Saturday, July 19, 2014

Coup-Fascists' Shelling of Civilians Escalates in Eastern Ukraine

Escalation of shelling in eastern Ukraine by Kyiv gov't after the tragic crash of Malaysia Airlines flight

by Roger Annis - 

July 19, 2014 - I learned of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 when my plane landed in Montreal the same day, July 17, on my way home from Moscow. 

The Moscow-Munich leg of my flight departed one hour before the (delayed) departure of Flight MH17 from Amsterdam at 12:30 pm local time. 

I reckon the respective flight paths crossed each other somewhere just west of Ukraine.

Flight MH17 went down over territory controlled by self defense forces of the autonomous regions of southeast Ukraine, near the village of Grabovo (Hrabove), halfway between Donetsk and Luhansk cities, 50 km north and 100 km west of the Russian border. There are 298 reported victims. Here is the fateful flight’s route map.

A typical western media headline graced the front page of the Vancouver Sun the day after. It read, ‘Malaysian plane shot down by rebels’. Case closed. Guilty as charged.

Paul Koring of the Globe and Mail writes, “What brought down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is already known. A Soviet-era surface-to-air missile fired from separatist held territory in eastern Ukraine tore the Boeing 777 apart as it cruised more than 10 kilometers above the Donetsk region.”

The Guardian headlines a July 19 story with, ‘MH17: rebels block access to part of site of crash as evidence against them grows’. But the article doesn’t contain a word of the claimed evidence.

Toronto Star columnist Mitch Potter blames what he calls “nihilistic rebels” and “Putin’s monster” in eastern Ukraine, then proceeds to acknowledge that evidence they downed the aircraft is “circumstantial”. He cites a Washington Post writer who says the disaster is all a result of “Putin’s messy disaster he created in Ukraine”.

In an editorial today, Toronto Star editors cite Stephen Harper in fixing blame: “Russia’s military aggression and illegal occupation of Ukraine (sic) . . . is at the root of the ongoing conflict in the region.” Russian President Vladimir Putin, say the editors, should “shackle his dogs of war”.

CBC radio and television reporters have rushed to the scene for yet another stint of fly in, fly out disaster reporting à la the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) that struck the Philippines. They already know the story. Their questions are not, ‘Who shot down the plane and why?’, but, “How did Russia provide the rebels in eastern Ukraine with the know-how to shoot down the plane, and why would it do that?”

British tabloids are universal is blaring on their front pages that ‘Putin’ or his hirelings in Ukraine are mass murderers

Ukraine’s president knows. Within hours of the disaster, he declared, “Today, terrorists killed three hundred people with one shot. Among them innocent children, people of many countries of the world.” When the Kyiv regime speaks of eastern Ukraine, the term “terrorists” is synonymous with “the people who live there”.

Airplane disaster as pretext for war

Never mind that assertions of what happened to Flight MH17 are speculative and an investigation has hardly begun. The post-crash political assessment is all about something entirely different than finding truth—it is being seized as an opening for a political witch-hunt and more violent war against the people of eastern Ukraine. For months, they have been refusing and resisting a brutal, economic austerity turn to Europe and accompanying military violence by the governing regime in Kyiv and its NATO backers. Kyiv’s ground war against them has stalled because its foot soldiers are unconvinced of the cause or ill-prepared for what is required of them.

In the two days since the crash, the regime’s violence has reached new heights of brutality. Artillery and mortars are raining death and destruction upon people and communities throughout the rebellious region. In Luhansk, a city of 425,000, at least 20 people died from shelling on the day of the crash. The shells have cut electricity and water supply. Much of communication is also cut.

The press service of the Luhansk People’s Republic said on July 18, “The shells are bombarding practically all the residential districts of the city, including its centre. The number of killed and wounded is not immediately known.” (See videos here and here of the aftermaths of inner city shelling on July 18--warning, shocking images.)

The Lisichansk oil refinery in the city, owned by Russia’s Rosneft conglomerate, has been targeted and is burning fiercely (videos here and here).

Already on July 16, an observer with the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) reported that one third of the buildings in the center of Luhansk were damaged by shelling and the proportions of damage are higher on the city outskirts (ten minute video interview here). A July 18 bulletin of the monitoring mission cites reports from local doctors that in June and July, 250 civilians in the Luhansk region were killed by bombings and shellings and 850 are injured.

Investigation needed

The accusations against self-defense fighters in eastern Ukraine are not only unproven, they are circumstantial. Did rebels in southeastern Ukraine capture at some time a battery of the advanced missile system alleged to have shot down the plane? We do not know. If they did, analysts say, they lacked the very sophisticated training required to operate it.

From where was the missile fired? We don’t know. The lengthy debris field of the crash (six kilometers long, according to one report) and its west-to-east direction may raise doubts about the claims of a missile hit from the east (ie from Russia or its border region).

Flight MH17 was hundreds of kilometers north of its normal course. Why did flight controllers in Ukraine direct the plane there, across a war zone over which many warplanes have been shot down by self-defense forces (at much lower altitudes) in the past several months and which airlines have been avoiding? Way back in April, for example, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration prohibited U.S. airlines from flying where Flight 17 went down. Its directive said, “Due to the potential for conflicting air traffic control instructions from Ukrainian and Russian authorities and for the related potential misidentification of civil aircraft, United States flight operations are prohibited until further notice in the airspace over Crimea, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov”.

Answers are needed as to who in the chaotic command structure of the Ukraine armed forces possesses the authority to fire missiles and how tightly this is controlled. What role and access to missiles might commanders of fascist and rightist militias have? The militias are playing leading roles in the murderous shellings and attempted ground assaults in the east of the country.

Self-defense forces deny firing a missile at the plane. This article in Vox details the internet hoax by which the rebels were said to have made such an admission. Lazy or biased news editors in mainstream media have widely reported the hoax, and U.S. government officials are repeating it as good coin, including U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power before the UN Security Council on July 18.

Self-defense forces are cooperating in bringing an investigative team of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to the site. Local residents, including coal miners, are taking part in the search for wreckage and bodies.

Both the Ukraine government in Kyiv and the Russian government deny that their forces fired missiles. U.S. Professor Stephen Cohen told Democracy Now in a June 18 interview, “There’s the possibility that the Russians aided and abetted them [self-defense forces], possibly from Russian territory, but I rule that out because, in the end, when you don’t know who has committed a crime, the first question a professional investigator asks is, "Did anybody have a motive?" and the Russians certainly had no motive here.”

Cohen calls the people who died in the plane, “the first victims of the new Cold War”, referring to the longstanding military threats against Russia by NATO countries that have escalated since last year over Ukraine. He has written frequently about the escalation, including in this June 30 article, ‘The silence of American hawks about Kiev’s atrocities’.

Maybe, just maybe, an official investigation will reveal the truth, or enough of the truth to make decision makers in NATO pause before upping their military intervention. But there are serious reasons to doubt that. The stakes for NATO countries in the war being prosecuted in eastern Ukraine by the government and its allied, fascist militias are just too high to let an inconvenient investigation get in the way.

The degree to which Canadian and international mainstream media are ignoring the rampaging and war of the Kyiv regime and militias in eastern Ukraine is scandalous. It gets little more than brief mention as undefined “fighting”. The Guardian has 14 articles on its Ukraine news page today dealing with the aftermath of the air disaster; not a single one reports on the shellings by the Ukraine army. A member of the self-defense forces tells the BBC at the crash site, “You are only here because foreigners are dead”.

Ominously, while the media broadcasts tears for the victims of the crash, it has none for the victims of shelling and bombing. Indeed, it seems even more war is required because “something” must apparently be done to save defenseless air travelers from the likes of “Putin” and unkempt self defense fighters in eastern Ukraine.

It all sets the stage for an escalation of the military intervention that NATO is already providing to Kyiv. It is so scripted that it tempts the observer to believe that people in Washington and Brussels pushed buttons to unleash it all. But no, that would be speculation, and that’s the last thing needed right now.

Here are some additional excerpts from the July 18 interview with Professor Stephen Cohen on Democracy Now:

By the way, the Ukrainian government shot down a Russian passenger jet, I think in 2001 [Siberia Airlines Flight 1812, Oct 4, 2001, 76 dead]. It was flying from Tel Aviv to Siberia [actually, Siberia to Tel Aviv]. It was an accident. Competence is always a factor when you have these weapons...

Another possibility is that the rebels—we call them separatists, but they weren’t separatists in the beginning, they just wanted home rule in Ukraine—had the capability. But there’s a debate, because this plane was flying at commercial levels, normally beyond the reach of what they can carry on their shoulders.

Let me mention, because I think it’s relevant to what you’re covering here, your very, very powerful segments before I came on today about what’s going on in Gaza, the pounding of these cities, the defenselessness of ordinary people. The same thing has been happening in East Ukrainian cities—bombing, shelling, mortaring by the Kiev government—whatever we think of that government. But that government is backed 150 percent by the White House.

The statement issued by the antiwar conference held in Yalta, Crimea earlier this month makes a nine-point call for an end to Kyiv’s war in eastern Ukraine. One of the points is “For an international inquiry headed by jurists and human rights advocates into the human rights violations and war crimes that have been committed in the course of this war”. Campaigns and solidarity mobilizations around these points are now more urgent than ever.

Roger Annis recently returned to Canada from a two-week visit to Crimea and Moscow. He attended the antiwar conference that took place in Yalta, Crimea on July 6, 7. He can be reached at You can sign onto the conference statement at this online petition website.

Unacceptable: Canada's State Media and Obama on Israel's Crimes

CBC and Obama: Unacceptable

by Kim Petersen - Dissident Voice

On Friday afternoon, hundreds of people gathered in front of the building which houses Canada’s state media, the CBC. An article in the CBC of the same day explains why the people of Halifax were disgusted; its subtitle quotes United States president Barack Obama: “’No nation should accept rockets fired into its borders,’ Obama says of Israel’s ground push.”

How should the nations where the United States carries out drone missile attacks respond to such an utterance from Obama?

How should Korea which never attacked the US feel about the barrage of US rockets that obliterated so many Korean lives from 1950-53?1 How should Viet Nam, which never attacked the US, feel about the devastation of its people under rockets and chemical weapons? How should Iraq, which never attacked the US, respond to such a frivolous utterance from Obama?2,3

Of the Israeli rocket barrage into Gaza killing many children and mostly civilians, Obama portrays it as Israeli self-defense. Israel is the occupier, the dispossessor, the oppressor; hence, it can never be acting in self-defense.4

This ignores the fact that Israel is the occupier; Israel is holding Palestinians under a state of siege; Israel is dispossessing Palestinians of their territory; Israel is the ethnic cleanser; Israel is the outlaw state in defiance of several UN resolutions; Israel continues to defy international law with its war crimes.

The main title of the CBC article states, “Obama reaffirms U.S. support for Israel’s Gaza incursion.”

If nations enjoy rights to self-defense, than that must apply equally to Palestine. These rights must also extend to the Original Peoples of Turtle Island.

Would Obama deny the following?:


No nation should accept occupation. Palestine has been occupied ever since 1947 when the UN denationalized over half of Palestine and handed it over to people from another continent. The same can be said of Turtle Island whose denationalization project began in 1492.

No nation should accept annexation. Israel continues to erect and expand colonies (“settlements”) in the Occupied West Bank.5 Would Americans accept colonies built on its” landmass? In fact, much of the US has been acquired through annexation; history reveals that a large chunk of what was formerly Mexico6 as well as the Hawaiian Islands7 were annexed militarily.8

No nation should accept living under siege. A siege is an act of war.9 The entirety of the Gazan population is considered to live in the world’s largest open-air prison. Israel controls what comes in and out, forcing Gazans to build tunnels as a measure of freedom. Gaza is under siege. Thus Gazans have the right of resistance and cannot be construed as an aggressor to which Israel is acting in self-defense.

No nation should accept its borders, airspace, and seas being controlled by another nation. This is a no-brainer. If a nation does not control its own territory in all dimensions, then it is not truly independent. It is in a subaltern relationship with another state which controls its territory. This is a system of domination, anathema to freedom-loving people everywhere.

No nation should accept its people being slaughtered. In 1989, the US invaded Panama over the killing of one US citizen.10 Was this worth shelling out millions of dollars and killing thousands of Panamanian in retribution, with further loss of American life?11 Curiously, Israel escaped such a violent response when it strafed the USS Liberty with its warplanes in 1967 killing 34 American crewmen.12

All in all, it was another typical piece of CBC propaganda that I usually never read. Why should I? I know its reporters do not operate independently, and I know the reporters adhere to the CBC line which toes the Canadian government line which kowtows to the US and Israeli line.

Yesterday I walked with approximately 400 Haligonians13 to protest the Israeli occupation and violence at the CBC buildings. It is a futile gesture as far as getting any change in the quest for justice for the Palestinian people; I know that. However, it shows solidarity against violence, racism, and occupation, and it beats sitting impotently on a couch, shaking one’s head at CBC’s imperialist-supporting propaganda about world events.

If only all people of conscience would rise off their keesters and say no to Israeli killing and occupation and stand firmly behind the boycott of Israel.14 I have to assume there are plenty of people not acting according to their conscience, otherwise this augurs poorly for humanity.

See Korean Truth Commission, Report on U.S. Crimes in Korea: 1945-2001 (New York: 2001). []
See Kim Petersen, “Genocide in Iraq: The Numbers Tell the Horrific Story of a Lying Government and Complicit Corporate Media,” Dissident Voice, 16 October 2006 []
Abdul Haq al-Ani and Tarik al-Ani, Genocide in Iraq: The Case against the UN Security Council and Member States (Clarity Press, 2013). (review). []
See also Kim Petersen, “Israel Is to Blame for the Violence,” Dissident Voice, 13 July 2014. []
Israel is also in occupation of a part of Lebanon and Syria, whose Golan Heights was declared annexed by Israel. []
Howard Zinn, “We take nothing by conquest, Thank God,” in A People’s History Of the United States, 1492-Present (Perennial Classics,1999). []
David E. Stannard, Before the Horror: The Population of Hawai’i on the Eve of Western Contact (Honolulu: Social Science Research Institute, University of Hawai’i, 1989). []
The entirety of Turtle Island and down is one big genocide and annexation exercise. See David E. Stannard, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World (London: Oxford University Press, 1992). []
See Tom Gjelten, “Siege,” Crimes of War. []
Fighting in Panama: The President; A Transcript of Bush’s Address on the Decision to Use Force in Panama,” New York Times, 21 December 1989. []
See Noam Chomsky, “Chapter 5: The Post-Cold War Era” in Deterring Democracy (South End Press, 1991. []
Rand Clifford, “Liberty, Freedom, and the Attack on the USS Liberty,” Dissident Voice, 22 June 2012. []
This is conservative. I derived the estimate by noting that the march was over 100 meters long and was at least 4-5 people across. []
Difficult because that would point to a certain hypocrisy among Canadians, Americans, Australians, New Zealanders, and other nationalities that live on land wrought through the dispossession of another people. []

Kim Petersen is co-editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Kim.

The Jews in Palestine: What Would Gandhi Say?

The Jews In Palestine

by Mahatma Gandhi via CounterCurrents

Published in the Harijan
November 26, 1938

Several letters have been received by me, asking me to declare my views about the Arab-Jew question in Palestine and the persecution of the Jews in Germany. It is not without hesitation that I venture to offer my views on this very difficult question.

My sympathies are all with the Jews. I have known them intimately in South Africa. Some of them became lifelong companions. Through these friends I came to learn much of their age long persecution. They have been the untouchables of Christianity. The parallel between their treatment by Christians and the treatment of untouchables by Hindus is very close.

Religious sanction has been invoked in both cases for the justification of the inhuman treatment meted out to them. Apart from the friendships, therefore, there is the more common universal reason for my sympathy for the Jews. But my sympathy does not blind me to the requirements of justice.

The cry for the national home for the Jews does not make much appeal to me. The sanction for it is sought in the Bible and the tenacity with which the Jews have hankered after return to Palestine.

Why should they not, like other peoples of the earth, make that country their home where they are born and where they earn their livelihood? Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English or France to the French. It is wrong and inhuman to impose the Jews on the Arabs. What is going on in Palestine today cannot be justified by any moral code of conduct. The mandates have no sanction but that of the last war. Surely it would be a crime against humanity to reduce the proud Arabs so that Palestine can be restored to the Jews partly or wholly as their national home. The nobler course would be to insist on a just treatment of the Jews wherever they are born and bred. The Jews born in France are French in precisely the same sense that Christians born in France are French.

If the Jews have no home but Palestine, will they relish the idea of being forced to leave the other parts of the world in which they are settled? Or do they want a double home where they can remain at will? This cry for the national home affords a colorable justification for the German expulsion of the Jews. But the German persecution of the Jews seems to have no parallel in history. The tyrants of old never went so mad as Hitler seems to have gone. And he is doing it with religious zeal. For, he is propounding a new religion of exclusive and militant nationalism in the name of which any inhumanity becomes an act of humanity to be rewarded here and hereafter.

The crime of an obviously mad but intrepid youth is being visited upon his whole race with unbelievable ferocity. If there ever could be a justifiable war in the name of and for humanity, a war against Germany to prevent the wanton persecution of a whole race, would be completely justified. But I do not believe in any war. A discussion of the pros and cons of such a war is, therefore, outside my horizon or province.

But if there can be no war against Germany, even for such a crime as is being committed against the Jews, surely there can be no alliance with Germany. How can there be alliance between a nation, which claims to stand for justice and democracy and one, which is the declared enemy of both? Or is England drifting towards armed dictatorship and all it means?

Germany is showing to the world how efficiently violence can be worked when it is not hampered by any hypocrisy or weakness masquerading as humanitarianism.It is also showing how hideous, terrible and terrifying it looks in its nakedness.Can the Jews resist this organized and shameless persecution? Is there a way to preserve their self-respect, and not to feel helpless, neglected and forlorn? I submit there is. No person who has faith in a living God need feel helpless or forlorn. Jehovah of the Jews is a God more personal than the God of the Christians, the Mussalmans or the Hindus, though as a matter of fact, in essence, He is common to all and one without a second and beyond description. But as the Jews attribute personality to God and believe that He rules every action of theirs, they ought not to feel helpless.

If I were a Jew and were born in Germany and earned my livelihood there, I would claim Germany as my home even as the tallest gentile German might, and challenge him to shoot me or cast me in the dungeon; I would refuse to be expelled or to submit to discriminating treatment. And for doing this I should not wait for the fellow Jews to join me in civil resistance, but would have confidence that in the end the rest were bound to follow my example...

And now a word to the Jews in Palestine. I have no doubt that they are going about it in the wrong way. The Palestine of the Biblical conception is not a geographical tract. It is in their hearts. But if they must look to the Palestine of geography as their national home, it is wrong to enter it under the shadow of the British gun. A religious act cannot be performed with the aid of the bayonet or the bomb. They can settle in Palestine only by the goodwill of the Arabs. They should seek to convert the Arab heart.

The same God rules the Arab heart who rules the Jewish heart. They will find the world opinion in their favor in their religious aspiration. There are hundreds of ways of reasoning with the Arabs, if they will only discard the help of the British bayonet. As it is, they are co-sharers with the British in despoiling a people who have done no wrong to them. I am not defending the Arab excesses. I wish they had chosen the way of non-violence in resisting what they rightly regarded as an unwarrantable encroachment upon their country. But according to the accepted canons of right and wrong, nothing can be said against the Arab resistance in the face of overwhelming odds.

Let the Jews who claim to be the chosen race prove their title by choosing the way of non-violence for vindicating their position on earth. Every country is their home, including Palestine, not by aggression but by loving service. A Jewish friend has sent me a book called The Jewish Contribution to Civilization by Cecil Roth. It gives a record of what the Jews have done to enrich the world's literature, art, music, drama, science, medicine, agriculture, etc. Given the will, the Jew can refuse to be treated as the outcast of the West, to be despised or patronized. He can command the attention and respect of the world by being the chosen creation of God, instead of sinking to the brute who is forsaken by God. They can add to their many contributions the surpassing contribution of non-violent action.

McLaughlin Ridge Massacre: Island Timerlands and the Rape of What Remains of Vancouver Island's Ancient Forests

Island Timberlands Rips into the Heart of one of British Columbia’s Finest Old-Growth Forests

by Ancient Forest Alliance

Port Alberni, Vancouver Island - Conservationists are raising the alarm as Island Timberlands has rapidly undertaken a road-building and logging spree into the heart of one of BC’s most ecologically significant old-growth forests at McLaughlin Ridge near Port Alberni. Last week conservationists were greatly dismayed to discover that the company had logged a hundred or more metre wide swath of old-growth trees, traversing almost the entire span of the previously intact section of McLaughlin Ridge’s old-growth forest.

See recent photos of the logging at McLaughlin Ridge in early July (media are free to reprint, credit to “TJ Watt” if possible):

See older photos of the intact forest and earlier logging in 2011 at McLaughlin Ridge (media are free to reprint all photos, credit to “TJ Watt” if possible):
Controversial logging corporation’s rapid cutting of extremely scarce old-growth Douglas-fir forest, high quality ungulate (deer) winter range, and endangered Queen Charlotte goshawk habitat at McLaughlin Ridge near Port Alberni risks escalating wider conflict in the War in the Woods

The Port Alberni Watershed-Forest Alliance and the Ancient Forest Alliance are calling on Island Timberlands to immediately cease and desist from logging this high conservation value forest, and for the BC Liberal government – who largely deregulated the land in 2004 - to show leadership by working to ensure a conservation solution for McLaughlin Ridge and other endangered old-growth forests jeopardized by Island Timberlands.

“This is one of the most devastating sights I’ve ever seen. This magnificent old growth forest is being reduced to stumps, logs and huge amounts of waste that will most likely end up in massive burn piles. Anyone who sees this area now will never be able to imagine the centuries old forest that once stood here, nor will the forest ever grow back the same. It is a tragic loss for not only the wildlife that depended on it, but also for future generations. It was recognized by the province’s own biologists as one of the most important old-growth wildlife habitats on Vancouver Island.” stated Jane Morden, coordinator of the Port Alberni Watershed-Forest Alliance. 
“What’s going on right now is a first rate environmental emergency in this province.”
“By all measures, McLaughlin Ridge is of the highest conservation priority – as ungulate winter range, for species at risk, for scarce old-growth Douglas-fir groves, and as part of Port Alberni’s drinking watershed. McLaughlin Ridge was supposed to be protected as part of the agreement to remove the lands from the Tree Farm Licence in 2004, but the BC government and Island Timberlands dropped the ball on the subsequent negotiations,” stated TJ Watt, Ancient Forest Alliance photographer and campaigner.
“We need Island Timberlands to cease and desist immediately from their old-growth logging operations, and for the BC government to ensure a conservation solution for this endangered ancient forest.”

Despite the company’s recent logging incursion into the heart of McLaughlin Ridge, a few hundred hectares of extremely endangered old-growth forests and mature second-growth forests still stand on the slope – for now. This includes major stands of old-growth Douglas-fir trees, the overwhelming majority of which have been logged on BC’s coast. McLaughlin Ridge has been recognized by the provincial government’s own biologists as one of the most important habitats for the red-listed Queen Charlotte Goshawk (an endangered bird of prey) and as one of the finest ungulate wintering ranges for coastal black-tailed deer on Vancouver Island. See:

McLaughlin Ridge is part of 78,000 hectares of land that were removed from Tree Farm Licence (TFL) 44 on Vancouver Island in 2004, thereby removing the environmental policies and/or regulations designed to protect species at risk, old-growth forests, ungulate winter ranges, and riparian areas; to control the rate of cut; and to restrict raw log exports to protect local mills.

McLaughlin Ridge was intended for protection by the provincial government as an Ungulate Winter Range (UWR) and Wildlife Habitat Area (WHA), until the province’s plans changed when it removed the lands from Tree Farm Licence 44. The removal of the lands from TFL 44 included the stipulation from the BC government that a follow-up agreement be developed between the company and the government to ensure the protection of McLaughlin Ridge and other intended UWR’s and WHA’s - however, both parties failed to pursue the agreement, and the lands are now being logged.

In total, about 2400 hectares of endangered old-growth forests originally intended for protection by the BC government as Ungulate Winter Ranges and Wildlife Habitat Areas in TFL 44 are now endangered. These lands also include Horne Mountain above the world-famous Cathedral Grove, the Cameron Valley Firebreak, Katlum Creek, and other areas – about two-thirds of which are estimated to have been logged by now. Most of these areas are within the traditional territory of the Hupacasth band. At the current pace of falling, much of McLaughlin Ridge could be logged within a few weeks.

Over the past several years conservationists have been asking the BC government to purchase and protect endangered private lands – which the government did at Jordan River for example in 2010 at a popular surfing area at risk due to similar circumstances involving TFL deregulation of Western Forest Product’s private forest lands. Ideally, these purchases would occur as part of a larger, dedicated “park acquisition fund” of millions of dollars each year for this purpose. At this urgent time, simply protecting the last few hundred hectares of the old-growth forests that remain at McLaughlin Ridge, Horne Mountain (above Cathedral Grove), Cameron Firebreak, Katlum Creek, etc. would be the immediate priority.

Protecting these areas would protect vital habitat for endangered species and Roosevelt elk, deer, and other wildlife; ensure clean and abundant water for fish and drinking watersheds; protect hiking, hunting, fishing, and recreational areas; and would provide huge potential for eco-tourism ventures in the area.

In addition, forest activists will start looking at options among private land trusts who may take an interest in helping to purchase McLaughlin Ridge and similar lands. Island Timberlands has recently been in conversation with local Cortes Island residents who are working to raise funds and the Strathcona Regional District about potentially selling some of its contentious forest lands on Cortes Island:

“Island Timberlands is a corporation that is constantly wading into controversy – more than any other BC logging company it seems. They are charging forward to log their most contentious, environmentally significant old-growth forests and socially-valued lands, despite the fact that these hotspots constitute a minuscule fraction of their 250,000 hectares of private forest lands in BC. This is a bad business model in this province, and I’d recommend they take a new approach. The current situation will be a lose-lose for everyone. But there are solutions, including some possible creative ones that can be developed. However, it will require that the company immediately halt its logging operations at McLaughlin Ridge so this whole thing doesn’t become a moot point soon, and for the BC government to show their willingness to be leaders to implement a solution. But time is short and options for McLaughlin Ridge will run out soon if the corporation continues to cut out the heart of its ancient forest,” stated Ken Wu, Ancient Forest Alliance executive director.

For Immediate Release
July 16, 2014
- See more at:

Friday, July 18, 2014

New York Times Piles On Police/Court Abused Cecily McMillan

Already Abused by Cop, DA and Court, Occupy Protester Now Trashed by NY’s Leading Paper

by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening

When a journalist in a news article refers to a woman as “strident,” you know what you’re reading is a hit piece, not a dispassionate report, and that’s what the New York Times offered up to readers in today’s piece about a court appearance yesterday by Occupy Wall Street activist Cecily McMillan [1].

Photo of Cecily McMillan showing the bruises and abrasions on her right breast caused by an officer's grabbing her from behind

The Times reporter, Monique O. Madan, as a professional journalist, surely knows that the meaning of “strident” is, as the Oxford English Dictionary says, “loud, harsh and grating” and that it implies the slanted presentation of a point of view in an “unpleasantly forceful way.”

If she somehow didn’t know this, her editors certainly do, and yet they were okay with her disparaging and loaded word choice.

Supposedly Madan was writing a news report on McMillan’s appearance in a Manhattan criminal court on a misdemeanor charge of “obstructing governmental administration.” This related to an incident in 2013 in which she allegedly advised two people being ordered to show their identification to a Transit Police officer in the Union Square subway station that they did not have to comply.

Madan referred to McMillan as a “cause célèbre” because of her earlier arrest at a March 2012 rally in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park commemorating the months-long Occupy Wall Street action that had begun six months earlier in September, 2011. McMillan, in that earlier arrest, had been charged with second degree felony assault of a police officer and, following a trial earlier this year, was convicted and sentenced to three months in jail at Rikers Island plus five year’s probation.

Not mentioned by the reporter was the reality that McMillan’s fame and notoriety is deserved (she received thousands of letters of support from around the world, and even a supportive jailhouse visit by two recently freed members of the celebrated Russian protest rock group Pussy Riot). Not only was McMillan grotesquely overcharged by Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. She was also treated by both prosecutor and judge throughout the trial as though she were a dangerous menace, not even being granted bail after the verdict was rendered and she was awaiting her sentence hearing (a courtesy routinely granted to first offenders and to the powerful and well-to-do).

The reporter might also have noted that, once convicted, McMillan’s incredibly short felony sentence (the charge carried a maximum term of seven years!) and her subsequent release from jail after serving just under two months’ time at Rikers, probably rank among the shortest punishments for someone convicted of “felony assault” of a cop in the history of US jurisprudence.

Unless one believes that Judge Ronald Zwiebel caved under the pressure of all those letters of support and the daily rallies outside the courthouse (I doubt it), the conclusion has to be that the judge’s sentencing decision reflected an admission that McMillan in fact never posed any threat to either society or to the police. The point of her prosecution then was not about protecting the police, but rather about sending a message to all New Yorkers about the high personal cost of political protest -- and that message was sent by simply saddling her with a permanent felony record. Regarding the incident in question, it was evident from video images and from testimony at the trial that she had been grappled and groped from behind by the officer, who grabbed her right breast so hard that it caused clearly visible bruising.

Strident' reporting at the Times was also clear that the cop’s action caused McMillan to involuntarily throw back her arms, elbowing the officer in an eye (that is to say, she didn’t even know who had grabbed her when she involuntarily struck out in self-defense). Even the jurors who convicted her expressed shock that she was jailed for this “offense,” with nine of the twelve, once they learned that she would be facing jail time as a result of their decision, writing the judge to ask that she not be jailed.

The Times article leaves readers thinking that McMillan is some kind of a cop-hating whacko, with reporter Madan relying entirely on the comments of the arresting officer in the complaint filed in the latest misdemeanor case.

At no point in her article does Madan bother to give McMillan’s side of the case. She evidently didn’t even ask McMillan or her attorney for their position on the charge, or on the allegations made by the officer in the complaint (of if she did, she didn’t include their answers). There’s no sign of any “no comment” reported in what is about as one-sided a piece of journalism as one could write.

I’ve taught journalism classes, and this is an article that would have received at best a D from me.

Given that McMillan, now out of Rikers confinement -- at least pending the outcome of this latest case -- has been using her high visibility and her recent experience to condemn the violence and abuse that she observed and personally experienced while locked up, it’s ironic that the Times would trash her on its pages in this manner on the very day that it was also running an editorial condemning an epidemic of prison guard violence in the city’s jails [2].

In that editorial, headlined “Violence in New York City Jails,” the paper describes a culture of violence against prisoners by jail guards, who particularly abuse the mentally ill, a group that constitutes nearly half of the city's incarcerated inmate population. Citing the investigative work of its own reporters, the paper says jail authorities have covered up the problem for years, that guards often remove inmates to remote locations without video monitors in order to conduct their beatings, and concludes:

“...the problem of brutality may be too deeply entrenched for the city itself to cure. If rapid improvements cannot be made, the Justice Department, which is already investigating the treatment of juveniles at Rikers, should step in to remedy what is clearly a barbaric situation.”

This is exactly what McMillan, who rejected on principle a plea bargain offer from the DA at her first trial which would have kept her out of jail in return for accepting a felony conviction, has been saying she saw going on during her two months’ incarceration on Rikers Island. Surely her courage in speaking out about conditions there, even as she faces the possibility of being sent back to Rikers at her coming trial, clearly deserved a paragraph or two in Madan’s and the Times' hatchet job.

Listen to Dave Lindorff's interview of the just-released Cecily McMillan in this interview that aired June 9 on Progressive Radio Network's "ThisCantBeHappening!" weekly program [3].

URL: Links:




Flying High: Israel's Dementors

The Dementedness Destroying Israel

by William A. Cook

“They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind as it is very proper for those who tackle the darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look at it too much…” (Joseph Conrad. “Heart of Darkness”).

A noticeable change has occurred in Israel since its bombardment of Gaza in 2008/9, what I have termed the Christmas bombing of imprisoned civilians caught in a steel net surrounding their sliver of land, a change that offers perspective on the altering mindset that guides this benumbed state.

Then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Saturday the 27th “…instructed the Foreign ministry to take emergency measures to adapt Israel’s international public relations to the ongoing escalation in the Gaza strip” (Haaretz, 12/28/08). Her intent as she ordered the military to continue its devastation of the Gazan people resulting in over 1400 dead, many children, was “to explain the rationale for the expanded IDF operations in the Gaza strip.” An all out call to PR personnel to mobilize was issued, including those with language proficiency in Arabic, Italian, Spanish and German, the better to muffle the voices of those finding fault with the invasion. She noted at the time that Israel expects foreign media and diplomatic figures to support Israel.

Today as the current spring rain of missiles pours down on Gaza, the intent arises from a totally different cause, a manufactured cause created by Netanyahu’s government directed at the Israeli people to elicit unconditional support to destroy Gaza. Max Blumenthal, recently returned from Israel, describes the maneuver in this way:

The entire crisis occurred against the backdrop of a peace process that Netanyahu was blamed for destroying and in the wake of the Hamas-Fatah unity deal, which the US recognized and which Netanyahu was determined to destroy as well. The kidnapping of the three Israeli teens by what appears to be a rogue Hamas cell apparently seeking to generate some kind of prisoner exchange was too good of an opportunity for him to waste.
And so, as I’ve documented with on-the-record sources, Israeli investigators, Netanyahu and the honchos of the military-intelligence apparatus knew by the sound of gunshots on a recorded call by the teens to the police that the teens were killed right away. And they chose to lie, not only to the teens’ parents, whom they sought to deploy as props in their global PR campaign, but to the Israeli public. Through a military gag order, the Israeli media was not allowed to report on the investigation or the details of the recorded phone call. With the Israeli public and the world convinced that the teens were alive, Israeli troops ransacked the West Bank under the guise of a rescue mission, and embarked on a global propaganda campaign centering around the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys. The Israeli public was not emotionally prepared for the discovery of the teens’ bodies because they thought they would be returned home as Gilad Shalit was. So Netanyahu and his inner circle set the public up for a truly dangerous reaction (Blumenthal, 7/16/14).

This is not a new tactic for Israeli governments to use, even against their own people; it has been a tactic from the inception of the state when such manipulation of the Jewish immigrants arriving in Palestine began, as the papers in the Rhodes House Archives of Sir Richard C. Catling attest. The uniqueness in this instance comes with its expectation that the kidnapping would release an as yet unseen racism against the government’s target, Hamas, and link it to the Gazan population as complicit in its desire to destroy Israel.
As these next few weeks unravel, it will become ever more apparent to the nations of the world that there is a different Israel in the making, one formed by the admission into the state of rabid and demented minds twisted by beliefs forced into their heads by psychotic teachers. Blumenthal makes reference to this mindset and its source:

“In Goliath, I detailed the rise of anti-Arab mobs comprised of soccer thugs and of the burgeoning anti-miscegenation movement in Israel. Netanyahu’s manipulation of the kidnapping and his response to the discovery of the dead teens—he said, “Vengeance for the blood of a small child, Satan has not yet created”—validated these elements and emboldened them as they set out for revenge.”

Demented minds thrive on demeaning the economically less fortunate, those of a different complexion, those who speak a different language, and those not of the tribe and its beliefs. They revel in small groups actively engaged in damning others, confronting individuals who have strayed into their lairs and become baubles of delight as they humiliate an innocent. Conversely they in turn find fewer and fewer people to associate with resulting in isolation from the main stream except as members of their packs, left out of activities because they do not speak as the normal teen or young adult speaks, do not enjoy the same entertainments and find themselves alone among their peers. Here is Blumenthal’s rendering of what happened: “Those young men who abducted the Palestinian teen Mohamed Abu Khdeir met at one of the revenge rallies in Jerusalem; they were fans of the soccer club Beitar Jerusalem, which I wrote about in Goliath and whose racist history is absolutely legion. The killers forced Abu Khdeir to drink gasoline and burned him alive. In a place where an eliminationist strain of racism has been so thoroughly mainstreamed, it might actually be a misnomer to call them “extremists.”

Let me return now to the quote that heads this piece. Conrad’s quote offers an opportunity to speculate on its deeper meaning: “…strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others ….” As the world views the Israeli slaughter of the fenced in people in Gaza, where missiles sent silently from a ship off Gaza’s coast slice through the flesh of four boys on the beach as they run for safety from a fisherman’s shack, as 18 members of a family are killed in a mass slaughter, as the number of children and women mount despite Israel’s protestation that they are warning people to leave their homes and the military use only precision weapons, are they witnessing as well the “weakness” of Israel?

“Strength” in Conrad’s quote is allied with “accident” and they are coupled, in turn, with “weakness.” Consider the meaning of Israel’s “superior force” if it causes the people of the world to react viscerally time and again to acts determined by miscalculation, technology error or chance, or are, in fact, deliberate, and the voices of the world communities turn against the people of Israel and its government in anger, frustration and even hatred. And if that reaction is fed further by the conscious awareness that this spring’s invasion is only the latest in a repetitive series—Lebanon in 1982 with the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps, the massacres at Rafah and Jenin camps, the fall 2006 invasion of Lebanon, the Christmas invasion of Gaza, the 2012 invasion of Gaza—all executed with impunity to international law and consequent destruction of life and property, then is it not probable that the people of the world might react with visible and understandable demands that the UN and the US cease all such inhumane actions and force justice through the International Court of Justice?

In short, the Israeli government is its own weakness caused by its own conscienceless behavior against the people of Palestine.

Weakness need not be caused by external forces alone; weakness can be inherent in the state oblivious to the horror of its own acts. Conscienceless acts by the government, as we have just seen, are the first of the inherent weaknesses that plague Israel. But then there is the other, perhaps even more pitiable than the first. That weakness can be mental, a madness arising from inculcated indoctrination into beliefs that give identity to a tribe and hence to an individual of the tribe solidifying personal exceptionalism, hence uniqueness, rights, control and the arrogance to impose their will on those perceived inferior.

Consider the Knesset members who add to the cacophony of hatred that prowls the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Here is the voice of Ayelet Shaked the day before Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khudair was kidnapped and burned alive. Six Israeli Jewish youths have confessed to the murder. Israeli lawmaker Ayelet, whose youthful face masks her inhumanity, placed a call for genocide of the Palestinians on Facebook. “…the entire Palestinian people is the enemy…including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” These words not only trumpet savagery against Palestinians they laud those who would undertake such a mission. Perhaps in time, if her voice today becomes a clarion call beyond the minds of Israeli youth and squatters and reaches to the compassion resident in the hearts of all nations beyond Israel and the United States, she will live to see the demise of the state she calls to slaughter. And perhaps in time as she shows the world a face of age with its wrinkles and experience, she will reveal a repentant soul weeping for those she has destroyed.

Netanyahu has not had to resort to a publicity campaign as Livni did because he is encrusted in his own deception; Israel obeys only Israel because it controls the American veto and walks with impunity across the world’s stage fearful of none as it cries victim of all. That is an unbeatable combination that buries the weakness behind curtains of arrogance oblivious to the visceral response from the world community that sees in Israel a horror loose both in the UN and in the world.

The thugs Blumenthal describes in his interview do not dress as Livni’s Ambassador to the UN Daniel Gillerman dressed as he adorned himself in righteous rhetoric defending his state against those who would malign Israel’s efforts to “defend itself” against Palestinians out to “wipe Israel off of the map.” The nonsense of his comments speak for themselves; a wealthy state unleashes the fourth most state of the art military against a people surrounded by walls and an ocean and a sky controlled by Israel, invade a land packed with 1.6 million people who have no military to defend them and he asks the world to sympathize with this state that must defend itself though it has no borders, no constitution, and no acceptance of international law. But he sits there at the UN resplendent in gleaming suit and tie, lapel pin in place, tone appropriate to the anguish he claims to feel for those hurt in this need Israel must assert—how tender, how gratifying, how hypocritical. Yet that is what the world witnessed then. Now with the unveiling of “social media” the world is witness to something else.

The PR campaign Livni had to resort to cannot cover the reality of the demented that have voices in the Knesset, in the rants of right wing Rabbis, or in the gangs that control the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Nor can the New York Times reporters carry on as they have and here described by Blumenthal:

Jodi Rudoren and Isabel Kershner and the rest of the reporters at the New York Times Jerusalem bureau actually have to devote endless stores of energy to avoid reporting on all of the outrages unfolding all around them. Instead of reporting on the Prawer Plan to ethnically cleanse Bedouin citizens of Israel, for example, or the anti-African race riots in Tel Aviv—pivotal events in the history of the state of Israel—Rudoren covers a beauty contest for Holocaust survivors or takes to Facebook to complain about how she missed her spinning class but made up for it by scaling the steps of a building in Gaza destroyed by Israeli bombing. And when Kershner covers the national campaign to expel non-Jewish Africans, she focuses the story on the liberal Israelis and their anguished souls, rather than on the Africans who are being rounded up and placed in camps for the crime of not being Jewish. Just imagine if they went out and covered what was actually happening on the ground and clinically detailed the logic and planning behind it.

Even more ironic of course is the recent need for the Washington Post to run a story from Tel Aviv by William Booth, Jerusalem bureau chief, about the killing of four young boys playing on the beach, killed by missile fire from a ship off the coast. Reporters in the sea side beach hotel witnessed the carnage and grasped its implications as destructive to the Israeli contention of controlled intervention. How could the paper not report this incident?

We could smell the charge. I wondered: Did Hamas just fire a rocket? But it was the sound of an incoming round. We saw a small fisherman’s shack on the quay, churning with gray smoke.

Then we saw a gang of kids running from the shack, down the breakwater and onto the sand, hurtling toward al-Deira. A couple of waiters, the cook and a few journalists started waving at them. Run here! Then a second strike landed right behind them.

The staff were yelling, “They’re hurt!”

A half-dozen kids made it to the hotel. A young man also reached safety and fainted. He was bleeding from the abdomen. He was scooped up and carried to a taxi by a big, friendly bear of a bellman, room cleaner and night watchman named Mahmoud Abu Zbaidah.

Israel as a state embodies the weaknesses of all states over the centuries as it contains within it the infection of its own demise. Confidence nourishes it for a time, arrogance becomes its mantra, expectation of immortality feeds its greed and its lust for on-going power, and in its glory it forgets that others witness and others suffer the bloated ferociousness of its beliefs in its own “exceptionalism,” its ordained purpose in its G-d’s anointment of His chosen. But that G-d is their invention, a G-d of war according to their own book of Exodus, designed for another century when competing tribes roamed the middle east each with its own god, and they in time defeated the G-d of war forcing His chosen to roam the earth.

And thus will history repeat itself and the arrogant will become the agonized and the defeated will become the destroyer. Unless…unless the Jewish state and the people of the 193 nations that constitute the United Nations sit together in council to agree that all signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and all must abide by them. There is no God of exceptionalism; there is only a people that inhabit the earth given to them from time immemorial by the forces that enabled it to be. It alone is the means for all, born in this or a century yet to come, to live, and thrive, and endure by sharing the gifts that are the world and make possible a heaven for all.

Caught Between Israel's Pincers: No Evacuation Possible for Gaza's Bombed Populace

"Evacuate to Where?" - Report from Gaza and Israel


Gaza-based blogger Nalan al Sarraj and TRNN's Lia Tarachansky report on the mood of the people in Gaza and Israel as Israeli ground troops join the attack. - July 18, 2014 

Nalan al Sarraj is a Gaza-based blogger. She can be found on Twitter @NalanSarraj.

Lia Tarachansky is an Israeli-Russian journalist with The Real News Network reporting on Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Born in the Soviet Union, Tarachansky grew up in a settlement in the occupied West Bank. She is the director of On the Side of the Road, a documentary on Israel's biggest taboo - the events of 1948 when the state was created. Tarachansky previously worked as a Newsroom Producer in The Real News' Washington D.C. and Toronto Headquarters, and her work appeared on BBC, Al Jazeera, USA Today, Canadian Dimension Magazine and others.

Eyeless (and Voiceless) in Gaza: Targeting Journalists

Journalists injured in Israel airstrikes on media buildings

by Ma’an

GAZA CITYAt least one journalist was injured in an Israeli airstrike that targeted Palestinian media buildings in the Gaza Strip early Friday.

Israeli Apache helicopters targeted the al-Jawhara tower in Gaza City at 4 a.m., causing damage to at least 10 apartments in the building, which holds several media offices.

Photojournalist Muhammad Shabab was injured and taken to al-Shifa hospital for treatment.

Two municipality workers at street level were injured as rocks and debris covered the area.

Israeli forces also targeted the Daoud Tower in the al-Rimal neighborhood, cutting off the broadcast of a local radio station and injuring several employees.

The Israeli army has been regularly accused of targeting Palestinian journalists by international watchdogs, and attacks on news and radio stations in Gaza have generally been more frequent during times of bombardment.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ghassan Kanafani's Letter From Gaza

John Berger Reads Ghassan Kanafani's Letter From Gaza

by Perry Ogden

In an address to the inaugural Palestine Festival of Literature (2008) John Berger gives a moving reading of Ghassan Khanafani's "Letter from Gaza"

Film: Perry Ogden
Photographs: Stefano Massimo & Rula Halawani
Title Cards: Yves Berger

More videos at Palestine Festival of Literature:


Boots on the Ground in Gaza as Civilian Killing Spree Escalates

Israel Begins Ground Invasion in Gaza, Clashes Reported

by Middle East Eye

Israel has launched a ground offensive against Gaza, with reports saying that some troops have already been spotted in the northern parts of the Strip.

Two Palestinians, including a three-month-old baby, have already been killed, Palestinian medical sources told AFP.

According to Middle East Eye sources on the ground, Israeli warships have also intensified their shelling while Israeli tanks are believed to have entered Gaza and begun shelling the north and south of the country, including the Rafah crossing into Egypt. There have also been as yet unconfirmed reports of an incursion from the east.

Al-Wafah hospital in Gaza City was also shelled, although International Solidarity sources who had human shields in the vicinity told the Middle East Eye that none of the patients were hurt but that a few staff members were slightly injured.

The Israeli military has informed many foreign journalists to evacuate hotels close to the beach, with the military asking the government to approve the deployment of 18,000 additional reservists. This would bring the number of Israeli troops on the border up to almost 60,000.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, Chief of Staff Lieut. Gen. Benny Gantz said that the army “will launch a joint ground-aerial assault, using full force. We’ll continue to expand the fire all over the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas responded by stating that the Israeli action was “foolish” and a “dangerous step”.

The occupation will pay a heavy price for it,” the group added.

News of the ground offensive was broken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office, which issued a statement shortly before 11pm local time (21.00 GMT).

“The prime minister and the defence minister have ordered the [Israeli military] to begin a ground operation in order to damage the underground tunnel terrors constructed in Gaza leading into Israeli territory,” said the statement.

“The prime minister and the defence minister have ordered the (Israeli military) to make preparations for expanding the ground operation. The order to act tonight has been approved by the security cabinet.”

The escalation comes on the back of a temporary UN-brokered humanitarian five-hour ceasefire, which came into effect this morning.

“Operation Protective Edge will continue until it achieves its objective – to restore quiet and safety to Israelis for a long time to come, while significantly harming the infrastructure of Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu’s office said in the statement.

After Israel resumed its bombardment of the Gaza Strip and before the ground offensive was launched, 18 Palestinians including six children, were killed.

This included three children from the same family who were killed while playing on the roof of their house in the Sabra neighbourhood, southwest of Gaza City.

Al Jazeera reporter, Tamir Mishal, said that after the ceasefire, Israel conducted five major aerial strikes, while Palestinians responded by firing many rockets. Shortly before the announcement of the ground operation, Egypt sharply criticised Hamas, saying the group could have saved dozens of lives had it accepted a Cairo-mediated truce. Hamas, however, had rejected the Egyptian proposed ceasefire, saying that it was not compelled to abide by a ceasefire on which it was not consulted.

Hamas officials repeatedly said that they first heard of the ceasefire through international media outlets. While the group was initially said to be considering the deal, it quickly spurned the deal which was scheduled to start on Tuesday.

Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians,” Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said.

Since Operation Protective Edge was launched last Monday, more than 240 people have been killed in Gaza and 1,700 wounded.

(Middle East Eye –

Related posts:
177 Killed, US Warns Israel Ally against Gaza ground assault
95 Killed, Israeli Deadly Raids Continue amid Threat of Ground War on Gaza
Gaza Ceasefire Claims Crumble amid Clashes
Israel Launches Ground Incursion into Gaza Strip
France Blasts Israeli Ground Offensive 

Who Pays the Price for the Neocon Nightmare

The Human Price of Neocon Havoc

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

Whether the tragedy is four boys getting blown apart while playing on a beach in Gaza or nearly 300 killed from a suspected missile strike on a Malaysian Airliner over Ukraine or the thousands upon thousands of other innocent victims slaughtered in Iraq, Syria, Libya and other recent war zones, the underlying lesson is that the havoc encouraged by America’s neocons results in horrendous loss of human life.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, 
who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

While clearly other players share in this blame, including the soldiers on the ground and the politicians lacking the courage to compromise, the principal culprits in the bloodshed of the past dozen years have been the neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies who can’t seem to stop stirring up trouble in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.”

Rather than work out reasonable – albeit imperfect – compromises with various foreign leaders, the neocons and their liberal allies insist on ratcheting up demands to such unrealistic levels that conflict becomes inevitable and the outcomes are almost always catastrophic.

In Iraq in 2003, the neocons and many liberal fellow-travelers insisted that the only acceptable solution was the violent removal of Saddam Hussein through an unprovoked U.S. invasion. Though Hussein was ousted and hanged, the collateral damage included hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis, including many children, along with the complete destabilization of the country.

In Syria and Libya, many of the same U.S. actors – although in this case led by the liberal “responsibility-to-protect” crowd – pushed for the overthrow of the existing governments, supposedly to save lives and spread democracy.

In Libya, the U.S.-led air war did cause Muammar Gaddafi to be overthrown and murdered but the ensuing chaos has led to many more deaths, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, plus the spread of Islamic militancy across the region.

In Syria, the U.S.-backed “regime change” bid failed to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad but the resulting chaos has left more than 100,000 people killed and has given rise to an ultra-violent jihadist group called the Islamic State, which first emerged from the U.S.-created war in Iraq and has now boomeranged back onto Iraq as the jihadists have seized major cities and spurred more sectarian killings.

But there may be a method to the apparent neocon madness. The neocons have always been committed to protecting Israel and enabling its oppression of Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, one can understand pretty much every confrontational policy pushed by the neocons as being designed to serve Israeli interests.

These “regime change” schemes can be directly traced to the work of prominent U.S. neocons on Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 campaign for Israeli prime minister. Rather than continuing inconclusive negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s neocon advisers – including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, David Wurmser and Mevray Wurmser – advocated an aggressive new approach, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”

Essentially, the neocon thinking arose from Israeli frustration over negotiations with the Palestinians. The Israelis were angry at Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the militant group Hamas as well as Lebanon’s Hezbollah. So the “clean break” scratched negotiations and replaced talking with “regime change” in countries supporting those groups, whether Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Syria under the Assad dynasty or Iran, a leading benefactor of Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.

Two years later, in 1998, came the neocon Project for the New American Century’s call for a U.S. invasion of Iraq. PNAC was founded by neocon luminaries William Kristol and Robert Kagan. [See’s “The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War.”]

Helpful Chaos

Though many of the neocon plans have not worked out as advertised – the promised “cakewalk” in Iraq turned into a bloody slog – the neocon strategy could still be labeled a success if the actual intent was to destabilize and weaken Middle Eastern countries that were perceived as threats to Israel.

Through that lens, it’s not entirely bad that old sectarian hatreds have been revived, pitting Sunni against Shiite and ripping apart societies such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. In the end, the regional chaos has helped Prime Minister Netanyahu starve the Palestinians of the financial support that they once had, supposedly making them more susceptible to whatever demands the Israelis choose to make. And it has given Netanyahu a freer hand to engage in periodic slaughters of Gazan militants, a process that Israelis call “mowing the grass.”

When the 1.7 million Palestinians packed into the Gaza Strip lash out at their Israeli oppressors – as they periodically do – the neocons who remain very influential in Official Washington are quick to dominate the U.S. media, justifying whatever levels of violence that Netanyahu chooses to inflict. But raining bombs down on this densely populated area is sure to kill many children and other innocents.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military targeted a shed on the beach in Gaza. According to reports, the first missile hit the shed and killed one small boy playing in the vicinity. When three other boys began running, the Israelis blew them away with a second rocket. New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks explained the events this way:

“A small shack atop a sea wall at the fishing port had been struck by an Israeli bomb or missile and was burning. A young boy emerged from the smoke, running toward the adjacent beach. I grabbed my cameras and was putting on body armor and a helmet when, about 30 seconds after the first blast, there was another. The boy I had seen running was now dead, lying motionless in the sand, along with three other boys who had been playing there.”

Presumably, the Israeli pilots or whoever targeted the missile deserve the immediate blame for this atrocity. But the far-worse criminals are the Israeli leaders who refuse to address the longstanding injustices inflicted on the Palestinian people. Also, sharing in this crime are the American neocons who justify whatever Israel does.

Similarly, it has been the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies who have been stoking the crisis in Ukraine in part out of a desire to drive a wedge between President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has assisted Obama in defusing crises in Syria and Iran, two areas where the neocons hoped to engineer more “regime change.”

By last September, leading neocons, such as National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, had identified Ukraine as the geopolitical instrument for punishing Putin. Gershman deemed Ukraine “the biggest prize” and hoped that grabbing it for the Western sphere of influence might undercut Putin at home as well.

Gershman’s NED funded scores of Ukrainian political and media organizations while Assistant Secretary of State Victorian Nuland estimated that the U.S. government had invested $5 billion in the cause of pulling Ukraine into the West. Nuland, a neocon holdover who had been a top adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, is the wife of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan.

Nuland went so far as to show up at mass demonstrations in Kiev’s Maidan Square passing out cookies to the protesters, while neocon Sen. John McCain stood with the far-right Svoboda Party – under a banner honoring Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera – to urge on the protesters to challenge elected President Viktor Yanukovych. [See’s “What the Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Wreaking Havoc

The political crisis in Ukraine reached a boiling point Feb. 20-22 as the demonstrations turned increasingly violent and the death toll among police and protesters mounted. On Feb. 21, three European foreign ministers reached an agreement with Yanukovych in which he agreed to limit his powers and accept early elections to vote him out of office. He also pulled back the police, as Vice President Joe Biden had demanded.

At that point, however, well-trained neo-Nazi militias – organized in brigades of 100 – took the offensive, seizing government buildings and forcing Yanukovych’s officials to flee for their lives. Instead of trying to enforce the Feb. 21 agreement, which would have safeguarded Ukraine’s constitutional process, the U.S. State Department cheered the unlawful ouster of Yanukovych and quickly recognized the coup regime as “legitimate.”

The Feb. 22 coup set in motion a train of other events as “ethnically pure” Ukrainians in the west were pitted against ethnic Russians in the east and south. The crisis grew bloodier as the ethnic Russians resisted what they regarded as an illegitimate regime in Kiev.

Meanwhile, the U.S. mainstream press – always enthralled to the neocons – pushed a false narrative about Ukraine that put nearly all the blame on Putin, though he clearly was reacting to provocations instigated by the West, not the other way around.

Still, the neocons achieved one of their chief goals, alienating Obama from Putin and making the two leaders’ collaboration on Syria, Iran and other trouble spots more unlikely. In other words, the neocons have kept alive hope that those problems won’t be resolved through compromise, but rather might still lead to more warfare.

While some Machiavellians might admire this neocon “always-say-die” determination, the human consequences can be quite severe. For instance, the violence in eastern Ukraine may have led to the Thursday crash of a Malaysian Airliner flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with all 295 people onboard killed.

It was not immediately clear which side in the fighting – if any – was responsible for the suspected shoot-down of the plane. The various parties to the conflict all denied responsibility. But it would not be the first time that an international conflict has contributed to the destruction of a civilian airliner.

On July 3, 1988, the USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655 over Iranian territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, killing all 290 people onboard, after apparently mistaking the airliner for a warplane.

While Ukraine’s new President Petro Poroshenko was quick to call the crash “a terrorist act” – and implicitly blame the ethnic Russian rebels – the reality is almost assuredly that it was an accident (assuming that a missile did bring down the airliner). Presumably, the same is true about the Israeli twin missile strikes killing those four boys on a beach in Gaza. The Israeli military most likely misjudged their ages.

But the overriding lesson from these tragedies should be that the real villains are people who opt for chaos and war over progress and peace. And, in the case of the Middle East and Ukraine, the greatest purveyors of this unnecessary warfare are America’s neocons.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Ground Invasion Begins in Gaza

“Israel” has launched a ground invasion into Gaza

by Eva Bartlett - In Gaza

The Guardian reported Thursday afternoon:

This is Chris Johnston taking over our Middle East blog as Binyamin Netanyahu instructs troops to move into the Gaza Strip. 

Israel’s decision to move troops into Gaza follows fierce clashes between Israeli forces and Hamas earlier today after a temporary ceasefire ended. An airstrike killed three Palestinian children who had been feeding pigeons on the roof of their house.

on Twitter #Gaza brings up the latest reports

reports from friends with contacts in Gaza:

“Al Wafa hospital under severs attack at the minute, Spanish and Italian activist inside“

“army firing from boats at intl hotels“

“The Israeli army is using their tanks that are located by the borders of my hometown to target places all over the northern side of Gaza Strip. Those type of tank missiles are the worst nightmare, they are so loud and painful to hear. They use them heavily and frequently to shake the city and destroy the spirits of people before a ground invasion. I was with my sister on the phone and she told me that one of the tank missiles hit a house in another town and four more kids were killed. Trying to imagine what is going on her mind right now??????“

Saber Zaneen in northern Gaza:

المعلومات حول القصف في منطقة البؤرة حي الامل هو من قذائف مدفعية والقصف استهدف منزل لعائلة الكفارنة والمعلومات تتحدث عن حوالي 10اصابات من بينها حالات خطرة _نسال الله السلامة والشفاء العاجل لهم

Information about the bombing in the neighborhood is the focus of artillery shells and bombs targeted the House of the family of Al-kafarna, information about about 10 casualties, including dangerous situations _ we ask Allaah to keep us safe and speedy recovery for them

— Nour Odeh (@nour_odeh) July 17, 2014

No power in #Gaza. Israel keeping the population deaf and blind as it bombs and invades the crowded beseiged strip #GazaUnderAttack

Contacts in Gaza:

+972592224699 Basman Alashi- executive director of El-Wafa hospital
(English, Arabic)

Internationals in the hospital:

+972592224699 (ISM) Joseph Catron, USA (English)

+970595934842 Manu Pineda, Spain (Spanish)

+972595251720 Huda Julie Webb-Pullman, Australia and New Zealand (English)

+972595209679 (ISM) Fred Ekblad, Sweden (Swedish/English)

+972598345327 (ISM) Charlie, Sweden (Swedish/English)

+972595827070 Valeria Cortes, Venezuela (Spanish)

+972595176849 Rina Andolini, UK (English)

+972599759394 Collete Lechrien, France (French)

Fatalities & Injuries

GANSO Tel: +970 598934635 or +970 597797736

Health Services

Union of Health Work Committees Tel: +972 599412048

Water Infrastructure

EWASH Tel: + 970 598910834

Human Rights Violations

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) Tel: +972 82824776

Al Mezan Tel: +972 82820442/7

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Tel: +972 543311809

UN Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) Tel: +972 542402659

Israeli tanks shelling Gaza rehab hospital:

Israeli tanks are shelling Gaza’s Al-Wafa hospital, whose 14 patients include some who are paralyzed or in a coma, and several people have been hurt, the facility’s director said Thursday.

“Israeli tanks are shelling the hospital, they have hit several of the floors, and several nurses have been injured,” director Basman Alashi told AFP.

The hospital in Gaza’s Shejaiya district has come under Israeli fire several times before, and the Israeli military has called on Alashi and other doctors to evacuate it.

Alashi told AFP on Wednesday that it was almost impossible to move the patients, most of whom are immobile, and he questioned where they could go.

“There is no place safe in Gaza! If a hospital is not safe, where is?” he said.

On Thursday night, he said he was contacting other hospitals in Gaza to try to arrange ambulances to transport the 14 patients elsewhere after Al-Wafa came under renewed Israeli fire.

“But the ambulances are all in use, there is heavy shelling in many places,” he said.

“And each patient has to be taken individually and carried because they cannot move.”

“They are tearing the hospital apart, bit by bit.”

RT live feed has the ominous sound of the lethal drones and bombings

Israel destroys el-Wafa hospital as staff evacuates all patients:

The Israeli military has destroyed el-Wafa rehabilitation hospital in the Gaza Strip, after first targeting the facility with five missiles on July 11, 2014. The Israeli military began striking the building around 8:oo pm this evening and within two hours all hospital staff and patients had evacuated the only rehabilitation center in the Gaza Strip. As they departed what remained intact from the medical center burned to the ground.

“It’s already destroyed,” said Basman Alashi, director of el-Wafa, continuing, “I don’t know how much is left of it, but we have evacuated all of our patients. We lost power, there was a fire in the building.”

Only after the facility was under heavy fire and in the process of being abandoned did Alashi receive a phone call from the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) relaying a message from the Israeli army. A women who identified herself as a delegate of the ICRC said, “the Israelis asked ‘how much time do you need to evacuate,’” said Alashi, answering “two hours.” However, within an hour when the woman called back and said the Israeli army “will halt the bombings, and not bomb the hospital any more,” the facility was already in rubble. Alashi responded, “Are you joking, are you making a mockery of me? I told her it’s too late they have already destroyed it.”

“I said that the Red Cross is cooperating with the Israelis to destroy the hospital,” Alashi continued, recounting his earlier conversation with the representative from the ICRC. “I’m going to take you, the Red Cross and the Israelis to the International Criminal Court,” he announced before hanging up the telephone.”

Al Akhbar: Israeli airstrikes kill six children in Gaza, ground forces invade

Israel launched a ground invasion in Gaza late Thursday on the 10th day of an assault that has killed 240 Palestinians and wounded 1,800.

“Following 10 days of Hamas attacks by land, air and sea, and after repeated rejections of offers to deescalate the situation, the Israel Defense Forces (army) has initiated a ground operation within the Gaza Strip,” Israel’s occupation forces said in a statement.

Reuters witnesses and Gaza residents reported heavy artillery and naval shelling and helicopter fire along the Gaza border.

The invasion comes after a day of aerial bombardment left 18 people dead, including at least six children.

Emergency services spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said that three children were killed when Israeli jets bombed their home in Gaza City in an attack that came after the end of a UN-negotiated truce.

He identified the Gaza City victims as eight-year-old Fulla Tarek Shaheber, 10-year-old Jihad Issam Shaheber and nine-year-old Wassim Issam Shaheber.

A fourth child, four-year-old Rahaf Khalil al-Jabbour was killed moments later in a separate attack on Khan Younis, Qudra wrote on Twitter.

Also in Khan Younis, 29-year-old Hamza Houssam al-Abadaleh was killed in an airstrike.

Four-year-old Yassin al-Humaideh also succumbed to his wounds suffered in an earlier attack.

And another four-year-old, Mohammed Salem Natiz, was killed along with two members of his family in an air strike in Gaza City.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli tank fire hit a house in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, killing another three people, minutes before the truce went into effect, medics said.

Qudra said four other people were seriously wounded in the attack on the house in Rafah.

He named those killed as Mohammed Ghanem, 25, Abdullah Akhras, 27, and Bashir Abdel Aal, 20, and said six tank shells were fired in the attack.

The remains of the three men arrived in pieces, he added.

One Israeli has been killed in rocket fire by fighters in Gaza.

IMEMC: List of the 242 Palestinians, Including Whole Families, Killed Since Tuesday July 8th:

Over 1800 have been injured, with some losing limbs and others disabled for life.

The majority of the wounded are children, according to the Ministry of Health. All of the casualties listed below are victims of Israeli bombs dropped on Gaza since Tuesday July 8th.