............................STOPPRESS........... STOPPRESS ..........STOPPRESS!!

The Prison Camp that is Gaza now declared a "Hostile Entity"
By Ali Abunimah

The Electronic Intifada, Sep 21, 2007

The Israeli cabinet has voted to declare the occupied Gaza Strip a
"hostile entity," thus in its own eyes permitting itself to cut off
the already meagre supplies of food, water, electricity and fuel
that it allows the Strip's inmates to receive. The decision was
quickly given backing by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Israel is the occupying power in the Gaza Strip, despite having
removed its settlers in 2005 and transforming the area, home to 1.5
million mostly refugee Palestinians, into the world's largest
open-air prison which it besieges and fires into from the perimeter.
Under international law Israel is responsible for the well-being of
the people whose lives and land it rules.

There have been barely audible bleats of protest from the UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ("Such a step would be contrary to
Israel's obligations towards the civilian population under
international humanitarian and human rights law") and the European
Union ("The [European] Commission hopes that Israel will not find it
necessary to implement the measures for which the [cabinet]
decisions set the framework yesterday."

What? It hopes that Israel will not find it necessary to cut off
water supplies to 1.5 million people of whom half are children?

These statements serve only to underline that Israel operates in a
context where the "international community" has become inured to a
discourse of extermination of the Palestinian people -- political
and physical.

Yossi Alpher, for example, a former director of the Jaffee Center
for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University and once a special
adviser to former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak, argued coolly
this week that Israel should murder the democratically-elected
leaders who won the Palestinian legislative election in January 2006
-- calling for "decapitating the Hamas leadership, both military and
'civilian.'" True, he admitted, there would be a possible downside:
"Israel would again undoubtedly pay a price in terms of
international condemnation, particularly if innocent civilians were
killed," and because "Israel would presumably be targeting legally
elected Hamas officials who won a fair election." Nevertheless, such
condemnation would be quickly forgotten and, he argued, "this is a
mode of retaliation and deterrence whose effectiveness has been
proven," and thus, this is "an option worth reconsidering."

Alpher incited the murder of democratically-elected politicians not
in a fringe, right-wing journal, but in the European Union-funded
online newsletter Bitterlemons, which he co-founded along with
former Palestinian Authority minister Ghassan Khatib. What journal
would publish a call by a Palestinian -- or anyone else -- to murder
the Israeli prime minister? Alpher presumably does not worry that he
will be denied visas to travel to conferences in the European Union,
or will fail to receive invitations to American universities.
History tells us that he can feel confident he will suffer no
consequences. Indeed, in the current political climate, any attempt
to exclude Alpher might even be cast as an attack on academic

Declarations that reduce Palestinians to bare biological life that
can be extinguished without any moral doubt are not isolated
exceptions. In May, as reported by The Jerusalem Post, Israel's
former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu issued a religious
ruling to the prime minister "that there was absolutely no moral
prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a
potential massive military offensive on Gaza aimed at stopping the
rocket launchings" (See "Top Israeli rabbis advocate genocide," The
Electronic Intifada, 31 May 2007). I could find no statement by any
prominent Israeli figure condemning Eliyahu's ruling.

And, in a September 6 blog posting, an advisor to leading US
Republican Presidential hopeful Rudolph Giuliani argued for
"shutting off utilities to the Palestinian Authority as well as a
host of other measures, such as permitting no transportation in the
PA of people or goods beyond basic necessities, implementing the
death penalty against murderers, and razing villages from which
attacks are launched." This, the advisor stated, would "impress
Palestinians with the Israeli will to survive, and so bring closer
their eventual acceptance of the Jewish state." (See: "Giuliani
Advisor: Raze Palestinian Villages," by Ken Silverstein, Harper's
Magazine, 14 September 2007) Giuliani faced no calls from other
candidates to dismiss the advisor for advocating ethno-religiously
motivated war crimes. Indeed the presence of such a person in his
campaign might even be an electoral asset.

The latest Israeli government declaration comes as Palestinians this
week marked the 25th anniversary of the massacres in Sabra and
Shatila refugee camps in Beirut, in which the Israeli occupation
army and political leadership were full participants. We can reflect
that Israel's dehumanization of Palestinians and other Arabs, its
near daily killing of children, destruction of communities and
racist apartheid against millions of people has been so normalized
that if those massacres occurred today Israel would not need to go
through the elaborate exercise of denying its culpability. Indeed,
the "international community" might barely notice.

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah is author of One
Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse
(Metropolitan Books, 2006).

14th September 2007

BAGHDAD, Sept. 13 — The leader of a group of local Sunni tribes cooperating with American and Iraqi forces in fighting extremist Sunni militants in Anbar Province was killed by a bomb today, Iraqi police officials said, in a blow to an effort President Bush has held up as a model of progress.

The Sunni leader, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, who met and shook hands with Mr. Bush during his visit to a military base in the province last week, led the Anbar Salvation Council, an alliance of clans supporting the Iraqi government and American forces. Initial reports suggested he was killed either by a bomb in his car or by a roadside bomb close to his car near his home in Ramadi in Anbar Province, the sprawling region west of Baghdad.

Sheik Abdul Sattar, 35, as he was known to Iraqis and American commanders, had become the public face of the Sunni Arab tribes in lawless Anbar Province who turned against the Sunni jihadists of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and began to fight on the side of the Shiite-led Iraqi government and the American military.

11th September 2007:

Dame Anita Roddick dies at 64

By Adam Jones

Published: September 10 2007 21:44

Dame Anita Roddick, the entrepreneur who founded The Body Shop and built it into an alternative to the mainstream cosmetics industry, died on Monday of a brain haemorrhage, aged 64.

Dame Anita, who viewed the sale of the retail chain to L’Oréal, the world’s leading cosmetics maker, as an opportunity to change big business from the inside, had been suffering from cirrhosis of the liver. She had developed the condition as a result of contracting hepatitis C during a blood transfusion when she was giving birth to her youngest daughter in 1971. She did not realise she was carrying the virus until more than three decades later.


Hepatitis C entailed carrying “a sharp sense of my own mortality, which in many ways makes life more vivid and immediate”, she said, adding that it had made her “even more determined to just get on with things”.

Last night The Body Shop said she was the “heart and passion” of the company. “It is no exaggeration to say that she changed the world of business with her campaigns for social and environmental responsibility.”

Gordon Brown said: “As one of this country’s most successful businesswomen she was an inspiration to women throughout the country striving to set up and grow their own companies.”

Born in Littlehampton in 1942, Dame Anita, a self-described “natural outsider”, founded The Body Shop in 1976. Her commitment to natural ingredients and avoiding animal testing, combined with her refusal to impose impossible ideals of beauty on her customers and her commitment to environmentalism, fuelled the company’s growth.

She had an antagonistic relationship with the mainstream cosmetics industry. However, she and The Body Shop’s other key shareholders decided to sell it to L’Oréal for £652m in 2006. The decision provoked dissent from some Body Shop diehards.

alexander cockburn in counterpunch: re. war with iran 9th.September 2007

Weigh it all up, and you'd be foolish to bet that an attack on Iran won't happen. I knew Noam Chomsky used to be dubious about the likelihood of a U.S. attack and emailed him last week to ask if he is still of that opinion. Here's his answer.

Yes, I was quite sceptical. Less so over the years. They're desperate. Everything they touch is in ruins. They're even in danger of losing control over Middle Eastern oil -- to China, the topic that's rarely discussed but is on every planner or corporation exec's mind, if they're sane. Iran already has observer status at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization -- from which the US was pointedly excluded. Chinese trade with Saudi Arabia, even military sales, is growing fast. With the Bush administration in danger of losing Shiite Iraq, where most of the oil is (and most Saudi oil in regions with a harshly oppressed Shiite population), they may be in real trouble.

Under these circumstances, they're unpredictable. They might go for broke, and hope they can salvage something from the wreckage. If they do bomb, I suspect it will be accompanied by a ground assault in Khuzestan, near the Gulf, where the oil is (and an Arab population -- there already is an Ahwazi liberation front, probably organized by the CIA, which the US can "defend" from the evil Persians), and then they can bomb the rest of the country to rubble. And show who's boss.

The peace movement had better pull itself together, remembering that should the bombs start to fall on Tehran, most of the Democrats in Congress will be on their feet, cheering.

Bush Wants $50 Billion More for Iraq War
President Bush plans to ask Congress next month for up to $50 billion in additional funding for the war in Iraq, a White House official said yesterday, a move that appears to reflect increasing administration confidence that it can fend off congressional calls for a rapid drawdown of U.S. forces.
(By Thomas E. Ricks, The Washington Post)

Yugoslavia Break-up 17,882 yet missing

Out of a total of 17,882 still unaccounted for, 13,449 disappeared during the worst of the three main conflicts, the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia.

Some 2,386 have not been seen since the 1991-1995 war in Croatia, while 2,047 vanished during the most recent bloodshed, the war in Kosovo from 1998 to 1999.

In a statement to mark the International Day of the Disappeared, the ICRC said the missing "may be victims of mass executions thrown into unmarked graves, they may be captured or abducted, they may be arrested at their homes and then die in custody".

"Sometimes they are civilians fleeing combat, children separated from their families, or soldiers killed during fighting whose remains were improperly managed."

The lack of information on their fate meant families were "constantly tormented" by the possibility their relatives could still be alive, the ICRC said.

"It is, therefore, vital that the issue of the missing be seriously addressed and that the families' right to know the fate of their loved ones be upheld," the statement said.

Paul Henri Arni, the head of the Red Cross in Belgrade, said: "For years now, ever since the conflict in former Yugoslavia broke out, the ICRC has strived to support the pleas of the families of missing people, hoping to bring about more answers on the fate of their beloved."

Official estimates state the wars that marked the break-up of the former Yugoslavia brought by far the worst carnage in Europe since the second world war, killing about 200,000 people.

New admission Lockerbie evidence faked

Date: Fri, 31 Aug 2007 07:44:49 +0100 From: Rowan Berkeley

Zurich - A Swiss businessman on Monday claimed that a key piece of evidence in the Lockerbie trial was faked, following a French press report that one of his employees had lied to Scottish investigators. Edwin Bollier, head of the Swiss-based Mebo group, told reporters that one of his employees had supplied Scottish investigators with a stolen timing device, which was then presented in the trial as having been found amidst the plane's wreckage.

Mebo makes electronic equipment for the security forces.

In fact, Mebo employee Ulrich Lumpert has now admitted that the device he handed over to Scottish investigators was one he himself had stolen from the company, rather than part of a batch delivered to Libya in the 1980s. "The exhibits were manipulated and used to make a link between Libya and the attack," Bollier told reporters.

Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in December 1988, killing 270 people in what was Britain's worst terrorist atrocity.

Former Libyan intelligence officer Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al-Megrahi was convicted by a trio of Scottish judges sitting in a special court in the Netherlands in 2001 of being behind the blast, and was jailed for a total of 27 years.

Lumpert was also a witness at Megrahi's trial. Monday's edition of Le Figaro reported that he had now gone back on his story in a sworn declaration to a Zurich court. "I stole a prototype MST-13 timing device... Gave it without permission on June 22, 1989, to a person who was officially investigating the Lockerbie affair," Lumpert said in the new statement, Le Figaro reported.
"When I realised that the MST-13 had been used ill-advisedly, I decided to stay silent, as it could have been extremely dangerous for me," he added. Lumpert did not explain the motives behind his actions.

The conviction of the former Libyan agent remains shrouded in controversy, with many campaigners and relatives of the Lockerbie victims instead pointing the finger of blame at an Iranian-backed Palestinian militant group. In June, Megrahi won the right to a new appeal against his sentence in the Scottish courts, after the independent Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission found he "may have suffered a miscarriage of justice" at his 2001 trial. - Sapa-AFP

Children of war


By Gideon Levy

By Gideon Levy

Again children. Five children killed in Gaza in eight days. The public indifference to their killing - the last three, for example, were accorded only a short item on the margins of page 11 in Yedioth Ahronoth, a sickening matter in itself - cannot blur the fact that the IDF is waging a war against children. A year ago, a fifth of those killed in the "Summer Rain" operation in Gaza were children; during the past two weeks, they comprised a quarter of the 21 killed. If, heaven forbid, children are hurt in Sderot, we will have to remember this before we begin raising hell.

The IDF explains that the Palestinians make a practice of sending children to collect the Qassam launchers. However, in this case, the children killed were not collecting launchers. The first two were killed while collecting carob fruit and the next three - according to the IDF's own investigation - were playing tag. But even if we accept the IDF's claim that there is a general trend of sending children to collect launchers (which has not been proven), that should have brought about an immediate halt to firing at launcher collectors.

But the IDF does not care whether its victims are liable to be children. The fact is that it shoots at figures it considers suspicious, with full knowledge - according to its own contention - that they are liable to be children. Therefore, an IDF that fires at launcher collectors is an army that kills children, without any intention of preventing this. This then is not a series of unfortunate mistakes, as it is being portrayed, but rather reflects the army's contempt for the lives of Palestinian children and its terrifying indifference to their fate.

A society that holds ethical considerations in high regard would at least ask itself: Is it permissible to shoot at anyone who is approaching the launchers, even if we know that some of these people may be small children, lacking in judgment, and thus not punishable? Or are we lifting all restraints on our war operations? Even if we accept the IDF's claims that its sophisticated vision devices do not enable them to distinguish between a 10-year-old boy and an adult, the IDF cannot evade its responsibility for this criminal action. Even if we assumed a completely distorted assumption that anyone who goes near the launchers is subject to death, the fact that children are involved should have changed the rules. Add to this the fact that the firing at launcher collectors has halted the Qassams, or even reduce their number, and you arrive at another chilling conclusion: The IDF shoots at children to wreak vengeance and punish.

No child in Sderot is more secure as a result of this killing. On the contrary.

Anyone who takes an honest look at the progression of events during the past two months will discover that the Qassams have a context: They are almost always fired after an IDF assassination operation, and there have been many of these. The question of who started it is not a childish question in this context. The IDF has returned to liquidations, and in a big way. And in their wake there has been an increase in Qassam firings.

That is the truth, and they are hiding it from us. When Gabi Ashkenazi and Ehud Barak assumed their positions, the reins were loosened. If Barak were a representative of the political right, perhaps a public outcry would have already been sounded against the IDF's wild actions in Gaza. But everything is permitted to Barak, and even the fact that the victims are children does not matter - not to him and not to the Israeli public.

Yes, the children of Gaza gather around the Qassams. It is practically the only diversion they have in their lives. It is their amusement park. Those who arrogantly preach to their parents "to watch over them" have never visited Beit Hanoun. There is nothing there, except for the filthy alleys and meager homes. Even if it is true that those launching the Qassams are taking advantage of these miserable children (which has yet to be proven), this should not shape our moral portrait. Yes, it is permissible to exercise restraint and caution. Yes, it is not always necessary to respond, especially when the response ends up killing children.

The way to stop the firing of Qassams is not through indiscriminate killing. Every launcher can be replaced. The start of the school year bodes ill, for us and for them. Anyone who truly seeks to stop the firing of Qassams should reach a cease-fire agreement with the current government in Gaza. That is the only way and it is possible. The liquidations, the shelling and the killing of children will work in exactly the opposite direction of what is intended. In the meantime, look what is happening to us and to our army.
[newprofile message1382] Gideon Levy _ Children of War

New Chinese spy chief an expert on commercial intelligence, monitoring group says

The Associated Press Published: August 31, 2007

BEIJING: China's new spy chief is an expert on commercial intelligence whose appointment signals a shift of emphasis to obtaining and protecting trade secrets, a monitoring group said Friday.

Geng Huichang was promoted from vice minister to minister of state security on Thursday as part of a major Cabinet reshuffle ahead of a twice-a-decade Communist Party congress in October. The ministry has long been regarded as China's version of the former Soviet Union's infamous KGB.

However, to allow it to focus more on commercial intelligence, some of its duties will now be shifted to the military or the Public Security Ministry, which is in charge of police, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported.

Experts in the United States and elsewhere say China may be appealing to businesspeople and academics of Chinese origin to gain classified information on new technology, especially with possible military applications.

Little else is publicly known about Geng, 55.

According to the center and Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao Daily News, Geng spent most of his career conducting research on international relations, authoring numerous articles and papers on American politics.

He headed the government-backed China Institute of Contemporary International Relations until 1995, when he was reassigned overseas, the center said.

A vice minister of state security since 1998, Geng delivered a lecture at the Commerce Ministry in February on techniques for protecting and obtaining commercial secrets, the center said. It said he also contributed to a 1993 book on international trade.

One of the few pieces of information available online about Geng is a Greek government account of his visit to that nation's Ministry of Public Order last year, for a briefing on Olympic security ahead of the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.

Geng is also cited as explaining China's military modernization in a 1992 paper, saying it was mainly a response to events overseas such as the 1991 Gulf War, rather than a desire to assume greater international influence.

"The use of high-tech modern weaponry during that war had a great psychological impact on those countries and has promoted them to renew their weapons systems," Geng wrote.

Remembering Princess Diana

Who's Cheating?


There must have been more than a few who suddenly stiffened at the opening words of the Bishop of London, Right Reverend Dr Richard Chartres, when he took the pulpit to address the congregation gathered in the Guard's Chapel near Buckingham Palace, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Princess Diana's death.

For several long moments he stood there, his head bowed in silence, before he looked up and asked a simple direct question.

"Who's cheating?"

Again he paused, uncomfortably long for several members of the royal family and invited guests to ask themselves if he could possibly be talking about them. They would have wiped the metaphorical sweat from their brow and breathed a sigh of relief as the Bishop continued.

"Those were the words of Princess Diana to a pair of elderly inmates playing a game of Beggar My Neighbour' at an old folk's home which she was visiting. How they all laughed."

His question was not a challenge to the morals of the congregation, but merely a reminder of the natural fun and spontaneity of the princess and her intuitive rapport with members of the public, which he went on to eulogize. But still, his first stark question seemed to linger in the air like a bad smell, stronger than the perfume of the profusion of English roses that decked the chapel.

"Who's cheating?" Who's playing around? Who's being unfaithful to their wedding vows? Who's having an extra-marital affair? Who is committing adultery?

Many eyes may have shifted for a moment from the pontificating priest in the pulpit to ponder uncomfortably on the backs of the heads of three of the most important guests in the front pew Queen Elizabeth, the Duke of Edinburgh, and their son, the Prince of Wales. How had the question affected them?

At least Elizabeth could not accuse herself, her fidelity unquestioned, (or was there more to her close relationship with Lord Porchester in the fifties and sixties than a shared passion for racing, and Prince Andrew the result?); but she may have reflected sadly on her role as a world-famous cuckquean, cheated on countless times in the past by the sour-faced old man sitting next to her, the man she used to call "my viking prince".

Apart from a long term affair with the Queen's cousin, Princess Alexandra, Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was a well-known womaniser in his hey-day, with a string of affairs with polo wives, duchesses, countesses, and several famous actresses, including, it is alleged, Jane Russell, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and Shirley MacLaine. Yet this was the man who wrote to his daughter-in-law Diana calling her a "harlot and a trollop", telling her that she should put up with his son's long running affair with Camilla Parker Bowles.

Yes, to the lugubrious-faced son, sitting next to the Duke on the front pew at the service in memory of his ex-wife, the question, "Who's cheating?" must have rung most accusingly. If he had abandoned mistress Camilla after the fairy-tale wedding to his adoring virgin bride Diana, and remained faithful to her alone, then there would have been none of the scandalous mire of events that led Diana to her conducting her own extra-marital affairs, most notably with red-haired cavalry officer James Hewitt (rumoured to be Prince Harry's real father), and eventually to her tragic untimely death in the Paris car crash with her latest amour, Harrod's heir Dodi al-Fayed.

But Charles admitted in a television interview in 1994 that he had never loved Diana, and that during the marriage he had been carrying on an affair with Mrs Parker Bowles, who he had originally met at a polo match may years before.

"There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded," a teary eyed Diana explained for the break up with Charles in her own retaliatory TV interview.

The place next to Charles on the front pew at the memorial service was conspicuously empty. His now wife, Her Royal Majesty, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, although invited by her stepsons, had decided it more appropriate that she not attend, saying that she feared her presence would detract from what should be a celebration of Diana's life. Instead, the woman whom Diana called "the Rottweiler" watched the service on television alone at her country home. Next week she plans to jet off without her husband for a holiday in the Meditteranean with a small group of girlfriends.

Camilla had originally intended to be there at her husband's side, and is said to be furious at having been pressured by royal aides to decline, but perhaps it's just as well she wasn't.

Although a strong-minded woman, perhaps she too might have quailed and trembled at the Bishop of London's sudden question from the pulpit. An accusation from beyond the grave from the ex-wife of the man she had secretly committed adultery with, and caused such pain and misery:

"Who's cheating?"

Michael Dickinson, whose artwork graces the covers of Dime's Worth of Difference, Serpents in the Garden and Grand Theft Pentagon, lives in Istanbul. He can be contacted via his website or at

From Counterpunch Sept 1st 2007