Andrei ARESHEV: New Round of US-Iran talks crucial for Russia

Iran’s Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar visited Moscow on 15-17 February to start implementation of Tehran’s new foreign policy. Also in February German ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder arrived in Iran to discuss not only economic and energy issues but a general strategy of cooperation between Berlin, Brussels and Tehran. A delegation from Iran, headed by a vice president, visited Kabul occupied by NATO forces. Iranian Foreign Minister came to Baku to discuss cooperation between Tehran and Yerevan on a whole range of political and economic issues. Apart from this, Kazakhstan opened its consulate in northern Iran…
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Viktor PIROZHENKO: Soros as the Mirror of the US Politics in the Post-Soviet Space

27 February, 2009

US Vice President Joe Biden’s speech at the Munich Security Conference and a number of less notable statements made by US officials revived the discussions of the US strategy in the post-Soviet space. Recently the notorious financial megaspeculator George Soros contributed to the discourse with his articles in the Russian Vedomosti (the Russian partner of The Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal) entitled ‘Global Anticrisis Policy: Create New Money’ (February 10), ‘An Alternative to Geopolitics: the Russian Problem’ (February 12), and ‘A Crisis Landscape: the Geopolitics of Cheap Oil’ (February 16).

Soros has always been a supporter of the US Democratic Party and a critic of G. Bush’s politics. His ideas may be regarded as an expression of the foreign politics objectives of B. Obama’s administration and the methods it is going to employ to pursue them. Soros suggests to Europe a dual strategy – the defense against the newly assertive and aggressive Russia and the encouragement of the strivings for democracy, open society, and international cooperation to prevail over geopolitics.
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Asymmetrical class warfare by Jamison Foser

The media are outraged at the “class warfare” supposedly present in President Obama’s budget plans. In the past few days alone, Michelle Bernard said Barack Obama “was almost declaring class warfare” in his speech to Congress; CNBC’s Carlos Quintanilla said, “I don’t want to call it class warfare, although that’s what it may end up being in the end, this debate over wealth redistribution”; the AP’s Jennifer Loven asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, “Are you all worried at all that that kind of argument, that ‘class warfare’ argument could sink the ability to get some of these big priorities through?” Politico ran a Jeanne Cummings article headlined “Class warfare returns to D.C.” And this afternoon, MSNBC joined the pile-on, with a segment asking: “Is there a war against the wealthy? Do we have a class war developing?”

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Video: Empire – Obama’s Middle East challenge – Pt 2

As conflict continues in the Middle East, the world faces an uncertain economic future and a new US president is sworn in, Al Jazeera launches a new series that will question global powers and their agendas.

Be they state, corporate, military or economic the Empire team, headed by Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, will analyse these giants and how they strive to dominate everything from international security and finance to communications and the news itself.

Part One


The Geopolitical Great Game: Turkey and Russia Moving Closer By F. William Engdahl

26 February, 2009 – Global Research

Despite the problems of the ruble and the weak oil price in recent months for the Russian economy, the Russian Government is pursuing a very active foreign policy strategy. Its elements focus on countering the continuing NATO encirclement policy of Washington, with often clever diplomatic initiatives on its Eurasian periphery. Taking advantage of the cool relations between Washington and longtime NATO ally, Turkey, Moscow has now invited Turkish President Abdullah Gul to a four day state visit to discuss a wide array of economic and political cooperation issues.

In addition to opening to Turkey, a vital transit route for natural gas to western Europe, Russia is also working to firm an economic space with Belarus and other former Soviet republics to firm its alliances. Moscow delivered a major blow to the US military encirclement strategy in Central Asia when it succeeded earlier this month in convincing Kyrgystan, with the help of major financial aid, to cancel US military airbase rights at Manas, a major blow to US escalation plans in Afghanistan.

In short, Moscow is demonstrating it is far from out of the new Great Game for influence over Eurasia.
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PCHR 26 February, 2009: The Fact-Finding Mission Mandated by the League of Arab Nations to Investigate Israeli War Crimes Concludes Its Works in Gaza on Friday

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights LTD (non profit)
Press Release

Ref: 31/2009
Date: 26 February 2009
Time: 18:00 GMT

The fact-finding mission of the League of Arab Nations mandated by the League of Arab Nations to investigate war crimes committed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) during the latest offensive on the Gaza Strip is going to finish its works in the Gaza Strip on Friday, 27 February 2009, with a tour in Rafah to watch the destruction caused by IOF to the town. The mission has sought to gather evidence and eyewitnesses’ testimonies, and to watch the destruction cause by IOF during the latest offensive on the Gaza Strip to prepare a neutral and objective report to be submitted to the League of Arab Nations.
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The green revolution in Cuba

21 February, 2009

From December 2008 to January 2009, activists travelled to Cuba for the Southern Cross Solidarity Brigade from Australia and New Zealand, organised by the Australia-Cuba Friendship Society. Resistance member Ash Pemberton was in Cuba for the 50th anniversary of the triumph of the revolution. He spoke to Green Left Weekly’s Jay Fletcher.

Few first World — let alone Third World — countries can match the legislative, planning and educational efforts that Cuba is applying in its commitment to environmental sustainability.
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GAZA CHRONOLOGY June 19 – Dec. 27, 2008

19th June:
Ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Hamas government comes into force for six months. Israel insisted on a verbal agreement. It stated: cessation of all military hostilities on both sides, opening of Gaza’s borders after 72 hours for 30% more trade, unrestricted trade after ten days. Egypt supports the extension of the agreement to the West Bank. (source: International Crisis Group: Ending the War in Gaza. Middle East Briefing No. 26, 5.1.2009, p. 3)

19th June
Israeli warships fire four rockets at Palestinian fishermen in Palestinian waters. On the same day aircraft circling over Gaza City break the sound barrier near the ground and trigger a panic among the people. In the area of Khan Yunis Israeli patrols shoot over the border fence at farmers who work on their fields on the other side of the border. (source: Ma’an, 26.06.2008). This scenario is repeated almost daily.
24th June:
Two young officials of Jihad are murdered in their homes in Nablus by units of the IDF (Israeli Defence Force). On the same day al-Quds Brigades fire three rockets at Sderot in retaliation. (source: Ma’an 24.06.2008) The Israeli side uses the action of Jihad as an excuse to close the border crossings again.

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Ortega murdered by US Marines in Haiti: A Reporter's Notes By Kevin Pina

The family of slain Spanish journalist Ricardo Ortega recently held a press conference in Madrid, Spain where they presented evidence that he was killed by U.S. Marines in Haiti and not by gunmen associated with ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The organization Reporters without Borders (RSF) immediately seized upon the opportunity to release the following statement, “The investigation at first focused on armed supporters of Jean-Bertrand Aristide but in addition to the autopsy carried out in Spain, witness accounts gathered by a journalist colleague on Antena 3, Jesus Martin, who was sent to Haiti six months later, confirmed the thesis that the shooting had come from US troops…”

I found this utterly disingenuous and contemptible given that RSF had been the main proponent of the theory that gunmen associated with ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide were responsible for Ortega’s killing. RSF’s assertion would be uncritically repeated ad nauseum in the international press, and ultimately used by the U.S.-installed government that replaced Aristide, to justify a wholesale campaign of slaughter and mass arrests against his supporters in the following months and years.
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The Deep Politics of Hollywood In the Parents’ Best Interests By Matthew Alford and Robbie Graham

26 February, 2009 – Global Research

Tom Cruise – “the world’s most powerful celebrity” according to Forbes Magazine – was unceremoniously sacked in 2006. His dismissal was particularly shocking for the fact that it was carried out not by his immediate employer, Paramount Studios, but rather by Paramount’s parent company, Viacom. Viacom’s notoriously irascible CEO Sumner Redstone – who owns a long list of media companies including CBS, Nickelodeon, MTV, and VH1 – said that Cruise had committed “creative suicide” following a spate of manic public activity. It was a sacking worthy of an episode of The Apprentice.[i]

The Cruise case points to the overlooked notion that the internal mechanisms of Hollywood are not determined entirely by audience desires, as one might expect, nor are they geared to respond solely to the decisions of studio creatives, or even those of the studio heads themselves. In 2000, The Hollywood Reporter released a top 100 list of the most powerful figures in the industry over the past 70 years. Rupert Murdoch, chief of News Corporation, which owns Twentieth Century Fox, was the most powerful living figure. With the exception of director Steven Spielberg (no. 3), no artists appeared in the top 10.
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Theatre – London: Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea

Until the 14 March 2009

Passion Pit Theatre & Zeitgeist Theatre Present

7pm Mon – Sat

written & directed by Justin Butcher & Ahmed Masoud
designed & co-devised by Jane Frere / film design by Zia Trench / sound design by Sebastian Frost

A vibrant and haunting theatre piece, Go to Gaza, Drink the Sea promises to transport the audience directly to Gaza to experience what happened during the recent Israeli military assault. It seeks to create a highly atmospheric fusion of moving personal testimonies with searing film images and soundscape bearing witness to the dignity, courage and suffering of the people of Gaza.

Supported by Amos Trust, Interpal, Jews for Justice for Palestinians and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

20% minimum of box-office revenue will go to the Al Ahli hospital, Gaza.

Theatro Technis, 26 Crowndale Road, London NW1 1TT

Ticket Price: £12.50/£10 concessions

Online Bookings: http://www.stargreen.com/ Tel: 0207 734 8932

More info at: www.gotogaza.wordpress.com

Conference: The Israel – Gaza Conflict: Where Do The Legalities Lie?

The Association of the Palestinian Community in the UK; The Centre for Islamic and Middle Eastern Law and The Sir Joseph Hotung Programme in Law, Human Rights and Peace-Building in the Middle East

Sunday 1 March 2009

10.00am – 5.00pm
Brunei Gallery, SOAS

This one day conference will address the international legal issues raised by this conflict, including the way they have been reported in the media. Panels will examine the laws relating to the use of force, the conduct of hostilities and post-conflict matters. A full list of speakers will be announced in due course at www.soas.ac.uk/lawpeacemideast

All Welcome – For further information please contact Sarah Hibbin at sh84@soas.ac.uk or Victor Kattan at vk1@soas.ac.uk

Empire – Obama’s Middle East Challenge – Pt 1

29 January, 2009

In this episode of Empire, Marwan Bishara, Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst, and his guests zero in on the special relationship between the US and Israel.

From its beginning, when it took the US only 11 minutes to recognise Israel, through its difficult early years, to the blossoming bond when the alliance grew based on shared values and strategic goals.

This relationship has provided Israel with over $150bn in aid and military assistance, and in the process changed the nature of Israeli society.

However, despite the obligatory expressions of support by politicians playing to their constituencies, the recent elections in both countries have them seemingly heading in opposite directions.

This second episode of Empire will explore who benefits from the special relationship and whether the status quo will prevail.

Source: Al Jazeera

Amnesty International’s scandalous obliquity By Khalid Amayreh in occupied East Jerusalem

24 February, 2009

In an apparent effort to sound ‘balanced’ and ‘unbiased,’ the London-based human rights group, Amnesty International (AI) , has urged the international community to halt arms sales to the Israeli apartheid regime and the Palestinian Islamic liberation movement, Hamas.

A report issued by the group on Sunday, 22 February, pointed out that arms supplied to ‘the two sides’ were used in attacks on civilians and civilian objects’ which constituted war crimes.

Nonetheless, a careful examination of the report shows a clear propensity on the part of AI to create a false symmetry between Hamas, a small liberation movement resisting a decades-old Nazi-like foreign military occupation, and Israel, a manifestly criminal state armed to the teeth, which has been committing every conceivable crime under the sun for the purpose of maintaining its colonialist occupation and brutal domination over the Palestinian people.
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A Congo Journey By Makeda Crane

25 February, 2009

Her father taught his students to ‘value, study and honor their collective history,’ and his daughter to follow her heart. That legacy took the author on a journey to the Congo, where six million have died without shocking western sensibilities. ‘I vowed that when I returned home I would talk and write about the Congo in as many public forums as possible. To advocate for the Congolese, I must teach friends, family and others that the deaths of millions is a global issue that cannot be ignored.’

‘How many Congolese lives had been sacrificed to produce the coltan in my cell phone?’

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Video by ISM Gaza Strip of target practice on Palestinians by Israeli snipers

Palestinian farmers, accompanied by international Human Rights Workers (HRWs), were fired upon by Israeli forces in the village of Khoza’a, near Khan Younis, this morning. The farmers and HRWs were attempting to work on land around 300m from the ‘Green Line’.

“We were accompanying farmers to gather peas from their lands. The farmers, for the most part, were elderly men and women with their sons. There were many farmers spread out over a large area. We were only in the fields for about five minutes before the Israeli forces began firing. I believe the firing was coming from four army jeeps and a hummer. The shots were coming very close, and were sniper-type of shots.

One old woman was so paralyzed by fear that she couldn’t move off of the ground before we were finally able to accompany her out of the fields. While the majority of the farmers left the area, some say they must return to work the land later on in the day. There is great concern that the Israeli army will continue their targeting of these farmers.” – Eva Bartlett (Canada) – International Solidarity Movement

“I have two children. I must go back to my fields to work there today. This is our life, what can we do?” – Mohammad Abu Jela, Farmer from Khoza’a.

Four Palestinian farmers have been shot by Israeli forces while working within 700m of the ‘Green Line’ since the 27th January 2009. On the 18th February, farm worker Mohammad Il Ibrahim, 20, was shot in the right leg as farmers, together with the international Human Rights Workers, attempted to leave the area having worked on their land for 2 hours in full view of the Israeli forces.

On the 18th January, Maher Abu-Rajileh (24) from Khoza’a village, was killed by Israeli soldiers while working on his land 400m from the Green Line. On the 20th January, Israeli soldiers shot Waleed al-Astal (42) of Al Qarara (near Khan Younis) in his right foot, while on the 27th January, Anwar al-Buraim was shot in the neck.

Never Forget The Lessons Of Yesterday For The Sake Of Tomorrow By Vincent Guarisco

23 February, 2009

“You can walk away from these stories today, but if you choose to follow them they will become a profound part of you and will deeply affect your life.” — Anthony Guarisco, Founder and director, International Alliance of Atomic Veterans (IAAV, with AAV here in the US), to photo-journalist James Lerager. (Note: Anthony was the first of many Atomic Veterans Lerager interviewed)

In a world full of mind-wrenching turmoil, I am a gentle dreamer searching for some soulful serenity. But in reality, my dreams are not always so pleasant when I revisit the arc of history when our pentagon warmongers worked day and night to demonize our own Stars and Stripes when they unleashed nuclear hell-on-earth to establish the most powerful military presence on earth. Indeed, the Hibakusha people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki know this lesson well. Just as surely as all 300,000 Atomic Veterans (including my father) know they are the government’s best-kept-secret when they were quickly deemed “expendable” by Uncle Sam’s nuclear weapons testing programs.

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Iqbal Tamimi – Palestinian Women Photojournalists

23 February, 2009

pal-photos-1.jpgPalestinian women photojournalists: from taking photos of holy places to documenting burned babies

The first woman photojournalist in the Arab world was the Palestinian Karimeh Abbud (1896-1955)

Palestinian women started taking photographs of families and holy places, ceremonies and weddings, but ended up taking pictures of bodies of killed young children, shelled schools ruined homes, and lots of blood

Research by exiled Palestinian journalist Iqbal Tamimi

Introduction

The difficult circumstances in Palestine facing journalists in the occupied West Bank and Gaza forced many media establishments to choose employing local journalists who know the nature of the area, besides minimizing the amount of risks reporters and photojournalists face when covering clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza.

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