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Month: October, 2015

Obama Keeps Pentagon Spigot Open – Chuck Spinney/ConsortiumNews

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Though he ran for the White House as a “change” candidate, President Obama has mostly favored continuity, including bending to the usual pressure from the Military-Industrial Complex to keep the Pentagon spending flowing, as budget watchdog Chuck Spinney explains.

The Pentagon just won another small skirmish in its long war with Social Security and Medicare. That is the unstated message of the budget deal just announced gleefully by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama. To understand why, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

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Syrian MP: US decision to send troops is act of aggression – Albert Ajl/AP

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DAMASCUS, Syria — The United States’ decision to send troops into Syria is an act of aggression because it does not have the government’s agreement, a Syrian member of parliament said Saturday.

Sharif Shehadeh told The Associated Press that the troops will have no effect on the ground, but that Washington wants to say it is present in Syria.

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Draft Israel-Palestinian resolution gets a yes, no and maybe – AP

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peace dove in bullet proof vest mural againstthewall2

UNITED NATIONS — Russia said Friday that New Zealand should move forward with a draft U.N. resolution aimed at reviving long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but Israel says it’s “destructive” and the Palestinians say it’s not tough enough.

The deeply divided Security Council has not adopted a resolution on the decades-old conflict in six years.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow has always maintained that the U.N.’s most powerful body “should get closer involved.”

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A Parallel Crescent to Stop Iran in Its Tracks – Alon Ben-Meir/HuffPo

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Anyone who has followed Iran’s behavior since the 1979 Revolution cannot escape the fact that Iran is bent on restoring some, if not much, of its historical glory as the empire that for centuries dominated the Middle East and beyond. The 2003 Iraq War, which brought the Iraqi Shiites to power, provided Iran with a momentous opportunity to establish a strong foothold in Baghdad. Moreover, Tehran’s enduring support of the Assad regime in Syria, its continuing aid to insurgents and terrorist organizations throughout the region, its rejection of Israel’s very existence, and its challenge of the Sunni Arab states all point to its regional ambitions and national aspirations.

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Palestinians give to ICC details of alleged Israeli crimes – AP

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Palestinian leaders on Friday handed what they called evidence of Israeli crimes committed in the recent outburst of violence to prosecutors at the International Criminal Court.

Foreign Minister Riad Malki said the Palestinians submitted details to Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of what they described as extra-judicial killings of Palestinians as well as home demolitions and other forms of collective punishment.

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I’m Longing for Palestine While Living the American Dream – Karmah Elmusa/Elle.com

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My father was born in Palestine and raised in a refugee camp; I was born and raised in our national’s capital. Who does that make me, exactly?

After living under occupation their whole lives, and with no prospect of political resolution on the horizon, Palestinian youth have taken to the streets this month in protest. As I sit and watch the polarizing coverage—​now considered to be at near-“catastrophic” levels— ​from afar, disparate emotions dart around inside me like pinballs, striking chords and hitting nerves. There’s the sadness, of course–​the sadness that I always feel when I think about Palestine—​that is now pulled to the surface and sharper than usual. Sadness that so many of today’s young people are lost to a struggle that is decades old. Sadness that it feels like it may continue for decades more.

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Netanyahu Retracts Assertion That Palestinian Inspired Holocaust – Jodi Rudoren/The New York Times

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demotivational poster IRONY

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — After more than a week of local and international condemnation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel issued a statement on Friday retracting his accusation that it was a Palestinian cleric who gave Hitler the idea of annihilating Europe’s Jews during World War II.

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Why do J.K. Rowling and her opponents so misunderstand BDS? – Jeremiah Haber/+972 Magazine

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Whether they support BDS or oppose it, everyone wants to feel like they are Harry Potter fighting off Voldemort. Though perhaps it’s best we leave Harry out of this debate.

J.K. Rowling has signed a statement against the cultural boycott of Israel, and has called instead for cultural engagement. Some of her Palestinian fans have objected, pointing to Harry Potters’ fight against Voldemort and the Death Eaters. In her reply she asks her readers to consider Dumbledore’s attempt to engage with Snape, then a Death Eater.

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Conservative group: Democratic Party is no longer pro-Israel – Jonathan Swan/TheHill

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The Democratic Party no longer supports the State of Israel, according to the leader of an influential conservative Jewish group.

“A lot of people believe what I’m going to say, and unfortunately no one has had the courage to say it,” says Matthew Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

“We as a Jewish community have to take a long, hard step back and acknowledge the reality … that today there is one pro-Israel party and that is the Republican Party.”

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Fighting a Cultural Boycott of Israel – Lawrence Davidson/Consortiumnews

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Cultural and economic boycotts helped isolate white-supremacist South Africa and encouraged a shift to multi-racial democracy — and a similar strategy has ratcheted up pressure on Israel to reach a peace deal with Palestinians — but there is a new pushback against that strategy, notes Lawrence Davidson.

There is a new British organization called Culture for Coexistence with the aim of ending the cultural boycott of Israel, which has been relatively effective in raising public awareness of oppressive Zionist policies, and replace it with “open dialogue” and “cultural engagement.“ A “galaxy of 150 British artists and authors” signed an open letter published in the Guardian newspaper on Oct. 22 announcing the group’s position:

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The New Moscowteers – Bernard-Henri Lévy/HuffPo

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Across Europe, apologists for Russia and Russian policy have coalesced into what amounts to a fifth column. The emergence in Western capitals of what might be called the “Party of Putin” is an exceptionally dangerous development, precisely because those who comprise it are not only the usual far-left and far-right suspects. So who are its “members”?

They are, for starters, those who, regardless of party, have had nothing critical to say about the full state reception that Russian President Vladimir Putin just staged at the Kremlin for that multi-recidivist enemy of the West, and more importantly, butcher of his own people, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. They are those whose craven relief that a “strongman” has appeared to impose order (his own) on the Syrian mess prevents them from seeing that the primary effect of Russia’s massive, indiscriminate bombardments has been to accelerate the flow of refugees toward Europe.

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Putin Makes Obama an Offer He Can’t Refuse – Mike Whitney/CounterPunch

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Why is John Kerry so eager to convene an emergency summit on Syria now when the war has been dragging on for four and a half years?

Is he worried that Russia’s air campaign is wiping out too many US-backed jihadis and sabotaging Washington’s plan to topple Syrian President Bashar al Assad?
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J.K. Rowling appeases angry readers after showdown with BDS – Yaniv Halily/Ynetnews

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  Five year old Palestinian boy being arrested by Israeli security forces: dragged into their jeep.

After call for cultural engagement with Israel last week, the famous British author published a series of tweets stating that she identified with the ‘untold injustice and brutality’ suffered by the Palestinian people.

British author J.K. Rowling, whose recent call for greater cultural engagement with Israel angered many of her readers, criticized Israel’s actions against the Palestinians in a series of tweets posted on Thursday.

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NATO is the American occupation of Poland and Europe – Mateusz Piskorski/Voltairenet.org

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The Atlantic Alliance has no reason to be, observed former Polish MP Mateusz Piskorski under History. It merely defends US interests and violating the sovereignty of its member states. Can we get out?

The presence of Poland in NATO is justified dogmatically, necessarily using the belief in a constant external threat for the continued functioning of this alliance.

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Top royals in Saudi power struggle – AFP

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Dubai – A power struggle is emerging between Saudi Arabia’s two most powerful princes, analysts and diplomats say, as the secretive kingdom confronts some of its biggest challenges in years.

The Saudi-led military intervention in Yemen, falling oil prices and rising jihadist violence are putting the country’s leadership to the test, nine months after King Salman assumed the throne following the death of king Abdullah.

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Israel Struggles With How to Thwart a Viral ‘Instafada’ – Jacob Davidson/TIME

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As Israel has struggled to stem a recent wave of violence, the age-old regional conflict has moved to a new, unfamiliar battlefield: Facebook.

The outbreak of stabbing attacks, which have killed 11 Israelis over the past few weeks, appears to have its roots in the virtual realm. Palestinian social media is teeming with slogans, memes, videos, and other shareable propaganda urging young people to take up arms—specifically knives—against their perceived oppressors.

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Israel’s executions of Palestinian teens must end, Amnesty says – Ali Abunimah/The Electronic Intifada

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Israel is carrying out summary executions of Palestinians, Amnesty International has confirmed.

Sometimes it lets injured Palestinians bleed to death.

The human rights group says it has “documented in depth at least four incidents in which Palestinians were deliberately shot dead by Israeli forces when they posed no imminent threat to life, in what appear to have been extrajudicial executions.”

Amnesty’s condemnation of what it called a “clear pattern” of such summary killings came as the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces this month rose to at least 61.

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Why Russia Perceives Syria as Its Front Line – Alastair Crooke/HuffPo

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BEIRUT — Russia believes that it sees the situation of the Middle East very plainly. Vladimir Putin sees nation-states across the region weakening and eroding: Iraq fractured, Syria in conflict, Lebanon without a state, Yemen in anarchy, Libya in chaos — North Africa in general is vulnerable — Saudi Arabia seized by multiple crises. Unless the Islamic State and its Wahhabi allies are stopped — and stopped decisively — the region is in danger of descending into even deeper chaos. Syria is Russia’s veritable front line. Russia recalls how, after the Afghan war, radical Wahhabi-style Islam spread out from Afghanistan and reached up into Central Asia. Russia also recalls how the CIA and Saudi Arabia inflamed and used the Chechen insurgency to weaken Russia.

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Seeing Syrian Crisis Through Russian Eyes – Ray McGovern/Consortiumnews

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Exclusive: While there is a glimmer of hope that international negotiations may finally find a way to resolve the Syrian war, there is also growing pressure on President Obama to escalate U.S. military involvement even if that risks a wider war with Russia, a danger that ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern assesses.

“To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war,” as Sir Winston Churchill put it at a White House luncheon on June 1954. The aphorism applies in spades today as the U.S., Russia and other key countries involved in troubles in Syria decide whether to jaw or to war.

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Why Netanyahu Needs Holocaust Revisionism and Israeli-Palestinian Violence – Stephen Zunes/HuffPo

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s October 20 speech claiming that Hitler had not planned to exterminate Jews until a prominent Palestinian cleric pressured him to do so, while outrageous, is consistent with the longstanding narrative of the right-wing government and its U.S. supporters.

As everyone from the German government to leading Israeli historians have noted, the charge that Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini was responsible for the Holocaust is ludicrous. Not only is there no record of such an exchange between the two, the meeting took place in late November 1941, four months after the “Final Solution” had been formally authorized. By that time, nearly one million Jews–primarily from Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Serbia, and Russia–had already been murdered.

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A Gas Discovery in Egypt Threatens to Upend Mideast Energy Diplomacy – Stanley Reed/The New York Times

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The Italian energy company Eni knew it was taking a big risk this summer when it spent $60 million on an exploratory rig and began drilling more than 100 miles off the coast of Egypt.

Eni’s gamble worked. The company, using drilling rights from the Egyptian government, found what it called a “supergiant” natural gas field. It may be the largest discovery yet in the Mediterranean and is one of the world’s biggest new gas finds in years.

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Harry Potter Author Compares Israel to her Most Harrowing Characters – The Jewish Press

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Harry Potter in the Middle East

JK Rowling is no friend of the Jewish settlement movement, nor does she apparently endorse the notions of Jewish resurrection in a promised land, or of Israel’s being the only democracy in a region rife with violence and death. Like many in the UK, she believes, as she recently wrote: “The Palestinian community has suffered untold injustice and brutality. I want to see the Israeli government held to account for that injustice and brutality.”

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Noam Chomsky & Abby Martin: The Empire’s Election Extravaganza

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Why Do Palestinian Children Throw Stones At Israeli Forces?

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Oz: Israel’s prison for Palestinian children – Al Jazeera English

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Over 100 children have been subject to arbitrary detention by Israel in October across the West Bank, rights groups say.

East Jerusalem – Since the beginning of October, hundreds of young men from Jerusalem have spent the night in Oz – not the magical fairy-tale land, but a police station in Jabal al-Mukaber.

Like the rest of occupied East Jerusalem, the neighbourhood is mired in neglect and has become a scene of regular clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli security forces. Those who come to Oz arrive in military vehicles, handcuffed and blindfolded.

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Telling Mideast Negotiators, ‘Have a Nice Life’ – Thomas L. Friedman/The New York Times

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In the Times review of the American Mideast negotiator Dennis Ross’s important new history of Israeli-U.S. relations, “Doomed to Succeed,” a telling moment on the eve of the 1991 Madrid peace conference caught my attention. The Palestinian delegation had raised some last-minute reservations with the secretary of state, James A. Baker III. Baker was livid, and told the Palestinians before walking out on them: “With you people, the souk never closes, but it is closed with me. Have a nice life.”

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Abbas slams Netanyahu, seeks ‘protection’ for Palestinians – Jamey Keaten/AP

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GENEVA  — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday called for international protection for the Palestinians, saying the human rights situation under Israeli occupation is the worst it has ever been, and accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of exploiting the Holocaust to attack the Palestinians.

The fiery speech by Abbas to a special session of the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council in Geneva threatened to stir up new tensions with Israel, just as U.S.-led efforts to calm the situation in the region are getting under way.

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Israel must end its 50-year occupation of Palestine, the White House says – Jon Stone/The Independent

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US-Israel relations have noticeably cooled in recent weeks

Israel must end its 50-year occupation of the Palestinian territories, Barack Obama’s White House has said.

In a speech on Monday, the White House chief of staff Denis McDonough called into question the Israeli government’s commitment to finding a peaceful solution to the Middle East conflict.

“Israel cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely,” he told a meeting of liberal American pro-Israel lobbyists, J-Street. “An occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.” Mr McDonough, the most senior official in the US president’s team, was highly critical of earlier comments made Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in which the country’s leader indicated he was not interested in working towards Palestinian sovereignty.

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Saudi prince al-Waleed bin Talal: “In case of outbreak of Palestinian uprising I’ll side with Israel, Saudi Arabia reached a political maturity to constitute durable alliance with Jewish nation” – AWD News

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Kuwait City — According to Kuwaiti Al Qabas daily, the flamboyant Saudi Prince and entrepreneur, al-Waleed bin Talal posited that his country must reconsider its regional commitments and devise a new strategy to combat Iran’s increasing influence in Gulf States by forging a Defense pact with Tel Aviv to deter any possible Iranian moves in the light of unfolding developments in the Syria and Moscow’s military intervention.

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Reza Aslan talks about Palestine and Israel

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