Thousands of Israeli police blocked approaches to Gaza to keep back Jewish protesters sworn to stopping the first removal of settlements this week from land Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.
The threat of disruptions to the pullout has grown with a recent influx of some 4000 ultranationalist Jews into Gaza settlements to reinforce hardliners among the 8500 inhabitants vowing to resist removal.
[. . .]
Settlers refusing to leave have decided to lock entry gates of their enclaves to army officers due to come on Monday to urge inhabitants to go voluntarily or be ejected by squads of unarmed troops starting on Wednesday, Israeli media said.
By rare agreement with Israel, 7500 Palestinian security men in Gaza began moving into position on the outskirts of the fortified settlements to ward off possible efforts by Palestinian resistance factions to shoot at departing settlers.
The security men, expected to station themselves as close as 150m from Israeli troops, would also prevent Palestinians going into empty settlements to seize property.
The above is from "Forces deployed as Gaza pullout starts" (Aljazeera) and Kara e-mailed to note it. This is our Sunday feature of what's being reported outside the US mainstream media and we're focusing on many areas here. (Iraq will be the focus of another entry.)
Ronald e-mails to note Amiram Barkat "Police allow pullout foes to hold rally opposite PM's office" (Haaretz):
Jerusalem District commander Ilan Franco on Sunday granted the Yesha Council of settlements permission to hold a demonstration opposite Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office early Monday. The protest is a last-minute effort to pressure cabinet ministers, who are expected to approve the evacuation of Gush Katif settlements on Monday morning.
The protest is set to begin Monday 12 A.M. and will continue throughout the day, as the government votes on the second phase of the evacuation of Gush Katif settlements. Police granted disengagement opponents the right to protest on the following conditions: The protest can start at midnight and must end by 5 P.M. Monday; Rupin Street in Jerusalem, which leads to the government building campus, will be closed to traffic; no more than 20,000 protesters can participate in the demonstration; the protest cannot include a procession; and protesters cannot leave the site of the demonstration to block traffic.
Marcus e-mails to note Chris McGreal's "Gaza settlers defy Sharon evacuation deadline" (The Guardian):
A combined force of about 50,000 troops and police is to be deployed over the coming days, in Israel's largest military operation outside of a war. They will remove those settlers who refuse to leave of their own accord. The army says it hopes to complete the clearing of 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank within three weeks.
The prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has described the abandonment of settlements that have been at the heart of Israel's expansionist policies since the occupation began in 1967 as a "painful sacrifice" for peace.
But while the move is generally recognised as historic, its intent is disputed. The Palestinians and some of Mr Sharon's leftwing critics say he plans to use the removal of about 8,000 settlers as a means to entrench Israeli control over much larger settlements that are home to about 400,000 Jews in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Mr Sharon is scheduled to address the nation this evening to call on settlers to abide by the law and leave Gaza voluntarily, and for the rest of the country to maintain national unity despite bitter denunciations by opponents of "disengagement" who accuse the prime minister of withdrawing "under fire" from Palestinian attacks. The government declared a nationwide state of alert yesterday for the duration of the pullout operation.
Denver e-mails to note Ushani Agalawatta's "Gaza Will Be 'Vacated But Still Occupied'" (IPS):
A growing number of Palestinians are beginning to believe that Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip will not mean the end of occupation.
"The Gaza Strip will still be occupied territory under international law," says Renad Qubbaj of the Palestinian NGO Network based in Ramallah in the West Bank. "After implementation of the disengagement plan, the Israeli army will remain in effective control of all border crossings." The lives of about 1.4 million Palestinians living in the Gaza strip hang in the balance as Israel moves ahead with plans for disengagement. The Gaza strip of land lies to the west of Israel along the Mediterranean Sea.
Officials on both sides have expressed the hope that the disengagement plan will move Palestinian and Israeli people closer to peace. Israel is due to withdraw its settlements from the Gaza Strip Aug. 17. The disengagement plan calls for the evacuation of all Israeli towns and villages and military forces within the Gaza Strip. Israel says there will be no more grounds then for Palestinians and the international community to claim that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory. But Jaber Wishah, deputy director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) is not optimistic.
"Up till now we don't know the main features of the plan to pull out of Gaza," he told IPS. "Our analysis shows that the plan is not built on international law or international humanitarian law, and as such there will be no change in Gaza."
Ronald also notes Reuters' "Italians, Jews protest ex-Nazi officer's supervised holiday" (Haaretz):
Outraged Italians and international Jewish groups have stepped up protests against a state-supervised lakeside holiday for a former Nazi SS officer, sentenced to life in prison for his part in a 1944 massacre.
Former SS Captain Erich Priebke was extradited from Argentina and convicted in 1998 for the slaughter of 335 Italian men and boys at the Ardeatine Caves south of Rome.He was released into house arrest a year later because of his advanced age and fading health.
But this week, a Rome-based judge approved the temporary transfer of 92-year-old Priebke to a friend's villa in Cardana di Besozzo on the shores of Lake Maggiore, in northern Italy, under police surveillance.
Opposition politicians and residents of the town, population 8,000, demanded an end to the "scandalous vacation" in flyers posted around town, but the regional president said his hands were tied because the transfer was court approved.
Polly e-mails to note Laura Sandy's "Wanted: more honesty, less denial" (openDemocracy):
The need for a new approach, and the dangers of self-satisfaction, were particularly illustrated to me at a London meeting jointly hosted by openDemocracy and Q-News on the evening of 21 July. A wide cross-section of the British Muslim community, mainly young and British-born, from a wide range of organisations was present.
When politicians state that Britain's Muslim community must "get the British project", "buy into our values", or "embrace our norms", I wish they had been at this meeting too (fortunately, they can read the transcript on openDemocracy). The young Muslims present, with very few exceptions, more than shared understanding of and "bought into" what is good about Britain. Many were far more articulate and effective in championing freedom of speech, tolerance, respectful coexistence and democratic values than such politicians and the constituencies they seek to appeal to. In short, they "get" the "British project" in its entirety, and -- perhaps precisely because they have links to and knowledge of other regions and methods of government -- they value Britain's positive qualities even more.
So what, exactly, is Britain's problem? Such moderate, mainstream Muslims are at the heart of their community, and working to promote greater political and societal involvement from its members. Yet they feel let down -- their arguments easily rebuffed, their British values questioned. Why? Because their, our, government is not living up to the values -- of transparency, justice, and civilised behaviour -- that these young people want to endorse.
In this, they have much in common with many other British citizens who feel that the country's leaders are not fully coming clean with us. While the two Blairs (Tony, the prime minister, and Ian, commissioner of the London police) call upon their Muslim counterparts to address problems within their community, the British establishment itself should address four areas where it may be failing to uphold the values it charges the Muslim community with ignoring.
Doug e-mails to note Ashley Seager's "How high can the oil price go? And when will it start to hit us where it hurts?" (The Guardian):
How high can it go and when will it start to hurt? This may sound like something the actress should ask the bishop but the question is, in fact, about oil. Black gold, as it is also known, smashed through the $66 a barrel level last week, its highest ever, and has risen 10% this month alone.
It is up more than 100% since the spring of last year, when prices were bobbling around the $30 a barrel level until the latest run-up began and carried on, and on, to where we are now.
Bizarrely, though, the world economy appears to have come through relatively unscathed, so far at least. The global downturns that followed the oil shocks of 1974, following the Yom Kippur war in 1973, and the Iranian revolution of 1979, are recorded in all the economic textbooks. One could be forgiven for deducing that global recessions follow oil shocks as night follows day.
[. . .]
Oil impacts on an economy in two ways: on prices and on activity. Inflation can be pushed up easily by oil. The most obvious way is through prices at the pump but the other way is that companies pass on any cost rises they suffer to customers in the form of higher prices.
Lori e-mails to note "Poll Shows Turks Dislike al-Qaeda, But Blame Bush for Terror" (originally in Turkish Daily Sabah but via Watching America):
U.S. President George W. Bush is shown as the number one guilty party for terrorism, at 54%. Twenty-two percent indicated Sharon, 17% indicated al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and 4% indicated British Prime Minister Tony Blair as being most responsible.
Sixty-six percent of participants blamed U.S. Middle East policy as the cause of global terrorism, yet 20 percent pointed to the inequality in income distribution and economic problems as the prime cause for terror.
Only four percent of the Turkish public links terror with religion.
Craig e-mails to note Andreas Lorenz's "The Gamblers of Manila" (Germany's der Speigel) :
Jueteng is an important factor in local economies. In Candelaria alone, the lottery provides a small income to more than a thousand people, who go from door to door collecting bets. The take for each game at the water tower amounts to about 300,000 Pesos (approximately €4,300). The "cabos," or money collectors, are entitled to three percent of each bet, as well as ten percent of the proceeds for each winning number they sell.But the true beneficiaries of the game are police officials and politicians who tolerate the outlawed gambling operations.
"We spend a quarter of our proceeds on protection payoffs," says one lottery manager. "Most of the money stays in town, but the rest of it reaches Manila through middlemen."
The local town hall has even hired an agent who discreetly checks to make sure everyone gets his share.
Even President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's husband has allegedly padded his pockets with Jueteng payoffs, as has one of her sons and her brother-in-law. The lottery has grown into a raging scandal that threatens to bring down the government. A special parliamentary committee is now investigating the practice -- an illegal business, but one in which everyone seems to be involved.
The lottery for the poor already forced one president out of office in 2001 when Joseph Estrada, a popular ex-actor, was charged with corruption. He now lives under house arrest in a luxury villa.
At the time, Arroyo, 58, drove the former thespian out of office in a popular movement supported by the military, the church and the business community. But now Arroyo is having problems of her own. She has exiled her husband, José Miguel, to the United States so that he "cannot throw a shadow over my presidency," as she announced publicly, fighting back tears -- or, say the smirking gamblers of Candelaria, "so that he can count his money in peace." Jueteng and a flashy husband are not Arroyo's only problems. Her opponents claim that her 2004 presidential election was tarnished by fraud. According to the most recent accusations, she bribed election supervisors with money. Allan Paguia, an attorney, launched the scandal by releasing tapes on which Arroyo discusses the election results with a member of the election commission shortly after the polls closed in 2004.
Bree e-mails to note "Security beefed up in Kabul" (Norway's Aftenposten)
New security measures are being taken after the Norwegian embassy in Afghanistan was branded an "easy target" for terrorists.
Jan Erik Leikvang, Norway's ambassador to Afghanistan, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) Thursday that the embassy in Kabul is an "easy target" for terrorists, compared to other embassies. A rocket attack last month took place just 500 meters from the embassy building.
James e-mails to note Khozem Merchant's "Sri Lanka blames rebels for murder of minister"
(England's Financial Times):
Chandrika Kumaratunga, Sri Lanka's president, on Sunday night blamed outlawed Tamil terrorists for the murder of Lakshman Kadirgamar, the country's foreign minister who was gunned down after a late night swim at his home on Friday.
Mrs Kumaratunga said investigations into the assassination had revealed "the clear responsibility of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)", which has waged a two-decade military struggle for a separate Tamil state in the north of Sri Lanka.
The LTTE, which accepted a Norwegian brokered ceasefire with the Sri Lankan government in 2002, had denied involvement in the killing. But "their denial contradicts the facts", Mrs Kumaratunga said in a speech.
Olive e-mails to note (same topic as James) "Clinton condemns Sri Lankan FM's assassination" (Australia's ABC):
Former US president Bill Clinton, the United Nations' special envoy for tsunami recovery, has condemned the assassination of Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.
"I am shocked and personally saddened by the assassination of Sri Lanka's Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in Colombo," Mr Clinton, who has visited tsunami-hit Sri Lanka for his UN work, said.
"I condemn this brutal and criminal act, and I offer my deepest condolences to the family of the Foreign Minister and to the people of Sri Lanka."
And, via ABC's Australia, we'll note Simi Chakrabarti and AFP's "Tamil Tigers deny killing Sri Lankan minister:"
Skip e-mailed to note "US paid for Japanese human germ warfare data" (Kyodo, Australia's ABC):
Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels have denied involvement in the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and said the Government must look "inwards" to get at the killers.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) said in a statement that forces within the Government were trying to sabotage a Norwegian-arranged truce by resorting to violence and blaming them.
The United States gave money and other benefits to former members of a Japanese germ warfare unit two years after the end of World War II to obtain data on human experiments the unit conducted in China.
The Imperial Japanese Army established Unit 731 in 1936 to develop biological weapons using plague, anthrax and other bacteria.
Headquartered in the suburbs of Harbin in China's Heilongjiang Province, the unit conducted germ warfare in various places in China and used Chinese, Russians and others as subjects in human experiments.
The US-led allied powers that occupied Japan offered to waive war crime charges at the war tribunal for officers of Unit 731 set up by the Imperial Japanese Army in exchange for experiment data.
But two declassified US Government documents reveal Washington's eagerness to obtain such data extended to providing monetary rewards, despite the awful nature of Unit 731's activities, in an apparent attempt to beat the Soviet Union in the arms development race.
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