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by Fran on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:36:34 PM EST
Israeli army orders confiscation of Palestinian land in West Bank | Israel and the Middle East | Guardian Unlimited
The Israeli army has ordered the seizure of Palestinian land surrounding four West Bank villages apparently in order to hugely expand settlements around Jerusalem, it emerged yesterday.

The confiscation happened as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met to prepare the ground for a meeting hosted by President George Bush in the United States aimed at reviving a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

However, critics said the confiscation of land suggested that Israel was imposing its own solution on the Palestinians through building roads, barriers and settlements that would render a Palestinian state unviable.

The land seized forms a corridor from East Jerusalem to Jericho and is intended to be used for a road that would be for Palestinians only. Analysts said the road would run on one side of the Israeli security barrier, while the existing Jerusalem-Jericho road would be reserved for Israelis.

by Fran on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:38:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The confiscation happened as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators met to prepare the ground for a meeting hosted by President George Bush in the United States aimed at reviving a diplomatic solution to the conflict.

Same old, same old. Now if the Palestinians react to this blatant land grab, the Israelis can say "look, we tried again to bring peace through these negotiations here, but they just were not interested."

You have a normal feeling for a moment, then it passes. --More--
by tzt (tzt) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 06:25:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can-not-bear-it:  Apartheid wall, apartheid roads... to be spun as ´peace´???

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 11:54:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
US Supreme Court Denies El-Masri Appeal on CIA Rendition | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 09.10.2007
The United States Supreme Court refused to review the case of a German man who alleges he was kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA.

The US high court did not give an explanation for its decision on Tuesday, Oct. 9, to refuse the appeal of Khaled el-Masri, a Lebanese-born German. US administration officials had called on the court to reject the case on national security grounds, arguing a public trial would reveal state secrets.

 

"We are very disappointed," el-Masri's German lawyer Manfred Gnjidic said of the decision, according to the Associated Press. "This is going to completely shake all confidence in the American justice system."

by Fran on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:40:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very depressing to wonder: Does a state's security always stands above an individual?

The problem here seems that the priority of the state is now enshrined in law and the Supreme Court sticks to the law... And because this is a funny foreigner suing the state of another nation, he can't appeal to the USA Constitution...?

So we return to the problem of the executive branch...and international crime...

by Nomad on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 08:33:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The states secrets privilege is one of the scariest instruments the U.S. government wields.

And though it is politically much easier to get away with using it against non-U.S. citizens, it can and has been used just as easily against U.S. citizens, too.

There must be some way to protect genuinely sensitive national security matters while at the same time allowing for crimes to be tried and judged.  Ideally, there should also be some independent oversight committee in place to evaluate whether each invocation of states secret privilege is merited and proper, or if it is being abused for purely political reasons.

The key to culture is religion. Daniel Dennett @ TED (Feb 2006)

by marco on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 08:53:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ElBaradei in India, but ready to wait- Politics/Nation-News-The Economic Times
MUMBAI: On a day when the Left parties managed to extract an assurance from the UPA government that the Indo-US nuclear deal will not be discussed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), its chief Mohamed ElBaradei said he is willing to wait.

In Mumbai on a day's tour, Mr ElBaradei said he would wait till India is ready to approach the IAEA. He also exuded confidence about the talks, whenever they are held, being fruitful. "When India talks, the dialogue is always fruitful. I will wait till India gets ready to approach the IAEA," he said in a brief interaction with media persons on the sidelines of a programme at Tata Memorial Centre's Kharghar facility.

Asked whether the government of India had approached the IAEA, Mr ElBaradei did not give a direct reply. "Whenever they are ready, they will approach the IAEA, and I will wait for them," he said.

Answering a query about the prospects of the deal coming through in the context of the charged political climate in India, Mr ElBaradei said he is confident about India's ability to walk the talk.
by Fran on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
New York Times: An Israeli Strike on Syria Kindles Debate in the U.S.

A sharp debate is under way in the Bush administration about the significance of the Israeli intelligence that led to last month's Israeli strike inside Syria, according to current and former American government officials. <...>

It has long been known that North Korean scientists have aided Damascus in developing sophisticated ballistic missile technology, and there appears to be little debate that North Koreans frequently visited a site in the Syrian desert that Israeli jets attacked Sept. 6. Where officials disagree is whether the accumulated evidence points to a Syrian nuclear program that poses a significant threat to the Middle East.

Mr. Cheney and his allies have expressed unease at the decision last week by President Bush and Ms. Rice to proceed with an agreement to supply North Korea with economic aid in return for the North's disabling its nuclear reactor. Those officials argued that the Israeli intelligence demonstrates that North Korea cannot be trusted. They also argue that the United States should be prepared to scuttle the agreement unless North Korea admits to its dealing with the Syrians. <...>

The Israeli strike occurred at a particularly delicate time for American diplomatic efforts. In addition to the North Korean nuclear negotiations, the White House is also trying to engineer a regional Middle East peace conference that would work toward a comprehensive peace accord between Arabs and Israelis.



The key to culture is religion. Daniel Dennett @ TED (Feb 2006)
by marco on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:54:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has long been known that North Korean scientists have aided Damascus in developing sophisticated ballistic missile technology, and there appears to be little debate that North Koreans frequently visited a site in the Syrian desert that Israeli jets attacked Sept. 6.

Thus, a cooperative military relationship has been established unequivocally in the reader's mind between North Korea and Syria.

Furthermore, many readers may easily confuse and conflate "ballistic missile technology" with "nuclear technology".  I almost did.

(The confusion between "ballistic missile" and "nuclear" technologies might have been primed by an earlier article in the Washington Post, just one week after the attack:

N. Korea, Syria May Be at Work on Nuclear Facility )

The key to culture is religion. Daniel Dennett @ TED (Feb 2006)

by marco on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 12:11:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From the article:

Mr. Cheney and his allies have expressed unease at the decision last week by President Bush and Ms. Rice to proceed with an agreement to supply North Korea with economic aid in return for the North's disabling its nuclear reactor.

From Joseph Cirincione on September 14:

This time it appears aimed at derailing the U.S.-North Korean agreement that administration hardliners think is appeasement. Some Israelis want to thwart any dialogue between the U.S. and Syria.

Also, in addition to potentially disrupting the North Korean nuclear negotiations -- and perhaps also the Middle East peace conference (the "dialogue between the U.S. and Syria" that Cirincione mentions) -- the attack allowed U.S. and Israeli strategists to test the effectiveness of the Pantsyr-S1E air defense missles  used both by Syria and Iran, to better a plan a possible attack on Iran and/or to send an oblique message to Iran.

These two objectives (perhaps there were others) would have dovetailed nicely as a reason to greenlight the airstrike on this Syrian site... assuming, of course, that intelligence about a North Korea-assisted nuclear arms program turns out to have been wrong.  (However, on that, please see Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson's comments on this September 21 Worldview interview.)

Regarding the intentional disruption of peace initiatives in the Middle East, an interview I just heard with Israeli-Iranian relations expert Trita Parsi, who is promoting his new book Treacherous Alliance - The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States, made the idea sound more plausible.  In the interview, Parsi says:

In 1991-93, that's when you see the real shift in Israeli-Iranian relations.  Because that's when the Cold War ended, and that's when Iraq was defeated in the first Persian Gulf War.  So the two threats that were pushing Iran and Israel closer together evaporated.  And there was a new security environment in the Middle East, a new environment that actually was beneficial to both Israel and to Iran, but at the same time, created a situation in which they felt that they were both unchecked.  There was no longer an Iraq that could balance Iran from the Israeli perspective.  And they started to view each other as a potential threat, and that's when this rivalry starts to emerge.  And from that time, particularly with the peace process and failed Iranian attempts to reach out to the United States, both Israel and Iran have undermined U.S. foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East, that they deemed beneficial to the other.

How so?

The Iranians, for instance, sought to undermine the peace process because they feared that if the peace process would have been successful, it would have given Israel a tremendous benefit in the region and would have created an Israel-centric Middle East order based on Iran's prolonged isolation, because everything they had done to be able to mend fences with the United States had failed.  Israel, on the other hand, after 1993, feared that if the United States and Iran negotiated, the United States would betray Israeli security interests in such a dialogue because of the tremendous amounts of strategic benefits a better relationship with Iran could give the United States.  And in that type of situation, Israel's concerns would no longer be as important.  And the Israelis and AIPAC have for quite some time undermined efforts to be able to have a rapprochement between the United States and Iran.

Here Parsi is talking about Iranian and Israeli efforts to undermine constructive intiatives for peace in the Middle East.  In this particular instance, Cirincione  suggests that the Israel may have desired to obstruct dialogue between the U.S. and Syria (though I didn't know there was any imminent warming of relations between the two countries.)  However, I don't see why the same principle could not have been applied by Cheney himself with respect to nuclear negotiations with North Korea: if he thinks taking a harder stance towards North Korea is the best policy, then it would be in his interest to subvert the nuclear talks in the short term, and accusing North Korea of assisting Syria in building a nuclear arms program and letting Israel take it out in a top-secret operation that no one can really ascertain the truth of might be one way he wanted to do this.

Is Cirincione's notion too contrived and conspiratorial?

The key to culture is religion. Daniel Dennett @ TED (Feb 2006)

by marco on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 01:04:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This stuff has been going on for years. See, for instance, this from 2005.

SyriaComment.com: Syria is being Set Up to Fail: A Leaked Letter from Washington (October 23, 2005)

For over a year Syria has been trying to cooperate with the West on the Iraq border, on the issue of terrorism finance, on the issue of stopping Jihadists from getting into Syria, on intelligence sharing, and on stabilizing Iraq.

Washington has consistently refused to take "Yes" as an answer. Why? The only credible reason is because Washington wants regime change in Syria. The US administration is sacrificing American soldiers in Iraq in order to carry out its program of "reforming the Greater Middle East." Two US policies are clashing head to head - the one is stabilizing Iraq and the other is the reform of the greater Middle East. President Bush is placing his democracy policy over his Iraq policy. This is costing American and Iraqi lives.


We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 03:32:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Mr. Cheney and his allies have expressed unease

Yeah, I suppose if you think of a permanent state of war as utopia, a semblance of an attempt at diplomacy would make you feel a bit uneasy.

"The basis of optimism is sheer terror" - Oscar Wilde

by NordicStorm (m<-at->sturmbaum.net) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 06:37:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / World - Corporate America racked by uncertainty
Corporate America racked by uncertainty

Published: October 9 2007 20:07

Corporate America is braced for the worst period of economic uncertainty since the start of the decade as the credit squeeze and the housing meltdown heighten the risk of a US slowdown.

US chief executives say the economic outlook has not been so difficult to read since the last recession in 2000-01. They warn that in spite of signs of a pick-up, the threat of an economic contraction is still alive.

Conflicting economic indicators and volatile business conditions make it difficult to take strategic decisions such as whether to hire or fire staff, or increase or slash capital expenditure, business leaders told the Financial Times.

They said they would watch the third-quarter earnings reporting season, which begins this week, to gauge whether companies had managed to cushion the twin blows from the housing crisis and the liquidity squeeze.

Earnings growth is ex­pected to have sagged to an average annual rate of 0.8 per cent in the third quarter, the slowest pace since 2002, Thomson Financial says.

"I don't think anybody knows for sure exactly what the consumer is going to do this fall," Ken Hicks, the president of JC Penney, the department store chain, recently told investors.

Chief executives of companies with international operations are more bullish, arguing that the weak dollar and solid global growth should offset domestic ­weakness.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 01:00:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a sign that latest corporate statistics is developing not to usual expectations, and Big Men don't have real clue what comes next. Without knowledge how to keep the party going, reality will bite. Even if Dow Jones keeps breaking records for now. You have to be an Anti-Robin hood to keep saving Wall Street. How many helicopters does Ben need?
by das monde on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 02:42:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Cue an onslaught of articles about how sclerotic America badly needs reform.

[waits patiently to sound of crickets]

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 09:18:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
http://dailypaul.com/node/2406

Printing more money is the Fed's typical answer, but we are on the verge of runaway inflation. We have printed so many dollars now that we are at parity with the Canadian dollar for the first time since 1976. Since the Fed stopped publishing M3, which tracks the total supply of dollars in the economy, we can't even be sure how many dollars they are creating. Reported inflation is around 2%, but the method for calculating inflation changed in the 1980's, largely at Mr. Greenspan's urging. Private economists using the original method find actual inflation to be over 10%, which matches more closely the pain consumers in the real economy feel.


Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 12:31:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com / Europe - China resists European pressure on currency
China resists European pressure on currency

The European Union and China locked horns over exchange rates on Tuesday after authorities in Beijing deflected a European call for a rise in the level of the renminbi.

Only hours after eurozone finance ministers said the renminbi's exchange rate should more accurately reflect the country's vast and growing current account surplus, China's central bank set a noticeably low official reference rate for the currency against the dollar.

Market participants interpreted the action as a signal that China has no intention to yield to foreign pressure for a faster appreciation of the renminbi against the currencies of its western trade partners, although there was no firm evidence of this.

China pledged to manage the renminbi against a basket of global currencies when it broke its decade-old US dollar peg in mid-2005. But the currency since then has appeared to track the greenback rather than trade more broadly.

The 13-nation eurozone's ministers [...] announced that Mr Almunia, Mr Juncker and Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank president, would travel to China before the end of the year for high-level discussions on exchange rates and other issues.

For many eurozone ministers the problem was that the use of stronger language against the Americans might have risked playing into the hands of France and its unremitting public campaign against the ECB.



"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 01:09:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
carbon tax. On imports if necessary.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 04:45:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
2 Iraqi Women Killed in Shooting by Security Convoy - New York Times

BAGHDAD, Oct. 9 -- Two women died here on Tuesday when their white Oldsmobile was riddled by automatic gunfire from guards for a private security company, just weeks after a shooting by another company strained relations between the United States and Iraq.

The guards involved in the Tuesday shooting were working for an Australian-run security company. But the people they were assigned to protect work under the same United States government agency whose security guards sprayed bullets across a crowded Baghdad square on Sept. 16, an episode that caused an uproar among Iraqi officials and is still being investigated by the United States.

In the Tuesday shooting, as many as 40 bullets struck the car, killing the driver and the woman in the front seat on the passenger side. A woman and a boy in the back seat survived, according to witnesses and local police officials in the Karada neighborhood, where the shooting took place on a boulevard lined with appliance stores, tea shops and money changers.[...]

A priest and relatives near the scene said that all of the people in the car were Armenian Christians, who make up a small minority group in Iraq. The Oldsmobile was shot once in the radiator, witnesses said, in front of a plumbing supply store as it approached a convoy of white sport utility vehicles 50 yards away.

As the car kept rolling, a barrage of gunfire suddenly tore through its hood, roof and windshield, as well as the passenger side.

Interesting that the Times makes such a point of the Oldsmobile, and buries the religion/ethnicity way far down. The other reports in US media I've seen feature the word "Christian" in the first or second graf.

Either way, a "now they're shooting our people" meme seems to be creeping in here.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 04:04:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Jeniva Jalal has a name

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 04:46:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a "now they're shooting our people" meme seems to be creeping in here

Iraq's Christians have been an endangered species pretty much since the 2003 invasion.

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 04:50:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But up to now the rentasoldiers have not been known for shooting Christians.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 06:23:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"just weeks after a shooting by another company strained relations between the United States and Iraq."

Well sure,
as if the "government" of Iraq had any actual autonomy from it's contemporary, the U.S. government, to complain through diplomatic channels! The NY Times' subtle propaganda is lost on the vast majority of ignorant Americans who will read this and forget completely that they (America) are a brutal occupation force.

To say that I'm ashamed of my nationality is the understatement of the century.

by supersoling on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 06:42:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC: Europe fights capital punishment
Europe is marking its first anti-death penalty day, despite moves from Poland to block the event, calling for it also to condemn abortion and euthanasia.

The day was taken over by the Council of Europe, a human rights body, after Poland's veto threatened to derail an EU-sponsored event.

The event is being held in conjunction with a global anti-death penalty day.

Capital punishment is banned in all 27 EU states but Poland's president called on the EU to reintroduce it last year.

And in related news, it's the world day against the death penalty.

by IdiotSavant on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 07:44:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
CBC: Ontarians head to the polls
The polls open in Ontario Wednesday morning, with more than eight million people eligible to cast a ballot in a general election and historic referendum.

For the first time since 1924, Ontarians will be asked a referendum question -- whether to keep the current electoral system or switch to a mixed-member proportional system.

The referendum is the most interesting part - they're looking at MMP with effectively no threshold.  Unfortunately, the deck has been stacked against it - to pass it needs 60% support plus a majority in 60% of ridings, so the local Liberal party will likely continue to enjoy disproportionate representation for some time to come.

by IdiotSavant on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 08:20:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NATO Press Release
On 9 October NATO and Egypt finalised the Individual Cooperation Programme (ICP) under the enhanced Mediterranean Dialogue.

The Ambassador of Egypt Dr. Mahamoud Karem stated: "The Egyptian Individual Cooperation Programme has a future goal which aims at achieving and strengthening cooperation between Egypt and NATO in several important areas, Egypt believes that it has managed to develop an excellent ICP, which reflects precisely its priorities and I look forward to the implementation of the Individual Cooperation Programme in the near future".

From a Dutch journalist (I lost the link, major power-down in our street for several hours):
Nato will deliver material (night-vision...) to seal more tightly the border with Gaza to stop arms-smuggling to the Palestinians.

Or how the US manipulates NATO for its own goals...


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Wed Oct 10th, 2007 at 10:16:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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