Tag Archive: Israeli Settlements

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TEHRAN, Oct. 20 (MNA) – Israeli settlers chopped down more than 100 olive trees near the West Bank city of Nablus on Saturday, according to the Palestinian Authority (PA) which has promised to reimburse farmers for financial damages.

With the Palestinian olive harvest at its peak, the settlers were alleged by Ghassan Daghlas, a PA official who tracks incidents of settler violence, to have destroyed the trees in Qaryut village early Saturday.

The settlers used chainsaws to cut the trees at the base, Daghlas claimed.  He said the farmers were shocked by the sight of the felled trees, which they had been nourishing for years.

An Israeli military spokesman did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment. The Israeli military often prevents some of the worst forms of settler violence against local Palestinians, but such attacks have persisted year after year during the olive harvest.

Local human rights groups allege that more than 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967.

“Settlers attack the olive harvest and take the olives from us to say ‘this land belongs to us and not to the Palestinians,’” Jaber Abu Rahmeh, from Bil’in village near Ramallah, told Al Jazeera.

In response to the attacks, the PA will form a committee to compensate farmers and to “help them remain firm on their lands,” Minister of Agriculture Walid Assad told Maan.

The ancient olive trees are regarded by Palestinians as a symbol of their connection to the land. Each year during the olive harvesting season, such incidents spike across the West Bank – where more than 515,000 Israelis occupy over 125 settlements, considered illegal under international law.

A recent report by Israeli nongovernmental organization Peace Now said settlement construction on new homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank spiked by 70 percent in the first half of 2013.

“Settlers attack the olive harvest and take the olives from us to say ‘this land belongs to us and not to the Palestinians,’” Jaber Abu Rahmeh, from Bil’in village near Ramallah, told Al Jazeera. “To deal with Israeli soldiers is better than dealing with settlers – who are more violent and hate the Palestinians.”


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Israel blocks EU projects in West Bank



Houses are seen in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra, north of Ramallah July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Baz Ratner



JERUSALEM | Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:27pm EDT

(Reuters) – Israel has blocked the European Union from aiding tens of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank, in retaliation for an EU ban on financial assistance to Israeli organizations in the occupied territories.

The EU imposed its restrictions last week, citing its frustration over the continued expansion of Jewish settlements in territory captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Middle East War. The new guidelines render Israeli entities operating there ineligible for EU grants, prizes or loans, beginning next year.

An Israeli official said on Friday the Jewish state was compelled to respond to the EU’s decision “to sanction or boycott the settlements”.

“From our standpoint we cannot just ignore this or treat spitting in our face as though it is rain,” the official said.

Settler leaders say the aid they receive from Europe is minimal. But many in Israel worry about knock-on effects the EU steps may have on individuals or companies based in Israel that might be involved in business in the settlements, deemed illegal by the international community.


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Israel freezes co-operation with EU in Palestinian territories

Move follows European Union directive banning funding for bodies linked with Israeli settlements

West Bank settlement

Construction work at the Ariel settlement in the West Bank. Photograph: Uriel Sinai/Getty Images

Israel has frozen co-operation with the European Union on work in the Palestinian territories in retaliation for an EU directive banning funding or grants for bodies with links to Israeli settlements.

The move, authorised by the defence minister, Moshe Ya’alon, affects all projects requiring permits from the Civil Administration, which governs Area C, the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control; access of EU diplomats and representatives to Area C and Gaza; and joint meetings.

No permits have been issued to EU humanitarian aid workers to enter Gaza for several days, according to a western diplomatic source.

“We are freezing the relationship on everything,” said an Israeli official. “We did this as soon as we heard [about the directive]. We can’t act like nothing happened.”

The EU provides aid and equipment to Palestinian communities in Area C, many of whom are threatened with displacement and the demolition of their homes, animal shelters and other structures. The EU also helps train Palestinian security forces.


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Drunk Settler Boasting About Killing Jesus HQ

Uploaded by on Jun 28, 2009

download HQ file now:

Tel Rumeida is a small Palestinian neighborhood deep in the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinian families from whom these jewish settlers occupied lands, live directly next to these jewish settlers and are often virtual prisoners in their homes, subject to the settlers’ violent attacks and destruction of property.

The setting is a Christian family’s property in occupied Palestine (israel). This is what the extremist ‘jews’ teach their children: to hate everyone else, especially Jesus, Muhammad, Christians and Muslims. These ‘jews’ are not Semites or Judean, they are Khazars (hussars, ashkenazi, yiddish, 13th tribe), in fact 90% of all people claiming to be Jews are not Semites or Judean, yet when confronted with any evidence of their treachery, they most often will call you an ‘anti-semite’. Semite means a group of languages that include Hebrew and Aramaic. JESUS spoke Aramaic, therefore the so-called Jews who hate him, ARE anti-Semites. Arabs are descended from Semitic language-speaking tribes (including Abraham, ala promised land), therefore the zionists and other Arab haters (no thanks to the ‘jewish’ media) ARE anti-Semitic. The Palestinians, who follow Christianity, Islam and Judaism: ARE also Semites, descendants of people from biblical times who have always been there.

Before 1948, the Jews who followed the Torah, and not so much the babylonian talmud, along with the Christians, got along just great, for hundreds of years, with the majority Muslims.

Learn about the Balfour Declaration, the 13th tribe, the Rothschilds and their six-pointed red-sign that hung from their usury houses; representing 666 and the synagogue of satan.

http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com http://www.WakeUpFromYourSlumber.blogspot.com http://www.jordantimes.com/?news=7569 http://www.palestine-net.com/geography/cleansed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaNRSZ-Ga-w http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQ6lIsl-pHU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mScWWtRfGQ http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-515319560256183936 http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=6118144849760405404 http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-8533633099218104720 http://www.onethirdoftheholocaust.com http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=3340274697167011147 http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=4860344067427439443 http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-3319663041501647311 http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=5426074851343995791 http://video.google.ca/videoplay?docid=-4285098491726496354

Jew Settlers Stoning Palestine Christian Children walking to school

Uploaded by on Apr 27, 2010

Repost from MentalRev Subscribe

Palestinian Children in the rural village of at-Tuwani speak of their encounters with violent Israeli Settlers in the South Hebron Hills of Occupied Palestine.

Mt Hebron Settlers harassment and brutal arrest -Nissim Mossek

I’m sorry  I  do not  have  a translation  for this  video it  is however self  explanatory  .  Perhaps someone  who  does   speak  Hebrew  and Arabic  would  like  to  provide a translation for us

Politics and Legislation

Twenty-Two States File Brief Asking Supreme Court to Back Off Citizens United

Ian Millhiser
Think Progress / News Report
“While Citizens United enjoys strong support among Republican officials (and among the five Republican justices responsible for it), few Americans share this view.”

Twenty-two states joined an amicus brief that will be filed today in the Supreme Court by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) calling for the Supreme Court to back off its election-buying decision in Citizens United. The brief, which supports the state of Montana’s effort to preserve its ban on corporate money in elections, argues that state elections present an even greater risk than federal elections of being corrupted by corporate money — and thus states should be allowed to restrict such money even if the justice cling to their idiosyncratic belief that federal bans on corporate election spending are unconstitutional.

Sadly, the states’ brief only highlights the partisan impact of Citizens United. Of the 22 states that joined the brief, only three — Idaho, Washington and Utah — have Republican attorneys general. Additionally, top Republican elected officials and lobbying organizations, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, previously filed briefs calling for the justices to redouble their commitment to corporate influence on elections.

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The Swing Vote: Why Independents Will Decide the 2012 Election

Published on May 19, 2012 by

“In the past four years, two and a half million people have left the Democratic and Republican parties,” explains Linda Killian, author of the new book The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power of Independents. Not only are these voters sick of the two dominant parties, Killian believes they are increasingly determining electoral outcomes. “They voted for Barack Obama, they voted for the Democrats in 2006, [but] they swung 19 points in voting for the Republicans in 2010.”

Killian sat down with Reason.tv’s Nick Gillespie to examine what makes a swing voter, their growing importance, and if their socially tolerant and fiscally responsible viewpoints should buoy libertarians.

Runs about 6.40 minutes

Produced by Meredith Bragg. Camera by Meredith Bragg and Josh Swain.

Visit http://www.reason.tv for downloadable versions and subscribe to ReasonTV’s YouTube Channel to receive automatic updates when new material goes live.

Talk to Al Jazeera – Ali Salim el-Beidh: Separating South Yemen

Published on May 19, 2012 by

Is it possible for a united Yemen to move towards a new future or will the forces that are advocating a division of the country win in the end?

Ali Salim el Beidh, the leader of the separatist movement in South Yemen, is the man now considered one of the most important figures in this respect.

Obama, NATO leaders chart path out of Afghanistan

President Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai met Sunday at the NATO summit in Chicago to discuss the transition of power in Afghanistan.

By NBC News and news services

Updated 6:22 p.m. ET: CHICAGO — President Barack Obama on Sunday pressed world leaders to help implement a strategy for post-2014 Afghanistan after U.S. troops leave, a transition that Afghan President Hamid Karzai said will mark the day that his war-torn country is “no longer a burden” on the rest of the world.

Obama and Karzai met on the sidelines of the NATO summit on Sunday to discuss Afghanistan’s post-conflict future. After the meeting, Obama told reporters that the two-day summit would focus on Afghanistan’s move to peace and stability after a decade of war.

“We still have a lot of work to do and there will be great challenges ahead,” Obama said. “The loss of life continues in Afghanistan and there will be hard days ahead.”

Standing next to Obama, Karzai reaffirmed his commitment to the transition timetable process, which he said will lead to a time when Afghanistan “is no longer a burden on the shoulder of our friends in the international community, on the shoulders of the United States and other allies.”

Karzai also thanked Americans for the help that their “taxpayer money” has done in Afghanistan.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP

President Barack Obama, right, shakes hands with with Afghan President Hamid Karzai during their meeting at the NATO summit in Chicago on Sunday.

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Congressmen Seek To Lift Propaganda Ban

Propaganda that was supposed to target foreigners could now be aimed at Americans, reversing a longstanding policy. “Disconcerting and dangerous,” says Shank.

  Michael Hastings BuzzFeed Staff

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.

The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry

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‘Election silence’ prevails in Egypt as final countdown to landmark voting starts

Monday, 21 May 2012

Egypt’s 13 presidential candidates are prohibited from any public activities that can influence the voters’ decisions during the two days of ‘election silence’. (File photo)

Egypt’s 13 presidential candidates are prohibited from any public activities that can influence the voters’ decisions during the two days of ‘election silence’. (File photo)

By Al Arabiya with Agencies

Egypt started a ban on all activities of presidential campaigning dubbed “election silence” on Monday that will last for two days before the landmark voting kicks off on May 23-24.

According to the rules laid by the Supreme Presidential Election Commission, candidates are prohibited from any public activities that can influence the voters’ decisions before casting their ballots in the first presidential poll that follows the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak.

Media platforms are also subject to the ban. They are prohibited from airing any publicity advertisements for presidential candidates or conducting any interviews with them.

A runoff for the landmark polls will be held on June 16-17 if no single candidate wins an absolute majority. The country’s next president will be formally named on June 21.

The main contenders in the elections are former Arab League chief Amr Moussa; Islamist Abdul Muniem Abul Fotouh; Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi; last prime minister of Mubarak’s era Ahmed Shafiq and leftist leader Hamdeen Sabbahi.

Sketchy polls taken by a government-funded think tank and the cabinet’s research division show Mursi trailing behind moderate Islamist Abul Fotouh, Mussa, Shafiq and Sabbahi.

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Denmark to start labeling goods made in illegal Israeli settlements

Israel says it is being singled out since special labels are not applied to products made in dozens of other places where territorial conflicts exist. (Reuters)

Israel says it is being singled out since special labels are not applied to products made in dozens of other places where territorial conflicts exist. (Reuters)

By Sara Ghasemilee
Al Arabiya

It should be crystal clear to Danish consumers if a product they are about to purchase was made in an Israeli settlement, the foreign ministry announced earlier this week.

Foreign Minister Villy Soevndal wants to introduce a labeling system for all goods imported from West Bank settlements “which are illegal according to international law.”

“This is a step that will clearly demonstrate to consumers that these products are produced under conditions that, not only a Danish government, but European governments in general do not approve of. And so it is up to consumers whether they want to purchase the goods or not,” Soevndal said to Danish newspaper Politiken.

The labeling system will be offered to Danish supermarkets and they will be free to decide if they want to implement it or not. But Soevndal said he was confident that businesses will want to partake in the system and referred to Great Britain which implemented a similar arrangement “with great success.” Soevndal also has a firm belief that the settlement issue causes so much resentment that consumers will change their behavior.

“I am convinced that the labeling will have a very significant and direct impact on imports, but exactly how much is impossible to guess,” he said.

The Danish labeling initiative comes at a time when the European Union has agreed to tighten the monitoring of the trade agreement with Israel, which exempts goods produced in the Jewish state from customs duty.

With a better identification of the origin of the goods and improved documentation at customs, the EU is attempting to make sure that manufacturers producing the goods in illegal settlements do not profit from the duty-free agreement.

“Our intention is to ensure that the trade agreement with Israel is not being used to smuggle settlement products,” said Soevndal.

Soevdal added that the new Danish labeling system should be viewed in relation to the EU aim of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians “that is being made increasingly difficult to obtain due to settlements.”

“Therefore, we hope to show the Palestinians a world that is actually concerned that these illegal settlements should not be allowed to continue,” said Soevndal.

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Iranian MP accuses Revolutionary Guards of interfering in election

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps have been accused of tampering with recent parliamentary election results. (Reuters)

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps have been accused of tampering with recent parliamentary election results. (Reuters)

By Najah Mohamed Ali
Al Arabiya

Iranian veteran conservative MP Ali Motahari accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of interfering in the results of the latest parliamentary elections amid retaliation threats by IRGC senior officials.

IRGC General Ramadan Sharif, was quoted in a statement posted on the IRGC-affiliated Fars News Agency as saying the military body is, and will always be, committed to the teachings of the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khomeini and will therefore never interfere in legislative elections.

The IRGC, the statement added, did not influence in any way the results of the March 2 elections, which witnessed a major victory for the supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, some of whom are IRGC members.

IRGC members were infuriated by the accusations Motahari, one of Iran’s most daring and independent MPs, hurled at them in the parliament session held Sunday and threatened to take the MP to court if he does not withdraw his “allegations.”

Motahari, who called for the questioning and possible impeachment of the president, also accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his brother-in-law and chief of staff Esfandiar Rahim Mashaei of spreading vice among the youth and creating the suitable environment for indecent behavior.

“I suggest that you open nightclubs to satisfy the sexual desires of the youth,” he once said, addressing Ahmadinejad.

Al Arabiya News Channel and AlArabiya.net ran on March 3 reports stressing that the ninth parliamentary elections since the 1979 revolution have witnessed a wide range of violations such as rigging and vote buying in the capital Tehran and other Iranian cities.

Those violations, reports explained, were committed by various political powers but especially by the IRGC and the IRGC-affiliated volunteer militia the Basij.

According to an Al Arabiya report, IRGC and Basij members toured the streets on their bikes, paid money to pedestrians, and told them to vote for the IRGC list.

Large numbers of villagers were also transferred to big cities to give the impression that the turnout was high in the elections described by several opposition figures inside and outside Iran as a “farce.”

Several of those involved in paying money were arrested in several cities only to be released later after IRGC interfered.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)

Is This Who We Are As A Nation?

Article image
Dennis Kucinich
NationofChange / Statement
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 4310, authorizes a total of $642.7 billion.

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today released the following statement detailing why he voted against the National Defense Authorization Act.

“The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 4310, authorizes a total of $642.7 billion.  According to Congressional Quarterly, defense spending is expected to constitute nearly 60% of all federal discretionary spending this year. This expensive piece of legislation is a bad investment. It doubles down on war as an economic engine at a time when our domestic economy desperately needs attention.

“H.R. 4310 includes language that paves the way for war with Iran. It specifically calls for aggressive deployment of our armed services to begin ‘credible, visible preparations for a military option.’ It directs the Secretary of Defense to pre-position the U.S. Armed Forces in key locations in the Middle East in order to threaten Iran. It specifically authorizes actions ‘including military action if required.’ I strongly supported an amendment by Representative John Conyers, Jr. that clarified that nothing in the underlying bill authorizes war with Iran.  The acceptance of that amendment was a critical victory, but the bill still prepares for war, making war more likely.

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India’s plummeting rupee raises concern

Published on May 19, 2012 by

The Indian rupee, losing its value since last year, has now hit an all-time low against the US dollar.

The currency has lost more than 20 per cent since 2011, contributing to a slow down of India’s GDP growth and a widening of its fiscal deficit.

Critics blame the government’s indecision in introducing financial reforms as the main cause for the rupee’s current crisis.

A greatly devalued rupee means a ballooning import bill, as India buys about 80 per cent of its oil from abroad.

India’s vulnerability to the eurozone crisis is also pushing the rupee downward.

Al Jazeera’s Prerna Suri reports from New Delhi.

Ireland ‘may need’ second bailout

Deutsche Bank said today Ireland's bailed-out banks may need as much as ?4 billion more to deal with loan losses.Deutsche Bank said today Ireland’s bailed-out banks may need as much as ?4 billion more to deal with loan losses.

Ireland’s bailed-out banks may need as much as €4 billion more loan loss provisions than assumed in stress tests last year, which could “tip the balance in favor” of the country requiring a second aid program, Deutsche Bank said in a report today.

“A new, even modest, increase in capital requirements could deter sovereign investor participation and tip the balance in favor of the sovereign requiring a second loan program,” said Deutsche Bank analysts David Lock and Jason Napier.

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Argentina turns to dogs to hunt disappearing dollars

Published on May 19, 2012 by

In Argentina, the government is using dogs to sniff out US dollars.

As part of a crack down on tax evasion, money laundering and cash being sent overseas,  restrictions are being imposed on foreign currency.

Those restrictions have made the dollar, seen as a refuge from double-digit inflation, increasing difficult to find on the streets of the Argentine capital.

In an effort to curb the smuggling of millions in US dollars to neighbouring Uruguay, the government of Cristina Kirchner, the Argentinian president, has employed dogs to snif out the currency.

Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman reports from Buenos Aires.

Will The European Union Destroy Itself Just To Save The Euro?

Submitted by Tyler Durden
David McWilliams (of Punk Economics) begins his latest excellent discussion by conjuring Clint Eastwood and noting that when it comes to the Fiscal Compact in Europe “they are pissing down our backs and telling us that it is raining”. The Fiscal Compact will NOT strengthen the Euro but in fact by cementing the austerity agenda into law it will make the political environment even more unstable. The Irishman goes on to discuss why Europe is imploding as he insightfully notes that “financial panics do not cause the destruction of wealth, financial panics merely tell you the extent to which wealth has been destroyed by reckless speculation“. The realization that current account deficits and not budget deficits were always the problem in Europe which leaves the fiscal compact akin to a doctor prescribing chemotherapy for heart disease.


Wars and Rumors of War

Mafia suspected in Italy school blast

Published on May 19, 2012 by

A bomb blast outside a school in the south Italian city of Brindisi has killed a teenage girl and injured seven other people.

Two of those caught in the blast are suffering from severe burns.

Al Jazeera’s Nadim Baba reports.

Syrian security forces set off Damascus bombs blamed on al-Qaida – defectors

Attacks were beyond our abilities, says rebel leader, as officers who fled describe regime plots before blasts

Car bombs explode in Damascus

The scene of the deadly blast outside the so-called Palestinian branch intelligence headquarters on 10 May. Photograph: Youssef Badawi/EPA

Military defectors in northern Syria have denounced claims that al-Qaida was behind a series of deadly bombings in Damascus, contradicting the UN secretary general’s assessment that the terror group is taking a lead in the insurgency.

The defectors were speaking before Ban Ki-moon’s claim on Thursday that al-Qaida was responsible for a deadly blast outside one of Syria’s top intelligence services on 10 May, which reportedly killed 55 people and wounded 372.

“A few days ago there was a huge, serious, massive terrorist attack. I believe that there must be al-Qaida behind it,” Ban said at the UN headquarters in New York. “This has created again very serious problems.”

The defectors, interviewed by the Guardian in villages in the Jisr al-Shughour and Jabal al-Zawiya areas this week, alleged that Syrian security forces had caused many of the blasts.

Nine defectors, some of them officers who had fled recently, relayed first-hand accounts of plots they had witnessed being planned or executed that were later blamed on “armed gangs” or al-Qaida.

All have provided details of the plots they say took place and are willing to provide testimonies to international investigators. They say they are reluctant to put their names to their allegations, fearing reprisals against their families.

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Arrested Protester Charges Mistreatment After Police Raid Apartment

Lawyers Deny Group Was Plotting To Make Molotov Cocktails, Only Beer

Darrin Annussek, who was detained by police, talks with the media Friday. (CBS)

Darrin Annussek, who was detained by police, talks with the media Friday. (CBS)

CHICAGO (CBS) — As dignitaries arrive for the NATO Summit in Chicago, protesters and police are making news for an arrest controversy earlier this week in Bridgeport.

For the first time, as CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports, one of the nine protesters scooped up by police in a controversial raid says he was mistreated and his civil rights violated.

Darrin Annussek says he walked to Chicago from Philadelphia to participate in Occupy protests, only to be seized by police in a raid on an apartment at 32nd and Morgan.

“For 18 hours, we were handcuffed to a bench and our legs were shackled together,” he said. “Some of our cries for the bathroom were either ignored or met with silence.”

Annusek was released Friday morning along with four others reportedly suspected of preparing molotov cocktails. At least one other detainee was released several hours later Friday.

Kris Hermes, of the National Lawyers Guild said: “There is absolutely no evidence of molotov cocktails or any other criminal activity going on at this building.”

A tenant who agreed to host the out-of-town protesters says the police did seize his home-brew making equipment, including buckets, beer bottles and caps.

“If anybody would like some, I would like to offer them a sip of my beer,” said William Vassilakis.

The National Lawyers Guild says the warrantless raid violated their clients’ civil rights.

“It is outrageous behavior on the part of the City of Chicago,” said Sarah Gelsomino.

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NATO chief says no ‘rush for the exits’ in Afghan war

Sunday, 20 May 2012

President Barack Obama once called the Afghan conflict a “war of necessity” and is now looking for an orderly way out as hosts the NATO summit in his home town, Chicago. (Reuters)

President Barack Obama once called the Afghan conflict a “war of necessity” and is now looking for an orderly way out as hosts the NATO summit in his home town, Chicago. (Reuters)

By Missy Ryan and Phil Stewart

NATO leaders sought on Sunday to dispel fears of a rush for the exits in Afghanistan even as the Western alliance met to chart a path out of an unpopular war that has dragged on for more than a decade.

President Barack Obama, who once called the Afghan conflict a “war of necessity” but is now looking for an orderly way out, hosted the NATO summit in his home town, Chicago, a day after major industrialized nations tackled a European debt crisis that threatens the global economy.

The shadow cast by fiscal pressures in Europe and elsewhere followed leaders from Obama’s presidential retreat in Maryland to the talks on Afghanistan, an unwelcome weight on countries mindful of growing public opposition to a costly war that has not defeated the Taliban in nearly 11 years.

Obama, hoping an Afghan exit strategy will help shore up his chances for re-election in November, said the summit would ratify a “broad consensus” for gradually turning over security responsibility to Afghan forces and pulling out most of the 130,000 NATO troops by the end of 2014.

But the Chicago talks faced undercurrents of division, especially with France’s new President Francois Hollande now planning to remove its troops by the end of 2012, two years before the alliance’s timetable.

Seeking to paper over differences, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed confidence the alliance would “maintain solidarity within our coalition,” despite France’s decision.

“There will be no rush for the exits,” Rasmussen told reporters. “We will stay committed to our operation in Afghanistan and see it through to a successful end.”

But signaling tensions over the issue, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters: “We went into Afghanistan together, we want to leave Afghhanistan together.”

Obama, meeting Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the sidelines of the summit, said the meeting would agree on a “vision post-2014 in which we have ended our combat role, the Afghan war as we understand it is over, but our commitment to friendship and partnership with Afghanistan continues.”

Standing next to Obama, Karzai thanked Americans for “your taxpayer money” and said his country looked forward to the day it is “no longer a burden” on the international community. Karzai’s government has been widely criticized for rampant corruption.

Karzai’s comments underscored the political bind that Obama and other Western leaders face in underwriting a unpopular war effort and the build-up of Afghan forces during a time of budget austerity at home.

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Syrian troops clash with rebels in Damascus; militant group claims blasts, vows more

Heavy fighting was reported during the night between regime soldiers and rebels in other parts of Damascus province, the Observatory said. (File photo)

By Al Arabiya with Agencies

Syrian forces ambushed and killed nine army deserters near a north Damascus suburb as fighting between armed rebels and troops raged around the capital during the night, a monitoring group said Monday, as a militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in eastern Syria last week vowed to continue launching attacks.

The deserters were killed as they were retreating under cover of darkness from the village of Jisr al-Ab near Damascus’s Duma suburb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, according to AFP.

On Sunday, at least 60 people were killed across Syria, including 40 in an assault by regime forces on a village in central Hama province, Al Arabiya reported.

The watchdog had on Sunday reported fighting between rebels and regime troops near Duma, during which a rocket-propelled grenade exploded near a team of U.N. observers.

No one was hurt in the blast, which came as U.N. truce mission head Major General Robert Mood and peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous were leading observers around the north Damascus suburb.

Syrian soldiers who were on the spot have attributed the blast to an RPG rocket but U.N. observers have not commented on the nature of the explosion.

Israel army opens probe over settler shooting video

Monday, 21 May 2012

Clashes between settlers from the hardline Yitzhar settlement and Palestinian villagers from Asira al-Qibliya near Nablus took place on Saturday afternoon. (File photo)

Clashes between settlers from the hardline Yitzhar settlement and Palestinian villagers from Asira al-Qibliya near Nablus took place on Saturday afternoon. (File photo)


The Israeli army on Monday said it was investigating an incident that was exposed by two video clips in which troops appeared to stand by without intervening as settlers shot at Palestinians.

The shooting incident took place on Saturday afternoon during stone-throwing clashes between settlers from the hardline Yitzhar settlement and Palestinian villagers from Asira al-Qibliya near Nablus.

The footage, which shows a Palestinian being shot by two settlers in the presence of at least three soldiers, was captured by a volunteer for the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

The apparent indifference of the soldiers was widely covered by the Israeli press.

In response, the army said troops had arrived at the scene to break up a violent confrontation in which both sides were throwing stones at each other.

“During the confrontation live fire was used; the incident is currently being investigated by the division commander,” a military statement said.

“That said, it appears that the video in question does not reflect the incident in its entirety,” it added, without elaborating.

In one of the clips, two settlers with M-16 assault rifles can be seen opening fire at a stone-thrower in a green shirt who collapses onto the ground after being hit in the head.

In the second clip from a slightly different angle, a third settler can be seen firing with a pistol towards the stone-throwers as three soldiers stand close by doing nothing.

B’Tselem filed a complaint with the police, urging them to prosecute the gunmen, and also with the military police calling for an investigation into suspicions the soldiers “did not adhere to their obligation to protect Palestinians from settler violence.”

“The video footage raises grave suspicions that the soldiers present did not act to prevent the settlers from throwing stones and firing live ammunition at the Palestinians,” the NGO said in a statement late on Sunday.

“The soldiers did not try to remove the settlers and in fact are seen standing by settlers while they are shooting and stone throwing.”


Syrian Violence Spills Into Lebanon

Gun battles rage in Beirut

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff


(Newser) – Don’t look now, but the Syrian conflict might not be confined to Syria anymore. Gun battles broke out in Beirut today between factions supporting and opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the New York Times reports, in Lebanon’s most intense outbreak of violence since the Syrian uprising began. The fighting was eventually quelled by military intervention, but not before a pro-Syrian group had been driven out of its predominantly Sunni neighborhood, and the streets had been lined with burning cars.

The outbreak was sparked by the killing of an anti-Assad Sunni cleric at a Lebanese checkpoint, but tensions have long been simmering. Syria’s army was deployed in Lebanon for 30 years, up until 2005, and Syria still exerts a strong influence on Lebanese politics; Hezbollah, and most Shiite groups support Assad, while most Sunnis oppose him. An al-Jazeera reporter says he saw streets lined with Syrian opposition flags, and others dotted with posters of Assad.


Articles of Interest

Shared Grief: Bereavement brings Israelis & Palestinians together

Published on May 19, 2012 by

Common grief is uniting Israelis and Palestinians who’ve lost loved ones to the long-lasting conflict between them. It’s a unique gathering of suffering parents, who want to increase understanding and bring peace closer. But their goal is all but out of reach, as RT’s Paula Slier reports.

Police gear up in Chicago as thousands join anti-NATO rallies

Published on May 19, 2012 by

Thousands of protesters have flooded Chicago ahead of a NATO summit on Sunday. A huge showdown is expected later, with police already on high alert. Around a dozen activists were arrested on the eve of the gathering – three were charged with conspiracy to cause terror. RT’s Anastasia Churkina is in Chicago.

Muslims revive old pilgrimage route via Jerusalem, angering top clerics

Monday, 21 May 2012

For centuries, Muslim pilgrims visited Jerusalem while on their way to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. (File photo)

For centuries, Muslim pilgrims visited Jerusalem while on their way to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. (File photo)

The Associated Press Occupied Jerusalem

After decades of shying away from an ancient pilgrimage route, Muslims are visiting Jerusalem to pray at Islam’s third-holiest site, the revered al-Aqsa mosque.

In doing so, they find themselves caught in a disagreement between some leading Muslim clerics, who oppose such pilgrimages, and Palestinian leaders who encourage them as evidence of the city’s Muslim credentials.

Palestinians say the only Arab visitors have been officials from Arab countries that have peace treaties with Israel. Recent trips here by a top Egyptian cleric and a Jordanian prince sparked angry backlashes in their home countries.

The vast majority of the pilgrims are from non-Arab countries like South Africa, Malaysia and India, where the stigma of visiting Israeli-controlled areas isn’t as powerful.

“Jerusalem is a beautiful place,” said Ali Akbar, 51, a Shiite Muslim who was visiting recently with a group of 40 pilgrims from Mumbai, India. “All Muslims should try to come to Jerusalem and pray and seek the blessings of Allah, the almighty,” Akbar said.

Muslim pilgrims began trickling back beginning around 2008 as violence between Israel and the Palestinians petered out. Palestinian tour guides, hotel operators and religious officials also attribute the increasing numbers to easier travel and rising Muslim middle classes in Asia and Western countries that can afford tickets to the Holy Land.

While Islam’s birthplace is in the Arabian peninsula, Jerusalem is intimately tied with Islam’s beginnings. Mohammed’s first followers prayed toward al-Aqsa and only later turned their prayers east to Mecca.

For centuries, Muslim pilgrims visited Jerusalem while on their way to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, now in Saudi Arabia. Many Muslims believe visiting Jerusalem deepens the sanctity of their pilgrimage.

But that pilgrimage route was abruptly halted after Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. East Jerusalem is home to the hilltop compound housing both al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount, Judaism’s holiest site.

As a result, many Muslims believe visiting the mosque would amount to recognition of Israel’s claim to the area and be inappropriate when Israel prevents many Palestinians from entering.

Those sentiments have recently softened somewhat, and an estimated 2,000 people have come over the past year. That’s a tiny percentage of the roughly 3 million visitors to Jerusalem annually, mostly Jews and Christian pilgrims — but still a sharp contrast to the almost total absence of Muslim pilgrims here for many decades.

Read Full Article Here

Syrian activists fake news on travel ban to Lebanon

A screen shot created by Syrian activists pokes fun at Syria becoming the latest country asking citizens not to travel to Lebanon. (Image taken from users on Twitter)

A screen shot created by Syrian activists pokes fun at Syria becoming the latest country asking citizens not to travel to Lebanon. (Image taken from users on Twitter)

By Al Arabiya

Soon after Kuwait issued a warning against its citizens traveling to Lebanon, due to the conflict unraveling in light of the Syrian crisis, Syrian activists followed suit by issuing their own warning.

An image of a broadcast on state TV Al Souriya showing a ticker that urges Syrians not to travel to Lebanon was widely circulated on the internet and social media forums.

The “statement” soon became the butt of jokes online, with people on Twitter calling it ironic, with some saying “look who’s talking?” while others just poked fun at the “breaking news.”

Kuwait on Monday joined other Gulf states like the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, by calling on its citizens to avoid traveling to Lebanon and asking those already in Beirut to leave after deadly clashes linked to the Syrian conflict left two people dead.

In Lebanon, gunbattles between pro- and anti-Syrian groups rocked Beirut overnight Monday, killing at least two people. The fighting came hours after Lebanese soldiers fatally shot an anti-Syrian regime cleric and his bodyguard when they failed to stop at a checkpoint.

Syrian activists often lampoon Syrian officials in videos, caricatures and now fake broadcasts.

Kuwait joins other Gulf states in issuing Lebanon travel warning

Lebanese firemen extinguish a fire set by Lebanese Sunni men at Camille Chamoun Sports City in Beirut, after overnight clashes between Sunni Muslim Future movement supporters and a pro-Syrian group in the Tariq al-Jadideh district. (Reuters)

Lebanese firemen extinguish a fire set by Lebanese Sunni men at Camille Chamoun Sports City in Beirut, after overnight clashes between Sunni Muslim Future movement supporters and a pro-Syrian group in the Tariq al-Jadideh district. (Reuters)

Kuwait City

The Gulf state of Kuwait on Monday urged its citizens to avoid travel to Lebanon and also asked those already present there to leave after deadly clashes linked to the Syrian conflict left two people killed in Beirut.

The foreign ministry called on Kuwaitis to cancel travel plans to Lebanon “due to developments in the tense security situation.”

The ministry’s statement, carried by the official KUNA news agency, also urged Kuwaitis currently in Lebanon to leave the Arab country “for their safety.”

Kuwait’s move follows a similar decision on Saturday by its Gulf partners the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.

The Kuwaiti call comes after gunbattles between pro- and anti-Syrian groups rocked Beirut overnight Monday, killing at least two people.

An office housing a small pro-Syrian party in Tareek el-Jdideh, a mainly Sunni Muslim neighborhood of west Beirut, was torched during the clashes.

The fighting erupted hours after reports that army troops had shot dead Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Wahad, a prominent anti-Syria Sunni cleric, near a checkpoint in north Lebanon on Sunday. Another cleric in the car was also killed.

Their killing followed a week of clashes between Sunnis hostile to the Syrian regime and Alawites who support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that left 10 people dead in Lebanon’s northern port city of Tripoli.

Israel planting thousands of ‘fake’ Jewish graves around Aqsa Mosque: Palestinian group

Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage (AFEH) said Israel has planted 3,000 “fake” Jewish graves so far around the al-Aqsa Mosque. (Photo Courtesy of AFEH)

Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage (AFEH) said Israel has planted 3,000 “fake” Jewish graves so far around the al-Aqsa Mosque. (Photo Courtesy of AFEH)

By Al Arabiya

Israel is implanting “thousands of fake” Jewish graves in the land surrounding al-Aqsa Mosque “at the pretext of carrying out repair and maintenance works and new excavations” in a bid to lay hand on Palestinian and Islamic endowment lands, Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said in a report on Monday.

(Photo Courtesy of AFEH)
(Photo Courtesy of AFEH)

“The Israeli occupation of Jerusalem is committing a very ugly crime on Palestinian lands, on Muslim endowment lands, and that is the implanting of thousands of fake Jewish graves in this site,” Abdel Majeed Mohammad, of the Aqsa Foundation was quoted in report as saying.

(Photo Courtesy of AFEH)
(Photo Courtesy of AFEH)

“What we learned from the people of Silwan is that there is limited number of Jewish graves (around Aqsa Mosque). The Israeli occupation is trying to impose a fait accomplice to control Palestinian endowment lands through implanting 3,000 graves.”

“This is the greatest paradox; on the one hand Israel bulldozes Muslim graves in Jerusalem, on the other hands it implants thousands of fake Jewish graves,” Mohammad said.

He added that thousands of Jewish tombstones were planted around the mosque to indicate graves, but underneath, there are no bodies, nor skeletons.


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