Monday, January 31, 2011

Noam Chomsky: U.S. History is about Keeping the Population at Bay

Huckabee Attends Ceremony For New Israeli Settlement

Think Progress

Former Arkansas governor, Fox News personality and likely Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee joined Israeli officials at a ceremony yesterday laying the cornerstone for a new Israeli settlement in occupied East Jerusalem. As he has in the past, Huckabee used the opportunity to slam U.S. policy against settlements, saying:
It is inconceivable in many ways that we would have to even argue and debate whether or not Israelis could live in Israel, not just in parts of Israel but anywhere in Israel they wished to live.
Settlements on land conquered and occupied by Israel in the 1967 war are considered illegal under international law, and U.S. administrations have consistently held that continued settlement construction negatively impacts the prospects for a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
But, as Huckabee as made clear in the past, he doesn’t believe that the Palestinians have any claim to a state in their homeland, because, according to Huckabee, “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian.” In language that comes dangerously close to advocating ethnic cleansing, Huckabee has also suggested that Palestinians should be forced to find a homeland “elsewhere.”


‘How many years can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see’? In the case of the dictatorship in Egypt, it was 30 years. Thirty years of relentless support for a regime contrary to the very principles of the governments that supported them.

From a report in today’s HaAretz; Israel called on the United States and a number of European countries over the weekend to curb their criticism of President Hosni Mubarak to preserve stability in the region. Preserve stability? Don’t they mean preserve tyranny? Israel has been content with Mubarak’s government, they were able to control their every move. Now they are worried that without Mubarak, the ‘stability’ might change to reality. The reality of a new government that supports the rights of the Egyptian people as well as the Palestinian people rather than one that has been cooperating in keeping both of them down.

What I am saying is that America’s support for Egypt over the past 30 years was not actually support for Egypt, it was support for Israel! Egypt has been a loyal friend of the zionist state for decades, Israel has done everything in its power to garner support for them from the West. AIPAC has done everything in its power to make sure the US stands by them!

The tables are turning and the truth is coming to light.  Egypt’s greatest fear at the moment is that the truth might actually set its people free. To prevent this from happening, they shut down the Internet a few days ago, they booted out Al Jazeera. It seems their intention is to prevent the world from seeing what is going on there today. This might have been possible in the days of the Pharaohs, but not today! It’s game over for dictatorships! It’s game over for governments that supported these dictatorships! There’s a new game on the horizon, it’s called PEOPLE POWER! No one can stop that from happening and America’s incongruous Congress better wake up to that fact. They helped get the Egyptian people into the mess they are in today…. it is they that must help get them out of it!

The following skit from Saturday Night Live is meant to be funny (which it is), BUT…. it’s very close to the real picture. Unfortunately, too much of the world is laughing at the situation while the people of Egypt are crying out for Freedom….

Clinton: US Won’t Support Mubarak’s Ouster

Speaking today in a series of television interviews, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated that the Obama Administration does not seek and would not support the ouster of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.

Rather, she insisted that the US wanted Mubarak to listen to those opposition figures who have “legitimate grievances” and move towards a “managed change” and an “orderly transition” toward a somewhat more democratic society.

Clinton even disavowed previous suggestions that the US might revoke its military aid to Egypt, what with the Mubarak regime using its security forces chiefly to kill dissidents, insisting that the US didn’t want to be seen as “backing away” from their long-time ally.

A group of former officials, however, are urging the US to cancel the aid for the time being, insisting that they cannot possibly expect to be seen by the protesters as “neutral” when they are throwing $1.5 billion annually in support at the regime.

Fox News Seems Confused about the Precise Location of Egypt

Screen-shot of Fox New's Unique Depiction of the Middle East
with Egypt Bordering Iran to the North East of Israel
A More Accurate Map Illustrating the Conventional Location of Egypt.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Meet the Al Jazeera Correspondents Who Are Putting American Coverage Of The Egypt Crisis To Shame

Al Jazeera's Shiulie Ghosh

Business Insider

The Arabic news channel Al Jazeera is owning the coverage of the unprecedented uprising happening right now in Egypt.


Amazingly if you're in the United States you can probably see Al Jazeera English online.
Twitter has been full the last day or so of people sending links to various live streams and apps that allow you to do just that.

As reported in the NY Times yesterday, Al Jazeera's coverage over the last 15 years has helped to build a narrative regarding about everyday Arab suffering.

After some initial slow reporting, which resulted in rumors that the emir of Qatar and Al Jazeera founder, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak struck a deal not to report on the protests Al Jazeera kicked into action and "was reporting from the streets in Cairo in its usual manic style."

Since we're just becoming familiar with them, and the whole world is watching, we thought you might want know more about the news anchors of the moment.

Bashing the Messenger: Al Jazeera Blamed by American Press for Egyptian Uprising

LA Times

EGYPT: As protests continue, Al Jazeera's role debated

Security was deteriorating across Egypt late Sunday as protesters mounted fresh marches and rallies in a number of cities.

In Alexandria, protesters marched around barricades meant to keep the streets clear, Al Jazeera reported.

"This protest, this march, has been going on for seven hours now. Clearly, no sign that it's going to abate any time soon," an unnamed Al Jazeera correspondent said.

"We have to remember that Egyptians broke a massive fear barrier on Jan. 25 when they took to the streets ... there's probably not a single main street in Alexandria — no exaggeration — that this march has not passed through."

Meanwhile, pundits and bloggers debated what role the Arab satellite news network has played in the political uprising.

On CNN's Reliable Sources, Howard Kurtz spoke with Al Jazeera’s Washington Bureau Chief Abderrahim Foukara about Bill O’Reilly’s recent comment that Al Jazeera is "spurring on this revolt and encouraging uprisings all over the Muslim world." Foukara disagreed.

"The viewership, the people who are directly involved in these events, they come to Al Jazeera because that's who they feel they can trust with their grievances and their aspirations," Foukara said.
Many academics, bloggers and other outside observers agree, saying Al Jazeera, which has English as well as Arabic-language channels, has evolved to play a similar role in this conflict as CNN did during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

"Al Jazeera saw the gravity of the situation," Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institute in Doha told Reuters, referring to Egypt and Tunisia. "They saw it was going to be big before other people did and that it would stand as one of the historic moments in Arab history."

But so did bloggers and those with Twitter feeds such as "Sandmonkey," who sent dispatches Sunday as he arrived in Tahrir Square ("in tahrir now, everyone here, ppl of ALL classes, army letting us in, v peaceful") protestst grew tense ("word is army has permission to shoot live ammunition at protesters") and he left for Zamalek ("zamalek is a ghost town, inadequate protection even by volunteer committees").

But Marc Lynch, an associate professor at George Washington University, credited Al Jazeera — more than Twitter and other social media— with fostering recent uprisings in Tunisia and other countries.
"Without the new social media, the amazing images of Tunisian protestors might never have escaped the blanket repression of the Ben Ali regime — but it was the airing of these videos on Al Jazeera, even after its office had been shuttered, which brought those images to the mass Arab public and even to many Tunisians who might otherwise not have realized what was happening around their country," Lynch wrote. "This is similar to how the new media empowered Egyptian "Kifaya" protesters in the early 2000s and Lebanese protestors in 2005, but in a significantly changed media space."

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood eyes unity gov't without Mubarak

Mohammed ElBaradei

Gamal Nasser, a spokesman for the Brotherhood, told DPA that his group was in talks with Mohammed ElBaradei - the former UN nuclear watchdog chief - to form a national unity government without the National Democratic Party of Mubarak.

The group is also demanding an end to the draconian Emergency Laws, which grant police wide-ranging powers The laws have been used often to arrest and harass the Islamist group.
Nasser said his group would not accept any new government with Mubarak. On Saturday the Brotherhood called on President Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner following the resignation of the Egyptian cabinet.

Speaking to CNN later Sunday, ElBaradei said he had a popular and political mandate to negotiate the creation of a national unity government.

"I have been authorized -- mandated -- by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government," he told CNN.

"I hope that I should be in touch soon with the army and we need to work together. The army is part of Egypt," the opposition leader added.

Mustafa el-Naggar
Opposition figure Mustafa el-Naggar stated that ElBaradei "will be joining protesters in Tahrir," adding he would come to the square later on Sunday, his first visit to the hub of the protest since returning to Egypt on Thursday.

The Egyptian cabinet formally resigned Saturday at the command of Mubarak, following violent anti-government protests that have now reached their sixth day unabated.

Mubarak has yet to comment on the cabinet's resignation. The embattled president addressed the country on Saturday for the fist time since the riots began, saying that he had no intention to resign.
The protests are the most serious challenge to Mubarak's 30-year authoritarian rule. The embattled president defended the security forces' crackdown on protesters, but said that he will press ahead with social, economic and political reforms in the country.

Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition.

U.S. Forces Deploy to Egypt

Groton - Connecticut National Guard Detachment 2, Company I, 185th Aviation Regiment of Groton has mobilized and will deploy to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, to support the Multinational Force and Observers.

The unit left Connecticut Jan. 15 for Fort Benning, Ga., for further training and validation. The unit operates C-23C Sherpa aircraft and has deployed three times in the last seven years in support of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unit will provide an on-demand aviation asset to the Multinational Force and Observers commander to support its mission of supervising the security provisions of the Egypt/ Israel Peace Treaty.

Chief Warrant Officer Four James Smith of Ivoryton commands the aviation unit.

Is Food the Central Theme for Mass Uprisings?

U.S. exercise in crowd control.  Notice the "Food Now" sign.
After the 30-year reign of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, severe poverty seems to be a driving force behind the massive uprising in the last six days.  Without food, it seems the people had no choice but to take to the streets and demand an equitable solution.  A similar event is anticipated in the United States.  Above, Army National Guard troops conduct an exercise in crowd control and identify the perpetrators as those demanding food.  Will a shortage of food be the primary motivating factor for an uprising in the United States?

J.T. Waldron

Saudi king expresses support for Mubarak

International Business Times

While key western allies U.S., U.K and Germany have expressed their concerns over Egypt President Hosni Mubarak’s handling of the current political crisis, he enjoys the support of at least one regional power.

Saudi Arabia’s state news agency reported that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud criticized the protestors (claiming they are instigated by "infiltrators") and strongly backed Mubarak.

The king said protesters were "exploited to spew out their hatred in destruction . . . inciting a malicious sedition” and that outside agitators “infiltrated into the brotherly people of Egypt, to destabilize its security."

"No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred," King Abdullah was quoted as saying.

"As they condemn this, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people and government declares it stands with all its resources with the government of Egypt and its people," the Saudi agency added.

In addition, the king reportedly phoned Mubarak early Saturday and "reassured” him about the situation in Egypt.

Saudi Arabia and Egypt are widely viewed as “moderate” Arab states and have formed a key U.S.-supported alliance against the fundamentalist Iran.

While the unrest in Tunisia and Egypt has not yet seriously spilled over into other Muslim lands run by authoritarian regimes, rulers like the Saudi king are likely eager to prevent any such disturbances within their borders.

Meanwhile, Iranian officials, meanwhile, expressed their continued support on for the demonstrators in Egypt.

A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry said that Tehran expects Egypt to "respond to (protesters') rightful demands and refrain from exerting violence.”

Egypt shuts down Al Jazeera bureau

Al Jazeera

Network's licences cancelled and accreditation of staff in Cairo withdrawn by order of information minister.

The Egyptian authorities are revoking the Al Jazeera Network's licence to broadcast from the country, and will be shutting down its bureau office in Cairo, state television has said.

"The information minister [Anas al-Fikki] ordered ... suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today," a statement on the official Mena news agency said on Sunday.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it strongly denounces and condemns the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government. The network received notification from the Egyptian authorities on Sunday morning.

"Al Jazeera has received widespread global acclaim for their coverage on the ground across the length and breadth of Egypt," the statement said.

An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless.

'Designed to stifle'

"Al Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists," the statement said.

"In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people.

"Al Jazeera assures its audiences in Egypt and across the world that it will continue its in-depth and comprehensive reporting on the events unfolding in Egypt.

"Al Jazeera journalists have brought unparallelled reporting from the ground from across Egypt in the face of great danger and extraordinary circumstances. Al Jazeera Network is appalled at this latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt."

As their signals have been taken off Nilesat, our Arabic sister channels are now broadcasting on the following new frequencies:

1) New frequency for AJA & AJM on Nilesat 7W:
10949 vertical (new)
SR: 27.500 Msps
FEC: 3/4

2) New frequency for AJA & AJM on Arabsat 26E:
11585 vertical (new)
SR: 27.500 Msps
FEC: 3/4

3) Arabic and Mubasher on Hotbird:
12111 MHz Vertical (Old)
SR: 27.500 Msps
FEC: 3/4

4) Arabic and Mubasher on Arabsat Badr4 (Old):
12034 MHz Horizontal
SR: 27.500
FEC: 3/4

5) Arabic and Mubasher on Arabsat Badr4 (Old):
11996 MHz Horizontal
SR: 27.500
FEC: 3/4

Related video?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Portland Stands in Solidarity with the People of Egypt

Egyptian Police Have Opened Fire on Thousands of Egyptians Outside the Interior Ministry

Dead Protester is carried through
the crowd.

Business Insider
Gus Lubin

It is nighttime in Egypt and the riots continue for the fifth day. More than 100 people have been killed in the protests, according to Al-Jazeera. There is also extensive looting and destruction.

President Hosni Mubarak has announced some changes to his cabinet, but no one is impressed.

Previously at 11:59 ET: Clashes between police and protesters at a Cairo prison have left 8 dead, according to Reuters. No prisoners escaped.

Also looters have destroyed several ancient mummies at a Cairo museum, according to Al-Jazeera.

11:00 ET: Mubarak has appointed his first vice-president in decades and a new prime minister. The VP is former spy chief Omar Suleiman and the prime minister is former airforce chief Ahmed Shafiq.

10:37 ET: Protesters are trying to storm the Interior Ministry again.

9:40 ET: At least three protesters have been killed today in Tahrir Square, Al Jazeera reports. Videos show the bloody body of one protester being carried through the crowd. Reporters say this is actually one of the calmest protests in the country.

9:00 ET: It's 4 PM in Cairo and the curfew has just started. Everyone is ignoring it.

CairoPreviously: Police have opened fire on a crowd of thousands that were trying to storm Egypt's Interior Ministry, Al Jazeera reports.

The protesters are gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square. The army is there too with tanks.

Al-Jazeera correspondents say the horizon is filled with burning buildings from yesterday.

Apparently the protesters were not satisfied by Mubarak's offer to change his cabinet. The president may need to offer more concrete reform.

If Force Escalates Against Citizens of Egypt, Are There Sufficient Arms for the Citizens?

Gun ownership in Egypt:

Number of Privately Owned Firearms

The estimated total number of guns held by civilians in Egypt is 1.9 million

The rate of private gun ownership in Egypt is 3.52 firearms per 100 people

In a comparison of the number of privately owned guns in 178 countries, Egypt ranks at No. 371

In a comparison of the rate of private gun ownership in 179 countries, Egypt ranks at No. 1152

Firearm Regulation - Guiding Policy:

The regulation of guns in Egypt is categorized as restrictive

Guns in Egypt are regulated by the Ministry of the Interior

In Egypt, civilians are not allowed to possess long guns

In Egypt, private possession of handguns (pistols and revolvers) is permitted

In Egypt, only licensed gun owners may lawfully possess firearms and ammunition

Applicants for a gun owner’s licence in Egypt are required to prove genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example, hunting, target shooting, personal protection, security

An applicant for a firearm licence in Egypt must pass background checks which consider criminal, mental and domestic violence records

Where a past history, or apprehended likelihood of family violence exists, the law in Egypt stipulates that a gun licence should be denied or revoked

In Egypt, the law requires that any possession, sale or transfer of a firearm be recorded and retained in a centralised, official register.

Bottom line: If violence escalates (if Egyptian and Israeli troops are brought in to crush the uprising), then it would be difficult for the citizens to offer resistance. They can only rely on outside influences (hope that U.S. supports democracy instead of puppet dictators). It doesn't look good.

White House wobbles on Egyptian tightrope


Simon Tisdall
Washington needs a friendly regime in Cairo more than it needs a democratic government

Caught off guard by the escalating unrest in Egypt, the Obama administration is desperate to avoid any public appearance of taking sides. But Washington's close, longstanding political and military ties to President Hosni Mubarak's regime, plus annual financial support worth about $1.5bn, undermine its claims to neutrality.

While the US favours Egyptian political reform in theory, in practice it props up an authoritarian system for pragmatic reasons of national self-interest. It behaved in much the same way towards Saddam Hussein's regime in the 1980s, when Iraq was at war with Iran. A similar tacit bargain governs relations with Saudi Arabia. That's why, for many Egyptians, the US is part of the problem.

Like tottering tightrope walkers, the balancing act performed by Barack Obama and the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has been excruciating to watch. When the protests kicked off, Clinton urged all parties "to exercise restraint". This phrase is useful when politicians are unsure of their ground.
Clinton also struck a lopsided note. "Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people," she said. Against a backdrop of street battles, beatings-up, teargas, flying bricks, mass detentions and attempts to shut information networks, her words sounded unreal, even foolish.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the establishment rebel who joined the protests, was flabbergasted. "If you would like to know why the United States does not have credibility in the Middle East, that is precisely the answer," he said.

Clinton's emphasis shifted the next day, as if to correct the balance. Mubarak must allow peaceful protests, she said. "I do think it's possible for there to be reforms and that is what we are urging and calling for."

Today she said: "We are deeply concerned about the use of violence by Egyptian police and security forces against protesters. We call on the Egyptian government to do everything in its power to restrain security forces." Still she tried to face both ways: "At the same time, protesters should also refrain from violence and express themselves peacefully."

Obama maintained he had "always" told Mubarak that reform was "absolutely critical". But he also wobbled back in the other direction, saying the Egyptian leader was a good friend. "Egypt's been an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues. Mubarak has been very helpful," Obama said.

Amid the juggling, one fact may be pinned down: the US would not welcome Mubarak's fall and the dislocation a revolution would cause in Egypt and across a chronically unstable region. Gradual reforms of the kind Clinton discussed in a recent speech in Doha about the Arab world, and a competitive presidential election this autumn, would probably be Washington's preferred prescription. As matters stand now, this is the least likely outcome.

Either the regime will suppress the unrest, possibly by ever more brutal means, as happened in Iran in 2009; or the uprising will spiral out of control and the regime will implode, with unpredictable consequences, as in Tunisia. In this latter scenario, one outcome could be a military takeover in the name of national salvation. It has happened before in Egypt, in 1952, when the Free Officers Movement forced King Farouk to abdicate. If it happened again, the US might be expected to endorse it.

That's because, in the final analysis, the US needs a friendly government in Cairo more than it needs a democratic one. Whether the issue is Israel-Palestine, Hamas and Gaza, Lebanon, Iran, security for Gulf oil supplies, Sudan, or the spread of Islamist fundamentalist ideas, Washington wants Egypt, the Arab world's most populous and influential country, in its corner. That's the political and geostrategic bottom line. In this sense, Egypt's demonstrators are not just fighting the regime. They are fighting Washington, too.

Egyptian Protesters Push Back Armed Police


Friday, January 28, 2011

Underwear Bomber Boarded Plane with No Passport


What is happening now in Egypt is historic by all means and all parties involved should acknowledge that and deal with it as such.

By Dr.Ashraf Ezzat / Alexandria, Egypt for Veterans Today

Without beating around the bush or postponing or playing us for fools and without more false promises, we, the people of Egypt, demand all of our long forgotten rights to be granted and this time there is no turning back … we have learned our lesson …we have finally broken free of all fears”

… thus stated a written flier that has been circulating – by banned oppostion -all over major cities of Egypt in thousands of copies on the night before January, 25th or what is now known as the Egyptian day of wrath.

The flier contained a lot of economic and political demands amongst which;
  • Salaries and pensions increase that would cope up with the high prices and to include financial aid to the unemployed wide segment of the youth.
  • Cancel the law of emergency – that gives the government the right to abduct any citizen without need for any law warrant.
  • Egypt is no monarchy. 30 years are more than enough for Mubarak. He must go and his son Gamal- the probable successor or heir to his father’s presidency. 
  • The dissolution of the current parliament- whose elections deemed fraudulent.

  • Fair and democratic parliamentary and presidential elections.

  • Ban Egyptian exports to Israel and mainly the Egyptian natural Gas.
The paper had been written in Arabic slang with a language that reflected a lot of spontaneity and simplicity, nevertheless, it managed to reflect how the Egyptians felt toward their current regime.
Egypt is ruled by an authoritarian and oppressive regime headed by Hosni Mubarak who has been in power for almost 30 years now.

Egypt under Mubarak’s regime

Hosni Mubarak -- Egypt
Egypt – once known amongst Arabs as the mother of the world- that used to be the leader nation of the Arab world during the presidency of late President Nasser has turned during Mubarak’s reign into a shadowy and subordinate political entity.

The deeply rooted corruption of the Mubarak regime has turned one of the oldest agricultural societies on earth into one of the world’s biggest importers of wheat.

Mubarak’s agricultural cooperation with Israel has destroyed Egypt’s production of the world’s finest cotton to be replaced by fields of carcinogenic[i] fruits and vegetables.  Mubarak’s autocratic rule has never allowed the emergence of actively participating secular parties and free democratic elections.

The education and health care systems have dramatically declined during Mubarak’s regime.
Freedom of speech and demonstration has been widely denied and human rights have been violated.

Mubarak has been busy setting the stage for his son Gamal to take over the kingdom he thought was immune from mutiny.

On Tuesday thousands of ordinary Egyptians took to the streets – drived by years of opprssion and not by any foreign agenda - chanting slogans calling for change and freedom.
Throughout the long history of Egypt its people seldom rallied in huge numbers except during the first half of the twentieth century when Egyptians were trying to liberate the country from the British colonialism and one unprecedented time when they spontaneously swarmed the streets in June 1967 denouncing president Nasser`s decision to resign following the setback brought about by the six -day war with Israel.

What is happening now in Egypt is historic by all means and all parties involved should acknowledge that and deal with it as such.

The security forces managed to disperse the nearly thirty thousands protestors who were going to stay afoot and spend the night of Tuesday at Tahrir square in Cairo but that did not deter them, they hit the streets again the following day despite the prosecution and the brutality of the police forces which began to be more aggressive and to even fire live ammunition at protestors especially at the city of Suez  [ii] whose citizens are putting up a courageous street to street fight with police forces.

Egypt could not be compared to Tunisia as far as the security and military apparatus is concerned. Egypt enjoys one of the biggest military and police forces in Africa and the Middle East. But Tunisia has to be given the credit for the domino effect that is sweeping across the Arab world now.

Mubarak – being a former military man – knows very well that he needs the support of the army and police forces to keep his reign safe and secure. That’s why he keeps himself surrounded by a close ring of loyal and strong men in the police and the military and that’s why the downfall of Mubarak won’t be an easy job nor without sacrifice.

The demise of 30 years of authoritarianism

The authoritarian regime of Mubarak has been so stunned and taken by surprise by the swift and abrupt uprising of the Egyptians; it failed to respond yet by any official statement to what has been happening.

One thing is sure now, Mubarak’s credibility has been shattered, he can no longer look in the eyes of any ordinary Egyptian, and to me, this is the clear sign of the end of his long and agonizing reign over Egypt.

What is characteristic of any Muslim Metropolis city like Cairo is the peak of crowd of people that fills the streets and mosques after Friday prayers which often witness reference to the latest national events during its speech – khotbah- delivered by imams.
Most of the historic demonstrations in Egypt – against the French campaign (1789-1803) and against British occupation (1882-1936) erupted by people gathered after they had finished their assembly for Friday prayers at Al-Azhar mosque. Likewise, and keeping this legacy alive, free Egyptians are now calling for the assembly of around one million protestors next Friday to go on a never seen before rallies that will demand that Mubarak should go.
This political unrest in Egypt might take a while, the stubborn regime of Mubarak might buy some time and concede to some of the protestors demans, he might announce that this would be his last term in office and he might want to drive his son – as rumours say-out of the country but what is certain is that the downfall of Mubarak will be -if not next Friday- on any given Friday.

The Egyptian addiction to Authoritarianism is finally coming to an end.
For more posts by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat visit his website at:

Contradictory US Objectives in Egypt Questioned

Worth the watch:

Israeli minister urges Egypt to use force

Note:  Biden has recently made a statement in support of dictator Hosni Mubarak
An Israeli minister says Egyptian government forces will have to exercise force to rein in public protests as the African country is teetering on the brink of a Tunisia-style revolution. 

Inspired by the recent popular revolution in Tunisia, which resulted in the historic overthrow of the country's President Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, Egyptians have staged similar anti-government protests since Tuesday, calling on President Hosni Mubarak to relinquish power after three decades in office.

Meanwhile, an Israeli cabinet minister who spoke on condition of anonymity to Israeli media stated on Thursday that the Egyptian president backed by a strong militarily prowess will eventually subdue the crisis, The Washington Post reported.

"His regime is well-rooted in the military and security apparatus," said the Israeli minister, adding that, "They will have to exercise force, power in the street and do it. But they are strong enough according to my assessment to overcome it."

Egypt, which is widely regarded as the first Arab country to seal peace agreement with Israel three decades ago, remains one of Tel Aviv's most important allies.

On Thursday, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told reporters that Tel Aviv is closely watching the still-unfolding situation in Egypt, and does not see a threat in its ties with the African nation.

"Egypt is the most important country in the Arab world. Egypt has a peace treaty with Israel and we think that the treaty, that the peace treaty with Israel is very strong and the (mutual) interests between the two countries are very big and important," Shalom asserted.

He made the remarks as tens of thousands of Egyptians marched in Cairo and a string of other cities to protest against the 82-year-old Mubarak.

In the city of Suez, along the strategic Suez Canal, protesters set ablaze a fire station and stole weapons that they then turned on police.

Meanwhile, Egyptian security forces took up positions in strategic locations, including Cairo's Tahrir Square, site of the biggest demonstrations this week, raising fears that the government would mount its crackdown on demonstrators.

Richard Falk Reponds to The Lobby’s Vilification

Richard Falk
Veterans Today

Because my blog prompted by the Arizona shootings has attracted many comments pro and con, and more recently has been the object of a more selective public attack on me personally, I thought it appropriate to post a supplementary blog with the purpose of clarifying my actual position and re-focusing attention on the plight and suffering of the Palestinian people being held in captivity. In the background, are crucial issues of free speech, fairness in public discourse, and responsible media treatment of sensitive and controversial affairs of state.

Both the UN Secretary General and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations harshly criticized some remarks in my personal blog that mentioned the 9/11 attacks. They referred to the views expressed there as ‘despicable and deeply offensive,’ ‘noxious, ‘inflammatory,’ and ‘preposterous.’ Their comments were apparently made in response to a letter written to the UN Secretary General by the head of UN Monitor, a Geneva-based highly partisan NGO, that called misleading attention to this passage in the blog. Ambassador Rice called for my dismissal from my unpaid post as an independent Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council with a mandate to report upon the Israeli observance of “human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”

For anyone who read the blog post in its entirety, it should be plain that the reference to the 9/11 issues is both restrained and tangential. What is stressed in the blog is the importance of carefully examining evidence before drawing conclusions about political and legal responsibility for highly sensitive public acts, and the importance for the serenity of the society of achieving closure in a responsible manner. I never endorsed doubts about the official version of 9/11 beyond indicating what anyone who has objectively examined the controversy knows — that there remain certain gaps in the official explanation that give rise to an array of conspiratorial explanations, and that the 9/11 Commission unfortunately did not put these concerns to rest. My plea was intended to encourage addressing these gaps in a credible manner, nothing more, nothing less. I certainly meant no disrespect toward the collective memory of 9/11 in the country and elsewhere. On the contrary, my intention was to encourage an investigation that might finally achieve closure with respect to doubts that remain prevalent among important sectors of the public, including among some 9/11 families.

What seems apparent from this incident, which is itself disturbing, is that any acknowledgement of doubt about the validity of the official version of the 9/11 events, while enjoying the legal protection of free speech, is denied the political and moral protection that are essential if an atmosphere of free speech worthy of a democracy is to be maintained. When high officials can brand someone who raises some doubts in the most cautious language as ‘an enemy of the people,’ then there are either things to hide or a defensive fury that is out of all proportion to the provocation. To seek further inquiry into the unanswered questions about 9/11 is surely not an unreasonable position

What is dismaying to me is that neither the office of the Secretary General nor the U.S. Mission to the United Nation made any effort to contact me to seek clarification of my remarks on these issues that are not connected with my UN role prior to making their insulting criticisms damaging to my reputation. I would think that as a representative of the UN and a citizen of the United States, I am at least entitled to this minimal courtesy, and more substantially, that whatever criticisms are made are based on what I said rather than on a manifestly inflammatory letter written by the UN Monitor, that has made a habit of publicly attacking me in consistently irresponsible and untruthful ways, presumably with the intention of diverting attention from my criticisms of Israel’s occupation policies in the Palestinian territories. It is always more tempting to shoot the messenger than heed the message.

A similar tactic, what I call ‘the politics of deflection’ was deployed over a year ago in a shabby attempt to discredit the distinguished South African jurist, Richard Goldstone, a person of impeccable credentials as an international public servant. The intention was again to avoid a proper focus upon the devastating findings and recommendations of the Goldstone Report submitted to the United Nations after conducting a scrupulous inquiry into the allegations of violation of law associated with the Israeli attacks on Gaza between December 27, 2008 and January 18, 2009.

I remain determined to report as fully and honestly as possible about the massive human rights violations confronting Palestinians who have now lived without rights under occupation for more than 43 years, and to do my best not to let such personal attacks impair my capacity to carry out the assignment that I was invited to perform by the UN.

What the United States Government, the Secretary-General and the media should be focused on is the ongoing, widespread and systematic violation of Palestinians’ human rights by Israel. Only since the beginning of 2011, at least four Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli forces and more than 33 others have been injured. This is in addition to the expansion of settlements, home demolitions, forced evictions and displacement of Palestinian families, revocation of residency permits and forced transfers, particularly devastating in East Jerusalem, detention and mistreatment of over 6000 Palestinians, including children, as well as the illegal blockade of Gaza. My forthcoming report to the Human Rights Council addresses these and other severe ongoing violations of Palestinian rights by Israel.

- Richard Falk is an international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years. Since 2002 he has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Read more articles by Richard Falk.


Desert Peace

The Mubarak dictatorship is a core pillar of the U.S./Israeli order in the Middle East, an order that completely ignores the wishes and aspirations of people on the ground.  The U.S. and Israel are scared of the new order that is to come.

The Egyptian intifada and what it may mean for Israel/Palestine

Posted by Alex Kane 
The Egyptian uprising against the Mubarak regime is historic and important in its own right.  But it may also lead to significant changes in the region that could be positive for the Palestinian cause.  Israel is worried about a reliable ally being toppled next door.

The Mubarak dictatorship is a core pillar of the U.S./Israeli order in the Middle East, an order that completely ignores the wishes and aspirations of people on the ground.  The U.S. and Israel are scared of the new order that is to come.
As As’ad Abu Khalil notes at his blog, “the Israeli strategy in the Middle East has been firmly set on the continuity of the Sadat-Mubarak dictatorship.”  

Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt in 1979 removed a military threat to Israel and secured millions of U.S. dollars and military support for the Egyptian dictatorship.  The Mubarak regime got carte blanche for its repressive rule.

Currently, there is extensive cooperation between Egypt and Israel. Cables obtained by WikiLeaks, and published by Counterpunch, reveal that the Israeli military coordinated bombing runs with the Egyptian military during the 2008-09 assault on Gaza and closed the Rafah border when told in advance that Israel’s ground invasion was to begin.  WikiLeaks’ documents shed further light on Egypt currently building a wall meant to choke off smuggling tunnels into the Gaza Strip.

The fall of the Mubarak regime, which is what the youth revolt currently sweeping Egypt is calling for, could mean a number of things related to the siege of Gaza, continued efforts to crush Hamas and the political situation Israel finds itself in.
All told, what happens in Egypt will not stay in Egypt.  It will have ripple effects across the Middle East, and especially in Israel/Palestine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Robert Fisk: A new truth dawns on the Arab world

The Independent

Leaked Palestinian files have put a region in revolutionary mood

The Palestine Papers are as damning as the Balfour Declaration. The Palestinian "Authority" – one has to put this word in quotation marks – was prepared, and is prepared to give up the "right of return" of perhaps seven million refugees to what is now Israel for a "state" that may be only 10 per cent (at most) of British mandate Palestine.

And as these dreadful papers are revealed, the Egyptian people are calling for the downfall of President Mubarak, and the Lebanese are appointing a prime minister who will supply the Hezbollah. Rarely has the Arab world seen anything like this. 

To start with the Palestine Papers, it is clear that the representatives of the Palestinian people were ready to destroy any hope of the refugees going home. 

It will be – and is – an outrage for the Palestinians to learn how their representatives have turned their backs on them. There is no way in which, in the light of the Palestine Papers, these people can believe in their own rights. 

They have seen on film and on paper that they will not go back. But across the Arab world – and this does not mean the Muslim world – there is now an understanding of truth that there has not been before. 

It is not possible any more, for the people of the Arab world to lie to each other. The lies are finished. The words of their leaders – which are, unfortunately, our own words – have finished. It is we who have led them into this demise. It is we who have told them these lies. And we cannot recreate them any more. 

In Egypt, we British loved democracy. We encouraged democracy in Egypt – until the Egyptians decided that they wanted an end to the monarchy. Then we put them in prison. Then we wanted more democracy. It was the same old story. Just as we wanted Palestinians to enjoy democracy, providing they voted for the right people, we wanted the Egyptians to love our democratic life. Now, in Lebanon, it appears that Lebanese "democracy" must take its place. And we don't like it.

We want the Lebanese, of course, to support the people who we love, the Sunni Muslim supporters of Rafiq Hariri, whose assassination – we rightly believe – was orchestrated by the Syrians. And now we have, on the streets of Beirut, the burning of cars and the violence against government. 

And so where are we going? Could it be, perhaps, that the Arab world is going to choose its own leaders? Could it be that we are going to see a new Arab world which is not controlled by the West? When Tunisia announced that it was free, Mrs Hillary Clinton was silent. It was the crackpot President of Iran who said that he was happy to see a free country. Why was this? 

In Egypt, the future of Hosni Mubarak looks ever more distressing. His son, may well be his chosen successor. But there is only one Caliphate in the Muslim world, and that is Syria. Hosni's son is not the man who Egyptians want. He is a lightweight businessman who may – or may not – be able to rescue Egypt from its own corruption. 

Hosni Mubarak's security commander, a certain Mr Suleiman who is very ill, may not be the man. And all the while, across the Middle East, we are waiting to see the downfall of America's friends. In Egypt, Mr Mubarak must be wondering where he flies to. In Lebanon, America's friends are collapsing. This is the end of the Democrats' world in the Arab Middle East. We do not know what comes next. Perhaps only history can answer this question.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Obama: earmarks merit vetoes, Guantanamo closure doesn't

Josh Gerstein

President Barack Obama plans to take a bold stand against earmarks in his State of the Union address, vowing to veto any bill that contains spending projects selected by individual lawmakers.

However, just a couple of weeks ago, Obama declined to veto a bill that he said contained a threat to U.S. national security.

In a statement on the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, Obama called the bill's ban on moving Guantanamo prisoners to the U.S. a "dangerous and unprecedented challenge to critical executive branch authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and the circumstances of each case and our national security interests."

"The prosecution of terrorists in Federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation and must be among the options available to us. Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our Nation's counterterrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security," Obama said.

However, Obama went on to sign the legislation, citing "the importance of authorizing appropriations for, among other things, our military activities in 2011."

By promising to veto any spending bill, no matter how important, because it contains earmarks, he appears to be placing a greater importance on spending restraint than on defending his Guantanamo closure plan, which he and aides have repeatedly described as a national security imperative.

As president, Obama has vetoed only two bills: an electronic notarization bill that some said could worsen abuses in the foreclosure process, and a stopgap spending measure that was rendered unnecessary by other legislation.

US defends Israeli flotilla attack

Note:  This is how the United States government reacts when a U.S. citizen is murdered in international waters by Israeli forces. 

Press TV

The US has described an Israeli probe into a raid on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla aid convoy that killed nine Turkish activists as a "credible and impartial" effort.

The praise came after an Israeli investigation panel declared Tel Aviv's military attack on the Freedom Flotilla as "legal" under international law, Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported.

The panel also claimed that the Israeli soldiers who took part in the killing of the nine activists acted in self-defense.

The activists aboard the aid convoy, which was attacked in international waters, were unarmed and only planned to deliver aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

"We think that this is an independent report, credible and impartial and transparent investigation that has been undertaken by Israel," US State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said on Monday.

This is while an independent Turkish committee investigating the incident concluded on Sunday that "the Israeli Army used excessive force against the Mavi Marmara [the lead ship of the six-vessel fleet].”

Israeli commandos attacked the convoy in international waters on May 31, 2010, killing nine Turkish activists and injuring about 50 others.

The Israeli assault on the aid convoy provoked an international outcry, prompting Knesset members to set up a commission to investigate the legality of the raid as well as Israel's blockade of Gaza.

Responding to the Israeli report, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that the report had "no value or credibility," with the Turkish Foreign Ministry issuing a statement saying it was "appalled and dismayed" at the Israeli investigative committee's finding.

9/11: 'Awkward gaps and contradictions in official explanations' - You betcha!

Citizens for Legitimate Government

We read: US fury over UN expert's 9/11 'cover-up' claims 25 Jan 2011 The United States on Tuesday demanded the sacking of a UN human rights expert for "noxious" [?] comments claiming there had been a US cover-up over the September 11 attacks... The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, called Falk's views "despicable and deeply offensive" and said she had registered a protest and called for his dismissal. Falk wrote in his personal blog on January 11 that there are "awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations" given for the attacks when hijacked [sic] jets crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. He said there was "an apparent cover-up" by the US government over its knowledge of the attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden. Falk said mainstream US media had been "unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an Al-Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials."

Except that the events of September 11th were not a 'bin Laden' operation.
They were a Cheney/Neo-con operation, six ways to Sunday.

I'd like to know *once and for all* how Osama bin Laden was able to command NORAD to 'stand down' the morning of the 9/11 attacks? I'd also like to know how bin Laden was able to 'pull' Lucky Larry's Building 7 (which, incidentally, was announced as having collapsed on the BBC before it even (exploded then) fell -- truth be damned). Bin Laden gave the order to shoot down a US commercial aircraft over Shanksville, PA? And, the lone terrorist rushed to squander, apparently in conjunction with the FBI -- like a squirrel in the dead of winter -- the surveillance footage of the 'plane' that hit the Pentagon? Osama bin Laden was responsible for 'huge surges in purchases of put options on stocks of the two airlines used in the attack -- United Airlines and American Airlines?'

Answer: He didn't. And I'd like to know how the paper passports were located of the so-called hijackers (many of whom, incidentally, were later found alive), but not the Black Boxes? LOL. And when my IQ drops fifty points overnight, and I lose every vestige of common sense and integrity, I'll accept and espouse the US 'official' explanation of the events surrounding 9/11. Until then, shut the f*ck up and stop calling 9/11 Truth people 'conspiracy' theorists.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Let the U.S. Charge Richard Falk with Slander

We understand the legal absurdity of the title of this piece, but it matches the absurdity in accusing Richard Falk of slander.  Here is the written statement by U.S. Ambassador Susan E. Rice concerning Richard Falk:


I am appalled by the recent personal blog written by Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.”

In this blog post, dated January 11, 2011, Mr. Falk endorses the slurs of conspiracy theorists who allege that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were perpetrated and then covered up by the U.S. government and media.

Mr. Falk’s comments are despicable and deeply offensive, and I condemn them in the strongest terms. I have registered a strong protest with the UN on behalf of the United States. The United States has in the past been critical of Mr. Falk’s one-sided and politicized approach to his work for the UN, including his failure to condemn deliberate human rights abuses by Hamas, but these blog comments are in another category altogether.

In my view, Mr. Falk’s latest commentary is so noxious that it should finally be plain to all that he should no longer continue in his position on behalf of the UN. I would note that U.S. and many other diplomats walked out in protest in September 2010 when Iranian President Ahmadinejad made similarly slanderous remarks before the UN General Assembly.

The United States is deeply committed to the cause of human rights and believes that cause will be better advanced without Mr. Falk and the distasteful sideshow he has chosen to create.

Editor's note:  Rice claims Falk's latest commentary has "similarly slanderous remarks" to Iranian President Ahmadinejad.

To Ambassador Rice,

You describe Richard Falk's statements about 9/11 as slanderous.  Care to describe how his statements are slanderous?  Do you choose to ignore the solid science from over 1400 licensed and practicing architects and engineers who are demanding a new investigation into 9/11?  You could find their work on the following site:

Better yet, how about finding someone willing to sue Richard Falk for slander over his 9/11 statements?  If you are so confident in your government's official conspiracy theory for 9/11, why not put it to the test and give Richard Falk subpoena power? That way you could prove that jets do demolish skyscrapers. 

Oops, that's right.  Truth is the ultimate defense against an accusation of slander.

Weigh in on the Ambassador's opinion line:  1-212-415-4062

Or send and email

Torture, homicide rife in U.S. prisons

Tehran Times

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released new documents revealing widespread abuse of detainees in U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay.
New documents obtained by the ACLU show “unjustified homicide” of detainees and concerns about the condition of confinement in American prisons, CNN reported on Saturday.

Thousands of documents detailing the deaths of 190 detainees were released by the ACLU on Friday.

The U.S. military has provided the documents under a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the rights group.

The documents reveal how four Iraqi detainees were executed by a group of U.S. soldiers and then pushed into a Baghdad canal in 2007.

One of the investigating documents says a wounded detainee was killed by an unnamed sergeant, who walked into the room where the detainee was lying wounded and “assaulted him … then shot him twice thus killing him.”

The soldier then asked the other troopers present at the scene to lie about the incident.

In another case, it is revealed that a soldier “committed the offense of murder when he shot and killed an unarmed Afghan male.” But, according to the ACLU, the individual was found not guilty of murder by general court-martial.

No senior officials have been held accountable for the violations.

“So far, the documents released by the government raise more questions than they answer, but they do confirm one troubling fact: that no senior officials have been held to account for the widespread abuse of detainees.

Without real accountability for these abuses, we risk inviting more abuse in the future,” the ACLU said in a statement.

The U.S. Defense Department disputes the allegations, saying it takes detainee treatment seriously.

“Although there have been cases of individuals involved in misconduct, there is no evidence of systematic abuse by the United States military,” said Pentagon spokeswoman, Lt. Col. Tanya Bradsher.

“The (Defense) Department has detained more than 100,000 individuals in Iraq and Afghanistan, many with pre-existing medical conditions or battlefield wounds. Detainees in DoD custody have died from a number of causes including enemy attacks, detainee-on-detainee violence, battlefield injuries, and natural causes,” she added.

A report issued by the U.S.-based Open Society Foundation released in last October, showed that American prison guards mistreated Afghan detainees held at the notorious U.S.-run Bagram prison camp and airbase in Afghanistan.

Former Bagram detainees say their U.S. prison officers placed them in solitary confinement, abused them and prevented them from observing religious rituals.

Over 800 detainees are being held at the Bagram military base alone. The secret prison became a symbol of prisoner abuse after U.S. troops beat two detainees to death there in 2002.

U.N. chief condemns rights expert's 9/11 comments

Professor Richard Falk
(Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "preposterous" comments by a U.N.-appointed expert on Palestinian rights that there was a cover-up over the September 11 attacks, Ban's chief of staff said on Monday.

The official, Vijay Nambiar, said however that it was not up to Ban to fire the expert, U.S. academic Richard Falk, as demanded by UN Watch, a Geneva-based advocacy group.

Falk wrote in a blog this month that there had been an "apparent cover-up" by U.S. authorities over the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which hijackers flew airliners into the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon near Washington.

He said mainstream media had been "unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an al Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials."
In a letter to Ban last Thursday, UN Watch director Hillel Neuer called on the U.N. chief to "strongly condemn Mr. Falk's offensive remarks -- and ... immediately remove him from his post."

A letter of reply from Nambiar said Ban "condemns (Falk's) remarks. He has repeatedly stated his view that any such suggestion is preposterous -- and an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in the attack."

Nambiar said Falk and other rights experts were not appointed by Ban but by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, a 47-nation body created by the U.N. General Assembly in 2006. "Their continuance in their jobs is thus for the Council to decide," he added.

UN Watch says on its website it is a non-governmental organization, accredited with the United Nations and affiliated with the American Jewish Committee, that aims to monitor U.N. performance against the yardstick of the U.N. Charter.

It supports U.N. goals but frequently criticizes the Human Rights Council, saying it constantly berates Israel but ignores many rights violations by developing countries. It has often targeted Falk, the council's special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, for anti-Israeli comments.
In a statement, Neuer welcomed Nambiar's letter but said the Human Rights Council could not be trusted to fire Falk. He said Ban and U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay had "the power and responsibility to play an influential and decisive role."

Office of the President of the General Assembly United Nations
New York, NY
Fax: (212) 963-3301

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