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Sun, 10 Dec 2023
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Foreign Ministry denies Irish claim of flotilla sabatoge

© Reuters /John Kolesidis
Irish activists say Israel sabotaged their ship; Gov't in Athens prohibits ships with Greek, foreign flags from departing from Greece to Gaza; US ship 'Audacity of Hope' turned back shortly after embarking.

Israel was not behind the engine damage caused to an Irish ship participating in the Gaza-bound flotilla, Foreign Ministry officials said on Saturday.

Last week, Saoirse, one of ten ships set to sail in the mass movement to break the Gaza sea blockade, was docked in Turkish waters when it sustained engine damage. Fintan Lane, coordinator of the Irish Ship to Gaza organization, called the act "dangerous sabotage" and said the ship he believed divers had worked underwater to cut a piece of the propeller shaft.


Malaysia arrests 14 for 'Bersih' protest T-shirts

© The Associated Press
Malaysian activists in Bersih (Clean) T-shirts at a 2007 rally. Authorities have been arresting people for wearing the shirts ahead of a protest against electoral corruption.
Word means 'clean' and is used by group planning banned rally against electoral corruption

Malaysian police have detained 14 opposition activists for wearing T-shirts promoting a planned rally against alleged electoral abuses.

It is the latest attempt by authorities to deter citizens from marching in Kuala Lumpur on 9 July in what the opposition hopes will be Malaysia's biggest protest in nearly four years.

The activists are demanding that authorities overhaul voter lists, introduce transparent procedures for ballots to be counted and make other policy changes ahead of national elections widely expected by mid-2012. Government officials say current electoral laws are fair enough.

Authorities have arrested nearly 100 activists in cities across the country since Friday. Some were handing out leaflets linked to the planned demonstration, while others were travelling to publicity events. More than half have been freed.

Star of David

Zionists, Relax, Israel is Not on the Brink of Destruction

Benjamin Netanyahu
© The Associated Press
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Rational thinking is highly unpopular in the Netanyahu government, which seems caught in the belief that catastrophe is on the way.

One of the best-known Yiddish expressions is 'Gevalt, Yiddelech, Gevalt!', a phrase best translated as 'catastrophe, Jews, catastrophe!'.

I would suggest that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition officially be named the Gevalt! Government. Listening to the utterances of our ministers, you would come to the conclusion that the State of Israel is about to be erased and the Jewish people are in danger of immediate extinction.

In fact, it is nowadays the bon ton to join the Gevalt! chorus. Those who say that all this panicking is irrational are considered to be unpatriotic. A true Zionist and a good Jew is supposed to be in constant dread and must brace for the ultimate fight for the Masada that Israel has become and that is under threat from everywhere.

Here is another way of looking at Israel's situation: Israel is quite safe and has a lot of constructive options. Palestinians were never as willing to move ahead toward peace with Israel. In the long run, the new developments in the Arab world are likely to lead to more democracy and stability; Israel still has the option of normalizing its relationships with the Arab world that has now been on the table for almost nine years, through the Arab League Peace Initiative. This is also indicated by a new poll showing that two thirds of Egyptians favor maintaining peace with Israel.

This is not the assessment of some starry-eyed idealist. It is that of the hard-headed and daring former Mossad chief Meir Dagan. The brouhaha that ensued after he gave his assessment showed that the Gevalt! Government is incapable of living with level-headed, calm and rational thought.

While its constant fear-mongering about existential threats is at times almost comic, it unfortunately has the consequence to push Israel from one blunder to the next.

Bizarro Earth

With Climate Change Denial In Ascendancy, Skeptics Gather In Washington

© sam_churchill'sphotostream
This is a good time to be a Republican climate change skeptic -- at least one who doesn't live below sea level, in a flood plain or in the path of a deadly heatwave, tornado or hurricane.

It's strange, experts say, because more and more members of the party believe climate change is a real thing. But with the economy down, Americans have turned away from the issue -- leaving a Republican vacuum the tea party has filled with skepticism. And in DC this week, the skeptics are gathering to celebrate their ascendancy.

Growing numbers of Americans tell Gallup that fears over climate change are "generally exaggerated." When economic times were good, say in 2006, more said climate change was "generally underestimated."

On the campaign trail, Republicans who used to support climate change legislation are running away from that position with reckless abandon -- with former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty literally apologizing for his past support and swearing he now no longer believes humans contribute to the changing environment. Frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said recently that humans contribute to climate change, leading Rush Limbaugh to immediately call his campaign doomed.

Comment: Please read here for more information on the facts and fictions of Global Warming.


Forget About Global Warming: We're One Step From Extinction!

Data doesn't support global warming theory

What You Never Hear About Global Warming


Priests, Plots ... and Hugo Chávez

© Reuters
Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez. It has been revealed that the country's bishops worked with rightwingers to topple the president in 2002.
WikiLeaks cables have revealed that Catholic bishops played a key role in 2002's abortive military coup in Venezuela

In 1997 Eamon Duffy, president of Magdalene College, Cambridge, brought out the best one-volume history of popes that has ever been written. He called it Saints & Sinners.

In the light of the latest news from Venezuela I would respectfully urge him to set about writing a companion volume about the leaders of the church in Latin America. I suggest that he calls it Saints, Traitors & Sinners.

The church in that region has of course produced some remarkable saints - some of them unrecognised in the upper reaches of the Vatican. Archbishop Oscar Romero of San Salvador; the six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter slain by the western-supported Salvadorean army on the campus of the Central American University; the prelates and clergy killed by the repulsive military regime in Argentina and Cardinal Raúl Silva, archbishop of Santiago de Chile at the time of Pinochet's putsch, were and are among the brightest stars in the church's firmament.

Yet the clergy had - and still has - its villains.

Among the latest revelations to emerge from WikiLeaks is that, in 2002, as plotters in Venezuela's capital Caracas were liaising with the US authorities about the conspiracy to topple President Hugo Chávez, the leaders of the Catholic church in that country were defying the instruction of Pope John Paul II to desist from having anything to do with the coup d'état. Instead they threw their lot in with Pedro Carmona, the extremist rightwing businessman, who took office for less than 48 hours during a brief military coup in April 2002.


Washington Okays Attack on Unarmed U.S. Ship

© unknown
The Obama administration appears to have given a green light to an Israeli attack on an unarmed flotilla carrying peace and human rights activists - including a vessel with 50 Americans on board - bound for the besieged Gaza Strip. At a press conference on June 24, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized the flotilla organized by the Free Gaza Campaign by saying it would "provoke actions by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves."

Clinton did not explain why a country had "the right to defend themselves" against ships which are clearly no threat. Not only have organizers of the flotilla gone to great steps to ensure are there no weapons on board, the only cargo bound for Gaza on the U.S. ship are letters of solidarity to the Palestinians in that besieged enclave who have suffered under devastating Israeli bombardments, a crippling blockade, and a right-wing Islamist government. Nor did Clinton explain why the State Department suddenly considers the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of the port of Gaza to be "Israeli waters," when the entire international community recognizes Israeli territorial waters as being well to the northeast of the ships' intended route.

The risk of an Israeli attack on the flotilla is real. Israeli commandoes illegally assaulted a similar flotilla in international waters on May 31 of last year, killing nine people on board one of the vessels, including Furkan Dogan, a 19-year old U.S. citizen. Scores of others, including a number of Americans, were brutally beaten and more than a dozen others were shot but survived their wounds. According to a UN investigation, based on eyewitness testimony and analysis by a forensic pathologist and ballistic expert, Dogan was initially shot while filming the assault and then murdered while lying face down with a bullet shot at close range in the back of the head. The United States was the only one of the 47 members of the UN Human Rights Council to vote against the adoption of the report. The Obama administration never filed a complaint with the Israeli government, demonstrating its willingness to allow the armed forces of U.S. allies to murder U.S. citizens on the high seas.

As indicated by Clinton's statement of last week, the administration appears to be willing to let it happen again.


U.S. Counter-Terrorism Strategy to Rely on Surgical Strikes, Unmanned Drones

John Brennan
© The Associated Press / Carolyn Kaster
John Brennan
The Obama administration has concluded in a newly released counter-terrorism strategy that precision strikes and raids, rather than large land wars, are the most effective way to defeat Al Qaeda.

"Al Qaeda seeks to bleed us financially by drawing us into long, costly wars that also inflame anti-American sentiment," John Brennan, President Obama's counter-terrorism advisor, said in a speech Wednesday unveiling the new strategy. "Going forward, we will be mindful that if our nation is threatened, our best offense won't always be deploying large armies abroad but delivering targeted, surgical pressure to the groups that threaten us."

Brennan, a longtime former CIA officer, spoke at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, as the White House posted the new strategy on its website.

The strategy codifies policies the administration has been pursuing for 2 1/2 years, and much of it mirrors the practices of the Bush administration, Brennan said. But at its core is a repudiation of the thinking that sent large numbers of American troops to Iraq and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda's leadership has been decimated, Brennan said, thanks not to the wars but to "unyielding pressure" from U.S. operations to kill the group's leaders one by one in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.

The more acute threats to the U.S. these days come from Al Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and perhaps Somalia, U.S. officials have said, and no one is contemplating sending large numbers of American troops to those countries.

Bad Guys

Observations On The Day

© unknown
Americans are a doomed people for many reasons. One reason is that they are disunited and at one another's throats and, thus, cannot stand up the tyranny issuing from Washington.

For example, the governments of Georgia, Alabama, and Florida, states that share borders, have been fighting for more than two decades over the water in Georgia's Lake Lanier, located a few miles northeast of Atlanta. In 2009 a federal district judge ruled that it is illegal for water to be drawn from the lake to meet the needs of Atlanta's three million residents. The judge stipulated that the three states had until July 2011 to reach an agreement, failing which Atlanta would be restricted to the amount of water it received in the mid-1970s, when its population was less than one-third of its present size.

Obviously, the ruling was a major incentive to Alabama and Florida not to compromise.
Either the judge gave no thought to this fact or he was unconcerned that three million Atlantans would find themselves in drought circumstances.

At the last moment on June 28, with two days to go before Atlanta was cut off from its water supply, a federal appeals court ruled that the district court judge's decision was incorrect and gave the US Corps of Engineers one year to make a final decision concerning the allocation of Lake Lanier's water to the three states.

The state of Alabama, displaying total callousness to its 3 million fellow American citizens in Atlanta, has announced that it is appealing the ruling, and Florida is "studying the ruling," no doubt looking for a way to get Atlanta's share of the water.


Lawyer for Alleged Victim in DSK Case Lashes Out at DA, Says Victim Will Come Forward

© Getty Images
Former International Monetary Fund leader Dominique Strauss-Kahn (C) and his wife Anne Sinclair (L) leave New York State Supreme Court for a hearing July 1, 2011 in New York City. The Manhattan district attorney's office agreed to release Strauss-Kahn without bail after the credibility of the alleged sexual assault victim had come into question. Strauss-Kahn was arrested on May 14 on sexual assault charges stemming from an incident in a New York hotel.
Law & Order could not have produced a script with more dramatic turnarounds. As former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest Friday, the woman who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a New York hotel room in May became the main focus of public scrutiny. To counter the wave of allegations now circulating around the 32-year-old immigrant maid from Guinea, her attorney has accused Manhattan prosecutors of sullying her reputation to distance themselves from the damaged case against Strauss-Kahn.

"We believe that the district attorney [Cyrus Vance] is laying the foundation to dismiss this case," charged the accuser's attorney, Kenneth Thompson, in a talk with journalists after Strauss-Kahn's bail hearing in a New York courtroom today. "Anyone can see that."

In a brief nine minute hearing today, Strauss-Kahn was granted release from house arrest without bail. But the court is retaining his passport, and the criminal case against him still stands, at least for now.

Weaknesses in the case were exposed in a stunning New York Times report Thursday night describing prosecutors' doubts about the credibility of the accuser.

Thompson acknowledged that his client had "made mistakes," but insisted that she is telling the truth about the alleged assault. In her account, she was the victim of a sexual assault in Strauss-Kahn's hotel room May 14--and Thompson insisted that prosecutors have physical evidence to support her version of events. He also accused Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance of leaking information to the New York Times to discredit his client in a bid to get the case dismissed.


US: Glenn Beck signs off from Fox News: 'This show has become a movement; it doesn't belong on TV'

© GBTV/Mercury Radio Arts
Glenn Beck began his final show on Fox News where he'll be for the foreseeable future: outside the building, and not on TV.

"We've done some amazing things together," Beck, flanked by at least one bodyguard, told viewers as he showed them the view of the set from the street, noting the bulletproof glass windows that were installed "for a myriad of reasons."

Beck then rolled a four-minute highlight reel of his greatest hits spanning his two-and-a-half years on the air: Acorn, the 9/12 Project, the Restoring Honor rally in Washington, D.C., last summer. The montage also included testimonials from viewers found on the street.

"It's been an amazing ride," he said backstage, surrounded by some of the show's familiar props, including chalk ("We buy by the case," he said). "I've made some amazing friends, namely, you."

Beck spent most of the hour looking back. "We made a lot of enemies on this program," he said, from "the president to the Republicans to George Soros."

"We have not only survived," he said. "We have thrived."

He dismissed his frequent critics, like Jon Stewart, who Beck mocked for having a team of writers to produce a six-minute monologue on "The Daily Show." Beck boasted his two-man writing team helps him craft his 42-minutes a night. "It's easy to speak from the heart," he said.