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Mr. Ghannouchi Goes to the Washington Institute

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | December 24, 2011

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the think tank created by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee to “do AIPAC’s work but appear independent,” recently hosted Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia’s an-Nahda movement, the main benificiary of the Arab Spring “revolution” in Tunisia. Perhaps fortuitously for Mr. Ghannouchi, WINEP’s tape recording of the event “ran out and was not replaced” before he was asked by “the Institute’s senior research staff and several select, invited guests” questions about the issue that most concerned those present:

During this part of the seminar, Mr. Ghannouchi stated that an-Nahda opposes the inclusion of a prohibition on normalization with Israel in the Tunisian constitution, which he said was not the proper vehicle for addressing the issue.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | Leave a comment

CIA defends helping NYPD spy on Muslims

Press TV – December 24, 2011

The United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) says it has not broken any laws in helping the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to spy on American Muslims.

The CIA said on Friday that its inspector general had found that no laws had been broken and there had been “no evidence that any part of the agency’s support to the NYPD constituted domestic spying.”

An investigation carried out by the Associated Press has found that, after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, the NYPD dispatched undercover officers, known as ‘rakers,’ into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, using ‘unprecedented’ help from the CIA.

This is while the CIA is banned from spying on the US citizens.

The investigation showed that the ‘rakers’ have gathered information on the citizens’ ‘daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes, and nightclubs.’

The report added that the NYPD has employed intelligence agents, known as ‘mosque crawlers,’ to spy on Muslims and “monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.”

The revelations forced the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), James R. Clapper to admit that it did not look good for the CIA to be involved with any city police department.

The Director of National Intelligence, is the responsible United States government official under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 who is subject to the authority, direction and control of the President.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Islamophobia | Leave a comment

Palestinians stopped from crossing roadblock because they refused a strip-search

Palestine Information Center – 23/12/2011

JENIN — A Palestinian man and his sister on Friday were not allowed to cross the Barta’a military roadblock because they refused to be strip-searched.

Local sources said that occupation soldiers stopped Rabab Qabaha while on her way back to her village after giving birth and insisted that she should submit to a strip-search which she refused.

Hamas had earlier issued a statement calling on West Bank Palestinians to reject this humiliating practice which occupation soldiers have started to impose on roadblocks.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

TSA to start searching ground transportation

RT | 24 December, 2011

While two-out-of-five Americans are going to try to avoid air travel this holiday season to avoid TSA pat-downs, strip searches and never-ending security line-ups, they might not find comfort in the glimmering Greyhound stations across the US.

Don’t think a bus or train ticket will keep Uncle Sam from making your vacation this year uncomfortable. The Transportation Security Administration says that they are turning up the heat on potential problem-causers by installing more agents in not just airport checkpoints but in terminals for terrestrial traffic as well.

“We are not the Airport Security Administration,” Ray Dineen, the air marshal in charge of the TSA office in Charlotte, tells the Los Angeles Times. “We take that transportation part seriously.”

How serious? The TSA’s secret counter-terrorism team that tries to topple crimes in transportation centers have run more than 9,000 unannounced checkpoints and other search operations in 2011, and the Department of Homeland Security are asking for an extra $24 million for 2012 to organize even more teams to put in bus stations and Amtrak terminals next year.

Currently the TSA commands 25 “viper” teams — what they call the two-dozen-plus Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response units that conduct the checkpoints from coast-to-coast. The TSA can’t prove that the increase in 2011 did anything to keep crime down on the ground, but George Washington University’s Homeland Security Police Institute’s Frank Cilluffo tells the Times that they need to keep the terrorists “on edge.”

As a result, however, millions of law-abiding Americans that rely on public transportation to get around — whether plane, train or bus— are also being agitated. 93 million residents are expected to use airplanes to get around this holiday season, but more and more Americans are saying they are fed up with the intrusive and questionably legal procedures that the government is conducting to try to thwart terrorism. Even after recent weeks saw a scandal brew out of New York’s JFK International Airport after three elderly passengers complained in just as many days of overzealous pat-downs performed by the TSA, the Administration announced that “the vast majority” of travelers this year can expect to see increased security in airports.

Opponents of the increased security presence don’t see it as a safety precaution, however, and some say that it is only propelling America further into a totalitarian police state.

“This program represents nothing less than a direct assault on the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution,” Jay Stanley of the American Civil Liberties Union wrote on Tuesday. “It’s also an exceedingly dumb security measure. But never underestimate the mindless force of a government bureaucracy seeking to expand its power, domain, and budget.”

From a legal standpoint, the TSA fires back that “the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld suspicious-less searches based on the government’s need to ensure the safety of mass transportation,” recalling a handful of court cases that support the fact. That being said, if you feel like a surprise pat-down while waiting for your bus isn’t only out of the question but against the law, the TSA is ready to take you to court and win.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties | Leave a comment

Two critiques of Norman Finkelstein’s recent appearances

Mondoweiss | December 23, 2011

Daniel Crowther:

Norman Finkelstein and Mouin Rabbani have teamed up to write a book, one with a very ambitious title; “How to resolve the Israel – Palestine Conflict.” On Nov. 30th, they came to the Morse Auditorium at B.U. (after a talk at Occupy Boston earlier in the day) to explain the book, and why it should be read when it comes out. Radical stuff, I know.

Gathered to hear their pitch was a disparate group of students, citizens and school officials. There had been talk of a B.U. Hillel anti-Finkelstein action beforehand, and possibly a walk out during the lecture, but neither came to fruition.

While very few knew that Finkelstein holds views similar in many respects to what we call Zionism, everyone knew that he once called Israel a “lunatic state.” Many of the assembled students were on the edge of their seats, waiting for the fireworks. They didn’t come. Funny thing about most modern day “radicals,” they’re usually the only ones making a rational argument. To be sure, there were points where Finkelstein delved into sensationalism, but his analysis was very sober and careful.

Finkelstein, as he has for many years, said that “the international consensus” is what will drive the settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the larger, Israeli-Arab Conflict. According to Finkelstein, we need to look no further than the UN General Assembly (UNGA) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for our definition of “international consensus.” Both bodies accept the two-state settlement on the June 1967 border, and end to occupation, including East Jerusalem, a “just settlement of the refugee question” and security for both parties.

Advocating one state, without the two- state international consensus in Finkelstein’s view, is potentially damaging and could lead to these advocates becoming “a cult.” He used the language of Gandhi, saying that “politics is not about changing public opinion, or bringing enlightenment to the benighted masses, it is about trying to get people to act on what they already know is wrong.” Because two states is what has been accepted, by the UNGA, the ICJ, the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Conference, the Quartet, and basically every other international organization– as well as civilian populations throughout the world, including a plurality in the U.S.– this is what the general Palestinian solidarity movement should strive for.

Finkelstein had some mildly critical words for BDS and its “vagueness,” stating that in order for the movement to attract a wider audience, goals must be clearly stipulated – to include the final settlement, which in his view, should be based on the June 1967 borders, “two states for two peoples” and all that jazz. This drew the ire of many Palestinian Solidarity movement activists in the crowd. Jamil Sbitan, who is with Boston University’s Students for Justice in Palestine, remarked – “As the Palestinians have a right to self-determination and have called for this movement, it is unfair to tell them that the opinion of international institutions and states is more legitimate than their right to determine their own future.”

Perhaps most surprising of all was the constant stream of students getting up from their seats and leaving, not out of protest, but because they have heard lectures like Finkelstein’s before and- and maybe, just maybe- along the way they have come to agree with the burgeoning “cult” Finkelstein continually warned the audience of. While Finkelstein stressed the importance of mobilization of people toward a resolution based on his definition of international consensus, he eschewed audience member’s questions about the moral question of a two-state settlement, which would undoubtedly leave many Palestinians out in the cold.

“Israel is a reality” was the refrain. Finkelstein was also dismissive of the problem the settlers and the rightward shift in Israeli society pose for a settlement. One audience member asked him, “ You say two-states, but how does that happen without Jews killing Jews? – the settlers are fanatical and will not leave.” Finkelstein brushed the concern aside, saying, “they are cowards – they will leave.” I couldn’t help leaving the lecture a bit dumbfounded, and I wasn’t alone. I went to hear from Finkelstein some new proposals for peace; what I got was a utopian vision that has very little chance of materializing. If international law and institutions held the key for peace, there would already be peace.

Getting Israel and the United States to follow the law – in the mind of many in the audience, including myself – can only be achieved by demanding far more than what is already on the table. Finkelstein fell short of this mark.

In my mind the real star of the show was Mouin Rabbani (link to sourcewatch.org)

Rabbani, who Finkelstein called “the shrewdest analyst on the Israel-Palestine conflict today,” has the unique trait of being very understated in his delivery, but a tremendous force once his words have been transcribed. He spoke of the events of the last year in the Arab world as an “Arab 1848,” whereby a “fundamental change has taken place in the social, economic and political order of the peoples of the region.” Everyday citizens have “broken through the barrier of fear” throughout the region, leading governments to try and counter this change, or move to stay relevant in light of it. Rabbani placed the Palestinian Authority ( PA) in the latter category.

With the election of Barack Obama, the PA believed they had their man. The PA, like most people with knowledge of the conflict, was becoming disillusioned with the idea of a two-state settlement. Under the Oslo process, the Palestinians were “hamsters in the wheel, having to prove their worth at every turn for the crumbs from the American/Israeli table.” With Obama, they thought that “salvation was just around the corner.” He spoke of wanting the U.S. to have a different relationship with Muslims, and of the Israel-Palestine conflict as being central to the current problems, and assigned a Middle East envoy (George Mitchell) within thirty six hours of taking office. Unfortunately, all that Obama had to offer was a “revival of Oslo,” and once this reality set in, “Obama went from a Jesus like savior to Judas” in the eyes of not only everyday Palestinians, but the PA leadership as well.

This posed a problem for the PA. Due to the fragmentation of the Palestinian body during the Oslo process, the PA had to contend with Hamas, who was gaining steam and threatening the legitimacy of the PA. The PA, according to Rabbani, “wanted an achievement.” So, in February of 2011, they went to the UN Security Council with a motion to condemn further settlements in the OPT. The PA leadership, according to Rabbani, thought with the events taking place in the Arab world, and the increased pressure on international institutions by popular movements, the U.S. would be “very wary of vetoing” the motion. The subsequent U.S. veto proved to be “a death blow” for the peace process to date. What the PA was looking for with their next move, the bid for statehood, according to Rabbani, was not “internationalization” of the conflict, but “electric shock for Oslo.” The PA was threatening the US and the Quartet with a “hold me back or I will kill him” scenario. But, a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum – after being “kicked in the teeth” by Obama at the UN, the PA leadership has made it impossible to go back to the negotiating table without a “clear and credible agenda,” it would be “political suicide” for them to do so. The PA’s inadvertent internationalization of the conflict at the UN has lead to a “decided break with Oslo” and potentially an “end to the Quartet” with International Law and UN resolutions becoming the basis for any future talks.

What has to take place first and foremost according to Rabbani, is a “Palestinian National Reconciliation” between Fatah, Hamas, other Palestinian political movements, the Palestinian diaspora and those inside in the Green Line. “Human Agency plays a role” he declared. “Palestinian Solidarity, Arab solidarity and International solidarity need to be mobilized.” While Rabbani agrees with Finkelstein that current political realities lead to “the possibility, if not the certainty, of eventually solving the conflict” within the two-state paradigm, he advocates a full right of return for living Nakba victims and “perhaps” all of their descendants. Will this be problematic for a two-state settlement? Will it pose problems for the authors as they collaborate? We will have to wait and read. One thing is for certain, the students involved in the Palestinian Solidarity movement have a moral clarity you don’t find every day. On the right of return, Kareen Chehayeb had this to say – “I believe in the full right of return, and that if a two-state settlement [was to forego] the right of return, there will be a plethora of new problems.” Now that sounds like a radical.

~

Norman Finkelstein: Scholar, Advocate, Radical, or Liberal/Zionist?

 Noura Khouri | Road2Tahrir | December 9, 2011:

Norman Finkelstein is called an ‘American Radical’, but I believe a far more appropriate term for him, and those who share his views is ‘American Liberal’.

I recently heard Norman Finkelstein speak at the American Muslims for Palestine conference, for the first time following the incredible uprisings and display of people power – which began in the Arab world, and inspired the occupy movement which continue to grow in strength and numbers daily. No doubt an outstanding scholar, Finkelstein has gone to great lengths to research, document and disseminate the ongoing atrocities and war crimes committed by Israel. His thorough, meticulous approach is unparalleled and he’s paid a great price to his professional career, as his advocacy on Palestine caused him to lose tenure at DePaul University. Yet, instead of using his address to seize and build upon our knowledge during this historic moment, I was disappointed to hear him give, almost verbatim, the same talk we’ve heard for years.

For the sake of progress, I believe it’s necessary to understand Finkelstein’s logic and to do so, we must note the line and important distinction, of where his scholarly work ends and his advocacy begins. When the role of scholar and advocate blur, it becomes unclear and difficult for the audience to follow a line of reasoning; creating a schism. The issues he shifts from academic to advocate are some of the most critical for Palestinians and include, but are not limited to: one-state versus two, right of Palestinian refugees to return, and boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS).

He stakes all of his positions on these issues, which are virtually based on the same premises, that we should a) do what is popular or ‘realistic’ b) adjust our language and positions to appeal to ‘global consensus’ for fear that c) if we don’t, we will inevitably ‘turn people off.’  It is difficult to understand from where he comes up with his conclusions and what he lays down to be, ‘realistic goals’. What is clear however, is that all of these positions he urges are heavily based in an antiquated top down model of power and are, it is worth noting, most commonly held liberal Zionist positions. During this historic time it is more important than ever to be critical and understand the role of our allies, while building mechanisms for communication – in order to learn from one another.

Though it’s not complicated to understand once presented with the truth, the corporate media would have us believe otherwise, and the majority of American’s are utterly confused by the situation, issues and facts on the ground. The role of a scholar is to present facts and information, in a clear and succinct manner; which is very important in educating the masses and is desperately needed today. This is especially true for the case of Palestine, as for anyone with a belief in justice and human rights, the facts alone speak for themselves compelling one to join the cause.

The role of an advocate is to take these available facts and use the information to create analysis, build positions and ultimately take action. For many years now, Finkelstein’s stated position has been consistent (with itself). He suggests, like so many liberals, with regards to advocacy for Palestinian justice, that we take a more “practical” or “realistic” approach to the most difficult issues, until we are able to achieve ‘global consensus’.

Despite taking note of the global uprisings and referencing the shift of power in his talk, he continues to selectively advocate for “realistic” strategies, and appeal to this ‘global consensus’. He goes on to define this ‘international consensus’ broadly to mean: “the authoritative political, legal and human rights bodies in the world”1 and suggests that we place our hope in international law and bodies such as the United Nations and the International Court of Justice-despite what he recognizes as their historic inability and/or political unwillingness to enforce their own laws, as they relate to Palestine. He even goes on to acknowledge “one of the best kept diplomatic secrets is that a broad international consensus has long existed on how to settle the Israel-Palestine conflict.”1 and in doing so, displays another example of his confusing and contradictory conclusions.

Using the same logic when speaking about one of the most important issues for Palestinians-right of return, he continues to overlook and thus dismiss altogether, the unlimited potential for people power, handing it over to Zionists: “For now, Israel will not honor a Palestinian right of return; to ‘demand’ it is the emptiest of gestures. That right will be honored only if the Palestinians become powerful enough to enforce it. If or when that happens, that some leaders verbally renounced the right will count for nothing.”

If and when, we amass such a show of people power that we will be able to influence justice to be served, we certainly will not need Israel’s permission to grant us these rights. Just as the apartheid government of South Africa was forced to fall, so will the Israeli system of oppression. Would the activists who worked all those years to end apartheid in South Africa have done justice to their cause if they created goals, based on what they thought the oppressors would be wiling to concede? For 20 years Israel has shown a clear lack of good will to engage in negotiations, or even uphold the agreements they’ve already made!

Another one of his bizarre recommendations is, rather than educate the international community about the racist ideology of Zionism* and Israeli apartheid, he suggests we adjust our language to fit this ‘global consensus’. Would the civil rights, women’s rights or any other movements in the USA have succeeded if they backed down because they didn’t have popular support at the time? Could they have effectively succeeded without talking about the KKK and white supremacy, issues of gender and male dominance etc.? Are we more concerned about protecting people’s feelings, or “turning them off” – than we are capable of/educating the general public about the source of the injustices, and seeking justice for the oppressed?

He builds on this line of reasoning, with regards to perusing the two state solution, by saying that “thousands of Palestinians suffered, sacrificed, even died for a sovereign Palestinian state.” However, I would far more likely characterize Palestinian’s brave struggle and sacrifices have been for the sake of freedom, liberation and justice. And, finally in a blow to the logical thinking mind, Finkelstein admits, in a posting subtitled: The one-state solution is an attractive ideal mistaken for a live option, implies the one state solution is ideal, and goes on to recognize: “of course the two-state solution is unjust. It cements Zionist usurpation of Palestinian land. It lets the perpetrators of this usurpation go scot-free, without so much as compensation for their victims. Worst of all, it perpetuates a state based on racial supremacy. Israel’s notion of Jewishness, the determinant of who should hold sovereignty, is ultimately biological. It is based on kinship. In practice, this kinship does not, as in other countries, depend on tracing family lines back to residence in the sovereign state, but simply on closeness to anyone considered ‘Jewish’ in the racial sense of the term.” 2

He clearly lays out all the reasons to be against such a state, yet still defies his own knowledge of the issue, and astoundingly makes his case for a two state solution. Using the following logic:

“it leaves ‘Jewish property’, including the settlements, in place. Some advocates of the one-state solution are explicit about this, though they never seem to mention it when criticizing the two-state solution. Others don’t speak of the settlements, or make vague references to adjudication – not a promising way to expel committed fanatics.”

Yes, the settlements would remain in place and those who want to live in them as equals would be encouraged to do so. Those who wish to disrupt the process of justice and sharing the land as equals, could be taken in to be held to legal proceedings, in addition to truth commissions and international observers (such as, but necessarily the UN) to enforce the deal.

He also takes a hard, critical look at boycott, divestment and sanctions, a powerful nonviolent strategy, modeled after the case of South Africa, largely credited for ending apartheid. He rejects this strategy, in direct opposition to Palestinian calls for international solidarity, put forward by Palestinian activists and 170 NGO’s in 2005. He does so using the logic that it is divisive and will turn people off.  Yet if Finkelstein were consistent with even his own positions, rather than catering to Zionist critics, he would recognize them as reasonable demands-to cease all relations with the state of Israel, until it complies with international law (demands of BDS call: http://www.bdsmovement.net/bdsintro.).

In fact, we can learn a great deal by Palestinian proponents of the call, who are well versed in steering clear of ideological debates altogether, and care not for semantics of a so called one or two state solution, and instead focus on achieving their rights.

He even continued his talk with commonly repeated Zionist logic, that India has a prevailing caste system and the struggle for Kashmiri independence and gives the example of  so many of the other countries such as China and Saudi Arabia. All of which are indeed unjust and which we should most certainly be critical of! However, none of these countries proudly boasts to be US’s number one ally, or recipient much less largest recipient, of US tax dollars and weapons – without which Israel would never have amassed so much power.

Just as we don’t want a state based on religious purity, we also don’t want to be ideological purists. However, we have gone too long and come too far, to compromise on our most basic rights now. I understand wanting to be practical to achieve political gains. However, Palestinians have already been down that road and in the process, given up so much; and lost everything in the process. We should learn these important lessons from history, and must support allies based in principles and solidarity, rather than compromising our most basic fundamental rights. Besides, why would anyone with absolutely no power to negotiate officially, begin with such week positions when all we have is the truth and our principles.

The overwhelming show of people power globally, shows increasingly that we are no longer waiting for, nor depending on governmental or international bodies to correct the massive number of injustices which are taking place on our planet.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is in nearly 1,500 cities worldwide, and growing in strength and numbers daily. During this most historic moment, and incredible show of people’s power globally, we are discovering, defining and realizing what is possible. We have drawn massive inspiration from those across the globe who literally managed the impossible: to overthrow some of the most powerful US backed allies/dictators- which were, to the West, of utmost strategic importance. Just as the corrupt 1% of bankers, politicians, dictators and war makers are working closely together, so must we. The success of this global people’s movement to achieve our full potential, is directly related to the extent of which we learn to work together, learn from each other and share information.

In the role of an ally it is more important and necessary than ever to actively connect the various issues – from OWS, to Egpyt with the issue of Palestine etc, and show how they are all the same struggle. As the the 99% begin to collectively take matters into our own hands, it is literally impossible for anyone to predict what is ‘realistic’ or ‘possible’. Norman Finkelstein who is speaking to people from all over the country and the world, is in a position of great influence. The international solidarity movement (http://www.palsolidarity.org), the Flotillas (http://www.freegaza.org/) and the Global March to Jerusalem (link to www.globalmarchtojerusalem.org) and BDS (www.bdsmovement.net) are great ways and perfect examples of movements and campaigns for allies of the Palestinian people to support. Otherwise, just stick to the facts Norm! ; )

1. From his article, titled: Resolving the Israel-Palestine Conflict: What we can learn from Gandhi link to www.normanfinkelstein.com

2. Article: Reasoned rejection of one-state position: The One state solution is an attractive ideal mistaken for a live option: link to www.normanfinkelstein.com

*The definition of Zionism is the belief in the right of a Jewish state to exist, which is in itself inherently racist. It is impossible to reconcile democracy, equality and justice with separate laws and standards for non-Jews. The definition of apartheid is ‘separate’, as in laws for non-Jews.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | 1 Comment

Live sniper-fire injures protester in Nabi Saleh

23 December 2011 | Popular Struggle Coordination Committee

Two weeks after the killing of Mustafa Tamimi during a demonstration in the village, an Israeli sniper shot a protester with live 0.22″ caliber ammunition, banned for crowd control purposes.


Protester evacuated after being shot with live ammo in Nabi Saleh today. Picture credit: Oren Ziv/ActiveStills

Earlier today, an Israeli military sniper opened fire at demonstrators in the village of Nabi Saleh, injuring one in the thigh. The wounded protester was evacuated by a Red Crescent ambulance to the Salfit hospital. The incident takes place only two weeks after the fatal shooting of Mustafa Tamimi at the very same spot. Additionally, a Palestinian journalist was injured in his leg by a tear-gas projectile shot directly at him, and two Israeli protesters were arrested.

The protester was hit by 0.22″ caliber munitions, which military regulations forbid using in the dispersal of demonstrations. Late in 2001, Judge Advocate General, Menachem Finkelstein, reclassified 0.22” munitions as live ammunition, and specifically forbade its use as a crowd control means. The reclassification was decided upon following numerous deaths of Palestinian demonstrators, mostly children.

Despite this fact, the Israeli military resumed using the 0.22” munitions to disperse demonstrations in the West Bank in the wake of Operation Cast Lead. Since then at least two Palestinian demonstrators have been killed by 0.22” fire:

  • Az a-Din al-Jamal, age 14, was killed on 13 February 2009, in Hebron,
  • Aqel Sror, age 35, was killed on 5 June 2009, in Ni’lin.

Following the death of Aqel Srour, JAG Brig. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit reasserted that 0.22” munitions are not classified by the IDF as means for dispersing demonstrations or public disturbances. The rules for use of these means in Judea and Samaria are stringent, and comparable to the rules for opening fire with ‘live’ ammunition.

Contrary to the army’s official position, permissive use of 0.22” munitions against demonstrators continues in non life-threatening situations.

Background
Late in 2009, settlers began gradually taking over Ein al-Qaws (the Bow Spring), which rests on lands belonging to Bashir Tamimi, the head of the Nabi Saleh village council. The settlers, abetted by the army, erected a shed over the spring, renamed it Maayan Meir, after a late settler, and began driving away Palestinians who came to use the spring by force – at times throwing stones or even pointing guns at them, threatening to shoot.

While residents of Nabi Saleh have already endured decades of continuous land grab and expulsion to allow for the ever continuing expansion of the Halamish settlement, the takeover of the spring served as the last straw that lead to the beginning of the village’s grassroots protest campaign of weekly demonstrations in demand for the return of their lands.

Protest in the tiny village enjoys the regular support of Palestinians from surrounding areas, as well as that of Israeli and international activists. Demonstrations in Nabi Saleh are also unique in the level of women participation in them, and the role they hold in all their aspects, including organizing. Such participation, which often also includes the participation of children reflects the village’s commitment to a truly popular grassroots mobilization, encompassing all segments of the community.

The response of the Israeli military to the protests has been especially brutal and includes regularly laying complete siege on village every Friday, accompanied by the declaration of the entire village, including the built up area, as a closed military zone. Prior and during the demonstrations themselves, the army often completely occupies the village, in effect enforcing an undeclared curfew. Military nighttime raids and arrest operations are also a common tactic in the army’s strategy of intimidation, often targeting minors.

In order to prevent the villagers and their supporters from exercising their fundamental right to demonstrate and march to their lands, soldiers regularly use disproportional force against the unarmed protesters. The means utilized by the army to hinder demonstrations include, but are not limited to, the use of tear-gas projectiles, banned high-velocity tear-gas projectiles, rubber-coated bullets and, at times, even live ammunition.

The use of such practices have already caused countless injuries, several of them serious, including those of children – the most serious of which is that of 14 year-old Ehab Barghouthi, who was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet from short range on March 5th, 2010 and laid comatose in the hospital for three weeks.

Tear-gas, as well as a foul liquid called “The Skunk”, which is shot from a water cannon, is often used inside the built up area of the village, or even directly pointed into houses, in a way that allows no refuge for the uninvolved residents of the village, including children and the elderly. The interior of at least one house caught fire and was severely damaged after soldiers shot a tear-gas projectile through its windows.

Since December 2009, when protest in the village was sparked, hundreds of demonstration-related injuries caused by disproportionate military violence have been recorded in Nabi Saleh.

Between January 2010 and June 2011, the Israeli Army has carried 76 arrests of people detained for 24 hours or more on suspicions related to protest in the village of Nabi Saleh, including those of women and of children as young as 11 years old. Of the 76, 18 were minors. Dozens more were detained for shorter periods.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | Leave a comment

Chevy Volt Costing Taxpayers Up to $250K Per Vehicle

By Tom Gantert | Michigan Capitol Confidential | December 21, 2011

Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it – a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.

Hohman looked at total state and federal assistance offered for the development and production of the Chevy Volt, General Motors’ plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. His analysis included 18 government deals that included loans, rebates, grants and tax credits. The amount of government assistance does not include the fact that General Motors is currently 26 percent owned by the federal government.

The Volt subsidies flow through multiple companies involved in production. The analysis includes adding up the amount of government subsidies via tax credits and direct funding for not only General Motors, but other companies supplying parts for the vehicle. For example, the Department of Energy awarded a $105.9 million grant to the GM Brownstown plant that assembles the batteries. The company was also awarded approximately $106 million for its Hamtramck assembly plant in state credits to retain jobs. The company that supplies the Volt’s batteries, Compact Power, was awarded up to $100 million in refundable battery credits (combination tax breaks and cash subsidies). These are among many of the subsidies and tax credits for the vehicle.

It’s unlikely that all the companies involved in Volt production will ever receive all the $3 billion in incentives, Hohman said, because many of them are linked to meeting various employment and other milestones. But the analysis looks at the total value that has been offered to the Volt in different aspects of production – from the assembly line to the dealerships to the battery manufacturers. Some tax credits and subsidies are offered for periods up to 20 years, though most have a much shorter time frame.

GM has estimated they’ve sold 6,000 Volts so far. That would mean each of the 6,000 Volts sold would be subsidized between $50,000 and $250,000, depending on how many government subsidy milestones are realized.

If those manufacturers awarded incentives to produce batteries the Volt may use are included in the analysis, the potential government subsidy per Volt increases to $256,824. For example, A123 Systems has received extensive state and federal support, and bid to be a supplier to the Volt, but the deal instead went to Compact Power. The $256,824 figure includes adding up the subsidies to both companies.

The $3 billion total subsidy figure includes $690.4 million offered by the state of Michigan and $2.3 billion in federal money. That’s enough to purchase 75,222 Volts with a sticker price of $39,828.

Additional state and local support provided to Volt suppliers was not included in the analysis, Hohman said, and could increase the level of government aid. For instance, the Volt is being assembled at the Poletown plant in Detroit/Hamtramck, which was built on land acquired by General Motors through eminent domain.

“It just goes to show  there are certain folks that will spend anything to get their vision of what people should do,” said State Representative Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills.

According to GM CEO Dan Akerson, the average Volt owner makes $170,000 per year.

Greg Martin, director of Policy and Washington Communications for GM, wrote in an email, “While much less than the hundreds of billions of dollars that Japanese and Korean auto and battery manufacturers have received over the years, the investments provided by several different Administrations and Congresses to jump-start the country’s fledgling battery technology and domestic electric vehicle industries (not just specifically for the Volt as Ford’s offering will also use LG Chem batteries and Fisker will use the A123 system for example) matches the same foresight and innovation  leadership that other countries are exhibiting and which America has historically taken pride in.”

Martin added that the Mackinac Center’s math was “simple and selective.” However, he offered no data or specifics to support his assertion.

“This is a matter of simple math,” said Hohman. “I added the known state and federal incentives that have been offered and divided by the number of Volts sold. If GM has additional information to add to the public data on the use of taxpayer money, I look forward to seeing it.”

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | 7 Comments

UK flexes nuclear muscles against Argentina

Press TV – December 23, 2011

Britain has once more resorted to threats of using nuclear weapons on non-nuclear armed states in a bid to intimidate members of the Mercosur bloc.

After Mercosur members, including Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay, decided to ban British-flagged military vessels from using their ports, the former head of Britain’s Royal Navy said the British government should send a nuclear submarine to the British-occupied Las Malvinas (the Falklands).

The archipelago is located about 250 nautical miles from Argentina, which has been pursuing its rightful claim on sovereignty over the islands for over thirty years.

Argentina has accused the British government of violating international laws saying the UK’s oil-drilling operation is a clear instance of infringement on international laws.

“Malvinas is not an Argentine cause, it’s a global cause because they are taking our fisheries and oil resources,” said Argentine president Cristina Fernandez.

Furthermore, Uruguay president Jose Mujica considered solidarity among South America’s neighbors as the most significant issue concerning his country’s foreign policy.

“For the moment, this means accepting that this territory is a colonial British position in our America,” said Mujica.

In response to the South American countries’ solidarity, the British government decided to flex its nuclear muscles threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

This is not the first time that the British government proposes the use of nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear country.

In 2002, former British defence secretary Geoff Hoon announced that the British government was ready to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states such as Iraq.

British government’s boast of its nuclear arsenal unveils its hypocritical nature as it is bent on curtailing non-nuclear states’ energy programs while remaining a staunch advocate of other nuclear armed states including Israel.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | Leave a comment

Erdogan: France Committed Genocide in Algeria

Al-Manar | December 23, 2011

It seems that relations between Turkey and France have deteriorated over a newly-voted bill criminalizing the denial of Armenian genocide.

As the Turkish envoy in France left Paris on Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused his country’s new rival of committing “genocide” in Algeria.

“France massacred an estimated 15 percent of the Algerian population starting from 1945. This is genocide,” Erdogan told a news conference after the French move on a massacre of Armenians by Ottoman-era forces.

The Turkish premier accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of “fanning hatred between Muslims and Turks for electoral gains.”

Also on Friday, the Turkish envoy in France had left Paris in protest of the new French law.

France is home to around 500,000 citizens of Armenian descent and they are seen as a key source of support for Sarkozy and his UMP ahead of presidential and legislative elections in April and June next year.

Paris appeared to have been caught out by the fury of Turkey’s response.

“I respect the views of our Turkish friends — it’s a great country, a great civilisation — and they must respect ours,” Sarkozy said in Prague where he was at the funeral of late Czech president Vaclav Havel.

On Thursday, France’s National Assembly voted the first step towards passing a law that would impose a jail term and a 45,000 euro fine on anyone in France who denies that the 1915 massacre of Armenians constitutes genocide.

France’s Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called on Turkey not to “overreact” to a bill that he insisted was a parliamentary initiative, and not a project of Sarkozy’s government.

December 23, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 3 Comments

   

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