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Ugandan Government Asks ISPs to Block Facebook, Twitter

By Rebekah Heacock | OpenNet Initiative | 18 April 2011

With the exception of Ethiopia, which blocks a number of political and security-related websites, and a few cases of isolated Internet censorship related to political events, most of sub-Saharan Africa has historically been free of technical filtering. This week, however, the government of Uganda wrote to the heads of three of the country’s major ISPs asking them to block Facebook and “Tweeter” [sic] “to eliminate the connection and sharing of information that incites the public.”

The request comes on the heels of a week of opposition protests over rising fuel and food prices. The protests have been widely advertised on Twitter using the hashtag #walk2work, and opposition leaders Kizza Besigye and Norbert Mao, among others, have been repeatedly arrested.

Several contacts in Uganda are reporting that, as of Monday, the sites are accessible, though one contact reports that both Facebook and Twitter were temporarily inaccessible through Uganda Telecom on Friday. Uganda’s Observer newspaper is reporting that access has been suspended.

Last week, Uganda’s Commissioner of Police called for the government to “guard against misuse of communication networks to protect social values and national identity,” pointing to the Ugandans at Heart blog, which covers political and social issues in the country, and its associated Ugandans at Heart Google Group as examples of sites that “pose a serious national security threat if their net publications are not regulated.”

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | Leave a comment

Syria abolishes 48-year emergency law

Press TV – April 19, 2011

The Syrian government has lifted the 48-year state of emergency after one-month-long pro-reform demonstrations in the Arab country.

The Cabinet passed a bill to end the emergency law, which was declared in 1963, in a session chaired by Prime Minister Adel Safar on Tuesday.

The Cabinet also passed a bill on a legislative decree on abolishing the Higher State Security Court, Syrian Arab News Agency reported.

In addition, another bill which regulates the right to peaceful protest was passed.

Last Saturday, President Bashar al-Assad told the first session of Syria’s new government that the emergency law would be lifted by next week.

Assad formed the new government on Thursday after weeks of protests over political and economic reforms.

The demonstrations have been held in several Syrian cities since mid-March.

Tuesday package is part of the political reform program that aims at bolstering democracy, expanding citizens’ participation, strengthening national unity, guaranteeing the safety of country and citizens, and confronting various challenges, according to the state news agency.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties | Leave a comment

Are Rising Oil and Food Prices a Scam?

By Danny Schechter | Consortium News | April 19, 2011

The global economy and its recovery, and the living standards of millions of plain folks, are now at risk from the sudden rise in oil and commodity prices.

Gas at the pump is up, and going higher. Food prices are following. The consequences are catastrophic for the global poor as their costs go up while their income doesn’t.

It’s menacing American workers too, who in large part have not seen a meaningful raise since the days of Reagan (keeping it this way is clearly behind the current flurry of attacks on unions).

Already, unrest in the Middle East and many African countries is being blamed for these dramatic increases. It seems as if this threat to global stability is being largely ignored in our media, one that treats the oil business as just another mystical world of free market trading.

Why is it happening? Why all the volatility? Is oil getting scarcer, leading to price increases? Is the cost of food, similarly, a reflection of naturally increasing commodity prices?

While it’s true that natural disasters and droughts play some role in this unchecked price inflation, it also seems apparent that something else is attracting increasing attention, even if most of our media fails to explore what is a political time bomb while most political leaders shrug their shoulders and ignore it.

President Obama recently said there is nothing he can do about the hike in oil and food prices. But critics say the problem is that government and media alike refuse to recognize what’s really going on: unchecked speculation!

Not everyone buys into this suspicion. In fact, it is one of the more intense subjects of debate in economics.

Princeton University economist Paul Krugman pooh-poohs the impact of speculation, counter-posing the traditional argument that oil prices are set by supply and demand.

The Economist magazine agrees, summing up its views with a pithy phrase, “Speculation does not drive the oil price. Driving does.”

Others, like oil industry analyst Michael Klare of Hampshire College, see demand outdistancing supply:

“Consider the recent rise in the price of oil just a faint and early tremor heralding the oilquake to come. Oil won’t disappear from international markets, but in the coming decades it will never reach the volumes needed to satisfy projected world demand, which means that, sooner rather than later, scarcity will become the dominant market condition.”

Usually you hear this debate in scholarly circles or read it in political tracts where orthodox views collide with more alarmist projections about the oil supply “peaking.”

But officials in the Third World don’t see the subject as academic. Reserve Bank of India Governor Duvvuri Subbarao charges, “Speculative movements in commodity derivative markets are also causing volatility in prices.”

The World Bank is meeting on this issue this week because it is seen as a matter of “utmost urgency.”

“The price of food is a matter of life and death for the very poorest people in the world,” said Tom Arnold, CEO of Concern Worldwide, the international humanitarian agency, ahead of his participation at The Open Forum on Food at World Bank headquarters.

He adds, “with many families spending up to 80 percent of their income on basic foods to survive, even the slightest increase in price can have devastating effects and become a crises for the poorest.”

Journalist Josh Clark argues on the website “How Stuff Works” that much of the oil speculation is rooted in the financial crisis. He wrote:

“The next time you drive to the gas station, only to find prices are still sky high compared to just a few years ago, take notice of the rows of foreclosed houses you’ll pass along the way. They may seem like two parts of a spell of economic bad luck, but high gas prices and home foreclosures are actually very much interrelated.

“Before most people were even aware there was an economic crisis, investment managers abandoned failing mortgage-backed securities and looked for other lucrative investments. What they settled on was oil futures.”

The debate within the industry is more subdued, perhaps to avoid a public fight between suppliers and distributors who don’t want to rock the boat.

But some officials like Dan Gilligan, president of the Petroleum Marketers Association, representing 8,000 retail and wholesale suppliers has spoken out. He argues:

“Approximately 60 to 70 percent of the oil contracts in the futures markets are now held by speculative entities. Not by companies that need oil, not by the airlines, not by the oil companies. But by investors who profit money from their speculative positions.”

Now, a prominent and popular market analyst is throwing caution to the wind by blowing the whistle on speculators.

Finance expert Phil Davis runs a website and widely read newsletter to monitor stocks and options trades. He’s a professional’s professional, whose grandfather taught him to buy stocks when he was just ten years old.

His website is Phil’s Stock World, and stocks are his world. He’s subtitled the site, “High Finance for Real People.”

He is usually a sober and calm analyst, not known as maverick or dissenter.

When I met Phil the other night, he was on fire, enraged by what he believes is the scam of the century that no one wants to talk about, because so many powerful people armed with legions of lawyers want unquestioning allegiance, and will sue you into silence.

He studies the oil/food issue carefully and has concluded, “It’s a scam folks, it’s nothing but a huge scam and it’s destroying the U.S. economy as well as the entire global economy but no one complains because they are ‘only’ stealing about $1.50 per gallon from each individual person in the industrialized world.”

“It’s the top 0.01 percent robbing the next 39.99 percent – the bottom 60 percent can’t afford cars anyway (they just starve quietly to death, as food prices climb on fuel costs).

“If someone breaks into your car and steals a $500 stereo, you go to the police, but if someone charges you an extra $30 every time you fill up your tank 50 times a year ($1,500) you shut up and pay your bill. Great system, right?”

Phil is just getting started, as he delves into the intricacies of the NYMEX market that handles these trades:

“The great thing about the NYMEX is that the traders don’t have to take delivery on their contracts, they can simply pay to roll them over to the next settlement price, even if no one is actually buying the barrels.

“That’s how we have developed a massive glut of 677 million barrels worth of contracts in the front four months on the NYMEX and, come rollover day – that will be the amount of barrels ‘on order’ for the front 3 months, unless a lot barrels get dumped at market prices fast.

“Keep in mind that the entire United States uses ‘just’ 18M barrels of oil a day, so 677M barrels is a 37-day supply of oil. But, we also make 9M barrels of our own oil and import ‘just’ 9M barrels per day, and 5M barrels of that is from Canada and Mexico who, last I heard, aren’t even having revolutions.

“So, ignoring North Sea oil, Brazil and Venezuela, and lumping Africa in with OPEC, we are importing 3Mbd from unreliable sources and there is a 225-day supply under contract for delivery at the current price or cheaper plus we have a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that holds another 727 million barrels (full) plus 370M barrels of commercial storage in the U.S. (also full) which is another 365.6 days of marginal oil already here in storage in addition to the 225 days under contract for delivery.“

These contracts for oil outnumber their actual delivery, a sign of speculation and market manipulation, as oil companies win government authorizations for wells but then don’t open them for exploration or exploitation.

It’s all a game of manipulating oil supply to keep prices up. And no one seems to be regulating it.

What Phil sees is a giant but intricate game of market manipulation and rigging by a cartel — not just an industry — that actually has loaded tankers criss-crossing the oceans but only landing when the price is right.

“There is nothing that the conga-line of tankers between here and OPEC would like to do more than unload an extra 277 Million barrels of crude at $112.79 per barrel (Friday’s close on open contracts and price).

“But, unfortunately, as I mentioned last week, Cushing, Oklahoma (where oil is stored) is already packed to the gills with oil and can only handle 45M barrels if it started out empty so it is, very simply, physically impossible for those barrels to be delivered.

“This did not, however, stop 287M barrels worth of May contracts from trading on Friday and GAINING $2.49 on the day. “

He asks, “Who is buying 287,494 contracts (1,000 barrels per contract) for May delivery that can’t possibly be delivered for $2.49 more than they were priced the day before? These are the kind of questions that you would think regulators would be asking – if we had any.”

The TV news magazine “60 Minutes” spoke with Dan Gilligan, who noted that investors don’t actually take delivery of the oil: “All they do is buy the paper, and hope that they can sell it for more than they paid for it. Before they have to take delivery.”

He says they make their fortunes “on the volatility that exists in the market. They make it going up and down.”

Payam Sharifi, at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, notes that even as the rise in oil prices threatens the world economy, there is almost total silence on the danger:

“This issue ought to be discussed again with a renewed interest – but the media and much of the populace at large have simply accepted high food and oil prices as an unavoidable fact of life, without any discussion of the causes of these price rises aside from platitudes.”

What can we do about that?

~

News Dissector Danny Schechter made the film Plunder The Crime of Our Time (Plunderthecrimeofourtime.com) on the financial crisis as a crime story. He wrote an introduction to the recent reissue of a classic two-volume expose of John D. Rockefeller’s The Standard Oil Company, one of the top ten works of investigative reporting in American history. (Cosimo Books) Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | 2 Comments

31 injured in Sulaymanieh, Iraq

Press TV – April 19, 2011

At least 31 people have been injured in fresh clashes that erupted between protesters and security forces in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

Three of the injured were shot at with live bullet near Sulaymaniyah University, located 260 kilometers (161 miles) north of Baghdad, a Press TV correspondent reported on Tuesday.

A number of journalists have also been arrested.

The clashes came after around 100 people were wounded in Peeramard Street in the city on Monday.

Meanwhile, Kurdish regional Prime Minister Barham Saleh on Tuesday offered to step down from the party leadership in protest.

On Sunday, at least 35 people, including seven policemen, were injured after police and protesters clashed in the region’s second largest city of Sulaymanieh.

Thousands of people have spilled out into the streets to protest against corruption and lack of freedom in recent months.

President of Iraq’s Kurdistan region Massoud Barzani announced plans last month to shake up the regional government and enact reforms, but demonstrators demanded more reforms.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

Palestinians silently transferred from East Jerusalem

Jillian Kestler-D’Amours | The Electronic Intifada | 19 April 2011
Israeli border police in the occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan. (Oren Ziv/ActiveStills)

For Mahmoud Qaraeen, the Israeli government’s revocation of residency rights from Palestinian residents of occupied East Jerusalem is more than just a troublesome policy; it’s a concrete threat that impacts his ability to study, work or even just travel abroad.

“People feel that they are under siege,” Qaraeen, a 25-year-old resident of Silwan in East Jerusalem, told The Electronic Intifada. “I cannot do anything to risk the possibility of not coming back [to Jerusalem].”

A field researcher with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s (ACRI) “Human Rights in East Jerusalem” project, Qaraeen submitted a petition with ACRI and Hamoked – the Center for the Defence of the Individual, to the Israeli high court on Thursday 7 April.

The petition demands that the current practice of revoking residency rights be changed to protect the rights of Palestinians in East Jerusalem and in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights.

“We should be treated as the indigenous people of the place. We are not guests. We are from here and we should be able to leave [the city] and come back if we choose,” Qaraeen said.

More specifically, Hamoked wrote in a 7 April press release that the petition is asking “the court to determine that with respect to East Jerusalem residents, for whom this piece of earth is home, permanent residency visas cannot expire, even following extended periods of living abroad or the acquisition of status in another country” (“HaMoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel lodge a petition”).

Since Israel illegally occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, later annexing the territory, it is estimated that more than 14,000 identification cards have been revoked from Palestinian Jerusalemites, who have thereby lost their residency rights and the ability to live in the city.

“The main focus of the petition is the Entry into Israel regulations,” Hamoked staff attorney Noa Diamond told The Electronic Intifada.

Put into place in 1974, article 11a of the Entry into Israel regulations states that “a person shall be considered as having left Israel and settled in a country outside of Israel” if this person has resided outside of Israel for at least seven years, has received permanent residency in another country or has received citizenship of another country through naturalization.

In 1988, the Israeli Ministry of Interior attempted to revoke the residency of Mubarak Awad, a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who was born in the city in 1943. Awad fought his deportation order and took his case to the Israeli high court.

In what is now known as the “Awad judgment,” the court upheld the deportation order against Awad and, most importantly, determined that the law regulating the status of East Jerusalem residents is the Entry into Israel Law.

This ruling has formed the basis of Israel’s policy of revoking residency rights of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem ever since. Should Palestinian residents of Jerusalem leave the city for a prolonged period of time or accept foreign status, they risk losing the right to return to their homes.

“Widely what we’re saying in the petition is there’s a very basic problem with applying these regulations to people that were born here and have been living here all their lives or most of their lives,” Diamond explained.

“We’re talking about an area that Israel annexed in 1967. We’re not talking about immigrants that filed and requested status in Israel, but rather native people that were here from before,” she added.

A 10 April ACRI explained the petition further: “The organizations further requested that the law be amended to provide special protection clauses for those who reside in areas that were annexed by the State of Israel (currently East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights) so that residents of these areas could exit and enter the country freely” (“Petition: Stop Revoking Permits of E. Jerusalem Palestinians”).

The statement adds “Thus, a distinction would be made between immigrants who had acquired status in Israel for reasons such as marriage to an Israeli citizen, who would still be required to continuously prove that their center-of-life is here, and between residents of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights who would be allowed to leave and return at will, as is the case with citizens.”

More than 14,000 ID cards revoked since 1967

Shortly after Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, and subsequent annexing of the territory, Israeli authorities conducted a census of the Palestinian population in Jerusalem and distributed identification cards to those living in the city, granting them permanent residency — not citizenship — rights.

Palestinian Jerusalemites were permitted to apply and receive Israeli citizenship if they met certain conditions, including swearing allegiance to the State of Israel. Most refused on principle.

As permanent residents, Palestinians in East Jerusalem have the right to live and work in Israel yet are denied other provisions that come with full Israeli citizenship. For instance, unlike citizenship, permanent residency is only passed on to a person’s children if certain conditions are met, including most notably proving that one’s “center of life” is in Jerusalem.

The Israeli interior ministry introduced the “center of life” policy in 1995, placing the burden of proof on Palestinians to show that their day-to-day life takes place in the city. Electricity, telephone and tax bills, and school or work certificates are some of the documents Palestinians can use to prove that their center of life is in Jerusalem.

If they fail to prove this, Palestinians can be stripped of their residency rights and, by extension, forced to leave East Jerusalem.

According to the aforementioned petition drafted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, “in recent years, there has been a sharp rise in revocation of residency, and 2008 set a record with 4,577 revocations. Almost 50 percent of the total revocations of permits since the annexation of Jerusalem in 1967 occurred between the years 2006 to 2008.”

While no concrete figures are available yet, the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JCSER) estimates that an additional 191 identification cards have been revoked so far in 2011 alone.

Municipal taxes also used to evacuate residents

In the last month, Jerusalem-based Palestinian rights groups have also denounced what they see is a subtle attempt by the Jerusalem municipality to force Palestinians from the city: the collection of taxes.

“We have some claims from the Palestinians that said that they didn’t receive the bills from the arnona [municipal tax]. Some of the people went to the municipality to ask for this bill. Then they told them, ‘Look, we are not going to give you [the tax bill] and we will not consider as if you are in East Jerusalem,’” explained Ziad al-Hammouri, the Director General of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights (JSCER).

Calculated by neighborhood, size of the home and construction quality, among other factors, the arnona tax is collected from all residents of Jerusalem. Palestinian Jerusalemites pay some of the highest levels of municipal taxes in the city, despite the fact that they don’t hold Israeli citizenship and receive far less municipal services compared to Jewish Israelis living in West Jerusalem.

Palestinians living on the other side of Israel’s wall — in communities like Anata, Shufat and Ras Khamis — are the ones who haven’t received their bills, al-Hammouri said.

“[The Jerusalem municipality says] that they are collecting from the Palestinians roughly between 33 and 35 percent of their budget, and they are spending not more than 5 percent [on Palestinian neighborhoods]. Of course, they are spending this [money] on the settlements,” he explained.

Al-Hammouri added that not receiving the arnona tax bill is a dangerous new development — just as dangerous as the revocation of identity cards — in the municipality’s attempt to evict Palestinians from Jerusalem, and that more than 100,000 Palestinian residents of Jerusalem could be affected.

“I think most of the Palestinians they would be happy, more than happy, if they will get rid of this taxation. But, in our case, the Israelis are using this arnona tax, this bill, as one of the documents to protect your existence in East Jerusalem,” he said.

“In the end of the day, you will lose your property from this kind of taxation. Then, if you will lose your property then you will leave the city.”

Slow ethnic cleansing taking place

In late March, United Nations Human Rights Council investigator and international law expert Richard Falk stated that Israel is carrying out a form of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians in East Jerusalem.

“The continued pattern of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem combined with the forcible eviction of long-residing Palestinians is creating an intolerable situation in the part of the city previously controlled by Jordan,” Falk told the UN council.

“This situation can only be described in its cumulative impact as a form of ethnic cleansing,” Falk added.

According to Mahmoud Qaraeen, this is indeed the purpose of Israel’s policy of revoking identity cards from Palestinian Jerusalemites: forcing Palestinian residents out of the city.

“The increase in the number of residencies revoked [from 2006 to 2008] shows that there is a threat to the mere existence of Arabs in East Jerusalem,” said Qaraeen, explaining that even if he has the opportunity, he will not study abroad for fear that his residency rights will be revoked.

Although he said he doesn’t expect much from the petition to the Israeli high court, Qaraeen added that he hoped some change or alteration to the way the laws are applied to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem is possible.

“It’s also an attempt to refresh people’s minds and consciousness regarding the revocation of residency in East Jerusalem. We hope to force the issue into public opinion, into people’s minds,” he said.

“It’s about breaking the barrier of fear. Even as occupied [people], we do have the right to petition against the law and to have our voices heard.”

~

Originally from Montreal, Jillian Kestler-D’Amours is a reporter and documentary filmmaker based in occupied East Jerusalem. More of her work can be found at http://jilldamours.wordpress.com.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | Leave a comment

‘Bahrain police abduct 6 female teachers’

Press TV – April 19, 2011

Teachers join anti-government protesters on February 20, 2011 in Manama, Bahrain.

Bahrain police have abducted six female teachers from school in Muharraq following the regime’s crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The teachers were kidnapped on Tuesday, witnesses said.

On Monday, Bahraini security forces arrested eight teachers and several pupils in the town of Hamad.

Meanwhile, the Bahraini education ministry formed a committee tasked with taking action against school officials taking part in anti-government protests and strikes.

Reports said some heads of schools, administration staff as well as teachers have already been summoned for questioning.

To express solidarity with the ongoing revolution, thousands of teachers, called by the Bahrain Teachers Society, went on a strike in February and again during in March.

People in Bahrain have been protesting since February 14, demanding an end to the rule of the Al Khalifa dynasty.

Demonstrators maintain that they will hold their ground until their demands for freedom, constitutional monarchy as well as a proportional voice in the government are met.

Bahraini forces with the help of Saudi, the UAE and Kuwaiti troops have cracked down on the anti-regime protesters. Many people have gone missing since the beginning of the revolution.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

Israeli army blocks access by car to Palestinian neighborhood with more than 150 residents

B’Tselem | April 14, 2011

The village of Khirbet a-Deir, which lies next to the village of Tuqu’, is built on both sides of Route 356 that connects Bethlehem and Hebron. On 9 February 2011, a bulldozer accompanied by two army jeeps laid dirt piles and boulders at the two entrances to the Abu Ghassan neighborhood, which is the northern section of the village, and at the entrance to the nearby village of al-Halqum, thus blocking access by car through these entrances. The action was taken without informing the residents in advance and without explanation.

Residents of Abu Ghassan carry provisions on foot. Photo: Suha Zeid, B'Tselem, 10 Feb. '11.
Residents of Abu Ghassan carry provisions on foot. Photo: Suha Zeid, B’Tselem, 10 Feb. ’11.

Following firm exchanges between residents and representatives of the Civil Administration, the army opened the entrance to al-Halqum the same day. The entrances to the Abu Ghassan neighborhood remain closed. As a result, 150 people have been left with no ability to access their neighborhood by car.

Taysir Abu Mifrah, who works for the Tuqu’ Municipality, went to the Etzion Coordination and Liaison Office the day after the piles were laid, to find out why the entrances had been blocked. He was told that the action had been taken for security reasons, and also because the access roads are close to a dangerous curve in the main road.

A supply truck blocked from entering the village. 10 Feb. '11.
A supply truck blocked from entering the village. 10 Feb. ’11.

For more than a month now, residents of Abu Ghassan have had to leave their cars on the main road and climb over the dirt piles and boulders to reach home. They have to carry all shopping products, including gas canisters and animal feed, on their backs. As the village has no medical services whatsoever, residents have carry persons needing medical care over the piles and boulders to reach the main road. Children meeting the school bus are in danger, as they now have to walk out to the main road.

The blocking of car access to an entire neighborhood infringes the villagers’ rights to freedom of movement, to earning a livelihood, and to receiving medical treatment. On 14 April 2011, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel wrote to the military commander of Judea and Samaria, demanding that the blocks be removed immediately.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Israeli army used white phosphorous in latest attack on Gaza

Medical examinations point to the continued use of prohibited weapons by Israel in Gaza

Saleh Naami | Al-Ahram | 18 Apr 2011

The head of the justice department’s medical examiner’s office in the Gaza Strip, Ihab Keheal, has stated that examinations conducted by his office have unveiled evidence indicating that the Israeli army used white phosphorous and other internationally prohibited weapons in its latest operation in Gaza.

Making his comments in a press statement released Monday, Keheal said that the bodies of Palestinians killed in the latest escalations were torn apart and charred to the extent that they were barely recognizable.

Keheal added that his office was conducting delicate tests to discover the instruments used by the occupation army in its operations on civilians, including weapons and chemical munitions forbidden under international law.

The Palestinian Ministry of Justice, according to Keheal, is in contact with committees responsible for documenting war crimes as well as Palestinian and international rights organizations.

He hopes the reports issued by his office could be used to try the Israeli occupation for its crimes in an international court of justice.

In this way, explained Keheal, it is of the utmost importance that the world is aware that the occupation forces persist in using internationally forbidden weaponry against Palestinian civilians. He called on the world to take responsibility and protect civilians especially in light of Israel’s renewed threats of launching military operations on the Gaza Strip.

In the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, which claimed the lives of 1,400 Palestinians, most of which were civilians, Israel admitted using white phosphorous against civilian targets in the strip.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | Leave a comment

The Israeli Lobby’s Poisonous Influence on US Policy

By Stephen Lendman | April 19, 2011

In his powerful 2006 book titled, “The Power of Israel in the United States,” James Petras explained the enormous Jewish Lobby influence on US Middle East policies. Often harming American interests, they’re pursued anyway because of its grassroots and high-level control over government, business leaders, academia, the clergy and mass media since at least the 1960s.

As a result, anyone challenging Israeli policy risks being intimidated, blackmailed, smeared, pressured, removed from positions of authority, or called a national security or terrorist threat, leaving them vulnerable to unprincipled ostracization, persecution or worse.

Among America’s 52 Conference of Major American Jewish Organization(s) (CPMAJO), the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest, founded in 1897.

Established by B’nai Brith in 1913, perhaps the Anti-Definition League is best known.

However, in terms of its influence over US Middle East policies, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) stands out. Calling itself “America’s Pro-Israel Lobby,” it’s represented Israeli interests since founded in 1953, then incorporated in 1963 as a division of the American Zionist Council (AZC), its precursor.

In 1962, Attorney General Robert Kennedy ordered AZC to register as the foreign agent of the Jewish Agency for Israel (responsible for Israeli immigration) under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). In 1963, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee investigated AZC’s stealth Jewish Agency funding. Weeks later, AIPAC was incorporated, replaced AZC, was later granted tax exempt status retroactive to 1953, refuses to register as an foreign Israeli agent, and gets away with it.

Today, masquerading as a domestic lobby, it’s a stealth foreign Israeli agent, supporting policies harming US interests. Calling itself “America’s leading pro-Israeli lobby,” its web site says it “works with both Democratic and Republican political leaders to enact public policy that strengthens the vital US-Israel relationship.”

In fact, functioning as a virtual fifth column, it’s poisoned the body politic since exempted from operating lawfully. As a result, as part of the destructive Israeli Lobby, it has virtual veto power over war and peace, trade and investment, multi-billion dollar arms sales, and all Middle East policies under Democrat and Republican administrations alike.

Ralph Nader calls Washington corporate occupied territory. It’s also Israeli Lobby-controlled, including AIPAC, assuring what Israel wants, it gets, but not without independent voices denouncing its poisonous influence.

Included are Jewish organizations against Zionism, a topic addressed in a previous article, accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2009/12/jews-against-zionism.html

It discussed Zionism’s hidden history, as well as opposition groups, including:

– True Torah Jews Against Zionism;

– Not In My Name;

– Jewish Voice for Peace;

– Brit Tzedek V’Shalom;

– Tikkun;

– Satmar;

– Jews Against Racist Zionism; and

– Neturei Karta International.

With like-minded organizations and individuals, they oppose a racist, extremist, undemocratic, militant ideology, relying on belligerence, occupation, repression and dispossession, contrary to core Judaic dogma, principles and tradition. They believe it harms all Jews worldwide, and that peace, reconciliation, and co-existence aren’t possible until it’s repudiated and rejected.

Confronting AIPAC

The Anti-AIPAC Group’s Facebook page calls itself:

“against Zionist lobbying installed in the United States, in particular linked to AIPAC….(an organization) constitut(ing) a danger to peace in the world because it imposes its goals (ahead) of the shared interest(s) of America….”

Founded in 1951, the American Friends of the Middle East remains an active anti-Israeli lobby.

Founded in 1980, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) calls itself the nation’s largest Arab-American grassroots civil rights organization. According to the Jerusalem-based NGO Monitor, a pro-Israeli front group, ADC is “very active (in) anti-Israeli political causes.”

Founded in 1982, the Council for the National Interest (CNI) “encourage(s) and promote(s) a US foreign policy in the Middle East that is consistent with American values, protects our national interests, and contributes to a just solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” CNI aims “to restore a political environment in America in which voters and their elected officials are free from the undue influence and pressure of foreign countries and their partisans.”

That position got CNI labeled an anti-Israeli lobby.

An earlier article on the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) can be accessed through the following link:

http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/2010/10/anti-defamation-league-demagoguery-and.html

It says “hundreds of groups….organize and participate in various anti-Israeli activities,” falsely claiming they spread propaganda and don’t promote peace.

ADL’s top 10 include:

(1) Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER)

Formed post-9/11, it’s been activist against war, imperialism, bigotry, and represents other issues, including civil and human rights, and support for Palestinian equity and justice.

(2) Al-Awda, The Palestine Right to Return Coalition

It’s “committed to comprehensive public education on the rights of all Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and lands of origin, and to full restitution of all their confiscated and destroyed property,” according to international law.

(3) Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

In defending civil liberties, freedom of religion, diversity, tolerance, and democratic freedoms, it combats hate groups vilifying Islam and Muslims.

(4) Friends of Sabeel-North America (FOSNA)

It “promotes awareness and understanding” of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict “through educational programs for North American Christians….FOSNA seeks reconciliation between people of the Holy Land in a vision of peace based on principles of a just peace,” including “the urgency of ending US support for Israel’s illegal military occupation.”

(5) If Americans Knew (IAK)

Its mission is “to inform and educate the American public on issues of major significance that are unreported, underreported, or misreported in the American media.” It believes conflict resolution and justice depends on revealing truths, ones major US media sources suppress, supporting the worst of Israeli lawlessness.

(6) International Solidarity Movement (ISM)

A Palestinian-led initiative, it’s committed to resisting Israel’s occupation, oppression, domination, and apartheid through nonviolent, direct-action methods.

(7) Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP)

It seeks equity, peace, security, and self-determination for Israelis and Palestinians alike, through “grassroots organizing, education, advocacy, and media.” It’s the only US Jewish organization providing a voice for Jews and their allies, who believe that Middle East peace is only possible “through justice and full equality” for Jews and Muslims alike.

(8) Muslim American Society (MAS)

As a religious, charitable, social, cultural, and educational group, its mission is to “move people to strive for God, consciousness, liberty, and justice, and to convey Islam with utmost clarity.”

(9) Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP)

By “visualiz(ing) the Palestinian struggle,” it opposes apartheid and occupation through protests, memorials, and other ways, highlighting their plight against Israeli aggression and occupation.

(10) US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (USCEIO)

It’s a “diverse coalition working for freedom from occupation and equal rights for all by challenging US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Based on human rights and international law, it seeks peace, justice, and conciliation by “chang(ing) the US role,” the essential way to do it.

Move Over AIPAC: Building a New US Middle East Policy Conference

Convening in Washington from May 21 – 24, coinciding with AIPAC’s annual meeting, it highlights a “time for a new foreign policy,” replacing AIPAC’s-controlled one. Access its web site for more information, including how to attend, through the following link:

http://www.moveoveraipac.org/about-us/

Over 50 peace and justice groups are participating sponsors, “bring(ing together) activists and concerned citizens from around the country to learn” about AIPAC’s destructive influence on US Middle East policy, and “how to strengthen an alternative that respects the rights of all people in the region.”

Organizational Endorsers and Partners include:

– American Jews for a Just Peace;

– American Friends Service Committee: Pacific Mountain Region;

– Americans United for Palestinian Human Rights;

– Build Bridges Not Walls;

– Citizens for Justice in the Middle East;

– Citizens for Palestinian Self-Determination;

– Coalition for Palestinian Rights;

– CODEPINK: Women for Peace;

– Global Exchange;

– If Americans Knew;

– Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions USA (ICHAD-USA);

– Middle East Children’s Alliance;

– Rachael Corrie Foundation;

– Stop AIPAC;

– United for Peace and Justice; and

– dozens more.

Speakers include, Helen Thomas, Ralph Nader, Ali Abunimah, John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt, Phyllis Bennis, former Senator James Abourezk, Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Laila El Haddad, Anna Baltzer, and many others.

A Final Comment

AIPAC is a malignancy in America, lobbying for:

– regional wars and occupation;

– Gaza’s siege;

– Palestinian persecution, exploitation, disempowerment, and isolation; denying them their fundamental guaranteed rights under international law;

– Israeli’s Apartheid Wall;

– dispossession and illegal settlements;

– neutralizing Israel’s adversaries;

– subsidizing Israel lavishly with annual billions of dollars and latest weapons and technology; and

– overall placing Israel’s interests over America’s, a scandalous agenda nearly the entire Congress and every administration endorse.

Returning America’s agenda to sanity starts with expunging this corrupting influence, replacing it with a new moral ethic for peace, reconciliation, co-existence, and equal respect for the rights of everyone abroad and at home.

~

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | Leave a comment

Seven thousand armed forces positioned throughout Suleimaniya, secret police detain 1000 students

CPTnet | 19 April 2011

Following sixty-two days of continuous protest in Suleimaniya Iraq against corruption within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the government has revoked legal permission for protest, and a source within the armed Peshmerga Forces told CPT that forces received orders to shoot to kill any demonstrators today.

The otherwise nonviolent demonstrations in Suleimaniya at Azadi (Freedom) Square ended in major violence on 17 and 18 April. On both days, security forces formed a ring around Azadi Square. Claiming groups of young men throwing rocks had provoked them, the forces entered the square containing about 1000 unarmed and nonviolent demonstrators, shooting tear gas and live bullets. They also beat people with batons as they tried to clear square of all demonstrators. At 6:30 p.m., 18 April, the armed forces burned down the stage and platform used by speakers at the demonstration.

Nine people have died and close to 1000 have been injured since the demonstrations began on 17 February 2011. Hundreds have been arrested and disappeared. The independent television station, NRT was burned to the ground in February and authorities have detained, beaten, kidnapped, and tortured hundreds of journalists.

Today, 19 April, at 11:00 a.m., the Asaish (secret police) took hostage approximately 1000 students from Suleimaniya University who were planning to demonstrate at the Suleimaniya Courthouse.

Seven thousand Peshmerga, Asaish, and Emergency Protection Forces loyal to PUK party leaders are positioned throughout the city of Suleimaniya as of this morning, 19 April.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption | Leave a comment

Israeli occupation forces seize Palestinian homes for military use

Palestine Information Center – 19/04/2011

AL-KHALIL — The Israeli occupation force (IOF) has transformed several Palestinian homes in Al-Khalil province in the south West Bank into military posts and observation points.

The IOF turned the home of Palestinian man Issa al-Farroukh located on the intersection of Beit Anoun and Saeer overlooking Highway 60 into a military post, locals told the Palestinian Information Center. Several soldiers in full gear stationed themselves on the roof and restricted the zone to secure Passover celebrations of Jewish settlers.

The forces also seized the roof of the home of Omar Shabbana near the entrance of Bani Naim overlooking the highway and turned it into a permanent observation point. They said the home was near the site where a family of four Jewish settlers was killed nine months back.

The IOF has seized a number of rooftops in homes surrounding the Kiryat Arba settlement and turned them into observation posts. Residents were denied access to the roofs because of alleged security reasons related to the Jewish Passover.

The IOF has imposed a complete closure of the West Bank for ten days and closed the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al-Khalil for Wednesday and Thursday for the Jewish celebrations.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | Leave a comment

   

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