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Archive for January 10th, 2009

Think Progress- By Satyam Khanna at 4:32 pm

Conyers introduces bill creating commission to investigate Bush’s torture and wiretapping policies.»

TPM notes that House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) has introduced legislation setting up a National Commission on Presidential War Powers and Civil Liberties. The panel’s goal is to “establish a Blue Ribbon Commission comprised of experts outside government service to investigate the broad range of policies of the Bush administration that were undertaken by the Bush administration under claims of unreviewable war powers.” While he is unlikely to prosecute Bush officials for war crimes, President-elect Obama has hinted at support for such a commission.

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Madoff Brother, at Arm’s Length?

Peter Was No. 2 and Close to Bernard; Investigators Now Scrutinizing Role

Wall Street Journal

JANUARY 10, 2009

As the No. 2 executive at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, Peter Madoff worked side by side with his older brother Bernard for nearly 40 years.

Outside the office they skied together, including on one 2004 trip with a broker working at the firm’s office who recruited investors for Bernard Madoff’s advisory business. With Peter long viewed as an heir apparent, the brothers tried to avoid flying together.

MORE HERE

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Jason Mraz – I’m Yours

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Sudhan @22:15 CET

From January 8, 2009

Gaza victims’ burns increase concern over phosphorus

An Israeli soldier carries a shell as artillery fires towards the Gaza Strip

The pale blue 155mm rounds are clearly marked with the designation M825A1, an American-made white phosphorus munition

Photographic evidence has emerged that proves that Israel has been using controversial white phosphorus shells during its offensive in Gaza, despite official denials by the Israel Defence Forces.

There is also evidence that the rounds have injured Palestinian civilians, causing severe burns. The use of white phosphorus against civilians is prohibited under international law.

The Times has identified stockpiles of white phosphorus (WP) shells from high-resolution images taken of Israel Defence Forces (IDF) artillery units on the Israeli-Gaza border this week. The pale blue 155mm rounds are clearly marked with the designation M825A1, an American-made WP munition. The shell is an improved version with a more limited dispersion of the phosphorus, which ignites on contact with oxygen, and is being used by the Israeli gunners to create a smoke screen on the ground.

The rounds, which explode into a shower of burning white streaks, were first identified by The Times at the weekend when they were fired over Gaza at the start of Israel’s ground offensive. Artillery experts said that the Israeli troops would be in trouble if they were banned from using WP because it is the simplest way of creating smoke to protect them from enemy fire.

Continued  >>

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Sudhan @ 18:55 CET

Oxford professor of international relations Avi Shlaim served in the Israeli army and has never questioned the state’s legitimacy. But its merciless assault on Gaza has led him to devastating conclusions.

  • Avi Shlaim | The Guardian, UK, January 7,  2009
A wounded Palestinian policeman gestures

A wounded Palestinian policeman gestures while lying on the ground outside Hamas police headquarters following an Israeli air strike in Gaza City. Photograph: Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

The only way to make sense of Israel’s senseless war in Gaza is through understanding the historical context. Establishing the state of Israel in May 1948 involved a monumental injustice to the Palestinians. British officials bitterly resented American partisanship on behalf of the infant state. On 2 June 1948, Sir John Troutbeck wrote to the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, that the Americans were responsible for the creation of a gangster state headed by “an utterly unscrupulous set of leaders”. I used to think that this judgment was too harsh but Israel’s vicious assault on the people of Gaza, and the Bush administration’s complicity in this assault, have reopened the question.

I write as someone who served loyally in the Israeli army in the mid-1960s and who has never questioned the legitimacy of the state of Israel within its pre-1967 borders. What I utterly reject is the Zionist colonial project beyond the Green Line. The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the June 1967 war had very little to do with security and everything to do with territorial expansionism. The aim was to establish Greater Israel through permanent political, economic and military control over the Palestinian territories. And the result has been one of the most prolonged and brutal military occupations of modern times.

Four decades of Israeli control did incalculable damage to the economy of the Gaza Strip. With a large population of 1948 refugees crammed into a tiny strip of land, with no infrastructure or natural resources, Gaza’s prospects were never bright. Gaza, however, is not simply a case of economic under-development but a uniquely cruel case of deliberate de-development. To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence.

Gaza is a classic case of colonial exploitation in the post-colonial era. Jewish settlements in occupied territories are immoral, illegal and an insurmountable obstacle to peace. They are at once the instrument of exploitation and the symbol of the hated occupation. In Gaza, the Jewish settlers numbered only 8,000 in 2005 compared with 1.4 million local residents. Yet the settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and the lion’s share of the scarce water resources. Cheek by jowl with these foreign intruders, the majority of the local population lived in abject poverty and unimaginable misery. Eighty per cent of them still subsist on less than $2 a day. The living conditions in the strip remain an affront to civilised values, a powerful precipitant to resistance and a fertile breeding ground for political extremism.

Continued >>

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