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Gaza: between rebellion and sacrifice

By Valeria Cortés | International Solidarity Movement | October 22, 2015

“All I possess in the presence of the death is fury and pride” – Mahmoud Darwish

Gaza, Occupied Palestine – Ahmed Al Sarhi was executed in cold blood yesterday by an Israeli sniper, from the cowardly distance of the Zionist fence that encloses Gaza, turning it into a prison. This is just another story of this shameful concentration camp that, as if that was not enough, is also routinely bombarded by the Zionist war machine with total impunity.

Including Ahmed, there has been a total of fifteen people killed by Israeli forces since October 9th, in the Gaza strip alone. This includes a three year old girl and her pregnant mother, who died as a result of the bombing of their family home. Throughout Palestine since the beginning of this month, fifty-two people have been killed, among them twelve children. The systematic killing of children by the occupation forces is not a mistake or collateral damage, figures confirm that Palestinian children are the main military target of Israel.

But we cannot limit ourselves to stating names, figures, data without contextualizing what happens here in Palestine – at the root of this catastrophe, a vicious occupation of a colonial entity imposed by blood and fire on Palestinian territory, with the full support of the so-called Western Democracies. Palestinians are being killed on their own land, the land of their ancestors. They have not come to seek death, death has come to them under the guise of a “religious conflict,” but that is not true – this is plainly colonialism, theft, conquest and occupation, and for this the Zionist entity conducts a continuous and terrifying ethnic cleansing.

Among the first victims of this genocide is the truth, so it is our duty to prevent mass media outlets from turning Palestinians into “terrorists” who always “die” in an “ongoing terror attack.” To begin with, they are not terrorists, they are an occupied people exercising their legitimate right to defense with all the resources – very few resources – at their fingertips. They do not “die”, they are executed in cold blood by one of the most powerful armies in the world or by that other paramilitary entity, formed by fanatical settlers highly trained and armed to the teeth.

How much hopelessness, suffering, unpunished abuse, how much spilled blood can the human heart take before bursting? What terrible reasons can drive a young man to take a kitchen knife and be under the Zionist bullets attempting a futile defense, the last desperate act of rebellion for justice? A justice that has been denied to them from the day of their birth to the day of their death.

Those Palestinians, described by the media in a de-contextualized, biased, malicious way, as “neutralized terrorist” are mostly young people and teenagers. The dramatic reality that the media handle turns this into a grotesque spectacle where the executioner becomes the victim should not go unnoticed.

After the cold-blooded murder of these children, young martyrs, there are more crimes: their families are beaten, lynched, imprisoned, their homes demolished, their residence permits revoked, a whole series of infamous collective punishments – illegal and heinous – trying to silence a people pushed to the limits of their endurance.

In the Gaza Strip there are no kitchen knives as weapons of the juvenile despair. Here the occupation is not present face to face like in the West Bank, here it remains lurking behind cowardly attacks from the distance of warships, planes, helicopters and drones and by land surrounding Gaza with a fence full of turrets, tanks, rifles and all kind of military technology at the service of death.

Then young Gazans, many of them teenagers or children, who have already suffered in their own flesh three brutal massacres, stripped of all hope and future, march to the very limits of their imprisonment in a sacrificial ritual, to offer their defenseless chests to the bullets of the occupier, with no other weapon than a harmless stone, a flag, their rage and pride – it is all they have in the presence of death. Children, young martyrs of Gaza, march to the borders of this, their land, their prison, their grave, to offer their brief life as anonymous prisoner to put a dignified end to their agony.


Young man a few meters from the zionist fence, Gaza Strip, Palestine. September 2013.

It is our duty to not let them be murdered three times over, where yes – because that Zionist colony sadly known as “Israel” commits on them a triple crime – there is first the murder itself, secondly the impunity of the fact and third, equally or even more terribly, the slander of the victim, making the victim guilty of their own death.

If we cannot prevent the slaughter of the Palestinian people, at least we have to avoid that impunity and slander primed on these desperate boys in search for justice, or even more painfully, a quick escape to this long tragedy.

As you read these lines the Zionist occupation and international silence continue to send children to their death.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 2 Comments

Ecuador Using Oil Revenue to Build 400 New Schools by 2017


President Rafael Correa high-fives a boy during his tour of a new school built in the province of Azuay, Ecuador, Oct. 20, 2015. | Photo: Ecuadorean Presidency
teleSUR – October 22, 2015

Ecuador announced Wednesday that the government intends to build 400 new schools by 2017.

Half of the schools will be the state of the art “Millennium Educational Units” that include scientific laboratories, a library, a multi-purpose auditorium, an administrative wing and ample classrooms. The rest will be prefabricated units that can be constructed much faster and will be built in areas with the most urgent need for new schools.

“There is no better way to achieve true freedom than quality education,” President Rafael Correa said Tuesday during a ceremony to inaugurate a new school in the province of Azuay.

The new Millennium Educational Unit opened in Azuay replaces 13 much smaller schools that were sorely lacking in supplies and space needed to provide a quality education.

According to the Andes news agency, the funding for this particular school came from royalties from a nearby mining project. The stated objective of the Correa government is to take the income generated from extraction projects and invest it into strategic sectors such as education in order to move the country away from its dependence on non-renewable resources.

Ecuadorean law also stipulates that a portion of the income generated by extraction projects be reinvested into the region where the project is located.

Correa says his government had invested at least US$20 billion in education over the past eight years of his administration. The Ministry of Education provides free school supplies, books, uniforms, and meals in order to reduce barriers for low-income students, with a goal of achieving a 100 percent attendance rate.

The political opposition and right-wing press have criticized the Correa government over its spending. During the inauguration ceremony Correa replied saying, “Ecuador does not spend a lot, it invests a lot, which is different.”

The country has already built 57 of the Millennium Educational Units, with a further 48 under construction. The schools are intended to have a lifespan of 100 years. The prefabricated schools have a shorter lifespan at 25 years but take only 11 weeks to build.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

The Navy’s Sitting Ducks

By Tobin Harshaw | BloombergView | October 22, 2015

With Iran testing ballistic missiles, the Russian military bombing in Syria, war grinding on in Yemen and Islamic State as deadly as ever, it may seem like a very dangerous time for the U.S. to find itself without an aircraft carrier near the Persian Gulf. Actually, it’s very unlikely to be a problem, and it’s a good occasion to reconsider the Navy’s plans to build a new fleet of superexpensive “supercarriers.” […]

A Navy war game in 2002 that simulated a swarm attack by speedboats of the type Iran has in the Gulf had devastating results: 16 major warships would be destroyed, including one aircraft carrier. Anti-ship weaponry has only grown more potent since then.

These massive ships were never intended to take on jihadists and other asymmetric threats. But it’s no longer clear that they would be useful in a war against a major power such as Russia or a middling one such as Iran. The Pentagon has spent billions outfitting aircraft carriers with air defenses that are unproven, and the relatively short range of their planes –- an F/A-18 Hornet has to turn around at roughly 500 miles — leaves them vulnerable to land-based missiles that can travel twice that far. … Full article

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 1 Comment

Journalist missing after police arrest him in his home

Mada Masr – October 22, 2015

Journalist Hossam al-Deen Seed was arrested in his home and taken to an unknown location on Thursday morning, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) reported.

He was still missing as of Thursday evening.

The charges against Seed are unknown, according to the ANHRI statement, which noted that he is a member of the Journalists Syndicate.

The Interior Ministry did not respond to Mada Masr’s calls for a comment on the incident.

Seed’s arrest comes the day after security forces raided the offices of the Mada Foundation for Media Development and arrested all staff members on the premises.

This raid represents “a dangerous escalation in the Egyptian authorities’ crackdown on freedom of expression and association,” Amnesty International argued in a statement released Wednesday.

Seed’s arrest also coincides with a National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) report on 15 cases of forced disappearances that was issued the day of the Mada Foundation raid, the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

Reports of journalists being arrested or forcibly disappeared by security forces have swelled since the military-led ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

There are disagreements about the number of journalists currently detained or in prison, but estimates range from 60 to 70.

The freelance photographer Mahmoud Abou Zeid, commonly known as Shawkan, has been held in pre-trial detention for over two years, exceeding Egypt’s legal two-year limit.

Egypt ranked near the bottom of the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedoms index, coming in at 158 out of 180 countries.

At least 30 journalists were arbitrarily arrested in 2014 on charges of organizing or participating in protests, the report said. Reporters Without Borders claimed that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government is using its ongoing war on terror as a pretext to curb press freedoms and target media institutions affiliated with the banned Muslim Brotherhood.

The Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms released a report in August stating that authorities violated journalists’ rights at least 658 times during the first year of Sisi’s presidency. The violations included preventing journalists from doing their jobs, verbal and physical assault, detention, arrests and imprisonment, damaging and confiscating equipment, banning press reports and filing lawsuits against journalists.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | Leave a comment

GAZA: One in three exit permit applications for medical care rejected

PNN | October 22, 2015

NEARLY a third of all patients referred for urgent medical care outside the Gaza Strip are being barred from leaving.

The number of exit permits granted is now at it’s lowest level for six years, with the exception of last summer during the war.

New figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show the Israeli and Egyptian governments stopped three out of every ten people who had medical referrals from leaving Gaza. Of those, 104 were children and ten were elderly patients over 60 years old. And no medical aid or medical delegations were allowed entry into Gaza at all during the entire month of September.

The main referral specialties needed were in oncology, orthopaedic surgery, ophthalmology, paediatrics, and heart catheterization.

Most of the patients had been offered care in Palestinian-run hospitals, with 157 referred to East Jerusalem and the West Bank, 12 in Israel and 3 in Jordan.

The WHO said in a statement yesterday (Wednesday) that of 1,883 patients who applied to leave in September, 527 were rejected. Another 363 patients , including 104 children, received no response to their applications. And permits were formally denied to 72 of the patients, including five children and ten elderly patients over 60 years old.

One 23 year old patient was even arrested by Israeli security at Erez, despite being approved for a permit. He had been referred for treatment for an eye injury following a road accident. He is still in custody and is due in court on October 20.

In August, the WHO reported an “unprecedented” shortage of health staff in Gaza, with many nurses and doctors not being paid for over a year.

In addition, they reported a chronic shortage of drugs and medical disposables, and said staff were working in poor conditions, without sufficient support, were under-trained, and facing shortages of supplies and electricity.

Most of the patients needed Israeli permits, with only 141 patients (8%) seeking approval to exit through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. But Rafah was open for only 5 days last month, with only a few exceptions for religious pilgrims making the trip to Mecca.

The figures show a stark change since the July 2013 closure, when around 4,000 Gaza civilians a month used the Rafah crossing for medical access.

Family members including parents, who wished to accompany patients, also made 1,920 applications for permits to Israel’s authorities. Of these, only 66.5% were approved, 25.8% were pending and 7.7% were denied.

The top referral destinations were:

Makassed Hospital (22.27%) and Augusta Victoria Hospital (12.16%) in East Jerusalem
An Najah National University Hospital (8.58%) in Nablus
Al-Haia center for heart catheterization in Gaza (4.38%)
Nasser Institute in Cairo (4.09%)

The remaining appointments (48.5%) were in 40 other hospitals.


October 23, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Leave a comment

Rebuffing Peace Chances in Syria

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | October 23, 2015

Seeking to disrupt the lethal cycle of foreign intervention and military escalation in Syria, a group of 55 House Democrats recently sent a letter to President Barack Obama, calling for a change in U.S. policy.

“[I]t is time to devote ourselves to a negotiated peace, and work with allies, including surrounding Arab states that have a vested interest in the security and stability of the region,” they wrote. “Convening international negotiations to end the Syria conflict would be in the best interests of U.S. and global security, and is also, more importantly, a moral imperative.”

No one — except neoconservative die-hards who view diplomacy as the last refuge of wimps — can argue with their sentiment. But previous failed attempts to promote peace negotiations suggest that Syrian rebels want to talk only about the terms of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s surrender — or they won’t talk at all. Unless their foreign backers start turning the screws on these clients, the key players may simply refuse to sit down at the peace table.

The first Geneva conference on Syria was initiated by the United Nations peace envoy Kofi Annan in April 2012. Although the great-power participants agreed on the usual niceties — a transitional government, participation of all groups in a meaningful national dialogue, free elections, etc. — the process foundered quickly when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that Assad could not participate in the transition government. In August 2011, President Obama had rashly demanded that Assad step down as a precondition for political change in Syria.

Who’s to Blame?

Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari later blamed the United States, Britain and France for derailing a huge opportunity for peace. Norwegian General Robert Mood, who led a military observer mission into Syria that spring to monitor an abortive cease-fire, said after the breakdown of Geneva I, “it would have been possible to lead Syria through a transition supported by a united Security Council with Assad as part of the transition. . . . The insistence on the removal of President Assad as a start of the process led them into a corner where the strategic picture gave them no way out whatsoever.”

Contrary to the caricature presented in many Western media, the Russians did not then or later insist that Assad remain in power.

Rather, as President Vladimir Putin emphasized in late 2012, Russia’s “position is not for the retention of Assad and his regime in power at any cost but that the people in the beginning would come to an agreement on how they would live in the future, how their safety and participation in ruling the state would be provided for, and then start changing the current state of affairs in accordance with these agreements, and not vice versa.”

Or as two former members of the State Department’s policy planning staff put it, “For Russia, the Geneva process is about achieving a political settlement in Syria, not about great powers negotiating the end of the Assad regime. . . . Russia’s primary objective in Syria is not to provide support for Assad but rather to avoid another Western-backed effort at coercive regime change, and all of Russia’s actions are consistent with that objective. . . .

“Better US-Russian cooperation on Syria depends on demonstrating to Moscow that Assad and his cronies — rather than the opposition, US policy, or other states in the region — are the main obstacle to a settlement and to stability in Syria, as the US has long argued. That requires pushing ahead with a good-faith effort at a political settlement.”

Another Setback

Chances for peace were set back in spring 2013, however, when the political leader of the non-Islamist opposition, Moaz al-Khatib, resigned after failing to get support for a mediated end to the conflict. His interim successor, a Syrian-American named Ghassan Hitto, reportedly enjoyed strong backing from the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood and “distanced himself from Al-Khatib’s willingness to negotiate with elements of the Assad regime in a bid to bring an end to the civil war.” Secretary of State John Kerry, who had replaced Secretary Clinton, was reported to be “sanguine at the news of the resignation.”

In May 2013, Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov agreed to give peace another chance and try to bring the government and opposition to the negotiating table. This time, significantly, Kerry did not demand that Assad step down as a precondition for talks. Then came the huge diversionary controversy over Syrian chemical weapons, with the White House claiming that the Assad regime had crossed the “red line.” Instead of peace, a vast escalation of the war loomed, until Russia helped broker Syria’s agreement to destroy all of its chemical weapons stocks.

Peace efforts suffered another setback that fall when Syrian opposition forces and their backers in Saudi Arabia and Gulf States balked after the UN envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Bahimi, said that Iran should be part of any settlement talks.

The Beirut Daily Star reported that “Many of Syria’s main rebel brigades … rejected any negotiations not based on Assad’s removal and said they would charge anyone who attended them with treason.” A coalition of 19 Syrian Islamist groups called attempts to restart the Geneva talks “just another part of the conspiracy to throw our revolution off track and to abort it.”

In November 2013, under pressure from Washington and London, the main Syrian exile opposition group voted to attend a new round of peace talks — but only if Assad and others with “blood on their hands” were guaranteed to have “no role” in a transition government or Syria’s future — a non-starter.

The pro-Western National Coalition finally yielded and reluctantly agreed in January 2014 to join a new round of talks, but the more powerful Islamist rebel alliance continued to reject them. The negotiations quickly foundered, with Western powers blaming Damascus for refusing to get serious about a transition government, and Syria’s government insisting that it was committed to “stopping the bloodshed.”

The Ukraine Putsch

Soon, the Western-supported putsch against the Russian-backed government of the Ukraine caused a dramatic setback in U.S.-Russian relations, putting all progress in Syria on hold. Seeking to appease neoconservative critics who demanded even tougher interventions in both theaters, President Obama requested huge new sums of money to arm and train Syria’s rebels — and to beef up the U.S. military presence in Central and Eastern Europe.

In January 2015, Kerry finally began warming again to multilateral negotiations, with Russia’s participation. CIA Director John Brennan made the startling announcement that “None of us, Russia, the United States, coalition, and regional states, wants to see a collapse of the government and political institutions in Damascus.”

The French, longtime hardliners against Assad, also came around. Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a radio station, “The political solution will of course include some elements of the regime because we don’t want to see the pillars of the state fall apart. We would end up with a situation like Iraq.”

These were huge changes in the stance of Western interventionist powers, aligning them closely to Russia’s longstanding position based on the original Geneva principles. But of course these changes came too late. Aside from some modest-sized regions held by Kurdish forces (and thus opposed by Turkey), the Syrian opposition today is dominated by Islamic State and by the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.

Forcing Russia’s Hand

Continuing military gains by those extreme Islamist forces prompted Putin’s decision to send additional military aid to Damascus and begin for the first time bombing targets in Syria. As usual, domestic U.S. politics forced a reframing of the Syrian issue back into Cold War-era stereotypes as a contest between the United States and Russia. And the French have once again reverted to their intransigent position that “there can be no transition without [Assad’s] departure,” in the words of President Francois Hollande.

Most important, some 75 military factions operating under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army this month reached an unprecedented political consensus: They rejected plans for a peaceful transition of power put forth by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. Their political stance confirms that the FSA has become an ally, if not a wholly owned tool, of the Nusra Front.

Pursuing peace remains a worthy — indeed, the only sensible — goal of U.S. foreign policy in Syria. No one should be surprised, however, if Washington’s embrace of that goal comes too late. By pursuing regime change so long and so adamantly, the United States, Western Europe and various Arab powers fostered the rise of the radical Islamist opposition, which has absolutely no interest in peace. Foreign leaders can meet all they want in Geneva, Moscow, or wherever, but facts on the ground will determine the political future of Syria.

If there is to be any hope of an outcome short of a bloodthirsty Islamist victory, it will require a total commitment by foreign powers to halt their supply of money and arms to opposition forces that, for now at least, reject participation in the peace process.

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

War of Words: Russian Foreign Ministry calls out MSM reports on hospital strike in Syria

RT | October 23, 2015

The Russian Foreign Ministry has disputed Western media reports accusing Russia of hitting a field hospital in northwestern Syria and killing 13 people. The reports cited “sources” provided by the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Maria Zakharova, stressed that such reports show tremendous bias towards Russia’s military efforts in Syria.

“There are so-called mass media reports which allege that Russian aircraft bombed a field hospital in the Idlib Governorate in northwestern Syria and reportedly killed 13 people. I cannot say that these reports are written by journalists but their ingenuity delights,” Zakharova, told reporters.

She questioned the credentials of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, pointing out that it is based in Britain and has no direct access to the ground in Syria.

“This information appears with reference to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights based in London. As we all understand, it is very ‘convenient’ to cover and observe what is happening in Syria without leaving London and without the ability to collect information in the field,” Zakharova added.

She said that Russia’s role in the Syrian conflict is aimed “primarily” at “protecting civilians,” while “terrorist groups” continue to receive “reinforcements of people” and “equipment from abroad,” which is a “very dangerous tendency.”

“These facts raise a question as to whether parties involved in the Syrian conflict are really interested in a peaceful settlement and how this goal is reconciled with financial and technical support for anti-government armed groups, including those who directly cooperate with terrorists,” she said during a briefing.

MSM attacks on Russia

Since joining the fight against Islamic State, Russia’s efforts in Syria have been repeatedly attacked by the Western mainstream media, which have published many unconfirmed reports employing scaremongering tactics.

AFP, a French media outlet, was responsible for publishing a piece titled 13 Dead as Russia strike hits Syria field hospital: monitor. The source in the story was identified as the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is run by one man – Rami Abdulrahman. Just recently, Abdulrahman told RT that the last time he had been in Syria was 15 years ago and that all the information for his reports is taken from “some of the Observatory activists” who he knows “through common friends.”

In the past, Rahman has said he relies on sources on the ground, who are among the US funded Syrian rebels.

Shortly after the report appeared, a video emerged showcasing the exact moment of the alleged Russian hospital strike. The video was uploaded by activists known as White Helmets – a rebel group which has already been caught faking evidence of civilian deaths supposedly caused by Russian strikes.

Meanwhile, Russia said it struck a meeting place of terrorist leaders in northwestern Syria. The Russian Defense Ministry specified that it had used a KAB-500 bomb.

“A Sukhoi Su-34 bomber attacked the installation with a guided KAB-500 air bomb, which wiped the target out with everything that was inside,” MoD’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov said on Wednesday.

Despite the power of the explosion, a cameraman in the posted video runs through only a small cloud of dust.

Experts have questioned the authenticity of the video posted by the rebels, stating that it is physically impossible to film such a powerful explosion from a few meters away and survive.

“It didn’t look like an aerial bomb dropped from an airplane. It appeared to come from an angle and the angle of the explosion appeared to be more like artillery,” a former policy analyst for the US Defense Department, Michael Maloof, told RT.

This kind of unreliable reporting is just one of the latest examples. Earlier, the Turkish military released a statement saying that it had downed an unidentified drone in Turkish airspace after issuing the aircraft 3 warnings.

It was not long before reports suggested it was Russian and being used to collect information. However, a Russian drone manufacturer denied the reports, calling the photos of the allegedly downed drone part of a poorly-staged “informational provocation.”

Other baseless accusations quickly followed, including British newspapers speculating that Royal Air Force Tornado jets operating in Iraq were to be equipped with air-to-air missiles and that their pilots had been cleared to fire on “Vladimir Putin’s jets” in the case of an imminent threat.

Moscow issued a formal request to the British Foreign Office, demanding an explanation. The answer came in a news blog, when the UK’s MoD’s spokesperson wrote that “There is no truth in this story.”

Another CNN story suggested that several Russian cruise missiles targeting Islamic State positions in Syria had landed in Iran. Citing two unnamed “top US officials,” the American broadcaster reported that four Russian missiles had crashed somewhere in Iran after being launched from vessels in the Caspian Sea.

The Russian Defense Ministry refuted the report, stating that missiles had hit their intended targets. “Unlike CNN, we don’t distribute information citing anonymous sources, but show the very missile launches and the way they hit their targets almost in real time,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.


Drones in Turkey, missiles in Iran & ground op in Syria: More MSM bombs for Russia amid ISIS fight 

EXCLUSIVE: Man who runs SOHR admits to RT he last visited Syria 15 years ago

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment