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US prepares military drill in W. Ukraine for mid-September

RT | September 3, 2014

The US and its allies are preparing to stage a military exercise in western Ukraine, close to the Polish border, in mid-September. The joint drill will involve over 1,000 troops from the US and Europe, as well as from Ukraine.

Initially planned for mid-July, the exercise – code-named ‘Rapid Trident’ – was halted due to a significant escalation in the conflict between Kiev and the southeastern regions of Ukraine.

Now, as the fighting between the two sides continues, the US Army’s European Command (EUCOM) plans to go ahead and stage the exercise on September 16-26.

“At the moment, we are still planning for [the exercise] to go ahead,” US Navy Captain Gregory Hicks, spokesman for EUCOM, announced on Tuesday.

The annual exercise will take place at Yavoriv training center in the city of Lvov, near Ukraine’s border with Poland.

Around 200 US personnel will be involved in the drill, as well as 1,100 others from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Britain, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Spain, EUCOM said.

In addition to staging air force exercises, the United States is moving tanks and 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for joint maneuvers in October, Reuters reports. The new deployment will replace a more lightly armed force of paratroopers.

Rapid Trident 2014 is designed to “promote regional stability and security, strengthen partnership capacity and foster trust while improving interoperability between the land forces of Ukraine, and NATO and partner nations,” according to the US Forces in Europe website.

The exercise will be mainly focused on command post drills, patrolling, and dealing with improvised explosive devices.

Despite the involvement of many NATO members, Rapid Trident is not formally a NATO drill.

The Ukrainian-American exercises have taken place in Lvov since 2006 under the framework of NATO’s broader ‘Partnership for Peace,’ which Ukraine is part of.

This year’s drill will mean the first significant deployment of US troops and other personnel to Ukraine since the crisis erupted.

Last year’s Rapid Trident, which focused on “airborne and air-mobile infantry operations,” according to a report on the Rapid Trident website, brought together 17 NATO countries for joint exercises.

The announcement comes just two days before the NATO 2014 summit is set to open in Wales. The alliance’s expansion to Eastern Europe is expected to become one of the main discussions and the 28-member bloc expects, despite internal opposition, to agree on the “more visible NATO presence in the East.”

The White House said the US and its allies are set to discuss plans to significantly increase the readiness of NATO response forces.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters that the meetings within the summit are expected to involve discussions on potential trainings, exercises, and other issues regarding infrastructure and other needs in Eastern Europe.

Back in June, US President Barack Obama pledged to invest $1 billion in stepping up America’s military presence in Eastern Europe amid the Ukraine crisis. Also that month, Washington vowed additional military help to Ukraine, as well as the potential training of its law enforcement and military personnel.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syrian UN Ambassador: “Constructive Chaos” at Work in the Middle East

The Permanent Representative of Syria to the United Nations Bashar Al-Jaafari says the recent developments in the Middle East, particularly the unrest in Syria and Iraq are part of a project to divide the Middle East.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UIUC Chancellor to forward Salaita appointment to Trustees for vote on 9/11

By Corey Robin | September 1, 2014

We are getting reports out of the University of Illinois that Chancellor Wise is going to forward the Salaita appointment to the Board of Trustees for a vote on September 11. A group of Gender and Women’s Studies students reports the following:

From GWS Undergraduate Stephanie Skora’s report back on meeting with Chancellor Wise on Monday, September 1, 2014:

The meeting with Chancellor Wise was a success, and we have gained some valuable information and commitments from the Chancellor!

We have discovered that the Chancellor HAS FORWARDED Professor Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees, and they will be voting on his appointment during the Board of Trustees Meeting on September 11th, on the UIUC campus! Our immediate future organizational efforts will focus around speaking at, and appearing at, this Board of Trustees meeting. We will be attempting to appear during the public comment section of the Board of Trustees meeting, as well as secure a longer presentation to educate them on the issues about which Professor Salaita tweeted. Additionally, we are going to attempt to ensure that the Board of Trustees consults with a cultural expert on Palestine, who can explain and educate them about the issues and the context surrounding Professor Salaita’s tweets. It has been made clear to us that the politics of the Board of Trustees is being allowed to dictate the course of the University, and that the misinformation and personal views of the members of the Board are being allowed to tell the students who is allowed to teach us, regardless of who we say that we want as our educators. We will not let this go unchallenged.

Additionally, Chancellor Wise has agreed to several parts of our demands, and has agreed upon a timeline under which she will take steps to address them. The ball is currently in her court, but we take her agreements as a gesture of good faith and of an attempt to rebuild trust between the University administration and the student body. She has not agreed unilaterally to our demands, and but we have made an important first step in our commitment to reinstating Professor Salaita. In terms of his actual reinstatement, the power to make that decision is not hers. This is why we have shifted the target of our efforts to the Board of Trustees, because they alone have the power to reinstate and approve Professor Salaita’s appointment at the University. In regards to the rest of our demands, which we have updated to reflect the town hall meeting, we have made progress on all of those, but continue to emphasize that it is unacceptable to meet any of our demands without first reinstating Professor Salaita.

We have made progress, but we all have a LOT of work left to do. We must organize, write to the Board of Trustees, and make our voices and our presences known. We will not be silent on September 11th, and we will not stop in our efforts to reinstate Professor Salaita, regardless of what the Board of Trustees decides.

Please keep organizing, please keep making your voices heard, and please‪#‎supportSalaita‬!

Also, feel free to message or comment with any questions, comments, or concerns.

Assuming the report is accurate, I can think of two interpretations of what it means.

If the UIUC is thinking politically, it would be an absolute disaster for them to open this can of worms, to act as if Salaita’s appointment is now a real possibility, to raise expectations for two weeks or so, to encourage all the organizing this will encourage (I can imagine the phone calls and emails that will now start pouring into the Board of Trustees), only to have the Board vote Salaita down. From a political perspective, this would be a disaster for the university. The strongest weapon the UIUC has always had is the sense that this is a done deal, that they will not budge, that we can raise all the ruckus we want, but they simply don’t care. Opening the decision up again calls that into question. Where does this line of reasoning lead us? To the possibility that the UIUC Trustees will vote to appoint Salaita on September 11, throw Chancellor Wise under the bus (remember, the Executive Committee that upheld her decision is only comprised of three Trustees, not the full Board)*, and say it was all a misunderstanding wrought by an incompetent chancellor. Who’ll then be pushed out within a year. The advantage of this approach is that it will effectively bring this story to a close. There will be angry donors, but everything I’ve ever read and experienced about that crew suggests that their bark is often worse than their bite. The ongoing atmosphere of crisis and ungovernability on campus is not something any university leader can bear for too long, and this threatens to go on for a very long time.

The other possibility is that the UIUC is thinking legally. One of the many weak links in their legal case was that Wise never forwarded Salaita’s appointment to the Board of Trustees for a vote. She basically did a pocket veto. Salaita’s offer letter stated that his appointment was subject to approval by the Board of Trustees, but Wise effectively never allowed the Board to approve or disapprove. So the UIUC’s lawyers could have decided that the better thing to do would be simply to carry out the full deed.

Many questions remain. Stay tuned. Regardless of which interpretation is correct, we have to operate on the assumption that the first is a very real possibility and that we have a lot of work to do in the next ten days.

*John Wilson reminds me in this post that all the members of the Board did sign a letter supporting Wise’s position, which I had forgotten about.

Update (11:15 pm)

Just to clarify my blog post: Like all of us, I have no idea what Wise and the Board are thinking (though we can assume that they are making this decision together). But while I think we have to be as strategic and smart about this as possible (fyi: John Wilson thinks I’m wrong; he may have a point), and gather as much information as we can, there’s always a tendency in these situations to play armchair strategist, to try and read the tea leaves, to figure out the pattern of power, as if we didn’t have hand or a role in shaping that pattern of power. Particularly when questions of law get involved (in a country of lawyers, Louis Hartz reminded us, every philosophical question is turned into a legal claim.) We have to resist that tendency. We have to treat this announcement, assuming it’s true, as a golden opportunity. To use the next 10 days as a chance to shift the balance of power on the ground. Remember the Board will be meeting and voting on campus. There are students, faculty, and activists on and around that campus. That’s an opportunity. Remember these trustees are individuals who can be called and emailed round the clock. That’s an opportunity. Between now and 9/11 (they really chose that date), let’s be mindful of the constraints, but also be thinking, always, in terms of opportunities.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

When the occupation machine falls off a cliff

By Jonathon Cook | The Blog From Nazareth | September 2, 2014

There’s something profoundly depressing about the start of this little video clip filmed, by the sound of it, by two young boys, possibly from their bedroom window. As they chatter away, on the other side of an East Jerusalem valley an Israeli “skunk” truck fires high-powered jets of intensely foul-smelling liquid at older youths protesting Israel’s mass arrests policy, carried out under cover of its attack on Gaza.

The truck indiscriminately sprays a wide arc of liquid at homes and cars, a kind of petty collective punishment meant to pollute the Palestinian neighbourhood with the disgusting odour for days.

All of this is just another day in these boys’ experience of occupation. They film the truck like other children might video a cat chasing a ball of wool. Interesting to them, but nothing out of the ordinary.

And then, suddenly, something exceptional happens. The truck falls off the edge of the road, into a ravine. The screams of delight from the boys, and the whoops that seem to echo from the other side of the valley, they are so loud, register a small triumph – a momentary loss of control from the seemingly all-powerful machine that is the occupation.

It is easy, when the headlines have been filled with death and destruction in Gaza, to forget that the occupation is far more relentless and insidious than such spasms of Israeli death-wreaking. It is the monotonous drone of a mechanical, faceless monster seeking to sap all hope from young minds. In that brief interruption, before normal service was resumed, another world was revealed to these boys.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , | Leave a comment

Hamas: US is partner to Israeli crimes in Gaza

MEMO | September 2, 2014

Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahar said on Monday that the United States is a partner to the Israeli occupation and its crimes committed in the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to the Palestinian Al-Quds television, he said: “We mean the US administration, not the American people, who took to the streets in large rallies against Israel’s crimes.”

He explained that lifting the Israeli siege of Gaza is not a demand, but a right. “We have the right to exist and lifting the siege is one of our rights,” he said, “it has to be lifted without a price.”

Regarding the Israeli soldiers who were abducted during Israel’s latest invasion of the Gaza Strip, he said their price is the release of the Palestinian prisoners. “This is our policy, which the enemy knows very well,” he said.

He continued: “There are two kinds of prisoners: MPs, former ministers, Hamas leaders and those prisoners freed in previous swaps; and the prisoners who are spending long terms in Israeli jails.”

The first kind should be released without a price, he asserted, while “the Israeli prisoners in our hands” are the price for the second kind of prisoners.

He also spoke about the seaport and airport that Hamas insisted on during the ceasefire talks in Cairo. “The airport was built during the time of late Yasser Arafat, but the occupation forces demolished it,” he said. “It is our right to rebuild it.”

“The seaport was supposed to be built in Gaza’s central port, but the occupation forces have stopped any positive measures from happening in the Strip, including the seaport,” he explained. “The Palestinian Authority was too weak to defend establishing the seaport. It is our right, which we seek to achieve. Whoever attacks us, we will attack them.”

Al-Zahar stressed that the Israeli occupation has to be prosecuted before the International Criminal Court (ICC). If the Palestinian Authority does not carry out this mission, individuals in Europe and Latin America and every free country should pursue Israeli criminals at the ICC.

He concluded by comparing negotiations and resistance as methods to gain Palestinians rights. “There are diplomatic negotiations, which supporters think will gain a Palestinian state,” he said. “However, they have now failed and its supporters warn that they are going to join international organisations if negotiations are not revived.”

Meanwhile, he said the resistance programme is more “successful” and it insists on not making any concessions on Palestinians’ rights.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Report: Netanyahu says will not send delegation to Cairo talks

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Ma’an – 02/09/2014

JERUSALEM – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not plan to send a delegation for negotiations in Cairo as stipulated by the ceasefire agreement that ended seven weeks of fighting in Gaza, Israeli media reported Monday.

Channel 10 said in a TV report that Netanyahu told his cabinet in a closed session that he would not send as agreed a delegation to Egypt for further talks regarding a seaport and airport in Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners, the demilitarization of Gaza factions, and the delivery of bodies of Israeli soldiers presumed held by Hamas, among other unresolved issues.

Netanyahu spoke proudly to his cabinet about the Gaza offensive, saying Hamas had not achieved any of its demands, according to the report.

Qais Abd al-Karim, member of the Palestinian negotiation team to be sent to Cairo, told Ma’an that any Israeli step that shows a lack of commitment to the ceasefire’s terms would render the ceasefire null and void.

Abd al-Karim said the Palestinian delegation is awaiting the Egyptian invitation for negotiations and that it is committed to the terms of the ceasefire agreement.

Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip ended over seven weeks of fighting last Tuesday with a long-term ceasefire agreement in which Israel agreed to ease its siege on the coastal enclave and expand the fishing zone off its coast. Further negotiations regarding many other key unresolved issues were to take place in Egypt a month later.

The Israeli assault on Gaza left over 2,100 Palestinians dead and some 11,000 injured, the vast majority of them civilians. Some 71 Israelis also died in the fighting, 66 of them soldiers.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

New York academics publish open letter in support of Students for Justice in Palestine

MEMO | September 2, 2014

More than one hundred university professors in New York City have signed an open letter, which was published on Monday, to administrators throughout the City University of New York (CUNY) system regarding the “principles of freedom of speech and assembly, and how such freedoms apply to students involved in organising with Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) at several of the CUNY colleges”.

In the letter, the professors explain that: “We have viewed with great concern instances of unequal and unfair treatment of SJP by members of the CUNY administration over the past few years. These have been well documented by legal rights groups such as the Centre for Constitutional Rights, the National Lawyers Guild, and Palestine Solidarity Legal Support, as well as by students involved in SJP at CUNY and their faculty advisers. These include arbitrary changes in policies regarding student groups, aimed specifically at curtailing SJP activities; the over-policing of SJP events and activities, including simple actions like handing out fliers, in a way that has caused intimidation to students; and making unfounded accusations that lead to ‘investigations’ into widely publicised events. All of these actions have a chilling effect on free exchange and open dialogue.”

The letter calls “upon members of the administration throughout the CUNY system to treat SJP as they would any other student organisation, respecting their right to organise events and activities within the existing rules and practices governing such organisations and refraining from setting up unfair barriers or subjecting SJP to standards different from those applied to other student groups. These students are acting within the traditions of intellectual inquiry and public responsibility that have guided CUNY since its inception.”

The CUNY professors urge the administrators at their university to “show courage in upholding the principles of freedom of speech and assembly”. They point out that while not all faculty members who have signed the letter always agree with the views expressed at SJP events, they support “unconditionally” the students’ “right to express these views without fear of reprisals or unfair treatment by this university.”

Amongst the many dozens of esteemed faculty in the CUNY system who signed the letter are: David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, and History; Talal Asad, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology; Linda Martín Alcoff, Director, Women’s Studies Certificate Program and Centre for the Study of Women and Society; Moustafa Bayoumi, Professor of English; Corey Robin, Professor of Political Science; Susan Buck-Morss, Distinguished Professor of Political Science; Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology; Ervand Abrahamian, Distinguished Professor of History; and Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities.

To view the full letter and its list of signatories, please visit here.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Demolishes Orphanage Dairy Factory In Hebron

Ma’an – September 2, 2014

HEBRON – Israeli bulldozers demolished a dairy factory in Hebron and Bedouin homes east of Jerusalem early Tuesday, witnesses told Ma’an.

Locals said Israeli troops escorted two bulldozers and two excavators to the al-Rama neighborhood in northern Hebron and began demolishing the factory, which is owned by Hebron’s Islamic Charitable Society.

Journalists and bystanders were not allowed to approach the area which the Israeli army declared a closed military zone during the demolition, witnesses said.

Hatim al-Bakri, who chairs the board of directors of the Islamic Charitable Society, said the damages inflicted a loss of “about 2 million US dollars.”

“Services the Charitable Society offers to orphans in the Hebron district will be badly affected,” al-Bakri said.

He said Israeli forces had confiscated the factory’s belongings during the month of Ramadan.

Israel accuses the organization of being tied to Hamas, he added.

Separately, a Ma’an reporter said Israeli forces demolished Bedouin homes and structures near Jabaa village east of Jerusalem.

A spokeswoman for Israel’s civil administration told Ma’an via email that Israeli forces on Tuesday “carried out the demolition of an illegal building which was built without the necessary permits in the Hebron area.”

“The building was demolished after the appropriate enforcement procedure was completed and a demolition order was delivered.”

The spokeswoman also confirmed the demolitions in Jabaa. She said five buildings were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers.

“The buildings were demolished after 45 days were given to the residents to apply for a building permit. After this wasn’t completed, it was decided to enforce the existing demolition orders on these buildings.”

Israel rarely grants construction permits to Palestinians in the West Bank, and regularly demolishes structures built without permits.

In May, the EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah urged Israel to halt home demolitions in Area C of the West Bank, describing such actions as “forced transfer of population and demolitions of Palestinian housing and infrastructure.”

Israel has demolished 359 Palestinian structures in the West Bank so far in 2014, according to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions.

Some 27,000 Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished by Israel since it occupied the West Bank in 1967.

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 1 Comment