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US relationship with Pak 'complicated': Holbrooke

Posted by Admin on October 3, 2010

Sat, Oct 2 12:25 PM
Amidst reports of strains in US-Pakistan ties in view of incidents like NATO air strikes in areas bordering Afghanistan, American special envoy for the region, Richard Holbrooke, has acknowledged that the overall relationship between the two countries is complicated.

“The overall relationship with Pakistan is complicated, more complicated than any strategic relationship I have ever been involved in. But at the end of the day, success in Afghanistan, however you define success, is not achievable unless Pakistan is part of the solution, not part of the problem,” he told ABC News.

“… we’re going to work with the Pakistanis, at least as long I’m involved in this because I believe it’s the right policy and I know that the administration does, too. That doesn’t mean we’re not without frustrations….” Holbrooke said when asked about a report in ‘The Washington Post’ which

said there is strain in relationship between the two countries.

On the current border situation, he said he does not believe that it is going to change the fundamental relationship between the two countries.

“There were apparently some events that crossed the border in an area which … is complicated and very rough terrain,” Holbrooke said.

“It was very unfortunate. And an investigation is going on in that by NATO as it should and the secretary-general of NATO has expressed his regret about it and I would echo that. But I do not think it will change the fundamentals of the relationship,” he said.

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Biden visits Iraq to mark formal end to US combat

Posted by Admin on August 30, 2010

BAGHDAD – Vice President Joe Biden returned to Iraq Monday to mark this week’s formal end to U.S. combat operations and push the country’s leaders to end a six-month postelection stalemate blocking formation of a new government.

Joe Biden, Ray Odierno

Wednesday’s ceremony will signal a shift toward a greater U.S. diplomatic role as the military mission dwindles seven years after the American invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

Underscoring the shift, officials said Biden will make a new appeal to Iraqi leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to end the political deadlock and seat a new government. March 7 parliamentary elections left Iraq without a clear winner, and insurgents have exploited the uncertainty to hammer Iraqi security forces in near-daily attacks.

Biden and al-Maliki will meet Tuesday morning “to discuss the political situation and withdrawal, and Iraqis taking over responsibility for security,” the prime minister’s adviser, Yasin Majeed, told The Associated Press.

It was the vice president’s sixth trip to Iraq since he was elected and, officially, he came to preside over a military change-of-command ceremony. On Wednesday, Gen. Ray Odierno ends more than five years in Iraq and hands over the reins as commander of U.S. forces here to Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin. Austin also has served extensively in Iraq, most recently as commander of troop operations in 2008-09.

But the Sept. 1 ceremony also marks the start of the so-called “Operation New Dawn” — symbolizing the beginning of the end of the American military’s mission in Iraq since invading in March 2003.

Just under 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq — down from a peak of nearly 170,000 at the height of the 2007 military surge that is credited with turning the tide in Iraq as it teetered on the brink of civil war. Additionally, U.S. troops no longer will be allowed to go on combat missions unless requested and accompanied by Iraqi forces.

Under a security agreement between the two nations, all U.S. forces must leave Iraq by the end of 2011. But the Obama administration, sensitive to charges of American abandonment, has directed its diplomats to step into the void and help Iraq’s weak government, economy and other institutions get back on their feet for years to come.

Threats still remain.

Al-Maliki last week put Iraq on its highest level of alert for possible attacks by al-Qaida and Saddam’s former Baath Party loyalists in the days leading up to the U.S. ceremony on Wednesday. An Iraqi intelligence official said suicide bombers are believed to have entered Iraq with plans to strike unspecified targets in Baghdad, the capital.

And on the eve of Biden’s arrival, Iraqi police said two mortar rounds landed in the capital’s Green Zone, where the parliament and many foreign embassies are housed behind blast walls, steel gates and barbed wire. The rounds landed near the U.S. Embassy but did not kill or injure anyone, police said.

All Iraqi security officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they was not authorized to discuss sensitive information with the media.

Al-Maliki, a Shiite, is struggling to keep his job after his political alliance narrowly came in second place to the Sunni-backed Iraqiya coalition in the March 7 vote.

U.S. diplomats have encouraged a power-sharing agreement between Iraqiya and al-Maliki’s State of Law alliance. Together, they would control a majority of parliament and win the right to choose the new government’s leaders.

But al-Maliki and Iraqiya’s leader, former Premier Ayad Allawi, both want to be prime minister. So far, neither has backed down — creating a political impasse and leading to back-room jockeying by hard-line Shiite groups for a larger share of power.

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Big Oil makes war on the Earth

Posted by Admin on July 22, 2010

Big Oil makes war on the Earth
By Ellen Cantarow

If you live on the Gulf Coast, welcome to the real world of oil – and just know that you’re not alone. In the Niger Delta and the Ecuadorian Amazon, among other places, your emerging hell has been the living hell of local populations for decades.

Even as I was visiting those distant and exotic spill locales via book, article, and YouTube, you were going through your very public nightmare. Three federal appeals court judges with financial and other ties to big oil were rejecting the Barack Obama administration’s proposed drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico. Pollution from the BP spill there was seeping into Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans. Clean-up crews were

discovering that a once-over of beaches isn’t nearly enough: somehow, the oil just keeps reappearing.

Endangered sea turtles and other creatures were being burnt alive in swaths of ocean (“burn fields”) ignited by BP to “contain” its catastrophe. The lives and livelihoods of fishermen and oyster-shuckers were being destroyed. Disease warnings were being issued to Gulf residents and alarming toxin levels were beginning to be found in clean-up workers.

None of this would surprise inhabitants of either the Niger Delta or the Amazon rain forest. Despite the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969 and the Exxon Valdez in 1989, Americans are only now starting to wake up to the fate that, for half a century, has befallen the Delta and the Amazon, both ecosystems at least as rich and varied as the Gulf of Mexico.

The Niger Delta region, which faces the Atlantic in southern Nigeria, is the world’s third-largest wetland. As with shrimp and oysters in the Gulf, so its mangrove forests, described as “rain forests by the sea”, shelter all sorts of crustaceans. The Amazon rain forest, the Earth’s greatest nurturer of biodiversity, covers more than two billion square miles and provides this planet with about 20% of its oxygen. We are, in other words, talking about the despolation-by-oil not of bleak backlands, but of some of this planet’s greatest natural treasures.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Mattis New Centcom Commander

Posted by Admin on July 15, 2010

I’m sure the appointment of Gen. James Mattis, previously head of U.S. Joint Forces Command, to succeed Gen. David Petraus at Centcom makes sense somehow but his gaffes in past commands dismay me.  The video tells the story and the article below it amplifies.

Among them:

“Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know it’s a helluva hoot. I’ll be right up front with you. I like brawling. You go into Afghanistan, you get guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil … guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

Where is discernment here? Where is due process?  How does a crime perpetrated by some people translate into a death sentence for all people?

The clip of his speech is being shown throughout the Muslim world. Gen. Mattis moves into a position that depends on trust. I can’t say I’m optimistic about his chances of success.

It’s fun to kill in Afghanistan, says top US commander

By Kim Sengupta, Defence Correspondent

10 July 2010

The Independent

http://tinyurl.com/3ae6svx

The US military, still recovering from the shock of the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, its top commander in Afghanistan – is facing fresh problems over revelations that another top commander declared that it was “fun to shoot people” in Afghanistan.

A video of General James Mattis making his comments was yesterday spreading through the Muslim world at a fraught time in Afghanistan for the US and it’s Western allies. General Mattis has been named as successor to General David Petreaus as head of US Central Command. General Petraeus is moving to Afghanistan after McChrystal’s sacking over derogatory remarks made about President Obama to Rolling Stone magazine. But General Mattis has yet to be confirmed by the US Senate. The general led the controversial US military assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004.

The comments which have come back to haunt him were made at a leadership seminar in 2005. He said: “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know it’s a helluva hoot. I’ll be right up front with you. I like brawling. You go into Afghanistan, you get guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil … guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

Robert Gates, the US Defence Secretary, said that the remarks were made five years ago and General Mattis had learnt his lesson. But one senior American officer serving in Kabul, said: “This is not what we want to see happen after a very difficult time in the campaign. But we don’t think the Senate will block his appointment.

“The fact is people in the forces tend not to speak like bishops. We’ll have to make clear to Afghans that what he was talking about related to the Taliban, who oppress women, and certainly not Afghans and Muslims as a whole.”

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A Plague Upon The World: The USA is a "Failed State"

Posted by Admin on June 8, 2010

Interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research, June 2, 2010
– 2010-06-01

Interview with Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary US Treasury, Associate Editor Wall Street Journal, Professor of Political Economy Center for Strategic and International Studies Georgetown University Washington DC.

Question:  Dr. Roberts,  the United States is regarded as the most successful state in the world today. What is responsible for American success?

Dr. Roberts:  Propaganda. If truth be known, the US is a failed state. More about that later. The US owes its image of success to: (1) the vast lands and mineral resources that the US “liberated” with violence from the native inhabitants, (2) Europe’s, especially Great Britain’s, self-destruction in World War I and World War II, and (3) the economic destruction of Russia and most of Asia by communism or socialism.

After World War II, the US took the reserve currency role from Great Britain. This made the US dollar the world money and permitted the US to pay its import bills in its own currency. World War II’s destruction of the other industrialized countries left the US as the only country capable of supplying products to world markets. This historical happenstance created among Americans the impression that they were a favored people. Today the militarist neoconservatives speak of the United States as “the indispensable nation.”  In other words, Americans are above all others, except, of course, Israelis.

To American eyes a vague “terrorist threat,” a creation of their own government, is sufficient justification for naked aggression against Muslim peoples and for an agenda of world hegemony.

This hubristic attitude explains why among most Americans there is no remorse over the one million Iraqis killed and the four million Iraqis displaced by a US invasion and occupation that were based entirely on lies and deception. It explains why there is no remorse among most Americans for the countless numbers of Afghans who have been cavalierly murdered by the US military, or for the Pakistani civilians murdered by US drones and “soldiers” sitting in front of video screens. It explains why there is no outrage among Americans when the Israelis bomb Lebanese civilians and Gaza civilians.  No one in the world will believe that Israel’s latest act of barbarity, the murderous attack onthe international aid flotilla to Gaza, was not cleared with Israel’s American enabler.

Question:  You said that the US was a failed state. How can that be? What do you mean?

Roberts:  The war on terror, invented by the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney regime, destroyed the US Constitution and the civil liberties that the Constitution embodies. The Bill of Rights has been eviscerated. The Obama regime has institutionalized the Bush/Cheney assault on American liberty. Today, no American has any rights if he or she is accused of “terrorist” activity. The Obama regime has expanded the vague definition of “terrorist activity” to include “domestic extremist,” another undefined and vague category subject to the government’s discretion.  In short, a “terrorist” or a “domestic extremist” is anyone who dissents from a policy or a practice that the US government regards as necessary for its agenda of world hegemony.

Unlike some countries, the US is not an ethic group. It is a collection of diverse peoples united under the Constitution. When the Constitution was destroyed, the US ceased to exist. What exists today are power centers that are unaccountable. Elections mean nothing, as both parties are dependent on the same powerful interest groups for campaign funds. The most powerful interest groups are the military/security complex, which includes the Pentagon, the CIA, and the corporations that service them, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, the oil industry that is destroying the Gulf of Mexico, Wall Street (investment banks and hedge funds), the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and the agri-companies that produce food of questionable content.

These corporate powers comprise an oligarchy that cannot be dislodged by voting. Ever since “globalism” was enacted into law, the Democrats have been dependent on the same corporate sources of income as the Republicans, because globalism destroyed the labor unions. Consequently, there is no difference between  the Republicans and Democrats, or no meaningful difference.

The “war on terror” completed the constitutional/legal failure of the US. The US has also failed economically. Under Wall Street pressure for short-term profits, US corporations have moved offshore their production for US consumer markets. The result has been to move US GDP and millions of well-paid US jobs to countries, such asChina and India, where labor and professional expertise are cheap. This practice has been going on since about 1990.

After 20 years of offshoring US production, which destroyed American jobs and federal, state and local tax base, the US unemployment rate, as measured by US government methodology in 1980, is over 20 percent. The ladders of upward mobility have been dismantled. Millions of young Americans with university degrees are employed as waitresses and bartenders. Foreign enrollment comprises a larger and larger percentage of US universities as the American population finds that a university degree has been negated by the offshoring of the jobs that the graduates expected.

When US offshored production re-enters the US as imports, the trade balance deteriorates. Foreigners use their surplus dollars to purchase existing US assets.

Consequently, dividends, interest, capital gains, tolls from toll roads, rents, and profits, now flow abroad to foreign owners, thus increasing the pressure on the US dollar. The US has been able to survive the mounting claims of foreigners against US GDP because the US dollar is the reserve currency. However, the large US budget and trade deficits will put pressures on the dollar that will become too extreme for the dollar to be able to sustain this role. When the dollar fails, the US population will be impoverished.

The US is heavily indebted, both the government and the citizens. Over the last decade there has been no growth in family income. The US economy was kept going through the expansion of consumer debt. Now consumers are so heavily indebted that they cannot borrow more. This means that the main driving force of the US economy, consumer demand, cannot increase. As consumer demand comprises 70% of the economy, when consumer demand cannot increase, there can be no economic recovery.

The US is a failed state also because there is no accountability to the people by corporations or by government at any level, whether state, local, or federal. British Petroleum is destroying the Gulf of Mexico. The US government has done nothing. The Obama regime’s response to the crisis is more irresponsible than the Bush regime’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Wetlands and fisheries are being destroyed by unregulated capitalist greed and by a government that treats the environment with contempt. The tourist economy of Florida is being destroyed. The external costs of drilling in deep waters exceeds the net worth of the oil industry. As a result of the failure of the American state, the oil industry is destroying one of the world’s most valuable ecological systems.

Question:  What can be done?

Roberts:  The American people are lost in la-la land. They have no idea that their civil liberties have been forfeited. They are only gradually learning that their economic futureis compromised. They have little idea of the world’s growing hatred of Americans for their destruction of other peoples. In short, Americans are full of themselves. They have no idea of the disasters that their ignorance and inhumanity have brought upon themselves and upon the world.

Much of the world, looking at a country that appears both stupid and inhumane, wonders at Americans’ fine opinion of themselves. Is America the virtuous “indispensable nation” of neoconservative propaganda, or is America a plague upon the world? 2

Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Paul Craig Roberts

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Memo to U.S. Congress: prima facie evidence that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld committed treason on 9/11

Posted by Admin on June 3, 2010

This article is the third of a multi-part series on secret technologies, their application to the events of September 11, 2001, and the consequent implications for our society.

A Memorandum to the U.S. Congress presented to then incoming Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich), following the November 2006 mid-term elections sets out prima facie evidence for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to prosecute then U.S. President George W. Bush, Vice President Richard B. Cheney, and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and numerous Jane and John Does for treason under Article III (3) of the U.S. Constitution for acts committed on September 11, 2001.

Article III (3) of the U.S. Constitution provides: “Sect. 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on open confession in open court.

United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et al. is the upcoming trial of five alleged Al-Qaeda members for “masterminding” the September 11, 2001 attacks. Regardless of whether U.S. President Barack H. Obama chooses to have these defendants tried in a U.S. Military Commission or in a U.S. Federal court, the Memorandum to the U.S. Congress contains prima facie evidence that the sitting U.S. President, Vice President, and Secretary of Defense committed actionable Article III (3) treason on 9/11. Consequently, one can characterize the forthcoming trial in United States v. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, et al. as a political show trial, no different in effect – the wrongful execution of the defendants and the attempted hoodwinking of the U.S. and world population – from other political show trials in recent history.

There is a substantial segment of U.S. and world public opinion that believes that 9/11 was a false flag operation. In a 2006 paper entitled, “False Flag Operations, 9/11, and the Exopolitical Perspective”, Dr. Michael E. Salla writes:  “According to an August 2006 Scripps Howard/Ohio University national survey, 36% of Americans believe 9-11 was an ‘inside job’ with government agencies complicit in what occurred.  A Zogby poll in May 2006 found that 42% of Americans believed that official explanations and the 9-11 Commission were covering up the truth.”

This Examiner.com article contains the first of two installments setting out the compelling prima facie case of why an independent prosecutor should be appointed to investigate actionable treason on 9/11.

The law of treason and constitutional accountability

The Memorandum to the U.S. Congress addresses the issue of the law of treason and constitutional accountability for the events of September 11, 2001.  The Memorandum is designed to set out the prima facie evidence which supports the appointment by the U.S. Congress (or other entity) of an independent or special prosecutor to “prosecute Treason against these United States of America by U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and other John and Jane Does for planning and carrying out the acts of treason, as defined in Article III (3) of the U.S. Constitution, by conspiring to carry out, carrying out, and/or causing to be carried out an armed attack upon these United States on September 11, 2001, as part of a strategic deception operation.”

For reasons of space, the excerpts from the Memorandum to the U.S. Congress in this Examiner.com article do not contain the footnotes and full references in the original Memorandum.  Examiner.com readers are encouraged to download a copy of the original Memorandum to the U.S. Congress (PDF) here or here.

Memorandum to the U.S. Congress – parts I – III

The following are Parts I – III of the Memorandum.  Please note that the Memorandum contains this caveat:

CAVEAT LECTOR: This memorandum is based upon the best public research resources presently available. It is presented not as a full treatment of the subject but as merely a brief summary pointing to the existence of sufficient prima facie evidence to warrant the appointment of an independent prosecutor.


AP: Cheney at National Press Club, June 1, 2009

MEMORANDUM

The September 11, 2001 Attacks as Acts of Treason under Article III (3) of the U.S. Constitution

“The United States Constitution, in Article 3, Section 3, says that it is treason for a citizen of the USA to engage in “levying war” against the United States. If U.S. citizens consciously participated in planning the attacks of 9/11 on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this participation would clearly be treasonous. There is considerable prima facie evidence that named members of the U.S. Executive Branch—U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, and U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld—participated in this planning.

“This prima facie evidence sustains a constitutional, Joint Resolution of the U.S. Congress to appoint an Independent Prosecutor under the authority of Article III (3) of the U.S. Constitution to prosecute Treason against these United States of America by U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, and other John and Jane Does for planning and carrying out the acts of treason, as defined in Article III (3) of the U.S. Constitution, by conspiring to carry out, carrying out, and/or causing to be carried out an armed attack upon these United States on September 11, 2001, as part of a strategic deception operation.

“An investigation of these acts of prima facie Treason was not carried out by the 9/11 Commission. This Commission, directed by an insider, Philip Zelikow, who was directly connected to the named U.S. President George W. Bush of the U.S. Executive Branch, took as its starting point the Bush-Cheney administration’s claim that the attacks were planned and carried out entirely by members of al-Qaeda. The Commission examined only facts and allegations that were consistent with this theory.

“All evidence pointing to complicity by the named individuals—U.S. President George W. Bush, U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld—along with other John and Jane Does, was ignored or, in a few cases, distorted.  The U.S. Congress in its constitutional jurisdiction needs to authorize the appointment of an independent prosecutor to conduct a genuine investigation of this prima facie evidence of Treason under Article III (3) of the U.S. Constitution, which is summarized below in terms of six questions.”

I.  How Could Hijacked Airliners Have Struck the WTC and the Pentagon?

“If the standard operating procedure of the FAA and the US military had been carried out on the morning of 9/11, AA Flight 11 and UA Flight 175 would have been intercepted before they reached Manhattan, and Flight 77 would have been intercepted long before it could have reached the Pentagon. (Such interceptions are routine, being carried out about 100 times a year.) As to why these interceptions did not occur, the public has never been given a plausible explanation. Indeed, we have received three mutually inconsistent stories.

“In the first few days, military officials said that no fighter jets were sent up by NORAD until after the strike on the Pentagon at 9:38, even though signs that Flight 11 had been hijacked were observed at 8:15. That would mean that although interceptions usually occur within 15 minutes, in this case over 80 minutes had elapsed before any fighters were even airborne. This story suggested that a “stand-down” order had been issued.

“Within a few days, a second story was put out, according to which NORAD had sent up fighters but, because FAA notification had unaccountably come very late, the fighters did not arrive soon enough to prevent the attacks. Critics showed, however, that even if the FAA’s notifications had come as late as NORAD claimed, there would have been time for interceptions to occur.  This second story did not, therefore, remove the suspicion that a stand-down order had been given.

“The 9/11 Commission Report gives a third account, according to which, contrary to NORAD’s timeline of September 18, 2001, the FAA did not notify NORAD about Flights 175 and 77 until after they had struck their targets. This third story, besides contradicting the second story and also considerable evidence that the FAA had notified the military in a timely manner, contains many inherent implausibilities.  It does not, accordingly, remove grounds for suspicion that a stand-down order had been issued—a suspicion for which there is ear-witness testimony.”

II. Why Did the Twin Towers and Building 7 of the WTC Collapse?

“The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush and Vice President Richard B. Cheney has also failed to provide a credible explanation of the total collapses of the World Trade Center buildings. According to the official explanation, the Twin Towers collapsed because of the impact of the airplanes and the heat from the ensuing fires. But this explanation faces several formidable problems.

“First, Building 7 also collapsed, and in about the same way. This similarity implies that all three buildings collapsed because of the same causes. But building 7 was not hit by a plane, so its collapse must be explained by fire alone. That would lead to the conclusion that all three buildings collapsed from fire alone.

“Second, however, the fires in these three buildings were not very big, very hot, or very long-lasting, compared with fires in some steel-frame high-rises that did not induce collapses. In 1991, for example, a fire in Philadelphia burned for 18 hours, and in 2004, a fire in Caracas burned for 17 hours. But neither of these fires resulted in even a partial collapse, let alone a total collapse.  By contrast, the World Trade Center’s north and south towers burned only 102 and 56 minutes, respectively, before they collapsed. Building 7, moreover, had fires on only a few floors, according to some witnesses  and all the photographic evidence.

“Third, total collapses of steel-frame high-rise buildings have never, either before or after 9/11, been brought about by fire alone, or fire combined with structural damage from airplanes. All such collapses have been caused by explosives in the procedure known as ‘controlled demolition.’

“Fourth, the collapses of these three WTC buildings all manifested many standard features of controlled demolition, such as: sudden onset (whereas steel, if weakened by fire, would gradually begin to sag); straight-down collapse (as opposed to falling over); collapse at virtually free-fall speed (indicating that the lower floors were offering little if any resistance); total collapse (indicating that the massive steel columns in the core of each building had been sliced into many pieces—which is what explosives do in controlled demolitions); the production of molten steel;  and the occurrence of multiple explosions, as reported by dozens of people—including journalists, police officers, WTC employees, emergency medical workers, and firefighters.  The official theory cannot explain one, let alone all, of these features—at least, as physicist Steven Jones has pointed out, without violating several basic laws of physics.  But the theory of controlled demolition easily explains them all.

“Fifth, although the question of whether explosives were used could have been answered by examining the buildings’ steel columns, virtually all of the steel was immediately sold to scrap dealers, trucked away, and sent to Asia to be melted down. Moreover, although it is usually a federal crime to remove anything from a crime scene, in this case the removal was overseen by government officials.

“Sixth, al-Qaeda terrorists could not have obtained access to the buildings for the enormous number of hours it would have taken to plant the explosives. But the question of how agents of the Bush-Cheney administration could have gotten such access can be answered by pointing out that Marvin Bush and Wirt Walker III—the president’s brother and cousin, respectively—were principals of the company in charge of security for the WTC.  It is also doubtful that al-Qaeda terrorists would have had the courtesy to ensure that the buildings would come straight down, rather than falling over onto other buildings.”

[Examiner.com note:  Please see also, “Scientist: Directed energy weapons turned World Trade Center into nanoparticles on 9/11

http://www.examiner.com/x-2912-Seattle-Exopolitics-Examiner~y2010m3d23-Scientist–Directed-energy-weapons-turned-World-Trade-Center-into-nanoparticles-on-911 ]


Wiki: Rumsfeld, U.S. Secretary of Defense on September 11, 2001

III. Could the Official Account of the Pentagon Possibly Be True?

“According to the official account, the Pentagon was struck by AA Flight 77, under the control of al-Qaeda hijacker Hani Hanjour. This account is challenged by many facts.

“First, Flight 77 allegedly, after making a U-turn in the mid-west, flew back to Washington undetected for 40 minutes, even though it was then known that hijacked airliners were being used as weapons and even though the US military has the best radar systems in the world, one of which, it brags, “does not miss anything occurring in North American airspace.”

“Second, the aircraft, in order to hit the west wing, reportedly executed a 270-degree downward spiral, which according to some experts would have been impossible for a Boeing 757. Hanjour, moreover, was known as “a terrible pilot,” who could not even fly a small airplane.

“Third, how could a pilot as poor as Hanjour have found his way back to Washington without guidance from the ground?

“Fourth, the Pentagon is surely the best defended building on the planet.  It is not only within the P-56-A restricted air space that extends 17 miles in all directions from the Washington Monument, but also within P-56-B, the three-mile ultra-restricted zone above the White House, the Capitol, and the Pentagon. It is only a few miles from Andrews Air Force Base, which, assigned to protect these restricted zones, has at least three squadrons with fighter jets on alert at all times. (The claim by The 9/11 Commission Report that no fighters were on alert the morning of 9/11 is wholly implausible. ) Also, the Pentagon is surely protected by batteries of surface-to-air missiles, which are programmed to destroy any aircraft without a US military transponder entering the Pentagon’s airspace.  (So even if Flight 77 had entered the Pentagon’s airspace, it could have escaped being shot down only if officials in the Pentagon had deactivated its anti-aircraft defenses.)

“Fifth, terrorists brilliant enough to get through the US military’s defense system would not have struck the west wing, for many reasons: It had been reinforced, so the damage was less severe than a strike anywhere else would have been; it was still being renovated, so relatively few people were there; the secretary of defense and all the top brass, whom terrorists would presumably have wanted to kill, were in the east wing; and hitting the west wing required a difficult maneuver, whereas crashing into the roof would have been easier and deadlier.

“Sixth, there is considerable evidence that the aircraft that struck the Pentagon was not even a Boeing 757. For one thing, unlike the strikes on the Twin Towers, the strike on the Pentagon did not create a detectable seismic signal.  Also, the kind of damage and debris that would have been produced by the impact of a Boeing 757 was not produced by the strike on the Pentagon, according to both photographs and eyewitnesses. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was then an Air Force Lieutenant Colonel employed at the Pentagon, writes of ‘a strange lack of visible debris on the Pentagon lawn, where I stood only moments after the impact. . . . I saw . . . no airplane metal or cargo debris.’

“Photographs show that the façade of the west wing remained standing for 30 minutes after the strike and that, during this time, the hole in this façade was only about 16 to 18 feet in diameter.  A Boeing 757 has a wingspan of about 125 feet, and a steel engine is mounted on each wing. And yet there was, as Former Air Force Colonel George Nelson has pointed out, no visible damage on either side of this hole.  Former pilot Ralph Omholt, discussing both debris and damage on the basis of the photographic evidence, writes: ‘there is no doubt that a plane did not hit the Pentagon. There is no hole big enough to swallow a 757. . . . There is no viable evidence of burning jet fuel. . . . The pre-collapse Pentagon section showed no ‘forward-moving’ damage. . . . There was no tail, no wings; no damage consistent with a B-757 ‘crash.’”

“Additional evidence that no large airliner hit the west wing is provided by the fact that the fourth-floor office of Isabelle Slifer, which was directly above the strike zone (between the first and second floors), was not damaged by the initial impact.

“There is considerable evidence, moreover, that the aircraft that struck the Pentagon was instead a US military missile. This evidence consists partly of testimony. Lon Rains, editor of Space News, said: ‘I was convinced it was a missile. It came in so fast it sounded nothing like an airplane.”  The upper management official at LAX, quoted earlier as saying that he overheard members of LAX Security receiving word of a stand-down order, says that they later received word that “the Pentagon had been hit by a rocket.’  Professor David Edwards of Salisbury University reports that on the morning of 9/11, a young couple burst into his subway car at L’Enfante Station and started shouting: ‘We were standing at the Pentagon Station, waiting for the train to come, and we saw a missile fly into the Pentagon! We saw it, we saw it!’  Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, in an apparent slip of the tongue, referred in an interview to ‘the missile [used] to damage this building.’

“The missile hypothesis is also supported by physical evidence. Dr. Janette Sherman of Alexandria reports that shortly after the strike her Geiger counter showed the radiation level, about 12 miles downwind from the Pentagon, to be 8-10 times higher than normal. Two days later, Bill Bellinger, the EPA radiation expert for the region, said that the rubble at the crash site was radioactive, adding that he believed the source to be depleted uranium. These findings are what one would expect, says a former scientist at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory—if the Pentagon had been struck by a military missile with a depleted uranium warhead.

“On the basis of all this evidence, retired Army Major Doug Rokke has said: ‘When you look at the whole thing, especially the crash site void of airplane parts [and] the size of the hole left in the building . . . , it looks like the work of a missile.’

“A seventh reason to be dubious about the official story is that evidence was destroyed. Shortly after the strike, government agents picked up debris from the Pentagon in front of the impact site, put it in a large container, and carried it off.  Shortly thereafter the entire lawn was covered with dirt and gravel, with the result that any remaining forensic evidence was covered up.  FBI agents also immediately confiscated the videos from security cameras on two nearby buildings.  Although the Department of Justice, responding to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, has acknowledged the FBI’s possession of at least one of these videos, the Department of Justice has refused to release it.

“These seven problems, besides challenging the official account, collectively indicate that the strike on the Pentagon was orchestrated by forces within our own government—an act that would clearly constitute treason.”

Parts IV – VII of the Memorandum to the U.S. Congress

Parts IV – VII of the Memorandum to the U.S. Congress will be covered in a succeeding Examiner.com article. For reasons of space, the excerpts from the Memorandum to the U.S. Congress in this article do not contain the footnotes and full references in the original Memorandum.  Examiner.com readers are encouraged to download a copy of the original Memorandum to the U.S. Congress (PDF) here or here.

Read the entire Examiner.com series on 9/11:

http://www.examiner.com/x-2912-Seattle-Exopolitics-Examiner~y2010m4d2-Memo-to-US-Congress-prima-facie-evidence-that-Bush-Cheney-and-Rumsfeld-committed-treason-on-911

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Israeli Attack on Flotilla Sparks Wave of International Protests

Posted by Admin on June 2, 2010

by: Nora Barrows-Friedman, t r u t h o u t | Report

photo
This protest in Madrid, Spain, is one of many worldwide that are expressing outrage against Israel’s raid on humanitarian flotillas headed for Gaza. (Photo: Carlos Barbudo)

Rami al-Meghari watched the news unfold from live video feeds monitoring international waters 65km off the coast of the Gaza Strip Monday morning, one of Gaza’s 1.5 million residents anticipating a shipment of wheelchairs, prefabricated homes, crayons, raw construction supplies, dental surgery equipment and reams of paper brought by international humanitarian activists on board a flotilla of boats.

However, the flotilla was intercepted and attacked by Israeli naval commando units, flanked by armed speedboats and helicopters. Soldiers climbed on board the Turkish-owned Mavi Marmara ship and opened fire with live ammunition, killing at least 19 people and wounding 60, according to the latest reports.

A journalist living in Gaza’s Meghazi refugee camp, al-Meghari tells Truthout that the attack was a devastating blow to the Palestinian people in Gaza – who have suffered through a three-year-long blockade as Israel forbids the entry of essential goods and humanitarian supplies, including medicines. He says he was horrified at what took place on the ship. “I am in absolute sorrow for the human loss,” he said.

From the occupied Gaza Strip to the San Francisco Bay Area, global reaction in protest of the Israeli military’s attack on the flotilla has been swift. Outraged by Israel’s attack on the flotilla, and fueled by international news headlines and internet-based information swapping through sites such as Twitter and Facebook, tens of thousands of people across the world have taken to the streets in sustained anger against Israeli policies and the actions of its military toward the humanitarian aid flotilla, while the United Nations and the Turkish government work to impose diplomatic pressure.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank launched demonstrations against the Israeli military immediately following the attack, but the protests were quickly dispersed and banned by the Palestinian Authority’s security forces. Earlier in the day, Israeli forces shot a young American journalist in the face with a tear gas grenade during a women-led demonstration at the Qalandiya checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem. There were also protests inside the old city in occupied East Jerusalem, while others demonstrated outside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house in the Western side of the city.

In the Palestinian city of Umm al-Fahem in northern Israel, Palestinian youth burned tires as Israeli forces attempted to lock down areas of the city. Elsewhere, Israeli and Palestinian protesters descended on the city of Ashdod, where detention camps had been set up by the military to hold those arrested from the flotilla and to where some of the ships on the flotilla were being towed. Protesters in Haifa and other northern Israeli cities also joined the day of action.

People in Egypt and Jordan took part in similar protests as thousands across the region demanded that their governments sever diplomatic and political ties with Israel. Lebanese demonstrators surrounded the UN headquarters in Beirut to condemn Israel’s policies and the violent attack against the flotilla.

In Turkey, thousands of protesters attempted to storm the Israeli embassy in Istanbul right after the killings. Later in the day, Turkish government officials categorized Israel’s attack as “state terrorism” and withdrew its ambassador to Israel as thousands of protesters hit the streets in spontaneous demonstrations demanding justice for those killed in the attack and for Palestinians in Gaza.

In Canada, protests were planned at Israeli embassies and Federal buildings in an “emergency response” to Israel’s aggressions. Seven thousand Swedish demonstrators hit the streets of Stockholm as the Swedish government summoned its Israeli ambassador, condemning the attack as “completely unacceptable” and demanding clarification by the Israeli government. Sweden had several of its citizens on board the ships.

Meanwhile, across the US, pro-justice activists took to the streets in anger and anguish over the killings. Protesters organized in New York City’s Times Square, and in Houston, Cleveland and Seattle, among other cities. University of Chicago freshman Sami Kishawi tells Truthout he joined a massive demonstration in downtown Chicago on Monday afternoon. “I will remain open and willing to participate in dialogue that will reveal to the public the grim reality of the oppression of the Palestinian people,” he said.

In the Bay Area, activists protested outside Israeli embassy in downtown San Francisco. Oakland resident Amir Qureshi told Truthout that he joined the protests in solidarity with the more than 600 activists on the flotilla, and is taking part in other actions as well, including countering some of the Israeli propaganda that’s filtered down inside the US corporate media and calling US representatives in Congress. “Ordinary unarmed global civilians from more than a dozen countries have the courage to take on Israel’s navy in support of the besieged population of Gaza and even give our lives in doing so,” Qureshi said. “Such global solidarity shows the power of people and how it can affect global causes.”

At the same time, condemnation of Israel’s attacks have come from global leaders and icons of civil rights and justice. The Elders – a contingent of past and present world leaders and Nobel laureates, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Carter – released a press statement on Monday declaring Israel’s attack as “completely inexcusable.”

“This tragic incident should draw the world’s attention to the terrible suffering of Gaza’s 1.5 million people, half of whom are children under the age of 18,” The Elders’ statement said.

Back in Gaza, locally-based civil society groups sent out a press statement urging the international community to take direct action against Israeli policies. They wrote:

<blockquote>”We Gaza based Palestinian Civil Society Organizations and International activists call on the international community and civil society to pressure their governments and Israel to cease the abductions and killings in Israel’s attacks against the Gaza Freedom Flotilla sailing for Gaza, and begin a global response to hold Israel accountable for the murder of foreign civilians at sea and illegal piracy of civilian vessels carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza.

“We salute the courage of all those who have organized this aid intervention and demand a safe passage through to Gaza for the 750 people of conscience from 40 different countries including 35 international politicians intent on breaking the Israeli-Egyptian blockade. We offer our sincerest condolences to family and friends who have lost loved ones in the attack.

“… The people of Gaza are not dependent people, but self sufficient people doing what they can to retain some dignity in life in the wake of this colossal man-made devastation that deprives so many of a basic start in life or minimal aspirations for the future.

“We, from Gaza, call on you to demonstrate and support the courageous men and women who went on the Flotilla, many now murdered on a humanitarian aid mission. We insist on severance of diplomatic ties with Israel, trials for war crimes and the International protection of the civilians of Gaza. We call on you to join the growing international boycott, divestment and sanction campaign of a country proving again to be so violent and yet so unchallenged. Join the growing critical mass around the world with a commitment to the day when Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as any other people, when the siege is lifted, the occupation is over and the 6 million Palestinian refugees are finally granted justice.”</blockquote>

From Gaza’s Meghazi refugee camp, al-Meghari said of Israel’s actions Monday morning, “violence only breeds violence. And as long as Israeli repression remains in place, Palestinian and pro-justice people around the world will keep up their resistance to that repression.”

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Obama Must Ask Netanyahu the Right Questions

Posted by Admin on June 2, 2010

by: Ira Chernus, t r u t h o u t | Op-Ed

photo
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Moshe Milner GPO / IsraelMFA)

Debate rages around the world about the Israeli attack on the humanitarian flotilla headed to Gaza. And it should rage. As Martin Luther King Jr., said, an injustice to one is an injustice to all.

But the debate that matters most – the one that will decide the fate of Palestinians and Israelis alike – is going on inside the Oval Office. If Barack Obama ever decides that the Israelis absolutely must end the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza, he’ll demand and get a settlement. Then, both peoples can start living in peace, sooner than most Americans think.

If Obama continues waffling and lets the Israelis maintain the status quo, the conflict will continue, and so will the insecurity it inflicts on both sides.

Obama must understand that perfectly well as he prepares for the delayed visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He must know that he could make the conversation a genuine turning point in US policy, if he wants to. The agenda he sets for that conversation is crucial.

So far, the indications are not promising. In a brief phone talk with Netanyahu just hours after the brutal attack at sea, Obama merely “expressed the importance of learning all the facts and circumstances around this morning’s tragic events as soon as possible,” the White Housesaid.

No, Mr. President, that’s the wrong way to begin. It avoids the real issue – which is just what the Israeli leader wants. He’d love to see the world debating about “all the facts and circumstances.” He’d love to treat the whole terrible disaster at sea as if it were a schoolyard scrap: He hit me first. No, he hit me first. Liar! No, you’re a liar!

Netanyahu and the Israeli government would be happy to drag that argument out because it gives them a double victory. They get to play their favorite role – the victim of threats to their very existence – while distracting the Obama administration from the issue that really matters: the Israeli domination of Gaza and the West Bank.

As long as that domination continues, whether in the form of occupation or blockade, it makes a peace settlement impossible. And that seems to be precisely what the Israeli government aims for – or certainly at least itspowerful right wing, which has Netanyahu in its power. Instead of pursuing peace, Israeli leaders want to pursue a public relations effort at damage control, which comes down to image control.

So, they’re happy to have everyone – especially in the Oval Office – scrutinizing all the video footage and eyewitness accounts to figure out exactly what happened on the Mavi Marmara, minute by minute. The battle of competing images and interpretations could go on for months, even years. As long as the world is distracted by that battle, it will bring any chance of a meaningful peace process to a grinding halt.

The Israelis seem to have had something like that in mind when they set out to stop the Gaza flotilla. Their PR machine was in high gear before the flotilla even set sail. A sympathetic analyst in the conservative Jerusalem Post lamented the failure of the Israeli “diplomatic [read: PR] initiative aimed at explaining to the world why it planned to stop the ships.” As he noted, “stories were leaked by the government to the press about the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), the Turkish organization that is behind the flotilla, described as a ‘radical Islamic organization.'”

Within hours of the attack at sea, top Israeli leaders were holding press conferences touting the same unsubstantiated claims that the flotilla was led by violent supporters of international terrorist groups. “Gaza has become a base for terrorists backed by Iran,” said Netanyahu,  suggesting that this unsubstantiated claim somehow justified all that killing; it was simply “self-defense.”

Could it be just coincidence that so many Israeli military personnel, politicians and journalists all repeated the same strange charge that IDF soldiers were victims of “attempted lynching”? (Find it hereherehere,here and here, for example.) It’s more likely that the word “lynch” was cooked up in a PR office, well before the disaster at sea took place (probably by some flake who doesn’t know English well enough to know what the word really means).

The Israelis went to sea not only with 50 Border Guards as well as sailors, but also with embedded Israeli reporters. Prominent journalist Ron Ben-Yishai was apparently given permission for a scoop, the first direct report from scene, predictably sympathetic to the Israelis. (The other reporters’ dispatches were embargoed until they could be vetted by censors.) Back on land in Israel, one blogger reported hours after the event, the talking heads were already focusing only on “the threat to the soldiers lives and the insufficient force that was sent to take control over the Mavi Marmara.” The Israeli media allowed little doubt that their military personnel were the victims, not the perpetrators, of the attack.

Some skilled video producers went along on the mission, too. Shortly after the confrontation, they released slick footage, which does indeed seem to show Israeli troops descending onto the Mavi Marmara and immediately being brutally attacked. No doubt, Netanyahu will bring that film with him to the Oval Office and hope Obama watches every second of it. After all, the president says he wants to know “all the facts and circumstances.”

In the end, though, Netanyahu will tell him that only one fact really matters: Israel was justified because it was acting in self-defense. And, surely, he’ll remind Obama of Israel’s ultimate goal, the one he repeats at every opportunity: preventing another Holocaust. He’ll link the killing on the Mavi Marmara with the specter of the Holocaust, using the whole arsenal of weapons that his skilled PR experts have invented in their fertile imaginations.

He’ll try to keep the conversation focused on the one question that dominates Israeli political life: Weren’t the Israelis merely doing what they had to do to stop the next Holocaust? And, perhaps, even to save Western civilization against “radical Islamic forces,” according to ananalysis published hours after the attack by a prominent Israeli academic in one of his nation’s most popular newspapers. That will be a common response among many Jews, especially in Israel, but some here in the US, too.

Uri Avnery, the grand old man of the Israeli peace movement, summed it up most incisively, as usual, in a recent column titled “Hallelujah, the World is Against Us!” In recent years, he wrote, as Jews have escaped persecution and gained power, “a sense of unease, of disorientation, set in.” Many Jews “felt that something was out of order, that the well-known road signs were not working anymore…. That’s frightening,” and it makes many Jews suspicious. So, “without being conscious of it,” many Jews “do what we can to be hated again, to feel at home, on familiar ground…. We shall not rest until the world is anti-Semitic again, and we know how to behave. As the jolly song goes: ‘The entire world is against us, but what the hell.'”

If Obama, and the world, focus only on “all the facts and circumstances” about who did what during that tragic dawn at sea, it will give Israeli leaders another excuse to lead their people in singing their jolly song, perpetuating their cherished images of victimization. The more criticism they receive, the more most Israelis will be convinced that the worlds really is against them. And the more excuse that will give them to resist serious negotiations for peace.

This is not to deny the need for a full investigation. But it’s vital to put even the worst events in broader perspective. The US government has supported so many evils of the Israeli occupation and blockade because the Israeli PR machine has been so successful. It has managed to get the US mass media, most of the US public and, very possibly, their president to believe that the whole world just might be against Israel, that any Israeli violence might very well be justified self-defense against another Holocaust.

If Obama really wants to be the president who brings peace to the Middle East, he has to take a much broader view. When he asks Netanyahu for “all the facts and circumstances,” he must ask the big, crucial questions: By what right does Israel maintain its blockade of Gaza at all costs, despite all the human suffering it brings? By what right does Israel maintain its occupation of and settlements on the West Bank at all costs? Why does Israel resist the peace settlement that the rest of the world sees as fair and just? Why does Israel persist in such self-defeating policies, keeping its own people as well as its Palestinian neighbors locked in a vicious cycle of insecurity?

Even those who want to focus on the one terrible incident of violence at sea should be asking not who started the fighting, but by what right did the Israeli Navy steam into international waters and unilaterally declare a “naval blockade”? (Strangely, the Israeli PR machine put out video of that declaration, as if it somehow justified all the killing to come.) It’s all part of the same pattern: Israel making unilateral decisions that put intolerable restrictions on Palestinians’ lives.

That’s what the flotilla to Gaza was trying to shine a light on. Now, the light has grown much brighter, though it is encased in the dark shadow of mourning. But if we let it become a narrow pencil light, illuminating only the events of a few tragic hours, we will miss the larger picture at which the Obama administration should be looking: the injustices perpetuated by Israel over many tragic decades.

Those of us who want to see a just peace and a truly independent viable Palestinian state should do whatever we can to break through the fallacious stereotype of Israel as the eternal victim. If that image is discredited – if it no longer frames discussion of the Middle East conflict here in the US – the Obama administration can begin to explore new options for US policy.

Every time we persuade a friend, a neighbor, a relative, a co-worker to see Israel as a dominating power, not an endangered victim, we take a step closer to a just peace in the Middle East. That can be the most fitting memorial for the victims of Israeli bullets, who wanted only to bring humanitarian relief to Gaza.

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U.S. Kills Al-Qaeda's Number 3 for Nine Thousandth Time

Posted by Admin on June 1, 2010

ISLAMABAD (The Borowitz Report) – The US confirmed today that it has killed al-Qaeda’s number three for the nine thousandth time, setting a new world’s record for killing the number three man in a terrorist organization.

“No matter how many times you do it, it’s always a special feeling when you nail their number three,” a U.S. military official said today. “I’m sure I’ll feel this way when we do it for the 9001st time.”

The termination of al-Qaeda’s number three sets up a power vacuum within al-Qaeda, with candidates to replace the fallen Mustafa Abu al-Yazid scrambling to remove themselves from consideration.

According to one candidate within the terror group, “The words no al-Qaeda member ever wants to hear are, ‘Congratulations – you’re our new number three.'” More here.

The Los Angeles Times says Andy Borowitz has “one of the funniest Twitter feeds around.” Follow Andy on Twitter here.

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Interview: At Least 15 Dead After Israel Attacks Gaza-Bound Aid Flotilla

Posted by Admin on June 1, 2010

I interviewed Adam Shapiro, board member of the Free Gaza Movement, hours after the attack on the Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

Listen Here – Transcript below.

Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza strip. Dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, the ships were aiming to break Israel’s 3-year blockade of Gaza. At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops attacked the lead ship in the convoy-the Turkish “Mavi Marmara”-early Monday morning. The attack happened in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of Israel and Gaza. We reached Adam Shapiro in New York a few hours after the attack. He’s a board member of the Free Gaza movement, one of the groups that coordinated the Freedom Flotilla. His wife Huwaida Arraf is the chairperson of the Free Gaza movement and is on the flotilla.

Just before being kidnapped by Israel, Huwaida Arraf, Free Gaza Movement chairperson and delegation co-coordinator on this voyage, stated that: “No one could possibly believe that our small boat constitutes any sort of threat to Israel. We carry medical and reconstruction supplies, and children’s toys. Our passengers include a Nobel peace prize laureate and a former U.S. congressperson. Our boat was searched and received a security clearance by Cypriot Port Authorities before we departed, and at no time did we ever approach Israeli waters.”

More information on the Israeli attack:

Live coverage from Al Jazeera English

FreeGaza.org

Witness Gaza

Follow #flotilla, @JamalDajani, @avinunu on Twitter for the latest updates.

TRANSCRIPT

Amy Goodman: This is Democracy Now!, I’m Amy Goodman. We have on the line with us Adam Shapiro. He is a board member of the Free Gaza Movement. Adam, we got word several hours ago that the Israeli military had attacked the Free Gaza Flotilla. We are speaking to you at about 3:30 AM Eastern Standard Time. Can you tell us what you understand has happened?


Adam Shapiro:
The Israelis launched a military operation involving about a thousand soldiers, using ships, using helicopters, and using airplanes to attack the flotilla of six ships – three passenger and three cargo ships, at approximately between 8 and 9 pm Eastern Standard Time. All the ships have been captured. One of the ships that we know for sure, which had a satellite communication ability, the large Turkish ship with about 600 passengers including members of Parliament from different countries, was attacked by Israeli soldiers using live ammunition. We now know that at least 14 people have been confirmed killed, and perhaps as many as 20 killed, with over 60 injured, and currently all the ships are being brought into the Israeli port of Haifa.

Amy Goodman: We are reading Israeli military reports that say when they boarded the Turkish ship, that they were attacked by sticks and knives. What do you understand has happened?

Adam Shapiro: Our people on the ship reported live as the soldiers came onto the ship, and reported that soldiers were opening fire as they were coming onto the ship, and they were descending from helicopters. So, our understanding is that the Israeli soldiers opened fire first. I have not seen or heard any thing else about – and there are many journalists on board that ship – anything else about our people, the passengers on that ship, posing any kind of threat. There was a live feed coming from the ship using satellite, video satellite, on satellite, that has been rebroadcast on CNN, on CNN Turk, on Al Jazeera, on Press TV, on numerous media outlets, not one image from this entire footage shows any of the passengers holding any kind of object that could be construed as a weapon. So, I mean, I am sure that the Israelis would like the world to believe that they were the ones being attacked as they assaulted these ships, but this is just Israeli spin.

Amy Goodman: Adam Shapiro, what is the purpose of the Free Gaza Flotilla?

Adam Shapiro: The purpose of the Free Gaza Freedom Flotilla was to literally break the Israeli blockade that it is imposing on Gaza, a form of collective punishment of 1.5 million Palestinians who are trying to survive at this point, basically, especially after the Israeli attacks in December, 2008-January, 2009, in which much of Gaza was reduced to rubble, and has not been able to have been rebuilt, where Palestinians can’t get basic food and medicine in, to just survive with. And so, this effort was, yes, to deliver the goods and materials that Gaza, the Palestinians in Gaza need, but also to awaken the international community to the abuse that the Palestinians are suffering that has been regarded by the Goldstone Report, by many other reports and by human rights organizations, including the E.U. and other groups, calling this blockade and this siege criminal, as well as cruel and inhuman.

Amy Goodman: What is your response to what has happened in these last hours, to the Israeli military assault on the Free Gaza Flotilla?

Adam Shapiro: We have always been prepared that the Israelis might attack the ships and try, obviously, try to take control of them, and prevent us from reaching Gaza, but the opening of fire against unarmed civilians who pose no threat to Israel, is something, I think, it is absurd in a way that can’t even be described. We all remember what happened to Rachel Corrie in Gaza, standing in front of a home to protect it and being crushed and run over by a bulldozer driver. In this case, I think in a way, it is almost even worse, because Israel said that they were sending their best commandos on this mission, that they were sending their most professional soldiers, and so if these are their professional soldiers, and they opened fire, then we must assume, then, and I don’t think we are incorrect to assume, that they had orders to open fire, because I don’t think that soldiers operating in this way, if they were truly professional, and they were truly the best, well-trained commandos that Israel had, they would have no reason to shoot, unless they were ordered to do so.

And I really hope that the United States, the Europeans, and Turkey, and the other governments who had citizens on board press for an independent investigation, not an Israeli investigation, an independent investigation. This attack took place in international waters, not in Israeli waters.

Amy Goodman: Who was on the Turkish ship?

Adam Shapiro: On board the Turkish ship were over, approximately about 600 passengers. We had quite a large number of Turkish activists. Of course, the boat was secured in Turkey, and purchased by a Turkish organization, so many of their people were on board. We also had members of the European Parliament on board, we had members of Arab parliaments on board, including Egypt and Jordan, we had others activists who have been active in trying to raise the awareness of what’s happening to Palestinians in general and specifically in Gaza, and we had media. We had Al Jazeera on board, we had a couple of Turkish broadcasting channels on board, as well as other print and other forms of media on board.

Amy Goodman: Adam Shapiro, thank you for taking the time to talk to us.

Adam Shapiro: Thank you very much.

Amy Goodman: Adam Shapiro is a board member of the Free Gaza Movement.


Follow Amy Goodman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/democracynow

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US predicts up to 7 major Atlantic hurricanes

Posted by Admin on May 29, 2010

By JENNIFER KAY | Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2010 4:59 pm

The Atlantic hurricane season could be the busiest since 2005, when Katrina and Rita caused massive destruction along the same part of the Gulf Coast now struggling with the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, government scientists said Thursday.

The 2010 season may spawn as many as 23 named tropical storms, including up to seven major hurricanes, a number not likely to be affected by the spill, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted.

Eight to 14 storms would strengthen into hurricanes, with top winds of 74 mph or higher, the agency said. Three to seven of those could become major storms that reach Category 3 or higher _ meaning they bring sustained winds of at least 111 mph.

“This season could be one of the more active on record,” NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said in a news release. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared.”

A hurricane might help break up the oil spill staining the Gulf of Mexico, but the oil won’t affect significantly how tropical storms develop, forecasters said. They don’t know what kind of environmental hazards to expect, though there are fears that winds and waves could push the oil deeper into estuaries and wetlands.

Government scientists said Thursday that anywhere from 500,000 gallons to a million gallons a day has been leaking from the site where an oil rig exploded April 20, killing 11 people. BP PLC, which leased the rig and is responsible for the cleanup, and the Coast Guard previously had estimated the flow was about 210,000 gallons per day.

The expanding slick already has coated wildlife and marshes in Louisiana, but Lubchenco said the spill is still small relative to hurricanes _ which sometimes span the entire Gulf.

Although some oil could be pushed inland by a storm as it makes landfall, it could be difficult to determine whether it leaked from flooded cars or factories, Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Craig Fugate said.

The 2010 government forecast is based on the weakening of El Nino. The Pacific Ocean phenomenon created strong wind shear that helped suppress storm development in the Atlantic last season. Record warm water temperatures also will feed storms crossing the Atlantic this year.

Three hurricanes developed out of nine tropical storms in 2009. None of the hurricanes came ashore in the United States. Hurricane Ida hit Nicaragua as a Category 1 storm in November.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist urged coastal residents to remember the destruction left in the wake of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” Crist said at the annual Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale. “We don’t need to suffer from hurricane amnesia.”

National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read said Wednesday that his biggest concern for the season is a storm striking Haiti, where hundreds of thousands of people have been living in makeshift camps since the Jan. 12 earthquake. Heavy rains can trigger serious flooding and mudslides in the mountainous Caribbean country, but no evacuation plans exist for displaced communities.

Tropical storms are named when their sustained winds reach 39 mph. The first named storm of the 2010 season will be Alex.

In April, Colorado State University researchers predicted 15 named storms would form this season, with four developing into major hurricanes.

The Atlantic hurricane season begins Tuesday and runs through Nov. 30.

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Associated Press writer Suzette Laboy contributed to this report from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

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Online:

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center: http://www.hurricanes.gov

FEMA: http://www.fema.gov and http://www.ready.gov

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