Israeli troops fire on nonviolent anti-wall protest in Al Ma’sara, injuring five,

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and other news from Today in Palestine

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

US former official arrives in Israel to discuss settlements
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Former US envoy to the Middle East Denis Ross arrived in Israel on Thursday evening on an unannounced visit, Israeli sources said.  Ross is one of the most senior US officials specializing in the Middle East and occupied a diplomatic post in the US administration of former President George Bush in addition to his post as special envoy to the region in the former US administration of Bill Clinton.

Israel govt mulls alternatives to settlement freeze (AFP)
AFP – Israel’s premier and his top ministers are mulling alternatives to the settlement freeze Palestinians are seeking as the two sides prepare to launch a new round of talks next week, media reported on Thursday.*

“A silk purse from a sow’s ear”: Israel finds a creative solution for a West Bank land confiscation problem
As always happens when the diplomatic process resumes, the air is filled with talk of economic and infrastructure projects. For the principals, the buzz helps in creating an “atmosphere of progress.” The bureaucrats and businessmen behind the leaks are usually angling for a share of the funding that could accompany a breakthrough. The rush for headlines is uncoordinated, and occasionally provides a glimpse of the motivation actually driving policy. From the lead story of this morning’s Israel Hayom [full translation at bottom of post].

PCBS: PA issues 1,741 building permits for West Bank
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Building permits for structures in "Area A" of the West Bank have risen by 30 percent, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics said Thursday.  The most recent report on building permits, covering the second quarter of 2010, counted the total number of new permits as 1,741, 60 percent of which were for new buildings, 17 percent for additions for licensed buildings, four percent for additions that already existed, 15 percent for already existing buildings and two percent were listed as ‘other’.

Heavy police presence in Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Jerusalem officials estimated some 2,000 Israeli troops were stationed on the perimeter of the Old City on Friday, the third of Ramadan.  Checkpoints in the south and central West Bank were again overwhelmed as tens of thousands lined up waiting to access the holy city, as soldiers and border guards continue to permit only women over 40 and men over 50, as well as special permit holders including some women over 35 and men over 45.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Five Injured During The Weekly Protest In Al Ma’sara Near Bethlehem
Bethlehem – PNN – Five civilians were reported injured on Friday by Israeli military fire when troops attacked the weekly anti wall protested organized in the village of Al Ma’sara near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem.  Israeli and international supporters joined the villagers after the midday prayers and headed towards lands the army is planning to take over to construct the wall.  This week protest was in commemoration of Abu Ali Mustafa – general secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – who was killed by the Israeli military nine years ago.

Medics, journalists detained in Ni’lin: Organizers
NIL’IN, Ramallah (Ma’an) — Witnesses and demonstrators in the West Bank village of Ni’lin said five Red Crescent medics were detained during a protest against the separation wall on Friday.  The Popular Struggle Organization committee issued a series of brief statements via Twitter, saying an Israeli camerawoman and a Palestinian cameraman were also arrested.

Amnesty International: Palestinian anti-wall protester convicted by Israeli military court
Abdallah Abu Rahma, head of the "Popular Committee Against the Wall" in the West Bank village of Bil’in, now faces imprisonment for exercising his right to freedom of expression.  Amnesty International has condemned the conviction by an Israeli military court of a Palestinian non-violent political activist who has been detained since last December because of his involvement in protesting against the fence/wall which the Israeli authorities have been building largely on Palestinian land.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah: know the facts and act now for the freedom of a nonviolent freedom fighter
The West Bank village of Bil’in has become a symbol of the wider popular resistance movement in Palestine. Abdallah Abu Rahmah, head of Bi’in’s Popular Committee, is one of many key organizers of peaceful resistance that Israel has used legal means to persecute. He was convicted on Tuesday of two out of four charges in an Israeli military court and faces up to ten years in jail. The facts of his case – and what you can do to help put pressure on Israel – are set out below.

Interview with Ilan Shalif (Anarchists Against the Wall)
Alasbarricadas interviews Shalif Ilan, a veteran Israeli anarchist activist. We discuss in this interview his views on the situation in Palestine-Israel, following the attack on the Freedom Flotilla, and the latest developments in those lands. The situation there is very interesting for anarchist action, since, as Ilan himself said:

My interrogation at the U.S. border, Stefan Christoff
"Can you tell me what you think about the war in Iraq?" questioned the young American man in uniform. In response my words outlined my opposition to the 2003 U.S.-lead invasion and the ongoing military occupation under the Obama administration, a common view in Montreal, where over 200,000 people demonstrated on the streets in the winter months prior to the U.S. invasion, some of the largest anti-war demonstrations in North America.  "Do you have family in the Middle East?" he inquired, offering one of the few surprising questions in the interrogation. In follow-up, a barrage of detailed questions focusing on the family names and geographical origins of my mother, my father and all my grandparents were presented.  A similarly absurd line of questioning was outlined at Israeli border in 2003 during my attempt to travel Palestine to work with the International Solidarity Movement, to participate in non-violent campaign of direct action against the Israeli military occupation, a border crossing effort that was unsuccessful. After hours of questions, Israeli military officials dragged me into a military bus, deported me to Jordan and barred me from travelling to Israel for a decade.

Israel’s Arab Helpers
PCHR Condemns Attack by GIS Members on Staff of al-Haq in Ramallah
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the attack launched on Wednesday, 25 August 2010, by members of the General Intelligence Service (GIS) on staff members of ‘al-Haq’ organization in Ramallah, while documenting GIS’s attempts to stop an assembly organized by Palestinian political factions and civil society organizations in protest a decision by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to participate in direct negotiations with Israel. PCHR calls upon the government in Ramallah to respect public freedoms and to ensure respect for the work of human rights organizations and to provide protection for their personnel.

Israel delays delivery of 50 armored vehicles to PA
MOSCOW (Ma’an) — Fifty armored vehicles from Russia set to be delivered to the Palestinian Authority have been held up in Jordan by Israeli border officials, the Palestinian ambassador to Russia said Thursday.  Speaking at a news conference in Moscow, Ambassador Fayed Mustafa said the delay was a result of "procedures carried out by Israel in a clear attempt to delay the delivery."

For Once, Hope in the Middle East, MARTIN INDYK
Today, the Palestinian Authority is policing its West Bank territory to prevent violent attacks on Israelis and to prove its reliability as a negotiating partner.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights/Racism
Gov’t won’t increase electricity to Gaza
Vice premier Shalom refuses Blair’s request to increase output.  Israel has balked at a request to boost the amount of electricity it supplies to the Gaza Strip on the grounds that it does not want to cooperate with the Hamas government there. Quartet representative Tony Blair made the request on Monday at a meeting with Vice Premier Silvan Shalom, on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, Blair’s spokesman confirmed to The Media Line.

Palestinian rights watchdog accuses Hamas of preparing to close it
GAZA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — A Palestinian national human rights watchdog on Thursday accused Islamic Hamas movement of trying to block its activities in the Gaza Strip.  The accusation came after Hamas lawmakers approved a law and said it aims at regulating the work of the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) in the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.  Officials from the ICHR said that the law targets the commission, which has been operating since the creation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), and is a prelude to restricting its work before shutting it.

Jerusalem settlers assault 9 year old, parents say
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A nine-year-old boy said he was beaten by Israelis affiliated with the Atarot Kohanim settler group in Jerusalem’s Old City on Wednesday evening.  Anas Sa’ad Ash-Shaloudi said he was on his way to his uncle’s house for the fast-breaking iftar meal at sunset, and was assaulted by five men standing outside his uncle’s home.  "They hit me on my head and I fell on the ground. They took off my shoes and started beating me on my back. I yelled for help," Anas told Ma’an.

Settler guards, Silwan youth clash overnight
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — A second night of clashes was reported in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan overnight, ending early Friday morning as worshipers began the journey to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.  The clash was reportedly sparked when teenage residents threw stones at guards outside settler homes in the neighborhood.  Violence was centered on Ein Silwan Street, adjacent to Wad Hilwa, where fierce clashes erupted on Wednesday following a settler attempt to gain access to a local mosque.  Cars were burned and several trees destroyed during the earlier clash.

Islamist movement says 5 members detained in Gaza
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hizb Ut-Tahrir, an international pan-Islamist party seeking the re-establishment of an Islamic caliphate, said security forces arrested five of its affiliates in Gaza City on Wednesday.  All but one detainee were still being held Thursday, a statement by the group said.  The movement denounced what it described as an "oppressive and irresponsible act" and called on the government to stop harassing party affiliates.

Senior Hamas figure questioned before Jerusalem prayer
Palestinian sources say Sheikh Hamed al-Bitawi arrested on his way to al-Aqsa Mosque; police say he was detained, released after interrogation.,7340,L-3944727,00.html

Prisoners affairs minister says detainees on talks agenda
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Ramallah-based Prisoners Affairs Ministry held a Ramadan iftar dinner at the home of Jerusalem’s oldest detainee Thursday evening.  The fast-breaking meal was held at sunset at the house of Foad Al-Razem, who is serving a 30-year sentence in an Israeli prison.  Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe broke his fast with the family, and sent his support to all Palestinians imprisoned in Israeli jails. He assured prisoners that the ministry would take care of their relatives, particularly during Ramadan.

Political/Flotilla Developments
Palestinian Resistance Factions Demand Abbas Resign
27/08/2010 A day after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas urged Israel to take advantage of “this historic opportunity” to achieve peace via the imminent direct negotiations, Hamas and 10 other Palestinian resistance groups on Thursday demanded that he resign because of his “failure to resist heavy American and Israeli pressure” to abandon his preconditions for the talks.  The resignation call was issued following a meeting of the groups’ heads in Damascus.  Izzat Risheq, a Hamas representative who attended the meeting, said participants agreed that Abbas “was no longer trustworthy to look after the interests of the Palestinian people and should therefore quit all his positions.”  Speaking during a meal he held to mark the breaking of Wednesday’s Ramadan fast, Abbas declared that the Palestinians were entering the direct talks on September 2 of their own volition and with the hope of achieving peace with their neighbors.

Fatah official criticizes Palestinian acceptance of negotiations
RAMALLAH, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — An official from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party on Thursday criticized the Palestinian acceptance to resume direct peace talks with Israel since the internal situation was worse.  "The Palestinian situation is very bad and dangerous," Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah central committee, told Voice of Palestine radio.  Before going to negotiations, Zaki said, the Palestinian unity should be restored, referring to Islamic Hamas movement’s 2007 violent takeover of the Gaza Strip and the subsequent political separation between Gaza and the West Bank.

Haniyeh: No negotiator can give up Jerusalem
KHAN YOUNIS (Ma’an) — "No negotiator who would give up Jerusalem has a national mandate," Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told guests at an iftar dinner on Thursday evening.  The fast-breaking meal was organized by the Ar-Rahma Charitable Society in Khan Younis, honoring the families of Palestinian men and women in prison, those killed by Israeli forces and families with special needs children.

Netanyahu proposes bi-weekly meetings with Abbas during direct peace talks
Netanyahu: Serious negotiations in the Middle East mean only direct, quiet and consecutive talks between the two leaders on the key issues.

Lieberman: Palestinians will disrupt negotiations
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he does not expect peace talks to be successful, during a discussion Wednesday over the expansion of a temporary settlement construction freeze.  Lieberman told Israel’s Army Radio, "I think there’s room to lower expectations and get real," adding that there is "no magic recipe" to secure a permanent peace agreement within a year, Reuters reported.

Israel begins forming negotiations team for direct peace talks
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting with advisers to select members of Israel’s delegation for direct peace talks with PA in Washington; lawyer Yitzhak Molcho to head team.

US wants agreement now, peace later
White House document reveals American preparations for Israeli-Palestinian talks: President Obama to visit Jerusalem and Ramallah, call for painful concessions; permanent agreement to be signed within one year, implemented within 10 years.,7340,L-3944645,00.html

Sarkozy: Israel-Palestinian peace deal can be signed within a year
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Wednesday that a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians can be reached within one year, one week after direct talks between the two were announced. "I assure you, a peace agreement, where everybody is aware of the conditions, can be signed within a year," he said.

Other News
Israel working to thwart Russia arms deal with Syria
Netanyahu asks Putin to stop deal involving sale of advanced P-800 Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles; Israel considers this weaponry dangerous to its navy vessels in Mediterranean Sea.

Israel Orders Massive Military Fuel Stocks
Three weeks ago the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) published a notice, as it is legally required to do, announcing that Israel has ordered massive quantities of various fuels suitable for military use, and in the case of the order for JP-8 jet fuel, suitable only for military use.

Leaked CIA memo cites U.S. Jews among exporters of terrorism
Wikileaks releases a CIA memo titled ‘What if Foreigners See the United States as an Exporter of Terrorism?’ in which American Jews in Israel was one of four groups mentioned.

Soldiers photographed with bound Palestinians released
Military Court releases soldiers suspected of abusing detainee to open arrest on base. Prosecution expected to file indictment next week.,7340,L-3944549,00.html

Officials discuss PA ban on mosque loudspeakers
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — A delegation from Nablus was received in Ramallah on Wednesday to address the recent decision of the Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs to stop Quran readings from loudspeakers in the West Bank.  The decision, which caused an outcry from many religious officials, and from Hamas leaders in Gaza, saw the Palestinian Authority on the defensive, earlier in the week.

1200 pilgrims to leave Gaza for Mecca
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Gaza’s Minister of Awqaf and Religious Affairs said 1,200 pilgrims will leave the Strip on Friday for Mecca.  Taleb Abu Sha’ara said a total of 3,000 pilgrims were scheduled to perform the pilgramage, known as Umrah, adding that 1,800 have already left the coastal enclave.  The minister thanked the Egyptian authorities for facilitating the pilgrims’ travel via the Rafah crossing on Egypt’s border.

Zionist Parallel Universe
Edelstein: Palestinians should halt building as well
If the Palestinians demand the continuation of the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria beyond the 10-month moratorium, Israel should insist that the freeze be reciprocated, Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein said on Thursday.  Edelstein, a Neveh Daniel resident who is the only Likud minister who lives in the West Bank, intends to tell Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Sunday’s Likud ministerial meeting that he should demand a Palestinian construction freeze in his negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that are set to begin in Washington next week.

“Anti-Zionists” scare volunteer soldier, Jesse Bacon
I subscribe to the American Jewish Committee’s newsletter, and it’s an itneresting window into their psychology. As readers of this blog know, involving oneself in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict invariably provokes strong reaction. My perception is that you are at much greater risk of your job if you are seen as “taking the side” of Palestinians, say if you are a respected journalist.

New book: Arab lobby rules America
New book by Mideast expert Mitchell Bard claims Arab lobby, headed by Saudis, ‘has unlimited resources to try to buy what they usually cannot win on merits of their arguments’.  Comment by As`ad Abukhalil:  "But the notion that the Saudi lobby is more powerful than the Israeli lobby is ludicrous.  In fact, the Saudi Lobby now serves as a mere arm of the Israeli lobby.  Just notice that the mega arms sale worth $60 billion to Saudi Arabia stirred not one whisper from from the Israeli lobby–which has to approve by US law all arms sales to Arab and Islamic countries.",7340,L-3944579,00.html

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
Kowtowing to the Israeli Right, Amjad Atallah
After almost one year of intense pressure on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas by the Obama Administration, direct talks between Israel’s right-wing government and the PLO are set to resume next week. Israel insisted and received guarantees that there would be no guarantees. The talks will include all final status issues but have no agenda. The Palestinians did get a one-year timeframe, but with no word on what happens if that timeframe is not met. Not surprisingly, there is little excitement or optimism among Israelis or Palestinians.

Why Americans should oppose Zionism
More and more people are starting to pay attention to Israel’s crimes and indignities. In so doing, more and more people are questioning the origin and meaning of Zionism — that is, the very idea of a legally ethnocentric Israel. Steven Salaita comments.

The ADL has lost its way under Abe Foxman
The Anti-Defamation League’s methods of fighting anti-Semitism are not only outdated, but often counterproductive and have certainly devalued the currency of their accusations.

Monique Wilson and the sad-eyed lady of the occupied land
My Name is Rachel Corrie — edited by British actor and director Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner, taken from the writings of Corrie herself — is all about a woman, a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who left her middle-class American life to encounter death in the Gaza Strip, as well her musings on the slings and arrows (bullets, to be more precise) of outrageous conflict in the Middle East. A brief history: Shortly after Rachel’s death, several of her e-mails home from Gaza were published in a number of publications, including The Guardian. Rickman was so moved by Rachel’s writings (“It’s like jumping into someone’s soul.”) that he approached the Royal Court Theater about a prospective play. The Corrie family sent 184 pages consisting of Rachel’s letters, e-mails and journals. Viner from The Guardian was brought in to shape the material into a play. Under the direction of Rickman, and featuring the actress Megan Dodds, My Name is Rachel Corrie opened at the Royal Court Theater to much acclaim and controversy.

Gilbert Achcar’s book on Arabs and the Holocaust, Miriyam Aouragh
Gilbert Achcar is a Lebanese Professor based at SOAS (University of London) and writer of numerous books on geopolitical power relations and imperialism in the Arab world. His new book is a reasoned intervention that at once disputes anti-Arab racism and develops a strong set of arguments against the notion ‘Arab anti-Semitism’. It brings together sources from English, French and Arabic archives and engages with contemporary debates. Doing so, he both deepens and broadens the important contributions on this theme by Philip Matar and Joseph Massad. This book will undoubtedly become a basic reference both to activists and academics working on the Middle East. With more than 70 pages of notes and literary references, Achcar engages in an almost breathless historical and empirical untwisting of the massive body of counter-truths stemming from polemic writings in academia, such as Harkabi’s constantly recycled classic Arab Attitudes to Israel and in popular media, detritus from the pro-Israel watchdog MEMRI. The book is at its most relevant where it steps outside the ‘academic discourse’ and engages with Arab social movements.

Wednesday: 20 Iraqis Killed, 25 Wounded
Violence tapered off a day after a massive series of attacks against Iraqi security personnel. At least 20 Iraqis were killed and 25 more were wounded in the latest incident, several of which again targeted security and other government personnel. Separately, Kuwait and Iraq are finalizing a deal that will allow the two countries to share in profits from the border oilfields that triggered an Iraqi invasion in August of 1990 and subsequent Gulf War.

Son of prominent Iraqi tribal leader assassinated
Gunmen killed the son of a prominent tribal leader in Iraq in a pre-dawn attack Thursday as fresh blasts targeted more police stations, security sources said.

Marine’s defense to seek dismissal of Haditha case (AP)
AP – Lawyers for a Marine sergeant whose squad killed 24 Iraqis say they will present a motion asking for his case to be dismissed because the Marine Corps retired his military attorney.*

US leaves behind murky picture in Iraq (AFP)
AFP – US combat troops pulling out of Iraq can claim the ouster of a brutal dictator as a clear success but otherwise leave behind unresolved questions about democracy, terror and neighboring Iran’s power.*

Baghdad to get ‘facelift’ before Arab summit
The Baghdad Municipality or Amanat al-Asima is racing against time to upgrade some of Baghdad’s run-down cities and neighborhoods before next year’s Arab summit.  The Iraqi government has expressed a willingness to host Arab leaders in Baghdad and the authorities are trying to give the violent city a new ‘facelift’.  Baghdad has been the scene of massive car bomb attacks recently which have killed and wounded hundreds of Iraqis.  Many of its streets are dotted with cement blocks and checkpoints and certain streets and neighborhoods are no-go areas.  But Saber al-Aysawi, Baghdad’s mayor, claims conditions will be different by the time Arab leaders flock to Baghdad.\2010-08-27\kurd.htm

Iraq Body Count takes on Chilcot
One of the most respected organisations to emerge from the Iraq war has launched a bitter attack on the Chilcot Inquiry today, branding it "flawed" and "derisory".  Iraq Body Count (IBC), which earned a reputation for its cautious but reliable methodology in assessing the level of civilian casualties during the conflict, criticised the Inquiry for paying such little attention to the war’s effect on ordinary Iraqis.$21383308.htm

Rebranding Iraq, Ramzy Baroud
The soldiers of the US 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division hollered as they made their way into Kuwait. ‘We won,’ they claimed. ‘It’s over.’  But what exactly did they win?  And is the war really over?  It seems we are once again walking into the same trap, the same nonsensical assumptions of wars won, missions accomplished, troops withdrawn, and jolly soldiers carrying cardboard signs of heart-warming messages like "Lindsay & Austin … Dad’s coming home."  While much of the media is focused on the logistics of the misleading withdrawal of the "last combat brigade" from Iraq on August 19 – some accentuating the fact that the withdrawal is happening two weeks ahead of the August 31 deadline – most of us are guilty of forgetting Iraq and its people. When the economy began to take center stage, we completely dropped the war off our list of grievances.

Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday August 24, 2010
The speech delivered by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on Tuesday August 24, 2010 during an Iftar banquet organized by the Women’s body in the Islamic Resistance Support Organization at Al Kawthar School.

Jumblatt: State Remains Final Shelter for Protecting Unity, Resistance
26/08/2010 The head of the Democratic Gathering MP Walid Jumblatt noted Thursday that, regardless if the Borj Abi Haidar clash was an individual incident or not, "the state remains the final shelter for protecting national unity and the Resistance … based on the equation of the people, army, and Resistance."  He said in a statement that a commitment should be made towards this equation as a general principle, "which means carrying out a serious investigation in the recent unrest on the basis of affirming peace and stability and preventing security disorder."  "Regional and international developments confirm that the conflict with Israel is still long, and is still in its early stages, which demands diligence in order to thwart Israel’s attempts at creating internal strife in Lebanon," Jumblatt added.

Israeli plane violates Lebanon airspace
An Israeli reconnaissance plane has violated Lebanon’s airspace in breach of the country’s sovereignty, according to the Lebanese army.

‘IDF can destroy Lebanon army within 4 hours’
Lebanese paper says US envoy’s advisor threatened Lebanese army chief with Israeli contingency plan following deadly border skirmish.,7340,L-3944714,00.html

Report: France willing to arm Lebanon with 100 missiles
Official French source tells al-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper that Israel’s protest had no effect on Paris; helicopter missiles deal yet to be signed due to Lebanese misgivings.,7340,L-3944658,00.html

Israel, US Trying to Halt a French-Lebanese Arms Deal
27/08/2010 Israel and the US are attempting to prevent a French-Lebanese arms deal that could lead to increased Israeli casualties in any future confrontation, Channel 10 cited from a Friday report by Arabic daily Asharq al-Awsat.  According to the report, French Defense Minister Herve Moran sent a letter to his Lebanese counterpart Elias Murr offering to sell Lebanon 100 HOT anti-tank missiles to be armed on the Gazelle helicopters already in use by Lebanese Armed Forces.  A French source quoted by the paper blamed a delay in the delivery of the HOT missiles due to "confusion" in the Lebanese defense establishment.

Lebanon issues arrest warrant against colonel for spying
BEIRUT, August 26 (Xinhua) — A Lebanese military investigative judge issued an arrest warrant against an Army Colonel on charges of spying for Israeli Intelligence, reported the country’s state- run National News Agency (NNA) on Thursday.  Colonel Antoine Abou Jaoude was charged of meeting with Israeli officers abroad from 2006 until his arrest in 2009. He allegedly provided confidential security information about the Lebanese Shiite armed group Hezbollah and the Lebanese Army, said Judge Sakr Sakr, government commissioner at the Lebanese Military Court.

Bulldozer driver survives cluster bomb blast in south
BEIRUT: The driver of a bulldozer survived the explosion of two cluster bombs in the southern village of Yohmor al-Shqif, the state-run National News Agency (NNA) reported on Thursday. The vehicle was sweeping a road when the bombs – believed to be dropped by the Israeli Army during Israel’s summer 2006 war against Lebanon – detonated.

Lebanon’s law on Palestinian workers does not go far enough, Ahmed Moor
Extending access to work and economic rights to Palestinians would give refugees back their dignity and benefit Lebanon.

As Iran sanctions threaten, Iran sees new friend in Cambodia
Leaders from Iran and Cambodia met this month in their most senior exchange to date. Some say it is a sign that Iran sanctions are pushing Tehran to develop new trade partners.

Obama Resists Pressure for Red Line on Iran’s Nuclear Capability
President Barack Obama’s refusal in a White House briefing earlier this month to announce a "red line" in regard to the Iran nuclear program represented another in a series of rebuffs of pressure from Defense Secretary Robert Gates for statement that the United States will not accept its existing stocks of low enriched uranium. The Obama rebuff climaxed a months-long internal debate between Obama and Gates over the "breakout capability" issue which surfaced in the news media last April.

Obama Iraq speech to signal shift to Afghan focus (AP)
AP – With his Oval Office speech Tuesday night, President Barack Obama will signal a shift in America’s focus from the Iraq War to the war in Afghanistan, his spokesman said Thursday.*

Army: Soldiers plotted to kill Afghan civilians
But eventually, Gibbs formed what one called a "kill team" to randomly execute Afghan civilians while on patrol, the documents said. No motive was discussed.

US-led troops killed in dispute over veil
A media report says that an Afghan soldier killed two US-led soldiers in a shoot-out when they tried to remove an Afghan woman’s veil by force.

You Can’t Buy an Afghan Politician; You Can Only Rent One, Stephen M. Walt
Sounds like a plan to me. I don’t mean to be flip (well, maybe I do), but how much more evidence of the fundamental contradictions bedeviling our war effort do we need? We say corruption is endemic and is making the Karzai government unpopular, yet our own CIA is busily buying off Afghan politicians. We say our real goal is to defeat or destroy al Qaeda, yet we are spending billions on anti-corruption efforts and "nation-building." We pour millions of dollars into a very poor country, which then flows into the pockets of Afghan politicians and back out into private bank accounts in Dubai and elsewhere. We add more troops in order to quell violence, but that makes us look like foreign occupiers and leads to additional civilians casualties, no matter how careful we try to be. And we never seem to have a serious discussion of the actual stakes in Afghanistan, the costs of an open-ended effort, the definition of "success," or the likelihood that we will achieve it.

Yemen rejects U.S. role in fighting al-Qaida
SANAA, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) — Yemeni government reaffirmed on Thursday that combating terrorism in the country remains the responsibility of its security services alone, responding to the report that the United States may step up air raids on the regional al-Qaida wing in Yemen, the state media reported.  The response came following the Washington Post’s report that U.S. officials said al-Qaida in Yemen was the most urgent threat in the region and vowed to step up attacks on the group, according to the official Saba news agency.

CIA wants to cover up US war crimes in Yemen
A missile strike on December 17 in Yemen last year that killed 41 people including 21 children and 14 women was most likely the result of a US cruise missile strike — an opening shot in a US military campaign that began without notice and has never been officially confirmed.

U.S. Weighs Expanded Attacks in Yemen
Such a move would give the Central Intelligence Agency a far larger role in what has until now been mainly a secret U.S. military campaign against militant targets in Yemen and across the Horn of Africa. It would likely be modeled after the CIA’s covert drone campaign in Pakistan.

An Exciting New Muslim Country To Drone Attack, Glenn Greenwald
There is anti-Americanism and radicalism in Yemen; therefore, to solve that problem, we’re going to bomb them more with flying killer robots, because nothing helps reduce anti-American sentiments like slaughtering civilians and dropping cluster bombs from the sky.

U.S. and Other World News
Obama’s US Assassination Program?
That’s right. No arrest. No Miranda rights. No due process. No trial. Just a bullet.

Empire – The US between two wars
The US stands at a historic crossroads, redeploying its combat troops out of Iraq and surging them in Afghanistan. But are they really leaving Iraq – or just rebranding the occupation? Why is Iraqi Lieutenant General Zibari requesting a decade-long US military presence?

Saudi Arabia employers ‘hammer nails’ into Sri Lankan maid
A Sri Lankan woman working as a domestic helper in Saudi Arabia says she has been severely abused for complaining about being overworked. Ariyawathi’s Saudi employers reportedly hammered 24 nails into her hands, legs and forehead, which had to be removed later with surgery. Sri Lanka’s government says it will report the incident to Saudi authorities. Al Jazeera’s Laura Kyle reports on a case that rights organisations say is all too common in the country. [August 27, 2010]

Saudi Royal Backs Imam and Fox News, ROBERT MACKEY
In an awkward moment on Fox News this week, a pundit suggested that a Saudi stakeholder in the channel’s parent company "funds radical madrasas all over the world."

Egypt electricity cuts worsen Ramadan suffering
CAIRO: Since Muslims began their daily dawn-to-dusk fast for the holy month of Ramadan two weeks ago, Egypt has been hit by its worst power outages in decades.  The cuts at the height of summer, with daily temperatures hovering around 100 degrees, along with rising food prices and water shortages, have had Egyptians fuming, sweating and cursing during a month in which their sacrifices are supposed to bring them closer to God.  Nearly every day newspapers run photographs of families huddled in near darkness around candles or oil lamps. And Egyptians are venting their frustration out on the government, adding to a list of grievances over what critics argue is its rampant disregard for anything other than catering to the elite and holding on to power.

Syrian soaps confront taboos
Syrian soaps have become popular across the region in recent years due to their realistic plots which have also caused controversy.

Eating less meat is more Islamic | Joseph Mayton
The Qu’ran reminds us animals and birds are ‘communities like you’. So why do so many Muslims break their fast with meat?  For most of the billion-plus Muslims who sit down each evening to break their Ramadan fast, meat will be on the menu. Lots of it. But how Islamic is eating meat?  Not very, according to Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, who argues that historically Muslims ate so little meat they were almost vegetarian. "Meat is not a necessity in sharia, and in the old days most Muslims used to eat meat – if they were wealthy, like middle class – once a week on Friday. If they were poor – on the Eids."

Islam in America
California mosque vandalized, Ground Zero mentioned
The signs read “No Temple for the God of terrorism at Ground Zero. ANB,” “Wake up America, the Enemy is here. ANB” and “American Nationalist Brotherhood.”

Fox host: Cabbie stabbing ‘nothing to do with anti-Muslim sentiment’
One Fox News host may be in denial about the effects of rampant Islamophobia over the so-called "Ground Zero mosque." While reporting on the stabbing of a Muslim New York City cab driver, Alisyn Camerota maintained anti-Islamic rhetoric had nothing to do with the crime.

EXCLUSIVE…Zeitoun: How a Hero in New Orleans After Hurricane Katrina Was Arrested, Labeled a Terrorist and Imprisoned
Today a personal story of a national tragedy. Five years ago, Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. Abdelrahman Zeitoun, a Syrian-born New Orleans building contractor, stayed in the city while his wife and children left to Baton Rouge. He paddled the flooded streets in his canoe and helped rescue many of his stranded neighbors. Days later, armed police and National Guardsmen arrested him and accused him of being a terrorist. He was held for nearly a month, most of which he was not allowed to call his wife, Kathy. Today, in a rare broadcast interview. Abdelrahman and Kathy Zeitoun join us to tell their story, along with the man who chronicles it in the book, Zeitoun Dave Eggers.

Looking at Islamic Center Debate, World Sees U.S.
For more than two decades, Abdelhamid Shaari has been lobbying a succession of governments in Milan for permission to build a mosque for his congregants — any mosque at all, in any location.  For now, he leads Friday Prayer in a stadium normally used for rock concerts. When sites were proposed for mosques in Padua and Bologna, Italy, a few years ago, opponents from the anti-immigrant Northern League paraded pigs around them. The projects were canceled.  In that light, the furor over the precise location of Park51, the proposed Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, looks to Mr. Shaari like something to aspire to. “At least in America,” Mr. Shaari said, “there’s a debate.”…..

Is Islamophobia sweeping the US?

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