vrijdag 2 november 2007
By Nicolas J. S. Davies
Just as U.S. air operations over Iraq have reached their highest level since the destruction of Fallujah in November 2004, with as many as 70 close air support missions flown on many days since October 1, a new Human Rights Report published by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq has challenged the United States to stop killing civilians in illegal air strikes.
The Human Rights Report for the second quarter of 2007 was long overdue, and was finally published on October 11. The report explains that it was modified following discussions with U.S. and Iraqi occupation authorities, and this appears to account for the long delay in its publication. The report makes it clear that U.S. air strikes in densely populated civilian areas are violations of international human rights law. A footnote to the section on "MNF military operations and the killing of civilians" explains, "Customary international humanitarian law demands that, as much as possible, military objectives must not be located within areas densely populated by civilians. The presence of individual combatants among a great number of civilians does not alter the civilian character of an area." UNAMI demands "that all credible allegations of unlawful killings by MNF (Multi National Force) forces be thoroughly, promptly and impartially investigated, and appropriate action taken against military personnel found to have used excessive or indiscriminate force" and adds that, "The initiation of investigation into such incidents, as well as their findings, should be made public."
The UNAMI report provides the following details of 88 Iraqi civilians killed by air strikes, 15 civilians killed "in the context of raid and search operations" by U.S. ground forces and several incidents of torture and extra-judicial execution by members of Iraqi auxiliary forces under overall U.S. command. UNAMI investigated these incidents because a relative, a journalist or a local official brought each one to its attention. Without doubt, the U.S. Department of Defense is aware of many more killings of civilians by air strikes and ground operations, hence UNAMI's urgent demand for full public disclosure and investigation of all such killings. '
Lees verder: http://www.globalpolicy.org/security/issues/iraq/fallujah/2007/1023challengeairstrikes.htm
FAILING TO PROTECT
13 PALESTINIANS KILLED IN DESPERATE BOAT-RIDE FOR SAFETY
Last weekend, thirteen bodies, most likely of Palestinian refugees from Iraq,
were recovered on the coast of Italy after their boats, carrying at least 127
persons in search of safety, had broken apart. These tragedies highlight the
failure of the international community to protect Palestinian refugees.
Saving the lives of Palestinian refugees persecuted in and fleeing Iraq is a
priority. Emergency temporary protection and relocation opportunities must be
provided immediately, until repatriation becomes possible.
Badil calls upon the PLO to request all states, in particular Yemen, to allow
Palestinian refugees from Iraq to enter their territory to seek temporary
protection and/or relocation. Badil also calls upon states, the United
Nations, the PLO and civil society organizations to bring Israel into
compliance with its obligations so that Palestinian refugees can exercise
their right of return and find safety and stability through durable
Few countries, such as Syria, Jordan, Brazil and Canada, have generously taken
in Palestinian refugees, but none have shown willingness to welcome all or
most Palestinian refugees from Iraq. Fewer still are willing to exert
pressure on Israel to allow the refugees to return to their homes of origin
in Israel and the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territory.
In October, Sudan's president, Omar Bashir, announced that Sudan was willing
to take in Palestinian refugees stranded on the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Why Not Sudan
While the details of the Sudanese offer have remained sketchy, it has already
been rejected by Palestinian refugees from the al-Tanf camp who argue that
Sudan is not a sustainable option. Sudan has itself generated over 2.5
million refugees and its government is guilty of serious human rights
violations. While Palestinian refugees in the al-Walid camp have not yet made
their final decision, they too appear unwilling to risk their lives by
relocating to Sudan.
In many ways, Sudan is not a safe place and not able to accommodate the
refugees. More conflict between the government and rebel groups is expected,
and resources are inadequate to meet the needs of the refugees, many of whom
have undergone traumatic events and require special medical assistance.
Operations of international aid agencies, including UNHCR, are restricted as
a result of the international sanctions imposed on the government of Sudan,
and NGO assistance is generally not facilitated in government controlled
Sudan, moreover, is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention. The legal
status of Palestinian refugees in Sudan is therefore unclear, and concerns
about arbitrary treatment by the government are justified.
Yemen: a possible option?
Another and perhaps more promising option might be found in Yemen. Indeed,
Yemen has informally indicated its willingness to allow Palestinian refugees
from Iraq to enter its territory for temporary protection and/or en route to
This option is likely to be accepted by most refugees and access of UNHCR and
other organizations would be guaranteed, including to refugees with special
needs. Officials in Yemen have indicated that they are waiting for a formal
request from the PLO, in order to open their borders to Palestinian refugees
from Iraq. Badil believes that the PLO and UNHCR should do their utmost to
ensure that Palestinian refugees from Iraq can seek protection in Yemen, and
until their right to return to their homes of origin becomes possible.
BADIL calls upon states, the PLO, UNHCR, UNRWA and NGOs working for
Palestinian refugees to:
1)Provide Palestinian refugees in and from Iraq with temporary protection
and/or relocation opportunities, especially in Yemen which has indicated its
willingness to welcome the refugees;
2)Inform, consult and respect the wishes of the refugees;
3)Request Israel to permit the immediate return of Palestinian refugees from
Iraq to their homes of origin and redouble efforts for durable solutions;
4)Ensure that any from of protection recognizes, respects and protects the
right of return of Palestinian refugees, for example through registration
with UNRWA of entitled but previously unregistered persons.
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights PO Box 728, Bethlehem, Palestine
firstname.lastname@example.org - www.badil.org'
RALEIGH, North Carolina: A Marine Corps legal tribunal called to investigate the killing of up to 19 Afghan civilians earlier this year has been delayed until early December, a spokesman said Tuesday.
The court of inquiry, a rare legal mechanism last used in 1956, will examine the roles of two Marines present during the shootings. It was scheduled to begin Thursday at Camp Lejeune but was tentatively pushed back because of scheduling conflicts, said Lt. Col. Sean Gibson, a Marines spokesman at Central Command.
Mark Waple, an attorney representing one of the Marines, said the defense asked for the delay so lawyers "could get through the several thousand pages of information we have to digest."
As many as 19 people were killed and 50 injured in March when members of the Marine special operations company opened fire in a crowded roadway, after their convoy was rammed by a minivan full of explosives, Army officials said. The shootings occurred in Nangahar province.
Witnesses said Marines fired at civilian cars and pedestrians, according to Afghanistan's Independent Human Rights Commission, which said it did not find evidence the military unit was under fire.
Lees verder: http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/10/30/america/NA-GEN-US-Afghan-Marines-Shooting.php
By The Arab Baath Socialist Party
One Arab Nation, with an eternal mission - Unity, Freedom, Socialism
In the name of God the Most Beneficent the Most Merciful
About the day light killing of our people' sons and daughters on the hands of the US,British and Australian so called "Security civil contractors" companies Our Resisting sons and daughters!While you resist the US occupiers and their collaborators, inflict the US occupation and its forces horrendous losses, and you teach them the lessons of bitterest defeat, you confront mass murder on identity, compulsory displacement and suffer from the deprivation of any requirements for a dignified livelihood and services such as running water, electricity, fuel and you name it.. while the US, British, Australian etc.. so called security companies, shed with impunity your innocent and pure blood.. This is what ugly Blackwater gangsters have undertaken when murdering thirteen Iraqi martyrs and wounding 25 others in the al Nessur square in Baghdad's al Mansur neighborhood, for no reason and restarted their criminal business as usual in Iraq, four days only after the US puppet Maliki government fake announcement "to withdraw their permit to work in Iraq!" Everyone knows that this government has no authority whatsoever to withdraw anything, due to "Bremer' bills" who imposed these governments and all the other precedent puppet governments. For propaganda purposes entered the US declarations by Bush, Rice and their puppets about an unlikely investigation..This criminal Contractors Company and its likes go on with their criminal acts shedding with impunity the Iraqis blood with no distinction.. Yes! The Australian contractors company 'Unity' has opened fire on purpose in the Al Masbah Neighborhood and murdered two Iraqi women and wounded a third lady and all her children.. What was their crime? They happened to cross at that time an Iraqi street.. nothing else! Also the British so called security company "Erens" opened fire on Iraqi citizens in Kirkuk wounding gravely three without the slightest reaction from the Occupying forces and their puppet government..and at the same time the US intensifies its air strikes murdering the sons and daughters of our people in every Iraq districts, cities, and villages in Baghdad, Nineveh, Diyala, Al Anbar, Diwanya, Basrah.. The world over witnessed on the TV screens the US perpetrated butchery in al Tharthar region north of Baghdad in current October in which 15 women and children plus nine civilian men were murdered, when the US leveled their homes to the ground. This didn't incite the puppets, Maliki and Talabani and their cohort to utter a word.. Our dignified people' sons and daughters!'
Lees verder: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18642.htm
'Civilization Ends with a Shutdown of Human Concern. Are We There Already?A powerful novel’s vision of a dystopian future shines a cold light on the dreadful consequences of our universal apathy
By George Monbiot
"The Guardian" -- -- A few weeks ago I read what I believe is the most important environmental book ever written. It is not Silent Spring, Small Is Beautiful or even Walden. It contains no graphs, no tables, no facts, figures, warnings, predictions or even arguments. Nor does it carry a single dreary sentence, which, sadly, distinguishes it from most environmental literature. It is a novel, first published a year ago, and it will change the way you see the world.Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road considers what would happen if the world lost its biosphere, and the only living creatures were humans, hunting for food among the dead wood and soot. Some years before the action begins, the protagonist hears the last birds passing over, “their half-muted crankings miles above where they circled the earth as senselessly as insects trooping the rim of a bowl”. McCarthy makes no claim that this is likely to occur, but merely speculates about the consequences.All pre-existing social codes soon collapse and are replaced with organized butchery, then chaotic, blundering horror. What else are the survivors to do? The only remaining resource is human. It is hard to see how this could happen during humanity’s time on earth, even by means of the nuclear winter McCarthy proposes. But his thought experiment exposes the one terrible fact to which our technological hubris blinds us: our dependence on biological production remains absolute. Civilization is just a russeting on the skin of the biosphere, never immune from being rubbed against the sleeve of environmental change. Six weeks after finishing The Road, I remain haunted by it.So when I read the UN’s new report on the state of the planet over the weekend, my mind kept snagging on a handful of figures. There were some bright spots - lead has been removed from petrol almost everywhere and sulphur emissions have been reduced in most rich nations - and plenty of gloom. But the issue that stopped me was production.Crop production has improved over the past 20 years (from 1.8 tons per hectare in the 1980s to 2.5 tons today), but it has not kept up with population. “World cereal production per person peaked in the 1980s, and has since slowly decreased”. There will be roughly 9 billion people by 2050: feeding them and meeting the millennium development goal on hunger [halving the proportion of hungry people] would require a doubling of world food production. Unless we cut waste, overeating, biofuels and the consumption of meat, total demand for cereal crops could rise to three times the current level.There are two limiting factors. One, mentioned only in passing in the report, is phosphate: it is not clear where future reserves might lie. The more immediate problem is water. “Meeting the millennium development goal on hunger will require doubling of water use by crops by 2050.” Where will it come from? “Water scarcity is already acute in many regions, and farming already takes the lion’s share of water withdrawn from streams and groundwater.” Ten per cent of the world’s major rivers no longer reach the sea all year round.'
By Robert Fisk
In what world do these people live? True, there'll be no public executions outside Buckingham Palace when His Royal Highness rides in stately formation down The Mall. We gave up capital punishment about half a century ago. There won't even be a backhander – or will there? – which is the Saudi way of doing business. But for King Abdullah to tell the world, as he did in a BBC interview yesterday, that Britain is not doing enough to counter "terrorism", and that most countries are not taking it as seriously as his country is, is really pushing it. Weren't most of the 11 September 2001 hijackers from – er – Saudi Arabia? Is this the land that is really going to teach us lessons? The sheer implausibility of the claim that Saudi intelligence could have prevented the ondon bombings if only the British Government had taken it seriously, seems to have passed the Saudi monarch by. "We have sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain but unfortunately no action was taken. And it may have been able to maybe avert the tragedy," he told the BBC. This claim is frankly incredible.The sad, awful truth is that we fete these people, we fawn on them, we supply them with fighter jets, whisky and whores. No, of course, there will be no visas for this reporter because Saudi Arabia is no democracy. Yet how many times have we been encouraged to think otherwise about a state that will not even allow its women to drive? Kim Howells, the Foreign Office minister, was telling us again yesterday that we should work more closely with the Saudis, because we "share values" with them. And what values precisely would they be, I might ask?Saudi Arabia is a state which bankrolled – a definite no-no this for discussion today – Saddam's legions as they invaded Iran in 1980 (with our Western encouragement, let it be added). And which said nothing – a total and natural silence – when Saddam swamped the Iranians with gas. The Iraqi war communiqué made no bones about it. "The waves of insects are attacking the eastern gates of the Arab nation. But we have the pesticides to wipe them out."Did the Saudi royal family protest? Was there any sympathy for those upon whom the pesticides would be used? No. The then Keeper of the Two Holy Places was perfectly happy to allow gas to be used because he was paying for it – components were supplied, of course, by the US – while the Iranians died in hell. And we Brits are supposed to be not keeping up with our Saudi friends when they are "cracking down on terrorism".'
Lees verder: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18640.htm
Not to stoke any of the inane conspiracy theories running wild on the Internet, but if Osama bin Laden wasn’t on the payroll of Lockheed Martin or some other large defense contractor, he deserves to have been. What a boondoggle 9/11 has been for the merchants of war, who this week announced yet another quarter of whopping profits made possible by George Bush’s pretending to fight terrorism by throwing money at outdated Cold War-style weapons systems.
Lockheed Martin, the nation’s top weapons manufacturer, reaped a 22 percent increase in profits, while rivals for the defense buck, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, increased profits by 62 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Boeing’s profits jumped 61 percent, spiked this quarter by its commercial division, but Boeing’s military division, like the others, has been doing very well indeed since the terrorist attacks. As Newsweek International put in August: "Since 9/11 and the U.S.-led wars that followed, shares in American defense companies have outperformed both the Nasdaq and Standard & Poor’s stock indices by some 40 percent. Prior to the recent cascade of stock prices worldwide, Boeing’s share prices had tripled over the past five years while Raytheon’s had doubled."
Not bad for an industry in serious difficulty with the sudden collapse of the Cold War at the beginning of the 1990s, when the first President Bush and his defense secretary, Dick Cheney, were severely cutting the military budget for high-ticket planes and ships designed to fight the no-longer-existent Soviet military. Sure, they had Iraq to kick around, but the elder Bush never thought to turn the then very real aggression of Saddam Hussein into an enormously expensive quagmire. He both defeated Hussein and cut the military budget.
Not so Bush the younger, who exploited the trauma of 9/11 as an occasion to depose the defanged dictator of Iraq and thus provide a "shock and awe" showcase for the arms industry, which continues to benefit obscenely from the failed occupation. The second Iraq war, irrationally conflated with the 9/11 attack that had nothing to do with Hussein, provided the perfect threat package to justify the most outrageous military boondoggle in the nation’s history. The bin Laden boys only had an arsenal of $3 knives, but Bush claimed Hussein had WMD. Sadly for the military-industrial complex, Hussein’s army collapsed all too suddenly. But the insurgency, much of it fueled by the Shiites, who were ostensibly on our side, provided the occasion for pretending that we are in a war against a conventionally armed and imposing military enemy.'
By Michael Schwartz
Lately, even Democratic candidates for president have been weighing in on why the U.S. must maintain a long-term, powerful military presence in Iraq. Hillary Clinton, for example, used phrases like protecting our "vital national security interests" and preventing Iraq from becoming a "petri dish for insurgents," in a major policy statement. Barack Obama, in his most important speech on the subject, talked of "maintaining our influence" and allowing "our troops to strike directly at al Qaeda." These arguments, like the constantly migrating justifications for invading Iraq, serially articulated by the Bush administration, manage to be vaguely plausible (with an emphasis on the "vaguely") and also strangely inconsistent (with an emphasis on the "inconsistent").
That these justifications for invading, or remaining, are unsatisfying is hardly surprising, given the reluctance of American politicians to mention the approximately $10-$30 trillion of oil lurking just beneath the surface of the Iraq "debate" - and not much further beneath the surface of Iraqi soil. Obama, for example, did not mention oil at all in his speech, while Clinton mentioned it twice in passing. President Bush and his top officials and spokespeople have been just as reticent on the subject.
Why then did the U.S. invade Iraq? Why is occupying Iraq so "vital" to those "national security interests" of ours? None of this makes sense if you don't have the patience to drill a little beneath the surface ? and into the past; if you don't take into account that, as former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz once put it, Iraq "floats on a sea of oil"; and if you don't consider the decades-long U.S. campaign to control, in some fashion, Middle East energy reservoirs. If not, then you can't understand the incredible tenaciousness with which George W. Bush and his top officials have pursued their Iraqi dreams or why - now that those dreams are clearly so many nightmares - even the Democrats can't give up the ghost.
The Rise of OPEC
The United States viewed Middle Eastern oil as a precious prize long before the Iraq war. During World War II, that interest had already sprung to life: When British officials declared Middle Eastern oil "a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination," American officials agreed, calling it "a stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history."
This led to a scramble for access during which the United States established itself as the preeminent power of the future. Crucially, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt successfully negotiated an "oil for protection" agreement with King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia. That was 1945. From then on, the U.S. found itself actively (if often secretly) engaged in the region. American agents were deeply involved in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 (to reverse the nationalization of Iran's oil fields), as well as in the fateful establishment of a Baathist Party dictatorship in Iraq in the early 1960s (to prevent the ascendancy of leftists who, it was feared, would align the country with the Soviet Union, putting the country's oil in hock to the Soviet bloc).'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/103107F.shtml
Iraqi Cabinet Votes to End Security Firms' Immunity
By Alissa J. Rubin
The New York Times
Baghdad — Draft legislation that lifts immunity for foreign private security companies gained the consent of the Iraqi cabinet on Tuesday and sent to Parliament for approval, a government spokesman said.
The measure would end a provision that protects the security companies from prosecution, which has been in effect since 2004, when the Americans handed sovereignty back to Iraq.
The provision has long rankled Iraqis, who say the private guards have used excessive force on a number of occasions, wounding or killing civilians. It became a major point of contention between the American and Iraqi governments after a Sept. 16 shooting by guards working for Blackwater that Iraqi investigators have said left 17 Iraqis dead and at least 24 wounded.
The Iraqi government's decision followed reports that the State Department had promised Blackwater guards immunity from prosecution in its investigation of the shootings. On Tuesday, the State Department confirmed that some Blackwater employees questioned in connection with the shootings had been granted a form of immunity in exchange for their statements.
The draft law canceling the private security firms' immunity was written by the legal adviser to Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki. It would overturn a measure known as Order 17, dating from the administration of L. Paul Bremer III.
Under the version approved by the cabinet, foreign security companies would have to meet several criteria, including a requirement that all their weapons be licensed by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Their equipment, including helicopters and armored vehicles, would have to be registered with the appropriate Iraqi agencies and all foreign employees would have to obtain visas from the Iraqi Foreign Ministry.
Currently, many contractors in Iraq, including those who work for security firms, enter the country without regular visas because they have badges that say they work with the Defense Department or another agency either of the United States or of a country in the American-led coalition. The Iraqi government previously accepted the badges rather than requiring visas.
"This decision does not just cover Blackwater; it will cover all the foreign security firms operating in Iraq," said Thamir Ghadban, the chairman of Mr. Maliki's council of advisers. "This law will protect Iraqis and Iraq's sovereignty."'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/103107B.shtml
By Kimberly Hefling
The Associated Press
Washington - Mary Gallagher did not get a knock at the door from a military chaplain with news of her Marine husband's death in a faraway place. Instead, the Iraq war veteran committed suicide eight months after returning home.
She is left wondering why.
It's a question shared by hundreds of families of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have taken their own lives in a homecoming suicide pattern of a magnitude that is just starting to emerge.
Preliminary Veterans Affairs Department research obtained by The Associated Press reveals for the first time that there were at least 283 suicides among veterans who left the military between the start of the war in Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001 and the end of 2005.
The numbers, while not dramatically different from society as a whole, provide the first quantitative look at the toll on today's combat veterans and are reminiscent of the increased suicide risk among returning soldiers in the Vietnam era.
Today's homefront suicide tally is running at least double the number of troop suicides in the war zones as thousands of men and women return with disabling injuries and mental health disorders that put them at higher risk.
A total of 147 troops have killed themselves in Iraq and Afghanistan since the start of the wars, according to the Defense Manpower Data Center, which tracks casualties for the Pentagon.
Add the number of returning veterans and the finding is that at least 430 of the 1.5 million troops who have fought in the two wars have killed themselves over the past six years. And that doesn't include people like Gallagher's husband who committed suicide after their combat tours and while still in the military - a number the Pentagon says it doesn't track.
That compares with at least 4,227 U.S. military deaths overall since the wars started - 3,840 in Iraq and 387 in and around Afghanistan.
In response, the VA is ramping up suicide prevention programs.
Research suggests that combat trauma increases the risk of suicide, according to the National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Difficulty dealing with failed relationships, financial and legal troubles, and substance abuse also are risk factors among troops, said Cynthia O. Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman.'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/103107A.shtml
Israel's interior minister has called for reforming the law that grants Jews around the world Israeli citizenship.
Meir Sheetrit said citizenship should be earned by a strong commitment to Israel and not granted automatically.
He was addressing the governors of the Jewish Agency, which is responsible for promoting Jewish immigration to Israel.
He said funds should go towards helping deprived immigrant communities already in Israel rather absorbing more "lost tribes" living in Africa and Asia.
Mr Sheetrit referred to the rise of neo-Nazism among young immigrants from the former Soviet Union as proof that the granting of automatic citizenship to people defined as Jews was not working.
Israel's Law of Return is one of the state's founding principles, and some Jewish Agency members have strongly criticised the minister.
Reports of the speech in the Israeli press said Mr Sheetrit wanted new immigrants to reside in Israel for five years before being considered potential citizens.'
Lees verder: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7070868.stm
woensdag 31 oktober 2007
KABUL: NATO denied killing about 11 Afghan villagers in an air strike on Taliban rebels last week and said allegations of civilian deaths were often ``insurgent propaganda.''
The International Security Assistance Force carried out a ``thorough investigation'' into the Oct. 22 air raid in eastern Wardak province and found the allegation to be ``completely without merit,'' the alliance said in a statement on its Web site.
Fighter jets targeted ``a large group of anti-government militants'' setting up an ambush for NATO soldiers in Jalrez district, according to the statement. It is the second time this month that a local Afghan official in the province has made an unsubstantiated allegation of civilian casualties, NATO said.'
Lees verder: http://paktribune.com/news/index.shtml?193132
En populair dat het Westen zich daar maakt, met geen pen te beschrijven. De mensen daar zijn dol op ons. Dat krijg je wanneer ideologen het beleid in handen hebben.
US differs with UN nuclear chief on Iran
Washington - The White House insisted Monday that Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, even though the head of the UN watchdog agency said he has 'no concrete evidence' of a weapons programme.
'This is a country that is enriching and reprocessing uranium, and the reason that one does that is to lead towards a nuclear weapon,' US President George W Bush's spokeswoman Dana Perino said of Iran.
She was responding to remarks by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who said diplomacy should be given time to resolve US-led concerns about Iran's nuclear activities and questioned the effectiveness of sanctions against Iran.
Lees verder: http://news.monstersandcritics.com/middleeast/news/article_1369570.php/
IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent
The US is secretly upgrading special stealth bomber hangars on the British island protectorate of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities, according to military sources.
The improvement of the B1 Spirit jet infrastructure coincides with an "urgent operational need" request for £44m to fit racks to the long-range aircraft.
That would allow them to carry experimental 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) bombs designed to smash underground bunkers buried as much as 200ft beneath the surface through reinforced concrete.
One MOP - known as Big Blu - has already been tested successfully at the US Air Force proving ground at White Sands in New Mexico. Tenders have now gone out for a production model to be ready for use in the next nine months.
The "static tunnel lethality test" on March 14 completely destroyed a mock-up of the kind of underground facility used to house Iran's nuclear centrifuge arrays at Natanz, about 150 miles from the capital, Tehran.
Although intelligence estimates vary as to when Iran will achieve the know-how for a bomb, the French government recently received a memo from the International Atomic Energy Agency stating that Iran will be ready to run almost 3000 centrifuges in 18 cascades by the end of this month. That is in defiance of a UN ban on uranium enrichment and would be enough to produce a nuclear weapon within a year.'
Lees verder: http://www.theherald.co.uk/news/foreign/display.var.1792035.0.0.php
'Iran has 'evidence' US backing 'terrorists'
Iran has access to evidence of US support for terrorist groups in the Middle East, a senior Iranian official has been quoted as saying.
Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, made the allegation in comments to visiting Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, whose country may soon send troops to hunt down Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq.
Tehran says the rebels are operating in Iraq with US forces present in the country and this shows Washington is refraining from tackling them.
Like Turkey, Iran also has faced cross-border attacks by Kurdish rebels and has shelled targets inside Iraq in response.
"Escalation of terrorism in the region is one of the direct results of the presence of occupiers in Iraq, particularly America," Jalili, an ally of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said according to the country's state broadcaster.
"And there are documents and information available proving America's support for terrorist groups in the region," he said, without giving details. Jalili is also the new secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.'
Lees verder: http://www.stuff.co.nz/4254478a12.html
'No Evidence Iran Building Nuclear Weapons : Mohamed ElBaradei
By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON: The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Sunday he had no evidence Iran was working actively to build nuclear weapons and expressed concern that escalating rhetoric from the U.S. could bring disaster."We have information that there has been maybe some studies about possible weaponization," said Mohamed ElBaradei, who leads the International Atomic Energy Agency. "That's why we have said that we cannot give Iran a pass right now, because there is still a lot of question marks.""But have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No." U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Iran this month of "lying" about the aim of its nuclear program. She said there is no doubt Tehran wants the capability to produce nuclear weapons and has deceived the IAEA about its intentions.U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has raised the prospect of "serious consequences" if Iran were found to be working toward developing a nuclear weapon. Last week, the Bush administration announced harsh penalties against the Iranian military and state-owned banking systems in hopes of raising pressure on the world financial system to cut ties with Tehran.ElBaradei said he was worried about the growing rhetoric from the U.S., which he noted focused on Iran's alleged intentions to build a nuclear weapon rather than evidence the country was actively doing so. If there is actual evidence, ElBaradei said he would welcome seeing it.'
Lees verder: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article18636.htm
Or, more mildly, Americans traditionally aren't much interested in it and the media largely don't have time for it either. For one thing, the past is often just so inconvenient. On Monday, for instance, there was a front-page piece in the New York Times by Elisabeth Bumiller on Robert Blackwill, one of the "Vulcans" who helped Condoleezza Rice advise George W. Bush on foreign policy during the 2000 election campaign, Iraq Director on the National Security Council during the reign in Baghdad of our viceroy L. Paul Bremer III, and the President's personal envoy to the faltering occupation (nicknamed "The Shadow"), among many other things.
He is now -- here's a giant shock -- a lobbyist. And, among those he's lobbying for (in this case to the tune of $300,000) is Ayad Allawi, former CIA asset and head -- back in Saddam's day -- of an exile group, the Iraq National Accord. Bumiller identifies Allawi as "the first prime minister of the newly sovereign nation -- America's man in Baghdad." She also refers to him as having had "close ties to the CIA" and points out that he was not just Bremer's, but Blackwill's "choice" to be prime minister back in 2004. Now, he's Blackwill's "choice" again. Allawi is, it seems, yet once more on deck, with his own K-Street lobbyist, ready to step in as prime minister if the present PM, Nouri al-Maliki, were to fall (or be shoved aside).
But there's another rather inconvenient truth about Allawi that goes unmentioned -- and it's right off the front page of the New York Times, no less -- a piece by Joel Brinkley, "Ex-C.I.A. Aides Say Iraq Leader Helped Agency in 90's Attacks," published in early June 2004, just at the moment when Allawi had been "designated" prime minister. In the early 1990s, Brinkley reported, Allawi's exile organization was, under the CIA's direction, planting car bombs and explosive devices in Baghdad (including in a movie theater) in a fruitless attempt to destabilize Saddam Hussein's regime. Of course, that was back when car bombs weren't considered the property of brutes like Sunni extremists, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the Taliban. (Just as, inconveniently enough, back in the 1980s the CIA bankrolled and encouraged the training of Afghan "freedom fighters" in mounting car-bomb and even camel-bomb attacks in a terror campaign against Soviet officers and soldiers in Russian-occupied Afghan cities (techniques personally "endorsed," according to Steve Coll in his superb book Ghost Wars, by then-CIA Director William Casey).
But that was back in the day -- just as, to randomly cite one more inconvenient piece of history also off the front page of the New York Times (Patrick Tyler, "Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas," August 18, 2002), years before we went into Iraq to take out Saddam's by then nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, we helped him use them. The Reagan Pentagon had a program in which 60 officers from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency "were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments" to Saddam's forces, so that he could, among other things, wield his chemical weapons against them more effectively. ("The Pentagon 'wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas,' said one veteran of the program. 'It was just another way of killing people -- whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference.'")'
Lees verder: http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174856/michael_schwartz_iraq_policy_floating_on_a_sea_of_oil
Toch vrij laat dat men in het Amerikaanse Congres aan het verstand van de president is gaan twijfelen. Maar ja, die lui zijn ook politici.
Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich doubted President George W. Bush's mental health after the comments he made about the prospect of a nuclear Iran precipitating World War III.
"I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health," Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, said in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer's editorial board on Tuesday. "There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact."
Kucinich, known for his liberal views, trails far behind the leading candidates in most Democratic polls. He was in Philadelphia for a debate at Drexel University.
Bush made the remarks at a news conference earlier this month.'
Niet iedereen is even gelukkig met het feit dat de Amerikaanse president moordenaars gedeeltelijk immuniteit heeft gegeven. Zijn democratische tegenstanders willen wel de bezetting, maar een bezetting met, laten we zeggen, een menselijk gezicht, of in elk geval een bezetting waarbij niet overal zo'n afgeblazen arm open en bloot op straat ligt. Begrijpelijk ook. It's bad for business.
'Immunity for Blackwater guards provokes anger
By Lara Jakes Jordan in Washington
Democrats have criticised the Bush administration for giving partial immunity to bodyguards from the Blackwater private security firm. They say the move equates to a failure to hold the contractors responsible for the killing of 17 civilians in Iraq last month.
Patrick Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, called the immunity deal another example of "the amnesty administration". "In this administration, accountability goes by the boards," said Senator Leahy, who sits on two Senate panels that oversee the State Department and the Justice Department. "That seems to be a central tenet in the Bush administration – that no one from their team should be held accountable, if accountability can be avoided.
"That goes equally for misconduct and for incompetence," he added. "If you get caught, they will get you immunity. If you get convicted, they will commute your sentence."
The Democratic presidential hopeful Barak Obama demanded to know whether the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, was aware of the immunity offers and if she agreed with them. In a letter to Ms Rice yesterday, Mr Obama also asked whether the FBI and Justice Department were consulted before the offers.
Sean McCormack, an assistant secretary of state, said: "Her attitude has been since the very beginning that we need to determine the facts and if the facts lead us to the conclusion that there are those who broke rules laws or regulations, they must be held to account." Ms Rice had also asked that the FBI take over the investigation from her department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, he said. It is still not clear why Diplomatic Security offered immunity and who authorised the move.'
En ondertussen laat niet elk land zich meteen door de Amerikaanse druk afbluffen:
Syria signs contract with Iran, Venezuela and Malaysia for construction of oil refinery
Syria made a US$2.6 billion (1.8 billion EUR) deal with Iran, Venezuela and Malaysia for the construction of an oil refinery in central Syria that will have a daily capacity of 140,000 barrels.
The ministry said the refinery will be built in Furoqlos, near the northern city of Homs, some 160 kilometers (100 miles) north of the Syrian capital, Damascus.
Under the agreement, Venezuela will get 33 percent of the revenues, while Iran and Malaysia will each receive 26 percent, with Syria getting the remaining 15 percent - in accord with each side's funding of the refinery.
The refinery will be provided with 42,000 barrels of crude oil a day from Venezuela; Iran will give 28,000 barrels and Syria 7,000 barrel a day for at least 25 years. Malaysia will provide the refinery with machinery, the ministry said in a statement.'
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
The UN's top official in Gaza will tell British ministers today that Israel's cuts in fuel and power to the Palestinians violate international law, while the isolation of Hamas has strengthened extremism and started to drive non-affiliated moderates who can leave Gaza to do so.
"We keep saying people in Gaza are at rock bottom but they keep digging into the rock," Karen Koning- Abu Zayd, head of the UN refugee agency UNRWA, said of Israel's decision to start power cuts and reduce fuel supplies to Gaza in response to continued Qassam rocket attacks. Israel began cutting supplies on Sunday. The Supreme Court has given the state five days to answer a petition by human rights groups against the move, which follows the cabinet's declaration of Gaza as a "hostile entity" last month. An Israeli soldier and two Palestinian militants were killed yesterday in Gaza as the Israeli military continued operations designed to curb the Qassam attacks.
The UNRWA chief, who will meet Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development and other ministers in London today, said: "I can understand why from the Israeli point of view people may think we need a stronger reaction to the Qassams [and] nothing has worked so far. But I don't see how you can want to punish people, all of them in Gaza, which means most of them who are not behind these activities, in the way you are doing now." In an interview, Ms Koning-Abu Zayd said: "Most people, even in some of the refugee camps, live in high-rise apartments in Gaza and if you don't have electricity, you don't have water, you probably don't have food and if you're older or sick in any way you probably can't climb up and down all those stairs." A cut in fuel would have a "very serious" effect on civilian movement.
Ms Koning-Abu Zayd cast doubt on the idea that the Israeli squeeze on Gaza, including phased cuts in power – starting with 15 minutes per hour in towns such as Beit Hanoun, from which rockets have been frequently launched – would trigger an effective revolt against militants.
"I don't think it's working myself," she said, adding she did not think surveys showing a fall in support for Hamas were "very significant". She said: "The ones that do support them support them even more strongly and because things are getting worse the ones that were talking about compromise and moderation and working together are discredited so you know many people become more extreme."'
Lees verder: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article3109896.ece
'US faces Consumer Confidence Index drop
Consumer Confidence Index fell to its lowest level in two years, causing worries for retailers about the forthcoming holiday shopping season.
The New York-based Conference Board said Tuesday that its Consumer Confidence Index dropped to 95.6 from a revised 99.5 in September. It was the lowest reading since 85.2 in October 2005 when gas and oil prices soared after hurricanes Katrina and Rita pummeled the Gulf Coast. Analysts had expected 99.5.
"Further weakening in business conditions has, yet again, tempered consumers' assessment of current-day conditions and may very well be a prelude to lackluster job growth in the months ahead," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center, in a statement. "In addition, consumers are growing more pessimistic about the short-term future and their rather bleak outlook suggests a less than stellar ending to this year.
The Present Situation Index, which measures how shoppers feel now about the economy, declined to 118.8 in October from 121.2 in the prior month. The Expectations Index, which measures shoppers' outlook over the next six months, declined to 80.1 from 85.0.
Economists closely monitor confidence since consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of U.S. economic activity.'
Lees verder: http://english.pravda.ru/business/99838-US_economy-0
The combination of a troubled housing market, rising oil prices and credit problems stemming from the subprime lending crisis is likely to lead the economy to recession, according to Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel.
"Housing is worse than we anticipated ... oil prices are higher and going higher" and tightening credit conditions will make it harder for consumers and businesses to borrow, Wessel tells Renee Montagne.
But many forecasters believe the resilient U.S. economy will avoid a recession.
"The more optimistic people say that exports will bail us out of this," Wessel notes. "The dollar is weak and that makes our exports more attractive to foreigners. And foreign economies — China, Europe — are pretty strong, so that gives us a ready market."
Optimists also say that as long as the job market holds up, "people will have money to spend and they'll keep spending," Wessel adds.
But he says that exports and the job market aren't strong enough to offset the downsides of a housing slump, high oil prices and a credit crunch.
The economy has seen big housing busts before, but this one is different, Wessel says.
"We haven't in the past seen such a steep rise in housing prices that created so much wealth and so much ability to spend and so much headiness among lenders, then followed by such an abrupt decline," he says.'
Lees verder: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15746095
Ik begrijp niet veel van de economie, maar 1 ding weet ik wel en dat is dat de laatste zin nonsense is. Stijgende huizenprijzen betekenen niet dat er rijkdom wordt geschapen, wel neemt het vermogen om te spenderen toe, maar dat heeft met lenen te maken. Hoe meer je leent des te meer je kunt uitgeven, des te armer je wordt, niet rijker, maar dat ontdek je pas als het te laat is, zoals de Amerikaanse consument nu ontdekt. Het is net als met piramidenfondsen, die ploffen ineens en dat staat iedereen beteuterd te kijken. Dus die David Wessel van de reactionaire Wall Street Journal mag dan wel een trouwe volgeling van het neoliberalisme zijn, hij is en blijft een flessentrekker. Moet u ook de Nederlandse economisch redacteuren van de commerciele massamedia eens lezen.Je haalt ze er zo tussen uit, ik bedoel, de flessentrekkers.
· Oil prices hit a record high of $92 a barrel on Friday and some analysts say it could climb pass $100.
Markeplace's Bob Moon says the latest spike in oil prices can be attributed to a number of factors, including the economic sanctions the U.S. imposed on Iran and gunmen attacking an oil facility in Nigeria. Another factor is OPEC deciding against increasing production at the moment.
Oil is sold in U.S. dollars in most places around the world. Because the dollar is weak, oil producers have to sell more oil at a high price to maintain their purchasing power.'
Lees verder: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15661148&ft=1&f=1017
Wat hier in feite staat is dat de Amerikaanse spilzucht afgewenteld wordt op de rest van de wereld, wat vooral de armen nog armer maakt en natuurlijk de rijken nog rijker, zoals altijd. De olieprijs is zo hoog omdat de VS een zwakke munteenheid heeft als gevolg van de gigantische buitenlandse schulden en de continue oorlogen van het imperium. U betaalt dat. Maar die conclusie had u natuurlijk al getrokken. Het feest is voorbij. Toen ik in begin 2002 in verband met een serie olieprogramma's voor de VPRO in de VS was, kostte een vat olie 18 dollar. Die prijs is in 5 jaar meer dan vervijfvoudigd. Nu de vraag: hoe komt het dat bijvoorbeeld de koffieprijs niet is verveelvoudigd? Want ook de prijs voor de vervoerskosten en het koffiebranden zijn gestegen. Er is vast een econoom onder u die ons dit kan uitleggen.
dinsdag 30 oktober 2007
Een wonderlijk bericht in De NRC:
'MI5 zag Orwell niet als een communist
Gepubliceerd: 4 september 2007 00:00 Gewijzigd: 4 september 2007 15:29
Door onze kunstredactie
ROTTERDAM, 4. SEPT. De Britse geheime dienst MI5 heeft in de Tweede Wereldoorlog door onderzoek een goed beeld gehad van de links-politieke opvattingen van George Orwell, in 1945 de schrijver van het anti-stalinistische Animal Farm. Conclusie: Orwell was geen communist.
Dat blijkt uit het dossier over Orwell dat MI5 heeft bijgehouden tussen 1929 en zijn dood in 1950. Persbureau AP heeft inzage gehad in de stukken, die vandaag zijn vrijgegeven. Hieruit blijkt dat de Special Branch van de Britse politie in 1942 – Orwell werkte toen voor de BBC mee aan programama’s voor het Britse rijk – navraag over hem heeft gedaan bij MI5. Orwell zou volgens de Special Branch ‘uitgewerkte communistische opvattingen’ hebben. Eveneens verdacht: "Hij kleedt zich als een bohémien, zowel op kantoor als in zijn vrije tijd."'
Het wonderlijke in dit bericht is het zogeheten nieuwsfeit dat de NRC eruit pikt: 'MI5 zag Orwell niet als een communist .' Maar beste collega's, dat is geen nieuws voor de geslepen geest van de lezers van de slijpsteen voor de geest. Wat interesseert hen het feit dat een of andere staatscontroleur Orwell al dan niet een communist vond. Wat voor de geslepen geest van jullie lezers echt nieuws is, is het feit dat een geheime dienst in een democratische rechtstaat een wereldberoemde schrijver bespioneerde. Dat zijn totalitaire praktijken, praktijken die Orwell zo goed in 1984 heeft beschreven. Bespioneren van de eigen bevolking deden ze in de Sovjet Unie ook, en dat vonden wij met onze geslepen geest terecht verschrikkelijk. De ironie is niet dat wat de geheime dienst had te melden, maar juist dat de geheime dienst de schrijver schaduwde die het wereldberoemde boek 1984 had geschreven. Dit had boven het artikel moeten staan: 'Kapitalistisch Engeland Bespioneerde Beroemde Auteur Orwell,' of iets dergelijks. Zo'n kop die de NRC redactie destijds gebruikte als het om bijvoorbeeld Solzjenitsyn ging.
Ik interviewde gisterochtend de Britse hoogleraar John Gray, een van de grotere geesten in Europa. De Nederlandse vertaling van zijn boek Black Mass. Apocalyptic religion and the death of utopia is zojuist verschenen. In zijn analyse toont hij zo helder aan dat ook het rationele humanisme in het Westen even irrationeel en gelovig is als het geloof van fundamentalistische christenen en joden en moslims. Hij wijst erop dat 'even more than despotic regimes, liberal states have tended to see the violence they have inflicted as morally admirable... Liberal democracies are not only willing to commit acts that, when perpetrated bij despotic regimes are condemned as signs of barbarism - they are ready to praise these acts as heroic.' Met een fijn glimlachje zei hij dat in dit proces de westerse commerciele massamedia een doorslaggevende rol spelen. "They sell the propaganda.' Hoe treffend, vinden jullie ook niet? Lees het werk van Orwell eens, dat slijpt de geest als niets anders.
maandag 29 oktober 2007
By Jeff Stein
Say you're a member of Congress, and a Pentagon expert tells you that top officials are secretly letting Taiwan go nuclear, to contain China's emerging threat.
Do you: (1) start an investigation, with an eye toward hearings to grill officials on the facts, or (2) drop it and stand aside as officials run your whistleblower out of town?
In the real-life case of Pakistan and nuclear weapons, the answer from Congress has been (2). Twenty years ago, the House Foreign Affairs Committee learned that officials in the Reagan and Bush administrations were looking the other way while Pakistan acquired U.S. technology for its clandestine nuclear weapons program. Later, the United States allowed Pakistan to tweak its U.S.-supplied F-16s to carry nuclear bombs over India.
Why? Because Washington was dependent on Pakistan for arming and supplying the Islamic warriors battling the Soviet Red Army next door in Afghanistan.
Congress had passed legislation in 1985, aimed at Pakistan, that required the administration to cut off all military and economic aid to any country that was clandestinely pursuing nuclear weapons.
When the last beleaguered Soviet unit withdrew from Afghanistan on Feb. 15, 1989, CIA officials in Langley, Va., clinked champagne glasses. But the glasses were hardly dry when into the vacuum came the Taliban, followed by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
Talk about unintended consequences.
But that wasn't all. Eventually it emerged that Pakistan's mad scientist, A.Q. Khan was running "a nuclear Wal-Mart," as Rep. Gary L. Ackerman, D-N.Y., put it at a hearing of a House International Relations subcommittee last May, "that sold nuclear equipment and related technologies to North Korea and Iran, two-thirds of the axis of evil, and also tried to sell it to the other third," Iraq. Khan also sold nuclear equipment to Libya and Syria.
Worse, perhaps, al Qaeda is actively seeking nuclear weapons, in the opinion of U.S. intelligence agencies and most private experts.
All this could have been avoided, says Richard M. Barlow, the former CIA and Defense Department expert whose warnings on the acquiescence of Reagan and Bush administration officials in Pakistan's nuclear program were quashed by the Pentagon and avoided by Congress.
For his candor, and despite the backing of some top intelligence officials, Barlow was stripped of his Top Secret/Codeword clearances and hounded out of the Pentagon.'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/102807E.shtml
By Jim Doyle and Susan Sward
The San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco - On cue from a bullhorn's blast, thousands of protesters fell to the pavement on Market Street in a symbolic "die- in" Saturday as part of a coordinated protest staged in cities across the country against the war in Iraq.
For three minutes the demonstrators lay on the pavement, representing what organizers said were more than 1 million Iraqis killed since the war began in 2003. The protesters then resumed their march from San Francisco's Civic Center to Dolores Park.
March organizers put their number at 30,000 - old, young, workers, students, religious leaders. Police declined to give a formal estimate, but onlookers said the demonstrators definitely numbered more than 10,000. They filled up Market Street for several blocks, shouting that U.S. troops should be brought home and carrying banners decrying the war.
At the head of the marchers was a band of Native American drummers who pounded a steady beat as protesters chanted, "No more war!"
Before the march began, demonstrators gathered in front of City Hall to hear speakers berate the Bush administration and call on Americans to stand up against the war. Organizers said part of the reason for staging this protest was to mark that it is now five years since Congress voted to authorize the use of U.S. force in Iraq.
"Silence shows compliance," Nicole Davis, a leader of the Campus Anti- War Network group, told the crowd at the San Francisco event, which was organized by the Oct. 27th Coalition of several groups, including ANSWER - Act Now To Stop War and End Racism. "If you disagree with this war," she added, "it is your duty to stand up and let the world know."
Sarah Sloan, an ANSWER spokeswoman, said her group estimated the size of the crowd "based on the number of blocks - about seven - that the march takes up and the density of the crowd."
In New York, thousands demonstrated in the rain, marching to Foley Square. In Chicago, thousands of protesters gathered at Union Park and marched to the Federal Plaza. Organizers said anti-war rallies, sponsored nationally by a coalition of groups headed by United for Peace & Justice, also took place in Seattle, Salt Lake City, Jonesborough, Tenn., Philadelphia, Orlando, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Boston and other cities around the country.'
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/10/28/BAJHT0ULT.DTL Of: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/102807C.shtml
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Dutch lawmakers who recently visited the Guantanamo Bay military prison said they were offended by a testy exchange in Washington with a senior congressional Democrat.
The lawmakers said that Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told them that ''Europe was not as outraged by Auschwitz as by Guantanamo Bay.''
Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, was responding to arguments that the United States should shut down the prison, located on a U.S. naval base in Cuba, the lawmakers said. Mariko Peters, a member of the Dutch Green Party <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/g/green_p
arty/index.html?inline=nyt-org> , who began the exchange with Lantos, said she took notes of the remarks.
A Lantos aide said the lawmaker realizes the Guantanamo facility does harm to the reputation of the United States and has praised judges who ruled in favor of extending legal rights to prisoners. Lantos has not suggested that the prison be closed.
Before the Guantanamo exchange, the lawmakers had discussed a debate in the Netherlands about whether the country should maintain its 1,600 troops serving in NATO's <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/north_a
tlantic_treaty_organization/index.html?inline=nyt-org> Afghanistan operations.
''You have to help us, because if it was not for us you would now be a province of Nazi Germany,'' Lantos said, according to the Dutch lawmakers.
''The comments killed the debate,'' said Harry van Bommel, a member of the Socialist Party. ''It was insulting and counterproductive.''
A Lantos spokeswoman said Lantos was not available and had no comment.
The Dutch government soon will announce whether its troops will stay in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, where they recently have begun an anti-Taliban <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/t/taliban
/index.html?inline=nyt-org> offensive backed by British and Afghan forces. Lantos has praised the Netherlands' contribution to the Afghan mission.
''It was a diplomatically strange situation,'' Peters said. ''The mere suggestion that the United States could be compared with Nazi Germany is so flawed.''
It was not the first time that Lantos had offended European political circles. In May, he lashed out at the former leaders of France and Germany. His comments, which included calling former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder a ''political prostitute,'' provoked a rebuke from German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
The lawmakers, from the Dutch House of Representatives' Foreign Affairs Committee, were invited to visit Guantanamo and Washington by the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands, Roland Arnall. The lawmakers also met senior Bush administration officials, including Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/n/john_d_negropo
nte/index.html?inline=nyt-per> and Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.
Members of the delegation said they were given an extensive tour this past week of the Guantanamo Bay prison, which has been heavily criticized by human rights groups.
Some of the lawmakers said that while they found the physical conditions of the prison acceptable, they remain concerned that prisoners were not being given proper legal treatment.
Most of the delegation called for the closing of Guantanamo.
''We have to close Guantanamo because it symbolizes for me everything that is wrong with this war on terror,'' Peters said.
But at least one member disagreed.
''Let's not forget we are in a state of war -- not only the United States but also my country -- with Islamic terrorists,'' said the far right Freedom Party leader, Geert Wilders. ''I think we could only learn from Guantanamo.''
A number of the members said that the United States should consult international institutions and other countries to answer some of the difficult quandaries about closing the facility.
''We need to work out an international deal on the future of Guantanamo Bay,'' said Hans van Baalen, of the Liberals, who led the delegation.'
Global Nakba Plans and ActionsA number of groups and coalitions have designated 2008 (beginning with November 29, 2007) as a year of Commemoration for Al-Nakba (the catastrophe of Palestinian ethnic cleansing and dispossession) AND a year of action for justice (the only route to a durable peace). From November 29, 2007 to November 29, 2008, we ask you to join groups and individuals (or create your own group) to engage in meaningful actions that creatively relate the history and the consequences of the Nakba and ensure refugees are returned for peace with justice. This includes educational actions, demonstrations on key dates, solidarity trips to Palestine, media work, lobby actions, and others. Several local groups began planning a central mass mobilization in NYC in May 2008 US national event and other events are being planned around the world. The gravity of the moment demands real collective action from many different organizations concerned with justice. Your participation and your ideas and leadership are needed now more than ever. To facilitate your involvement, this message lays out the background, statements and actions on this critical year. This is just a beginning but it can only work to bring peace (and we know it can) if EVERYONE participates and creates local actions and/or joins other actions to say "60 years of colonial oppression and ethnic cleansing are enough: Time for justice/time for peace".In this message:I) Links and background on Al-Nakba II) Call to action from Badil, Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights.III) American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee Resolution on the issue of Nakba (adopted June 2007)IV) International Coordinating Network on the Question of Palestine adopts significant resolutions that include among other things a year of Nakba commemorations and actions (Aug 2007)V) Proposal adopted by the US Campaign to End the Occupation for a year of Nakba Commemorations (adopted September 2007).VI) Palestinians in the US preparing for a conference (Palestinians are called to join in the preparatory meeting Nov 9-11, 2007 and the main meeting in August 2008)VII) Wheels of Justice planned actions and call for participation in coordination in Nakba year. You and your group can join this growing network.-------------------------------------
I) Links to background on Al-Nakba:http://www.iremember1948.org (Excellent Testimonial)
http://www.palestineremembered.com/Articles/General/Story2129.html (Short video done immediately after the expulsion of Palestinian Refugees)
http://www.acrossborders.ps/portal/Reflecting.cfm (Reflections)http://www.theunrecognized.org/ (on the continuing tragedy of Unrecognized Villages)http://www.qumsiyeh.org/chapter4/ (Background Chapter on refugees)http://www.zochrot.org/index.php?id=582 (Israeli statement on Nakba and ROR)http://www.jewishsolidarity.info/ (Jews in Solidarity)http://www.nakbainhebrew.org/index.php?id=228 (Video of Arab Women testimonies on Nakba)http://www.qumsiyeh.org/henrylowi/ (Excellent article on Partition emailed 13 October 2007)AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE WEBSITES ON THE ISSUEShttp://www.palestineremembered.com---------------------------------------II) Badil, Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. Call to actionIn 2007 the Occupation turns 40In 2008 al-Nakba turns 60"Let's make 2007 – 2008 into 'the campaign of freedom and return'. Not just the return (al-awda) of the refugees, but also a return to the rule of law and respect for human rights."http://www.badil.org/call-en.htm
Zie ook: http://qumsiyeh.org/
As John Mueller, an expert on public opinion and American wars, pointed out back in November 2005, Americans turned against the Iraq War in a pattern recognizable from the Vietnam era (as well as the Korean one) -- initial, broad post-invasion support that eroded irreversibly as American casualties rose. "The only thing remarkable about the current war in Iraq," Mueller wrote, "is how precipitously American public support has dropped off. Casualty for casualty, support has declined far more quickly than it did during either the Korean War or the Vietnam War." He added, quite correctly, as it turned out: "And if history is any indication, there is little the Bush administration can do to reverse this decline."
Where the Vietnam analogy distinctly breaks down, however, is in the streets. In the Vietnam era, the demonstrations started small and built slowly over the years toward the massive -- in Washington, in cities around the country, and then on campuses nationwide. In those years, as anger, anxiety, and outrage mounted, militancy rose, and yet the range of antiwar demonstrators grew to include groups as diverse as "businessmen against the war" and large numbers of ever more vociferous Vietnam vets, often just back from the war itself. Almost exactly the opposite pattern -- the vets aside -- has occured with Iraq. The prewar demonstrations were monstrous, instantaneously gigantic, at home and abroad. Millions of people grasped just where we were going in late 2002 and early 2003, and grasped as well that the Bush dream of an American-occupied Iraq would lead to disaster and death galore. The New York Times, usually notoriously unimpressed with demonstrations, referred to the massed demonstrators then as the second "superpower" on a previously one superpower planet. And it did look, as the Times headline went, as if there were "a new power in the streets."
But here was the strange thing, as the "lone superpower" faltered, as the Bush administration and the Pentagon came to look ever less super, ever less victorious, ever less powerful, so did that other superpower. Discouragement of a special sort seemed to set in -- initially perhaps that the invasion had not been stopped and that, in Washington, no one in a tone-deaf administration even seemed to be listening. Still, through the first years of the war, on occasion, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators could be gathered in one spot to march massively, even cheerfully; these were crowds filled with "first timers" (who were proud to tell you so); and, increasingly, with the families of soldiers stationed in Iraq (or Afghanistan), or of soldiers who had died there, and even, sometimes, with some of the soldiers themselves, as well as contingents of vets from the Vietnam ! era, now older, greyer, but still vociferously antiwar.
However, over the years, unlike in the Vietnam era, the demonstrations shrank, and somehow the anxiety, the anger -- though it remained suspended somewhere in the American ether -- stopped manifesting itself so publicly, even as the war went on and on. Or put another way, perhaps the anger went deeper and turned inward, like a scouring agent. Perhaps it went all the way into what was left of an American belief system, into despair about the unresponsiveness of the government -- with paralyzing effect. As another potentially more disastrous war with Iran edges into sight, the response has been limited largely to what might be called the professional demonstrators. The surge of hope, of visual creativity, of spontaneous interaction, of the urge to turn out, that arose in those prewar demonstrations now seemed so long gone, replaced by a far more powerful sense that nothing anyone could do mattered in the least.
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