Despite the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Israel and Washington to end the dispute over Israel's sale to China of spare parts for attack drones, U.S. sanctions continue.
As part of the understanding, Israel has agreed to monitor its export of equipment and dual-use technologies, with a special regulation passed last week by the Knesset Economics Committee.
The memorandum, signed by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, does not contain an earlier demand that the Knesset enact legislation to monitor weapons exports within 18 months. It does not require Mofaz to apologize for the sale of the spare parts for the drones Israel manufactured. The U.S. also acceded to Mofaz's request to reach an agreement before disengagement was carried out. However, the agreement does indicate that the sanctions against Israel will be lifted gradually, and that their complete removal depends exclusively on a U.S. decision.
The above, e-mailed by Rob, is from Ze'ev Schiff's "U.S. sanctions still in place in spite of military exports deal" (Israel's Haaretz).
On the same geo region, Norah notes Hazem Saghieh's "How to make Israel secure" (openDemocracy):
It is true that the most intensive period of suicide bombings in Israel led many moderate Israelis to place their “mother before justice”, as Albert Camus once did, commenting on the French-Algerian war. This reaction was understandable, even if it meant incomprehensibly turning a blind eye to the terrible suffering of the Palestinians, the house demolitions, and the land seizures.
However, suicide attacks have since abated, and the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly demonstrated its moderation, pragmatism, and readiness to fulfil its commitments. All this leads one to question the willingness of Israeli public opinion to link the withdrawal from Gaza with the roadmap. Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, and official Israeli statements about annexing the main settlement blocks, make it difficult to be optimistic.
Israeli public opinion must stand up to these policies, which seek a withdrawal from Gaza only so that Israel can swallow up large chunks of the West Bank. If there is no such opposition, as there was to the war in Lebanon, the Israeli public will be complicit in blocking the formation of a Palestinian state and denying stability to Israel itself and to the rest of the middle east.
The sense of justice among Israelis is needed as much as rationality from the Palestinians. Both are required more than ever.
Still in the same region, Dominick e-mails to note "Netanyahu plans to run against Sharon in elections" (The Irish Examiner):
HARDLINER Benjamin Netanyahu is set to announce his intention next week to run against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in primary elections for the ruling Likud Party.
Michael Ratzon, a Likud lawmaker and Netanyahu supporter, yesterday said he would make a formal announcement then. Mr Netanyahu, a former prime minister, would beat Mr Sharon 42% to 35%, according to a poll published yesterday in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.
The poll also showed that most Israelis were in favour of further withdrawals from the West Bank. But Mr Sharon remains more popular with the general public. In national elections, Mr Sharon, aligned with a new, centrist party, would beat Mr Netanyahu 24% to 16%, the daily newspaper said.
Some 54% of Israelis wanted more pullouts from the territory Palestinians want for a future state, while 42% did not.
Still on the same region, Zach e-mails to note an Associated Press article (written by Gavin Rabinowitz) at Canada's CBC entitled "Son of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon indicted on corruption charges :"
The oldest son of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was indicted Sunday on corruption charges in connection with fund-raising activities for one of his father's election campaigns, the Justice Ministry announced.
Omri Sharon is suspected of setting up fictitious companies to conceal illegal contributions during the 1999 campaign, when his father won the chairmanship of the Likud Party and became its candidate for prime minister.
"The first indicted man is the son of Ariel Sharon . . . In the relevant period he was employed by Ariel Sharon to administer and run his campaign for the Likud party primaries," the indictment said.
According to the indictment, Omri Sharon received more than $1.3 million US in 1999 and 2000 from groups in Israel and overseas for his father's campaign.
Brownwen e-mails to note Holger Stark's "Syrian Had Inside Knowledge of 9/11 and London Bombings" (Germany's Der Spiegel):
Two weeks ago, Turkish police arrested an Islamist with ties to many upper tier al-Qaida members. The man not only tried to get asylum in Germany, but claims to have known about the London bombings beforehand and to have helped the 9/11 pilots.
The Turkish interrogators in Istanbul's high-security prison wanted to be polite; they wanted to show respect for Islam. They offered their prisoner, an Islamist named Luai Sakra, 31, a chance to pray during a pause in questioning.
They'd done the same thing with earlier suspects. The move was supposed to establish trust.
But this prisoner reacted a bit differently. "I don't pray," Sakra answered politely, "and I like alcohol." When the baffled officials didn't want to believe him, he elaborated: "Especially whiskey and wine."
It wasn't the only surprise the Syrian-born suspect presented to investigators. Turkish anti-terror officials held the suspected al-Qaida member for four days. Just after his arrest two weeks ago, Sakra admitted to planning strikes against Israeli cruise ships; he hoarded 750 kilograms of explosives for the purpose. When some of those explosives went up in flames in his Antalya apartment, he fled.
What Sakra told officials during his interrogation suggests a deep jihadist career. The Syrian, who knows weapons as well as he knows his whiskey and wine, has obviously played a far more important role in the terrorist underground than officials first suspected. According to his own testimony, he knew about the London bombings before they happened, and supported the pilots on 9/11.
"I was one of the people who knew the 9/11 perpetrators," Sakra reportedly said in passing during the interrogation, "and I knew the plans and times beforehand." He claims to have provided the pilots with passports and money.
Lynda e-mails to note "FBI raids Nigeria official's US home" (Aljazeera):
The FBI has raided the Maryland residence of the Nigerian vice president as part of an investigation into whether a US legislator made or approved payments to officials in West Africa, a US newspaper reported.
A US State Department spokeswoman confirmed the search had taken place but would not make further comment.
"All inquiries regarding the search of the United States' residence of Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar should be directed to the Department of Justice," she said.
The Justice Department declined to comment.
The raid, which took place on 3 August but has just come to light, was in connection with an investigation into William Jefferson, a Democratic legislator from New Orleans, the city's Times-Picayune newspaper said on Saturday.
Lynda also notes Aljazeera's "US activist blasts call for Chavez killing:"
US civil rights activist the Reverend Jesse Jackson has branded "repugnant, immoral, illegal" a call by a US televangelist for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Addressing the Venezuelan National Assembly on Sunday, Jackson called for the US Justice Department to investigate the statement by famous evangelist Pat Robertson, who last Monday said of Chavez: "I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it."
Markus e-mails to note Thomas Darnstaedt and Helene Zuber's "The Hague Takes On the Sudanese Blood Bath" (Der Spiegel):
The dream of using international law to impose world peace is not a new one. But the International Criminal Court is now trying to make it happen. With its eye firmly on Sudan -- and with Security Council backing -- the court is tackling a bloodbath of massive proportions. But with only a handful of investigators, can it really succeed?
[. . .]
Upstairs, on the second floor of the ICC, the spectators to the first regular international law case in world history sit in red Cassina chairs, waiting for the proceedings to begin. The rest of the world is waiting with them, waiting for the trial of those considered principally responsible for crimes against humanity in the Darfur region of Sudan. The proceedings will center on the deaths of at least 300,000 people, and on a barbaric civil war in Sudan that experts believe is the most gruesome ongoing war in the world. Five judges in dark blue robes will be called upon to issue a ruling on the slaughter in Darfur.
This vision though of using the courts to impose peace -- close as it may be to becoming reality -- is still a dream. But most of the details are already reality. The cells are ready, though still empty, the electrified wire has been charged, and the Cassina chairs are in place. Only one thing is missing: the miracle. "Have some patience," says the Canadian president of the ICC, Philippe Kirsch, "the court is prepared for everything."
Peter e-mails to note Marcela Valente's "ARGENTINA: The 'Final Battle' for Gay and Lesbian Rights" (IPS):
By drawing the media spotlight to five-year-old twins Lucas and Julia and their two "daddies", the Argentine gay and lesbian community is gearing up to fight for the passage of a bill in Congress that would not only legalise same-sex civil unions, but grant these couples the inheritance and adoption rights normally limited to marriage.
The bill will be introduced in the Argentine Congress in September. If it is passed into law, Argentina will become the first country in Latin America to legally recognise homosexual couples nationwide.
Same-sex civil unions are currently authorised in the city of Buenos Aires, but these partnerships do not include the right for one spouse to automatically inherit from the other, nor do they permit adopting children as a couple. The civil union bill, which is backed by numerous jurists, is considered to be more progressive than the same-sex marriage law adopted in Spain last June. Instead of merely expanding the legal concept of marriage to include same-sex couples, the proposed legislation would establish a new, more open institution that some heterosexual couples may choose to opt for as well.
The marriage law currently in force in Argentina contains over 300 articles regulating this legal institution, while the civil union draft law contains less than 160, because it has been designed as an institution that more fully respects the right of every couple to voluntarily adopt its own decisions, explained Marcelo Suntheim, secretary of the Argentine Homosexual Community (CHA).
Essentially, civil unions will allow couples to enjoy all of the benefits of marriage without being subjected to all of its rules, Suntheim commented in an interview with IPS.
Coy e-mails to note Elizabeth Nash's "The deepening climate crisis" (The New Zealand Herald):
The category four storm threatening to cause havoc around the Gulf of Mexico is another example of the way global warming is altering the world's weather systems, environmental campaigners say.
As Hurricane Katrina bore down for a second time on Florida - with New Orleans in Louisiana also in its sights - parts of central Europe were battling to overcome floods that have killed dozens. Portugal, on the other hand, was in the grip of a new wave of fires caused by high temperatures.
Alarmed residents in Florida have barely had time to clear up damage inflicted by Hurricane Dennis last month, or Hurricane Ivan last September. Ending a week of extreme weather worldwide, the storm was expected to swing northwards on a course heading somewhere between the southern Florida panhandle and the Louisiana coast. Florida has been pummelled by six powerful hurricanes since last August, in what forecasters describe as an "unusually active season".
Environmental campaigners say the turbulence is a product of global warming disrupting world weather patterns. Katrina is the 11th storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which began on June 1. That is seven more than are usually whipped up by this stage of the season in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, the United States' National Hurricane Centre said. The season ends on November 30.
Keesha e-mails to note Neil Mackay and Torcuil Crichton's "World health organisation: for the first time mankind is watching a potential pandemic unfolding. British government: no cause for alarm" (Scotland's Sunday Herald):
So far the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) has insisted that there is no urgent need to move British poultry inside and that the risk of the virus infecting humans in Europe is remote.
But in an article in today's Sunday Herald, John Oxford, virology professor at the prestigious institute of cell and molecular science in London, accuses Defra of sitting on its hands when faced with a possible catastrophe.
"I think we're in a scenario where action is required," writes Professor Oxford. "It's not simply a case of watching this space.
"Caution, I think, is the best approach. We should not be wringing our hands in a year's time and wishing we'd done something."
The Dutch government has already issued orders for Holland's bird stocks to be isolated from contact with migrating wild fowl that could bring the virulent H5N1 into Europe this autumn.
The German government will do the same next month and others may follow.
Under a secret planning scenario, seen by the Sunday Herald, the UK government estimates an outbreak of avian flu in the human population could kill up to 600,000 people in Britain.
The leaked documents show that the government is well aware of the dire public health and public order threat from bird flu and paint a chilling picture of the breakdown of civil society in a Britain besieged by the virus.
Same topic, Dominick e-mails to note "Suspected bird flu in Finland " (The Irish Examiner):
FINNISH authorities said yesterday they had found a suspected case of bird flu in the north of the country. Finland’s Agriculture Ministry said the case involved a gull near the city of Oulu, some 370 miles north of Helsinki. Final results of tests were expected in three weeks.
Olive e-mails to note the Big News Network's "Australian group supports Gitmo prisoner" (The Australian Herald):
A new Australian organization is trying to pressure the government to have an Australian citizen returned from the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay.GetUp!, modeled on the U.S. group MoveOn, has gathered 7,000 signatures in support of David Hicks, the New York Times reported. Hicks, arrested in Afghanistan in 2001, was charged by the United States last year with conspiracy to commit war crimes, attempted murder and aiding the enemy.
Lachlan Harris, a spokesman for GetUp!, told the Times the group is blown away by the response.
Ethan e-mails to note "Migratory birds may carry deadly virus" (Norway's Aftenpost):
Instances of bird flu are now confirmed in seven villages in Kazakhstan, having spread from China to Mongolia and Russia, newspaper Dagsavisen reports.
Since these countries have extremely limited poultry trade contact, the current conclusion is that the virus is being spread by migratory birds.
Now some European nations are bracing for potential infection along migratory routes.
Dominick e-mails to note "Disarmed IRA 'will remain an illegal organisation'" (Ireland's Breakingnews.ie):
The IRA will not made into a legal organisation until it gets rid of its treasonable constitution, the Justice Minister said today.
Since the IRA announced its intention to disband last month, it has been suggested that it might be turned into an old boys club for former republicans.
But Justice Minister Michael McDowell said that even if the organisation decommissioned, it would still be an offence to be a member.
[. . .]
In recent weeks, many Catholic families in Northern Ireland have been attacked by loyalist paramilitaries and driven out of their houses, reawakening memories of the pogroms of the 1960s.
Skip e-mails to note "US soldier killed, four wounded in Afghan blast" (Australia's ABC):
One US soldier was killed and four were wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, a US military spokeswoman said today, the latest casualties in a surge of violence in the run-up to a September 18 election.
"There were five wounded and one died," said US military spokeswoman, Lieutenant Cindy Moore.
Pru e-mails to note this from the U.K.'s The Socialist Worker:
"'Every day we discover more lies' -- the de Menezes family calls for justice"
A month has passed since police shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes, a 27 year old Brazilian, at Stockwell tube station, south London. But questions about the shooting remain as urgent as ever.
"Every day we discover more and more lies. We have heard too many. We simply demand truth and justice."
These were the words of Jean Charles's cousin, Alessandro Pereira, when he attended a vigil at Downing Street on Monday of this week.
The family--and millions of people in Britain--want answers about the shoot to kill policy, introduced by police without public debate or parliamentary scrutiny, and an apparent cover-up of crucial details about the killing.
While the political establishment has closed ranks around the chief of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Ian Blair, Jean's family have continued their fight for justice.
Alessandro handed in a letter to Tony Blair on Monday which called for Jean's killers to be brought to justice.
Afterwards Alessandro told journalists that, in addition to their demand for a prosecution, "the family call for a full public inquiry into all the circumstances [surrounding] the death of my cousin, including the shoot to kill policy and the lies we have been told by the Metropolitan Police".
Helen Shaw, co-director of the justice organisation Inquest, also attended the vigil.
She told Socialist Worker, "There must now be a public inquiry that looks at everything that has gone wrong in this case.
"There is a shift towards a more armed police force--but there has been no public debate on this question or on the policy of shoot to kill."
Over 300 people attended the vigil in support of the family, with about 150 joining a subsequent march on New Scotland Yard.
Demonstrate Saturday 24 September
Bring the troops home Defend civil liberties Defend Muslims
1pm central London
called by: Stop the War Coalition, CND, Muslim Association of Britain
The following should be read alongside this article: » Inconsistencies fuel claim of police disinformation over Jean Charles de Menezes» Azelle Rodney’s death echoes Jean's» Why did Paul Coker die in custody?
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