Global News Wrap

July 12, 2009

Gaza

Gaza convoy stopped in Egypt (Socialist Worker US): “The largest ever U.S. humanitarian aid convoy is now gathering in Egypt to head across the border into Gaza on Monday, July 13…Vehicles are coming from Alexandria, the medical supplies from Cairo and the advanced party of nearly 100 U.S. citizens is heading for the staging post of Al Arish, just before the border with Gaza.”

“That group, of four buses, has, however, been stopped from crossing over the Suez Canal and into the Sinai region, which leads to Gaza. The buses, carrying people, medical aid and bearing US, Egyptian and Palestinian flags in a spirit of international cooperation, have been held at a security checkpoint and given various, conflicting reasons for why they cannot proceed to their destination at Al Arish.”

Activist tells of her gunpoint arrest while breaking Gaza siege (Sunday Herald): “On a Friday she hung up her bag after a quiet shift as an Edinburgh postie. The following Tuesday afternoon she was paraded on TV following a gunpoint capture by one of the most notorious security services in the Middle East…Theresa McDermott, a 42-year-old Scottish peace activist, was arrested by Israeli authorities last month when she tried to run supplies through the blockade that cuts off the devastated Gaza Strip from the rest of the world.”

“It was around one o’clock on Tuesday morning when they first challenged us,” McDermott said. “It’s always surreal when you deal with Israelis. They come on with these big guns but then you look closer and they’re just wee boys…It took them seven hours to get us back to Ashdod, where they paraded us off the boat for the Israeli TV cameras and took us to jail.

It was terrifying, with the young conscripts waving guns and throwing the activists to the deck…They were pointing guns and shouting a lot. I was pushed to the ground, and they hurt one of the guys on the boat. You’re not so scared though because you’re concentrating on getting your footage out,” McDermott said. “You have to hide it somewhere. I had a tiny wee memory chip, but one of my friends smuggled a mobile phone into prison. We were sitting right in front of the soldiers and she managed to manoeuvre it into a condom to protect it and then … put it inside herself.”

Israel/Lebanon

Halutz: “Sometimes you just have to go crazy” (YNet News): “Three years after the military campaign that effectively ended his career, former IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, who led the Israeli Defense Forces during the 2006 Second Lebanon War, said that his perception of the operation was based on “the need for forceful action.”

Speaking at a conference held by Institute for National Security Studies on Sunday, marking the war’s third anniversary, Halutz said that “I believed that if we crave life in this Mideast arena, we have to sometimes just ‘go crazy‘. The government’s decision to launch the campaign was right and expressed an understanding of reality.”

…Halutz added that the decision to launch the Second Lebanon War was not derived directly from the kidnapping of IDF soldiers Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser by Hezbollah: “The idea was to push Hezbollah over the edge. Yes, we could have continued burying our heads in the sand, we could have made do with a surgical action and we could have waited longer and launched an even wider operation…”Given the same set of circumstances and information today, I still would have recommended the same course of action. The decision to mount the strike was not born out of the abductions.”

Report: German FM Warns of Israeli Attack on Lebanon (Arutz Sheva): “A diplomatic source in Beirut told the Syrian daily paper Al-Watan that Israel may launch an attack on Lebanon. According to the source, German Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier warned senior Lebanese officials during a July 7 meeting that Israel could launch a war against Lebanon in an attempt to avoid U.S. and European pressure regarding the peace process.”

“I want to do a real job that fits my degree,” he said, adding that “but such jobs are not so available.” Israel: Hizbullah Arming on a Large Scale (Nahar Net) and also, from a couple of weeks back, Israeli military build up along borders with Lebanon (Xinhua)

Iraq

Bomb Rips Through Market in Iraq (BBC) (NYT)

Five Iranians Freed By US in Iraq return home (AFP) [interesting headline. The Iranians in question were detained by U.S. troops in 2007 and held without charge for two and a half years]

Unemployment in Iraq a major issue, and the statsistics are being fiddled to downplay it: Ali Ahmed, 21, works as one of the new street cleaners in Baghdad, earning seven U.S. dollars a day. Although holding teacher’s certificate, he is unable to get a teaching job…“I want to do a real job that fits my degree,” he said, adding that “but such jobs are not so available.”

As the unemployment problem deteriorated, Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, said “the Iraqi government should be responsible for providing employment opportunities for its people…“There is a disparity in determining the rate of unemployment whether by the official or non-official sources. The official statistics put the rate at 18 percent while non-official ones are between 60 and 70 percent,” Hashimi said in a statement posted on his website.

Ammar Sinan, 25, who lives in western Baghdad, can find work only as a delivery man in electronics markets, despite having a university degree…He said Iraqis have long resented Saddam Hussein’s regime as they could not get decent jobs unless they joined the ruling Baath Party. But the situation is now almost the same, just with different parties“I applied to work as a policeman or soldier, but they asked meto bring a recommendation from a political or religious party,” he said. “Our dreams of getting the job which we have long desired hardly come true.”

Ex-KBR Iraq worker held on sexual assault charge (Reuters): A former employee of military contractor KBR Inc has been arrested in Texas and charged with sexually assaulting a woman at an airbase in Iraq, federal prosecutors said on Friday…According to a now-unsealed indictment from Oct. 8, 2008, David Charles Breda Jr. is charged with assaulting the woman at Camp Al Asad while working as a civilian defense contractor for a subsidiary of Houston-based KBR, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas said in a statement.

Iraq lawmakers protest continued British presence (the Hindu) “Lawmakers loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr have walked out of parliament during a debate on a draft law that would let a small group of British forces stay in Iraq…Sadrist lawmaker Aqil Abdul Hussein said on Saturday that any continued British military presence is a blow to Iraqi sovereignty.”

Under the draft law, some 100 British troops would stay for another year at the southern Umm Qasr port, mainly to train the Iraqi navy to defend oil platforms in the Gulf. Britain has ended combat operations and has begun shipping out troops based mainly around the southern city of Basra.”

And, tangentially… 13 Doctors demand inquest into Dr David Kelly’s death (Daily Mail): “…now a team of 13 specialist doctors has compiled a detailed medical dossier that rejects the Hutton conclusion on the grounds that a cut to the ulnar artery, which is small and difficult to access, could not have caused death.”

“The doctors do not say how, or why, they believe Dr Kelly did die but they have worked closely with campaigning Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who believes that the scientist was murdered by enemies he made in the course of his work as a weapons inspector…And two of the doctors have added to the sense of persistent intrigue surrounding Dr Kelly by claiming that thousands of emails relating to the case had ‘vanished’ from their computers, in what one claimed was an act of ‘state-sponsored sabotage’.”

Afghanistan

Three 18 year-olds among troops killed on Afghan mission’s bloodiest day [for British soldiers that is, not Afghans] (the Guardian): “The five soldiers killed by two explosions while on foot patrol near Sangin, Helmand province, were named as Corporal Jonathan Horne, Rifleman William Aldridge, Rifleman James Backhouse, Rifleman Joseph Murphy and Rifleman Daniel Simpson. They were all from the 2nd Battalion The Rifles…Also named today was Corporal Lee Scott, killed in an explosion near Nad-e-Ali, central Helmand province.”

“The number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan now stands at 184, surpassing the 179 killed in Iraq.”

Which follows on from… “Afghan toll ‘will rise further‘” (BBC News) “Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said “for Britain to be secure, Afghanistan needs to be made secure“.”

Four U.S. soldiers killed as Afghan war heats up (Reuters): “Roadside bombs killed four U.S. soldiers in southern Afghanistan, the U.S. military said on Sunday, the latest deaths in an escalation of violence that has put pressure on coalition leaders over their war strategy.”

Some letters from  a soldier carried by the Guardian – and more honesty than a lifetime of Bob Ainsworth’s BS:

“I really still cannot understand why we are here. These cunts are still harvesting the poppies and growing them right outside the comps [compounds]; it’s a fucking joke. The positions must really believe everything they’re told by the army commanders. If anything happens to me, don’t let them tell people I believed in the mission, because I don’t. I am here because I’m a paratrooper. I wanted to test myself in combat and that’s the truth…This place is a fucking joke and we should fuck these money-grabbing, smelly, lazy fuckers off [MPs] and spend the money on our own.”

Militants storm police station, take away 6 policemen in Afghanistan (Xinhua) “Taliban insurgents raided a police checkpoint in the relatively peaceful northwest Faryab province, police said Sunday.”


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