Saturday, August 30, 2008

No Wonder the Mooses Were Savage!

That picture [above] was provided to the press by her family, by the way. They evidently think that America will be charmed by this image of mother and daughter bonding over blood sports. The family that slays together, stays together.

Portion of blog article from Whatever It Is I'm Against It.

From Dennis Perrin's Blog: "Savage Moose"

I'm beginning to like John McCain's avant garde move. Time will tell whether Sarah Palin is Spiro Agnew/Dan Quayle, or if she's simply William Miller, Barry Goldwater's 1964 running mate, who gave us his daughter Stephanie, the wacky, kooky lib radio host. I stopped listening to Miller's show months ago, but I'm certain that she, along with libloggers and their legion of dittoheads, is alternating mocking McCain's choice, and acting offended, given the august nature of the presidential sweepstakes.

It's the latter reaction that I find most amusing, and typical. Why, many liberals thunder, Palin's inexperience is an insult to our grand political institution! Should McCain be elected then die in office, this neophyte will be in charge! President Palin! Outrageous! Inexcusable! Irresponsible! Something like this could damage the presidency and the country! The horror!

If a President Palin would truly reduce our empire to a laughingstock and further blunt its effectiveness, then slap that bumpersticker on my Fusion. The MILF-In-Chief drags America down the fucking toilet, firing a Colt 6933 M4 Commando in the air, wearing her Miss Alaska Runner Up sash, her soft lips forming a crazed pageant smile. Hoo boy! Bet you didn't see that ending coming! I think McCain knows exactly what he's doing. The old gook killer pulls one last lunatic stunt before he becomes fertilizer. Only in America.

As much as I would enjoy seeing that, I seriously doubt that McCain/Palin will win. No, my friends, we will be saddled with competent imperialism, a smooth managerial form of mass murder and exploitation, as liberals applaud and salute the flag, finally free to show their superior patriotism. The cheers and tears at INVESCO Field as Obama promised more war was only the first stanza. Since then, at various liberal sites, numerous commenters rehearse their pro-war tunes, preparing to assume their role as Obama's obedient chorus. Eight years of bottled rage is pouring out, blood is in the air, and the Savage Mules file their teeth into enamel stilettos.

If nothing else, I get another book out of this. Happy times.

Pregnant Woman Tear-gassed in Ni’lin as Israeli Army Injures Many

Found on Uruknet here: http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=46787&s2=30
from International Solidarity Movement report


On Thursday 28th of August, at around 11am Israeli soldiers invaded the town of Ni’lin, occupying the clinic and shooting tear gas at children who were walking home from school.

Photos courtesy of Activestills

This invoked a reaction from some Palestinian youth from within the town who began to throw rocks back at the soldiers. Soon after, the soldiers fired a tear gas canister breaking a window of a house and gassing a mother and her baby inside the room severely. After this, the Israeli soldiers began to push further into the town coming close to its main square, shooting tear gas into the main square and to the houses beyond it. The soldiers then began to fire rubber-coated steel bullets at the Palestinians hitting one man aged 38, in the chest, who was working near the clinic. The man was hospitalised by his injuries.

The demonstration, scheduled for 2pm was delayed slightly by the situation within the town, but began at 2:45pm. Numbers in the demonstration were reduced by the presence of the Israeli army inside the town, but there were around 50 demonstrators present. The demonstration began by walking through olive trees towards the site where bulldozers are preparing the wall to be built. When protesters reached halfway between the bulldozer and the town, army from in front and behind began to fire tear gas at them. At the same time the army fired four tear gas canisters into a family’s tent. This caused a huge amount of distress to the persons inside, aggravated by the fact that there were many children and a pregnant woman in the tents at the time. One child aged 4 and the pregnant woman aged 24 who breathed in a lot of tear gas were taken to the clinic. The pregnant woman lost consciousness from the tear gas and had to be carried into a car to take her to the clinic. The doctor in the clinic said that while inside the clinic she regained consciousness, but had suffered shock and didn’t speak all day. The demonstration ended with the protestors leaving via a road away from the soldiers, while being shot at with gas canisters. However, two Palestinians and one Israeli were caught by the border police and detained. One of the Palestinians was a 15 year old boy from Ni’lin filming for B’Tselem - the brother of Salaam, the girl who filmed the notorious video of Ashraf Abu Rahme being shot while bound by the Israeli army.

During the demonstration inside the town two boys had been shot by rubber coated steel bullets. One who was aged 13 had been tear gassed inside his house forcing him onto the street, where he was shot from close range into his leg. The bullet broke the bottom part of his leg. The other was an 18 year old boy who was hit in the upper leg causing bruising.

After the demonstration the army were still occupying most of the north side of the town, and were firing close to the main square. During this time the army shot a boy aged 13 in the head with a rubber coated steel bullet. The bullet caused his head to bleed a lot and he was taken to hospital. The army left the town at 4:30.

This type of scene is a regular occurrence in Ni’lin with demonstrations against the apartheid wall which, when built will steal 50% of Ni’lin’s remaining farm land. In addition to this, the wall, alongisde the creation of a tunnel which will be the only route into Ni’lin and will be closed daily at 7pm by the Israeli army, will make life impossble for many inside Ni’lin. For example, the ability for students to study outside Ni’lin, ability for workers to work outside Ni’lin, and trade between the villages in the region will all be made very dificult. The affect of this will be that many residents of Ni’lin will be forced to move away to find work and life somewhere else.


Free Gaza -- Looks Like Boats ARE the Only Way Out

Good Morning from Gaza City,

The boats of SS Liberty and SS Free Gaza arrived safely in Larnaca
Cyprus last night with some of the original passengers and 9
Palestinians from the Gaza Strip aboard.

About 9 of our original international passengers stayed on in Gaza
to do media and other work.

Yesterday, British Journalist Lauren Booth and I attempted to exit
via Eretz Crossing into Israel, accompanied by sick Palestinians
needing specialty care not available in Gaza.

The Israeli border guards threatened to shoot us, but we advanced
slowly with our arms raised holding our passports up high; We
advanced right through the tunnel right up to the iron gate, but the
Israelis would not open it. The US and British Embassy's gave us the
Royal run around and would not help us.

So after a visit to Beit Hanoun to see the Al Athamna Family, who
are still in a state of grief from the massacre of 19 members of their
family by Israeli mortar shells 2 years ago, we headed back to Gaza
City. So now we are waiting for the Egyptian authorities to let us
out of Gaza through Rafah. They are under pressure from Israel to
keep us trapped in here. Now I am getting a better appreciation of
what it means to be a Palestinian from Gaza.

I will keep you posted as best I can. It has been a grueling, but
very worthwhile month.

Love,
Dr. Bill Dienst, Gaza
http://www.FreeGaza.org

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Only Reason to Watch the Olympics

Portion of Palestine Chronicle Article below:
When four Palestinian athletes marched with the Palestinian flag into the Olympic Games in Beijing it was a statement, a declaration of sorts, that Palestinians insist on their right to exist on equal footing with the rest of the world, to raise their flag without fear and wear their country's name spelled out the way it should be, not as a Palestinian Authority but as Palestine. The 1.5 million Palestinians living in besieged Gaza must have savoured that moment more than anyone else. One from amongst them, Nader Al-Masri, had a big smile on his face as he marched, nervously but proudly. Gaza lived a moment of freedom that day, one that even Israel couldn't take away......"

Free Gaza -- Boats Make it Back to Cyprus Safely!!

For more information, please contact:

Cyprus: Greta Berlin: +357-9908 1767 - iristulip@gmail.com
Cyprus : Osama Qashoo: +357-9779 3595 - osamaqashoo@gmail.com

Jerusalem: Angela Godfrey-Goldstein: +972-547366393 angela@icahd.org
Website: www.freegaza.org

FREE GAZA MOVEMENT announces the arrival at 20:30 (10:30am PDT), Friday 29 August, 2008 of the FREE GAZA and LIBERTY vessels, in Larnaca Harbour, returning from Gaza, and a successful end to this first of such missions.

The historic return voyage represents the first time ever that Palestinians have been able freely to enter and leave their country. The Free Gaza Movement will mark this historic moment with a reception at Larnaca Harbour , as will Palestinians in Gaza , as both boats return safely from Gazan and international waters after a calm and uneventful crossing.

Organiser Paul Larudee: This endeavour has been a huge success, far more significant and wide-reaching than anyone ever dreamt it could be. It has had obvious beneficial effects on the Palestinian people, but also on Israel . In fairness, credit must go where credit is due -- despite threats or obstacles, a responsible decision was made by Israeli authorities not to interfere with our mission and this is a model for the future."

As reported by the world press, news has travelled worldwide of the Free Gaza Movement. Supportive messages have come in, including from UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the OPT, Richard Falk, who wrote:

The landing of two wooden boats carrying 46 human rights activists in Gaza is an important symbolic victory. This non-violent initiative of the Free Gaza Movement focused attention around the world on the stark reality that the 1.5 million residents of Gaza have endured a punitive siege for more than a year. This siege is a form of collective punishment that constitutes a massive violation of Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The siege, the coastal blockade, and overflights by Israeli aircraft all bear witness to the fact that despite Israel’s claimed ‘disengagement’ in 2005, these realities on the ground establish that Gaza remains under Israeli occupation, and as a result Israel remains legally responsible for protecting the human rights of its civilian population. By severely restricting the entry of food, fuel, and medicine the economic and social rights of the people of Gaza have been systematically violated. There is widespread deafness among the people of Gaza that is blamed on the frequent sonic booms produced by over-flying Israeli military aircraft. For this reason the peace boats brought 200 hearing aids to Gaza.”

Mr. Falk strongly urged the international community to take action to uphold human rights in the Gaza Strip.

“Above all, what is being tested is whether the imaginative engagement of dedicated private citizens can influence the struggle of a beleaguered people for basic human rights, and whether their courage and commitment can awaken the conscience of humanity to an unfolding tragedy.”

Or, in the words of Palestinian voyager, Musheir El-Farra, originally born and raised in Khan Younis in Gaza but currently living in Sheffield , UK :

For the first time in my life, I went to Gaza without being humiliated, without having to ask Israel for permission. We did it. We finally did it. And now others must join us and do it as well.”

U.S. State Dept. -- Spreading Slime Instead of Winning Hearts and Minds

CAIRO, Egypt —

The U.S. Embassy in Egypt has offered monetary compensation to the family of a man shot dead by American naval personnel in the Suez Canal.

In the March 24 incident, a security team on a ship contracted to the U.S. Navy fired on several motor boats after warning them not to approach, killing Egyptian Mohammed Fouad.

The embassy says the U.S. ambassador met with the family Thursday and offered an apology and 750,000 Egyptian pounds, or about US$140,000. In return, the family agreed not to sue the U.S. government.

The slain man's brother-in-law, Hussein Abdel-Aaly, says he felt pressured to accept the offer and that his lawyer wasn't allowed in the room when the deal was agreed upon.

A Choice of War Criminals -- Arthur Silber

Portion below; whole thing here: http://powerofnarrative.blogspot.com/

Arthur points out that Al Gore admitted a U.S. war crime at the Democrats' Convention:
After they abandoned the search for the terrorists who attacked us and redeployed the troops to invade a nation that did not attack us, it's time for a change.
Arthur ends his article this way:
In his speech tonight, Barack Obama said not a word about holding anyone responsible for these crimes. But as noted above, how could he? He would have to hold himself responsible, too. Besides, if Obama is elected President, it will be time for "unity," and time "to move on." Accountability? Justice? Forget it.

And that brings us precisely here:
You desperately need to understand this: the next President of the United States, no matter who it is, will enter office knowing that he or she can systematically and regularly authorize torture, order mass murder, direct the United States military to engage in one campaign of criminal conquest and genocide after another, oversee uncountable acts of inhumanity and barbarity -- and he or she will never be challenged or called to account in any manner whatsoever. It may have taken the Bush administration two terms to bring us to the point where such evils are committed and even boasted about in broad daylight, while almost no one even notices -- but this will be where the next President starts.

And for this monstrous, unforgivable fact, you can thank the Democrats and those who whore themselves for the Democrats' success in our disgustingly meaningless elections.
If you vote for the candidate of one of the two major parties, this is your choice: John McCain, war criminal -- or Barack Obama, war criminal.

In view of all this, are people still going to seriously tell me -- are they going to seriously tell me -- that it is crucial to vote for Obama, because McCain is a crazy old man? Why exactly? Are they going to tell me it is critical for Obama to be the next President so that he can systematically and regularly authorize torture, order mass murder, direct the United States military to engage in one campaign of criminal conquest and genocide after another, oversee uncountable acts of inhumanity and barbarity -- and never be challenged or called to account in any manner whatsoever? But, they will whine, Obama would never do that. They may hope he will not, and I hope they are right -- although the prospects are alarming in the extreme -- but he will have the power to do all of it.

There is only so much I can stomach, and there are limits to what I will support. I will not vote for a war criminal, especially a war criminal who has insulated himself from all accountability for his own acts. Barring unexpected developments, I refuse to vote for either of these men. They are both vile, cynical, lying, ignoble, contemptible, sickening human beings. I therefore intend to follow a very different course.

But one of these men will be the next President. May God have pity on us, and may God have pity on the world.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Free Gaza -- Leaving Gaza - Journey Hour One

The SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty left port in Gaza at 3:40 PM, and have
begun their long voyage back to Cyprus. Aboard the ship are seven
Palestinian passengers, including several children. We were able to speak
with Paul Larudee on the SS Liberty just a few minutes ago:

"We're a little over an hour into our return trip to Cyprus and, unlike
when we came in, there are several Israeli naval vessels in sight. We seem
to be the focus of their activity, the center of their attention so to
speak. However they're keeping a careful distance, not really approaching
us. We expect to reach the twelve-mile limit around 7 PM this evening, and
then cross over into international waters.

"When we arrived in Gaza last Saturday, it was the first time in forty-one
years that anyone has freely entered Gaza. But our leaving is in a way
even more significant. Last Saturday, two of our Palestinian members came
into Gaza on these boats. Today, seven more Palestinians are leaving with
them. They got exit stamps from the Palestinian government, they boarded
the ships, and soon they'll be in international waters, and then in
Cyprus. This is the first time, ever, that Palestinians have been able to
freely enter and leave their own country. It's an incredible step forward,
and a sign of greater things to come."

--Paul Larudee, aboard the SS Liberty, freely leaving Gaza.

Denver: Don't Even THINK of Protesting -- Don't Even Be Near People Who Are THINKING of Protesting!

Found on Sam Smith's Progressive Review
http://www.denverpost.com/politicswestnews/ci_10317020

Denver police today moved against a group of protesters, arresting two near the group's "convergence center" north of downtown.

Police said they were drawn to the gathering place for the protest group Unconventional Denver at 4301 Brighton Blvd. after spotting what Lt. J. McDonald termed "suspicious activity."

When police arrived, they determined there was no illegal activity "but they found some items that might be used as weapons," McDonald said.

Standing near the house, Michael Gonzalez, 20, of Seattle said he thinks the only suspicious activity was a man working on his mini bus in front of the house. The bus runs on vegetable oil.

Several officers approached the owner of the bus, who was working on the oil filter, Gonzalez said. The officers had Tasers in hand and ordered the van owner to put his hands above his head.

Seeing the police approaching, another person slowly walked toward the back end of the building, which has been rented by Unconventional Denver for the week, he said.

"The cops grabbed him and slammed him on his head," Gonzalez said.

The officers seemed suspicious of the bus, which has a giant drum in the back used to hold the vegetable oil, Gonzalez said.

The officers also said that bricks laying on the dusty ground could be used as weapons, Gonzalez said.

"The bricks were used to hold down banners that we were painting," he said. "They weren't weapons. They were paperweights."

Inside the building there is one room used as a meeting place, he said.

"It was really intense," Gonzalez said.

The two men, whose names have not yet been released, were arrested for disobeying a lawful order. Police then discussed whether to seek a search warrant for the house but decided they did not have probable cause for further search.

A march from the Denver Coliseum to the Pepsi Center after the Rage Against the Machine concert passed right by the house, and police maintained surveillance of it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Freedom from Religion in Seattle!

Portion below; whole thing in the Seattle Times (no less!) here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008140844_billboard27m0.html

Putting up a billboard saying "Imagine No Religion" at the base of Capitol Hill, in the heart of not-too-churchgoing Seattle, is a bit like preaching to the choir. So to speak.

Mike Christensen knows this. But he's OK with it.

When he paid for the sign about a month ago in support of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, his goal never was to change people's minds. It was to get people thinking and talking. And maybe, just maybe, get a few more members for the foundation, which fights for the separation of church and state.

Mission accomplished.

The 14-foot-by-48-foot billboard, on Denny Way near Stewart Street, has brought in five new members and about 20 prospective ones, according to the Wisconsin-based foundation.

"I like the phrase 'Imagine No Religion' because it doesn't make a judgment," said Christensen, 28, a software engineer from Redmond. "It provokes thought."

Christensen, an atheist, joined the Freedom From Religion Foundation several years ago because he thought the Bush administration was getting too involved in religion.

The 30-year-old foundation started its billboard campaign last year.

So far, it's put up about a dozen signs in seven or so cities, including Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio. The group has a billboard reading "Keep Religion Out of Politics" about six blocks from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and plans to have a similar mobile billboard at next week's Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn.

The billboards are "to remind people that we're here too," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, the foundation's co-president and co-founder. "If we don't make our presence known, as the nonreligious, then religion just wins by default."

Gary Randall, president of the Faith and Freedom Network, a lobbying group for the state's conservative Christian community, supports the foundation's right to express its views through the billboard.

But "I think there's a relentless challenge to anything Christian on the part of the minority who are atheistic and agnostic," he said, citing, for example, legal challenges over religion in public schools.

Support in Seattle

Billboard companies in some cities have refused to put up the foundation's signs, and the group has gotten hate mail from people in other cities where billboards have appeared, Gaylor said.

The Seattle billboard, though, has resulted in support — not surprising, given that in Washington, 23 percent of residents are unaffiliated with a religious tradition.

Dan O'Connell, a high-tech professional in Seattle, joined the foundation after seeing the billboard on Denny and e-mailed friends about it.

He thought the billboard was "extremely brave, given our current climate."

Steve Kaattari, a marine-science professor from Williamsburg, Va., was visiting his son when he saw the billboard. He's now scouting sites for a billboard near his home.

"It just knocked my socks off," he said. "You'd never see something like this in southeast Virginia."

It may be an opportune time to spread the message of non-faith. A recent spate of books such as "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins and "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything" by Christopher Hitchens have made best-seller lists.

A survey released earlier this year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that more adults said they were atheists or agnostics than were raised that way.

But Gaylor believes there's a paradox in that "the danger to the separation of church and state has never been greater."

She points to the foundation's loss last year in a Supreme Court decision saying taxpayers lacked standing to challenge the White House's faith-based initiatives.

Palestinians Have A Right to Their Own Waters

FreeGaza.org announcement

(GAZA CITY, 27 August 2008) - It was standing-room-only in Gaza City studios
today as the Free Gaza Movement held a press conference to announce the
departure of the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, and to reaffirm that 12-14
Palestinians who have previously been denied exit visas by Israel will be
traveling to Cyprus on the two boats. Some of those leaving are students, with
vaild visas or dual citizenship, who have been accepted to universities abroad.
Additionally, one Palestinian professor will finally be able to go back to
teaching in Europe, and one young, Palestinian woman will finally be reunited
with her husband.

Since the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement will not be entering Israeli
territorial waters, and since they will request inspection from both the Gaza
Port Authority before they depart as well as from Cypriot authorities when they
arrive in Cyprus, they expect no interference on the part of the Israeli
authorities when they leave Gaza. By Israel’s own admission, it has no
authority to inspect the boats or the passengers when they leave Gaza.

With the collapse of the Israeli blockade, the Free Gaza Movement will quickly
return to Gaza with another delegation, and invites the United Nations, Arab
League and international community to organize similar human rights and
humanitarian efforts.

The SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty arrived in Gaza early Saturday evening despite
threats that the Israeli government would use force to prevent the nonviolent
human rights workers from reaching Gaza. Since arriving, both boats have
accompanied Palestinian fishermen out to sea in order to prevent Israeli
warships from firing on the Palestinians as they fish, as has happened
regularly in the past. Several of the Free Gaza international human rights
workers will remain in Gaza after their boats leave in order to do human rights
monitoring.

Dr. Vaggelis Pissias, one of the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement, stated
that: “We do not accept that Israel can stop these boats. Palestinians have
the same rights as all other peoples. Why is it that the only people in the
Mediterranean without access to their own waters are the Palestinians?”
###

The Day Joe Biden Threatened to Kick My Ass -- By Rannie Amiri

From Palestine Chronicle

Many, many years later, the memory of a campus speech delivered by Senator—now vice presidential candidate—Joseph Biden of Delaware remains especially vivid. Although the topic was predictably foreign policy, on which he is an alleged expert, the reason for attending was not to hear the verbose senator sanctimoniously expound on international relations. Rather, it was in anticipation of the question and answer session that would follow. At the time, Israel was in the throws of the first intifada.

After responding to a few softballs, a persistent hand was acknowledged.

I prefaced my question with the following two quotes, the first by Winston Churchill:

"The cause of unrest in Palestine, and the only cause, arises from the Zionist movement, and from our promises and pledges in regard to it" (House of Commons, 14 June 1921).

The second, a poignant comment by the late Israeli civil rights activist, Dr. Israel Shahak:

"You cannot have humane Zionism. It is a contradiction in terms" (Journal of Palestine Studies, vol. IV, 1975).

I then posed the following:

"Rather than succumb to the influence of various lobbying groups in Washington, such as AIPAC, and the untold amount of money they use to dictate policy, wouldn't it be more prudent to examine the real effects that collective punishment, daily humiliation, and countless civilian causalities inflicted by the Israelis have on an occupied population, and use that understanding to formulate a more rational approach toward the Palestinians?"

Senator Biden proceeded to walk directly from the podium to where I stood, and, nose-to-nose, we engaged in an uneasy back-and-forth about the influence of the Israeli lobby on U.S. Middle East policy and the heavy-handed approach employed by Israel in dealing with its occupation of Palestinian land.

Shortly thereafter Biden turned, put his arm around my shoulder, and addressed the audience.

"If this was not such a fine, articulate, and sincere young man, and he implied that my vote had been bought, I would give him a swift kick in the ass."

The audience roared in applause.

Nonetheless content that my point had been made and rebutted with only an insult, I sat down.

The next person to be called on was a friend who sat directly behind me who calmly said, "If my father heard you say such a thing, I believe he would have done the same to you first."

An imperceptible smile crept across my face. I realized it was time to leave. We both got up and walked out of the hushed auditorium.

I departed not with the certainty of my arguments, as unpopular as they were that night, or the shaky poise of a student who confronted a senator and self-styled expert on foreign affairs. Instead, it was with the simple satisfaction that my dignity remained intact. A pity the same could not have been said for Sen. Biden.

Israeli Peace Activist and Siege Breaker Arrested

Portion of story below; whole thing here: http://www.metimes.com/International/2008/08/27/israeli_peace_activist_and_siege_breaker_arrested/2834/

GAZA CITY, Gaza -- Jeff Halper, an anthropologist, and head of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD), who together with over 40 international activists from 17 different countries broke Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip by sailing from Cyprus to Gaza on Saturday, despite Israeli warnings, was arrested Tuesday as he tried to return to Israel.

Israeli police confirmed that Halper had been taken into custody as he crossed the heavy militarized Eretz crossing from Gaza into Israel.

He was taken to a police station in the southern town of Sderot were he was questioned and later released. A police spokesman said a decision would shortly be made as to whether to charge Halper, an anthropologist at Israel's Ben Gurion University.

In addition to breaking Israel's naval blockade of Gaza, Minnesota-born Halper is also accused of going into Palestinian territory, which is off limits to Israeli citizens according to Israeli law.

Initially Israeli security officials refused to let Halper pass through the Erez crossing, telling him that he could leave Gaza the same way he had entered, i.e. via boat back to Cyprus and then back to Israel even though Halper lives in Jerusalem which is about an hour's drive from the Erez border.

Halper said that eventually they relented and let him enter the border crossing where he was subsequently arrested. He added that although he had expected to be questioned he hadn't expected to be harassed.

Halper, who has dual American-Israeli nationality, is no stranger to controversy and standing up for Palestinian rights, and in his capacity as the leader of ICAHD has been arrested and detained on numerous occasions as he attempted to stop Israeli security forces from destroying Palestinian homes allegedly built without permits.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Cindy Sheehan's Hotel Room in Denver Bugged

Portion below; whole thing from OpEdNews at link in first line.
Cindy Sheehan returned to her Denver hotel room today to find the door unlocked and ajar. She walked in to discover a man working on her phone, screw driver in hand.

Sheehan reported, in an email,

"As I walked toward my room, I noticed that the door was opened with the security bolt blocking the complete closing of the door. I knew immediately that I had not left the door open, and I double checked to make sure it was the right room because, as a frequent traveler, I have been known to forget my room number, but it was the right room.

I was upset at first thinking that housekeeping had made a mistake and left my room open and I was worried that something might be missing. So I walked into my room and bigger than life, there was a man standing by my desk holding the room phone with a screwdriver in his hand!

I immediately said; "What the hell are you doing? Are you putting a bug on my phone?" He looked like he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and stammered out: "N--no, we are having problems with the phone." I told him to get out of my room because my phone was fine and I called the front desk and the person at the front desk stammered something out about "problems" with some of the phones.

This room was reserved soon after we got to Denver last night because the room we had was inadequate for 3 people. The room was reserved under my campaign manager's name with a CFC debit card. By the time we left for the march, it could have very well been ascertained that I was the one in this room, and the room we did reserve could be bugged, also. I am confident that that's what was happening when I walked in on the "maintenance" man"

You don't come in the room with a screwdriver if there are problems with the hotel phones. You do it electronically, through the system or you hook up a new phone.

She said to me, "How many hotel rooms have I been in the past four years? It was so obvious."

I asked, "Do you think it was Pelosi's people?" since Sheehan is running against Pelosi, for her congressional seat.

She replied, "Of course, I don't know."

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Scottish Palestine Humanitarian Effort Ends in Disappointment

Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2008/08/16/medical-supplies-from-scotland-still-prevented-from-reaching-gaza/

After nearly one month of waiting at the Rafah crossing for Egyptian (Israeli) authorities to give permission to take the van full of medicine to Gaza, and after countless meetings and forms, today, Friday, at 12 noon, Khalil Al Niss arrived at the Rafah crossing to take the van away.





Sailing to Gaza (Not Everyone Got to Go) -- OSAMA QASHOO

This morning I am sorry to find myself back on dry land in Cyprus, separated from my fellow sailors who are now completing the final leg of their trip to Gaza. They are carrying humanitarian and medical aid to a people now suffering both an international boycott and the illegal Israeli occupation. On board the refurbished fishing boats, SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, are more than 50 activists from 17 nations - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, farmers, fishermen, officials, language teachers, piano technicians and one 85-year-old Holocaust survivor - all united in their determination to break the Israeli siege.

After months of preparation, the Free Gaza Movement's perilous relief mission is under way. But I am not with them, despite the fact that I am the only Palestinian-born organiser involved. Last week, my immediate family, who still live in the West Bank, were attacked and terrorised, and I also received numerous anonymous death threats. My family were warned that I must leave the project, and that I must not contact the media. This psychological terrorism now forces me to make a public protest. Though I am no longer on board, I will not leave this mission, even as potential confrontation with the Israeli military looms closer.

The UN has called the situation in Gaza a humanitarian disaster, but the inhumanity goes on. More than 200 civilians have died due to the refusal to let people leave Gaza to seek medical care. The United States, the country that assumes stewardship of the world and whose influence could change the situation, stands by. Worse still, it endorses absurd Israeli claims, such as the recent labelling of innocent Fulbright scholars as "potential security threats" to bar them from taking up their scholarships abroad.

Internationally, the thin veneer of diplomacy has shattered again. On June 19 Israel agreed to halt military invasion and the indiscriminate shelling of Gaza, in return for an end to the launching of homemade rockets towards Israel. Israel has not met its obligations. Gaza's borders, gates that imprison 1.5 million civilians, remain locked, and scant supplies get through. Even medical supplies are being blocked.

I grew up in Palestine and have lived in fear since childhood. The horror of witnessing elders of my family being bullied and humiliated, the daily terror of losing my parents. Watching my family elders being humiliated, the child's voice inside me would cry out silently: "How can I stop this?"

While I was on board the Liberty, I listened to the threatening messages hijacking the ship's emergency channel, illegal for use unless in distress. These voices reawakened a deep, familiar feeling in me: that no matter how civil, kind, non-violent I am, I will always be watched, or far worse, hunted.

Now I realise that the biggest friend of psychological terror is silence. The Free Gaza Movement aims to challenge the physical stranglehold on Gaza, but more importantly, this mission seeks to break the silence for millions of voiceless civilians whose daily stories of persecution go so cruelly ignored by the international community.

When our boats arrived in Cyprus on August 20 to collect the rest of our 40-plus group, news reached us that Israel's deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, Tzipi Livni, had finally responded to our invitation. The Free Gaza Movement had invited her to join the Cypriot authorities, who were coming aboard to search our boats in order to address their security concerns. Citing the Oslo accords, a document from the legal department of the foreign ministry asserted Israel's right to use force against our boats. It claimed that security forces were permitted to detain the vessels upon entry to Gaza's territorial waters, and that the peaceful, unarmed activists on board could be forcibly arrested, detained and "interrogated" in Israel. Why does a peaceful relief mission bring fury, fear and threat from the Israeli government?

Is this the way Israel observes its responsibilities under the Oslo accords? Under the accords and the Gaza-Jericho agreement, the only authority Israel reserved for itself was for "security" purposes. Our boats are no threat. Our David and Goliath mission is a focused, direct action to challenge the inertia of the international community which allows the "humanitarian disaster" suffered by the people of Gaza to continue. The activists carry no arms or threat of violence. If the Israeli government orders the destruction of this mission, it will surely be an act unequalled since the blowing up of the USS Liberty more than 30 years ago, a secret mission of sabotage to draw the Americans into the war against Egypt.

The prospect casts a shadow on our mission. But Liberty and Free Gaza will bring their peaceful cargo to the people of Gaza. Many families will now be gathered on the Gaza beaches, waiting and praying for the boats' safe arrival. For those families, simply to be afloat in these crystal blue seas, enjoying the freedom of international waters, would be a truly wonderful thing indeed.

Osama Qashoo is a documentary film-maker and broadcaster.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Latuff on Breaking the Siege

Found on Palestinian Pundit

Free Gaza Boats Broke the Siege!!!!!!

GAZA (23 August 2008) - Two small boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, successfully landed in Gaza early this evening, breaking the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The boats were crewed by a determined group of international human rights workers from the Free Gaza Movement. They had spent two years organizing the effort, raising money by giving small presentations at churches, mosques, synagogues, and in the homes of family, friends, and supporters.

They left Cyprus on Thursday morning, sailing over 350 kilometers through choppy seas. They made the journey despite threats that the Israeli government would use force to stop them. They continued sailing although they lost almost all communications and navigation systems due to outside jamming by some unknown party. They arrived in Gaza to the cheers and joyful tears of hundreds of Palestinians who came out to the beaches to welcome them.

Two small boats, 42 determined human rights workers, one simple message: “The world has not forgotten the people of this land. Today, we are all from Gaza.”

Tonight, the cheering will be heard as far away as Tel Aviv and Washington D.C.

QUOTES FOR PUBLICATION

“We recognize that we’re two, humble boats, but what we’ve accomplished is to show that average people from around the world can mobilize to create change. We do not have to stay silent in the face of injustice. Reaching Gaza today, there is such a sense of hope, and hope is what mobilizes people everywhere.”
--Huwaida Arraf.

Huwaida is Palestinian-American, and also a citizen of Israel. She’s a human rights activist and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. In 2007 she received her Juris Doctor from American University in Washington D.C. Currently she teaches Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. Huwaida sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Liberty.

“We’re the first ones in 41 years to enter Gaza freely - but we won’t be the last. We welcome the world to join us and see what we’re seeing.”
--Paul Larudee, Ph.D.

Paul is a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement and a San Francisco Bay Area activist on the issue of justice in Palestine. He sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Liberty.

“What we’ve done shows that people can do what governments should have done. If people stand up against injustice, we can truly be the conscience of the world.”
--Jeff Halper, Ph.D.

Jeff is an Israeli professor of anthropology and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a non-violent Israeli peace and human rights organization that resists the Israeli occupation on the ground. In 2006, the American Friends Service Committee nominated Jeff to receive the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with Palestinian intellectual and activist Ghassan Andoni. Jeff sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Free Gaza.

For More Information, please contact:

(Gaza) Huwaida Arraf, tel. +972 599 130 426

(Gaza) Jeff Halper, tel. +972 542 002 642

(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo, tel. +357 99 793 595 / osamaqashoo@gmail.com

(Jerusalem) Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, tel. +972 547 366 393 / angela@icahd.org

'This Election is Winnable': Cindy Sheehan

End portion of Josh Frank interview of Cindy Sheehan below; whole thing (from Palestine Chronicle) here: http://www.palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=14098
As people know, I think she is right about the import of her campaign against Pelosi. Go Cindy!

Frank: Ultimately, what you expect to achieve by running againt. Pelosi this year? And what can members of the antiwar movement do to learn more about your campaign?

Sheehan: I expect to achieve victory against the war machine.

I realize that win or lose, we still have a long way to go in achieving a better world, but taking out Pelosi will be a significant step in the right direction.

I believe that we have marched as far as we can go; signed as many petitions as we can; knocked on too many Congressional office doors; and sang too many verses of "We shall overcome." This campaign is the most significant action an anti-war person can be involved in until November 4th.

To learn more about our campaign, people should visit our site at: www.CindyForCongress.org.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Indymedia Seattle Interview with Cindy Sheehan (Running Against Pelosi)

Take The Siege Away- A Call from Gaza

Gazans Live Back in the Middle Ages!

August 21, 2008

The suffering and the torture could be a reason for nation's collapse or fall down. However, it could be a way to achieve victory or some of its commencements. I always gather my ideas to penetrate this suffering to tell the story of my people through my words.

I having nothing but a strong will to write and tell the untold story of my people in the besieged Gaza strip. I truly became addicted on reporting daily sufferings encountered by 1.5 million besieged in Gaza, the New Biggest Concentration Camp!

I was so happy regarding a truce held in Gaza between the Israel and some Palestinians. I reckoned as many Gazans it could be a way out of siege protracted for more than a year. Yet, I was disappointed as Israelis violate what they have promised to do. Now, the truce is going perfectly on our side. So, our reward should have been lifting the siege imposed by Israel. But, unfortunately, siege is tougher now. Israel fools the world by saying she has lifted the siege. Previously and in time of calm, we have had around 400 the vans of various goods daily. But as for now, we are having less than 90 per day restricted on some goods. So, How Could Israel did its obligations?

Israel determines what goods and commodities we should have in Gaza. Therefore, if we need a new commodity we should exchange it by another one! At the end of the day, we will have nothing except what Israel wants.

I visited the southern areas of Gaza strip and in there I discovered that Gazans are back 100 years ago. They started to use fire in cooking due to the severe shortage of Gas. I so many people near some gas stations waiting in a row to get a bottle of Gas. Some awaited for hours, days and even months! I might be exaggerating, but No this is a fact! The reason behinds this crisis is that people are using gas for cars since Israel still declining most of fuel deliveries to Gaza.

"Gaza is largely dependent on Israel for its supply of fuel and electricity. Already there are frequent power outages as a result of Israel's destruction of the main Gaza power plant in 2006 and subsequent damage to electricity transformers. (For instance on 14 November the IDF struck an electricity transformer in Beit Hanoun which knocked out power for 5,000 people in the area.) The supply of water is also affected and there is insufficient power for water pumps. As a result, 210,000 people are able to access drinking water supplies for only 1-2 hours a day. Sewage is also a problem: sewage plants require repairs but materials, such as metal pipes and welding machines, have been prohibited by Israel on the grounds that they may be used for making rockets. At present there is a real danger that sewage plants could overflow. Cutting off fuel and electricity will exacerbate an already dangerous situation. It will endanger the functioning of hospitals, water services and sewage, as well as depriving residents of electricity for refrigerators and household appliances. A humanitarian catastrophe is contemplated if Israel continues to reduce fuel and carries out its threat to reduce electricity supplies." UN General Assembly, 21 January 2008.

To see more pictures and the whole story go to: http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=46592&s2=22

Sameh A. Habeeb
Freelance Journalist based in the Gaza, Palestine
Mob: 00972599306096
Tel: 0097282802825
E-mail: Sam_hab@hotmail.com
Sameh.habeeb@gmail.com
Web: www.gazatoday.blogspot.com

Gaza Patients Continue Painful Wait for Urgent Medical Treatment

From Palestine Center for Human Rights via Uruknet

August 21, 2008

'I have been sick for more than a year now. Five months ago I was finally diagnosed with cancer of my bladder. I was working at the Islamic University here in Gaza city, but now I am stuck at home, and taking a diet of painkillers.’

Ahmed Hisham Abu Shawish is fourty six, but he looks older. His skin is tinged with grey and he sits slumped forward in his chair. He used to work full time at the Islamic University doing logistical support, but these days is confined to his home in the Al Daraj district of northern Gaza city. He has an aggressive carcinogenic tumour, and suffers from serious hematuria, or blood in his urine. He has to attend hospital every two or three days in order to receive regular blood transfusions. 'I go to the European Hospital in Khan Yunis for my treatment’ he says. This involves a painful journey by shared public taxi several times a week, as the hospital is 30 kilometres away, and the family cannot afford to pay for a private taxi to and from their home.

Ahmed Abu Shawish urgently needs an operation to remove his cancer and repair the internal damage. 'The [Palestinian] Ministry of Health referred me to Echelof Hospital in Tel Aviv for specialist treatment’ he says. "But of course I need a permit to leave Gaza, and my permit was denied. So I applied again with the help of human rights organizations.’ The Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights and the Gaza city based Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) worked together to try to secure a permit for Ahmed Abu Shawish to be able to travel to Echelof hospital. But on 18 August he was denied a permit once again. PCHR has just submitted a formal complaint to the Israeli State Attorney, outlining the urgency of Ahmed Abu Shawish’s case, and asking he be immediately issued a permit by Israel in order to travel to Echelof hospital for his treatment. In the meantime, Ahmed Abu Shawish is confined to his home, where he lives, and waits, in pain, discomfort and uncertainty.

Ahmed Abu Shawish is one of hundreds of Gazans whose lives are suspended because they cannot access the medical treatment they urgently need. According to figures from the Palestinian Ministry of Health (MOH) 600-700 Gazans are currently applying to Israel for permits to exit the Gaza Strip via Erez Crossing, in order to access urgent medical treatment outside of the Gaza Strip, or else waiting for responses from the Israeli authorities to their applications for permits. Gazan patients are referred for medical treatment to the West Bank, Israel or abroad only if they cannot access the appropriate treatment in Gaza. Nevertheless, approximately 50% of those who apply for permits are denied, although, bar the rhetoric of 'Israeli Security Concerns’ they are never informed why they are being denied access to medical treatment that will save their health, and sometimes their life.

From June 2007- June 2008, PCHR documented the deaths of 40 Gazan patients, including thirteen women and nine children, who died either because they were denied permits by Israel, because their permits were delayed, or because they could not obtain the medicine in Gaza that they needed in order to survive. The ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip has decimated Gaza’s infrastructure, stretching education, sanitation and health services to breaking point. Hospitals in Gaza are simply not well enough equipped to carry out the kind of delicate and highly invasive surgery that Ahmed Abu Shawish so urgently needs.

The Egypt brokered Tahdiya or 'Period of calm’ that came into force on 19 June was supposed to see restrictions on Gazans, including severe restrictions on freedom of movement, being gradually lifted. However, two months into the Tahdiya, there have been no major changes regarding freedom of movement for the 1.5 million civilians who continue to be imprisoned inside the Gaza Strip.

If Ahmed Abu Shawish does not receive a permit enabling him to travel to Echelof hospital in Tel Aviv very soon, he will have to resort to having his surgery inside Gaza. 'The doctors at the European hospital advised me to go to Israel for my treatment’ he says. 'The risks of being treated here are much bigger - and I tell you, I am frightened at the prospect of having surgery for my cancer here. How do you think I feel when even my own doctors are telling me that, for my own sake, I need to go and have my surgery in hospital in Israel?’

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Shaden Abu Hijleh -- Murdered in Her Home by Israel

Murdered in Nablus October 11, 2002 by the Israeli Occupation Forces

On October 11th 2002, our mother Shaden Abu-Hijleh (aged 62), a grandmother, peace activist and philanthropist, was murdered in cold blood. Israeli soldiers deliberately shot her without provocation while she was embroidering inside our family home in the West Bank City of Nablus. Over 15 hollow-point bullets, which are banned by international law, were shot directly at our family killing our mother and injuring our father and brother. The bullet holes in our walls and glass door serve as a painful reminder.

For more info: http://www.remembershaden.org/index.htm#Mission

Brave Boaters to Meet Brave Gazans!

AP's List of the Highest - Paid CEOs in 2007 -- NyTimes

The 10 highest-paid CEOs for 2007 at Standard & Poor's 500 companies based on calculations by The Associated Press. The total pay figures are rounded, and are based on the AP's compensation formula, which adds up salary, perks, bonuses, above-market interest on pay set aside for later, and company estimates for the value of stock options and stock awards on the day they were granted last year.

1. Larry Ellison, Oracle Corp., $84.6 million

2. John Thain, Merrill Lynch & Co., $83.1 million

3. Leslie Moonves, CBS Corp., $67.6 million

4. Richard Adkerson, Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc., $65.3 million

5. Bob Simpson, XTO Energy Inc., $56.6 million

6. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs Group Inc., $53.9 million

7. Kenneth Chenault, American Express Co., $51.7 million

8. Eugene Isenberg, Nabors Industries Ltd., $44.6 million

9. John Mack, Morgan Stanley, $41.7 million

10. Glenn Murphy, Gap Inc., $39.1 million

Stephen Lendman: Sheehan vs. Pelosi -- The Issues

Lendman's whole article compares both, but below I've included just some of the Pelosi record.
Whole article here: http://www.opednews.com/articles/-Peace-Mom-v--Guardian-o-by-Stephen-Lendman-080821-408.html

On examination, Pelosi's record is troubling, especially after becoming Speaker and failing to deliver on promises made in the 2006 mid-term election. Along with Senate Majority Leader (Democrat) Harry Reid, they share most blame for why the July Rasmussen Reports gave Congress its lowest ever approval rating at 9% with only 2% of respondents calling its performance excellent. The other 7% called it good. The majority 91% called it fair (36%) or poor (52%). That presents opportunity for Sheehan.

Pelosi on the issues explains why. She:

-- supported the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Blily Act that repealed Glass-Steagall and allowed commercial and investment banks and insurance companies to combine; it opened the door for some of the worst financial abuses now apparent;

-- voted for the September 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for "the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States;" it began the "war on terror," the illegal wars that followed, as well as the Bush administration's coup d'etat against the Constitution and establishment of a police state;

-- opposed the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution responsible for launching the war; but she supported the Afghanistan assault and all illegal war funding;

-- on January 5, 2007 (after becoming Speaker), "informed the president" in writing of her opposition to the "surge;" only supported a non-binding February resolution against it and took no effective action to end it or the occupation;

-- supported the 2007 Responsible Redeployment from Iraq Act (HR 2956); it passed the House, but the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took no further action;

-- supported the 2007 US Troop Readiness, Veterans' Health, and Iraq Accountabiity Act (HR 1591) - the first legislation for supplemental Iraq and Afghanistan funding; it called for ending the occupation by September 1, 2008; a compromise bill was agreed to by the House and Senate; it passed both Houses; George Bush vetoed it, and House Democrats failed to override; a second attempt also failed; Democrats in both Houses (backed by Pelosi) agreed to approve supplemental funding with no occupation withdrawal timetable and clear evidence that their earlier efforts were more posturing than a determined effort to end it;

-- despite considerable opposition rhetoric, indicated her support for the Iraq and Afghan wars (on December 5, 2006) after the mid-term elections when she looked assured of being elected Speaker; responding to questions said: "We will not cut off funding for the troops; absolutely not; let me remove all doubt in anyone's mind; as long as our troops are in harm's way, Democrats will be there to support them....;"

-- voted for every Bush administration Pentagon budget request since 2001; and also supported:

-- the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act - a thinly veiled scheme to destroy public education and privatize it;

-- the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act;

-- the 2001 USA Patriot Act;

-- the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act - it denied detainees habeas rights and let US forces use cruel, abusive, inhumane and degrading treatment in the interest of national security;

-- the 2006 Homeland Security Department Authorization Act;

-- the 2007 Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendation Act;

-- the 2008 and 2009 Intelligence Authorization Acts to fund 13 intelligence agencies; and

-- the 2008 FISA Amendments Act - to weaken standards of proof and warrants required for surveillance and grant telecom companies retroactive immunity for warrantless spying post-9/11.

She's also fully committed to and well-funded by the corporate interests she supports. She voted against withdrawing from the WTO, for NAFTA and for similar "free trade" agreements with Australia, Peru, Chile, and Singapore. She calls democratic Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez a "common thug."

Gaza Boats Leaving at Midnight (Their Time)

Last update - 06:47 21/08/2008
Despite Israel's blockade, boats in Cyprus pass inspection for Gaza protest
By The Associated Press
Tags: Gaza Strip, Cyprus, blockade

LARNACA, Cyprus - Cyprus will allow two boats carrying members of a U.S.-based
activist group to sail for Gaza in defiance of Israel's blockade of the
Palestinian territory, authorities here said Wednesday.

The two wooden sailboats have passed a safety inspection, Cyprus' Merchant
Shipping Director Serghios Serghiou said.

He said the boats have also been given safety certificates from Greece, where
the vessels are registered.

We have not prohibited the departure of the boat, Serghiou told The Associated
Press.

Protest organizer Paul Larudee said the boats - the 21-meterFree Gaza and
18-meter Liberty - will set sail around midnight tonight from Larnaca port for
the estimated 30-hour trip.

Members of the Free Gaza protest group said some 40 activists from 16
countries, including 81-year-old Catholic nun Anne Montgomery, will attempt to
break the blockade Israel imposed on Gaza last year in a bid to set a precedent
for others to follow.

They plan to deliver 200 hearing aids to a Palestinian charity for children and
hand out 5,000 balloons.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said the ministry had told activists in a
letter that all humanitarian aid should be delivered through Israeli-controlled
border crossings. But Mekel refused to say how Israel would respond if the
activists tried to break the blockade.

Thomas Nelson, 64, said the group expects the Israeli navy to intercept the
boats and arrest those onboard. The Portland, Oregon-based attorney said
activists plan to resist any attempts to arrest them in a non-violent way.

Nelson said there is no security threat to Israel here, except the truth and
Israel is afraid of the truth.

Nelson said lawyers from the U.S.-based National Lawyers' Guild would file
legal action against Israel in an appropriate legal forum if Israeli
authorities kidnap activists in international waters.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Indigenous Intifada of the Americas Has Won Another Victory

Portion below; whole thing (found on Marxmail) here:
http://boliviarising.blogspot.com/2008/08/trigger-of-south-america.html

With 90 percent of the ballots counted, it seems that Bolivian President Evo Morales received over 60 percent of the vote in Sunday’s recall election, ensuring that he will stay in office until his term ends in 2011.

Morales, who is a member of the Aymara ethnic group, became the first indigenous leader of Bolivia in nearly 500 years after his inauguration in 2006.

The indigenous people of Bolivia and the rest of South America have suffered through five centuries of oppression, which began with the European invasion and conquest of the Americas.

In Bolivia, the situation has been terrible for the Native Americans, even though it is one of the few indigenous majority countries of the Americas.

The “white” upper class of Bolivia has monopolized power for 500 years while the indigenous people have lived under a caste system which places them at the bottom as virtual serfs.

The upper class of Bolivia identify themselves as descendents of the white European settlers, although many are actually light-skinned mestizos, so there is also an element of denial in the country’s racist caste system, which is often the case in racial caste systems.

The indigenous people of Bolivia were kept down, their rights were trampled upon, and they were given little or no access to social services, adequate health care, and higher education. In addition, they were rarely given the opportunity to acquire higher-paying jobs and most are still not even earning a proper living wage in Bolivia, which is one of the poorest countries in the Americas, despite its vast natural gas reserves.

The “white” upper class retained their privileged status through this caste system, which marginalized the Native Americans for centuries.

And these are the same people who are behind the efforts to oust Morales and the illegal autonomy referendums recently held in the provinces in the eastern lowlands of the country, where many of the “whites” live.

Morales’ victory in the 2005 presidential election struck fear into the hearts of the “white” upper class because they realized that they were beginning to lose power.

When Morales took office and began implementing his plan to restore the indigenous peoples’ rights, rewrite the Constitution, redistribute wealth to the poor, and renationalize the country’s hydrocarbon assets, the “white” community became even more desperate.

The illegal autonomy referendums were a part of their counter-revolutionary response to the threat to their power and privilege.

Che Guevara was killed in Bolivia and his remains were interred in a secret grave there for 30 years until they were discovered in 1997 and sent to Cuba for reburial in a more dignified grave.

It is said that the revolutionary sprit of Che lives on in Bolivia.

Indeed, in one of his first acts after taking office in 2006, Morales hung up a portrait of Che Guevara in the presidential palace.

Commenting on the importance of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Frantz Fanon once said: “Congo is the trigger of Africa.”

And across the ocean, in Africa’s twin continent, South America, which separated when Pangaea broke up millions of years ago, Congo has a sister country, Bolivia.

For today, Bolivia is the trigger of South America.

Bolivia is now the center of the Indigenous People’s Movement of the Americas.

The winds of change are blowing across the continent of South America, from Tiahuanaco to Ecuador and Venezuela.

A Genuine Peace Movement Cannot be Zionist -- Jason Kunin

Ending portion of article below; whole thing here:
http://zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/18478


Liberal Zionists - and I would say that most Jews today are probably liberal Zionists - believe that there exists a solution to the conflicting national projects of Jews and Palestinians: a two-state solution. Like the oft-cited "critics" one finds in Israel, liberal Zionists may openly dislike one or another Israeli leader - maybe Sharon, maybe Netanyahu - support the creation of a Palestinian state, and occasionally even express sympathy for the plight of the Palestinians. If you ask them why such a two-state solution has not yet come into being, they may blame Palestinian leaders for "never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity," as Abba Eban once obnoxiously remarked, or they may, if they're really liberal, blame the Jewish settlers for holding the Israeli government hostage. Regardless of why liberal Zionists believe a two-state solution has not yet come into being, they will all share a belief that Israel's leaders have consistently sought peace.

Where does such blind faith come from? Partly from the fact that it's true. Israel's leaders, in fact, have consistently sought peace - on their terms! Since 1948, they have sought peace with their neighbouring Arab states - provided they accepted Israel's regional supremacy and were willing to drop completely the subject of the Palestinians (which would include any compensation or financial assistance to countries that have taken in Palestinian refugees). They have also sought peace with the Palestinians - but provided they relinquish any claims to their land, forget their history, and, preferably, disappear off the face of the earth. True, since the first Intifada, Israel has taken a more moderate stand and has genuinely sought peace through the creation of a Palestinian state - provided that such as state be completely demilitarized, split into reservations, confined to a minimal amount of the most worthless land, governed by a puppet police state that will do its bidding, and produces for the rest of its existence not a single individual who will engage in any act of resistance. Any Palestinian leader unwilling or unable to meet these expectations has been declared by Israeli leaders as an unsuitable "partner for peace," and they have likely believed it in all sincerity. This is because, if you buy into the Zionist project and its thesis of eternal anti-Semitism - which entails that another Holocaust could erupt at any moment - it is impossible to conceive of any compromise that does not simultaneously preserve a strong Jewish state and ensure the weakness of everyone else, lest they become the next Nazi Germany. It is impossible as well to conceive of any solution that does not allow Israel to retain its status as a "white" nation - remember, this is the model of "normality" that Israel seeks - and therefore any settlement that would see Israel become part of the Middle East is precluded. (Israel's soccer team, not surprisingly, plays in the European league.)

Liberal Zionists who insist that a two-state solution along the 1967 borders is a reasonable compromise are really only in disagreement with hard-line Zionists over how much stolen Palestinian land should be kept for Jews' exclusive use. And since few liberal Zionists, because they are Zionists, are willing to concede the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and there can be no true justice - and therefore no guaranteed peace - without the right of return, two-state Zionism will always be a dead end. Moreover, two-state Zionism is ideologically unprepared to accept the reality that the settlements and settler roads have made a genuine two-state solution possible, leaving only the options of a one-state solution or eternal apartheid. If all you buy into of Zionism is the thesis of eternal anti-Semitism, you will always opt for the latter before the former, for you will be unable to compromise the so-called "security" guaranteed by a Jewish state.

For those who have grown up with Zionism programmed into them from birth, there are simply certain places that the mind cannot go. For this reason, Zionism is the greatest obstacle to peace. Challenging it, unfortunately, is no easy feat since it has become an integral part of all Jewish community life everywhere. The Jewish school, the Jewish camp, the Jewish campus clubs, the Jewish day care, the local Jewish community center, even the shul - in all of these places one absorbs Zionist ideology through osmosis. Unless you belong to one of the anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox sects such as Neturei Karta, to reject Zionism is to tear yourself apart from the connection to friends, family, and Jewish life. Increasingly, there are small anti-Zionist Jewish spaces opening up, and though they are marginal and not always accessible, their importance should [not] be underestimated. Only if there exists the ability to participate as an anti-Zionist and a Jew in some sort of Jewish life will the risk associated with breaking from Zionism diminish. And only by rejecting Zionism can we who are Jewish break free from the trap we have created for ourselves, the trap of a Jewish state.

Jason Kunin is a Toronto teacher. He can be reached at jkunin@rogers.com

"Activists Determined to Break Gaza Blockade Despite Threats"

by Charlie CharalambousWed Aug 20, 7:40 AM ET

Activists said Wednesday they were determined to break the Israeli blockade of the poverty-stricken Gaza Strip by boat despite receiving death threats.

"I've been called personally 17 times and asked how and when I would like to die," Palestinian activist Osama Qashoo told AFP.

"They also called my family in the West Bank and threatened to kill them, so there's lots of pressure, it's moral and psychological terrorism."

Qashoo said he traced one phone number to an Israeli network but couldn't say who was behind the intimidating threats.

Two converted fishing boats carrying 40-odd activists are due to set sail from Cyprus on Thursday for the 370 kilometre (230 mile) sea voyage to Gaza in a bid to break the blockade.

The boats, which arrived in Cyprus on Tuesday, are currently docked at Larnaca port on the island's south coast where Cypriots officials are checking everything is in order.

Although organisers for the US-based Free Gaza Movement fear the Israelis might sabotage the trip, they are confident of reaching their destination.

"We will try leave tomorrow night if everything falls into place, that's the intention," organiser Paul Larudee told AFP.

"People have threatened to blow the boats up, we are worried, but that's not going to stop anybody. I think we will succeed."

In 1988, a ferry planning to return Palestinian deportees to the Israeli port of Haifa was the target of a limpet mine attack off Cyprus's second city of Limassol a day after three Palestinian organisers were killed by a car bomb.

Israel's Mossad secret service was blamed but the Israelis denied involvement.

According to the Free Gaza Movement, the Israeli government contacted the Cyprus authorities to see if the boats could be stopped but was told "no."

The group hopes that the vessels will draw attention to the plight of Gaza's 1.5 million residents. Israel has sealed off the territory to all but very limited humanitarian supplies since the Islamist Hamas group seized control in June 2007.

The activists, mostly American and British, include 84-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein and Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of former British premier Tony Blair who is now an international Middle East peace envoy.

The two boats -- Liberty and Free Gaza -- will sail under Greek flags and carry 200 hearing aids for Gaza children and 5,000 balloons.

"What can the Israelis do to two little boats?" asked 57-year-old Jeff Halper, the only Israeli Jew on the mission. "When might meets justice, justice always wins."

Copyright © 2008 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AFP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Agence France Presse.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

ABOUT THE LIBERAL LEISURE CLASS

Really incisive series on liberalism; Portion of party VI below; whole thing here:
http://chlamor-deepintheheartofnowhere.blogspot.com/

... Let the smart people who drafted the above About Us page do the thinking and planning and talking..they are way more involved and adept than I could ever be.

Liberalism is tied closely to avoidance of political ideas and quickly distracts us towards personal idiosyncrasies ("Choices", "Lifestyles" etc.) in order to avoid substantive challenges to it's vapid discourse.

The trouble all started way, way back, we are to believe, and the solution is psychoanalysis, "being the change we wish to see" and "taking a different spiritual stance" and making "better personal choices." Those are the only solutions – personal, mystical, spiritual, within the unexamined context of consumerist corporate capitalism.

This thinking is highly Eurocentric and arrogant, although in the usual kindly paternalistic liberal fashion. As with so much of modern liberal thinking, collective action is not considered, and personal development is seen as the path to social change. Capitalism is not even mentioned, nor is class warfare. As with much liberal thinking, "we" are seen as quite different and special when compared to "them," although we are not feeling the appropriate guilt for what we have done to those poor inferiors of ours, though we are now wondering as we muse in our parlors if perhaps they did not know something that we have lost.

B'wana in the jungle. The great fucking white hope.

What to DO about the Hottentots?

Well, Maybe There WAS More to Say on Mega-Military Spending...

"The US missile defence system is the magic pudding that will never run out." -- George Monbiot

Portion below; whole thing here:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20552.htm

The US has spent between $120bn and $150bn on the programme since Ronald Reagan relaunched it in 1983. Under George Bush, the costs have accelerated. The Pentagon has requested $62bn for the next five-year tranche, which means that the total cost between 2003 and 2013 will be $110bn. Yet there are no clear criteria for success. As a recent paper in the journal Defense and Security Analysis shows, the Pentagon invented a new funding system in order to allow the missile defence programme to evade the government's usual accounting standards. It's called spiral development, which is quite appropriate, because it ensures that the costs spiral out of control.

Spiral development means, in the words of a Pentagon directive, that "the end-state requirements are not known at programme initiation". Instead, the system is allowed to develop in whatever way officials think fit. The result is that no one has the faintest idea what the programme is supposed to achieve, or whether it has achieved it. There are no fixed dates, no fixed costs for any component of the programme, no penalties for slippage or failure, no standards of any kind against which the system can be judged. And this monstrous scheme is still incapable of achieving what a few hundred dollars' worth of diplomacy could do in an afternoon.

So why commit endless billions to a programme that is bound to fail? I'll give you a clue: the answer is in the question. It persists because it doesn't work.

US politics, because of the failure by both Republicans and Democrats to deal with the problems of campaign finance, is rotten from head to toe. But under Bush, the corruption has acquired Nigerian qualities. Federal government is a vast corporate welfare programme, rewarding the industries that give millions of dollars in political donations with contracts worth billions. Missile defence is the biggest pork barrel of all, the magic pudding that won't run out, however much you eat. The funds channelled to defence, aerospace and other manufacturing and service companies will never run dry because the system will never work.

To keep the pudding flowing, the administration must exaggerate the threats from nations that have no means of nuking it - and ignore the likely responses of those that do. Russia is not without its own corrupting influences. You could see the grim delight of the Russian generals and defence officials last week, who have found in this new deployment an excuse to enhance their power and demand bigger budgets. Poor old Poland, like the Czech Republic and the UK, gets strongarmed into becoming America's groundbait.

If we seek to understand American foreign policy in terms of a rational engagement with international problems, or even as an effective means of projecting power, we are looking in the wrong place. The government's interests have always been provincial. It seeks to appease lobbyists, shift public opinion at crucial stages of the political cycle, accommodate crazy Christian fantasies and pander to television companies run by eccentric billionaires. The US does not really have a foreign policy. It has a series of domestic policies which it projects beyond its borders. That they threaten the world with 57 varieties of destruction is of no concern to the current administration. The only question of interest is who gets paid and what the political kickbacks will be.