Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Armageddon draws near as Israel pushes brinkmanship

Urgent appeal to all Muslims to defend Aqsa Mosque

(March 17, Jerusalem, Sri Lanka Guardian) Preacher of the Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Ikrima Sabri issued on Sunday an urgent appeal to all Palestinians to be alert to the Israeli preparations to open a mythical synagogue tomorrow and head to the holy Aqsa Mosque to defend it by all means.

In a statement, Sheikh Sabri warned that the hurva (ruin) synagogue is a prelude to the building of the alleged temple of Solomon on the ruins of the Aqsa Mosque, affirming that the story of this synagogue is fictitious and was made to pave the way towards the demolition of the holy Mosque.

He noted that the higher Islamic council and Jerusalemite organizations issued a statement to call on all Palestinians at home to travel to the Aqsa Mosque on Tuesday to defend it against the dangers threatening it.

The preacher highlighted that the Palestinians alone cannot stand in the face of the Israeli occupation, calling on all Arab and Muslim peoples and governments to support them in these critical moments...

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Clashes in Jerusalem: A Third Intifada?

17/03/2010

by Kifah Zaboun

Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The streets of Jerusalem were transformed into a battleground between angry Palestinians and Israeli security forces following news of the rededication of a Jewish synagogue and Israeli plans to build settlements close to the site of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. This was a scene that recalled the first Intifada which utilized all means of popular resistance, from setting barricades and closing down streets to setting fires and throwing stones. Israeli intelligence agents and Israeli undercover officers dressed as Arabs were also involved, and responded to the demonstrations by arresting a number of Palestinians. Reports indicate that the undercover Israeli officers fired a number of shots resulting in dozens of Palestinians being injured.

The clashes broke out early in the day in what was described as the Palestinian "Day of Rage." National and Islamic forces and religious figures called for a day of demonstrations to protest against the Israeli plans in East Jerusalem. Thousands of Palestinians reportedly took part in these demonstrations against the rededication of a synagogue near the Al-Aqsa Mosque, something that the Palestinians believe is part of a larger Israeli plan to destroy the mosque and build a Jewish temple on its ruins. Three thousand Israeli officers were put on high alert and took up positions along the Temple Mount. The confrontation between the Palestinian demonstrators and the Israeli forces soon moved from the alleys of the Old Town to other areas in the holy city. There were confrontations in the neighborhoods of Ras Al Amoud, Silwan, Jabal al-Zeitun, Wadi al-Joz, and Sawana, as well as the village of Issawiya, and also the Shufat and Qalandia Refugee Camps, and the town of Abu Dis. This wave of anger later spread to the cities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

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Hezbollah pledges solidarity with al-Quds protesters

...The Islamic movement also demanded that Arab and Muslim leaders take concrete action against Israel.

On Wednesday, a Palestinian parliamentary official called on al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, to respond to Israeli practices in East al-Quds.

Fatah's armed wing, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, also called on the Palestinian Authority to return their confiscated weapons and release the group's fighters in jail so that they could join the "al-Quds Intifada" and help protect the al-Aqsa Mosque — the third holiest site in the Muslim world.

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GORDON DUFF: U.S. TELLS ISRAEL: “YOU ARE UNDERMINING AMERICA, ENDANGERING TROOPS”

Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Clinton and Joint Chief's Chairman Mike Mullen have all recently visited Israel on two issues, reliable information that Israel was planning an attack on Iran, a plan designed to push America into a war our leaders believe is both wrong and likely to risk a global nuclear confrontation with Russia and the building of a massive housing project on the Arab side of Jerusalem in violation of numerous agreements, a project that is likely to cause a spike in world terrorism and send thousands of new fighters to Afghanistan to face American forces there.

This is the worst point in the history of the relationship between the U.S. and Israel since the founding of that nation in 1948 but these are not the only reasons, not these and the arrogant and intractable attitude of Israel's leaders nor being caught in lie after lie, lies told to their financial backer and closest ally, the United States.  Here is some background on CENTOM Commander, General Petraeus' shocking briefing:

On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM's mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region…

 “Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling,” a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding.” But Petraeus wasn't finished: two days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command — or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations.  The Mullen briefing and Petraeus's request hit the White House like a bombshell… pressing Israel once again on the settlements issue, sending Mitchell on a visit to a number of Arab capitals and dispatching Mullen for a carefully arranged meeting with the chief of the Israeli General Staff, Lt. General Gabi Ashkenazi. … Certainly, it was thought, Israel would get the message.

Israel didn't. When Vice President Joe Biden was embarrassed by an Israeli announcement that the Netanyahu government was building 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, the administration reacted. But no one was more outraged than Biden who, according to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, engaged in a private, and angry, exchange with the Israeli Prime Minister:

 “This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden reportedly told Netanyahu. “What you're doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.” Yedioth Ahronoth went on to report: “The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel's actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.” The message couldn't be plainer: Israel's intransigence could cost American  lives.

The deterioration started long before this and can be tracked by changing perceptions in the Obama administration whose leaders are heavily “pro-Israel” but lack the extremist convictions of the Zionist/extremist group that surrounded President Bush.  When Obama took office, even Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, one of the most prominent Israeli proponents in the country, had become aware of the extent of Israeli involvement in areas that had taken the “special relationship” into an area of disaster for the United States.

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Beyond Orwell: The electronic police state, 2010

In this light, a new report published by Cryptohippie, The Electronic Police State: 2010 National Rankings, delivers the goods and rips away the veil from the smirking visage of well-heeled corporate crooks and media apologists of America's burgeoning police state.

"When we produced our first Electronic Police State report" Cryptohippie's analysts write, "the top ten nations were of two types:

    1. Those that had the will to spy on every citizen, but lacked ability.
    2. Those who had the ability, but were restrained in will.


But as they reveal in new national rankings, "This is changing: The able have become willing and their traditional restraints have failed." The key developments driving the global panopticon forward are the following:

    ● The USA has negated their Constitution's fourth amendment in the name of protection and in the name of "wars" against terror, drugs and cyber attacks.
    ● The UK is aggressively building the world of 1984 in the name of stopping "anti-social" activities. Their populace seems unable or unwilling to restrain the government.
    ● France and the EU have given themselves over to central bureaucratic control.


In France, the German newsmagazine Spiegel reported that a new law passed by the lower house of Parliament in February "conjures up the specter of Big Brother and the surveillance state."

Similar to legislation signed into law by German president Horst Köhler last month, police and security forces in France would be granted authority to surreptitiously install malware known as a "Trojan horse" to spy on private computers. Remote access to a user's personal data would be made possible under a judge's supervision.

While French parliamentarians aligned with right-wing President Nicolas Sarkozy insist the measure is intended to filter and block web sites with criminal content or to halt allegedly "illegal" file sharing, civil libertarians have denounced the legislation.

Sandrine Béllier, a member of the European Parliament for the Green Party, said that "when it comes to restrictions, this text is preparing us for hell."

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On bullshit - A conversation with Harry G. Frankfurt



The new ‘forgotten’ war

By Dahr Jamail

Iraq occupation falls into media shadows

 

“The Western world that slaughtered Iraq and Iraqis, through 13 years of sanctions and seven years of occupation, is now turning its back on the victims. What has remained of Iraq is still being devastated by bombings, assassinations, corruption, millions of evictions and continued infrastructure destruction. Yet the world that caused all this is trying to draw a rosy picture of the situation in Iraq.”

-Maki Al-Nazzal, Iraqi political analyst

 

As Afghanistan has taken center stage in U.S. corporate media, with President Barack Obama announcing two major escalations of the war in recent months, the U.S. occupation of Iraq has fallen into the media shadows.

But while U.S. forces have begun to slowly pull back in Iraq, approximately 130,000 American troops and 114,000 private contractors still remain in the country (Congressional Research Service, 12/14/09)-along with an embassy the size of Vatican City. Upwards of 400 Iraqi civilians still die in a typical month (Iraq Body Count, 12/31/09), and fallout from the occupation that is now responsible, by some estimates, for 1 million Iraqi deaths (Extra!, 1/2/08) continues to severely impact Iraqis in ways that go uncovered by the U.S. press.

From early on in the occupation of Iraq, one of the most pressing concerns for Iraqis-besides ending the occupation and a desperate need for security-has been basic infrastructure. The average home in Iraq today, over six and a half years into the occupation, operates on less than six hours of electricity per day (AP, 9/7/09). “A water shortage described as the most critical since the earliest days of Iraq's civilization is threatening to leave up to 2 million people in the south of the country without electricity and almost as many without drinking water,” the Guardian (8/26/09) reported; waterborne diseases and dysentery are rampant. The ongoing lack of power and clean drinking water has even led Iraqis to take to the streets in Baghdad (AP, 10/11/09), chanting, “No water, no electricity in the country of oil and the two rivers.”

Devastation wrought by the occupation, coupled with rampant corruption among the Western contractors awarded the contracts to rebuild Iraq's demolished infrastructure, are to blame (International Herald Tribune, 7/6/09). Ali Ghalib Baban, Iraq's minister of planning, said late last year (International Herald Tribune, 11/21/09) that the billions of dollars the U.S. has spent on so-called reconstruction contracts in Iraq has had no discernible impact. “Maybe they spent it,” he said, “but Iraq doesn't feel it.”

Last January, the Los Angeles Times ran a story (1/26/09) that highlighted the lack of electricity: “As elections near, people say it's hard to have faith in leaders when they don't even have electricity,” was the subhead. But most other large U.S. papers have avoided the topic-unless it is brought up in such a way as to blame Iraqis for the problem, as the New York Times (11/21/09) did with its piece, “U.S. Fears Iraqis Will Not Keep Up Rebuilt Projects.”

Further complicating matters, a drought that is now over four years old plagues most of Iraq. In the country's north, lack of water has forced more than 100,000 people to abandon their homes since 2005, with 36,000 more on the verge of leaving (AP, 10/13/09).

Corporate media coverage of the ongoing Iraqi refugee crisis-the U.N. estimates that more than 4.5 million Iraqis in all have been displaced from their homes (UNHCR.org, 1/09)-continues to be scant. The stories that do appear tend to be local stories about Iraqi refugees in the newspaper's home city (e.g., Chicago Tribune, 10/25/09).

For Iraqis who remain in the country, another critical story is cancer. The U.S. and British militaries used more than 1,700 tons of depleted uranium in Iraq in the 2003 invasion (Jane's Defence News, 4/2/04)-on top of 320 tons used in the 1991 Gulf War (Inter Press Service, 3/25/03). Literally every local person I've ever spoken with in Iraq during my nine months of reporting there knows someone who either suffers from or has died of cancer.

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Spy takes US/Israeli secrets to grave

Last week's death of Israeli spymaster David Kimche – and the omissions in his obituaries about his most sensitive operations, especially those regarding the United States – are a reminder of how much crucial history is being lost as key figures from this era take their secrets to the grave.

The failure to debrief as many of these people as possible can be blamed significantly on U.S. mainstream journalists who in years past took the lead in collecting, vetting and presenting serious evidence of historical wrongdoing, such as the Pentagon Papers secrets about the Vietnam War and complex political scandals like Watergate.

But in recent years, newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post have ignored many national security crimes or even have gone on the offensive against journalists who tried to examine them, such as the ugly assault on investigative reporter Gary Webb over his work on the now-CIA-admitted cocaine trafficking by Ronald Reagan's Nicaraguan contra rebels.

The problem has been compounded by the timidity of Democratic leaders to conduct thorough investigations of Republican wrongdoing, such as in 1993 when Bill Clinton became President and in 2009 under Barack Obama. In both cases, new Democratic administrations thought that looking forward, not backward, would achieve some measure of bipartisanship. Not likely.

And, the American Left has offered little help, usually staying on the sidelines when there's evidence of a genuine government conspiracy (though some leftists have gotten carried away with invented conspiracies, such as the 9/11 “truth” movement's witness-less claims about "controlled demolitions" of the Twin Towers and "a missile, not a plane, hitting the Pentagon.”)

This combination of disinterest in actual conspiracies and fascination with conspiracy parlor games has made the assembling of real history about the past several decades next to impossible.

Now, Kimche's death on March 8 marks another lost opportunity. Most newspaper obituaries touched on some of the known high- and low-points of his long career as a spy/diplomat who was called “the man with the suitcase” for his work with the Mossad paying off foreign officials and spreading around money that advanced Israel's national security goals.

Yet, from these obits, it's clear that much more was known about Kimche's clandestine work bribing African despots or supplying guns to right-wing militaries in Central America than his purported involvement in influencing political events in Washington, possibly because Israel and its many supporters regard the U.S. connection as still far too sensitive.

Even the better obits neglected how Kimche, in the late 1970s, shared Prime Minister Menachem Begin's contempt for President Jimmy Carter.

Though Kimche described the animosity in his 1991 book, The Last Option, this important story was left out of his obits as was the evidence of what Begin's right-wing Likud government may have done to stop Carter from gaining a second term and thus blocking Likud's plans for expanding Israeli territory beyond its pre-1967 borders.

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Drugs opera opens in Mexico City

The first Mexican opera to deal directly with the country's drugs conflict has staged its premiere in Mexico City.

The opera, Only the Truth, is based on a popular Mexican song of the 1970s which tells the story of a woman who smuggles marijuana into the US.

Her lover betrays her and in an act of crazy revenge, she murders him.

Violence connected to Mexico's drugs trade has killed more 15,000 people in the past three years.

Since the song was first made popular, the central character of Camelia la Tejana seems to have become a mix of fact and fiction.

Many women have claimed to be the song's inspiration.

Gabriela Ortiz, one of the opera's authors, believes this is because her role goes beyond the expected, submissive part women often have in such tales.

"This is exactly the opposite," she said.

"This is a very strong woman who finally kills her lover and disappears with the money. She became like a hero."

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