Unholy Suffering in the Holy Land

Christmas 2008: Hell in the Holy Land        
by Chris Floyd     
It seems to be the tragic fate of this generation of Israel to teach the world, once more, the bitter lesson of the universality of human evil. This base drive to impose suffering on others -- out of fear, out of greed, out of the lust to dominate -- lives in us all, in every individual, every nation, every people, every tribe, every sect, every clan. It must be resisted at all of these levels -- beginning within, of course. And when it breaks out into the open, we must condemn it forthrightly, call it what it is, no matter what form it takes or who unleashes it.
 
What is happening in the Holy Land during this holiest of seasons? Sara Roy reports in the London Review of Books:

Israel’s siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then....

On 5 November the Israeli government sealed all the ways into and out of Gaza. Food, medicine, fuel, parts for water and sanitation systems, fertiliser, plastic sheeting, phones, paper, glue, shoes and even teacups are no longer getting through in sufficient quantities or at all. According to Oxfam only 137 trucks of food were allowed into Gaza in November. This means that an average of 4.6 trucks per day entered the strip compared to an average of 123 in October this year and 564 in December 2005. The two main food providers in Gaza are the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food Programme (WFP). UNRWA alone feeds approximately 750,000 people in Gaza, and requires 15 trucks of food daily to do so. Between 5 November and 30 November, only 23 trucks arrived, around 6 per cent of the total needed; during the week of 30 November it received 12 trucks, or 11 per cent of what was required. There were three days in November when UNRWA ran out of food, with the result that on each of these days 20,000 people were unable to receive their scheduled supply. According to John Ging, the director of UNRWA in Gaza, most of the people who get food aid are entirely dependent on it. On 18 December UNRWA suspended all food distribution for both emergency and regular programmes because of the blockade.
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Running an Icy Gauntlet for the Whales

Running an Icy Gauntlet for the Whales
by Captain Paul Watson
It has been a very busy and dramatic 48 hours since we first encountered the Japanese whaling fleet on Saturday morning (December 20th).

We had seen and filmed the Nisshin Maru from the air two days previous. They were in the area of Commonwealth Bay off the coast of Terre Adelie. The observation was taken from  our helicopter at 3000 feet from thirty miles so we knew the whalers had not seen us.  

Then on Saturday morning we spotted a moving target on the radar. The entire area was shrouded in thick fog and dense ice as we moved towards the ship. It could only be a whaler in this area and we could only assume that they thought we were part of the fleet. They did not alter course not did they attempt to speed up.

Suddenly out of the fog, the Yusshin Maru #2 appeared on our port side of the Steve Irwin less than a quarter of a mile off. We watched as crewmembers on the whaler, wearing yellow hard hats scurried across the deck towards a long hanging object hanging from a derrick.
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Gaza Calm is Over: Violence Breaks Out Again

Gaza Calm is Over: Violence Breaks Out Again
by Sameh A. Habeeb
Sunday midnight witnessed escalated military steps by Israeli army on Gaza Strip. Apache helicopters raided on Al Shijya area east of Gaza city leaving 3 civilians injured. Medical spokesman of Emergency, Dr. Mawya Hasanian, said 2 children were reported casualties in the wake of military actions. The air raids which were extensively supported by Israeli reconnaissance planes left Gaza residents in a great panic.

Some local radio stations in Gaza reported that raids targeted some Palestinian resistance spots. Israeli cabinet meetings held mid-Sunday vowed a full-scale military invasion of Gaza but didn't clarify details. Following the collapse of calm between Israel and Palestinian factions, the level of tension and violence dramatically increased within two days. Another Palestinian was killed and four others were injured including two children Saturday morning, as Israeli artillery shelled the northern areas of the Gaza Strip towns Beit Lahiya and Beit Hanoun.
 
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The Conceit of Science, the Poverty of the New Atheism, and the Rise of Techno-Fascism

Changing of the God: The Conceit of Science, the Poverty of the New Atheism, and the Rise of Techno-Fascism
by ddjango
These days, no one should be faulted for feeling a certain overload of the senses and emotions. Good news seems to be hiding under big boulders somewhere. "If it isn't one thing, it's another" is a cliche that doesn't quite get at it.

It isn't just the economy or the environment or the wars and rumors of wars - it's damn near everything. "Hell in a hand basket" doesn't make the grade either. Where is the relief? Even those who hoped that things might brighten up with the ascendancy of Barack Obama are finding holes in their armor of "hope" and "change".
 
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Unpardonable: Cheney's Torture Confession

Why did Cheney confess on national television?
by TRNN
Last week, outgoing US Vice-President Dick Cheney made a series of remarkable comments in his exclusive interview with ABC. Cheney admitted to playing a role in the authorization of the use of waterboarding and other 'aggressive interrogation techniques', defended the decision to listen-in on domestic phone calls, and essentially provided broad approval for all the actions taken by his government over his tenure.
 
In the first part of our interview with Michael Ratner, Michael gives his analysis of both the significance of the interview, and what he believes are Cheney's motivations for such an uncharacteristic offering of information from the notoriously secretive VP.
 

 
 
Michael Ratner: Cheney's admission of guilt is a plea for a presidential pardon
 
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Obama on Israel and the Occupied Territories

Obama Vs Richard Falk On Israel And Occupied Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
O
bama leaves no ambiguity where he stands. From public statements, campaign pledges, policy advisors, and war cabinet selections, his positions affirm:
 
-- one-sided pro-Israeli zealotry;
 
-- continued Palestinian oppression;
 
-- no end to the Iraq war and occupation;
 
-- possibly attacking Iran and/or allying with Israel to do it;
 
-- pursuing an imperial agenda; targeting Pakistan, Russia and other countries;
 
-- expanding the size of the military; increasing expenditures for it; and
 
-- providing Israel annually with billions of dollars; the latest weapons and technology; the same zero interest rate loans Wall Street gets; liberal debt forgiveness; virtually anything Israel requests on the pretext of security, to wage aggressive war, or expand its illegal settlements; and

-- acquiescing and remaining silent after Israel insulted a high UN official by harassing and detaining him, then expelling him from the country.
 
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Wall Street Swindler Strikes Powerful Blows for Social Justice

Bernard Madoff: Wall Street Swindler Strikes Powerful Blows for Social Justice
by James Petras
W
all Street broker Bernard (‘Bernie’) Madoff, former president of NASDAQ, revered and respected investor confessed to pulling off the biggest fraud in history, a $50 billion dollar scam.  Bernie was known for his generous philanthropy, especially to Zionist, Jewish and Israeli causes.  A one time life-guard on Long Island in the 1960’s, Bernie launched his financial career by raising money from colleagues, friends and relatives among wealthier Jews in the Long Island suburbs, Palm Beach, Florida and in Manhattan, promising a modest, steady and secure return of between 10 to 12%, covering any withdrawals in typical Ponzi fashion by drawing on funds from new investors who literally pleaded for Bernie to fleece them. 
 
Madoff personally managed at least $17 billion dollars.  For almost four decades he built up a clientele, which came to include some of the biggest banks and investment houses in Scotland, Spain, England and France; as well as major hedge funds in the United States.  Madoff drew almost all of the funds from high net-worth private clients who were recruited by brokers working on commission.  Bernie’s clients included many multi-millionaires and billionaires from Switzerland, Israel and elsewhere, as well as the US’s largest hedge funds (RMF Division of the Man Group and the Tremont). 
 
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Period of Pain: Recessions Vital Part of Capitalist System

America Needs a Period of Pain: Recessions Vital Part of Capitalist System
by Eric Margolis
T
he shoes Iraqi journalist Muntader al-Zaidi threw at George W. Bush had more courage and truth in them than all of America's fawning media. Al-Zaidi reminded the world that Bush, Dick Cheney and their helpers have the blood of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis on their hands -- perhaps as many as one million.

In New York, fabled investment guru Bernie Madoff is accused of bilking clients of an astounding $50 billion while well-fed federal watchdogs snoozed. Thanks to Madoff and Wall Street bandits, tens of millions of people have lost their life savings and retirement funds, and the world financial system is on the rocks.

Wall Street's big money con men, hedge fund Houdinis, and casino capitalists made a staggering $33.3 US billion in bonuses in 2007 alone by shady financial engineering and hawking fraudulent securities. Yet they have so far escaped prosecution. They get to keep their swag and $30-million South Hampton beach houses.

Worse is coming. Chrysler and Ford will shut plants in January. GM is next. In spite of the $13.4-billion auto industry bailout announced by President Bush last Friday, many plants may never reopen.
 
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How a Program To Save The Economy Ended Up Enriching Big Banks

How a Program To Save The Economy Ended Up Enriching Big Banks
by Danny Schechter (Author of Plunder)
Talk about crazy making. How do we believe anything Hank Paulson says?

First, he needed $700 Billion, and fast, to buy up troubled assets or the skies would fall and we would be pressed to impose martial law. He found an appropriate acronym, TARP, to manage the money with a skeletal staff of 28 headed up by one of his former proteges at Goldman Sachs.

So Far, So Good,

But then he had himself a rethink, realizing that no one has a clue about how to price troubled assets considered practically worthless. So he had to a make a shift, “in the light of new facts,” even though Congress never authorized the shift.

So Far, So Good.  

He claimed this showed flexibility and a willingness to respond to new information. Never mind that that information was not new and kind of obvious to anyone paying close attention to the subprime fiasco.

So Far, So Good
 
 

Then Congress pumped, as a 3 page proposal turned into a four hundred page package. Once it was  “enhanced” will all kinds of pork and earmarks it was passed. Legislators screamed about the absolute necessity of oversight and transparency. After all, this is taxpayer’s money But then, they took a break to run for re-election without naming anyone to oversee Hank’s new TARP or the taxpayer money. There seems to have been an oversight of oversight?

So far, Less Good
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The Homicides You Didn't Hear About in Hurricane Katrina

The Grinning Skull: The Homicides You Didn't Hear About in Hurricane Katrina
by Rebecca Solnit
W
hat do you do when you notice that there seems to have been a killing spree? While the national and international media were working themselves and much of the public into a frenzy about imaginary hordes of murderers, rapists, snipers, marauders, and general rampagers among the stranded crowds of mostly poor, mostly black people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a group of white men went on a shooting spree across the river.

Their criminal acts were no secret but they never became part of the official story. The media demonized the city's black population for crimes that turned out not to have happened, and the retractions were, as always, too little too late. At one point FEMA sent a refrigerated 18-wheeler to pick up what a colonel in the National Guard expected to be 200 bodies in New Orleans's Superdome, only to find six, including four who died naturally and a suicide. Meanwhile, the media never paid attention to the real rampage that took place openly across the river, even though there were corpses lying in unflooded streets and testimony everywhere you looked -- or I looked, anyway.

The widely reported violent crimes in the Superdome turned out to be little more than hysterical rumor, but they painted African-Americans as out-of-control savages at a critical moment. The result was to shift institutional responses from disaster relief to law enforcement, a decision that resulted in further deaths among the thirsty, hot, stranded multitude. Governor Kathleen Blanco announced, "I have one message for these hoodlums: These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will." So would the white vigilantes, and though their exact body count remains unknown, at least 11 black men were apparently shot, some fatally.
 
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Man Bites Dog: Bush Comparisons Offensive to Fido

A KISS GOODBYE: IRAQI JOURNALIST INSULTS DOGS
by Jack Random
W
hen I first heard the story of Iraqi journalist Muntathar al Zaidi yelling, “This is a goodbye kiss, you dog!” while throwing a pair of shoes at our beloved president I was incensed. I have lived long enough to know there are no bad dogs, only bad human masters.  Therefore, what was meant as a supreme insult to our lame duck president was in fact an insult against all members of the canine species. The more I considered it, however, the more I came to understand how appropriate the insult might have been.  It is a question for historians to decide:  Was George W. Bush truly responsible for the catastrophic policy blunders of his presidency or was he simply a victim of greedy and power hungry masters?
 
image

Muntathar al Zaidi did for the Iraqi people, particularly the dead and dispossessed, what rapper Kanye West did for the African American community and the people of New Orleans.  He spoke for those who cannot speak, who have no forum or cannot risk losing what little they have for themselves or their families. For those who say Zaidi’s impassioned protest was an act of cowardice, think again. 
 
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Vancouver Extreme Weather Shelter Info: Dec. 21, 2008

Vancouver BC
F.Y.I. If you can. get the word out on the street in Vancouver
 
Please help get this word out into the street for tonight.
 
As well First United Church 320 East Hastings and the newest shelter 1435 will be open tonight.
Both of these will be shopping cart friendly.
1435 Granville (almost under the bridge) will be dog friendly.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Saturday, December 20th

Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society (1607 E. Hastings St; #604-251-4844 – 7:00 pm)

Covenant House *** 16-22 yrs. *** (575 Drake St; #604-685-7474 – Intake: 9:00-11:00 pm)

Gathering Place (609 Helmken St; #604-665-2391 - midnight)

Powell Place *** Women Only*** (329a Powell St; #604-606-0403 - 11:30 pm)

Salvation Army Belkin House (555 Homer St; #604-681-3405 - 11:30 pm)

St. Mark’s Extreme Weather Shelter (1805 Larch St; #778-990-1401 - 9:30 pm

                                                        Intake closes at 11:00 pm)


Sunday, December 21st

10th Avenue Alliance Church  (10th & Ontario – 10:00 pm)

Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society (1607 E. Hastings St; #604-251-4844 – 7:00 pm)

Covenant House *** 16-22 yrs. *** (575 Drake St; #604-685-7474 – Intake: 9:00-11:00 pm)

Gathering Place (609 Helmken St; #604-665-2391 - midnight)

Powell Place *** Women Only*** (329a Powell St; #604-606-0403 - 11:30 pm)

Salvation Army Belkin House (555 Homer St; #604-681-3405 - 11:30 pm)

St. Mark’s Extreme Weather Shelter (1805 Larch St; #778-990-1401 - 9:30 pm

                                                        Intake closes at 11:00 pm)


Monday, December 22nd

10th Avenue Alliance Church  (10th & Ontario – 10:00 pm)

Covenant House *** 16-22 yrs. *** (575 Drake St; #604-685-7474 – Intake: 9:00-11:00 pm)

First Baptist Church (969 Burrard St – 10:00 pm)

Powell Place *** Women Only*** (329a Powell St; #604-606-0403 - 11:30 pm)

Salvation Army Belkin House (555 Homer St; #604-681-3405 - 11:30 pm)

Salvation Army Harbour Light (119 East Cordova St; #604-646-6800 – 11:30 pm)

St. Mark’s Extreme Weather Shelter (1805 Larch St; #778-990-1401 - 9:30 pm

                                                        Intake closes at 11:00 pm)



Thank you all, yet again, for your tremendous cooperation and all your hard work. Please read the message from BC Housing’s Michael Anhorn, which will be forwarded by separate e-mail.


Grant Gayman

Vancouver EWR Coordinator

604-250-3138
 
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