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Syria News - October 9, 2014 (Local Coordination Committees of Syria) - 23-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - By the end of Thursday, LCC has documented 61 martyrs inidinf 9 women, 7 children and 2 martyrs under torture. 25 martyrs were reported in Damascus and its suburbs, 11 in Aleppo, 7 in Daraa, 7 in Idlib, 5 in Hama, 4 in Homs and 2 in Qunitra...

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Suha Arraf on her "stateless" Palestinian film (Patrick O. Strickland) - 23-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - "They want to view me as a 'good Israeli Arab director’ or a 'nice Israeli Arab,’" says filmmaker Suha Arraf, who recently came under attack by the Israeli government and its supporters for labeling her latest work a Palestinian production. "The moment you say Palestinian, though, you become the enemy," she told The Electronic Intifada. The 45-year-old filmmaker from the town of Maaliya in the Galilee region of present-day Israel has screenwriting credit for the critically acclaimed feature-length films Lemon Tree (2008) and The Syrian Bride (2004), and directed the documentary Women of Hamas (2008)...

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Coalition air strikes against Isis aid Bashar al-Assad, Syrian rebels claim (Ian Black and Mona Mahmood) - 23-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - ..."Syrian warplanes used to shell us two or three times a week but now they target us every day thanks to the coalition forces," Faris Samir, from Harm in the northern Idlib region, complained on Thursday. "We are losing martyrs and many get injured but no one pays any attention. Now the Syrian army is taking areas bombed by the coalition forces after the Islamic factions withdraw. I have to say that the coalition military campaign is in the interest of the Syrian regime and against the Syrian people."...No coalition strikes have been made to help or relieve rebel forces where they were facing either Isis or government troops. Emile Hokayem of the International Institute of Strategic Studies said Assad has been able "to give his troops a break while surveying the landscape and looking for opportunities."..

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Gazans spirits lifted at arrival of unity government ministers (Mohammed Omer) - 23-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - - Ministers of the new Palestinian unity government arrived in Gaza on Thursday to hold the first cabinet meeting following the 51-day war with Israel. "This is an historic visit which is the embodiment of Palestinian national unity and a real step toward ending the division," Minister of Justice, Salem al-Saqqa told Middle East Eye. "This is the first time for ministers to meet face-to-face in the house of President Mahmoud Abbas, and that has special significance as he is the president of the Palestinian people, and the head of legitimacy." While Abbas resides in the West Bank, he has an old villa in Gaza that had - until recently - laid empty, but has now been turned into a makeshift meeting space for the unity ministers...


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BBC map ignores occupation of Jerusalem (Amena Saleem) - 23-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - The BBC has published a map on its website, which indicates that Jerusalem is not occupied by Israel. This graphic (see above) was used to illustrate at least two stories on the BBC website in recent months. It can be viewed online two thirds of the way down a story titled "Israel: Hamas 'will pay price’ after teenagers found dead." The map shows the city of Jerusalem as being wholly inside Israel. In reality, Jerusalem is under Israeli military occupation.
The false map was also used at the bottom of a story from 23 September titled "Israel kills Palestinians suspected of teenagers’ murders." ...

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Notice that ISIS Isn’t Beheading Swiss Citizens (by Jacob G. Hornberger) - 23-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - ...Ever since 9/11, this has been the major issue facing the American people with respect to U.S. foreign policy: Did terrorism come to the United States because of the ferocity of radical Muslims who hate America for its freedom and values? Or did terrorism come to the United States out of retaliation for what the U.S. government was doing to people in the Middle East, many of whom were Muslims, including such things as the U.S. government’s partnership with Middle East dictatorships, the sanctions against Iraq that were killing tens of thousands of Iraqi children on an annual basis, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright’s statement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were "worth it," the stationing of U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands, the deadly no-fly zones over Iraq, and the unconditional military and financial support to the Israeli government....

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Did Israel Commit Genocide in Gaza? (Richard Falk) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - In a special session of the Russell Tribunal held in Brussels on September 24th, Israel’s military operation Protective Edge was critically scrutinized from the perspective of international law, including the core allegation of genocide. The process featured a series of testimonies by legal and weapons experts, health workers, journalists and others most of whom had experienced the 50 days of military assault. A jury composed of prominent individuals from around the world, known for their moral engagement with issues of the day that concerned their societies, and also the wellbeing of humanity, assessed the evidence with the help of an expert legal team of volunteers that helped with the preparation of the findings and analysis for consideration by the jury, which deliberated and debated all relevant issues of fact and law, above all the question of how to respond to the charge of genocide...

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The Sun’s ‘Unite against Isis’ campaign is a proxy for anti-Muslim bigotry (Nesrine Malik) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - Imagine your average British Muslim family sitting around the breakfast table with the papers this morning. On the front page of the Sun, an image of a woman in a hijab fashioned out of the Union Jack and the headline "United Against IS" hollers out at them. In the right-hand corner, a subheadline urges them to "stand up to extremists". Yes, you there, Muslim – bleary eyed, sipping your coffee, who thought the activities of a militant group thousands of miles away had nothing to do with you – are you standing up to extremism right now? Is your Islam "British"? If not, then you are Part of the Problem....

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Is Abbas one vote from Security Council majority? (Ben Caspit) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - In the 21 years that have passed since the beginning of the Oslo process, never has there been a situation similar to the current one between the Israelis and Palestinians: That is to say, total deadlock. There is no political or diplomatic horizon. No negotiations are underway or attempts to facilitate them. The two parties are barely in contact.To date, there has been only one clear exception, to wit, the second intifada, which began in 2000. In response, the Israeli government eventually launched Operation Defensive Shield in 2002....

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Increasing Reports Of Sectarian Attacks By Militias In Iraq (MUSINGS ON IRAQ) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - When fighting broke out in Anbar at the very end of December 2013 Iraq’s militias began mobilizing in response. This involved bringing back fighters from Syria and launching new recruiting drives within Iraq. Since then they have become an integral part of many units of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) as well as operating their own fighting forces. With this increased presence have come reports that they are carrying out sectarian attacks upon Sunni civilians. This comes as no surprise as the militias used similar tactics during the 2005-2008 civil war such as kidnapping and executing people, and destroying and confiscating homes to force Sunnis out of neighborhoods. As the fighting drags on and approaches Baghdad these stories are likely to increase and grow bloodier with time...


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Fallujah Fallout: Who Pays the Price? (By Abigail Hall) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - November of this year will mark the ten-year anniversary of the Second Battle of Fallujah. Fallujah, a city west of Baghdad with a population of over 300,000, is known to have observed some of the most intense fighting during the war in Iraq. After nearly a decade, the situation in Fallujah is still dire. Militants recaptured the region in early 2014 and the city has once again observed heavy conflict as the Iraqi military and militants fight for control of the city. As the U.S. reenters Iraq, this region continues to experience the fallout from the previous U.S. occupation. Those most impacted are not members of Fallujah’s supposed "terrorist hotbed," but those who had not even been born during the time of siege...

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The Iraqi Army Never Was (By Kelley Vlahos) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - ...If ISIS, at the most, has 50,000 stateless fighters spread between Iraq and Syria, how has it routed such a superior force? The popular narrative, particularly on the pro-war right, is that President Obama squandered everything Petraeus had built by leaving Iraq too soon. In an interview in June, retired Gen. Jack Keane, co-architect of the surge, suggested that the Iraqi Army was "well-led and it was competent" while American forces were present, but broke down "systematically" after U.S. withdrawal under the leadership of Prime Minister Maliki. And indeed, after the U.S. withdrew, Maliki did fail to populate his security forces with Sunnis, instead alienating all the Sunni fighters once on the U.S. dime by keeping them unemployed. At best, those Sunnis are now standing down in the face of the ISIS invasion. At worst, they are joining them...

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Israel’s occupation is more complex than a genocide (Jonathan Cook) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - ...But unlike South African apartheid, whose fixed legal and institutional systems of separation gradually became torpid and unwieldy, Israel’s remains dynamic and responsive. Few observers know, for example, that almost all residential land in Israel is off-limits to Palestinian citizens, enforced through vetting committees recently given sanction by the Israeli courts. And what to make of a plan just disclosed by the Israeli media indicating that Mr Netanyahu and his allies have been secretly plotting to force many Palestinians into Sinai, with the US arm-twisting the Egyptians into agreement? If true, the bombing campaigns of the past six years may be better understood as softening-up operations before a mass expulsion from Gaza. Such a policy would certainly satisfy Lemkin’s definition of genocide. One day doubtless, a historian will coin a word to describe Israel’s unique strategy of incrementally destroying the Palestinian people. Sadly, by then it may be too late to help the Palestinians...

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Where is the antiwar movement? (Alex Kane) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - When President Obama said he intended to strike Syria last year after the Assad regime launched a chemical weapons attack, anti-war sentiment surged in the U.S. Phone calls and e-mails poured into Congressional offices with one message: don’t bomb Syria. The president eventually backed off from his plan after agreeing to a Russian proposal that saw President Bashar al-Assad get rid of his chemical weapons. One year later, the administration declared war on the Islamic State, the Sunni extremist group that has taken over territory in Syria and Iraq. Warplanes have repeatedly hit targets in Iraq and Syria... But this U.S. war is commencing with no serious opposition to slow the president down.


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"Crush the Seed of Ishmael": A "Final Solution" to the "Muslim Problem" (William N. Grigg) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - We have reached a point in our nation's descent into psychotic tribalist fear where people of stature and apparent sobriety unabashedly use the expression "final solution" when discussing the existence of Muslims. For ISIS "and those similarly motivated," insists retired Marine Lt. Col. James G. Zumwalt in an essay published by Family Security Matters, "a rational world should recognize but one `final solution' exists – their extinction."... Zumwalt is a prominent mouthpiece for the Military-Industrial Complex, and it's not surprising that his views are echoed by other members of the Pentagon-aligned Commentariat. For example, Retired Army Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer claims that Syrians under siege by ISIS have pleaded, "Please bomb us! We'd rather be bombed and dead, than raped by ISIS."...



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Is this Palestine’s Last Chance? (by Stuart Littlewood) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 -Ever since I began taking an interest in the Palestinians’ struggle – nearly ten years ago – those brave people have been cursed with rubbish leadership that has taken them steadily backwards instead of forwards… leadership that studiously ignores Palestine’s friends outside, fails its people inside and allows its territory and resources to dwindle. Western Christendom is afflicted with similar misfortune. Corrupted leaders don’t lift a finger to stop the Holy Land, which is central to the beliefs of most of their people, from being smashed, grabbed and bloodied...

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Challenging Force-Feeding
Violence at Guantanamo Has Its Day in Court
(by RAY McGOVERN) - 22-nov-2014

October 9, 2014 - In the first trial weighing the legality of force-feeding methods at the Guantanamo Bay prison, U.S. government lawyers have tried to disparage doctors and refute medical assessments regarding the best practices and ethics for treating inmates who have engaged in hunger strikes to protest their indefinite confinements, often after being cleared for release. The case before Judge Gladys Kessler in Washington D.C.’s District Court involves Abu Wa’el Dhiab, 43, a Syrian who ran a successful business in Afghanistan before the U.S. invaded 13 years ago. He fled, together with his wife and four children, to Pakistan where police seized him and turned him over to the U.S. – probably for a large bounty, as was the usual practice...

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Syria News - October 8, 2014 (Local Coordination Committees of Syria) - 22-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - By the end of Wednesday, the LCC were able to document 66 martyrs including 7 women, 6 children and 1 martyr under torture: 23 martyrs were reported in Aleppo; 12 in Damascus and its suburbs; 10 in Idlib; 10 in Homs; 9 Daraa and 2 in Hama.

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The Iranian Sphere of Influence Expands Into Yemen (Amal Mudallali) - 22-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - ... Above all else, the latest developments in Sanaa represent a huge victory for Iran. But the Houthis' decision to tie their fate to Tehran's regional machinations risks tearing Yemen apart and throwing the country into chaos. For years, many Yemenis have believed that Iran provides money and training to the Houthis, who comprise 30 percent of Yemen's 25 million citizens. Officials in Sanaa, from President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi to party leaders, have accused Iran of meddling in their affairs. Meanwhile, Iranian officials are all too happy to encourage such suspicions: In a recent statement, Ali Riza Zakani, Tehran's representative in the Iranian Parliament, bragged that Sanaa would be the fourth Arab capital to fall into Iran's hands...


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Why is The Advocate afraid to talk about Palestine? (Keegan O'Brien) - 22-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - This summer, The Advocate refused to talk about Palestine. Here’s what happened: in mid-July an editor from the venerable LGBTQ magazine responded to my story pitch and asked me to write an op-ed on pinkwashing and Israel’s 51-day attack on Gaza, which it dubbed "Operation Protective Edge." After submitting an article, I received a revised draft which included heavy political editing. I was told the article would be published if I agreed to these changes. The edits included the removal of the words "apartheid," "occupation" and "colonialism," and the addition of a sentence condemning Hamas...

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Guantánamo use of olive oil in force feedings 'astonishing', doctor tells court (Spencer Ackerman i) - 22-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - The methods used by the US military to feed inmates in Guantánamo Bay against their will presents a long-term risk to their health, a federal court heard on Tuesday. Steven Miles, a doctor and professor of medical ethics at the University of Minnesota, told a courtroom that lubricating the feeding tubes at Guantánamo, used on hunger-striking detainees, can cause a form of chronic inflammatory pneumonia, and questioned whether the force feeding was medically necessary. The condition, resulting from olive oil reaching the lungs due to misplaced insertions, would be hard to detect by physicians for released or transferred detainees, as it might look on x-rays like tuberculosis or lung cancer, Miles testified, calling the olive oil lubrication "astonishing to me"...

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Bill Maher Isn’t a ‘Politically Incorrect’ Liberal, He’s Just a Bigot (By Murtaza Hussain) - 22-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - Like many others, of late I’ve been sharing in the surreal experience of watching Bill Maher transform from a mildly interesting, "edgy," talk show host into a crude, overbearing demagogue. It hasn’t been pleasant viewing, but Maher really does appear to be in rare form these days. Between him sharing his fears about the terrifying number of babies today being named Muhammad, to complaining about Muslims in America who "bring that desert stuff into our world" — the first question that comes to mind is: this guy is a liberal?...

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Zionist Organization of America head calls for arrest of Block the Boat protesters (Charlotte Silver) - 22-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - Activists preventing the unloading of Israeli cargo ships at the Oakland Port in protest of violations of Palestinian rights have drawn the ire of Israel advocacy groups. Last week, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, wrote a letter to the chief of the Oakland Police Department, Sean Whent, chastizing his department for failing to "intervene and ensure that the Zim ship could unload its cargo." "Anti-Semitic protesters have been blocking vessels owned by Zim Integrated Shipping Ltd., an Israel-based shipping company, from docking at the Port of Oakland, and preventing dockworkers from unloading the cargo," Klein complains in his letter. "This problem occurred for several days in August and it occurred again last week."...

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A professor's freedom to tweet: The Steven Salaita affair (By Shachar Pinsker) - 21-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - The Salaita case is not an isolated one. Rather, it is the latest in a series of recent attempts to silence dissent in the academic world and in the public arena. This has been going on in the U.S., in Israel and around the world. Recent examples include an attempt by a right-wing organization with the dubious name AMCHA (In Hebrew AMCHA means "your nation," which the U.S organization has translated as "the masses" in the "grassroots" sense of the term, but in colloquial Israeli Hebrew the term is used to refer to "the mob," or common, uneducated people), which published a blacklist of Middle Eastern scholars who called for the boycott of Israel. This attempt to silence is, once again, done in the name of combating anti-Semitism and "protecting" Jewish students on campus...

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Experts Deliver Damning Testimony at Guantánamo Force-Feeding Trial (Andy Worthington) - 21-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - This week, a historic and unprecedented trial has been taking place in Washington D.C., as lawyers for Abu Wa’el Dhiab, a Syrian prisoner at Guantánamo, have been challenging the government’s claimed legality for force-feeding prisoners. Mr. Dhiab has been a frequent hunger striker for the last seven years, and weighs just 152 pounds, despite being six feet five inches tall. Last February, he took part in a hunger strike that involved up to two-thirds of the remaining prisoners, who were in despair at ever being released or given justice, and he has continued his hunger strike, even though throughout this period he has been subjected to painful force-feeding. He is one of 75 of the remaining 149 prisoners who were approved for release by a government task force in 2009 — and four others have had their release approved this year through another review process, the Periodic Review Boards. He is also in a wheelchair as a result of his physical decline during his 12 years in US custody...


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In Case of Palestinian American, Prosecutors Criminalize Political Activity and Create ‘Prejudicial Atmosphere’ (By: Kevin Gosztola) - 21-nov-2014

October 8, 2014 - A lawyer representing Palestinian American Rasmea Odeh, who is accused of immigration fraud, says the United States government’s request for an "anonymous jury" in the case and the partial sequestration of jurors is all a part of prosecutors’ efforts to create a prejudicial and fearful atmosphere. Odeh is a 67-years-old and the associate director of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) in Chicago. Forty-five years ago, she was arrested and subjected to torture by Israeli security forces. She maintained she was innocent when she was brought before a military tribunal and accused of being involved in terrorism. Israel convicted her and she was sentenced to prison....

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