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Showing posts from January 18, 2009

Saudi patience is running out, By Turki al-Faisal in FT

A chilling warning -- clearly a shot across the bow. Dig this guy's creds at the bottom of the op-ed. He's clearly speaking for the Saudi Arabian elite -- an interesting battle between the Saudi and Israeli lobbies is on.
Published: January 22 2009 20:15 | Last updated: January 22 2009 20:15In my decades as a public servant, I have strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process. During recent months, I argued that the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia could be implemented under an Obama administration if the Israelis and Palestinians both accepted difficult compromises. I told my audiences this was worth the energies of the incoming administration for, as the late Indian diplomat Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit said: “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”But after Israel launched its bloody attack on Gaza, these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory. In the past weeks, not only have the Israeli Defence Forces murdered more than 1,000 Pal…

Paulson's $140 Billion Surprise

Blurb:

It's a little-known story about the financial crisis. During the frenzied events of the fall, Henry Paulson rewrote a piece of the tax code to expedite mergers. The quiet alteration amounts to an estimated $140 billion windfall for big banks. Some critics say Paulson's move was too autocratic, others argue that it was much more than that-that it was downright illegal. Will Tim Geithner and the Democrats attempt to correct the wrong?

Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Stance on Gaza Crisis “Approximately the Bush Position”

Blurb: In a visit to the State Department Thursday, President Obama made his first substantive comments on the Middle East conflict since Israel’s attack on Gaza. Obama first mentioned his commitment to Israel’s security, without affirming his commitment to Palestinian security. He condemned Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israeli towns, but didn’t criticize the U.S.-backed Israeli bombings of densely-populated Gaza. But in a departure from the Bush administration, Obama acknowledged Palestinian suffering and said Gaza’s borders should be opened to aid. We speak with MIT professor, Noam Chomsky. President Obama has made his first first substantive remarks on the crisis in Gaza since being elected. Obama was speaking at the state department flanked by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as he named two key envoys: Retired Senate majority leader George Mitchell, who negotiated a lasting agreement in Northern Ireland, will be Middle East envoy. And Richard Holbrook, who brokered a de…

Ex-Carter Admin Official: Israel Ignored Hamas Offer Days Before Attacking Gaza; Violated Ceasefire With Attacks, Blockade

Blurb: Robert Pastor is a senior adviser to the Carter Center and a professor at American University who met with exiled Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal in Damascus on Dec. 14, along with former President Jimmy Carter. Pastor says Meshaal indicated Hamas was willing to go back to the ceasefire if Israel would lift the siege on Gaza. He says he passed along the statement to the Israeli military but he never heard back. Two weeks later, Israel launched its three week assault that left more than 1,300 Palestinians, most of them civilians, at least a third children. LISTEN
WATCH
Real Video StreamReal Audio StreamMP3 DownloadMore… President Obama has pledged “active engagement” for a fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In his first day in office, Obama called President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, King Abdullah of Jordan and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. He did not reach out to leaders of Hamas, who rose to…

Norman Finkelstein, Foiling Another Palestinian "Peace Offensive": Behind the bloodbath in Gaza

01.19.2009 | PalestinianPeaceOffensive.doc (original)
By Norman G. Finkelstein

Early speculation on the motive behind Israel's slaughter in Gaza that began on 27 December 2008 and continued till 18 January 2009 centered on the upcoming elections in Israel. The jockeying for votes was no doubt a factor in this Sparta-like society consumed by "revenge and the thirst for blood,"[1] where killing Arabs is a sure crowd-pleaser. (Polls during the war showed that 80-90 percent of Israeli Jews supported it.)[2] But as Israeli journalist Gideon Levy pointed out on Democracy Now!, "Israel went through a very similar war...two-and-a-half years ago [in Lebanon], when there were no elections."[3] When crucial state interests are at stake, Israeli ruling elites seldom launch major operations for narrowly electoral gains. It is true that Prime Minister Menachem Begin's decision to bomb the Iraqi OSIRAK reactor in 1981 was an electoral ploy, but the strategic stakes in the…

Ralph Nader, Letter to President Obama on UN Convention Against Torture

Wednesday, January 21. 2009Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to urge you to avoid the disregard for international legal obligations that condemned your predecessor.

The issue concerns investigating or prosecuting torture.

The United States ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) in 1994. Article 12 of the CAT provides: “Each State Party shall ensure that its competent authorities proceed to a prompt and impartial investigation, wherever there is reasonable ground to believe that an act of torture has been committed in any territory under its jurisdiction.”

Former President George W. Bush and former Vice President Richard Cheney have both openly conceded that they authorized waterboarding on at least three prisoners. Among others, Attorney General-designate Eric Holder has characterized waterboarding as torture. Susan J. Crawford, a military commission leader, also informed Bob Woodward of The Washington Post: “We [the United States] tortured [Mohammed al-Qahtani].”…

U.N. Chief Appalled at Israeli Destruction in Gaza By Thalif Deen

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 20 (IPS) - When Israel went on a military rampage during its 22-day air strikes and artillery attacks on Gaza, it largely singled out residential neighbourhoods, hospitals, schools and U.N. buildings on the pretext of targeting Hamas fighters.

But John Ging, director of operations for the U.N. Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), based in Gaza, kept insisting there were no Hamas fighters anywhere in the vicinity of U.N.-run schools or warehouses.

"What we have regretted in the past is that we have not been given a hearing to answer," he told reporters Monday.

He charged that most of the allegations made by Israel were "unsubstantiated, unfounded - and continue to be repeated."

Perhaps his strongest indictment of the Israelis was reflected in his response to a question on military tactics: "We don't, in a civilised world, shoot the hostage to get to the hostage taker."

But in reality that was what the Israelis were doing in Gaza, says an Ar…

Noam Chomsky Lectures on Modern-Day American Imperialism: Middle East and Beyond

April 24, 2008
Hosted by Boston University School of Law and the Boston University Anti-War CoalitionDownload available on iTunesU.Noam Chomsky, an emeritus professor of linguistics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a well-known political activist critical of U.S. foreign policy, traces modern-day American imperialism to its earliest roots, 25 years before the American Revolution. If it weren’t for British forces preventing America’s expansion, claims Chomsky, Canada wouldn’t exist today.

Chomsky says the current war in Iraq can be traced back to the U.S. invasion of Florida during Andrew Jackson’s administration, which was an “executive war in violation of the constitution, a precedent that has been followed ever since.”

He compares the United States to a Mafia “godfather,” crushing third world countries like disobedient shop owners who don’t pay their protection money so others will get the point. The United States, he says, has a reputation as “the most frightening and dang…

Gaza invasion: Powered by the U.S., By Robert Bryce, Salon

Taxpayers are spending over $1 billion to send refined fuel to the Israeli military -- at a time when Israel doesn't need it and America does.By Robert BryceEditor's note: Generous support for this article was provided by the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute.Jan. 16, 2009 | Israel's current air and ground assault on the Gaza Strip has left about 1,000 Palestinians dead, including 400 women and children. Several thousand people have been wounded and dozens of buildings have been destroyed. An estimated 90,000 Gazans have abandoned their homes. Israel's campaign in Gaza, which began more than two weeks ago, has been denounced by the Red Cross, multiple Arab and European countries, and agencies from the United Nations. Demonstrations in Pakistan and elsewhere have been held to denounce America's support for Israel.It's well known that the U.S. supplies the Israelis with much of their military hardware. Over the past few decades, the U.S. has provided …

Chomsky: Undermining Gaza, Foreign Policy in Focus | January 16, 2009

Noam Chomsky is a noted linguist, author, and foreign policy expert. Sameer Dossani interviewed him about the conflict between Israel and Gaza. DOSSANI: The Israeli government and many Israeli and U.S. officials claim that the current assault on Gaza is to put an end to the flow of Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel. But many observers claim that if that were really the case, Israel would have made much more of an effort to renew the ceasefire agreement that expired in December, which had all but stopped the rocket fire. In your opinion, what are the real motivations behind the current Israeli action?CHOMSKY: There's a theme that goes way back to the origins of Zionism. And it's a very rational theme: "Let's delay negotiations and diplomacy as long as possible, and meanwhile we'll 'build facts on the ground.'" So Israel will create the basis for what some eventual agreement will ratify, but the more they create, the more they construct, the better t…