Saturday, January 31, 2009

Toronto18/ Paintball11/ Tim Hortons10 terrorist fatcamp update

G&M : RCMP agent concedes key role in set-up, running of terrorist training camp

Mubin Shaikh on Friday:
"I thought that if the RCMP didn't tell me I couldn't do it, I inferred that I could do it, Mr. Shaikh testified.

Lawyers for Canada's first underage convicted terrorist argued in court Friday that without Mubin Shaikh, assigned by CSIS and paid by the RCMP, there would have been no terrorist conspiracy at all.
In fact, minus Canada's new US-compliant Anti-Terrorism Act, the most he could have been charged with is shoplifting some items that were not even used in the RCMP/CSIS plot to, uh, blow up the Houses of Parliament, CBC, and CSIS (although they weren't sure where these buildings were), and behead Prime Minister Paul Martin (having failed to note he was no longer PM)

Let's review, courtesy of Thomas Walkom, our young convicted terrorist's complicity in the plot :

He did not make bombs or buy guns. Nor did he advocate doing so.
He did not threaten to kill anyone, did not call for holy war, did not pledge allegiance to Osama bin Laden.
He did not even badmouth Canada's military efforts in Afghanistan.

His most damning entry on the audio tapes helpfully provided by Mr Mehta, who testified along with the other crown witness at the kid's trial in September that he believed him to be innocent, was to ask if "if Muslims can use Nivea cream".

So what was he convicted of ?

Walkom explains Superior Court Justice John Sproat's guilty verdict last September :

"Under the anti-terror legislation, the government doesn't need to prove an accused terrorist took part in or even knew about a specific plot.
All it has to prove is that he knowingly participated in the activities of a terrorist group and contributed either directly or indirectly to anything "enhancing" its abilities."

Oh well - the kid definitely qualifies then.
As RCMP/CSIS fatcamp troop leader and prosecution star witness Mubin Shaikh testified at the kid's trial, he convinced the reluctant teen to attend the training camp by telling him it was a religious retreat:

"I don't believe that (he) is a terrorist," he said outside the courtroom.
"I don't believe he should've been put through what he was put through, but that's our system." Shaikh said he did not believe that the defendant was aware of the group's violent plans."

And yet under "our system", if the kid's lawyers are not successful in overturning his conviction by a sole judge, the kid could get ten years for, as Hysperia remarked in comments at the time, "something that someone else might have been doing without his knowledge."

Related posts :
Canada's first anti-terrorism conviction
Toronto18/ Paintball 11/ Tim Hortons 10 video footage
A load of fertilizer
Clowncar terrorism - Update #2
Clowncar terrorism
RCMP, now with free delivery
Update : May 23, 2009 : Sentence of 30 months reduced to time served.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Underwriting police brutality in BC

Lifting the arms of a handcuffed man up behind his back while tripping him facefirst onto a concrete cell floor causing skull fracture and permanent brain damage is "more force than was necessary" but not "police brutality", according to Robert Hutchison, retired B.C. Supreme Court Justice acting as adjudicator for the B.C. Police Complaint Commission yesterday.

The police constable, Greg Smith, has since been suspended with pay after being arrested last month over allegations of uttering threats in connection with an unrelated domestic dispute.

The victim, Thomas McKay, was at the time a Comosun College student arrested for public drunkenness after celebrating the end of his exams. He is incapable of attending the hearing.
The incident occurred in April 2004.

2004? Why is the BCPCC just getting to this now?

The Victoria Police Dept twice tried to dismiss McKay's complaints as unsubstantiated.
An earlier examination of the case by the Deputy Chief of the Victoria Police Department Bill Naughton in 2006 and again in 2007, which included the same police video tape of Const. Greg Smith sweeping McKay's feet out from under him, concluded that allegations of abuse against Const. Smith were not warranted, so no disciplinary measures were necessary.
The City of Victoria, however, reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount in a civil lawsuit filed by McKay’s family. The settlement binds him to confidentiality.

Meanwhile, Willow Kinloch, who was awarded $60,000.00 in her police brutality claim against the Victoria Police when she was 15, has been informed that the police plan to appeal the jury's decision in her case.

We pay for the police, we pay for the chiefs who absolve police brutality, we pay for the hearings, we pay for the settlements to victims, we pay for the police appeals to the settlements, and ultimately we pay for lack of public trust in the police.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Iggy prepares to "swallow hard"

Congratulations, Libs. Tomorrow will mark the 45th time in a row that you have sat on your hands in Parliament because you can't afford to fight an election because no one gives money to fight elections to parties that sit on their hands in Parliament.

Iggy - PM if necessary but not necessarily PM - did go all medieval schoolmarmy on they Con ass, demanding regular quarterly progress reports on how the budget plan he had just finished lambasting was progressing.

G&M :
"We're putting this government on probation," Mr. Ignatieff said.
By 4 p.m., the government, relieved that the conditions did not require more substantive concessions, accepted the amendment, saying that providing updates to Parliament and facing votes wasn't really a new burden.
"This is nothing new. … We always report back to Parliament," Government House Leader Jay Hill said.
"The amendment just states the obvious, so we're very pleased to comply with it as we move forward."

Shorter Jay Hill : Swallow harder, bitch.

Steve and Kory ready their shovels

Yes that is the original meaning of CBC's new favourite phrase.


Flaperty's little fixer-upper

Thus far the only party that hasn't made up its mind about Steve's budget is the Libs - all the others hate it.
Will Iggy pass it to avoid an election? No one wants an election - the Libs are too broke and the Harpercon base are too furious with him for his "liberal" budget to show up.

So what's your vote worth to Steve?
They propose to add a $6 billion stimulus package to the $13 billion deficit they had already racked up so far and which they presumably wished to hide within this economic crisis package. We will all get $199 to $599 each, unless you're really poor in which case you'll only get $33. If you're on a fixed low income, you get nothing.

Six out of 10 Canadians pay into EI but still won't be eligible to receive it - no change there.

If you can afford to spend up to $10,000 on a home reno, you'll get a 15% tax credit on it next year if you get it done by Feb 2010. Renters - bupkiss.

Personal income tax exemption will go up from the $10,100 already scheduled for 2009 to $10,320. That's 2.2%.

Every dollar the feds put into infrastructure will be contingent on the provinces and municipalities ponying up 73 cents to match it - although Flaperty says they'll be able to get around this and Iggy is going to challenge it.

Did I mention banks will get at least $200 billion with no upper dollar limit? Plus that $4.4 billion in cuts to business taxes?

Here's the real story.
The whole purpose of tax cuts is to reduce the size and role of government in the long term. Less childcare, education, health and social security; more P3s and deregulation.
So for all the flap about the Cons throwing money around, this is still ultimately a neocon ReformaTory budget.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dear Canadian Media : Last call for slagging the coalition

... before parliament returns from its 53 day hiatus - after sitting for only 12 days following Steve's October surprise election - due to what the NYTimes headline referred to as :
"Canadian leader shuts Parliament in bid to keep power"
How's that coalition slagging going, by the way? Just the last couple of days worth :
Oh, sorry, scratch that last one. Wrong coalition - that one's from our coalition with the US in Afghanistan
First prize, for the best gratuitous reference to Obama in the cause of slagging the coalition, goes to Don Martin in NaPo :
"President Barack Obama is right. It's time to set aside childish things.
Specifically for Canada, that means an end to that coalition..."
NaPo also snags second prize for "The opposition does not care about Canada" , a compendium of reader's comments - half of which blame the media for promoting the coaliton!
And so it goes ...
With thanks to April Reign for the coalition logo

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Israel will defend soldiers against war crimes charges

CTV : The Israeli government will defend soldiers against any war-crimes charges they may face related to civilian deaths that occurred during Israel's three-week military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that special legal teams would be appointed for soldiers, who he promised would receive the full support of the Israeli government.
"The state of Israel will fully back those who acted on its behalf," Olmert said. "The soldiers and commanders who were sent on missions in Gaza must know that they are safe from various tribunals."

What exactly is the legal defence for executing nine year olds at close range with two bullets to the head ?

h/t Gene @ Filasteen in comments at the Beav

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Off-duty cops : "We don't like brown people"

Last night's TV news coverage of the three off-duty Vancouver area cops arrested for robbery and assault of a newspaper delivery man early Wednesday morning featured the snippet that police were investigating the possibility that the three cops had been slipped some kind of drug.

What kind of drug causes three young innocent police officers to allegedly rob a newsie and kick him repeatedly in the head while allegedly yelling, "We don't like brown people" ?
What kind of drug would make them allegedly threaten him with a TASER™ and other appalled bystanders with violence after allegedly commandeering a corvette for their alleged convenience?
Feel free to add as many more "allegedly's" as you think the situation requires, given that there were witnesses to the beating, including the taxi driver who witnessed the entire event and the municipal workers who attempted to stop it with shovels.

And the police who allegedly told the victim not to talk to the media? Were they also slipped a drug?

B.C.'s Attorney General Wally Oppal on Friday asked the public to "keep an open mind."
Vancouver Chief Const. Jim Chu says "the public should have confidence in the police investigation".
"For the sake of preserving the public's respect and belief in the integrity of that process, I believe it is important to reassure them on this matter."

Statistics released by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner in November showed that 106 municipal police officers were guilty of misconduct between Oct. 1, 2006, and Oct. 1, 2008. That's about one a week.

The previous chief of the Vancouver Police Department, Jamie Graham, was found guilty of discreditable conduct for failing to cooperate in an RCMP investigation into allegations of police brutality. He "retired" in August 2007 and moved to Victoria, coming out of retirement to become Victoria's police chief on Jan 1st this year.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fisk, Grossman, Frum : On talking to Hamas

Robert Fisk : So far, Obama's missed the point on Gaza...
"It would have helped if Obama had the courage to talk about what everyone in the Middle East was talking about. No, it wasn't the US withdrawal from Iraq. They knew about that. They expected the beginning of the end of Guantanamo and the probable appointment of George Mitchell as a Middle East envoy was the least that was expected. Of course, Obama did refer to "slaughtered innocents", but these were not quite the "slaughtered innocents" the Arabs had in mind.
There was the phone call yesterday to Mahmoud Abbas. Maybe Obama thinks he's the leader of the Palestinians, but as every Arab knows, except perhaps Mr Abbas, he is the leader of a ghost government, a near-corpse only kept alive with the blood transfusion of international support and the "full partnership" Obama has apparently offered him, whatever "full" means. And it was no surprise to anyone that Obama also made the obligatory call to the Israelis.

The friendly message to Muslims, "a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect", simply did not address the pictures of the Gaza bloodbath at which the world has been staring in outrage. Yes, the Arabs and many other Muslim nations, and, of course, most of the world, can rejoice that the awful Bush has gone. So, too, Guantanamo. But will Bush's torturers and Rumsfeld's torturers be punished? Or quietly promoted to a job where they don't have to use water and cloths, and listen to men screaming?"

An inaugural address is kind of like a birthday card, I guess - not really the appropriate venue to point out the recipient's various moral failings. And it's early days yet, although an Obama cabinet that includes Dennis Ross, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton may never get further than promoting "blood transfusions".

Israeli writer David Grossman, front page of Tuesday's Haaretz :
"When the guns become completely silent, and the full scope of the killing and destruction becomes known, to the point where even the most self-righteous and sophisticated of the Israeli psyche's defense mechanisms are overcome, perhaps then some kind of lesson will imprint itself on our brain. Perhaps then we will finally understand how deeply and fundamentally wrong our actions in this region have been from time immemorial - how misguided, unethical, unwise and above all, responsible, time after time, for fanning the flames that consume us.

We must speak to the Palestinians : Instead of ignoring Hamas at this time, we would do better to take advantage of the new reality that has been created by beginning a dialogue with them immediately, one that would allow us to reach an accord with the whole of the Palestinian people. We must speak to them and begin to acknowledge that reality is not one hermetic story that we, and the Palestinians, too, have been telling ourselves for generations. Reality is not just the story we are locked into, a story made up, in no small measure, of fantasies, wishful thinking and nightmares."

Canada's creepy one-time speech writer for George Bush on talking to Hamas, Reuters :
"U.S. analyst David Frum said talking to violent men was "an invitation to more violence."
He wrote: "Advocates of talks with terrorists often present themselves as pragmatists. Not so. They are guided by unstated biases and pure wishful thinking."

Surely the very definition of wishful thinking here is expecting to achieve any kind of peace by ignoring Gaza's democratically elected government and the people being punished for electing them.

How's that "ceasefire" going?

(Reuters) : Israel completes Gaza troop withdrawal
"Israel completed a troop pullout from the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Wednesday, starting its relationship with U.S. President Barack Obama by leaving Palestinian land devastated by its 22-day offensive.
"We've redeployed on our side of the frontier and we will follow events closely," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "If Hamas breaks the ceasefire, we of course reserve the right to act to protect our people."

Meanwhile, today : Israeli gunboat fire wounds 2 Gazans
"An Israeli gunboat firing off the shores of Gaza City has wounded a man and a girl.
The Israeli military says it was firing to deter a Palestinian fishing vessel that had strayed off-limits.
A shell fired by the boat hit a house in a beachside refugee camp. Another shell landed about 100 yards (meters) away in an empty area near a U.N. aid distribution center."

Yesterday Israeli troops shot and killed two Gaza farmers along the border - 28 year old Kassab and 18 year old Ibrahim. Amy Goodman interviews their surviving brother.

Israel has told the United Nations and other aid groups they must apply for project-by-project Israeli approval and provide guarantees none of the work will benefit Hamas, Western and Palestinian officials said.
Israel, the officials said, is also preventing the Western-backed Palestinian Authority from transferring cash to the Gaza Strip to pay its workers and others hard-hit by war.

Fans of Guantanamo not clear on the message

CBC : Kory Teneycke, Wednesday :
"Our position is that the determination of his guilt or innocence on those charges needs to take place in a court of some fashion, and that we will wait for the outcome of a judicial process before looking at what the other options are."

His comments came after Defence Minister Peter MacKay suggested the government was reconsidering its position after U.S. President Barack Obama stated "very clearly" to military commission judges that the proceedings were to be suspended.

"Clearly, Canada and Mr. Khadr’s counsel and everyone involved in these cases will be reassessing their positions," MacKay told reporters in Ottawa.

Teneycke said MacKay was likely trying to say that the government was "watching very closely what is happening in the U.S., and [that] we'll react to changes when they occur."

He also refused to speculate on whether Khadr could face a judicial process in Canada, saying it was "exactly the hypothetical question that we're really not going to engage in at this time."

"The fact that the situation may change at some point in the future doesn't mean that it's changed today," Teneycke said.

The 15 year old Khadr was accused of:
  • Murder in violation of the law of war.
  • Attempted murder in violation of the law of war.
  • Conspiracy.
  • Providing material support for terrorism.
  • Spying.

A U.S. soldier reported that he accidentally stepped on Omar Khadr following a firefight in Afghanistan because Khadr was covered in rubble, casting doubt on whether the 15-year-old Canadian could have thrown the grenade that fatally wounded Delta Force soldier Christopher Speer.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Canada gets a new president!

Change we can believe in.

The show trial must go on! Arar and Khadr

Just days before nearly-President Obama is expected to shut down Guantanamo Bay and disband the off-shore military show trials, US prosecutors get perhaps their very last chance to smear both Maher Arar and Omar Khadr at the same time in the court of public opinion.

The Star yesterday : Omar Khadr linked Maher Arar to terrorism, court hears
"Pentagon prosecutors dropped a bombshell on the last day of the Bush administration's war crimes trials, linking the case of Canadian detainee Omar Khadr to torture victim Maher Arar in stunning testimony ..."

CBC yesterday : Khadr saw Arar at al-Qaeda sites in Afghanistan: FBI agent
"Omar Khadr pointed out Canadian Maher Arar, who was cleared of any links to terrorism by a public inquiry in 2006, as someone he saw at al-Qaeda safe houses and possibly training camps in Afghanistan, an FBI agent has testified."

What "bombshell"?

The Star, Mar 18, 2008 :
"Khadr was also questioned about Maher Arar, according to the affidavit. Arar, a telecommunications engineer from Ottawa, had been arrested in September 2002 by U.S. authorities in New York on suspicions of terrorism. He was sent to Syria, where he was tortured and detained without charges for a year.
"They showed me pictures and asked who people were. I told them what I knew," recalled Khadr, adding the Canadian officials also questioned him about his father, Ahmed Said Khadr, a reputed Al Qaeda financier.
"I tried to cooperate so that they would take me back to Canada," he said. "I told them that I was scared and that I had been tortured."
The affidavit does not reveal what Khadr told the Canadian delegation about Arar or his father, but he was considered to be a treasure trove of information, said Khadr's military lawyer."

CBC, Mar 26, 2008 :
"Khadr says he was also interrogated about Maher Arar, the Canadian who was deported to a Syrian prison over alleged links to al-Qaeda. An inquiry later cleared Arar of any links to terrorist organizations.
Khadr says he was also shown photographs of about 20 people and asked to identify them.
He says he ripped off his shirt and showed the Canadians his injuries. He also says he told them he had lied to his American interrogators and told them whatever they wanted to hear because he was scared and wanted them to stop torturing him.
Khadr says they accused him of lying, and passed information from their interviews to U.S. officials."

Nonetheless right on cue the newspapers all across AsperNation are going with variations on "Accused terrorist fingers Arar".
Well, sure. A person the press call a "terrorist" accuses someone else, since exonerated, of being a terrorist to stop his tormentors from torturing him, so suddenly they're both suspect? Nice circular smear!

Also Interrogator 11 testified yesterday that Khadr had admitted to throwing the grenade that killed a US soldier :
"Under cross-examination, it was revealed the agent destroyed her notes of the interrogation sessions after she had typed them up -- something she could not explain."

Khadr's chief interrogator at Bagram was charged and convicted in the death of an innocent detainee two months after the 15 year old Khadr was shipped from Bagram prison to Guantanamo.

Update : Dr. Dawg

Late Tuesday Upperdate : "In contrast to testimony he gave Monday, [FBI]special agent Robert Fuller told Khadr's war-crimes hearing that the young Canadian was not immediately able to name Arar, but did say he looked familiar."
He looked familiar. You people slay me.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chomsky : Undermining Gaza

Noam Chomsky
Foreign Policy In Focus
January 16, 2009

DOSSANI: The Israeli government and many Israeli and U.S. officials claim that the current assault on Gaza is to put an end to the flow of Qassam rockets from Gaza into Israel. But many observers claim that if that were really the case, Israel would have made much more of an effort to renew the ceasefire agreement that expired in December, which had all but stopped the rocket fire. In your opinion, what are the real motivations behind the current Israeli action?

CHOMSKY: There's a theme that goes way back to the origins of Zionism. And it's a very rational theme: "Let's delay negotiations and diplomacy as long as possible, and meanwhile we'll 'build facts on the ground.'" So Israel will create the basis for what some eventual agreement will ratify, but the more they create, the more they construct, the better the agreement will be for their purposes. Those purposes are essentially to take over everything of value in the former Palestine and to undermine what's left of the indigenous population.
I think one of the reasons for popular support for this in the United States is that it resonates very well with American history. How did the United States get established? The themes are similar.

continued at FPIF ...

"Building facts on the ground"
The "ceasefire" negotiated by the 2nd highest recipient of US foreign aid, Israel, and the 3rd highest recipient of US foreign aid, Egypt, is the new name for the continued supervision of the collapse of Gaza. Previously it was called "ending the occupation".

h/t Waterbaby for FPIF link

Saturday, January 17, 2009

UK Jewish MP : Israel acting like Nazis

Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, friend to both David Ben-Gurion and Yasser Arafat, speaking in the British House of Commons :

"My grandmother was ill in bed when the Nazis came to her home town of Staszów. A German soldier shot her dead in her bed. Madam Deputy Speaker, my grandmother did not die to provide cover for Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian grandmothers in Gaza.

The present Israeli government ruthlessly and cynically exploit the continuing guilt among Gentiles over the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust as justification for their murder of Palestinians. The implication is that Jewish lives are precious, but the lives of Palestinians do not count. I suppose the Jews fighting for their lives in the Warsaw Ghetto could have been dismissed as militants."

What has your MP said? Write to 'em with a link to Kaufman's speech.

Update : YOUNGFOX CANADA: Take a walk through Gaza

and Winter Patriot website and blog

Friday, January 16, 2009

UN headquarters hit by white phosphorus shells

CBC : Israeli forces opened fire on the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City Thursday, setting the compound ablaze and destroying tonnes of humanitarian aid meant for victims of the 20-day conflict.
"It's a total disaster for us," said John Ging, director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency in Gaza, whose compound was providing refuge to about 700 Palestinian civilians at the time of the attack."

The UNWRA provides food and aid to over a million Palestinian refugees in Gaza.

Times Online : "The Israeli forces were attacked from there and their response was severe," Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, told the UN chief, according to a statement released by his office.
"We do not want such incidents to take place and I am sorry for it but I don’t know if you know, but Hamas fired from the UNRWA site. This is a sad incident and I apologise for it."

Ging dismissed the claim as "nonsense."

A UN spokesman said that the building had been hit by shells containing the incendiary agent white phosphorus : "You can’t put out white phosphorus with traditional methods such as fire extinguishers. You need sand, we don’t have sand."

The Israeli military has denied using white phosphorus shells in the Gaza offensive, although an investigation by The Times has revealed that dozens of Palestinians in Gaza have sustained serious injuries from the substance, which burns at extremely high temperatures."

Three hospitals and the Reuters news bureau were also hit.

I do hope the folks at the new Israel Foreign Affairs special PR task force are writing all this down.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Haaretz : Gaza - over 1000 dead, one third children

All the following four news items are from today's Israeli paper Haaretz. The Israeli paper Haaretz. What an embarrassment it is to compare its coverage and analysis to that of the sorry mealy-mouthed apologetics coming from our Canadian media and politicians.

Gideon Levy : The IDF has no mercy for the children in Gaza nursery schools
"About a third of those killed in Gaza have been children ... out of the 1,000 total killed as of Wednesday. Around 1,550 of the 4,500 wounded have also been children according to figures from the UN, which says the number of children killed has tripled since the ground operation began.
But the horrifying proportion of this war, a third of the dead being children, has not been seen in recent memory. About half of Gaza's residents are under 15.

The public's shocking indifference to these figures is incomprehensible. A thousand propagandists and apologists cannot excuse this criminal killing.
They did not die because they were used as human shields or because they worked for Hamas. They were killed because the IDF bombed, shelled or fired at them, their families or their apartment buildings. That is why the blood of Gaza's children is on our hands, not on Hamas' hands, and we will never be able to escape that responsibility."

Israel Foreign Ministry preparing for 'day after' IDF leaves Gaza
"The Foreign Ministry has created a special task force to prepare for the aftermath of the Israel Defense Forces' Gaza operation. The team will submit proposals for two of the army's main concerns - Iran and Hamas taking control of Gaza's postwar reconstruction, and the harm the offensive might cause to Israel's image abroad.

The ministry hopes to avoid a situation similar to the one in southern Lebanon after the 2006 Second Lebanon War. There, Iran sent hundreds of millions of dollars to Hezbollah to transfer to families whose homes had been destroyed, burnishing the militant group's reputation among the population.
Israeli officials believe after the fighting stops and foreign journalists are allowed entry into the territory that negative sentiment toward Israel will only grow as the full picture of destruction emerges.

The task force's preliminary recommendations highlight the need for Israel to project two kinds of messages abroad. The Arab world must receive a deterrent message indicating Israel will not accept a reality in which its civilians have to endure rocket fire.
The Western world, however, must be presented with the message that despite the scale of destruction rained on Gaza, Israel is a democratic state with a similar worldview to countries in Europe and the United States.

Still, Foreign Ministry officials are convinced that these public relations efforts will not suffice to restore Israel's image and will need to be backed up by diplomatic progress with the Palestinians."

U.S. may cut $1 billion in loan guarantees to Israel over West Bank settlements
"The United States administration plans to cut about $1 billion from the balance of its loan guarantees to Israel because of its investments in the settlements.
Israel has used about $4.4 billion of the $9 billion in loan guarantees extended by the U.S. in 2003.
The loan guarantees arrangement specifies that the U.S. will reduce the guarantees by the amount the Israeli government spends on settlements in the West Bank. The U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv monitors that spending and the administration informs Jerusalem of the amount it is holding back from the guarantees."

ANALYSIS / Egypt's Gaza truce plan is mostly bad for Hamas
"After 19 days of fighting and more than 1,000 Palestinian fatalities, the first significant signs that Hamas is breaking could be seen Wednesday night. Hamas representatives to talks with Egypt announced an agreement in principle on Wednesday to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal.

The Egyptian proposal is mostly bad for Hamas. It doesn't let the organization bring the Palestinian public any political achievement that would justify the blood that has been spilled, and even forces on it the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, in the form of its renewed presence at the Rafah crossing (as a condition for its reopening).

Once the cease-fire is reached, the IDF will withdraw from the positions it captured in Gaza, and only then will the two sides begin to discuss the opening of border crossings and removal of the blockade, which was the reason Hamas gave for waging war.

Hamas representatives did say on Wednesday night they had not yet accepted the Egyptian proposal, but in the same breath they said it was the only proposal on the table."

And from the Jerusalem Post :
Israeli groups: Probe IDF 'war crimes'
A forum of Israeli human rights organizations on Wednesday called on the country's political and military leadership to launch a domestic probe into "suspected war crimes" committed during Operation Cast Lead.
Text of their letter here.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Canada : Israel firsters

Maps of Palestinian loss of land, 1946 to 2000.
Israel is about the same size as Vancouver Island; Gaza, that little green strip on the coast, is a little more than twice the size of the District of North Van, or a little smaller than Seattle.

Yesterday Canada stood alone in voting against a UN human rights resolution "adopted by a roll-call vote of 33 in favour, one against and 13 abstentions" which :

"strongly condemned the ongoing Israeli military operation in Gaza, which had resulted in massive violations of human rights of the Palestinian people, and demanded the occupying power, Israel, to immediately withdraw its military forces from Gaza".

The resolution also called for

"the end to the launching of the crude rockets against Israeli civilians that resulted in the loss of 4 civilian lives and some injuries"

Full UN text here.

Yes it was heavily weighted against Israel, causing European nations and others to abstain from the vote, but Canada's stated reason for voting against it merely repeated the US/Israeli line that Israel didn't start it (italics:mine):

"MARIUS GRINIUS (Canada), speaking in an explanation of the vote before the vote, thanked the Palestine delegation for its consultations, but said the draft text still failed to clearly recognize that rocket fire on Israel had led to the current crisis. It also used unnecessary, unhelpful and inflammatory language. Canada therefore called for a vote and would vote against the resolution."

According to Reuters : "The resolution, whose wording diplomats said had been softened at the request of Palestinian envoys in an effort to get a consensus in the Council, was opposed outright by Canada."

So what did Hamas want?
Khalid Mish'al, head of the Hamas political bureau, speaking in Damascus on January 11, 2009 :

"Concerning us, we want the immediate and complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza and the lifting of the unjust siege on Gaza that has led to the current situation.
Our other request is the opening of all border crossings including the Rafah border crossing.
We, with an open mind, will deal with any initiatives and decisions based on these three requests.

Therefore, we will not accept any negotiations for a truce in the light of and under the pressure of a military campaign and siege.
Let the military campaign stop, let the Israelis withdraw, and let the rights of our people be admitted to, let them recognize our rights to live without a siege and closed
border crossings, just like other humans, then we are ready to discuss a truce, just like we did before.
We will not accept a permanent truce, because it will take the right of resistance from the Palestinian people. The resistance is against occupation and military campaigns and therefore as long as occupation exists, resistance will too…"

Canada's Dept of Foreign Affairs , via The Star :

"The resolution wholly failed to acknowledge Hamas's continual rocket attacks on Israel that brought about the current crisis, and ignored a state's legitimate right to self-defence," a spokesperson said in an email.
"Canada remains deeply concerned about the ongoing hostilities ... and encourages all diplomatic efforts to achieve an immediate, sustainable and durable ceasefire. But first and foremost, Hamas's rocket attacks must stop so that a ceasefire can be realized."
In May last year, a month before he received the B’nai Brith International President’s Gold Medallion, Stephen Harper said :

"... anti-Israeli sentiment is really just as a thinly disguised veil for good old-fashioned anti-Semitism"
In October 2007 Stockwell Day and Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter signed an interim mutual cooperation agreement on homeland security "to enable cooperation in the fields of combating terror and border security".
Dichter laid out guidelines to the Canadian public security committee for a Canadian-Israeli security cooperation similar to the Israel US Homeland Security Pact he signed in February in Washington DC.
The Canada Israel Declaration of Intent was signed on March 23, 2008.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gaza protests by the numbers

Not a lot of main scream media coverage of the worldwide Gaza protests yesterday so here's some numbers off the newswires :
Algeria : 100,000
Jakarta : 20,000
Hong Kong : 1,000 . . . Sarajevo : 1,000
Paris : 30,000 . . . London : 10 - 15,000
Brussels : 30,000 . . . Stockholm : 5,000
Berlin : 6,000 . . . Innsbruck : 3,500
Bern : 7,000 . . . Athens : 2,000
Washington : 20,000 . . . SanFrancisco : 10,000
Los Angeles : 10,000 . . . Orlando : 2,000
Montreal : 2,000 . . . Toronto : 2,000

and many hundreds of cities reporting "a few hundred" or "a few thousand".

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Jews, Arabs hold peace rally in Israel

"Hundreds of Jews and Arabs from the north and center of Israel gathered near Kfar Kara'a on Highway 65 Saturday in a rally for peace. The only sign present at the demonstration read "Hand in hand – neighbors for peace".
They wore white and held hands to create a human chain along the road for one hour, without disrupting traffic."
h/t Godammitkitty @ Bread and Roses
And on Thursday Ayatollah Ali Khomenei banned hardline Iranian volunteers from leaving the country to carry out suicide bombings against Israel.
But in the US, the House of Representatives voted 390 to 5 "to recognise Israel's right to defend itself against attacks from Gaza".
Nice framing.
There was no resolution asking : "Does Israel have the right to own two concentration camps, Gaza and the West Bank?" h/t Juan Cole commenter
The five who voted "no" were Ron Paul (R-TX), Dennis Kuchinich (D-OH), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Nick Rahall (D-WV), and Gwen Moore (D-WI).
Ron Paul gave a four minute speech to accompany his vote : Israel created Hamas
"The best strategy to end the increasingly bloody occupation is for Israel to become the target of the kind of global movement that put an end to apartheid in South Africa."
Wall Street Journal : "Israel is committing war crimes"

Friday, January 09, 2009

Gaza : "an eye for an eyelash"

Mother and child, Zeitoun, south-east Gaza.

First the Israeli army drops the leaflets warning Palestinians to get out of their homes because there will be an air raid. Then they pack 110 of them, half of whom are children, into a single-storey house in Zeitoun, south-east Gaza, "for their safety". Then they bomb the house. Repeatedly. Then they refuse to allow medical teams to evacuate the wounded.

The UN, which has called for an "immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli ground troops from Gaza" (Vote 14-0, US abstaining), has called for an investigation.

The Guardian :
"The UN put the Palestinian death toll at 758, of whom it said 42% were women and children – 60 women and 257 children. Around 3,100 Palestinians have been injured.
Three Israeli soldiers were killed bringing the Israeli death toll to 13, of whom three were civilians.
"There is no safe space in the Gaza Strip – no safe haven, no bomb shelters, and the borders are closed and civilians have no place to flee," said a report from the UN office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs. It said three quarters of Gaza's 1.5 million people had now been without electricity since Sunday, and 800,000 Gazans had no running water.
"The UN relief and works agency, by far the largest humanitarian agency in Gaza, suspended its operations yesterday, after Israeli forces opened fire on a UN-contracted convoy collecting food aid from the Erez crossing in north Gaza. One man was killed and two others injured. Later , a marked UN convoy of two armoured vehicles was hit by Israeli troops when they stopped to try to recover the dead body of a Palestinian UN staff member during a scheduled three-hour ceasefire."
I wonder what was difficult to figure out about a white truck with a big red cross painted on the roof. Perhaps that 14-0 UN resolution for complete withdrawal from Gaza was to blame.
"15,000 Gazans are sheltering in UN schools because they have been forced to flee their homes in the face of the Israeli air and ground offensive, or even ordered out by Israeli troops. The UN has opened 27 of its schools as shelters. "
Israel has bombed two of them despite the UN giving the GPS coordinates to prevent it, and the UN has called for yet another inquiry.
So what's the reaction from Canada?
Michael "empire lite" Ignatieff in The Star yesterday:
"Federal Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff says Israel is justified in taking military action to defend itself against attacks by Hamas from the Gaza Strip.
"Canada has to support the right of a democratic country to defend itself," he told reporters in Halifax yesterday after speaking to a forum of business leaders on the economy.
"Israel has been attacked from Gaza, not just last year, but for almost 10 years," Ignatieff said.
"They evacuated from Gaza so there is no occupation in Gaza."
Horrifying and disgusting, I know, and all points we dispensed with yesterday.
Blog reactions to Iggy's tripe were swift : POGGE, PSA at Canadian Cynic, Dr Dawg
Iggy had more nuancey things to say than CP and the Star suggest, as reported by supporter James Morton, but Iggy's pro-Israel lines are the familiar AIPAC quotes that the Canadian press will recognize and parrot.
So where are we getting our news, apart from a pro-Israel press and The Megaphone?
If you follow no other links here today, please be sure to click this one at Sudbury Against War and Occupation - Justin Podur : Turn Off the Canadian Media, Please.
Good advice and good alternative recommendations.
P.S. Signed the Amnesty petition yet? Speak out for peace in Gaza.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Vatican : Gaza "a big concentration camp"

Reuters : "Pope Benedict's point man for justice and peace issues on Wednesday issued the Vatican's toughest criticism of Israel since the latest Mideast crisis began, calling Gaza a "big concentration camp".

NYTimes : "The International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday it had discovered “shocking” scenes — including small children next to their mothers’ corpses — when its representatives gained access for the first time to parts of Gaza battered by Israeli shelling.
The statement said a team of four Palestine Red Crescent ambulances accompanied by Red Cross representatives made its way to Zeitoun Wednesday where it "found four small children next to their dead mothers in one of the houses. They were too weak to stand up on their own. One man was also found alive, too weak to stand up. In all, there were at least 12 corpses lying on mattresses.
In response, the Israeli military did not comment directly on the allegation. In a statement, it accused Hamas, its foe in Gaza, of deliberately using "Palestinian civilians as human shields" and said the Israeli Army "works in close cooperation with international aid organizations during the fighting so that civilians can be provided with assistance. "

Presumably this "close cooperation" began just yesterday, the first time the Red Cross was allowed access.

" eye for an eyelash..."

Meanwhile, over at the National Post, Kelly McParland happily quotes Jason Cherniak, "President of Liblogs, a site that aggregates blogs from writers identifying themselves as Liberals", who gives us a short history of Gaza in which Israel is astonishingly blameless.
I will refute each of Mr. Cherniak's remarks with those of someone much more expert than myself : Avi Shlaim, "Oxford Professor of International Relations who served in the Israeli army", writing in yesterday's Guardian :

Cherniak : "In the summer of 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza. This was a complete and total withdrawal, where even settlers whose families had lived in Gaza for decades were withdrawn to Israel. It was everything the world had ever asked from Israel as far as the Gaza strip was concerned. Israel showed nothing but restraint from the summer of 2005 until December 2008 in its relations with the people of Gaza."

Shlaim : "The figures speak for themselves. In the three years after the withdrawal from Gaza, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire. On the other hand, in 2005-7 alone, the IDF killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children."

Cherniak : "Eventually, by June 2008, Israel was able to negotiate a cease fire with Hamas, the “State of Calm Agreement”, brokered by Egypt. That agreement fell apart in December 2008 when Hamas once again began attacking Israel with rockets imported from Syria and Iran."

Shlaim : "It was not Hamas but the IDF that broke the ceasefire. It did so by a raid into Gaza on 4 November that killed six Hamas men."

Cherniak : People need to "demand that governments around the world start to take action to save the people of Gaza from their own elected government[Hamas]."

Shlaim : "The declared aim of the war is to weaken Hamas and to intensify the pressure until its leaders agree to a new ceasefire on Israel's terms. The undeclared aim is to ensure that the Palestinians in Gaza are seen by the world simply as a humanitarian problem and thus to derail their struggle for independence and statehood."

Shlaim writes that Gaza is "an open air prison".
This morning "Israel warned thousands of people in the Rafah zone on the Egyptian border to leave their houses ahead of planned air raids on Thursday.
"You have until 8am [06:00 GMT]," said leaflets which were dropped by the Israeli military."

Where are they to go for safety? Certainly not UN buildings or schools.

So which description do you prefer, Mr. Cherniak : "concentration camp" from the Vatican or "open air prison" from the Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford ?

Sign Amnesty International Canada's Open Letter to Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Lawrence Cannon, to take action. Write to your MP and local papers. Letters count. Spread the word.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Jewish women occupy Israeli consulate in Toronto

Well done, sisters!
"Protesters are outraged at Israel's latest assault on the Palestinian people and by the Canadian government's refusal to condemn these massacres. They are deeply concerned that Canadians are hearing the views of pro-Israel groups who are being represented as the only voice of Jewish Canadians. The protesters have occupied the consulate to send a clear statement that many Jewish-Canadians do not support Israel′s violence and apartheid policies. They are joining with people of conscience all across the world who are demanding an end to Israeli aggression and justice for the Palestinian people."
~ news release from Palestinian and Jewish Unity.
Here is Judy Rebick's account as related by Michelle at Rabble :
"They went into the consulate in small groups, and pretended they were there on other business. Once they were all in there, they sat down and told them this is a protest.
The officials in the consulate were absolutely irate over it. One of the security guards was "beside himself". He tried to intimidate them, saying, "You're in Israel now!" Judy retorted, "We are NOT. This is not the embassy." (Apparently only the embassy is considered Israeli territory, not the consulate - they had legal advice going in.)
The security guard tried to drag the youngest woman out, and she resisted. Judy told him to take his hands off her or they'd charge him with assault.
The security guard then tried to take the phone away from another woman, and when she wouldn't give it to him, he slapped her across the face. Judy told him that if he touches any of them again, he would be charged with assault. So the Israeli officials decided to let the police deal with them."
Well done, Judy Rebick, professor; Judith Deutsch, psychoanalyst and president of Science for Peace; B.H. Yael, filmmaker; Smadar Carmon, Canadian Israeli peace activist, and the rest of you.
Thank you.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

New Ten Commandments

1. It's just a place. I don't give a fig about it. Anywhere else is just as good. If you don't stop fighting over the Holy Land, I'm turning it into a lake.
2. Prayer is for man. I don't need your grovelling. It's supposed to make you feel better. If it doesn't -- stop doing it.
Click image to read the rest.
I note there is a #11 this time :
If you screw up this time, people, the cats get the next savior I send.
h/t rabble

Monday, January 05, 2009

A disturbingly beautiful photo of the aerial bombing of Gaza

Not so beautiful on the ground :

In Gaza and Gaza Seige

Sign the Appeal to Stop the Attack on Gaza!
Experience the rare thrill of receiving a reply from Dick Cheney's office!
Half a million signatures so far.

Emma the Embryo and Vatican water sports

"The contraceptive pill is polluting the environment and is in part responsible for male infertility, a report in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said yesterday.
The pill "has for some years had devastating effects on the environment by releasing tonnes of hormones into nature" through female urine.

The article was promptly dismissed by several scientific organizations.
Yeah but - women, hormones, pee, nature, the pill, sexual freedom - why the combination alone is just begging for some Vatican sciencey oh noes, isn't it?
*Pissed off* and setting the record straight :

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Foreign policy puppetry

U.S. Working for “Sustainable and Durable” Cease-Fire in Gaza
said Gordon Duguid, U.S. State Department on Dec. 29

Canada calls for 'sustainable and durable' ceasefire in Gaza
said Lawrence Cannon, Canadian Foreign Minister on Dec. 31

Stenography : a proud ReformaTory foreign policy tradition.

A premeditated humanitarian disaster

Six children were killed when this mosque was levelled, one of several mosques hit, along with schools, hospitals, government buildings, police stations, television stations, prisons and the women's wing of the Islamic University.
Israel has extended its naval blockade of Gaza from six nautical miles to 20 nautical miles, preventing humanitarian aid and protest vessels from trying to break the siege.
Foreign reporters and Red Cross medical emergency teams have been denied access to Gaza.
Power lines have been cut. One and a half million people lack water, fuel, food and medical supplies.
Tzipi Livni, the Israeli foreign minister, says there is no crisis.
Chris McGreal writes in The Observer from Jerusalem about the PR campaign to ensure that Israel's war was seen not in terms of occupation but of the west's struggle against terror and confrontation with Iran.
"Dan Gillerman, Israel's ambassador to the UN until a few months ago, was brought in by the Foreign Ministry to help lead the diplomatic and PR campaign.
He said that the diplomatic and political groundwork has been under way for months.
"This was something that was planned long ahead," he said. "I was recruited by the foreign minister to coordinate Israel's efforts and I have never seen all parts of a very complex machinery - whether it is the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry, the prime minister's office, the police or the army - work in such co-ordination, being effective in sending out the message."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Jews and Arabs United for Justice

Demonstration in Paris today.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

This photo shows the thousands of shoes left at Whitehall for PM Gordon Brown by protesters against Israel's bombardment of Gaza.
It was done in the spirit of the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush.
OK, now does anyone know why thousands of shoes were mysteriously dumped on the Miami Freeway yesterday?
It's a shoe-in - it's the Rapture!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Gaza/Israel - by the numbers

Politics - for the people links to Gaza/Israel statistics charts at If Americans Knew, who in turn provide links to the sources for their statistics.

I don't want to hear any more about how "even one death is too many" or "statistics cannot measure the pain" from those who are in support of colonialist ten to one kill ratios.

Sudbury Against War and Occupation reprints Gaza : The Logic of Colonial Power from Nir Rosen at The Guardian :

"Terrorism is a normative term and not a descriptive concept. An empty word that means everything and nothing, it is used to describe what the Other does, not what we do. The powerful – whether Israel, America, Russia or China – will always describe their victims' struggle as terrorism, but the destruction of Chechnya, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine, the slow slaughter of the remaining Palestinians, the American occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan – with the tens of thousands of civilians it has killed … these will never earn the title of terrorism, though civilians were the target and terrorising them was the purpose.

Counterinsurgency, now popular again among in the Pentagon, is another way of saying the suppression of national liberation struggles. Terror and intimidation are as essential to it as is winning hearts and minds.

Normative rules are determined by power relations. Those with power determine what is legal and illegal. They besiege the weak in legal prohibitions to prevent the weak from resisting. For the weak to resist is illegal by definition. Concepts like terrorism are invented and used normatively as if a neutral court had produced them, instead of the oppressors. The danger in this excessive use of legality actually undermines legality, diminishing the credibility of international institutions such as the United Nations. It becomes apparent that the powerful, those who make the rules, insist on legality merely to preserve the power relations that serve them or to maintain their occupation and colonialism."

h/t Resettle THIS! in comments at The Beav

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Times : Adjusting our distorted image of Hamas

From William Sieghart at Times Online :

"Palestinians did not vote for Hamas because it was dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel or because it had been responsible for waves of suicide bombings that had killed Israeli citizens. They voted for Hamas because they thought that Fatah, the party of the rejected Government, had failed them. Despite renouncing violence and recognising the state of Israel Fatah had not achieved a Palestinian state. It is crucial to know this to understand the supposed rejectionist position of Hamas. It won't recognise Israel or renounce the right to resist until it is sure of the world's commitment to a just solution to the Palestinian issue.

In the five years that I have been visiting Gaza and the West Bank, I have met hundreds of Hamas politicians and supporters. None of them has professed the goal of Islamising Palestinian society, Taleban-style. Hamas relies on secular voters too much to do that. People still listen to pop music, watch television and women still choose whether to wear the veil or not.

The political leadership of Hamas is probably the most highly qualified in the world. Boasting more than 500 PhDs in its ranks, the majority are middle-class professionals - doctors, dentists, scientists and engineers. Most of its leadership have been educated in our universities and harbour no ideological hatred towards the West. It is a grievance-based movement, dedicated to addressing the injustice done to its people."

Continued at Times Online ...

Happy New Year 2009

Iris bagging some rays in the snow - we just got another couple of inches.
It's an old pic but I want to tell an old story.

This time last year me and sweetie were both in hospital with unexpected life threatening illnesses but a year later this is what I carry with me from that time.
People, some of whom I barely knew, fed and cared for my animals, cleaned my house, answered my messages, picked up my mail, did my laundry, stocked my fridge with food and when I still wasn't home a week later threw it all out and restocked it again, delivered firewood, chopped kindling, paid my bills, made the trek into Vancouver to visit me - so many kindnesses I didn't even know about at the time.
When I got home and was recuperating and sweetie was still in a coma for what would turn out to be another 6 weeks, they ferried me into Vancouver for doctor's appointments and to visit him, read to him days I couldn't get in, took him food from restaurants when he woke up, called me with visit status reports, brought me food, flowers, music, books, movies, and kept the woodstove going. Every day. For weeks. I lacked for nothing.
A woman I'd only ever spoken to twice gave me an old sweater she'd always found comforting, a friend wanted to rent me an apartment in the city so I'd have somewhere to stay in between hospital visits, surrogate daughter phoned from Wales where she was going to school to say she was coming home. (*sternly* You'll do nothing of the kind, you'll stay and finish your degree)
I returned months later to a part-time job to discover paychecks waiting for the time I hadn't worked there.
Look, I know when you do some little thing for someone you may or may not know very well that it doesn't seem like much of anything in the course of your day, but to suddenly be on the receiving end of dozens of these kindnesses on a daily basis is a remarkable gift of hope.
So on this the first day of a new year in which the macro political and economic prospects for the near future may look pretty gloomy, it helps to remember that this is still how people naturally act towards one another in their own immediate world.
Happy New Year

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