zaterdag 31 mei 2008

De Commerciele Massamedia 121

Scott McClellan's "war collaborators" in the corporate media. Referred to by McClellan in his new memoir, "What Happened," as "deferential, complicit enablers" of the Bush administration's war propaganda. (Photo: CBS News)
'McClellan and His Media Collaborators
Friday 30 May 2008
by: Jeff Cohen, t r u t h o u t Perspective
No sooner had Bush's ex-press secretary (now author) Scott McClellan accused President Bush and his former collaborators of misleading our country into Iraq than the squeals of protest turned into a mighty roar. I'm not talking about the vitriol directed at him by former White House colleagues like Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer. I'm talking about McClellan's other war collaborators: the movers and shakers in corporate media. The people McClellan refers to in his book as "deferential, complicit enablers" of Bush administration war propaganda.
One after another, news stars defended themselves with the tired old myth that no one doubted the Iraq WMD (weapons of mass destruction) claims at the time. The yarn about hindsight being 20/20 was served up more times than a Reverend Wright clip on Fox News.
Katie Couric, whose coverage on CBS of the Iraq troop surge has been almost fawning, was one of the few stars to be candid about preinvasion coverage, saying days ago, "I think it's one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism." She spoke of "pressure" from corporate management, not just Team Bush, to "really squash any dissent." Then a co-host of NBC "Today," she says network brass criticized her for challenging the administration.
NBC execs apparently didn't complain when - two weeks into the invasion - Couric thanked a Navy commander for coming on the show, adding, "And I just want you to know, I think Navy SEALs rock!"
This is a glorious moment for the American public. We can finally see those who abandoned reporting for cheerleading and flag-waving and cheap ratings having to squirm over their role in sending other parents' kids into Iraq. I say "other parents' kids" because I never met any bigwig among those I worked with in TV news who had kids in the armed forces.'

The Empire 377

'Army Judge Is Replaced for Trial of Detainee
Saturday 31 May 2008

by: William Glaberson, The New York Times

The chief judge at Guantánamo replaced the military judge in one of the most closely watched war crimes cases on Thursday, creating a new controversy in the military commission system and the potential for new delays.
The decision to replace the judge, Col. Peter E. Brownback III, came without explanation from the chief military judge, Col. Ralph H. Kohlmann. Judge Brownback has been presiding over pretrial proceedings in the prosecution of Omar Ahmed Khadr, a 21-year-old Canadian charged with the killing of an American serviceman in Afghanistan.
Pentagon spokesmen said Judge Brownback, a retired Army judge who was recalled to hear Guantánamo cases in 2004, would return to retirement as a result of "a mutual decision" between the judge and the Army.
But defense lawyers and critics of Guantánamo said there had been no warning of the change and suggested that he had been removed because of a recent ruling that was a rebuke to prosecutors.
During a proceeding on May 8, Judge Brownback expressed irritation that military prosecutors had failed to turn over records of Mr. Khadr's incarceration to defense lawyers. He threatened to stop pretrial proceedings if the records were not supplied by May 22. They met that deadline.
At the time, Judge Brownback said he had been "badgered and beaten and bruised" by the chief military prosecutor in the case, Maj. Jeffrey D. Groharing, to move the case toward a trial quickly.'

Lees verder:

Het Neoliberale Geloof 112

'Number of Uninsured US Young Adults Grows

Washington - The number of uninsured U.S. young adults, who already represent a major chunk of the American population without health coverage, rose again in 2006, according to a study released on Friday.

Based on census data, 13.7 million people aged 19 to 29 had no health insurance, either public or private, in 2006, up from 13.3 million in 2005, according to a report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private foundation that researches health policy.
Men and women in this age group accounted for 17 percent of the under-65 U.S. population, but made up almost 30 percent of the uninsured, according to the report. At age 65, people enter the federal Medicare insurance program.
"There has been a steady upward climb in the number of young adults without health insurance coverage," Sara Collins, an author of the report, said in a telephone interview.
Reducing the number of Americans who lack health insurance has emerged as an issue in this year's U.S. presidential campaign. The government estimates that 47 million people have no health coverage in a country of about 300 million.
"If you ask young adults, as we do in our survey, if you've ever had problems accessing health care because of cost - not filling a prescription, not seeing a specialist - two thirds of uninsured young adults say yes," Collins said.
Hispanic and black young adults were at greater risk of being uninsured than whites, the report showed. While 23 percent of whites ages 19 to 29 lacked insurance, the figure was 36 percent of blacks and 53 percent of Hispanics.
Those aged 19 to 29 represent one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population lacking health insurance, the report said.
The U.S. uninsured rate rises dramatically at age 19 - from 12 percent of children up to age 18 up to 30 percent among men and women aged 19 to 29, according to the report.
They often are dropped from public insurance programs at 19 or from parents' private insurance policies once they finish their education, either graduating high school or college.
Many jobs available to young adults tend to be low-wage or temporary, the type often unlikely to provide health coverage.'


'Is Water Becoming the New Oil?
by: Mark Clayton, The Christian Science Monitor
Lake Lanier in Buford, Georgia, shown in October, has shrunk so much that parts of the lakebed are exposed. Lawmakers are pointing fingers as the region struggles with an epic drought. (Photo: John Bazemore / AP)
Population, pollution, and climate put the squeeze on potable supplies - and private companies smell a profit. Others ask: Should water be a human right?
Public fountains are dry in Barcelona, Spain, a city so parched there's a €9,000 ($13,000) fine if you're caught watering your flowers. A tanker ship docked there this month carrying 5 million gallons of precious fresh water - and officials are scrambling to line up more such shipments to slake public thirst.
Barcelona is not alone. Cyprus will ferry water from Greece this summer. Australian cities are buying water from that nation's farmers and building desalination plants. Thirsty China plans to divert Himalayan water. And 18 million southern Californians are bracing for their first water-rationing in years.
Water, Dow Chemical Chairman Andrew Liveris told the World Economic Forum in February, "is the oil of this century." Developed nations have taken cheap, abundant fresh water largely for granted. Now global population growth, pollution, and climate change are shaping a new view of water as "blue gold."
Water's hot-commodity status has snared the attention of big equipment suppliers like General Electric as well as big private water companies that buy or manage municipal supplies - notably France-based Suez and Aqua America, the largest US-based private water company.
Global water markets, including drinking water distribution, management, waste treatment, and agriculture are a nearly $500 billion market and growing fast, says a 2007 global investment report.
But governments pushing to privatize costly to maintain public water systems are colliding with a global "water is a human right" movement. Because water is essential for human life, its distribution is best left to more publicly accountable government authorities to distribute at prices the poorest can afford, those water warriors say.
"We're at a transition point where fundamental decisions need to be made by societies about how this basic human need - water - is going to be provided," says Christopher Kilian, clean-water program director for the Boston-based Conservation Law Foundation. "The profit motive and basic human need [for water] are just inherently in conflict."
Will "peak water" displace "peak oil" as the central resource question? Some see such a scenario rising.'

Irak 253

'Iraqis Protest Against US Military Deal

by: Agence France-Presse

Thousands of supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr demonstrated in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq after Friday prayers to denounce a government deal with Washington on US troop levels. Followers of the anti-US cleric brandished placards outside mosques in their Sadr City Shiite stronghold in the capital as security forces stepped up their presence there.
A key member of the Sadrist movement, Sheikh Mohannad Al-Gazawi, denounced the proposed deal that will extend the US troop presence in Iraq beyond 2008.
"This agreement binds Iraq and gives 99 percent of the country to America," he said.
The faithful carried placards slamming "the disastrous agreement that tears Iraq apart and gives in to the occupying power." Another said: "This agreement surrenders the sovereignty of Iraq."
Protesters burned an effigy of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki as well as a US flag before dispersing peacefully after about an hour.
In Kut, 175 kilometres (109 miles) south of Baghdad, hundreds of Sadrists staged similar demonstrations.
In the southern city of Basra, the spokesman for the Sadr bloc in the Baghdad parliament, Nassar al-Rubaie, joined a protest there, correspondents said.
Friday's demonstrations followed a call by Sadr to protest and force Baghdad to abandon its proposed deal with Washington.
Sadr said the proposed Status of Forces Agreement aimed to give a legal basis to US troops after the December 31 expiry of a UN mandate defining their current status, and was "against Iraqi national interests."
"After every Friday prayers, everyone must protest and demonstrate until the agreement is cancelled," he said in a statement sent to AFP on Wednesday.
Last November US President George W. Bush and Maliki signed a non-binding statement of principles for negotiations which began in March with the aim of concluding a pact by the end of July.'

Clarence Darrow

En deze is van de beroemde Amerikaanse strafpleiter Clarence Darrow: "Ik heb nooit iemand vermoord, maar ik heb menig overlijdensbericht met veel plezier gelezen."

vrijdag 30 mei 2008

Mark Twain

Deze is van Mark Twain: "Ik ben niet naar de begrafenis gegaan, maar ik heb een mooie brief gestuurd waarin ik zei dat ik het ermee eens was."

donderdag 29 mei 2008

De Israelische Terreur 377

'Israel’s lethal hold over the United States
By Paul J. Balles*
29 May 2008

Paul J. Balles considers the cost to the USA of its open-ended support of Israel. He urges scholars and journalists to join the likes of John Mearsheimer, Stephen Walt and James Petras in exposing the cost of the pro-Israel lobby to America and the American people.Here's a timeline without times, but with the order of things:Israel wants to rid occupied Palestine of the Palestinians. It's called ethnic cleansing.Israel can't get rid of the Palestinians as long as there's a threat of missile attacks from Arab or Islamic countries assumed to be hostile.Arab countries like Iraq, or Islamic countries like Iran, assumed to be hostile, would not use weapons of mass destruction against Israel as long as Palestinians would also be massacred.The potential threat must be eliminated, according to Israel who once bombed a nuclear plant in Iraq in a pre-emptory attack to remove an assumed potential threat.Israel insists that America hasn't done enough to eliminate the threat to Israel from two of the members of Bush's "axis of evil" – Iraq and Iran.America ignores the potential cost to Americans to satisfy the wishes of Israel. The costs are great not only the costs of military occupation, but the loss of a potential oil source that could have kept the price of oil down to 40 dollars a barrel. Dr Salameh, director of the UK-based Oil Market Consultancy Service, says:
Iraq had offered the United States a deal, three years before the war, that would have opened up 10 new giant oil fields on 'generous' terms in return for the lifting of sanctions. This would certainly have prevented the steep rise of the oil price, but the US had a different idea. It planned to occupy Iraq and annex its oil.Iran is developing nuclear power. Israel insists that America sponsor sanctions against Iran leading to bombing of Iran's nuclear plants, "Everything is on the table," says the American leadership.Why? Iran is no threat to America. Journalist Charley Reese asks:
So what are the capabilities of Iran? It has no nuclear weapons. We have about 3,000 or more. One American submarine could destroy the entire country of Iran and its population. Iran has no missiles that could reach us. It has no aircraft that could reach us. Its army couldn't even defeat Iraq."Why has the United States been willing to set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of another state?" ask scholars John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt. Their answer: the influence of the pro-Israel lobby. In the two years since Mearsheimer and Walt published their study, it hasn't been successfully challenged but, even more significantly, it hasn't affected any reduction in the influence of the Israeli lobby.All of the timeline items and comments mentioned above have been observed and recorded by highly respected scholars and journalists in foreign journals or newspapers and on the Internet.One of those scholars is James Petras, whose book The Power of Israel in the United States should have been a best-selling guide to correcting the "influence problem" in America. It has added to the verbal artillery of those of us who would like to see real change.Petras asks, "Who benefited from the Iraq war? His answer: "The only major beneficiary of the war has been the state of Israel." He provides a thorough analysis and incontrovertible evidence to support that conclusion.Professor Petras makes it equally clear that "Israel's political and military leadership have repeatedly and openly declared their preparation to militarily attack Iran in the immediate future. Again, the support offered by Petras is conclusive.When are other scholars and journalists going to join the truth seekers and speak out? If they're believers in the truth, they should join together in their willingness to resist the naysayers and lobbyists. Costly silence is inexcusable.

*Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see

Carolien Roelants 4

Dit is Carolien Roelants, opiniemaakster van de NRC. Ze schrijft over het Midden-Oosten. Roelants is momenteel voor haar krant druk doende de juiste stemming te kweken voor een oorlog tegen Iran, net zoals zij en haar krant hun publiek rijp maakten voor de illegale invasie van Irak. Carolien Roelants heeft kille ogen. Zou ze moeder zijn? Ik kan het me niet voorstellen want ze weet dat een moderne oorlog als eerste vrouwen en kinderen tot slachtoffer maakt. Maar je weet het natuurlijk nooit met die ideologische journalisten. Dit zijn de koppen van enkele recente artikelen van haar:

"De Perzen zijn altijd op expansie gericht
In Libanon is de opmars van Iran zichtbaar
Iran speelt rol op Arabische top
Hezbollah zoekt de aanval"

U ziet, de slijpsteen van de geest maakt de geest rijp voor oorlog en dus terreur. Roelants was zich destijds niet bewust dat ze gebruikt werd in een propaganda campagne van de Amerikaanse neocons, althans zo suggereert zij. Zou ze nu niet beseffen dat ze zich bewust door anderen laat gebruiken voor nog meer terreur, maar nu tegen Iran? Ik kan het me niet voorstellen dat ze dat niet beseft. Ik denk gewoon dat Carolien Roelants terreur een juist politiek wapen vindt. En dan hanteer ik de definitie zoals die beschreven staat in het Amerikaanse LegerHandboek, waarbij terrorisme omschreven wordt als 'het bewust geplandegebruik van geweld of dreiging van geweld om doelen te bereiken die politiek, religieus, of ideologisch van aard zijn.'

De vraag is ook: waarin verschilt Roelants nu eigenlijk wezenlijk van de eerste de beste terrorist? Ze zou dit nog eens moeten lezen van een voormalige naaste medewerker van de huidige president Bush:

'in a chapter titled "Selling the War," he alleges that the administration repeatedly shaded the truth and that Bush "managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option.""Over that summer of 2002," he writes, "top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war.... In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage."'

Lees verder:

Het Neoliberale Geloof 111

'The Rich Get Hungrier
Wednesday 28 May 2008

by: Amartya Sen, The New York Times

Will the food crisis that is menacing the lives of millions ease up - or grow worse over time? The answer may be both. The recent rise in food prices has largely been caused by temporary problems like drought in Australia, Ukraine and elsewhere. Though the need for huge rescue operations is urgent, the present acute crisis will eventually end. But underlying it is a basic problem that will only intensify unless we recognize it and try to remedy it.
It is a tale of two peoples. In one version of the story, a country with a lot of poor people suddenly experiences fast economic expansion, but only half of the people share in the new prosperity. The favored ones spend a lot of their new income on food, and unless supply expands very quickly, prices shoot up. The rest of the poor now face higher food prices but no greater income, and begin to starve. Tragedies like this happen repeatedly in the world.
A stark example is the Bengal famine of 1943, during the last days of the British rule in India. The poor who lived in cities experienced rapidly rising incomes, especially in Calcutta, where huge expenditures for the war against Japan caused a boom that quadrupled food prices. The rural poor faced these skyrocketing prices with little increase in income.
Misdirected government policy worsened the division. The British rulers were determined to prevent urban discontent during the war, so the government bought food in the villages and sold it, heavily subsidized, in the cities, a move that increased rural food prices even further. Low earners in the villages starved. Two million to three million people died in that famine and its aftermath.
Much discussion is rightly devoted to the division between haves and have-nots in the global economy, but the world's poor are themselves divided between those who are experiencing high growth and those who are not. The rapid economic expansion in countries like China, India and Vietnam tends to sharply increase the demand for food. This is, of course, an excellent thing in itself, and if these countries could manage to reduce their unequal internal sharing of growth, even those left behind there would eat much better.
But the same growth also puts pressure on global food markets - sometimes through increased imports, but also through restrictions or bans on exports to moderate the rise in food prices at home, as has happened recently in countries like India, China, Vietnam and Argentina. Those hit particularly hard have been the poor, especially in Africa.
There is also a high-tech version of the tale of two peoples. Agricultural crops like corn and soybeans can be used for making ethanol for motor fuel. So the stomachs of the hungry must also compete with fuel tanks.
Misdirected government policy plays a part here, too. In 2005, the United States Congress began to require widespread use of ethanol in motor fuels. This law combined with a subsidy for this use has created a flourishing corn market in the United States, but has also diverted agricultural resources from food to fuel. This makes it even harder for the hungry stomachs to compete.'

Lees verder:

Oil 34

'British PM Warns of Global Oil "Shock" as Fuel Price Protests Spread
Thursday 29 May 2008

by: Agence France-Presse

London - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Wednesday that the world faced an era-defining oil "shock" that required urgent action, as European leaders argued how best to contain protests over soaring fuel prices.
"It is now understood that a global shock on this scale requires global solutions," Brown wrote in The Guardian newspaper.
Record oil prices of around 135 dollars a barrel have contributed to protests worldwide over the rise in fuel and food costs, with fishermen and truck drivers taking the lead in Europe, blocking ports and road access to oil depots.
"However much we might wish otherwise, there is no easy answer to the global oil problem without a comprehensive international strategy," Brown said, adding that the problem should be made a "top priority" at the EU summit next month and the gathering of G8 leaders in July.
"The way we confront these issues will define our era," he said.
Brown's warning came a day after French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged a Europe-wide cut in consumer taxes on fuel.
French consumers pay about 19.6 percent VAT on the price of fuel and Sarkozy renewed his reduction proposal on Wednesday during a visit to Warsaw.
"Should we really apply the same tax rate when the price of a barrel of oil has doubled in one year and tripled in three years? I don't think this is a crazy question to be asking," Sarkozy told reporters in the Polish capital.
But Austrian Finance Minister Wilhelm Molterer gave the idea short shrift.
"What will you do when prices fall again, reintroduce the tax? I'd like to hear the political discussions then," said Molterer.
Portugal's economy minister Manuel Pinho called on Slovenia, as current head of the European Union, to hold an emergency debate on the crisis, but Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said it would have to wait for the scheduled EU summit next month.
"There's no sense in calling an urgent meeting since we'll discuss the issue at our regular June session," Jansa said, while adding that the issue would be placed high on the agenda.
While fishermen called off strikes in key French ports on Wednesday, lifting a week-long blockade of the country's largest oil refinery, truckers and farmers stepped up their own protests over soaring fuel prices.
A group of 300 farmers used their cars to block the entry to a Total fuel depot near Toulouse, while around 40 protesting truck drivers slowed traffic to a near-halt on Bordeaux's main ring road.'

Lees verder:

De Israelische Terreur 376

Van mijn vriend en collega Ronald van den Boogaard, die vele jaren geleden samen met Roel van Broekhoven de eerste Nederlandse journalisten waren, die bij de VPRO-Radio uitgebreid aandacht besteedden aan het lot van de Palestijnen.

'In 1979 had ik in Jeruzalem een interview met Ehud Olmert. Hij was toen advocaat en lid van de Knesset voor Likoed. We zaten op het kantoor van Likoed, waar een kaart van Groot Israël aan de wand hing. Hij wees op die kaart, zei dat de Westbank als een Arabische vuist in Israël lag en merkte voorts op, dat de Jordaan de natuurlijke grens was.
Fragmenten uit dit interview.
De PLO schaamt zich er niet voor te bekennen trots te zijn op hun terrorisme. Zij willen de vernietiging van de staat Israël. Ze zeggen niet: wij willen onze eigen staat op de Westbank en de Israeli’s kunnen in hun eigen land leven, nee ze zeggen dat ze heel Israël willen. Van Haifa en Tel Aviv tot Jeruzalem. Ze willen alles en de Joden moeten eruit.
Er zijn veel Palestijnen, die genoegen willen nemen met een eigen staat op de Westbank en in Gaza.
Ja dat zeggen ze wel, maar het is niet waar. Sla er het handvest van de PLO maar op na. Daarin staat het letterlijk. Zij willen de vernietiging van de staat Israël.
Dat handvest is toch verouderd.
Dat heb ik ook wel eens horen zeggen. Maar het staat er nog steeds. Als het dan verouderd is, waarom wordt het er dan niet uit geschrapt?
U bent dus tegen een Palestijnse staat?
Nee hoor. Maar dan een staat aan de andere kant van De Jordaan, op de Oostoever.Maar in geen geval op de Westbank. Dat wil Egypte niet en dat willen de Verenigde Staten ook niet.Het is niet haalbaar.Het is te klein voor een onafhankelijke staat.Bovendien zou zo’n klein land onder deze linkse PLO gemakkelijk vervallen tot een Russische vazalstaat.En dat vlak naast onze huiskamer. Dat is een risico, dat we niet kunnen nemen.
Iemand met zulke opvattingen kon dus later burgemeester van Jeruzalem en zelfs premier worden.
Ik zweer u overigens, dat ik voor deze radicale onzin niets betaald heb.


De Israelische Terreur 375

Van Omar Barghouti, die de actie voor boycot van Israel coordineert:

'GREAT news!

We just found out that the University and College Union (UCU) congress has passed that ALL three pro-Palestinian motions, with large majorities!! This despite all the legal intimidation attempts by the Zionist lobby at the last minute.

I am copying below the UCU motions that I understand have passed (but please do not quote me yet, we are still not 100% sure of the final wording of the passed motions).

Outstanding, persistent work by our partners, BRICUP, in the UK and our Palestinian academic delegation which recently toured 20 universities in the UK, contributing significantly to this victory.

"Greylisting" -- referred to below in reference to Ariel College -- is the general procedure adopted by the UCU leadership, gradually investigating an academic institution for international law and human rights violations leading to steps that can reach boycott. This is a mild version of boycott, but all Zionist media refer to this motion as "the boycott motion."


UCU Motions:

SFC10 Composite: Palestine and the occupation University of Brighton – Eastbourne, University of Brighton – Grand Parade, University of East London Docklands, National Executive Committee
Congress notes the
1. continuation of illegal settlement, killing of civilians and the impossibility of civil life, including education;
2. humanitarian catastrophe imposed on Gaza by Israel and the EU;
3. apparent complicity of most of the Israeli academy;
4. legal attempts to prevent UCU debating boycott of Israeli academic institutions; and legal advice that such debates are lawful
Congress affirms that
5. criticism of Israel or Israeli policy are not, as such, anti-semitic;
6. pursuit and dissemination of knowledge are not uniquely immune from their moral and political consequences;
Congress resolves that
7. colleagues be asked to consider the moral and political implications of educational links with Israeli institutions, and to discuss the occupation with individuals and institutions concerned, including Israeli colleagues with whom they are collaborating;
8. UCU widely disseminate the personal testimonies of UCU and PFUUPE delegations to Palestine and the UK, respectively;
9. the testimonies will be used to promote a wide discussion by colleagues of the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions;
10. UCU facilitate and encourage twinning arrangements and other direct solidarity with Palestinian institutions;
11. Ariel College, an explicitly colonising institution in the West Bank, be investigated under the formal Greylisting Procedure.

SFC11 Gaza emergency University College London
Congress notes1. The humanitarian catastrophe that developed in Gaza in March 2008, following a long siege and military bombardment, during which over 100 people died.2. The call by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) to international trade unions to put pressure on their own governments to take action to stop the escalation of violence and relieve the humanitarian crisis.3. Students and academics have been among those trapped in Gaza.
Congress resolvesTo organise a fact-finding delegation to Gaza after the bombing stops and to send delegates on future TUC-sponsored visits.

SFC12 Palestine National Executive Committee
Congress notes the report of the Trade Union Delegation to Palestine in January 2008, facilitated by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in which 4 representatives of UCU took part.
Congress notes that the delegation was generously hosted in Nablus by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions.
Congress deplores the failure of the Israeli Histadrut to pay the approximately 2.5 million Euros owed to the PGFTU since 1995, representing 50% of the official organisational dues of Palestinian workers working in Israel, under the terms of the Framework Agreement of March 1995 following the Oslo Accords of 1993.
Congress calls on the Histadrut to pay the dues owed to the PGFTU; to call for an end to the siege of Gaza; and to call for an end to the occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory.'

Nu Nederland nog.

Het Neoliberale Geloof 110

'The Fading of the Mirage Economy

By Steven Pearlstein

Suddenly, it seems, we're getting hit from all directions.

Energy and food prices are soaring. The housing market continues to collapse. Government revenue is falling, and taxes are rising. Airlines are jacking up fares and fees while reducing service. Banks are pulling credit lines. Auto companies are cutting production once again. Even investment bankers are losing their jobs.

The tendency is to see these as separate developments, each with its own causes and dynamic. Fundamentally, however, they are all part of the same story -- the story of the global economy purging itself of large and unsustainable imbalances that for a time allowed many Americans to think they were richer than they really were.

Most of us understand that an overabundance of cheap, easy credit created a housing bubble that artificially inflated the price of land and housing, produced too many homes and homeowners, and persuaded too many Americans to dip into their home equity to support a lifestyle their income could not sustain. Now that the bubble has burst, we are coming to accept the reality of lower prices, reduced production, declining homeownership rates and the wisdom that a house is not an ATM or a substitute for a retirement fund.

Put another way, residential real estate is finding a new equilibrium, that magical place in the economist's imagination where supply and demand of houses and mortgages come back into some sort of rough balance at a lower price.

But the thing to remember is that it's not just residential real estate. The same factors that were behind the housing bubble were also at work, to varying degrees, in the auto bubble, the commercial real estate bubble, the travel bubble, the college tuition bubble, the retail bubble, the Web 2.0 bubble and most recently the commodities bubble. Unlike housing, which began losing steam two years ago, these other sectors have just begun the painful process of repricing and finding a new balance between supply and demand.

Take the case of the airline industry, which likes to blame its woes on skyrocketing fuel prices.

While there's an ongoing debate about why the price of oil has doubled over the past year, there is little doubt that the declining dollar is a significant factor. The decline is the result of years of large and growing U.S. trade deficits that should have caused the exchange rate to adjust years ago but didn't because so many of our trading partners in Asia and the Middle East were intent on linking their currencies to the dollar. In the process of maintaining those dollar pegs and reinvesting those surpluses in Treasury bonds and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac securities, they created a surfeit of cheap credit that spawned all those bubbles.

Now that the process is reversing itself, the overvalued dollar is being repriced. But in the short run, it has played havoc with the cost of commodities, most of which are priced in dollars. Producers have raised their dollar prices to prevent a decline in the global purchasing power from their commodities sales. At the same time, some of the excess credit that financed mortgages and corporate takeovers has been shifted to commodity speculation, turbocharging the swings in prices of everything from corn futures to jet fuel. At some point, that speculative bubble will burst and energy prices will plunge. When things finally settle down, the new equilibrium price is almost certain to be well above where it was last year at this time.'

woensdag 28 mei 2008

De Bush Bende 67

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a new memoir that the Iraq war was sold to the American people with a sophisticated "political propaganda campaign" led by President Bush and aimed at "manipulating sources of public opinion" and "downplaying the major reason for going to war."
McClellan includes the charges in a 341-page book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," that delivers a harsh look at the White House and the man he served for close to a decade.He describes Bush as demonstrating a "lack of inquisitiveness," says the White House operated in "permanent campaign" mode, and admits to having been deceived by some in the president's inner circle about the leak of a CIA operative's name.
The book, coming from a man who was a tight-lipped defender of administration aides and policy, is certain to give fuel to critics of the administration, and McClellan has harsh words for many of his past colleagues. He accuses former White House adviser Karl Rove of misleading him about his role in the CIA case. He describes Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as being deft at deflecting blame, and he calls Vice President Cheney "the magic man" who steered policy behind the scenes while leaving no fingerprints.
McClellan stops short of saying that Bush purposely lied about his reasons for invading Iraq, writing that he and his subordinates were not "employing out-and-out deception" to make their case for war in 2002.
But in a chapter titled "Selling the War," he alleges that the administration repeatedly shaded the truth and that Bush "managed the crisis in a way that almost guaranteed that the use of force would become the only feasible option."
"Over that summer of 2002," he writes, "top Bush aides had outlined a strategy for carefully orchestrating the coming campaign to aggressively sell the war.... In the permanent campaign era, it was all about manipulating sources of public opinion to the president's advantage."'

De Israelische Terreur 374

'Israel has 150 nukes, Jimmy Carter tells paper
Associated Press

LONDON — Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter says Israel has a nuclear arsenal of 150 weapons, The Times of London reported Monday.
While experts have long maintained Israel has a nuclear arsenal, the Jewish state has refused to confirm or deny it.
Most estimates, many based on evidence leaked in 1986 by Israeli nuclear technician Mordechai Vanunu, put the number of Israeli nuclear weapons at between 100 and 200. But other experts have said the number is as low as 60 or as high as 400.
It was unclear from the newspaper's account whether Mr. Carter was citing those estimates, offering his own independent assessment or drawing on U.S. intelligence he would have had access to as president from 1977 to 1981.
U.S. officials have generally avoided the issue of Israel's nuclear status, although during a 2006 Senate confirmation hearing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates confirmed that Israel was a nuclear power.
The Times said Mr. Carter made the comment Sunday while at the Hay-on-Wye literary festival on the border between England and Wales. He was discussing Iran, and the difficulty it would have in building a secret nuclear arsenal, when he mentioned the Israeli weapons, the paper said.'

De Israelische Terreur 373

'The Nakba Isn't Just History, It's About People Feeling Homeless Nakba commemorations are coming to an end. This month has been a real eye-opener for me, raised my consciousness. I want to talk about Nakba here in strictly emotional terms.

One of the signal moments for me came when Nadia Hijab, a highly successful Palestinian-American, born in Syria to refugees, said in Brooklyn, ?I feel I belong nowhere.? This member of the Council on Foreign Relations belongs nowhere! ?When I go toPalestine, I feel I belong there.? The right of return, said this softspoken intellectual, was an individual right. Did you or did you not want to go home? And now in midlife, she finds that she wants to be back in Palestine. I?m thinking about her feelings in universal human terms. What makes us feel at home? Zionism was born of Jewish feelings of homelessness in Europe. It was given political muscle by all the Eastern European Jews displaced and living in the U.S., who did not feel at home here. My grandparents who came over at the turn of the century after the pogroms didn't trust gentile Americans, felt like outsiders. Then after World War II, more homelessness: with all the displaced persons in Europe, many of whom ended up in Palestine, but also in the sense in this country among American Jews that the U.S. had allowed the Holocaust to take place. That was a part of my Jewish identification as an outsider (And it is the central idea of a paper on the Myth of Abandonment by Michael Desch that I am about to revisit, it is so important). Those alienated and abandoned feelings are what generated the state of Israel, and in turn the Israel lobby?we aren?t at home here, aren?t safe. We must take measures. It is of course staggering that people as wealthy and privileged as American Jews can feel outside, but many
obviously do.

The Nakba is of course about Arab homelessness. The tragedy of the state of Israel is that it expelled so many Arabs who had a traditional way of life utterly tied to the land of Palestine and those feelings have gone so long unhealed and now 60 years on they darken Israel?s future. The cover of the Nakba issue of The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs is a haunting image of a Palestinian shepherd, covered with wool. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that very soon after the defeat of Nazi Germany, Germans acknowledged war crimes and before too long reparations began. The refugees of Europe had of course lost families and homes, but emotionally they were given refuge: granted their sense of grievance. That recognition has never happened with the Nakba. For 60 years, the insult has outweighed the injury. Of course there is a growing movement to recognize the Nakba, but Israel and American Jewish leadership have only deployed its guns against it, and in all the endless political dickering over the Right of Return, whether it can be extinguished with money or not, the central fact, We took your homes from you and forced you out?that has never been acknowledged. (I remember how shocked I was years ago when the publisher of a paper I worked at, who had worked at AIPAC, told me with a guilty smile that Israel had taken their homes away. I had no idea.) What if Israel acknowledged that horror tomorrow? It would go a long way right there to some resolution. One of the Nakba books I read this month was Resistance, Exile and Return, an oral history by Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, a Palestinian scholar who died in 2001.'

De Israelische Terreur 372

'Palestinians must learn media skills
Israel is easy winner in the propaganda game
By Stuart Littlewood*28 May 2008

Stuart Littlewood argues that lack of media savvy Palestinians and Western broadcasters’ – including the BBC's – tendency to choose inept Palestinian interviewees is allowing Israel literally to get away with murder. He calls for a shrewd Palestinian communication strategy, a more proactive style and the right people to carry it off.Some time ago Hamas complained that the Palestinian Authority was not getting its message across thanks to "poorly qualified or unqualified spokespersons with inadequate political and linguistic abilities".Diplomacy had failed and the Palestinians needed “professional spokespersons with excellent knowledge of the world and mastery of foreign languages, especially English, to tell the world in a straightforward manner that Israel is a murderer, liar and land thief..." How right Hamas is. Israel is the undeserving winner in the propaganda game. The Palestinians squander their chances and make little impact even though truth and justice are on their side. They occupy the moral high ground but consistently lose the all-important war of words. Why? The Palestinian General Delegation in London, for example, is blessed with two very talented people who should be making an impression. Professor Manuel Hassassian took up his post as ambassador two and a half years ago, arriving at a critical moment in Palestinian diplomacy. He's an academic “big gun” – a BA in Political Science from the American University of Beirut, an MA in International Relations from Toledo University, Ohio, USA, and a PhD in Comparative Politics from the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. Before his appointment to this vital London job he was executive vice-president of Bethlehem University as well as professor of political science and president of the Palestinian-European-American Cooperation in Education (PEACE) programme. Among other things, he's an expert on Palestinian civil society and citizenship, the right of refugees to return and church affairs. And he’s very articulate. Husam Zomlot is the Oxford Research Group's Middle East consultant and political adviser to the Palestinian diplomatic effort in the UK. Another highly qualified academic, Zomlot has a BA in Economics and Political Science, an MSc in Development Studies, and his PhD thesis dealt with international peace building and post-conflict reconstruction aid programmes.He has worked with the UN, the London School of Economics and the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute. He lectured on international economics at the University of London and has contributed to several books, including State formation in Palestine: viability and governance during a social transformation – heavy stuff by the sound of it. Zomlot is an expert on the Arab-Israeli conflict, Palestinian and Arab politics, transitional economies, and bilateral and multilateral negotiations. These are the voices appointed to speak to Western diplomats and media on behalf of a dispossessed, tormented and humiliated people in what is possibly the world’s hottest of hot-spots. The General Delegation also has a public relations person, so with a team like this the Palestinians surely can't go wrong. During the Palestinian elections (January 2006) I tuned in to British TV and radio expecting informed comment from key Palestinians. The BBC wheeled in people whose English was often so bad as to be almost unintelligible, while giving generous air-time to well-rehearsed Israeli propagandists.'

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De Israelische Terreur 371

'Narratives under siege: Eighteen years of work destroyed in less than four hours
‘They came at four in the morning, with two bulldozers, and they left before 8am. I own this chicken farm with my three brothers, and we worked day and night for eighteen years to build up our business. The Israelis destroyed everything in less then four hours.’
Nasser Jaber’s chicken farm was bulldozed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) ten days ago, in the early morning hours of May 16, while he was sleeping at home in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. He still looks stunned. Wearily he guides us round the ruins of his eighteen-year business. ‘This was a lifetime project for me and my brothers’ he says as we clamber over rubble, wire, shattered sheets of metal and thousands of putrefying chickens. ‘I have never belonged to any political faction, and I have never been to jail. I don’t know why they did this.’ The farm workers who are starting to clear some of the rubble are all wearing facemasks. Forty thousand dead chickens lie smashed amidst the rubble and the stench is sickening.
When his workers raised the alarm that the chicken farm was being bulldozed, Nasser Jaber didn’t rush out to the farm, but stayed at home, waiting until the Israelis had finally left. ‘It would have been too dangerous to come to the farm while they were destroying everything’ he says. ‘This is not the first time the Israelis have been here. The [Israeli] border is only two and a half kilometers away, and they invade this area every month. They had already destroyed one of our walls, and then the water tanks. But nothing like this.’ One section of the chicken farm, a large barn containing 9,000 chickens, was spared the attack, though Nasser Jaber says the poultry are traumatized, and laying few eggs. The farm used to produce 45,000 eggs a day – now production is down to 2,000 eggs per day, and Nasser Jaber is worried the Israeli military may return to finish off what’s left of his farm. He estimates that between them, he and his brothers have already lost more than a million dollars. ‘I am a peaceful farmer’ he says. ‘But they destroy our homes, our land - everything.’
Abdul Halim Abu Samra, Head of Public Relations at the nearby Khan Yunis branch of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, says the IOF is systematically destroying farm land in the Gaza Strip, especially in border areas. ‘We have good fertile agricultural land in Gaza, but Palestinian farmers have been driven off their land in these border areas by intimidation and attacks like this. The land is now almost empty a kilometer before the eastern border, because it is too dangerous for people to live and work there.’
As we drive north east towards Sofa Crossing (one of the eight crossings between Gaza and Israel) we see very few people, only an occasional elderly man leading a donkey and cart. These rural eastern border areas of the Gaza Strip are emptying, because farmers, many of whom have farmed here for generations, are now too frightened to live and work on their own land. The confines of the Gaza Strip, which is just forty kilometers long and ten kilometers wide, are being shrunk even further by relentless Israeli invasions.'

dinsdag 27 mei 2008

Het Neoliberale Geloof 109

Welcome to the 'recession'
Buffett says we're there. Greenspan says we're likely so. It may not be official, but the question is: How long will the funk last?
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By Paul R. La Monica, editor at large
Last Updated: May 27, 2008: 12:35 PM EDT

NEW YORK ( -- It's getting harder and harder to deny that the economy is in recession.
Warren Buffett, the world's most famous investor, proclaimed this weekend that "we are already in a recession."
Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan told the Financial Times on Monday that there is a greater than 50% chance of a recession.
Talkback: Is the economic downturn almost over or just beginning?
But with all due respect to the Oracle of Omaha and the Maestro, they are not telling us anything that the average American consumer didn't already know: this economy stinks.
Whether the economy is technically in recession is missing the point. Consumer confidence is anemic. Home prices continue to fall. The unemployment rate has risen sharply over the past few months. Food and energy prices are soaring.
In fact, gas prices have run up so much that Americans are even starting to give up on their love affair with the automobile: the Federal Highway Transportation reported yesterday that Americans drove 11 billion miles less this March than a year ago.
We may not find out for several months if the National Bureau of Economic Research, the official arbiter of recessions, decides to label this economic rough patch an actual recession. And the economy may not ultimately decline for two consecutive quarters, a shorthand definition.
Gross domestic product eked out a 0.6% gain in the first quarter, according to the first reading of that figure released last month. An update is due out Thursday and economists have a revised forecast of 0.9% growth.
So the most pertinent question now for consumers and investors should not be if we will enter a recession but how long will it last?
Buffett and Greenspan are divided on that question. Buffett, speaking in the German weekly Der Spiegel, said that the recession "will be deeper and longer than what many think" while Greenspan said to the FT that "the probability of a severe recession has come down markedly."

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maandag 26 mei 2008

De Israelische Terreur 370

'A Declaration of US Independence from Israel: Chris Hedges (NYT)
By Mary Rizzo • May 23rd, 2008 at 12:08 •

This is a talk given at the Nassau Club in Princeton by Chris Hedges, former New York Times ME bureau chief. (Photomontage Wolfy, Twisted old tree by Zaki Boulos)

Israel, without the United States, would probably not exist. The country came perilously close to extinction during the October 1973 war when Egypt, trained and backed by the Soviet Union, crossed the Suez and the Syrians poured in over the Golan Heights. Huge American military transport planes came to the rescue. They began landing every half-hour to refit the battered Israeli army, which had lost most of its heavy armor.
By the time the war was over, the United States had given Israel $2.2 billion in emergency military aid.

The intervention, which enraged the Arab world, triggered the OPEC oil embargo that for a time wreaked havoc on Western economies. This was perhaps the most dramatic example of the sustained life-support system the United States has provided to the Jewish state.
Washington, at the beginning of the relationship, was able to be a moderating influence. An incensed President Eisenhower demanded and got Israel’s withdrawal after the Israelis occupied Gaza in 1956. During the Six-Day War in 1967, Israeli warplanes bombed the USS Liberty. The ship, flying the U.S. flag and stationed 15 miles off the Israeli coast, was intercepting tactical and strategic communications from both sides. The Israeli strikes killed 34 U.S. sailors and wounded 171. The deliberate attack froze, for a while, Washington’s enthusiasm for Israel. But ruptures like this one proved to be only bumps, soon smoothed out by an increasingly sophisticated and well-financed Israel lobby that set out to merge Israel and American foreign policy in the Middle East.
Israel has reaped tremendous rewards from this alliance. It has been given more than $140 billion in U.S. direct economic and military assistance. It receives about $3 billion in direct assistance annually, roughly one-fifth of the U.S. foreign aid budget. Although most American foreign aid packages stipulate that related military purchases have to be made in the United States, Israel is allowed to use about 25 percent of the money to subsidize its own growing and profitable defense industry. It is exempt, unlike other nations, from accounting for how it spends the aid money.And funds are routinely siphoned off to build new Jewish settlements, bolster the Israeli occupation in the Palestinian territories and construct the security barrier, which costs an estimated $1 million a mile.
The barrier weaves its way through the West Bank, creating isolated pockets of impoverished Palestinians in ringed ghettos. By the time the barrier is finished it will probably in effect seize up to 40 percent of Palestinian land. This is the largest land grab by Israel since the 1967 war. And although the United States officially opposes settlement expansion and the barrier, it also funds them.
The U.S. has provided Israel with nearly $3 billion to develop weapons systems and given Israel access to some of the most sophisticated items in its own military arsenal, including Blackhawk attack helicopters and F-16 fighter jets. The United States also gives Israel access to intelligence it denies to its NATO allies. And when Israel refused to sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, the United States stood by without a word of protest as the Israelis built the region’s first nuclear weapons program.
U.S. foreign policy, especially under the current Bush administration, has become little more than an extension of Israeli foreign policy. The United States since 1982 has vetoed 32 Security Council resolutions critical of Israel, more than the total number of vetoes cast by all the other Security Council members. It refuses to enforce the Security Council resolutions it claims to support. These resolutions call on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.There is now volcanic anger and revulsion by Arabs at this blatant favoritism. Few in the Middle East do not see any distinction between Israeli and American policies, nor should they. And when the Islamic radicals speak of U.S. support of Israel as a prime reason for their hatred of the United States, we should listen. The consequences of this one-sided relationship are being played out in the disastrous war in Iraq, growing tension with Iran, and the humanitarian and political crisis in Gaza. It is being played out in Lebanon, where Hezbollah is gearing up for another war with Israel, one most Middle East analysts say is inevitable. The U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East is unraveling. And it is doing so because of this special relationship. The eruption of a regional conflict would usher in a nightmare of catastrophic proportions.
There were many in the American foreign policy establishment and State Department who saw this situation coming. The decision to throw our lot in with Israel in the Middle East was not initially a popular one with an array of foreign policy experts, including President Harry Truman’s secretary of state, Gen. George Marshall. They warned there would be a backlash. They knew the cost the United States would pay in the oil-rich region for this decision, which they feared would be one of the greatest strategic blunders of the postwar era. And they were right. The decision has jeopardized American and Israeli security and created the kindling for a regional conflagration.
The alliance, which makes no sense in geopolitical terms, does makes sense when seen through the lens of domestic politics. The Israel lobby has become a potent force in the American political system. No major candidate, Democrat or Republican, dares to challenge it. The lobby successfully purged the State Department of Arab experts who challenged the notion that Israeli and American interests were identical. Backers of Israel have doled out hundreds of millions of dollars to support U.S. political candidates deemed favorable to Israel. They have brutally punished those who strayed, including the first President Bush, who they said was not vigorous enough in his defense of Israeli interests. This was a lesson the next Bush White House did not forget. George W. Bush did not want to be a one-term president like his father.Israel advocated removing Saddam Hussein from power and currently advocates striking Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. Direct Israeli involvement in American military operations in the Middle East is impossible. It would reignite a war between Arab states and Israel. The United States, which during the Cold War avoided direct military involvement in the region, now does the direct bidding of Israel while Israel watches from the sidelines. During the 1991 Gulf War, Israel was a spectator, just as it is in the war with Iraq.President Bush, facing dwindling support for the war in Iraq, publicly holds Israel up as a model for what he would like Iraq to become. Imagine how this idea plays out on the Arab street, which views Israel as the Algerians viewed the French colonizers during the war of liberation. (Definitely much more)“In Israel,” Bush said recently, “terrorists have taken innocent human life for years in suicide attacks. The difference is that Israel is a functioning democracy and it’s not prevented from carrying out its responsibilities. And that’s a good indicator of success that we’re looking for in Iraq.”Americans are increasingly isolated and reviled in the world. They remain blissfully ignorant of their own culpability for this isolation. U.S. “spin” paints the rest of the world as unreasonable, but Israel, Americans are assured, will always be on our side.Israel is reaping economic as well as political rewards from its lock-down apartheid state. In the “gated community” market it has begun to sell systems and techniques that allow the nation to cope with terrorism. Israel, in 2006, exported $3.4 billion in defense products-well over a billion dollars more than it received in American military aid. Israel has grown into the fourth largest arms dealer in the world. Most of this growth has come in the so-called homeland security sector.“The key products and services,” as Naomi Klein wrote in The Nation, “are hi-tech fences, unmanned drones, biometric IDs, video and audio surveillance gear, air passenger profiling and prisoner interrogation systems-precisely the tools and technologies Israel has used to lock in the occupied territories. And that is why the chaos in Gaza and the rest of the region doesn’t threaten the bottom line in Tel Aviv, and may actually boost it. Israel has learned to turn endless war into a brand asset, pitching its uprooting, occupation and containment of the Palestinian people as a half-century head start in the ‘global war on terror.’

De Israelische Terreur 369

Appointed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad speaks to the media during the Palestine Investment Conference, 22 May 2008. (Luay Sababa/MaanImages)

'Salam Fayyad's cynical party
Adri Nieuwhof,
The Electronic Intifada, 26 May 2008

The Palestine Investment Conference held from 21 until 23 May in Bethlehem has incited broad resistance from Palestinian popular organizations. In his invitation to investors appointed Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad wrote, "We are throwing a party and the whole world is invited." The organizers performed a tour de force by putting "Revitalizing Gaza" on the agenda of the conference, explicitly excluding a debate on political issues. It is obvious that ordinary Palestinians, who are battling every day with the endless rigorous Israeli occupation, will find it hard to relate to this "festive occasion" heavily advocated by the Quartet and its Middle East envoy, Tony Blair, the Portland Trust and various other donors.For the occasion the (PA) deployed 2,000 security personnel in Bethlehem during the conference. According to the Alternative Information Center, based in Bethlehem and Jerusalem, the PA ensured that Fayyad and Blair's party would not be spoiled by "the extensive Palestinian grassroots opposition and cynicism towards the conference. Local groups in the Bethlehem area were explicitly told to not organize protests or 'there would be problems.'" In addition, the Palestinian Maan News Agency reported the detention of dozens of people in Bethlehem as part of a security clampdown before the conference. Two sources in the Palestinian security forces confirmed to Maan that approximately 30 people had been detained and were being held in the Muqata'a, the PA's headquarters in Bethlehem. Hamas told Maan about the 19 May arrest of 15 of its members who were suspected of planning political action in connection to the conference. One member of the security forces told Maan that on 17 May the security forces arrested about 80 people, mostly from the village of al-Khader, home to the convention palace where part of the conference is taking place. Some of the people arrested have been released, noted the same source to Maan. Samer Jaber, a leader in the Popular Committee Against the Wall and Colonization in al-Khader said that "Many people were arrested, we don't know the exact reasons." Jaber criticized the clampdown in connection to the economic conference, "How can we talk about development when we don't have the right to free movement?" The organizers of the conference negotiated with Israel to facilitate the opening of the Allenby Bridge at the border with Jordan was until midnight 20 May, to allow the entry of the hundreds of Arab businessmen who attended the conference. Also at Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv Israeli officials were present to ensure that Arab businessmen would not encounter the difficulties they would normally have to face, when entering the country. The visiting businessmen were granted special permits to tour Israel after the conference. The permits allow the participants of the conference to freely travel throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, a privilege that not many Palestinians and visitors to Palestine experience. However, if these businessmen ever want to return they won't have Israel, the PA, Tony Blair or the US helping them secure their visas and permits. It is telling that Israel allowed businessmen from Gaza to travel to the conference, instead of parents who haven't seen their children and grandchildren for years, students who wish to study, or people who urgently need medical support. In a further demonstration of the real power behind the conference, signs emblazoned with the insignias of the state of Israel, the Israeli police and the Israeli military were posted at the Israeli checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem welcoming conference participants in English and Arabic, while the PA's emblem was absent altogether.'

Oil 33

'Oil: A global crisis

The Iraq War means oil costs three times more than it should, says a leading expert. How are our lives going to change as we struggle to cope with the $200 barrel? Geoffrey Lean reports

The invasion of Iraq by Britain and the US has trebled the price of oil, according to a leading expert, costing the world a staggering $6 trillion in higher energy prices alone.

The oil economist Dr Mamdouh Salameh, who advises both the World Bank and the UN Industrial Development Organisation (Unido), told The Independent on Sunday that the price of oil would now be no more than $40 a barrel, less than a third of the record $135 a barrel reached last week, if it had not been for the Iraq war.

He spoke after oil prices set a new record on 13 consecutive days over the past two weeks. They have now multiplied sixfold since 2002, compared with the fourfold increase of the 1973 and 1974 "oil shock" that ended the world's long postwar boom.

Goldman Sachs predicted last week that the price could rise to an unprecedented $200 a barrel over the next year, and the world is coming to terms with the idea that the age of cheap oil has ended, with far-reaching repercussions on their activities.

Dr Salameh, director of the UK-based Oil Market Consultancy Service, and an authority on Iraq's oil, said it is the only one of the world's biggest producing countries with enough reserves substantially to increase its flow.

Production in eight of the others – the US, Canada, Iran, Indonesia, Russia, Britain, Norway and Mexico – has peaked, he says, while China and Saudia Arabia, the remaining two, are nearing the point at of decline. Before the war, Saddam Hussein's regime pumped some 3.5 million barrels of oil a day, but this had now fallen to just two million barrels.

Dr Salameh told the all-party parliamentary group on peak oil last month that Iraq had offered the United States a deal, three years before the war, that would have opened up 10 new giant oil fields on "generous" terms in return for the lifting of sanctions. "This would certainly have prevented the steep rise of the oil price," he said. "But the US had a different idea. It planned to occupy Iraq and annex its oil."

Chris Skrebowski, the editor of Petroleum Review, said: "There are many ifs in the world oil market. This is a very big one, but there are others. If there had been a civil war in Iraq, even less oil would have been produced."

David Strahan: What happens next? The expert's view

At just under 86 million barrels per day, global oil production has, essentially, stagnated since 2005, despite soaring demand, suggesting that production has already reached its geological limits, or "peak oil".'

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De Israelische Terreur 368

Le petit soldat dancing on Palestinian graves?
An Open letter to Jean-Luc Godard from occupied Palestine*

25 May 2008

Palestinian artists were devastated to learn that you shall visit Israel soon to participate in a film festival in Tel Aviv [1], despite Israel's decades-old colonial and racist policies against the indigenous people of Palestine. Your visit, particularly at this time of intensified Israeli war crimes in Gaza, can only help Israel's incessant public relations efforts in covering up its persistent violation of international humanitarian law and universal human rights. Taking part in this festival is not art separated from politics, as if it can be; rather, it is a crude politicization of art, allowing it to become complicit.

Palestinians expect someone with your history, moral commitment and consistent support for the causes of justice -- from Algeria, to Vietnam, to Palestine -- to stand in solidarity with us against occupation and apartheid, not to help whitewash both, whether knowingly or not. Did you ever go to an Afrikaner film festival in apartheid South Africa? Why Israel, then?

Participating in a festival in Tel Aviv now can only be seen in the wider context of Israel's celebrations of 60 years since its establishment over the ruins of another country, Palestine. In the process of creating this state sixty years ago, Zionist forces dispossessed and uprooted more than three quarters of a million Palestinians from their homes and lands, destroying more than 500 of their villages, thereby condemning them to a life of exile and destitution.

Israel at 60 is a state that is still denying Palestinian refugees their UN-sanctioned rights, simply because they are "non-Jews." It is still treating its own Palestinian citizens with institutionalized racism. It is still illegally occupying Palestinian and other Arab lands, in violation of numerous UN resolutions. In the occupied Palestinian territory, Israel is continuing the construction of its colonies and massive Wall in direct violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice of July 2004. It is still persistently and grossly breaching international law and infringing fundamental human rights with impunity afforded to it through unquestioning US and European economic, diplomatic and political support.

In 2006, virtually all leading Palestinian artists and cultural figures have called for an international cultural boycott of Israel [2]. To date, many prominent international cultural figures, including Ken Loach and John Berger, and some artists' unions, like the Irish Aosdana, have heeded the Palestinian Call and shunned Israel, just as they had boycotted South Africa during the apartheid era.

Your visit to Israel would not only violate the Palestinian call for boycott; it would betray a regrettable double standard, if not a negation of your once fierce commitment to human dignity and justice. We hope that, even at this late stage, you will take a courageous stand and cancel your trip to Israel.


Endorsed by:

- The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI)
- List of Palestinian and Arab filmmakers

zondag 25 mei 2008

Het Israelisch Expansionisme 76

'Grabbing Jerusalem's bread and water

Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen versus illegal Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit
A summary of the challenges and threats facing the Palestinian village of Wadi Fuqeen as a result of the expansion of the illegal Jewish settlement of Beitar Illit and the Apartheid Wall.

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De Bush Bende 66

'Rupert Cornwell: The US constitution can't let Bush go
The system surely makes it far too difficult to get rid of a president
Saturday, 24 May 2008

From the opposite side of the Atlantic we watch in amazement. The ruling Labour Party suffers one by-election defeat – a stinging one admittedly, but no more stinging than the one inflicted on George Bush's Republicans here this month in a once rock-solid Congressional district in Mississippi – and a Prime Minister who has been in office less than 11 months risks losing his head, or at least his job.

Yet Bush will remain in office, whatever happens, until next 20 January, despite a record of virtually unmitigated failure both at home and abroad. No matter that ordinary Americans are realising the damage he has inflicted on their country's reputation and moral standing. No matter that three out of four of them want him gone, or that historians have long rated him one of the worst presidents ever, if not the very worst. There's no way of getting rid of Bush before the appointed moment. Such are the increasingly evident shortcomings of that lauded exemplar of human political order, the American constitution.

Not that the jettisoning of Gordon Brown, should it occur, will be pretty. It would be a grimy little palace coup, in which the party's elected representatives decided to remove by acclamation a leader they installed by acclamation, with scarcely a nod to the views of ordinary voters.

One would like to think that Labour MPs were acting entirely out of concern for the national well-being. At least as strong a motive, however, would be the desire to save their skins at the next election. But to an extent, Brown would have been removed because he had been found wanting at his job. To which a large majority of Americans will murmur ... if only.

It may be too easy to get rid of a prime minister in Britain. You don't need a massive crisis; sometimes mere ennui will do the trick. You don't even need a declared majority of the PM's own party in Parliament – see Chamberlain (Neville) in May 1940, and Thatcher (Margaret) in November 1990.

But it is surely far too difficult to get rid of a US president. The process of impeachment stipulated by the constitution, ponderous and scrupulously fair, worked with Nixon after Watergate. But the next time it was tried, against Bill Clinton on the grounds he had sought to obstruct justice in the Monica Lewinsky affair, it descended into a partisan squabble.'

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Springwatch 2008

Voor de liefhebbers, aanstaande maandag begint de BBC weer met Springwatch.

De Israelische Terreur 367

From: Laurie King-Irani
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 06:29:41
Subject: [JUSTWATCH] Israeli animated feature about Sabra and Shatila set for Cannes glory

Israeli Animation tipped for Cannes glory
By Razia Iqbal
Entertainment reporter, BBC News, in Cannes

An animated documentary about a massacre in the Middle East is the current frontrunner to win the coveted Palme d'Or prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

Waltz with Bashir is a daring and provocative attempt by director Ari Folman to bear witness to an atrocity committed during his stint in the Israeli army in 1982.
The invasion of Lebanon, known as Operation Peace for Galilee, was an attempt to occupy the country as far as the capital Beirut.
It ended in what many called the worst atrocity of Lebanon's 15-year civil war, and perhaps the entire Middle East conflict.
At least 800 civilians were massacred at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps during the invasion.
They were murdered by Lebanese Christian militiamen allied to Israel while the Israeli forces stood by.
Folman was among them. His film is a personal journey with his own narration accompanied, unusually, by animated images.
The director says he had blanked the massacre from his memory until he started making the film.
"I think more than ever that I was used. We were all used - cynically used," he says.
'Rage and anger'
"You are 18 years old, they send you there, you go there on a plane. You land at the international airport in Beirut and you see people get killed for nothing.
"When you look at it now, the rage and the anger is even stronger than it used to be before I made the film.

"Maybe that's because I established family in the last five years and I have suddenly three kids. I look at them and they're boys and think: 'I will never let them do the same things I did.'
"This film is one of the things in order to persuade them not to take part in any violence whatsoever."
Using classic animation combined with 3D, the film has a surreal quality - not least in its several dream sequences.
It has struck a chord with critics at Cannes, where it has been described as "vivid", "politically combustible" and "peculiarly potent".
While making the movie, Folman interviewed many fellow soldiers who, like him, had repressed memories of their time in Lebanon.
Their responses are heard in full, with illustrators crafting images to accompany their fragmented memories.
In what could be considered a controversial element in the year Israel celebrates its 60th birthday, a psychiatrist in the film draws parallels between the Sabra and Shatila massacre and the Holocaust.
'Machinery of killing'
"What I was interested in was the chronology of the massacre," says Folman.
"I come from a Holocaust survivors' family. As a child I couldn't figure out how the machinery of killing would go on.

"When did people know? How many people knew? I would say it would be true for any other mass killing, wherever it takes place."
Using music from the early 1980s, the film has a pace and texture that Folman hopes will attract young people.
It is a demographic, he says, that is instinctively anti-war but still needs to be guided.
"A lot of anti-war movies, if you look at them through the eyes of teenagers, they get it all wrong.
"Yes, they see war is useless. But they think: 'It's terrible but I want to be out there - I want to go through that experience.'
"And I hope that when young people watch this film they will think: 'No, I don't want to be part of this. It has nothing to do with my life.'"
Story from BBC NEWS:

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