Saturday, December 18, 2010

Gaza-bound convoy crossing Asian countries on its way to Palestine

Iran, Malaysia, India are only a few of the countries involved in the ongoing humanitarian project aimed at breaking the illegal siege on the Gaza Strip, imposed by the zionist regime that has been occupying Palestine since 1948.

Last Gaza-bound Flotilla ended tragically with Israeli Navy killing in cold blood nine Turkish peace activists, but Asian humanitarian organisations don't seem to be afraid of challenging the illegal zionist regime once again.

The participants in the convoy are in total 83: 45 activists from India, 20 from Iran, 13 from Indonesia, 7 from Pakistan, 2 from Malaysia, 2 from Japan, 2 from Azerbaijan and 2 from Bahrain.

Right now the convoy is in Turkey. The activists have crossed Iran, where they met Tehran's mayor and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, nonetheless, who welcomed them and blessed their effort to break the inhumane Gaza blockade.

It's possible to follow the convoy step by step thanks to the daily updates of Asia 2 Gaza Caravan Facebook page, and their Twitter account, asia2gaza.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Did we need Wikileaks to condemn the Iraq war?

Whistle-blower website Wikileaks has released in October a massive classified (now declassified) CIA document, causing, rightfully, a wave of outrage all over the world.

I have gone through a good part of the huge volume of documents (around 400,000) uploaded on the Iraq Warlogs website and I failed to find something I didn't know already. Let's be clear, WikiLeaks' service is by all means needed, and world's population has all rights to know what is going in Iraq, but did we not know already?

Did we not know that occupying troops are killing pregnant women, children, civilians in Iraq? Did we not know that the US carries out torture frequently and strives to hide it? Have we already forgot Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo? And what about the School of Americas, for that matter, where torture has been taught since the Cold War?

More importantly, now that WikiLeaks has released the infamous "Iraq" files, don't we know that the same horrors are taking place in this very moment in Afghanistan too?

Interestingly, as Gordon Duff has highlighted in one of his latest articles, in the massive volume of leaked secret files there is no mention of Israel/Mossad activities, despite their role in the Iraq war is sadly no secret.

Writes Mark Weber:

Whatever the secondary reasons for the war, the crucial factor in President Bush’s decision to attack was to help Israel. With support from Israel and America’s Jewish-Zionist lobby, and prodded by Jewish “neo-conservatives” holding high-level positions in his administration, President Bush – who was already fervently com mitted to Israel – resolved to invade and subdue one of Israel’s chief regional enemies.

This is so widely understood in Washington that US Senator Ernest Hollings was moved in May 2004 to acknowledge that the US invaded Iraq “to secure Israel,” and “everybody” knows it. He also identified three of the influential pro-Israel Jews in Washington who played an important role in prodding the US into war: Richard Perle, chair of the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board; Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defense Secretary; and Charles Krauthammer, columnist and author.

The absence of such a key player in the Iraq war gives at least food for thought, and makes me raise some questions.

The official excuses the Bush administration gave to the US citizens in order to accept a war that everybody knew would have turned into a disaster were many and diverse.

It started with Saddam Hussein giving shelter to "Bin Laden", most wanted by the FBI "in connection with the August 7, 1998, bombings of the United States Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya. These attacks killed over 200 people. In addition, Bin Laden is a suspect in other terrorist attacks throughout the world."

Apart from noticing that Bin Laden is not wanted for the 9/11 attacks, it might also be worth remarking that the claim that he was hiding in Iraq was so weak that it got immediately confuted.

What then? Plan B was ready: Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and was preparing an attack against the United States. Although the UN inspectors have never found any WMD, on March 19th 2003 Bush launched the invasion of Iraq, causing the death of 1,421,933 Iraqis, almost five thousands US military personnel, more than two thousands international force troops, bringing about the destruction of a sovereign country, its culture, its society, violating its present, past and future, provoking a massive wave of refugees who now live in miserable conditions in neighbouring countries.

Part of the files released by WikiLeaks focused on the role Iran has had in smuggling arms into Iraq, and mainstream media, along with self-styled "independent" bloggers were swift to begin the umpteenth smear campaign against the Islamic Republic. At a quick glance, in fact, it seems almost that Iran has played a bigger role than the United States in the invasion and destruction of Iraq.

However, Iranian people must not be surprised about this new hostile wave, as anti-Iran campaigns are an ongoing topic within Western media. A little more than a year ago, in fact, in the occasion of Iranian presidential elections, President Ahmadinejad has been the target of most Zionist media outlets in Western countries. Since 2009, every now and then, European and American media don't waste any occasion to attack Iran.

Now that "mainstream" operations, fake "coloured" revolutions and ineffective economic sanctions have clearly failed, WikiLeaks comes along and paints Iran as one of the key players in the Iraq war. Although the evidence of Iran's involvement in the Iraq war is close to non-existent, much of mainstream media and fake independent bloggers have been participating in this new propaganda adventure.

What is the aim of such new smear campaign? Are the United States being pushed into another war/disaster by their "friend" Israel? Are they preparing the public mind for an attack against Iran? Do all those fake independent bloggers, so vehement advocates of human rights, know that a war against Iran will bring unprecedented destruction and mass killings? Do they know that once the war is waged there is no way back?

The result of Wiki psyop seems to be a "leak" especially made for the big public, in which it's carefully reported what mainstream media can't write as it would automatically appear as nothing more than propaganda. Which actually is. In fact, mainstream media are exactly the place where we can find most pieces of this new "leaked intel". Just another attack against sovereign Iran, one of the many that shows that Western powers are running out of ideas on how to bring down the Islamic Republic.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Iraqi civilians used by US troops to detect potential presence of mines

Detailed CIA classified documents have been released by whistle-blower website Wikileaks, that makes in this way the horrors of the Iraq War more "real" to the public mind worldwide.

Unspeakable violence is carried out during every war. In our times, conflicts are made more brutal by the availability of the most up-to-date technology, that instead of helping humanity live better, it's destroying it.

In a written statement, a witness has accused US troops to use Iraqi civilians to detect possible bombs in minefields.

Degrading for humanity as a whole.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

While the US keeps sanctioning, relations between China and Iran thrive

Beginning of July, Barack Obama threatened (and approved) the “toughest” sanctions ever passed by the Congress against Iran, in order to make it difficult for the country led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to buy refined petroleum as well as goods and services from foreign companies to modernize its oil and gas sectors.

Although Obama announced that the door of diplomacy would stay open, the United States has always rejected any attempt that its Iranian counterpart has made to enter into a reasonable dialogue, since 2003 up to the last UN conference, when the US President, once again, ignored Ahmadinejad's efforts to an official meeting during his visit to the States.

Despite Ahmadinejad's reiterated statements that Iran's nuclear program has only peaceful purposes such as producing electricity, the United States and the European Union approved the sanctions additionally targeting Iran's financial, insurance, transportation and energy sectors, penalizing the companies supplying the country with gasoline.

According to such punitive measures, foreign banks that would do business with Iranian banks will not be allowed to access the American financial system, and the same applies to companies that would provide Iran with gasoline.

Now it's China's turn to be sanctioned. Last week the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act aimed at penalizing any country with an “artificially weakened” currency, clearly referring to the Chinese Renminbi, allowing the imposition of trade sanctions on China.

“It is untraditional for trade sanctions to be imposed on a country by the U.S. Government due to currency policy,” said David Besanko, economist and professor at Northwestern University, in an interview with Chinese News Agency, Xinhua. “It is counterproductive and if we are not careful it will lead to trade conflict with China,” he added.

This has had the rather obvious consequence of making relations between Iran and China thrive, while the United States, persisting in their aggressive policies, keep drifting away from productive relations with an increasing number of countries.

According to Al Manar Agency, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced that the two countries “could raise their trade volume to 100 billion USD within five years and invest up to 200 billion USD.”

While senior official of the Communist Party of China, Li Changchun, has been promoting stronger ties between China and Iran in order to face the “common enemy of imperialism,” Mr. Ahmadinejad endorsed a boost in the cooperation between China and Iran in order to “prevent the enemies from creating obstacles in the way of the development of the two countries.”

Although in July only Brazil and Turkey voted against the sanctions against Iran, China has now strongly condemned any aggressive approach to the nuclear issue and encouraged instead all possible diplomatic efforts. Criticizing America's policy of using military power in order to impose its will on global affairs, Li stated that "China is strongly against unilateral sanctions and pressure [exerted] by Western countries and the United States on Iran over its nuclear case," highlighting the importance of adopting counter-strategies.

In addition to stronger relations with Iran, China keeps strengthening its ties with Russia and the Gulf countries, that seem more willing to take the risk of being banned from doing business with US companies, than respecting the latest sanctions. Namely, while Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and Republican Senator Jon Kyl urge Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to support penalties against Chinese and Turkish companies that are undermining the effectiveness of the sanctions by providing Iran with refined petroleum products, China and Russia are celebrating the building of the oil pipeline that represents the largest project so far between the two countries, and Beijing keeps expanding its diplomatic, economic and security interests in the Middle Eastern region, being Saudi Arabia China's largest oil supplier, and Iran China's third-largest supplier of oil.

As early as last week, Tehran has reportedly opened its airspace to Chinese warplanes in order to conduct joint military exercises with Turkey, following the drills Ankara and Beijing had been carrying out in Central Anatolia within the Anatolian Eagle maneuvres that saw the participation of the US and other Nato members too.

The US-backed sanctions against Iran don't seem to have been very effective so far inasmuch as many companies, especially in West and East Asia, are still carrying out profitable business with the Islamic Republic. Among the firms that are not abiding by the international sanctions are the European Shell, Total and Api. According to Italian News Agency FocusMO, in fact, Shell has bought from state-run National Iranian Oil Company at least 1,5 billion USD of crude, increasing its purchase from Iran by the 25%.

Similarly, the French Total has increased its investments by the 12% and the Italian Api has bought a further 70% of oil. Such businesses are made possible by the banks that are still accepting payments between foreign companies and Iran, among which there is the Italian financial institute Intesa-Sanpaolo, that has been so far refusing to block the transactions despite the sanctions.

At this juncture, one might wonder whether the US-backed sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran are having any result other than contributing in isolating the United States themselves within the landscape of global affairs.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Palestinian shot dead entering East Jerusalem

There is no end to the massacre of Palestinians carried out by the zionist forces.

By Maan News Agency

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian worker from Hebron was shot and killed by Israeli border guards on Sunday while he attempted to enter East Jerusalem near the village of Al-Isawiya.

The deceased was identified as 38-year-old Izz Ad-Din Al-Kawazba from the town of Sa'ir in Hebron. Al-Kawzaba's cousin Salah told Ma'an that border guards shot the victim at close range, refuting police accounts that the shooting was accidental.

Al-Kawazba said he was 20 meters away from his cousin when he was shot, shortly after two groups of workers climbed over the separation wall in the Zayem At-Tur area and were chased by an Israeli border guard patrol.

He said he urged his cousin, who was with his brother Hassan, to "hurry because the soldiers were behind us."

"Suddenly I saw a soldier approaching Izz Ad-Din extending his gun to his body and shooting. I moved backward along with dozens of other workers to check up on Izz Ad-Din. As we got close, we were surrounded by special forces who attacked us violently," he said.

"We saw them shoving the martyr's body in a black bag dragging it more than 50 meters. More than 100 workers were gathered and were sent to Al-Eizariya. The victim's brother Hassan was detained," he added.

Spokesman for Israel's National Police Mickey Rosenfeld said Al-Kawazba was injured when a "shot was fired apparently accidentally" by a border guard officer after he "attempted to grab one of the border police's gun."

Al-Kawazba was transferred to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital where he later died of his wounds, Rosenfeld said, adding that an investigation "is being carried out in order to understand what took place at the scene."

Rosenfeld said the shooting followed the detention of "15 illegal workers [who] crossed the security barrier near French Hill," after which a chase ensued.

The death comes over a week after an Israeli settler guard shot and killed two Palestinians in the flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, sparking days of clashes.


(This version UPDATES account of shooting from the victim's cousin, Salah Al-Kawazba.)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Video Shock: US soldier describes slaughtering of civilians in Afghanistan

In a shocking confession US soldier Jeremy Morlock says he was ordered to kill three randomly chosen civilians in Afghanistan.

This is how a foreign Army (the US, mostly formed by brainwashed and drugged kids) invades a country and kills innocent people in their own land, destroying their families and their society.

Morlock and the other soldiers accused of slaughtering civilians, if found guilty by the military court, can face death penalty.

This is how the lives of a couple of kids are ruined by their own government that first sent them to invade a country in order to control its natural resources and then sentences them to death in order to save its face in front of world's outrage.

Morlock has also claimed that his superior, Calvin Gibbs, coldly selected innocent Afghans to kill for sport and then instructed his men to help make it look like they were insurgents.

This is how war turns human beings into monsters.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Israeli crimes vs. peace activism. What now?


Photo courtesy of the Free Gaza movement.

A new convoy headed to the Palestinian region of Gaza has started its journey on September 18th in order to bring the population under illegal siege humanitarian aid.

The day of the departure wasn't randomly chosen. On September 16th-18th, in fact, was the 28th anniversary of the ferocious massacre of Sabra and Shatila, carried out by Israeli commandos headed by former prime minister of the Zionist entity, Ariel Sharon.

One of the many massacres carried out by Zionism since its inception.

"Fifteen minutes by car from Tel-Aviv University lies the village of Kfar Qassim where, on 29 October 1956, Israeli troops massacred forty-nine villagers returning from their fields. Then there was Qibya in the 1950s, Samoa in the 1960s, the villages of the Galilee in 1976, Sabra and Shatila in 1982, Kfar Qana in 1999, Wadi Ara in 2000 and the Jenin Refugee Camp in 2002. And in addition there are the numerous killings Betselem, Israel's leading human rights organisation, keeps track of. There has never been an end to Israel's killing of Palestinians." [1]

So in these very days the massive convoy partly by land partly by sea is heading to Gaza, that has been transformed into a concentration camp by the illegal blockade imposed by the Zionist entity.

Last edition of flotilla has ended in a bloodbath due to the over-excitement of special Israeli commandos racing in order to get a medal of honour, and nine peace activists were brutally killed in a show of unnecessary violence, zionist speciality.

While the world was outraged by such abuse of force against unarmed civilians in international waters, Israeli officials themselves were probably wondering why worldwide public opinion was still not used to their crimes.

The truth, in fact, is that killing civilians is Israel's policy. These are not "tragic mistakes" nor "collateral damages," and there is no "regret" about it. Slaughtering civilians, men, women, children, the elderly, is the foundation on which Israel itself was created: the ethnic cleansing of a whole nation and the creation of a state based on racism and apartheid.

This, combined with the unconditional political and financial support of the USA and the impunity granted by the International Community, allows the Zionist regime to carry out such crimes undisturbed.

Until so-called "intellectuals" writing for mainstream outlets of the likes of Washington Post and New York Times will keep engaging in shallow demagoguery such as "Yes, Israel kills, but it's the only democracy in the Middle East," or "Yes, Israel kills, but it has the right to self defense," or "Yes, Israel kills, but it's a victim," world's stability will remain an illusion.

Already in 1937, Ben Gurion, founder of the zionist illegal colony, had said: "We must expel Arabs and take their places."

Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel, in a burst of ignorance, has declared to The Times of London in 1969: "There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. The didn't exist."

Menachem Begin, former prime minister of Israel, declared in a speech to the Knesset: "[Palestinians] are beasts walking on two legs."

As an illegal organisation that can rely on the silence and the complicity of world's most powerful nations, Israel has never shown any respect for human life. Any human life, for that matter.

The occupation of Palestine, the abuses on the native population, the invasions of Lebanon, the countless massacres of civilians that fill Israel's history, the highest contempt towards any international law and regulation have always been met by shy disapproval from the International Community.

Last May 31st, an Israeli commando killed eight Turkish citizens and one US citizen of Turkish origins. Unlike many people might think, it would have made no difference if the activists were all from Western countries.

Rachel Corrie was a US citizen and was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer.

Tristan Anderson is a US citizen, Bay Area activist and photojournalist, and was shot in the head at close range by an Israeli soldier, causing him severe brain damage and blindness in his right eye.

Emily Henochowicz is a US citizen and lost an eye when she was shot in the face with a tear gas canister at a demonstration in the West Bank by Israeli military.


Tom Hurndall was a British photography student and was shot in the head in the Gaza Strip by an Israeli sniper.


James Miller was a Welsh filmmaker and was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier while filming a documentary in Rafah.


Brian Avery is an American citizen who was shot in the face by an Israeli soldier in the West Bank town of Jenin, causing him permanent disfigurement.


Despite its power and the complicity of Western governments, however, Israel has made it clear more than once that it's not able to handle peace activism, and what the Zionist regime is most afraid of are the hundreds of thousands of activists of all ages and walks of life committed to expose its crimes.


Because it's only a matter of time and soon the zionist colony will be dismantled, and Palestinians will be able to go back to their own wounded country.


[1] Ilan Pappe, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, p. 258

Thursday, September 23, 2010

UN confutes Israel's version of raid against flotilla: evidence of "wilful killing and torture"

The probe on the deadly raid against the flotilla of peace activists carried out by an Israeli commando last May 31st is finally coming to an end, and the report of the UN Human Rights Council concluded that there is evidence of "wilful killing and torture", making the raid brutal and disproportionate.

According to the UN experts, "a series of violations of international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, were committed by the Israeli forces during the interception of the flotilla and during the detention of passengers in Israel prior to deportation." Enough "to support prosecutions."

"The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel toward the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality," the experts - judges from Britain and Trinidad and a Malaysian human rights campaigner - said.

"It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds," they said in the report, to be submitted to the rights council on September 27. "It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law."


The rights experts, who were not allowed to enter Israel, said Israel had refused to cooperate with their mission, and called on the Israeli authorities to identify those involved in the violence and prosecute them.

The world over is demanding a proper reaction by the International Community in order to make the zionist entity stop carrying out crimes against humanity and recognise an unconditional right of return to the Palestinian people to their own country.


Sources Press Association, Reuters, AFP

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Israel's Consul-General interferes in boycott process. Surprised?

Jefferson County Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) - September 20, 2010

A proposed boycott of products at a food co-op in Port Townsend has prompted a visit from Gideon Lustig, Israel’s Deputy Consul-General for the Pacific Northwest, at the request of an Israel advocacy group which opposes the boycott of Israeli products.

Speaking at a public town hall meeting Sunday night, Mr. Lustig declared his intent to have private meetings with co-op board members. He also intended to meet with Port Townsend’s city manager, who is not in a formal position to influence the boycott process. It is not clear what that meeting would be about.

Mr. Lustig held a private meeting today with Ms. Sam Gibboney, the Food Co-op board president. The meeting was closed to co-op members and to the public, but Ms. Gibboney acknowledged that the subject of the meeting was the boycott. It is not certain whether additional meetings were held, and whether subjects other than the boycott were discussed.

Ms. Gibboney had initially invited board members to attend a joint closed-door meeting with the Consul-General, but had to cancel that plan in response to protests by co-op member-owners, who pointed out that the co-op bylaws did not allow for a closed executive session of the board under these circumstances.

While the boycott initiative has generated a great deal of community discussion, Ms. Gibboney has not had similar meetings with boycott proponents. She also has not attended any of the information events organized by the member-owners who had presented the proposal to the board in July.

The boycott proposal asks that the store pull Israeli products from its shelves until Israel complies with U.N. decisions regarding the occupied territories, lifts the siege on Gaza, ends its hafrada (apartheid) policies against Palestinians, and recognizes the refugees’ right of return.

Dena Shunra, one of the member-owners, said, “I’m troubled that board members of our own food co-op would hold closed meetings on a subject that has aroused so much interest within our community. We need to shed more light on this issue rather than open our co-op up to allegations of back-room deals.”

Another boycott proponent, Jim Watson of Brinnon, said, “We believe that these meetings with the consul-general should not occur. It would be in violation of board policy.”

The board is scheduled to decide on the boycott proposal in a special meeting scheduled for Tuesday, September 21st. The board has invited co-op member-owners to attend and make short comments before the board discuses and votes on the proposal.

The board meeting will take place at 6 pm at the Quimper Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 2333 San Juan Ave., in Port Townsend.

For more information, please visit http://jeffcowabds.wordpress.com, or contact Daniel Bugel-Shunra via phone: (360) 379-2506, or e-mail: daniel@shunra.net

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Thousands of Afghans stage anti-U.S. protest in Kabul

Reuters - By Hamid Shalizi

KABUL - Wed Sep 15, 2010 - Police fired into the air to disperse thousands of anti-American protesters in Afghanistan's capital Wednesday, witnesses and police said, with one person killed and at least five wounded.

Demonstrators chanted "Death to America," "Death to Christians," and "Death to Karzai," the latter referring to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, in the biggest protests since unrest erupted last week over plans by a U.S. pastor to burn the Koran.

"There are more than 10,000 of the demonstrators and some of them are waving the Taliban flag," police officer Mohammad Usman.

The protests come three days before a parliamentary election which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt. The election is a key test of stability in Afghanistan before U.S. President Barack Obama conducts a war strategy review in December.

They follow three days of protests at the weekend over plans by an obscure U.S. pastor, which he later abandoned, to burn copies of the Koran to mark the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, hijacked airliner attacks on the United States.

Three people were killed in those protests. Observers including the top U.N. diplomat in Afghanistan had warned the Taliban may try to exploit the Koran-burning protests.

A police source later said one person had been killed and five wounded, and that the toll could rise. The protests were the Reuters television pictures showed protesters waving large white flags, the symbol used by Taliban supporters.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the hardline Islamist group was aware of the protests but had no role in them.

"People may have raised the Taliban flags to show their sentiment and sympathy for the Taliban," Mujahid told Reuters from an undisclosed location.

At the Pul-e-Kandahari, or Kandahar bridge in Kabul, police were ordered to advance toward one group of hundreds of protesters who were throwing stones and shouting "Death to American slaves" at police.

Police were seen firing into the air and dragging away several protesters. At one point, volleys of gunfire could be heard. The protesters scattered, some sheltering in nearby houses in the mainly ethnic Pashtun and Tajik area of Kabul.

The protesters earlier gathered in the west of the capital, burning tires and blocking a main highway link to the south. Thick black smoke rose above the area and police kept journalists several hundred meters back.

Reuters witnesses at the scene saw two unconscious people, covered in blood, being carried away suffering what appeared to be gunshot wounds.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tony Blair to Receive Human Rights Award

The news by the Press Association says:

September 13, 2010 "Press Association" -- Tony Blair is to receive an award for his global human rights work in the US.

The ex-Prime Minister will be presented with Liberty Medal by former US President Bill Clinton even as his newly published memoirs reignited debate on his political leadership.

The medal is given annually by the National Constitution Centre to individuals or organisations whose actions aim to bring liberty to people worldwide.

Mr Blair is being honoured for his work with the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which promotes religious tolerance, and for his initiative to improve governance in Africa.

He cancelled a planned book signing in London last week after eggs and shoes were thrown at him at an earlier book signing in Dublin. Protesters were angered over his role in launching the Iraq War.

Organisers of the medal ceremony say they don't expect protesters.

Mr Clinton, the centre's chairman, said in a statement that Mr Blair "continues to demonstrate the same leadership, dedication and creativity in promoting economic opportunity in the Middle East and the resolution of conflicts rooted in religion around the world."

Mr Blair said in a statement: "Freedom, liberty and justice are the values by which this medal is struck.

"Freedom, liberty and justice are the values which I try to apply to my work on governance in Africa and on preparing the Palestinians for statehood."

The medal, first given in 1989, comes with a 100,000 US dollars (£65,000) cash prize. Mr Blair will donate the money to his faith foundation and African Governance Initiative.

This, in line with the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama, is a joke.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The blatant bias of the BBC: The Gaza Freedom Flotilla

I'm posting below a very interesting documentary by Anthony Lawson, with the collaboration of Ken O'Keefe, focusing on BBC's misleading documentary about the deadly raid carried out by the Israeli Navy Special Forces against a humanitarian ship headed to the Gaza Strip last May 31st.

The author highlights the gravity of the fact that the BBC, one of the world's biggest broadcasting services, presents itself as an unbiased source of information, while it offers distorted views of what is an unlawful attack in International Waters against a ship loaded with humanitarian aid for the population of Gaza, living under the illegal siege imposed by the zionist entity, within the silence of the International Community.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Vanessa Redgrave, Tony Kushner and other American artists support Israeli artists’ Ariel boycott

Following the movement of Israeli theater professionals who authored a letter refusing to perform in the settlement of Ariel on August 27th, and the attack on them that ensued, American counterparts have come together with their own statement of support.

Organised by Jewish Voice for Peace, a national Jewish-American organization, the statement has been signed by over 150 theatre and film professionals representing a wide geographic, political, cultural and professional range and some of the most respected and renowned artists – including Four Pulitzer Prize winners, several recipients of Guggenheim Fellowships, a MacArthur Fellowship, a National Medal of Honor, and scores of recipients of the highest U.S. acting honors, including Tony Awards, Emmy Awards, Grammy Awards, Obie Awards, Drama Desk Awards, and more.

Some names include Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon, world-renowned playwright Tony Kushner, 21-time Tony winner for productions of “The Pajama Game” to “Phantom of the Opera” Harold Prince, star of the movie “Yentl,” Mandy Patinkin, and Cameri co-founder Theodore Bikel, among many others.

Rebecca Vilkomerson, Executive Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said: “The response of American artists to the courageous actions of their Israeli counterparts is just phenomenal. It is especially notable that so many of the signatories are Jewish Americans with long-standing connections to Israel. We hope that the strong show of solidarity by Americans in response to these brave Israelis will help spark a new conversation in both countries, one that acknowledges that the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are illegal by every measure of international law, contribute to the daily violation of human rights of Palestinians, and are a major obstacle to a just peace in the region.”

This is the full text of the statement:

On August 27th, dozens of Israeli actors, directors, and playwrights made the brave decision not to perform in Ariel, one of the largest of the West Bank settlements, which by all standards of international law are clearly illegal. As American actors, directors, critics and playwrights, we salute our Israeli counterparts for their courageous decision.

Most of us are involved in daily compromises with wrongful acts. When a group of people suddenly have the clarity of mind to see that the next compromise looming up before them is an unbearable one — and when they somehow find the strength to refuse to cross that line — we can’t help but be overjoyed and inspired and grateful.

It’s thrilling to think that these Israeli theatre artists have refused to allow their work to be used to normalize a cruel occupation which they know to be wrong, which violates international law and which is impeding the hope for a just and lasting peace for Israelis an Palestinians alike. They’ve made a wonderful decision, and they deserve the respect of people everywhere who dream of justice. We stand with them.

*Statement organizers and signatories represent a wide range of political opinions and perspectives, but have come together for the sole purpose of making a joint statement on this one critical issue.
**All identifications and affiliations are for identification purposes only and do not imply endorsements by any institutions

Signatories:
Vanessa Redgrave, Actress
The only British actress to ever have won the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Canes, Golden Globe and the Screen Actors Guild awards; Mission: Impossible, Mary Queen of Scots, Atonement.

Cynthia Nixon, Actress
Portrayed Miranda Hobbes in the HBO series Sex and the City; Emmy, Tony and Grammy Award-winning actress

Ed Asner, Actor
8 time Emmy award Winner (more than any other male actor); Former president Screen Actors Guild, lead voice in Pixar’s Up, Mary Tyler Moore

Tony Kushner, Playwright; Screenwriter;
Pulitzer Prize winner for Angels in America; Tony Award winner; Emmy Award winner; Drama Desk Award winner; Was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award; Co-author of Munich

Theodore Bikel, Actor, Folk Singer, Musician
Co-founder of the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv; president of the Associated Actors and Artistes of America; Academy Award nominee; Tony Award nominee; actor in film, TV and theater; vocalist

Jennifer Tilly, Actress
Portrayed Olive Neal in Woody Allen’s Bullets Over Broadway, Fabulous Baker Boys, Liar Liar, Bound; Academy Award Nominee

Miriam Margolyes, Actor
Portrayed Professor Sprout in Harry Potter; BAFTA Winner

Harold Prince, Director, Producer,
21 Tony Awards winner (Pajama Game, Cabaret, West Side Story, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Phantom of the Opera), National Medal of the Arts Recipient

Mandy Patinkin, Actor, Vocalist
Actor in Yentl, the Princess Bride (portrayed Inigo Montoya), Sunday in the Park with George; Vocalist, (Mamaloshen), Tony Award winner

Wallace Shawn, Actor, Playwright, Translator
Actor in Princess Bride (portrayed Vizzini) My Dinner With Andre, Vanya on 42nd St; playwright of The Fever, The Designated Mourner; translator of Three Penny Opera by Bertoldt Brecht

James Schamus, Producer, Screenwriter, Film Historian
BAFTA Award Winner; producer of Brokeback Mountain, co-writer and producer of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Ice Storm, Eat Drink Man Woman, Academy Award nominee, CEO Focus Features

Eve Ensler, Playwright, preformer
The Vagina Monologues; Obie Award winner; Guggenheim Fellowship

Liz Diamond, Scholar
Chair, Directing Dept., Yale School of Drama

Andre Gregory, Actor
My Dinner With Andre

Lynn Nottage, Playwright
Winner of 2009 Pulitzer Prize; winner of 2007 MacArthur Genius Award

Sheldon Harnick, Lyricist
Pulitzer Prize Winner, Fiddler on the Roof, Tony Award Winner

Paula Vogel, Playwright, Scholar
Pulitzer Prize Winner, Eugene O’Neill Chair, Playwriting Department -Yale School of Drama

Bill Irwin, Actor, Mime, Choreographer
Winner two Tony Awards ;Winner of the National Endowment for the Arts Choreographer’s Fellowship; Guggenheim, Fulbright and MacArthur Fellowships

David Adjmi, Playwright

Steinberg Playwright Award, the Bush Artists Fellowship, and the Kesselring Fellowship for Drama, named in the New Yorker as up and coming playwrigh t

Najla Said, Actor, Playwright
Daughter of Edward Said; “Palestine,” Her one-woman Off Broadway play is a coming-of-age story about Ms. Said’s journey to become an Arab-American on her own terms.

Bruce Allardice, Managing Director
Ping Chong & Co.

Philip Arnoult, Director, Center for International Theatre Development (CITD)

Anthony Arnove, Author and Editor
Co-Directed (with Howard Zinn and Chris Moore) and Executive Produced “The People Speak (film)

Caron Atlas, Cultural Organizer and Consultant
Founding director of the American Festival Project, a national coalition of activist artists (http://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/bios/staff/15/Caron_Atlas)

Arthur Aviles, Artistic Director
Artistic Director, The Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance, Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre

David Barlow, Actor, Writer, Performance Artist

Laura Barnett, Theater Educator, Performance Artist, Director

George Bartenieff, Actor

Obie Award Winner

Mark Barton, Lighting Designer

John Bell, Director
Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, Puppeteer, Scholar, Great Small Works.

Melia Bensussen, Director
Obie Award Winning Director; Chair of Emerson College Department of Performing Arts

Eric Bentley, Theatre scholar, critic, author, playwright, editor and translator

Theodore S. Berger, Executive Director of the New York Foundation for the Arts for thirty years

Susan Bernfield, Artistic Director, New Georges

Philip Bither, Senior curator, Walker Arts Center

James Bundy, Dean, Yale School of Drama; Artistic Director, Yale Repertory Theatre

Kathleen Chalfant, Actor
Obie Award Winner, Drama Desk Winner, Tony Award Nominee

Linda Chapman, Associate Artistic Director, New York Theatre Workshop

Rachel Chavkin, Director; Founder and Artistic director of the TEAM (the Theater of the Emerging American Moment)

Trudi Cohen, Puppeteer, Theater Artist
Great Small Works

Kia Corthron, Playwright

Jorge Ignacio Cortiñas, Playwright

Clare Coss, Playwright

Alex Courtney, Stage, Film and Television Actor

Tim Cusack, Artistic Director, Theatre Askew

Savitri D., Director
The Church of Life After Shopping

Matthew Dellapina, Actor

Ivor Dembina, Comedian

David J. Diamond, Theatre consultant, producer and career coach for theatre artists

Elin Diamond, Critic, Scholar

Sally Eberhardt, Theatres Against War (THAW)

Edward Einhorn, Director, Playwright, Novelist, Executive Director of the Association of Jewish Theatre

Deborah Eisenberg, Playwright, Author, Actor, MacArthur Fellow

John Clinton Eisner, Artistic Director, Lark Play Development Center

Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director, The Public Theater

Bertie Ferdman, Ph.D., Artistic Director, ExPgirl; Theatre Artist, Curator, Producer, Educator

Corey Fischer, Actor, Playwright
Playwright of See Under: Love; co-founder of the Traveling Jewish Theater, (now the Jewish Theater San Francisco)

Elinor Fuchs, Critic; Scholar, Yale School of Drama

Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros, Playwright
2004 finalist, Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Adam Greenfield, Director of New Play Development, Playwright Horizons

David Greenspan, Actor, Award-Winning Playwright

Kathryn Grody, Actor; Writer
Obie Award Winner

Jason Grote, Playwright, Screenwriter

Del Hamilton, co-Founder and Artistic Director, 7 Stages

Karen Hartman, Playwright

David Herskovits, Founder and Artistic Director, Target Margin Theater

Joan Holden, Award-Winning Playwright

Jeffrey Horowitz, Founder and Artistic Director, Theater for a New Audience
Advisory Board of The Shakespeare Society and Artistic Directorate of London’s Globe Theatre, Artistic Advisor to the Shakespeare Globe Centre (USA).

Holly Hughes, Performance Artist, Guggenheim Fellow
One of the “NEA 4″, whose funding was vetoed for gay content

Birgit Huppuch, Actor

Julia Jarcho, Playwright, Director, Performer

Morgan Jenness, Dramaturge

John Jesurun, Writer, Director, Multi-Media Artist

Jeffrey M. Jones, Playwright, Curator -
Little Theatre @ Dixon Place, Pataphysics @ The Flea

Melanie Joseph, Artistic Producer
The Foundry Theatre

Chris Kam, Independent Producer

Stephen Kaplin, Puppeteer, Theater Designer/Performer
Great Small Works and Chinese Theatre Works

Melissa Kievman, Director

Josh Kornbluth, Monologist

Aaron Landsman, Independent Artist

Paul Lazar, Co-Artistic Director Big Dance Theater

Herbert Leibowitz, Writer and Editor

Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Author

Robert H. Leonard, Director, Professor, Department of Theatre Arts, Virginia Tech

Gideon Lester, Dramaturge and Curator
Former associate artistic director, American Repertory Theatre; former Acting Artistic Director, American Repertory Theatre

Roberta Levitow, Co-Founder, Theatre Without Borders

Irene Lewis, Artistic Director
Center Stage, Baltimore, Maryland

Ethan Lipton, Playwright

Casey Llewellyn, Theater Artist

Quincy Long, Playwright

John Carroll Lynch, Actor

Kirk Lynn, Co-Producing Artistic Director

Rude Mechs, Austin, TX

Matthew Maguire, Co-Artistic Director, Creation Production Company

Matthew Maher, Actor

Judith Malina, Actor Director
Founder and Artistic Director, The Living Theatre

Karen Malpede, Playwright, Theater Three Collaborative

Nina Mankin, Dramaturge, Writer

Emily Mann, Artistic Director/Playwright
McCarter Theatre Center, Princeton, NJ

Deborah Margolin, Playwright, Actor, Scholar

Vijay Mathew, Co-Director, American Voices New Play Institute

Marin Mazzie, Actress, Singer

Ellen McLaughlin, Playwright, Actor

Erin Mee, Director, Scholar
Swarthmore theater arts professor

Greg Mehrten, Actor, Director, Writer

David Michalek, Artist, Photographer
Visiting Faculty Member – Yale Divinity School

Tyler Micoleau, Lighting Designer

Tim Miller, Performance Artist
One of the “NEA 4″, whose funding was vetoed for gay content

Jennifer Miller, Performance Artist, director
Founder and Artistic Director of Circus Amok

Steve Moore, Artistic Director
Physical Plant Theater

Susan Mosakowski, Playwright
Co-Artistic Director Creation Production Company

David Moscow, Actor

Erika Munk, Critic, Professor
Yale School of Drama, theater critic

Tom Nelis, Actor

Jim Nicola, Artistic Director
New York Theatre Workshop

Annie-B Parson, Director
Co-Founder, Artistic director Big Dance Theater, NYFA and Guggenheim Fellow

Sally Ann Parsons, Costumer, Craftsman, Designer

Shailja Patel, Sundance Theatre Fellow 2010

Katie Pearl, Director

Sybille Pearson, Playwright
Rockefeller Playwrights Fellowship; founding member of The Playwrights Circle at The New York Theatre Workshop; an Artistic Resident at the Vineyard Theater

Ralph Pena, Artistic Director, Ma Yi Theater

Carla Peterson, Director
Artistic Director, Dance Theater Workshop

Brian Pickett, Theater Artist and Educator
Member Steering Committee – Theaters Against War (THAW)

Catherine Porter, Director
Co-Artistic Director Peculiar Works Project, Obie Award Winner

Ruth Reichl, Writer; PBS Television host
former restaurant critic, NYTimes, former editor in chief, Gourmet magazine, PBS television series host, memoirist

Reno, Comedian

Gordon Rogoff, Theater Critic; Director; Professor of Theater
Yale School of Drama; Obie Award Winner

Jenny Romaine, Puppeteer, Theater Artist
Great Small Works

Avital Ronell, Writer, Academic, Literary Critic

Ken Rus Schmoll, Director

Brian H. Scott, Theatrical Designer

Regine Anna Seckinger, Ph.D., Advisory Board Member, Rude Mechanicals, Austin, TX

Jamil Shamasdin, Actor
Peggy Shaw, Performance Artist, Actor, Playwright

Christopher Shinn, Playwright
Obie Award Winner, Guggenheim Fellow

Sarah Schulman, Novelist, Playwright

Jeanmarie Simpson, Theatre/Film Artist

Michael Singer, Television News Producer
Former producer, CBS News

Alisa Solomon, Theater Critic
Director of Arts Concentration, School of Journalism, Columbia

Bonnie Stein, Performing Arts Administrator, Manager, Project Producer and Coordinator, Executive Director
GOH Productions

Kris Stone, Stage Designer

Mark Sussman, Scholar, Puppeteer Director.
Great Small Works; Concordia University

Caridad Svich, Playwright, Songwriter, Translator, Editor

Bill Talen, Director
The Church of Life After Shopping

Kathleen Tolan, Playwright, Actor

Basil Twist, Puppeteer
Obie Award Winner

Charlie Varon, Playwright, Performer

Naomi Wallace, Playwright, Screenwriter

Anne Washburn, Playwright
Guggenheim Fellow

Donya K. Washington, Director

Stephen Webber, Actor

Brenda Wehle, Actor

Mac Wellman, Playwright, Author, Poet, Scholar
Donald I. Fine Professor of Play writing at Brooklyn College

Anabelle Winograd, Writer, Critic, Educator

Eunice Wong, Actor

Kristina Wong, Solo Performer and Writer.
Recipient of awards from Creative Capital, MAPFUND, two Creation Funds from the National Performance Network, three grants from the Center for Cultural Innovation, three Durfee ARC Grants, and four Artist-in-Residence Awards from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. Had also received residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Atlantic Center for the Arts and the Hermitage in Englewood, FL.

Susan Yankowitz, Award-Winning Playwright and Librettist

David Zellnick, Playwright, Screenwriter, Lyricist

Source: U.S. Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel

Friday, September 03, 2010

Breaking: Israel invades Gaza on 1st day of talks

PressTV  September 2, 2010

Israel carries out an incursion into the Gaza Strip on the first day of the renewed reconciliation talks between Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

"Few hours ago, Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Hanoun…, where Israeli laborers were seen fixing the security fence in the so-called buffer zone," said Press TV's correspondent in the enclave, Ashraf Shannon, reporting on the Thursday incident.

"The buffer zone is an area of 300 meters along the Gaza Strip, declared by Israel, to prevent people from reaching there, especially farmers. But basically they are forcing a 1,000-meter no-go zone in that area. All the people were killed there, including civilians, women and children as well as farmers," he added.

The intrusion came as Israeli and PA officials are in Washington to resume the direct negotiations that broke off at the turn of 2009, when Israel launched a full-scale war on Gaza, killing more than 1,400 Palestinians.

Many Palestinian groups have already abandoned hope in the US-brokered revival of talks, citing the White House's partiality towards Tel Aviv and saying that the acting PA chief, Mahmoud Abbas, does not represent all the Palestinians.

The US authorities refuse to accept the Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement, Hamas, as a negotiating partner.

The movement, which was chosen to rule the strip during democratic elections in 2006, headed off the Gaza War and has been defending the strip's residents against the Israeli military's regular forays.

Nearly1.5 million Gazans have also suffered more than three years under an all-out siege, which was imposed on them by Tel Aviv a year after Hamas acceded to power.

"Last night, when they spoke in Washington, they failed to mention anything about the Gaza Strip. And today Hamas and the Islamic Jihad denounced the negotiations in Washington. Hamas said that any agreement signed by…Abbas is not binding to the Palestinian people, while the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine said that these negotiations are just a prelude to a possible new war against a country or countries in the Middle East," our correspondent said.

PA was reportedly railroaded into joining the talks after being threatened by Washington to lose American ties.

The organization had earlier insisted that it would resume the process only after the similarly American-mediated indirect talks bore fruit. Known as "proximity" talks, the negotiations failed due to Israel's regular defiance of the Palestinian condition of halting the construction of illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian lands.

In keeping with the defiance, Jewish settlers announced plans to launch new constructions, Reuters reported.

Tel Aviv has as well so far ignored the other Palestinian demands to fully withdraw from the borders of 1967, when it occupied the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. The PA has also called for the resumption of negotiations from the point they were left off following the Israeli attacks.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has, however, said that there would be no room for any conditions for the talks -- a point also favored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iranians, who have likewise condemned the talks, as well as Muslims across the world, are expected to express solidarity with the Palestinians during mass rallies on the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, declared as the Quds Day by the late founder of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, Imam Khomeini.

"In Palestine in general and in Gaza in particular, the people have all their gratitude towards the Iranian people and especially late Ayatollah Khomeini for…Quds Day and every year Gazans march to commemorate this occasion and also commemorate it with different conferences and meetings and sometimes special prayers in some mosques in the Gaza Strip," our correspondent said.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

War and the irreparable damage to Iraqi Cultural Heritage

Any way we look at it, wars bring only death and destruction. Their consequences are not easy to amend, and the damages they cause are well beyond repair.

Since the beginning of the occupation, the Iraqi casualties have been 1,366,350, and almost 5,000 US troops lost their lives. All human lives and their respective families ruined for the imperialistic goals of controling the country's natural resources, divide it and sell it to big corporations.

One of the many heinous consequences of wars is the destruction of the society and its cultural values. This is what is dangerously happening in Iraq.

Named Mesopotamia (Land between two Rivers) in ancient times, Iraq has always boasted a thriving cultural heritage, that now is seeing its end due to this deadly occupation. Museums displaying invaluable pieces of Middle Eastern past have been destroyed, and all treasures stolen and certainly sold in the black market.

Killings of human beings and the destruction of a cultural heritage (any heritage) are not problems of the specific countries involved, but they affect humanity as a whole, and with Iraqi's, a huge piece of human history has been lost.

The video I'm posting below is a 3-minute part of a lecture held by Columbia University Professor Zaineb al Bahrani on the very topic of the destruction of Iraqi cultural heritage. The full lecture can be viewed here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Fidel Castro: Osama bin Laden is a US agent

By PAUL HAVEN, Associated Press Writer Paul Haven, Associated Press Writer Fri Aug 27

HAVANA – Fidel Castro says al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is a bought-and-paid-for CIA agent who always popped up when former President George W. Bush needed to scare the world, arguing that documents recently posted on the Internet prove it.

"Any time Bush would stir up fear and make a big speech, bin Laden would appear threatening people with a story about what he was going to do," Castro told state media during a meeting with a Lithuanian-born writer known for advancing conspiracy theories about world domination. "Bush never lacked for bin Laden's support. He was a subordinate."

Castro said documents posted on WikiLeaks.org — a website that recently released thousands of pages of classified documents from the Afghan war — "effectively proved he was a CIA agent." He did not elaborate.
The comments, published in the Communist Party daily Granma on Friday, were the latest in a series of provocative statements by the 84-year-old revolutionary, who has emerged from seclusion to warn that the planet is on the brink of nuclear war.

Castro even predicted the global conflict would mean cancellation of the final rounds of the World Cup last month in South Africa. He later apologized for jumping the gun. Last week, he began highlighting the work of Daniel Estulin, who wrote a trilogy of books highlighting the Bilderberg Club, whose prominent members meet once a year behind closed doors.

The secretive nature of the meetings and prominence of some members — including former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, senior U.S. and European officials, and major international business and media executives — have led some to speculate that it operates as a kind of global government, controlling not only international politics and economics, but even culture.

During the meeting, Estulin told Castro that the real voice of bin Laden was last heard in late 2001, not long after the Sept. 11 attacks. He said the person heard making warnings about terror attacks after that was a "bad actor."

Castro stepped down due to ill health in 2006 — first temporarily, then permanently — and handed power over to his younger brother Raul. He has remained head of the Cuban Communist party but stayed out of view for four years after falling sick before returning to the spotlight in July.

Castro did take exception with one of Estulin's major theses: that the human race must move to another habitable planet or face extinction. Castro said it would be better to fix things on Earth then abandon the planet altogether.

"Humanity ought to take care of itself if it wants to live thousands more years," Castro told the writer.

Original article first published here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Video: PsyWar: The real battlefield is the mind

Thought-provoking video on how the dynamics of propaganda work in our mind. In order to control our thoughts, depending on particular historical moments, governments will unleash a different kind of information aimed at serving the specific needs of the elite, hidden behind the over-used formula "national interest".


Psywar Trailer from S DN on Vimeo.

This is a 4-minute trailer, but you can watch the entire movie online for free here.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's time US realized the value of peace

The United States seems to be flexing its military muscles in Northeast Asia and the South China Sea for some time now, especially after the sinking of the Republic of Korea's (ROK) corvette, Cheonan, on March 26.

Ignoring Beijing's repeated opposition, the US and the ROK held a military exercise in the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea, precariously close to China's maritime boundary, last month.

On Aug 8, on its way back from the joint drill, American nuclear-powered super-carrier USS George Washington hosted a delegation of Vietnamese military officers about 320 km off the Vietnamese port of Danang in the South China Sea. A couple of days later, American destroyer USS John S. McCain docked in Vietnam for a four-day "non-combat" exchange program.

What is particularly noteworthy is the fast developing military ties between the US and Vietnam, which fought a bloody war for two decades (by far the bloodiest Cold War military conflict). Interestingly, the US warships' visit to Vietnam has been described as a "commemoration" of the 15th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the former enemies.

And then came the news that the US and Vietnam were in "advanced talks" over a nuclear deal. An article, Concerned about China's rise, Southeast Asia nations build up militaries, in the Aug 9 edition of the Washington Post says: "The nations of Southeast Asia are edging closer strategically to the US as a hedge against China's rise and its claims to all of the South China Sea."

So, the US intervention in the South China Sea disputes isn't incidental. It's the outcome of the Barack Obama administration's "return to Asia" strategy. Some American analysts argue that China expanded its influence in Southeast Asia as the US was focused on the "war on terror" after the 9/11 attacks. Their logic is simple: any potential challenger to Washington in Eurasia should be the target of US global startegy.

Western publications such as the Wall Street Journal and Newsweek have published articles saying the US needs to work out "a new China strategy" taking the South China Sea as a starting point. And US Senator John McCain has said that "hooking in Vietnam" as a new strategic pivot to counterbalance China's influence is in the interests of US security.

Though Vietnam is expected to strike some kind of balance among major world powers, it is unlikely to side with the US openly and turn China into an enemy. If the world were to judge the situation only on the basis of the exaggerated and provocative reports in the Western media, which say China's neighbors and the US are jointly confronting Beijing, it could be misled easily.

In fact, a recent declaration by the Philippines Foreign Ministry dealt a heavy blow to such rhetoric. The Philippines Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo told reporters on Aug 9 that negotiations should be strictly between the ASEAN and China, without the involvement of the US or any other party. The Malaysian media, too, have said that America's involvement in the South China Sea dispute could only lead to trouble.

China has undisputed sovereignty over the islands and reefs and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea. But it insists on solving the disputes with its neighbors through talks based on international laws and opposes any attempt to internationalize the territorial disputes.

In the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, signed by China and ASEAN member countries in 2002, all the sides pledged to exercise restraint, and not to turn the disputes into international issues. A rising China understands and respects other countries' pursuit of a multi-directional and diversified diplomacy. But it has made it clear it will not tolerate any plot to contain its economic and social development.

Old-fashioned military alliance games continue even in the 21st century, but the West's international realism theory, based on balance of power, cannot adapt to the reality of today's changing world, let alone accept the protests against US military presence and influence in countries such as Japan, the ROK and the Philippines, which are American allies.

Globalization has changed the pattern of relations betweeb countries and global interdependence today is far beyond people's imagination. By getting involved in the South China Sea disputes and fanning trouble between China and its neighbors, Washington aims to contain Beijing and re-establish its global hegemony.

But since China's rise is an irresistible historical process, Beijing should stick to its bottom line, that is, not allow anybody to harm its core national interests, which is in line with the China-US Joint Statement issued during Obama's visit to China in November. This would be the best way to ease the anti-China pressure being built up by the US.

China has not wavered from the road of peaceful development and the building of good relationships and partnerships with its neighboring countries, including Southeast Asian nations. America's intervention in the South China Sea disputes is far from a peaceful move.

Besides, it can never strengthen regional security; it can only give rise to new conflicts. And this is not a good sign for China, the US or the Asian-Pacific region.

Hence, China and the US should see constructively from the angle of peaceful coexistence, rather than glare at each other furiously at every turn.


Article appeared on China Daily, August 18th edition, written by Fu Mengzi, assistant president of China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

G20, G8, the common practice of police infiltration in so-called "Black Bloc"


Carlo Giuliani, activist killed by the Italian police during Genoa's G8 in 2001. Photo from orianomada.

The rather clumsy effort of Canadian police officers to disguise as the infamous Black Bloc in order to put Toronto upside down has been widely exposed, revealing the fear the élite always has when people gather peacefully to protest against the system.

Since the G8 held in Genoa in 2001, before every political meeting, media start warning about the Black Bloc threat.

But who are these gloomy black-clad figures who destroy anything within they reach? And, especially during Genoa's G8, why didn't the police do anything to stop them?

Particularly regarding Genoa's G8, there are many controversial facts.

Witnesses say the police didn't do anything to stop the Black Bloc from destroying cars, shop displays and setting up fire. On the other hand, the same police officers will break in the school Diaz during the night, transformed in those days into a camp, and will beat the activists who were sleeping. The outcome will be a massacre. The official explanation for this difference of treatment will be: "a mistake".

There are photos and videos in which the police appears standing still in front of the pack of Black Bloc, or even pulling back. Official explanation? "We didn't want to hurt them", "We couldn't attack them until they hadn't done anything wrong".

Witnesses have reported to have seen Black Bloc talking very friendly to police officers. Official explanation? "Openness from both sides".

Witnesses have reported that hundreds of Black Bloc were training just 400mt away from a police station. What's wrong with that? Anybody can exercise. Also, why did police run away when the Black Bloc were attacking a police station? There's no official explanation on that, they're still thinking about it.

Why didn't the police stop them at the border when they were coming to Italy armed like if they were going to war? They even prepared themselves in front of the police. Why weren't they stopped?

Italian lawyer Paolo Franceschetti explains why all these questions are met with inconsistent answers: "Black Bloc are simply members of the secret services, and their job was to create disorder during the G8. They weren't stopped because the police received the order not to stop them. They weren't charged because the police received the order not to charge them. They got ready in front of the police officers because the police was protecting them. They trained close to a military station because they were soldiers. They talked friendly to the police because they were colleagues."

The technique used by self-styled "Black Bloc" is perfectly in line with the secret services job of distracting the public from the core of the problem to a side, made-up issue. In fact, during the G8, while no-global activists were demonstrating peacefully against a globalisation that is destroying our planet, that is bringing developing countries to their knees, that is making every nation, one after the other, collapse, that is inventing reasons for new wars every day, that is undermining local cultures to the benefit of big corporations, the public attention was focused on those black figures setting up fires all over Genoa.

The Black Bloc, before their dashing performance in front of cameras, video cameras and media from all over the world, issued their "official statement": they wanted to destroy all private property. Only this statement, according to the Italian law, is already a crime, and the police was obliged to prosecute them. But it didn't.

According to Paolo Franceschetti, "given the means of our secret services and police, it should be easy to identify such people and dismantle their supposed organisation in less than no time." Franceschetti has no doubt: "This is the secret services modus operandi."

Of course, the majority of the protesters were pacifists, belonging to any sort of organisation, from catholic to buddhist, to ordinary citizens fed up of this system that is the source of all problems, not the solution. However, thanks to Black Bloc activities, now in the public mind no-global is synonymous with thug.

All they've done has been creating a fake problem to hide the real one.

Secret services: mission accomplished.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Angela Lano on Flotilla: "Psychological violence, they seized everything" - English Subtitles



Thanks to abuyazan82

This is an interview that Angela Lano, Italian journalist and activist, survivor of the Freedom Flotilla attacked by the Israeli Navy, gave to Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Students' protest in Iran, eleven MPs resign

Photo courtesy of Jahan News

Mr Ahmadinejad doesn't seem to find peace in this mandate. The latest protest has come from Tehran's students, and caused the resignation of eleven MPs, nonetheless.

What was the reason of this new disorder involving Azad University pupils? And who were protesting against exactly?

The Iranian Parliament has recently passed a bill to donate one of Azad University's properties worth $200 billion for public purposes. So far so good. However, what caused students' uprising and eleven MPs to resign was the almost imperceptible point that allowed the head of the university, Mr Jasbi, to make it a lifetime stint.

For as small as this article was, it didn't remain overlooked to the attentive eyes of Azad's students who started a protest aimed at making the Parliament cancel the whole bill.

Azad is a private university funded almost entirely by students' fees, and it's under Rafsanjani's rule. One of the university's directors, Mr Jasbi indeed, is one of the closest Rafsanjani's allies, and students are having the impression that the Rafsanjani's clan somehow feels like they own the university itself.

Mr Jasbi, apparently famous for financial corruption, has allegedly funded the Mousavi's campaign of the last presidential elections thanks to the students' fees. The fact that Mousavi's wife has achieved her PhD in political sciences without admission exam, doesn't make things better for the "green" party in the public mind.

In a sudden move, Ahmadinejad-led government has changed the head of the university chain, sparking protests within the Parliament, due to the Parliament's ties with Mr Rafsanjani (the head of the Parliament's Committee for Education is Mr Jasbi's brother in law, and eleven MPs resigned to protest against his abuse of power in favour of Mr Jasbi), and because, by changing the director, all university benefits, ranging from real estate properties to students' fees, would be cut off.

Students have strongly protested against the bill so that the Parliament was forced to cancel it. Although it's out of doubt that the Iranian Parliament needs to address some serious corruption issues, it's good to see the students managed to make their voice heard.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tom Engelhardt: "In Washington getting out of Afghanistan is not an option"

Soon after Obama's victory at the presidential elections, I stumbled on an American woman on the Eurostar from London to Paris and couldn't avoid listening to a conversation she was having about US newly elected President.

"People love him," she announced with pride. "We have even cocktails named after him!"

"European citizens love him too," echoed another passenger, from London. "We put a great deal of trust on him."

"Well, maybe you do," I thought, preferring not to express my pessimism out loud.

Then, just in the middle of the discussion between the two Obama-lovers, a little revelation came along causing a moment of silence.

"Of course," the Londoner said, "we didn't appreciate much his announcement that he's going to send 15,000 more troops to Afghanistan, we actually hoped he would withdraw instead."

The American woman froze: all over the world (or at least Europe, as far as I know) people, media, academics were discussing about this shocking plan and this lady, Obama-supporter, who actively participated in the Democrats' campaign, had no clue. "He did what?" she babbled.

Soon after that, the world witnessed astonished the joke of Obama awarded of the Nobel Peace Prize, and the Afghanistan strategy fell in the scrap heap of recent history.

I read often good analyses coming from US researchers, so I wonder what kind of media US citizens stick to to be so unaware of what their government does around the world.

In the aftermath of the "Runaway General" McChrystal's revelations on the US strategy (or non-strategy) in Afghanistan, I've decided to publish this interview with Tom Engelhardt as he is always a careful observer and researcher of world geopolitical affairs.

More GRITtv

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Oil spill: an explosive mix of incompetence and malgovernance

Obama has talked about an unprecedented environmental disaster, and sadly, he might be right. Initially, official sources have reported a leak of about a thousand oil barrels of spillover a day, then they've increased to five thousands.

The good news is that they have found out what has caused the disaster, the bad news is that the leak is now of 10,000 barrels a day just because they have managed to reduce it substantially.

There is a great deal of confusion over the whole incident, and this is mainly due to the high level of censorship applied by BP on all the work before and after the explosion.

The real cause of the leak has been the explosion of a gas bubble in the ocean bottom. Apparently, this bubble was bigger than it seemed like, but here the first doubts arise: Why did BP not predict the size of the bubble?

During the operations of oil production, in fact, the platform has a system for monitoring the bottom of the sea, namely its depth, where exactly the well is and the possible presence of such gas bubbles, scattered all over the ocean bottom.

However, BP, a company that has been operating for decades in oil production in the four continents, despite the huge size of the gas bubble, pressed on drilling and made it explode.

There can be different explanations on why they kept going with the drilling operations, and the most plausible is that the platform was not heavy and equipped enough to work at 1600mt of depth. Unlike in the Northern European Sea, in fact, in the American Continent security matters are much less strict, and this is the tragic result of malgovernance combined with incompetence from greedy companies.

What made the gas bubble explode was the presence, inside the marine riser, of two boring rods (the masts used for drilling), instead of one.

The marine riser is a protection pipe connected to the BOP, or blowout preventer, a large valve placed on the sea bottom at the top of a well, that can be closed if the drilling crew loses control of formation fluids and well pressure.

Although the BOP can be used for oil production, it is mainly employed to check the drilling and the pressure, because keeping a rig only to produce oil through the BOP is too expensive. So, once the BOP has done its security job, there is a system of valves that transfers crude oil to appropriate oil tankers.

In this context, the first thing to do was naturally to reduce the pressure of the well. Why did they not do it? The explosion inevitably damaged the marine riser, and the valve system of the BOP connected to it, making it impossible for the crew to control the well and its fluids.

Also, and more importantly, the drilling rig didn't have the adequate equipment to be working at such depths, so they couldn't prevent the size of the bubble, and consequently reduce the pressure of the well after the explosion.

However, after realising that it wasn't possible to reduce the leak through the BOP, they should have immediately cut the damaged marine riser and started drilling in the same groundwater in order to reduce the pressure of the well out of control.

Now, after almost two months, they have cut the marine riser (managing to reduce the spill to 10,000 barrels a day), and are starting drilling nearby. The wells will be ready in August, which is two months away. If they had started drilling immediately, now they would have been ready, and the oil spill substantially less important.

Apparently, BP wasn't even aware of the presence of two boring rods inside the marine riser, as a subcontracted firm might have been in charge of the operations. Extreme incompetence that has caused the death of 11 rig workers and unprecedented environmental, economic, humanitarian disaster, or sabotage?

Now Obama has ordered massive security checks, and five platforms have been shut. What one might wonder is why these security checks come along only after such disasters.

All photos are courtesy of the owner and may not be used without permission.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Silence of the International Community between blood and corruption

Last week the world has witnessed live the umpteenth massacre carried out by the special forces of the Israeli Navy against the activists of the Turkish Mavi Marmara ship. This week the world has witnessed presidents and leaders alternate in their more or less shallow condemnations, a sort of must-follow ritual when such crimes are committed.

US president Barack Obama has failed to show the public opinion his country's independence from the Israeli lobby, confirming once again that the very sovereignty of the United States is more on the paper than in reality. Along with Mr Obama, Western leaders have proved equally spineless in front of Israel's arrogance.

The barbaric attack sheds light on the increasing weakness of the International Community. It's impossible not to notice the defeaning silence of part of the Arab world, along with Western governments, incapable (and unwilling) of imposing their authority in front of an entity that keeps considering itself above any national and international law, and above the most basic principles of civilisation.

Since its inception, Zionism has performed the most heinous crimes, and each and every one of these acts slipped in the scrap heap of history thanks to the complicity of the International Community that has always granted the tiny State with too much decision power in the field of the international relations.

This latest attack against an aid ship aimed at the wounded Gaza Strip reveals the worrying prospect that Zionists are forcing worldwide public mind and diplomatic efforts into a wider resignation while they carry on expanding their control throughout the Middle East.

The policies imposed by the Zionist occupiers on the Palestinian people, based on hatred, racism, cruelty and apartheid, are becoming always more worryingly accepted by the Western diplomatic routine, despite the fierce indignation coming from the public opinion.

Western leaders being incapable of claiming their sovereignty and independence from Zionist influence, this attack against humanitarian aid sets a dramatic precedent in human rights history and a dangerous rise of the tension.

The deliberate onslaught of the Israeli Navy against a NATO member is a serious provocation to worldwide diplomacy, and the unwillingness of the United Nations to carry out an independent international investigation proves the corruption and double-standard within the Western system.

Is Israel trying to make clear that no country can fight against its arrogance? Is Israel anticipating how they have been planning to manage their interests in the Middle East and worldwide?

When the image Israel was giving of itself couldn't get any worse, it did: the commando who alone killed six activists was awarded with a medal of honor, introducing the concept of violence being not only appreciated but encouraged. Israel was founded on horror and genocide, a Nakba that has never ended, and this latest attack by the too independent military forces shows that Israeli government has no respect for human rights nor for any citizen bearing any nationality.

There is no possible justification to such inhumane brutality used against an aid ship carrying activists from more than 40 countries and humanitarian supplies. A brutality that shocked the public mind over the four Continents, yet that inevitably reveals Israel's weakness. In its inhumanity, in fact, the Zionist regime has proved powerless when facing human compassion, unveiling their vicious nature and exposing their intentions of an escalation of violence that anybody challenging their inconsistent reality will have to confront.

Israel's latest onslaught scarily looks like a war sign to Turkey first and foremost, but also a less direct challenge to Iran, Lebanon, Syria and even the US, almost as if to say: "We slaughter your nationals, suck it up and keep fundind our State terrorism".

The unconditional support of the United States to Israel's policies within the occupation and devastation of Palestine, and the endemic submissiveness in front of their ally's aggressive behaviour and criminal activities all over the world, are having the unavoidable consequences of isolating them from future alternative alliances.
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