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URUK Net 19 February, 2009

Last updated: Sunday, February 22, 2009 10:12

Is the U.S. Paying Off the Italian Government for Forging the Niger Documents?
By Jeffrey Klein and Paolo Pontoniere
“Obama Confronts a Choice on Copters” read this week’s New York Times. The President soon “will have to decide whether to proceed with some of the priciest aircraft in the world — a new fleet of 28 Marine One helicopters that will each cost more than the last Air Force One…The choice confronting Mr. Obama encapsulates the tension between two imperatives of his nascent presidency, the need to meet the continuing threats of an age of terrorism and the demand for austerity in a period of economic hardship.” This is a gross misrepresentation of the choice Obama faces. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) and others have alleged that the contract for 28 Marine One helicopters was awarded to the Italian firm Finmeccanica as a thank you for Italy’s participation in the Iraq War. The evidence, however, indicates that the contract was more specifically a payoff to the Italian government for supplying the forged documents showing Saddam had obtained weapons grade uranium from Niger. President Bush famously used this fraudulent “yellowcake” intelligence to justify launching the war…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51966

Still Homeless in Baghdad
Dahr Jamail
“We only want a normal life,” says Um Qasim, sitting in a bombed out building in Baghdad. She and others around have been saying that for years. Um Qasim lives with 13 family members in a brick shanty on the edge of a former military intelligence building in the Mansoor district of Baghdad. Five of her children are girls. Homelessness is not easy for anyone, but it is particularly challenging for women and girls. “Me and my girls have to be extra careful living this way,” Um Qasim told IPS. “We are tired of always being afraid, because any day, any time, strange men walk through our area, and there is no protection for us. Each day brings a new threat to us, and all the women here.”…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51960

Extending the War In Afghanistan
By Colonel Ghulam Sarwar (RET) – Translated By Mohammed Abuhuraira Akrami
…The new American government’s attitude is shocking and very disappointing because, as it reaches out its hand of friendship to the Muslim world, it also talks about extending the war on terror in Afghanistan, making it the longest war ever fought in American history. As far as Pakistan is concerned, we confess with great pain that in the war against terrorism, which America started and we supported completely, we (Pakistan) have lost more than we gained. For now, even our beloved country (Pakistan) is under attack from American drones. Orders are being given by the new American president to continue the drone attacks in the future as well. The result of Pakistan’s absolute support of America and its war against terrorism is that, despite the thousands of Pakistani military personnel already lost, America is attacking our own land and our Pakistani leadership doesn’t even have the guts to speak to America on the subject… Now, the question arises: Why are American rulers expressing such “war-mania” against Afghanistan? The answer to this question was mentioned at the beginning of this article: that the real purpose for this war is to have access to the rich oil and gas resources that exist in the Caspian region…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51964

Lives buried under the rubble in Gaza
PCHR – Palestinian Centre for Human Rights
Three weeks after the Israeli offensive on the Gaza Strip, 16-year-old Maysa al-Louh sits stoically on the pile of sand that consumes half her home in Beit Lahiya. Under the sand, churned up by Israeli bulldozers during incursions into the area on 4 January 2009 lie all her report cards and school awards that were testament to her excellent academic record. Nearby her grandmother tries to heat water on a pile of ash. The smell of decomposing chicken carcasses is overwhelming: the family’s chicken coop that provided them with eggs, as well as their vegetable garden, were all destroyed by the bulldozers and tanks…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51958

A month on from Gaza ceasefire up to 100,000 people remain homeless
Save the Children
At least 100,000 people, including up to 56,000 children, remain displaced with many continuing to take shelter in tents or crowding into remaining homes with other families, one month since the Gaza ceasefire was declared. […] Around 500,000 people including 280,000 children were forced from their homes at some point during the conflict. Where whole neighborhoods were destroyed ‘tent cities’ have sprung up and are now home to hundreds of people, many without access to clean drinking water and toilets. “Whole communities have pitched tents so they can be close to the remains of their homes,” said Ms Whitbread. “However, the tents are small and offer no protection from the low temperatures at night that can reach less than 7-8 degrees Celsius. There is also not enough clean drinking water, while some camps of up to 40 families have to share only one or two toilets between them. This poses obvious health risks. “Thousands of children are now living in poor conditions, struggling to keep warm and fed. Many are already severely distressed from having witnessed the fighting and now they are having to cope with losing their homes with little prospect of returning to any sense of normality,” Ms Whitbread added…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51961

Sexual Abuse in Britain’s Baghdad Embassy
By Afif Sarhan, IOL Correspondent
Eman (not her real name) is locking herself home, refusing to meet anyone and sinking into despair over what she describes as sexual abuse and bullying at the British Embassy. “My sister has been in a deep depression since the incident,” her brother Ahmed told IslamOnline.net. “What happened is a shame to her honor. It will affect her future if she gets exposed.” Eman is the latest victim of alleged sexual harassment at the British Embassy, located inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51962

Lobbyists Whistle Up Cordesman to “Prove” Israel Waged a Clean War in Gaza
The Cleanser
NORMAN FINKELSTEIN
Anthony H. Cordesman, a leading military analyst from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, has published a “strategic analysis” of the Gaza massacre.( He reaches the remarkable conclusion that “Israel did not violate the laws of war.” The report is based on “briefings in Israeli [sic] during and immediately after the fighting made possible by a visit sponsored by Project Interchange, and using day-to-day reporting issued by the Israeli Defense Spokesman.” Cordesman omits mention that Project Interchange is funded by the American Jewish Committee…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51959

Organize for boycott Israel day of action
Appeal, Secretariat of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee
In December 2008, Israel decided to mark the 60th anniversary of its existence the same way it had established itself — perpetrating massacres against the Palestinian people. In 23 days, Israel killed more than 1,300 and injured at least 5,000 Palestinians in Gaza. The irony of history is that Israel targeted those Palestinians — and their descendants — whom it had expelled from their homes and pushed into refugeehood in Gaza in 1948, whose land it has stolen, whom it has oppressed since 1967 by means of a brutal military occupation, and whom it had tried to starve into submission by means of a criminal blockade of food, fuel and electricity in the 18 months preceding the military assault. We cannot wait for Israel to zero in on its next objective. Palestine has today become the test of our indispensable morality and our common humanity…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51956

Google Earth reveals secret history of US base in Pakistan
Jeremy Page, Times
The US was secretly flying unmanned drones from the Shamsi airbase in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan as early as 2006, according to an image of the base from Google Earth.The image — that is no longer on the site but which was obtained by The News, Pakistan’s English language daily newspaper — shows what appear to be three Predator drones outside a hangar at the end of the runway. The Times also obtained a copy of the image, whose co-ordinates confirm that it is the Shamsi airfield, also known as Bandari, about 200 miles southwest of the Pakistani city of Quetta…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51955

Barack Obama Administration Continues US Military Global Dominance
Peter Phillips
The Barack Obama administration is continuing the neo-conservative agenda of US military domination of the world— albeit with perhaps a kinder-gentler face. While overt torture is now forbidden for the CIA and Pentagon, and symbolic gestures like the closing of the Guantanamo prison are in evidence, a unilateral military dominance policy, expanding military budget, and wars of occupation and aggression will likely continue unabated. The military expansionists from within the Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, G. W. Bush administrations put into place solid support for increased military spending. Clinton’s model of supporting the US military industrial complex held steady defense spending and increased foreign weapons sales from 16% of global orders to over 63% by the end of his administration…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51954

Justifying Israeli War Crimes
Reem Salahi
Having left Gaza now, I am trying to come to terms with what I saw, what I heard and honestly, what I don’t think I will ever understand is the justification. While Israel’s recent offensive has been the most egregious of any historical attack upon the Palestinians in Gaza, it is just that, one of many. Gaza has been under Israeli bombardment and sanctions for many years. Prior to the Israeli pullout in 2005, Gaza was under the complete control and occupation of Israel. Nearly 8000 Israeli settlers occupied 40% of Gaza while the 1.5 million Palestinians occupied the remaining 60%. Settlements were located on the most fertile lands and along Gaza’s beautiful coastal regions and checkpoints prevented Palestinian mobility. Despite being one-fifth the size of Rhode Island, 25 miles long by 4-7.5 miles wide, Gaza was divided into three sections and Palestinians had to pass through multiple checkpoints to get from one section to the next. Often Israeli forces would close these checkpoints and not allow the Palestinians access to the other regions in Gaza as a form of collective punishment…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51953

Israel’s Dirty War in Gaza and Complicity of Her Allies
Marc Herbermann
In recent years, life had become more and more unbearable in the area which once was called Palestine. Palestinians today, under a Jewish state that allows them no autonomy, suffer from miserable living conditions in a land that was theirs more than 60 years ago. Jews, separated by huge concrete walls from the Palestine population, are scared of continuous rocket fire and the notion of being a victim of another devastating suicide attack. And now, Palestinians, expelled from their former homeland, crammed and trapped in a ghetto in the Gaza Strip, are the victims of a criminal military campaign…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51951

The Roots of Hatred in the Zionist Ideology
Salim Nazzal
…The fact that Hitler was democratically elected by the German people did not legitimize his policy of mass murder; in the same way the Israeli election of fascists and war criminals should not legitimate the Zionists’ policy of mass murder. However, if Hitler is the starkest model of the democratic electoral system that brought Nazism to power in Germany, the recent Israeli election is a more recent example of an election that brought another known fascist, Avigdor Lieberman…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51950

Iraq’s Kurdish-Arab tensions threaten to escalate into war
By Leila Fadel, McClatchy Newspapers
At the headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in Mosul , Khasro Goran , the deputy governor of Iraq’s Nineveh province, is worried about the future. Iraq’s Jan. 31 provincial elections have been hailed as a sign that the country is putting its violent past behind it, is moving toward democracy and no longer is in need of a large U.S. military force. Along a 300-mile strip of disputed territory that stretches across northern Iraq , however, the elections have rekindled the longstanding hostility between Sunni Muslim Arabs and Sunni Kurds, and there are growing fears that war could erupt…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51945

3 U.S. lawmakers view Gaza damage, but sidestep Hamas
By Taghreed El-Khodary
Three congressional Democrats, including Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, visited Gaza on Thursday, saying they wanted to see for themselves the destruction caused by Israel’s war last month and assess the area’s needs. They were the first American officials to visit this Palestinian coastal strip run by Hamas in more than three years and the first American legislators to come here since 2000, according to a spokeswoman for the American Consulate in Jerusalem… Although none of the Americans saw Hamas officials, a senior Hamas leader said he was pleased by their visit. “This is a very good step reflecting the seriousness of this administration to follow up and get information about what is happening on the ground,” said Ahmed Youssef, the deputy foreign minister in the Hamas government…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51965

The Same Old Game
Ramzy Baroud
…Military success in Afghanistan is simply not possible, for numerous logistical, historical and practical reasons. But failure will also come at a price, at least for those who will directly benefit from subduing the rebellious nation. Former president Bush and his entourage of allies failed to turn Afghanistan into a US-styled democracy, easily exploitable for strategic and economic use. By pressing a military solution in Afghanistan, Obama is not only summoning another failed US imperial experiment – as that in Iraq but insists on adding his country’s name to those of Britain and Russia, who had better chances of success, but were squarely defeated. “It’s like fighting sand. No force in the world can get the better of the Afghans,” Oleg Kubanov, a former Russian officer in Afghanistan told Reuters. “It’s their holy land; it doesn’t matter to them if you’re Russian, American. We’re all soldiers to them…”

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51941

Dirty Tricks: Israeli Soldiers Shoot Deaf Palestinian Farmer, 4th Farmer Shot in 3 weeks
Eva Bartlett | In Gaza
What caused the Israeli soldiers to shoot a deaf farmer today? Was he threatening? Was it because the group of farm labourers had successfully worked quickly to harvest their day’s wages? Was the sight of retreating, unarmed, clearly non-threatening civilians too tempting to resist? Whatever the motivation, the result is another casualty of Israeli soldiers’ malevolence: a 20 year old deaf farmer, Mohammad al-Buraim, working the land to support his family of 16, may not walk easily again. The bullet which targeted his ankle penetrated straight through and landed in the tire of the truck he’d been pushing. Abu Alaa, owner of the land and Mohammed’s uncle, said: “When they first shot, we knew it wasn’t ‘warning’ shots. We started to run away. They shot again.”…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51947

The Shabak obstructs a plan to construct a Palestinian-Israeli hospital
Saed Bannoura – IMEMC
The Israeli Security Agency, Shabak, rejected a plan proposing the construction of a Palestinian-Israeli Hospital in Ha-Galboa’ area, located between Affoula and the northern West Bank city of Jenin, although the plan was approved by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, and his Defense Minister, Ehud Barak. Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that the estimated cost of construction is 3.5 Billion US Dollars, and that the project was supposed to be financed by Turkey…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51952

IOF troops round up 100 Palestinians in 4 days
Palestinian Information Center
In an unprecedented spate of arrests, the Israeli occupation forces rounded up more than 100 Palestinians citizens in various West Bank areas over the past four days, local sources pointed out. They said that at dawn Thursday the IOF soldiers arrested seven citizens in Nablus district. The Hebrew media reported that the IOF soldiers detained 10 Palestinians in various areas in the West Bank over the past 24 hours for interrogation…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51948

Hours after rejecting a swap-based truce, Israel moves tanks in Gaza
Rami Al-Meghari – IMEMC
Hours after the Israeli cabinet decided not to enter a truce deal with Gaza-based resistance factions, Israeli tanks rolled into eastern Gaza city and opened heavy random fire on Palestinian residents in southern Rafah city. The Alqassam brigades, armed wing of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, said in a statement emailed to media outlets, that the Alqassam fighters defended against Israeli tanks advancement into the eastern parts of Gaza city, with no causalities reported…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51946

Iraqi shoe-thrower defiant as trial adjourned
AFP
The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush defiantly defended his actions in court on Thursday, saying he had become emotionally overwhelmed when confronted by the ex-US president. Muntazer al-Zaidi won global fame when his footwear whizzed past Bush’s head on December 14 as the then president was making a farewell visit to Iraq before leaving the White House. His lawyers used the trial’s opening arguments to assert that the remarkable protest was lawful, but the judge brought proceedings to a halt 90 minutes later, saying more information was needed about Bush’s trip…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51944

Europeans in Direct Hamas Talks
IslamOnline.net & Newspapers
In a major policy shift, several European countries are holding direct contacts with the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. “It is the beginning of something new – although we are not negotiating,” a senior European diplomat told The Independent on Thursday, February 19. Two French senators held talks two weeks ago with Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal in Syria. A week earlier, two British MPs met Hamas representative in Lebanon Ossama Hamdan. “Far more people are talking to Hamas than anyone might think,” said the European diplomat…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51963

Stop Repression of Iranian Sugar Workers’ Union!
Infoshop News
An independent workers union in southern Iran is challenging a legal case against them by the Revolutionary Court and they need your support, now. In June last year, five thousand workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry Company in the Iranian city of Shush formed an independent trade union following a 46-day strike. Official organizations created by the government (Workers House and Islamic Labour Council) have for years utterly failed to protect the workers and their conditions. The Haft Tapeh workers have had to resort to repeated strike action to fight for their basic workplace rights, including regular payment of wages. The strike last year began when thousands of workers from every department downed tools to protest two months without wages. A petition to the provincial labour department with thousands of signatures triggered mass arrests and repeated interventions by police, security forces and Revolutionary Guards. A mass demonstration on June 16 by workers and their families ending at an assembly which elected officers of an independent trade union. The Haft Tapeh union is now a member of the IUF. Now the government is seeking to crush the union through potentially lengthy prison sentences for 5 elected leaders, charged with acting against “national security” in connection with last year’s strike and the formation of the union…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51939

Chavez wins referendum vote as Venezuela’s crisis deepens
By Bill Van Auken, WSWS
President Hugo Chavez registered another victory at the polls last Sunday as Venezuelans voted to amend the constitution in order to end term limits, allowing him to run for a third six-year term. The vote took place against a backdrop of a mounting economic crisis and increasing class struggle. The government-backed campaign for a “yes” vote on the referendum garnered 54.85 percent of the ballots cast, while the 45.14 percent voted “no” as advocated by an assortment of right-wing opposition parties, which charged that scrapping term limits would mean a consolidation of authoritarian rule by Chavez. Nearly 11 million out of the close to 17 million Venezuelans eligible to vote went to the polls, a high turnout by the country’s standards…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51949

Tennis Courts, the Latest Battle Ground
Nadia W. Awad for MIFTAH
Throughout the years, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has spilled over onto many different stages – movie award ceremonies, the theater, musicians’ lyrics, photography exhibitions and so on… Major newspapers have apparently only now realized that this political conflict is being reflected in sports as well, and of course, they are up in arms about it. Dubai is now taking the brunt of hostility and criticism for its decision to bar entry to an Israeli tennis player, Shahar Peer, who formerly served in the Israeli army. They are also likely to reject another visa request by Israeli tennis player Andy Ram who was travelling to compete in the Barclays Dubai Championships next week…Despite the circumstances, newspapers, tennis players, and organizers expressed outrage at Dubai’s decision. The Wall Street Journal, one of the sponsors of the event, immediately withdrew its funding when it heard about Peer’s visa rejection. The Tennis Channel protested the decision by announcing its refusal to televise the event as previously planned…Did any of these newspapers, athletes, and sport channel executives say anything when Israel bombed the headquarters of the Palestinian Football Association, built partially with funds from the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA)? The facility, which housed the men and women’s football teams, now lies in ruins. What about when Israeli air strikes destroyed sports clubs and youth organization headquarters?..

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51940

The anti-Apartheid Struggle is not Tennis
Syd Walker
It’s a shame to see a young person deprived of the opportunity to pursue her career in the fullest sense. So there’s a natural inclination, for just a moment, to feel sympathy for Shahar Pe’er, recently refused a visa to enter Dubai to compete in an international tennis competition. But the moment soon passes. Reason demands a comprehensive boycott of Apartheid Israel, following the well-established tradition of boycotting Apartheid South Africa in sports events during the 1970s and 1980s. The sports boycott may not have been the primary cause of the transformation of the rogue, nuclear-armed State of South Africa into unified democratic governance. But it was a demoralizing blow to segregationalist, but very sports-oriented, South African culture…The same principle applies now to Israel. Israel is not identical to South Africa. In many respects it is worse…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51942

State Department Calls Bolivian and Venezuelan Referendums “Democratic”
A New Attitude at the White House?
LAURA CARLSEN
There are early signs of change in the Obama State Department. In response to significant political victories by former Bush nemeses Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia, State Department spokespersons praised the democratic processes in these countries, indicating a more open attitude toward the growing independence of Latin American nations. Chavez won his referendum on lifting term limits for elected officials on Feb. 15 by a solid 54% at last count, with a 70% turnout. State Department spokesperson Gordon Duguid stated that, “For the most part this was a process that was fully consistent with democratic process.”…

Read the full article / Leggi l’articolo completo: www.uruknet.de/?p=51957

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