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.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Italian survivors from attack on Flotilla: "Beaten on the ship and at the airport"

The six Italian activists, part of the Flotilla headed to Gaza and attacked by an Israeli commando while in international waters, are back in Italy.

Angela Lano, Giuseppe Fallisi, Ismail Abdel Rahim Qaraqe Awin, Marcello Faraggi, Manuel Zani e Manolo Luppichini are telling their horror stories to police and journalists: "We were beaten by the Israeli troops first on the ship when they assaulted us and arrested, and also at the airport of Tel Aviv by the Israeli police."

Said Giuseppe Fallisi: "We were brought to a prison in the middle of the desert, just built: it seemed they built it on purpose for our arrival."

Angela Lano, editor of the information agency InfoPal, told the press: "We were kidnapped, both on the ship and in jail, where we didn't have any right: we couldn't make phone calls, not even to contact our lawyers."

Ismail Abdel Rahim Qaraqe Awin, of Palestinian origins, is angry: "We've done this for that million and a half Palestinians who are still in jail. We want to do it again. We want the Italian government and all countries to understand. Stop being silent: end the siege on Gaza."

"The assualt of the Israeli soldiers boarding on the ship seemed like a scene from Apocalypse Now," recalled Manuel Zani. "When we understood they were going to attack us we split up into two groups. I went to the pilot-house with the journalists to try to record on tape what was happening, but they confiscated everything. I will never go to Israel again in my life," he concluded, "but I want to go back to Palestine as soon as I can."

The Italian government, together with the United States and the Netherlands, has voted against the launch of an international investigation on the carnage carried out by Israeli soldiers. As the Italian government has already had the opportunity to show its weakness and unwillingness in defending the rights of Italians abroad, there's little hope the leaders of the Belpaese will stick their neck out in this occasion.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Video: Israeli Navy attack on Freedom Flotilla



These are the images of the attack against the peace activists of the Freedom Flotilla heading to Gaza with humanitarian aid.

The aggression was carried out in international waters and in complete disrespect of international laws. The soldiers of the Israeli commando started shooting at the activists before boarding on the ship and what had started as a humanitarian action ended in a lake of blood.

US president Barack Obama has failed to prove his impartiality and has failed in his condemnation of the massacre, showing once again that the United States are controlled by the Zionist lobby to an extent that is making the rest of the world increasingly worried and uncomfortable.

Flotilla organizer Adam Shapiro: “We expected to be stopped but not shot at”

Everybody's worst fear has come true: the Israeli Navy has attacked early Monday morning one of the eight ships headed to Gaza from the main European ports and loaded with humanitarian aid. The whole world is shocked.

After being stopped for a day in Cyprus port, the Freedom Flotilla made its way to Gaza Sunday morning, in the late evening satellite communication networks were cut off and journalists, European MPs and flotilla passengers were unable to establish contacts with families, friends and media newsrooms.

According to AlJazeera, the death toll of last night's Israeli attack is 19, plus an indefinite number of injured still in critical conditions.

Over the phone, Adam Shapiro, one of the organizers of Freedom Flotilla, is visibly upset: “We expected Israel would have tried to stop us, we did talk about this, but we thought the chances they would use such violence were very little,” he said. “We were sure Israel was going to stop us, this is why we wanted to show the world what the siege on Gaza is all about.”

The Israeli government has said they were attacked by the peace activists. “Israel always says they are attacked first,” retorted Adam Shapiro. “However, this time they can't really, as it's all on tape: the Israeli soldiers dropped onto the deck of the ship and nobody among the activists had anything in their hands.”

“We lost communication with the members of the Flotilla during the night and we couldn't manage to get in touch. Now we know that they were brought to Haifa and Ashdod port where the Israeli Army had prisons ready for the activists,” said Shapiro. “We are not going to let this go, we are following this up carefully in order to make sure all activists are released and taken care of” he concluded.

According to the released activists, Israeli soldiers have started shooting before boarding on the ship.

Israel has been heavily condemned over the command raid against the aid convoy.

On the day after the attack, demonstrations all over the world are taking place in solidarity with the activists of the Flotilla: London protesters gathered in Downing Street, US citizens are taking it to the street in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco; Italians are meeting in Piazza Venezia in Rome. Demonstrations are taking place in Gaza, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Istanbul, where citizens have gathered in front of the Israeli consulate to protest against the violent attack on Gaza-bound Turkish aid ship.

UN Secretary Ban Ki-moon has said to be “shocked” by the attack of the Israeli Navy against the aid convoy; Navy Pillay, UN high commissioner for human rights is “shocked by reports that humanitarian aid was met with violence reportedly causing death and injury as the boat convoy approached the Gaza coast. The blockade,” she continues “keeps undermining human rights on a daily basis.”

The Arab League has called for an urgent meeting in Cairo on June 1st to gather all its foreign ministers.

Catherine Ashton, high representative of EU foreign policy has called for a full inquiry about the circumstances of the attack against the peaceful flotilla, remarking that “the continued policy of closure of Gaza is unacceptable and the EU demands an immediate opening of the crossing for the flow of humanitarian aid.”

Spain's secretary of State for EU affairs has defined the event “unacceptable and very serious” and announced they have summoned Israeli ambassador in Spain in order to launch immediately a thorough investigation.

Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini has declared that “Italy deplores the loss of civilian life in Israel's raid on a flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza. Israel must provide the international community with an explanation.”

Greece, Spain, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland have summoned the respective Israeli ambassadors and the EU has asked the Israeli government to launch an investigation on what happened. Turkey has announced the attack might have “irreparable consequences” on their relations and called for a meeting of the UN Security Council.

Also Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has strongly condemned the attack, defining it: “an inhuman Zionist regime action against Gazans”.

The consulates of those identified dead have been contacted, and activists are currently held by the Zionist forces. Turkey foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu has underlined that “no country is superior than international laws” and that “the Turkish citizens injured must be able to go back to Turkey without any condition.”

Despite a mild response of US president Obama, the rest of the world is officially calling for a tough response to what has happened in international waters while aid ships were approaching Gaza shores. Global civil society is bent on not forgetting this umpteenth show of arrogance and disrespect towards international laws coming from the Israeli government, and is waiting to see Israel held accountable for its crimes.

In the meantime, the ship MV Rachel Corrie, carrying 1,200 tons of aid, 15 activists, including Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire and former Assistant UN Secretary-General Denis Halliday, set off from Malta and is on its way to Gaza. Israel has already threatened to stop them. Needless to say, the eyes of the whole world are on them.
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