Today in Palestine: June photos from Har Homa show ‘settlement freeze’ is a joke

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And other news from Today in Palestine [bonus second edition today because editor was AWOL yesterday]:

Land theft and destruction/Ethnic cleansing

Peace May Rest on the Future of 88 Houses,  Mel Frykberg
SILWAN, Occupied East Jerusalem, Jul 5, 2010 (IPS) – Frequent clashes and continuing tension in disputed East Jerusalem could portend a major outbreak of civil unrest, residents fear.

Fayyad to Barak: Cease all unilateral steps in Jerusalem
Palestinian PM says presented defense minister with list of demands, including ending ‘settlement’ construction in capital, overturning decision to expel Palestinian lawmakers.,7340,L-3915490,00.html

B`Tselem: One-fifth of settlements’ built-up area is private Palestinian land; Settlements control 42 percent of West Bank land area
Sarit Michaeli – B`Tselem – Using official data, B`Tselem researchers found that, although the built-up area of the settlements is about one percent of the land area of the West Bank, the municipal jurisdiction of the settlements and their regional councils cover more than 42 percent of the West Bank. Despite official claims that settlements are built only on state lands, cross-referencing Civil Administration data with aerial photos of the settlements led to the conclusion over one-fifth the settlements’ built-up areas lies on land recognized, also under occupation law, as private Palestinian land.

Report: U.S. tax breaks aiding illegal outposts in West Bank
Findings could embarrass Obama as he seeks to persuade Netanyahu to extend settlement building freeze, New York Times reports.

Letters: Threat to Palestinian parliamentarians
It is without doubt that as elected representatives of the Palestinian Legislative Council they should not be removed from the areas which they have been elected to represent. We call for the British government to support the right of these parliamentarians to live in their home and to uphold the principles of the fourth Geneva convention which prohibits the expulsion of a protected people by an occupying power "regardless of their motive". Any breach of this convention constitutes a war crime and as such Israel’s political and military leadership should be held accountable.

The Settlement Freeze That Never Was, And Never Will Be, Max Blumenthal
Linda Forsell’s June 21 photos of ongoing construction in the Israeli settlement of Har Homa expose the illusion of Netanyahu’s settlement freeze.  With the Israeli settlement freeze scheduled to expire on September 26, the right-wing parties in Israel’s coalition government are exerting maximum pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to block the policy’s renewal. “Let’s get rid of the freeze and get back to building,” declared Israeli Minister of Public Affairs and the Diaspora Yuli Edelstein on Israel National Radio yesterday. “It’s our land anyway!” (Edelstein lives in the settlement of Neve Daniel).

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment
Weekly Stop the Wall Repression Update
July 6th, 2010– Scope: Repressive measures against Palestinian human rights defenders active against the Wall and the settlements in the occupied West Bank.

July 9 – Popular resistance marks 6th anniversary of ICJ decision
July 6th, 2010– July 9 marks the sixth anniversary of the ruling of the International Court of Justice on the ilegality of the Wall. As part of a broader organizing committee to mark the anniversary, Stop the Wall is organizing a series of events to denounce Wall’s continuous expansion.

From Occupied Ni’ilin to America: Happy Independence Day!
Ni’ilin is a small Palestinian village in the West Bank that has been a center of unarmed resistance and civil disobedience against the Israeli separation wall for over two years. The construction of the wall has sliced off the village from hundreds of dunams of its privately owned farmland, effectively annexing the land to an adjacent Israeli settlement. Since Ni’ilin’s popular committee initiated its struggle against the wall in 2008, dozens of villagers have been imprisoned without charges for extended periods of time — three members of the popular committee currently languish in Israel’s Ofer prison — while numerous others have been maimed and killed by teargas canisters, rubber bullets and live .22 caliber ammunition. Among those badly injured by Israeli fire was the American activist Tristan Anderson, who sustained severe brain damage after being shot in the head by a self-propelled teargas grenade (the grenade was designed to pierce concrete walls) and is struggling to regain use of the left side of his body. (After closing its case on the basis of a “lack of wrongdoing,” Israel has been compelled to reopen its investigation of Anderson’s shooting by revelations that it had not even interviewed the Border Police officers accused of firing at him.)

Join member group CODEPINK for their Netanyahu protest in DC!
President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be meeting at the White House on Tuesday, July 6.  Please join us in front of the White House on Tuesday morning at 10am.  We must tell both Obama and Netanyahu that the cruel occupation of Gaza must end, the settlements must be rolled back, the apartheid wall must come down! We need to tell Obama to stop giving our tax dollars to a government that violates international law.  For the people of Gaza and the West bank living under daily oppression, for the humanitarian aid workers killed on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, for peace with Iran and for a future that respects the rights of all people in the Middle East, please join us at the White House on Tuesday. Bring your own signs if you’d like.  For further information, contact [email protected] or call 415-235-6517.

IDF objector sprays ‘Free Gaza’ graffiti on Warsaw Ghetto wall
A group of left-wing activists last week sprayed graffiti on remnants of a Warsaw Ghetto wall calling for all ghettos to be liberated.

Palestinians pack a punch through boycott of products made in Israeli settlements
A joint initiative of the Palestinian Authority and private business is co-ordinating consumer power, writes Matthew Kalman in Ramallah, West Bank.  UNDER THE logo “Your conscience, your choice”, a large yellow tag hanging in the window of Sana Obeidi’s pharmacy in Ramallah declares the shop to be free of any products from Israeli settlements in the West Bank.  The tag is in every shop window in Ramallah Hospital Street, and in more than 70 per cent of the 66,000 Palestinian shops throughout the West Bank.

Rightist Ben Gurion professor derails faculty candidacy of peace activist
Richard Silverstein – Tikun Olam – At no time during any of this madness did the University or department make any attempt to reach out to dr Assaf Oron, explain to him what was happening, or seek to mollify his concerns about the attack on his reputation.

Violence and Aggression
Israeli gunboats, landmine wound 4 Palestinians
RAMALLAH, July 5 (KUNA) — Israeli gunboats opened fire Monday on Palestinian fishermen off the coast of Gaza Strip.  Israeli gunboats fired machineguns towards the fishermen’s boats docked on Gaza Strip shore injuring a number of fishermen and wounding few others, Palestinian sources in Gaza said.  Israeli gunboats open fire at Palestinian fishermen in Gaza Strip on a daily basis.  On the other hand, three Palestinians were wounded, including children, in a land mine explosion in Beit Hanoun in Gaza Strip. (end).

Blind man says settlers stoned home

Hebron – Ma’an – A Hebron-area family said their home was attacked by settlers on Sunday evening, when their blind grandfather was at home alone.  Hasan Al-Matour, 65, from Sa’ir village north of Hebron said he heard stones being thrown at his house, and "knew that settlers accompanied by troops were there."  The family said that when they returned home, several window panes were broken.

Israeli settler runs over 3 Palestinians
Bethlehem, July 6, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli settler ran over three Palestinians yesterady near Efrat settlement, south of Bethlehem, Palestinian sources reported.  The three injured are Raed Abu Omar, 33, Bader Al-Shalhom, 12, and Nezam Al-Jobi, 38.  The sources added that the injured citizens were transferred to Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron.

Nameless Palestinian Detainees: over 650,000 detained since 1967 and
Soldiers Attack Palestinian Detainees In Majiddo
Israeli soldiers attacked several Palestinian detainees after raiding their cells in section 4 and 5 of the Majido prison. The army said that the soldiers were searching for a mobile phone reportedly in possession of the detainees.

Israelis, Palestinians call for prisoner exchange (Reuters)
Reuters – Thousands of Israelis and dozens of Palestinians separately gathered on either side of the Gaza Strip border on Monday demanding a prisoner swap.*

David Grossman / Perhaps Israel should offer Hamas chance to swap more than just Shalit
Maybe Israel should offer of a memorandum of understanding that will include a total cease-fire, an end to all terror activities from Gaza and a lifting of the siege.

War Crimes
Gazans: We were used as ‘human shields’
A report exclusive to Ynet reveals testimonies of Strip residents who claim soldiers used them as ‘human shields’ during Operation Cast Lead. IDF denies allegations; Military Police investigating.,7340,L-3915558,00.html

Israel to indict soldier over Gaza
Army to press charges of manslaughter over deaths of Palestinian women in 2008 conflict.

IDF Face New War Crimes Allegations: Children As Human Shields
A new report issued today by human rights groups in Israel accuses the army of using human shields during Operation Cast Lead in Gaza last January. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel and Adalah have collected affidavits which reveal systemic, illegal practises.

Israel’s Arab Helpers
BMW cars seized before being smuggled to Gaza
Al-Arish – Ma’an – Egyptian security forces said 60 new and stolen cars en route to Gaza were seized by officers south of the border on Tuesday.  The cars, mostly BMW and Toyotas, were being dismantled and prepared for transport through a specially-made tunnel in Rafah’s Al-Duhnieh area, police said.

P.A Arrests Eight Hamas Members In Nablus
Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, reported Tuesday, that the Palestinian Security Forces of President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fateh movement, arrested eight members and supporters of Hamas in Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian and Human Rights
Goods – Needs Vs. Supply – June 6 – July 3

Industrial Fuel – Needs Vs. Supply – June 6 – July 3

PA backs calls for lifting blockade
Ramallah – Ma’an – At its weekly meeting Monday chaired by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian Authority cabinet welcomed the outcome of the donors meeting in Paris last Thursday.  The Paris meeting stressed the need to continue financial support to the PA and praised the reforms accomplished by the government and reiterated its support to the plan for resuming the building of the state-institution and ending the occupation.

OPT: Narratives Under Siege (1): Dialysis in Paralysis
Gaza City, Palestine—Ahmed Zourob is one of the 164 patients who fill the Dialysis Unit at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City everyday. Like the others, he is here because his kidneys, deteriorated by disease, cannot adequately perform their function; as with many of the patients here, he relies on the medical treatment he receives at Al-Shifa to survive. Yet, now under siege for more than three years and thus unable to provide necessary medication, plagued with equipment in perpetual disrepair, and confronted with an acute shortage of electricity, Al-Shifa’s dialysis unit is experiencing its own state of deterioration. "We have witnessed almost a fifty percent shortage in the medicine and machines we need to run this unit at its capacity due to the Israeli occupation and closure, not to mention the problems arising from the electricity crisis" says Dr. Mohammad Shatat, Deputy Director of Al-Shifa’s Dialysis Unit, the largest such unit in the Gaza Strip. The consequences, he says, have been a visible decline in the health and prospects for recovery and survival of the patients.

Report: Agriculture Losses Due to Gaza Blockade
Rami Al Meghari – Gaza – United Nations officials estimate that the Israeli led four year blockade on the Gaza Strip has caused some $280 million in agriculture losses.  Philip Lazerini leads the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied territories says the blockade hampers the farming industry in Gaza.  "The agriculture sector is on the brink of collapse. The blockade is simply not allowing enough material for the farming community to sustain itself. Farmers must use all rusty equipment, or need to repair equipment. Herders are running out of drugs to treat their animals." Lazerini said.

Gisha Report: Re-opening Gaza Still A Long Way Off  

Tal Aviv – PNN – After the raid on a shipment sending aid to Gaza in May ended in the killing of nine Turkish nationals, Israel’s Security Cabinet announced an easing of the blockade on the Hamas-run Palestinian strip as international criticism of its restrictive access policy heightened in the aftermarth of the botched flotilla attack.  Two weeks after the Cabinet issued a six point plan to open up the flow of civilian goods and ecnourage economic activity, Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, has today published a report looking to see if the promises in the plan have been fulfilled.

The Gaza Lists
The Israeli Foreign Ministry, as reported earlier, did release “the lists” — of items specifically prohibited by Israel from entering Gaza, otherwise known as “Lists of Controlled Entry Items”.  This is being described as a “significant easing” of the system that has been in place around Gaza.

UN envoy backs Gaza measures
Bethlehem – Ma’an – UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry welcomed Monday the measures announced by the Government of Israel as important steps in the right direction.  Serry said in a statement that he hopes that these measures will stimulate commercial activities and allow a substantial increase in the amount of construction materials to enter the Gaza Strip.  The United Nations expects to significantly increase its efforts to address the vast needs in Gaza.

Mixed response to Gaza blacklist
Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has finally published a list of items banned from entering the Gaza Strip, insisting Monday that the list is "strictly based on security considerations."  "Any item not on the controlled item list will be allowed to enter Gaza," the army announced, noting that so-called dual-use construction items like cement and metal tubing are subject to international inspection.

Israel window-dresses the blockade, but nothing really changes, Alex Kane
As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares for a “kiss and make up” session at the White House tomorrow, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced a new list of items that will be banned from entering the Gaza Strip. The decision comes after weeks of international pressure following the Israeli raid on a Gaza aid flotilla, and seems to be meant to appease the Obama administration.

Palestinian Refugees
Palestinian groups urge civil rights reform
BEIRUT: A group of democratic Palestinian organizations joined forces Monday in a bid to pressurize the government into passing civil rights amendments to laws restricting the right to work and own property.  The restrictions are currently being discussed by a joint justice and administration sub-commission, headed by MP Robert Ghanem, which is expected to pass on its recommendations in time for a national parliamentary debate.

Lebanese civil rights bill for Palestinian refugees presents a chance for unity, Kieron Monks
A debate is raging in the Lebanese government over new legislation that would grant civil rights to Palestinian refugees for the first time in 62 years. Key features of the historic bill, proposed by the Progressive Socialist Party, include the right to housing, employment, social security and hospital treatment.

Flotilla Fallout/Investigation
IDF chief: Military ties with Turkey intact
Despite growing tension between Israel, Turkey, Ashkenazi says dialogue between militaries ‘ongoing on all levels’.,7340,L-3915905,00.html

Turkey ‘warns Israel on ties’
The nine activists killed in the flotilla raid were all Turkish nationals [AFP], Turkey’s foreign minister has reportedly said that diplomatic ties with Israel will be cut unless the country receives an apology over the deadly raid on the Gaza aid flotilla., Two newspapers quoted Ahmet Davutoglu on Monday, but an unnamed Turkish government official appeared later to try and play down the comments saying that the minister’s words had been misquoted.

Turkey’s president says Israel acting ‘irrationally’
Turkish President Abdullah Gul says that divisions within Israel’s governing coalition were stopping Israel from repairing relations with Turkey in the wake of the Gaza flotilla affair.

Syria: Turkey-Israel crisis will shake whole Mideast
Assad tells reporters that Turkey cannot continued to mediate peace talks as long as it is embroiled in diplomatic tensions with Israel.

Break in Turkish-Israeli ties unlikely – analysts
ANKARA: Turkey’s threats to sever relations with Israel are unlikely to materialize as both countries need each other and Ankara cannot afford new tensions with the West, analysts said Monday.Stoking up a simmering crisis, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Monday Turkey would cut diplomatic ties unless it gets an apology over a May 31 raid on Gaza-bound aid ships in which nine Turks were killed.

Blockade on Gaza eased – but diplomatic fallout from flotilla attack grows
Turkey has threatened to sever ties with Israel over the deadly raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, undermining Israeli efforts to end its deepening international isolation by launching a new policy in the Gaza Strip.

Political Developments
‘Progress’ in talks a US spin: Palestinians
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Reports of progress in the Middle East peace talks amount to little more than political spin ahead of a US visit by the Israeli premier, according to a  Palestinian official.  “We don’t know what they are talking about when they say progress,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.  “We are not aware of any progress and we have not been informed of any progress. They are trying to create a positive atmosphere to help make (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s visit to the US successful,” he charged.  A senior White House official on Friday said US-brokered indirect talks had “made progress and the gaps (between the two sides) have been narrowed,” in comments which surprised the Palestinians.

French, Egyptian leaders discuss Mideast peace process (AFP)
AFP – French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak discussed Monday ways to relaunch the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.*

Tensions remain in before Israel’s Washington meeting
Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, is on his way to Washington for talks with Barack Obama, the U.S. president. It is the first meeting between the two leaders since the launch of indirect talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Obama will aim to get Netanyahu to agree to face-to-face talks with the Palestinians, but there are many hurdles to overcome. Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports from Jerusalem.

Obama, Netanyahu meet again amid questions over U.S.-Israel relations
Two months after a tense meeting at the White House, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Obama are set to meet on Tuesday with a deceptively simple mission: getting their picture taken together.

ANALYSIS / In tit-for-tat with Obama, it’s Netanyahu’s turn to move, Aluf Benn
Netanyahu wants Obama to act against Iran and Obama wants Netanyahu to curb the settlements and reach an arrangement in the West Bank.

ANALYSIS / On Netanyahu’s map of concerns there is no room for neighbors, Akiva Eldar
Instead of depicting the 1967 lines as ‘Auschwitz borders,’ the prime minister is inviting Abbas to negotiate on ‘security borders’

Other News
IDF soldiers face penalty after uploading Hebron dance video to YouTube
WATCH: Video of soldiers, armed and wearing bulletproof vests, patrolling as a Muslim call to prayer is heard. Then the music changes and they break into a Macarena-like dance.

In Israel, some Holocaust survivors face hard times
A number of aging survivors, poor, with no family, or none willing to help, are finding it hard to get by. A few lucky ones are cared for at a shelter in Haifa. ‘We deserve more,’ says one. Tucked into the hillside of this ancient port city is a sight few Israelis ever imagined they’d see in the Jewish state.,0,76035.story

EU Funds Help DWRC Train Gazan Unionists On Advocacy Skills
Gaza – PNN – The Democracy and Workers’ Rights Center (DWRC) organized on Tuesday a training course in Gaza city on advocacy and campaigning skills for 19 unionists from different unions and committees. The course included the Health Service Employees’ Union, General Union for Electricity Sector Workers, the Independent Labor Committees’ Union- Gaza, the committee of sanitary workers in Naser hospital, representatives of women’s committees in the informal economy and representatives of the farmers’ committees.

Occupation Forces Palestinians Into Kippah Industry
Since the occupation began in 1967, restricted and over-priced water access has devastated agriculture in many Palestinian villages. Checkpoints and the Separation Wall have restricted Palestinians from working in Israel and forced them to abandon prosperous careers, instead slumping into unemployment. Without jobs or income, many small villages like Deir Abu Mash’al, are suffering extreme poverty. However, the residents here have found a novel way to make ends meet. They make kippahs, the religious cap worn by observant Jews, and sell them to Israelis. Written and photographed by Rebecca Fudala.

Petraeus, Palin, Boot and the Power of Israel, GARY LEUPP
Dec. 2009: on orders from Gen. Petraeus, then Commander of   U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM). a team of military officers tours the Middle East, interviewing senior Arab leaders who tell them that U.S. inability to force Israel to end settlements is making the U.S. look weak and also spreading anti-American feeling throughout the region.

Tony and the Shah of Palestine,  Yvonne Ridley
The so-called Middle East Peace Envoy Tony Blair certainly does not want to see any more flotillas sailing for Gaza. It’s not because he lies awake at night thinking about the deaths of those innocent humanitarian activists. No, Blair is afraid – very afraid – that people power will expose him for what he is.

A gentleman’s dialogue with Hamas
In Palestine, signs are emerging that a wiser and more pragmatic Hamas is ready to talk peace with Israel and the United States, while reports suggest Washington is indeed planning to change its stance on what it calls a terror group. After all, the more the US fails to recognize Hamas, the happier fundamentalists such as al-Qaeda will be. – Sami Moubayed (Jul 6, ’10)

Wilkerson says Feith and Wurmser were ‘working for Israel’ (as others in US gov’t are now), Philip Weiss
The feline is out of the satchel. Amazing interview of Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, by Scott Horton of antiwar. The issue here is, Wilkerson has believed this for many years, and many of us on the realist/left have said that the neocons conflated interests of two countries to the point where they could justify anything on Israel’s behalf as being in the U.S. interest– so the question is, When does this become fair game for the big media? When does the whole confused loyalty issue become a story? Especially now when even Jeffrey Goldberg says that confronting Iran is in Israel’s interest not the U.S.’s. Wilkerson.

Public radio covers Silwan – as an argument among Jews, Henry Norr
The July 5 installment of The World, a daily news show co-produced by WGBH/Boston, Public Radio International, and the BBC World Service, included a five-minute report entitled "Jewish activists find inspiration in their faith." Its focus is divided between a leader of settlers seeking to take over Silwan, an East Jerusalem neighborhood just down the hill from the Old City, and a small group of Orthodox Jews who have joined in some of the protests against plans by the administration of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, prodded by the settlers, to destroy 22 Palestinian homes there.

‘Daily Beast’ piece says Israel’s ‘perpetual wartime’ endangers the U.S.,  Philip Weiss
Little by little the world is changing. The Daily Beast runs Thaddeus Russell’s crushing piece saying that Israel is endangering American lives, in which Russell rediscovers the realist wisdom in the opposition to Partition by Truman’s braintrust, including the great George Marshall and the turbulent brainy James V. Forrestal, all of whom predicted no end of trouble.

Understanding past could help restore U.S.-Arab ties, USSAMA MAKDISI
A year after Barak Obama’s Cairo speech, the dialogue between the Arab world and America is nowhere to be seen or heard. As the bloody events of last month have demonstrated, the Arab-Israeli conflict constantly upstages and undermines even the best-intentioned American diplomacy in the Arab world. The quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq and the tension between the United States and Iran do not help.

Hagit Ofran: The (Advance) Transcript of the Obama-Netanyahu Meeting
Previous meetings between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have been the occasion for some crises and embarrassments over the issue of settlements and East Jerusalem. This time, at the upcoming meeting, both sides want to finally have a good meeting, to be able to provide a hug and smiling photo-op. Netanyahu needs this in order to rebuild his reputation from the low level it has fallen in the world following the flotilla debacle; Obama needs this (or his advisors believe he needs it) to shore up Jewish support for Democrats in the upcoming mid-term elections.

The Last Queen of the Night
The Last Queen of the Night is not the name of a mythical character, or even an ancient Oriental queen or goddess. It is not the name of a Parisian perfume or chocolate like "After 8." It is the name of a flower, one that blooms only during the night. Yasmeen El Khoudary writes from the occupied Gaza Strip.

Gaza, in Gaza, Fourteen Years in Gaza
Fourteen years in Gaza have taught me to believe that it is inconceivable for anyone who, on a Friday morning, hasn’t been walking up and down the bustling aisles of a public market while the sweating traders, at each side of the aisle, are calling at the top of their voices in well-rhymed phrases with the prices of their commodities, it is unimaginable for them to appreciate the enormous capacity and the charming power of the small word, and that to perceive how far significant these four letters are is next to impossible.

Bibi Back at the White House,  Jeff Gates
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the White House July 6th, it’s time to recall how Tel Aviv deceived Washington throughout the entirety of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.  U.S. military leaders will be watching this meeting very closely, as will the veterans community.

Fear or Apathy, We Are All To Blame, Tammy Obeidallah
Over the years, I have lambasted the U.S. government, particularly in the area of foreign policy. Wars, copious amounts of taxpayer dollars in aid to an apartheid state, inherent racism and hypocrisy have provided endless fodder for constant criticism.  Has that criticism been aimed at the right place? The motivations behind the aforementioned institutionalized evils are elementary: money, power and greed; however the real problem is much deeper. A government that—at least in principle—is supposed to be “for the people, by the people” must relinquish some of the responsibility for erroneous policy to the people. Whether we feel the need to acquiesce out of fear or out of apathy, we are equally culpable.

Happy 4th of July Weekend from the Only Democracy?,  Jesse Bacon
As a rural-raised revolutionary, I love the 4th of July. It is a great time for community gathering, it celebrates a successful uprising against the largest empire in the world, and it involves staring up into the sky with wonder. Though I used to need hearing protectors as a fraidy-cat kid, and as an adolescent had to endure my aunt labelling the squiggly fireworks “Sperm!” I have remained a critically patriotic fan of the day.

Monday: 6 Iraqis Killed, 46 Wounded
At least six Iraqis were killed and 46 more were wounded in attacks across the country, but rocket and mortar attacks that may have targeted U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left no casualties in the Green Zone. Meanwhile, Biden spoke with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani before wrapping up his trip to Iraq.

Iraq’s widows: a grim legacy for postwar Iraq (AP)
AP – Three decades of wars, massacres and sectarian killings have left Iraq with as many as a million widows, by Iraqi government count. Hameeda Ayed is one of them.*

Video: Female genital mutilation in Kurdistan: a midwife’s tale
Over 20 years, Naksheen Moustafa has performed the controversial procedure on more than 500 girls in her village of Rania, in northern Iraq. She explains how it is carried out.

The razor and the damage done: female genital mutilation in Kurdish Iraq
Mixture of motives persuades villages to maintain practice that often leaves lasting effects on young girls.  The old Kurdish midwife’s hands trembled alongside a bowl that she positions to catch dripping blood. She picked up a razor blade and sliced through a corner of paper, mimicking the ritual cut she has performed at least 500 times, on young girls’ genitals.

Iraqi Border Guards’ Blues
Sandstorms and wolves move freely across the frontier between Syria and the north-western tip of Iraq’s Nineveh province.  Smugglers and insurgents have to dodge the soldiers of Maggir al-Thib, a border outpost comprising roughly ten sheds in the desert. Serving their country in barren isolation, the 40 or so residents of the base are drawn from various parts of Iraq and regard themselves as the military’s unsung heroes. “We are the men of the shadows,” said Private Hussein Abbas, one of the guards. “Unlike other Iraqi regiments, no one appreciates what we do.

Looters target Iraq antiquities
Iraq’s antiquities are facing an old enemy. A new wave of looting has hit museums and archaeological sites across southern Iraq. Officials say the treasures have been left completely unprotected and exposed to increasingly organised gangs. That’s despite a national and international clamour to protect Iraq’s history. From Baghdad Al Jazeera’s Omar Al Saleh reports. [July 6, 2010]

Sayyed Nasrallah Visits Family of Late Ayatollah Fadlullah, Presents Condolences
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah on Sunday visited the family of deceased Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlullah (May his soul rest in peace) in Bahman Hospital, Beirut’s Southern suburbs.
Sayyed Nasrallah presented condolences on behalf of Hezbollah, expressing compassion and support to the family on this great loss. His Eminence also recited Surat Al Fatiha over Sayyed Fadlullah’s chaste body.

Lebanon mourns leading Shia cleric
Thousands of people gather for funeral of Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.

Return to the scene of a lynching
They didn’t hang him from a tree," the police chief insisted to me. "They put a butcher’s hook through his throat and hanged him from an electricity pole – that one, over there."

U.S. and other World News
No ‘Sorry’ from US as Iran plane tragedy marked
22 years ago an Iranian airliner with 290 people on board was shot down by a U.S. navy ship, apparently by mistake. Washington has yet to apologise for the incident.

Military: U.S. soldier to be charged for leaking strike video
The U.S. military said Tuesday it is pressing criminal charges against Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, 22, for allegedly transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system.  Manning of Potomac, Maryland, is suspected of leaking a classified 2007 video of an Apache helicopter strike that killed 12 civilians in Baghdad, including two journalists from the Reuters wire service, the military said.

Spanish reporter’s Iraq death probe reopened
MADRID — A Spanish court has ordered the reopening of a probe into the death of a Spanish journalist who was hit by U.S. tank fire in Iraq in 2003.  The Supreme Court says it has accepted an appeal by the family of cameraman Jose Couso and ordered the lower National Court on Tuesday to reopen the investigation into his death.

Plaintiff in ACLU Suit Challenging Government No-Fly List Describes Struggle, First Against Deportation, Then To Be Allowed to Board a Plane
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against top Justice Department and F.B.I. officials on behalf of 10 Americans and legal residents on the government’s no-fly list. We speak with one of the plaintiffs, 22-year old Adama Bah, who’s lived in the U.S. since she was two years old. She got political asylum from Guinea to prevent her undergoing genital mutilation. We also speak with ACLU attorney, Ben Wizner.

Bin Laden, the Taliban, Zawahiri: Britain’s done business with them all | Mark Curtis
Five years after the 7/7 bombings in London, the UK’s decades-long collusion with radical Islam is still going strong.  When the London bombers struck five years ago, many people blamed the invasion of Iraq for inspiring them. But the connection between 7/7 and British foreign policy goes much deeper. The terrorist threat to Britain is partly "blowback", resulting from a web of British covert operations with militant Islamist groups stretching back decades. And while terrorism is held up as the country’s biggest security challenge, Whitehall’s collusion with radical Islam is continuing.

Jordan property sales see 18 percent rise
AMMAN: The total value of property deals in Jordan rose 18 percent in the first six months of the year compared to the same period last year as lower prices pushed up demand and oversupply eased, official data showed Monday. Department of Land and Survey figures showed turnover stood at 2.337 billion dinars ($3.29 billion) up to end of end of June against 1.974 billion dinars in Q1 2009.

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