settlement freeze my ass

i am certain i have written a post with this title before. certainly with the same or similar content. such is the case with falasteen: always the zionist terrorist colonists say one thing and do the opposite. here is a classic example:

In direct violation of international law, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved permits on Sunday and Monday to build 455 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank.

The new housing, which was ordered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be built in six settlements. The settlements in question include Har Gilo (on the outskirts of Bethlehem), Modi’in Illit (built on the land of the village of Bil’in) and Ariel (deep in the West Bank south of Nablus).

Israel says it intends to keep each of these settlements in any eventual peace agreement with the Palestinians.

They permits are first ones issued since Netanyahu took office in March. Later this week, Netanyahu is expected to announce a partial reduction in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements.

you see, they tell obama they wil have a freeze, but only after building gazillions more housing units in the colonies. but wait! there’s more! they are building an entirely new colony on stolen palestinian land, too:

Work began on a new Israeli settlement in the Jordan Valley on Sunday to house settlers who were removed in 2005 from one of Israel’s former colonies in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported that workers began working on the first 20 units in the new settlement, called Maskiot, in the northern Jordan Valley.

and here are some numbers to ponder in relation to these and other colonies on palestinian land:

The decision to approve the construction of hundreds of housing units before the settlement freeze goes into affect means that in the coming year the total number of apartments to be built in the settlements will be the same as the number built before limitations were placed on construction over the Green Line.

Central Bureau of Statistics data show that the completion of 2,500 housing units and an immediate start to 455 new units continues the growth trend of recent years.

According to Central Bureau of Statistics publications, from 2005 to the end of 2008, when no special limitations on construction in the settlements were imposed and the American demand to freeze construction was not yet on the agenda, 7,015 housing units were built in the West Bank settlements. Thus during those four years, the average rate of housing starts in the settlements was 1,771 a year.

The number of new housing units will not actually decline compared to previous years. The only difference is that now, that instead of construction permits being given gradually throughout the year, the government intends to issue hundreds of permits within a few days, before the official announcement of the “freeze” is made.

here’s an idea president obama: why not sanction that zionist entity as should have been done decades ago when they forbade the return of palestinian refugees. paul craig roberts lays it all out for you:

In Israel, a country stolen from the Palestinians, fanatics control the government. One of the fanatics is the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Last week Netanyahu called for “crippling sanctions” against Iran.

The kind of blockade that Netanyahu wants qualifies as an act of war. Israel has long threatened to attack Iran on its own but prefers to draw in the US and NATO.

Why does Israel want to initiate a war between the United States and Iran?

Is Iran attacking other countries, bombing civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure?

No. These are crimes committed by Israel and the US.

Is Iran evicting peoples from lands they have occupied for centuries and herding them into ghettoes?

No, that’s what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians for 60 years.

What is Iran doing?

Iran is developing nuclear energy, which is its right as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran’s nuclear energy program is subject to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which consistently reports that its inspections find no diversion of enriched uranium to a weapons program.

The position taken by Israel, and by Israel’s puppet in Washington, is that Iran must not be allowed to have the rights as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that every other signatory has, because Iran might divert enriched uranium to a weapons program.

In other words, Israel and the US claim the right to abrogate Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy. The Israeli/US position has no basis in international law or in anything other than the arrogance of Israel and the United States.

The hypocrisy is extreme. Israel is not a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and developed its nuclear weapons illegally on the sly, with, as far as we know, US help.

As Israel is an illegal possessor of nuclear weapons and has a fanatical government that is capable of using them, crippling sanctions should be applied to Israel to force it to disarm.

Israel qualifies for crippling sanctions for another reason. It is an apartheid state, as former US President Jimmy Carter demonstrated in his book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

The US led the imposition of sanctions against South Africa because of South Africa’s apartheid practices. The sanctions forced the white government to hand over political power to the black population. Israel practices a worse form of apartheid than did the white South African government. Yet, Israel maintains that it is “anti-semitic” to criticize Israel for a practice that the world regards as abhorrent.

What remains of the Palestinian West Bank that has not been stolen by Israel consists of isolated ghettoes. Palestinians are cut off from hospitals, schools, their farms, and from one another. They cannot travel from one ghetto to another without Israeli permission enforced at checkpoints.

The Israeli government’s explanation for its gross violation of human rights comprises one of the greatest collection of lies in world history. No one, with the exception of American “christian zionists,” believes one word of it.

The United States also qualifies for crippling sanctions. Indeed, the US is over-qualified. On the basis of lies and intentional deception of the US Congress, the US public, the UN and NATO, the US government invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and used the “war on terror” that Washington orchestrated to overturn US civil liberties enshrined in the US Constitution. One million Iraqis have paid with their lives for America’s crimes and four million are displaced. Iraq and its infrastructure are in ruins, and Iraq’s professional elites, necessary to a modern organized society, are dead or dispersed. The US government has committed a war crime on a grand scale. If Iran qualifies for sanctions, the US qualifies a thousand times over.

No one knows how many women, children, and village elders have been murdered by the US in Afghanistan. However, the American war of aggression against the Afghan people is now in its ninth year. According to the US military, an American victory is still a long ways away. Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared in August that the military situation in Afghanistan is “serious and deteriorating.”

Older Americans can look forward to the continuation of this war for the rest of their lives, while their Social Security and Medicare rights are reduced in order to free up funds for the US armaments industry. Bush/Cheney and Obama/Biden have made munitions the only safe stock investment in the United States.

What is the purpose of the war of aggression against Afghanistan? Soon after his inauguration, President Obama promised to provide an answer but did not. Instead, Obama quickly escalated the war in Afghanistan and launched a new one in Pakistan that has already displaced 2 million Pakistanis. Obama has sent 21,000 more US troops into Afghanistan and already the US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is requesting 20,000 more.

Obama is escalating America’s war of aggression against the Afghanistan people despite three high profile opinion polls that show that the American public is firmly opposed to the continuation of the war against Afghanistan.

Sadly, the ironclad agreement between Israel and Washington to war against Muslim peoples is far stronger than the connection between the American public and the American government. At a farewell dinner party last Thursday for Israel’s military attache in Washington, who is returning to Israel to become deputy chief of staff of the Israeli military, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy, and and Dan Shapiro, who is in charge of Middle East affairs on the National Security Council, were present to pay their respects. Admiral Mullen declared that the US will always stand with Israel. No matter how many war crimes Israel commits. No matter how many women and children Israel murders. No many how many Palestinians Israel drives from their homes, villages, and lands. If truth could be told, the true axis-of-evil is the United States and Israel.

Millions of Americans are now homeless because of foreclosures. Millions more have lost their jobs, and even more millions have no access to health care. Yet, the US government continues to squander hundreds of billions of dollars on wars that serve no US purpose. President Obama and General McChrystal have taken the position that they know best, the American public be damned.

It could not be made any clearer that the President of the United States and the US military have no regard whatsoever for democracy, human rights, and international law. This is yet another reason to apply crippling sanctions against Washington, a government that has emerged under Bush/Obama as a brownshirt state that deals in lies, torture, murder, war crimes, and deception.

Many governments are complicit in America’s war crimes. With Obama’s budget deep in the red, Washington’s wars of naked aggression are dependent on financing by the Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Saudis, South Koreans, Indians, Canadians and Europeans. The second this foreign financing of American war crimes stops, America’s wars of aggression against Muslims stop.

The US is not a forever “superpower” that can indefinitely ignore its own laws and international law. The US will eventually fall as a result of its hubris, arrogance, and imperial overreach. When the American Empire collapses, will its enablers also be held accountable in the war crimes court?

oh and if i have trouble updating this site, but you want new information about the ongoing daily nakbas in palestine, read zionist land grab.

on why coca cola should be boycotted (and no pepsi, etc. is not any better)

there was a great article about bds by sousan hammad in counterpunch last month, which begins with a great fanon quote and engages in an important analysis of the psychological complications involved when trying to educate palestinians about bds:

“An underdeveloped people must prove, by its fighting power, its ability to set itself up as a nation, and by the purity of every one of its acts, that it is, even to the smallest detail, the most lucid, the most self-controlled people.”

–Frantz Fanon, “A Dying Colonialism”

There is an echoing sentiment here in Ramallah that Israeli milk is more “tasteful” and “nutritious” than Palestinian milk. The same goes for wine, apples, dates, juice, and just about everything else…except for maybe olives. In fact, Palestinian shopkeepers even stock Israeli-made milk at the front of their store while Palestinian milk sits in a far-to-reach crate collecting dust in the corner.

Palestinians do this for two reasons: one is they truly believe their senses, the other, and possibly more understanding, is because selling Israeli products yield a much higher profit.

A recent study by the Swiss Development Center, an organization that aims to promote Palestinian products, found that Palestinians within the higher socioeconomic strata tend to buy more Israeli goods than those in the lower strata. In French colonial-Martinique, mothers would sing to their children in French instead of their native language because it was more “civilized” to speak the colonizer’s language.

Appropriating the colonialist brand seems to imply prestige – a product, perhaps, of the inferiority complex – but if you push this aside as a psychological epiphenomenon that is a result of colonialism and consider the economic dependency Palestinians are forced to live with, one way to overcome the subjugation of the colonialist-settler (thus racist and discriminatory) policies would be to boycott Israeli products. Besides forcing Palestinians to consume their own products, it would promote and develop a domestic industry and manufactured goods. If it takes a pyramid to list all the nutritional benefits of Palestinian produce, then onward with the label! Whatever it may be, the Palestinians must ascertain that they can have a functioning society without being indebted to Israel.

This is, essentially, what the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement is about. Using Apartheid South Africa as a model, a coalition of Palestinian groups felt compelled to combat Israel’s economic power over Palestine, and, in 2005 the BDS movement was created.

Besides placing political pressure on corporations to divest from Israel, BDS focuses strongly on its consumer boycott efforts, which according to the BDS website, is to put “pressure on companies whose exports are linked to some of the most evident aspects of the Israeli occupation and apartheid.”

One of the many campaigns of BDS is to target stores that sell Israeli products and persuade them to stop stocking them. While much of the campaign is based on Israel’s exports to the West, activists here in the West Bank also try to deter Palestinian shopkeepers from selling produce that is grown in Israeli settlements. (Again, these yield more profit for Palestinians.) It is highly unlikely, though, that Palestinians will collectively and instantaneously dump their Israeli products for Palestinian manufactured goods and produce because an activist tells them so. They want to know if there is proof of sustainability.

A BDS Victory

Enter the story of Veolia and the light rail.

In 1902, Theodore Herzl wrote in his book, Altneuland, that the future of Jerusalem would be made of “modern neighborhoods with electric lines, tree-lined boulevards” and that Jerusalem would become “a metropolis of the 20th century”.

Materialized a century later as the Jerusalem light rail project, the father of Zionism’s idea of an electric-lined-boulevard is halfway in construction. When, and if, completed, the light rail will conveniently accommodate Jewish-Israelis, connecting West Jerusalem to Jewish settlements. The light rail travels through Palestinian neighborhoods, but makes no stops and as one Israeli blogger put it “…all the windows have been reinforced to be resistant to stones and Molotov cocktails.”

But officials are now facing a major setback: In June, Ha’aretz reported that Veolia, a French transportation company that was to operate the light rail post-construction, abandoned the project because of the “political pressure” it was facing: a direct implication of the BDS “Derail Veolia and Alstom Campaign”.

Said an exultant Omar Barghouti, a BDS founding member:

“Veolia’s reported intention to withdraw from the illegal JLR project gives the BDS movement an important victory: success in applying concerted, intensive pressure on a company that is complicit in the Israeli occupation and colonization of Palestinian land, enough to compel it to withdraw from an illegal project. This may well usher in a new era of corporate accountability, whereby companies that are profiting from Israel’s illegal colonial and racist regime over the indigenous people of Palestine will start to pay a real price in profits and image for their collusion.”

The pressure from human rights activists and lawyers throughout Europe battered Veolia, costing it multiple contracts – a loss that amounted to more than $7 billion. From Stockholm to Bordeaux, companies dumped Veolia on account of its stake in a project that violates international law. Veolia, along with Alstom – the engineering enterprise behind the light rail – were taken to a French court by Association France-Palestine Solidarité along with attorneys from the PLO legal counsel. AFPS filed the complaint against Alstom and Veolia in 2007, arguing that the 8.3-mile project violates international law since East Jerusalem is not sovereign Israeli territory. “Our main argument is that the light rail project is intended to serve illegal Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and thus it’s part of illegal settlement infrastructure and by being involved in project, the French companies are violating international law,” says Azem Bishara, an attorney with the Negotiation Support Unit in Ramallah.

When the Arab League organized a boycott of Israel after its colonization of Palestine in 1948, Arab countries refused to deal with Israel by boycotting their products, services and even refusing to allow Israelis into their country. Lebanon and Syria are the only countries that allegedly adhere to the boycott today, as they have yet to sign trade agreements with Israel. The Israeli Chamber of Commerce reported Israel was losing an average of 10 percent in export revenue per year when the boycott was in its prime. This spearheaded the fight by the American Jewish Committee to pressure Congress to pass an anti-boycott legislation. In 1977, then-President Jimmy Carter, who now advocates the window-dressing of Palestinian national independence, signed a law that would impose a fine on American companies that cooperated with the boycott.

It seems safe to assume that this legislative effort by AJC indicated that it, at least, believed the Arab League boycott was having some effect.

Although it was with similar calculations and campaigning that U.S. and European companies pulled out of South Africa over 20 years ago, how do we know companies like Veolia won’t be targeted by anti-boycott Israeli investors? Whether or not Veolia goes through with its withdrawal, the question remains: is it really a victory? And how can an effective boycott promote economic independence so that Palestinian milk will no longer have to be in the dustbin of stores? These are questions the boycott campaign has to confront.

one of the products that is not mentioned in the above article is coca cola, which many palestinians insist is palestinian because the owner of the franchise is palestinian (zahi khoury) and because they bottle it in al bireh, which i’ve written about before. coca cola is one of the most evil companies in the world for so many reasons. but i was delighted to discover a wonderful critique of sonallah ibrahim’s novel the committee. ever since i read his novel zaat i became enamored with his politics and his writing style. i have been dying to read this novel for a while now and finally got around to it this week. (my form of escapism and procrastination all rolled into one delightful novel.) the egyptian narrator of the novel, who is under investigation by an anonymous, foreign, non-Arabic speaking committee described as “consist[ing] entirely of officers, some of whom sometimes wear civilian clothes, or it consists of civilians, some of whom sometimes wear military uniforms,” (111) to whom he reveals the following:

Since its advent, Coca-Cola has been linked with the major trends of the age, sometimes sharing to a large extent in their formation. The American pharmacist Pemberton synthesized it in Atlanta, famous as the capital of Georgia, the birthplace of the American president Carter and of the notorious Ku Klux Klan. This was during 1886, the very year in which the famous Statue of Liberty, that symbol of the New World, was completed.

As for the bottle, it was one product of an American “war of liberation.” Having vanquished the Indians, the United States plunged into the Spanish-American War in Cuba, which ended in 1899, with the proclamation of “independence” for Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. An American soldier, who, coincidentally, had the same name as the great American philosopher of the preceding century, Benjamin Franklin, saw a bottle of a carbonated beverage made from banana syrup. On returning home, he obtained bottling rights for a new product. The bottle’s shape varied until it finally stabilized in the universally recognized form of “a girl with an hourglass figure.”

It may have been Coca-Cola that first shattered the traditional image of the ad, previously a mere description of a product. Thus it laid the cornerstone of that towering structure, that leading art of the age, namely, advertising. Certainly, it broke the long-standing illusion of a relationship between thirst and heat through the slogan: “Thirst knows no season.” It was ahead of its time in the use of radio and neon for advertisements. it sponsored television shows, produced films, and backed new international stars and idols such as actors, the Beatles, and the pioneers of rock and roll, the twist, and pop.

Coca-Cola went through two world wars and emerged from them victorious. It sold five billion bottles during the seven years of World War II. Then it slipped into Europe under the wing of the Marshall Plan, which backed the war-weakened European currencies by means of American products and loans.

It then took its place as a leading consumer product along with Ford cars, Parker pens, Ronson lighters, but still kept its finger on the pulse of today’s ever-changing world. With the advent of the great age of installment plans, and neighbor competing with neighbor for the newest model car with the largest trunk, capable of holding enough groceries to fill the largest fridge, Coca-Cola marketed the family-sized bottle, the “Maxi.”

When the United States cooperated in a new “war of liberation” in Korea, Coca-Cola created the tin can, in order to parachute Coke to the troops. The image of an American opening a can with his teeth has become a symbol of manhood and bravery. However, the can’s importance is not limited to this image or the way in which it displaced the bottle during the subsequent Vietnam War, but is outweighed by something more significant. It inaugurated the age of the “empty”: a container to be discarded after its contents have been consumed.

Without doubt, the success of Coca-Cola goes back primarily to the excellence of the organizational structure it pioneered: the pyramid. The original company comprises the tip, and the independent bottlers and distributors come below it, forming the base. At first, this unique structure enabled it to obtain the necessary financing to saturate the American market. Later, it helped the company avoid Roosevelt’s campaign against monopolies and finally allowed Coca-Cola to infiltrate the world. In opening world markets, the company relied on establishing independent franchises headed by well-known local capitalists in every country. This practice produced astounding results. Most strikingly, the American bottle came to symbolize indigenous nationalism. (19-22)

coca-cola is a metaphor for colonialism, corruption, and consumption in the novel. and he shows precisely how deviously coca-cola (like all foreign franchises of american products) works to make people think that it is somehow “indigenous” because the product is produced locally. even though that product always has to send proceeds home to the u.s., and then, of course, they send them directly back to the zionist entity for investment (see post i linked to earlier on this). ibrahim shows how coca-cola came to invade egypt later in the novel:

As you have learned, your honors, this bottle entered our country at the end of the ’40s and beginning of the ’50s under the aegis of the vast advertising campaign that facilitated its spread to even the most remote villages and hamlets. Coca-Cola became a household word.

After the revolution, Coca-Cola’s popularity soon began to wane. I found out that the Doctor, among other factors, was responsible. To wit, he tried to compete by using a local beverage destined to succeed only for a short while.

However, the crushing blow fell at the beginning of the ’60s, when the Arab governmental agencies boycotting Israel discovered that Coca-Cola had given the Israelis bottling rights. As a result, Coca-Cola was blacklisted and barred from Arab countries. The market was wide open for the Doctor. (73-74)

ibrahim’s narrator gets even more specific in his indictment of coca-cola towards the end of the novel:

Many obscure phenomena are linked to the evolution of this well-known beverage.

For example, I read of a far-reaching crusade launched in 1970 in the United States over the mis-treatment of a quarter million migrant workers on farms controlled by Coca-Cola. I mean farms, not factories. This crusade spread to television and from there to Congress. Senator Walter Mondale, at that time a member of the Committee for Migrant Workers, summoned the president of Coca-Cola to answer officially, before the United States Senate, the accusations leveled against Coca-Cola.

Not three years later, the president of Coca-Cola participated in selecting that same Mondale for membership in the Trilateral Commission I told you about in our first meeting. Then he selected him as vice president to President Carter.

At the same time as Coca-Cola was accused of the theft of a handful of dollars from its workers, we read that it dedicated vast sums for charitable and cultural works ranging from an entire university budget to an important prize for artistic and literary creativity. It also presented a huge grant to the Brooklyn Museum in 1977 to rescue Egyptian pharaonic antiquities from collapse.

Coca-Cola, according to statistics for 1978, distributes two hundred million bottles of soft drinks daily throughout the world, leaving tap water as its only rival. So, now we see it sponsoring projects for the desalinization of sea water, relying on the Aqua Chem Company that I bought a few years ago, in 1970 to be precise.

These contradictions confused me, so I did several studies on Coca-Cola. Its policy was to remain committed to the two basic principles set down by its great founders. The first principle was to make every participant in the Coca-Cola enterprise rich and happy. The second was to restrict its energies to creating a single commodity: the well-known bottle.

But the winds of change that blew in the early ’60s forced a choice between the principles. In order not to sacrifice the first, Coca-Cola preferred to diversify its products. It began by producing other types of carbonated beverages, then extended its interests to farming peanuts, coffee, and tea. It had extensive holdings int hat same state of Georgia where it was founded. its farms neighbored those of the American president Carter, which perhaps was behind its involvement in public affairs, both domestic and international, and thus its policy of diversification grew all out of proportion.

Obviously, this policy couldn’t help but be successful. In this regard, it is sufficient to mention the return of the familiar bottle to both China and Egypt through the initiative in both countries of brave patriots, who acted on their principles.

However, this success produced a strange phenomenon. With modern methods and lower production costs gained by relying on poorly paid migrant workers, Coca-Cola became the largest producer of fresh fruit in the Western world. But, sadly, it found itself forced to dump a large portion of the yield into the sea to keep the world market from collapsing.

There was no solution to this problem except to continue diversifying. Coca-Cola exploited its great assets and expertise in the field of agriculture by sponsoring many nutritional programs in underdeveloped countries, among them a project to farm legumes in Abou Dhabi, undertaken by its subsidiary, Aqua Chem. Likewise, it extensively researched the production of drinks rich in proteins and other nutrients, thereby compensating consumers for the surpluses it had been forced to dump in the ocean. (124-127)

there is so much more to the novel, but i especially love the extended commentary on the evil, insidious inner workings of coke. and, of course, which was one of the first companies to move into occupied iraq and occupied afghanistan? coca cola. here is an article on coca cola’s war profiteering in afghanistan from 2006:

Coca-Cola has returned to war-torn Afghanistan with a gleaming $25m factory, calling the country a ‘missing link’ in its international business.

Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai opened the 60,000sq-metre Coca-Cola bottling plant in capital city Kabul, more than a decade after civil war forced the soft drinks group out of the country.

It is a controversial and risky move for Coca-Cola at a time when violence directed against NATO forces in the country, including American soldiers, appears in danger of spiralling out of control.

Coca-Cola’s Kabul plant will be operated under franchise by local businessman Habib Gulzar, and is expected to focus on core carbonated soft drink brands such as Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite. Bottled water could be added in the future.

Selcuk Erden, president of Coca-Cola’s Southern Eurasia division, which will oversee Afghanistan, said: “Afghanistan was the missing link in our geography and we were following this country very carefully.”

The group said the country had the potential to be a strong emerging market for its drinks.

Critics have suggested Coca-Cola is not what Afghans really need right now.

Afghanistan is ranked as the fifth poorest country in the world by the United Nations. “The depth of poverty in Afghanistan is reflected consistently in all human development indicators, revealing a mosaic of a nation in need of sustained assistance,” a recent UN development report says.

and here is an article on coca cola’s war profiteering in iraq from the guardian by rory carroll:

Coca-Cola has returned to Iraq after an absence of nearly four decades, triggering a cola war in a lucrative but potentially hostile market.

Coke ended its 37-year exile last week by setting up a joint-venture bottling company to compete with Pepsi for 26 million consumers.

The upsides for Coke include a thirst-inducing climate and burgeoning Islamic conservatism which has banned beer and other alcoholic drinks in much of the country.

The downsides, besides Pepsi’s head start, are a raging insurgency and banditry which threaten supply routes, and a perception that Coca-Cola is linked to Israel and “American Zionists”.

Coke withdrew from Iraq in 1968 when the Arab League declared a boycott because of business ties to Israel, leaving Pepsi to dominate the Middle East market for soft drinks. The boycott ended in 1991, but sanctions and wars kept Coke out of Iraq.

After a trickle of Coca-Cola imports from neighbouring countries, the company is attempting a proper comeback by launching a joint venture with a Turkish company, Efes Invest, and its Iraqi partner HMBS, which will reportedly bottle the Coke in Dubai and distribute it across Iraq.

“A local bottling company will employ local people to do this,” a Coca-Cola spokesman said yesterday. “This happens in most of the 200 countries in which we operate around the world, despite the perception of us as an American company.”

The response in Baghdad yesterday was mixed. One drink wholesaler, Abbas Salih, said the initiative was doomed. “Coca-Cola does business with those who are shooting our brothers in Palestine,” he said. “How can we drink it?”

when i was searching for material on why coca cola is evil i stumbled upon this great article from 2004 that i had never found that encapsulates the numerous reasons why one should boycott coca cola by mohammed mesbahi, which is long, but well worth the read for its variety of issues (health, environmental, political, etc.):

Coca Cola was invented in the United States in 1886 as a medicine, rather than a drink, to stimulate the brain and the nervous system, from a mixture of coca leaves and kola nuts, sweetened with sugar, hence the name Coca Cola. It was not until 1893 that Coca Cola was sold and promoted as a drink. Gradually the cocaine was eliminated, but in order to maintain the stimulant effect caffeine was substituted.

Phosphoric acid (0.055%) is now added to increase the fizziness and zingy taste. This gives the drink a pH of 2.8, making it almost as acidic as lemon juice (pH 2.2), which is why more sugar has to be added in order for it to taste sweet. Weak acidic solutions will dissolve the calcium in teeth over a period of time and will also interfere with calcium metabolism. This is especially of concern to post-menopausal women, who are already have a tendency towards osteoporosis.

Stimulants and sugar are habit forming, and Coca Cola contains large quantities of both. It is now sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is a simple carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are divided into two broad categories:

simple carbohydrates,

e.g. glucose,

fructose (fruit sugar),

lactose (milk sugar),

sucrose (table sugar) etc.

complex carbohydrates,

e.g. starch

cellulose

High fructose corn syrup is produced by processing corn starch to yield glucose and then processing the glucose to produce a high proportion (80%) of fructose. This is not natural fructose, as found in fruit, since fruit usually contains 50% fructose, 50% glucose and is absorbed into the blood stream slowly, because the fruit also contains high levels of fibre. The fructose in high fructose corn syrup is absorbed into the body rapidly and transformed into glucose by the liver. There is currently some concern surrounding the consumption of high levels of fructose because it seems to interfere with copper metabolism and with the formation of collagen and elastin, essential components of the growing body.

When we eat (or drink) a high dose of sugar (sucrose, glucose or fructose) our blood glucose level rises suddenly, producing a feeling of elation. However high blood glucose levels also stimulate the pancreas to release insulin, which causes the glucose to be removed from the blood stream and converted into fat. This results in low blood sugar, low energy, irritability and low mood. At this point, we crave the feeling of elation associated with the sugar. This is why soft drinks are habit forming.

When, on the other hand, we eat complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes, bread, pasta, rice etc., the body breaks down these complex molecules gradually, over a period of several hours, into molecules of glucose. This glucose is released into the blood stream gradually, thus maintaining blood glucose at the level required by the body and brain for proper functioning.

Putting high quantities of sugar into drinks is an insidious way of introducing calories into people. People eating a chocolate bar are aware that they are consuming something fattening. People, especially children, consuming the same amount of calories in a drink are not. Regular consumption of drinks containing high levels of sugar lead to a gradual build up of stored fat and contribute to the rising levels of obesity in the West. Over-consumption of sugar causes over-stimulation of the pancreas. Over a period of many years, the pancreas loses its ability to produce adequate quantities of insulin. This leads to late-onset diabetes. Levels of late-onset diabetes have been rising steadily in the West over the past century.

Coca Cola, one of the world’s largest corporations, worth about ninety five billion dollars, owes much of its success to the massive marketing and advertising used to promote the product. It became a corporation early in the twentieth century and immediately began an aggressive advertising campaign throughout the US. The corporation used some advertising techniques of dubious morality, including funding the American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry and suppressing a World Health Organisation Report on healthy eating. The report stated that soft drink consumption contributed to obesity. But possibly the policy which caused the most public outrage was that of paying schools to sell Coca Cola in vending machines. The corporation realised that if they could sell Coca Cola to children, by the time they finished school they would become confirmed Coca Cola drinkers and would continue to buy the drink for the rest of their lives. This strategy was so successful that Coca Cola rapidly became the most popular drink in the US.

Long before the US market had become saturated, the corporation decided to target the next place with money to spend on drinks, i.e. Europe, where they now sell thirty percent of their product. Vending machines in schools soon became common place, despite opposition from concerned parents and teachers. Under-funded state schools found it difficult to refuse the money offered by Coca Cola.

The imposition of permanent advertising in schools, in the form of vending machines, certainly justifies a boycott, and indeed some schools have organised them, in protest against the Corporation’s monopoly of products sold in school vending machines. Groups at Universities in the US and the UK are also running boycotts in protest against Coke’s human rights abuses. Berkeley, New York University, Harvard, Yale, Rutgers, Macalister and University College Dublin all have ongoing boycotts.

Coca Cola has a history of human rights abuse. “It is a fact that the soft drinks giant from Atlanta, Georgia collaborated with the Nazi-regime throughout its reign from 1933 – 1945 and sold countless millions of bottled beverages to Hitler’s Germany.” From Coca-Cola Goes to War, Jones E and Ritzman F.

While the corporation, back in the USA, was promoting Coca Cola as a morale booster for the US troops, their German representative, Max Keith was sponsoring Nazi events, including the 1936 Olympics and situating advertisements close to Nazi leaders at rallies. Sales of Coke in Germany went from zero in 1929 to 4 million cases in 1939. Coke became the most popular drink in Germany and in 1944 the company sold 2 million cases. When the Nazis began their invasions of Italy, France, Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium and Norway Walter Oppenhof, Coca Cola’s German company lawyer, and Max Keith were employed by the Nazis’ Office of Enemy Property. They travelled with Nazi troops and were responsible for setting up Nazi Coca-Cola factories in expropriated soft drinks plants in countries occupied by the Nazis. They staffed these factories with kidnapped civilians. (See: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CLASS/AM483_95/projects/coke/coke.html ).

But Coca Cola’s association with fascist regimes is not confined to world war history.

In the 1970s workers at Coca Cola bottling factories in Guatemala were killed, in the 1980s Coke supported the Apartheid system in South Africa and in the 1990s they supported the brutal Abacha regime in Nigeria.

Currently SINAL TRAINAL, the Colombian workers’ union is promoting a world wide boycott in order to raise awareness of the intimidation, torture, kidnapping, illegal detention and murder of workers in the Coca Cola bottling plants in Colombia.

On the other side of the world, in several South Indian states, including Kerala and Tamil Nadu, boycotts have been running for years, despite police repression, in protest against Coca Cola’s excessive water consumption, pollution of local wells and destruction of agriculture. The Corporation’s bottling factories have been pumping water from boreholes at such a rate that they have dried up the underground aquifers. They have also been distributing the sludge produced by the factory as fertilizer. It is true that this sludge does contain substances which fertilize the soil, but Exeter University analysed it for the Kerala Pollution Control Board and found that it contained dangerously high levels of toxic metals, including cadmium. These toxic metals leach into the ground water and are taken up by crops and therefore ingested by the local population. After the BBC aired a programme about this, Coca Cola was forced to stop dumping their toxic waste on the local population, but nothing was done to clean up the already polluted environment. The protest and boycott in India continue.

The Coca Cola Corporation owns four of the world’s most popular five soft drinks: Coca Cola, diet Coke, Fanta and Sprite.

Over the past five years, Coca Cola Corporation has realised that, as water resources dwindle worldwide, even more money can be made from selling bottled water. Their sales of water are growing exponentially. Brands include Bonaqua, Dasani (US) Kinley (India), Mount Franklin (Australia) Malvern (UK) and Ciel (Mexico), but soft drinks still account for 85% of their market (at the moment). They plan to expand massively in the bottled water market but most of their advertising will go into promotion of soft drinks. Soon Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle will be the three main corporations selling bottled water, an iniquitous market, often depriving people of their local source of spring water, and selling it back to them at unaffordable prices.

Max Keiser, investment activist, and Zak Goldsmith, editor of the Ecologist, have formed a partnership to target Coca Cola by bringing down the value of its shares. Keiser has developed a system for measuring a corporation’s vulnerability to a boycott. He calls it the Karmabanque (KbQ) Index. The KbQ index 2004 tracks the share price of high-performing but socially and environmentally irresponsible corporations, assuming their shares had been sold short on the 1 January 2004. A short sale is a bet that a trader makes that a company’s share price will fall. The further the company’s share price falls, the more money the trader makes. Selling short stocks hurts corporations because it deflates their share price. The KbQ rating determines where a company appears in the index, and combines the amount of dissent directed at a company and its boycott vulnerability ratio (BVR). A company’s BVR indicates how susceptible its stock price is to a consumer boycott. In order to work out a corporation’s vulnerability, its market capitalization should be divided by trailing annual sales. Currently, ExxonMobil’s BVR is close to $1, whereas Coca-Cola’s is closer to $5. In other words the Coca Cola Corporation is five times more vulnerable to a boycott than ExxonMobil.

Coca Cola’s appalling human rights record, combined with its high boycott vulnerability ratio make it the ideal target for a boycott. This is why Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith have decided to launch a hedge fund, which will be used to buy Coca Cola shares. They will then sell the shares for less than they bought them for, which will bring down their value on the international stock market. They are relying on the continuing boycott of Coca Cola products to bring the share price down still further. They will then buy the shares at a lower price than they sold them for and sell them again for even less. All profits from this venture will be donated to the victims of Coca Cola in countries such as India and Colombia.

Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith say that for every 1,000 new boycotters, they will increase the size of the hedge fund by £5000. Goldsmith’s Ecologist Magazine will publicize the boycott and audit, track and publish the results. Keiser recommends that pressure groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth should decide what to boycott according to their Boycott Vulnerability Ratio.

There has been a history of Coca Cola boycotts in many parts of the world. But this is the first time that an investor has become actively involved in a world wide Coca Cola boycott. Max Keiser and Zak Goldsmith deserve our support. There is every reason to hope that they will succeed in bringing down the market value of Coca Cola, but for that they need more people and organisations to join the boycott.

on regret

An injured Afghan child at the hospital in Farah province. Photograph: Abdul Malek/AP
An injured Afghan child at the hospital in Farah province. Photograph: Abdul Malek/AP

listening to hillary clinton express “deep regret” yesterday over the american massacre of over 100 afghan civilians i couldn’t help but think about the meaning of regret. here is the times report on her remarks:

Hillary Clinton has expressed “deep regret” that American jets bombed two villages in western Afghanistan yesterday killing at least 30 men, women and children.

The Secretary of State addressed the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan as anger grew over the loss of innocent life.

“We will work very hard with your governments and your leaders to avoid the loss of innocent civilian life and we deeply, deeply regret that loss,” she said in Washington.

No exact casualty toll could be confirmed after the incident in Farah province, but the provincial governor and police chief estimate civilian deaths at more than 100.

for me, regret does not merely express sorrow or empathy. it also means learning from your mistakes and doing what you can to not do that thing that caused you to regret what you did in the first place. but, of course, clinton and obama want to create more such occasions for regret given their desire to place more american troops on afghan soil, which will only bring us promises of more massacres in the future. jeremy scahill shows us precisely why this “regret” is complete hogwash:

Hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “apologized” for US airstrikes that may have killed as many as 130 people in Afghanistan, NBC News is reporting that the US military is preparing to blame the deaths of several Afghan families—that were reportedly killed in US bombing raids this week in Farah Province—on Taliban fighters. The network’s Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said military sources told him Taliban fighters used grenades to kill three families to “stage” a massacre and then blame it on the US. At present there are few details on this.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, however, has stated bluntly that US airstrikes hit civilian houses and revealed that an ICRC counterpart in the Red Cresent was among the dead. “We know that those killed included an Afghan Red Crescent volunteer and 13 members of his family who had been sheltering from fighting in a house that was bombed in an air strike,” said the ICRC’s head of delegation in Kabul, Reto Stocker. “We are deeply concerned by these events. Tribal elders in the villages called the ICRC during the fighting to report civilian casualties and ask for help. As soon as we heard of the attacks we contacted all sides to warn them that there were civilians and injured people in the area.”

Read the entire ICRC statement here.

here is nick clark’s report on the massacre on al jazeera today:

here is robert fisk’s take on the massacre and the so-called “deep regret”:

Of course there will be an inquiry. And in the meantime, we shall be told that all the dead Afghan civilians were being used as “human shields” by the Taliban and we shall say that we “deeply regret” innocent lives that were lost. But we shall say that it’s all the fault of the terrorists, not our heroic pilots and the US Marine special forces who were target spotting around Bala Baluk and Ganjabad.

When the Americans destroy Iraqi homes, there is an inquiry. And oh how the Israelis love inquiries (though they rarely reveal anything). It’s the history of the modern Middle East. We are always right and when we are not, we (sometimes) apologise and then we blame it all on the “terrorists”. Yes, we know the throat-cutters and beheaders and suicide bombers are quite prepared to slaughter the innocent.

But it was a sign of just how terrible the Afghan slaughter was that the powerless President Hamid Karzai sounded like a beacon of goodness yesterday appealing for “a higher platform of morality” in waging war, that we should conduct war as “better human beings”.

And of course, the reason is quite simple. We live, they die. We don’t risk our brave lads on the ground – not for civilians. Not for anything. Fire phosphorus shells into Fallujah. Fire tank shells into Najaf. We know we kill the innocent. Israel does exactly the same. It said the same after its allies massacred 1,700 at the refugee camps of Sabra and Chatila in 1982 and in the deaths of more than a thousand civilians in Lebanon in 2006 and after the death of more than a thousand Palestinians in Gaza this year.

And if we kill some gunmen at the same time – “terrorists”, of course – then it is the same old “human shield” tactic and ultimately the “terrorists” are to blame. Our military tactics are now fully aligned with Israel.

The reality is that international law forbids armies from shooting wildly in crowded tenements and bombing wildly into villages – even when enemy forces are present – but that went by the board in our 1991 bombing of Iraq and in Bosnia and in Nato’s Serbia war and in our 2001 Afghan adventure and in 2003 in Iraq. Let’s have that inquiry. And “human shields”. And terror, terror, terror. Something else I notice. Innocent or “terrorists”, civilians or Taliban, always it is the Muslims who are to blame.

of course the american government sounds far too close to the israeli government (and given both are the largest perpetrators of state terrorism on the planet this should not come as a shock) on a number of levels, some of which fisk addresses. and i don’t see any regrets leading to investigation and prosecution of those who dropped the bombs.

meanwhile as news of this massacre was just emerging, hamid karzai stepped off a plane in washington dc to meet with clinton and obama and other americans who create the conditions of terrorizing afghan people. i began to wonder about karzai’s regret. i began to wonder how do these people sleep at night? is it really possible you can have so little self worth or so little regard for your own people that you can move from learning of this massacre to meeting with the regime that continues to occupy your land and terrorize your people? and it is not just karzai, of course. asif ali zardari joined him in these meetings. but zardari didn’t seem to get any statements about the united states’ “deep regret” over the fact that because of the american war on pakistan there are upwards of 500,000 pakistanis who are internally displaced people as andrew buncombe reported in the independent:

By bus, by car and on foot, thousands of people continued to pour from the Swat Valley yesterday as the Pakistani military used helicopter gunships and pounding mortar rounds to try to drive out Taliban fighters. Aid officials said they had registered 45,000 people forced from their homes in the last four days but said that number could soon soar. The government has estimated that up to 500,000 people might flood out of the Swat valley ahead of a possible major offensive against the militants.

“It is an all-out war there. Rockets are landing everywhere,” Laiq Zada, who fled the danger zone, told the Associated Press. “We have with us the clothes on our bodies and a hope in the house of God. Nothing else.” The sharpened military offensive came as Pakistan’s leader, Asif Ali Zardari, yesterday met in Washington with Barack Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai. Many in Washington will be heartened by the decision by Mr Zardari and the military to take the fight to the militants.

But there are doubts over the military capacity for the operation, and the human costs involved. A drawn-out conflict will only increase the longer-term exodus. Some may feel they would have nothing to return to. “I do not have any destination. I only have an aim – to escape from here,” said Afzal Khan, who was waiting for a bus with his wife and nine children. “It is like doomsday here. It is like hell.”

part of the reason for this flight is pakistan fighting in the region, now, too, but this is just proof that the pakistani regime is a tool of the americans creating havoc against its own people for a country that continues to assault them from the air. declan walsh describes some of this context in the guardian (his other article includes video footage of people fleeing to safety in pakistan):

Pakistani helicopter gunships pounded a Taliban-controlled emerald mine and other militant positions in the Swat Valley today, killing dozens of militants, as fighting intensified across North West Frontier province.

Amid expectations of an imminent army operation, militants dug into positions across the main town, Mingora, as terrified residents fled the valley on foot across mountain paths. Taliban reinforcements have been pouring into the area from adjoining districts since Monday, many arriving under cover of night and in some cases crossing into the battle zone by boat.

As President Asif Ali Zardari met President Barack Obama in Washington, his government was bracing for a flood of up to 500,000 internal refugees, making it the largest displacement crisis in Pakistan’s history.

The army said it killed more than 60 militants in Swat and neighbouring Buner, a district 60 miles from Islamabad where a major anti-Taliban drive has been under way for the past nine days. Four soldiers were killed due to fighting and a roadside bomb, a military spokesman said, but local reports suggested a higher toll.

it is in this context that zardari and karzai met with the leaders of the regime that is terrorizing afghan and pakastanis alike in to flight when they are able to escape these massacres. tellingly, the puppet leaders had these remarks to make at their press conference yesterday as ewen macaskill reported in the guardian:

Karzai thanked Clinton for her expression of regret and added: “We hope we can work together to completely reduce civilian casualties in the struggle against terrorism.”

Clinton said the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan faced “a common threat”. Zardari described the Taliban as “a cancer”.

here is james bays report on al jazeera on this meeting in washington yesterday and today:

obama’s offensive rhetoric–along with his puppets by his side–is so deeply offensive not the least of which because any so-called commitment to the people of afghanistan and pakistan means that you would need to do things to improve their lives–this would not, of course, include massacre and forcing people to run from their homes because they are being terrorized by american drones and the pakistani army that is taking orders from the united states:

Barack Obama, the US president, has pledged a “lasting commitment” to both Afghanistan and Pakistan after holding talks with both nations’ leaders in Washington.

He said all three nations shared a common goal of dismantling, disrupting and defeating the al-Qaeda network, the Taliban and its allies and improving security in both countries.

“Our strategy reflects a fundamental truth, the future of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US are linked,” Obama said at a news conference in Washington on Wednesday, flanked by Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and Asif Ali Zardari, his Pakistani counterpart.

He praised both men as fully appreciating the “seriousness” of the current situation in the region.

to get an idea of how real people who are subjected to this savagery feel in afghanistan just read some of the things they said today in the farah province during their protest against their puppet regime and the american occupiers of their land:

Afghans have staged an angry protest following the suspected deaths of up to 100 civilians in a US-led air raid in western Farah province.

Shots were fired on Thursday as the demonstrators threw stones at government offices in the town of Farah, the provincial capital.

Several people were wounded in the melee, Gul Ahmad Ayubi, a health department official, said.

The protest came as a team of US and Afghan government investigators arrived in the Bala Baluk district to gather more information about Monday’s incident.

If the casualties are confirmed, it would be the largest loss of civilian life in a single attack since US troops invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

Haji Nangyalai, one of the protesters, said the demonstration had been called to “show our anger at the crimes committed by the American forces”.

“They have killed our innocent people carelessly, that is why we are protesting.”

Another demonstrator, who gave his name only as Abdullah, told the AFP news agency: “People are really angry and they shout ‘death to America, death to the invaders.

“They are hurling stones at government buildings and there is some gun fire in the air – at this stage we don’t know by who.”

on somali pirates

i can only imagine what sort of f*&$)# up narratives are circulating the u.s. media right now about somali pirates. so i thought i would share some points of view which are refreshing and smart in their analysis of the situation. the first comes from the fabulous rapper k’naan who is from somalia but who lives in kenya. he wrote the following which was published in the san francisco bay news and which provides some much needed historical context:

The news media these days have been covering piracy on the Somali coast with such lopsided journalism that it’s lucky they’re not on a ship themselves. It’s true that the constant hijacking of vessels in the Gulf of Aden is a major threat to the vibrant trade route between Asia and Europe. It is also true that for most of the pirates operating in this vast shoreline, money is the primary objective.

But according to so many Somalis, the disruption of Europe’s darling of a trade route is just Karma biting a perpetrator in the butt. And if you don’t believe in Karma, maybe you believe in recent history. Here is why we Somalis find ourselves slightly shy of condemning our pirates.

Somalia has been without any form of a functioning government since 1991. And although its failures, like many other toddler governments in Africa, spring from the wells of post-colonial independence, bad governance and development loan sharks, the specific problem of piracy was put in motion in 1992.

After the overthrow of Siyad Barre, our charmless dictator of 20-some-odd years, two major forces of the Hawiye Clan came to power. At the time, Ali Mahdi and Gen. Mohamed Farah Aidid, the two leaders of the Hawiye rebels, were largely considered liberators. But the unity of the two men and their respective sub-clans was very short-lived. It’s as if they were dumbstruck at the advent of ousting the dictator, or that they just forgot to discuss who will be the leader of the country once they defeated their common foe.

A disagreement of who will upgrade from militia leader to Mr. President broke up their honeymoon. It’s because of this disagreement that we’ve seen one of the most decomposing wars in Somalia’s history, leading to millions displaced and hundreds of thousands dead.

But war is expensive and militias need food for their families and Jaad (an amphetamine-based stimulant) to stay awake for the fighting.

Therefore, a good clan-based warlord must look out for his own fighters. Aidid’s men turned to robbing aid trucks carrying food to the starving masses and re-selling it to continue their war. But Ali Mahdi had his sights set on a larger and more unexploited resource, namely the Indian Ocean.

Already by this time, local fishermen in the coastline of Somalia had been complaining of illegal vessels coming to Somali waters and stealing all the fish. And since there was no government to report it to, and since the severity of the violence clumsily overshadowed every other problem, the fishermen went completely unheard.

But it was around this same time that a more sinister, a more patronizing practice was being put in motion. A Swiss firm called Achair Partners and an Italian waste company called Progresso made a deal with Ali Mahdi that they were to dump containers of waste material in Somali waters. These European companies were said to be paying warlords about $3 a ton, whereas to properly dispose of waste in Europe costs about $1,000 a ton.

In 2004, after a tsunami washed ashore several leaking containers, thousand of locals in the Puntland region of Somalia started to complain of severe and previously unreported ailments, such as abdominal bleeding, skin melting off and a lot of immediate cancer-like symptoms. Nick Nuttall, a spokesman for the United Nations Environmental Program, says that the containers had many different kinds of waste, including “uranium, radioactive waste, lead, cadmium, mercury and chemical waste.”

But this wasn’t just a passing evil from one or two groups taking advantage of our unprotected waters. The U.N. envoy for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, says that the practice still continues to this day. It was months after those initial reports that local fishermen mobilized themselves, along with street militias, to go into the waters and deter the Westerners from having a free pass at completely destroying Somalia’s aquatic life.

Now, years later, the deterring has become less noble, and the ex-fishermen with their militias have begun to develop a taste for ransom at sea. This form of piracy is now a major contributor to the Somali economy, especially in the very region that private toxic waste companies first began to bury our nation’s death trap.

Now Somalia has upped the world’s pirate attacks by over 21 percent in one year, and while NATO and the EU are both sending forces to the Somali coast to try and slow down the attacks, Blackwater and all kinds of private security firms are intent on cashing in.

But while Europeans are well within their rights to protect their trade interest in the region, our pirates were the only deterrent we had from an externally imposed environmental disaster. No one can say for sure that some of the ships they are now holding for ransom were not involved in illegal activity in our waters.

The truth is, if you ask any Somali, if getting rid of the pirates only means the continuous rape of our coast by unmonitored Western vessels and the producing of a new cancerous generation, we would all fly our pirate flags high.

It is time that the world gave the Somali people some assurance that these Western illegal activities will end if our pirates are to cease their operations. We do not want the EU and NATO serving as a shield for these nuclear waste-dumping hoodlums.

It seems to me that this new modern crisis is truly a question of justice, but also a question of whose justice. As is apparent these days, one man’s pirate is another man’s coast guard.

word.

here is k’naan talking about the nuclear toxic waste on hard knock tv:

notice what he says: “i would say if you want the piracy to stop, stop dumping nuclear toxic waste in our country.”

and here is an episode of al jazeera’s “people and power” that investigates arms trafficking and that toxic waste dumped on somalia’s shores:

jeremy scahill has an excellent piece in the socialist worker today on the obama response to the recent american attack on somali pirates in which he ponders what the u.s. response will be now as well as what they will do with the somali man they are holding in custody:

There are certain to be calls from bloodthirsty lunatics to send this Somali man to Guantánamo or Bagram, with right-wingers like Newt Gingrich and Cal Thomas wrapping this into their tired “Obama is weak on terror” narrative. As Thomas wrote last week on the Fox News Web site:

What will the Obama administration do if the pirates are captured alive? He won’t sent them to Gitmo, which he is closing down. Will they get ACLU lawyers? Will there be testimony from a “pirates rights” group? Will they be released on a technicality after a trial in U.S. courts?

If there is not as forceful a response as there was during the Jefferson administration, it will invite more of these incidents. The world’s tyrants are watching to see how President Obama reacts. The message they get will determine how they respond to America and whether we will be in greater peril.

Indeed, the Wall Street Journal on Sunday called for the Somali man in custody to be “transferred to Guantánamo and held as an ‘enemy combatant,’ or whatever the Obama administration prefers to call terrorists.” On this point, Horton points out an interesting distinction between the Obama and Bush administration positions on “pirates,” particularly as it relates to the “terrorist” label.

The big legal issue is around calling them “terrorists,” which the Bushies did with regularity and Obama resisted. I think that Obama and his people are correct. These people were motivated by the desire to make money, pure and simple, which makes them conventional pirates. If they were labeled “terrorists,” the insurance company and the ship charter company wouldn’t be able to negotiate with them or make a payment. Pirates they can still pay off, which will often be the most sensible and least costly solution.

If the U.S. decides to pursue prosecution of the Somali “pirate” in custody in a U.S. court, he would hopefully have a right to a defense (which would clearly enrage the crazies) and the nature of that defense could well depend on what type of legal counsel he ends up with and how his lawyers present the motives of his actions, as described to them, in attempting to seize the Maersk Alabama.

This could be a major test of Obama’s legal interpretation of the rights of prisoners taken by the U.S. in unusual circumstances (to put it mildly). In an era when due process has been trashed in the U.S. and prisoners have been tortured at CIA “black sites” and held without trial for years at Guantánamo and elsewhere, Obama should allow exactly what Thomas and his ilk fear so much–respect for the legal rights of prisoners held by the U.S.

scahill added some bits to this on his blog–i am so elated to see he finally has a blog as his voice is so needed more than ever:

But the Obama administration has convened a special group on Somalia—even before the “pirate” crisis blew up publicly. And it isn’t just the “pirate bases” being looked at for potential military action. The Washington Post reported on Saturday:

Senior Obama administration officials are debating how to address a potential terrorist threat to U.S. interests from a Somali extremist group, with some in the military advocating strikes against its training camps. But many officials maintain that uncertainty about the intentions of the al-Shabab organization dictates a more patient, nonmilitary approach.

Al-Shabab, whose fighters have battled Ethiopian occupiers and the tenuous Somali government, poses a dilemma for the administration, according to several senior national security officials who outlined the debate only on the condition of anonymity.

All of these developments in Somalia and the Horn of Africa come amidst a growing US military presence on the continent through the US military command known as AFRICOM. In late 2006, US-backed Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia and overthrew the government in an operation that was framed in the rhetoric of the “war on terror.” The invasion resulted in an estimated 10,000 deaths and more than one million Somali refugees.

it is worth noting, too, that ken quinn, one of the americans who was on the ship the other day had this to say about somali pirates:

Quinn told reporters the experience was “terrifying and exciting at the same time.” Asked what he thought of the pirates who seized the boat, Quinn said: “They’re just hungry.”

for more background on the somali pirates you can watch/listen to an interview with mohamed abshir waldo on democracy now! today. and you can read his article in which he historicizes much of this issue as well as offers some solutions:

The EU, NATO and US Navies can, of course, Rambo and obliterate the fishermen pirates and their supporting coastal communities but that would be illegal, criminal act. Yet, it may temporarily reduce the intensity of the shipping piracy but it would not result in a long-term solution of the problem. The risk of loss of life of foreign crews and ecological impact of major oil spill would be a marine catastrophe of gigantic proportions for the whole coastal regions of East Africa and the Gulf of Aden. In their current operations, the Somali fishermen pirates genuinely believe that they are protecting their fishing grounds (both 12-mile territorial and EEZ waters). They also feel that they exacting justice and compensation for the marine resources stolen and the destroyed ecosystem by the IUUs. And their thinking is shared and fully supported by the coastal communities, whose protectors and providers they became.

The matter needs careful review and better understanding of the local environment. The piracy is based on local problems and it requires a number of comprehensive joint local and external partners approaches.

Firstly, practical and lasting solution lies in jointly addressing the twin problems of the shipping piracy and the illegal fishing piracy, the root cause of the crisis.

Secondly, the national institutional crisis should be reviewed along with the piracy issues.

Thirdly, local institutions should be involved and supported, particularly by helping to form coastguards, training and coastguard facilities. These may sound asking too much to donors and UN agencies. But we should ask what it meant those who paid tens of millions dollars of ransom and their loved ones held hostage for months.

Fourthly, a joint Somali and UN agency like the present ICAO for the Somali airspace should be considered.

finally, isn’t it a bit disingenuous for americans and europeans to rail against somali pirates when there are zionist pirates in palestinian waters attacking palestinians every day? i bet this never made the u.s. media:

6th of April 2009 at 7am: Israeli Naval forces have abducted eight Palestinian fishermen (including two minors) from the Salateen area in north of the Gaza Strip. Additionally, the fishermen’s four hassakas (small fishing boats) have been taken by the Israeli Navy. According to eyewitnesses, the fishermen were only about 100 meters from the coast at the time of their abduction.

Initial information received regarding the fishermen’s details are as follows:

– Esshaq Mohammed Zayed, 45
– Rassam Mohammed Zayed, 25
– Hafez Assad Al Sultan, 25
– Ahmed Assad Al Sultan, 17
– Safwat Zayed Zayed, 35
– Nashaat Zayed Zayed, 10
– Hammada Joma Zayed, 22
– Joma Mollok Zayed, 50

During the last month the Israeli Navy has escalated its attacks against Gazan fishermen by injuring at least three of them, abducting a further 24 fishermen, and stealing 10 hassakas and one shansula fishing boat.

the bantustan as prison

i often think about what the word normal means here. the way that people accept, on some level, the facts of colonialism around them. it is not like people have a choice, but that mental process of barriers and occupation armies keeps people who live here in a particular mode of thinking: that we all live in bantustan prisons and cannot get out. cannot live a normal life in which people just go to work, school, visit friends and family. a dear friend of mine in al quds decided to take the day off to visit me in nablus yesterday. he drove all the way here in his brother’s car (meaning he had yellow license plates) and he tried two different checkpoints (each about 30 minutes apart, each separated by a number of israeli colonies with excessively violent terrorists living inside). he was told he could not come inside. as a result he had to go home. all the way home a 4 hour journey (each way including checkpoints) for nothing. money wasted on gas. time wasted. why? just because the israeli terrorists who wish to keep nabulsis imprisoned and everyone else imprisoned in their own particular bantustans apart from each other. this is precisely what makes friends of mine not want to visit me: they know that it is too difficult to enter this imprisoned city where i live.

i was thinking of this when i read on lina al sharif’s blog, a young university student at the islamic university of gaza, about the films she made this week about a little trip she took around her prison of gaza. here is what she said about it followed by her films:

A good friend of mine and her other friend organized a trip around Gaza. I think they were inspired by the idea that we need amusement, we need some adventure! Her suggestion was met by an overwhelming acceptance by me and my friends. On Thursday, a bus was waiting for us outside the university, yet it was an independent trip. We were almost 50 girls including 3 mothers. We visited many places as you’ll see in the following videos.

lina’s prison is by far worse than the one i live in, in spite of her efforts to make the best of it and enjoy what small pleasures she has around her. though i find it a bit disturbing to see this pristine british military cemetery in the film given the destruction everywhere else. nothing else can be rebuilt or made to at least appear pristine (until the next time israeli terrorists bomb it) because the borders continue to be closed as john ging stated this week and as quoted in louis charbonneau’s article in common dreams:

The top U.N. aid official in the Gaza Strip urged Israel on Friday to ease restrictions on the flow of goods into the conflict-torn territory, saying they were “devastating” for the people.

“It’s wholly and totally inadequate,” John Ging, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, said about the amount of goods Israel permits into the territory, where some 1.5 million Palestinians live.

“It’s having a very devastating impact on the physical circumstances and also the mindset of people on the ground,” he said.

Israel says it has opened Gaza’s border to larger amounts of food and medicine since its December-January offensive against Hamas militants who control the Palestinian enclave and were firing rockets against Israeli towns.

The war destroyed some 5,000 homes and, according to figures from a Palestinian rights group, killed over 1,400 people. Around 80 percent of Palestinians are reliant on aid.

Ging said access to goods was still a severe problem.

“We need access,” he said. “It’s the number one issue. It’s the number two issue. It’s the number three issue, and so on. Until we get it, there’s nothing as important as solving the access issue.”

Israel fears opening the borders would allow Hamas to smuggle more weapons and ammunition into the territory.

Ging said that all the crossing points from Israel into the Gaza Strip should be opened, and those that were currently opened in a limited way to only selected people or goods should be fully opened.

In addition to restrictions on what it deems luxury goods, such as cigarettes and chocolates, Israel has blocked entry of materials such as cement and steel for rebuilding because it says they could be used for bunkers and rearming.

those borders have also kept out soap, though apparently this is about to change:

Israel will allow all kinds of soaps and detergents into Gaza as of Tuesday, Deputy of the minister of economy Nasser As-Saraj said on Friday.

Gazan officials were informed of the decision following a near year-long ban on the materials.

of course it is not just about borders being closed and goods restricted. as sherine tadros reports on al jazeera this week, the unexploded ordinances still remain in the land and palestinians are having to remove them by themselves:

other palestinians live with the physical scars of the war, particularly those suffering from the after effects of white phosphorus burns as yusef al helou reports in electronic intifada:

Nearly three months have passed since Israel ended its war and while life has returned to normal for some for many others has left legacies of suffering and sad memories. Sabah Abu Halima who was burnt from head to toe and lost her husband and four children is still in pain and has weekly physiotherapy sessions at Shifa hospital. We visited her at her home in the northern Gaza Strip town of Seyafa about one km from the northern border with Israel. Sabah showed us around her house, which was also burnt as a result of white phosphorus shells that struck the roof of her family’s 16 member home.

She explained that “We had a happy home, I lived in this house in security with my husband and children. I was the happiest person in the world, but all of that changed when on 4 January the Israeli army entered our village and fired two phosphorus shells [that] penetrated our roof and burnt us while we were having our lunch. The fire was like lava, my family was burnt and their bodies turned to crisps.”

The mournful mother who is still unable to walk or talk properly, lost her house when it was completely engulfed in flames from the bombs. Luckily she found a photo of her youngest daughter, Shahad, who was only 15 months old when she was killed. I asked her to comment on this writing, which was left on the wall of her bedroom: “From the Israeli Defense Forces, we are sorry!” She answered that “I demand the whole world and international human rights organizations to sue the killers of my family, they killed so many innocent people who tried to rescue us, what was the guilt of my children and my baby Shahad? Their sorry will not bring back my family, I’m still physiologically and mentally in pain, I can’t even pick up a cup of tea now, my life will never be the same,” Sabah answered with tears in her eyes.

in spite of all of this suffering imran garda’s “focus on gaza” on al jazeera this week shows us how some palestinians in gaza, who are newly refugees, are trying to get back to normal. the focus this week is on education and the incredible obstacles to education here, including in the west bank:

and it is not over. palestinians in gaza remain under attack, particularly fisherman and farmers:

Palestinian medical sources in the Gaza Strip reported on Friday morning that a Palestinian fisherman was mildly injured when the Israel Navy shelled several fishing boats in the Palestinian territorial waters in Gaza.

The sources added that at least three boats were hit by navy fire in the Rafah area, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and in Al Mawasi, in northern Gaza. Palestinian fishermen have become a frequent target as Israel is barring them from fishing in spite the fact that they are in Palestinian territorial waters.

On Wednesday morning, the Israeli navy attacked a Palestinian fishing boat, kidnapping the four fishermen on board, and taking over the boat. The fishermen, three brothers and a relative were taken to an unknown destination. They were fishing in Palestinian territorial waters near Rafah, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.

On Monday a young Palestinian fisherman was shot and seriously wounded when the Israeli navy shelled an area in al-Sudaniyya, north-east of Gaza City.

On Tuesday, March 17, one Palestinian civilian was injured when Israeli naval boats opened fire on residents and fishermen who gathered at the beach near the Beit Lahia town.

and from a new blog “farming under fire” discusses what palestinian farmers are up against when trying to farm their land:

A thankfully relatively calm day of farming on Tuesday in the border region near southeastern Khoza’a village, east of Khan Younis. The last time we’d been in Khoza’a, the Israeli soldiers patrolling the border area had opened fire on us within minutes of our arrival, shooting closer than previous times, although it was obvious we were a mixture of elderly farmers and internationals, all unarmed. Hours later, Israeli soldiers shot a young woman, Wafa, from Khoza’a in the kneecap as she surveyed the land where her the ruins of her house –destroyed in Israel’s war on Gaza –lay.

With those memories in mind, we’d returned to Khoza’a warily, aware of the Israeli soldiers fondness for shooting at civilians, but more aware that the Palestinian farmers were determined to harvest their crops: lentils and squash.
It was too late for the squash, which were meant to be small and green but which had over-grown and over-ripened because farmers had been afraid to harvest them weeks earlier.

“Kuulo kharbaan,” one of the women said when I asked whether they could be saved: they’re all ruined.

Tariq, a young man studying at university who was also serving as a coordinator for the area’s farmers and us, explained the financial loss. There were about 4 dunams of land, on which about 15 cases of squash had grown. Each case was roughly 11 kilos in weight. The squash should have sold for 8 shekels/kilo (roughly $2). Had the harvest been done, the plot of land would have yielded over $300. But it was all ruined, kharbaan. The farmers, mostly elderly women, with a few of their younger male relatives helping, picked lentils swiftly, still wary of potential shooting.

After nearly an hour of picking, two jeeps patrolling the region stopped for about 20 minutes, watching. Some shots were fired a few hundred metres further south from our group, but thankfully that day the soldiers didn’t go further.
The rest of the morning went quickly and successfully [allowing, even, for some practise of Dabke steps during the calm harvesting], a small miracle in a Strip of siege and war manufactured tragedies.

this week there was also a report released about palestinian farmers not allowed to access their farm land because it is in the so-called “buffer zone”:

Gaza’s battered agricultural sector has the capacity to recover but only if there is access to the buffer zone, and only if Gaza’s commercial crossings are fully opened, according to a recent UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report on Gaza.

FAO says the area inside the buffer zone along the northern and eastern borders with Israel contains nearly a third of Gaza’s arable land, but it has been inaccessible to farmers, residents and UN agencies since 27 December 2008 (when Israel launched a 23-day assault on Gaza in retaliation for continued Hamas rocket-fire from Gaza into Israel).

and then, of course, there are just the targeted murders that palestinians suffer from on a daily basis such as today in jabaliya:

Palestinian medical sources confirmed the death of two Palestinians from Khan Younis Refugee Camp in the southern Gaza Strip. Medical crews evacuated the two from the northern Strip to Kamal Udwan Hospital.

Israeli forces reported killing the two earlier Saturday, saying they were “attempting to infiltrate” the Kfar Azza Kibbutz near the electronic fence border area in the northern Gaza Strip Saturday morning.

The men were identified as 23-year-old Muhammad Al-Hamayda and 26-year-old Jamil Quffa.

all of these attacks continue unabated. no one says anything. none of those big powers at nato. no one. any wonder why people are protesting? if you read my post yesterday you know about the amnesty international report about americans and germans working together to make sure israeli terrorists have more weapons. and yet these nato imperial regimes wish to make sure palestinians cannot “smuggle” any weapons with which to resist and defend themselves. adam morrow and khaled moussa al-omrani reported on this scheme for ips:

Nine NATO member states agreed last month to utilise naval, intelligence and diplomatic resources to combat the alleged flow of arms into the Gaza Strip. Some Egyptian commentators see the move as a surreptitious means of cementing foreign control over the region.

“These new protocols aren’t really about halting arms smuggling,” Tarek Fahmi, political science professor at Cairo University and head of the Israel desk at the Cairo-based National Centre for Middle East Studies, told IPS. “Rather, they aim to establish foreign control over the region’s strategic border crossings and maritime ports.”

On Mar. 13, a major conference was held in London aimed at “coordinating efforts” to stop alleged arms smuggling – by land or sea – into the Gaza Strip, governed by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas. Participants at the conference included high-level representatives from nine member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), including the U.S., Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Holland, Italy and Norway.

At the close of the event, participants signed an agreement “to develop an effective framework for international cooperation, supplementary to measures taken by regional states, to prevent and interdict the illicit flow of arms, ammunition and weapons components to Gaza.”

According to a final statement, participant governments hope to accomplish these objectives with the use of a series of measures, including “maritime interception, information sharing and diplomatic pressure.” The international community “has a responsibility to support prevention and interdiction efforts,” the statement reads, noting that such efforts may involve “diplomatic, military, intelligence and law enforcement components.”

on american crimes & the international criminal court

khalil bendib
khalil bendib

one of the many reasons i love flashpoints so much and listen to the podcast every day is because they are the only news source in the u.s. that reports on news that no one else does and from a point of view that no one else shares. take, for instance, the recent interview dennis bernstein did with keith harmon snow. snow is a journalist who covers africa and provides a context for the situation in the congo and sudan that you will never read or hear in most other american news sources. snow has a website where some of his writings and other interviews are archived. i think it is especially important to consider his views in light of the international criminal court’s indictment of omar al-bashir:

The ICC on Wednesday indicted al-Bashir on seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which included murder, rape and torture.

The three-judge panel said it had insufficient grounds to consider charges of genocide, though the ICC said the non-inclusion of a genocide charge could change “if additional evidence is gathered by the prosecution”.

The US administration, which has imposed sanctions against Sudan, welcomed the ICC’s decision.

The UK and France have also been in favour of the warrant while the EU has urged Khartoum to fully co-operate with the ICC.

But their support has added fuel to the fire of those who see the ICC’s decision as “neo-colonialist”.

“They do not want Sudan … to become stable,” Mustafa Osman Ismail, an adviser to al-Bashir.

“The court is only one mechanism of neo-colonialist policy used by the West against free and independent countries.”

i was thinking about this court case and the charge of neo-colonialism yesterday in my postcolonial literature class. my students are reacing cinua achebe’s things fall apart. we are still discussing the first half of the novel, before the british colonists arrive in nigeria and begin to destroy the traditional society. one way they do this is by building prisons, of course. the last passage my students and i discussed was the part where the protagonist, okonkwo, is exiled for seven years because he accidentally killed someone in his father’s village where he lives with his wives and children. the punishment is for them all to go to his mother’s village for 7 years. here is a passage where one of the village elders, uchendu, in okonkwo’s mother’s village offers some context on this punishment:

“Why is Okonkwo with us today? This is not his clan. We are only his mother’s kinsmen. He does not belong here. He is in exile, condemned for seven years to live in a strange land. And so he is bowed with grief. But there is just one question I would like to ask him. Can you tell me, Okonkwo, why it is that one of the commonest names we give our children is Nneka, or ‘Mother is Supreme?’ We all know that a man is the head of the family and his wives do his bidding. A child belongs to its father and his family and not to its mother and her family. A man belongs to his fatherland and not to his motherland. And yet we say Nneka–‘Mother is Supreme,’ Why is that?”

There was silence. “I want Okonkwo to answer me,” said Uchendu.

“I do not know the answer,” Okonkwo replied.

“You do not know the answer? So you see that you are a child. You have many wives and many children–more children than I have. You are a great man in your clan. But you are still a child, my child. Listen to me and I shall tell you. But there is one more question I shall ask you. Why is it that when a woman dies she is taken home to be buried with her own kinsman? She is not buried with her husband’s kinsmen. Why is that? Your mother was brought home to me and buried with my people. Why was that?”

Okonkwo shook his head.

“He does not know that either,” said Uchendu, “and yet he is full of sorrow because he has come to live in his motherland for a few years.” He laughed a mirthless laughter, and turned to his sons and daughters. “What about you? Can you answer my question?”

They all shook their heads.

“Then listen to me,” he said and cleared his throat. “It’s true that a child belongs to its father. But when a father beats his child, it seeks sympathy in its mother’s hut. A man belongs to his fatherland when things are good and life is sweet. But when there is sorrow and bitterness he finds refuge in his motherland. Your mother is there to protect you. She is buried there. And that is why we say that a mother is supreme.” (137-139)

i bring up achebe in this context as a way of thinking about what justice means. to show that there were community-based systems of justice prior to european colonial or neo-colonial powers destroying the americas, africa, asia, australia. okonkwo going to his mother’s village was not just about punishment. it was about him going to a place where he would be nurtured and have time to reflect about what he did. but the european system of punishment by imprisonment, which they exported along with colonialism around the planet has destroyed so much of more traditional ways of dealing with justice.

the other issue with the case of sudan, which one gets a sense of if you read snow’s writing and listen to the flashpoints episode i linked to above, is that the problem of sudanese people being murdered and massacred is an american one. it is a neocolonial problem to begin with. the international criminal court claims that bashir is responsible for various war crimes, but it does not get at the root of the problem:

Laurence Blairon, a spokeswoman for the ICC, said al-Bashir was accused of “intentionally directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Sudan; murdering, raping, torturing, forcibly transferring large numbers of the population and pillaging their property”.

“Omar al-Bashir’s official capacity as a sitting head of state does not exclude his criminal responsibility, nor does it grant him immunity from prosecution,” she said.

He is the first sitting head of state to be ordered to face the tribunal since it began work in 2002.

Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the ICC prosecutor who called for an arrest warrant to be issued in July last year, said that al-Bashir must be arrested “to stop him from destroying evidence and committing new crimes”.

“It is time to protect the victims, to stop bombing civilians, to stop rapes, to stop the crimes,” he said after the judges’ decision was announced.

to get at the root of the problem one needs to look to journalists like snow. and the root of the problem is not limited to the borders of sudan nor is it limited to the u.s. as the only culprit in maintaining neocolonial rule in africa as snow explains in “darfurism, uganda, and the u.s. role in africa”:

The role of Yoweri Museveni and his “government” in service to the Western economic neoliberalism and the shock doctrine of deconstruction and chaos is greatly misunderstood and deeply camouflaged by simplified establishment narratives like those above. Bush and Museveni discussed the U.S.-Uganda military relations and bilateral involvement in the ongoing wars in Sudan, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Congo). The “partnership to combat malaria and HIV/AIDS” is camouflage language for military vaccination and bio-warfare programs involving pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, USAID, and “humanitarian” philanthropies. A vaccine for malaria was developed for the U.S. military some time ago and this is shared only with certain U.S. client state partners, though “clinical trials” have been undertaken in public using African “volunteers.”

Museveni and Bush certainly discussed America’s escalating war in the Sahara desert, expanding petroleum operations across the region, U.S. Special Forces deployments and newly identified uranium resources in Uganda. Maybe they discussed the March 1, 1999 killing of eight foreign tourists at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, a story that has not yet been critically unpacked. The “development plan for northern Uganda” is euphemistic language for the ongoing depopulation and massive natural resource extraction that today proceeds in northern Uganda in parallel with the genocide of the Acholi people and Uganda’s militarization in support of covert programs in Sudan and Congo.

The Darfur conflict rides along the fault line of continental warfare spread from Niger to Djibouti and Somalia, and from eastern Congo and Rwanda, through Uganda and Sudan, to Eritrea and the Red Sea. Congo is at war with Uganda and Rwanda. Ethiopia is at war with Somalia, and poised to reinvade Eritrea: there are massive troop build-ups on both sides of the Eritrean-Ethiopia border. Ethiopia, Uganda and Chad are the three “frontline” states militarily destabilizing Sudan. Uganda is internally and externally at war, has intervened secretly in Burundi, and the Ugandan military recently re-occupied towns in eastern Congo over petroleum. Rwanda is fighting in Eastern Congo, meddling in Burundi, and has some 2000 troops in Darfur. Burundi is militarily involved in Congo and soon to be in Somalia. Khartoum backs guerrilla armies in Uganda, Chad and Congo.

The U.S. is all over the place, with both covert and overt military programs. France, England, Canada, Belgium, Libya, Israel and China are all involved. All these conflicts are intertwined, and the targeted populations have allegiances and alliances that are dictated by the pre-colonial boundaries and trade that existed prior to the demarcation of colonial interests that occurred at the Berlin Conference of 1885 under the imperial doctrine of divide and conquer. In 1885 “Soudan” was synonymous with “Sahara” and “Darfur” was the center of power. Conflict involving U.S. covert forces and nomads in Niger and Nigeria, for example, impacts Sudan: the history of the Sahara revolves around the trans-Saharan influence of the Mahdi. In 1875 the Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad, led the indigenous resistance against Britain. ‘Abdallah at-Ta‘ishi, the Mahdi’s “Khalifah” or successor, who took over as leader of the independent Sudan when the Mahdi died in June 1885, was a native of Darfur. People from Nigeria to Somalia today remember the Mahdi.

snow goes on to connect the corporations and ngos profiting from the ongoing war and “peace” operations in the region, including profiting off of refugees:

On October 24, 2007, the United Nations awarded Lockheed-Martin subsidiary Pacific Architects and Engineers (PAE) a $250 million no-bid contract to provide “infrastructure” for the United Nations “peacekeeping” missions now unfolding in Sudan (Darfur), Somalia, and Chad/Central Africa Republic. The newly announced contract is to build five new camps in Sudan’s Darfur and Kordofan regions for 4,100 U.N. and African Union (A.U.) personnel. Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest and most secretive aerospace and defense corporation.

This is not Pacific Architects and Engineers’ first contract in Darfur, or in Africa’s “peacekeeping” missions, and PAE is not the only private military company involved. PAE won the contract for staffing the deeply compromised “Civilian Protection Monitoring Team” (CPMT) in Sudan under a U.S. State Department contract. In 2004 the CPMT office was being run by Brigadier General Frank Toney (retired), who was previously the commander of Special Forces for the United States Army; General Toney organized covert operations into Iraq and Kuwait in the first Gulf War.

Pratap Chaterjee reported in 2004 how “Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Bittrick, the deputy director of regional and security affairs for Africa at the State Department, flew to Ethiopia to hammer out an agreement to support African Union troops by committing to provide housing, office equipment, transport, and communications gear. This will be provided via an ‘indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity’ joint contract awarded to Dyncorp Corporation, and Pacific Architects & Engineers (PAE) worth $20.6 million.” PAE also set up MONUC operations in Congo, and continues to operate there; the total PAE involvement includes numerous intermediary contracts. In 2002 PAE/Daher won a $34 million air-services follow-on contract amidst complaints of a “lack of transparency and irregularities in the procurement system…confirmed by the bidding of the air-service contract with PAE/Daher.” Daher International is a French aerospace and defense corporation.

Meanwhile, the “Save Darfur” advocates pressing military intervention in Darfur as a “humanitarian” gesture have escalated pressure in the face of mounting failures, including allegations that millions of “Save Darfur” dollars fundraised on a sympathy for victims platform have been misappropriated.

But the players, the private military companies, the arms dealers—and a handful of missing SRAM missiles armed with nuclear warheads dumped by an American B-52 before it crashed—are mostly unknown to the general public. These covert wars all involve different propaganda strategies to provide cover and deflect attention through “perception management”—managing the perceptions, stereotyping and creating false belief systems—of the North American and European public.

The numbers of refugees and internally displaced persons across the region are staggering and they are indicative of a cataclysmic regional crisis in sub-Saharan Africa. This is not because refugees, insurgency and guerrilla warfare are inherent to Africa: refugees and IDPs are big business for white systems of power that maintain structural violence based on profits and the globalization of poverty, terror and war. The numbers are staggering, and these are not merely statistics, they are about suffering human beings.

United Nations agencies report some 4,700,163 internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sudan—2,152,163 in Darfur and 2,276,000 in Northern Sudan—with some 686,311 refugees out of Sudan.

in addition to multi-national, u.s.-based corporations and military involvement in sudan, what i think is really important about snow’s writing is his unpacking of the so-called “save darfur” movement, a movement that in the u.s. is largely controlled by zionists who enjoy altering the reality into a fabricated narrative of arabs/muslims attacking black africans as if sudan can be untied in such a tidy package. of course they always fail to report the fact that many refugees from darfur seeking refuge in the zionist entity are immediately imprisoned (search my blog you will find numerous such reports here). here is what snow says on the “save darfur” organization and related constructed narratives about mass murder and genocide in africa:

“Save Darfur” is the predominant propaganda front running on Africa and it has overwhelmed the public consciousness with deceptions. In this establishment narrative Arabs on horseback, the Janjaweed, backed by the Sudan government seated in Khartoum, are the purveyors of genocide. This mirrors the establishment narrative of Rwanda, 1994, which said that the Hutus and the nasty Interahamwe militias committed genocide against the Tutsis in 100 days of killing with machetes. The Rwanda genocide narrative—combined with the narrative about “humanitarian” intervention in Yugoslavia, where the final blow to dismember the country came with the NATO bombing campaign—set the stage for the Darfur genocide narrative.

All over the United States, Britain and Canada advocates and activists who claim to be concerned about human rights, and even those who otherwise would not get involved, have supported the “Save Darfur” movement, a political movement similar to the anti-Apartheid movement mobilized against South Africa in the 1980’s. The “Save Darfur” movement has resulted in a huge outpouring of funds, and it has mobilized support from people in all walks of life, and across the political spectrum, on the “never again” platform of “stopping genocide.”

Hollywood personalities dubbed “actorvists,” including Mia Farrow, Don Cheadle and George Clooney, have helped to whip up the “Save Darfur” hysteria. From Elie Wiesel to Barak Obama, people are “outraged” by genocide that the Bush Administration, we are told, is reluctant to stop. And it is hysteria, in the true definition of the word, but it did not simply rise out of a sudden concern for a bunch of Africans in some far-off God-forsaken place (as it is portrayed).

At a “Voices for Darfur” fundraiser held on October 21, 2007 at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, for example, the local chapter of the Congregation B’Nai Israel Darfur Action coalition, raised over $14,000 for “humanitarian” aid to Darfur. The B’Nai Israel Save Darfur Coalition had a broad array of public and organizational support, including other Jewish organizations, Smith College, Northampton Mayor Claire Higgins, Massachusetts’ Senator Stan Rosenberg and Representative Peter Kocot. The campaign organizers claim that “more than 90% goes to direct-on-the-ground AID.” Working with big humanitarian groups like Doctors Without Borders and Save the Children, it is impossible that 90% of funds will hit the ground in Darfur.

Behind the “Save Darfur” movement are fundamentalist organizations and think tanks with a deeply nationalistic, militaristic, religious fundamentalist agenda. The Center for Security Policy, for example, supports the “star wars” Strategic Defense Initiative, Homeland Security—which is nothing more than expanding militarism and emasculated public rights—and the Biometric Security Project. The BSP centers around emerging biological technologies that will be used to register, identify, monitor, track and control each and every U.S. citizen. They call it “identity assurance,” it involves state-of-the-art recognition equipment, sensors and security technologies, and it is a central component of the evolving national security and “counter-terrorism” apparatus.

The Center for Security Policy is the nerve center of the U.S. military and intelligence apparatus, a deeply nationalist, neoliberal think-tank and flak organization promoting the all-out attack against non-cooperative governments—dubbed “rogue states”—peripheral to Western economic control. These, of course, are primarily Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, North Korea and Cuba. Zimbabwe is a special case that has joined the list to some degree. What these states have in common is that they are all targeted for divestment by the Center for Security Policy brainchild, www.divestterror.org. Sudan is another of the “rogue states” targeted.

The establishment narrative on Darfur motivates U.S. citizens to take action to “Save Darfur,” thus facilitating popular support for heightened U.S. military involvement. The truth is that the United States military is already there, in its various incarnations, and the United States is involved in atrocities.

the u.s. is already there in various ways, both in sudan, and in the region as snow delves into the related issue, the congo, which of course american zionists don’t want to touch because they can’t create some sort of arab/muslim versus black african narrative, which they love doing because it makes them look like they care about human rights and which they always use to deflect attention from the war crimes they support against palestinians. i’m not quoting all of snow’s article here so i hope people will click on the initial link at the top of the story to read it in full, but here is some of what he says on the u.s. in uganda and the congo (zaire):

The forced displacements of Acholi people began with Museveni’s ascension to power in 1986, but major forced displacements occurred throughout the 1990’s and again in 2002-2003. However, there was a massive displacement operation in 1996 that appears to have been coordinated in part with the planned U.S. invasion of Zaire from Northern Uganda and Rwanda.

The UPDF Army barracks at Masindi and airstrip at Gulu, both in Northern Uganda, served as the staging grounds for the U.S. invasion of Zaire. The Museveni government organized the closure of northern Uganda in October 1996 ostensibly because of heightened LRA attacks. The UPDF, in chronological coincidence with the U.S. invasion, forced hundreds of thousands of Acholis into concentration camps in the fall of 1996, often by bombing and burning villages and murdering, beating, raping and threatening those who would not comply.

According to testimony from eyewitnesses, on Oct 26, 1996 the top Ugandan brass behind the invasion of Zaire met at the village of Paraa, in the Murchison Falls National Park, near Lake Albert, in the Gulu District. At the meeting were: [1] UPDF Brigadier General Moses Ali—Idi Amin’s right hand man who later became Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister for Disaster Preparedness, and Deputy Prime Minister in the Museveni administration; [2] Museveni’s half-brother Salim Saleh; [3] then Colonel James Kazini; and [4] Dr. Eric Adroma—head of Uganda National Parks. Salim Saleh is perhaps the leading agent of terror in the UPDF Zaire/Congo wars, but both Saleh and commander James Kazini led UPDF troops involved in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and acts of genocide involving millions of people in Eastern Congo (1996-2007).

The meeting was ostensibly about security and it was announced that due to a recent LRA rebel attack at Paraa, the UPDF would be placing parts of Northern Uganda off limits to all non-military personnel. (LRA rebels committed the Paraa attack; UPDF troops arrived on the scene quickly and looted bodies but did not pursue the LRA.) The main road from Karuma to the border town of Pakwach was thereafter closed. This road apparently served as a primary transport route for Ugandan and non-Ugandan military—including black U.S. Special Forces—who invaded Zaire.

On November 6, 1996, Bill Clinton was re-elected. Around 10 November 1996 an armored 4×4 Humvee (HUMMWV)—heavily rigged with sophisticated communications equipment inside and out—was encountered carrying two black U.S. special forces in the Murchison Falls region: the soldiers were wearing UPDF uniforms. Two busloads of black U.S. Special Forces were encountered at a UPDF checkpoint on the Karuma-Pakwach road; wearing civilian clothes, with duffel bags, the muscled and crew cut “civilians” showed U.S. passports and claimed they were “doctors” heading to the tiny Gulu hospital. From November 21-23 Boeing C-130 military aircraft passed over the region every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, heading both north and south. The C-130’s apparently landed at Gulu airstrip—closed by the Museveni government for a two-week period—and offloaded military equipment then moved by roads—closed by the UPDF—to the border. Some C-130’s were charted on a course believed to take them to Goma, Zaire. From mid-November to February 1997 access to northwestern Uganda regions was highly restricted. On 1 March 1997 another wave of C-130’s passed over the region. The UPDF used the LRA threat as cover for massive military operations involving the invasion of Zaire for the United States of America.

The in-country U.S. Ambassador to Uganda at the time was E. Michael Southwick (October 1994-August 1997). Oil surveys began in 1998 and the entire Northwestern Uganda region is now designated as oil concessions controlled by Heritage Oil and Gas, Hardman Oil and Tullow Oil, three Anglo-American companies connected to British mercenary Tony Buckingham (founder of he mercenary firms Sandline International and Executive Outcomes) and his partners. Nexant, a Bechtel subsidiary, is involved with the trans-Uganda-Kenya pipeline. South African firm Energem—tied to Tony Buckingham through Anthony Texeira, the brother-in-law of Congolese warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba—is also involved. Another Energem and Buckingham affiliated company tight with the Museveni regime is Branch Energy, involved with the oil pipeline and mining in Uganda.

On September 5, 2007, UPDF troops—and rebels reportedly aligned with Jean-Pierre Bemba—had occupied the Congo’s oil- and gold-rich Semliki Basin on the western shores of Lake Albert. Heavily armed foreign forces occupied the villages of Aru, Mahagi, Fataki, Irengeti and the Ruwenzori mountains. The international press and the United Nations Observers Mission in Congo (MONUC) remained completely silent about the Ugandan incursions. By September 8, 2007, Ugandan troops were heavily massed on the Congo border while Kabila and Museveni were signing oil and gold sharing agreements in Tanzania. UPDF forces and “rebel” troops alleged to be Bemba’s remained in Congo as of October 25. The MONUC information offices were claiming by mid-October that UPDF had pulled out, but Congolese citizens in eastern Congo continued to report a significant UPDF military occupation.

The China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Company is also involved in the Uganda-Kenya pipeline, offering an interesting comparison for people concerned about China’s involvement in atrocities in the Darfur region. And, after much scrambling, Libya was cut out of the Kenya-Uganda pipeline deals. The petroleum sector in Libya involves U.S., Canadian and European companies.

Uganda’s representation at the International Criminal Court exploring war crimes in Congo has included at least two very high-profile lawyers from Foley Hoag LLP, an influential Washington law firm deeply entrenched in the proliferation of the mainstream narratives and the victor’s justice doled out—through the ICTY and ICTR tribunals—on Yugoslavia and Rwanda. The Pentagon seconded its lawyers from the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corp to the ICTR to “try” those unfortunate “enemies” both arbitrarily and selectively accused of genocide.

The people most responsible for atrocities in the region—unprecedented human bloodletting, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide—are protected. These include Yoweri Museveni, Salim Saleh, Paul Kagame, James Kazini, Moses Ali, James Kabarebe, Taban Amin, Jean-Pierre Bemba, Laurent Nkunda, Meles Zenawi…a long list of people whose culpability is without question, many of whom have been named for atrocities again and again. U.S. Special Operations forces know what happened and should be deposed under oath in a legitimate International Criminal Court, which at present does not exist, and is not in the making. Ditto for Madeleine Albright, Anthony Lake, Thomas Pickering, Susan Rice, John Prendergast, General William Wald, General Frank Toney, Walter Kansteiner, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Holbroke, Roger Winter, Frank G. Wisner, Andrew Young…another short list.

Foley Hoag LLP is also tied to the U.S.-Uganda Friendship Council. On May 6, 2002 in Washington D.C. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and wife Janet were special guests at U.S.-Uganda Friendship Council event sponsored by members Coke, Pfizer and Chevron-Texaco. Museveni also met with President Bush at the White House. Coke director Kathleen Black is a principle in the Hearst media empire, while Coke directors Warren Buffet and Barry Diller are directors of the Washington Post Company, and these are the media institutions that whitewash client regimes, corporate plunder and Pentagon actions. Of course, Coca Cola covets the gum Arabic potential of Darfur, and Coke is a client of Andrew Young’s PR firm Goodworks International. Uganda’s image is sanitized by one of the world’s largest PR firms, London’s Hill & Knowlton. In 2005 Uganda spent some $700,000 on a Hill & Knowlton contract to facilitate and “encourage dialogue between the Ugandan government and people like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, Oxfam.”

susan rice, of course, is barack obama’s representative to the united nations. so you can imagine how more cover ups and covert–perhaps overt–killing will continue with the help of the u.s. in africa. snow has much more to say about american complicity in rwanda and fabricating that narrative, too, as well as covert operations continuing in somalia and in ethiopia where the u.s. is also complicit in genocide that no one talks about in the u.s., though snow does:

The Ogaden, Oromo and Anuak regions of Ethiopia have seen massive military occupation and state repression. The Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi has perpetrated mass starvation and scorched earth policy in the region. There has been very little international media coverage and most is favorable the Zenawi regime or pressing the upside-down stories about “relief” and “starvation” that serve the Western “humanitarian” business sector. The Ogaden basin is a bloodbath today. Applying the same legal standards as in Darfur, all three Ethiopian regions qualify as ongoing genocides against indigenous people. Failure to apply the genocide standards constitutes genocide denial.

The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1778 (2007) on 25 September 2007 established the United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT). According to the U.N.’s October 2007 Expression Of Interest, “[i]n it’s Presidential Statement of 30 April 2007, the Security Council requested the Secretary General to ‘immediately begin appropriate contingency planning for a United Nations mission to Somalia’. At this early stage it is planned to have a U.N. logistics base at Mombassa, Kenya to support the main supply line from Mombassa to Kismayo, Mogadishu and Hobyo, which will serve as secondary logistics bases in Somalia. At this early stage the number and location of these sites is unknown, but it is envisaged that approximately 24,000 personnel may be required.”

Ethiopia’s war in Somalia has taxed the government drawing widespread criticism. The U.S. is pressing for an African Union mission as a proxy force to replace the Ethiopian troops and further U.S. interests. Mombasa, Kenya is a U.S. military port. The U.S. war in Somalia is ongoing. More than 100 U.S. military “trainers” supervised “combat training” of two Burundian “African Union” battalions (1700 troops) in Bujumbura, Burundi, in advance of their deployment in Somalia expected in November 2007. French military also provided training, while the U.S. and France both are providing logistical and telecommunications support. Burundian troops are also in Darfur. On November 28, 2004, the Bush White House issued a document announcing a cooperative agreement with Burundi, Guyana and Liberia preventing the International Criminal Court from proceeding against U.S. personnel operating in these countries.

In March 2007 the Pentagon deployed an additional 150 SOCOM Forces in Uganda. The troops were part of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn-of-Africa, an “anti-terrorist naval force” deployed around the Horn of Africa with support points in Bahrain and Djibouti. Ugandan sources divulged that the SOCOM troops would be dispersed “around the country” to “support UPDF troops” and “provide support to distribute humanitarian aid.” It was openly reported that the SOCOM are “possibly training the South Sudanese army, which has just signed an agreement for this with its Ugandan counterpart, strengthening Ugandan capacity to fight terrorism.” The U.S. military has also modernized the old Entebbe airport for UPDF operations, and the Entebbe airport supports a small but permanent U.S. military contingent.

It is believed that U.S. SOCOM troops are operating in blood-drenched Eastern Congo. Ugandan opposition sources have reported that SOCOM forces in UPDF uniforms have joined the more than 2000 Pentagon-trained UPDF forces sent by Museveni to Somalia. The UPDF troops operating in Somalia behind a “peacekeeping” propaganda front have been accused of widespread atrocities. More than 1000 people die daily in Eastern Congo where fighting since 1996 has claimed at least 7 million lives. The Democratic Republic of Congo has seen multiple genocide campaigns, and multiple genocide denials are ongoing.

SOCOM forces have been openly reported in Niger, where operations are billed as “humanitarian” and “human rights” training of Nigerien troops. But the insurgency and “rebellion” by the Tuareg and Toubou nomads has always been about uranium and depopulation: Canadian and Chinese companies have recently gotten involved but Esso (Exxon), Japan and French corporations were exploiting the Agadez and Air regions in the 1970’s and 1980’s (at least), dumping radioactive sickness and social devastation on another indigenous population. Niger is the poorest country in the world. Yet another genocide?

Exxon, Elf and Hunt Oil are in Niger for oil. Barrick Gold is also in Niger, and in Guniea, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Madagascar and Mali; through their partnership with Anglo-Ashanti, Barrick is responsible for atrocities and plunder in eastern Congo. Directors of the G.H.W. Bush-connected Barrick Gold include former U.S. Senator Howard Baker (R-TN), whose wife, Nancy Kassebaum Baker, has been an outspoken advocate for immediate action on Darfur.

“I was in the Senate at the time of Rwanda,” said Kassebaum Baker at a speech in 2006 where discussed Darfur. Kassebaum Baker served as chairwoman of the Foreign Relation Committee’s Subcommittee on African Affairs. “We were all aghast at what was taking place there [Rwanda], but I must say no one really knew what to do about it,” Kassebaum Baker said.

The Bakers are on the advisory board for the nationalist think-tank Partnership for a Secure America—another policy-formulating-perception-management-force behind the “Save Darfur” movement—along with a stellar cast of corporate executives involved in war and plunder in Africa. Most notable of these are Frank G. Wisner, Richard Holbroke, Anthony Lake, Thomas Pickering, Carla Hills and Sam Nunn. Wisner was also on the National Security Council under Clinton, along with the International Crisis Group (ICG) Special Advisor and ENOUGH co-chair John Prendergast. Wisner’s co-directors of the American International Group include: Marshall Cohen, a director of the Bush-connected Barrick Gold Corporation; Clinton Cabinet members William Cohen and Richard Holbrooke; and Carla Hills, NAFTA negotiator and director of Chevron-Texaco and the ICG. Partnership for a Secure America advisory board members Zbigniew Brzezinski, Pickering, Hills, and Kassebaum Baker are all on the Board of Trustees for the ICG—International Crisis Group—the leading flak organization pressing the “Save Darfur” and Lord’s Resistance Army (Uganda) narratives.

George Soros founded the International Crisis Group in 1995 and serves on the ICG executive committee, another who’s who of establishment people entrenched in the production of militant establishment narratives and structural violence. The Crisis Group think-tank is funded by Soros’ philanthropy think-tank the Open Society Institute, and it pushes the rhetoric of “peace” and “democracy” through hegemonic policy instruments advocating direct “humanitarian” [read: military] intervention. The Crisis Group executives have numerous interlocking ties with the International Rescue Committee, a Kissinger-connected flak organization. Other Crisis Group executives include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Wesley K. Clark, who led the NATO deconstructive bombing of Yugoslavia, and Joanne Leedom-Ackerman—a director of Human Rights Watch.

George Soros is also an emeritus director of Refugees International, another “humanitarian” NGO behind the massive suffering in Africa. Other Refugees International directors emeritus include Judy Mayotte, an executive boardmember of the International Rescue Committee, Frank G. Wisner, and Richard Holbrooke. The current president of Refugees International is Kenneth H. Bacon, who, prior to his appointment in 2001, had worked for seven years as assistant secretary for public affairs at the U.S Department of Defense. Beyond the global presence of RI in hot spots like Afghanistan and Iraq are their permanent missions in Somalia, Central Africa Republic, Rwanda, Uganda, Dem. Rep. of Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, Chad, South Sudan and Darfur. Refugees International profited from the RPF/A forced exodus of refugees from Rwanda in 1994, and their involvement in the international war crimes behind the destruction of the Hutu refugee camps in Eastern Zaire, shelled by the RPF/A in 1996 as the U.S. opened its war there, or the subsequent genocidal massacres of Hutus, have never been investigated.

Refugees International joined the Save Darfur Coalition in April to rally against the genocide in Darfur. According to the RI Annual report for 2006, “[o]ur supporters joined the tens of thousands of human rights activists, movie stars, athletes and politicians who converged on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC, to show the world that we will not stand idly by while genocide unfolds.”

and, yet, of course not only do americans stand by while massacres and genocide happens, they help to make it happen. again and again and again. oftentimes this is the work of usaid (why, despite offers i sometimes receive, i have always refused to work with any project or to profit in any way from groups or organizations receiving usaid funds). this is also part of the un-reported context of bashir throwing out international ngos for their collaboration with the icc. of course wherever u.s. supports genocide and massacres it’s “old friend” the terrorist state of israel cannot be far behind as snow explains:

Darfur is another epicenter of the modern-day international geopolitical scramble for Africa’s resources. Conflict in Darfur escalated in 2003 in parallel with negotiations “ending” the south Sudan war. The U.S.-backed insurgency by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the guerilla force that fought the northern Khartoum government for 20 years, shifted to Darfur, even as the G.W. Bush government allied with Khartoum in the U.S. led “War on Terrorism.” The Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)—one of some twenty-seven rebel factions mushrooming in Darfur—is allied with the SPLA and supported from Uganda. Andrew Natsios, former USAID chief and now U.S. envoy to Sudan, said on October 6, 2007 that the atmosphere between the governments of north and south Sudan “had become poisonous.” This is no surprise given the magnitude of the resource war in Sudan and the involvement of international interests, but the investigation should center on the involvement and activities of USAID officials Andrew Natsios, Roger Winter and Jendayi Frazer.

Roger Winter, USAID chief in Khartoum today, is directly linked to the Rwandan Patriotic Front/Army and U.S. military campaign that destabilized Rwanda and decapitated the leadership of Rwanda and Burundi. USAID’s affiliations with the Department of Defense are now openly advertised with the propaganda peddling AFRICOM—the Pentagon’s new Africa Command. AFRICOM combines U.S. CENTCOM, PACIFICOM and EUCOM operations in Africa; it is nothing new, merely the consolidation and expansion of widespread and ongoing involvement.

Darfur is reported to have the fourth largest copper and third largest uranium deposits in the world. Darfur produces two-thirds of the world’s best quality gum Arabic—a major ingredient in Coke and Pepsi. Contiguous petroleum reserves are driving warfare from the Red Sea, through Darfur, to the Great Lakes of Central Africa. Private military companies operate alongside petroleum contractors and “humanitarian” agencies. Sudan is China’s fourth biggest supplier of imported oil, and U.S. companies controlling the pipelines in Chad and Uganda seek to displace China through the U.S. military alliance with “frontline” states hostile to Sudan: Uganda, Chad and Ethiopia.

There are claims in the Arab community that Israel provides military training to Darfur rebels from bases in Eritrea, but insiders in Eritrea dispute this. However, Israel has a deep history of intelligence and military relations with both Eritrea and Ethiopia, and Israel reportedly has a naval and air base on Eritrea’s Dahlak and Fatma islands, from which German-made Dolphin-class submarines patrol the Red Sea with long-range nuclear cruise missiles. Eritrea reportedly serves as Israel’s outpost for spying on enemies Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Sudan.

Africa Research Bulletin in 1998 reported that Israel had military bases in Eritrea on the Dahlak islands and in the Mahal Agar Mountains near Sudan. They also reported a communications listening station and that Mossad, the Israeli secret service, “is operating a string of previously top secret outposts in the Horn of Africa” used to monitor hostile states and service Israeli submarines operating in the area.

One source in Eritrea claims that reports about Dahlak Island and Israeli training bases are “old, dried-up bulls*&^. No foreign bases in Eritrea, not now, not ever, especially Israel. We have normal relations with Israel, but even trade matters have decreased dramatically. The charges of a base in Dahlak are old, going back over ten years. There are remnants of an old U.S., then Soviet base in Dahlak, but Dahlak these days is a marine preserve.

An intelligence insider in Washington D.C. reports that a journalist who wrote an article for Vanity Fair on the Israeli subs with nuclear cruise missiles had confirmed the base in Dahlak; the journalist wrote Jane’s Intelligence Weekly, “so he had good sources.” The source reports that Vanity Fair killed the story so as to not upset its Jewish advertisers, Bergdorf, Goodman and Saks.

In May 2003, the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) hosted an Eritrean delegation aboard the CJTF-HOA amphibious Joint Command ship the U.S.S. Mount Whitney. The Eritrean delegation included President Asaias Afwerki, Minister of Defense, Gen. Sebhat Ephraim, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Ali Said Abdell, top commanders of Eritrean ground, naval and air forces and commanders of operational zones from across the country. The CJTF-HOA’s Major General John F. Sattler and Isaias Afwerki initially met in Asmara in early January of this year, following previous visits to Eritrea by the commander of U.S. Central Command, Gen. Tommy Franks in March 2002 and U.S. Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld in December 2002. The following day, Maj. Gen. Sattler and members of the CJTF-HOA staff were hosted ashore by General Sebhat Ephraim for visits to Massawa Naval Base and Dahlak Island, as well tours of Beka and Hawakil islands.

Israel has strengthened ties with the regime in Chad, from which more weapons and troops penetrate Darfur. The refugee camps have become increasingly militarized. There are reports that Israeli and U.S. military and intelligence operate from within refugee camps in Darfur. Israel is all over the Sahara, from Burkina Faso to Ethiopia and Uganda. Israel’s clandestine actions are partly funded by Israeli-American diamond magnates involved in Angola, Sierra Leone, C.A.R. and Congo, especially Dan Gertler (G.W. Bush’s unofficial Ambassador to Congo), Beny Steinmetz, Nir Livnat, Lev Leviev and Maurice Tempelsman.

African Union (A.U.) forces in Darfur include Nigerian and Rwandan troops responsible for atrocities in their own countries. Ethiopia has committed 5000 troops for a U.N. force in Darfur. A.U. troops receive military-logistic support from NATO, and are widely hated. Early in October 2007, SLA rebels attacked an A.U. base killing ten troops. In a subsequent editorial sympathetic to rebel factions Smith College English professor Eric Reeves espoused the tired rhetoric of “Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency war in Darfur,” a position counterproductive to any peaceful settlement. To minimize the damage this rebel attack has done to their credibility Reeves and other “Save Darfur” advocates cast doubt about the rebels’ identities and mischaracterized the SLA attackers as “rogue commanders.” However, there is near unanimous agreement, internationally, that rebels are “out of control,” committing widespread rape and plundering with impunity, just as the SPLA did in South Sudan for over a decade.

Debunking the claims of a “genocide against blacks” or an “Islamic holy-war” against Christians, Darfur’s Arab and black African tribes have intermarried for centuries, and nearly everyone is Muslim. The “Save Darfur” campaign is deeply aligned with Jewish and Christian faith-based organizations in the United States, Canada, Europe and Israel. These groups have relentlessly campaigned for Western military action, demonizing both Sudan and China, but they have never addressed Western military involvement—backing factions on all sides.

Christian and Jewish involvement in the “Save Darfur” campaign centers on a long-running but deeply manipulative narrative about slavery and genocide in South Sudan. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum furthered the establishment narrative about Darfur in keeping with the genocide theme; no one ever examines the interests behind the Holocaust Memorial Museum (e.g. Bob Dole), it is merely some apolitical institution with the championing of supposed “universal” human rights of all people everywhere as its raison d’etre. The new political and propaganda doctrine that uses “genocide” as a political tool is morally ambiguous, it attacks the crimes of some and passes over the crimes of others. It uses as its universal principle the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its complementary covenants and proclamations. On the one hand, however, this involves genocide inflation, and on the other hand genocide denial. But the USA—with good Christian and Jewish foot soldiers—is always the final arbitrator: global cop, judge, jury, executioner, surgeon and savior all in one.

Christian organizations involved in Sudan for years include Servant’s Heart and Christian Solidarity International. On Servant’s Heart’s “Board of Reference” is British Baroness Caroline Cox, who is also closely affiliated with Christian Solidarity International (CSI)—one of the main Christian allies of the SPLM/A war in southern Sudan. The propaganda system advocates in favor of the “rebels” in Darfur using a handful of techniques developed in their propaganda campaign behind the “rebels” in South Sudan. Rebels are supported partly by never mentioning them, partly by decrying abuses against them, partly by providing sympathetic one-sided accounts of Khartoum government attacks, and partly by defending their excesses if and when—infrequently—the rebel abuses come to light.

Christian Solidarity International (CSI) in 2006 issued press releases claiming that the Lebanese organization Hezbollah “is using Christian villages to shield its military operations in violation of international law.” These reports appear to be fabrications to begin with and the CSI accusation a projection of their own involvement with the SPLA in South Sudan, where the SPLA for over a decade used the civilian population as human shields, used the Western AID apparatus (Operation Lifeline Sudan) as cover for military support, and used food as a weapon. If Hezbollah did this during the recent U.S.-Israeli invasion they [Hezbollah] certainly learned it by studying SPLA (CSI) tactics in Sudan. Thus we have twisted triple-standards where the establishment propaganda accuses Hezbollah of violating international law, but the SPLM/A—and the “rebel” groups in Darfur—while doing exactly the same thing, are never anything but poor, defenseless Christians under attack in a “genocidal counter-insurgency” run out of Khartoum government.

Who are the rebels in Darfur? Where do they get new uniforms and modern weapons? With the establishment propaganda on Rwanda and the invading Rwanda Patriotic Front/Army from 1990-1994, all abuses were covered up, the government of Juvenal Habyarimana was blamed for everything, and the “rebels”—backed by Washington, partnered with the Pentagon—were never exposed for atrocities and scorched earth attacks. It was the same with the establishment propaganda that covered for the SPLA: their role in committing and provoking atrocities in South Sudan from 1983 to 2003 has been greatly misrepresented and mischaracterized by virtually every popular source cited in the western press. No one has pressed this line more than Dr. Eric Reeves, the Smith College English professor and most widely cited “expert” behind the establishment narrative to “Save Darfur.”

There is growing dissent within the “Save Darfur” movement as more supporters question its motivations and the Jewish/Israeli link. “Save Darfur” leaders have been replaced after complaints surfaced about expenditures of funds. Many rebel leaders reportedly receive tens of thousands of dollars monthly, and rebels emboldened by the “Save Darfur” movement commit crimes with impunity. There is a growing demand to probe the accounts of “Save Darfur” to find out how the tens of millions collected are being spent due to allegations of arms-deals and bribery—rebel leaders provided with five-star hotel accommodations, prostitutes and sex parties.

all of the above, and what snow sums up below, is what he calls “darfurism”:

It is clear that the violence is Africa’s hotspots has “spiraled out of control” by design: chaos and destabilization are provoked by international actors, intelligence operatives, SOCOM forces and PMCs, who then leverage the “need” for further Private Military Corporate involvement. These agents operate with zero accountability and zero transparency. Diplomats, state department officials, United Nations functionaries and their highly paid lackeys stand around wringing their hands declaring: “What is to be done?” With PMCs pressing to secure $100-200 million contracts to “support” MONUC, it is no wonder that Africa is engulfed massive white-on-black terrorism, the spectre of continental genocide.

“Save Darfur” is today the rallying cry for a broad coalition of special interests. Advocacy groups—from the local Massachusetts Congregation B’Nai Israel chapter to the International Crises Group and USAID—have fueled the conflict through a relentless, but selective, public relations campaign that disingenuously serves a narrow policy agenda. These interests offer no opportunity for corrective analyses, but stubbornly press their agenda, and they are widely criticized for inflaming tensions in Darfur. This is what we might call Darfurism.

The latest Lockheed Martin contract with the United Nations illustrates the latest stage in the transformation of international conflict whereby military-industrial giants are openly engaged, rather than clandestinely, as has been previously the case. This development parallels the rise of Darfurism— a mass movement in the West designed to channel popular sympathy and agitate people to act on a cause they know nothing about, but think they do. Darfurism is a pathological mix of fear, patriotism, social immaturity, opportunism and unconsciousness akin to fascism. Under the current climate of apathy, fear and public opinion, anything goes, and warfare involves humanitarian agencies as active players in the mix. Like the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum they are seen as neutral, described as apolitical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

The United Nations and African Union serve as pseudo-privatized military forces backing a hegemonic, corporate, political and economic agenda. Someone who produces both the danger and, at a price, the shield against it is a racketeer. The future has arrived, and it uses human rights institutions, the label of genocide and accusations of atrocities, and the ever-expanding international AID and charity industry—operating out of pure profit motives—as pivotal elements in the Western portfolio of soft and hard weapons used to further the prerogatives of Empire and clear the land for absolute corporate exploitation.

all of the above is to say that whether we are looking at iraq, afghanistan, palestine, lebanon, the congo, somalia, sudan, ethiopia, rwanda, etc. the common thread that unites them all is the terrorism of the united states and often its partner-in-crime the terrorist state of israel. if we really want to get at the root of any of these problems and really look to an international criminal court to try and prosecute the war criminals we need look no further than these two terrorist regimes (and i would include the obama administration; clearly if you look to the names of americans above, the same people are continuing the same work). you can see the genocidal work of several different american administrations in the quotations from snow above. this is not a democrat or republican crime. it is an american crime.

of course there are many people talking about the hypocrisy of trying bashir and not george bush and dick cheney. of course all americans are complicit in the obvious war crimes in afghanistan and iraq–not to mention the related american infrastructure in its secret cia prisons around the world–its prison on baghram airforce base, guantanamo, abu ghraib, and all of its crimes within its borders. but as snow makes it clear america’s crimes are far more global than that. they have so much blood on their hands i don’t think all the water in the world could wash it away. and yet complicit in these war crimes, including all of congress, senator patrick leahy is supposedly conducting what he calls a “truth” commission, which will be anything but that. because to really get at the truth we would need to arrest and try all of the american officials responsible for these war crimes that they commit around the world. leahy would likely be one of the numerous americans included as all of congress–sans perhaps one or two members–are responsible. thus, it would seem to absolve themselves, and make it appear like they have a democracy that examines their own crimes they are holding a “commission” of some sort that will get the “truth” out (not!) and, of course, regardless of what comes out, no one will be held responsible. here is what leahy said in the huffington post:

But there’s still more we don’t know, and more we must uncover, about the misdeeds of the past eight years.

That is why I proposed the idea of a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate abuses during the Bush-Cheney administration. These abuses may include the use of torture, warrantless wiretapping, extraordinary rendition, and executive override of laws.

I have set up a petition at BushTruthCommission.com, and I hope you will sign it to urge Congress to consider establishing a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate the Bush-Cheney administration’s abuses. We already have over 7,000 signatures, but we need to hit 10,000 signatures — or more — by next week, to build momentum behind this idea.

to get a sense of these war crimes–and they way they are already being continued by the obama administration–you need look no further than to the always brilliant jeremy scahill who was on democracy now! this week discussing obama’s so-called troop withdrawal from iraq. as with the situation in africa, american military and corporate interests always reign supreme regardless of who is in power:

Well, see, one of the issues I have here is, going back to this issue of what if the wrong people win an election, the Iraqi people have a right to choose leaders that are hostile to the United States, that are hostile to US corporate aims in the Middle East, more broadly, and in Iraq, specifically. And I think that US history has shown that when the wrong people win elections, the US will intervene militarily, overtly, covertly, behind-the-scenes, in front of the world public. And I think that the fact that Thomas Ricks, one of the most well-informed journalists covering this war, has indicated that it’s very likely that a leader will emerge in Iraq that is hostile to US interests, that is close to Tehran and is not going to be someone that’s perceived by the United States to be a friend—so the fact is that the Maliki government could be substantially weakened by indigenous forces within Iraq, and the Obama administration could step in and say, “We’re going to defend this flailing regime.”

What I found very disturbing about Obama’s speech, among other things, was the fact that he officially co-signed Bush’s major lies on Iraq. When he talked about the mission of US troops in Iraq, he said, “I want to be very clear: We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime, and you got the job done.” I’m sorry, Mr. Obama, the troops were sent to Iraq on the lie of weapons of mass destruction. And he co-signed that Bush administration lie.

He also said, “We will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life. That is your achievement,” he said to the US troops. “That is the prospect that you have made possible.” Again, no, not a better life. We’re talking about upwards of a million Iraqis that have been killed, their lives decimated, 20 percent of the country either in need of desperate medical attention, internally displaced, another 20 percent living outside of the country. And this has been an utter mess. And he talks about a better future. Iraq has never been in more shambles than it has been over the course of the US military occupation.

scahill continues on the theme of the democratic party being just as problematic and criminal as their republican counterparts:

Right. Well, first of all, yeah, you look at Obama’s top allies, it’s people like John McCain, it’s people like Mitch McConnell, who praised Obama for implementing the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy at the end. And, I mean, some of this is partisan politics. And, please, the Republicans have no credibility on this. I mean, if we can be critical of Barack Obama, I mean, the Republicans are just merciless criminals when it comes to, you know, US policy in Iraq and toward the world, more broadly.

But the fact that Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer all acted like astonished that there’s going to be 35,000 to 50,000 troops in a residual capacity in Iraq and were criticizing this, I mean, this is a classic example of what’s wrong with the Democratic Party when it comes to foreign policy and what’s been wrong with this party for a long time. And that is that when it actually mattered, when Pelosi or Reid could have said to candidate Obama, “Back off that residual force,” as many activists were calling for, they were deafeningly silent. We were at the Democratic convention, Amy, walking around, trying to find anyone to criticize that aspect of the Obama policy, and not even antiwar Democrats, who were firmly against the war from the beginning, would dissent from the policy positions of the dear leader. This is cult activity, when you refuse to go after someone to try to criticize their policies when it matters and then later act like you’ve been hoodwinked. They knew exactly what was going on.

moreover, scahill shares with us not only the problem of keeping the american embassy in place, as it is every bit as much of the problem as the soldiers who are occupying iraq, but also that it was built with what he identifies as slave labor:

JEREMY SCAHILL: Can I say something about what—about this issue first? I mean, on the issue of the US embassy, I think that the Obama administration should turn it over to the Iraqi people and let them decide what they want to use that massive city within their city for. And the fact is that—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about like a four mile square area in downtown Baghdad.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I mean, you’re talking—yeah, you’re talking about a small city unto itself that’s going to have 1,200 employees and hundreds of CIA operatives, was the initial plan for it. And all these people are going to necessitate deadly and lethal security. So that would be a real message of change to send to the Iraqi people, to say this was an embassy built on slave labor as part of an illegal occupation of your country—

AMY GOODMAN: Why do you say “slave labor”?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Because there were people that were brought in. It was essentially indentured servitude. There were people that were brought in from other countries that worked on the construction of that project, much like Africans abducted from the African continent and brought here as slaves, they and their descendants were building the White House in this country. Here we are, years later, with the US government having the embassy built largely on labor that was forced labor or dramatically underpaid labor by people that were essentially forced by their economic conditions or by being taken into the country under false pretenses to participate in the construction of that embassy. And this is the subject of a major congressional investigation that I don’t know is going to go anywhere now that Obama is in the White House.

But on the issue of the contractors, I mean, what you asked Obama about a year ago is very, very important, because Obama said in his answer to you that he didn’t want to draw down contractors at a faster rate than he drew down US troops. So, even when Obama is talking about 50,000 troops remaining in the country, presumably that would mean 50,000 contractors to support them. So we’re always talking about deflated numbers when we hear them come out of the mouths of administration officials.

perhaps all of this can put the claims made by the terrorist states of the u.s. and israel into context in a way that can show how outrageous claims made against iran are. consider this statement about hillary clinton from the left i on the news blog:

Hillary Clinton, projecting:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swiped hard at Iran on Wednesday, accusing its hardline leaders of fomenting divisions in the Arab world, promoting terrorism, posing threats to Israel and Europe, and seeking to “intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach.”

Right. The U.S. is trying to get the entire world lined up behind an economic blockade of Iran, repeatedly threatens Iran with “all actions being on the table,” and they’re the ones trying to “intimidate” others? This is beyond parody.

or how about this quip from left i on another recent ironic hillary statement:

In yet another example of the pot calling the Corning Ware black, Hillary Clinton has accused Iran of “interference” in Palestine. Was she claiming that Iran was arming Hamas? No. Was she even talking about the 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid that Iran has attempted to send to Gaza, only to be turned back by Egypt? No again. No, her idea of “clear interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinian people” was a speech by Ayatollah Khamenei in which he warned that compromising with Israel was a mistake. And what radical solution was he advocating? Armed uprising? External invasion by the Arab masses? No, he “called for holding a referendum by Jews, Christian and Muslims in Palestine to determine the future of the country.” Calling for a democratic election! How dare he interfere in that way!

The U.S. which is busy upping the arms it sends to Fatah to help them suppress Hamas, actively participates in and supports the blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, supplies three billion worth of military and other aid to Israel every year to subjugate the Palestinian people, runs diplomatic interference for Israel in the U.N. while it tries to wipe Hamas from the map, and will not even condemn Israel’s ban on the shipment of 90 tons of pasta to Gaza and will not even agree publicly that macaroni is not a “dual-use” item (!), that is not the kind of “interference” in Palestinian affairs Clinton had in mind.

these are some of the many reasons why some palestinians are acting in solidarity with sudan. here the hypocrisy and complicity is so painfully obvious. to the rest of the world it will get termed terrorism because of who controls the narrative and the media. here is what haneyya had to say about it:

The Palestinian government headed by premier Ismail Haneyya on Wednesday strongly denounced the international criminal court for issuing an arrest warrant against Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir, saying that this decision is politicized par excellence ignoring the real war criminals in the world.

Spokesman for the government Taher Al-Nunu said in a press statement received by the PIC that the justice of the international community reflects the American will and ignores the real war criminals in Israel who committed atrocities against the Palestinian people.

apparently hamas is now sending a delegation to sudan to support bashir. what is really needed, however, is some serious analysis of these interconnections, of these conflicts, of mass killings, of genocide and massacre to see the corporate and state interests involved–all neocolonial and colonial in their nature. and this is what needs to be prosecute. this is the root of the problem and without that we will only ever have the same scenario again and again by the same european/american/israeli state terrorism and continuing colonialism around the world.

obama’s racist and imperialist agenda

i really hate political parties. everywhere. all of them. on some level i think they make people stupid. i think they blind people to seeing outside of their little ideological bubble. it keeps people from seeing the facts. even journalists who are supposed to be reporting. now i have no idea what ewen macaskill’s political affiliation is and as far as i know he is not american, but in the guardian said today here is what he says about barack obama’s pledge to withdraw troops from iraq:

Of the 142,000 US troops in Iraq, between 92,000 and 107,000 are to leave by August next year. The mission at that point will change, from combat to one that deals primarily with training Iraqi forces, supporting the Iraqi government and engaging in counter-terrorism.

His delivery contrasted with the premature celebrations of President George Bush (right) almost six years ago when, shortly after the invasion, he spoke on an aircraft carrier beneath the now infamous banner reading ‘mission accomplished’.

He had gone to North Carolina to bury the biggest and most divisive issue of the Bush era, the failed neo-conservative experiment to create a model Arab country that would be a beacon for the rest. He did that with the words: “Let me say this as plainly as I can – by August 31 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end.”

In doing so, Obama fulfilled one of the central pledges of his election campaign.

ummmm. actually no. this was not his campaign promise. obama promised that there would be a complete withdrawal by march 2008. now that has changed to most will be withdrawn by 2010. here is jamal dajani on mosaic tv giving us a more accurate picture of what obama promised and what how that campaign pledge has been altered:

macaskill adds another point in his article, that of defense secretary robert gates and his desire to keep a military presence, including its military bases:

The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, who had served in the post under Bush and was kept in office by Obama, introduced an element of doubt to the president’s insistence that all US troops will be gone. Talking with reporters after the speech, Gates said he would like a “some very modest-sized presence for training and helping” Iraqi forces after 2011, but only if the Iraqi government requested this and there was no indication that it would.

patrick cockburn gives us a more accurate assessment of what will happen, which is more in line with gates than with obama’s so-called promises (which, for those drinking the koolaid, can clearly be counted on as always already broken):

Under the terms of the new treaty, the Americans would retain the long-term use of more than 50 bases in Iraq. American negotiators are also demanding immunity from Iraqi law for US troops and contractors, and a free hand to carry out arrests and conduct military activities in Iraq without consulting the Baghdad government.

of course, jeremy scahill has a much different read on the situation as well, which is more accurate and smarter than others assessing obama’s real intentions in iraq:

Then there’s the monstrous U.S. embassy unveiled last month in Baghdad, the largest of any nation anywhere in the history of the planet and itself resembling a military base. Maintaining this fortified city will require a sizable armed U.S. presence in Baghdad and will regularly place U.S. diplomats in armed convoys that put Iraqi civilian lives in jeopardy.

Whether this job is performed by State Department Diplomatic Security or mercenaries from the company formerly known as Blackwater (or else a corporation more acceptable to the Obama administration), the U.S. will have a substantial paramilitary force regularly escorting U.S. VIPs around Iraq — a proven recipe for civilian deaths and injuries. Obama’s speech on Friday did not even address the question of military contractors — a crucial omission given that their presence rivals that of U.S. troops by a ratio of over 1-to-1.

Finally, the Status of Forces Agreement, which supposedly lays out a timetable for U.S. withdrawal, contains a gaping loophole that leaves open the possibility of a continuation of the occupation and a sustained presence of U.S. forces well beyond 2011, “upon request by the government of Iraq.” Article 27 of the SOFA allows the U.S. to undertake military action, “or any other measure,” inside Iraq’s borders “In the event of any external or internal threat or aggression against Iraq.” Could this mean an election where the wrong candidate or party wins? What is the definition of a threat?

….Adopting the Bush Narrative

Beyond the headline-generating news, Obama’s speech at Camp Lejeune delivered a number of lines — wrapped in laudatory rhetoric — that could have been delivered by Bush himself.

“I want to be very clear,” Obama told the military audience. “We sent our troops to Iraq to do away with Saddam Hussein’s regime — and you got the job done.” Perhaps it bears remembering that “removing Saddam” was justification two or three offered by the Bush administration after the WMD fraud was exposed.

“We kept our troops in Iraq to help establish a sovereign government,” Obama went on, “and you got the job done.” (The idea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki regime is either sovereign or a government is hotly debated in Iraq.) “And we will leave the Iraqi people with a hard-earned opportunity to live a better life — that is your achievement; that is the prospect that you have made possible.”

As much as could be said about this, perhaps the best response was delivered on Friday by Washington Post correspondent Thomas Ricks, who knows the situation in Iraq about as well as any journalist.

“We won’t know for 10 or 15 years whether we actually did something right, even in removing Saddam Hussein,” he said on MSNBC. “We may very well end up with a strongman, stronger than Saddam, closer to Tehran and certainly will be anti-American. That’s in some ways the best-case scenario if that country holds together.”

Regardless of what happens down the line, the world knows the truth about the lies that both Democrats and Republicans promoted in support of Bush’s war against Iraq. Rather than inspire hope among Iraqis, the U.S. occupation has devastated their country and opened Iraq’s gates for unprecedented violence and instability in their country and the region.

Obama, the candidate, used to riff on these truths on the campaign trail. The contradiction between President Obama’s speech at Camp Lejeune and his rhetoric before he was elected should serve as a warning to those who take his words at face value. But more important, combined with his plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan, Obama’s adoption of key lies from Bush’s Iraq narrative should be seen as a dangerous indicator of things to come.

for those who still think that obama is somehow different or better than bush, who are deluded because they think that the closing of guantanamo is a sign that he is the new and improved version of american hegemony, check out how things have become worse for prisoners in guantanamo since he took office:

Abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay has worsened sharply since President Barack Obama took office as prison guards “get their kicks in” before the camp is closed, according to a lawyer who represents detainees.

Abuses began to pick up in December after Obama was elected, human rights lawyer Ahmed Ghappour told Reuters. He cited beatings, the dislocation of limbs, spraying of pepper spray into closed cells, applying pepper spray to toilet paper and over-forcefeeding detainees who are on hunger strike.

The Pentagon said on Monday that it had received renewed reports of prisoner abuse during a recent review of conditions at Guantanamo, but had concluded that all prisoners were being kept in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

“According to my clients, there has been a ramping up in abuse since President Obama was inaugurated,” said Ghappour, a British-American lawyer with Reprieve, a legal charity that represents 31 detainees at Guantanamo.

and just to prove that america, like its terrorist partner in crime, has the right to be racist, it has officially announced that it will boycott the world conference on racism, also known as durban 2:

The United States has decided to boycott an upcoming UN conference on racism unless its final document is changed to drop all references to Israel.

The Conference Against Racism, to be held in Geneva in April, is a follow-up to the conference held in the South African town of Durban in 2001.

On Friday, a US delegation taking part in the preparatory talks in Geneva, said the draft resolution was unacceptable.

The US and Israeli delegations walked out of the 2001 meeting in protest against the resolution which likened Zionism – the movement to establish and maintain a Jewish state – to racism.

Israel and Canada have already announced they will boycott the conference, which is known as Durban II.

these are reasons why americans should join answer’s protest on march 21st. because things have not changed. things are getting worse:

1 The war in Afghanistan is expanding and widening. President Obama announced last week that another 17,000 troops are on their way to Afghanistan. Only 18 percent of Afghanis support this escalation and only 34 percent of the people of the United States approve of the added troops despite the president’s popularity, according to the Washington Post/ABC poll announced on February 17, 2009. This is a colonial war. The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, was not involved in the decision to add more occupying troops into his country. Rather, he was “informed of the deployments in a telephone call with Obama” on February 17, according to the Washington Post (February 18, 2009).

2 About 350,000 U.S. troops and U.S.-paid private contractors (mercenaries) still occupy Iraq. The Iraqi people want the occupation to end. Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, is insisting that only two of the 14 combat brigades in Iraq exit in 2009. The war and occupation of Iraq costs $430 million each day. If the U.S. government were to end the military occupation, any and all future Iraqi governments would return to a position of political independence from the economic and political dictates of the United States. Iraq’s anti-colonial legacy has created a political reality that prohibits the country from becoming like Kuwait or Saudi Arabia–an out-and-out dependency on U.S. imperialism. That is the real reason that the U.S. government fears a complete disengagement from Iraq and an end to its military occupation.

3 Israel’s Siege of Gaza remains in place, with the full backing of Washington. The U.S. government has continued to fund Israel’s war and blockade against the people of Gaza. The Pentagon provided the funding, and technical and logistical support for the establishment of the Israeli war machine, including its massive cluster and white phosphorous bomb arsenal, and the country’s large cache of nuclear bombs.

4 The new Justice Department has announced that it will continue the policy of renditions, meaning the CIA and Pentagon will capture and kidnap individuals anywhere in the world and transfer them to other countries. “The Obama administration appears to have determined that the rendition program was one component of the Bush administration’s war on terrorism that it could not afford to discard.” (LA Times, Feb. 1, 2009)

5 The new administration has stepped up the air strikes that are killing an increasingly large number of Pakistani civilians. Unmanned drone bombing attacks violate Pakistani sovereignty and are creating an ocean of resentment and anger inside of Pakistan. The U.S. government has no right to carry out these drone bombing strikes in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The people of the United States would not accept the legitimacy of other governments ordering air attacks in the United States. We must openly and loudly reject such tactics by the government that speaks in our name and spends our tax dollars for such aggression.

6 The real Pentagon war budget is over $1.3 trillion annually. This is greater than the combined total of most of the other countries in the world, including all the NATO countries, and Russia and China. Some label this “waste spending” because it spends precious resources to build exotic and high cost weapons, a new generation of nuclear weapons, and space-based war fighting capabilities, while filling the coffers of the big investors (i.e., the biggest banks) in the war corporations. Pentagon contracting is often based on guaranteed “cost-plus” contracts that reward price gouging since corporate profit is based on a fixed percentage above their expenses. Another label for this process is “extreme corruption” and theft from the public treasury.

7 More than 20 million people are now unemployed and under-employed. Nine million families are either in foreclosure or are at risk of foreclosure this year, according to the statistics just released by the government. Forty-seven million people are without health care. College tuition hikes are soaring and millions of students are at risk of being forced out of school. The people want change. They don’t want a simple tweaking of Bush’s criminal foreign policies. They want to put people’s needs before corporate greed. They want an end to wars of aggression that are wreaking havoc, death and destruction abroad, and diverting urgently needed resources in the service of semi-colonialism and Empire.

oh so many reasons for resistance…

ha’aretz journalist amira hass has a good piece in the london review of books this week that offers some context on the prison that is gaza, its origin, and its relationship to the situation in the west bank, which is worth quoting in its entirety:

Israel has finally breached the few limits it formerly set up for itself as an occupying state, and defied all the restrictions of international law that would require it to provide for the safety and welfare of the occupied population. It claims that disengagement ended the occupation and that Gaza is now an independent entity. Contrary to conventional wisdom, disengagement did not begin in 2005 with the evacuation of the settlers and the withdrawal of soldiers. It began in 1991, when, four years into the intifada, Israel instigated its closure policy (similar to the pass system under apartheid) and denied the Palestinians freedom of movement between the West Bank and Gaza, and within Israel. Unopposed by the international community, closure eventually turned into a policy of demographic separation, dividing Palestinians from Palestinians and Palestinians from Israelis.

The immediate consequence of the separation policy was to disconnect Gaza from the West Bank (and Palestinian East Jerusalem), from its population, its education centres and health services, from jobs in Israel and from family members and friends. No wonder Israel now defines Gazans who live in the West Bank as ‘illegal sojourners’ unless they have an Israeli permit to be there. The tight siege imposed in Gaza over the last two years has merely exacerbated the situation. The separation policy of the 1990s (along with the rapid expansion of Jewish colonies in the West Bank) was designed to destroy the foundation of a future Palestinian state.

Israel suppressed the second intifada with lethal means that it did not dare use in the first, not just because the Palestinians had now acquired guns, or because of the suicide bombings, but rather because since the creation of the Palestinian Authority, Israel has treated the ‘other side’ as sovereign and independent – when it wants to. As if the PA enclaves were not under occupation. Thanks to this very effective propaganda, most Israelis believe that the creation of the PA resembles the founding of an independent state – an ungrateful one at that, attacking little, peace-seeking Israel. They find it easy enough to ignore the fact that Israel continues to control – both directly and indirectly – all parameters of sovereignty and independence: land, borders, resources, water, population registry, economics, construction, education, health and medical services.

The unilateral disengagement from Gaza and the fact that Hamas spun it as a victory – the result of armed resistance – allowed Israel to claim that the occupation of Gaza had ended….

What the siege has done is reduce an entire society to the status of beggars, denying it nearly all productive activity, suffocating it in an open-air prison, disconnected from the rest of the world. The denial of the right to a livelihood, and the denial of freedom of movement: that is the essence of the siege, the foundation block of the separation policy. The closure policy is an assault on the human dignity of the Palestinians, and especially those in Gaza. Now, Israel has shown that the cage can also be a deathtrap.

one issue is, of course, the blockade that keeps palestinians dependent upon aid. but, of course, even the aid is not allowed to enter; mel frykberg explains that pasta somehow has become suspicious. (is there some sort of pasta grenade i don’t know about?):

Red-faced and unusually tongue-tied Israeli officials were forced to try and explain to U.S. Senator John Kerry during his visit to Israel last week why truckloads of pasta waiting to enter the besieged Gaza strip were not considered humanitarian aid while rice was.

Kerry, chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, visited the coastal territory on a fact-finding mission.

The purpose of the visit was to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground and the level of destruction wrought by Israel’s three-week military assault on Gaza, codenamed Operation Cast Lead.

During his visit to Gaza it came to the senator’s attention that Israel had prevented a number of trucks loaded with pasta from entering the territory.

UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) officials explained to Kerry that Israel was only permitting limited amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and the definition of what the Israelis consider humanitarian was restricted.

“Pasta is not regarded as humanitarian aid and is not allowed in to Gaza while rice is,” an UNRWA official told Kerry.

Kerry then questioned Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak directly about the logic of the restriction on pasta. Following his intervention, the truckloads of pasta were eventually permitted to enter Gaza.

Over a hundred aid trucks are currently entering Gaza on a daily basis. This is more than the number of trucks that were permitted entry during the ceasefire with Hamas which lasted nearly five months until Israel launched a cross-border military raid into Gaza on Nov. 4.

However, according to the UN, the overall level of imports remain well below the 475 trucks allowed in daily before Israel’s blockade of Gaza in June 2007 when Hamas took control.

Aid organisations say the current number is insufficient to meet the market’s needs as well as the shortfall resulting from months of severe restrictions.

The Palestine Trade Centre (Paltrade) estimates that in order for any sort of economical revival to begin, exports should resume immediately and a minimum of 850 truckloads of market-triggered imports per day should be allowed entry.

most days it’s like this though–it doesn’t matter if it is rice or pasta, nothing is allowed inside:

<blockquote>Israel unexpectedly closed the Kerem Shalom terminal, the main crossing point for humanitarian aid and commercial goods in Gaza on Friday.

meanwhile, for those who think the israeli terrorist aggression against gaza is over, last night, like most nights, they continued their bombing:

Israeli warplanes bombed smuggling tunnels in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday night, the second such strike in several hours.

The strikes on the Brazil neighborhood of the city of Rafah caused no injuries, according to the director of Ambulance and Emergency Services in the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza, Muawiya Hassanein.

if israeli terrorist colonists would do as the french colonists in algeria and leave palestinians to build their own state on their own land wherever they choose then we would see more projects like the couscous co-op started in ein al-sultan refugee camp near eriha. these women, who have had a lot of success with their project, so much so they are not dependent upon aid any longer, tried to work with their sisters in gaza, but of course the israeli-terrorist siege has made that impossible as gen sander writes in electronic intifada:

The women unanimously agree that since they’ve been working at the couscous co-op their lives have improved dramatically. For the first time “we’re no longer dependent on humanitarian aid,” said Abu Shrar. Not only are they now independently taking home their well-earned wages, but they are finally able to simultaneously provide opportunities once inconceivable to their children, and fix-up their run-down homes. Furthermore, their self-confidence has grown alongside their social status, which has been propped up by virtue of their fortitude, self-determination and goodwill.

A similar success once seemed promising in the Gaza Strip, where six women’s fair trade couscous cooperatives shared the same dreams and aspirations as those of the Jericho co-op. More than two years ago, however, all six co-ops were forced to shut down thanks to the crippling Israeli blockade that prevented them from importing production requirements and exporting their produce. The closures had a direct impact on more than 400 persons whose lives depended heavily on their continued existence. More recently, after Israel’s brutal three-week assault on Gaza, one of the co-ops in Sheikh Radwan was damaged beyond repair.

indeed, two activist, alberto arce and miguel llorens, in gaza have produced a new documentary called erased, wiped off the map, to show just how brutal this aggression and invasion has been not only on people and their livelihoods, but on the entire society. for those who speak spanish and/or arabic below is the film (the link above will take you to an english-language version).

the title of the film is interesting given the way it alludes to the oft-repeated zionist mythology that arabs want to “throw jews into the sea.” of course, the reality is that zionists have been doing this to palestinians for decades now, but no one seems to notice or care, even when they are quite blatant about it:

A small number of young men soon to be drafted into the IDF from Hesder yeshivot around the country gathered at the Jerusalem Theater on Monday evening to hear speakers from the national-religious camp espouse the virtues of fulfilling “the commandment of war.”

The event, the first of its kind, was organized to salute young religious men about to be inducted and attracted just over 100 youths.

IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.-Gen. Avichai Ronsky told the youths it was a privilege to be able to take part “in the commandment of war and the preparations for fulfilling it.”

“Embrace this commandment with all your hearts. It is a right previous generations could not realize,” Ronsky said.

The IDF chief rabbi said Jewish armies, from the battles between the Israelites and the tribe of Amalek to the present day, had always been manned by virtuous soldiers.

Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau delivered a speech expressing hope that Israel would embark on preemptive wars rather than wait for “the enemy to come here… and see the whites of our eyes.”

“King David taught the people of Judah how to use the bow and arrow… Jacob our patriarch blessed his son Judah and told him to fight Israel’s enemies, to attack them and not fight defensively… The descendants of the tribe of Judah will do the same,” Lau said.

“Do we have another home? Somewhere else to go? This is our only home. Therefore, we have no choice but to fight… a preemptive war… not to wait for the next Operation Defensive Shield,” Lau said, referring to the 2002 IDF operation in the West Bank launched after a string of suicide bombings in Israel.

“If we could throw down our sword, it would be the dream of our lives. We pray for this three times a day, that God will bless us with peace. But so long as this does not happen, we cannot lay down our sword,” Lau added.

Rabbi Haim Druckman, who heads Bnei Akiva, said that “fighting our enemies is a commandment. To serve in the IDF is a commandment. We must remember that we could not carry out this commandment for 2,000 years. How happy we must be that we live in this great and special time, a time in which we have returned to our land, seen the founding of our state, the ingathering of exiles.”

it is really frightening how normalized and mainstream israeli terrorist rhetoric has become. as with their military, terrorist aggression, they do whatever they want and no one bothers them. their fascism has become completely mainstream, supported, even popular as in this article by sharon weill and valentina azarov from electronic intifada:

Avigdor Lieberman’s party advocates the banning of Arab political parties that called for “a democratic state for all citizens,” and the repression of what it sees as the “treachery” of the Arab citizens. According to its website, Yisrael Beiteinu demands an “unapologetical patriotism” and “requires citizens to affirm their loyalty to the state and readiness to serve in the army or in the National Service in order to be eligible for any state benefits.”

The party declares in its platform its intention to make Israel a purely Jewish state, and at the same time, “[i]ncreasing the Jewish Presence in Yehuda, Shomron, [in other words, the West Bank] the Golan [the occupied Syrian Golan Heights] and East Jerusalem” as well as working towards the “separation of Gaza from the West Bank.”

According to the party’s website, “Ideally, ‘the wolf shall dwell with the lamb,’ but we are not living in ideal times. History has shown that there is a dangerous potential for conflict wherever members of two different religions dwell in the same territory. … Members of this [Arab] minority are likely to serve as terrorist agents on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Many have already made explicit their lack of loyalty to the state. This situation could potentially lead to the collapse of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and perhaps as an entity all together. Therefore in our view, the only possible solution is the exchange of territory and populations, with the goal of the separation of the Jewish and Arab nations, respectively” (emphasis added).

Lieberman has made a number of utterances inciting racism against a Palestinians with Israeli nationality. A recent press conference organized by Lieberman’s party in Haifa barred Arab journalists from participating. As Haaretz reported on 6 February, during a recent visits to schools in northern Israel, Lieberman was welcomed with calls of “death to the Arabs” and with proposals to “revoke the Arabs’ nationality.” It was recently revealed by Haaretz that Lieberman was once a follower of the Kahane Kach movement, an extreme right wing movement that was outlawed in 1988.

Ideas that were once considered too racist to be legitimately expressed are now part of the mainstream political discourse. At the same time other opinions are silenced. This is a serious warning that the situation in Israel resembles more and more that of the apartheid-era South Africa.

and yet palestinians are never allowed to resist. their resistance is always crushed by words and israeli-american terrorism as dina jadallah-taschler explains in dissident voice:

The facts are simple enough. And yet that is not at all how current media narratives present the struggle. It is never referred to as one for liberation and freedom. Resistance to the oppressive occupation and to the expansionist and dispossessing Israeli state is never presented as a right, despite the self-evident moral and legal principle, that as the (occupying) aggressor, Israel cannot justify violence against resistance to its own initial aggression. And yet, in this last massacre, Gazans who are starving, imprisoned, mostly refugees from the original displacement that happened with Israel’s creation, and who have qualitatively modest (but technologically improving — distance/reach) weapons, are the ones being blamed for “starting” or inviting the attack on themselves. This is objectionable on several levels. Fundamentally, the framing of the story that equates Palestinian resistance with the fourth strongest army in the world is inherently deceptive. Additionally, it blames the victim for resisting annihilation.

But once again, because it is the strong who determine what is legal and what is not, the Palestinian struggle for national liberation and their resistance against their oppressors are illegal by definition and are presented as “terrorism.” The right of self-defense has been appropriated by the dominant, occupying, aggressing side and simultaneously denied to its victims. It is becoming increasingly apparent to the resisting Palestinians that this excessive use of legality is simply a means to preserve pre-existing power asymmetries that will perpetuate their oppression. It is ultimately aimed at their extinction as a people. It is the root cause of their resistance: for they refuse a peace built on injustice, no matter how much misinformation is produced disguise the facts.

The Oslo Peace Process must be evaluated from this perspective. It was started more than 15 years ago but has led to no tangible benefits for the Palestinians. On the contrary, it has led to their increasing dispossession and subjugation. It co-opted the PLO leadership and made the Palestinian Authority into a police arm of and chief appeaser/concessor to Israel, the occupier. The Process has served as legal cover for continued oppression. It is no different from the NATO announcement to “protect” Israel, or the Rice-Livni Accords, or the United Nations Resolutions that are never enforced.

All these entities and agreements give a cover of multilateralism and legality to what is essentially aggressive expansionism and intentional dispossession. Similarly, Israel’s “withdrawal” from Gaza in 2005, narratively presented in mainstream media with so much angst for the trauma of the occupier, does not remove the initial aggression of the original and consistently brutal occupation. Even when one allows for the prison that is Gaza to be considered “unoccupied,” the fact remains that Palestinians are one people and that the West Bank and East Jerusalem continue to be occupied. This is even acknowledged in the Oslo Accords, which defines them as “a single territorial unit.”

Moreover, Israeli expansionism continues, and even accelerates, in the shadow of the peace process and of the headline- grabbing events in Gaza. Just in the last week, Israel has announced the annexation of extensive areas of Palestinian-owned land, where the villagers have been non-violently protesting the apartheid wall. For three days the Israeli army invaded the village of Jayyous declaring it a “Closed Military Area” and arbitrarily arrested 65 Palestinians: “The Israeli wall confiscated about 600 dunums of lands and 8,600 dunums were isolated behind the wall, where the town’s area is 12,500 dunums,” leading to the loss of thousands of jobs lost as a result of the wall and the isolation of agricultural land.4 Similarly, on 1/26/2009, the Israeli High Court approved the complete destruction of the village of Tana, east of Nablus, in order to expand the settlement colony of Makhurah. In addition, an expansion to the Effrat settlement colony near Bethlehem was also announced, swallowing an additional 170 hectares of “state land.” All this is happening in the West Bank, ostensibly the co-operating segment under the dictatorial and oppressive control of the Palestinian Authority. And it is definitely not conducive to economic independence, let alone the mirage of prosperity that was promised to come with the pursuit of a negotiated and non-violent “settlement.”

The argument is frequently made that Hamas is a “terrorist organization” because it targets civilians. But that is a question that is both not for the militarily strong to ask and also ignores completely Israel’s far greater and more consistent targeting of civilians. In this last attack on Gaza, despite an earnest and far reaching hasbara/propaganda effort by Israel to change perceptions, the extent of the destruction was too blatant to repress. Any fair assessment of damage to civilians will plainly see the disproportionate suffering of the weaker party. It also must account for the slow strangulation and eradication of Palestinians even when there is no “war.” The means of destruction are so entrenched and persistent so as to become too banal for Western media to report on. The “targeted assassinations” that inevitably kill civilians, the ever-growing “settlements”/colonies, the land expropriations, the apartheid “separation” Wall, the roadblocks, the economic blockade and de-development, and so forth have effectively ended any hope of a two state solution. In fact, the Palestinians’ pursuit of the peaceful route of “settlement” through the peace process, recently “negotiated” at Annapolis, has resulted in a 20% increase in settlement expansion in the West Bank and a 36% settlement expansion in East Jerusalem, just in the last sixteen months.

yes, palestinians cannot resist. but israeli terrorists can continue with yizhak rabin’s formula of breaking the bones of palestinians at will:

A Palestinian man from the village Asreera Al Qibllya, south of the northern West Bank city of Nablus, was severly beaten by the members of Israeli border-guards at a checkpoint while he was taking his ill son to a local hospital.

Khalid Abu Khalaf, 38, said after receiving treatment at the Rafidia Hospital, that his son Shadi, 3 years 6 months old, is suffering from a neurological disease, and was transferred by the Palestinian Ministry of Health to Al Maqased Hospital In Jerusalem for treatment.

The father tried to obtain a permit from the Israeli side through the Palestinian District Coordination Office, but Israel rejected the application.

“My son’s situation requires hospitalization; therefore I tried to take him with me to Al Maqased Hospital in East Jerusalem, I tried to avoid the military checkpoint but the soldiers spotted me, and stopped me,” the father said. He added “I tried to explain to them that was taking my son to hospital. I showed them the medical reports, but they did not listen; instead they started kicking me and hitting me with batons.”

The father said that the soldiers, beat him in front of his son and broke his arm, causing his son to cry of fear, which worsened his condition.

“Later, they forced me and my son into their jeep, the father stated, the dropped us on the other side of the checkpoint, and we had to return to Nablus, I went to the hospital and found out that my hand was broken,” the father added.

Khalid was very concerned about the situation of his son, which is getting worse, and said that his son needs to be examined twice every month for follow-up as directed by his physicians.

on impotence and and resistance against a massacring, terrorist, zionist regime

we-are-all-gaza-resistance

the dead are still being counted. when i woke up at 9:30 am there were 279 dead and 900 wounded by israeli terrorist forces (itf) with the aid of american military materiel. this is a time when i thank god i am no longer an american taxpayer. when i feel, in all my impotence, that this is one small thing that gives me some peace of mind. but of course my little salary and what was extracted from it is a drop in the bucket. a couple of hours later at 11:47 am there were 282 dead as the itf bombed gaza city and rafah. the images on al jazeera are harrowing. at yet i’ve seen it before. in gaza. in nahr el bared refugee camp. in south lebanon. in jenin refugee camp. all last night as i tried to sleep–a luxury given the fact that there is not aerial bombardment in nablus–i did hear the itf making a few overflights. the bombing in gaza went on until 2 am in gaza and then began promptly this morning at daybreak. the fuel terminal has been bombed in gaza. on the egyptian side of the rafah border i saw a slew of egyptian ambulances lined up waiting to take in palestinian patients. but the egyptians have not opened the border for medical patients all claims to the contrary. civilians are not only being killed they are being targeted. just watch ayman mohyeldin’s crucial reporting from al shifa hospital in gaza late last night:

just now unrwa spokesperson christopher gunness was interviewed on al jazeera. in a nutshell he said (my attempt at quick transcription):

our 18 health clinics are open, but in a dire situation due to the strangulation of hospitals of essential hospital supplies for months now. we are overwhelmed. we hope that 10 trucks of medical supplies are on their way; 5 for unrwa; 5 for the ministry of health. this is all in response to a terrible situation in which civilians are being killed. yesterday 7 unrwa students were killed instantaneously by shrapnel and 20 others were injured. the hospitals are overwhelmed. we welcome an investigation of civilian casualties. the facts must be out there; they must speak for themselves. although israelis are disputing civilian casualties, the explosion took place right outside unrwa headquarters, so whatever was targeted was very near the students. it is inevitable that civilians will be killed if you have an onslaught of these proportions, if you have a population as densely populated as gaza. it is absurd to think otherwise; it is a certainty with civilians killed with these sorts of attacks. there should be some degree of accountability.

1230437359gaza_massacre_1

i went downtown an hour ago as friends had organized what was supposed to be a 3 hour sit-in at martyrs square. but by the time i arrived–only 1 hour into it–they were gone even though friends called me while i was on my way. apparently there were speeches after prayer and then they marched to the hospital in rafidiya to donate blood. although how this blood could reach gaza i don’t quite know. but a sit-in, a march, blood donation, even my writing all, to a certain extent, are things we do because we feel impotent. on the one hand we want to show our solidarity with the people of gaza. on the other hand, we cannot go there. we cannot help from here. so we do something because it is better than nothing. because it makes us, somehow, feel less impotent. not really. the city is quiet. 3 days of mourning has been called for. all shops, other than pharmacies and bakeries are closed. a few people were selling fruit and vegetables on carts. nablus is quiet. not even the usual horn honking.

sam-gaza-massacre

last night sami told me that there were demonstrations in the old city of al quds until 11 pm. those throwing stones were arrested later into the night. today there are protests planned elsewhere in palestine and all over the world. even palestinian political prisoners are now on hunger strike. i woke up to an onslaught of emails about these protests from various friends, organizations, and facebook groups. in spite of all these protests–all targeting various sorts of sites of power, those to blame–it is just too overwhelming to deal with who is to blame. last night yassin told me he’s writing a new rap song dealing with all the parties involved: the zionist entity, the united states, hamas, fatah, the palestinian authority, egypt, jordan, saudi arabia, the gulf states, the european union, the united nations, the media. how do the people take back their power? rania reminds us, importantly, of the core idea of palestinian liberation, which has somehow gotten lost along the race for arab regimes to normalize with the zionist state and the united states:

Supporting Palestine and Palestinians is not only through boycotting Israel. But, clearly, also through liberating ourselves from our dictatorial, unrepresentative, corrupt, traitorous governments.

psychotic, delusional, deceitful, murderous zionist leaders say that they continue to claim that they are using “restraint” and that they are not killing civilians: they are not only saying that they are not targeting civilians. they are also lying and saying no civilians have died (note: watch the above al jazeera video NOW). moreover, they are continuing with their deadly propaganda, to accompany their deadly american-made missiles, trying to deceive the world that they are not the ones who began this war (note only 1 zionist settler died in the last 24 hours of massacring palestinians); here is shimon peres:

Hamas is to blame for the current situation in Gaza, President Shimon Peres said Sunday, responding to “Operation Cast Lead” whose aerial strike left 270 people dead – mostly Hamas operatives – and destroyed Hamas infrastructure heavily. “In all of Israel’s history, I don’t remember a war more useless or irrational than the one that Hamas is waging against us,” he said.

1230432095gaza_massacre_8

in contradistinction like the numerous past wars of aggression on those the zionist entity colonizes and its neighbors, this war has been planned for 6 months as you can see from this ha’aretz article:

Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public – all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces “Cast Lead” operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

The disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike.

Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.

Barak gave orders to carry out a comprehensive intelligence-gathering drive which sought to map out Hamas’ security infrastructure, along with that of other militant organizations operating in the Strip.

you can see the clear deception from piece above. and yet al jazeera keeps giving a platform to zionist murderers. i keep wondering why al jazeera continues to allow zionist terrorists to speak on its programs? why do they allow them to come on and continue–until this very moment–motherf(*&^%$ zionist army representatives, who are terrorizing the people of gaza, to claim that there are still no civilians who have been murdered, massacred. these people do not deserve a platform. they deserve retaliation.

i wonder, too, why the united nations lets itself be impotent. are any members of the un security council going to honestly tell us that if the same situation in reverse–a massacre of this size, of this disproportionate nature–in any one of their countries or in the colonized land of plaestine where zionists live that there wouldn’t be a binding un security council resolution? instead, here is the khara they come up with:

The United Nations Security Council urged an immediate halt to all military activities in the Gaza Strip and called for the humanitarian crisis faced by Gaza’s 1.5 million residents to be addressed.

Neven Jurica, Croatia’s ambassador to the UN and president of the council, read out a non-binding statement on behalf of the 15-member body that called on the parties involved in the conflict “to stop immediately all military activities”. The statement, however, did not mention either Israel or Hamas by name.

what i want to know is why can’t the united nations security council write a document of substance such as the one that palestinian human rights organizations are calling for?:

The number of deaths resulting from these attacks indicates a willful targeting of the civilian police forces in these locations and a clear violation of the prohibition against willful killings. Willful killings are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention under Article 147 and therefore, a war crime. Both the time and location of these attacks also indicate a malicious intent to inflict as many casualties as possible with many of the police stations located in civilian population centers and the time of the attacks coinciding with the end of the school day resulting in the deaths of numerous children.

The ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip has left medical facilities in the Strip incapable of meeting the needs of the hundreds more who have been injured which will likely lead to an increase in the number of deaths. According to Israeli officials, these attacks are only the beginning of an open military campaign in Gaza. It is therefore imperative that the international community not stand in silence while Israel moves forward with impunity.

Despite repeated calls from the Palestinian human rights community with regard to Gaza, the international community has failed to act. We are now on the brink of an explosion of violence as result of this failure and are pushed once again to call for action.

In light of the above, Palestinian human rights organizations urge:

* The UN Security Council to call an emergency session and adopt concrete measures, including the imposition of sanctions, in order to ensure Israel’s fulfillment of its obligations under international humanitarian law.

* The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions to fulfill their obligation under common Article 1 to ensure respect for the provisions of the Conventions, taking appropriate measures to compel Israel to abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular placing pivotal importance on the respect and protection of civilians from the effects of the hostilities.

* The High Contracting Parties to fulfill their legal obligation under Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention to prosecute those responsible for grave breaches of the Convention.

* EU institutions and member states to make effective use of the European Union Guidelines on promoting compliance with international humanitarian law (2005/C 327/04) to ensure Israel complies with international humanitarian law under paragraph 16 (b), (c) and (d) of these guidelines, including the adoption of immediate restrictive measures and sanctions, as well as cessation of all upgrade dialogue with Israel.

likewise those in the boycott campaign are calling for boycott, divestment, and sanctions NOW given the history of massacres that gave birth to zionist occupation of palestine 60 years ago and has continued unabated since then:

Israel seems intent to mark the end of its 60th year of existence the same way it has established itself — perpetrating massacres against the Palestinian people. In 1948, the majority of the indigenous Palestinian people were ethnically cleansed from their homes and land, partly through massacres like Deir Yassin; today, the Palestinians in Gaza, most of whom are refugees, do not even have the choice to seek refuge elsewhere. Incarcerated behind ghetto walls and brought to the brink of starvation by the siege, they are easy targets for Israel’s indiscriminate bombing….

While the US government has consistently sponsored, bankrolled and protected from international censure Israel’s apartheid and colonial policies against the indigenous people of Palestine, the EU was able in the past to advocate a semblance of respect for international law and universal human rights. That distinction effectively ended on 9 December, when the EU Council decided unanimously to reward Israel’s criminal disregard of international law by upgrading the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Israel clearly understood from this decision that the EU condones its actions against the Palestinians under its occupation. Palestinian civil society also got the message: the EU governments have become no less complicit in Israel’s war crimes than their US counterpart.

The large majority of world governments, particularly in the global south, share part of the blame, as well. By continuing business as usual with Israel, in trade agreements, arms deals, academic and cultural ties, diplomatic openings, they have provided the necessary background for the complicity of world powers and, consequentially, for Israel’s impunity. Furthermore, their inaction within the United Nations is inexcusable.

Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockman, President of the UN General Assembly prescribed in a recent address before the Assembly the only moral way forward for the world’s nations in dealing with Israel:

“More than 20 years ago we in the United Nations took the lead from civil society when we agreed that sanctions were required to provide a nonviolent means of pressuring South Africa to end its violations. Today, perhaps we in the United Nations should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for a similar nonviolent campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions to pressure Israel to end its violations.”

Now, more than ever, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee, BNC, calls upon international civil society not just to protest and condemn in diverse forms Israel’s massacre in Gaza, but also to join and intensify the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel to end its impunity and to hold it accountable for its persistent violation of international law and Palestinian rights. Without sustained, effective pressure by people of conscience the world over, Israel will continue with its gradual, rolling acts of genocide against the Palestinians, burying any prospects for a just peace under the blood and rubble of Gaza, Nablus and Jerusalem.

notice that in the above two documents created by human rights workers and organizers we see very specific language with a plan of action. meanwhile in the united nations’ document the language is vapid. hamas is not named by the united nations in the above quote about the resolution–nor is the zionist entity–in this bulls*&^ document that ostensibly allows the bloodshed to continue (deja vu anyone? lebanon 2006?) clearly we all know who is being talked about. and in the endless parade of zionist terrorists on al jazeera we see them continuing to blame hamas. but who was the first to resist and retaliate this morning?: the democratic front for the liberation of palestine (dflp): they are leftists. they are not hamas. and fatah’s al aqsa martyr’s brigades share the sentiment and the right to resist with both dflp and hamas:

Fatah’s military wing announced that it will resume bombing operations inside Israeli cities and has threatened to hit and destroy the Israeli military and security entities. They also called a state of alert in order to retaliate for Israeli attacks in Gaza. “The Israelis can choose either to depart or to die on this holy land,” a Sunday statement by the Al-Aqsa Brigades said.

this is not about hamas vs. the zionist colonizing terrorist regime any more than it was when they said their war was against hezbollah; it wasn’t: it was against lebanon in general. likewise the harassing phone calls people in gaza are receiving and the loudspeakers telling them to evacuate from their homes is reminiscent of the zionists’ recent wars against gaza and lebanon:

Israeli forces called to Gazan families through loudspeakers demanding that they evacuate their homes before intense Israeli selling began in the northern Gaza Strip.

As the Abu Sultan family in the Jabalia refugee camp prepared their belongings Israeli fire rained down on their home killing several family members and injuring others.

Witnesses of the massacres on Saturday decided to challenge the Israeli order to evacuate and gathered in areas under attack to sit on roofs with families whose homes face imminent destruction.

likewise those who live in gaza certainly are not experiencing the massive bombings as a so-called “targeting” of hamas as safa joudeh explains:

What did Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert mean when he stated that we the people of Gaza weren’t the enemy, that it was Hamas and Islamic Jihad which were being targeted? Was that statement made to infuriate us out of out our state of shock, to pacify any feelings of rage and revenge? To mock us? Were the scores of children on their way home from school and who are now among the dead and the injured, Hamas militants? A little further down my street about half an hour after the first strike, three schoolgirls happened to be passing by one of the locations when a missile struck the Preventative Security Headquarters building. The girls’ bodies were torn into pieces and covered the street from one side to the other.

081227-abunimah-gaza

a number of other eyewitness accounts and reports have been published on websites like palestine chronicle and electronic intifada. here are some of the reports over the last 24 hours. the ever-eloquent ali abunimah sums up the situation especially with respect to the complicity of the united states:

“I will play music and celebrate what the Israeli air force is doing.” Those were the words, spoken on Al Jazeera today by Ofer Shmerling, an Israeli civil defense official in the Sderot area adjacent to Gaza, as images of Israel’s latest massacres were broadcast around the world.

A short time earlier, US-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and Apache helicopters dropped over 100 bombs on dozens of locations in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip killing at least 195 persons and injuring hundreds more. Many of these locations were police stations located, like police stations the world over, in the middle of civilian areas. The US government was one of the first to offer its support for Israel’s attacks, and others will follow.

Reports said that many of the dead were Palestinian police officers. Among those Israel labels “terrorists” were more than a dozen traffic police officers undergoing training. An as yet unknown number of civilians were killed and injured; Al Jazeera showed images of several dead children, and the Israeli attacks came at the time thousands of Palestinian children were in the streets on their way home from school.

Shmerling’s joy has been echoed by Israelis and their supporters around the world; their violence is righteous violence. It is “self-defense” against “terrorists” and therefore justified. Israeli bombing — like American and NATO bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan — is bombing for freedom, peace and democracy.

The rationalization for Israel’s massacres, already being faithfully transmitted by the English-language media, is that Israel is acting in “retaliation” for Palestinian rockets fired with increasing intensity ever since the six-month truce expired on 19 December (until today, no Israeli had been killed or injured by these recent rocket attacks).

But today’s horrific attacks mark only a change in Israel’s method of killing Palestinians recently. In recent months they died mostly silent deaths, the elderly and sick especially, deprived of food and necessary medicine by the two year-old Israeli blockade calculated and intended to cause suffering and deprivation to 1.5 million Palestinians, the vast majority refugees and children, caged into the Gaza Strip. In Gaza, Palestinians died silently, for want of basic medications: insulin, cancer treatment, products for dialysis prohibited from reaching them by Israel.

What the media never question is Israel’s idea of a truce. It is very simple. Under an Israeli-style truce, Palestinians have the right to remain silent while Israel starves them, kills them and continues to violently colonize their land. Israel has not only banned food and medicine to sustain Palestinian bodies in Gaza but it is also intent on starving minds: due to the blockade, there is not even ink, paper and glue to print textbooks for schoolchildren.

blogger laila el haddad, who is from gaza city, who is currently in the u.s., wrote about calling her family at home to check on the situation:

“We are OK. We went to donate blood and to see if they needed any help” says my father, a retired surgeon.

“We were in the market when the strikes began. I saw the missiles falling and prayed; the earth shook; the smoke rose; the ambulances screamed,” he said, the sirens audible in the background.

My parents live in the the Gaza City center, and the Israeli war planes attacked people and locations all around their house, walking distance in fact. More than 50 “targets” by 60 warplanes. And nearly 200 Palestinians. Like a game, if you say it enough times, it does not sound real anymore. Fifty targets, 60 warplanes, 200 people. Very sanitary.

“There is a funeral passing every minute. The bodies are piling up.”

Gaza’s air is saturated with the acrid smell of burning human flesh. There is panic, as one would imagine dogs would panic in an overcrowded cell when several of their own are violently, abruptly killed. But that would create an outcry.

The rains of death continue in Gaza.

081227-hr-orgs-gaza

yes, it is raining death in gaza, though as abunimah points out, so crucially above, it is just more blatant now. it is more obvious. it is great seeing so many people take to the streets in all their rage, but where have they been over the course of the last year when the death was quieter? less visible? a strong statement from various human rights organizations

081227-almeghari-gaza1

in london’s the independent newspaper today sami abdel-shafi in gaza city writes of a scene that is at once unimaginable, and yet quite imaginable for those familiar with all of the previous, continuous massacring that zionist history is replete with:

I am safe, and yet I feel like a walking dead person. Everything around me shows it. It is hard to write something of any coherence while exposed to cold winter air and to the smell that lingers after the detonation of Israeli bombs. They must have been massive. During the bombing I opened all the windows around my apartment to avoid them imploding as a result of the vacuum shocks sweeping through Gaza City after each enormous bang. While the bombing continued, I jumped down two flights of stairs to my father’s house, to make sure he was OK. Should I open up all his windows too? That would expose the old man to the risk of illness. We have no medical care or medication. However, the risk from shattering glass was greater, so I opened them all.

Mobile phones did not work, because of electricity outages and the flood of attempted calls. I flipped the electricity generator on so that we could watch the news. We wanted to understand what was going on in our own neighbourhood. However, this was impossible. Israeli surveillance drones flew overhead, scrambling the reception. All I could do was step outside, where I found crowds of frantic people, lines of rising smoke and the smell of charred buildings and bodies that lay around targeted sites nearby. Somebody said the bombs had been launched in parallel raids over the entire Gaza Strip. What was the target here? Perhaps a police station about 200 metres away. Other bombs annihilated blocks less than a kilometre away, where one of the main police training centres stood. When the strikes began, a graduation ceremony for more than 100 recruits in a civil law enforcement programme was under way. These were the young men trained to organise traffic, instil civil safety and maintain law and order. Many of them were killed, it is said, in addition to the Gaza Strip’s police chief.

News came by word of mouth. There had been more than 150 deaths and more than 200 people were injured or missing under rubble after the first two hours of bombing. Israel had said it would continue the offensive and deepen it if necessary. Likewise, it was said that Hamas had launched more rockets at southern Israeli towns, causing one death and four injuries. Gaza had never seen anything like the numbers of dead bodies lying on its streets. Hospital morgues were already full. The dead were piled on top of each other outside.

Bombs targeting a Hamas security force building badly damaged an adjacent school, and several children were injured. We heard of many other targets around the Gaza Strip. It reminds me of the “shock and awe” campaign the Allies launched over Baghdad in 2003. But shock and awe did not bring stability or peace.

These bombs were launched by Israel, as we had known they would be. The world watched the situation simmer then boil over, but did nothing. There are some who believe that hell is divided into different classes. The ordinary people of Gaza have long been caught in the tormenting underworld. Now, if the world does not heed what has happened here, our situation will worsen. We will be trapped in the first class of hell.

mohammed on kabobfest, who is from gaza, but who is living in ramallah writes about the slaughter of his people:

Back home, the TV was never off, and the full scale of the horror still hadn’t settled in. The news broadcast continuous images of severed limbs, headless bodies, piles of dead bodies, children, women, men. More than 70 of the bodies arrived at the hospitals torn apart. 15 bodies were so disfigured they still have not been identified. The hospitals, already out of hundreds of necessary medicines, were running out of blood even as hundreds rushed to donate. I managed to call my uncles again. Mohammad’s voice was hollow, scratching, like he was forcing the words out. He told me his kids had finally gone to sleep, but in the late December cold he had opened all the windows in his apartment. With the airstrikes hitting everywhere and anywhere, everybody risked having their windows blown out. As he noted, if they were to get blown out, there is no glass in Gaza as a result of the siege to replace them. He told me everything seemed to be a target; there were no police stations left in the entire Strip. Even the apartment building housing the offices of a civil society institution working for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails had been completely leveled. I asked him if anybody he knew had been wounded or killed. He paused for a bit before telling me he had lost 20 friends. He said he wanted to go down to Khan Younis tomorrow to pay his respects in the funeral processions, because some of them had been buried today without ceremony. There is no space in the hospitals to hold the dead, so they were buried en masse.

i could go on and on. i have been writing for hours now. reading for hours. every time i write, a new report. bombings continue. protests continue. when will israeli embassies be closed and ambassadors kicked out as azzam tamimi just called for on al jazeera? when will they be sanctioned. when will they be kicked out of the united nations? when? when? when? all day long i have heard zionist terrorists in the skies above doing their sonic boom in order to terrorize palestinians in the west bank. and apparently they are going into lebanon’s airspace today as well. meanwhile resistance in nil’in, near ramallah, leaves one palestinian dead and 6 injured:

In Ni’lin, weekly Friday protests continued into Saturday and Sunday, when clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli soldiers. The clashes saw one killed and six others injured. The injured, including Mohammad Al-Khawaja who was shot in the head, were transferred to a Ramallah hospital and the slain man was identified as A’raft Al-Khwaja.

those who are unfamiliar with what a massacre looks like on the ground here is some important footage you must watch:

when will people act to stop this onslaught of death? i know my posts are long, but i hope people will read. i hope people will click on links and read further. i hope that people will take to the streets. i hope that people will unleash ALL forms of resistance NOW. i hope people will stop normalization with the zionist entity NOW. i hope that people will extend that to the united states who enables all of this bloodshed. there is a petition in the united states you can sign from the u.s. campaign to end the israeli occupation; it’s not much, but it is a start. but it is not enough. my dear friend baha’a who is from yaffa, who has been protesting in the streets of beirut for the last couple of days says that the lebanese threw tear gas canisters at protesters in beirut. this has got to stop. somebody do something. anything. NOW. NOW as the zionists are preparing for a ground invasion.

shades of hawkish duplicity

this is how the israeli terrorist forces’ (itf) media describes its cold-blooded murder of two young boys, one 15 years old the other 18 years old:

The Israel Air Force killed two Palestinian gunmen who fired mortar shells at the Kerem Shalom crossing on Tuesday afternoon. Four other men were injured in the strike, which took place east of the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah.

The Israel Defense Forces reported that IAF jets opened fire at the mortar launching cell and identified a hit. News agencies reported that the Palestinians were hurt in an area used by gunmen to fire mortars at Israel.

Sources in Gaza reported that the Palestinians killed were two brothers, aged 15 and 17, from the village of Shuka near Rafah, and that three of the injured were youths.

now let’s take a look at how palestinian media covers the same story:

Two Palestinian civilians were killed and four others were injured on Tuesday when Israeli helicopters fired on a group of fighters on the road to the disused Yasser Arafat Airport east of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

According to Mu’awiya Hassanein, the director of ambulance and emergency services in the Palestinian Health Ministry, one of the wounded people is in critical condition at the European Hospital in the city of Khan Younis.

Medics said the dead arrived ‘torn to pieces’ at Abu Yousif An-Najjar Hospital, also in Khan Younis.

Hassanein identified the victims as two brothers, Ramzi and Khalid Ad-Duheiri.

notice the difference? in the first piece the young boys were identified as gunmen. actually, these boys were play ball in a field that used to be the gaza airport. an airport that palestinians in gaza are not allowed to use because of the siege on gaza. the closure that has lasted now for 27 consecutive days.

the difference in reporting–not here necessarily, but globally–and the media blackout due to the zionist state’s blocking journalists from entering gaza was the subject of al jazeera’s program “the listening post” this week:

it’s not just media that the zionists are keeping from gaza. it’s also humanitarian aid. this time on a ship from libya, which was turned back by the itf:

The al-Marwa, carrying food, blankets and powdered milk, attempted to challenge Israel’s tight economic blockade on the Gaza Strip, which has worsened in recent weeks.

But as the ship approached Gazan water at dawn, an Israeli naval ship ordered it to turn back. The al-Marwa headed south and has reportedly docked at al-Arish, an Egyptian port in the northern Sinai just south of Gaza.

An Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said there was no physical contact with the ship but it was ordered back by radio. “This is a policy we have had for a long time: if somebody wants to bring in humanitarian aid they can do it through the border with Egypt or the Israeli passages into Gaza,” said the spokesman, Andy David.

However, since the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas won parliamentary elections nearly three years ago, Israel has imposed ever tighter restrictions on Gaza.

notice the kafkaesque commentary here, too: the itf spokesperson tells us that humanitarian aid can come through its border crossings with gaza and yet those crossings are closed, have been closed for 27 days. so what exactly are they saying? how do westerners interpret this? do they understand how their doublespeak equals death and suffering for people in gaza?

of course, it’s not just gaza. nabulsis woke up this morning after yet another ground invasion here. last night in the wee hours of the morning the itf assassinated mohammad abu thraa:

Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man formerly affiliated to the armed wing of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, in Balata Refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus at Midnight on Monday.

The man was identified as 27-year-old Mohammad Abu Thraa, a fighter who had been pardoned by Israel as a part of an amnesty agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA).

notice that he had been pardoned. and still the itf came into murder him today. and the itf’s counterpart, the illegal israeli settlers, went on their own rampage around nablus today:

Israeli settlers rampaged through five villages in the northern West Bank early on Tuesday, vandalizing mosques, attacking farms and harassing residents.

In the villages of Yatma, Qabalan and As-Sawiya, south of Nablus, settlers slashed the tires of more than 20 cars and also set fire to thousands of shekels’ worth of straw bales, used as animal feed.

In As-Sawiya, settlers wrote slogans insulting Islam and the prophet Mohammad on the walls of a local mosque.

and the same sort of illegal settler violence broke out in khalil today as well:

Several Palestinians and an Israeli captain were injured when settlers attacked Palestinian houses near a controversial settler-occupied building in the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday night.

The sources added that dozens of settlers hurled rocks and beat residents with clubs. An Israeli captain was beaten when soldiers attempted to intervene.

An employee of the Palestinian Red Crescent said that their ambulances transported three injured children to Hebron Public Hospital. The children were identified as 16-year-old Sa’ed Nasser Al-Ja’bari, his 13-year-old brother Makram Al-Ja’bari and 10-year-old Adli Suleiman Al-Ja’bari. Medics said the children had been bruised all over their bodies.

Local sources said the attack took place near the Ar-Rajabi family house, also known as the “House of Contention” in the Ar-Ras neighborhood of Hebron. The Israeli high court has ordered the settlers to leave the house, a command settler groups have vowed to resist.

this is the zionist regime. it’s muted siege on 1948 palestine, it’s devastating siege on the west bank, and it’s brutal siege on gaza. which continues, unabated, ever worsening:

Adel Abu Sido, 31, a taxi driver from Gaza City, stands over his two-week old premature baby, Hadil, dreading her air supply may abruptly stop.

Hadil’s incubator is not reliably providing enough oxygen due to the inconsistent power supply at Al-Shiffa Hospital, the main healthcare centre in the Gaza Strip.

The fuel for hospital generators has nearly run out and a shortage of basic medical supplies has left Al-Shiffa with only 20 percent of the oxygen supply it needs, forcing medical professionals in Gaza to make hard choices, said Gaza health ministry spokesperson Hamam Nasman.

“Fifty percent of hospital equipment at Al-Shiffa has stopped functioning due to the lack of electricity and spare parts since this more than 20-day blockade started,” said Gaza health minister Basem Naim, adding that 95 basic medications are out of stock.

Asthma patients waiting for inhalers are being turned away, as hospital pharmacists scavenge local pharmacies.

“Al-Shiffa Hospital is using its secondary generator nearly 20 hours a day to power the hospital, since there is not enough fuel in stock to operate the primary generator,” said spokesperson Nasman. Under normal circumstances the secondary generator has the capacity to power the hospital only three hours a day.

apparently even international aid workers are complaining about their conditions, which are usually far better than those of palestinians who live in gaza:

Two weeks ago the Israelis issued for the first time a written list of goods that cannot be sent into Gaza for UN humanitarian needs, she said. The list, which has baffled UN officials, includes spices, kitchenware, glassware, yarn and paper.

and in spite of this: silence. silence from the world. complicity from the world. more of the same. and worse. now nato is going to collaborate with the zionist regime’s terrorist military forces:

NATO has authorized a pact to strengthen and expand Israel’s security and political relations with the states in the military alliance.

The authorization of the Individual Cooperation Program (ICP) came ahead of Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni’s meeting with her counterparts in NATO member states.

The ICP incorporates a number of areas in which full cooperation between Israel and NATO will be established, including the fight against terror.

The agreement allows for an exchange of intelligence information and security expertise on different subjects, an increase in the number of joint Israel-NATO military exercises and further cooperation in the fight against nuclear proliferation. It also paves the way for an improvement of collaboration in the fields of rearmament and logistics and Israel’s electronic link to the NATO system.

and will the u.s. speak up about any of this? of course not. we’ve now got confirmation that we will have a hawkish war cabinet. jeremy scahill, one of the rare american voices of criticism and integrity in the u.s. gives us this important assessment of the new obama security-war team:

Barack Obama has assembled a team of rivals to implement his foreign policy. But while pundits and journalists speculate endlessly on the potential for drama with Hillary Clinton at the state department and Bill Clinton’s network of shady funders, the real rivalry that will play out goes virtually unmentioned. The main battles will not be between Obama’s staff, but rather against those who actually want a change in US foreign policy, not just a staff change in the war room.

When announcing his foreign policy team on Monday, Obama said: “I didn’t go around checking their voter registration.” That is a bit hard to believe, given the 63-question application to work in his White House. But Obama clearly did check their credentials, and the disturbing truth is that he liked what he saw.

The assembly of Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Susan Rice and Joe Biden is a kettle of hawks with a proven track record of support for the Iraq war, militaristic interventionism, neoliberal economic policies and a worldview consistent with the foreign policy arch that stretches from George HW Bush’s time in office to the present.

Obama has dismissed suggestions that the public records of his appointees bear much relevance to future policy. “Understand where the vision for change comes from, first and foremost,” Obama said. “It comes from me. That’s my job, to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure, then, that my team is implementing.” It is a line the president-elect’s defenders echo often. The reality, though, is that their records do matter.

We were told repeatedly during the campaign that Obama was right on the premiere foreign policy issue of our day – the Iraq war. “Six years ago, I stood up and opposed this war at a time when it was politically risky to do so,” Obama said in his September debate against John McCain. “Senator McCain and President Bush had a very different judgment.” What does it say that, with 130 members of the House and 23 in the Senate who voted against the war, Obama chooses to hire Democrats who made the same judgment as Bush and McCain?

On Iraq, the issue that the Obama campaign described as “the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation”, Biden and Clinton not only supported the invasion, but pushed the Bush administration’s propaganda and lies about Iraqi WMDs and fictitious connections to al-Qaida. Clinton and Obama’s hawkish, pro-Israel chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, still refuse to renounce their votes in favour of the war. Rice, who claims she opposed the Iraq war, didn’t hold elected office and was not confronted with voting for or against it. But she did publicly promote the myth of Iraq’s possession of WMDs, saying in the lead up to the war that the “major threat” must “be dealt with forcefully”. Rice has also been hawkish on Darfur, calling for “strik[ing] Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other military assets”.

It is also deeply telling that, of his own free will, Obama selected President Bush’s choice for defence secretary, a man with a very disturbing and lengthy history at the CIA during the cold war, as his own. While General James Jones, Obama’s nominee for national security adviser, reportedly opposed the Iraq invasion and is said to have stood up to the neocons in Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, he did not do so publicly when it would have carried weight. Time magazine described him as “the man who led the Marines during the run-up to the war – and failed to publicly criticise the operation’s flawed planning”. Moreover, Jones, who is a friend of McCain’s, has said a timetable for Iraq withdrawal, “would be against our national interest”.

But the problem with Obama’s appointments is hardly just a matter of bad vision on Iraq. What ultimately ties Obama’s team together is their unified support for the classic US foreign policy recipe: the hidden hand of the free market, backed up by the iron fist of US militarism to defend the America First doctrine.

Obama’s starry-eyed defenders have tried to downplay the importance of his cabinet selections, saying Obama will call the shots, but the ruling elite in this country see it for what it is. Karl Rove, “Bush’s Brain”, called Obama’s cabinet selections, “reassuring”, which itself is disconcerting, but neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer Max Boot summed it up best. “I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain,” Boot wrote. The appointment of General Jones and the retention of Gates at defence “all but puts an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign.”

Boot added that Hillary Clinton will be a “powerful” voice “for ‘neoliberalism’ which is not so different in many respects from ‘neoconservativism.'” Boot’s buddy, Michael Goldfarb, wrote in The Weekly Standard, the official organ of the neoconservative movement, that he sees “certainly nothing that represents a drastic change in how Washington does business. The expectation is that Obama is set to continue the course set by Bush in his second term.”

There is not a single, solid anti-war voice in the upper echelons of the Obama foreign policy apparatus. And this is the point: Obama is not going to fundamentally change US foreign policy. He is a status quo Democrat. And that is why the mono-partisan Washington insiders are gushing over Obama’s new team. At the same time, it is also disingenuous to act as though Obama is engaging in some epic betrayal. Of course these appointments contradict his campaign rhetoric of change. But move past the speeches and Obama’s selections are very much in sync with his record and the foreign policy vision he articulated on the campaign trail, from his pledge to escalate the war in Afghanistan to his “residual force” plan in Iraq to his vow to use unilateral force in Pakistan to defend US interests to his posturing on Iran. “I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel,” Obama said in his famed speech at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last summer. “Sometimes, there are no alternatives to confrontation.”

when will people rise up? when will they demand real change and not be blinded by the farce that is this more-of-the-same american hawkish regime?