After the World Cup, a big flotilla to set out for the land of burning olive trees

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And other news from Today in Palestine:

Land theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing

IOF burns large areas of olive trees to suppress Ni’lin protest
June 26th, 2010– the Occupation Forces, who were stationed behind the Wall’s cement blocks, fired tear gas at the demonstrators and opened the gate of the Wall to chase the protesters after have been inhaling gas in unsuccessful efforts to arrest them.

10 Jordan Valley families given 24 hours to leave homes
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Ten families in the Jordan Valley were handed home demolition orders on Sunday and given 24 hours to evacuate their lands.  Most of the homes to be demolished belong to the Daraghmah and Al-Makahmreh families, who say they have documents proving their ownership of the land filed with Israel’s Land Registry. The families said they had been issued demolition orders before, however this was the first time they had been given a 24-hour notice.

20,000 Gazans in West Bank threatened with deportation
More than 20,000 Palestinians from the Gaza Strip are living in a state of anxiety fearing the Israeli occupation authority might deport them any time to the Gaza Strip.

Israeli official during informal talks: “Jerusalem was promised by God to the Jews"
Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Dan Meridor held an ‘informal meeting’ with Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Friday, during which he quoted the late Pope John Paul II as saying, “ Jerusalem is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, but was promised only to the Jews”.

Construction at Sheikh Jarrah begins
Just days ahead of Netanyahu-Obama meeting, builders start 20 Jewish homes in east Jerusalem.   The controversial construction plans, set at the site of the Shepherd Hotel, surfaced on the eve of Netanyahu’s previous meeting with Barack Obama three months ago, embarrassing the Israeli government.Channel 10 reported Sunday that bulldozers had already arrived at the site, intended for 20 new Jewish homes.,7340,L-3911541,00.html

Source: PLC members will not be expelled
Jerusalem – Ma’an – Four Palestinian lawmakers affiliated with Hamas will not be expelled from Jerusalem, sources told Ma’an on Sunday, and Israel will reverse its decision.  The information was revealed three days after the four elected PLC members spoke with President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, where they announced publicly that they do not represent a party, but rather the people who elected them.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment

IOF opens fire at peaceful march in Khan Younis
Gaza, June 28, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli occupation forces opened fire today morning on a peaceful march in the area of “Farrahin” east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, while protesting against the establishment of Israeli buffer zone along the border.  The peaceful march was called by the Popular Campaign against the buffer zone in Khan Younis, they urged people from all areas to come and march, with the participation of the National Labor Committee representatives and dozens of citizens who raised Palestinian flags.

Bil’in Weekly Protest: No to Expulsions from Jerusalem
June 26th, 2010– The demonstration, organized by the Bi’lin Popular Committee Against the Wall, showed solidarity with PLC member Abu Teir by sending a message that deportation and expulsion of one member symbolizes the expulsion of the whole Palestinian people from their homeland.

Weekly protest in al-Ma’sara marches towards Efrat settlement
June 26th, 2010– The demonstrators, gathered in a march against the Wall, the settlements and the expulsion of PLC members from Jerusalem, managed to go through the barbed wire set up by the Occupation Forces at the entrance of the village and walk in the direction of the settlement.

More than 60 solidarity activists boost Wadi Rahal protest
June 26th, 2010– When the demonstration reached the Wall, a large number Occupation Forces were waiting and prevented the demonstrators from continuing on their way to the confiscated lands of Wadi Rahal behind the Wall. With gunpoint, the Occupation Forces ordered the march to leave the site.

Violence in Silwan Days After Major Protest
Two days after hundreds of Israelis marched through the East Jerusalem city of SIlwan in protest of expanding settlements, the Palestinian residents of the city experienced another reminder of their position as occupied in the holy city. Confusion broke out last night around one of the main settler houses in Silwan, Beit Yoantan. Palestinians thought an eviction was going to take place and became understandably excited. However, there was no eviction. A private security force that guard the settler house started shooting very closely into the house that the settlers threatened to evict, prompting the family (and the whole village) to think that they are trying to invade and take over the house. Rock throwing began and the border police began to fire tear gas into Palestinian homes in the village. 20 Palestinians were injured and a handful of border police troops.

Iranian ships could join wave of flotillas to Gaza, says Hamas chief warns
A top Hamas leader has warned Israel to expect more Gaza-bound pro-Palestinian flotillas over the next two months, including vessels "from the Gulf". Mahmoud Zahar, often seen as the dominant figure in Hamas’s political leadership in Gaza, said that he had been informed by "people … from the Gulf states" that "after the Mondial [World Cup] at least eight ships will come from the Gulf".

Hamas official: Wave of flotillas to sail for Israel after World Cup
Israel should expect at least eight more Gaza-bound ships shortly after the tournament, Mahmoud A-Zahar told British daily The Independent.

Channel Two TV news demonstrates how to railroad a non-violent protest movement
The Sheikh Jarrah protest movement pulled off an impressive demonstration on Friday (June 25 2010.) More than five hundred Israelis and Palestinians marched in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, to protest the planned demolition of 22 Palestinian homes.” Bernard Avishai has posted an interesting account of the event at TPM Café. Here’s a short video clip, which shows a powerful, non-violent, protest.

Anti-Zionist show in Rochester is back on, though not in original church venue
Yesterday we
ran musician Rich Siegel’s report that a gig he was doing at a church in Rochester, NY, with Gilad Atzmon, like Siegel an anti-Zionist, got cancelled because of political pressure, including from a local temple, B’rith Kodesh. Some folks who read the report queried John Keevert, a Rochester social justice activist who had helped schedule the event at his Unitarian church. Keevert said that Siegel’s report was inaccurate. "We did not cancel because of Temple pressure." Why then? "Scheduling conflict," he wrote in a note to the questioners. "it has been scheduled in a new location, same time." We asked Siegel for the latest:

Oakland Demonstration Hailed A Success For BDS
The Freedom flotilla, whilst unsuccessful in reaching its destination, raised an important message along with its sails: that the siege on Gaza must end. Now, through the efforts of international solidarity campaigns and Trade Unions, Israel’s own ships are being used to raise protests against Israel’s blockade.

Palestinians ‘cleanse’ shops of Israeli settler-made goods (AFP)
AFP – Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad launched on Monday a new door-to-door campaign aimed at "cleansing" shops in the West Bank of goods produced in Israeli settlements.*

Violence and Aggression

Indictment: Settlers attacked Arabs in Tel Aviv
Two youths from West Bank settlements charged with attacking Arab brothers with knifes; spitting, cursing their Russian friend for ‘hanging out with Arabs’.,7340,L-3911962,00.html

Nameless Palestinian Detainees: over 650,000 detained since 1967 and counting…

Troops Kidnap Ten Residents In The West Bank
Israeli soldiers kidnapped, Monday at dawn, ten Palestinians during a number of invasions targeting several areas in the occupied West Bank.

IOF arrests Palestinians on claims of belonging to Al Qaeda, Palestinians deny such accusations
Nazareth, June 28, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli occupation forces arrested recently seven young Palestinian residents of Nazareth, north of the Palestinian occupied territories of 1948, on charges and claims of belonging to al Qaeda organization. The Israeli police decided today morning to publish more details of the arrest of these young men for the murder of Israeli taxi driver from the city of Upper Nazareth (Nazareth Illit), and claims of planning other attacks.

Detainee Suffers Fractured Spine During Transfer To Court
Detainees at the Ofer Israeli detention facility demanded human rights groups to intervene and save the life of detainee Maher Rajoub, 33, from Dour south of Hebron, after he suffered a fractured spine while being transferred to court.

Rehabilitating Torture Victims And Their Families
“Ex-prisoners feel that they are strange. Everything around them has changed—the society, the people,” says psychologist Wail Dawabsha. Almost 95% of detained Palestinians experience some form of torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Israeli prisons. With 20 percent of the general population and 40 percent of the male population imprisoned, these experiences continue to impact the individual and the community long after being released. On June 26 the UN will mark its International Day to Support Victims of Torture. Palestine Monitor sat down with two mental health specialists to hear about the effects of torture and the rehabilitation process.


Hamas releases new Shalit animation; Video published on military wing’s website shows tank exploding, followed by words: The illusion is shattering
"We are following the march organized by the Shalit family and the Shalit headquarters, and are calling on the organizers and the family and the public opinion in Israel: Pressure your government, because in the past four years we have proved that we have no intention of giving up on our demands.",7340,L-3911537,00.html

Hamas: The price for Gilad Shalit will rise

Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal also says he hopes the group’s ‘freedom fighters will succeed in abducting more Israeli soldiers.’

The Siege

Khudari: IOA still banning entry of 3500 commodities into Gaza
MP Jamal Al-Khudari, the head of the popular committee against the siege, has said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) was still barring the entry of 3500 commodities into the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians must resolve ‘crisis’ over electricity: UN
GAZA CITY:  The UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Sunday called on bickering Palestinian factions to resolve a deepening electricity “crisis” in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.  “It is such a tragedy that, on top of all the other crises that we have in the Gaza Strip, we now have a crisis of electricity,” said John Ging, director of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Gaza.  “It’s an unbearable situation here at the moment, and it needs to be solved very quickly. It’s a Palestinian problem, made by Palestinians, and causing Palestinian suffering. So let’s have a Palestinian solution,” he told reporters.

PA lies about power outage in Gaza
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Gaza authorities must take responsibility for the disruption to power supplies and act immediately to restore them, the Ramallah-government said Sunday.  In a critical statement, PA officials said the Gaza power plant had not made its scheduled payment to Ramallah for the month of June.  A Monday statement from the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company, however, said the PA refused to pay for fuel "despite the fact that Gaza’s electricity company sends its revenues to the ministry in Ramallah." The plant administration said "The company sends all revenues collected from Gaza residents to the ministry in Ramallah deducting only a portion which covers running costs," and attesting to the fact that the Gaza government "does not intervene in any of the company’s operations and activities."

Gaza: No fuel from PA; 7% increase in goods from Israel
Gaza – Ma’an – Two crossing points into Gaza will be opened by Israeli officials on Monday, liaison officer Raed Fattouh told Ma’an, for food, limited fuel and commercial goods.  The Palestinian Authority appeared to be imposing a blockade of its own, with Fattouh noting no industrial diesel would be pumped into Gaza, following a statement from the Ramallah government demanding that the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company transfer cash for June.

Gaza fishermen want change to siege
Gaza – Ma’an – Gaza’s Fishers Union met Sunday at the union headquarters in an effort to jointly articulate specific concerns and problems faced by fishermen, and propose solutions.  Union leader Saed Zyadeh said the meeting would be a venue to air concerns, and added that the union would do its best to raise those issues with local officials and international actors, if possible.
Zyadeh said he expected that the overwhelming issue would be the continual attacks by Israeli forces against fishing boats that venture outside the unilaterally-imposed 3-mile fishing limit.

Gazans wait for Israel’s easing of the blockade to make a practical difference
The practical consequences of the new policy are still opaque, but few in Gaza realistically expect even a trickle of the raw materials essential to revitalise factories like Alawda, let alone a resumption of anything approaching normal import-export trade.

Response to the Israeli Cabinet’s Decision to Ease the Siege on Gaza

Gaza Siege: Catastrophic, Not ‘Unsustainable’,  Miko Peled
There is still doubt in the minds of serious people about Israel’s attack on the Free Gaza flotilla and the events that lead to the death of 9 of the activists aboard. There can be little surprise of course because the commander of the Israeli Navy, Admiral Eliezer Marom, claims the mission was a success. According to him, thanks to the restraint shown by the Israeli soldiers no innocent activists were hurt, the soldiers returned safely to their base and “9 terrorists were killed.” So there are people, perhaps you event know them, who feel that we should “cut Israel some slack.” Well, I say no!

The process of entering and leaving Gaza is incomparable to anywhere else. All borders are closed by Israel and Egypt to all but a small number of the students and ill who need to leave the Strip. And now, while the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing is temporarily open, unless you have connections, supreme luck, or money to bribe the Egyptian authorities, you’re not getting out. This includes most students and the ill holding the necessary paperwork. Gaza’s health care system has been decimated by the siege imposed since Hamas was elected in 2006, and from the various Israeli bombings and attacks. As a result, there is a chronic depletion of 141 types of vital medicines and shortage of 116 types of medical supplies, says Gaza’s Ministry of Health. The lack of specialized equipment and expertise means those with certain health problems go untreated, and those with chronic diseases suffer slow deaths–at least a reported over 370 deaths until now. While in Gaza, I met Q, a woman in her fifties with renal failure.

Human Rights/Refugees

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights 2009 Annual Report
US, June 28, (Pal Telegraph – By Stephen Lendman) Each year, PCHR publishes its annual report on Occupied Palestine, this year’s a detailed 250 page review of the past year, including the first days of Israel’s war on Gaza, Operation Cast Lead, "the major issue in the record of human rights and international humanitarian law violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) in 2009," the bloodiest since the 1948 Nakba that stole a nation from its people.  Today, 1.5 million Gazans struggle to rebuild their lives, "in spite of sustaining permanent disabilities, losing loved ones or becoming homeless" after war under siege – collective punishment in violation of international law, and fundamental human rights, including free movement of persons and goods, proper shelter, adequate health care and education, and the right to rebuild homes and other structures destroyed by the war’s onslaught.

The invisible Israelis; Something is missing in the PLO report, Amira Hass
The Palestinian Monitoring Group at the Negotiations Affairs Department of the Palestine Liberation Organization is continuing on a daily basis to report the events of the previous day. The report is concise and tends to be repetitive, with some omissions that are understandable and others that are not. (For example, they do not keep track of Israeli bureaucratic harassment, perhaps because they lack the manpower to keep an eye on all these events ). The report provides boring but necessary statistics that remind us where we are living.

IDF Israeli Soldier Dances Around Tied Palestinian Woman

Gunmen set fire to second UN summer camp in Gaza (AFP)
AFP – Masked gunmen set fire to a UN-run summer camp in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip overnight in the second such attack in just over a month, the UN refugee agency said on Monday.*

Plight of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon
Palestinian refugees are living in miserable conditions across Lebanon due to many factors such as scarce financial resources. Shunned by many employers, not allowed to own property and facing discrimination, Palestinian refugees are reduced to a miserable existence in overcrowded and unsanitary camps. On Sunday, thousands are expected to march to highlight their plight. Al Jazeera’s Rula Amin reports from Lebanon.

War Crimes, Past and Present

Amos Horev, the retired IDF general, former Technion president, and chief booster of the Israeli defense industry, has a rather sordid past that many might find akin to being a terrorist, Israel-style.  He is one of three panel members of the Gaza flotilla investigation and this incident, described by the inimitable Tom Segev in a 2002 Haaretz article, should shed light on the type of justice he might mete out in this inquiry.

Lives Lived and Lost in Time: Remembering Shatilla, William A. Cook
Time. How do we account for it? Why these mothers carved and slashed, babies cut from wombs? Why these yet unborn children? Why these girls raped so violently? Lives lived in time, unexplainable and unremembered. And those who lived throughout Shabra, how do they live now? What is time to those who have nothing, time only to sit through because there is no work; time as remorse to weep for those lost; time as agony and torment for children that will live without hope, without fulfillment, without a future. I saw them caught in the confines of dark alleys, sloshing through stagnant puddles, surrounded by stench, the new stench of decaying garbage not the “eloquent smell” of death Fisk describes. Thousands upon thousands of refugees imprisoned in one square kilometer of space, an area surrounded by embassies, highways, high rises, warehouses, car dumps, abandoned buildings, decrepit skeletons of past splendor, the visible metaphor of human indifference and disdain.

Israel’s Arab Helpers

Gaza aid ship ‘barred from Suez’
Iran’s Red Crescent says it has put off an aid shipment to Gaza after being told it could not use the Suez Canal.

Flotilla Fallout/Political Lack of Developments

Israeli plane barred from Turkey
Turkey blocked an Israeli military flight from Turkish airspace, in apparent retaliation for Israel’s raid on a Gaza aid convoy.

Sen. Kerry in Israel: Praise for Israel, Worried over Iran
U.S. Senator John Kerry, chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, visited President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem on Sunday and said, “Iran has not left anybody very much choice but to move down the road that we are going.”

Envoy to U.S. Michael Oren denies saying Israel, U.S. drifting apart
According to the Israeli diplomats, Oren said relations between the two countries are not in a crisis because a crisis is something that passes. Oren opted to use terms from geology: "Relations are in the state of a tectonic rift in which continents are drifting apart."

Did George Mitchell Torpedo Shalit Deal?
Ali Abunimah blogs that a diplomatic source has told him that George Mitchell directed the Israelis not to make a deal for Gilad Shalit’s freedom, as it would only strengthen Hamas.  In addition, this report from Yediot Achronot (Hebrew) notes that Shalit’s freedom would come at the expense of freeing Marwan Barghouti on the Palestinian side.  The latter would become the defacto popular leader of Fatah and thus displace the U.S. crony Abbas, which this administration wishes to avoid

Palin: Obama administration selling out Israel
Former VP candidate tells hundreds in Virginia, ‘While the president is getting pushed around by the likes of Russia and China, our allies are left to wonder about the value of an alliance with our country any more.’ Ex-Senator Allen: Administration too fond of apologizing for US military might.,7340,L-3911678,00.html

Other News

Gaza murals warn against collaboration with Israel
Following the execution of two informants in April, Hamas has launched a campaign including murals, posters, radio broadcasts and religious speeches in an effort to reduce collaboration with the Israeli military.

Rabbi Yosef: Don’t attend Ashkenazi schools
Shas’ spiritual leader acknowledges existence of racial discrimination in Ashkenazi educational establishments, says Sephardic studying in Ashkenazi yeshiva ‘will have an Ashkenazi brain’.,7340,L-3911070,00.html

U.S. court indicts Israeli suspected of arms trade with Somalia
Florida prosecutors suspect Hanoch Miller attempted to bypass a UN resolution and U.S. law, both of which have an embargo on weapons trade with Somalia.


Long predicted, Goldberg’s eclipse finally begins, Philip Weiss
Everyone’s talking about this post by Glenn Greenwald on Jeffrey Goldberg’s journalistically-disastrous performance in the buildup to the Iraq war. Greenwald puts more fuel on a fire that can only be built now, when that tragic decision is in the past, about why we made the mistake. He know that this has to do with "Israel-obsessive devotees" like Goldberg. Showing that the left understands, we can’t get past the Iraq war without talking about the occupation.

Will The NY Times Ever Retract Michael Oren’s Falsehoods?, Max Blumenthal
Nearly a month after publishing Israeli Ambassador the US Michael Oren’s apologia for the flotilla massacre, the NY Times has yet to correct two of the most glaring lies Oren made. The first of Oren’s deceptions was his assertion that “religious extremists embedded among those on board were paid and equipped to attack Israelis.” The notion that al-Qaeda affiliated mercenaries were on board the Mavi Marmara was discredited as soon as the IDF Spokesman’s Office changed a headline on a press release about terrorist “mercenaries” to read, “Attackers of the IDF Found Without Identification Papers.” The headline was quietly altered on June 3, the same day the Times published Oren’s op-ed. Shouldn’t their fact checkers and editors been better informed?

To defuse one-staters, liberal Zionist must justify ‘wrongs’ of ‘48, Jeffrey Blankfort
This is further evidence that Zionists across the board are seriously out of touch with reality. In Haaretz, Chaim Gans invokes humanism and morality in condemning the post 67 settlements but accepts as just the far greater crimes that were committed in 1948, which he at least acknowledges. Gans is forced to make the argument because he states that the one-state position has been given impetus not just by the left, but by right-wing settlers who are endangering the entire enterprise:

Illan Pappe:  Essay of the week: What drives Israel?
Probably the most bewildering aspect of the Gaza flotilla affair has been the righteous indignation expressed by the Israeli government and people.  The nature of this response is not being fully reported in the UK press, but it includes official parades celebrating the heroism of the commandos who stormed the ship and demonstrations by schoolchildren giving their unequivocal support for the government against the new wave of anti-Semitism. 
As someone who was born in Israel and went enthusiastically through the socialisation and indoctrination process until my mid-20s, this reaction is all too familiar. Understanding the root of this furious defensiveness is key to comprehending the principal obstacle for peace in Israel and Palestine. One can best define this barrier as the official and popular Jewish Israeli perception of the political and cultural reality around them.

Dr. Elias Akleh – Who is the Terrorist: Hamas or Israel?
Israelis justify their genocidal economic siege against Gaza Strip, their December 2008 barbaric war crime onslaught against 1.5 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza, and their international piracy against the international "Break the Siege Campaign" and the humanitarian aid Freedom Flotilla with the false claim that the democratically elected Hamas leadership, in the Gaza Strip, is a terrorist organization.


Hezbollah doesn’t want dialogue with US (AP)
AP – Hezbollah’s deputy chief says his group doesn’t want a dialogue with Washington until it changes its Mideast policy, which he said is totally biased toward Israel.*

Israel detains Lebanese citizen
BEIRUT, June 27 (Xinhua) — The UN interim forces in Lebanon ( UNIFIL) confirmed Sunday that the Israeli army has detained a Lebanese citizen in southern Lebanon who is currently in Israeli army’s custody.  UNIFIL spokesperson Neeraj Singh told the country’s state-run National News Agency (NNA) that the UNIFIL Commander General Alberto Asarta Cuevas is in communication with all sides to resolve the situation.  Local media reports said earlier that Israeli forces abducted Imad Hassan Atwi, a shepherd, from the town of Shebaa near the border with Israel


Baghdad unrest kills five, wounds 14 (AFP)
AFP – Attacks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad killed two women civilians and an intelligence officer on Monday, while two policemen died trying to defuse a bomb, medical and security sources said.*

Gunmen kill Iraqi family
Gunmen in Al Soha District, Dora, killed a family, without knowing reasons thereto, a security source said. Gunmen detonated a house in Abu Ghraib in a separate incident, the source reported.

Iraq rivals mull meeting to bring premiership row to a head (AFP)
AFP – Iraq’s rivals for the premiership, incumbent Nuri al-Maliki and former premier Iyad Allawi, are mulling meeting face to face in a bid to resolve a row that has stalled coalition talks for months, aides said on Sunday.*

Jordan’s king pledges full support to Iraq for sustaining security
AMMAN, June 27 (Xinhua) — King Abdullah II of Jordan on Sunday reiterated his country’s full support to the Iraqis in entrenching security and stability in their country, the state-run Petra news agency reported., In talks with visiting Iraqi President Jalal Talabani Sunday, the Jordanian leader said Iraq’s security and stability is a main pillar for the region’s security and stability.

Iraq: Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army militiamen slowly resurface
After two years, ex-militiamen are being seen again in Baghdad neighborhoods. Officials fear the shadowy group could take advantage of Iraq’s festering political crisis and U.S. troop withdrawals. Mohammad and his gang are back. There may not be a Glock semiautomatic strapped to his waist anymore, but the terrifying mystique of the Mahdi Army still shrouds the Shiite Muslim militiaman like the menacing black uniform he once wore.,0,2030541.story

Iraqis Suffer Through Power Crisis
The Iraqi government has banned public protests after a series of violent demonstrations over the lack of electricity. Iraq’s political parties are still locked in negotiations as they struggle to form a new government. Prime Minister Maliki has said that it will take at least two more years for the power situation to improve.

Inside Iraq – The murder of Sardasht Osman
On this episode of Inside Iraq, we ask: Will the journalist’s killers escape justice and how might this impact the region?

Iraq shrine city Najaf to get ultra-modern monorail system
NAJAF, Iraq: The Iraqi shrine city of Najaf, whose medieval-style alleyways host millions of Shiite pilgrims every year, has signed a deal for a monorail to rival that of Dubai, a provincial official said on Sunday.  The city, which is home to the grand ayatollahs who wield huge influence among Iraq’s Shiite majority community, will be the first in the country to get a rapid transit system, with proposals for a Baghdad metro still very much on the drawing board.

In Iraq, Divvying Up the Spoils of Political War, Anthony Shadid

IN today’s telling, the description is as ageless as the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers: Iraq is a country of Shiite Arabs, Sunni Arabs and Kurds. To understand its politics is to begin and to end there, guided by its immutable truths.  It was, of course, never so simple.  The facile shorthand has always failed to appreciate the byzantine diversity of the place, where class, pedigree and even tribe often mean more than sect and ethnicity. Iraqis themselves still recoil at the notion of shaping their politics around the idea. American officials have never quite taken credit for their often decisive role in making that idea the axis around which politics here have regrettably revolved.

U.S. and other World News

Iran postpones nuclear talks
President Ahmadinejad says negotiations over nuclear programme will resume only in late August.

Report: US warships stationed off Iranian coast
As unconfirmed reports of an imminent Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities pick up steam in the Middle Eastern media, a US-based strategic intelligence company has released a chart showing US naval carriers massing near Iranian waters.  The chart, published by Stratfor and obtained by the Zero Hedge financial blog, shows that over the last few weeks a naval carrier — the USS Harry S Truman — has been positioned in the north Indian Ocean, not far from the Strait of Hormuz, which leads into the Persian Gulf. The carrier joins the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, which was already located in the area. The chart is dated June 23, 2010.

Russia says alarmed by CIA view of Iran’s weapons
CIA chief says Islamic Republic has enough low-enriched uranium for two nuclear bombs raising Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s concerns.,7340,L-3911682,00.html

Afghanistan: Worse Than a Nightmare
We’re like a compulsive gambler plunging ever more deeply into debt in order to wager on a rigged game. There is no victory to be had in Afghanistan, only grief. We’re bulldozing Detroit while at the same time trying to establish model metropolises in Kabul and Kandahar. We’re spending endless billions on this wretched war but can’t extend the unemployment benefits of Americans suffering from the wretched economy here at home.

Quagmire? Nine years on, Americans grow weary of war in Afghanistan
A plurality of 48 percent now say ending the war in Afghanistan is a more important goal than winning it.

Chavez: Israel and US ’empire’ are enemies (AP)
AP – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced Israel as a "genocidal" government on Sunday as he hosted Syrian President Bashar Assad on his first visit to Latin America.*

‘Syria wants Brazil to help negotiate Mideast peace’
Assad tells Brazil paper he will discuss possibility of Brazil helping bring Israel to the table with other Arab countries to diffuse tensions stemming from its policy on Gaza.

French police accused of brutality.
They are supposed to protect the citizens of their country, but instead France’s police force is facing multiple allegations of brutality and racism. Amnesty International say that French authorities failed to investigate numerous allegations of unlawful killings, racial abuse and excessive use of force. One of those cases was a 69-year-old Arab man who died in police custody. Al Jazeera’s Estelle Youssouffa meets his friend, who says he will not rest until justice is done.

Egypt’s looming food shortage
Egypt’s government fears that food production will not keep pace with a growing population. And scarce water resources do not make the situation any easier. Officials claim the country is facing shortage in a number of crops, including important grains. Rawya Rageh reports from the north of Egypt.

A burden beyond their age
Cairo’s ‘lost boys,’ far from their families, hustle street work in the Egyptian capital, collecting garbage, washing cars and hauling bricks, sending their meager earnings home to their villages.,0,6527254.story

Criminal injustice in Egypt | Khaled Diab
The "before" and "after" shots looked like the makeover from hell. Before, we have a clean-cut young man who appears to be rather reserved and perhaps even somewhat shy. After, his once-youthful and pleasant face looks up with dead eyes, disfigured beyond recognition. It looks like it has caved in on itself, particularly around the mouth and jaw.

Jordan’s drug addiction crisis

Jordan has long been a major transit point for illegal drugs making their way through the Middle East. The country faces the challenging task of tackling not just the narcotics traffickers, but a significant number of addicts as well. Al Jazeera’s Nisreen El-Shamayleh reports from Amman, Jordan’s capital, on efforts to rehabilitate those facing severe addiction crises.

Transsexual’s memoirs breaks new ground in Arab world
BEIRUT — In a daring, unprecedented move, a pioneer of the Arab world’s underground transgender movement has released her memoirs, recounting her struggle to become a woman against all odds.  "Mouzakarat Randa al-Trans", or "The Memoirs of Randa the Trans", is a brutally honest narrative that traces Randa’s battles with family, society, country, religion and abuse in her native Algeria.

When police stick to phony script: Information warfare
This starts weeks before the event. Protesters are criminalized and dehumanized, and described as dangerous “anarchists” and “terrorists” the city needs to defend against.–porter-when-police-stick-to-phony-script

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