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Canada’s Massive Military Budget Off the Table in Federal Election

By Matthew Behrens – April 24, 2011

Among many substantive issues not discussed during campaign 2011 is the $23 billion Canada now spends on war, a massive investment that all three major federal parties will maintain if elected.

Add in the ongoing costs of the Afghanistan war plus undisclosed funding for Canada’s bombardment of Libya (well over 200 aerial bombing runs and aerial “sorties” to date), and the $23 billion figure may run higher.

To put this in perspective, slightly more than $63 million a day is spent on Canada’s war machine. That’s the daily equivalent of 420 affordable housing units or 3,000 four-year full-tuition grants for university students. Over the course of a month, that’s 13,000 affordable housing units and 90,000 students going to university without massive debt load.

It is in this context that politicians preaching fiscal restraint and support for burdened families continue proffering blind allegiance to a well-funded institution whose leadership, past and present, has always been clear: in the words of former General Rick Hillier, their role is to kill people.

While many young people join the military because they believe they’re contributing to society (in addition to those who simply need the income or an education), there are other ways for them to live out those aspirations without having to pick up a gun and face the choice of killing or being killed.

But those other choices are not part of the dominant parties’ platforms. (By contrast, the Green Party would reduce war spending to the then historically high 2005 levels, the Bloc has criticized high war spending but is not specific in its plans, and the Communist Party would reduce military spending by 75%)

In the case of the NDP, it’s likely that many supporters are unaware of their party’s willingness to choose guns over butter. After all, the NDP is traditionally seen as the place where anti-war activists park their vote, and the strongest anti-war statements usually come from its MPs, who often speak at peace rallies. But most NDP MPs have long accepted the framework of ever increasing amounts of war funding.

Why focus on the NDP when they are the party that appears closest to social movements? The answer would hopefully be self-evident, inasmuch as the party relies on them for election workers and funding, yet appears to ignore them by developing policy that’s aimed at some mythic “middle of the road Canada.”

This is not news to anyone who has followed the party’s growing acceptance of militarism, especially under Jack Layton’s leadership.

The NDP endorsed a 2002 Parliamentary Committee’s call for increasing military spending a full 50% (which would mean $28 billion per year by the end of 2010, and we’re almost there). That was the same year NDP MPs began joining their colleagues in a unique indoctrination program called the Canadian Forces Parliamentary Program, which “embeds” MPs in war training exercises where, according to a report in Canadian Parliamentary Review, they “learn how the equipment works, they train with the troops, and they deploy with their units on operations. Parliamentarians are integrated into the unit by wearing the same uniform, living on bases, eating in messes, using CF facilities and equipment.”

In May 2005, the NDP supported the Paul Martin 2005 Liberal budget. Hailed as Canada’s “First NDP budget,” it sported the largest military spending increase in 20 years, making Canada’s war budget higher than at any time since the end of World War II.

When the infamous NDP-Liberal-Bloc coalition came together in December 2008, the issue of withdrawal from Afghanistan was suddenly “off the table.” And as NATO generals recently called for increased bombing of Libya despite rising civilian casualties, there was silence from the campaign trail.

Shortly after my concerns were posted on Jack Layton’s facebook page, I received a phone call from the NDP’s Ottawa-based “war room,” a thoroughly insulting moniker to anyone who has actually experienced the horror of war as civilian or soldier (why not a “torture room” or a “pillage room” to make further light of those subjects?). A campaign worker, to his credit, wanted to dialogue, but noted that if Jack Layton were to discuss military cuts, he would be hurt in mainstream media coverage and by the perceptions of “average Canadians.”

While this line did not surprise me – it is used by every political party facing the choice of taking a principled stand or following backroom advisers wholly insulated from the electorate – it certainly is not in sync with this spring’s Leger Marketing report that revealed almost 60% of those polled declared “Canada should take a peace dividend and cut back on military spending to focus on other more pressing social issues at home.” Despite a decade of endless military propaganda, “Red Friday” support the troops rallies, yellow ribbons, and a seriously weak Canadian peace movement, such numbers are remarkable.

Those numbers have not changed substantively in over a decade: a 2000 Maclean’s poll found 75% of Canadians chose housing over updating the military, with only 19% favouring the latter. This followed the military’s mythic “decade of darkness,” the Chretien years of massive social program cuts that barely touched military spending, which never dipped below $10 billion. Indeed, the mid-1990s saw reports on military warehouses overflowing with weaponry, and between 1980 and 2000, Canada invested over a quarter of a trillion dollars in war.

As Canadian bombers prepared to unleash their fury on Yugoslavia in 1999, the Globe and Mail reported that “The Canadian Forces can hurl more raw firepower at a potential enemy today than they could during the Persian Gulf War…Since the gulf war, all three services have increased their ‘combat capability’ (the wherewithal to inflict heavy damage on the enemy), said Major-General Kenneth Pennie, director-general of strategic planning for the Canadian Forces. The equipment includes new frigates for the navy, armoured vehicles for the army and high-tech ‘smart’ bombs for the air force. Given the improved accuracy, Gen. Pennie said, ‘we find that some conventional weapons can be more useful than nuclear weapons.’”

At that time, homelessness had recently been declared a national emergency, and while then Liberal War Minister Art Eggleton was asked how Canada could afford the bombing of Yugoslavia, he replied “It’s obviously something that the government of Canada will cover.” Yet a week later, the Toronto Star reported “(Federal minister responsible for homelessness) Bradshaw’s spokesperson said yesterday there are no plans to put more money into affordable housing.”

This is a problem with historic roots: there’s always money for war, regardless of how bare the cupboard might be. The refusal to challenge a Canadian institution and ask fundamental questions about why it is needed, and how it fails to contribute to a civil society, is frustrating to say the least.

And so, despite the perception of the NDP as a natural choice for voters concerned about peace, the NDP simply proposes moving the chess pieces around without asking why we’re still playing the same old deadly game. Indeed, we are reassured that the NDP opposes the F-35 fighter jets. Fair enough. But that money would instead be spent on the navy’s warships, the same ones on which numerous NDP MPs have found themselves embedded over the past decade.

While this sounds like a benign alternative, it ignores the fact that Canadian warships have contributed more misery than the Canadian bombing missions of the past 25 years. Indeed, during the 1990s, Canada’s navy spent over $1 billion in the enforcement of devastating sanctions that killed over 1.5 million Iraqi people. In the 2003 invasion of Iraq that mythmakers have tried to convince us Canada was not involved in, the Canadian Navy played a key role in escorting the US warships launching cruise missiles and bombing runs. There are few clearer examples of aiding and abetting the murder of Iraqis than this.

Canadian warships are also dangerous. The HMCS Fredericton, for example, the “Stalker of the Seas,” boasts weapons which fire 4,500 rounds of ammunition a minute, Harpoon missiles that can “deliver” a 227 kg warhead to a range in excess of 130 km and a Bofors gun, “capable of firing 2.4 kg shells at a rate of 220 rounds/min at a range of more than 17 km.” Not most people’s idea of peaceful conflict resolution.

But pointing out such things fails to burst the NDP’s bubble. They would put the military to work on “peacekeeping” and humanitarian relief, helping after disasters, and flood cleanup. But those are all civilian functions that one need not have training in the art of killing to perform.

“We need to support our military,” my local NDP candidate pleads, a phrase used ad nauseum that reduces one of Canada’s best-funded federal programs to the status of a fragile flower whose petals could fall off at any moment. Can we not look forward to the day when “need to support” is used in support of daycare, women’s programs, education, an end to poverty?

While space does not allow an exploration of the myth of Canada’s potential for peacekeeping – something which was always a cleverly disguised bit of cover for the West’s cold war aims – it is important to point out as well that the NDP’s proposal to use the military to do the work that used to be handled in conflict zones by NGOs makes the latter’s work all the more difficult, since it blurs the distinction between armed parties and civil society, putting NGO workers at risk.

After pointing out all these reasons why I could not support the NDP, my friend at the NDP war room pleaded with me for my support. How can I vote for bloodshed and misery, I asked, whether it is delivered from the skies, from a warship, or through the hunger that millions will suffer to pay for all this?

Ultimately, it comes down to a choice: will we continue to choose the path of the gun, so successful that over 100 million lives were lost as a result during the 20th century (which excludes the millions who died because all the funds they needed to sustain life were sent to the war departments of the world)? Or will we seek another way? So far, those with any hope of forming the next government have made their unfortunate choices clear.

~

Matthew Behrens can be contacted by email via – tasc (at) web.ca

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Militarism | 3 Comments

Higher cancer risk continues after Chernobyl

NIH study finds that thyroid cancer risk for those who were children and adolescents when exposed to fallout has not yet begun to decline

National Cancer Institute | March 17, 2011

Nearly 25 years after the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, exposure to radioactive iodine-131(I-131, a radioactive isotope) from fallout may be responsible for thyroid cancers that are still occurring among people who lived in the Chernobyl area and were children or adolescents at the time of the accident, researchers say.

An international team of researchers led by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health found a clear dose-response relationship, in which higher absorption of radiation from I-131 led to an increased risk for thyroid cancer that has not seemed to diminish over time.

The study, which represents the first prospective examination of thyroid cancer risk in relation to the I-131 doses received by Chernobyl-area children and adolescents, appeared March 17, 2011, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

“This study is different from previous Chernobyl efforts in a number of important ways. First, we based radiation doses from I-131 on measurements of radioactivity in each individual’s thyroid within two months of the accident,” explained study author Alina Brenner, M.D., Ph.D., from NCI’s Radiation Epidemiology Branch.  “Second, we identified thyroid cancers using standardized examination methods. Everyone in the cohort was screened, irrespective of dose.”

The study included over 12,500 participants who were under 18 years of age at the time of the Chernobyl accident on April 26, 1986, and lived in one of three Ukrainian oblasts, or provinces, near the accident site: Chernigov, Zhytomyr, and Kiev.  Thyroid radioactivity levels were measured for each participant within two months of the accident, and were used to estimate each individual’s I-131 dose.  The participants were screened for thyroid cancer up to four times over 10 years, with the first screening occurring 12 to 14 years after the accident.

Standard screenings included feeling for growths in the thyroid glands and an ultrasonographic examination (a procedure that uses sound waves to image the thyroid gland within the body), and an independent clinical examination and thyroid exam by an endocrinologist. Participants were asked to complete a series of questionnaires including items specifically relevant to thyroid dose estimation. These items included residential history, milk consumption, and whether they were given preventive doses of non-radioactive iodine in the two months following the accident, to help lessen the amount of radioactive iodine that would be absorbed by the thyroid. Participants with a suspected thyroid cancer were referred for a biopsy to collect potentially cancerous cells for microscopic examination. If warranted, participants were also referred for surgery. In total, 65 of the study participants were diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Researchers calculated cancer risk in relation to how much energy from I-131was absorbed by each person’s thyroid, measured in grays.  A gray is the International System of Units measure of absorbed radiation.  Each additional gray was associated with a twofold increase in radiation-related thyroid cancer risk.

The researchers found no evidence, during the study time period, to indicate that the increased cancer risk to those who lived in the area at the time of the accident is decreasing over time.  However, a separate, previous analysis of atomic bomb survivors and medically irradiated individuals found cancer risk began to decline about 30 years after exposure, but was still elevated 40 years later.  The researchers believe that continued follow-up of the participants in the current study will be necessary to determine when an eventual decline in risk is likely to occur.

###

For more information about the NCI’s research related to the Chernobyl Accident, please visit: http://chernobyl.cancer.gov

For more information about radioactive I-131 from fallout, please visit: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/causes/i131

For more information about measure radiation dose, please visit: http://www.bt.cdc.gov/radiation/pdf/measurement.pdf

For more information about NCI’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, please visit: http://dceg.cancer.gov

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Nuclear Power | Comments Off on Higher cancer risk continues after Chernobyl

Can you imagine being forced to organize a ‘humanitarian delegation’ in order to simply visit your grandparents?

By Lydda Four Eight | Mondoweiss | April 25, 2011

My grandma just had a stroke this weekend, in Gaza. She’s crying out constantly to her children, she wants them to be next to her in the hospital. We’re scrambling for a way to get into Gaza. I’ve pleaded on my facebook status for help. One of my friends suggested I “organize a humanitarian delegation” so that the Egyptian Embassy will give me special permission to travel through Rafah to Gaza. Really?

Ben-Gurion is much closer to Gaza and travel would be less complicated, less visas. Usually one travels through Israel to get to Gaza, as it is much closer and you pay an Israeli tourist visa/ entrance whether through Rafah or Ben-Gurion anyhow. But since Israel’s siege on Gaza, Israel has closed crossings into Gaza which means I can not travel from Ben-Gurion airport to Gaza unless Israel permits me to enter through the Erez Crossing.

Even going through Ben-Gurion, there is the harassment, the interrogation, the strip search, the constant verbal assaults on identity and of course to top that off the deportations. After all that trouble there’s no guarantee to get in through Ben-Gurion, and then there is even much less of a possibility of getting to Gaza through the Erez crossing. First Israel made the Erez crossing more complicated by making us get out and switch cars, then they made it more complicated by making us walk a 1/2 mile distance with countless pieces of luggage (filled with gifts for family in Gaza), then Israel shut down Erez all together. What is the word for that? Degradation?

My other option is to fly to Cairo, get in a taxi and drive 5 hours or so to Rafah and go to Gaza through the Rafah border. The Rafah border is intermittently closed, limits number of travelers, requires multiple visas (one for Egypt another for Israel) will be very exhausting as one of the people I need to bring to Gaza is wheelchair bound and crossing through Rafah requires multiple ins and outs of buses (by Egypt and Israel) and taxis over a distance of 1/4 mile or so. This is all followed by a final interrogation and strip search at Israeli customs (at least that’s what it looked like the last time I was able to get through Rafah) before freedom to Gaza.

Of course we’re not even guaranteed permission to travel through Rafah once we land in Egypt hence my friend’s suggestion to “organize a Humanitarian Delegation.” Can you imagine being required to “organize a Humanitarian Delegation” in order to visit your grandparents? Maybe it’s just me being sympathetic to my own circumstances, but something is strikingly Kafka-esque and painfully cruel that instead of just jumping on a plane to see my tata (grandmother) I’m forced to “organize a Humanitarian Delegation” to get permission from a neighboring country to enter Gaza.

Unfortunately, the “humanitarian delegation” sounds like our best hope! Thank you Israel and your supporters. My 89 yr old grandmother’s one wish while she rests in the hospital is for her children to be with her, and we have the visas, the passports, and the money to buy airplane tickets, but we don’t have Israel’s permission to enter Gaza. So what seems like a normally simple task of getting on a plane to visit family has become overshadowed by MASSIVE obstacles by the Penal Colony.

“Lydda Four Eight” is a stay at home mother with a black hole in her heart. Her last attempt to go to her grandmother’s home was rejected by Israeli Army Commander at the Erez Crossing.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Can you imagine being forced to organize a ‘humanitarian delegation’ in order to simply visit your grandparents?

Drone ‘Debate’ Breaks Out at Washington Post

By Peter Hart | FAIR | April 25, 2011

Readers of the Washington Post can see this headline in today’s edition (4/25/11) about the U.S. drone airstrikes:

Debates Underway on Combat Drones

But there is no actual debate in the article. Reporter Walter Pincus cites a British military study that calls the use of missile-firing drones “a genuine revolution in military affairs,” adding that the “use of unmanned aircraft prevents the potential loss of aircrew lives and is thus in itself morally justified.”

Pincus goes on to explain:

At a Washington conference of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) last week, the issue of drones was also widely discussed.

That ‘wide discussion’ would seem to have involved drone proponents from the CIA and the military. Those quoted by the Post were:

–“Lt. Col. Bruce Black, program manager for the Air Force Predator and Reaper aircraft.”

–“former CIA director Michael V. Hayden,” who explained that drone pilots “can call up computer maps that show the potential effects of each weapon.” Hayden explained that teams can ask for an attack’s likely impact on the ground– which is apparently called “the bug splat.”

–“Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, former Air Force deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance,” who apparently talked about “potential problems with public perceptions.”

–“Col. Dean Bushey, deputy director of the Air Force Joint Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center,” who explained that drone pilots train like conventional pilots.

There are plenty of questions to ask about a government policy of assassination by remote control drone aircraft– including whether or not this is even legal. The Post’s “debate” would seem to exclude anyone who doesn’t think this is a sound policy.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, War Crimes | 2 Comments

The Nuclear Disaster That Could Destroy Japan … and the World

By HIROSE TAKASHI | CounterPunch | April 25, 2011

Translated by Doug Lummis

The nuclear power plants in Japan are aging rapidly; like cyborgs, they are barely kept in operation by a continuous replacement of parts.  And now that Japan has entered a period of earthquake activity and a major accident could happen at any time, the people live in constant state of anxiety.

Seismologists and geologists agree that, after some fifty years of seismic inactivity, with the 1995 Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (Southern Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake), the country has entered a period of seismic activity.  In 2004, the Chuetsu Earthquake hit Niigata Prefecture, doing damage to the village of Yamakoshi.  Three years later, in 2007, the Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake severely damaged the nuclear reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.  In 2008, there was an earthquake in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures, causing a whole mountain to disappear completely.  Then in 2009 the Hamaoka nuclear plant was put in a state of emergency by the Suruga Bay Earthquake.  And now, in 2011, we have the 3/11 earthquake offshore from the northeast coast.  But the period of seismic activity is expected to continue for decades. From the perspective of seismology, a space of 10 or 15 years is but a moment in time.

Because the Pacific Plate, the largest of the plates that envelop the earth, is in motion, I had predicted that there would be major earthquakes all over the world.

And as I had feared, after the Suruga Bay Earthquake of August 2009 came as a triple shock, it was followed in September and October by earthquakes off Samoa, Sumatra, and Vanuatu, of magnitudes between 7.6 and 8.2. That means three to eleven times the force of the Southern Hyogo Prefecture Earthquake.

nuke map

All of these quakes occurred around the Pacific Plate as the center, and each was located at the boundary of either that plate or a plate under its influence.  Then in the following year, 2010, in January there came the Haiti Earthquake, at the boundary of the Caribbean Plate, pushed by the Pacific and Coco Plates, then in February the huge 8.8 magnitude earthquake offshore from Chile.  I was praying that this world scale series of earthquakes would come to an end, but the movement of the Pacific Plate shows no sign of stopping, and led in 2011 to the 3/11 Earthquake in northeastern Japan and the subsequent meltdown at the Fukushima

There are large seismic faults, capable of producing earthquakes at the 7 or 8 magnitude level, near each of Japan’s nuclear plants, including the reprocessing plant at Rokkasho. It is hard to believe that there is any nuclear plant that would not be damaged by a magnitude 8 earthquake.

A representative case is the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant itself, where it has become clear that the fault under the sea nearby also extends inland.  The Rokkasho plant, where the nuclear waste (death ash) from all the nuclear plants in Japan is collected, is located on land under which the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate meet.  That is, the plate that is the greatest danger to the Rokkasho plant, is now in motion deep beneath Japan.

The Rokkasho plant was originally built with the very low earthquake resistance factor of 375 gals. (Translator’s note:  The gal, or galileo, is a unit used to measure peak ground acceleration during earthquakes.  Unlike the scales measuring an earthquake’s general intensity, it measures actual ground motion in particular locations.)  Today its resistance factor has been raised to only 450 gals, despite the fact that recently in Japan earthquakes registering over 2000 gals have been occurring one after another.  Worse, the Shimokita Peninsula is an extremely fragile geologic formation that was at the bottom of the sea as recently as the sea rise of the Jomon period (the Flandrian Transgression) 5000 years ago; if an earthquake occurred there it could be completely destroyed.

The Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant is where expended nuclear fuel from all of Japan’s nuclear power plants is collected, and then reprocessed so as to separate out the plutonium, the uranium, and the remaining highly radioactive liquid waste.  In short, it is the most dangerous factory in the world.

At the Rokkasho plant, 240 cubic meters of radioactive liquid waste are now stored.  A failure to take care of this properly could lead to a nuclear catastrophe surpassing the meltdown of a reactor.  This liquid waste continuously generates heat, and must be constantly cooled.  But if an earthquake were to damage the cooling pipes or cut off the electricity, the liquid would begin to boil.  According to an analysis prepared by the German nuclear industry, an explosion of this facility could expose persons within a 100 kilometer radius from the plant to radiation 10 to 100 times the lethal level, which presumably means instant death.

On April 7, just one month after the 3/11 earthquake in northeastern Japan, there was a large aftershock.  At the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant the electricity was shut off.  The pool containing nuclear fuel and the radioactive liquid waste were (barely) cooled down by the emergency generators, meaning that Japan was brought to the brink of destruction.  But the Japanese media, as usual, paid this almost no notice.

~

Hirose Takashi has written a whole shelf full of books, mostly on the nuclear power industry and the military-industrial complex.  Probably his best known book is  Nuclear Power Plants for Tokyo in which he took the logic of the nuke promoters to its logical conclusion: if you are so sure that they’re safe, why not build them in the center of the city, instead of hundreds of miles away where you lose half the electricity in the wires?

Douglas Lummis is a political scientist living in Okinawa and the author of Radical Democracy. Lummis can be reached at ideaspeddler@gmail.com

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Nuclear Power | 1 Comment

Finding the Right Colors for a Color Revolution

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | April 25, 2011

It takes professionals to plan a color revolution, as this Washington Post report on Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution reveals:

In months of strategizing, the media team settled on red and white as the opposition colors for the spring elections. After Hariri’s assassination, however, the team members faced an unexpected challenge: how to blend the colors into the angry demonstration, giving the movement the brand recognition that had proved so successful in Ukraine.

Despite being the primary colors of Lebanon’s flag, red and white were not obvious choices. Kassir said they considered orange. But they did not want the movement to be seen as an imitation of Ukraine’s uprising, in November and December, that overturned fraudulent elections. Many Lebanese also remembered the distinctive orange markings on the Israeli tanks that rumbled into the country in 1982.

Blue also posed complications: What shade? Israeli blue wouldn’t work. Nor would European Union blue or United Nations blue. A rainbow was briefly considered, but it evoked the international gay rights movement. “In a macho country like this one,” Kassir said, “it just wouldn’t have worked.”

They settled on red and white. In the hours after the assassination, Jumblatt’s wife, Nora, a leading organizer of the protests, commissioned the manufacture of 40,000 lengths of red-and-white cloth that opposition leaders would soon drape around their necks. This was meant to serve as a message to the young foot soldiers to set aside party banners and follow suit, opposition strategists said. Soon, only red and white could be seen on the square and in other demonstrations, including a March 7 human chain leading from the bomb site to Hariri’s grave.

“In the business, it’s called visual equity,” said Francis, whose regular clients include General Mills, Cadbury chocolates and several banks. “That day, when I saw the streets full of red and white, it was just visually stunning.”

At the time of publication, Said Francis was the regional creative director of the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi, which had been acquired in 2000 by the Publicis Groupe, a Paris-based global marketing concern. Considering Francis’s role in mobilizing crowds against Syria and Hezbollah, it’s interesting, to say the least, that his boss is an ardent supporter of Israel.

According to the Wikipedia entry on Publicis CEO Maurice Lévy:

In January 2008, Lévy was bestowed the International Leadership Award 2008 from the Anti-Defamation League in recognition of his stance towards tolerance and diversity. He also financed the 2008 concert at the Trocadéro to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Finding the Right Colors for a Color Revolution

For 2nd year, settlement sewage floods town

Ma’an – 25/04/2011
Residents and activists plant trees in Beit Ummar fields which abut the Karmi
Zur settlement. [MaanImages]

HEBRON — Beit Ummar residents on Monday accused Israeli settlers of opening sewage pipes and causing a flood of human waste in fields growing grapes.

The flood is the second in as many years, coming almost a year to the day after a 2010 flood from the Kfar Etzion settlement.

Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture spokesman Awad Abu Sway said a pipe running north of the town near Wad Shakhat was opened, covering more than 10 dunums of privately-owned vineyards with waste.

Ibrahim Odeh Sabarneh, one of the owners of the flooded fields, said he was plowing the earth on Sunday morning and did not see any contamination at all. He accused settlers of “taking advantage of the night” and opening the pipes.

“This is no coincidence, this is not the first time this has happened,” Sabarneh said.

On 22 April 2010, seven dunums of the Sabarneh family’s land was flooded with sewage.

An Israeli Civil Administration representative confirmed the incident at the time, saying a pump from the Kfar Etzion settlement stopped working due to a power malfunction and sewage overflowed from the network. The official said the matter was a mistake, and as soon as the Beit Ummar governor notified officials of the issue the problem was rectified.

A spokesman from the Israeli government body could not be reached for comment on the latest incident.

Abu Sway condemned the flooding, saying it was another example of settler aggression against Palestinians, and part of a continued effort to drive residents from their lands.

The town of Beit Ummar has been a flashpoint in recent months, with regular Israeli military patrols and detention campaigns sparking clashes between locals and soldiers.

Israeli forces said a fence was being put up on one side of the village near the main road, citing rock throwing and the safety of settler cars passing by. Beit Ummar residents said the fence and several road blocks being erected at the same time were violations of their right to freedom of movement.

Each week, activist groups from the town organize anti-settlement protests, often joined by Israeli and international solidarity activists. The protesters march toward the illegal settlement of Karmi Zur, and demand an end to land confiscations and settler aggression.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | 2 Comments

Palestinian worker injured by police dogs

Ma’an – 25/04/2011

HEBRON — Palestinian worker Hatem Abdul Razzaq At-Talahma, 42, was injured Thursday morning in the city of Hebron, when Israeli military police dogs bit him at his workplace.

At-Talahma told Ma’an that he believed the dogs were released in order to attack him, as he worked in the area adjacent to a wall separating the city’s settler population from Palestinians in the Ar-Ramadeen area.

Medics said the man was treated for dog bites on his limbs and body.

At-Talahma said that following the attack, Israeli forces refused to give him first aid. He was evacuated to hospital by Palestinian Red Crescent medics.

Representatives of the Israeli police in Hebron could not be reached for comment.

Tensions are high in the city, as hundreds of Jewish worshipers travel to Hebron, where a large community of Jewish settlers illegally reside in the city center and in built-up settlements around Hebron.

During Passover, the Ibrahimi Mosque is closed off to Muslims and parts of the city are blocked to Palestinians.

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment