Past and Present Betrayals: Remembering Ophira

Remember Ophira?
by Uri Avnery
This week I had a nostalgic experience. I met a parliamentary delegation from one of the European countries. What turned this meeting into a special occasion for me was its location. The “Pasha Room” of the “American Colony” Hotel in East Jerusalem is a beautiful square hall, decorated in traditional Arab style. I was in this hall at the moment Yitzhak Rabin held out his hand to Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn at the Oslo agreement signing ceremony.

We gathered there spontaneously, Israeli peace activists and Fatah leaders, to celebrate the event together. We watched the proceedings on TV and cracked bottles of champagne. I still have one of the corks. Just an hour before, I had witnessed a no less exciting meeting. A group of young Palestinians, delirious with joy, marched through the streets, olive branches in their hands and a large Palestinian flag fluttering over their heads. At the street corner, a unit of the Border Police – the most aggressive anti-Arab force in Israel – was waiting. At the time, even the simple possession of a Palestinian flag was a crime.

For a moment, we held our breath. What is going to happen? The Palestinians ran towards the policemen and thrust olive branches into their hands. The policemen did not know what to do. They were obviously in a state of total disorientation and did not react at all. The enthusiastic youngsters continued on their way through the streets of East Jerusalem, singing and rejoicing.
 
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The Coming Storm in South Asia

Taliban Truce and the Coming Storm in South Asia
by Tom Burghardt
With growing instability and political turmoil inside Afghanistan and Pakistan, due in no small measure to American efforts on both sides of the "Afpak" divide to "stabilize" the region for multinational energy companies, this spring will see the rise of combat operations inside both countries. Pakistan is already feeling the heat generated by the imperialist Dracula and the jihadi Frankenstein.

Despite promises that the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) would lay down their arms once the Army ceased operations in Swat Valley, the state's capitulatory compact has instead provided militants with an excuse to exact vengeance on their opponents whilst establishing new training camps for pressed-ganged "recruits." Call it Pakistan's "Year Zero" when "everything changed." Not that the Americans, the state or the corporate grifters who preside over IMF-dictated privatization schemes and debt payments to foreign banks give a hoot.

The New York Times reported March 6, that just days after the truce was signed "a member of a prominent anti-Taliban family returned to his mountain village, having received assurances from the government that it was safe. He was promptly kidnapped by the Taliban, tortured and murdered."
 
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Siegelman Convictions

Siegelman Convictions Upheld
by Scott Horton
The Court of Appeals in Atlanta today upheld most of the convictions delivered against former Governor Don Siegelman, rejecting only two of the counts. In particular, the Court sustained charges that Siegelman behaved corruptly when, after a foundation received a contribution from insurance executive Richard Scrushy, he appointed Scrushy to a regulatory board. The Court found that the jury in the case was within its rights when it found that Siegelman’s appointment was a quid pro quo in exchange for the contribution to the foundation.

The Court also concluded that there was no clear evidence that Judge Mark Everett Fuller, in sentencing Siegelman, retaliated against Siegelman for arguing that the prosecution was politically motivated. They overturned two of Siegelman’s convictions and are therefore sending the matter back to Judge Fuller for resentencing.
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The Imperial Unconscious

The Imperial Unconscious: Afghan Faces, Predators, Reapers, Terrorist Stars, Roman Conquerors, Imperial Graveyards, and Other Oddities of the Truncated American Century
by Tom Engelhardt
Sometimes, it's the everyday things, the ones that fly below the radar, that matter. Here, according to Bloomberg News, is part of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates's recent testimony on the Afghan War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"U.S. goals in Afghanistan must be 'modest, realistic,' and 'above all, there must be an Afghan face on this war,' Gates said. 'The Afghan people must believe this is their war and we are there to help them. If they think we are there for our own purposes, then we will go the way of every other foreign army that has been in Afghanistan.'"

Now, in our world, a statement like this seems so obvious, so reasonable as to be beyond comment. And yet, stop a moment and think about this part of it: "there must be an Afghan face on this war." U.S. military and civilian officials used an equivalent phrase in 2005-2006 when things were going really, really wrong in Iraq. It was then commonplace -- and no less unremarked upon -- for them to urgently suggest that an "Iraqi face" be put on events there.
 
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'SOUAD VIVA PALESTINA' - Viva Palestina Convoy Update

'SOUAD VIVA PALESTINA' - Viva Palestina Convoy Update 19.00 (GMT) Friday 6th March 2009
by The Yvonne Ridley Reports
After a long rest at Matruh, the Viva Palestina convoy started the day late by heading east. Apparently, some were so exhausted that they slept on till late morning.

Divided into groups to make the drive and escort manageable, they were planning to stop for Friday prayers along the way. Some groups were delayed and could not make it. They are driving to JEMSA (GEMSA) on the coast, their next location for the night. I am told that it is looking like midnight by the time the last vehicle reaches the coastal town. A reception and dinner is being organised by the local authorities.

On that note, Akhbar Elyom newspaper reported today that the General Secretariat of the National Party is overseeing the reception and monitoring the progress of the convoy across various provinces. Working groups have been set up to ensure the various services are provided to the convoy such as accommodation, food and fuel. Young guides and helpers will be on hand to assist convoy members when they stop in their cities.

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American Slavery: Then, Now and Forever

Modern Slavery in America
by Stephen Lendman
This is the plight of America's vulnerable and those we exploit abroad, whether in restaurants, hotels, agriculture, domestic work, the sex trade, or on US offshore military bases, and seldom do courts provide justice.
 
It's America's dark side along with an appalling record of crimes and abuses, including imperial wars, torture, and looting the national wealth for criminal bankers and the rich at the expense of growing millions in need left wanting at the most perilous economic time in our history.
 
America's long and disturbing legacy, not at all one to be proud of.
 
 
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Iraq: Medical Care at a Premium

Medical Care At Last, At a Price
by Dahr Jamail
Prompt medical care is at last on offer in Iraq, for those who can find the dollars for it.

“Why would I want to go to government-run hospitals where there is no care, no functioning instruments, long lines, and in the end the same doctor who treats you there can treat you at a private hospital,” says Mohammed Abbas, 35, an employee at Iraq’s Ministry of Oil.

Abbas, speaking at the private Saint Raphael Hospital in the Karrada area of Baghdad, wanted treatment on time, and was prepared to pay for it. Like him, many are coughing up money for private treatment. When they have money, that is, in an economy with more than 50 percent unemployment.

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Jimmy Carter on Gaza: Peace and Health in the Occupied Territory

Peace and health in the occupied Palestinian territory
by Jimmy Carter
32 years ago, one of my highest priorities as President of the USA was to bring peace to the Middle East. For 13 days, I led intense negotiations between Israel and Egypt, resulting in the Camp David Accords in 1978.1
 
There were two agreements, ratified by an overwhelming vote of the Israeli Knesset. One was a peace treaty that was signed 6 months later between Egypt and Israel, and which has been meticulously honoured by both sides. The other was a commitment by Israel to withdraw its political and military forces from Palestinian territory and grant the Palestinians full autonomy over their own affairs.
 
This part has been consistently violated. There has been no withdrawal from the West Bank and the Palestinians here and in the Gaza Strip have been increasingly strangled.  Therefore the conflict within the occupied Palestinian territory has not abated and, by any objective measure, has worsened since I left office.

The 18-month blockade and recent Israeli bombardment and invasion of Gaza, one of the most densely populated areas on earth, have compounded the impoverishment and suffering there, and recently caused the deaths of more than 1300 Palestinians,2 many women and children, helpless in the face of overwhelming firepower.
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Text As Verb

Text is a Verb
by Mickey Z.
Would you give up the ability to text ttyl to your BFF in order to save a species from going extinct? In 2009, it’s not an insane question.
 
image

The next time your cell phone rings, try focusing on these six simple words: The Democratic Republic of the Congo. I ask you to do this because one of the primary components of cell phone circuitry is a metallic ore called Columbite-Tantalite—or “coltan.” Eighty percent of the world’s known coltan can be found in African nation of The Democratic Republic of the Congo (or DRC), which just so happens to be embroiled in a brutal (even by current standards) civil war since the pre-cell phone days of 1994.
 
Over time, all sides in the unrelenting struggles adroitly began using the mining and sale of coltan not only to nourish the West’s seemingly insatiable cell phone addiction, but also to fund their inexorable mayhem. Civilian deaths in the DRC during this time—mostly from war-related disease and malnutrition—are estimated not in the hundreds, thousands, or even tens of thousands, but rather in the millions…making it the world’s deadliest military conflict since the Second World War.

And it gets worse.
 
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Four and Out for Democrats: 3 Reasons Obama Will Fail

Four and Out for Democrats: 3 Reasons Obama Will Fail
by C. L. Cook
Though still shy of the traditional 100 day marker, on the three issues the new administration has prioritized it is clear, Barak Obama possesses neither the wherewithal to break the beltway stranglehold on both parties, nor the personal confidence to assert the full power of the presidency to bring his vision of Hope to fruition.

Instead, Obama is apparently convinced he must tread the middle road, taking the bipartisan path Bill Clinton called "triangulation."
 
This means the White House will be no friend to those wanting to see, at long last: an end to the wars and occupations begun through the Bush Doctrine; universal, single-payer health care; and an end to fixed financial markets that serve the top fiftieth percentile at the expense of the rest of taxpaying America.
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Gaza Close as Aid Caravan Crosses into Egypt

A SMOOTH CROSSING INTO EGYPT - Convoy Update 19.00 (GMT) Thursday 5th March 2009
by Viva Palestina
The convoy was over 3 miles long and contained about 220 vehicles. So it was an awesome sight when finally, at about 1.00pm local time, the first vehicles rolled into Egypt, where they were met at the borders by officials and a jubilant crowd. The Egyptians organised the convoy into smaller groups and set off towards the town of SALUM, their first stop. The convoy was handled with military precision by the army and the police. I am told and everyone was relieved at the speed of the crossing.

In Salum they were met by children, who handed them flowers, and they were warmly welcomed by the people. Then they were taken to a huge tent where a press conference was held and a reception ceremony took place.
Lunch was on the menu, before being whisked away to continue their journey towards the beautiful coastal town of MATRUH. A lavish reception awaits them in this picturesque part of Egypt where they are expected to enjoy the sea breeze after experiencing the beauty and quietness of the desert.

Overall, a good start to the final leg of the journey. Gaza is getting ever so close and the mission is close to being accomplished.
 
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Bagram: Obama's Guantanamo?

Obama's Guantanamo? Bush's Living Legacy at Bagram Prison
by Karen J. Greenberg
Just when you think you've woken up from a bad dream… When it comes to offshore injustice and secret prisons, especially our notorious but little known prison at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, let's hope the Obama years mean never having to complete that sentence.
 
In the Bush era, those of us who followed his administration's torture, detention, and interrogation policies often felt like we were unwilling participants in a perverse game of hide-and-seek. Whenever one of us stumbled upon a startling new document, a horrific new practice, a dismal new prison environment, or yet another individual implicated in torture policy, the feeling of revelation would soon be superseded by a sneaking suspicion that we were once again looking in the wrong direction, that the Bush administration was playing a Machiavellian game of distraction with us.

Okay, call it paranoia -- a state of mind well suited to the Age of Cheney -- but when Abu Ghraib finally came to light, it turned out that our real focus should have been on the administration's program of "extraordinary rendition" and the CIA secret flights to the foreign countries that were serving as proxy torturers for the United States. And when one case of torture by proxy, that of Maher Arar, achieved some prominence, we began looking at proxy torturers for the United States, when we should have been looking at legalized policies of torture by the U.S.
 
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