessarily want to be remembered as the man who closed Guantanamo.

While politicians on Capitol Hill worry about how to put the Guantanamo genie back in the bottle, Admiral Harbeson said his focus is the detainees, the majority of whom have been held for eight years without charge or trial. "My mission is to make sure that those individuals are treated humanely, [that we are] legal and transparent in everything we do and that they are held in common with article three of the US Constitution [which governs the judiciary]."

America Cannot Go to War for Israel

Ahmed Moor Huffington Post August 18, 2010

The mongrel dogs of war are foaming at the bit. For years they've cowered in their damp trenches, bristling in the heat. But they're back now. They've gathered their sagging flesh and cast their milky, crusty eyes at Iran. The mongrel dogs of war are planning another war.

The Zionists Benjamin Netanyahu, Jeffrey Goldberg and George Will want young American men and women to attack Iran on behalf of Israel. These are the same men who wanted young American men to attack Iraq. But Iran is not Iraq, and many thousands of Americans will die in the next war. This will not be a cakewalk or a slam dunk. And no enwreathed children will greet Americans in the streets with lily-white flower petals.

Don't fall for the direct-talk hype: The 'peace process' is still going nowhere

Posted By Stephen M. Walt Friday, August 20, 2010 - 1:36 PM

If you think today's announcement that the Israelis and Palestinians are going to resume "direct talks" is a significant breakthrough, you haven't been paying attention for the past two decades (at least). I wish I could be more optimistic about this latest development, but I see little evidence that a meaningful deal is in the offing.

Why do I say this? Three reasons.

1. There is no sign that the Palestinians are willing to accept less than a viable, territorially contiguous state in the West Bank (and eventually, Gaza), including a capital in East Jerusalem and some sort of political formula (i.e., fig-leaf) on the refugee issue. By the way, this outcome supposedly what the Clinton and Bush adminstrations favored, and what Obama supposedly supports as well.

Friday, 20 August 2010

What We Can Learn: An Excerpt from Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?

How Europe builds better products for better lives.
By Thomas Geoghegan

It's no accident that the social democracies—Sweden, France and Germany, who kept on paying high wages—now have more industry than the United States or the
Americans may believe the United States is set up for the middle class, and Europe is set up for the bourgeois. Or let’s put it this way: America is a great place to buy kitty litter at Wal-Mart and relatively cheap gas. But it is not designed for me, a professional without a lot of money. That’s who Europe is for: people like me.

OK, as a union-side lawyer, Europe’s really set up for people like my clients, or those who used to be my clients before the unions in America collapsed. Let’s put my own self-interest aside: Where would my clients, who are not poor, who make $30,000 to $50,000 a year and yet keep coming up short, maybe by $100, $200 a month, really be better off?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Feeding At The Pentagon Trough

To see what Dr Davidson Is talking about, see this chart:
By Dr. Lawrence Davidson

When Americans think about the state of their economy, what they are doing is reflecting on their personal economic conditions. For most citizens, the economy is their pocketbooks and not the state of the nation’s purse. This is part of what can be called “natural localism,” the fact that almost everyone concentrates their attention first and foremost on their local environment. Americans are particularly prone to such myopia due to the emphasis given to “me first” individualism by their culture. Unfortunately, this orientation has proven increasingly harmful for America’s national economy. The federal politicians are as “me first” as their constituents and so no one seems to be able to manage the nation’s money according to national needs. A good examination of this was put forth by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich on August 11, 2010.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Loss of Innocence - Disney on Hitler - An Old Banned Walt Disney Cartoon I Found on the Net. Antinazi Propaganda.

Much as this is overdone, I wouldn't like to suggest any contemporary parallels at all - yet - RP



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASW3UCc17AI&feature=player_embedded

Loss of Innocence an Exhibition of Art by the Children of Gaza

Israeli soldiers and border guards alongside blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian detainees — some of them dead.

BETHLEHEM — An Israeli human rights group has released pictures of Israeli soldiers and border guards alongside blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian detainees — some of them dead.

Breaking the Silence set up a group on Facebook entitled “the norm denied by Avi Benayahu,” an Israeli military spokesman who described the recent release of photographs by an ex-soldier next to detainees as exceptional.

“The new campaign came into being in the wake of the publication of Eden Abergil’s photos, in order to show the prevalence of this phenomenon among IDF ranks,” Breaking the Silence said in a statement to the Israeli news site Ynet.

Facebook scandal escalates as group posts new photos - Breaking the Silence

Published yesterday (updated) 18/08/2010 08:48 BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- An Israeli human rights group has released pictures of Israeli soldiers and border guards alongside blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinian detainees -- some of them dead.

Breaking the Silence set up a group on Facebook entitled "the norm denied by Avi Benayahu," an Israeli military spokesman who described the recent release of photographs by an ex-soldier next to detainees as exceptional.

"The new campaign came into being in the wake of the publication of Eden Abergil's photos, in order to show the prevalence of this phenomenon among IDF ranks," Breaking the Silence said in a statement to the Israeli news site Ynet.

"The photographs that had been published are merely the tip of the iceberg. Many people possess thousands of photos, but only a small part is being published … we turned Eden into a scapegoat, while the norm is what needs to be targeted."

The original photos prompted a harsh reaction from the Palestinian Authority. "This shows the mentality of the occupier, to be proud of humiliating Palestinians. There is nothing in the world that can justify [this] humiliation that is part of the Israeli occupation practices on [a] daily basis," the PA's Government Media Center said in a statement.

"Occupation is unjust, immoral and, as these pictures show, corrupting. It should end and Palestinian rights and dignity be respected. We call upon all human rights defenders to make all efforts to end the Israeli occupation and close this dark era for humanity," the statement added.

Abergil posted the photos in her Facebook album "Army...best time of my life:)" in early August. The series of images, since removed from her page, displayed Abergil posing with blindfolded and handcuffed detainees who were apparently seized during a recent army raid in the occupied West Bank.

How do you Solve a Problem like Syria?

If it is a problem, that is. If it's just an unfriendly neighbour of Israel, then why does it concern the US -  RP

As Russia prepares to deliver fuel for Iran’s nuclear reactors, it is worth casting a reviewer’s eye over the potential for further conflict in the Middle East. In one corner we have the Zionist state of Israel and its somewhat reluctant – although faithful-ally, the United States. In the other corner we have Iran, Lebanon and Syria and their various proxies.

So the Over-Medalled General IC Afghanistan is Deluded

'Osama Probably Buried in Pak Mountains' - Petraeus - Musharraf: bin Laden likely dead i Dec 2001

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) --Pakistan's president says he thinks Osama bin Laden is most likely dead because the suspected terrorist has been unable to get treatment for his kidney disease.
"I think now, frankly, he is dead for the reason he is a ... kidney patient," Gen. Pervez Musharraf said on Friday in an
interview with CNN.

Musharraf said Pakistan knew bin Laden took two dialysis machines into Afghanistan. "One was specifically for his own personal use," he said.

The "Banality of Evil" and Israel's Destruction of al-Araqib


ba·nal·i·ty (b-nl-t, b-)
NOUN: pl. ba·nal·i·ties
The condition or quality of being banal; triviality: The banality of the speaker's remarks put the audience to sleep.
Something that is trite, obvious, or predictable; a commonplace: Television commercials are full of banalities.

Joseph Dana writing from al-Araqib, Live from Palestine, 10 August 2010

Israeli police along with demolition crews raid the village of al-Araqib early this morning. (Joseph Dana)

Eden Abergil, The Product Of A Blindfolded Society - "the most beautiful time" of her life

On 08.16.10, By Max Blumenthal
Is there anything shocking about the Facebook photos showing the Israeli female soldier Eden Abergil posing in mocking positions next to bound and blindfolded Palestinian men? While her conduct was abominable, I did not find it especially distinct from the documented behavior of Israeli soldiers and Border Police in the Occupied Territories.

Below is a photo I took in Hebron in June before soldiers demanded that I stop shooting (I will release video from Hebron as soon as I get the chance). Scenes like these can be witnessed on any given day in the West Bank. Not only do they show the dehumanization that the Palestinian Morlocks are subjected to on an hourly basis, they depict the world where Abergil spent what she called “the most beautiful time of [her] life.” It is easy to see how young Israelis (or anyone) would be sapped of their humanity in such an environment.

In July, I waited inside the cafeteria of Israel’s Guantanamo-like Ofer Prison after watching Ibrahim Amira, a leader of the Ni’ilin popular committee, be sentenced by a kangaroo court to six months in prison for the trumped-up charge of “incitement” (he was accused of paying kids to throw rocks at the Israeli soldiers who invade their village at least every week, as if they needed encouragement). While I stood at the counter to order a coffee, I watched four female jailers gather around a laptop to check their Facebook pages. I wondered what their status updates looked like. If they wrote anything relating to their work, would their Facebook pages look different than Abergil’s? Of course not. Just take a trip to Eyal Niv’s blog and look at some of the photos other young Israelis are posting.

I took this photo in Hebron in June before soldiers ordered me to stop shooting. A Palestinian man was being near the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron.

You don’t have to go to the West Bank or into an Israeli prison to recognize that Abergil is a typical product of Israel’s comprehensively militarized society. Just watch the documentary, “To See When I’m Smiling.” In the film, which tells the soul-crushing stories of four young women conscripted into the Israeli Army, one of the characters recounts posing for a photo beside a dead Palestinian man who had an erection. She was smiling from ear to ear in the photo. However, at the end of the film, when she is compelled to look at the picture for the first time in two years, she does not recognize the monster who bears her image. Her contorted facial expression seems to ask, “Who was I?”



“To See When I’m Smiling” was produced by Breaking The Silence, a human rights group formed by ex-Israeli soldiers who collect testimonies from their peers. Incidentally, Breaking The Silence has published a 132-page booklet of testimonies by female soldiers (PDF here) who participated in acts at least as hideous as those depicted on Abergil’s Facebook page.



Here is Testimony 63, by a female sergeant from the Nahal Unit who served in Mevo Dotan:



I recall once, this was after we moved to Mevo Dotan, to the base there, some Palestinian was sitting on a chair and I passed by several times. Once I thought: Okay, why is he sitting here for an hour? I feel like spitting at him, at this Arab. And they tell me: Go one, spit at him. I don’t recall whether anyone did this before I did, but I remember spitting at him and feeling really, like at first I felt, wow, good for me, I just spat at some terrorist, that’s how I’d call them. And then I recall that afterwards I felt some thing here was not right.

Why?
Not too human. I mean, it sounds cool and all, but no, it’s not right.
You thought about later, or during the act?
Later. At the time you felt real cool.
Even when everyone was watching, you felt real cool.
Yes, and then sometimes you get to thinking, especially say on Holocaust Memorial Day, suddenly you’re thinking, hey, these thing were done to us, it’s a human being after all. Eventually as things turned out he was no terrorist anyway, it was a kid who’d hung around too long near the base, so he was caught or something.
A child?
An adolescent.
Slaps?
Yes.
Blindfolded and all?
Yes. I think that at some point no one even stood watch over him.
The female sergeant recalled the Holocaust when she reflected on her actions. If you are raised in a Jewish home, it is difficult not to see the ravages of the occupation in the light of the Holocaust, regardless of whether you know that the Israeli army’s violence bears little comparison to the exterminationism of the Nazis. Just as when I watched “To See When I’m Smiling,” Abergil’s photos made me think of Costa Gavras’ haunting Holocaust film, “Music Box.” If you have seen it, you will understand my reference. If not, rent it.

I also thought of the first stanza of “Vision,” a poem by the Palestinian writer Muhammad al-Qaisi. The poem reminded me not only of the Abergil’s public unmasking, but also of the many Israelis who told me about their experiences in the army as though they were describing some morally debased person they had never met:
I see the faces change their complexion
peel off their outer skin
I see the faces divested
of makeup and masks
and I see an empty stage
the spectators denying their own images
in the third act.

The Illusion of a ‘Limited War’ Against Iran - Who Forgot the Pasdaran?

By Mahan Abedin
Guest editorial for Informed Comment

August 12, 2010 - The frank admission by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s highest ranking officer, that the U.S. has plans to attack Iran to prevent that country from acquiring nuclear weapons, is being treated with the utmost seriousness in political, intelligence and military circles in Tehran.

Why America is going to regret the Cordoba House controversy

Stephen M. Walt Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Apart from a brief post praising New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's forthright stance on the Muslim community center controversy, I haven't said much about this issue. I had naively assumed that Bloomberg's eloquent remarks defending the project -- and reaffirming the indispensable principle of religious freedom -- would pretty much end the controversy, but I underestimated willingness of various right-wing politicians to exploit our worst xenophobic instincts, and some key Democrats' congenital inability to fight for the principles in which they claim to believe. Silly me.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

'Ground Zero Mosque' - So What?

Prayer hall or provocation?
By Gregg Carlstrom

The site of the planned mosque and Islamic community centre in lower Manhattan [AFP]

Barack Obama, the US president, spoke forcefully on Friday night in support of the proposed mosque and Islamic community centre near the site of the former World Trade Centre in New York that was destroyed in the September 11 attacks.

The project is popularly called the "Ground Zero mosque", perhaps a slight misnomer on two counts.

It will not be located at Ground Zero, but rather at 45-47 Park Place, two city blocks (200 metres) north of the World Trade Centre site. The buildings currently at that location were damaged during the September 11 attacks.

Nor is it only a mosque: Planners will spend up to $100 million to build an Islamic community centre called Cordoba House, which will house a mosque, an auditorium, a swimming pool and a bookstore.

Public opinion cuts sharply against the project. Dozens of politicians have condemned it, and opinion polls show it is unpopular, with a majority of Americans opposed to its construction.

Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York, delivered a stirring defence of the project last week, appealing to the city's long tradition of religious diversity.

"The simple fact is that this building is private property, and the owners have a right to use the building as a house of worship," Bloomberg said.

The project has been attacked on three grounds. One of them is simply anti-Muslim bigotry based on smears and false claims, like conservative columnist Andrew McCarthy's assertion in National Review that the mosque is part of a "civilisational jihad" against the West.

A second criticism is the location, which some Americans say is insensitive to the victims of the attacks. David Paterson, the governor of New York, offered to find land for the community centre elsewhere in the city.

The site of the planned centre was most recently a department store [Google Earth]Critics say it would be inappropriate to build a mosque on the "hallowed ground" of Ground Zero.

Yet there is already a mosque two blocks north of the Cordoba House site, Masjid Manhattan, which has been open since 1970.

As several commentators have pointed out, there is also a strip club - New York Dolls - just one block north of the mosque site. No one has complained about that profaning of the sacred.

And the building will not displace any important historical landmark: The planned community centre on Park Place was most recently a Burlington Coat Factory, a national chain of discount department stores.

National polls find strong opposition to the project: A Rasmussen poll conducted in July found 54 per cent of Americans oppose it, with just 20 per cent in favour.

Interestingly, support for the project is stronger among those who will actually live near it.

In the borough of Manhattan - where the mosque will be located - 46 per cent support the community centre, with just 36 per cent opposed.

The imam behind the mosque has been accused by critics of radicalism, despite his years-long affiliation with the US government.

Feisal Abdul Rauf is scheduled to travel to Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates later this year on a public diplomacy trip sponsored by the US state department. It will be his second such trip to the Gulf; the first was organised in 2007, by the Bush administration.

Abdul Rauf will travel to the Gulf this year on a state department-sponsored trip [AFP]Abdul Rauf visited Egypt in January as part of an exchange programme run by the state department. He has also advised the FBI.

Yet he has still been accused of holding radical views. Two Republican members of the US house of representatives - Peter King, from New York, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, from Florida - sent a letter to the US state department accusing Abdul Rauf of radicalism.

"Abdul Rauf has cast blame for 9/11 on the US, and even refuses to call Hamas what it is, a foreign terrorist organisation," they wrote. "This radical is a terrible choice to be one of the faces of our country overseas."

Abdul Rauf's Hamas comments came in a June radio interview: He did not endorse the group, but declined to label it a "terrorist organisation". "The issue of terrorism is a very complex question," he said.

(King, incidentally, has a decades-long history of support for the Irish Republican Army, which is officially branded a terrorist organisation by the government of the United Kingdom.)

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, Abdul Rauf told CBS's 60 Minutes programme that "terrorism has no place in Islam", but suggested that US policies have encouraged groups like al-Qaeda.

"I wouldn't say the United States deserved what happened on 9/11, but the United States' policies were an accessory to the crime that happened," Abdul Rauf said.

That is hardly a fringe opinion in the United States: The chairman and vice-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, the US government panel that investigated the attacks, wrote in a 2007 Washington Post op-ed that US foreign policy has contributed to a "rising tide of radicalisation and rage in the Muslim world".

Obama gave strong backing to the community centre and mosque on Friday [AFP]Bloomberg was asked about Abdul Rauf's views, and declined to criticise him.

"My job is not to vet clergy in this city," Bloomberg said. "Everyone has a right to their opinions. You don't have to worship there... [this country] is not built around only those religions or clergy people that we agree with. It's built around freedom."

The mosque cleared the final obstacle to construction last week when New York's preservation board voted not to extend historic status to the building at 45-47 Park Place. That designation would have made it impossible to continue the construction.

"As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country," Obama said during his iftar speech. "That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community centre on private property in lower Manhattan."

Monday, 16 August 2010

Omar Khadr - Juror Removed From Trial For Saying Gitmo Should Be Closed

RAW STORY President Barack Obama has said repeatedly that he wants to see the Guantanamo prison camp shut down. But holding that opinion is apparently enough to disqualify you from jury duty at the Gitmo military tribunals.

A US Army lieutenant colonel who told the military tribunal he believes the prison camp for suspected terrorists should be shuttered has been removed from the jury in the trial of Omar Khadr.

The Associated Press reports that prosecutors in Khadr's trial used their one allotted juror dismissal to excuse the unnamed officer.

In reporting on the removal, the UK's Independent states that the move "has only added to the perception of prejudice" within the military tribunal system set up to try Gitmo inmates.
The Independent also suggests that the tribunal has no problem with other forms of potential conflict of interest among jurors:

Among the seven jurors remaining on the panel are officers who have lost close friends or colleagues fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. One had a friend killed in the 11 September attacks on the Pentagon.

It also emerged that many of the officers had volunteered to take part in the proceedings. During questioning of the 15 potential panellists all but one told the court they either believed Guantanamo Bay should stay open or did not hold an opinion on the subject.

The Independent reports that "none" of the jurors "thought the US had used torture to extract confessions." That would contradict testimony that interrogators threatened to gang-rape Khadr to death if he refused to cooperate. The judge in the case has allowed statements made under that threat to be used in the tribunal.

In that context, "the lieutenant colonel, who said he agreed with his Commander-in-Chief on the policy of Guantanamo and torture, presented a lone voice of international consensus."

AFP reports that the prosecution had pointed questions for potential jurors:

Prosecutor Jeff Groharing then posed questions to the potential jurors, highlighting the legal controversies at the center of the Khadr case: "Does anyone consider it unfair to use statements the accused made?" he asked them.

"Does anyone find it inappropriate to try somebody eight years after the facts?" he went on. "Do you think it's inappropriate to try a juvenile for a serious crime?"

Khadr's trial is believed to be the first modern-era prosecution of a child soldier. Khadr was 15 years old when he was captured by US forces in Afghanistan during a firefight that killed Khadr's father. Khadr is accused of tossing the grenade that killed Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer, 28, of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

But Khadr's lawyers have said previously they have evidence Khadr couldn't have thrown the grenade. They point to photos showing Khadr lying buried under shrapnel when the fatal grenade hit Sgt. Speer.

Khadr, a Canadian, is the last citizen of a Western country left in Guantanamo. Other Western countries, including the UK and Australia, have repatriated their Gitmo inmates. Khadr's military tribunal, which opened this week, was delayed for a month after his lawyer collapsed during proceedings on Thursday.

:

Explaining Murder: Israeli Hasbara in Full Swing

August 14, 2010 by Richard Lightbown


The hasbara industry is in full swing at the moment as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government pulls out all the stops to create a smokescreen to cover its crimes. Leading from the front Mr Netanyahu sat in front of the Turkel Commission for four hours on Monday, although anyone hoping to hear anything of interest would have been disappointed. Mr Netanyahu only spoke in front of the public for ninety minutes of that time during which he regaled the committee with complaints about Hamas, Sderot and Gilad Shalit. He told the committee that Israel had a right to search for weapons on board the flotilla. (Israel has since announced that it found no weapons for Hamas. Did nine people really have to die so that Israel could confirm the certification the flotilla already had?) He further told them that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of the blockade it was just a ‘bogus rationale […] to break the blockade’. So there we are. The International Committee of the Red Cross was lying on 14 June when it said:

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Israel Razes Israeli-Arab Village For the Third Time

This exposes Israel's racism in its full glory. These are Israeli Arab citizens who happen to live in a large desert. Israel wants that space to dump the 50,000 settlers (10% of the total) they may have to move in the event of a 'peace settlement' - RP

Go to individual article if the video doesn't work.
In Democracy's Wasteland, Israel Razes a Bedouin Village...Again
"The Negev affords me the pleasure of watching a wasteland develop into the most fruitful portion of Israel by a totally Jewish act of creation." --David Ben Gurion, Memoirs

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Major IDF Manuevers in Northern Israel Threaten Lebanon, Syria, Iran

Richard Silverstein
August 10th, 2010

TV news video of armor moved to northern Israel during military manuevers
Israel has decided to rattle sabers after losing one of its senior officers in the tree-trimming incident on the Lebanese border. In a story that was removed from the IDF website, it published an article about the maneuvers, reporting that the army is engaged in a major exercise all the way from the central Beit Shean region to the far north, with troops and armor rolling down Highway 71.

Friday, 13 August 2010

US State Department to Do Its Own Thing

By Warren P. Strobel
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Can diplomats field their own army? The State Department is laying plans to do precisely that in Iraq, in an unprecedented experiment that U.S. officials and some nervous lawmakers say could be risky.

In little more than a year, State Department contractors in Iraq could be driving armored vehicles, flying aircraft, operating surveillance systems, even retrieving casualties if there are violent incidents and disposing of unexploded ordnance.

Lebanon Doubts Nasrallah’s ‘Proof’

Comment: In all truth, I expected a lot more from Nasrallah; undated aerial photos of the St Georges Hotel and harbour are just not enough. There have been Israeli overflights of Beirut since the 1970s, when I lived there. RP

Lebanon doubts Nasrallah’s ‘proof’ Joshua Hersh, Foreign Correspondent

Last Updated: August 11. 2010

People watch Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah speaking via video link during a press conference, on the assassination of Rafik Hariri in Beirut.
For weeks, the Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has claimed that Israel was behind the 2005 assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, but the evidence he supplied in a nationally televised news conference this week failed to entirely persuade the Lebanese public and politicians.

Aisha - The Girl Who Tried To Get Away

Comment: There couldn't be a more blatant propaganda photo. Such mutilations are common in provincial Afghanistan, and have been since long before the Taliban were created. But this girl is was very pretty. She was extremely lucky to get away from her abusive 'home' and find refuge. In many countries (not only Muslim ones) she would have deserved, and got, an honour killing RP
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The maimed face of 18-year-old Aisha, her nose and ears cut off as punishment by her Afghan husband for fleeing his home, made the cover of Time magazine last week and changed the debate over the country's military involvement in Afghanistan. Hitting stands just as a growing chorus of pundits and lawmakers had begun to question the costs, the goals and the point of the country's longest war ever, the gut-punch cover image, beneath a stunningly blunt coverline conspicuously missing a question mark — "What Happens if We Leave Afghanistan" — and accompanying story by Aryn Baker, the magazine's Afghan/Pakistan bureau chief, gave a boost to supporters of America's continued military involvement in the country..............

..............And what about Aisha, a new war emblem? While it's long been evident that women have suffered unimaginable horrors under customs practiced in Afghanistan, Aisha's brutal mutilation occurred in 2009, almost eight years into the American invasion.

Children Are Just Israel’s Latest Victims

11. Aug, 2010
Mya Guarnieri – guardian.co.uk,

Israel’s plan to deport the children of foreign workers is yet another reminder of the state’s ongoing inhumanity

Michelle is the 14-year-old daughter of undocumented migrant labourers from the Philippines. In fluent Hebrew, she sums up the inhumanity of Israel’s plans to deport the children of foreign workers. “It’s like they’re taking sheep and packing them,” she says.

While Michelle will probably be naturalised, Israel is set to expel scores of minors, along with their families, to their parents’ country of origin. The criteria that determine who will get residency are rigid and arbitrary. Because of tight age restrictions and an even smaller window to get one’s paperwork turned in (parents will have just three weeks to submit documents that might be impossible to obtain) many children will be left out in the cold.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to rally against the deportations. The scene was heart rending. Little girls sat on a ledge, swinging their feet, holding a poster that read: “Don’t deport us.” A young boy gripped a sign with the message: “We are all Israeli children.”

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Why Is Canadian Child Soldier Omar Khadr Being Tried by a Military Court?

Maher Arar - Human rights advocate
Posted: August 11, 2010

Ironic Note: Maher Arar's own experience has been put forward as an example of the United States government policy of "extraordinary rendition".
Arar was detained during a layover at John F. Kennedy International Airport in September 2002 on his way home to Canada from a family vacation in Tunis. He was held in solitary confinement in the United States for nearly two weeks, questioned, and denied meaningful access to a lawyer. The US government suspected him of being a member of Al Qaeda and deported him, not to Canada, his current home, but to his native Syria, even though its government is known to use torture. He was detained in Syria for almost a year, during which time he was tortured....until his release to Canada.


Was Omar Khadr captured in Manhattan trying to blow up a civilian or a government installation? Of course not. We all know his story by now. Canadian Omar Khadr was captured in a battlefield in Afghanistan that was illegally invaded by the US army. He was 15 years old at the time. He is the perfect example of a child soldier. But the US army and the Department of Defence had another opinion, they charged Khadr with a never-heard-of-type-of-charge called "murder in violation of the laws of war." So if the alleged crime was done on Afghan soil, why didn't the US officials put Khadr on trial in Afghanistan? Why did they wait for almost 7 years to send him to a kangaroo court? Whoever has read the story in detail perfectly knows that there is contradictory evidence whether Khadr is the one who threw the hand grenade that killed the US medic.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Palestinian Boys Wait Two Years For Justice

After two years, a case against Palestinian teenagers accused of throwing stones was overturned when the military prosecution backed out. The suspects pleaded innocent all along, saying they'd been in school
By Amira Hass

Eight Palestinian teenagers were tried in the court of military judge Lt. Col. Menashe Vahnish on November 11, 2008. Referring to a soldier from the Kfir Brigade, Vahnish said, "at this stage, there is no reason to cast any doubt on the witness." According to his police testimony, on October 30, 2008 the soldier, T.M., and some of his comrades apprehended stone-throwing Palestinian 16-year-olds on a road that runs between the al-Aroub refugee camp south of Bethlehem and an agricultural school across the way.

Little Bit of Background on 'Innocent' Jewish Terrorist

Friday, July 16th, 2010
Richard Silverstein

Jewish Terrorist, Charged With Multiple Palestinian Murders, ‘Outs’ Chief of Shin Bet’s Jewish Terror Department
Jewish rightist site claims this is Avi Arieli, chief of Shin Bet's Jewish department

The Israeli police have arrested an alleged key Jewish settler terrorist, Chaim Pearlman, charging him with involvement in multiple murders and woundings of Palestinians going back as far as 12 years. As part of Pearlman’s counter-campaign to impugn the Shin Bet, he released transcripts of 20 hours of conversations with an agent of the Shin Bet’s Jewish terror section. He and his supporters have also outed the chief of the unit in a post at the pro-settler site, HaYamin, claiming he is Avigdor (Avi) Arieli and lives in the settlement of Kfar Adumim.

'Not Enough Evidence to Convict Suspected Jewish Terrorist Pearlman'

Court demands that police conclude in two days investigation of Chaim Pearlman, suspected of having killed four Palestinians.

By Chaim Levinson
A Petah Tikva judge on Monday refused a police request to extend by eight days the remand of Chaim Pearlman, a settler suspected of having murdered four Palestinians and wounded several more, on the grounds that "I haven't seen any substantial evidence that could serve to convict Pearlman."

Chaim Pearlman in court Wednesday.

Pearlman, a 29-year-old resident of Givat Washington and father of three, was arrested on suspicion of having committed a string of stabbings in the 1990s. Weapons charges have also been filed against him.

Judge Nachum Sternlicht of the Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court extended the suspect's remand by only two days, saying that "Most of the planned investigation can be carried out today and tomorrow. In fact I don't understand why they haven't been down until now."

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Where Are You Taking Papa?

Israeli Police Claim Video of Crying Palestinian Boy Was StagedBy ROBERT MACKEY
Israel’s border police force insisted in a statement on Thursday that video of a 5-year-old Palestinian boy reacting with dismay to the arrest of his father this week in the West Bank, which has been broadcast internationally, was staged.

The video, embedded below, was shot near Hebron on Monday as the boy, Khaled Jaber, watched Israeli officers detain his father for illegally tapping into water pipes meant to serve Israeli settlers and soldiers to irrigate his family’s crops.

Monday, 9 August 2010

You Think We're Going? Think Again. Disney Drive is Humming.

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan — Anyone who thinks the United States is really going to withdraw from Afghanistan in July 2011 needs to come to this giant air base an hour away from Kabul. There’s construction everywhere. It’s exactly what you wouldn’t expect from a transient presence.

Step off a C-17 cargo plane, as I did very early Friday morning, and you see a flight line packed with planes. When I was last here two years ago, helicopters crowded the runways and fixed-wing aircraft were –- well, if not rare, still a notable sight. Today you’ve got C-17s, Predators, F-16s, F-15s, MC-12 passenger planes … I didn’t see any of the C-130 cargo craft, but they’re here somewhere.

Another Day in the Life of.....Israel

Gaza's Lone Power Plant Shuts Down
Palestinian authorities in Gaza have shut down the territory's only power plant after running out of fuel in the middle of a heatwave.
Engineers in Gaza warn the blackout could last days without emergency fuel shipments.
Fuel for the plant comes from the rival Palestinian government in the West Bank, which accused officials in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip of failing to make scheduled payments.
The Reuters news agency said Saturday that the power outage was affecting hospitals and water wells. It also said the blackout cut power to the territory's sewage treatment plant, which was allowing waste to spill into the Mediterranean. As a result, Gazans hoping to get relief from the heat were banned from swimming in the sea.
The Gaza power plant supplies the territory with about one-third of its electricity. The rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Human Shields

I don't know about you, but I think that using co-opted local civilians to shield you when you are walking about fully-armed, helmeted and body-armoured, then using a local teenager in a T-shirt to walk in front to protect you, is plain cowardice.

This photo and the video below both show blatant examples of Israeli soldiers using human shields in occupied Hebron in 2007.



Israel Plans to Deport 400 Children of Migrant Workers

Further signs of overt Israeli racism. Israel went to great lengths to encourage the immigration of a million Russians (many of whom were not Jews, nor spoke Hebrew, but were all white), and last year, gave work permits to 120,000 foreign workers. - RP
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LA Times - Reporting from Jerusalem
Israel moved Sunday to deport the offspring of hundreds of migrant workers, mostly small children who were born in Israel, speak Hebrew and have never seen their parents' native countries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the new policy was intended to stem a flood of illegal immigrants, whose children receive state-funded education and healthcare benefits, and to defend Israel's Jewish identity.

"On the one hand, this problem is a humanitarian problem," Netanyahu said during a meeting Sunday of the Cabinet, which had debated the move for nearly a year. "We all feel and understand the hearts of children. But on the other hand, there are Zionist considerations and ensuring the Jewish character of the state of Israel."

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Defamation - The Movie


Except for a very brief moment at the start of Defamation, a smart, mordant, and incisive documentary which examines the tendency of forces within contemporary Judaism to exploit the Holocaust for political ends, we never see the man behind the camera, Israeli Jew Yoav Shamir. One imagines, however, that this fellow had his poker face honed to perfection, because he was able to pull off a terrifically effective undercover job.

Clearly no fan of the Anti-Defamation League and like organizations, Shamir during the making of this movie managed to sell himself as a sympathizer, and somehow won the confidence of Abraham Foxman and other high-level figures within the ADL, who in turn seemed totally unaware that they were ultimately going to receive a cinematic drubbing at his hands. Indeed, one even almost sympathizes with Foxman and Co. for opening themselves up to the soft-spoken filmmaker from Tel Aviv with such touching, open-hearted naiveté; they must have figured that Shamir’s Jewish background and professed interest in exploring “anti-Semitism” must have meant that he could be trusted not to break from the party line.

The back-of-the-envelope history of the Anti-Defamation League

Mondoweiss - Jeffrey Blankfort on July 31, 2010 ·

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was formed by B'nai B'rith in 1913 to be the leading Jewish defense agency in the wake of the conviction of Leo Frank, an officer of the National Pencil Co. of Atlanta,Georgia,, for the murder of 13 year old Mary Phagan, a shop floor worker at the pencil factory. It was a verdict that many believed to be a miscarriage of justice, which was compounded by Frank being kidnapped from prison two years later and lynched, the only American Jew known to have suffered that fate.

By 1937, the Anti-Defamation League had embarked on another occupation, keeping files and spying on what it considered to be communist or pro-communist organizations and individuals. In that year, a 1947 Congressional hearing revealed, it had begun providing information on the recently formed National Lawyers Guild and on individuals applying for government jobs to the original House Committee on Un-American Activities chaired by the notorious racist and anti-semite, Rep. Martin Dies, which came to be referred to simply as the Dies Committee.

Endgame in Afghanistan

Monday, 2 August 2010

Resolution Green-Lighting Israeli Strikes on Iran Introduced by House Republicans

Republicans in the House of Representatives have introduced a measure that would green-light an Israeli bombing campaign against Iran. The resolution, H.Res. 1553 (in full below), provides explicit support for military strikes against Iran, stating that Congress supports Israel's use of "all means necessary" against Iran "including the use of military force". US military leaders have warned that strikes could be catastrophic to US national security interests and could engulf the Middle East in a "calamitous" regional war.

Israel Youth Brigade Helps in Village Destruction

There's one clear precedent to what is happening in Israel right now. It's becoming a carbon copy of Herr Hitler's emerging Nazi state, including the co-option of the country's youth into a super-patriotic, militaristic and mindless mob, particularly careless of it's own country's minority citizens, as illustrated by this incident.
 Meanwhile, we stand by, watch it happen, and pour billions of dollars into helping the 'shitty little Levantine state' achieve what the Allies spent World War trying to eliminate forever - RP
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Max Blumenthal

AL-ARAKIB, ISRAEL — On July 26, Israeli police demolished 45 buildings in the unrecognized Bedouin village of al-Arakib, razing the entire village to the ground to make way for a Jewish National Fund forest.