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Army arrests Hebron child after settlers attack home

Ma’an – 16/04/2011

HEBRON — Israeli soldiers detained a child from Hebron’s Old City after settlers attacked the boy’s home Saturday.

Mu’taz Al-Muhtaseb was beaten by soldiers and arrested, locals told Ma’an.

They added that Israeli forces came to the area after settlers from the illegal outpost Beit Hadasa attacked Mu’taz’s home.

An Israeli army spokesman confirmed that soldiers arrested a Palestinian but said that the army was unaware of any beating or unusual incidents since his arrest.

He also told Ma’an that the incident came after several Israeli civilians hurled rocks at a Palestinian house. “When an IDF force arrived at the scene, they dispersed,” the official said.

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on Army arrests Hebron child after settlers attack home

Yemeni women stage massive protest

Press TV – April 16, 2011

In Yemen, thousands of outraged women have defended their right to protest in the capital and other cities over remarks made by President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

President Saleh had earlier said that it was un-Islamic for women to join men in demonstrations against him, Reuters reported.

In response, around 5,000 women took to the streets in Sana’a on Saturday. The protesters, who have filed a complaint against Saleh for disrespecting women’s rights, marched from University Square to the office of Attorney General Abdullah al-Olafi.

Similar protests were held in the industrial city of Taizz, south of the capital, Sana’a. Sit-ins were also held there and in the city of Ibb.

Women argue that their participation in the demonstrations is religiously sound, and that the president is exploiting religion after failing to stop the protests through employing tribes and security forces.

The demonstrators continue to call on Saleh to step down after nearly three months of protests. While Saleh says civil war could break out if he steps down before an orderly transition, the protesters say they want him out immediately.

Meanwhile, a local Yemeni newspaper has revealed that Saleh will step down from power in 30 days upon the designation of a new vice president. This is according to a timetable set by the US and EU ambassadors.

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on Yemeni women stage massive protest

A Simple Alternative to Ethanol

By Yves Engler / Dissident Voice / April 16th, 2011

“Surging food prices fuel ethanol critics,” noted a recent AFP headline. With the commodity food price index (a combined figure of various foodstuffs) up 40% over the past year the danger of feeding cars food has shot back onto the media/political radar.

By using land to feed cars, bio-fuels have unleashed a battle between automobile owners and the world’s two billion poorest people. George Monbiot explains: “the market responds to money, not need. People who own cars by definition have more money than people at risk of starvation: their demand is ‘effective’, while the groans of the starving are not. In a contest between cars and people, the cars would win.” They are already winning. Foreign investors have been buying large tracts of land in Africa to cultivate biofuels while the recent food price spike is one factor in the upheaval in northern Africa and the Middle East.

Ten days ago the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons warned that the push by Western governments to increase biofuel production could cause 200,000 deaths in poorer countries. Recently, the New York Times explained, “each year, an ever larger portion of the world’s crops — cassava and corn, sugar and palm oil — is being diverted for biofuels as developed countries pass laws mandating greater use of nonfossil fuels.” 7-8 per cent of the world’s cereal crop will be used for biofuels this year.

Growing corn to fuel an average U.S. car takes five times more land than what’s needed to feed a person. According to the Earth Policy Institute director Lester Brown, “the grain grown to produce fuel in the U.S. [in 2009] was enough to feed 330 million people for one year at average world consumption levels.”

Between 2005 and 2009 U.S. ethanol production more than tripled. About 10.6 billion gallons of bio-fuel were produced in 2009, which is expected to reach 15 billion gallons next year. By 2022 Washington wants that number to reach 36 billion and they are prepared to subsidize it. In 2010, oil refiners received upwards of $7 billion in federal subsidies for mixing ethanol into gas.

Proponents claim that the next generation of ethanol will depend on large plant matter instead of foodstuff, but there are problems with this plan. Breaking down plant cellulose into fermentable sugars currently requires more energy than it creates. Additionally, tremendous energy is needed to harvest bulky, heavy plant matter and to ship it to ethanol refineries. Over $1 billion in public money has been spent researching more efficient ways of turning plants into cellulose without much success. In October 2010 Grist noted, “for decades, boosters deemed cellulosic ethanol ‘five years way’ from commercial viability. Now its status has been upgraded to ‘within reach.’ Progress!”

Leaving aside the pressure on food prices and resulting malnutrition among the world’s poor, ethanol’s ecological benefits are far from clear. Most studies show that gasoline made from U.S. corn produces about 15 percent less carbon dioxide than conventional gas. Some studies suggest, however, that corn-based ethanol produces more CO2 than oil-based gasoline if all the energy used in the growth phase is properly accounted for. Even if carbon emissions are reduced, ethanol has a variety of drawbacks. It is shipped in energy intensive trucks or trains, takes huge amounts of water to produce and increases air pollutants as well as nitrides and pesticides.

Rather than ecology, the push for ethanol gas in the U.S. was largely driven by economic considerations. In the late 1970s, the New York Times noted that Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) “tried to solve a problem with seasonal overcapacity in its corn syrup plants by producing something else from abundant corn supplies: ethanol. That set off a two-decade-long lobbying and public relations effort by the elder Mr. Andreas [ADM president] to win broader acceptance for ethanol as a fuel.” Among the world’s largest agricultural conglomerates, ADM now does billions of dollars in annual ethanol business.

For their part, U.S. automakers support ethanol because it deflects attention away from improving fuel mileage (or focusing on non-car transport). In fact, under Corporate Average Fuel Economy regulations, making vehicles that can run on ethanol permits carmakers to sell more fuel intensive cars. A vehicle that can run on petroleum gasoline or 85 percent ethanol (E85) receives “a much higher mileage rating than it really gets” even though most of these cars never fill up with E85.

Fortunately, there’s a simple alternative to ethanol. It’s called a bike.

~

Yves Engler is the author of a number of books. His forthcoming (with Bianca Mugyenyi) Stop Signs: Cars and Capitalism on the road to Economic, Social and Environmental Decay will be released in April. Anyone interested in organizing a talk as part of a North America wide book tour in May and June please e-mail: yvesengler [at] hotmail.com.

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on A Simple Alternative to Ethanol

Livni pushes int’l code to police Arab elections and bar some parties (hint: Muslim Brotherhood)

By Philip Weiss on April 16, 2011

Simon Schama has a slavering interview with Tzipi Livni, the champion of Gaza, at the Financial Times. Says my tipster: go straight to the last paragraph, where you’ll see she “champions” a new “international standard” for elections–which would outlaw “in Muslim countries” anyone using “democratic means” to “overthrow democracies.” It is an implicit reference to Muslim Brotherhood in the previous paragraph.  I suppose Israel will now define democracy for the world.

That, she explains, is the true conflict at the heart of the Middle East, one even bigger than the enmity of Jew and Arab: the genuinely irreconcilable clash between theocratic and autocratic regimes, and liberal democracies. Right now, and for a little time perhaps, an Israeli party of reason might be able to make the peace with its Palestinian counterpart. Evidently there has been something like a meeting of minds across the “security fence”. But not forever. No one knows which side – Islamic militancy or democratic secularism – will emerge from the Arab spring. But that uncertainty only makes the need for an early settlement more, not less, pressing.

Not least because Israel, too, has a domestic cultural conflict on its hands that is undoing assumptions about what kind of Jewishness the Jewish state is supposed to embody. Between the Jerusalem ultra-orthodox Haredim, for whom the only true Jewish state is one based on rigid obedience to halacha, the precepts of the religion, and those whose Israel is pluralist and secular, there is as wide a gulf as between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Tweeters of Tahrir Square. The two crises – of the outer borders of the Jewish state and its inner identity – Livni sees as organically connected. It says something about her forthrightness as well as her optimism that Livni wants a written Israeli constitution that would make a clear demarcation between synagogue and state.But then she is a great believer in the strength of principle, championing an international code of practice to govern elections in newly born democracies. Recalling that in Israel the expulsionist Kach party was disbarred from participating in elections, she wants the same principle to apply to parties in Muslim countries that use democratic means to overthrow democracy. Hitler, she remembers, came to power through the ballot box. “This would not be patronising or imperialist,” she says. “They can all do what they like. But if they want to participate in an international community they should abide by those conventions.”

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

Richard Goldstone: ‘Kinder, Gentler’ Zionism

By Tammy Obeidallah | Palestine Chronicle | April 15, 2011

Goldstone’s waffling diatribe in the Washington Post – although hardly the ‘retraction’ of his report so heralded by the pro-Israel camp – should not have come as a surprise. Given the amount of Zionist pressure put on Goldstone, it is a wonder that his backpedaling took so long. He was blackballed throughout the international Jewish community, even prohibited from attending his own grandson’s bar mitzvah. It would be difficult for anyone to bear the extraordinary pressure wielded by such a powerful concerted effort and Goldstone must have been particularly susceptible because he was – and is – a self-described Zionist. Granted, in light of his initial report alleging Israeli war crimes, he could be labeled a “soft Zionist,” but a Zionist nonetheless.

The Jewish Virtual Library defines Zionism as “the national movement for the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the resumption of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel…” In other words, Goldstone, along with every other Zionist, believes Jews have an unalienable right to come from the four corners of the world to take over Palestine. So, Goldstone’s betrayal of Operation Cast Lead’s victims, particularly the al-Simouni family, who lost 29 members in a single Israeli attack, was to be expected:

“The shelling of the (al-Simouni) home was apparently the consequence of an Israeli commander’s erroneous interpretation of a drone image, and an Israeli officer is under investigation for having ordered the attack. While the length of this investigation is frustrating, it appears that an appropriate process is underway, and I am confident that if the officer is found to have been negligent, Israel will respond accordingly.”  — “Reconsidering the Goldstone Report on Israel War Crimes.”

Of course Goldstone’s more recent conclusions are self-contradictory; they ignore the fact that, according to paragraph 1756 in his original report, “The Mission found major structural flaws that in its view make the (Israeli investigatory) system inconsistent with international standards….there is the absence of any effective and impartial investigation mechanism and victims of such alleged violations are deprived of any effective or prompt remedy.” We are all too familiar with the criminal cover-ups inherent to IDF internal investigations, dubbing the attack on the Mavi Marmara an act of “self-defense” and Rachel Corrie’s murder an “accident.”

But Goldstone most blatantly reveals his true Zionist colors with the statement, “I had hoped that our inquiry into all aspects of the Gaza conflict would begin a new era of evenhandedness at the U.N. Human Rights Council, whose history of bias against Israel cannot be doubted.”

Come again? A history of bias? Israel’s proxy, the USA, has a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council; hence the vast majority of resolutions critical of the Jewish State are vetoed. In fact, a mere 79 resolutions condemning various forms of Israeli aggression managed to slip through since 1948.

It is this type of victimhood on which Israelis and their apologists rely; sadly we Palestinian activists have fallen prey to this phenomenon and feel the need to appease this victimization at every turn. We now spend far too much of our time qualifying all our statements with “…now I don’t have a problem with Jews or Judaism, but rather Zionism…” If you are a Jew who is against Zionism, you know who you are and don’t need the constant caveats from pro-Palestinian groups living in constant fear of being labeled “anti-Semitic.”

Moreover, many of the organizations supposedly advocating for Palestinian rights support the defunct “Two-State Solution,” which is inherently Zionist. Israeli settlements are ensconced in what is left of the West Bank, Palestinian communities are isolated by Jewish-only roads and the non-contiguous Gaza Strip is under siege. A Palestinian state under such circumstances is not viable and to declare statehood under these conditions only legitimizes the Israeli occupation of more than 85% of historic Palestine.

Some Arab-American and Muslim organizations have even praised J Street, the “kinder, gentler” face of Zionism to “counter” AIPAC in our halls of Congress. .” According to the Jerusalem Post, one of J Street’s finance committee members – with a $10,000 contribution threshold – is none other than Lebanese-American businessman Richard Abdoo, a current board member of Amideast and former board member of the Arab American Institute. If there was any doubt about J Street’s motives, New Israel Fund CEO Daniel Sokatch removed all doubt when addressing their conference thusly: “And we believe that working for justice and equality in Israel is the best way to re-ignite a commitment to Israel in our own American community.”

Somehow another recipient of the “balanced and moderate” label is New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. His condescending tripe entitled “US Must Step In to Pull Israel and Turkey Back to the Middle” in the aftermath of  the Mavi Marmara massacre included a quote from one of his Israeli friends “…and the Palestinians are beginning to act rationally.” I wonder how rational Friedman would act if he was denied the opportunity to work, travel, go to the hospital, or have access to little more than 6 hours of electricity a day for years and then watch close family members be blown apart?

Come on, people. We should know the “good cop-bad cop” routine by now. The reality of so called “moderate” voices such as Goldstone, Friedman, and J Street is that they represent the most insidious and virulent form of Zionism: the idea that this poisonous ideology can peacefully co-exist with the rest of humanity.

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment