And other news from Today in Palestine:
Land, property and resource theft and destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Settlers
Clashes re-ignite in East Jerusalem neighborhood
3 Dec – Clashes broke out after a brief period of calm in the Al-Isawiya neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem on Friday afternoon. Clashes centered on the western side of the neighborhood, when a march of peace activists and villagers passed through the area protesting the continued closure of roads leading to the residential zone … Israeli forces manning the checkpoints blocking off road access to the area fired tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets into the crowd of protesters.
Knesset members demand annexation of Ariel settlement
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC) 4 Dec — A group of Israeli parliament members including ministers and heads of committees signed a memorandum calling on premier Benjamin Netanyahu to annex the settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. Israel Today published on Thursday said that the 35 signatories urged Netanyahu and his government to impose Israeli sovereignty on the ever growing settlement and not to deal with it as a settlement in occupied land. “The project aims at silencing all voices that call for boycotting the settlement’s educational and cultural activities and trying to doubt its legitimacy and the legitimacy of the presence of Jews in this area”, the memo read.
Twilight Zone: Of fences and neighbors / Gideon Levy
The ongoing saga of a Jordan Valley moshav and the barrier it is trying to erect on lands abutting – and encroaching on – the encampment of 170 beleaguered Palestinians.
Uprooting the Bedouins of Israel / Neve Gordon
2 Dec – Despite the fact that it was the seventh demolition since last July, this time the destruction of the Bedouin village Al-Arakib in the Israeli Negev was different. The difference is not because the homeless residents have to deal this time with the harsh desert winter; nor in the fact that the bulldozers began razing the homes just minutes before the forty children left for school, thus engraving another violent scene in their memory. Rather, the demolition was different because this time Christian evangelists from the United States and England were involved.
Urban planning forcing Arabs from Israeli cities
According to a report carried out by Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights, an Israeli organisation, 40% of Jaffa’s 20,000 Arabs live in ‘Absentee Ownership’ (AO) homes, houses that Arabs were forced to flee when Jaffa was ethnically cleansed in 1948. The Israel Land Administration (ILA), which owns 90% of land in Israel and is responsible for the management of public land, has contracted Amidar, a state-run housing company, to manage the AO homes. “Amidar wants to evict these people in order to profit from the lucrative real estate potential”, Jaffa resident Louis Williams told us. “Three years ago, roughly one quarter of the Arab community, comprising 497 homes, were issued with eviction or demolition notices”.
Israeli fire injures 3 in north, central Gaza Strip
4 Dec – Two separate incidents of reported Israeli fire injured three Gaza residents on Saturday morning, including two workers collecting aggregates in the northern Strip and a third bystander near his home in the central region … The workers in the north, he said, both sustained gunshot wounds to the left leg while they were collecting stone aggregates near the Erez crossing. The injuries brought to 90 the number of workers injured by Israeli fire along the borders since March.
Activism / Solidarity / Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions
Book tracks last days of photographer Tom
2 Dec – The last weeks of Tufnell Park photographer Tom Hurndall, who was shot dead by an Israeli Defence Force soldier, are the basis of a new book, launched on the eve of what would have been the student’s 29th birthday. Tom was shot in the head by the sniper in April 2003 as he took pictures and worked as a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement. He never regained consciousness and died nine months later. His dad Anthony, who along with Tom’s mother Jocelyn unveiled the book, The Only House Left Standing – The Journals of Tom Hurndall, at the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce in Mayfair on Friday
IWW supports Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions movement in support of Palestinian rights
3 Dec – The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) has officially voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights. The “Resolution in Support of the Workers of Palestine/Israel” was adopted in an overwhelming vote both at the IWW’s convention in Minneapolis and by the membership via referendum. This vote makes the IWW the first union in the US and the third union in Canada to officially support the Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
#BDS: The first BDS victory in Japan: MUJI declared cancellation of Israeli shop plan
3 Dec – RYOUHIN KEIKAKU Co. Ltd. decided to cancel the plan to have a shop in Israel, which we announced in our news release in April 12, 2010. We decided the cancellation of the plan because of economical reason as a result of the concrete research which had been done after the news release. In the past seven months after the announcement of the plan, MUJI had been getting strong pressures from grassroots civil society in Japan and other countries including Korea.
#BDS: No to JNF’s pinkwashing of Israeli apartheid
1 Dec – As lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and straight activists and scholars, we condemn the Jewish National Fund’s launch of a new LGBT committee in New York City on December 9, 2010, for what it is: an attempt to “pinkwash” the JNF’s central role in acquiring Palestinian land on which to build the Israeli apartheid state. Most immediately, this campaign is designed to cover up the ugly fact that Palestinians, with few exceptions, are effectively barred from living on 93 % of land in 1948 Palestine (“Israel”).
#BDS: Polish activists force Israeli general onto the defensive
1 Dec – Today the Polish Solidarity Campaign with Palestine (Kampania Palestyna) and the Polish Stop the War Initiative protested the invitation of General Eitan Dangot, Israel’s Military Co-ordinator of Government Activities in the (occupied) Territories to present at the Polish Institute of International Affairs …Major General Dangot’s lecture was shut down to the public by the Institute in response to Kampania Palestyna and Stop the War’s protest.
Yvette Cooper calls for Israeli settler labelling on food imports
4 Dec – Cooper, who spoke after her first visit to the Middle East as shadow foreign secretary, wants the EU to follow the example of supermarkets which identify goods produced in the occupied West Bank. Labour is opposed to boycotting Israeli goods but Cooper believes consumers should be informed whether products are produced by illegal settlers.
Boycott roundup: French companies to drop out of Jerusalem rail project
3 Dec – In a significant victory for the global Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, French companies Veolia and Alstom have dropped out of the Jerusalem light rail project due to sustained pressure from Palestine solidarity groups. The companies were contracted by the Israeli government to construct and manage the tramway linking Jerusalem to several illegal Israeli settlement colonies in the occupied West Bank.
Why we walked out / Ahmad Hasan and Danielle Baeck
3 Dec – Students across the US are protesting a public relations campaign that brings soldiers from the Israeli army to speak on campuses. These tours are an attempt to justify recent war crimes committed by the army and are coordinated by various organizations, the most well-known being the Zionist organization StandWithUs. Our protests have drawn attention to the massive Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The protests started on 20 October 2010, when two Israeli army soldiers visited the University of Michigan campus.
34 ships to carry aid to Gaza next April
4 Dec – GAZA (PIC), — The international campaign for solidarity with the Palestinian people is preparing to send 34 ships loaded with humanitarian relief material to the Gaza Strip by next April, Mariam Zakut, the director general of culture and thought society, said. She added that the vessels would also carry Arab and foreign solidarity activists from various world continents. Zakut, who was participating in the international week for solidarity with the Palestinian people in France, said that the fleet targets forcing Israel to recognize the Palestinian people’s rights and end its siege of Gaza.
Gaza and the will to change the world / Tim King
2 Dec – Announcing Ken O’Keefe’s upcoming mission to free Gaza that is certain to bring about change, one way or another.
Students to finance aid flotilla to Palestine
2 Dec – After three hours of debate, University of British Columbia students will be funding an aid flotilla to Gaza after all. UBC`s students`union, the Alma Mater Society (AMS), had frozen $700 that student group Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights (SPHR) was to donate to an aid flotilla to Gaza.
Students’ Gaza aid checked for terror ties
3 Dec – Like many student governments in Canada, the University of British Columbia’s Alma Mater Society is preoccupied with a bitter controversy over the Mideast conflict. But it stepped into a league of its own on Thursday when it launched an investigation of possible terrorist links in a proposed Canadian aid boat to Gaza. The decision follows a hotly disputed student council vote Wednesday night to approve, by 26-10, a donation of $700 of student money to a charity organizing the Canadian Boat for Gaza,
Gaza-bound aid team stopped at Attari border
Attari (Punjab), Dec 4 (IANS) A group of 34 Indians on a humanitarian visit to Gaza as part of an Asian outreach initiative were stopped here by Indian authorities Saturday despite having valid visas, organisers said. The organisers said the ministry of external affairs had not responded to their request for permission to cross over to Pakistan even though it was sought a month back. ‘We are deeply disappointed at the decision of the Indian government and it may just end up sending a wrong message about the Indian commitment to the Palestinian people,’ said Ashim Roy, one of the team members.
Siege / Rights violations / Restriction on movement
As Palestinians ‘commute’ to work / Kessel & Klochendler
BETHLEHEM CHECKPOINT, Occupied West Bank, Dec 4, 2010 (IPS) – It’s 5am. The late autumn dawn is about to break. But for 3,500 Palestinian workers, a hard day’s work began hours ago. Young and old men push and shove their way out through the narrow lane, barely a metre wide, bars of iron rising above them on either side. Over their heads sits a corrugated steel roof. Some try to sneak into the lane through a gap in the roof. “Being in jail is easier!” cries out one man angrily. He’s a builder from Hebron. “Donkeys are made to stand like this! Even cattle are not hemmed in like this.” … The Palestinians grasp the bars, not just for fear of being trampled, but to keep their place in line. “I’ve got to be at work at seven, not at eight or ten! When I’m late, my Israeli boss tells me, ‘You can go home, I don’t need you’.” This is the Israeli occupation writ small, the nitty-gritty battles to survive the Occupation in a single lane.
Gaza facing wheat crisis
3 Dec – The head of Gaza’s bakeries’ association said Friday that the Strip is facing a crisis due to wheat shortages. Abdul Nasser Al-Ajramy said Israel has decreased the amount of wheat it allows into Gaza, leaving mills in the Strip empty.
UN agency says situation in Gaza is still extremely bleak due to blockade
3 Dec – The situation in Gaza is still extremely bleak, according to the UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has said that Gaza’s 1.5 million people, almost half of them children, remain trapped due to the imposition of the “illegal, inhumane and counter-productive blockade” on the territory. Despite being “encouraged by positive developments – the shops are full of consumer goods, for example… the plight of the people is still desperate”, said John Ging, UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza. “Eighty percent of the population is aid dependent,” he said, so cannot afford to buy what is in the shops.”
OIC medical delegation carries out plastic surgery on wounded Gazans
A delegation of doctors has arrived in Gaza and started the first phase of medical support which includes reconstructive (“plastic”) surgery for people wounded during the Israeli war on the territory … Two specialists oversaw pre-operative checks on more than 120 patients awaiting reconstructive surgery in Al Salama Association’s clinics across the Gaza Strip. Jordanian specialist Dr. Mohamed El-Abady said that he was shocked at the severity of the cases he had seen. “Over the years that I have worked in this field, I have never seen cases as serious as these,” he said. It was reported that the Israeli Army used internationally banned phosphorous and chemical weapons in the 3-week war it waged on Gaza in 2008/9. The result was injuries and deformities which doctors have not witnessed before.
Professor Richard Falk on universal jurisdiction
…The issue of universal jurisdiction is of special interest at this time because of the apparent effort to give assurances to Israeli leaders that they won’t be subject to a legal process if they come here (to the UK); and that of course is in reaction to the problems that the former Foreign Minister [Tzipi] Livni had when she cancelled her trip [to the UK last year]. I think it is important to realise that the whole idea of universal jurisdiction is to take account of the weakness of international institutions in upholding international criminal law … It seems to me that if a country such as Britain, which has a proud constitutional tradition, reserves the implementation of international criminal law just for those the government doesn’t like at the time - in other words if international criminal law is used for prosecuting Saddam Hussein or Slobodan Milosevic but not the friends of the government - then you discredit, in a fundamental way, the rule of law which really does depend on equals being treated equally.
Hamas: PA continues to detain affiliates
3 Dec – Hamas accused PA forces of arresting five of its members in the West Bank, a statement issued by regional leaders said on Friday. Those detained were from Nablus, Jenin, Tulkarem and Salfit, the statement said.
Political / Diplomatic news
Abbas hints at PA dissolution over settlements
4 Dec – RAMALLAH — President Mahmoud Abbas threatened Friday to end autonomy in the Palestinian territories if Israel insists on going ahead with settlement construction on lands that would be a Palestinian state … The comment came two days after PA officials told AFP that American mediators engaged in bilateral talks with Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams had announced their inability to secure a promise to freeze settlement construction from Israel. Abbas himself has been threatening to resign from the Palestinian Authority since before 2009, when his term was extended by a PLO mandate, beyond its four-year elected term.
Hizb Ut-Tahrir says Hamas giving up principles
3 Dec – Hizb Ut-Tahrir (Liberation Party) issued a statement following a rare news conference held by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza on Wednesday. The party said Hamas was heading toward the same track as Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, turning from armed struggle to negotiations with Israel, and ceding most of Palestine. Haniyeh said Wednesday that Hamas would accept the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.
Brazil explains recognition of Palestine
3 Dec – In a move that took Washington by surprise, Brazil has recognized the state of Palestine along the 1967 borders before Israel’s seizure of the West Bank, the Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a notice posted to its website Friday
Engel and Ros-Lehtinen are quick to try to stifle Palestinian state / Philip Weiss
This is amusing/concerning/the same old story. The Brazilians decide they’re sick of the neverending peace process that only results in Palestinian dispossession, and let’s recognize a Palestinian state, and who jumps in with four feet? The Israel lobby. Two congresspeople. Note that Eliot Engel is sanctifying a UN resolution that is now 43 years and has produced little but suffering for the Palestinians:
US lawmakers blast Brazil’s Palestinian move (AFP)
4 Dec – US lawmakers [that is, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee] condemned Brazil’s “severely misguided” and “regrettable” decision Friday to recognize a Palestinian state on borders pre-dating Israel’s seizure of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 … Brazil’s decision also drew fire from Democratic Representative Eliot Engel,
Israel ‘saddened’ as Brazil recognizes Palestinian state (AFP)
4 Dec – JERUSALEM — Israel on Saturday said it was disappointed by Brazil’s decision to recognize a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, saying it flew in the face of efforts to negotiate a peace deal.
Sarkozy receives credentials of first PA ambassador
4 Dec – French president Nikolas Sarkozy received credentials for the first Palestinian ambassador to France Hayil Al-Fahoum on Friday, following an upgrade to the status of the Palestinian mission in Paris in June.
Turkey: Israel aid no sign of improved ties
4 Dec – Turkey downplays fire aid: Israel must still apologize for flotilla raid, Erdogan says
As fires continue to consume more areas in Haifa, extremists torch Islamic graveyard
The Al Aqsa Foundation told the Maan News Agency that a group of Jewish extremists torched the Al Qassam Graveyard in Haifa under the guise of the ongoing fires that started Thursday in the area and continues to spread.
Palestinian firefighters join efforts to control blaze (AFP)
NABLUS 3 Dec — Palestinian firefighters are aiding efforts to control a forest fire which has spread across northern Israel, Palestinian civil defense officials said … Brigadier General Ahmad Ar-Riziq told Ma’an that Palestinian firefighters were able to help control the fire which has spread to Palestinian villages At-Tayba and Barta’a west of Jenin.
Abbas sends firefighters to extinguish blaze in Israel
4 Dec – Palestinian civil defense forces have joined the huge international operation to tame the massive blaze ravaging northern Israel, the president’s office said on Saturday. “The three units of the Palestinian civil defense were sent to assist in extinguishing the fires in the Carmel,” said a statement from the office of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Police arrest two brothers suspected of starting Carmel wildfire
4 Dec - Police forces arrested Saturday two brothers from the Druze village of Isfiya who are suspected of being responsible for the act of negligence which started the massive fire that was still raging in the Carmel in northern Israel … Earlier Saturday, Police Commissioner David Cohen already said that the fire was caused by negligence, and not arson
Carmel fire approaches Usfiya
4 Dec – Wildfire that killed 41 people continues to rage, approaches outskirts of northern Druze town; residents instructed to evacuate homes
PA closes station linked to Dahlan
4 Dec – NABLUS — The Palestinian Authority has closed the offices of a Ramallah satellite TV station affiliated with Muhammad Dahlan, the once Fatah strongman who fled his native Gaza for the West Bank in 2007. PA police raided the offices of Falastin Al-Ghad (“Palestine Tomorrow”) and informed employees that it was closing.
Erekat claims Israel uses Christmas to deepen the separation of the Holy Land
3 Dec – With regard to a pre-Christians reception that the Israeli government has organized in East Jerusalem on December 6, Chief Palestinian Negotiator Saeb Erakat denounced on Thursday that “the Israel Ministry of Tourism has hijacked Christmas for political purposes.”
1,000 children send Christmas message from Bethlehem
3 Dec – A thousand children from across the West Bank gathered in Bethlehem on Friday to send a Christmas message to children around the world … Speaking at the event, [Tourism Minister Khouloud] Deibes said she wished children in Gaza could have participated in the Christmas celebrations. Two children delivered a Christmas message in Arabic and English, and said they hoped Bethlehem and Palestine would one day be open without checkpoints or walls.
Analysis / Opinion
WikiLeaks shocker: Did Abbas know in advance about the devastating blitz on his countrymen in Gaza? / Stuart Littlewood
…you have to wonder why, if the story’s true, the Israelis felt comfortable discussing with the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority what would happen after their tanks and aircraft had pulverized the Gaza part of Palestine and shredded and vaporized its women and children. A genuine leader knowing about plans for such a mega-crime would surely have sounded the alert and raised merry hell at the UN for preventive action.
Q&A: Why only 51 percent of Israelis support equal rights for Arab minority
4 Dec …Why is their status increasingly urgent? Higher birthrates and rising demands for Arab autonomy challenge Israel’s ability to be both Jewish and democratic. Professor Smooha’s study found that 48% of Arab citizens are unhappy with their lives in Israel, compared with 35% in 2003. While nearly two-thirds believed in 2003 that Israel’s democracy empowered them as well as Jews, last year only half agreed with the idea. Voting turnout dropped to 53% in 2009 from 75% in 1999.
For Israeli Arab teens, a way to serve the country without joining the army
4 Dec – Six years ago, Rabah Rizik quit his banking career to help reverse decades of public neglect toward Israel’s 20 percent Arab minority. His new job? Helping to implement a pioneering civil service program akin to AmeriCorps in the United States. The initiative gave Arab high school graduates — who are exempt from the draft faced by Jewish 18-year-olds — the opportunity to contribute to their state, just as most of their Jewish counterparts do through military service … But in some respects, the state program has been lose-lose: Dozens of Arab opponents demonstrated outside Rizik’s home in April, calling him a traitor and an Israeli collaborator. And this year, he couldn’t get enough funding for new volunteer spots, undermining the program’s credibility among hundreds of prospective participants who were turned away.
Odious NGO Monitor smears Electronic Intifada, tries to cut funding / Cecilie Surasky
3 Dec – NGO Monitor was captured perfectly in The Forward by liberal jewish thinker Leonard Fine who said it was “an organization that believes that the best way to defend Israel is to condemn anyone who criticizes it.” But now, no longer satisfied with its McCarthyite efforts to not just condemn, but actually take down respected human rights organizations, it is seeking to stop critical funding of the Electronic Intifada, a key media source for information and analysis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. [See report about this on the EI itself, posted here Wednesday]
Lebanon at stake / Ramzy Baroud
4 Dec – The timing of the Turkish Prime Minister’s two-day visit to Lebanon could not be more judicious. Lebanon’s enemies have been banging the drums of war louder than ever before. All the malevolent plans hatched following the assassination of Lebanon’s former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri are about to converge for one formidable goal: to destabilize and weaken Lebanon, disarm Hezbollah and allow Israel to return, uncontested, and wreck havoc on the tiny country, the way it remorselessly did in 1982.
Swiss army knives as a danger to Arab regimes / As`ad AbuKhalil
This [Washington Post article] must be the dumbest analysis there is. Look at this passage: “Arab angst about Iran’s nuclear ambitions has been exposed, perhaps giving the United States greater leverage in international talks scheduled for next week.” Arab angst about Iran’s nuclear ambitions? Are you kidding me? Do you really think that Iran nuclear efforts are not wildly popular throughout the Arab and Muslim world-without distinction between Sunnis and Shi`ites? … You think if Iran is bombed, the Arab public will stand with those who bomb Iran? Really? You think that Israel arsenal of WMDs are popular among Arabs/Muslims and are not seen as a matter of grave concern?
Al-Akhbar in the New York Times / As`ad Abukhalil
“Al Akhbar, a Lebanese newspaper that supports the Shiite militant and political group Hezbollah, has been posting documents from eight Arab countries…” I should not get defensive about this: I should expect only ignorance and errors in the New York Times whenever any aspect of the Middle East is brought up. But the distortion–I strongly believe–is deliberate. This Al-Akhbar newspaper is a leftist newspaper founded by the leftist Joseph Samahah and led by the leftists Khalid Saghieh and Ibrahim Amin (the latter is a long time communist since his youth). Its main publisher is a secular businessperson who resides in London (Hasan Khalil). I have been to the paper numerous times and know many of the reporters and editors and I can honestly say that I know of no Hizbullah member and supporter there.
Army: Israel detonates ‘spy’ devices in Lebanon (AFP)
3 Dec – TYRE, Lebanon — The Israeli army on Friday detonated two of its espionage devices in southern Lebanon, slightly injuring two passers-by, a Lebanese army spokesman said. “Around noon today, the Israeli enemy detonated two spying apparatuses by remote control in Wadi Qaysiyya outside of Majdal Selem” near the southern coastal city of Tyre, the spokesman told AFP.
Lebanon complains to UN about Israeli ‘spy’ devices (AFP)
BEIRUT 4 Dec — Lebanon on Saturday filed a complaint with the United Nations over “spying” devices planted by Israel on its territory which it said the Israeli army later detonated.
Lebanon defense minister denies WikiLeaks cable content (AFP)
3 Dec — BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr denied on Friday allegations in a diplomatic cable revealed by the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks that he gave advice to Israel in 2008 on how to get rid of Hezbollah, an aide said.
Lebanon’s international theatre of war / Alexander Henley
The UN tribunal on the assassination of Rafik Hariri pits world leaders in direct conflict over the legitimacy of Hezbollah
A legal guide to being a Lebanese woman, Part 1 / Maya Mikdashi
For the past four years I have been researching the histories and the applications of the Lebanese legal system … I am often shocked by how much I have learned over these past four years. Many of my previously held assumptions on the legal system, the state, and my place in it as a Lebanese citizen, have been challenged. One of the lessons I have learned is that the previous sentence should have been written as such; “I have learned much about my legal position as a Lebanese Female Sunnite citizen.” Such specificity is vital because Lebanese citizenship is constituted through these two registers of recognition; the sexed and the sectarian.
Iraq, other Mideast
Friday: 1 Iraqi killed, 4 wounded
At least one Iraqi was killed and four more were wounded in the latest attacks. The deadliest event, however, occurred in Hilla where two buses carrying Iranian pilgrims accidentally crashed into each other, leaving 24 dead and over 50 wounded.
Baghdad bombs hit Iranian Shia pilgrims
Five Iranians were killed by two bombs near a house used by pilgrims near an important Shia shrine in the city’s Kadhimiya district, police said. In the northern Shula district, a car bomb struck a coach of pilgrims, killing two people. Another car bomb elsewhere killed six people. Correspondents say overall, attacks are down in Baghdad in recent weeks. Police officials said more than 100 people were injured in the string of bombings.
Iran will ‘never use’ force against Muslim neighbors
MANAMA (Agencies) Iran will never use force against its Muslim neighbors, its foreign minister told a conference on Middle East security on Saturday, after the United States said Arab states were worried by Tehran’s suspected attempts to acquire nuclear weapons. Iran’s Manouchehr Mottaki said: “We have never used our force against our neighbors and never will because our neighbors are Muslims.” [there never was an Iran-Iraq war, apparently]
WikiLeaks memo reveals Egypt’s Nile fears over Sudan
3 Dec – A leaked US embassy cable has revealed Egypt’s fears about the possibility of its neighbour Sudan breaking into two. In the cable, written last year, a foreign ministry official urged the US to help postpone a referendum on independence for Southern Sudan.
Qatar is more boring than backward / Brian Whitaker
Many myths have done the rounds since Qatar was declared World Cup 2022 host – for a start, alcohol isn’t illegal
U.S. and other world news
Obama assures Netanyahu forest fire assistance top US priority
4 Dec – U.S. is sending a team of expert firefighters and supplies to Israel to help the country contain the worst forest fire in its history.
Israel wildfire: How it stacks up with five other devastating blazes
Israeli officials are racing to contain wildfires that began in northern Israel on Thursday morning, prompting the evacuation of 17,000 and a rare request for international assistance. But while these fires are devastating for Israel — as of Friday they’ve killed at least 42 people and burned an estimated 8,600 acres in the tiny country — they are far smaller than other major forest fires around the globe.
Blair’s bodyguards ‘bought a rocket launcher on expenses to protect him in Gaza’
4 Dec – Tony Blair’s police bodyguards are being investigated over extraordinary claims they bought a device for launching rockets or grenades to protect the former prime minister.Watchdog officials want to know why the officers took it upon themselves to purchase the weapon, apparently on expenses, for a trip to Gaza. It is alleged they were not permitted to buy such a device … In a separate development, a probe has been launched by the IPCC into claims a member of Mr Blair’s protection team broke rules by accompanying him to Israel and Gaza. The Mail has learned the officer was forbidden from making such visits because his partner has worked for the Israeli security services.
US ‘cannot rely on cluster bomb deal’ with Britain
2 Dec – A former foreign office minister has said the US should not rely on any apparent secret deal to store banned cluster munitions on British territory. Chris Bryant was responding to a leak on the WikiLeaks website suggesting the US could be exempted from the ban.
US university yanks Helen Thomas diversity award (AP)
4 Dec – Wayne State University says it’ll no longer offer the Helen Thomas Spirit of Diversity Award, citing recent comments made by the longtime journalist. In a statement Friday, the Detroit school says it “encourages free speech and open dialogue,” but strongly condemns what it says are “anti-Semitic remarks” made by Thomas on Thursday.
Media Matters, the watchdog group that loves to hate Fox News
2 Dec – Fighting Fox is what Media Matters does, relentlessly and obsessively. In the six years since its founding, the watchdog group has evolved from an all-purpose scourge of the conservative media into Fox News Channel’s veritable shadow and constant irritant. From well before sunrise to long after it each day, teams of young researchers sift through video clips and transcripts of programs hosted by Fox stars such as Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly to find dubious facts, logical contradictions and poisonous – at least to Media Matters’ liberal sensibilities – rhetoric.
US Registrar yanks WikiLeaks domain / Jason Ditz
3 Dec – Registrar EveryDNS.net ousts WikiLeaks, citing DDoS attacks — As of 11:00 PM EST Friday December 3, the following Domains/IPs resolve to WikiLeaks. Your mileage may vary, try other URLs or IPs if the first doesn’t work.
PayPal cuts WikiLeaks from money flow (AP)
BERLIN 4 Dec – The online payment service provider PayPal has cut off the account used by WikiLeaks to collect donations, serving another blow to the organization just as it was struggling to keep its website accessible after an American company stopped directing traffic to it.
US agencies warn unauthorized employees not to look at WikiLeaks
4 Dec – The White House Office of Management and Budget sent a memo Friday afternoon forbidding unauthorized federal government employees and contractors from accessing classified documents publicly available on WikiLeaks and other websites using computers or devices like BlackBerrys and smart phones.