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Helen Thomas: Jews Didn't Have to Leave Europe Following Holocaust

Helen Thomas
© AP
Former White House correspondent Helen Thomas
In CNN interview, veteran reporter refuses to call comments urging Jews to leave Israel and return to Europe insensitive, says Israel's treatment of the Palestinians is the real insensitivity.

The Jews did not have to leave Germany and Poland following the Holocaust since they were not being persecuted anymore, former White House correspondent Helen Thomas said in an interview on Thursday, adding that the Jews had no right to take other people's land.

Thomas, 90, stepped down from her job as a columnist for Hearst News Service in June of last year after a rabbi and independent filmmaker videotaped her outside the White House calling on Israelis to get "out of Palestine."

She gave up her front row seat in the White House press room, where she had aimed often pointed questions at 10 presidents, going back to Eisenhower.

Speaking of the controversial comments in an interview with CNN's Joy Behar on Thursday, Thomas said she did not regret her comments, saying that the Jews did not have to go anywhere after the Holocaust.

Vader

Libya's Qaddafi Appears to Be Losing Control

libya protest
© Alaguri/AP
Protesters with a pre-Gaddafi era flag in Benghazi, Libya.

After ruling the country for 40 years, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi seems to be losing his grip on power much more quickly than anyone could have imagined a few days ago. After six days of protests, clashes continued across the country but security forces seem to have largely retreated to strategic locations and protesters appear to have taken control of Benghazi, the country's second largest city and the focus of protests, and activists celebrated on the streets.

Al Jazeera hears word that "key cities" near the Egyptian border are now under the control of protests, which could mean that foreign journalists might soon be able to enter the country. Yet security forces aren't backing down just yet. The Associated Press hears word that armed pro-government supporters are circulating "in the streets hunting for protesters in Tripoli's old city."

At least 61 people have been killed in Tripoli as protests escalated overnight and extended into Monday, seemingly emboldened by a rambling address given by Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, in which he warned of civil war and said that the protests could lead to "colonization" by the West. He did make some vague promises of reform as well, but it hardly seemed to be enough to satisfy the protesters after hundreds have been killed.

No Entry

Venezuela denies Libya's Gaddafi en route

gaddafi
© Reuters/Ismail Zitouny
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attends a ceremony marking the birth of Islam's Prophet Mohammed in Tripoli, February 13, 2011.

Both Libya and Venezuela denied on Monday reports that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was seeking asylum after revolt reached Tripoli and would join his friend President Hugo Chavez in the South American oil producer.

Adding to media rumors, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said earlier on Monday he had seen information to suggest Gaddafi had fled Libya and was on his way to Venezuela, a fellow OPEC member.

But Venezuela's information minister said the leader who has ruled Libya for more than 40 years was not coming.

Eye 2

Stepmother indicted in death of North Carolina girl

Hickory, N.C. - The stepmother of a 10-year-old disabled girl was indicted Monday on charges she killed the freckle-faced child and then desecrated her remains to cover up the slaying, according to court documents.

A grand jury in Catawba County charged Elisa Baker with second-degree murder in the death of Zahra Baker. Authorities planned to discuss the case at a news conference later in the day.

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© AP
Zahra Baker was reported missing in October, and police later found her remains in different locations in western North Carolina.
Zahra, who used a prosthetic leg and hearing aids after being stricken with cancer, disappeared four months ago. No one had been charged in her death, though Elisa Baker had been charged with obstructing justice in the investigation. Police eventually found the girl's remains in different locations around western North Carolina. Authorities still have not said how the girl died.

The indictment cites aggravating factors, saying Elisa Baker had a history of physically, verbally and psychologically abusing Zahra. And it says she desecrated Zahra's body to hinder detection and prosecution of the killing.

A search warrant unsealed last month said Elisa Baker led police to the places where they found Zahra's remains. She claimed her husband, Adam Baker, dismembered the body. Adam Baker has denied that.

The warrant also said that cell phone records indicate Adam Baker was not in the locations where Zahra's remains were found on the day Elisa Baker indicated, but that cell phone records showed she was present in those locations.

Attorneys for Elisa Baker did not return calls seeking comment Monday.

Laptop

Huh? Lieberman volte-face on Kill Switch

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Washington - A bipartisan trio of senators has introduced a new cybersecurity bill that eliminates the president's authority to switch off the Internet.

The "kill switch," as it's known, exists in the 1934 Telecommunications Act, which was amended in 1996. It gives the president powers to shut off all regulated telecommunications if he or she deems it vital to national security interests.

But that's not going to fly any more, say Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE) and Susan Collins (R-ME).

The three senators on Thursday introduced The Cybersecurity Freedom Act of 2011, which would take away the president's power to shut off the Internet.

Comment: Full-time Israeli citizen and part-time US senator Joseph Lieberman, the man who virtually singlehandedly conceived and spearheaded the Net Kill Switch bill, suddenly does a volte-face and now wants to "take away the president's power to shut off the Internet." Really. Smacks of a tactical regroup in the face of mounting opposition. Something's rotten in the state of Denmark; standby for a new more devious maneuver busily in the making. Given what's sweeping across the ME (and Wisconsin?), they're going to need more than a kill switch...


Stormtrooper

Updated: Libyan Fighter Jets Arrive in Malta - Pilots Request Asylum

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The pilots of two Libyan Air Force Mirage jet fighters who unexpectedly flew to Malta this afternoon have sought political asylum in Malta, informed sources said.

The pilots told the Maltese authorities that they left from a base near Tripoli and flew to Malta after being ordered to bomb protesters who had occupied the Libyan second city of Benghazi.

The pilots are being questioned by the police,

The pilots initially asked for emergency clearance to land and for refuelling.

Chess

This Isn't All About Mubarak

"The revolution in Egypt is an expression of the will of the people, the determination of the people, the commitment of the people....Muslims and Christians have worked together in this revolution, as have the Islamic groups, secular parties, nationalist parties, and intellectuals....In fact every sector has played part in this revolution: the young, the old, women, men, clerics, artists, intellectuals, workers, and farmers."

-- Hassan Nasrallah, Secretary General of Hezbollah
Image
© Hussein Malla/Associated Press
Freed by Egypt's Workers Revolt Workers Press Demands
The real story about what's going on in Egypt is being suppressed in the US because it doesn't jibe with the "ain't capitalism great" theme that the media loves to reiterate ad nauseam. The truth is that the main economic policies that Washington exports through bribery and coercion have ignited massive labor unrest which has set the Middle East ablaze. Mubarak is the first casualty in this war against neoliberalism, but there will be many more to come. In fact, Mubarak's resignation is probably just a sop to Egyptian workers, hoping that they'll follow the military's advice and sheepishly return to their sweatshops so fatcat CEOs in Berlin and Chicago can extract a few more farthings from their labor. But that probably won't happen, because the 18 days in Tahrir Square has had a transformative affect on the consciousness of 80 million Egyptians who've suddenly "had enough". The people have awaken from their slumber and now they're ready to rumble.

The revolution started long before the demonstrations in Tahrir Square, and it will continue for a long time to come. Workers everywhere are rebelling against the miserable conditions, slave wages and "privatization", the crown jewel of neoliberalism. The privatization of state industries in Egypt is the proximate cause of the current uprising. It's led to a general slide in living standards to the point where people would rather face a policeman's truncheon than endure more-of-the-same. Here's an excerpt from Foreign Policy which helps to explain what's going on:

Vader

Malta: Two Libyan fighter jets seen landing

Two Libyan fighter jets landed unexpectedly in Malta on Monday, witnesses told Reuters.

Local newspaper reporters saw the single-seater Mirage jets land at Malta's international airport on Monday afternoon, Reuters reported. The Maltese Foreign Ministry said it was trying to establish why the planes had landed.

The Al Jazeera satellite network reported the Libyan fighter jets were seen landing in Malta with two civilian helicopters. At least seven passengers were aboard, only one reported to be carrying a passport, according to Al Jazeera. All of the passengers were being held by immigration officials, the network reported. Al Jazeera's Karl Stagno-Novarra, reporting from Malta, said officials on the Mediterranean island were preparing for it to be used as a base for evacuating European citizens from Libya, an hour's flight away.

The four-decade-old rule of Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi has been shaken by days of violent protests which reached the capital Tripoli for the first time on Monday, according to Reuters.

Butterfly

Egyptians Order Pizza for Wisconsin Protesters

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© Associated Press
In an act of intercontinental solidarity, an Egyptian has ordered a pizza for Wisconsin protesters, reports Politico. The call from Africa is just one of many streaming into the Madison, Wisconsin, pizza parlor Ian's from all over the world. So far, people from 12 countries and 38 states have rung up looking to help get free pizza to the Wisconsin protesters clustered in the Capitol. On Saturday, Ian's distributed more than 1,000 free slices and sent 300 pizzas to the Capitol. The trend continued on Sunday, as staff member fielded calls from as far away as Turkey, Korea, Finland, China, and Australia. The trend began when a mother of a University of Wisconsin student called in offering to donate $200 to feed the people occupying the Capitol. The pizza chain's postings on Twitter and Facebook soon led to so many donations that they had to shut down on Saturday night.

Che Guevara

Bahrain: The Social Roots of Revolt Against Another US Ally

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Bahrain - "Have you ever seen an island with no beaches?" The question posed by the young Bahraini taxi man standing among thousands of chanting anti-government protesters seemed at first to be a bit off the wall. But his explanation soon got to the heart of the grievances that have brought tens of thousands of Bahrainis on to the streets over the past week - protests which have seen at least seven civilians killed amid scenes of excessive violence by state security forces. Unconfirmed reports put the death toll much higher.

Many Bahrainis, like the young taxi man, have witnessed huge wealth sloshing around their diminutive country of less than 600,000 indigenous people (perhaps another 300,000 are expatriates, official figures are vague). But so little of that wealth - especially in the last seven years of high oil prices when Bahrain's national revenue tripled - has found its way into creating jobs and decent accommodation. More than 50,000 Bahraini families are estimated to be on waiting lists for homes. Some families have been waiting for over 20 years to be housed, with several generations sharing the one roof, in cramp conditions with poor sanitation.

All the while, these people have come to feel like strangers in their own land, with their squalid conditions in inner-city areas and villages being in sharp contrast to the mega shopping malls and multi-storey buildings that have sprung up to attract US and European investors, financiers, companies and rich tourists.

The Gulf island's oil wealth has been channeled into diversifying the economy away from dependence on oil and gas revenues into other sectors such as property development and international banking. The self-styled kingdom, which is sandwiched less than 30 kilometers on either side between the oil and gas giants of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, has leveraged its hydrocarbon wealth to earn a reputation as a finance and trade hub in the Middle East on a par with Dubai located further south along the Arabian Peninsula in the United Arab Emirates.