Saturday, January 31, 2009

60 minutes on Gaza

here

Amnesty I/USA Press Release: Stimulus Funding for Bureau of Indian Affairs

Amnesty International USA Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Amnesty International Welcomes House Stimulus Funding for Bureau of Indian Affairs and Indian Health Service; Urges Senate to Follow Suit
----
Funds "Critical for Improving the Failing Systems," Organization Says, Emphasizing Support for Survivors of Sexual Violence

(Washington DC) - Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) today applauded a landmark portion of the House economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which funds critical functions of both the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Health Service (IHS).

The human rights organization called these funds a crucial building block that could eventually help address alarmingly high levels of violent crime in Indian Country including the widespread sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also reported out its version of the legislation yesterday, with funding in the amount of $545 million for IHS and $572 million for BIA. The organization applauded the addition of this critical funding and urged the full Senate to support current funding levels in the final legislation.

"Over the past year Congress has made an unprecedented effort to address violent crime affecting tribal communities across the United States," said Larry Cox, executive director of AIUSA. "These funds are critical for improving the failing systems that facilitate high levels of rape of Native women. Chronic underfunding of law enforcement agencies and
health service providers has had a significant impact on the ability of the BIA and IHS to respond to crimes of sexual violence. The House must be applauded for taking this long-overdue step."

The House economic stimulus package includes a substantial $550 million of federal funding to the IHS. These funds are to modernize aging hospitals and health clinics, purchase equipment and related services and make technology upgrades to improve healthcare for underserved rural populations. Currently the average per capita health expenditure for
Native Americans is less than half that for non-Natives in the United States. Since the launch of its 2007 report, Maze of Injustice: the failure to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence in the USA, AIUSA has advocated extensively for funds to improve health care and law enforcement in Indian Country, and will continue to do so in 2009.

Funding for the BIA has been set at $500 million, which would address repair and replacement of detention centers, schools, roads, dams, bridges and employee housing. While upgrading detention centers would have an obvious impact for law enforcement officials, repairing roads could also improve officers' access to rural communities.

"The BIA and IHS should work with tribal communities to ensure that part of this funding is used to train law enforcement officers to respond quickly and appropriately to victims of sexual violence," said Renata Rend, government relations director for AIUSA. "In addition, Indian Health Service facilities need trained sexual assault nurse examiners to
administer rape kits and secure evidence needed for prosecution. This is the only way to end the brutal cycle of impunity that allows crimes of sexual violence to flourish."

Amnesty International found Native American and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the United States in general and more than one in three Native women will be raped in their lifetimes, yet the United States government has created a complex maze of tribal, state and federal jurisdictions that often allows perpetrators to rape with impunity -- and in some cases effectively
creates jurisdictional vacuums that encourage assaults.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries who campaign for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public and works to protect people wherever justice,
freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

# # #

For more information, please visit
here

UGANDA: Gregory's Story: Under Attack by the LRA


here

Friday, January 30, 2009

BUBBLES

Part One

Today, I read Jonathan Schell's article 'Obama and the Return of the Real'. The entire article is worth your while to say the least.

I am going to start in the middle where he is speaking of at least four major world crises which he considers even larger in scope to than the current economic one:

1) The shortage of natural resources, beginning with fossil fuels.

2) The spread of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction including: arms seepage, "arms osmosis, owing to the deadly know-how that is spreading from brain to brain in a kind of virtual pollution."

3) The ecological one: global warming, the wholesale human-caused annihilation of species, population growth, water and land shortage and more.

4) The failure of the American bid for global empire and the consequent decline of American influence abroad. "The bid has run aground in the sands of Iraq and in the mountains of Afghanistan, among other places."

Then, after this above list with a little history and specifics, Schell comes up with ways in which all the above crises, including the current economic one, are alike:

1) They are all self-created: "They arise from pathologies of our own activity, or perhaps hyperactivity. The Greek tragedians understood well those disasters whose seeds lie above all in one's own actions."

2) These crises are the result of excess, not scarcity: "Too much credit packaged in too many ways by people who were too smart, too busy, too greedy. Our energy use was too great for the available reserves. The nuclear weapon overfulfilled the plans for great-power war, making it--and potentially ourselves--obsolete through oversuccess...The economic activisty of humanity...too voluminous to be sustained by fragile natural systems..."sustainability" applies more broadly...debts, oil use, spread of WMDs...pretensions of empire...crashing all at once...adding up to a new era of limits...to correct overreaching."

3) All the crises involve theft by the living from their posterity.

4) All are characterized by double standards "which everywhere block the way to solutions."

5) All display one or more common feature...here it comes...now isn't this a word much more apt than delusions? The word is - yes that's right- BUBBLES!

Well, now I know you'll want to read the rest:

here

NOT THIS TIME: Dear President Obama (The Nation- Feb. 09, 2009)

We congratulate you and wish you the very best of fortune in your great undertaking.

As writers, we admire your eloquence and your engagement with ideas. But we are worried because a new beginning will not be possible as long as we continue to spill the blood of the men, women, and children of Afghanistan. The Taliban is not a direct military threat to the United States nor are the people of Afghanistan.

There is no victory for those who attempt to occupy Afghanistan, as the Soviets and the British discovered. There will be no progress at home while such an all-consuming war is being waged. If we stay, the situaqtion will get worse, not better, and the troll in American lives and American prestige, as well as the damage to our standing in the Middle East and to the American budget will be staggering and tragic.

Wartime presidents accomplish little else. We urge you to negotiate with the Taliban, withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, and begin the moral and physical rebuilding of Afghanistan as well as that of the United States.
________
Among the 90 or so signers listed under the above letter in the Feb 09th issue:

Daniel Ellsberg - Graduating from Harvard in 1952 with a B.A. summa cum laude in Economics. Ellsberg spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving as rifle platoon leader, operations officer, and rifle company commander. From 1957-59 he was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows, Harvard University and earned his Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard in 1962 with his thesis, Risk, Ambiguity and Decision. HIs research leading up to this dissertation is widely considered a landmark in the foundation of decision theory and behavioral economics.

In 1959, he became a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation, and consultant to the Defense Department and the White House, specializing in problems of the command and control of nuclear weapons, nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making. He joined the Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs), John McNaughton, working on Vietnam. He transferred to the State Department in 1965 to serve two years at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, evaluating pacification on the front lines.

On return to the RAND Corporation in 1967, he worked on the Top Secret McNamara study of U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, on twelve felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.

Daniel’s book Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers reached bestseller lists across the nation. It won the PEN Center USA Award for Creative Nonfiction, the American Book Award, the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Prize for Non-Fiction, and was a Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

In December 2006, he won the 2006 Right Livelihood Award, known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize,” in Stockholm, Sweden. He was acknowledged “for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to a movement to free the world from the risk of nuclear war.”

Since the end of the Vietnam War, Daniel has continued to be a leading voice of moral conscience, serving as a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, government wrongdoing and the urgent need for patriotic whisteblowing.

See more at his website: here

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jean Paul Samputu: Planting the seeds of peace

'If you don't forgive, it will destroy you' singer and Rwandan Ambassador for Peace said in Canada last fall.

Jean Paul Samputu's former neighbor and childhood friend - in 1994 - murdered Jean Paul's father and mother as well as three of his brothers and a sister during the Rwandan massacre/genocide of minority Tutsis by majority Hutus. The United Nations estimates 800,000 people died. Other groups state varying numbers. And of course the tragedy was much more than numbers killed and includes tensions and trauma which continue today.

In a dramatic turnabout - finally - Samputu approached the killer of his family members and talked to him. The pair now travel together in Africa, talking to people, both Hutu and Tutsi.

We need them - so urgently - to speak throughout our hurting revenge-filled world.

NOTE: I pulled the following short piece together from several sources - let me know if you have others about Samputu or people like him - and any suggestions , corrections or additions. While this post is way too short to do the story justice - you can look up today's BBC transcript-audio later today! This man, like so many in The Journey, is a true hero for our day.

Yesterday I was haunted all day and into the night by the following terrible story I believe to be actual since it comes from a friend who's made many missions of peace into the Occupied Territories. It was sent with the title, "Sopie's Choice" which some of you will recognize as a story about a similar holocaust event.

From the introduction: "I received the following letter written by my friend a Jewish-American woman who founded the Middle East Children's Alliance, a great organization to contribute to if you can (www.mecaforpeace.org). Her account turned my stomach: January 23, 2009 'Dear A, I entered the Gaza Strip on Wednesday night with my friend and fellow activist Sharon Wallace after waiting ten hours at the Egypt/Gaza border. The destruction and trauma is even greater than I expected.

'Out of all the devastation I have seen so far, there is one story in particular that I think the world needs to hear. I met a mother who was at home with her ten children when Israeli soldiers entered the house. The soldiers told her she had to choose five of her children to "give as a gift to Israel."

'As she screamed in horror they repeated the demand and told her she could choose or they would choose for her.

'Then these soldiers murdered five of her children in front of her. The concept of "Jewish morality" is truly dead. We can be fascists, terrorists, and Nazis just like everybody else.' "

(back to me, Connie) So, naturally I was haunted all day and slept only a little and most fitfully...Of course, this will be one story among any number I've read or heard during the last terrible weeks of the Gaza massacre which just won't let me go-- These include a few incidents of Hamas violence, reminders of so many like acts of brutality in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere - some encouraged or aided by US.

Personally, I have an unusually heavy feeling these days of absolute powerlessness to help such women, parents, innocents and understandably not so innocent ones -- in various places --with their grieving.

What can we do? What can I do? Yet I must do something...all of us in the US and those who want peace in Israel and the middle east-- MUST do something that will plant the seeds of peace. We must act collectively and with Divine Love as an oft hidden yet sometimes noticed ruling dynamic in the universe -- that of compassion and peace -- to help save other children Palestinians, Pakistanis, Afghanistanis, Israelis -- from such horrific deaths and sights.

Sometimes my meager writing seems so small...even in terms of my own family and neighborhood. (I live near a small town mini-ghetto of sorts -- yet it is not unlike the one I lived in in South Central LA, California USA as a child..)

As I tried to get sleepy, last night, I read a helpful piece that we all need a mission - a purpose in life - or we die. This mission must usually go beyond our own smaller while important family & our routine obligations - in order to connect us with our ultimate "calling" and to give us, most of us, a purpose encompassing enough to help us overcome the many obstacles which people so oft give into which may end in depression, despair or worse. (Some of the quotes were from Victor Frankl who survived the camps of the holocaust of WWII and became a noted psychiatrist. Frankl's redeeming purpose was to live to tell his story to the world, which he did.)

During the reading of the "helpful piece" mentioned above, I recognized that frequently lately I have been sensing a temporarily disconnect from a catalyzing mission, a sense of incompetence, impotence and the paralysis of silence.

I slept fitfully. Then, early this am the BBC radio awakened me with a unique song - one which tugged at my soul. This was Samputu's voice -- who reminded me that many others in many small and large ways, do indeed have a very urgent message and purpose for the world today. And we have mentors and role models to guide is. Jean Paul Samputu is so obviously our brother, although he lives so far away.

Look him up on BBC soon for this day in the archives. There should soon be a transcript-audio available.

Who knows, he may also be available through World Vision Canada or some other way as a powerful speaker and musician who's singing tugs at the heart. Why don't we see if we can bring him and his friend turned killer turned friend to our various conflict-driven places to help plant seeds of peace for future generations?
_______________
Jean Paul Samputu was caught up in the horrific Rwandan Genocide and has suffered much to come to the place where he can now so freely tell and sing his story.

The hatred Jean Paul Samputu had for the neighbour and best friend who killed his parents and four of his siblings was eating him alive. He turned to alcohol and much more.

Samputu, a 46-year-old Tutsi, said the killer, who served a 12-year prison sentence, had been his next door neighbour and a childhood friend. "It took me nine years before I forgave him. During that time I became an alcoholic and a drug abuser," Samputu said when he spoke in Canada last autumn. According to a Canadian paper, The Gazette, Samputu told how after nine years he became sober and realized the anger he was holding on to was no way to honour his dead loved ones. He also said he finally began to consider the well-being of his own wife and three children.

He does not believe in any one church, but he has said that his admiration for Jesus Christ led to much of the transformation that followed. "If I had not been healed I would have passed this hatred to my children and they would carry it on."

Samputu also credits his father legacy and memory with his willingness to forgive.

In Canada last September, Samputu noted a current Canadian tragedy: The fatal shooting by police of 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva in Montreal North - and the riots that followed the next day. These reveal fresh lines of resentment between racial and ethnic communities and the Montreal police, he said. Both sides in the debate need to search for common areas of understanding, or suspicion will grow into something much worse, Jean Paul warned. (We in the US should take sober heed!)

The Rwandan singer and peace activist spoke on Mount Royal Canada for the International Day of Peace. Samputu went as an ambassador for peace with World Vision Canada 2008 when he helped mark the International Day of Peace.

When Samputu spoke with the BBC reporter, he said his father - were he here today - would have said in no uncertain terms never to revenge or kill.

Jean Paul said, "Generations carry the wounds of unforgiveness. Future peace depends on us..."

"There is too much anger and fear. You have to forgive. If you don't forgive, it's going to destroy you.

"We must ask: 'What can we do to prevent this in the future?"
____________________
"The image of the enemy is a moral and political burden because you are negotiating with someone whom only yesterday you called a...a murderer... You promised your followers that this person would be severely punished as a reward for the oppression they had lived through. Your followers, meanwhile, are telling you justice requires punishment. They ask: "How can you negotiate and talk to a person who is responsible for all the disasters of our people? ....I AM NEGOTIATING BECAUSE I HAVE CHOSEN THE LOGIC OF PEACE and abandoned the logic of war. This means my enemy of yesterday must become my partner. He may still be my opponent but he is an opponent within peace..."

Adam Michnik - Polish Activist

NOTE: I found this quote by Michnik on the site for The Parents Circle
here We, the Palestinian and Israeli Members of the PCFF, Bereaved Families Supporting Reconciliation and Peace - Make This Urgent Appeal -
"It Won't Stop Until We Talk"

Take a look - certainly if you are for peace and deep listening, you'll admit this group is certainly making a lot of strides in the right direction, no?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Vatican City, symbol and what we appear to condone...

Hello readers, there is so much contention over so many issues, however, this does look like another step backwards for church history and other relationships?

I want to try to start a dialogue here...

Jan. 28

VATICAN CITY:

Vatican is unflinching on Holocaust-denier

The church says Bishop Richard Williamson's ideas have nothing to do with the pope's decision to return him to the fold.

The Vatican stood firm Tuesday on a decision to rehabilitate a Holocaust-denying bishop, even as Jewish leaders warned that the move will set back decades of Roman Catholic overtures to mend strained relations between the two faiths.

The Vatican joined Jews and fellow Catholics in condemning the British bishop's assertions that no Jews died in Nazi gas chambers. But the Vatican also said Richard Williamson's ideas had nothing to do with the decision by Pope Benedict XVI to return him and three other traditionalist bishops to the fold.

The controversy over lifting the excommunication of Williamson came as people worldwide Tuesday observed an annual commemoration of the Holocaust.

The Vatican's embrace of Williamson has incensed Jewish groups in the United States and Europe, who noted that Catholic-Jewish relations have warmed since the 1960s, when the Second Vatican Council issued a groundbreaking condemnation of anti-Semitism.

"This is an astounding departure," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "It violates all of the goodwill of Vatican II, where the church said that . . . the long history of hatred toward Jews, silence toward Jews during the Holocaust is a thing of the past."

In an interview broadcast on Swedish television days before the pope lifted his excommunication Saturday, Williamson said: "I believe that the historical evidence is hugely against 6 million Jews having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler. I believe there were no gas chambers."

He added: "I think that 200,000 to 300,000 Jews perished in Nazi concentration camps, but none of them by a gas chamber."

Williamson's comments drew condemnation from Catholic bishops in Italy and Germany and from his own order, the Society of St. Pius X.

The leader of the society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, said in a statement that Williamson's views did not reflect the society's position. Fellay forbade Williamson to speak publicly and asked the pope's forgiveness for "the dramatic consequences" of the bishop's remarks.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Williamson's "unacceptable" ideas had "nothing to do with the thinking of the pope or the ideas expressed in the many documents of the church that condemn the Holocaust."

He said there has been no talk of revoking the decision because it represents a first step toward eventual reconciliation with an entire religious community, not a single clergyman. "This regards an issue of the internal life of the Catholic Church," Lombardi said in a telephone interview Tuesday.

Lombardi said the Vatican expected some negative response but has been surprised by the reaction. "We are sorry, and we hope that the Jewish world understands that this decision has nothing to do with Williamson's ideas," he said.

Williamson and three other bishops were excommunicated by Pope John Paul II 20 years ago after they were consecrated by an ultraconservative archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, without papal consent. The Vatican viewed the step as a schismatic act.

Lefebvre, who opposed liberal reforms introduced by Vatican II, founded the Society of St. Pius X.

From the start of his pontificate in 2005, Benedict made it known that he wanted to reunite the society with the church, angering Jews in the process in 2007 when he relaxed restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass, which on Good Friday calls for the conversion of Jews.

Benedict made his announcement about the lifting of excommunication after Williamson's interview aired. It was not clear whether he knew of the interview, but those familiar with the decision say he consulted only a few advisors.

Among those not in the loop, according to one source, was Cardinal Walter Kasper, who oversees the Vatican department that handles Jewish relations.

"The Vatican was not prepared for the firestorm that resulted," said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, a Jesuit priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. "If the White House did this kind of thing, everybody would say they were tripping over each other and weren't organized."

The fallout among Jewish leaders continues.

"Given the centuries-old history of anti-Semitism in the church, this is a most troubling setback," Abraham H. Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League's national director and a Holocaust survivor, said in a statement.

Amid the outcry, the Vatican has moved swiftly to defend the pope's decision and his record of condemning the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.

On Tuesday, Vatican Radio devoted a program to the Holocaust, highlighting the pope's efforts to reach out to Jews, including his 2006 visit to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

Catholic leaders in the United States also denounced Williamson even as they endorsed the pope's actions.

"We support the Holy Father's decision to lift the censure," said the Rev. James Massa, who oversees ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. "Any division in the body of Christ that can be overcome is to be received with gratitude. This particular decision is made in the shadow of the unacceptable comments of Bishop Williamson."

(source: Los Angeles Times)

************ ********* ********

Israel's highest Jewish body severs Vatican ties

Israel's chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on Wednesday to protest a papal decision to reinstate a bishop who publicly denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

Israel's highest Jewish body sent a letter to the Holy See expressing "sorrow and pain" at the papal decision. "It will be very difficult for the chief rabbinate of Israel to continue its dialogue with the Vatican as before," the letter said. Chief rabbis of both the Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews were parties to the letter.

The rabbinate, which faxed a copy of the letter to The Associated Press, also canceled a meeting with the Vatican set for March. The rabbinate and the state of Israel have separate ties with the Vatican, and Wednesday's move does not affect state relations.

Pope Benedict XVI, faced with an uproar over the bishop, said Wednesday he feels "full and indisputable solidarity" with Jews and warned against any denial of the full horror of the Nazi genocide.

The remarks were his first public comments on the issue since the controversy erupted Saturday.

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the Vatican hoped that in light of the pope's words, "the difficulties expressed by the Israeli Rabbinate can be subjected to further and deeper reflection."

Lombardi expressed hope that dialogue between the two parties can continue "fruitfully and serenely..."

According to this article: About 6 million Jews were systematically murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators during World War II. Many were gassed in death camps while others were killed en masse in other ways, including shooting and
starvation. About 240,000 Holocaust survivors live in Israel.

Jewish groups, including the American Jewish Committee, the Simon
Wiesenthal Center and Israel's quasi-governmental Jewish Agency, denounced
the Vatican for bringing a Holocaust denier back into the fold.

(source: Catholic Culture)

GERMANY:

Council of Jews snubs German Holocaust ceremony

Germany's Central Council of Jews boycotted a ceremony in the Berlin parliament on Tuesday which commemorated victims of the Holocaust, saying their leaders had been treated without the proper respect in previous years.

The Council said its representatives would not attend a speech by President Horst Koehler for the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz concentration camp as they had not been greeted personally and had been treated merely as "onlookers."

"At some point, it is enough," Stephan Kramer, General Secretary of the Council, told Reuters.

He also complained that in previous years the Council's leaders, including Holocaust survivors, had been given seats among other visitors in the gallery rather than in the main plenary hall.

"This symbol speaks for itself and is unsurpassable in terms of its lack of respect," Kramer told Die Welt newspaper.

..."Whoever incites hatred against Jews and other minorities has learnt nothing from history," he added....

(source: Reuters)

Blogger's NOTE: Of course there are MANY volatile current dynamics to be considered...so I am glad to find that these articles point not only to the actual acceptance of this Bishop's leadership and also to the items which "incite hatred against Jews and other minorities"...Important reminders for us in our history in the making with all the semitic peoples and all the religious and secular as well as people of color and the poor. As far as symbols go, MANY are quite concerned by the choice of Rahm Emmanuel as such a symbol of connection between the US government and the rest of the world.

Although Rahm E. can't be held accountable in general for what his father represented and says - still, in which way might background and history be also somewhat of a symbol to many and send a troublesome alert to many countries Obama has said he wants to befriend? (Although we have seen and will probably see some positive surprises among the appointees.) Also, the above is a good reminder that ACTIONS that our countries and groups do to may encourage dialogue and goodwill OR ask for trouble. Maybe this kind of trouble is even more worrisome and disengaging than the choices the Vatican makes? This would of course include the use of US bombs, cluster, white phosphorus and otherwise - in Gaza...and the killing of any babies and innocents by ANY group: Hamas? Israel? US? wherever, whenever...these things in themselves bring hatred upon groups of people...I would add that NO war is Holy...And we who are for rights and peace may not excuse any group, leader, nation or another person for adding fuel to the flames of hate and prejudice...

Thanx for listening...please add your own comment below...
Connie

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Jimmy Carter on NPR.org & NEW book review - with helpful historical notes

My note: I wouldn't have expected there to be a landslide vote for such a controversial topic (in the US) and yet, I was glad to find among the unreliable "stars" for others votes, this review...Former US President Carter is scheduled to be interviewed today, Tuesday, January 27, 2009 on npr.org 3 PM EST
(if I heard right)-January 27, 2009 which should be available via archived program later.

There is a very short audio available online from a few bites he gave NPR reporter during Morning Edition this am...as well as some Carter background & a long excerpt from his book...Find both these items
here and by the way - Carter's take on what Hamas has said and what they are willing to do, is, as you may surmise QUITE different than the worries many in the US have had...and let's always keep in mind that the history and the choices of Hamas do not represent even the majority of Palestinians on many levels...as many sources Israeli and Jewish as well as Arab have tried to point out...That the voting even within Occupied Territories and Gaza has been up against many "Walls" and a Wall.

This is a top Customer Review for Jimmy Carter's latest book - with some interesting history (please COMMENT below if you have anything to add or differ in this history) Original found this am here

Good Background, Hope for the Future!, January 20, 2009
By Loyd E. Eskildson "Pragmatist"

One of the notable developments in the region has been the repeated proposal by all 22 Arab nations to have normal diplomatic and commercial relations with Israel, provided major U.N. resolutions are honored. This Arab proposal could provide a promising avenue to break the existing deadlock; however, it has not been possible for the weak and divided Palestinian leadership to eliminate violence against Israel.

So begins former President Carter's latest book. He goes on to provide historical background and current status. The U.N. estimates that about 710,000 Arabs left voluntarily or were ejected from Israel; troops then barred their return and razed more than 500 or their ancestral villages. U.N. Resolution 194 asserted that refugees wishing to return should be allowed to do so, that compensation should be paid to others, and that free access to the holy places be assured. However, these issues remain as major sources of dispute.

After the Six Days War, U.N. Resolution 242 confirmed the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land and called for Israel to withdraw. Carter, Ford, Nixon, and LBJ had all considered Israeli settlements in the occupied territories to be both illegal and an obstacle to peace.

In most places "Israel's wall" is built entirely in the West Bank, penetrating as much as 13 miles into Palestine to encompass existing and growing Israeli settlements, along with desirable land and building sites not yet confiscated. In many places the barrier prevents Palestinians' access to their fields, schools, places of worship, and grazing lands. (Overall, the wall takes 44% of the West Bank from the Palestinians.) In 2004 the International Court of Justice declared construction of the wall in Palestine territory to be illegal.

The land between the barrier and the Green Line is the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians - all now require permits to live in their own homes, and their visitors require special passes to come in. Normally there are very restricted movements of Palestinians through the approximately 500 Israeli West Bank checkpoints. Palestinians are even prohibited from traveling on some of their own roads - those are reserved for Israelis.

In the 2006 election to replace Arafat about 140,000 of the 150,000 eligible voters in East Jerusalem had to vote in neighboring cities, and doing so required they pass warnings that they would lose their dwelling rights. Pro-Hamas voters were also threatened with the termination of hundreds of millions in U.S. aid. After the election Israel arrested and imprisoned 41 elected Hamas parliamentarians living in the West Bank and ten citizens proposed as Hamas cabinet members.

About 50% more roadblocks have been added in the West Bank since the 2004 Annapolis peace effort. Unpredictable curfews are another imposition levied upon the Palestinians.

Hamas has offered a long-term truce in return for complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Hamas also has agreed to accept any peace agreement negotiated between the PLO and Israel if also approved by a Palestinian referendum or democratically-elected government.

Tunnels between Egypt and Gaza provide entry for consumer goods (taxed heavily by Hamas) and funds.

The 1.1 million Palestinians in Israel fear expulsion, and suffer legal and economic discrimination. The are barred from traveling to Gaza or most Arab countries.

One other major barrier toward peace exists - the Shebba Farms (about 8 square miles) that Syria says belongs to Lebanon, and Israel claims belongs to Syria - occupied by Israel as part of their Golan Heights' seizure and used to launch invasions into Lebanon.

Bottom Line: President Carter believes that these proposals, with U.S. support and backed up by a demilitarized zone with international peacekeepers can succeed. Many of Carter's assertions in this book were documented in a 1/25/09 "60 Minutes" program.

18 of 28 people found the following review helpful:
5.0 out of 5 stars

Monday, January 26, 2009

Gaza Crisis Page: How you can help - Mercy Corps

here

Start by Listening: Obama to George Mitchell

In a radio recording of Obama's message about this send-off he said "Start by listening...We Americans too often dictate"

The tone of this article captures this intention...Let's ALL PRAY!!!

Excerpt from article below: (Obama) placed a strong emphasis on the peacemaking efforts, which come at a time when many analysts rate the chances for Arab-Israeli peace as the worst in decades."The cause of peace in the Middle East is important to the United States and our national interests," Obama said. "It's important to me personally. It is important to Arabs and Jews. It is important to Christians, and Muslims, and Jews all around the world."

here

From the Los Angeles Times

Obama sends George Mitchell on Mideast peace mission

The president says the special Middle East envoy will speak for the White House in a search for 'progress, not just photo ops.'
By Paul Richter

6:41 PM PST, January 26, 2009

Reporting from Washington — President Obama dispatched his special Middle East envoy on his inaugural peacemaking trip Monday, declaring that former Sen. George J. Mitchell would speak for the White House in a search for "progress, not just photo ops."

Obama's public appearance with Mitchell and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was his second in five days and placed a strong emphasis on the peacemaking efforts, which come at a time when many analysts rate the chances for Arab-Israeli peace as the worst in decades.

"Now, understand that Sen. Mitchell is going to be fully empowered by me and fully empowered by Secretary Clinton," he said, appearing at the White House. "So when he speaks, he will be speaking for us."

Some analysts have warned that if the administration puts its prestige on the line and the current cease-fire between Israel and the militant group Hamas collapses, it could be an early black mark for the Obama team.

Daniel Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, said the announcement was intended to stress that Mitchell is speaking for Obama and to push back against anyone critical of the appointment. Sending Mitchell to the region also allows Obama to take action without "getting bogged down in the details."

"He can say, 'George is on it,' " Levy said.

Obama promised in his campaign to work for peace beginning early in his presidency. The flurry of action in his first week in office also addresses criticism that, as president-elect, he was detached from the Gaza Strip fighting.

"The cause of peace in the Middle East is important to the United States and our national interests," Obama said. "It's important to me personally. It is important to Arabs and Jews. It is important to Christians, and Muslims, and Jews all around the world."

Mitchell, who was named only last Thursday, left Monday for an eight-day trip to the Middle East and Europe. Mitchell will stop in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as well as Paris and London.

Obama hopes Mitchell can identify ways to "solidify the cease-fire, ensure Israel's security, also ensure that Palestinians in Gaza are able to get the basic necessities they need and that they can see a pathway towards long-term development that will be so critical in order for us to achieve a lasting peace."

The administration's ambitious peace push has been welcomed by many liberals, but has stirred some unease among more conservative supporters of Israel, who fear that the plans for "evenhandedness" mean that Israel will come under new pressure.

paul.richter@latimes.com

If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives.
TMS Reprints Article licensing and reprint options

Copyright 2009 Los Angeles Times

here

In the bonds of justice and peace: A legacy and challenge for Obama and for US citizenry

To see all those who paved the way for our President also to be a living witness "In the bonds of justice and peace" rather in the "vise of greed and war" see the key
here

Let's discuss here and elsewhere how we might best support Obama along the "righteous way"? Do add your comment as well...

Here's an hard-hitting quote printed above Jonathan Schell's latest published in the February 09,2009 edition of The Nation:

I see the work of gods who pile tower-high the pride of those who were nothing, and dash present grandeur down.
   --Euripides, in The Trojan Women,
    referring to the fall of Troy

" SOA 6" Standing Tall Against Torture in USA


"SOA 6" Sentenced to Federal Prison for Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the SOA/ WHINSEC -Today, on January 26, six human rights advocates appeared in a federal courthouse in Georgia. The "SOA 6," ranging in age from 21 to 68, were found "guilty" of carrying the protest against the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC) onto the Fort Benning military base. The six were among the thousands who gathered on November 22 and 23, 2008 outside the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia to demand a change in U.S. policy towards Latin America and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC.

The "SOA 6" spoke out clearly and powerful in court today. They made a compelling case for the closure of the school and creation of a culture of justice and peace, where there is no place for the SOA mindset that promotes military "solutions" to social and economic problems. The six spent the weekend preparing for their trials with a team of lawyers, legal workers and volunteers, and today they stood up for all of us working for a more just world.

The "SOA 6":
Kristin Holm, from Chicago, Illinois, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison and a $250 fine




(Right) Theresa Cusimano, 40, Denver, Colorado, found guilty and awaiting sentencing



(Left) Sr. Diane Pinchot, OSU, 63, from Cleveland, Ohio, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison




Al Simmons, 64, from Richmond, Virginia, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison




(Next to Last) Father Luis Barrios, 56, from North Bergen, NJ, was sentenced to 2 months in federal prison and a $250 fine





(Last) Louis Wolf, 68, from Washington, DC, found guilty and awaiting sentencing


Support the "SOA 6" and sign up for Lobby Days coming soon in DC:
here

NEW: Step in right direction? US envoy predicts 'direct diplomacy' with Iran

Here's the link for related video & item, you can forget the items from FOX unless you want clearly proven continual propaganda...

here

US envoy predicts 'direct diplomacy' with Iran
By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press Writer John Heilprin, Associated Press Writer Just in noon EST

UNITED NATIONS – President Barack Obama's administration will engage in "direct diplomacy" with Iran, the newly installed U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.

Not since before the 1979 Iranian revolution are U.S. officials believed to have conducted wide-ranging direct diplomacy with Iranian officials. But U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice warned that Iran must meet U.N. Security Council demands to suspend uranium enrichment before any talks on its nuclear program.

"The dialogue and diplomacy must go hand in hand with a very firm message from the United States and the international community that Iran needs to meet its obligations as defined by the Security Council. And its continuing refusal to do so will only cause pressure to increase," she told reporters during a brief question-and-answer session.

Her comments, reflecting Obama's signals for improved relations with America's foes after eight years under President George W. Bush, came shortly after meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on her first day in her new job.

Iran still considers the U.S. the "Great Satan," but a day after Obama was sworn in, it said it was "ready for new approaches by the United States." Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said his country would study the idea of allowing the U.S. to open a diplomatic office in Tehran, the first since 1979.

Rice said the U.S. remains "deeply concerned about the threat that Iran's nuclear program poses to the region, indeed to the United States and the entire international community."

"We look forward to engaging in vigorous diplomacy that includes direct diplomacy with Iran, as well as continued collaboration and partnership" with the other four permanent members of the Security Council — Britain, China, France and Russia — plus Germany, Rice said.

"And we will look at what is necessary and appropriate with respect to maintaining pressure toward that goal of ending Iran's nuclear program," she said.

In recent years, Iranian and American officials have negotiated in the same room on talks about Afghanistan that involved other countries' diplomats. They also talked face to face in Baghdad but the agenda was limited to Iraqi security.

Its About Humanity: BBC's Day of Shame

There may be two reasonable sides to this extremely serious conflict...I hope it gets worked through to a peaceful and humanitarian conclusion since I don't know what isolated USA would do without many of the excellent BBC reporters all through the night, especially the Muslim & Arabic reporters? Also, let's hope that soon Obama will be pictured clearly as someone who is about peace and cares more about the poor than this magazine indicates. There both some great and some worrisome signs...

here

GAZA War viewed beyond usual sources...

These items may indicate part of the reason for the turning of Palestinians to help from places like Iran because of the hard-hearted silence of too many Americans and others in the West who are ignoring even the most strategic concerns of leaving such an humanitarian crisis mostly to other countries...

Isn't this somewhat like why the Sandinistas in Nicaragua turned to Russia during the US-supported oppression and war on the poorest and most in need?

here

Go to read an article by Alastair Crooke on why Israel-US strategy is not working with Palestinians and other key countries and more on the War in Gaza
here

Also how about this one?

See the latest on GAZA from Dreyfuss in THE NATION...he begins:
"Anger is boiling over in the Middle East over Gaza, and -- exactly as I predicted --the result of the war has been to boost radicalism throughout the region..."
in his newest on The Nation...
Arabs Pushed to the Brink...
here

PAKISTAN: a larger concern than Afghanistan for the US?

mother nurses war-traumatized child

Photo of Pakistan key area where over 1,500 deaths in 19 months

Pakistan Poses a Growing Challenge for the Obama Administration JUST IN:
here

Deadly Blast hits Pakistani Town // Is this the first strike under Obama's watch?
here

President: Tribal Talks
here

My favorite Pakistani blogger who is also an historian and writer--see this overdue question:

Is America a Failed Democracy? (from the blogger-writer-historian above)
here

NOTE: I am looking for more from the above blogger and author of the recent book: -The Republic of Rumi- on the feminine. I am particularly interested in a continuation of his past commentary on Feminine archetypes in cinema. Perhaps in the near future we will see much more both in film and from this writer on a newer type as a role model for girls: a kind of feminine "Peace Warrior" who is attracted only to other Peace Warriors of all genders...?

Find various links to Pakistan media, etc.
here

Information & Broadcasting - Official
here

Who's Who in Pakistan history (find more items at The Republic of Rumi above)
here

HEADLINE: Crimes Against Child Soldiers - First Permanent International Court

Front Page Today - Monday, Jan 26, 2009:
here

The Audacity of Hope and Updates on GTMO/Chinese detainees & more...

The Audacity of Hope is the name of this image by Lewis Peake which was published in the SF Chronicle on Friday Jan 23. Last year he created some images for Reprieve based on Sami Al Hajj's designs--a separate project. See Comments below for some links to the 4-5 Sami Al Hajj's inspired pieces Lewis Peake created for the site, Reprieve.

For Updated and select items on Guantanamo items see GTMO Files in Disarray:

here


CHINESE DETAINEES(Uighurs)--



Background, Uighurs:
here

Find several recent & at least one older items by clicking:
here

here

Older (last autumn) on Uighers detainees
here

Older (last October) on Uighers detainees
here

Here's a note from Andy on doing best to support Obama's actions in terms of GTMO:

"As for Barack Obama, only time will tell, of course, but today is certainly his day, and I promise to give him as much support as I can offer to aid him in his promise to close Guantánamo, ban torture, and restore the United States to the rule of law."

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following to order books from the US & UK Go to
here
and
here Also find an RSS feed pop-up box for signing to receive free email articles.

According to Andy Worthington who wrote -The Guantanamo Files- and posts on his website: here - Sami Al Hajwas "was released last May, but it’s a measure of his influence that, although he was supposed to be taking part in “Two Sides, One Story,” a UK tour with Moazzam Begg and former Guantánamo guard Chris Arendt (organized by Cageprisoners), the British government has refused to give him a visa."

Go to Andy's site for much more on his ONGOING work and his book:
here

Finally, here is a link to an item I post here with some hesitance and yet, it's part of the dialogue and part of seeking to do ALL we can to make sure actions to END GTMO and other torture sites around the world are truly ACTIONS that result in the promises rather than rhetoric alone:
here

Also go to Cageprisoners dot org -- Also, check out this site as well regularly:
bordc dot org (scroll down once on this site - daily emails are available for free)

Current News from Bill of Rights Defense Committee:

1/26, Daphne Eviatar, Washington Independent, Torture Case Tests Obama Secrecy Policy

1/26, Amnesty International UK, EU ministers urged to help close Guantánamo

1/26, Associated Press, 3rd Trial Looms for Alleged Sears Tower Plotters

1/26, Peter Eisler, USA Today, Federal departments fall short on civil liberties

1/26, Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., Shane Harris, and Corine Hegland, Global Security Newswire, Obama Challenged to Move From War on Terror to Routine Vigilance

1/26, Media Matters for America, On Hannity, Rove falsely asserted that Army Field Manual prohibits good cop-bad cop interrogations

1/26, Charles Rault and Frederick P. Hitz, Isria, Interview - Frederick P. Hitz, former CIA Inspector General discusses his latest book "Why Spy? Espionage in an age of uncertainty"

Again, for all these, go...

here

Keep watching for more COMMENTS, including item on Lewis Peake cartoons (based on Sami Al Hajj's drawings)

Art Connects Gaza to Sabra and Shatila

This article below needs to be "mitigated" by a recent radio interview with one of the maker's of this film story who commented that although we seldom know what's going to be happening currently in the world when a film finally "comes out", sometimes timing is quite important in order to see the connections with current situations which similarly deserve the world's outrage such as Gaza. Maybe one of the biggest blind spots today is smart folk's inability to see parallels? Connie



In “Waltz With Bashir” Art Connects Gaza to Sabra and Shatila

by James M. Wall

Waltz With Bashir, an animated documentary film by Israeli Director Ari Folman, arrived in U.S. theaters during the recent Israeli invasion of Gaza.

During the invasion, Gary Kamiya wrote a review of the film for Salon.com. He entitled it: “What Waltz With Bashir can teach us about Gaza”. Here is an excerpt from that review:

. . . . It is clear that [in the Gaza invasion] Israel has no strategic vision, no idea of what its onslaught is supposed to ultimately achieve or how to end it. When it finally ends its assault, Hamas will emerge from the rubble, Iran and Hezbollah will be empowered, Egypt and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will be weakened, and America’s standing in the region will be lower than ever. . . .

. . . . [I]n a strange case of art imitating life, at the same time that Israel is blasting a defenseless population enclosed in a tiny area, an Israeli film has appeared that depicts an earlier war in which Israel was complicit in an appalling massacre.

America’s cultural gatekeepers have rightfully hailed Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir as a tour de force and cinematic breakthrough. On Sunday night, as Israeli warplanes carried out 12 bombing raids in Gaza, “Waltz With Bashir” won the Golden Globe Award for best foreign film.

Most people who see Folman’s stunning film will probably not connect it with Israel’s current war. But if they dig a little deeper, they might realize that the film’s moral lessons apply not just to the terrible events that took place 28 years ago but also to what is happening today.

Waltz With Bashir is about Folman’s attempt to recover his lost memory of his experiences as a soldier during Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon, and in particular the Sabra and Shatilla slaughter of Palestinian civilians in two refugee camps.

Carried out by Lebanese Christian militiamen, under Israeli protection and with its leaders’ complicity, it was one of the most notorious massacres of the 20th century. . .

(To read Gary Kamiya’s complete Salon review, click here)

TomDispatch dot com, under the editorial direction of Tom Engelhardt, is publishing two long excerpts from a graphic memoir, Waltz with Bashir, which was developed in tandem with the film.

The novel will be in bookstores in a few weeks...The first TomDispatch excerpt is currently on line; the second will be posted by TomDispatch next Saturday.

Waltz With Bashir is one of five nominees for the Academy Award category of Best Foreign Language Film of 2008. This recognition could generate controversy when the winners are announced Sunday, February 22.

In his review of the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, critic Ron Henderson had this to say in his Wall Writings post about Waltz With Bashir:

As though to underscore Israeli complicity in the massacre of hundreds (estimated as high as 3,000) Palestinian civilians by Lebanese Phalangists in the Beirut refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, soldier-filmmaker Ari Folman shifts away from animation in the final scene to jarring actual documentary footage of the few survivors leaving the camps. As a statement of conscience and shame, guilt and expiation, Waltz with Bashir stands high on the list of the best antiwar films made.

Art and history come together in Gaza and in the Lebanon invasion that led to Sabra and Shatila. Is the connection absolute? Of course not, no historical parallel is ever absolute. But as Gary Kamiya writes, there are “painful similarities”:

. . . . Israel’s moral culpability for the 1982 massacre is not the same as its moral responsibility for the civilians killed in the current war. But there are painful similarities. Sooner or later the patriotic war fervor will fade, and Israelis will realize that their leaders sent them to kill hundreds of innocent people for nothing. And perhaps in 2036, some haunted filmmaker will release “Waltz With Hamas.” . . . .

Anthony H. Cordesman concludes his analysis of “The War in Gaza”, for the Center for Strategic and International Studies with blunt answers to difficult questions:

. . . . Has Israel somehow blundered into a steadily escalating war without a clear strategic goal or at least one it can credibly achieve? Will Israel end in empowering an enemy in political terms that it defeated in tactical terms? Will Israel’s actions seriously damage the US position in the region, any hope of peace, as well as moderate Arab regimes and voices in the process?

To be blunt, the answer so far seems to be yes. To paraphrase a comment about the British government’s management of the British Army in World War I, lions seem to be led by donkeys. If Israel has a credible ceasefire plan that could really secure Gaza, it is not apparent. If Israel has a plan that could credibly destroy and replace Hamas, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to help the Gazans and move them back towards peace, it is not apparent. If Israel has any plan to use US or other friendly influence productively, it not apparent.

As we have seen all too clearly from US mistakes, any leader can take a tough stand and claim that tactical gains are a meaningful victory. If this is all that Olmert, Livni, and Barak have for an answer, then they have disgraced themselves and damaged their country and their friends. If there is more, it is time to make such goals public and demonstrate how they can be achieved. The question is not whether the IDF learned the tactical lessons of the [Lebanon] fighting in 2006. It is whether Israel’s top political leadership has even minimal competence to lead them.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

INSIDE GAZA Post-Israeli War on Gaza Photographs- Many...

here

Keep watching for more reports from Sameh Habeeb...look for INSIDE GAZA ....

Abbas and Haniyeh Joined Protest in Bil'in via Masks

Three injured and dozens suffered tear gas inhalation during the Bil'in Weekly Demonstration
Friday, 23rd 2009
The residents of Bil'in today gathered after the Friday prayer in an act of solidarity with the people of Gaza and insisting that the village is still resisting the wall and settlement building. They were joined by international activists and the Israeli Anarchists Against the Wall, all opposing the war on Gaza.
The protesters carried all the Palestinian party flags as call for national unity to stand against the Israeli occupation. Protesters put on masks of Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh and walked toward the wall holding hands as a hopeful symbol that the Palestinian internal conflict will end and they will unite against the Israeli occupation once again.
The protest marched toward the wall which is built on Bil'in's land. The Israeli army was behind concrete blocks. When the protesters opened the gate, the army immediately fired tear gas canisters. The army chased the demonstrators back to the village using rubber coated steel bullets and tear gas. Dozens suffered tear gas inhalation and three were shot with live bullets the three: Spain journalist, and Japanese journalist his name Kazuaki Kiryu and Khames Fathi Aburahma was shot in the head with a live bullet shot from the new type of bullets called 0,2 the two has been transferred to Sheikh Zayed hospital in Ramallah for treatment.
here
Thank you for you continued support,

Iyad Burnat- Head of Popular Commitee in Bilin
Head of Friends of Freedom and Justice in Bilin

Email- ffj.bilin@yahoo.com
Mobile- (00972) (0) 547847942
Office- (00972) (2) 2489129
Fax- (00972) (2) 2489129

bilin-ffj dot org

February 15-17, 2009: Lobby Days and SOA Watch Encuentro in Washington, DC

Join human rights activists from across the country in Washington, DC and lobby your Member of Congress to get on board for the closing of the School of the Americas (SOA/WHINSEC).

With 35 Representatives who voted to continue funding the SOA/WHINSEC losing their seats in Congress on November 4th, we are in a great position to pressure the new Congress to permanently shut down the school in 2009. The last vote to defund the SOA/WHINSEC, in 2007, lost by a margin of only six votes.

Make Your Voice Heard: Ensure True Change in Latin America Policy
Grassroots activists and organizers will converge on Washington, DC calling for a new Latin America policy and opposing militarization.

SOA Watch is working with other Latin America Solidarity and social justice groups on a series of events from February 15-17, 2009 to push the U.S. Congress and the White House to close the School of the Americas and to bring real change to U.S. Latin America policy.
Schedule of Events
Saturday, February 14
7pm Meet and Greet at the SOA Watch office

Sunday, February 15
9am - 4:30pm SOA Watch Encuentro / Strategy Meeting
dinner break 4:30pm - 6:00pm
6:00pm - 9:00pm Anti-Militarization Program
organized in cooperation with the Latin America Solidarity Coalition (LASC) and the North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)

Monday, February 16
9:00am - 11:00am Grassroots Lobby Training
1:00pm - 4:00pm Arts and Action Workshop
Lobby Visits and Street Theater on Capitol Hill

Tuesday, February 17
Lobbying on Capitol Hill
Click Here to Register
for the February 15-17 Events
Educate and mobilize your community!
# Order the SOA Watch DVD Compilation and organize a film screening for your friends, neighbors and co-workers.
# Order Outreach Palm Cards: Spread the word about the SOA/ WHINSEC in your church, school, union local or meeting with the new SOA Watch Palm Card. The cards have basic information about the School of the Americas on one side and information about the Obama Petition and the February events in DC on the other.
SOA Watch Palm Cards:

Order the palm cards in packs of 120 for $6 including shipping and handling.
Click here to order online or send a $6 check or cash to SOA Watch, PO Box 4566, Washington, DC 20017

Official: UN May Prosecute Bush Administration, Regardless Of US Action

By David Edwards

The UN's special torture rapporteur called on the US Tuesday to pursue former president George W. Bush and defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld for torture and bad treatment of Guantanamo prisoners.
here

===
Following are items related to the theme above...

Sunset on GTMO...
here

Well, to respond to the following, Obama's tone toward torture & the rule of law is a huge start in the right direction..." but of course a lot more is UP to us!
Connie, blogger here..still this info & opinion is surely important part of the mix?

Obama's Orders Leave Framework of Torture, Indefinite Detention Intact

By Tom Eley

While the media is portraying these orders as a repudiation of the detention and interrogation policies of the Bush administration, they actually change little. They essentially represent a public relations effort to refurbish the image of the United States abroad after years of torture and extralegal detentions and shield high-ranking American officials from potential criminal prosecution.
here

Also, keep watching for more on this from the US National Lawyer's Guild President, Dr. Marjorie Cohn:
here

More Than Charisma by Bob Herbert NYTimes

January 24, 2009 Op-Ed Columnist

Boston

On a rainy October night in 2006, I took a cab to the John F. Kennedy library here to conduct a very public interview. As we pulled up, the driver asked, “Who’s on the program?”

“Barack Obama,” I said.

“Oh,” he replied, “our next president.”

I mentioned this to then-Senator Obama during the program and he got a good laugh out of it. He hadn’t yet announced that he was running. The capacity crowd in the auditorium was clear about what it wanted. It cheered every mention of a possible run. Obama-mania was already well under way, and it would only grow.

I was back at the library this week to interview Gwen Ifill about her new book, “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama,” and I wondered aloud about this continuing love affair with all things Obama — the feverish excitement, the widespread joy and pride, and the remarkable surge of hope in an otherwise downbeat, if not depressing, period.

Where was all this coming from? What was it about?

Yes, as everyone agrees, Mr. Obama is handsome, fit, smart, and a great speaker. As Ms. Ifill noted in her book, “Voters are attracted to youth, vitality and change.”

And Americans tend to get giddy over winners, especially underdogs who take the measure of a foe thought to be impregnable — in this case, the mighty forces carefully assembled over several years by the Clintons.

And it’s not just the president himself who looks good. Even the shameless purveyors of fantasy at central casting would blush at the thought of crafting a family as picture perfect as the Obamas. So, yes, there is an awful lot to like about the Obama phenomenon.

But I’ve seen charismatic politicians and pretty families come and go like sunrises and sunsets over the years. There was something more that was making people go ga-ga over Obama. Something deeper.

We’ve been watching that something this week, and it’s called leadership. Mr. Obama has been feeding the almost desperate hunger in this country for mature leadership, for someone who is not reckless and clownish, shortsighted and self-absorbed.

However you feel about his policies, and there are people grumbling on the right and on the left, Mr. Obama has signaled loudly and clearly that the era of irresponsible behavior in public office is over.

No more crazy wars. No more torture, and no more throwing people in prison without even the semblance of due process. No more napping while critical problems like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, global warming, and economic inequality in the United States grow steadily worse.

“We remain a young nation,” Mr. Obama said in his Inaugural Address, “but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.”

On Wednesday, his first full day in office, the president took steps to make the federal government more transparent, signaling immediately that the country would move away from the toxic levels of secrecy that marked the Bush years.

“Transparency and rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” he said. It was a commitment to responsible behavior, and a challenge to the public to hold the Obama administration accountable. It reminded me of the wonderful line written into a federal appeals court ruling in 2002 by Judge Damon Keith:

“Democracies die behind closed doors.”

This has been the Obama way, to set a responsible example and then to call on others to follow his mature lead. In Iowa, after his victory in the Democratic caucuses a year ago, he promised to be “a president who will be honest about the choices and challenges we face, who will listen to you and learn from you, even when we disagree, who won’t just tell you what you want to hear, but what you need to know.”

In a cynical age, the inclination is to dismiss this stuff as so much political rhetoric. But Mr. Obama carries himself in a way that suggests he means what he says, which gives him great credibility when he urges Americans to work hard and make sacrifices, not just for themselves and their families but for the common good — and when he tells black audiences that young men need to hitch up their trousers and behave themselves, and that families need to turn off the TV so the kids can do their homework.

Or when he says of the many serious challenges facing the nation, as he did in his Inaugural Address: “They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met.”

The bond is growing between the nation and its new young leader. Let’s hope it’s a mature romance that weathers the long haul.

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

ISRAEL'S SHAME: GAZA: VIDEO & More

Trying to establish normalacy and who's in charge...

Gaza children back to school in beginning of fragile truce...

here

VIDEO posted recently on BBC surprisingly!

From the blogsite: Organized Rage: ISRAEL'S SHAME

After watching the above video it is clear Israel's War on Gaza became less ... IDF generals must have told PM Olmert and Tzipi Livni that like the PLO before ...
here

ORGANIZED RAGE
The View from the Tower Block
Friday, 23 January 2009
Video: Israel's Shame.

Here is the copy from Organized Rage -- however, the BBC gets the surprising credit!

After watching the above video it is clear Israel’s War on Gaza became less about destroying Hamas than punishing the Palestinian people for supporting them. (AND MANY MANY DIDN'T & DON'T CONSIDER THEMSELVES A PART OF HAMAS METHODS, interjected by blogger, Connie of oneheartforpeace blog) IDF generals must have told PM Olmert and Tzipi Livni that like the PLO before it, Hamas has become deeply embedded at all levels within Palestinian society and its destruction was an impossibility without the IDF taking untold dead and wounded.

One only has to see in the video the massive scale of the destruction that the IDF has inflicted on the ordinary people of Gaza to understand that Israel has committed war crimes in its ‘war on the Gazan Palestinians’. Some people have condemned those of us who have compared Israel’s recent behavior with the Hitlerite nazis, claiming we are being insensitive and plain wrong to make such accusations. In reply I would say watch this video, true the killing is not on an industrial scale that the Nazis inflicted on the Jewish people, but it is comparable to the reprisals the nazis carried out against all who opposed them within occupied Europe. As with the Nazis the IDF MASSACRED WHOLE FAMILIES IN THEIR OWN HOMES,destroyed villages, farmland and crops and fired heavy ordinance into built up areas WITHOUT A SHRED OF MERCY.

The scale of the destruction, much of which apparently took place just prior to Israel’s ‘ceasefire’ and withdrawal, tells me much of it was done in rage, unable to defeat or even weaken Hamas determination to resist, the IDF turned with a Nazi like ferocity on unarmed civilians and their property and punished them for their solidarity with the combined Palestinian resistance forces.

"A slave-owner who through cunning and violence shackles a slave in chains, and a slave who through cunning and violence breaks the chains – let not the contemptible eunuchs tell us that they are equals before a court of morality!"

Blog Archive from above site, Organized Rage...has the following...for Jan-Feb

Obituary:Lasantha Wickrematunge; Journalist, Edito...
Institutional racism is still inherent within the ...
G.W.Bush: Fiddled in. Drummed out.
A pro Israel stitch up is the last thing the Middl...
The Palestinian's prove to the world they will not...
It takes all sorts to build a movement: Stop the S...
The Upper echelons of the British Armed Forces are...
AN EYE FOR AN EYELASH: THE GAZA MASSACRE.
Israel has squandered the worlds support by the br...
Obituary: Tony Gregory; A true servant of the Work...
Solidarity with migrant workers.
Israel will never 'voluntarily' allow an independe...
Israel implements a campaign of mass murder in Gaz...
BBC has little real interest in the death of a Pal...

THIS VIDEO HAS NOW BEEN CENSORED BY YOU TUBE.

Here are some of the links you will find on this sits:
jews sans frontiers
John McDonagh: Irish American Broadcaster, activist and New York cabbie
Israel-Palestine/Occupation Magazine
Israel/Haaretz
Palestine-Israel/Bitter Lemons
Palestine/Electronic intifada
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
Conflict and politics in the north of Ireland
Gush shalom
Palestine chronicle

Thursday, January 22, 2009

INSPIRATION for the day!




GO here to find out more about Edward's work . Read his AMAZING story. See heart-warming and soul-ripping photos of children. I have to pinch myself to realise that Edward, once a prisoner who heard the cries of men facing execution from the next wall-- has emerged healed and forgiven enough to do so much for others. He was also a part of the last TEXAS Journey of Hope (I was honored to be with him during much of this very special series of events!). He also was a part of a team who spoke to the UN via Amnesty I's campaign to abolish the death penalty and much more...

He is, believe it or not, a man who was so long on death row in Uganda for a crime he didn't commit. A most unique story to say the least...Now he is now supervising such a project as this!

Bless you, Edward -- hope to say more about you and this project very soon...

Thank you for your vision to help prevent crimes which come out of poverty and anger and children who may otherwise one day end up on death row...

Connie

Help Obama help Gaza



here

Bill Moyers Reflects & INSIDE GAZA: A child full of light will never see again

Bill Moyers reflects on Middle East Violence (graphic video - be aware)
here

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published Wednesday, January 21, 2009

As a Gazan journalist who is devastated by the holocaust the Israel army is perpetrating against us, I find myself at loss. The list of horrendous crimes committed by the Israeli army against Palestinians is endless and the crimes are countless.

Should I write about the 45 evacuees who were massacred in their refuge at the United Nations-administered al-Fakhoura school? Should I write about the most horrifying crime when Red Cross personnel found four starving children who had spent four days with the dead bodies of their mothers and other relatives in the ruins of a house in the al-Zeitoun neighborhood?

Should I talk about the mass killing of the al-Dayaa family when 15 family members were killed when a "smart" bomb gently hit their five-story building?

What about the sadistic crime when the father of the al-Samuni family was executed before his wife and children? Or the carnage committed against the extended al-Samuni family when 29 members of the clan were concentrated in one house which was bombed and collapsed on top of them, killing them all?

These and so many other crimes have already been documented by Amnesty International and other human rights institutions. Many more are still untold stories. I can tell one story with my own words and my own camera -- that of eight-year-old Louay Sobeh. Little Louay could not know what this war had in store for him or his family.

About a week ago Louay and his family fled their house in Beit Lahiya town in northern Gaza. They were under heavy Israeli artillery fire as the Israeli army invaded the area at the outset of Israeli ground military operation. Sorrowfully, Louay started to narrate what he witnessed:

"Israeli shells started to rain down beside my house in northern Gaza. Rockets started to get closer to my house and many people were killed. My house got some shrapnel and part of rockets. Then, my grandmother and my family fled to Jabaliya where we sheltered in one of the [Untied Nations] schools. We stayed for three days where it was very very cold. When we fled our house in the night we didn't bring any luggage or clothes or food. My father, brother and other family members decided to go back to our house in the north to bring some clothes and food. We went early in the morning by car then all of a sudden people beside our car started to run left and right. I heard explosions and I felt as if I were flying in the sky. And I found myself in the hospital."

The Israeli bombing of Louay's father's car killed one of his brothers and injured others. The shocking fact is that Louay still doesn't know is that he lost his eyesight completely. He will never be able to see the light again! His grandmother was beside him trying to make him feel better. He still doesn't know that his brother was killed.

Before I left his room Louay told me, "I hope you visit me again and you will go with me to take footage and photos of the place where the car was hit. I will also make a scene for you about how I flew. But I need you to help me recover quickly so I can go to school again and play with some of my friends. I don't know if they are alive or not."

I was shocked by his talent and affected by his words. It's very brutal when a child like Louay becomes a victim for no reason. There must be a way for Louay and all the children of Palestine to have peace and rest, instead of the fire and hell they have witnessed.

Louay is one of the lucky ones: he is expected to be taken to Saudi Arabia to receive medical treatment sponsored by the Saudi king. For too many children such aid is too late and it still won't bring the light back to Louay's eyes.

Sameh A. Habeeb is a photojournalist, humanitarian and peace
activist based in Gaza, Palestine. He writes for several news websites on a freelance basis.
Posted by Sameh A. Palestine at 3:26 PM

Monday, January 19, 2009
International journalists to arrive in Gaza Tuesday for fact-finding mission; will share findings with UN

Ramallah – Ma’an – Eight international journalists will arrive in Gaza Tuesday, traveling via Egypt, with the mission to fact-find and record first-hand Israeli violations against the people of the Gaza Strip.

Secretary General of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate Na’eem At-Tubasi confirmed Sunday that delegation, including Arab, French, Norwegian and Italian reporters, is en route to Gaza. The delegation will be followed by an investigating committee from the International Journalist Federation, which will arrive next week.

The outcomes of both investigations will presented to the UN and Human Rights Committee, said At-Tubasi. He indicated that the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate will work to assist the reporters, including providing them with flack-jackets.

At-Tubasi condemned the Israeli attacks on journalists that occurred during the onslaught, which killed five, including Jalal Nashwan, Ala’ Murtaja, Al’a As-Silawi , Basem Farej, Ihab Al- Wehidi, and injured dozens of others, “despite of all of the International conventions to protect the journalists”

He also condemned the Israeli decision to prohibit international journalists access to Gaza, saying it was an act aimed at hiding the nature of their crimes. For those who were manipulated y the Israeli “PR machine,” At-Tubasi said he hoped the true story would cancel out their attempts to hide the massacres in Gaza.
Posted by Sameh A. Palestine at 1:19 PM 7 comments
Gaza hospital appeals for nursing reinforcements
Gaza hospital appeals for nursing reinforcements

Nasser Medical Compound in Khan Younis issued an urgent appeal for nurses in the Gaza Strip, according to a statement.

The hospital said it is calling on Arab nursing unions and international organizations working in healthcare to “urgently send nursing staff” to the Gaza Strip to fill a large void there.

A number of nurses, specifically in surgery, intensive care and emergency services, are particularly in need due to fatigue brought on by three weeks of intense violence in Gaza.

The appeal came as a Jordanian delegation of medical staff arrived to treat the injured in Israel’s war on Gaza.

According to Bassam Musalaman, the head of the compound, the delegation was sent from a Jordanian nursing union after coordinating with counterparts in Khan Younis.

Musalaman noted that the Jordanian delegation is composed of four nurses now working “around the clock” to aid Palestinian staff.

From: Maan
Posted by Sameh A. Palestine at 1:10 PM


GAZA: Alarm Spreads Over Use of Lethal New Weapons




Pray for an end to war


Photo is: Gaza Hospital


Amnesty International's chief researcher for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Donatella Rovera, told IPS in Beit Lahiya that Israel's use of white phosphorus and other "area weapons" on civilian populations amounted to war crimes.

"The kind of weapons used and the manner in which they were used indicates prima facie evidence of war crimes," she said. (excerpt from article below)

Published on Thursday, January 22, 2009 by Inter Press Service
by Erin Cunningham

GAZA CITY - Eighteen-year-old Mona Al-Ashkar says she did not immediately know the first explosion at the United Nations (UN) school in Beit Lahiya had blown her left leg off. There was smoke, then chaos, then the pain and disbelief set in once she realized it was gone - completely severed by the weapon that hit her.

Medics wheel a wounded Palestinian youth into al-Shifa hospital following an Israeli military strike in Gaza City. Israel is responsible for "large and indiscriminate human atrocities" in Gaza, and the world medical establishment is a silent accomplice in the bloodshed, The Lancet charged on Wednesday. (AFP/Mehdi Fedouach)Mona is one of the many patients among the 5,500 injured that have international and Palestinian doctors baffled by the type of weaponry used in the Israeli operation. High-profile human rights organizations like Amnesty International are accusing Israel of war crimes.

Mona's doctors at Gaza City's Al-Shifa hospital found no shrapnel in her leg, and it looked as though it had been "sliced right off with a knife."

"We are not sure exactly what type of weapon can manage to do that immediately and so cleanly," said Dr. Sobhi Skaik, consultant surgeon general at Al-Shifa hospital. "What is happening is frightening. It's possible the Israeli army was using Gaza to experiment militarily."

Both international organizations and human rights groups, including the UN, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have condemned Israel's use of unconventional weapons in civilian areas of the Gaza Strip.

Amnesty International's chief researcher for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, Donatella Rovera, told IPS in Beit Lahiya that Israel's use of white phosphorus and other "area weapons" on civilian populations amounted to war crimes.

"The kind of weapons used and the manner in which they were used indicates prima facie evidence of war crimes," she said.

Israel announced Wednesday it would be launching its own probe into reported use of white phosphorus, but has so far refused to comment further.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, said it would look into a claim made by the ambassadors of a number of Arab nations that Israel used depleted uranium in its recent attacks on Gaza.

Local doctors say a number of both widespread and unusual injuries may indicate that new types of weapons were used on the Gaza population during the war. Health officials are seeing wounds they have never seen before, or at least not on such a massive scale.

"There has been a significant loss of life here in Gaza for reasons that are unexplainable medically," said Dr. Skaik.

Mona's injury is characteristic of Dense Inert Metal Explosives (DIME). DIMEs are munitions that, packed with tungsten powder, produce an intense explosion at about the level of the knee, with signs of severe heat at the point of amputation.

"If you ask a patient how it happened, how their leg was removed, they won't know," Dr. Skaik said. "They'll say that a rocket or missile exploded and took only their lower limbs off."

Once in the body, tungsten is both difficult to detect and extremely carcinogenic, and can produce an aggressive form of cancer, according to both military experts.

Dr. Skaik says the Al-Shifa hospital alone has seen between 100 to 150 patients with this type of injury. Over 50 patients at Al-Shifa had two or more limbs severed, he says.

But because Gaza's hospitals are so poorly equipped, it has been nearly impossible so far to test properly for the substances and count accurately how many wounded Palestinians may have been hit with this weapon.

The Norwegian doctor Mads Gilbert who worked at Al-Shifa hospital during the siege confirmed to journalists that the injuries were aligned with those produced by DIME explosives.

Human rights groups say Israel used the weapon for the first time in Lebanon in 2006.

What is worrying health officials even more, however, is that some of the patients' organs are being ruptured with little or no sign of a shrapnel entry point.

This is something they have never seen before, they say, and also something they do not know how to treat.

"Normal shrapnel has a clear path, with both an entry and an exit point," said Dr. Mohamed Al-Ron, another surgeon at Al-Shifa hospital.

"But someone's entire abdomen will be ripped open, and only after searching will we find a miniscule hole in the skin. Then we will find small black dots all over the organ, but we don't know what they are."

It is an indication, he continued, that whatever is entering the body is exploding and doing the damage once it is inside. Multiple organs will fail, and will continue to fail even after surgery removes any shrapnel.

"We are consulting with international colleagues, and they are confirming that there is something unusual going on with these cases," said Dr. Skaik.

"We have seen plenty of nails, of metal shrapnel and foreign metallic parts, but there was never violence of this character or something that continued to damage even after the parts of the weapon were removed. What is being intentionally created is a population of handicapped people."

Some of the injuries, including multiple organ failure, mutilation and severed limbs, are so debilitating that Dr. Karim Hosni, an Egyptian doctor volunteering at the Al-Naser hospital in Khan Younis, says he wishes he could just end his patients' misery.

"Sometimes I wish my patients would just die," he said. "Their injuries are so horrifying, that I know they will now have to lead terrible and painful lives."

Copyright © 2009 IPS-Inter Press Service

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Article printed from www.CommonDreams.org

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