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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Baithak World Apr 25: Where? Liberal Media, Their Land, Secret Understanding, Edith Garwood, Govt. Lexicon, Justice Scalia, Garrison Keillor, Yasmin-N

Where Have We Heard This Before?
Bush assures Abbas on statehood
Israel's UN ambassador calls Jimmy Carter 'a bigot'
Arab lawyer invited to train kinder, gentler Israeli soldiers Yes, it is apartheid
Cricket cheerleaders face threats and harassment
It is ludicrous to dismiss us as neocon former extremists
The Taming of the Assad (lion)
Church applies for drinks licence
Legally blind man teaches alleged intruder a lesson

I've been thinking some more about CNN hiring Tony Snow as a commentator.
Coming in the wake of Newsweek's hiring of Karl Rove, and the New York Times' hiring of Bill Kristol, the mainstream media's embrace of these unabashed propagandists has revealed a self-loathing streak a mile wide. What is it with these media outlets? Have they been so cowed by the Right's relentless branding of them as "liberal" that they feel compelled to show that they are not by sleeping with the enemy? And make no mistake, Rove, Kristol, and Snow are the enemies -- of honesty, truth, facts, reality, and the public's right to know. Anything. Rove's commitment to deception is legendary. His entire career was built on it. Kristol is neoconservatism's crown prince. He was a prime mover in the push to invade Iraq, and his claims about the war's progress (or, rather, lack thereof) have been discredited again and again. His reward: a conservative slot on the Gray Lady's Op-Ed page. The Times might as well have given a weekly column to Jayson Blair.The Self-Loathing Liberal Media

Young Palestinian citizens in Israel attend a commemoration of the Nakba in the destroyed village of Hosheein, May 2005. (Charlotte de Bellabre/MaanImages)
On 20 March 1941, Yosef Weitz of the Jewish National Fund wrote: "The complete evacuation of the country from its other inhabitants and handing it over to the Jewish people is the answer."On this day in 1948, almost two months before the first "Arab-Israeli war" technically began, the 1,125 inhabitants of the Palestinian village Umm Khalid fled a Haganah military operation. Like their brethren from more than 500 villages, they likely thought they would return to their homes within a few weeks, after the fighting blew over and new political borders were or were not drawn.Instead, more than six million Palestinian people remain refugees to this day, some in refugee camps not far from their original towns, others in established communities in Europe and the US, all forbidden from returning to their homeland for one reason: they are not Jewish.Yosef Weitz's wish was granted. In my name, and in the name of Jewish people throughout the world, an indigenous population was almost completely expelled. Village names have been removed from the map, houses blown up, and new forests planted. In Arabic, this is called the Nakba, or catastrophe. In Israel, this is called "independence."Last month I went with a man from Umm al-Fahm (a Palestinian city in Israel) to his original village of Lajun, only a few miles away. Adnan's land is now a JNF forest "belonging" to Kibbutz Megiddo.As we walk the stone path he points to each side of the road, naming the families that used to live there: Mahamid, Mahajne, Jabrin. The land there is not naturally rocky; the stones that we walk on are a graveyard of destroyed houses. Adnan was only six years old when the Haganah's bullets flew over his head and he and his family fled. But he remembers. He tears up as we stop at the site of his destroyed house and says, "Welcome to my home." This land was theirs - Hannah Mermelstein,

A letter that President Bush personally delivered to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon four years ago has emerged as a significant obstacle to the president's efforts to forge a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians during his last year in office. Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush's letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush's peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements across Palestinian territories on the West Bank. In an interview this week, Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the United States in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza. Israelis Claim Secret Agreement With U.S. By Glenn Kessler

They're called "Refuseniks" but not for refusing to serve. They've done it proudly and courageously, and here's how "Courage to Refuse" members state their position:
"We, reserve officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)....have always served in the front lines....were first to carry out any mission, light or heavy, (and we did it) to protect the State of Israel and strengthen it.
We....served....long weeks every year, in spite of dear cost to our personal lives, have been on reserve duty all over the Occupied Territories, and were issued commands and directives that had nothing to do with the security of our country (but were only given to perpetuate) our control over the Palestinian people. We('ve)....seen the bloody toll this Occupation exacts from both sides.
....the commands issued to us in the Territories (have) destroy(ed) all the values (we learned) growing up in this country.
....the (way) the Occupation (undermines the) IDF's human character and (exposes) the corruption of the entire Israeli society.
Breaking the Silence - Israeli Soldiers Speak - by Stephen Lendman

Sixty years ago, more than 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes, not knowing where they were going, not knowing when they would return. This displacement of over half of the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine created the largest and oldest refugee population today and is the root of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This tragedy is called Al Nakba in Arabic. We are often told the Palestinians fled of their own accord, but British and Israeli archives opened in the late 1970s tell a different story. The indigenous Arabs -- Muslim, Christian, secular -- were systematically driven out of areas desired for a new Jewish state.
Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in Europe started migrating to Palestine in the mid-19th century. The United Nations, attempting to quell conflicts between indigenous inhabitants and the new immigrants, proposed dividing the area. Jewish immigrants accepted it, but the Arab side rejected it as unjust as it gave 55 percent of the land to the new immigrants while they were only one-third of the population and owned only 7 percent of the land at the time. Arabs were expelled or fled.
Archives show armed Jewish militias expelled Arabs using home demolitions, massacres, rape, beatings, bombings and widespread threats of terror. Some 300,000 were expelled before Israel declared itself an independent state in May 1948. Another 400,000 Palestinians were driven out or simply fled in the fighting that ensued.There are approximately 7 million Palestinians today, with 4 million still living as refugees in neighboring Arab countries as well as in the Israeli Occupied Palestinian Territories. After 60 years of dead-end peace initiatives, all parties are frustrated, especially in the refugee camps where frustration is spiraling and hope is dead.
Let the refugees return - Edith Garwood

Language is critical in the war on terror, says another document, an internal "official use only" memorandum circulating through Washington entitled "Words that Work and Words that Don't: A Guide for Counterterrorism Communication." The memo, originally prepared in March by the Extremist Messaging Branch at the National Counter Terrorism Center, was approved for diplomatic use this week by the State Department, which plans to distribute a version to all U.S. embassies, officials said. "It's not what you say but what they hear," the memo says in bold italic lettering, listing 14 points about how to better present the war on terrorism. "Don't take the bait," it says, urging officials not to react when Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida affiliates speak. "We should offer only minimal, if any, response to their messages. When we respond loudly, we raise their prestige in the Muslim world." "Don't compromise our credibility" by using words and phrases that may ascribe benign motives to terrorists. Some other specifics:
— "Never use the terms 'jihadist' or 'mujahedeen' in conversation to describe the terrorists. ... Calling our enemies 'jihadis' and their movement a global 'jihad' unintentionally legitimizes their actions."
— "Use the terms 'violent extremist' or 'terrorist.' Both are widely understood terms that define our enemies appropriately and simultaneously deny them any level of legitimacy."
— On the other hand, avoid ill-defined and offensive terminology: "We are communicating with, not confronting, our audiences. Don't insult or confuse them with pejorative terms such as 'Islamo-fascism,' which are considered offensive by many Muslims."

The memo says the advice is not binding and does not apply to official policy papers but should be used as a guide for conversations with Muslims and media. At least at the top level, it appears to have made an impact. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who once frequently referred to "jihad" in her public remarks, does not appear to have used the word, except when talking about the name of a specific terrorist group, since last September. The memo mirrors advice distributed to British and European Union diplomats last year to better explain the war on terrorism to Muslim communities there. It also draws heavily on the Homeland Security report that examined the way American Muslims reacted to different phrases used by U.S. officials to describe terrorists and recommended ways to improve the message. 'Jihadist' booted from government lexicon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Justice Antonin Scalia, in an interview to be shown on Sunday, defended the U.S. Supreme Court ruling's that gave George W. Bush the presidency and said he was not trying to impose his personal views on abortion. Scalia was interviewed for the CBS News show "60 Minutes," an appearance timed to coincide with the publication on Monday of the book he coauthored, "Making Your Case: The Art of Persuading Judges." "I am a law-and-order guy. I mean, I confess to being a social conservative, but it does not affect my views on cases," Scalia said on CBS, which on Thursday released excerpts of the interview. Scalia repeated his earlier statement that people should "get over" the court's ruling in 2000 that halted Florida's vote recount, giving the presidential election to Republican Bush over Democrat Al Gore. "I say nonsense," Scalia said, when asked about critics who say the 5-4 ruling was based on politics and not justice. "Get over it. It's so old by now." Justice Scalia defends Bush v. Gore ruling

A couple of years ago, writing in Poetry magazine, August Kleinzahler lighted a string of firecrackers under Garrison Keillor and his “Writer’s Almanac” segments on National Public Radio.Mr. Kleinzahler criticized the “anecdotal, wistful” poems Mr. Keillor often chooses to read — poems he summarized as “middle-aged creative writing instructor catching whiff of mortality in the countryside.” Mr. Kleinzahler wasn’t very nice about Mr. Keillor’s “treacly baritone” either. Ultimately Mr. Kleinzahler boiled his case against Mr. Keillor down to these three-and-a-half sentences: “Multivitamins are good for you. Exercise, fresh air, and sex are good for you. Fruit and vegetables are good for you. Poetry is not.” It makes a certain kind of sense, then, that Mr. Kleinzahler’s career-spanning new book of poems, “Sleeping It Off in Rapid City,” features on its cover a nighttime photograph of a White Castle hamburger franchise. Like White Castle’s pint-size hamburgers, Mr. Kleinzahler’s poems are of uncertain if not dubious nutritional value. And while there is nothing made-to-order about them, his poems arrive salty and hot; you’ll want to devour them on your lap, with a stack of napkins to mop up the grease. Mr. Kleinzahler is an American eccentric, a hard man to pin down. Born in New Jersey, he writes poems that have a pushy exuberance and an expert recall of that state’s tougher schoolyards — of bullies with names like Stinky Phil and of “fire trucks and galoshes,/the taste of pencils and Louis Bocca’s ear.” And he writes with elegiac insight about life’s losers, the people he calls “strange rangers,” the addicted, insane or destitute. Bullies, Addicts and Losers: A Poet Loves Them All

This year Naipaul went to Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda for the Commonwealth Book Prize. He was last there in the mid-Sixties, when the university, where I studied literature, was among the best in the world. I saw him then with my lecturer, Paul Theroux, extraordinary writers but both congenitally gloomy. Yet I loved the work of both. Naipaul's A House for Mr Biswas was the first novel I had ever read on the lives of diaspora Indians, people like my ancestors, taken from their homelands by the British to work fields, build railways and run small shops. His family ended up in Trinidad, mine in East Africa. Since then, his books have got increasingly bigoted and nasty; he was moved more by hate than love, and an ugliness repeatedly broke through his beautifully written prose. The man and the writer are not as easily separated as critics would have us believe. Writers don't have to be saints but they do have to have empathy and live as civilised beings within the rules that apply to us all. What would we do if we found Richard Branson beat his mistress and drove his wife to death? Or if the BBC's director general spoke of his addiction to paid sex? Artists are part of our world and must be judged as others are. They cannot claim immunity from decency. I certainly will not buy another book by this egomaniac. The literary cabal can protest all it wants but Naipaul deserves the contempt many of us now feel for him. Yasmin on Naipaul [thanks YA] I certainly will not buy another book by this egomaniac. - Yasmin on Naipaul

Berdymukhamedov has tried to reduce the state-sponsored adulation of his predecessor [EPA]
A decision by Turkmenistan's former president to rename the months of the year after himself and his mother, among other people, has been overturned.
Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, the current president, on Thursday reversed state policy enacted by his predecessor, who had renamed the first month of the year after himself in 2002.

Saparmurat Niyazov, the ex-president who died in 2006, had renamed all months of the year and days of the week after his mother, poets and various symbols.
The Neutralny, a Turkmenistan newspaper, reported Berdymukhamedov had told the government to return to the original Turkic and Russian names. Turkmen calendar name change axed
BAE systems signed a lucrative arms contract with the Saudis worth about $40bn [EPA]
Britain's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has been allowed to contest a high court ruling that it acted unlawfully when it dropped a corruption inquiry into an arms deal between Saudi Arabia and the UK's BAE Systems in the 1980s and 1990s. Judges on Thursday quashed the SFO's decision to drop the investigation, but gave the agency the go-ahead to appeal to the House of Lords, the UK's highest court. The SFO had been investigating deals between British Aerospace Engineering and the Saudi government in which BAE was alleged to have paid millions of dollars to Saudi officials. The investigation was dropped after Saudi Arabia threatened to stop sharing intelligence with Britain. Earlier this month two high court judges described the government's dropping of the investigation as 'abject surrender' to Saudi threats. UK-Saudi arms case appeal approved

In March 2009 the Turkish government will host the fifth World Water Forum against a backdrop of what is probably the most sweeping water privatisation programme in the world. As well as privatizing water services, the government plans to sell of rivers and lakes. Turkish social movements, who hosted their own conference in Istanbul last month, suspect the Government is using the World Water Forum to push through this highly controversial agenda. Previous sessions of the World Water Forum, held once every three years, have faced opposition from civil society groups who consider it an illegitimate, flawed platform for discussing solutions to the world's water problems. The Forum is controlled by the World Water Council, a private think-tank with close links to the World Bank and private water multinationals. This criticism is likely to become even more intense in the run-up to the March 2009 Forum, given the host government's radical privatisation push. Turkey Plans to Sell Rivers and Lakes to Corporations

Paul Jay presents RealNews

Clinton trying make Obama unelectable
Tom Hayden: Democrat battle is a huge advantage for McCain view

Understanding Muqtada al Sadr
Pepe Escobar continues his interview with Patrick Cockburn, author of the seminal book Muqtada view

Lose-lose in Pennsylvania
Matt Palevsky finds alarmingly deep divisions between Hillary and Obama supporters in Philadelphia view

Israel gives Gaza a fuel reprieve
Shipment of one million gallons of diesel to Gaza's only power plant averts an energy disaster view


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