Saturday, June 05, 2010
Sweden, Norway Act Against Israel
Source: Wall Street Journal
International fallout from Israel's bloody boarding of a flotilla offshore Gaza intensified, moving beyond angry denunciation from Israel's foes to protest measures in some Western countries.
In Sweden, dockworkers are set to launch a weeklong boycott of Israeli ships and goods, a union spokesman said Saturday according to Associated Press.
Peter Annerback, a spokesman for the Swedish Port Workers Union which has around 1,500 members, said workers are urged to refuse handling of Israeli goods and ships during the June 15-24 boycott.
Norway's military says it has canceled a special operations seminar because the Defense Ministry objected to the inclusion of an Israeli army officer in the program, AP reported.
"Court of Human Rights". Human rights??? Bwahahahaha..
A spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry said a dock action like the one being urged in Sweden was illegal, according to rulings by the European Court of Human Rights. Regarding the Norwegian incident, the spokesman said it was hard to see how barring individuals to international forums "would promote any good cause." LinkHere
Vietnam postpones Peres visit due to Gaza crisis
"Vietnam postponed on Saturday a visit by President Shimon Peres after condemning Israel for the bloody storming of an aid ship bound for Gaza.
Peres had been due in Vietnam on June 11 on a three-day visit.
"We have decided to postpone this visit due to the complex current situation," a Vietnamese foreign ministry source told AFP, adding that a new date had not been decided.
Israel is facing a diplomatic crisis over the botched raid in which its commandos killed nine Turkish activists in the Gaza-bound flotilla.
Vietnam "strongly" condemned the raid earlier, adding: "Such action has constituted a violation of international laws and escalated tension in the region." LinkHere
Thomas Has Apologized; When Will Huckabee?
…Israel has become the bully of the region. Everything that was inflicted upon them decades ago, they now inflict upon others…
This is so true: The bullied has grown up to be the bully.
Hearst reporter Helen Thomas has rightly received criticism for her offensive comment that Israelis should “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home [to] Poland and Germany and America.” Though Thomas quickly apologized, issuing a written statement that said “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians,” some conservatives are still calling for her to be fired.
Sam Stein reports that one of those critics is former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who said in an email that Thomas “should lose her job over this“:
“As someone who is Jewish, and as someone who worked with her and used to like her, I find this appalling,” [Fleischer said.]
“She is advocating religious cleansing. How can Hearst stand by her? If a journalist, or a columnist, said the same thing about blacks or Hispanics, they would already have lost their jobs.”
But are conservatives applying the religious cleansing standard equally? Consider Gov. Mike Huckabee, who has on numerous occasions voiced his opposition to a Palestinian state in Palestine, saying that “the Palestinians can create their homeland in many other places in the Middle East, outside Israel.” Like the most radical right-wing elements in Israel, Huckabee’s conception of Israel includes Palestinian lands occupied by Israeli forces in 1967.
Huckabee has never apologized for any of this, for the simple reason that this is what he really thinks: The Palestinians should be transferred out of Palestine. As far as I know, no conservatives have ever criticized Huckabee for these comments, let alone called on Fox News to fire him. I look forward to Ari Fleischer doing that very soon. LinkHere
Maine video producer recounts Gaza flotilla ordeal
The USA propaganda machine working overtime, it seems as ususal
|Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Glenn Beck Airs Israeli Raid Footage|
PORTLAND, Maine — A Maine video producer recalled hearing shots amid the chaos that broke out as Israeli troops raided the aid flotilla he was on that was attempting to break Israel's blockade of Gaza.
Scott Hamann of South Portland arrived in Maine late Friday night, five days after the flotilla was intercepted by Israeli troops, resulting in the deaths of nine pro-Palestinian activists.
In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Hamann said troops that landed on the boat he was on fired high-powered paintball guns and threw a "stun grenade" that hit him on the foot before exploding behind him.
People aboard the flotilla expected a confrontation, but not a deadly one, he said.
"As soon as we heard the real guns going off, that's when we knew things were different than what we thought they'd be," he said. "We knew they'd use excessive force, but it was a game changer when we heard they were shooting people."
The six-ship flotilla was attempting to deliver supplies to Gaza in defiance of a 3-year-old Israeli blockade that has aimed to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza that could be used to attack Israel. At the same time, it has deepened the poverty of the 1.5 million Palestinians in the strip and heightened Mideast tensions.
The flotilla's journey ended when Israeli commandos boarded the vessels early Monday morning and clashed with passengers on one ship in a confrontation that left nine people dead.
Israel says troops used force only after they were attacked with weapons. Activists say Israel fired first.
Hamann, 29, owns Harbor Light Films video production company in South Portland. He was documenting the event as a job but also felt strongly about the cause.
David Rubinson, a former music producer in the U.S. who now lives in Eze, France, said he hired Hamann to ride aboard one of the six vessels in the flotilla, shoot video and photographs and post them on the website . http://www.witnessgaza.com/
Hamann said the flotilla was in international waters when it was intercepted by Israeli troops. When they boarded his vessel, Challenger I, they destroyed all video footage and camera memory cards, he said. LinkHere
As expected, Israel matched its use of overwhelming force against the passengers on the Mavi Marmara with an equally vigorous attempt to shape both how the story played out in U.S. media and the official response from the U.S. Government.
To that end they prepared talking points, enlisted the efforts of their lobby, and mobilized a virtual army of activists to monitor, respond to and pressure press, politicians and electronic web-postings.
Israel's talking points suggested an alternate reality, asserting that: the ships posed a mortal danger to Israel since they were populated by "dangerous extremists" (which, if true, raises the question, why did Israel free them, sending them on their way?); the Israeli military was ambushed and, therefore, acted in self-defense (as if hooded heavily armed paratroopers who landed in the dead of night were but innocent bystanders); the cargo could have been delivered peacefully to Gaza if only the ships had off-loaded in Israel (ignoring the fact that the materials being delivered included items like pre-fabricated housing that Israel had banned from reaching Gaza); and there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza (clearly refuted by respected independent NGO statistics on poverty and malnutrition rates among Palestinian children in Gaza).
World-wide reactions to the violent assault and the resultant deaths were swift in condemning Israeli behavior. But none of this mattered since Israel, in crises of this sort, plays to an audience of one. It is acceptable for Israel to endure international outrage and votes of 14 to 1 in the United Nation's Security Council, as long as that "1", the United States, stands at its side.
Seen in this context, initial reactions here may have given Israel some comfort, although to quote the jumbled words of legendary baseball great Yogi Berra, "it ain't over 'til it's over".
U.S. television networks for the most part gave scant coverage to the unfolding tragedy -- leaving viewers interested in the story no recourse but to hunt down al Jazeera English or the BBC to follow the tragic events at sea. Print media was a bit better, but as FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting - a media watchdog group) noted, too often the major dailies reported the story "through Israel's eyes" giving the benefit of the doubt to Israeli claims and focusing on the impact the event would have on U.S.-- Israeli relations rather than on the plight of Palestinians or the legality of Israel's attack in international waters. LinkHere
Name Of Slain American Activist Omitted From New York Times Article
The New York Times provided, on Thursday afternoon, internet “coverage” of the deadly Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla and its nonviolent peace activists heading to Gaza to deliver humanitarian supplies.
This coverage buried the name of an American citizen who was one of the activists shot and killed by the Israeli forces during the illegal assault on the Freedom Flotilla.
Writing for New York Times, Isabel Kershner, initially mentioned the name of Furkan Dogan, 19, who was born in Troy, New York in the United States and lived there as a child before moving to Turkey.
But by Friday morning, Dogan’s name could not be found in the story of the New York Times, both in the online edition and the print, James M. Wall said. (http://wallwritings.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/nyt-flotil... )
The story only states that there is one American person who was killed in the attack, and that he is a “19 year-old American citizen”. LinkHere
Turkish newspaper Zaman says prosecution has begun compiling evidence against Prime Minister Netanyahu, Defense Minister Barak and IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi following deadly raid on Gaza-bound flotilla
The İstanbul Bakırköy Prosecutor’s Office has launched a criminal investigation against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi over the deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, Turkish newspaper Zaman reported Saturday.
According to the report, if the prosecutor’s office can compile enough evidence against Israel at the end of its probe, it will charge the Israeli officials with various crimes, including murder, injury, taking hostages, attacking Turkish citizens on the open seas and piracy.
The Turkish newspaper reported that one of the prosecutors interviewed all the injured on Wednesday in a hospital in Ankara except for intensive care unit patients. In addition, the hundreds of activists deported from Israel were examined at the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) to provide more evidence about the incident. LinkHere
Friday, June 04, 2010
The pictures BP doesn’t want you to see.
Flashback: In 2000, Vitter Proposed Legislation To Reduce Criminal Liability Of Oil Companies For Spills
But if Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) had his way, BP and its partners would have been off the hook for violations of all but the weakest of these laws. In July 2000, when Vitter was in the House, he introduced a bill that would make penalties under the OPA “the exclusive criminal penalties” for oil spills:
(a) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision or rule of law, sections 4301(c) and 4302 of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (Public Law 101-380; 104 Stat. 537) and the amendments made by those sections provide the exclusive criminal penalties for any action or activity that may arise or occur in connection with a discharge of oil or a hazardous substance referred to in section 311(b)(3) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (33 U.S.C. 1321(b)(3)).
Fortunately, the bill — which attracted only two cosponsors — never made it out of committee. If it had become law, BP and the other companies would be exempted from more stringent criminal penalties under the other environmental laws. It would also potentially exempt BP from any workplace safety violations on the rig or during the cleanup. LinkHere
Medal for Murder, Valour?
A reporter and producer for the Arabic news organization Al Jazeera who was on board the Gaza-bound aid flotilla during Monday's deadly raid gave a firsthand account of the grisly scene aboard the ship to the network Thursday.
According to Jamal ElShayyal's account of the raid, the Israeli military had fired on the Mavi Marmara before boarding the ship. "It was evident there was definitely fire from the air, because one of the people who was killed was clearly shot from above -- he was shot, the bullet targeted him at the top of his head," ElShayyal said. "There was also fire coming from the sea as well." This account differs from the one given by the Israeli military.
The reporter also describes being mistreated by officials alongside other civilians before his Thursday release.
Gaza flotilla activists were shot in head at close range
Exclusive: Nine Turkish men on board Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times, autopsy results reveal
Israel was tonight under pressure to allow an independent inquiry into its assault on the Gaza aid flotilla after autopsy results on the bodies of those killed, obtained by the Guardian, revealed they were peppered with 9mm bullets, many fired at close range.
Nine Turkish men on board the Mavi Marmara were shot a total of 30 times and five were killed by gunshot wounds to the head, according to the vice-chairman of the Turkish council of forensic medicine, which carried out the autopsies for the Turkish ministry of justice today.
The results revealed that a 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, who also has US citizenship, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back, said Yalcin Buyuk, vice-chairman of the council of forensic medicine.
The findings emerged as more survivors gave their accounts of the raids. Ismail Patel, the chairman of Leicester-based pro-Palestinian group Friends of al-Aqsa, who returned to Britain today, told how he witnessed some of the fatal shootings and claimed that Israel had operated a "shoot to kill policy".
He calculated that during the bloodiest part of the assault, Israeli commandos shot one person every minute. One man was fatally shot in the back of the head just two feet in front him and another was shot once between the eyes. He added that as well as the fatally wounded, 48 others were suffering from gunshot wounds and six activists remained missing, suggesting the death toll may increase.
The new information about the manner and intensity of the killings undermines Israel's insistence that its soldiers opened fire only in self defence and in response to attacks by the activists.
"Given the very disturbing evidence which contradicts the line from the Israeli media and suggests that Israelis have been very selective in the way they have addressed this, there is now an overwhelming need for an international inquiry," said Andrew Slaughter MP, a member of the all party group on Britain and Palestine.
Israel said tonight the number of bullets found in the bodies did not alter the fact that the soldiers were acting in self defence. "The only situation when a soldier shot was when it was a clearly a life-threatening situation," said a spokesman for the Israeli embassy in London. "Pulling the trigger quickly can result in a few bullets being in the same body, but does not change the fact they were in a life-threatening situation."
Protesters from across the country will tomorrow march from Downing Street to the Israeli embassy to call for Israel to be held to account for its actions.
Earlier this week, William Hague, the foreign secretary, said the government would call for an inquiry under international auspices if Israel refuses to establish an independent inquiry, including an international presence.
The autopsy results were released as the last of the Turkish victims was buried. LinkHere
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Gulf oil spill: BP to go ahead with $10bn shareholder payout
Tony Hayward, BP's embattled chief executive, will risk incurring further wrath in the US over the Gulf oil spill tomorrow by defying calls from politicians to halt more than $10bn (£6.8bn) worth of payouts due to shareholders this year.
He will hope to appease City investors by promising in a conference call with analysts to stick with BP's dividend policy amid mounting concern about a plunging share price.
BP declined to comment on its strategy tonight but it is understood that Hayward will say he is confident the company can pay for liabilities resulting from the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion – now estimated by analysts at $20bn to $60bn – as well as rewarding investors.
The move follows demands from senators Charles Schumer and Ron Wyden in a letter to Hayward all dividends be halted until the cost of the clean-up is known.
Analysts warned that committing to the dividend risked further political opprobrium in the US, with Alex Stewart from Evolution Securities fearing it could force Hayward to make a U-turn next month. BP reports its results on 27 July, when it will announce the size of its next quarterly payout, but it is expected to spend more than $10bn in total dividends this year.
"The problem they have is that the oil is likely to be still flowing by the time they announce results," said Stewart. "It's not going to look good paying about $3bn in dividends to shareholders if at the same time local fishermen are having their livelihoods destroyed in the Gulf." Link Here
Shame on you leaders of America.
From the AP:
A 19-year-old man with dual U.S.-Turkish citizenship was among the nine people killed in the Israeli raid on an aid flotilla in the eastern Mediterranean, the State Department said Thursday. That potentially complicates the Obama administration's attempts to remain neutral in the crisis.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the victim was Furkan Dogan and that U.S. authorities in Turkey had met with Dogan's father to express condolences and to offer U.S. consular services. She added that two other American citizens had been injured in raid and in a subsequent protest and the U.S. was seeking information about all three from Israel.
"Protecting the welfare of American citizens is a fundamental repsponsibility of our government and one that we take very seriously," she told reporters. "We are in constant contact with the Israeli government attempting to obtain more information about our citizens."
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Dogan, who was born in Troy, N.Y., had died of "gunshot wounds" but he declined to confirm reports that he had been shot multiple times in the head. Crowley said U.S. consular officials had seen Dogan's body in a morgue in Israel before it was taken to Turkey but had not known he was a dual citizen at the time.
Dogan's father told Turkey's state-run Anatolia News Agency that he had identified his son's body and that he had been shot through the forehead. Still, he said, the family was not sad because they believed Furkan had died with honor.
"I feel my son has been blessed with heaven," he said. "I am hoping to be a father worthy of my son." LinkHere
Tuesday, June 01, 2010
It's like Murder On the Orient Express:
Of Presidents & Prime Ministers in the Age of Obama
Flotilla Debate: Glenn Greenwald vs. Eliot Spitzer
UPDATE: Just to give the context, this was the five-minute, propaganda-suffused segment with former Netanyhau Chief of Staff George Birnbaum to which I listened before my segment began.
Alleged Chicago Torturer’s Overdue Day in Court
Global Condemnation of Israeli Armed Attack on Gaza-Bound Freedom Flotilla: At Least 10 Dead, Hundreds Remain in Detention
It was early Monday morning as Israeli soldiers stormed the Gaza-bound international aid convoy called the Freedom Flotilla in international waters about forty miles off the coast of Gaza. The six ships had nearly 700 international activists on board and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid. They were aiming to break the three-year-long siege of the Gaza Strip. Israeli commandos landed on the lead ship in the convoy, the Turkish Mavi Marmara, which had about 600 activists on board. At least ten and as many as nineteen civilians on board the ship have been reported to have died in the attack. Israeli troops proceeded to seize the Mavi Marmara and the five other ships and take them to the port of Ashdod. Hundreds of activists are being detained in an Israeli prison, and nearly fifty others have been deported. The United Nations Security Council has condemned the attack and called for the immediate release of the ships and the civilians held by Israel and called for an impartial investigation. All the permanent members of the Security Council except for the United States explicitly called for Israel’s three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip to be lifted. Turkey has compared Israel’s actions to state terrorism. We speak to Adam Shapiro, Amira Hass, Ali Abunimah and Richard Falk. [includes rush transcript]
US Woman Loses Eye After Being Hit During Anti-Israeli Protest
JERUSALEM — An American woman has lost her eye during a demonstration in Jerusalem against Israel's naval raid on a Gaza aid flotilla, a hospital official said Tuesday.
Emily Henochowicz, 21, of Maryland, underwent surgery after suffering the injury, said hospital spokeswoman Yael Bossem-Levy.
Henochowicz was hit in the face by a tear gas canister shot by an Israeli border policeman, said witness Jonathan Pollak.
He said Palestinian youths were hurling rocks, but Henochowicz didn't participate in any violence and was standing at a distance.
Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said, "We can confirm that a U.S. citizen, Emily Henochowicz, suffered a serious injury when a gas canister hit her in the face, as she was standing among other protesters in the West Bank at the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank and Israel."
There was no immediate military comment. LinkHere
Israeli President Shimon Peres has denied reports he offered to sell nuclear weapons to apartheid South Africa when he was defense minister in the 1970s. On Sunday, the Guardian newspaper of London published top-secret South African documents revealing that a secret meeting between then-defense minister Shimon Peres and his South African counterpart, P.W. Botha, ended with an offer by Peres for the sale of warheads "in three sizes." The documents were first uncovered by senior editor at Foreign Affairs Sasha Polakow-Suransky, author of the new book The Unspoken Alliance: Israel’s Secret Relationship with Apartheid South Africa. [includes rush transcript] LinkHere
Monday, May 31, 2010
Confusion as Israeli PM pushes ahead with trip
WASHINGTON: The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, would not cut short an official trip to Canada and Washington and return home in the wake of the deadly and controversial raid on a Palestinian flotilla, a senior official travelling with him said.
''The Prime Minister is not leaving,'' the official told reporters in Ottawa. ''He will carry on with his schedule.''
An Agence France-Presse correspondent travelling with the delegation said the situation was one of ''complete confusion''.
''First we were ordered to pack, then we were told to put everything on hold,'' he said, adding that an official had said members of the delegation were ''in consultations''. LinkHere