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Blackwater trial: Four American mercenaries found guilty over 2007 civilian shootings in Baghdad that killed 14 people (Ian Johnston) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 -Four American mercenaries who opened fire into a crowd of unarmed civilians in Baghdad in the apparently mistaken belief they were under attack have been found guilty over the shootings of more than 30 people.A jury in Washington has convicted Nicholas Slatten of first-degree murder over one death. Three of his colleagues, Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard, were found guilty of the manslaughter of at least 12 people and of the attempted manslaughter of at least 11 others who were injured. All four guards were working for the US security firm then known as Blackwater. Following widespread horror at the shootings, Blackwater changed its name to Xe Services...

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Zionist settlers burn Palestinian olive grove (International Solidarity Movement) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - This morning at approximately 09:30, settlers from the illegal settlement of Yizhar set fire to a Palestinian olive field above Huwwara village, just outside of Nablus. The settlers set the land on fire from the top of the hill. People from the village started fighting the fire, but suddenly the wind turned and the flames started moving towards the illegal settlement on the top of the hill. At this point the settlers started fighting their own fire, to prevent damage to their illegal buildings...

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PCHR report: Israeli attacks on fishermen in the Gaza Sea (The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - Israeli Naval forces continued to carry out attacks on Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip during the reporting period (1 – 30 September 2014), including 18 shooting incidents that resulted in the injury of a fishermen while fishing; 4 chasing incidents that led to the arrest of 11 fishermen; and confiscation of 4 fishing boats and 22 pieces of fishing nets belonging to Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli naval forces did not comply with the ceasefire agreement concluded between Israel and Palestinian armed groups under Egyptian auspices on 26 August 2014. This agreement includes allowing Palestinian fishermen to sail within 6 nautical miles in the Gaza Sea. According to PCHR’s investigations, all attacks took place within the distance of 6 nautical miles, which proves that Israeli forces’ policies aim to tighten restrictions on the Gaza Strip’s fishermen and their livelihoods....

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Connecticut arm of million-strong church votes to shun occupation profiteers (Joe Catron) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - The United Church of Christ in the US state of Connecticut has declared its support for the Palestinian-led campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel. A BDS resolution approved by delegates to the annual gathering of the church’s Connecticut conference follows similar moves by its followers in New York, Northern California and in the Central Pacific and Central Atlantic regions. As a result, church bodies have been urged to divest their holdings in companies profiting from Israeli occupation in Palestine, including Caterpillar, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard, G4S and Veolia...

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Israeli Naval Forces Escalate Attacks against Palestinian Fishermen in Gaza Sea;5 Fishermen Arrested and Boat Confiscated (The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - Israeli naval forces escalated their attacks against Palestinian fishermen in Gaza waters and increasingly chased Palestinian fishing boats within the limit allowed for fishing. They arrested 5 fishermen and confiscated a boat off al-Sudaniya shore in the Northern Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the continued Israeli attacks against Palestinian fishermen in the Gaza Strip and is concerned over the continued targeting of fishermen and their livelihoods. Economic and social rights of fishermen have been violated by the illegal naval blockade imposed by Israeli authorities on the Gaza Sea....

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Yasin, Hakan and Hüseyin (MERVE ŞEBNEM ORUÇ) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - Let's talk about Yasin Börü today. Let's talk about the 16-year-old boy and his friends Hakan Gökgöz, 26, and Hüseyin Dakak, 19 - the three young men who were chased down, surrounded and brutally killed by pro-PKK attackers in Diyarbakır while they were distributing meat to Kurdish refugees who fled Syria on the third day of Eid al-Adha. Yusuf Er, a friend of Yasin, Hakan and Hüseyin, who survived the mob's attack with arm, head and chest injuries said, "We hugged each other before they came for us." They were traveling in a car when they saw an armed group blocking the road. Yusuf said, "We told the attackers we were only distributing food such as meat to the refugees but they accused us of being ISIS [Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham] supporters."...

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BBC backs report that omitted killings of Palestinians during Gaza truce (Amena Saleem) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - The BBC’s obliviousness to the reality of Israeli aggression against Gaza has been staggeringly highlighted in a BBC Trust ruling issued at the beginning of October that endorses a report that completely ignored Israeli violence against Palestinians, including multiple killings of civilians.
The ruling relates to a BBC Online article published on 22 November 2013. The date marked a year and a day since the signing of a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, which ended an eight-day Israeli assault on Gaza.,,,

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After Killing 2,100 Gazans, Racy IDF Fashion Line Proclaims: “Make Love AND War” (by Richard Silverstein) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - Never missing an opportunity to shill both for Israel and the almighty shekel, two Israeli entrepreneurs determined now was the opportune moment to launch a military-focussed fashion line. The fact that 2,100 Gazans were killed by the IDF only a few months ago seems not to have entered into their minds. Or perhaps, being Israeli, they actually believed that Operation Protective Edge had burnished the street cred of the army, making it an opportune "hook" for promoting a racy new clothing line....

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In war against ISIL, a fine line between facts and artifacts (by Jessica Holland) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - ....His speech was a version of the same foreign policy narrative that President Barack Obama has been telling, in which ISIL’s atrocities are stripped of context. Kerry referred to these crimes as "ugly, savage, inexplicable, valueless barbarism" and not the most virulent symptom thus far of two countries that have fallen apart in a mess of poverty, infrastructure failure, corruption and opportunistic power grabs. Bashar Al-Assad, of course, looms large in this picture, but Kerry sandwiched in only one mention of the Syrian president, in relation to his regime’s shelling of an ancient Roman temple, into a catalog of ISIL’s destruction. Assad’s many other, graver crimes don’t fit with the message being shaped, about the urgent need to stop a monstrous terrorist force, which threatens Americans at home as well as the entire Middle East....

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Will Obama Follow Bush Down the Made-Up Torture Loophole? (By Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program) - 02-feb-2015

October 22, 2014 - Twenty years ago, the United States ratified an international treaty banning the use of torture and cruelty worldwide. Three successive American presidents, with bipartisan support, threw their weight behind the treaty – Ronald Reagan signed it in 1988, George H.W. Bush approved it, and Bill Clinton signed implementing legislation into law in 1994. But less than a decade later, the administration of George W. Bush took it apart. To justify the torture of prisoners in American custody abroad, the Bush administration decided that the sweeping prohibitions enshrined in the Convention Against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment just didn't apply...

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For the Israeli media, Gazan lives are little more than expendable (By Haggai Matar) - 16-jan-2015

October 22, 2014 - Nearly two months after the end of Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli media refuses to ask the difficult questions. Who decided that killing entire families is now allowed? What is the justification for doing so? And why won’t the army explain why it killed five members of the Joudah family? Why doesn’t anyone care about the Joudah family? Nearly two months have passed since Israeli Air Force pilots bombed their yard in Gaza, killing the mother of the family and four of her children. Until today, the IDF has not published an explanation of the incident. Actually, almost no one has bothered to ask. A mother and four of her children were sitting in their yard and were killed with no prior notice, and the Israeli media doesn’t deem this worthy of a story. Why?...


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Why did Britain recognize Palestine? (Neil Rogall) - 16-jan-2015

October 22, 2014 - ON OCTOBER 13, a remarkable vote took place in the British parliament. A motion calling on the government to "recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution" was passed by 274 votes to 12.On closer inspection, the vote is less impressive. Less than half the MPs in the House of Commons voted, and most Tories stayed away. Government ministers were ordered not to vote. The motion has no practical or direct effect on government policy. But it was still a symbolic turn of events, and as a symbol, it has several meanings and layers...

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Blackwater Founder Remains Free and Rich While His Former Employees Go Down on Murder Charges (By Jeremy Scahill) - 16-jan-2015

October 22, 2014 - A federal jury in Washington, D.C., returned guilty verdicts against four Blackwater operatives charged with killing more than a dozen Iraqi civilians and wounding scores of others in Baghdad in 2007.The jury found one guard, Nicholas Slatten, guilty of first-degree murder, while three other guards were found guilty of voluntary manslaughter: Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, and Dustin Heard. The jury is still deliberating on additional charges against the operatives, who faced a combined 33 counts, according to the Associated Press. A fifth Blackwater guard, Jeremy Ridgeway, had already pleaded guilty to lesser charges and cooperated with prosecutors in the case against his former colleagues. The trial lasted ten weeks and the jury has been in deliberations for 28 days...

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Syria News - October 21, 2014 (Local Coordination Committees of Syria) - 16-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 - Local Coordination Committees in Syria by the end of Tuesday 21-10-2014; report 92 people martyred, including 19 children, 9 women and a martyr under torture: 37 martyrs in Dar'aa, 19 martyrs in Damascus and its suburbs,9 martyrs in Idlib,9 martyrs in Aleppo,7 martyrs in Quneitra,6 martyrs in Hama,5 martyrs in Homs...

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Video: Settlers cheer as Israeli soldiers attack disabled Palestinian child (Ali Abunimah) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 - This disturbing footage shot by Palestinian videographer Samih Da’na and published by the Israeli nongovernmental organization B’Tselem documents the violent abuse of a developmentally disabled Palestinian child. As Israeli occupation soldiers abuse the child, settlers and their children cheer and shout abuse at Palestinians.Da’na shot the footage on 19 October from his home in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, whose Palestinian residents are relentlessly targeted by occupation army and settler violence...

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How the very concept of human rights has failed Palestinians (By Noam Sheizaf) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 - Certain rights should be inalienable — yet Israel refuses to grant them to Palestinians and the world continues to treat the country as a rights-based democracy. What does this absurdity say about human rights as a political tool, and about the powers, entities and institutions that speak in their name?... Under the military regime, Palestinians can have their private property destroyed or confiscated at the discretion of the military commander (and in most cases don’t even have the right to appeal such decisions); their freedom to travel outside the West Bank, and sometimes even within it, depends on special permits given by the military commander; they cannot build without the approval of the military commander, thousands can be deported from their homes with the stroke of a commander’s pen; every political assembly or protest can be deemed illegal unless it was given the permission of the military commander, and; they can be imprisoned, tortured or even killed without trial or due process...

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Baghdad shootout points to growing militia threat (By Ammar Karim) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2104 - Shortly after midnight, when a curfew usually shrouds the Iraqi capital in silence, the thudding sounds of heavy machinegun fire ripped through the air and echoed across Baghdad.They were not the opening shots of the much-feared attack by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, which has been battling government forces a few kilometres (miles) outside Baghdad for months.
Instead, they were a reminder of another kind of threat hanging over Iraq -- a rapidly expanding galaxy of Shiite militias that, while playing a significant part in the fight against IS, challenge government authority and threaten to perpetuate the country's brutal sectarian violence...


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MASS Graves uncovered accidentally unveiling true dangers of iranian backed militias in iraq (Foreign Relations Bureau - Iraq - United Kingdom) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 -As officials struggle on what so say about this new crime, workers in Mahaweel a town north of Babylon province next to Mahaweel Military base uncover what is estimated to be 100 dead bodies of civilians dumped in a mass grave within a sewage treatment facility. Tens of other bodies were also found in sewage pipelines leading to the military base.This Mass grave was discovered accidentally after a child reported seeing a human hand floating on Thursday. Witnesses also stated that some IDs were found with the dead bodies adding further that victims were civilian.The bodies are thought to belong to people who live in the Jurf Al Sakhr areas where militias are highly active against the predominantly sunni population there as sectarian violence and forced migration tactics are used to change the demographics of Baghdad and ints outskirts...

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Human Rights Defender Abdallah Abu Rahma receives guilty verdict from military court (International Solidarity Movement) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014- On October 21st, Human Rights Defender Abdallah Abu Rahma was found guilty by an Israeli military court of "disturbing a soldier". "Demonstrating against the occupation cannot be a criminal offence. Finding Abdallah guilty only shows that the [Israeli] military force is a tool to perpetuate the occupation." Stated Gabi Lasky, lawyer of Abdallah Abu Rahma, to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM)....

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Will the U.S. Go to "War" Against Ebola? (By Tom Engelhardt & Karen Greenberg) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 - As Karen Greenberg points out today, given an administration already on the ropes over its new war in the Middle East, it would be all too easy for U.S. officials, amid the usual panic, to fall back on that comfortable template of the post-9/11 years, the war on terror, when it comes to Ebola. After all, it’s already enscribed in the DNA of a national security state that is, effectively, a shadow government. So no one should be surprised that Washington's first response to the Ebola crisis was to militarize it. U.S. boots are already on the ground in West Africa and preparations are underway for a possible future call-up of the reserves and the National Guard. In other words, in his initial move to contain Ebola, President Obama sent in the U.S. military, an organization as ill equipped to deal with a pandemic disease as it was to deal with "nation-building" in Afghanistan or Iraq...

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Iran Is Forcing Poor Afghans to Fight and Die in Syria
Rebels capture reluctant Afghans in Aleppo
(War Is Boring) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 - ...Videotaped interrogations of two of the Afghans the rebels captured in Aleppo reveal that, for them at least, the war isn’t about ideology anymore.The Afghan with bandaged head says he’s from Varamin, an impoverished town near Tehran. He’s an illegal immigrant. Iranian authorities had apprehended him and offered him a monthly payment of $600 to fight in Syria. If he had refused, they would have sent him back to Afghanistan—which for a Shia could mean death.There are an estimated one million illegal immigrants from Afghanistan living in Iran. They and their children can’t enroll in universities or work regular jobs with standard benefits and pay. Afghan immigrants tend to work in construction or as farmers.They live in the poorest neighborhoods, suburbs and villages. Afghan communities in Iran are prone to crime, mainly drug trafficking....

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CIA Agents Reportedly Impersonated Senate Staffers While Torture Report Was Being Produced (By: Kevin Gosztola) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 - CIA agents "impersonated Senate staffers" while the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was producing its report on the agency’s rendition, detention and interrogation program, according to Huffington Post.
"According to sources familiar with the CIA inspector general report that details the alleged abuses by agency officials," journalists Ali Watkins and Ryan Grim reported, "CIA agents impersonated Senate staffers in order to gain access to Senate communications and drafts of the Intelligence Committee investigation."...

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Q&A with Andy Worthington After Screening of “Doctors of the Dark Side” in Balham, October 26, 2014 (Andy Worthington) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 - ..."Doctors of the Dark Side," directed by Martha Davis, a clinical psychologist, and narrated by the actress Mercedes Ruehl, explores the role of physicians and psychologists in the torture of prisoners in the "war on terror" — not just the ordinary personnel who served as the foot soldiers of torture, and who continue to do so in their role force-feeding hunger strikers at Guantánamo, but also the more senior individuals who recommended the torture program that was subsequently approved at the highest levels of the Bush administration — men like James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, psychologists who worked on military programs to teach US personnel to resist torture if captured by a hostile enemy, and who reverse-engineered the techniques they taught for the torture of prisoners in the "war on terror."...

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Shaker Aamer’s Abuse in Guantánamo Dismissed by British Foreign Secretary (Andy Worthington) - 01-jan-2015

October 21, 2014 In disappointing but predictable news, the British foreign secretary Philip Hammond, who replaced William Hague on July 15 this year, has "dismissed concerns over the abuse" of Shaker Aamer, the last British prisoner in Guantánamo, in a letter to his lawyer Clive Stafford Smith, the founder and director of the legal action charity Reprieve, as described by the charity in a press release. In August, as I explained at the time, Clive Stafford Smith wrote to Philip Hammond after he had "received a series of unclassified letters from various detainees who we represent in Guantánamo Bay," which told "a disturbingly consistent story" — of "a new 'standard procedure’" whereby the FCE team (the armored guards responsible for violently removing prisoners from their cells through "forcible cell extractions") was being "used to abuse the prisoners with particular severity because of the on-going non-violent hunger strike protest against their unconscionable treatment."...


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Mustafa Barghouti: US-Palestinian ties strong (Shlomi Eldar) - 31-dec-2014

October 21, 2014 - ... Mustafa Barghouti serves as general secretary of the Palestine National Initiative (PNI) and is president of the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees (UPMRC). In an interview with Al-Monitor, Barghouti acknowledges that following the troubled relationship between the US administration and Israel, the United States has drawn closer to Abbas and the PA. Barghouti feels that the test of the relationship will come on the day that Abbas begins the process for recognition of the Palestinian state in the UN institutions. "The Israeli provocations against John Kerry and President Barack Obama are leaving their mark," Barghouti said. "I assume that the Americans can’t talk much [publicly], but they [are frustrated with] the Israeli government."...




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Gaza Strip: Attacks in the border areas and their consequences (The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR)) - 28-dec-2014

October 21, 2014 - Following disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005, Israel unilaterally and illegally established a so-called "buffer zone", an area prohibited to Palestinians along the land and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. The precise area designated by Israel as a "buffer zone" is not clear and this Israeli policy is typically enforced with live fire. The establishment of the 'buffer zone’ is illegal under both Israeli and international law. Preventing Palestinians from accessing their lands and fishing areas violates numerous provisions of international human rights law, including the right to work, the right to an adequate standard of living, and the right to the highest attainable standard of health. Enforcing the "buffer zone" through the use of live fire often results in, inter alia, the direct targeting of civilians and/or indiscriminate attacks, both of which constitute war crimes.

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