Palestinian farm set afire, four well permits denied, and other news

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and other news from Today in Palestine:

Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing

Bedouin women protest razing of villages
Demonstrators outside Interior Ministry say demolition of Bedouin homes in unrecognized villages shows State has ‘no respect for human dignity’.,7340,L-3942698,00.html

Witnesses: Settlers raid house, burn crops
TULKAREM (Ma’an) — Settlers raided a house and torched five dunums of farmland in the northern West Bank Monday evening, witnesses said.  Locals said two buses of Israeli citizens living in Hebron in the southern West Bank arrived at the illegal Mevo Dotan settlement in Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, where they harassed locals and caused damage.

Settlers Destroy Farm Lands, Troops Arrest Civilians And Invade Areas In Gaza
Ghassan Bannoura – PNN – A group of Israeli settlers destroyed on Tuesday farm lands owned by Palestinian famer in the village Khirbit Al Hammam in northern West Bank.  ImageWitnesses said that young settlers arrived at the village in a school bus occupied the house of Mohamed Al Jalon for three houses; as settlers were leaving they set fire to Mahmud’s land destroying his crops.

Solidarity/Activism/Boycott, Sanctions & Divestment
Bil’in’s Abdallah Abu Rahmah cleared of stone-throwing; convicted of incitement
Protest organizer Abdallah Abu Rhamah from Bil’in was convicted of incitement and organizing illegal demonstrations today, after an eight months long military trial, during which he was kept behind bars. He was acquitted of a stone-throwing charge and a vindictive arms-possession charge.

Demonstrators challenge Israel’s Gaza restricted area
GAZA, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) — Palestinian and international activists on Tuesday removed parts of a security fence the Israeli army has installed along its borders with the Gaza Strip, witnesses said., The incident took place during a demonstration organized by humanitarian and social activists against the enforcement of a 300- meter wide buffer zone along Gaza’s northern and eastern borders with Israel.

Hebron watchdog group to change tactics
HEBRON (Ma’an) — Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron announced Saturday that members would shift away from organized demonstrations and put a new emphasis on supporting Old City shopkeepers.  The group, whose motto is "getting in the way," had organized regular Saturday protests in the Old City hosting residents for demonstrations against the continued closure of the area’s main shopping street and the more recent closure of three shops in the former downtown.  "Since the police had threatened two of the organizers with large fines and a possible ten-year imprisonment if the demonstrations continued, the organizing group felt it better to use a new approach during the remainder of Ramadan," a statement from the group said.

Criminalization of peaceful protest continues: more arrests at weekly demonstrations
Bil’in: The weekly demonstration in the village of Bil’in this week saw protesters draw attention to the recently published photos of the abuse of Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli army. A handful of the protesters blindfolded and handcuffed themselves to draw attention to the mistreatment of prisoners and marched at the front of the demonstration. Two arrests were made, including one of these protesters, a Norwegian student, who was grabbed while still blindfolded and dragged away.

After long struggle, village on the grid
The West Bank village of al-Tuwani, after nine years of actively fighting and lobbying, has been connected to the Palestinian electrical grid. The victory came after nearly a decade of non-responses, delays, requests for additional paperwork, confiscations and demolitions. Samuel Nichols writes from al-Tuwani, occupied West Bank.

Canadian Boat to Gaza to break siege, overcome "aid traps"
Canadian activists looking to assist in the breaking of the siege of Gaza will launch a Canadian Boat to Gaza this fall. However, this Canadian version of the Freedom Flotilla that seeks to break the siege has a twist.

Happy Birthday Free Gaza
Written by Free Gaza Team | 23 August 2010 Two years ago today, 44 people from 17 countries were on the Mediterranean heading toward Gaza. We were in two dilapidated fishing boats, the seas were rough, most of us were seasick, and all of us were worried that Israeli military warships would prevent us from getting into the illegally blockaded port of Gaza.

Internet Killed Israeli PR: An interview with Minor Demographic Threat, Adam Horowitz
AH: Why did you make this video?

MDT: Our primary intention was simply to provide some comic relief for a community (Palestine solidarity activists) that is still grieving for the nine innocent people who were murdered by the Israeli military aboard the Mavi Marmara. And if we could embarrass some of the folks responsible for the incredibly sloppy PR work we’ve seen from Israel in connection with the attack, all the better. They should be embarrassed. They’re not only apologists for a brutal act by a brutal regime: they’re also really bad at their job.

The Siege (Gaza & West Bank)/Humanitarian/Restriction of Movement/Human Rights and Discrimination
Health Ministry in Gaza warns of medicine shortage
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — The Gaza Healthy Ministry’s pharmaceuticals department says it faces a shortfall of 104 types of drugs and 101 types of medical equipment.  Ministry general-director Dr Muneer Al-Barsh warned that most of the medical equipment was used in intensive care and surgery. The medicine stored by the ministry is prescribed to cancer patients, patients with kidney problems, or chronic illness, and children.  Al-Barsh called on donor countries and civil society institutions to commit to sending medicine to Gaza, saying that only 30 percent of donations were actually medications.

PA says Palestinian water supply critically low
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority said Wednesday that Israel rejected a request to build four water wells in the Jenin area, offering to allow one in exchange for permission to monitor consumption in the entire West Bank.The Joint Technical Committee on Water, whose mandate under the Oslo Accords is to provide technical assessments of water-related projects in the West Bank, rejected the request.   According to PA officials, the four proposed wells "have all been positively evaluated from a technical standpoint."

Gaza official says power crisis has worsened
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — A Gaza official said Monday that despite media reports to the contrary, the electricity crisis in Gaza has worsened.  Kin’an Obed, vice president of the Energy Authority in Gaza, said efforts to solve the fuel dispute had failed and scheduled daily power cuts of 8- to 12-hours continue.

Power cuts cast shadow over boiling Ramadan in Gaza (Reuters)
Reuters – Some locals blame it on internal Palestinian politics, others try to blame it on Israel. Whatever the reason, constant electricity outages during a summer heat wave are driving people to distraction in Gaza.*

Dismal lack of classrooms in East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The education of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem is subject to "ongoing neglect," a joint report issued by two Israeli rights group said Tuesday.  The Association of Civil Rights in Israel and Jerusalem-based NGO Ir Amim say the education system in East Jerusalem remains short of 1,000 classrooms for Palestinian students. According to the report, only 39 schools were built for Palestinians over the past year despite promises made in court to build 644 by 2011.

Gaza’s industries suffer under siege
GAZA CITY, occupied Gaza Strip (IPS) – Just off Omar al-Mukhtar Street, Gaza City’s main thoroughfare, in a narrow, sandy alleyway is a little second-hand clothing shop. In the dimly lit store, with only intermittent electricity for some hours a day at best, sits a single battered and aging sewing machine.

What the U.S. sanctions on Iraq tell us about the siege of Gaza, Matthew Phillips
On June 13th, two weeks after Israel’s attack on the Mavi Marmara, a profile of the respected liberal intellectual and Just War theorist Michael Walzer appeared in Haaretz. Amidst his professed concern about Israel’s diminished standing in world, Walzer offered this bit of wisdom regarding the siege of Gaza:  Think of the American effort to embargo the regime of Saddam Hussein in 1991 to 2003. It was entirely justified and even originally had United Nations authorization, but over time the consequences of the blockade did affect the living standard of ordinary Iraqis partly because of the way the Iraqi government behaved but also partially because of the nature of the blockade. So at a certain point Colin Powell came forward with the idea of smart sanctions, which are designed to have the necessary military restraints without having these effects on the population or without having the same affects on the population. Now what you need are smart sanctions.

War Criminals
Arab media react to ‘woodcutter’ army chief
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Media outlets in the Arab world reported extensively Monday on the appointment of Yoav Galant as the Israel army’s chief of staff.  Several websites referred to the new military chief as the "woodcutter," referring to Galant’s stint in Alaska in 1982.  The London-based Arabic-language daily reported Defense Minister Ehud Barak had appointed "the hero of the Gaza war," a view echoed on the website of Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV network, which labeled Galant a "war criminal."

Violence/Provocations (also see:Land and Property Theft and Destruction/Ethnic Cleansing)
Israel raids Hebron, searches houses
Hebron, August 24, 2010 (Pal Telegraph) – Israeli occupation forces (IOF) raided today number of houses in Zef area in south of Hebron city, in the West Bank.

Political/Flotilla Developments
PA supports talks based on Quartet statement
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — The Palestinian Authority Cabinet announced on Monday its support for the PLO decision to restart talks with Israel.  At its weekly meeting in Ramallah chaired by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, the cabinet based its support for talks on the Mideast Quartet statement.  The statement from the Quartet – whose members are the US, UN, EU and Russia – was released Friday after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued an invitation to relaunch direct talks after a 20-month hiatus.

U.S.: Settlement freeze will be discussed during direct peace talks
Comment by U.S. State Department official refers to a recent demand by Palestinian President to condition upcoming direct peace talks on continued Israeli freeze of settlement construction.

US ‘mindful’ of Palestinian stand on settlements (AFP)
AFP – The United States said Monday it is "mindful" of the Palestinian call for Israel to halt settlements, but stopped short of saying it will back such a demand at new peace talks here next month.*

Report: Mitchell to travel to Beirut ahead of talks
BEIRUT (Ma’an) — US Middle East envoy George Mitchell is reportedly due to travel to Beirut in the coming days ahead of the relaunching of Palestinian-Israeli peace talks in Washington on 2 September, Lebanese media wrote Tuesday.  The Beirut-based An-Nahar newspaper said Mitchell’s visit would follow on the heels of a trip by his deputy, Frederick Hof, but added that the date of the trip had not yet been announced.

Israelis, Palestinians feud ahead of direct talks (Reuters)
Reuters – Israeli and Palestinian leaders sparred on Monday over Jewish settlements and Israeli calls for security guarantees before the launch of Quartet-sponsored direct peace talks in Washington next week.*

Netanyahu to PA: No preconditions for peace talks
PM’s office says Israel setting no preconditions ahead of direct negotiations, but stresses ‘importance of security arrangements, demilitarization’ in any agreement.,7340,L-3942634,00.html

Vice PM: Palestinian preconditions sabotage direct peace talks
Speaking in meeting with Quartet Mideast envoy Tony Blair, Silvan Shalom says direct negotiations are the proper venue in which to present the sides’ demands and claims.

Netanyahu, FM ‘collude’ to avoid extending freeze
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman reportedly cooperated to avoid international pressure to extend a settlement freeze in the West Bank, Israeli media reported Tuesday.  According to the Israeli news site Inyan Merkazi, the pair agreed to acting out a scenario which involved the far-right foreign minister’s party Yisrael Beitanu threatening to withdraw from Netanyahu’s coalition government.

Fatah official: Egypt supports settlement freeze
RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Egypt supports the PLO’s position that there will not be direct talks without a freeze in settlement activity including in Jerusalem, a Fatah official said Monday.  Commissioner for foreign relations Nabil Sha’ath met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit in Cairo on Monday and said Abul Gheit backed the PLO position that negotiations cannot be used as a cover for settlement expansion.

Blair: Serious ideas needed for Mideast success (AP)

AP – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has called on Israelis and Palestinians to bring serious proposals to a new round of peace talks set to start on Sept. 2.*

Palestinian Patients Suffer From Political Rivalry, Mel Frykberg
RAMALLAH, Aug 24, 2010 (IPS) – Cancer patient Ahmed Abu Fuad needs chemotherapy to survive. Muhammad Subeh needs an eye-transplant while paramedic Alaa Sarhan desperately needs surgery to remove shrapnel from his body. But these Gazans are unable to leave the area to seek the required medical treatment elsewhere, and it is not because of the Israeli siege.

UN official criticises Israel over flotilla probe
Israel is not co-operating with the UN Human Rights Council’s probe of May’s deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a UN official said today.

U.N. rights body team starts flotilla probe in Turkey (Reuters)
Reuters – Investigators from the United Nations Human Rights Council have begun questioning witnesses of Israel’s May 31 capture of a Gaza-bound boat in which nine people died, the U.N. said on Monday.*

Other News
Mossad in America, Israeli intelligence steps up its activity in the U.S. — and gets away with it, Philip Giraldi
Israeli government claims that it does not spy on the United States are intended for the media and popular consumption. The reality is that Israel’s intelligence agencies target the United States intensively, particularly in pursuit of military and dual-use civilian technology. Among nations considered to be friendly to Washington, Israel leads all others in its active espionage directed against American companies and the Defense Department. It also dominates two commercial sectors that enable it to extend its reach inside America’s domestic infrastructure: airline and telecommunications security. Israel is believed to have the ability to monitor nearly all phone records originating in the United States, while numerous Israeli air-travel security companies are known to act as the local Mossad stations.

Israelis risk jail to smuggle Palestinians
Inspired by writer Ilana Hammerman, nearly 600 join a civil disobedience campaign to bring women and children to Israel for a brief respite and ‘holiday’.

Arabic studies to become compulsory in Israeli schools
Beginning this year as pilot initiative in 170 public and religious-public schools in northern Israel, the scheme will eventually be adopted extend across the country.

Beinish: Violent atmosphere rampant
Supreme Court president says campaign to reduce crime won’t succeed without increased police presence. President Peres: World judging Israel constantly.,7340,L-3942598,00.html

Cancer patients humiliated at airport
Young Israelis’ trip to Orlando marred as they are forced to undress after metal implants set off security check’s detectors.,7340,L-3942212,00.html

Haredim stone hospital construction workers
Violent protests against Barzilai Hospital construction continue; police force disperses rioters.,7340,L-3943067,00.html

A ‘Balanced and Zionist’ Wikipedia, ROBERT MACKEY
An initiative to edit Wikipedia entries to make them "balanced and Zionist in nature" has generated an impassioned debate on The Lede.

Im Tirtzu loses funding over boycott threat to Ben-Gurion University
U.S. based pro-Israel organization Christians United for Israel: We do not support any calls for divestment from Israel in any way.

DNA study: Hitler had Jewish roots
Belgian researchers examine DNA samples of 39 Hitler relatives, say he had Jewish, African roots.,7340,L-3943269,00.html

Analysis/Opinion/Human Interest
From isolation to disability union leadership
Hamdan Jewei is a 26-year-old Palestinian living with a physical disability in the al-Doha village near the city of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank. Jody McIntyre spoke with Jewei for The Electronic Intifada.

This Math Class May Figure Out Israel, Eva Bartlett
AL ZAHARA, Central Gaza Strip, Aug 24, 2010 (IPS) – In a bright and spacious classroom, with plants overflowing in the courtyard outside, six students lean forward at their desks looking at the 10-digit addition they are asked to make. One student stands before the numbers on the chalkboard and a red and yellow-beaded abacus. But her attention is on the abacus she visualises in her mind.

Hudson’s co-founder, the Israeli academic purge and the subversion of US Middle East policy
Evidence is mounting that the Institute for Zionist Strategies (IZS) — an Israeli NGO at the forefront of an ongoing campaign to purge Israeli Universities of faculty and programs deemed “left-wing” — is a creature of  The Hudson Institute, a major Washington based neoconservative think-tank, which played an active role in shaping the Bush administration’s Middle East policies.

Snippets of my youthful Zionist indoctrination, Matthew Taylor
I was an avid reader of Mad magazine. When I was twelve, Mad ran a feature called "Garbage Pail Adults," mocking a variety of celebrities and political figures, including "Yucky Arafat." Would it be verboten to point out that Mad publisher William Gaines was Jewish? Of course, there was no mocking of "Stern Shamir" (then-Israeli Prime Minister, former leader of the terrorist group).

As a city that is compact together,  Shmuel Sermoneta-Gertel
Whenever I come back to Jerusalem, I notice all of the things that have changed since my last visit and inevitably compare things to the way they were when I was growing up: old buildings torn down or renovated, new ones put up, changing demography, greater sophistication alongside persistent provincialism, shifting mores and moods. I can’t say I like the changes but, as the expression goes, nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

An urgent appeal from Ikhras to Arab-American students: 10 Questions to ask before applying for an internship with the ADC
One of our readers has brought to our attention the above announcement the ADC has been circulating through email. We strongly discourage all Arab-American students from working with this lousy organization which is not representative of the Arab community nor any significant constituency within it.   College years are among the best years of our lives.  It is a time of learning, growth, and development.  It is a period where we seek knowledge and understanding of the vast world we live in while searching within ourselves for that which is important to our personal lives.  It is during this college quest when we mature politically and develop the values that remain with us for a lifetime.  We can’t think of a worst organization than the ADC for a young and energetic student to waste valuable time with during this important and special stage of life.

Ibish on Palestinian Education
Hussein Ibish insults Palestinian’s intelligence, echoes Raphael Patai’s racist “Arab mind” concept, ignores Israeli occupation as primary education-hindering force, advocates for normalization with Zionism.

Lebanese PM calls for strengthening army
BEIRUT, Aug. 23 (Xinhua) — Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri Monday called for strengthening the country’s army, saying the move is aimed at help preserve stability in Lebanon, according to a statement released by his office.  "Stability in the country is essential and it generates prosperity and creates job opportunities," he said, adding "we must work to maintain the stability, and I call for strengthening and equipping all military and security forces."

Nasrallah speech expected to tackle STL, false witnesses
BEIRUT: The content and tone of Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s speech scheduled for Tuesday remained a mystery on Monday.  It was still unknown whether Nasrallah would tackle the issue of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) probing the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and add to evidence he revealed on August 3 pointing at Israel’s possible involvement in the crime.  Sources close to Hizbullah told the Central News Agency (CNA) that Tuesday’s address is expected to tackle the government’s decision to follow up on the issue of false witnesses.  In its latest session, the Cabinet asked Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar to investigate the issue.

Experts: Sayyed Nasrallah’s Evidence Serious, Effective
Fifteen days on the exceptional press conference in which Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah directly accused the Israeli enemy of involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, the Resistance leader’s revelations remain the talk of the town in Lebanon…  In his August 9 conference, Sayyed Nasrallah presented tangible proof and evidence of an Israeli potential role in Hariri’s assassination as well as other crimes that hit Lebanon during the few past years. His eminence unveiled footage intercepted from Israeli surveillance planes of the site of the 2005 murder prior to the assassination. Several clips, each minutes long and undated, showed aerial views of the coastline off west Beirut on various days prior to the Hariri assassination. His eminence also revealed that that Ghassan al-Jedd, an alleged Israeli spy who hosted Israeli operations teams, was present at the Rafiq Hariri crime scene the day of the crime.

Sleiman denies knowledge of STL indictment date
BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman has denied that an indictment by the UN-backed tribunal investigating former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s murder is expected soon.  “No one has yet informed me officially or unofficially of the date of issuance of the indictment by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon [STL],” Sleiman said before a visiting delegation from the Lebanese Journalists Union on Monday.  Sleiman also emphasized the need to preserve political calm to allow the implementation of several impending projects through the state’s constitutional institutions.

Hariri warns rhetoric against STL will not halt ‘course of justice’
BEIRUT: Prime Minister Saad Hariri stressed Monday that provocative rhetoric aimed against the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigating his father’s murder would not halt the course of justice.  “Statements will not abolish the truth and regardless of the extent of provocative rhetoric and threats, the course of justice will not stop,” he said during an iftar at his Qoreitem residence.  “When we examine the magnitude of campaigns that were launched against the STL and the number of media talk shows and programs as well as speeches being made, we almost think that [Rafik Hariri’s]’s case is over but the truth is that the case still lives … like it was yesterday,” Hariri added.

Sayyed Nasrallah’s Revelations: Much More Than Simple “Indices”
By Yusuf FernandezAugust 23, 2010In his recent speech about the assassination of former Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, Hezbollah´s secretary-general showed some indices pointing to Israel´s involvement in the murder. According to Sayyed Nasrallah, Israel masterminded the assassination in order to get Syria to withdraw from Lebanon.

Juvenile convicted for attempting to aid Israel
BEIRUT: The military tribunal headed by Brigadier Nizar Khalil convicted a juvenile for trying to provide Israeli authorities with information about an Israeli pilot who went missing in Lebanon. Ali Dabbous was accused of contacting Israeli intelligence services to offer information about Ron Arad who disappeared in Lebanon shortly after his jet was shot down in Lebanese airspace in 1986. The military tribunal also postponed an Israeli espionage case implicating the suspects Haitham Zaher, Hussein Mousa, Ahmad Abdullah, Jaafar Halawi and Wassim Moussa. The five are suspected to have provided the Israeli authorities with information on civil and military Syrian and Lebanese sites along with party officials to facilitate Israeli aggressive acts. – The Daily Star

Hamas, Fatah clash in refugee camp after prayer dispute
BEIRUT: Three people were wounded Monday after a dispute between clerics loyal to the Fatah and Hamas groups in the Al-Buss Palestinian refugee camp turned into armed clashes, the Central News Agency (CNA) reported.

Monday: 13 Iraqis Killed, 28 Wounded
At least 13 Iraqis were killed and 28 more were wounded in attacks across the country. One of the casualties came from an Iranian artillery attack launched into Iraqi Kurdistan. Meanwhile, the political deadlock over the next prime minister continued, but U.S. Vice President Joe Biden called for a resolution soon.

Arrests over Iraqi police deaths
The Iraqi police have broken up an alleged al-Qaeda gang whose members have been killing traffic police in Baghdad, officials say.

Iraq border concerns spur effort to integrate Kurdish and Iraqi Army forces (The Christian Science Monitor)
The Christian Science Monitor – In this disputed city, Kurdish forces are being trained by Iraqi Army instructors in what officials call a breakthrough aimed at easing tensions between the two sides and securing Iraq’s vulnerable border with Iran.*

Iran’s influence in Iraq overstated: Biden (AFP)
AFP – Iran’s influence in Iraq has been exaggerated and Tehran’s efforts to shape parliamentary elections in the country "utterly failed," US Vice President Joe Biden said on Monday.*

Iraq’s banks urge privatisation of state lenders (AFP)
AFP – Iraq’s privately-owned banks have called for the country’s state-owned lenders to be privatised to break up a near monopoly in lending by politicians whose actions remain stuck in the Saddam-era.*

Riz Khan – Mission accomplished or abandoned in Iraq?
As US combat troops leave Iraq, the Riz Khan show asks if the US is really withdrawing or whether it is just preparing the ground to wield soft power there for years to come.

What You Will Not Hear About Iraq, Adil E. Shamoo
Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament, rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the United States has wreaked in Iraq.  UN-HABITAT, an agency of the United Nations, recently published a 218-page report entitled State of the World’s Cities, 2010-2011. The report is full of statistics on the status of cities around the world and their demographics. It defines slum dwellers as those living in urban centers without one of the following: durable structures to protect them from climate, sufficient living area, sufficient access to water, access to sanitation facilities, and freedom from eviction.

Rebranding the Iraq War, Chris Toensing
The war in Iraq is over. Or so the government and most media outlets will claim on Sept. 1, by which time thousands of U.S. troops will have departed the land of two rivers for other assignments. With this phase of the drawdown, says President Barack Obama, “America’s combat mission will end.”

An Army of Contractors, GARETH PORTER
When the Barack Obama administration unveiled its plan last week for an improvised State Department-controlled army of contractors to replace all U.S. combat troops in Iraq by the end of 2011, critics associated with the U.S. command attacked the transition plan, insisting that the United States must continue to assume that U.S. combat forces should and can remain in Iraq indefinitely.

Iran favors inclusion of Turkey, Brazil in nuclear talks: FM
TEHRAN, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) — Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday that Iran favors the inclusion of Turkey and Brazil in upcoming nuclear talks between Iran and Vienna Group.  Turkey and Brazil have played important roles in issuing Tehran declaration. Their presence in upcoming talks between the Islamic Republic and Vienna Group will be useful, said Mehmanparast in his weekly press briefing.

Iran assigns high priority to Latin American ties: president
TEHRAN, Aug. 24 (Xinhua) — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday the Islamic Republic gives high priority to expanding its relations with all the Latin American nations, the local satellite Press TV reported.  Ahmadinejad made the remarks at a meeting with the new Peruvian accredited ambassador to Iran, Javier Paolini Velarde.  "There is a great potential for expansion of mutual ties ( between Iran and Peru) which can be employed to the interests of the two nations," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying.

U.S.: We are troubled by Iran’s nuclear intentions, not its military growth
U.S. State Department spokesman: Recent unveiling of advanced Iran weapons systems do not avert Washington’s attention from its controversial nuclear program.

Striking Iran Is Unwarranted, and It Would Mean Disaster, Marc Lynch
Jeffrey Goldberg has come away from his research convinced that the Obama administration is serious about Iran. But if the administration’s strategy fails to stall Tehran’s alleged drive for a nuclear weapon, then the president may face a terrible choice. Would Obama be willing to move to military action? If not, Goldberg suggests, it is increasingly likely that Israel will take matters into its own hands. I strongly doubt that Obama would choose to launch a pre-emptive war against another Muslim country in the Middle East. Neither do I believe that Israel really intends to do so. Instead, I see an attempt on the part of Goldberg’s Israeli sources to prepare a policy climate in which such an attack seems increasingly plausible and other options are foreclosed — either to force Obama’s hand down the road or to pave the way for an attack by a future administration.

U.S. and Other World News
WikiLeaks: Australia intelligence warned of ‘dirty tricks’
Australian intelligence services had warned WikiLeaks of "dirty tricks" before Swedish authorities issued a short-lived arrest warrant for founder Julian Assange over a rape claim, he said Monday.  "We were warned on the 11th (of August) by Australian intelligence that we should expect this sort of thing," Assange said in a telephone interview with broadcaster Al-Jazeera from a secret location in Sweden.

Egyptians prepare for life after Mubarak
So here comes the latest Egyptian joke about 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak. The president, a keen squash player – how else could he keep his jet-black hair? – calls up the sheikh of Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni Muslim cleric in the land, to ask if there are squash courts in heaven. The sheikh asks for a couple of days to consult the Almighty. Two days later, he calls Mr Mubarak back. "There’s good news and bad news," he says. Give me the good news, snaps Mr Mubarak. "Well," says the sheikh, "there are lots of squash courts in heaven." And the bad news, asks the president? "You have a match there in two weeks’ time!"

Street posters of Egyptian president’s son cement campaign for political succession
CAIRO (AP) — Posters have sprouted up around Egypt promoting President Hosni Mubarak’s younger son as the country’s next leader, in the most overt campaign yet for a controversial father-son succession in this key U.S. Arab ally.,0,4707526.story

Muslim Brotherhood expands westward
When Egyptian school teacher Hassan al-Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928 to teach his fellow Egyptians how to re-discover their Muslim identity and fight British control, he probably never thought that 80 years later, his organisation would have the global reach it has today.

Grand Mufti of Dubai calls for curb on mixed marriages
While some at the Ramadan majlis where the comments were made agreed with Dr al Haddad, many said his call for restrictions was unnecessary.

One year after the Lockerbie bomber’s release
Al Jazeera’s Cath Turner reports from New York on the Libyan Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi one year after his release.

The Arab state system is more resilient than it appears
Seen from outside, the Arab world looks like it is about to crumble. Four Arab states – Iraq, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia – are facing the threat of territorial disintegration. One country, Lebanon, has settled for losing its independence; another, Palestine, is losing hope to win it.

Inside Story – Whistle blowers: ‘Criminals’ or the future of journalism?
Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks is once again at the centre of attention. Sweden has cancelled an arrest warrant against its founder Julian Assange on accusations of rape and molestation. But the damage may have already been done. When reporters from The Washington Post uncovered the Watergate scandal in the early seventies they were hailed as heroes. But after publishing more than 90,000 leaked documents on the war in Afghanistan, the work of Wikileaks editors has been denounced as "a criminal act". So has the impact of whistle blowers been reduced? Are they more vulnerable now? And are they the future of investigative journalism?

Islam in America
Disney Hijab Controversy: Muslim Hostess Calls Disney’s Replacement Hijab "Offensive"
ANAHEIM — A Muslim woman who is fighting for the right to wear her hijab to work says Disney’s replacement headress is "offensive."  Imane Boudlal, 26, who is a hostess at the Storyteller’s Restaurant in Disneyland’s Grand Californian Hotel, says she is not allowed to wear the head scarf while at work and has been sent home seven times times — without pay.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf Speaks Out (AUDIO, TRANSCRIPT)

Mideast passions quiet over NY mosque showdown (AP)
AP – On the streets of lower Manhattan, there’s no mistaking how the passions flow: One side saying its their patriotic duty to block a planned Islamic center and the other insisting America cannot curtail freedoms as revenge for the Sept. 11 attacks.*

Man behind protest video: "This rally transcended anti-mosque sentiment"
The man who recorded a now-viral video at Sunday’s ground zero protest explains how the scene got so ugly

Wife of ‘ground zero mosque’ imam epitomizes Islam’s modernizing voice
Daisy Khan, wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, spoke to the Monitor in 2006 about her efforts to bring women’s perspectives into Islamic law, particularly on issues such as domestic violence and divorce.

MJ Rosenberg: The Lobby’s Leaders Helped Start It, They Should Pull Plug On Anti-Muslim Hysteria
I already wrote that the leaders of the "pro-Israel" lobby helped lay the groundwork for the anti-Muslim explosion that has seized this country over the past month. That was confirmed over the weekend when I read (and saw all over my tv) that Beth Gilinsky, a pro-settler organizer, dreamed up yesterday’s mosque protest and ran the show.

Pro-Israel extremists have campaigned against an Islamic cultural center before,  Jeff Klein
Haven’t we seen this movie before? Yes, in Boston, and with nearly the same cast of characters. The fight against the Roxbury Mosque and Cultural Center planned by the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) was framed as a battle against “Muslim extremists” and “terror supporters.” In reality (as court documents showed) the campaign was organized by activists with the far-right pro-Israel David Project and CAMERA, spearheaded by founder Charles Jacobs, who now heads a front group with the Orwellian name “Americans for Peace and Tolerance.” Later, the story was picked up and promoted by the Murdoch-owned Boston Herald and the local Fox TV affiliate. When the ISB eventually sued its attackers for defamation, the defendants were represented by an attorney who was also a leader of New England AIPAC (American-Israel Public Affairs Committee).

Protests continue to swirl around Ground Zero mosque
NEW YORK: Several hundred supporters and opponents of plans to build a mosque near the site of the September 11, 2001, attacks staged peaceful protests on Sunday, some brandishing signs against Islam and others denouncing religious bigotry.

The "mosque" debate is not a "distraction", Glenn Greenwald
Opponents of the Park51 Islamic community center held a rally yesterday in Lower Manhattan, and a 4-minute video, posted below, reveals the true sentiments behind this campaign.  It has little to do with The Hallowed Ground of the World Trade Center — that’s just the pretext — and everything to do with animosity toward Muslims.  I dislike the tactic of singling out one or two objectionable people or signs at a march or rally in order to disparage the event itself.  That’s not what this video is.  Rather, it shows the collective sentiment of those gathered, as well as what’s driving the broader national backlash against mosques and Muslims far beyond Ground Zero.

Anna Wainwright: Ground Zero Has Plenty of Problems, But a Mosque Isn’t One
On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was packing up to go to college in my childhood apartment on the Upper West Side when my mother came back from the supermarket with orange juice and the news that a plane had flown into the World Trade Center. I had planned to go to Century 21 that day, which then sat across from the Twin Towers, boasting bargains on everything I thought I needed for four years in Chicago. Instead, I spent the next 48 hours like everyone else in the country, huddled with family and friends in front of the television, watching the horror show happening downtown. Sirens echoed in the street without end, and by the first afternoon we had to close our windows against the stench and smoke drifting up from Ground Zero along the river and through the streets. That first evening, friends visiting the city from Louisville arrived like refugees at our door after wandering the deserted streets of midtown Manhattan all day, and we all cried together in front of the television.

Russell Simmons Unveils Ground Zero Street Art In Support Of ‘Mosque’
Earlier this morning Glen E Friedman got a call from pal Russell Simmons asking for help on a new project to send a message about the current Ground Zero Mosque hullabaloo.  Glen and Russell collaborated similarly some years back on what is now known as The Liberty Street Protest [more photos, and previous BB coverage here & here]–massive antiwar signs housed in the windows of Russell’s apartment, which is literally across the street from Ground Zero.  This new visual protest today occupies those very same windows. It addresses all who believe that the First Amendment and freedom of religion applies only to them.

Rima Fakih: The Beauty Pageant Scholar and The Arabs
Arabs were elated a short time ago; 24 year old Rima Fakih – the first Lebanese American, the first Arab American, the first Muslim, and the first immigrant to win the Miss USA title – Fakih seemingly established the foundation for ‘victory’ according to the acclimatized Arab community.  The tight-knit hamlet of Arabs, stemming from Egypt to England, were grinning from ear to ear and it is all thanks to what they called a “historic victory” in the curvaceous shape of an Arab woman.

Neocon Pogromist Pam Geller Attacks Her Allies And Supporters, Max Blumenthal
After working tirelessly to inspire a nationwide pogrom against Muslim citizens of the United States, the leading online race hustler Pam Geller is pantomiming outrage about a video showing her supporters harassing and nearly assaulting a black man they mistook for a Muslim at the rally against the construction of the Cordoba House Islamic center on August 22. Geller’s reaction to the video was couched in a typically unhinged tirade against me; she described me as a “kapo” and “notorious Jew hater.” Geller then claimed, “I have no idea what this rally is,” and went on to attack the heavily-promoted, well-publicized demonstration as a “half-assed effort,” calling it, “harmful to the cause of freedom of expression.”

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