Bedouin village in the Negev razed for the fourth time to make way for Jewish National Fund park

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And other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing
Settlement freeze dispute threatens direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks (The Christian Science Monitor)
The Christian Science Monitor – An Israeli settlement freeze is emerging as the biggest obstacle to resuming direct talks aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to announce as early as Monday his willingness to enter such negotiations, but with preconditions Israel has said it is not prepared to accept.*

Bedouin village razed for fourth time
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli authorities on Tuesday demolished an unrecognized Bedouin village for the fourth time, Israeli media reported.  The Al-Araqib village was razed two weeks ago for the third time, after residents rebuilt dwellings demolished to make way for a Jewish National Fund park.  The efforts to rebuild were prompted by decision by the Higher Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel after the village was first torn down. Locals said following the last demolitions that they intended to rebuild their homes.  A spokesman for Israel’s national police said he would look into the report.

Another Palestinian village faces total demolition order
For the third time in less than a month, Israeli occupation forces have handed house demolition orders to all the inhabitants of the village of Farseya in occupied Palestine. The head of the municipal council of Al Maleh and Madareb Bedouin area, Aref Daraghma, said that the notices were given to all of the village’s inhabitants. Just under a month ago, the Israeli authorities demolished 120 buildings before returning two weeks ago to demolish another six Palestinian homes, as well as those that were rebuilt after the first round of demolitions.

Israel plans new road to West Bank settlement
JERUSALEM — The Israeli government says it is pressing ahead with plans for a new road to a large West Bank settlement.  Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat says the plan sabotages U.S. efforts to restart direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.  Israel’s Housing and Construction Ministry said in a statement Monday that it is seeking bids for the highway from Jerusalem to nearby Maaleh Adumim, a settlement of about 35,000 residents.  The ministry says the project does not violate Israel’s freeze on West Bank housing construction.  Palestinians demand a halt to all Israeli building in the West Bank before they will resume direct peace talks.

Report: Israel to build elevator to Western Wall
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israel is planning to construct an elevator leading to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli media reported Monday.  The project will be proposed to planning committees that will make a final decision on the 56-meter structure, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported Tuesday.  The elevator is to be named after US businessman Baruch Klein, who will fund the $10 million project, Ma’ariv reported.  The Al-Aqsa Foundation says the plans are a threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is adjacent to the Western Wall.

Jordan Valley is a microcosm of Israel’s colonisation | Ben White
The Jordan Valley, stretching all the way down the West Bank’s eastern side, is a microcosm of Israel’s discriminatory policies of colonisation and displacement. For 40 years, settlements have been established, military no-go areas declared, and Palestinians’ freedom of movement restricted. There are now 27 colonies in the Jordan Valley – most of them had been established by the late 1970s under Labour governments. There are also nine "unauthorised" outposts. In the 1990s, the size of territory afforded to the settlements increased by 45%.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Ahlam Mohsen rocks!
Ms. Ahlam Mohsen threw a pie at Zionist senator Carl Levin. Ms. Mohsen had no regard for future job prospects, proper appearances or “strategy.” Like Muntadhar Zaidi, she put justice above concern for her own wellbeing. We congratulate Ms. Mohsen for setting a fine example for antiwar activists everywhere.

Troops Fire At Unarmed Protesters In Northern Gaza Strip
Gaza – PNN – Palestinian farmers along with international supporters protested on Tuesday the Israeli buffer zone near the town of Biet Hanoun in northern Gaza Strip.

Bethlehem district: villagers stand in solidarity with Jerusalem
August 16th, 2010– Israeli occupation forces repress the weekly protests in the villages of al-Ma’sara and al-Walajeh. Militay attacked and beat the demonstrators with batons and rifle butts and firing tear gas and sound bombs in their direction.

Nabi Saleh: Israeli repression cuts off protesters from their village
August 16th, 2010– On Friday, the IOF repressed the weekly protest in the village of Nabi Saleh with batons and tear gas canisters closing off the entrance to the village to prevent demonstrators from escape. The clashes in the village lasted a few hours.

Ni’lin: protestors brave occupation forces despite hot weather and Ramadan fast
August 15th, 2010– Israeli Occupation Forces charged at protesters in Nil’in today with a barrage of tear gas canisters. Many collapsed as a result. Immediately after, the military opened the gate through the Wall, chasing the demostrators in order to arrest them.

‘Why did you lie to security about going to Bi’lin?’,Laura Durkay
On Saturday, Laura Durkay published a blogpost about getting stopped at the Palestinian border with Jordan by Israeli security last Tuesday. Durkay is a writer and activist who recently traveled to Palestine/Israel on a delegation sponsored by Interfaith Peace-Builders and the American Friends Service Committee (Great Lakes Region).Here is her story.

Settlement boycott starts to bite, Pamela Olson
Haaretz today notes that the settlers are becoming apoplectic because the Palestinians won’t stop boycotting settler goods, despite explicit requests by the Israelis that they do so.  The article lists several settlement companies that are targeted: "Shamir Salads, Kobi Burekas, Ramat Hagolan Dairies, Jerusalem Granola, Bagel Bagel, Mei Eden, Soda Club, Barkan Wineries, Ramat Hagolan Wineries, Rav-Bariach and Ahava Products."

Im Tirtzu threatens boycott of Israeli university over ‘anti-Zionist’ bias
Rightist group targets political science faculty at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Leftists denounce new bill on NGO funding as ‘McCarthyist’
Bill would require Israeli NGOs to disclose every donation they receive from foreign governments, or from any source mostly funded by a foreign government.

‘We’ll drive away donors if you don’t end anti-Zionist bias’
Right-wing movement Im Tirtzu sends letter to Ben-Gurion University president threatening to drive away donors, students should it not change its study program, add right-wingers to its staff. ‘Demand reminiscent of McCarthyism,’ university says in response.,7340,L-3938088,00.html

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian and Human Rights/Restriction of Movement
Father says denied permit to visit wife and newborns
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A Palestinian father says Israel has denied him a permit to visit his wife and newborn triplets in a Jerusalem hospital.  Safi Abdul Hamid Al-Tamimi said his wife gave birth five days ago in Al-Makassed Hospital, where she was transferred from Ramallah due to complications during labor.

Gaza schools, clinics face closure due to UN budget crisis (AFP)
AFP – The UN agency for Palestinian refugees warned on Monday that it is running an 84-million-dollar deficit that could soon force it to shut schools and clinics in the Gaza Strip.*

Work Permits and Ramadan in the West Bank, Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler
HIRBET DEIR, Occupied West Bank – For Muhammad el-Baradiyeh, 38, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan is always a blessing.  In fact, every day of the month-and-a-half prior to Ramadan has been good for Muhammad. Thanks to a permit granted by the Israeli authorities, he’s been able to work inside Israel and save extra money he’ll need for the holiday.  Not that life is ever simple for Muhammad: the six-month work permit costs a third of what he earns as a construction worker in the Israeli town of Bet Shemesh.

IDF soldier posts images of blindfold Palestinians on Facebook, from ‘best time of my life’
Female soldier smiles for camera in front of bound prisoners, before joking online with friends; army calls photos ‘ugly and callous’.

Facebook scandal: More soldiers’ photos published
Additional photographs show IDF soldiers, Border Guard police officers posing next to bound Palestinians, Arab bodies; Breaking the Silence group: This is part of broad phenomenon, many more photos out there.,7340,L-3938324,00.html

‘Facebook photos of soldiers posing with bound Palestinians are the norm’

Rights group Breaking the Silence refutes IDF claim that photos posted by female soldier under the heading ‘the time of my life’ are an anomaly.

Eden Abergil, The Product Of A Blindfolded Society, Max Blumenthal
Is there anything shocking about the Facebook photos showing the Israeli female soldier Eden Abergil posing in mocking positions next to bound and blindfolded Palestinian men? While her conduct was abominable, I did not find it especially distinct from the documented behavior of Israeli soldiers and Border Police in the Occupied Territories.  Below is a photo I took in Hebron in June before soldiers demanded that I stop shooting (I will release video from Hebron as soon as I get the chance). Scenes like these can be witnessed on any given day in the West Bank. Not only do they show the dehumanization that the Palestinian Morlocks are subjected to on an hourly basis, they depict the world where Abergil spent what she called “the most beautiful time of [her] life.” It is easy to see how young Israelis (or anyone) would be sapped of their humanity in such an environment.

Mustafa Barghouti:  The behavior and actions of the Israeli female soldier posing with Palestinian prisoners reflects the prejudice, racism and hatred of the Israeli army
Secretary General of the Palestinian National Initiative, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi said that the cruel and painful images that were published by one of the Israeli soldiers during the arrest of Palestinian citizens at a checkpoint in the West Bank reflects the inhumane behavior of the Israeli soldiers towards the Palestinian people. These actions, which disregard the most basic of human rights and tramples on International Law and the Geneva Conventions which primarily serve to protect civilians in times of war.

Israeli denies Facebook mistake  [Why is the BBC referring to this as a "mistake"?]
A former Israeli soldier says she did nothing wrong by posting pictures of her and Palestinian prisoners onto Facebook.

Gaza’s record-breaking children
Gaza’s kids truly are record-breakers. They survived Israel’s 2008-2009 winter invasion and every day they put up with a state of war during a so-called ceasefire. Smeared in blood, they’ve crawled through the rubble of shelled buildings, taking care of younger siblings, and tending to languishing parents, often emerging from under the remains of their own beds. Vittorio Arrigoni writes from the Gaza Strip.

Violence: Past and Present/Provocations and other Occupation Injuries
Israeli settlers throw stones at Palestinian car
Nablus, August 17, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli settlers threw stones today at Palestinian car on Nablus-Ramallah road in the occupied West Bank, no injuries were reported.  The car of Mohammed Abu Karsh was stoned while he was driving on Nablus-Ramallah road which resulted in breaking the glass of the car.   The Israeli settlers continue their attacks of the civilian Palestinians specially the villages in the West Bank.

IOF breaks into Khan Younis, shells houses
Gaza, August 17, (Pal Telegraph) Israeli artillery shelled demolished houses today morning with three mortar shells in the town of “Abasan”, an Israeli military force broke into the Farrahin area east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip.  According to witness, the Israeli missiles hit directly the house of Hashim Daghma, which was demolished by the Israeli occupation forces before, and is located at a distance of 300 meters of the wired border fence between Gaza and the occupied territories of 1948.

Infant’s hand fractured by checkpoint turnstile
HEBRON (Ma’an) — A 10-month old child sustained a hand fracture and bruising on Monday after his arm got caught in a checkpoint turnstile as it continued to rotate, the infant’s mother said.  Shirin Qasrawi told Ma’an her son Mu’min was taken to the Al-Maqaseed Hospital in East Jerusalem for treatment after he tried to cross the 300 checkpoint, also known as the Rachel’s Tomb checkpoint, between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Israeli man ‘tried to enter Al-Aqsa compound’
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A Palestinian man stopped an Israeli activist attempting to enter the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem on Monday, witnesses said.  Old City resident Ala Az-Zerba said his brother Ammar, who lives near a gate leading to the mosque, stopped a man impersonating a Muslim worshiper and held him until police arrived.  Police detained the Israeli man, but another patrol arrived later and detained Ammar as well, Az-Zerba said. He said his brother was still being held at the Russian compound Monday night, he said.

Court: State responsible for Palestinian girl’s death
Jerusalem judge rules death of 10-year-old Abir Aramin from rubber bullet in 2007 due to State’s negligence. ‘Shooting did not target rioters or stone-throwers,’ she determines. Court to rule on damages to family in October.,7340,L-3937640,00.html

Hamas: PA forces detain 4 in West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Hamas said Tuesday that Palestinian Authority Security Services detained four party-affiliates in the West Bank, a statement read.  The Islamist movement said the detentions were carried out in Ramallah and Nablus.  On Monday, Hamas said PA forces in Bethlehem summoned a party-affiliated former minister and accused the Ramallah-based leadership of a "campaign against the movement and its supporters."

Israeli forces detain 7 in Hebron district
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Israeli forces detained six Palestinian men and one woman across the Hebron district overnight Monday, after searching several homes.  A source identified the detained woman as Ayat Nasser Abu Markhiyya from Hebron City who was stopped by Israeli forces as she walked by Ash-Shuhada Street. She was taken to a police station in the Kiryat Arba settlement, the source added. Among those detained were:
Muhammad Al-Jundym 23, in Yatta
Ashraf Izzat Najjar, 23, in Yatta
Raafat Muhammad Ali Najjar, 19, in Yatta
Ibrahim Mahmoud Masalma, 22, in Beit Awwa
Anan Muhammad Jawabra, 20, in the Arrub refugee camp
Amir Samir Abu Ayyash a student at Palestine Polytechnic University in Hebron, 19, in Beit Ummar. Forces confiscated his laptop.

2 detained in overnight raids
HEBRON (Ma’an) — The Israeli army detained two Palestinians during raids in the Hebron district Sunday night.  Israeli soldiers detained Tamer Abdullah Amro, 14, from Fawar refugee camp, and Osama Ibrahim An-Najar, 40, from Al-Thaherya town.  An Israeli military spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Violence near Gaza border wounds 2 Israeli troops (AP)
AP – The Israeli military says two of its troops have been lightly wounded by a mortar shell fired from Gaza.*

Political/Flotilla Developments
Source: Israel seeks to avoid Quartet stance
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Israeli government is trying to prevent the release of the Quartet statement on direct talks, and hopes to replace it with a US decision, a source within the PLO told Ma’an on Monday evening.  The source said the PLO’s Executive Committee would convene after the Quartet releases its statement, expected to call for talks under conditions that would attempt to satisfy both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. A PLO position would be determined following the announcement, the source said.

Netanyahu hopes for direct peace talks in near future (Reuters)
Reuters – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he hoped for direct negotiations with the Palestinians "in the very near future."*

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, "Palestinian Factions Reject US/Zionist Pressure for Direct Negotiations"
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine joined with Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and 7 other Palestinian factions to issue a joint statement in Damascus in opposition to the resumption of negotiations, direct or indirect, with Israel on August 15, 2010. . . . Comrade Taher said, "The Zionist/U.S. pressure to conduct direct negotiations is an attempt to provide cover for the U.S. and Israel’s aggressive plans for the region." The statement went on to say that "in a time of a growing international movement in solidarity with the Palestinian people and their just cause, and increasing isolation of Israel as a racist state, the U.S. and Israel are insisting on direct negotiations in order to provide a lifeline to lift the isolation of the criminal occupation state."

Turks return to Marmara, seek evidence
(VIDEO) Al-Jazeera presents images from ship raided by IDF, reports that investigators analyzing direction of shooting and who opened fire. Commando chief tells BBC unaccustomed to media exposure.,7340,L-3937616,00.html

Other News
German government denies influencing bail of suspected Mossad agent
Decision to release Uri Brodsky, extradited from Poland on charges of forging passport used in the assassination of a Hamas chief, was ‘purely judicial’.

Lipstick on a pig: IDF trying something new in West Bank: politeness
Most Arabic expressions soldiers learn are designed to order civilians to stop, open the door, identify themselves and present ID papers.

Where were they when Israel attacked Gaza?  Palestine sends medical relief team to Pakistan
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Medical crews and an aid convoy have been sent to assist Pakistan’s flood victims, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Tuesday.  Six teams of doctors and nurses were sent as a joint project of the Palestinian embassy in Islamabad and the Pakistani National Disaster Management Authority, ministry officials said.

New Arabic online magazine to include gay writers (AFP)
AFP – Arab and Palestinian writers and intellectuals on Monday launched a new online magazine in Israel that aims to challenge taboos, including by featuring articles by gays and lesbians.*

Israeli Park rangers tell gay couple: Family membership doesn’t count for you
Israel Nature and Parks Authority workers refused to let a gay couple with two children enter two sites over the weekend, claiming the family’s membership was for straight couples only.  "A couple is a man and a woman, not a man and a man," the cashier at the Banias reserve said, before finally letting them in. At another site a staff member refused to let them in and insisted they buy an additional ticket for one of the adults.

Prosecution: Katsav saw women staffers as pool of sexual objects
Former president’s defense team reacts to prosecution’s sexual harassment trial closing statement saying it demonizes Katsav, treats him like ‘a serial killer.’

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
In praise of … Mordechai Vanunu
He survived his vindictive spell in isolation, and pariah status, with head unbowed – now Israel must allow him to go.  When the nuclear whistleblower, Mordechai Vanunu, was released from prison in 2004 after serving 18 years, 12 of them in solitary confinement, he said he was ready to start a new life. The authorities in Israel were not. He was charged with breaking the terms of his parole which forbade him from speaking to foreigners, a restriction which can be traced to the emergency regulations of the British Mandate. A week ago Vanunu was released once again, after serving 10 weeks for that so-called offence. He said he hoped the prime minister and the head of Shin Bet would solve the problem of having to rearrest him by letting him leave the country. The idea that 24 years after he leaked details and pictures of Israel’s nuclear bomb programme to the Sunday Times, and six years after he completed his sentence, this junior technician from Dimona would still have sensitive secrets up his sleeve is plainly ludicrous. It is one that no serious Israeli military analyst accepts. He survived his vindictive spell in isolation, and his pariah status as Israel’s most reviled man, with his head unbowed. As Daniel Ellsberg, the man who released the Pentagon Papers has said, Vanunu is the preeminent hero of the nuclear era. By telling the truth, and revealing that his country’s stockpile was much larger than the CIA and others had guessed, he certainly caused it mild problems 24 years ago, when Norway announced a ban on exports of heavy water. He causes no problems now. Israel must allow Vanunu to go.

Renown journalist Jonathan Cook and top Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard on apartheid & Israel.

Israel should not keep its history behind lock and key,  Jonathan Cook
History may be written by the victors, as Winston Churchill is said to have observed, but the opening up of archives can threaten a nation every bit as much as the unearthing of mass graves.  That danger explains a decision quietly taken last month by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to extend by an additional 20 years the country’s 50-year rule for the release of sensitive documents.  The new 70-year disclosure rule is the government’s response to Israeli journalists who have been seeking through Israel’s courts to gain access to documents that should already be declassified, especially those concerning the 1948 war, which established Israel, and the 1956 Suez crisis.  The state’s chief archivist says many of the documents “are not fit for public viewing” and raise doubts about Israel’s “adherence to international law”, while the government warns that greater transparency will “damage foreign relations”.

Akiva Eldar / Peace talks with Syria can avert war with Lebanon
The fragile quiet on the northern border is liable to break unless Israel, Syria and Lebanon hold peace negotiations.

Under threat from all sides; Democracy is flagging in both the Palestinian territories
HANNA NASIR, the head of Palestine’s Central Elections Commission, is not prone to expletives. But the Christian nuclear physicist and former dean of Palestine’s leading university was full of them when the cabinet of the Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad (pictured above left), who runs the West Bank, recently cancelled the municipal elections he was organising. If anything, his rival prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas (pictured on the right), is even less keen to put his movement’s popularity to the test.  It was the third election the Palestinian Authority (PA) has annulled in less than a year. The terms of the PA’s presidency, parliament and municipalities have all now expired. With no date for fresh polls and in constitutionally uncharted waters, officials increasingly rule by fiat. How far, bemoans Mr Nasir, has Palestine fallen from the heights of 2005 and 2006, when he ran elections that international observers hailed as being among the fairest in the Middle East. Instead of building a democratic state, the PA is fast on its way to creating just another Arab autocracy.

For Hamas, an end to Gaza’s tunnel trade may be only the beginning
As Israel eases the Gaza blockade, Hamas is positioned to strengthen its grip on the Gaza Strip. The Gaza tunnel trade that thrived under the blockade provided tax revenues and helped Hamas stay firmly in control.

Christian Zionism: The Root of All Evil?, Tammy Obeidallah
It is common knowledge that many so-called Christians throw unconditional, unyielding support behind the Jewish state. Known as Christian Zionists, or more recently “Israel-firsters”—indicating their degree of loyalty over and above the interests of their own country—it is estimated they are over 50 million strong in the United States alone. By stripping biblical passages out of their proper context and ignoring historical perspective, Christian Zionist leaders have convinced the masses that Jesus Christ will return when all Jews are gathered in Palestine, even if it means the systemic destruction of the Palestinian people.

Palestinian roots of Western civilization: an interview with Basem Ra’ad
Basem Ra’ad is a professor at Al-Quds University in occupied East Jerusalem. For the past two decades, he has been researching the ancient past of Palestine, much of which concerns the Western and Israeli appropriation of ancient languages and cultures, from the Canaanite alphabet to the Canaanite pantheon of gods and goddesses. Jonathan Scott spoke with Ra’ad for The Electronic Intifada.

About Cordoba, Samah Sabawi
I am not an American but I can tell you in a way I know how you feel and I understand those sensitivities you speak of. I am a Palestinian Muslim Woman from Gaza. I know too well the sting of the pain of losing pieces of one’s homeland, watching buildings blow up; landmarks demolished farmlands scorched and people uprooted. My heart is filled with pain over loved ones lost over the years to senseless human violence. But if there is anything I’ve learned in my life it is that wars and terror can take everything you have but only you can actually surrender your principles and your values.

Hezbollah gives Hariri evidence to Lebanon judiciary
* Documents given to judiciary after request from U.N. court,
* Hariri calls for calm,
* Newspaper says Hariri met Nasrallah’s assistant,
* Lebanon to hold a national talks on Thursday

Hariri persists with calls for calm as tribunal tensions simmer
BEIRUT: Ambiguity continues to surround the tug of war among Lebanese parties over investigations into former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s murder as Premier Saad Hariri remains silent over Hizbullah’s refusal to cooperate with the UN-backed tribunal.

Hezbollah ruins Israeli drone contract
Hezbollah’s recent revelation in airing photos taken by Israel’s unmanned surveillance planes has markedly affected the sale of the drones.  On August 9, Hezbollah Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah said the Lebanese resistance movement had intercepted Israeli drone transmissions and used the intelligence in a deadly attack on Israeli commandos in the Lebanese coastal village of Antsaria back in 1997.  Nasrallah also presented footage taken by Israeli drones of routes taken by Lebanon’s slain Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri prior his assassination in February 2005, saying the video proved Israel’s involvement in the murder.  Citing a report by Jane’s Defense Weekly, al-Manar said the televised speech and the revelation has affected agreements between Tel Aviv and Moscow for purchasing Israeli surveillance drones.

Removing cluster bombs from soil
Lebanon’s southern border with Israel (VBS.TV) — Deposited along Lebanon’s southern border with Israel are vast numbers of American-made cluster bombs buried beneath the grasses of the region’s valleys.  Originally used by the Israeli military to combat Hezbollah forces firing rockets across the border, the bombs impacted in the soil were being ferreted out by a small U.N. team from the French battalion. Eddy Moretti, VBS’s creative director, and a small film crew donned camouflaged PPO — protective personal equipment — and tagged along on one of their minesweeping missions in October 2007.

UNIFIL chief insists stability has returned to south Lebanon
BEIRUT: The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) commander Major General Alberto Asarta Cuevas on Monday held separate talks with Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Speaker Nabih Berri, aimed at reassuring parties that stability had returned to the south.

Lebanon grants Palestinian refugees right to work (AFP)
AFP – Lebanon’s parliament adopted on Tuesday a law granting full employment rights to the roughly 400,000 Palestinian refugees living in the country, a high-ranking official said.*

Irate southerners protest against chronic power cuts
SIDON: The weekend saw a number of protests against electricity rationing in south Lebanon, with mobs burning tires and blocking main roads in a number of locations. On Monday, protesters barricaded the main highway in the area of Qasmiyyeh in the south.

Israel’s Hidden Hands in Lebanon; Who Killed Hariri?, ESAM AL-AMIN
On Valentine’s Day in 2005, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri left in his motorcade along the seaside highway, cruising towards his mansion. As the motorcade slowed down in front of the St. George Hotel in downtown Beirut, a huge explosion of a parked Mitsubishi pick-up truck detonated at 12:56 PM, killing him along with 22 others including his entourage, bodyguards and some passers-by.

Suicide blast kills 59 at Iraq army recruitment centre (AFP)
AFP – A suicide bomber blew himself up at a crowded army recruitment centre in Baghdad killing 59 people Tuesday, officials said, as violence coinciding with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan raged across Iraq.*

3 Iraqi judges wounded in bombing
Three judges and a number of security guards were wounded in a roadside bombing on a northern neighborhood of Baldroz District, eastern Baaquba. The bombing targeted the car of three judges namely Yas Latif, Maher Ibrahim and Issa Maleh.

Monday: 1 US Soldier, 3 Iraqis, 4 Iranians Killed; 16 Wounded
At least three Iraqis were killed and seven more were wounded in the latest attacks. A U.S. soldier was also killed during a hostile attack in Baquba. Nearby, four Iranian tourists were killed and nine were wounded in a separate attack in Diyala province. Casualties were also reported in an attack in Fallujah.

Vigilantes strike fear in Iraq town
Simply wearing jeans, listening to pop music or having too much fun in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah now can elicit the wrath of self-appointed religious vigilantes.  The Islamist vigilantes, wearing black hoods to conceal their identity, seize phones containing pop music or “immoral” pictures. They punish those wearing Western clothes. A trendy haircut can also land a youngster in trouble.
Anonymous and unofficial by nature, it is not clear who backs the groups – who give themselves names such as The Sword of Righteousness, The Promotion of Virtue, or Men of the Sword.  These unofficial patrols come out at night and accost people they deem to be in violation of strict Islamic rules.

Mandaeans in struggle for existence
Brutal attacks, kidnappings and forced conversions of Sabaen Mandaeans, pacifist followers of John the Baptist who have lived in southern Iraq since the second century AD, have whittled the sect’s numbers down to only a few thousand in Iraq and about 70,000 throughout the globe, many of these in Syria. They believe their religion faces extinction.

Iraq parties break off coalition talks: spokeswoman (AFP)
AFP – Iraq’s two main political blocs led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ex-premier Iyad Allawi broke off coalition talks on Monday over remarks made by Maliki on television, Allawi’s group said.*

Iraq plunges into darkness and fuel queues make comeback
Iraqi provinces, apart from the three Kurdish provinces in the north, have plunged into darkness. The reason, according to the Electricity Ministry, is excessive use of electricity.

Gates to Iraqis: We’ll Stay, Just Ask Us
A revealing article appeared in Voice of America (VOA) on August 12. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the following statement: "I think we have an agreement with the Iraqis that both governments have agreed to, that we will be out of Iraq at the end of 2011,” he (Gates) said. “If a new government is formed there and they want to talk about beyond 2011, we’re obviously open to that discussion. But that initiative will have to come from the Iraqis.”

The UK can only gain by helping Iraqi refugees
On July 20 Eliza Manningham-Buller, the director general of the United Kingdom’s MI5 Security Service from 2002 to 2007, spoke before the Iraq inquiry committee set up by former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and chaired by Sir John Chilcot to examine the lessons learnt from the Iraq conflict. Manningham-Buller stated that the Iraq war “was a highly significant factor in how ‘home-grown’ extremists justified their [violent] actions.”

Timescale set for Iran atomic plant
Official says construction of new uranium facility will start early next year.

West invokes Iranophobia in region to sell weapons: spokesman
TEHRAN, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) — Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday that the West follows the policy of Iranophobia in the region to sell weapons.  The United States and its allies in the Middle East region are seeking to present fearful image of Tehran to sell weapons to the regional countries, Mehmanparast said at his weekly press conference.  "Iran has repeated that Iranophobia is orchestrated by the Western countries and the Zionist regime (Israel)," he said, adding "and this is aimed at providing conditions to sell their weapons."

25,000 Jews live in Iran, Mike Whitney
"Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran — its sophistication and culture — than all the inflammatory rhetoric. That may be because I’m a Jew and have seldom been treated with such consistent warmth as in Iran."

Mohamed ElBaradei: The View From the Muslim World
"Some people want to make it appear that we will wake up tomorrow and find that Iran has developed the bomb. This is not the case. Sixteen US intelligence agencies have said that Iran stopped working on developing the bomb in 2003."

The ‘Atlantic’ runs a rationale for war by a journalist embedded in the Israeli psychosis, Philip Weiss
I finally read Jeffrey Goldberg’s piece on the likely Israeli attack on Iran in The Atlantic, The Point of No Return, and I’m surprised. Surprised that Goldberg would put it out there, given his role in promoting the Iraq war on a dubious basis and his admission last year on Israeli TV that Zionists have an interest re Iran that conflicts with the American interest; surprised that the Atlantic would run it, given the piece’s relentless ethnocentrism and emotional appeal to Jews and the Israel lobby on behalf of the Obama hawks; and finally, surprised that more journalists have not stepped up to attack this dangerous piece as a crude manifestation of the Israel lobby in our politics.

What Israel and the lobby really fears about Iran, M.J. Rosenberg
The internet has been burning up with responses to Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic cover story on the likelihood that either Israel or the United States will preempt development of an Iranian nuclear bomb by attacking its atomic sites.  Goldberg does not flat-out endorse bombing Iran. Rather, after numerous conversations and briefings with US and Israeli officials, he concludes that there is at least a 50-50 chance that bombs will fly in a year or so.  Goldberg himself does not take a position on whether bombing is warranted or justified. But, given the way he frames the article and his personal closeness, to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – who speaks in apocalyptic terms of the existential danger a nuclear Iran poses to Israel – it is clear that Goldberg sees no alternative to preventing an Iranian nuke, by whatever means necessary. And that includes war.

U.S. and Other World News
White House denies Turkey arms ultimatum
The White House denied a report Monday that the U.S. has threatened Turkey with potentially withholding future arms sales because of its tougher stance towards Israel and vote against UN Iran sanctions.   Obama “emphatically denied” a Financial Times story saying the president had told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan future arms sales would be contingent on softening his anti-Israel talk, White House pool reporter Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal writes.

Gitmo Child Soldier in Legal Grey Area
Former child soldier Omar Khadr will have a tough battle in his trial in Guantanamo, and his case is in a legal grey area, says legal expert Paul Wolf.  Press TV has conducted an interview with human rights and international law expert Paul Wolf in Washington and Kim Petersen, the co-editor of Dissident Voice, from Vancouver Island about the unusual case of Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen who has been held captive by the US in Guantanamo Bay since the age of 15.

Reid: Build mosque elsewhere; Reid says he supports mosque, not at ground zero
The Senate’s top Democrat says a mosque should not be built near the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada on Monday became the highest profile Democrat to break with President Barack Obama, who on Friday backed the right for the developers to build a mosque near ground zero.  In a statement, Reid said the first amendment protects freedom of religion and he respects that, but the mosque should be built somewhere else.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange describes possibility of casualties as ‘acceptable risk’
ANY US and allied casualties that result from the publication of classified Afghan war documents would be an acceptable risk, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said today,, saying "such information is also likely to save a great many lives."

Why Is The US Fighting a War In Afghanistan:  Zbigniew Brzezinski on Afghanistan and the American strategy for Eurasia and the world.
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Why WikiLeaks Won’t Stop the War, Noam Chomsky
The CIA memorandum should remind us that states have an internal enemy: their own population, which must be controlled when state policy is opposed by the public.

Hamas supports the right of Muslims to pray in mosques — even in New York, Paul Woodward
Hamas has leaped into the New York mosque controversy — well, actually, not so much leaped as diffidently tiptoed when pressed to express an opinion on the issue.  In an interview on New York’s WABC radio (audio can be heard here), Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas who is in the Gaza political leadership, was asked by Aaron Klein to comment on the construction of the mosque.

Lucia Brawley: The "Mosque", Lucia Brawley
If we allow 9/11 to make us abandon the First Amendment’s declaration of religious freedom for all, then the terrorists have won. It shocks me that so many Americans are ready and willing to abandon their commitment to the Constitution, demanding the prohibition of the Cordoba House, an Islamic cultural center — which many are calling a mosque — from being built near Ground Zero. When Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City, did Oklahomans suddenly call for a ban on the congregation of Christian libertarians in the area? Islamic extremists, not all Muslims, bombed the World Trade Center. Hitler, not all Christians, committed genocide on the Jews. If we suddenly confuse the part for the whole, where does it end? Are all white people members of the KKK? Do all Catholic priests molest little boys?

What Should A Poor Warmongering Neoconservative Do?, Juan Cole
This political grouping includes WASPS such as former CIA director James Woolsey and former UN ambassor John Bolton, but at its core is politically active and extremely wealthy Jewish former Democrats who broke with their party in the 1980s to become war hawks in Republican administrations, and most of whom are rooted in Rightwing Zionism as exemplified in the thought of prominent fascist theorist Vladimir Jabotinsky.

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