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Cynthia McKinney: Israel Lobby shaping US policy

It is fitting that on the same day as this headline appeared, “Pro-Israeli US lawmakers urge bombing Syria air bases, arming militants, invasion” I delivered the following remarks to the United Nations International Meeting on the Question of Palestine:

From Cynthia McKinney: Remarks at the UN International Meeting on Palestine in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

My name is Cynthia McKinney and I served as a Member of the U.S. Congress for 12 years. During my time in Congress, I strove to make respect for human rights a central feature in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. Amid minor successes, I have to say that my efforts while, broadly appreciated by many, failed miserably. That failure stems in part from the peculiarities of U.S. politics that allow policy formulation to deviate from and in many cases become diametrically opposed to the values of the people of the U.S. Sadly, what we in the U.S. call “special interests” are able to buy public policy by way of campaign contributions and misleading media campaigns. These “special interests” are aided and abetted in the U.S. by a concentrated media that has no obligation according to U.S. court decisions to tell the public the truth. In other words, U.S. media have won in U.S. court the right to knowingly lie to the people they ostensibly serve. I will briefly delve into this unusual and anti-”democratic” state of affairs now controlling in the U.S. once again before I conclude my remarks.

After my tenure in Congress, I became involved in international human rights activism. During Israel’s Operation Cast Lead (which was its war against Hamas and others), I joined with a group of human rights activists who tried to deliver medical supplies to the people of Gaza; the Israeli Military stopped us. While in international waters, an Israeli Defense Forces warship rammed the pleasure boat that I was on with the other volunteers, and totally destroyed our boat. Neither the medical supplies nor us volunteers reached Gaza.

Approximately six months later, we, the volunteers from the first thwarted effort, reassembled in order to make another attempt to reach Gaza by sea, traveling through international waters, with the hopes of entering into Palestine by way of Gaza’s territorial waters. By this time, Operation Cast Lead had ended, President Barack Obama had been sworn in, and he had appealed publicly for an easing of the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Gazans had made an appeal for school supplies for the children still reeling from the trauma of three weeks of what the United Nations called “one of the most violent episodes in the recent history of the Palestinian territory.” So, some of us answered that call with school supplies for the children and building supplies for the adults so that Gaza could rebuild from the devastation after Operation Cast Lead. On this effort to answer a humanitarian call for help, I, along with 20 other volunteers, was kidnapped by the Israeli military while in international waters, our boat was seized, we were taken by an extremely circuitous route to Israel where we never intended to go, and I was incarcerated in an Israeli prison for 7 days. Sadly, what I witnessed while in Israeli prison pointed to Israel as an apartheid state and the gross mistreatment of, particularly, Ethiopian women who had been lured to the “Holy Land” for job opportunities that vaporized because they were not of the correct religion. In addition to that, my observation at the time was that Ethiopian Jews are used as an important pillar–even enforcer, ironically, of Israeli apartheid. I can expand on this aspect of my observations later if there are specific questions or requests for more information from this body or from individuals in attendance at this Conference.

Needless to say, for a second time, I was prevented from entering Gaza. Upon hearing of my ordeal, Member of Parliament George Galloway who was in Cairo leading “Viva Palestina USA,” contacted me and invited me to come to Cairo and enter Gaza by land, which I did. Upon entering Gaza, I was able to see the destruction inflicted on the people by Israel’s Operation Cast Lead. I scooped up a bit of the soil and put it in this container. Sadly, as noted in the Goldstone Report and admitted by the Israeli Defense Forces, this Gaza soil is probably contaminated with whatever remains of the chemicals that were used by the Israelis against the people of Gaza: chemicals ranging from white phosphorus to inert metals. And while I unsuccessfully tried to pass legislation in Congress to end the use of depleted uranium in U.S. munitions because of the health effects, the Goldstone Report mentions that allegations were made that Israel used depleted uranium during Operation Cast Lead, which also might be in this soil. The United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights is also aware that civilian targets were bombed and totally destroyed. I visited a few of those targets.

One stop on my private tour of the destruction in Gaza was the American International School and amid the rubble I spotted a bright yellow something that I couldn’t quite make out what it was. So, I climbed through the jutted shards of concrete and exposed rebar to retrieve the object. This is that object: an English language children’s art book stamped with the initials of the American International School in Gaza, “AISG.” I was standing in what was left of the School’s library.

Another stop on my tour of the effects of Israel’s Operation Cast Lead was a neighborhood school, not nearly as big and grand as the American School. There, I could see the path of one missile that blew a hole clear through several walls of the school. There were markings on the chalkboard, including the Star of David. I saw several cans of peanuts on the floor. This is one of them. It is written in Hebrew. The Israeli soldiers blew up the school and then sat down in its ruins and enjoyed peanuts and drew religious and political markings on the chalkboard.

Both boats that I was on were seized by the Israelis and destroyed by them. The humanitarian aid on the boats did not reach Gaza and only token aid was delivered by the land convoy to the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the bulk of it stranded in Egypt, not allowed into Gaza by the Egyptians or the Israelis.

What is amazing is not only that this happens over and over again, but that Israeli leaders who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, leave office, and are never held accountable for their policies, as was done by victims of Augusto Pinochet, and as is being done currently by the International Criminal Court. Another aspect of this impunity is that Israel continues to receive U.S. weapons and technology which it uses against civilians in contravention of U.S. law. As these weapons are used or become outdated, the U.S. replenishes Israel’s weapons stock every year.

One measure of this impunity is brought to bear by the pro-Israel Lobby that operates in the political sphere of the U.S. I am a former Member of Congress because pro-Israel sympathizers known as the “pro-Israel Lobby” ensured my ouster from Congress and that of many other Members of Congress who dared to try and draw attention to U.S. law, Israel’s human rights violations, Israel’s misuse of U.S. weapons, or any other inconvenient facts that were better buried and left unknown.

What many of you might not know, because these things just aren’t discussed as widely as they should be, is that many of those Members of Congress who were put out of office by the pro-Israel Lobby were the stolen children of Africa, descendants of Africans trafficked in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. I will call the names of a few and tell you where you can find information about them as they tell their own stories:

· Gus Savage, Member of Congress from Chicago, Illinois was targeted for defeat by the pro-Israel Lobby because he dared to engage in foreign relations within the purview of a Member of Congress on the African Continent, in Egypt among other places. He recounted his ordeal on the Floor of the House of Representatives and revealed the secrets of the pro-Israel Lobby on the Congressional Record where students and others interested in this topic can find his words today.

· Earl Hilliard, Member of Congress from Birmingham, Alabama was the first Black Member of Congress to serve the people of Alabama since the U.S. Civil War’s Reconstruction Era. He was ejected from the Congress by the pro-Israel Lobby because he, like Gus Savage, traveled to Africa, and in particular to Libya. He also traveled to Lebanon and learned of new weapons for that time, that had been used there by Israel. For this transgression, Earl Hilliard had to go. He is interviewed in a Dutch documentary that is available on youtube where he describes the vicious campaign that was run against him by the pro-Israel Lobby.

· And then, there’s me. Just this month, I published a book entitled Ain’t Nothing Like Freedom, in which I describe just a few of the tactics that were used against me by the pro-Israel Lobby to destroy my career in Congress.

· These three political “take-downs” were very publicly done in order to send a message to others who might also be inclined to speak up out of moral conviction, as Savage, Hilliard, and I did.

· This weeding out also occurs on the local level with state and local elected officials like my father and others targeted for defeat because of the potential threat to the interests of the pro-Israel Lobby that they pose.

· In addition, on a public and private level, targeted individuals have to endure soft repression that makes life difficult. All of this needs to be put on the record if one is to fully understand the power of the pro-Israel Lobby and the pall that it casts on the political process in the U.S. and from what I have been told, also in Europe.

· Finally, the political landscape for Blacks in the U.S. is negatively affected by this weeding out process, because their strongest and most outspoken authentic leaders are vulnerable to the challenges from candidates that are well funded by outside “special interests.”

In light of this, I would like to put this thought to you: can you even imagine what U.S. policy would be like at the United Nations if the will of the people were carried out without the interference of the pro-Israel Lobby? The Durban World Conference Against Racism was a watershed that could be revisited time and time again with U.S. support and participation, except that powerful Lobbies want otherwise. I know, it’s hard to imagine things differently. But it is not hard for me and that is one vision that keeps me going: U.S. policy made in the image of the values of the people of the U.S. At a Conference whose theme is African solidarity with the Palestinian people, I thought it was important to mention not only how the pro-Israel Lobby skews politics in the U.S. against the Palestinians, but also against African-descendants inside the U.S.

I focus on this important aspect of policy-making by focusing on who gets to make the policy because I believe that this is one key reason why Palestinians are forced to suffer while, at best platitudes and delay, serve as the effective policies of the US and European countries.

The short version of this tragic story is that pro-Israel forces inside the U.S. are willing to use their money to buy political influence and protection for Israel across the political spectrum while the same cannot be said of pro-peace, pro-justice forces. I liken the situation to game day when one team shows up in beautiful new uniforms with all of the latest and best equipment, primed and ready to execute its strategy in the game of play, while the other team doesn’t even show up on the pitch. I believe that one remaining untested justice frontier is the political battleground in U.S. and European capitals. It is inside these essential capitals that pro-Israel Lobbies have become comfortable operating with very little opposition from the other side.

I am tired of losing when, I believe, we really do not have to lose. I fundamentally believe that the people of this world are good and want peace. I have spoken to Afghanis and Pakistanis, to Yemenis and to Somalis, Palestinians and Americans, and I find them to be peace-loving peoples.

So, how do we move from where we are to where we need to be? That is the fundamental question. I focus on the political because the political creates the legal. And the political creates impunity.

Just in my personal experiences, I have outlined breaches of international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international law, and U.S. law by the occupying power: Israel.

I served as a juror on the Bertrand Russell Tribunal on Palestine that recently concluded its Sessions with a finding that both the U.S. and Europe are guilty of contributing to the atmosphere of impunity with which apartheid Israel carries out its policies against Palestinians and anyone who stands in its way.

I also recently served as an Official Observer as the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission received testimony from Palestinians on their treatment inside Israel as well as in the Occupied Territories.

Through my service with both of these organizations, I have met too many courageous Palestinians and Israelis who want to live peacefully with each other and who put their lives and their livelihoods on the line every day for peace and the rule of law. I do believe that much of the suffering could be alleviated if we would put sufficient energy and resources behind putting out in public view how the pro-Israel Lobby misdirects U.S. and European policies and prevents pro-peace and justice politicians from ever having the opportunity to put those values, along with our basic human dignity, permanently on the table for public debate.

Finally, I am not Palestinian. I am not Arab. I am not Muslim. But I am human. And that is enough for me to acknowledge the dignity of others who are oppressed and to epitomize what this Conference is all about: African Solidarity with the Palestinian People for the Achievement of its inalienable rights, including the sovereignty and independence of the State of Palestine.

Thank you.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

NYPD surveillance of Muslim community

PressTVGlobalNews | April 30, 2013

As documented by the Associated Press and other journalists, the NYPD has built a program dedicated to the total surveillance of Muslims in the greater New York City era.

Officers have routinely monitored restaurants, bookstores and mosques and created detailed records of innocent conversations they’ve both had with individuals and eavesdropped on.

The NYPD has also sent paid infiltrators into mosques, student associations and beyond to take photos, write down license plate numbers and keep notes on people for no reason other than because they are Muslim.

Partnering civil rights attorneys filed papers in federal court seeking to stop the NYPD from creating dossiers on innocent Muslim New Yorkers and end the Police Department’s ability to initiate investigations into Muslim New Yorkers when there is no belief that they have engaged or are about to engage in unlawful activity or an act of terrorism.

The filing is part of the Handschu v. Special Services Division proceeding, a decades-old federal case that has produced a series of court orders regulating NYPD surveillance of political and religious activity.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Islamophobia, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Comments Off on NYPD surveillance of Muslim community

NYPD stop-and-frisk whistleblowers facing retribution

RT | April 30, 2013

Cops who testified against the New York City Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy have faced retribution from higher-ups and officers who subscribe to the idea that the controversial tactic, deemed unconstitutional by major courts, is fair and legal.

NYPD officer Pedro Serrano told the Associated Press he’s faced harassment at work after testifying that stop-and-frisk, which was enacted in 2002, targets minorities and requires patrol officers to meet monthly quotas.

Serrano said that, along with finding a sticker of a rat pasted to his locker, he says he’s been micromanaged – including transferred to a different precinct to work an overnight shift. He also claimed that he was refused overtime hours amid an otherwise erratic schedule.

“A lot of people told me not to come forward because of what would happen – they said the department would come after me,” Serrano said. “But I’ve been thinking about it since 2007. I felt I couldn’t keep quiet.”

Serrano, along with fellow officers Adrian Schoolcraft and Adhyl Polcano, secretly recorded hours of patrol briefings and meetings with superior officers. The audio was played during the current federal trial meant to determine if black and Hispanic men are targeted by NYPD cops seeking to boost their numbers.

Polcano testified that he was told he needed to have 20 summonses, five street stops and one arrest each month.

“I was extremely bothered by what I was seeing out there,” he said on the stand. “The racial profiling, the arresting people for no reason, being called to scenes that I did not observe a violation and being forced to write a summons that I didn’t observe.”

Polcano was suspended from duty and charged with filing false arrest paperwork after he detailed a list of grievances to the police department’s internal affairs. He now works in a video review department. Schoolcraft, who remains suspended, did not testify at the trial because he has filed his own federal suit accusing superior officers of forcefully taking him to a psychiatric hospital in 2009.

Other officers who testified painted Serrano’s complaints as an unfortunate but necessary part of the job. Joseph Esposito, the former chief of the department, testified that most officers “leave their house every day to go to work to protect the city. They have the best intentions all the time, and they do it. There is a small percentage…we’re talking about in any profession, there is a group that will try to do the least amount and get paid the most.”

The alleged harassment would fit in the narrative of the NYPD. In the early 1970s plainclothes officer Frank Serpico accused the department of widespread corruption only to be shot in the face during a later investigation. Labeled a traitor by the police but a hero by others, Serpico was portrayed by Al Pacino in a popular eponymous movie chronicling his story two years later.

During an interview with the Associated Press Serpico said recent events prove NYPD groupthink hasn’t evolved past a “kill the messenger” mentality.

“I’ve become their grandfather,” he said. “They don’t want nothing. They just want somebody who knows what they’re going through. I give them moral support.”

The trial has been underway for more than a month, and recently included testimony from a parade of officers trying to discredit Polcano and Serrano as malcontents who often caused trouble. NYPD policy dictates that officers are required to report corruption without fear of retribution.

“It hasn’t been a picnic,” Serrano said. “They have their methods of dealing with someone like me.”

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Iran, India set to ink economic co-op MOUs

Mehr News Agency | April 30, 2013

TEHRAN – Iran and India will hold a joint economic meeting in Tehran in the upcoming days, during which the two sides will sign six memorandums of understanding, the Iranian ambassador to India stated.

Iranian foreign minister Ali-Akbar Salehi and his Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid will chair the meeting, ILNA quoted Ambassador Gholamreza Ansari as saying on Monday.

The issue of exporting Iranian gas via the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline to India will be also discussed, Ansari said.

India and Iran must work together to further promote trade and economic links, increased people- to-people contacts between them and within the region, Indian President Pranab Mukherjee has said.

The two countries plan to reach $25 billion in annual bilateral trade in the next four years.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Comments Off on Iran, India set to ink economic co-op MOUs

Gazprom eyes Japanese expansion

RT | April 30, 2013

Seeking to expand in its export markets, Russia’s gas major Gazprom is now looking to develop terminals to process liquefied natural gas as well as distribution networks in Japan.

Japan is largely dependent on gas exports, as the country consumes above 100 billion cubic metres of gas a year while producing domestically no more than 4 billion. Since the Fukushima disaster in 2011 Japan is seeing a greater need for gas.

After the incident, “of 50 nuclear power units, only two are working – that’s a large drop in power generation, we understand that perfectly,” said Russia’s President Vladimir Putin at a press conference following talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Given Russia’s abundant hydrocarbon reserves, the country is quite “capable of providing for the growing consumption of hydrocarbons in Japan without harm to our traditional partners and without harm to our own consumers,” Putin added.

Russia supplies about 6.5 million tonnes of gas to Japan each year, which is about 8% of the total need of the Japanese.

Russia must need closer energy cooperation with Japan to back its Eastern Gas Program, which exports to Asian – Pacific countries, says Michael Korchyomkin, a director at East European Gas Analysis.

Among the joint gas projects between Russia and Japan are Vladivostok LNG and Sakhalin–2, an oil and gas joint venture between Gazprom, Shell and Japanese companies Mitsui and Mitsubishi.

Gazprom’s chances to successfully compete in regasification in Japan look slim, as currently the country processes about 250 bn of cubic metres of liquifed gas. So, new LNG terminals are unlikely to have a huge effect on the country’s economy, analysts say.

Further cooperation between Gazprom and Japan should deal mainly with the latest projects aimed at increasing Russian gas exports to Japan, says Grigory Birg, an analyst from Investcafe.

The Sakhalin – 2 project should be more attractive for the Japanese, as the prime costs there are acceptable, Korchyomkin added. The situation around the Vladivostok LNG plant, that’s due to start operations in 2018, so far looks vague. The price of gas produced there could rise too much – to as much as $700 per a thousand cubic metres, the expert concluded.

Pricing it in

At the moment the price issue remains a key one for the Japanese. “Cutting prices for the fuel bought abroad is an urgent task for our country,” said Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry.

People in Japan pay about $550 per thousand cubic metres of gas, which compares to the average of $365 in Europe.

The Japanese have started to ask for lower prices, Valery Nesterov, an analyst at Sberbank Investment Research, told Kommersant daily. This isn’t surprising, as the number of similar requests has increased, adds Mariya Belova, a senior analyst at the energy sector at Moscow School of Management, Skolkovo. Rosneft and Novatek are among other Russian companies offering their LNG (liquefied natural gas) projects, and looking for possible delivery contracts to the country.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Comments Off on Gazprom eyes Japanese expansion

Russia, Japan agree to resume talks on peace treaty after stalling for 10 years

RT | April 29, 2013

President Vladimir Putin and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe say the countries foreign ministers are to resume speedy talks on a peace treaty that was suspended in 2003.

The heads of the two nations have expressed their resolution to overcome the existing differences in the parties’ positions and to sign the peace treaty by finally solving the question in a mutually acceptable form,” reads a joint statement after a meeting between the two men.

The statement also describes as “not normal” the situation in which the two neighboring nations cannot sign a peace treaty 67 years after the end of the war.

However, the Russian President said in an answer to a reporter’s question that the resumption of talks did not mean that all problems will be resolved on the next day. He also added that development of economic ties would be the best support for the diplomatic dialogue.

It was not us who created this problem. We inherited it from the past. And we sincerely want to solve it in conditions that are mutually acceptable for both sides,” Putin said.

Shinzo Abe’s visit to Russia is the first by a Japanese leader in 10 years, the same time since Russia and Japan suspended talks over the peace treaty.

Putin and Abe agreed to promote the peace treaty talks on the basis of all previously approved documents and agreements.

The Japanese PM said he invited Vladimir Putin to visit Japan in 2014 and that the Russian leader thanked him for the invitation.

Since the end of the WWII Russia and Japan have coexisted peacefully, and investment and trade between the countries is constantly developing. However, diplomatic relations are tense as Japan refuses to sign a peace treaty with Russia claiming that there is an unresolved territorial issue – the row over several small islands known as South Kuriles in Russia and as the Northern Territories in Japan.

Because of loose definitions in the international treaties signed at the end of the war ,Tokyo demands the return of the islands that were captured by Soviet troops in 1945. Russia insists the islands became a part of the USSR after the war and therefore Russian sovereignty over this territory cannot be revised.

Immediately before Shinzo Abe’s visit to Moscow the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging a ‘calm and respectful atmosphere’ in looking for a solution.

In recent years the island row has led to several incidents between Russia and Japan. After the most recent, the Japanese Foreign Ministry summoned the Russian Ambassador to protest Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to the Kuriles in 2012. Russia replied that Japan had no right to advise a top official on the choice of destination as he travels in his country’s own territory.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | Comments Off on Russia, Japan agree to resume talks on peace treaty after stalling for 10 years

Russia and Japan create joint investment pot with $1bn entry ticket

RT | April 29, 2013

Russia and Japan have launched a new tool for the development of mutual investments. The new Russo-Japanese investment platform involves injections starting from $1 billion and is aimed at boosting Russia’s Far East.

The agreement was reached on an official visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Moscow where he met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. It was the first official trip by a Japanese Premier to Russia for ten years.

The two sides agreed to jointly invest in infrastructure, medicine and health, technology, “smart cities” and alternative energy sources.

Among the top priorities for regional investment program are Russia’s Far East and Eastern Siberia. Russia’s Eastern regions provide excellent conditions for creating highly profitable projects due to the resource base and transport potential, and companies that are already involved in business there will get additional efficiency with the influx of foreign investment, Kirill Dmitriev, Director General of Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said.

The new two-way platform is based on a powerful financial component. In addition to RDIF, Russia’s Vnesheconombank and Japan Bank for International Cooperation is also on board.

“The new mechanism is designed to simplify the exchange of technology and experience,” Dmitriev said. “The Japanese economy is built on advanced technology, and this is exactly what we are lacking.”

Leading Japanese corporations were invited to meet on the sidelines of the Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow. Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Kawasaki and Olympus and many have expressed interest in in investing in Russia. “Now RDIF’s goal is to turn that interest into real projects,” Dmitriev said.

Another cooperation agreement was reached between Japan’s Hokkaido Bank and the government of Russia’s Amur region.

Earlier it was reported that Russian-Japanese joint investments may increase by 10 times over the next three years. “But with such financial and technological support we have reason to think that the real figures can get higher. So far Russia’s interest in Japanese foreign investments is less than 1% (0.62% in 2012). But we already have a lot of positive examples of investment by Japanese companies in our country,” Dmitriev said.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Comments Off on Russia and Japan create joint investment pot with $1bn entry ticket

Palestinian stabs West Bank settler

Al-Akhbar | April 30, 2013

A Palestinian man stabbed dead an Israeli settler in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, the Israeli ambulance service and police said, in what may have been a response to a violent settler attack on a nearby village one day earlier that left two elderly Palestinians hospitalized.

“The Palestinian suspect stabbed an Israeli sitting at a bus stop. He died,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, adding that the incident took place near a major junction which lies south of the city of Nablus.

It was the first time an Israeli has been killed by a Palestinian in the West Bank since 2011.

Israeli media said the attacker was standing at a bus stop used by settlers, Israeli soldiers and Palestinians when he stabbed the Israeli, a man in his 20’s.

The suspect then seized a gun carried by the settler. He began shooting at security services who arrived on the scene, Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said, adding that the man was in custody.

The Palestinian, a resident of the northern town of Tulkarem, was injured and admitted to an Israeli hospital.

The incident may have been motivated by a settler attack Monday in Nablus that left two elderly Palestinian men with severe head injuries.

Ghassan Daghlas, who monitors settlement activity in the northern West Bank, told Ma’an that three settlers from the Itamar outpost raided Beit Furik and attacked residents with “sharp tools.”

Fawzi Nasasra, 60, and Abdul Rahman Khatatba, 50, were taken to hospital to be treated.

Settler attacks against Palestinians and their property is routine in the occupied West Bank and rarely punished by Israeli authorities.

Annual figures compiled by Israeli rights group Yesh Din have repeatedly shown that nine out of 10 police investigations about settler crimes fail to lead to a prosecution.

The Israeli internal security service, Shin Beit, has said that during 2012 no Israelis were killed in the West Bank. In March 2011 two settlers and three of their young children were stabbed to death in their home.

Nine Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank since the beginning of the year in various attacks, mainly in clashes that have risen sharply in recent months.

According to B’Tselem, an Israeli Information Center, an estimated 520,456 settlers live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

There are over 121 settlements and around 100 “settlement outposts.” There are around 12 settlements in Jerusalem in areas annexed from Palestinian neighborhoods. Settlements in the West Bank are connected by Jewish-only highways.

Israel has come under widespread international criticism for ramping up its construction of settlements in the Palestinian territories, notably in occupied east Jerusalem.

All Israeli settlements on Palestinian land beyond the so-called 1949 Green Line are considered illegal under international law.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar, Ma’an)

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 2 Comments

Turkish-Kurdish Reconciliation: What Happens After the Fighters Withdraw?

By Hüsnü Mahalli | Al-Akhbar | April 29, 2013

Istanbul – At a press conference attended by nearly a hundred Turkish and foreign reporters, Murat Karayilan, acting leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), announced his group’s plan for reconciliation with the Turkish government.

Karayilan said the PKK fighters inside Turkey, who number about 2,000, would begin withdrawing on May 9. Karayilan then called on the government of PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan to fulfill its part in finding a political solution to the Kurdish question.

Karayilan warned his group would pull out from the peace deal if PKK fighters were harassed or attacked by the Turkish army and police during their withdrawal, which is expected to take place gradually over two months.

Two main conditions for reconciliation with Turkey, Karayilan said, were the release of all the group’s prisoners, including PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan, and constitutional amendments to officially recognize the Kurdish identity.

Sources quoted PKK leaders as saying that the group, in agreement with the Turkish authorities, established special committees to coordinate the withdrawal agreement with the Turkish side. The Turkish government, for its part, has instructed its military and police not to engage any PKK militants and to cease all military operations in the country’s southeast and along the border with northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, there were reports in the press that large numbers of Kurdish youths have been making their way to PKK camps in northern Iraq’s Kandil mountains to train for the next phase of political work inside Turkey.

These developments were enough to stir up Turkish public opinion as the government came under sharp attacks from the opposition parties, particularly the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).

MHP leaders accused Erdogan and his government of betraying Turkey. They claimed that the Turkish PM was conspiring with Washington against what they termed the unity of the nation, the Turkish state, and the secular system.

They also claimed that the PKK was seeking self-rule in southeast Turkey, a first step toward establishing an autonomous entity on par with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq.

In the meantime, the opposition leaders argued, the Kurds in Syria will never accept a return to its pre-crisis conditions, regardless of the conflict’s outcome. If the Syrian regime falls, then the new government will have to accept a Washington-imposed federal system.

This helps explain the election of Ghassan Hitto, an ethnic Kurd, as head of the Syrian interim government, and before him, Abdul-Basset Sida as head of the opposition Syrian National Council.

If the regime survives, it would have to strike a deal with the Kurds, who would demand self-rule in northeast Syria. Syrian Kurds represent 40 percent of the northeast’s population, whereas in northern Iraq, they represent around 95 percent.

In southeast Turkey, the demographics are not much different than Syria, with Kurds accounting for about 60 percent of the population.

These demographic calculations have prompted capitals that have a stake in the Kurdish question to speak of a scenario that Öcalan proposed years ago, before he was kidnapped by US intelligence in Nairobi and handed over to Ankara in February 1998.

Öcalan’s idea centered on a democratic confederation among four autonomous Kurdish regions in Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq, given that an independent Kurdish state was unlikely to see the light for many seasons, as Öcalan said at the time. Proceeding from this vision, the PKK has been active among the Kurdish populations of Syria and Iran.

The White House, along with the European Union, has officially blessed Turkish reconciliation with the PKK. To many observers, this is reminiscent of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, which designated Western spheres of influence in the Middle East after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

These observers purport that the West, after settling scores in Syria, will be seeking to redraw the regional map.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Turkish-Kurdish Reconciliation: What Happens After the Fighters Withdraw?

Russia instructs ‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs to report spending quarterly

RT | April 30, 2013

The Russian Justice Ministry has published an order for all NGOs that register as foreign agents, telling them to detail the spending of their funds every three months.

The ministry also instructs those groups with foreign agent status to prepare reports on their activities and management every six months and a full audit of their accounting books once a year.

So far, no organization has registered as a foreign agent in Russia even though the corresponding law came into force in November last year. This year the authorities launched a major inspection throughout the country and the prosecutors and the Justice Ministry now claim that 18 groups must receive the status.

The NGO audit is still underway.

This decision only led to protests from the groups who said that the inspection was ill-founded and any foreign sponsorship had taken place before the law came into force.

International organizations and rights groups, as well as foreign governments, have criticized the Russian Law on Foreign Agents as such, saying that it can be used as means of pressure and lead to underfunding of Russian rights organizations.

Russian sponsors of the law, including senior officials, replied that the law simply required the activists to clearly indicate the sources of their funding in order to better inform the public. The Russian side several times emphasized that no organization can be closed under the existing law.

President Vladimir Putin said in a recent interview with the German broadcaster ARD that the number of foreign-funded non-governmental organizations operating in Russia amounted to 654. He also said that these organizations received 28.3 billion rubles, or almost $1 billion, from their foreign sponsors in just four months that passed after the adoption of the Foreign Agents Law.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Corruption | , , , | Comments Off on Russia instructs ‘Foreign Agent’ NGOs to report spending quarterly

Court lets Morales run for reelection

Press TV – April 30, 2013

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales has received approval from the country’s constitutional court to run for reelection next year.

Bolivia’s Constitutional court president Ruddy Flores said on Monday that Morales could run for his third consecutive presidential term.

This is while only two consecutive terms are allowed under the country’s new constitution.

The court found Morales, 53, able to run since the president’s first term was not under the current constitution.

“The presidential term is computed from the time of the adoption of the new constitution,” Flores said.

Next year’s vote will be counted as Morales’ first reelection, under the ruling.

The ruling has sparked protests from the opposition.

Earlier this month, Morales said that Washington was planning to stage a coup in Venezuela, following the election of Nicolas Maduro as president.

Morales, the first indigenous president of South America’s poorest nation, was elected president in late 2005 and reelected in 2009.

During his years as president, Morales has nationalized private companies aimed at increasing state control over the country’s economy.

He also pushed for the formation of a new constitution.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Comments Off on Court lets Morales run for reelection

Venezuela and Cuba Deepen “Strategic Alliance”

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | April 29, 2013

Mérida – Venezuela and Cuba signed 51 bilateral agreements related to energy management and social programmes in areas including healthcare, education and recreation this past weekend and pledged to spend $2 billion on bilateral social development projects this year.

The agreements were signed during Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro’s visit to Cuba over the weekend.

“We came to ratify a strategic…[and] historical alliance,” Maduro told Cuban press.

Details of the bilateral agreements are yet to be released, though Maduro described the deals as focusing on “social development”.

After meeting with Maduro, Castro told the press that the agreements reaffirm Cuba’s “unyielding will to continue co-operation in solidarity with Venezuela, determined to share our fate with the heroic Venezuelan people”.

The agreements represent Cuba’s largest source of foreign capital, according to AFP.

In his first trip abroad since being sworn in as Venezuela’s new president, Nicolas Maduro also met with former Cuban president Fidel Castro.

“I spent over five hours with Fidel, talking, sharing memories of Comandante Chavez, remembering how he and Chavez had built this alliance, which is more than a strategic partnership,” Maduro stated, according to the Havana Times.

The visit was criticised by Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who during his recent election bid advocated for cutting most ties with Cuba.

“Our great lackey is travelling to Havana to get instructions from his boss,” he tweeted on Saturday.

Venezuela is Cuba’s largest trade partner, currently providing the island nation with more than 100,000 barrels of oil a day. In exchange, over 30,000 Cuban medical personnel work in Venezuela.

During his election campaign, Capriles maintained his long standing policy that if elected, “not another drop of oil” would be sent to Cuba.

However, his views on the doctors are less consistent; alternating between offering them citizenship and accusing them of being spies involved in a “Castro-communist” plot and threatening them with deportation.

Maduro indicated that his administration would maintain continuity with former president Hugo Chavez’s Cuba policy, stating that the two countries “will continue working together”.

According to the Uruguayan newspaper La Republica, Maduro’s next international trip will be to Uruguay, where he is expected to meet with the country’s leftist president Jose Mujica.

The newspaper cites diplomatic sources as stating that the trip will take place around May 7, and will be part of a regional tour.

However, La Republica’s report on Maduro’s travel plans have not been officially confirmed by the Venezuelan government.

April 30, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , | Comments Off on Venezuela and Cuba Deepen “Strategic Alliance”