Archive for June, 2011

Israel steps up campaign to stop flotilla sailing to Gaza in defiance of blockade

June 29, 2011

Organisers say ships carrying humanitarian aid and peace activists, not ‘extremists’ as claimed by Israeli intelligence

in Jerusalem, The Guardian, June 28, 2011
Gaza flotilla

The Mavi Marmara ship, above, the lead boat of a flotilla headed to the Gaza Strip was stormed by Israeli naval commandos last year. Photograph: Ariel Schalit/AP

Israel has stepped up its campaign to stop a flotilla of ships breaching its blockade of Gaza by accusing some of the passengers of intending to harm Israeli soldiers if they board the ships.

An Israeli government official said intelligence agents had discovered that extremists aimed to infiltrate the peace activists travelling on the 10-ship flotilla. “On the flotilla, there’s an unofficial division of labour. There are activists, writers and politicians who say that they are not aware of anyone with bad motives. We believe them but the people that we are concerned about are avoiding the television cameras like the plague.

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Andy Worthington: US Supreme Court Refuses to Allow Abu Ghraib Torture Victims to Sue Military Contractors

June 29, 2011

Andy Worthington,, June 28, 2011


With what can only come across as cynical timing, the US Supreme Court on Monday, the day after the UN International Day in Support of the Victims of Torture, declined without comment to take up a lawsuit filed on behalf of 250 Iraqis — formerly prisoners at the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, home of the most significant scandal in the Bush administration’s “War on Terror,” which surfaced in April 2004 with the publication of photos showing the torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners in US custody at the prison. The prisoners were seeking to hold Titan Corporation, which provided Arabic translation services, and CACI International, which provided interrogators, accountable  for their role in the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in 2003 and 2004.

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Haaretz: Let the flotilla go

June 29, 2011

It appears that even though a year has passed since the first flotilla fiasco, Israel is showing that it has learned just one lesson: the military lesson.

Haaretz Editorial, Haaretz, June 29, 2011

The term “flotilla” is understood in Israel as a declaration of war. This is the case with respect to the latest Gaza-bound flotilla, just as it was with the one that set off from Turkey in May 2010. Furthermore, due to unstable relations with Turkey, Israel is still feeling the repercussions of its deadly raid on that maritime convoy.

The latest flotilla, which has already begun heading toward the Gaza Strip and is scheduled to reach its shores Thursday, will apparently be far larger than the previous one. It will include about a dozen ships holding some 500 activists, along with food and medicine that is considered to be humanitarian aid for Gazans.

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Crackdown in Cairo continues

June 29, 2011

by Sharif Abdel Kouddous, The Nation, June 29, 2011

Cairo, Egypt

Over 1,000 people were injured on Wednesday after Egyptian security forces responded to protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square with tear gas and rubber bullets. The crackdown began on Tuesday night after police reportedly beat and arrested family members of those killed during the eighteen-day uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, at an event commemorating martyrs of the revolution. On Sunday, the family members had erupted in angry protest and hurled rocks at police vehicles after a judge in Cairo again postponed the trial of former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six of his aides.

The state still controls the media in post-revolution Egypt, but an independent press is emerging.

Mubarak’s armed thugs violently attacked peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square, injuring hundreds. But many demonstrators vowed to stay in the streets until the dictator leaves.

Al-Adly, one of the most reviled figures of the Mubarak era, was in office for fourteen years before being forced out in the early days of the January 25 revolt. Under his leadership, the Interior Ministry acted as a giant lawless militia, spying on, kidnapping, threatening, humiliating and torturing Egyptian citizens. The State Security branch employed at least 100,000 people and maintained a vast network of informants, all for the single purpose of keeping the regime in power.

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P C Roberts: A World Overwhelmed By Western Hypocrisy

June 29, 2011
By Paul Craig Roberts,, June 29, 2011

Western institutions have become caricatures of hypocrisy.

The International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank are violating their charters in order to bail out French, German, and Dutch private banks. The IMF is only empowered to make balance of payments loans, but is lending to the Greek government for prohibited budgetary reasons in order that the Greek government can pay the banks. The ECB is prohibited from bailing out member country overnments, but is doing so anyway in order that the banks can be paid. The German parliament approved the bailout, which violates provisions of the European Treaty and Germany’s own Basic Law. The case is in the German Constitutional Court, a fact unreported in the US media.
US President George W. Bush appointed an immigrant, who is not impressed with the US Constitution and the separation of powers, to the Justice (sic) Department in order to get a ruling that the president has “unitary powers” that elevate him above statutory US law, treaties, and international law. According to this immigrant’s legal decisions, the “unitary executive” can violate with impunity the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which prevents spying on Americans without warrants obtained from the FISA Court. The immigrant also ruled that Bush could violate with impunity the statutory US laws against torture as well as the Geneva Conventions. In other words, the fictional “unitary powers” make the president into a Caesar.

At Least 29 Slain in US Drone Strikes Against South Waziristan

June 28, 2011

Attacks Target House Full of Tribals in Mandoi

by Jason Ditz,, June 27, 2011

At least 29 people were slain and an unknown number of others wounded today in a pair of US drone strikes against South Waziristan Agency, Pakistan. The first strike targeted a vehicle, killing eight people in Shawwal.

The second strike hit a home full of tribesmen in Mandoi, killing the 21 people inside and wounding a number of people surrounding the area. The toll in Mandoi is expected to continue to rise through the evening, as people were continuing to be pulled from the rubble.

The attacks were the latest in a flurry of escalating attacks launched by the US since early May. In June alone the death toll is now nearly 100 killed, with all termed “suspects” but none conclusively identified as an actual militant, including one “confirmed” kill that was later retracted.

Pakistan’s government has repeatedly demanded that the US halt all drone strikes against the tribal areas. Today’s strikes once again suggest this won’t be happening any time soon and that if anything, the Obama Administration is looking to escalate even more.

Petraeus Says Torture an Option for US

June 28, 2011

Disgusting, Depraved And Illegal

By Ken Dilanian, Information Clearing House, June 26, 2011

David Petraeus, Barack Obama’s choice to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, says the US should consider using special interrogation techniques when a captive is withholding information that is immediately needed to save lives.

In the vast majority of cases, General Petraeus said, the ”humane” questioning standards mandated by the US Army field manual were sufficient to persuade detainees to talk. But while he did not use the word torture, General Petraeus said ”there should be discussion … by policy makers and by Congress” of something ”more than the normal techniques”.

Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate intelligence committee on Thursday, General Petraeus described an example of a detainee who knew how to disarm a nuclear device set to explode under the Empire State Building. Congress might want to give the President the option of taking extraordinary measures to extract that information, he said.

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Israel PM orders navy to stop aid flotilla

June 28, 2011, Mon Jun 27, 2011

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel’s security cabinet has ordered the navy to use all possible means to prevent the incoming international aid flotilla from reaching the Gaza Strip.

After two days of closed-doors meetings, the ministers committee on security affairs on Monday voted in favor of the navy plans to stop the convoy of vessels known as Freedom Flotilla II from breaching the Israeli-imposed naval blockade on the Palestinian territory, giving the army authority to use “all necessary means” during the operation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

The statement also said that the cabinet has also ordered Israeli troops to operate with “maximal restraint and avoid clashes with activists on board the vessels.”

Israeli officials say navy commandos have revised their tactics in the wake of the May 31, 2010 attack, which killed nine Turkish activists on board the leading ship, Turkish-flagged MV Mavi Marmara, and drew international condemnation.

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China: Ai Weiwei Case Reflects Disregard for Rule of Law

June 27, 2011

Unlawful, Unwarranted Detention, and Onerous Restrictions Loom

Human Rights Watch, June 22, 2011

Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei waves from the entrance of his studio after being released on bail in Beijing.

© 2011 Reuters

The Chinese government’s decision to arrest Ai Weiwei was political, and so is his release. But it is also an example of how international pressure works, since Beijing was paying a high cost to its reputation for his detention.

Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The release of the Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei on June 22 is a relief for his family, friends and supporters, but leaves troubling unanswered questions about his arrest, detention and conditions of release, Human Rights Watch said today. In particular, Human Rights Watch is concerned about the political nature of his arrest, the conditions under which the police may have extracted a “confession” from him, and possible restrictions on freedoms he faces following his release.

Ai’s release on bail was followed by a statement from Xinhua, the official government news agency, saying he had been released because of his “good attitude in confessing his crimes” and because he suffers from an unspecified chronic disease. The statement added that Ai’s release resulted from consideration of the fact that he had repeatedly said he is willing to pay the taxes that the government alleges that he has evaded.

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Syria: Statement by people of Kesweh

June 27, 2011

Local Coordination Committees of Syria, June 26, 2011

We, the people of the city of Kesweh in Damascus, announce our resolve and determination to continue our peaceful revolution against the criminal, corrupt and dictatorial regime. And we stress to the proud Syrian people that we will not betray the blood of our martyrs, who sacrificed their wellbeing for the sake of our freedom and the freedom of our sons and daughters, and that we remain steadfast in covenent we made to them and marching in their path.

In this regard, we like to extend our condolences to the families of the heroic and honorable officers who were shot dead by the treacherous hands of the security forces in the city of Kesweh on a Friday of The Fall Of Legitimacy when they refused to execute orders to fire live bullets at peaceful protesters from the city of Kesweh and ended up dying as martyrs.

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