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Western Asia ("Middle East")
Jun. 14, 2010 The RCMP has conducted a four-year investigation called “Project Prism” that could lead to Canadian criminal charges of torture against American and Syrian officials, Maher Arar and his lawyer said Monday.
Arar revealed he is pinning some hope on the investigation after the top U.S. court on Monday refused his petition to sue the United States for his 2002 detention on false allegations of terrorism and forced removal to a prison in Syria where he was tortured.
[ Iran has not invaded another country in 200 years & the now the armada is on the way ]
More than twelve U.S. and Israeli warships, including an aircraft carrier, passed through the Suez Canal on Friday and are headed for the Red Sea.
“According to eyewitnesses, the U.S. battleships were the largest to have crossed the Canal in many years,” reported the London-based newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi on Saturday.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Egyptian opposition members criticized the government for cooperating with the U.S. and Israeli forces and allowing the passage of the ships through Egyptian territorial waters.
The Red Sea is the most direct route to the Persian Gulf from the Mediterranean. Read more.
One of the many destructive legacies of the Reagan Era was the effective Washington consensus that wars and other military spending exist on their own fiscal planet. Reagan got a Dixiecrat Congress to double military spending at a time when the U.S. was not at war (unless you were a poor person in Central America.) Meanwhile, Reagan got the Dixiecrat Congress to cut domestic spending - we just couldn't afford those costly social programs. Reagan pretended the two things were totally unrelated, and the Dixiecrat Congress went along.
At a time prior to one of the so called great powers on this planet decided it wanted to control.
June 18, 2010 The Afghanistan of Mohammad Qayoumi's memory is far from that of a "broken 13th century country," as it was recently described by British Defense Secretary Liam Fox.
Qayoumi, now a university president in America, grew up in Kabul in the 1950s and '60s. It was a period of calm and prosperity — and even optimism — before the Soviet invasion.
What we brought to the Iraqi People, as we have others, for no reason, and what we'll once again walk away from, as we have others, not just the present mental issues but the present to long lasting physical results, happening to many at any time even those yet born, of occupations!!
by Kenneth J. Theisen
On June 7th Amnestey International (AI) released a report and of a U.S.-manufactured cruise missile that carried cluster munitions.
The remnants of the cruise missile pictured in the AI report are what was on the ground after a savage December 17, 2009 strike on an alleged ‘terrorist” training camp in Yemen. The attack killed 55 people, including 14 women and 21 children.
For more on this story go to:
By Linn Washington Jr.
An American art student loses an eye when struck in the face by a tear gas canister fired by Israeli Defense Force (IDF) personnel breaking up a demonstration in the occupied West Bank which itself is a protest against the deadly commando raid on the Free Gaza flotilla.
No, you didn’t miss U.S. news media coverage of this IDF attack on 21-year-old Emily Henchowicz, a student at Cooper Union in New York City who was standing with a group of foreigners during that demonstration near a checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
You didn’t miss it because the mainstream media in the U.S. ignored it.
Apparently news of Henchowicz’s maiming was not news deemed worthy enough for print in the New York Times or Washington Post or meriting broadcast network/cable news attention.
It’s no surprise that the avowedly right-wing FOX ignored this incident, but the liberal-leaning MSNBC ignored this story also.
By Dave Lindorff
By Dave Lindorff
What does it say about the the American government, its president, and its military today, that the the largest military/intelligence organization in the history of mankind has launched a global manhunt for Julian Assange, head of the Wikileaks organization? And what does it say about corporate American journalists that they attack the only real journalist in the White House press corps, when she alone has shown the guts to speak truth?
The Hunt for Julian Assange
Saudi Arabia gives Israel clear skies to attack Iranian nuclear sites
By Hugh Tomlinson | Times Online
Saudi Arabia has conducted tests to stand down its air defences to enable Israeli jets to make a bombing raid on Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Times can reveal.
In the week that the UN Security Council imposed a new round of sanctions on Tehran, defence sources in the Gulf say that Riyadh has agreed to allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran.
To ensure the Israeli bombers pass unmolested, Riyadh has carried out tests to make certain its own jets are not scrambled and missile defence systems not activated. Once the Israelis are through, the kingdom’s air defences will return to full alert.
“The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a US defence source in the area. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”
Sources in Saudi Arabia say it is common knowledge within defence circles in the kingdom that an arrangement is in place if Israel decides to launch the raid. Despite the tension between the two governments, they share a mutual loathing of the regime in Tehran and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “We all know this. We will let them [the Israelis] through and see nothing,” said one.
The four main targets for any raid on Iran would be the uranium enrichment facilities at Natanz and Qom, the gas storage development at Isfahan and the heavy-water reactor at Arak. Secondary targets include the lightwater reactor at Bushehr, which could produce weapons-grade plutonium when complete. Read more.
Israeli Lies Exposed: Smuggled Clip Shows IDF Executing Injured Activist (Possibly the American Furkan Dogan)
By Dave Lindorff
The false narrative initially put out by the Israeli government of hapless IDF commandos severely threatened by hardened "terrorists" on the Mavi Marmara has fallen apart, amid revelations of doctored photos, dubbed voices and other deceptions and the patent absurdity of the claim that the commandos had boarded the ship armed only with "paint guns" and low-caliber pistols. Now the Big Lie stands fully exposed, thanks to a smuggled-out video showing IDF commandos kicking a prone, helpless victim and then executing him with semi-automatic rifle fire.
This smuggled video, showing IDF commandos brutally kicking their captive, who is clearly posing no threat to them, and then firing four shots down at him from almost point blank range, proves these commandos were on the ship with intent to kill and injure, and that is what they did.
Until quite recently, it seemed that Turkey had a clearly defined role in the Middle East, from the standpoint of U.S. policy. They were the "good Muslims," who were part of NATO, who contributed troops to U.S. wars, and who had good relations with Israel.
Israeli media say the Foreign Ministry has ordered the families of its diplomats in Turkey to leave that country because of the uproar over Israel's deadly naval raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
State-run Israel radio and other stations and newspapers say the diplomatic mission itself will remain in Turkey....At least four Turkish activists were among the nine killed by Israeli naval commandos in the raid Sunday on an international flotilla bringing aid to Gaza. Read more.
By Dave Lindorff
Like the cop who batters someone senseless at a demonstration and then accuses the victim of “banging his head against my baton,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused the victims of Israel’s brutal military assault on a peace convoy to Gaza of attacking Israeli soldiers. An Israeli deputy ambassador to the UN went further, saying, “What kind of peace activists use knives, clubs and other weapons to attack soldiers who board a ship in accordance with international law?''
Let’s straighten this out. The question to be asked is: what kind of country
sends troops armed with automatic weapons to assault a boat filled with unarmed, peaceful civilians, and slaughters nine of them as if they were in a war zone?
By Linda Milazzo
For eight hellish years, Bush and Cheney ruled America by fear. Images of Osama Bin Laden were drawn on us like weapons. Terror. Terrorism. Terrorists. War. Fear. Warfare. This was the Bush/Cheney mantra that kept Americans in despair.
Today, because of their tactics, our nation is in tatters, with wars not jobs, bombs not books, and warfare not health care. America lacks the resources to confront immediate dangers that have nothing to do with bin Laden: hurricanes, oil spills, floods, tornadoes, unfunded education, decaying infrastructure, exorbitant health costs, corporate greed, and more. Because of partisan politics and hawks like California Congresswoman Harman, more dollars are spent on unending wars than are spent on education. Perhaps you've seen this expenditure chart based on our 2009 taxes:
Missy Comley Beattie
I’ve been thinking of marketing a concept in the genre that’s all the rage—Reality Television. My primary objective is to enlighten the public, however if financial success is a byproduct, I won’t complain.
This I know: engaging the masses requires much more than the presentation of truth. Truth must be veiled in entertainment, the latter a lure to hold attention until the truth, finally, is grasped through (gasp) an epiphany. And, yes, I do believe I’ve come up with something that delivers both.
Here’s the idea: I’m imagining a show whose contestants are troops who’ve returned from AfPak-Iraq. My production crew could go to any military hospital’s traumatic brain injury (TBI) ward to seek competitors for the series. I’m talking Dancing with the Scarred. We’d have Hollywood types work with the young men and women to teach them some dance moves and create fabuloso costumes.
"Gooaal!" for Lula Against Western Push for Iran Sanctions
By Robert Naiman | Truthout | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Sao Paulo, Brazil - If I were in Washington, I would run down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to Congress with a big Brazilian flag, as the young Brazilians run down the Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo during the futebol match, shouting, "Gooaal!"
Because with the news that Iran has agreed to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey that could "deflate a US-led push" for new sanctions against Iran, the president of Brazil has scored a goal against the neocons in the West who want to gin up confrontation with Iran toward a future military conflict.
AP reported: Iran agreed Monday to ship most of its enriched uranium to Turkey in a nuclear fuel swap deal that could ease the international standoff over the country's disputed nuclear program and deflate a US-led push for tougher sanctions.
The deal was reached in talks with Brazil and Turkey, elevating a new group of mediators for the first time in the dispute over Iran's nuclear activities. The agreement was nearly identical to a U.N.-drafted plan that Washington and its allies have been pressing Tehran for the past six months to accept in order to deprive Iran - at least temporarily - of enough stocks of enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.
If the deal is "nearly identical" to the plan that the US has been pressing, then we should all be celebrating, right? Read more.
The Chinese military is seeking to project naval power well beyond the Chinese coast, from the oil ports of the Middle East to the shipping lanes of the Pacific, where the United States Navy has long reigned as the dominant force, military officials and analysts say.
China calls the new strategy “far sea defense,” and the speed with which it is building long-range capabilities has surprised foreign military officials.
The strategy is a sharp break from the traditional, narrower doctrine of preparing for war over the self-governing island of Taiwan or defending the Chinese coast. Now, Chinese admirals say they want warships to escort commercial vessels that are crucial to the country’s economy, from as far as the Persian Gulf to the Strait of Malacca, in Southeast Asia, and to help secure Chinese interests in the resource-rich South and East China Seas.
In late March, two Chinese warships docked in Abu Dhabi, the first time the modern Chinese Navy made a port visit in the Middle East. Read more.
GAZA DEATH ZONE: Israelis and Egyptians are Killing Palestinian Youth Who Challenge the Siege of Gaza
By Ann Wright
The Palestinians in the Death Zone called Gaza are being slaughtered again as Israel and now Egypt kill and wound more innocent civilians who challenge their illegal siege, blockade and quarantine.
In the past four days, one young Palestinian man has been killed and two young women and a young man have been wounded by Israeli snipers as they protested the Israeli bulldozing of 300 meters of Palestinian land into an Israeli “buffer zone.” Four young Palestinian tunnel workers have been killed by suffocation and 6 injured as Egypt sprayed a crowd disbursal gas into a tunnel.
Death in the Tunnels from Egyptian Gas and from Israeli Bombs
By Dave Lindorff
Just yesterday, the Wall Street Journal had a lead story about Israeli planning to possibly “go it alone” in an attack on Iran if the US were not to “succeed” in its diplomatic efforts to get Iran to “stop” it’s alleged attempts to develop a nuclear weapon capability.
Aside from the fact that there is no hard evidence that Iran is trying to make a nuclear bomb or even to refine uranium to obtain nuclear-grade material, the paper ignored one crucial point: Israel cannot “go it alone” in any strike on Iran, since its key weapons--American fighter-bombers--are supplied to it, and kept flying, thanks to the equipment and spare parts provided by the United States. Indeed the entire Israeli military machine is largely financed and armed by the US.
As with previous discussions of the possibility, Israeli officials today reacted negatively to yesterday’s comment by President Obama in support of seeing Israel join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
“There is no room to pressure Israel to join,” insisted Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who added that it was unreasonable to ask Israel to join so long as Iran, a signatory to the NPT remains a “threat.” Read more.
Jordan's King Says Israel-Hezbollah-Lebanon War "Imminent"
By Steve Clemons | Huffington Post
Congressman Adam Schiff hosted a "Members Only" meeting of the 'Congressional Friends of Jordan Caucus' in the US House of Representatives this morning in the CVC Congressional Meeting Room with Jordan's King Abdullah II.
According to one attendee in the session, "the King's message was sobering."
King Abdullah seemed significantly concerned that conflict was about to break out again between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
One congressional source told me that the word the King used was 'imminent' with regard to the potential outbreak of war.
On many levels, this is extremely worrisome. Hezbollah is now integrated into Lebanon's parliament and interacting with countries like France at all levels of government. An Israeli-Lebanon War could preempt the normalization track the United States is pursuing with Syria. Read more.
Did any Arabs save Jews during the Holocaust? That's the question author Robert Satloff had in mind when he set out to discover the lost, true stories of survival, courage and betrayal in Arab lands during World War II. The history of the Holocaust in Europe is well-documented, but the history of what happened to the Jewish people of North Africa has been mostly forgotten, even in the very towns and cities where it occurred. The truth is remarkable: not only did Jews in Arab lands suffer many of same elements of persecution as Jews in Europe -- arrests, deportations, confiscations and forced labor -- but there were also hopeful stories of "righteous" Arabs reaching out to protect them. Visit the website.
by Linda Milazzo
(This article is based on one that will appear in the upcoming May/June 2010 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs: http://www.wrmea.com)
Sunday, March 14, 2010, ushered in two welcome events to Southern California: the inauguration of the headquarters of the bustling Winograd For Congress primary campaign, and an extra hour of daylight to help Marcy Winograd’s swarm of supporters evict Jane Harman, the wealthiest Democrat in Congress, from her eight-term seat in the House.
Photo by Linda Milazzo
"Jeopardizing U.S. Standing" – the Petraeus Controversy
By Michael Collins | Election Fraud News
How about a new doctrine to improve U.S. standing everywhere? The United States will engage all foreign governments constructively to assure benefits to our citizens and the citizens of the foreign country. The U.S. will not initiate invasions or efforts to destabilize foreign countries. The U.S. military will protect the citizens of this country but never use its military force to further the financial or other special interests of any individual or group.
Leaks from a recent top level briefing by General David Petraeus are causing quite a controversy. The general pointed out that, "Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region." Mark Perry reported this on March 13 in Foreign Policy. Perry said, "No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue... "
When I read a statement like that, it's like hearing the opening music for The Twilight Zone. What on earth is Perry talking about? Every CENTCOM commander, from General Tommy Franks, through Petraeus, has endorsed the continuation of the Iraq war and occupation. That's as essentially political as you can get.
There was no basis for invading Iraq: no weapons of mass destruction and no terrorist threat. Even the flawed October 2, 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) admitted that the primary threat of an Iraqi terrorist attack on the United States would come if, "an attack that threatened the survival of the regime were imminent or unavoidable, or possibly for revenge."
By Dave LIndorff
I guess I may as well get out front of things here. I’m about to fly to Switzerland to lead a panel on how to change pro-capital punishment attitudes in a country at the Fourth Congress Against the Death Penalty, being sponsored by the United Nations in Geneva. And judging from the stories I’ve been reading about the Transportation Security Administration, or at least its Philadelphia International Airport operation, and the Philadelphia Police who backstop the TSA here, I’m afraid I’m liable to be hauled away as a suspected terrorist before I can get on my flight.
Why? Because I will be carrying copies of one of my books, which has the title “Killing Time” (It’s an investigation into the death penalty case of Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, and was published in 2003 by Common Courage Press), and more importantly, because I just got a haircut.
President Barack Obama does have a foreign policy. It's called war.
The President has not defined any real difference between his hawkish approach to international issues and that of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
Where's the change we can believe in?
Bush left a legacy of two wars, neither of which was ever fully explained or justified. Obama has merely picked up the sword that Bush left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the struggle against terrorism, one might say, "Who cares?"
One group that cares consists of Americans who follow the rules and think we should honor all the treaties we have promoted and signed over the years.
The President gave short shrift to foreign policy in his State of the Union address, mentioning neither the lives lost nor the cost of the global hostilities that the U.S. has involved itself in. He also didn't mention U.S. policies in the Middle East, though those are the root cause of many of our problems.
While U.S. special envoy George Mitchell has a hopeful outlook for the resumption of the stalemated talks between the Israelis and Palestinians after a year of trying, Obama seems to have temporarily thrown in the towel.
Obama said he was keeping his promise to leave Iraq by the end of August.
Meanwhile, frequent suicide bombings continue in that beleaguered country.
Afghanistan is a different story. U.S. forces there are involved in manhunts of al-Qaida and Taliban leaders. But the cost in civilian life is heavy when drones are used and whole families have been wiped out to get one suspected leader. Read more.
U.S. Extends Missile Buildup From Poland And Taiwan To Persian Gulf
Rick Rozoff | Stop NATO | Blog site | February 3, 2010
On January 20 Poland's Defense Ministry revealed that a U.S. Patriot missile battery previously scheduled to be stationed near the nation's capital will instead be deployed to a Baltic Sea location 35 miles from Russian territory; on January 29 the White House approved the transfer of 114 Patriot missiles to Taiwan as part of a $6.5 billion arms package that also includes eight warships the receiving nation plans to upgrade for the Aegis Combat System with the capacity for carrying Standard Missile 3 (SM-3) ship-based anti-ballistic missiles.
On January 22 head of the Pentagon's Central Command General David Petraeus told an audience at the private Institute for the Study of War that two warships equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System "are in the Gulf at all times now."  A news report on the same day remarked "That statement - along with the stationing of other U.S. air defense assets in the region - sends a strong signal to Iran...." 
The New York Times reported on January 30 that the U.S. was expediting the deployment of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) interceptor missiles to four Persian Gulf nations - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - thereby paralleling the combination of sea-based Aegis and land-based Patriot missiles intended for the Taiwan Strait aimed at China and in the Baltic Sea targeting Russia. The Gulf deployments are intended for use against Iran.
"One senior military officer said that General Petraeus had started talking openly about the Patriot deployments about a month ago, when it became increasingly clear that international efforts toward imposing sanctions against Iran faced hurdles...." 
On February 1 The Times of London commented on the coordinated interceptor missile plans: "Tensions in the Gulf between the US and Iran are set to rise further after it emerged that American-made anti-missile systems are to be deployed to Washington's Arab allies in the region.
"The Obama Administration said yesterday that it was speeding up arms sales to a number of states and that it had also deployed warships in the Gulf...."
As in the Baltic Sea and Taiwan, PAC-3 missiles - "dedicated almost entirely to the anti-ballistic missile mission"  and which soon will have their capability increased by 50% with an upgrade called Missile Segment Enhancement - will be used for short- to medium-range and Aegis class warships for medium to long-range missile interceptions. The basic ingredients of a multilayered theater missile shield.
The United States has begun beefing up its approach to defending its Persian Gulf allies against potential Iranian missile strikes, officials say. The defenses are being stepped up in advance of possible increased sanctions against Iran.
The Obama administration has quietly increased the capability of land-based Patriot defensive missiles in several Gulf Arab nations, and one military official said the Navy is increasing the presence of ships capable of knocking out hostile missiles in flight.
The officials discussed aspects of the defensive strategy Saturday on condition of anonymity because some elements are classified.
The moves, part of a broader adjustment in the U.S. approach to missile defense, including in Europe and Asia have been in the works for months. Details have not been publicly announced, in part because of diplomatic sensitivities in Gulf countries which worry about Iranian military capabilities but are cautious about acknowledging U.S. protection.
The White House will send a review of ballistic missile strategy to Congress on Monday that frames the larger shifts. Attention to defense of the Persian Gulf region, a focus on diffuse networks of sensors and weapons and cooperation with Russia are major elements of the study, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Russia opposed Bush administration plans for a land-based missile defense site in Eastern Europe, and President Barack Obama's decision to walk away from that plan last year was partly in pursuit of new capabilities that might hold greater promise and partly in deference to Russia. Read more.
Petraeus: Missile-Shooting Ships on Station in the Gulf
By Nathan Hodge | Wired
The U.S. military is keeping at least two Navy ships on station in the Persian Gulf, ready to track and possibly intercept missiles, according to the top U.S. general in the region.
Speaking today at the Institute for the Study of War, Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, said two cruisers equipped with the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System “are in the Gulf at all times now.”
That statement — along with the stationing of other U.S. air defense assets in the region — sends a strong signal to Iran, which has been investing in both ballistic missile technology and a highly suspect nuclear program. Iran’s military ambitions — and its drive to master nuclear enrichment — has unsettled its neighbors, and sparked concerns about a regional arms buildup. Read more.