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Two fishing boats shot off Gaza coast

21 June 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

At around 9am on June 21, two fishing boats were attacked by the Israeli Navy, with bullets piercing both engines, rendering them unusable.

The first boat was shot at in the motor, at the rear end and, when the 4-man crew took cover at the front of the boat, away from the shots directed at the motor, the front of the boat was fired upon.

Yaser Baker is one of the four fishermen who were aboard the first boat which was shot. “We were at around two and a half miles out to sea when they shot at our engine and it broke. We stopped the boat and all moved to the front, away from the engine so that we wouldn’t get hit. Then they shot at the front, right at us, the bullets just missing our bodies and one landed right by my leg.”

A second boat, manned by Mohammed Bakri Sabir came to assist the first, but was also attacked, both in the engine and the front of the boat, where the crew was taking cover.

Aboard the second boat were three fishermen and two of their children, aged nine and ten years old.

The boats managed to escape when around twenty other local fishing boats surrounded them and escorted them back to shore as the nine-year-old feigned an injury. “He had to play dead,” Baker explained, “it was the only way we could get them to stop firing.”

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | Comments Off on Two fishing boats shot off Gaza coast

Which Bankrupt EU State Is the World’s Fourth Biggest Arms Importer?

By Steve McGiffen | Spectrezine | June 21st, 2011

Nothing exposes the hypocrisy of those currently running the EU and almost every one of its member states more than the recent discovery by French journalist Jean-Louis Denier that the Greek government is being encouraged to spend vast sums of money on a range of hardware which no-one needs and no sane person wants.

Having spent the last couple of years arguing that austerity is not the ‘necessary’ policy response demanded by the financial and economic crisis, I find that, behind the scenes, it isn’t in any real sense austerity which is happening at all.

It turns out that throughout this crisis of Greek public debt, and under the direction of the same international potentates who are imposing cuts in spending on welfare, pensions, health care, the public sector and all of the other usual targets, the country’s ‘socialist’ government has continued to spend vast sums on armaments.

The fact that the principal suppliers of these arms are two of ‘austerity’s’ biggest proponents, the USA and Germany, should not surprise us. We have moved beyond a situation in which lying by leaders is not so much accepted as expected, into one in which reality plays no role whatsoever in their discourse.

Greece may, in the estimation of politicians and the mass media, be a badly-governed, corrupt kleptocracy populated by robber barons and a lazy, feckless class of reluctant workers, but it is at least armed to the teeth. The immediate cause of Greece’s financial crisis was a doubling, from 2005 to 2008, of the value of loans from western banks to the country’s government. By the end of that period, these loans amounted to $160 billion.

At the same time, the ‘defence’ bill of this relatively small, relatively poor European Union member state was growing by a third in five years (to 2009) as it became the world’s fourth largest importer of armaments.

This is a country with fewer than 11 million people, one of the world’s lowest birth-rates, and a negative rate of growth. With a GDP close to that of Spain it isn’t as poor as sometimes assumed, but its wealth is unequally distributed and it spends only 4% of its annual budget on education, putting it 105th in a global league table. Within the EU, only Slovakia spends proportionally less on schooling its people.

The Greek ‘defence’ budget, moreover, is higher than this, at 4.3% of GDP. Such figures can be hard to credit.

It’s more than two thousand years since any part of Greece was a superpower, yet its leaders prefer bombs to books. It is thus clear that the ever-increasing bail-outs are in reality, directly or indirectly, consecrated to the purchase of arms. Year on year, Greece has been spending money it does not have on weapons it does not need.

According to a joint investigation by Greek and German justices, bribery of top Greek politicians, public officials and military leaders has been used to secure contracts. The money to purchase these weapons is supplied by bank loans which come from the same countries which are supplying the arms, including the US, Germany and France. About $3 billion on French combat helicopters; $2 billion on US fighter planes; roughly the same figure on French Mirage aircraft; almost three times that sum on German submarines; and a trifling half a million or so on French combat helicopters.

This presumably exempts Greece from recent criticism from outgoing US Defence Secretary Robert Gates that Europeans don’t spend enough on arming themselves. Just what Greece is expecting to defend itself from is unclear.

Its old enemy Turkey is in fact gradually reducing its arms purchases and last year proposed to Greece an accord under which each would cut its spending on weaponry by 20%. Despite its financial crisis, Greece refused to agree to this.

Only in 2009 did Athens start to experience difficulties in paying for imported arms, and at that point the EU began to show concern. When it could meet the bill for the astronomical sums spent on weaponry which, mercifully enough, is for the most part unlikely ever to be used, no-one had a problem.

This puts into a strange new context the recent spat between Germany and the European Central Bank as to how best to help Greece to pay its debts without destabilising markets. Every single aspect of this row serves merely to cover up the reality of a situation in which a middle-income country can no longer afford to provide the means whereby its people can lead decent, productive, satisfying lives, yet can spend billions and billions on instruments designed to bring other lives to a premature end.

Back in Greece, protests continue as a new round of cuts, amounting to €6.5 billion before the end of 2011, is debated in the Greek parliament. Deputies from the ruling former social-democratic PASOK are beginning to defect.

I was recently asked an interesting question by a young American woman who had been watching events unfolding in Spain. An uprising in a dictatorship has an easy solution, in a sense, she said: you can introduce parliamentary democracy and hope that this provides a platform for resolving grievances which everyone can respect. But what happens if you have an uprising in a parliamentary democracy?

I couldn’t answer. But I suspect we may soon find out.

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | 4 Comments

Gen’l Ashkenazi, architect of Gaza onslaught, joins Brookings Institution as ‘Visiting Fellow’

By Philip Weiss on June 21, 2011

Tomorrow the Brookings Institution is having a panel on how Israel has defended itself from terrorism for the last 60 years. Triumphs and failures. And look who’s on the panel: Brookings Saban Center Visiting Fellow Gabi Ashkenazi, former chief of staff of the Israeli army, who helped direct the Gaza onslaught of 2008-2009 that killed nearly 400 children and who is cited in the Goldstone Report.

This is a reflection of the power of the Israel lobby: how enmeshed it is in our discourse, and why it is that the U.S. invariably provides Israel impunity for its actions against Palestinians.

I asked Ken Pollack, head of the Saban Center (yes it’s backed by Haim Saban, an ardent Zionist by his own description) about Ashkenazi. He didn’t respond. I bet even he is embarrassed by this. But I got a note back from Gail Chalef, director of communications for Foreign Policy at Brookings Institution:

I understand you had a question about Saban Center Visiting Fellow Gabi Ashkenazi. General Ashkenazi joined the Saban Center at Brookings as a visiting fellow on June 1.

Saban Center visiting fellows are leading thinkers and practitioners within their fields who help the Center stay at the forefront of research trends and policy developments through a temporary period of residence within the Center.

Saban visiting fellowships are typically three-to-six months in duration. During their stay, the visiting fellows contribute to the Center’s diversity of thought and research. The fellows also contribute to the Center’s reach, educating and informing a wide audience of political, corporate, and civic leaders, as well as the general public.

Visiting fellows also may use their time at Brookings to write and to attend and participate in Center events. They are also asked to provide others in the Brookings community with insights on their area of expertise. One other point – visiting fellows are not considered employees of The Brookings Institution.

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Israel moves Muslim skeletons making way for hotel in Jaffa

Palestine Information Center – 20/06/2011

NAZARETH — The Israel Antiquities Authority has been working with a local company to build a tourist hotel on the ruins of a Muslim cemetery near the Grand Mosque in the Palestinian port city of Jaffa, Al-Aqsa Islamic heritage foundation said in a statement Sunday.

It said the IAA has gathered the remains of Muslims buried there in cardboard boxes placed in a bunker near the cemetery, making way to transport them covertly. Dozens more skeletons are scattered across the cemetery, Al-Aqsa Foundation said.

The group, which operates chiefly in Jerusalem, said Israeli authorities have been trying to bargain with Jaffa locals in a bid to get them to agree to the hotel construction, but local Palestinians have so far shown no sign of budging.

Al-Aqsa Foundation has filed a petition in the Israeli court objecting to the construction, but the petition was denied, and the company behind the project was given permission to continue working. The foundation used photos documenting violations taking place at the site.

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Israel moves Muslim skeletons making way for hotel in Jaffa

Can Palestine be partitioned? Taking the discussion back to basics

By Ali Abunimah – Electronic Intifada – 06/20/2011

Anyone who follows developments related to Palestine will have heard countless times the lazy assertion that “everybody knows” what a final outcome will look like.

It is common refrain from a Middle East peace process industry that seeks to define the limits of permissible discussion about political outcomes. Anything that does not fit with Israel’s priority to remain a “Jewish” state is automatically deemed “not pragmatic” or “utopian” at best, or “extremist” and betraying a desire to “destroy Israel” at worst.

US President Barack Obama echoed this consensus in his recent Middle East speech when he said:

What America and the international community can do is to state frankly what everyone knows – a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

Of course that depends on what the meaning of “everyone” is. Nadim Rouhana, founding director of Mada al-Carmel, the Arab Centre for Applied Research in Haifa challenges this broken conventional wisdom in a new article: The Colonial Condition: Is Partition Possible in Palestine?.

Rouhana, a professor at Tufts University, and a drafter of the Haifa Declaration and the One-State Declaration takes on the very idea that partition (“the two-state solution”) is an appropriate framework for Palestine:

Proponents of partition argue therefore that resolving this conflict should simply be a matter of devising a well-designed internationally supported negotiation process, because the parameters of partition are all “well-known.”

But such an argument overlooks the practicalities of colonialism and the complex political and physical realities it has been producing on the ground for generations. The argument fails to notice the colonizers’ patterns of violent domination and ingrained sense of superiority that has to come with the process of colonization, the continuous dispossession and demographic control of the native population, and the epistemological and psychological systems that have emerged among the colonizing population to deny or justify dispossession and domination. It also fails to see why the colonized indigenous population cannot accept surrendering their homeland and/or renouncing their original belonging to it, why they resist, and why they withhold granting legitimacy from the colonial project. The partition argument also pays no heed to the historical evidence about resolving conflicts caused by settler colonialism.

Rouhana points out that, historically, conflicts that emerged in a context of settler colonialism have never been brought to an end with a stable partition between the indigenous people and the settlers. A two-state solution ignores the rights of Palestinians inside Israel, and in the context of Zionism’s explicit goal of creating an exclusively Jewish state, any partition that left a substantial minority of Palestinians inside the “Jewish” state’s borders “could lead under certain circumstances to further ethnic cleansing and war crimes.”

This is precisely the argument I have put forward in an article that will appear in the September issue of Ethnopolitics (my article is part of a “Symposium” which means the journal will publish critical responses to it from three other scholars).

The key point here is that Palestine has too often been analyzed as an exceptional case, without reference to either the broader literature and field of ethnic conflict, and without careful comparison to other cases.

Rouhana, who has said he plans to expand his paper into a longer article, reaches a conclusion that ought to be increasingly obvious to all except those to whom everything is already “well known”: Partition or not, Palestinians inside Israel are going to continue to press for their full national and political rights which will push Israel in the direction of “bi-nationalism.”

“If that is the direction anyway,” Rouhana asks, “why should Israelis and Palestinians not start thinking about alternatives to partition?”

As the growing discourse about a one-state solution demonstrates, they already are, and it is a debate that will only continue to grow as the mirage of a two-state solution recedes ever further from political feasibility and lived reality.

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | 1 Comment

Tritium leaks from US nuclear sites

Press TV – June 21, 2011

Radioactive tritium has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites of commercial nuclear power sites in the United States, investigations have shown.

According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission records, tritium — a radioactive form of hydrogen — has leaked through corroded pipes into the ground and that the number and severity of the leaks are escalating, The Washington Post reported.

Leaks from at least 37 of those facilities contained tritium concentrations which sometimes exceeded the federal drinking water standard at hundreds of times.

At three sites — two in Illinois and one in Minnesota — leaks have contaminated drinking wells near homes, but have not reached levels violating the drinking water standard.

At a fourth site, in New Jersey, tritium has leaked into an aquifer and a discharge canal feeding picturesque Barnegat Bay off the Atlantic Ocean.

There have also been numerous reports of tritium leaks into the surface waters across the US over the past years.

Any exposure to radioactivity increases the risk of cancer.

So far, the tritium leaks have not shown any signs of health threat, federal and industry officials say.

But it is hard to know how far some leaks have traveled into groundwater.

Tritium moves through soil quickly and when detected, it often indicates the presence of more powerful radioactive isotopes that are often spilled at the same time.

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Nuclear Power | Comments Off on Tritium leaks from US nuclear sites

Occupation Forces abuse International Solidarity Movement activists during illegal arrest

19 June 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

On Sunday June 19th, six International Solidarity Movement activists from the United Kingdom, United States, Brazil, Germany, and Sweden were illegally arrested by the Israeli military after attending a demonstration against the construction on confiscated land belonging to the Palestinian village, Deir Qaddis.

Apart from numerous Palestinian, Israeli, and international activists, many children and elderly villagers participated. The demonstrators marched through the village waving flags and chanting slogans. Some of the demonstrators formed a road blockade with rocks on the confiscated land.

The Israeli military arrived shortly after and responded with volleys of tear gas, aimed directly at demonstrators. The tear gas canisters set alight the grass around them, causing a fire which spread for hundreds of meters throughout the hills.

After the Israeli military had left the area, the demonstrators returned to the village. The military subsequently invaded the village following the demonstrations. The internationals were resting in a Palestinian home following the demonstration drinking tea. Upon noticing army infringement upon the village, the international volunteers walked onto the road to see where the army was, hoping that their presence as internationals would deter the soldiers from attacking the village. Yet the commanding officer ran down the hill, with about 15 soldiers behind him, pointed his gun directly at the volunteers, and said violently, “If you move, I will shoot.”

While under arrest the soldiers proceeded to teargas the village below, and as they did so, the wind carried the teargas across to the international volunteers. As they tried to treat themselves with onions and alcohol wipes, items commonly used to deter the affects of tear gas, the soldiers shouted that tear gas was “part of the Israeli experience.”

Then the soldiers forced them to walk in convoy formation.

“We walked with a soldier in front of us, behind, and one on either side with guns, shouting at us and using intimidation techniques, forcing us to walk like prisoners,” said one volunteer. She continued to describe her experience as they were taken away from the village. “We walked for approximately 15 minutes in the heat and sun along the road until we were outside the illegal Israeli settlement of Nil’ in. When we repeatedly stated that we did not believe our presence in the village was illegal, or that the arrest was legal, the soldiers responded with the same aggressive responses that we ‘should know the law of the country that we are in, meaning Israel. They then made us get into an armoured jeep, where we were forced to sit in silence for approximately 30 minutes before blindfolding us, for the acclaimed reason that we were “not allowed to see the settlement” through which we were passing, as if we were terrorists,” she said.

During the first six hours of detention, the activists were kept in an armored military truck, being blindfolded for approximately one hour. After more than ten hours in detention, the activists were forced to stay awake and were given one piece of bread and water. The arresting\ officer was the Hebrew/English translator during each activist’s interrogation, having testified against them just hours before. He talked over the activists as they gave their testimony, accused the activists of lying and cut one activist off before she could finish her testimony. They were released 17 hours later, after signing a condition stating they will not participate in demonstrations in Deir Qaddis, Bi’lin, Ni’lin and Deir Qaddis.

The activists were charged with participating in an illegal demonstration despite the fact that the demonstration took place on Palestinian land and therefore can not be declared illegal under both Israeli and international law.

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

9/11 And The Orwellian Redefinition Of ‘Conspiracy Theory’

By Paul Craig Roberts | Rense | 6-20-11

While we were not watching, conspiracy theory has undergone Orwellian redefinition.

A “conspiracy theory” no longer means an event explained by a conspiracy. Instead, it now means any explanation, or even a fact, that is out of step with the government’s explanation and that of its media pimps.

For example, online news broadcasts of RT have been equated with conspiracy theories by the New York Times simply because RT reports news and opinions that the New York Times does not report and the US government does not endorse.

In other words, as truth becomes uncomfortable for government and its Ministry of Propaganda, truth is redefined as conspiracy theory, by which is meant an absurd and laughable explanation that we should ignore.

When piles of carefully researched books, released government documents, and testimony of eye witnesses made it clear that Oswald was not President John F. Kennedy’s assassin, the voluminous research, government documents, and verified testimony was dismissed as “conspiracy theory.”

In other words, the truth of the event was unacceptable to the authorities and to the Ministry of Propaganda that represents the interests of authorities.

The purest example of how Americans are shielded from truth is the media’s (including many Internet sites’) response to the large number of professionals who find the official explanation of September 11, 2001, inconsistent with everything they, as experts, know about physics, chemistry, structural engineering, architecture, fires, structural damage, the piloting of airplanes, the security procedures of the United States, NORAD’s capabilities, air traffic control, airport security, and other matters. These experts, numbering in the thousands, have been shouted down by know-nothings in the media who brand the experts as “conspiracy theorists.”

This despite the fact that the official explanation endorsed by the official media is the most extravagant conspiracy theory in human history.

Let’s take a minute to re-acquaint ourselves with the official explanation, which is not regarded as a conspiracy theory despite the fact that it comprises an amazing conspiracy. The official truth is that a handful of young Muslim Arabs who could not fly airplanes, mainly Saudi Arabians who came neither from Iraq nor from Afghanistan, outwitted not only the CIA and the FBI, but also all 16 US intelligence agencies and all intelligence agencies of US allies including Israel’s Mossad, which is believed to have penetrated every terrorist organization and which carries out assassinations of those whom Mossad marks as terrorists.

In addition to outwitting every intelligence agency of the United States and its allies, the handful of young Saudi Arabians outwitted the National Security Council, the State Department, NORAD, airport security four times in the same hour on the same morning, air traffic control, caused the US Air Force to be unable to launch interceptor aircraft, and caused three well-built steel-structured buildings, including one not hit by an airplane, to fail suddenly in a few seconds as a result of limited structural damage and small, short-lived, low-temperature fires that burned on a few floors.

The Saudi terrorists were even able to confound the laws of physics and cause WTC building seven to collapse at free fall speed for several seconds, a physical impossibility in the absence of explosives used in controlled demolition.

The story that the government and the media have told us amounts to a gigantic conspiracy, really a script for a James Bond film. Yet, anyone who doubts this improbable conspiracy theory is defined into irrelevance by the obedient media.

Anyone who believes an architect, structural engineer, or demolition expert who says that the videos show that the buildings are blowing up, not falling down, anyone who believes a Ph.D. physicist who says that the official explanation is inconsistent with known laws of physics, anyone who believes expert pilots who testify that non-pilots or poorly-qualified pilots cannot fly airplanes in such maneuvers, anyone who believes the 100 or more first responders who testify that they not only heard explosions in the towers but personally experienced explosions, anyone who believes University of Copenhagen nano-chemist Niels Harrit who reports finding unreacted nano-thermite in dust samples from the WTC towers, anyone who is convinced by experts instead of by propaganda is dismissed as a kook.

In America today, and increasingly throughout the Western world, actual facts and true explanations have been relegated to the realm of kookiness. Only people who believe lies are socially approved and accepted as patriotic citizens.

Indeed, a writer or newscaster is not even permitted to report the findings of 9/11 skeptics. In other words, simply to report Professor Harrit’s findings now means that you endorse them or agree with them. Everyone in the US print and TV media knows that he/she will be instantly fired if they report Harrit’s findings, even with a laugh. Thus, although Harrit has reported his findings on European television and has lectured widely on his findings in Canadian universities, the fact that he and the international scientific research team that he led found unreacted nano-thermite in the WTC dust and have offered samples to other scientists to examine has to my knowledge never been reported in the American media.

Even Internet sites on which I am among the readers’ favorites will not allow me to report on Harrit’s findings.

As I reported earlier, I myself had experience with a Huffington Post reporter who was keen to interview a Reagan presidential appointee who was in disagreement with the Republican wars in the Middle East. After he published the interview that I provided at his request, he was terrified to learn that I had reported findings of 9/11 investigators. To protect his career, he quickly inserted on the online interview that my views on the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions could be dismissed as I had reported unacceptable findings about 9/11.

The unwillingness or inability to entertain any view of 9/11 different from the official view dooms to impotence many Internet sites that are opposed to the wars and to the rise of the domestic US police state. These sites, for whatever the reasons, accept the government’s explanation of 9/11; yet, they try to oppose the “war on terror” and the police state which are the consequences of accepting the government’s explanation. Trying to oppose the consequences of an event whose explanation you accept is an impossible task.

If you believe that America was attacked by Muslim terrorists and is susceptible to future attacks, then a “war on terror” and a domestic police state to root out terrorists become necessary to make Americans safe. The idea that a domestic police state and open-ended war might be more dangerous threats to Americans than terrorists is an impermissible thought.

A country whose population has been trained to accept the government’s word and to shun those who question it is a country without liberty in its future.

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance | 6 Comments