Monday, November 29, 2004
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The Wave: 4 Volume Set
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Picture of the Day



IDF Soldiers Humiliating a Palestinian at an Israeli Checkpoint

 

Israel shocked by image of soldiers forcing violinist to play at roadblock
Chris McGreal in Jerusalem
The Guardian
Monday November 29, 2004

Of all the revelations that have rocked the Israeli army over the past week, perhaps none disturbed the public so much as the video footage of soldiers forcing a Palestinian man to play his violin.

The incident was not as shocking as the recording of an Israeli officer pumping the body of a 13-year-old girl full of bullets and then saying he would have shot her even if she had been three years old.

Nor was it as nauseating as the pictures in an Israeli newspaper of ultra-orthodox soldiers mocking Palestinian corpses by impaling a man's head on a pole and sticking a cigarette in his mouth.

But the matter of the violin touched on something deeper about the way Israelis see themselves, and their conflict with the Palestinians.

The violinist, Wissam Tayem, was on his way to a music lesson near Nablus when he said an Israeli officer ordered him to "play something sad" while soldiers made fun of him. After several minutes, he was told he could pass.

It may be that the soldiers wanted Mr Tayem to prove he was indeed a musician walking to a lesson because, as a man under 30, he would not normally have been permitted through the checkpoint.

Comment: Horse hockey!

But after the incident was videotaped by Jewish women peace activists, it prompted revulsion among Israelis not normally perturbed about the treatment of Arabs.

The rightwing Army Radio commentator Uri Orbach found the incident disturbingly reminiscent of Jewish musicians forced to provide background music to mass murder. "What about Majdanek?" he asked, referring to the Nazi extermination camp.

The critics were not drawing a parallel between an Israeli roadblock and a Nazi camp. Their concern was that Jewish suffering had been diminished by the humiliation of Mr Tayem.

Comment: No, of course critics weren't drawing a parallel between an Israeli roadblock and a Nazi camp. They would never do that - it would be much too uncomfortable to admit the fact that the Zionists in the Israeli government are encouraging the IDF and the settlers to treat the Palestinians in exactly the same way as the Nazi's treated the Jews.

No, the critics' concern was that Jewish suffering had been diminished by the humiliation of Tayem. And, of course, we can't have Jewish suffering being diminished because that old phrase "anti-Semitism" is both the greatest shield and the most powerful offensive weapon in the Zionists' battle to destroy the Palestinians, eliminate the "Arab terrorists", and achieve your basic world domination.

Yoram Kaniuk, author of a book about a Jewish violinist forced to play for a concentration camp commander, wrote in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper that the soldiers responsible should be put on trial "not for abusing Arabs but for disgracing the Holocaust".

"Of all the terrible things done at the roadblocks, this story is one which negates the very possibility of the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. If [the military] does not put these soldiers on trial we will have no moral right to speak of ourselves as a state that rose from the Holocaust," he wrote.

"If we allow Jewish soldiers to put an Arab violinist at a roadblock and laugh at him, we have succeeded in arriving at the lowest moral point possible. Our entire existence in this Arab region was justified, and is still justified, by our suffering; by Jewish violinists in the camps."

Others took a broader view by drawing a link between the routine dehumanising treatment of Palestinians at checkpoints, the desecration of dead bodies and what looks very much like the murder of a terrified 13-year-old Palestinian girl by an army officer in Gaza.

Israelis put great store in a belief that their army is "the most moral in the world" because it says it adheres to a code of "the purity of arms". There is rarely much public questioning of the army's routine explanation that Palestinian civilians who have been killed had been "caught in crossfire", or that children are shot because they are used as cover by fighters.

But the public's confidence has been shaken by the revelations of the past week. The audio recording of the shooting of the 13-year-old, Iman al-Hams, prompted much soul searching, although the revulsion appears to be as much at the Israeli officer firing a stream of bullets into her lifeless body as the killing itself. Some soldiers told Israeli papers that their mothers had sought assurances that they did not do that kind of thing.

One Israeli peace group, the Arik Institute, took out large newspaper adverts to plead for "Jewish patriots" to "open your eyes and look around" at the suffering of Palestinians.

Comment: As in America with the Abu Ghraib scandal, we suspect that these events will soon be forgotten. Like most Americans after Abu Ghraib, Israelis will decide that it was just a few bad apples. After the "few guilty soldiers" are dealt with, all will be well with the average Israeli's cozy little reality bubble still firmly intact.

The incidents prompted the army to call in all commanders from the rank of lieutenant-colonel to emphasise the importance of maintaining the "purity of arms" code.

The army's critics say the real problem is not the behaviour of soldiers on the ground but the climate of impunity that emanates from the top.

While the officer responsible for killing Iman al-Hams has been charged with relatively minor offences, and the soldiers who forced the violinist to play were ticked off for being "insensitive", the only troops who were swiftly punished for violating regulations last week were some who posed naked in the snow for a photograph. They were dismissed from their unit.

Comment: So it's okay to fill a 13-year-old girl with bullets, and it's okay to humiliate Palestinians at checkpoints in exactly the same way that the Nazis humiliated the Jews, but for crying out loud, don't pose naked in the snow because that's grounds for immediate dismissal...

EXCUSE US??!!

Last week the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem criticised what it described as a "culture of impunity" within the army. The group says at least 1,656 Palestinian non-combatants have been killed during the intifada, including 529 children.

"To date, one soldier has been convicted of causing the death of a Palestinian," it said.

"The combination of rules of engagement that encourage a trigger-happy attitude among soldiers together with the climate of impunity results in a clear and very troubling message about the value the Israeli military places on Palestinian life."

Comment: ONE SOLDIER has been convicted of causing the death of a Palestinian... And yet the whole world knows that thousands of Palestinians have died, including numerous civilians and children. So, what does the world do about it?

Nothing.

The sad truth is that the "Zionists" currently directing Israeli and US domestic and foreign policies are merely the ideological (and probably biological) ancestors of the people who aided and abetted the Nazis in their extermination of Jews and non-Jews alike during WWII. Their goal then was to manufacture the necessary conditions for the creation of the state of Israel. Their goal today seems to be to have a repeat performance, in the very near future.

But fear not, the IDF commanders have emphasised the "purity of arms code", which will serve to placate international opinion and make us all feel a lot better, even though no real change in the IDF's "shoot to kill all Palestinians" policy. The real problem of course is that many of the young IDF soldiers are essentially brainwashed by their Rabbis and politicians before entering the armed forces. They are told, in no uncertain terms, that all non-Jews are little more than animals, and all Arabs, Palestinians in particular, are not even that. The real blame for the murder of Palestinian children lies at the door of people like Sharon and Bush and those that secretly pull their strings from behind the scenes. Until something changes at that level, and we doubt that it ever will, there will be no let up, and most likely an increase, in the brutal and racist oppression of the Palestinians, and many Middle Eastern Arabs in general.

Hot on the heels of the above story, we find evidence in the following story that any talk of reining in the IDF is nothing more than lies and propaganda.

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Israelis shoot Gaza child

Sunday 28 November 2004
By Khalid Amayreh in the West Bank

Israeli forces have shot and seriously wounded a four-year-old Palestinian child in Rafah, in southern Gaza, eyewitnesses and medical sources said.

Palestinian medical sources listed Shayma Hasan Abu Shammala in critical condition after she was hit by several bullets fired by an Israeli soldier manning a military tower near the Egyptian-Gaza borders on Sunday.

Muawiya Hasanain, head of the emergency department at the Palestinian health ministry, said the child was transferred to the European Hospital in Gaza due to the gravity of her condition.

Eyewitnesses said the child was playing in the backyard of her home when the soldier opened fire on her.

Boy killed

Also on Sunday, a Palestinian boy died of wounds he sustained when an Israeli explosive device exploded near his home in Rafah at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources reported.

The boy, identified as 16-year-old Mahmud Said Qishta, was said to be playing outside his home in Rafah earlier this week when he inadvertently stepped on an explosive device left behind by the Israeli army.

Qishta was seriously wounded and transferred to the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis, where he succumbed to his wounds on Sunday morning.

Palestinians and human-rights groups often complain that Israeli forces operating in and around Palestinian population centres deliberately plant explosive devices in places where Palestinian children usually play.

Danger zone

Sunday's incidents took place against a backdrop of sharply critical coverage in the Israeli media of the conduct of Israeli occupation troops.

Many Israeli soldiers have begun to admit publicly that they are often given explicit orders to shoot Palestinian civilians, including children, when seen entering or approaching a certain "danger zone".

Last week, the Israeli human-rights organisation, B'Tselem accused the Israeli occupation army of killing Palestinian civilians and then covering up the killings or concocting mitigating circumstances to justify criminal behaviour towards innocent noncombatants.

B'Tselem challenged Israeli Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon to tell the truth regarding the so-called zones of destruction within the confines of which soldiers are allowed to shoot and kill any Palestinian, including toddlers and children.

'Despicable'

The charges were made in an advertisement after an Israeli TV station broadcast a conversation between an Israeli officer and other troops in which the officer said, "Anything that is mobile, any thing that moves in the zone, even if it is a three-year-old, needs to be killed."

It is believed that as many as 1400 Palestinian civilians, including some 570 children and minors, have been killed by Israeli soldiers during the past year.

This week Israeli columnist Amos Harel, writing in the daily Haaretz, described the army's practice of shooting Palestinian children and then covering up the killing as "despicable and criminal".

Another commentator, Doron Rosenblum, writing in the same paper, said the Israeli military establishment was more interested in confronting the negative publicity stemming from the killings of Palestinian civilians than in taking responsibility for the crimes themselves.

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Bulldozers bite into Israel's promise over settlements
AFP
November 29, 2004

NIRIT, Israel - From dawn until sundown the bulldozers grind unrelentingly into the West Bank hill opposite Amira Bahat's Israeli home.

The work is laying the ground for Nof Hasharon, a 52-home settlement that Bahat and 70 percent of the small Nirit community fear will shatter their peaceful idyll on the Israeli side of the internationally-recognised border with the West Bank.

"They're working like crazy. They're six months ahead of their own schedule," says philosophy lecturer, Tamar Aylat-Yaduri, who is campaigning against the project.

She and fellow activists say the work proves Israel has reneged on its promise to the United States to halt all settlement activity -- a precondition of the only peace plan on the table, the roadmap.

Thanks to Israel's separation barrier that snakes twice across the hill opposite Bahat's home, the new settlement will be annexed to her community.

Nof Hasharon newcomers will plug into the same water, sewage and electricity networks. Their children will go to the same nursery schools.

But the sting is that they will pay their property tax in Alfei Menashe, a sprawling Jewish settlement some three kilometres (two miles) deeper into the West Bank, at the moment, on the other side of the barrier.

A letter written by Major Oded Langerman, an Israeli officer in the West Bank, summing up a meeting with the Alfei Menashe security man and quoted in the Haaretz newspaper sums up their worst fears.

"After most of the neighbourhood is populated, the two neighbourhoods (Nof Hasharon and Nirit) will be linked into a single security zone by taking down the fence that runs along the edge between the two neighborhoods," it said.

"If I was right-wing, I'd have been thrilled. Our prime minister (Ariel Sharon) is laughing at the world. He promises one thing and does another. I don't want to be part of this game, but I can't avoid it. It's come to my home," said Aylat-Yaguri.

Coloured banners strung up around the 230-family community proclaim: "We won't be engaged" with Nof Hasharon, alluding to Sharon's "disengagement plan" in which he plans to dismantle all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the West Bank by end-2005.

Earlier this month, Nirit petitioned the Israeli supreme court, demanding that the government stop work. The judge granted the government 21 days to prepare for the beginning of the hearing.

Work only started after the barrier went up -- which Israel insists is meant to protect against suicide bombers, but which Palestinians say is little more than a land-grab.

Bahat, a mother of five and special education teacher, feared that the route of the barrier could easily be moved in order to annex land.

"The fence is a dynamic thing, moveable to protect civilians and works as an annexation fence."

Nirit has always been peaceful -- both before and after the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.

Now residents fear that mushrooming settlement activity will inflame passions in a nearby Palestinian village on the brow of the hill.

"Will they stay quiet? I don't think so. This whole region will be in flames and we're certainly endangering the peaceful status quo," said Tom Wegner.

Comment: This article would actually be hilarious if it didn't involve a deadly game of imperialism and genocide. Apparently, we are all supposed to be shocked - just shocked - that Ariel Sharon is a psychopath and a liar!

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Embattled Sharon faces three no confidence motions in Israeli parliament
AFP
November 29, 2004

JERUSALEM - The Israeli government was facing three no-confidence motions in parliament as the opposition ratcheted up the pressure on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's minority administration.

The motions will centre on the government's social policies after the publication of a damning report last week that showed more than one in five of the population is now living below the poverty line.

The government has been without a majority since early June after traditional right-wing allies either quit or were sacked over their opposition to Sharon's plan to pull troops and settlers out of the Gaza Strip next year.

The main opposition Labour party has been providing a safety net on issues related to Sharon's so-called disengagement plan but it is throwing its weight behind Monday's no-confidence motions.

Pundits expect the government to scrape through Monday's votes with the six-strong left-wing Yahad faction likely to abstain. But the motions will underline the precarious nature of Sharon's government.

He has been struggling for the last month to muster enough votes for his 2005 budget but the secular Shinui party has warned that it will quit the coalition if Sharon diverts funds towards the favoured projects of religious parties in a bid to bring them on side.

Comment: It appears that Sharon is using the magician's best friend: misdirection. As with the US "election", the appearance of debate and the possibility that Sharon will be thrown from office are used to distract the masses. Meanwhile, Sharon himself continues on with his genocidal plans against the Palestinians as we saw from the previous article. Then Sharon will "win" the confidence vote, and will come out looking even better than ever - with more "political capital to spend" as Bush so eloquently put it.

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Jerusalem Summit Calling for a New Body to Undertake UN's Responsibility
16:33 Nov 28, '04 / 15 Kislev 5765
(IsraelNN.com)

Two speakers addressing the second Jerusalem Summit, this morning, called for the establishment of a new international body, representing democratic states, to undertake the charter of the United Nations which, they explain, has been sorely ignored.

Opening the assembly this morning in Jerusalem's King David Hotel was Isi Liebler, Senior Vice President of the World Jewish Congress. Mr. Liebler stated that since its inception, the United Nations has become a "burden to global tranquility" and in its present form, it would be best for the UN "to disappear". Liebler added that the international body "displays incompetence on the level of its predecessor, the League of Nations."

Former Mossad Intelligence Agency director Shabtai Shavit also addressed the forum. Shavit is considered to be an expert in the field of counter-terrorism. He told the forum he sees terrorism as being divided into two categories, "classical" and "current," citing some of the distinctive characteristics of both.

The "classical" age of terrorism ended, Shavit explained, in the 1970s, and the "current" age of terrorism began, pointing out that in the past, terrorists were operating more locally; today we have seen a transition to a global terrorist operating platform -- motivated by a "cause" in the past but today, primarily actuated by "religious fanaticism," specifically "Islamic fundamentalism."

Shavit, a 32-year veteran of Israel's intelligence community, is confident the need exists for the establishment of an international body to fulfill the mandate of the United Nations.

The next speaker was Prof. Anne Bayefsky of the Hudson Institute, an internationally acclaimed expert on human rights law. She labeled the UN as the "leading global purveyor of anti-Semitism". The professor pointed to the recent American national elections, during which both candidates during pre-election debates concurred the United Nations is no longer an option. Prof. Bayefsky added the shameful Durban Conference was yet another example of the UN's blatant anti-Semitic agenda.

Prof. Bayefsky pointed out that 30% of all UN Human Rights Commission resolutions target "human rights" violations committed by Israel, while in 75% of the organization's resolutions, there is no mention of some of the world's most blatant human rights violators, including Syria, Saudi Arabia and China.

The summit, which opened on Saturday night, addressed by former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, will continue through Tuesday evening.

Comment: Indeed, the former Mossad director tells the truth when he says terrorism is now a global phenomenon, but rather than taking the credit for himself and his agency, he instead blames it on Islamic fundamentalism.

"By way of deception, thou shalt do war" is the motto of the Mossad. Using black ops and false-flag operations to spread terror around the world is their forte. Why wouldn't they want to take credit for being so successful at what they do?

Their techniques of intimidation and torture, painstakingly developed over years of practice on the Palestinian people, is a hallmark for aspiring dictators and demagogues everywhere. You'd think they'd want a little recognition for their work.

Outside the traditional "blame the Arabs for all the world's ills" routine, there seems to be one fundamental reason why the Mossad would want to point the finger away from themselves and towards others for what they themselves do so well.

Because their phenomenal success is primarily dependant on SECRECY.

It only works if the real perpetrators remain anonymous.

If the world were to know the truth about who's agenda is really being served by exporting terror globally, including 9/11, the Madrid bombings, and various beheadings in Iraq, people would be up in arms against the controlling elite.

Soon the truth will come out and the PTB will make sure all that righteous anger is directed towards a suitable "scapegoat", just like they did in WWII. Betrayed by their Zionist government, the ordinary Jewish person will then join their semitic brethren as victims of the new 'final solution'.

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Fallujah, the 21st Century Guernica
By SAUL LANDAU

On November 12, as US jets bombed Fallujah for the ninth straight day, a Redwood City California jury found Scott Peterson guilty of murdering his wife and unborn child. That macabre theme captured the headlines and dominated conversation throughout workplaces and homes.

Indeed, Peterson "news" all but drowned out the US military's claim that successful bombing and shelling of a city of 300 thousand residents had struck only sites where "insurgents," had holed up. On November 15, the BBC embedded newsman with a marine detachment claimed that the unofficial death toll estimate had risen to well over 2000, many of them civilians.

As Iraqi eye witnesses told BBC reporters he had seen bombs hitting residential targets, Americans exchanged viewpoints and kinky jokes about Peterson. One photographer captured a Fallujah man holding his dead son, one of two kids he lost to US bombers. He could not get medical help to stop the bleeding.

A November 14 Reuters reporter wrote that residents told him that "US bombardments hit a clinic inside the Sunni Muslim city, killing doctors, nurses and patients." The US military denied the reports. Such stories did not make headlines. Civilian casualties in aggressive US wars don't sell media space.

But editors love shots of anguished GI Joes. The November 12 Los Angeles Times ran a front page shot of a soldier with mud smeared face and cigarette dangling from his lips. This image captured the "suffering" of Fallujah. The GI complained he was out of "smokes."

The young man doing his "duty to free Fallujah," stands in stark contrast to the nightmare of Fallujah. "Smoke is everywhere," an Iraqi told the BBC (Nov 11). "The house some doors from mine was hit during the bombardment on Wednesday night. A 13-year-old boy was killed. His name was Ghazi. A row of palm trees used to run along the street outside my house--now only the trunks are left There are more and more dead bodies on the streets and the stench is unbearable."

An eye witness told Reuters (November 12) that "a 9-year-old boy was hit in the stomach by a piece of shrapnel. His parents said they couldn't get him to hospital because of the fighting, so they wrapped sheets around his stomach to try to stem the bleeding. He died hours later of blood loss and was buried in the garden."

US media's embedded reporters - presstitutes?-- accepted uncritically the Pentagon's spin that many thousands of Iraqi "insurgents," including the demonized outsiders led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who had joined the anti-US jihad, had dug in to defend their vital base. After the armored and air assault began and the ground troops advanced, reports filtered out that the marines and the new Iraqi army that trailed behind them had faced only light resistance. Uprisings broke out in Mosul and other cities. For the combatants, however, Falluja was Hell.

Hell for what? Retired Marine Corps general Bernard Trainor declared that: militarily "Fallujah is not going to be much of a plus at all." He admitted that "we've knocked the hell out of this city, and the only insurgents we really got were the nut-cases and zealots, the smart ones left behind- the guys who really want to die for Allah." While Pentagon spin doctors boasted of a US "victory, Trainor pointed out that the "terrorists remain at large."

The media accepts axiomatically that US troops wear the "white hats" in this conflict. They do not address the obvious: Washington illegally invaded and occupied Iraq and "re-conquered" Fallujah -- for no serious military purpose. Logically, the media should call Iraqi "militants" patriots who resisted illegal occupation. Instead, the press implied that the "insurgents" even fought dirty, using improvised explosive devices and booby traps to kill our innocent soldiers, who use clean weapons like F16s, helicopter gun ships, tanks and artillery.

Why, Washington even promised to rebuild the city that its military just destroyed. Bush committed the taxpayers to debts worth hundreds of millions of dollars, which Bechtel, Halliburton and the other corporate beneficiaries of war will use for "rebuilding."

Banality and corruption arise from the epic evil of this war, one that has involved massive civilian death and the destruction of ancient cities.

In 1935, Nazi General Erich Luderndorff argued in his "The Total War" that modern war encompasses all of society; thus, the military should spare no one. The Fascist Italian General Giulio Douhet echoed this theme. By targeting civilians, he said, an army could advance more rapidly. "Air-delivered terror" effectively removes civilian obstacles.

That doctrine became practice in late April 1937. Nazi pilots dropped their deadly bombs on Guernica, the ancient Basque capital - like what US pilots recently did to Falluja. A year earlier, in 1936, the Spanish Civil War erupted. General Francisco Franco, supported by fascist governments in Italy and Germany, led an armed uprising against the Republic. The residents of Guernica resisted. Franco asked his Nazi partners to punish these stubborn people who had withstood his army's assault.

The people of Guernica had no anti-aircraft guns, much less fighter planes to defend their city. The Nazi pilots knew that at 4:30 in the afternoon of market day, the city's center would be jammed with shoppers from all around the areas.

Before flying on their "heroic mission," the German pilots had drunk a toast with their Spanish counterparts in a language that both could understand: "Viva la muerte," they shouted as their raised their copas de vino. The bombing of Guernica introduced a concept in which the military would make no distinction between civilians and combatants. Death to all!

Almost 1700 people died that day and some 900 lay wounded. Franco denied that the raid ever took place and blamed the destruction of Guernica on those who defended it, much as the US military intimates that the "insurgents' forced the savage attack by daring to defend their city and then hide inside their mosques. Did the public in 1937 face the equivalent of the Peterson case that commanded their attention?

Where is the new Picasso who will offer a dramatic painting to help the 21st Century public understand that what the US Air Force just did to the people of Fallujah resembles what the Nazis did to Guernica?

In Germany and Italy in 1937, the media focused on the vicissitudes suffered by those pilots who were sacrificing for the ideals of their country by combating a "threat." The US media prattles about the difficulties encountered by the US marines. It never calls them bullies who occupy another people's country, subduing patriots with superior technology to kill civilians and destroy their homes and mosques. On November 15, an embedded NBC cameraman filmed a US soldier murdering a wounded Iraqi prisoner in cold blood. As CNN showed the tape, its reporter offered "extenuating circumstances" for the assassination we had witnessed. The wounded man might have booby-trapped himself as other "insurgents" had done. After all, these marines had gone through hell in the last week.

The reporting smacks of older imperial wars, Andrew Greely reminded us in the November 12, Chicago Sun Times. "The United States has fought unjust wars before -- Mexican American, the Indian Wars, Spanish American, the Filipino Insurrection, Vietnam. Our hands are not clean. They are covered with blood, and there'll be more blood this time." Falluja should serve as the symbol of this war of atrocity against the Iraqi people, our Guernica. But, as comedian Chris Rock insightfully points out, George W. Bush has distracted us. That's why he killed Laci Peterson, why he snuck that young boy into Michael Jackson's bedroom and the young woman into Kobe Bryant's hotel room. He wants us not to think of the war in Iraq. We need a new Picasso mural, "Falluja," to help citizens focus on the themes of our time, not the travails of the Peterson case. The Bush Administration sensed the danger of such a painting. Shortly before Colin Powell's February 5, 2003 UN Security Council fraudulent, power point presentation, where he made the case for invading Iraq, UN officials, at US request, placed a curtain over a tapestry of Picasso's Guernica, located at the entrance to the Security Council chambers. As a TV backdrop, the anti-war mural would contradict the Secretary of State's case for war in Iraq. Did the dead painter somehow know that his mural would foreshadow another Guernica, called Fallujah?

Saul Landau is the Director of Digital Media and International Outreach Programs for the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences. His new book is The Business of America.

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This time last year…
Posted by Dahr_Jamail at November 28, 2004 06:11 AM

I'm in need of a haircut, so I ask Abu Talat if he thinks it would be safe to get one here, risking the time on the street required to do so.

Smiling, he says, "Yes Dahr, it may be possible, but we must make sure we have confidence in the barber so you get a haircut, and not a head cut!"

His jokes provide him with great amusement…but I've begun enjoying them myself, in a sick sort of way.

He has two cars-and we use the older one for our work. It is horribly beat up and dirty, but makes for good cover. This is the car that someone offered him $3,000 for not long ago because they said it would make a good bomb.

So now this is referred to as "the bomb car." Abu Talat tells me, "Come on, we'll take the bomb car and go to this interview I've fixed."

This time last year I arrived in Iraq for the first time. I never thought I would look back on that time as one of relative calm compared to Iraq one year later. Where a car bomb a day is the norm, heavy fighting occurring in at least five cities a day, the threat of kidnapping very real and the infrastructure worse now than a year ago.

Journalists could share cars to work on stories, take taxis, stay in unguarded hotels, not worry about being kidnapped and car bombs were rare. Traveling to Ramadi or Fallujah or the south was dangerous, but doable. Now even braving the outskirts of Baghdad finds the odds against me.

Today, while driving down the infamous Haifa street where so much fighting occurs, a deep "thump" shakes our car. Yet another car bomb in the distance. We are snarled in traffic as sirens blare throughout Baghdad. Two pickups full of Iraqi National Guard, half of them wearing black facemasks for fear of reprisal attempt to navigate through the jam.

They shoot their guns impotently in the air, as if cars which are bumper to bumper can clear them a path. They take to the side walk, shoot their guns some more in frustration, and lurch forward.

Ambulances wail, Iraqi Police speed by on the wrong side of the road, everyone honks at noone. This is Baghdad today.

At the Ministry of Health (MOH) on the 11th floor, Dr. Medhi is running the operations room. He sits in front of a whiteboard which lists the major hospitals and governorates of Iraq. Through the interview his phone rings constantly and he excuses himself to stand and change casualty counts coming in from different hospitals. The count in Al-Anbar province (including Fallujah) goes from 3 up to 4 dead, with 6 injured. Another call finds the Diyala governorate going from 3 to 4 dead, and 4 changed 6 injured.

We finish the interview as he takes another call, comments that this is a typical day and stands to go back to amend the board of his dead and wounded countrymen.

Back on the street sirens continue to wail as we creep through the traffic. At one refugee camp for Fallujans we learn it is closed-because a man named Kais Al-Nazzal who owns an apartment building in Baghdad has taken responsibility of the 100 refugee families at the Amiriyah camp and housed, fed and clothed them. An act of beauty amidst the tragedy of occupied Iraq.

Most of the aid going to the refugees is coming from Iraqis, rather than NGO's or certainly not the MOH. Back at the MOH Shehab Ahmed Jassim, who is in charge of managing the refugee crisis, said they had provided everything the refugees needed. That they'd sent 20 ambulances to the general hospital in Fallujah.

What he neglected to say was that most Fallujans have been unable to reach the main hospital due to ongoing fighting and most being too afraid of detainment by soldiers or Iraqi National Guardsmen to seek medical help. The ambulances returned to Baghdad.

"During the Najaf fighting, things were not like this," said a doctor I interviewed later, "There were delegations, moveable operating theaters, and plenty of help for them there which was allowed, but for Fallujah, they have done next to nothing. Why?"

Every doctor I've interviewed concerning the situation in Fallujah has shared similar sentiments. Theories abound as to why.

We navigate more traffic and arrive at another refugee camp. The Sheikh in charge of the camp, Abu Ahmed, tells us that at noon today several Humvees of soldiers and six trucks of Iraqi National Guard raided their camp.

They asked Abu Ahmed if there were any wounded fighters, and he told them no. They promptly entered the nearby mosque with guns and boots, then went tent to tent…finding nothing.

"Is a 70 year-old woman Osama bin Laden," the sheikh asked, "Are the kids their terrorists? They have terrorized our camp, broken our traditions, and scared all of the families for what? We are refugees without homes."

He added, "Now a 6 year-old will grow up hating the Americans. Now a 70 year-old woman is saying, ‘God-damn the Americans!"

Other refugees, like Aziz Abdulla, 27 years old, tell more stories of what they saw in Fallujah. "I saw so many civilians killed there, and I saw several tanks roll over the wounded in the streets."

Abu Mohammed, 40 years old, told us he saw the military use cluster bombs. A 12 year-old boy told me, "The Americans smashed our city, killed thousands of people, destroyed our mosques and hospitals. Now they come to our camp. Why?"

"The tanks rolled over wounded people in the streets," said 45 year-old Abu Aziz near his tent, "They shot so many wounded people who went to mosques for shelter. Even the graves were bombed."

This time last year there were no refugee camps. This time last year I ate kebobs at the famous restaurant in Fallujah several times. It was bombed before the siege of the city even began.

Later this evening I interviewed another doctor, while mortars exploded nearby in a US base. "I had so much hope when the Americans came here," he said while drinking tea, "But now I am shocked by the reality. I know the Americans came here for their own interests, for oil and their so-called national security."

He paused, listened as another mortar exploded in the distance and said, "Many of us accepted why they came to Iraq, but there has been no improvement for us with their occupation, even when we tried to work with them. In fact, all has gotten worse. This is why so many people are now fighting them now."

This time last year, the thought of 100,000 dead Iraqis and over 1,200 dead US soldiers seemed difficult to imagine.

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Britons missing as bombs rock Saudi capital
November 09, 2003
John R Bradley, Riyadh

TWENTY-FOUR people, including two Britons, were feared dead and up to 100 injured, many of them children, after three explosions rocked a compound housing foreigners in the Saudi capital Riyadh last night.

The blasts, thought to be the work of Al-Qaeda, came a day after the United States warned of an imminent terrorist attack and closed its embassy in the city.

Witnesses reported one big explosion at about midnight local time followed by two smaller ones 15 seconds apart in the western part of the city. Smoke could be seen rising from the area of the blasts. The streets were crowded with late night crowds because of Ramadan, the holy month when Muslims fast during the day.

A US embassy spokesperson said the attack, which the Saudi authorities said was perpetrated by terrorists, targeted the B2 compound in the Nakheel neighbourhood near the al-Muhaya shopping centre. It is a residential area which houses mainly Saudis, Muslim expatriates working at the nearby royal palaces and a few foreigners. It was a soft target, not as heavily protected as the compounds housing westerners. A British couple and a British woman were believed to have been staying in the compound. Only the husband has been accounted for, a Foreign Office spokesman said early today.

Police cars and ambulances raced toward the blasts. Residents and diplomats said some 10 houses were ablaze and at least 24 people feared dead.

"I saw a lot of people injured and I believe there are a lot of people dead," Bassem al-Hourani, who said he was a resident at the targeted compound, told the Al-Arabiya television network.

The Al-Jazeera satellite television station reported there was a shootout in the compound when it was struck by suicide bombers.

"The compound is purely residential," Hourani said. "It has no American residents. It mainly houses Lebanese, Jordanians, Egyptians and Palestinians. No Americans at all here." The foreigners said to be living there included one French, one Italian and two German families.

The official Saudi Press Agency quoted an Interior Ministry statement saying that it was a terrorist attack, and a Saudi television correspondent said witnesses told him two cars had been driven into the compound and exploded inside. "I can see one of the cars, which is completely destroyed, and I can see human remains," said the reporter, who was allowed to enter the compound. "We don't know how many terrorists were in the cars."

A Jordanian resident of the compound who identified himself only as Alaa, said he heard heavy gunfire before the explosion. "I heard shots, many shots, and then one big explosion. "Many villas were damaged, four or five even collapsed. My house was far away but my windows were shattered," he said. "There is a sense of hysteria here and I am shaking as I speak."

Raid Qusti, a local journalist, said the explosions occurred in an area of royal palaces and VIP mansions and villas about six miles from the city centre.

"It's strange how an explosion could occur in that area, bearing in mind the strict security," he said. Security had been so tight that even VIP cars were being regularly checked for explosives. A Saudi government official confirmed that the attackers had exchanged gunfire with the guards. Most of the casualties were children, he said, because their parents were out shopping.

The attacks came as American diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia were closed yesterday after a terror alert. Saudi Arabia has witnessed a surge in Islamist violence linked to Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network. Five militants have died in clashes with security forces since Monday, when the authorities said they had foiled a planned attack on Muslim pilgrims in Mecca. [...]

The Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki Al-Faisal, condemned last night's attack as "a terrible event carried out by evil people".

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Iran 'working on secret tunnel'
From correspondents in Berlin
November 29, 2004

IRAN has been building a secret tunnel since October to continue uranium enrichment, despite a deal two weeks ago to freeze the program, Germany's Der Spiegel reported in an issue to be published tomorrow.

The weekly, citing a secret service file, said that Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had personally ordered the facility built last month near the uranium enrichment site in Isfahan that is under UN observation.

The tunnel, which Der Spiegel said is out of the view of spy satellites, is intended to house a production site for large amounts of uranium UF6 gas which can be enriched in gas centrifuges - a key step in the building of a nuclear bomb.

The clandestine project is being led by a task force that answers directly to Khamenei, the report said.

The Islamic republic had agreed with Britain, France and Germany earlier this month to suspend its uranium enrichment program, in what was supposed to have been a show of good faith aimed at easing suspicions it is seeking nuclear weapons.

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Indian policeman kills 7 colleagues in Kashmir
Monday, November 29, 2004 11:32 AM
Reuters/abs-cbnNEWS.com

SRINAGAR, India - A policeman ran amok at a security camp in Indian-controlled Kashmir after an argument and shot dead seven colleagues before he was gunned down, police said on Sunday.

It was the latest in a string of such incidents in the divided region, where India has stationed hundreds of thousands of troops to try to suppress a rebellion that broke out in 1989.

Doctors treating security forces say psychological problems induced by high stress among troops are mostly responsible for such shootings.

The incident took place overnight in a Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF) camp in Baramulla district, north of Srinagar, the main city of Jammu and Kashmir state.

"A CRPF personnel opened fire on his colleagues after an altercation," a police officer told Reuters. Three were wounded.

Militant attacks continue on security forces despite a peace process aimed at resolving the conflicting claims of India and Pakistan for the stunningly beautiful mountains and valleys that make up India's only Muslim-majority state.

Separatist violence has killed about 45,000 people so far in Kashmir.

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25 Dead, 141 Trapped in China Mine Blast
Posted: Sunday, Nov 28, 2004 - 06:05:12 pm PST
By AUDRA ANG

BEIJING - More than 140 miners remained trapped in the tunnels and shafts of a coal mine in central China following an explosion Sunday that killed 25 of their colleagues, the government said.

Some 127 workers managed to escape the state-owned mine, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing the State Bureau of Production Safety. Some 45 were hospitalized, five with serious injuries, Xinhua said.

The blast rocked Chenjiashan coal mine in Shaanxi province at 7:20 a.m. on Sunday, when 293 workers were underground, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The explosion was centered around coal pits five miles from the mine entrance, it said.

Most of the miners who escaped were working close to the entrance, Xinhua said, and many suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning. High levels of carbon monoxide was preventing rescuers from reaching parts of the tunnels. [...]

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4 men found dead in Tokyo apartment
November 28, 2004

TOKYO (AP) - Four men were found dead Sunday in a sealed Tokyo apartment littered with charcoal stoves, a scene police said appeared to be Japan's latest suicide pact.

It appeared the four died of carbon monoxide poisoning, police said.

Suicides in Japan hit a record high last year, exceeding 32,000.

Last week in two separate incidents, six people were discovered dead in deserted cars - also strewn with charcoal stoves. In October, seven people killed themselves in what police said was Japan's largest-ever mass suicide.

Japan has recently suffered a rash of suicides pacts, with many involving people who met over the Internet. According to the National Police Agency, 45 people committed suicide in groups after meeting online between January 2003 and June 2004.

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Fears over recovery as Wal-Mart sales stall
By James Politi in New York and Chris Giles in London
Financial Times
November 28 2004 19:25

Worries about the sustainability of the US economic recovery were stoked on Sunday after Wal-Mart, the discount retailer that is a bellwether for the country's retail sector, announced that sales grew by only 0.7 per cent in the year to November.

The world's largest retailer had estimated growth of 2 to 4 per cent just 10 days ago. But Wal-Mart revised its estimates down on Saturday evening after disappointing sales on "Black Friday", the day after Thanksgiving so called because it is traditionally the time retailers move into profit for the year. It is an indicator of spending for the holiday season, when a quarter of annual retail sales are rung up.

Wal-Mart said sales had fallen "below plan" in the last week of November and sales growth was down on the 2.8 per cent annual rate it had reported for October. [...]

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America's NBC Sports chief Ebersol survives plane crash
www.chinaview.cn 2004-11-29 08:36:32

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 (Xinhuanet) -- NBC Sports Chairman and President Dick Ebersol was seriously injured in a charter plane crash that killed at least two people Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

Besides Ebersol, rescuers have found two other survivors who were also in serious condition. They were searching for a sixth person whose name was on the list of passengers aboard the plane.

The report said the plane burst into flames when it crashed into a fence at the Montrose Regional airport, 298 km southwest ofDenver. The survivors had been transported to hospital. Enditem

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Flights in Kamchatka still suspended over cyclone
November 28 (Itar-Tass)
28.11.2004, 05.16

PETROPAVLOVSK-KAMCHATSKY, - A powerful cyclone, which hit Russia's Kamchatka on Saturday night, has grounded passenger planes bound from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky for the mainland, sources from Kamchatka's main airport told Itar-Tass. Flights are expected to resume after 5 am, Moscow time, on Sunday.

The cyclone hit the southern part of the peninsula overnight to Sunday. The wind is blowing at a speed of 24 meters per second on south-eastern and south-western coasts of the peninsula.

The Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Yelizovo and Ust-Bolsheretsky districts are the most hit by the cyclone. Twenty percent of a monthly norm of snow has fallen there over the past few hours.

Meteorologists say the storm will hover over the region till Monday.

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55 whales, 25 dolphins die after becoming beached on Australian island
November 28, 2004

HOBART, Australia (AP) - A total of 80 whales and dolphins died after swimming on to a beach on a southern Australian island where rescue teams Monday were desperately trying to prevent others from becoming stranded, a government official said.

The dead animals - 55 pilot whales and 25 bottlenose dolphins - were discovered Sunday afternoon at Sea Elephant Bay on King Island between the Australian mainland and the southeast island state of Tasmania, said Warwick Brennan, a state government environment spokesman.

Late Sunday night, police herded 30 other dolphins and 12 whales out to sea.

Brennan said another group of about 20 whales had been spotted Monday close to shore. A whale rescue team would try to stop them joining the animals on the beach.

"The team will be using boats to try to shepherd them away from the beach out into deeper water," Brennan said.

Brennan said the success of the rescue would depend on the condition of the animals and the depth of the water.

Brennan described the beach Monday morning where the strandings occurred as a terrible sight.

"It is quite grim," he said. "You've got a large number of spectacular animals that are dead on the beach."

"There are some baby whales as well, so it's not a pleasant sight," he added.

The beaching comes a year after 110 pilot whales and 10 bottlenose dolphins died when they were stranded on Tasmania's remote west coast.

Scientists at the time said a predator, such as a killer whale, may have driven the animals to their deaths.

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Update: Poachers kill 'dolphins that saved swimmers'

ALEX MITA
The Scotsman
November 27, 2004

POACHERS in New Zealand may have killed two members of a pod of dolphins that recently saved the lives of swimmers from a great white shark attack, lifeguards said yesterday.

The mutilated carcasses of the two bottlenose dolphins were found on Wednesday in the Awaroa River, which branches off the upper reaches of Whangarei Harbour on North Island's east coast.

Staff from New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC) believe the dolphins died about two weeks ago after drowning in fishing nets set out by criminals poaching fish. DOC officer Richard Parrish said their tails had been hacked off, probably to free them from the net.

Three weeks ago, seven dolphins protected Ocean Beach lifeguard Rob Howes, 45, his 15-year-old daughter Nicky, 16-year-old lifeguard trainee Helen Slade, and Karina Cooper, 15, from the jaws of a great white shark at Ocean Beach, Whangarei Heads. [...]

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Soda bottles behind Ft. Wayne booms?

Associated Press
November 28, 2004

FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- Officials in Fort Wayne still are seeking the cause of house-rattling booms while officials in Richmond, Va., believe they have solved a similar mystery.

Authorities in Richmond last week arrested a teenager who they said had created explosive noise-makers using plastic soda bottles.

Bill Farrar, spokesman for the Richmond Department of Fire and Emergency Services, said he contacted Fort Wayne after learning that its residents had been complaining since August of booms that shook their homes.

"The symptoms certainly were very similar: homes shaking, loud booming noises," he told The Journal Gazette. "You could change the names of the cities and you could just swap news clips."

Not everyone in Richmond, however, is convinced that officials have found the cause.

"A two-liter bottle isn't going to cause enough force to move the ground," said Kevin Overstreet, 32, who said the booms shake his house.

"You'll hear the boom first, and then the ground will shake," he said. "It's not a mild shaking. The entire house will shake."

Authorities in Fort Wayne thought the booms earlier this year might have been caused by one of the industries on the city's northeast side. But police spokesman Officer Michael Joyner said authorities still were investigating other possibilities including noise-making devices.

"Without seeing it happen when it happens, we're still somewhat scratching our heads," he said.

Comment: So here we have conclusive proof that, when faced with an anomaly that they can't or won't explain, official US government policy is to concoct some ridiculous story which they then try to pass off on the public. It appears to be the case that, for many years now, there has been something very strange going on under the feet of the American people. But given that, also for many years, there have been very strange things going on right under the noses of the American people, we should not get our hopes up that mystery booms will motivate them to ask any pertinent questions.

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This one's a scream
By Wendy Ruderman
Philadelphia Inquirer
Sun, Nov. 28, 2004

The screams are said to be shrill, like those of a woman.

But the source of the nighttime shrieks heard from time to time in Wenonah Cemetery in Mantua, Gloucester County, is a mystery.

"It's a piercing sound," said Jacqueline Blythe, who lives across the street from the cemetery. "It's something big."

Some say the cemetery is haunted. Perhaps by Revolutionary War soldiers who supposedly fought on the surrounding land. Others believe a big cat - a bobcat or even a cougar - emerges from the wooded marsh behind the cemetery and caterwauls among moonlit tombstones. Maybe it's a bagpiper practicing in the cemetery. Or it just could be a fox in mating season.

Whatever its source, the screeching got so loud two weeks ago that a resident called Mantua police.

When officers arrived at the cemetery on Nov. 17 around 1 a.m., they, too, heard the noise.

"They thought they heard something that sounded like a female screaming," Lt. Dennis DeMuro said.

Officers searched among the tombstones with a dog and a thermal-imaging camera that detects body heat. At 2 a.m., a helicopter from the Camden County Sheriff's Office arrived to scan the cemetery, which abuts Mantua Creek, with a high-tech camera called a FLIR (forward-looking infrared radar).

It also employed a searchlight with enough juice to "light up a neighborhood like daylight," Sheriff Michael W. McLaughlin said.

"Whoever was screaming apparently left," McLaughlin said. "If there was somebody out there, we absolutely would have found them." [...]

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