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Investing in Junk Armies
Why American Efforts to Create Foreign Armies Fail
(By William J. Astore) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - In June, tens of thousands of Iraqi Security Forces in Nineveh province north of Baghdad collapsed in the face of attacks from the militants of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS), abandoning four major cities to that extremist movement. The collapse drew much notice in our media, but not much in the way of sustained analysis of the American role in it. To put it bluntly, when confronting IS and its band of lightly armed irregulars, a reputedly professional military, American-trained and -armed, discarded its weapons and equipment, cast its uniforms aside, and melted back into the populace. What this behavior couldn’t have made clearer was that U.S. efforts to create a new Iraqi army, much-touted and funded to the tune of $25 billion over the 10 years of the American occupation ($60 billion if you include other reconstruction costs), had failed miserably....

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Risen’s New Book Exposes Corrupt Zealotry of ‘US War on Terror’ (Norman Solomon) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - ...Obama performed a neat political trick: he took the national security state that had grown to such enormous size under Bush and made it his own. In the process, Obama normalized the post-9/11 measures that Bush had implemented on a haphazard, emergency basis. Obama’s great achievement – or great sin – was to make the national security state permanent. "In fact, as trillions of dollars have poured into the nation’s new homeland security-industrial complex, the corporate leaders at its vanguard can rightly be considered the true winners of the war on terror... Of all the abuses America has suffered at the hands of the government in its endless war on terror, possibly the worst has been the war on truth ...

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Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq (Full Report ) (Amnesty International) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - Shi’a militias, supported and armed by the government of Iraq, have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians in recent months and enjoy total impunity for these war crimes, said Amnesty International in a new briefing published today. Absolute Impunity: Militia Rule in Iraq provides harrowing details of sectarian attacks carried out by increasingly powerful Shi’a militias in Baghdad, Samarra and Kirkuk, apparently in revenge for attacks by the armed group that calls itself the Islamic State (IS). Scores of unidentified bodies have been discovered across the country handcuffed and with gunshot wounds to the head, indicating a pattern of deliberate execution-style killings. "By granting its blessing to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fuelling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that is tearing the country apart. Iraqi government support for militia rule must end now," said Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International’s Senior Crisis Response Adviser...

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The legendary piano of Yarmouk (Moe Ali Nayel) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - There is a piano that continues to survive alongside the Palestinians in besieged Yarmouk refugee camp near Damascus. Earlier this year the piano appeared in the above YouTube video; it was the first time I learned of its existence. A favorite musical instrument, my ears were absorbed and my eyes followed each stroke of its keys.That decrepit piano from Yarmouk appeared on the screen in front of me as a living, breathing thing. As I watched, the piano sang, directed by cold, dry fingers which appeared almost fossilized. A young Palestinian pianist from Yarmouk dropped his head to the keyboard and his music spoke...

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Who benefits from billions pledged for Gaza reconstruction? (Maureen Clare Murphy) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - A donor conference hosted in Cairo on Sunday to raise funds for the reconstruction of war-devastated Gaza has boasted $5.4 billion in pledges from various Western and Arab governments.Yet Israel is the true beneficiary of this aid money. The self-declared international community has once again footed the reconstruction bill as it arms Israel with the weaponry and ensures it the impunity that only rewards its brutal onslaught on Gaza and essentially guarantees its repetition."This is the third time in less than six years that together with the people of Gaza, we have been forced to confront a reconstruction effort," an exasperated US Secretary of State John Kerry stated at the conference, as though this summer’s bloodshed was something other than inevitable given all those arms Washington lavished on Israel, along with the monetary aid and diplomatic cover since the large-scale assaults in November 2012 and winter 2008-09...

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ISIS in Texas?! ABC Fails an Easy Factcheck (by Peter Hart) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - A politician making a ludicrous claim that has no basis in fact about a major story of the day should be an easy factcheck. But ABC's This Week (10/13/14) reminded us that corporate news outlets are often not very good at this.The claim in question came from Rep. Duncan Hunter (R.-Ca.), who declared, "I know that at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught coming across the Mexican border in Texas." He added that "dozens more" evaded capture.So members of the terrorist group that we're told is worse than Al-Qaeda managed to slip into Texas? I feel like we would have heard something about this, even in the dreaded "liberal media."...

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UK Parliament Palestine Motion is Vote of Anger at Israeli Warmongering (By Tariq Shadid) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - ...The symbolism of this vote can be summarized as a vote of anger at Israel and a vote of sympathy for the Palestinians. This is definitely a reason for pro-Palestine activists to cheer it on. Isn’t a lot of what they themselves do about symbolism, and influencing public opinion? When they go out in the streets by the thousands, they don’t exactly expect their demonstration to directly lead to the liberation of Palestine. What they hope to do by such actions is draw attention to the injustices perpetrated by the Israeli against the Palestinians, and raise awareness. On all these levels, this move by the UK Parliament shows that their actions have resulted in a change of hearts at the level of their own representatives in the Chamber...

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The brakes come off: UK Parliament's vote on Palestinian statehood (David Hearst) - 28-nov-2014

October 14 , 2014 - ...Once you pull one thread out of the weave of policies supporting the status quo and the occupation, the whole cloth unravels. Make no mistake, this vote was a landmark moment. For this century and most of the last, Zionists have done everything they can to make Palestine disappear, and the Palestinians invisible - from the founding myth that the land they were settling was "empty", to the refugees, to the internally displaced, to every policy limiting the movement of Palestinians, and dictating where they can or can not live today.After this vote, and others like it, Palestine and Palestinians are somewhat more visible. They have statehood and they have rights as citizens under occupation, rights that are enforceable in British courts as they are in international courts. For how much longer will a British government continue to apply its American dictated veto on moves to apply real pressure on Israel? When will the brakes come off?...

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'Reconstructing Gaza': one conference, many agendas (Pam Bailey) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - ....In fact, the plan developed by UN Envoy Robert Serry for persuading Israel to allow supplies into Gaza for reconstruction - praised by virtually everyone at the conference - will not only further entrench Gaza’s dependence, but also make the international community complicit. For example, under the plan, a steering team consisting of representatives of the Abbas unity government, Israel and the UN will supervise all processes. Supplies ordered for both private homes and large-scale public works - including schools and factories - must be entered into a central tracking database that, according to The Guardian, is accessible to Israeli intelligence agencies...

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The missing context: ‘Islamic State’ sectarianism is not coincidental (Ramzy Baroud) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - ...Fanar Haddad, author of Sectarianism in Iraq: Antagonistic Visions of Unity, like other perceptive historians, doesn't buy into the "ancient hatred" line between Sunnis and Shia. "The roots of sectarian conflict aren't that deep in Iraq," he said in a recent interview. Between the establishment of the modern Iraqi state in 1921 and for over 80 years, "the default setting (In Iraq) was coexistence." Haddad argues that "Post-2003 Iraq ..identity politics have been the norm rather than an anomaly because they're part of the system by design." That "design" was not put in place arbitrarily... Sectarianism and other manifestations of identity politics in Iraq were always overpowered by a dominant sense of Iraqi nationalism, which was violently destroyed and ripped apart by US firepower starting March 2003...

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Imperialist narratives and UN rhetoric on Protective Edge (Ramona Wadi) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - As with other Israeli massacres, colonial tendencies have ensured that "Operation Protective Edge" is relegated to the periphery, with diplomacy taking precedence over the assertion of Palestinian history and memory. From the preliminary talks resulting in the forthcoming reluctant rebuilding of Gaza, to the speeches uttered at the United Nations General Assembly, political discourse remains centred upon adherence to the dominant narrative expressed by Israel and upheld by the compromised international community. During and in the immediate aftermath of the relentless onslaught, Palestinian resistance asserted itself as a renewed force interrupting Israel’s certainties...

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No Syrian Rebels Allowed at ISIS War Conference (Josh Rogin) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - President Obama will join a meeting of top defense officials from 21 countries Tuesday to discuss the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Missing from the confab: anyone that’s actually from Syria. The U.S. government has no near-term plans to include the Free Syrian Army or any other moderate rebel group in the military mission to fight ISIS. None of these opposition figures were even invited to the anti-ISIS coalition meeting being held at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington and chaired by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. U.S. defense officials told The Daily Beast the Syrian rebel groups are simply not partners in the airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, which have been failing to stop the Islamic State’s advances both in northern Syria and western Iraq...

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Iraq: Evidence of war crimes by government-backed Shi’a militias (Amnesty International) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - In one single day more than 30 Sunni men were abducted from or near their homes in Samarra, shot dead and their bodies were dumped nearby.
'Shi’a militias are ruthlessly targeting Sunni civilians on a sectarian basis under the guise of fighting terrorism’ . Shi’a militias in Iraq, supported and armed by the government of Iraq, have abducted and killed scores of Sunni civilians in recent months and enjoy total impunity for these war crimes, said Amnesty International in a new briefing today ....For example, in and around Samarra, a predominantly Sunni city of 400,000 inhabitants, Amnesty has obtained the details of more than 170 mostly young Sunni men abducted since early June. Dozens have later been found dead and the rest remain unaccounted for. In one single day - Friday 6 June - more than 30 were abducted from or near their homes, shot dead and their bodies dumped nearby. The killing spree seems to have been in reprisal for a brief incursion into the city the previous day by Islamic State fighters...

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Israeli Professor Calls for Palestinian Genocide (Richard Silverstein) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - There are all sorts of varieties of insane extremists among the settlers. By "insane" I don’t mean that they’re aberrations from the Israeli norm. Just that in polite western society (not Israel, of course) these people would be viewed as nutcases and ignored. Only in Israel (and perhaps this happens in other religious extremist societies as well) are such people turned into prophets, prime ministers, and even esteemed academics. Such a one is Prof. Hillel Weiss, who teaches not Hebrew literature, mind you, a term he banned from his department–but rather the literature of the Jewish people. You see Hebrew is the language and literature of the Jewish people. There is no other. Yiddish? Feh, jargon. Jewish literature in English? Derivative, degenerate and a mark of the bankruptcy of galut...

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Missing Malala's Message of Peace: Drones Fuel Terrorism (By Peter Hart) - 28-nov-2014

October 14, 2014 - On October 10, Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai–who received worldwide attention after being attacked by the Taliban for her advocacy for girls' education–was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi. Yousafzai's work on educational equity is well-known. But less well-known is what she said to Barack Obama about how his wars were undermining the fight against terrorism. Last year, Yousafzai's White House meeting with Barack Obama received wide media coverage. But as I pointed out back then (FAIR Blog, 10/15/13), part of Yousafzai's message didn't make it into most media accounts: She told Obama that drone strikes in her country were fueling more terrorism....

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Syria News - October 13, 2014 (Local Coordination Committees of Syria) - 28-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 - By the end of Monday, LCC were able to document 44 martyrs including 4 women and 4 martyrs under torture: 20 martyrs were reported in Aleppo, 14 in Damascus and its Suburbs, 8 in Idlib, 2 in Homs, 2 in Daraa 1 in Deir Ezzor and 1 in Hama...

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In the last days of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ Israel focused on its final goal — the destruction of Gaza’s professional class (Dan Cohen) - 27-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 - I spent the final night of Israel’s 51-day-long assault on the Gaza Strip on the ninth floor of the al Shorouq building, a media building in central Gaza City which had previously been bombed multiple times by Israel. After word spread that the 13-story residential tower known as the Italian Compound was marked for destruction, a series of explosions began to rock the building, sending sparks and plumes of ash pouring into the darkened sky. First, drone strikes hit the roof, an example of Israel’s 'knock on the roof’ policy of firing a missile with a small payload to signal the imminence of a larger attack. Shortly after, multiple F16 strikes collapsed the building and an adjacent park, sending shrapnel hundreds of feet into the air and destroying the homes of hundreds of people. The massive display of firepower sent billowing thick black smoke and ash over the city. Israeli flares lit up the nighttime sky and naval shelling boomed throughout Gaza....

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Pentagon Propaganda
The War Over the Truth About Vietnam
(by HOWARD LISNOFF) - 27-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 -In August 1980, Ronald Reagan spoke as a candidate for president before the Veterans of Foreign Wars. During his speech he attacked what had come to be called "Vietnam Syndrome," which was understood to mean a hesitancy on the part of the people of the U.S. to again become involved in the hideous debacle of wars, such as Vietnam. He continued distorting the reality of the brutality and immorality of the war against the people of Vietnam when he said: "It is time we recognized that ours was, in truth, a noble cause." Of course, Reagan, as vicious a warmonger as has ever lived, was simply using hyperbole to whip the electorate and general public into a frenzy so that he would be able to wage additional immoral wars in Central America and the Caribbean, and especially against the people of Nicaragua and their freely elected government. While an Orwellian dystopian at heart, Reagan was not very different from many of the presidents who would follow him and initiate indiscriminate and grossly lethal forays into other parts of the world, most notably the Middle East and Southwest Asia, either through proxies or through the direct use of U.S. military force...

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Hamas, IS share neither goal nor methods (Adnan Abu Amer) - 27-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 - The magnitude of Hamas’ media mobilization in response to Israeli accusations of being the same as the Islamic State (IS) was remarkable. Hamas spokespeople and prominent leaders denied the accusations, which have not fooled Western circles. The political differences between Hamas and IS are primarily ideological and doctrinal, which have prompted many Salafist jihadist members to abandon Hamas as they disagreed with its approach. Many of these Salafist jihadists later joined radical groups, among them IS. A scholar in Gaza with ties to Hamas spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity about the doctrinal divergences between Hamas and IS ....

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Lost Iraqi Billions Found? (By: Peter Van Buren) - 27-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 - It can be hard to keep track of your money. You charge stuff and misplace the receipts, you forget to record a check written and before you know it, $12-14 billion is unaccounted for in Iraq. Even then, after one authoritative source thinks he’s found some of it, no one bothers to go get it. ew information from the former Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGAR) Stuart Bowen, reported by perhaps the bravest journalist alive today, James Risen, shows that of the multi-billions of U.S. dollars cash literally shipped on pallets to Iraq in 2003, over one billion was traced into Lebanon (the other billions remain unaccounted for.)...

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Cycle of Death, Destruction and Rebuilding Continues in Gaza (By Thalif Deen) - 27-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 - When the international pledging conference to rebuild a devastated Gaza ended in Cairo over the weekend – the third such conference in less than six years – the lingering question among donors was: is this the last of it or are there more assaults to come? U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon implicitly warned of the futility of the continuing exercise when he said: "We cannot continue to build and destroy – and build and destroy – like this. This should be the last reconstruction conference". But will it?...

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Did Israel develop the doctrine behind Iraq invasion? (Rod Such) - 27-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 - "Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud," US President George W. Bush said in 2002 as he set the stage for an invasion of Iraq. The premise he invoked was that if a country believes it faces an imminent threat, a preemptive attack against that threat is tantamount to an act of self-defense. An earlier use of this "anticipatory self-defense" doctrine occurred when Israel tried to justify its 1967 War against Egypt, Syria and Jordan. Many people still believe Israel’s claim to self-defense was justified when actually it was just as fraudulent as the Bush administration’s "evidence" that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction...

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Medea Benjamin has a lot of nerve. (The Common Ills) - 27-nov-2014

Ocotber 13, 2014 - Medea Benjamin has a lot of nerve. She's written a column castigating the mass media for re-selling the Iraq War.We're supposed to applaud her for that and pretend like her past record doesn't matter.
And she probably thinks this is the height of bravery: < For her, it probably is. But whores don't impress me.
And she's whored non-stop worse than the media she's slamming. She's covered for Barack. She's diverted attention from him...

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Settlers beat woman picking olives with her children near Salfit (Ma'an News) - 26-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 -- A large group of Israeli settlers on Saturday morning violently beat a young Palestinian woman while she was picking olives from trees in an orchard in the village of Yasuf in the Salfit district in the central West Bank, a Palestinian official said.The assault is the third such attack on Palestinian olive pickers in three days, creating concern about unchecked settler violence as the olive harvest kicks off across the West Bank.Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian Authority official who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an that 25-year-old Alaa Fathi Atiyani and her children were picking olives in a field in the al-Masamic area outside of Yasuf village at the time of the alleged assault...

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Palestinian Christians denounce priest for claiming Israel grants them freedom (Patrick O. Strickland) - 26-nov-2014

October 13, 2014 - Yara Salameh was shocked when she watched Jibril Nadaf, a priest from Nazareth, repeat a call on fellow Palestinian Christians to serve in the Israeli military. Nadaf claimed Israel was the only country in the Middle East where Christians are "not persecuted" during a speech to the United Nations Human Rights Council on 23 September. "I couldn’t believe it," said Salameh, a 25-year-old pharmacist from the village of Turan, home to both Christians and Muslims, located in the Galilee region of present-day Israel....

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