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Israel launches air strikes on Gaza - Yahoo! News Photos
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Emergency Alert: Take Action to End
US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation
Posted 3 hours 44 minutes ago
Updated 7 minutes ago
Israeli warplanes and combat helicopters have pounded the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, killing at least 155 people in the bloodiest day for Palestinians in more than 20 years.
Palestinian militants responded with rocket salvoes that killed an Israeli man and wounded several others, medics said.
Black smoke billowed over Gaza City, where the dead and wounded lay scattered on the ground after more than 30 air strikes destroyed several security compounds, including two where Hamas was hosting graduation ceremonies for new recruits.
Among the dead were the Hamas-appointed police chief, Tawfiq Jabber, the head of Hamas's security and protection unit, and the governor of central Gaza, according to medical workers.
The Israeli military said it had targeted "terrorist infrastructure" following days of rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel and pledged more strikes if necessary, possibly targeting leaders of the Hamas Islamist militant group.
Hamas threatened to unleash "hell" to avenge the dead, including possible suicide bombings inside Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Israeli air campaign was "criminal" and called for the international community to intervene.
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana called for an immediate ceasefire.
"We are very concerned at the events in Gaza. We call for an immediate ceasefire and urge everybody to exert maximum restraint," his spokesman said.
Egypt also condemned the Israeli raids and said it would keep trying to restore a truce between Israel and Gaza.
At the main Gaza City graduation ceremony, uniformed bodies lay in a pile and the wounded writhed in pain, television pictures showed.
Rescuers carried those showing signs of life to cars and ambulances, while others tried to revive the unconscious.
The air strikes followed a decision by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's security cabinet to widen reprisals for cross-border Palestinian rocket attacks following the collapse of a six-month-old, Egyptian-brokered ceasefire a week ago.
Asked if an escalation of the assault could include targeted strikes against Hamas leaders, army spokeswoman Avital Leibovitch said: "Anything belonging to Hamas could be a target. You can interpret that as you like."
A five-day Israeli offensive in March killed more than 120 people, but Saturday's death toll would be the highest for Palestinians since their 1980s uprising.
Hamas armed wing spokesman Abu Ubaida said the Islamist group would "teach the enemy a lesson they will never forget," and brushed aside Israeli threats to target its leaders.
Witnesses reported heavy Israeli bombing along Gaza's border with Egypt.
Palestinians use hundreds of tunnels under the border to bring in everything from goods to weapons, making them prime Israeli targets.
Mr Olmert had warned Hamas, which seized control of the coastal enclave in June 2007, to stop firing rockets.
"I will not hesitate to use Israel's might to strike Hamas and (Islamic) Jihad," he told Al Arabiya television, an Arab broadcaster widely watched in Gaza.
The following is a declassified letter from a Guantánamo detainee named Abdul Aziz, who has been held in US custody without charge or trial for over five and a half years. Abdul Aziz traveled to Afghanistan in late September 2001, after taking his final exams at the Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, to search for his brother, and to persuade him to return home. He was caught up in the chaos surrounding the fall of the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, and, despite never undertaking any kind of military training or raising arms against the Northern Alliance or the US-led coalition, was treated brutally in US custody in Afghanistan before being transferred to Guantánamo.
I found his comments on the "library" at Guantánamo to be an extraordinarily eloquent insight into the all-pervading repression of the regime at the prison. Unlike convicted criminals on the US mainland, who watch TV and have regular access to reading and writing materials, the prisoners in Guantánamo –- who have never been charged with a crime, let alone convicted –- are deprived of almost all "comfort items" to relieve the crushing monotony of their daily lives and the desperate uncertainty of their fate, and Abdul Aziz' comments on the deliberate paucity of reading matter for the detainees is as damning, in its own way, as the stories related in the forthcoming book Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak, which reveal how, in order to express themselves, and to shake off –- albeit temporarily –- the dehumanizing regime of mental and physical isolation, detainees scratched poems onto Styrofoam cups and passed them from cell to cell when the guards were not looking.
It also strikes me that, by failing to provide educational possibilities to the detainees –- offering English lessons, for example –- and by providing them with almost nothing to read except the Koran, the authorities in charge of Guantánamo are not only demonstrating the meanness of their spirit, but are also doing absolutely nothing to bridge the gap between their own culture and those of the detainees, reinforcing the bellicose aspects of the "War on Terror" at the expense of bridge-building exercises that would not only provide a shred of humanity, but would also provide opportunities to break down cultural barriers through mutual understanding.
This is the text of Abdul Aziz' letter, as first reproduced on Cageprisoners:
"I was meeting with my attorney in Guantánamo Bay. After conversing about some legal questions related to my case, we turned to the issue of the Delta Camp library in Guantánamo, and about the false propaganda being spread by the camp administration about that library.
"Some people think that the Gitmo camp library is a big hall with large drawers, well-organized shelves, shiny marble floors, state-of-the-art electronic catalog system for a rich library in which the detainees browse morning and evening, choosing the best of the available books in all fields and sundry sciences, in many different languages –- just like that magnificent library I used to walk through five years ago when I was a student at Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University in Riyadh, conducting my scholastic research work at the time.
"The truth, as all will attest, is that the Gitmo camp library is nothing more than two small gray boxes with which guards walk around in some cell blocks, carrying them above their heads to protect themselves from the burning sun, or, at best, dragging them on a dolly with two little wheels. Inside the two boxes, there are no more than a combination of old, worn-out books, with their covers and some of their leaves torn by rain and other adverse factors that surround these two boxes. Furthermore, they are the same books that have been passed by the detainees for years. Arabic-speaking detainees are given access to a collection of boring works of fantasy fiction in addition to books filled with atheism and possibly attacks on Islam and some of its precepts. After continuous, arduous efforts by detainees and their counsel, one religious book was finally allowed in Camp 4 [the camp for the 'most compliant' detainees] for each 40 detainees.
"Afghani detainees, on the other hand, are provided with several literary works in Pashto and Farsi. These books have not changed since the itinerant box library was formed some years ago. If we look at the books that are available in the other common camp languages, we will not fail to see a book or two in each language –- worn out and covered with cobweb[s]. The opposite –- and shining –- side of this itinerant box is the majority of reading material available in English, which is not spoken or read by the overwhelming majority of inmates. You will surely find books about American history and the founding fathers. The detainees can do no more than turn these books this way and that and enjoy their shiny covers, not knowing what the books are about or gaining any knowledge of their contents.
"In addition, you will find worn-out copies and old issues of National Geographic. A few weeks ago, I picked up a copy of that magazine from the ruins of books in that dilapidated box and was astonished that the issue I picked up was dated 1973 –- over 30 years ago. I asked the itinerant box carrier (the librarian, as the administration likes to call him) if I could have a more recent issue, dated 2000 or above. Evidently tired of carrying these boxes and walking around with them, he replied very calmly, 'You have five more minutes to choose the books you want. This is all we have.' I thanked him for performing this arduous task and making this strenuous effort, placed that magazine on top of the stack of books in the box, and told him as nicely as I could, 'please take my number off the check-out list. As of today, I will have no need for your plentiful library.' He smiled broadly, looked at his wrist watch, carried his box on his head, and retreated to where he came from."
[Note: For security reasons, Abdul Aziz does not wish to be identified by his surname].
(Ben Heine © Cartoons)He has been alternatively praised and vilified in the press for his depictions of suffering in places like the Palestinian Territories, Iraq, and the slums of Latin America. But Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff says he is not out to please anyone. MENASSAT spoke with Latuff on the heals of a newly released series of cartoons about Iraqi journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi.
By JACKSON ALLERS
BEIRUT, December 23, 2008 (MENASSAT) — Carlos Latuff, 40, is nothing short of a one-man cartoon wrecking-ball when he hits the ink.
Based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Latuff has spent the last 15 plus years crafting a style that can best be described as "populist cartooning." He has touched on issues like Apartheid in South Africa, the plight of Native Americans in the US and the oppression of Tibetans in China.
But perhaps his most controversial series to date is "We are all Palestinians," in which he compares the actions taken by the Israeli government towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip directly to the Nazi's treatment of Jews.
In a December interview with the Jewish cultural scholar Eddy Portnoy, Latuff said, "It happens to be Israeli Jews that are the oppressors of Palestinians. If they were Christians, Muslims or Buddhists, I would criticize them the same way."
Latuff's cartoon series of world leaders like former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, outgoing US president George W. Bush and British PM Tony Blair conjure up the distorted, monster-like depictions of UK-based stencil graffiti artist, Shepard Farley.
And his irreverent take on recent issues like the Bush shoe-throwing incident with the Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi has continued to stir-up hundreds of online comments equally praising and decrying his work.
i-heart-girl writes in one online forum, "Your pieces have inspired me to keep hoping, praying, and working for peace and the end of corruption, no matter how fruitless the attempt may seem. I hope you can continue to bring awareness to the ignorant."
MENASSAT reached Latuff in Rio de Janeiro and conducted this on-line interview.
MENASSAT: Can you tell us about your personal history? Your biography says you're 40-years-old. How long have you been a cartoonist?
CARLOS LATUFF: I have been a professional artist since 1989. I started as an illustrator for a small advertising agency and then worked as a political cartoonist for leftist trade union papers in 1990. But I've been drawing since I was a kid.
MENASSAT: Why did you decide to focus on issues relating to the Arab world?
CARLOS LATUFF: My work doesn't only concern the Arab world. I also draw cartoons about concerns closer to home, like the police brutality in Brazil, the right-wing conspiracy against Evo Morales and his administration in Bolivia, and elsewhere, about events like the Russia-Georgia crisis, the riots in Greece, and so on. I do have a special focus on Palestine because of the time I spent there. When I was in the West Bank in 1999, I decided I would support the Palestinian struggle with my art.
MENASSAT: You've characterized your work as controversial. What is at the heart of your cartoons that makes them controversial?
CARLOS LATUFF: Touching the taboo of the Palestinian-Israeli [conflict] is always controversial, especially when you take the side of the oppressed. My art intends to break the common perception of the issue and it challenges the mainstream version of the conflict.
MENASSAT: Your work has been featured on Independent Media Center sites (www.imc.org) worldwide and in more mainstream publications like The Toronto Star. Which outlets have more impact on the public and does that matter to you?
CARLOS LATUFF: Having my cartoons shown from time to time in the mainstream media is only a consequence. The method I rely on the most to distribute my drawings are the good people throughout the world that are willing to reproduce my images online, via email, on their websites, etcetera.
MENASSAT: Your cartoon series, "We are all Palestinians," published on the Swiss Independent Media Center (IMC) site in 2002 prompted a Jewish organization to level the charge of anti-Semitism towards your work. A Swiss court suspended the criminal proceedings, but do you think it was anti-Semitism?
CARLOS LATUFF: Regarding cartoons and anti-Semitism, I have a recent interview with Eddy Portnoy, which clarifies my opinion about this on my blog, Tales of Iraq War. As a cartoonist, I feel comfortable enough to make any comparison I think necessary that expresses my point. Metaphors are the key point to political cartooning. Of course Israel isn't building gas chambers in the West Bank, but surely we can find some similarities between the treatment given to Palestinians by the [Israel Defense Forces] and the Jews under Nazi rule.
Inaccurate or not, it's important to highlight that such comparisons have been made worldwide—not only by cartoonists but by people such as Yosef 'Tommy' Lapid, Ariel Sharon's former Justice Minister and a Holocaust survivor [who died in June of 2008.] He said in 2004, during an interview, that a photo of an elderly Palestinian woman searching through rubble reminded him of his grandmother who died in Auschwitz. For me, this is more painful than comparisons of how Palestinians live under Israeli occupation.
My cartoons have no focus on the Jews or on Judaism. My focus is Israel as a political entity, as a government, their armed forces being a satellite of US interests in the Middle East, and especially Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. It happens to be Israeli Jews that are the oppressors of Palestinians. If they were Christians, Muslims or Buddhists, I would criticize them the same way. I made cartoons about George Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Tony Blair, [former Mexican President] Ernesto Zedillo, [former Chilean dictator Augusto] Pinochet, and none of them were Jewish.
I mean… you insult the Muslims with a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a [suicide] bomber and claim the right to freedom of speech, but if you make drawings about the Holocaust, then it's hatred against the Jews.
MENASSAT: On your deviant art page, you list Sebastião Salgado as a big influence. A lot of his work has dealt with the oppressed and downtrodden in societies, and his assignments are often lengthy ones. Do you look to replicate this documentary approach with your cartoon work—as opposed to a one-off political cartoon?
CARLOS LATUFF: The cartoons I make aren't directed at middle-class, bourgeoisie readers, so I really don't care about what they think or believe. I make art for people living in Gaza, in Baghdad, in the slums of Latin America, ordinary people, the populace. I hope this art can serve to boost the morale of people suffering and the freedom fighters in every corner of the planet.
LATUFF ON THE WEB:
((( HAPPY NEW YEAR 2009 ,,,
By Bob Holman & Margery Snyder, About.com
If you have time to chatterI first met Nanao Sakaki in 1993 at the Kyoto Connection, an eclectic event of the arts headed by Ken Rogers, managing editor of Kyoto Journal2. At that time I was editing the bilingual literary journal, The Plaza, and I asked him if he could send work. Though he never sent anything — it could be difficult to pin him down sometimes as he's such an inveterate wanderer — I'd often go to his reading events.
If you have time to read
Walk into mountain, desert and ocean
If you have time to walk
Sing Songs and dance
If you have time to dance
Sit quietly, you Happy Lucky Idiot
To make schooling more efficientHe has also done English translations of haiku by Kobayashi Issa in Inch by Inch: 45 Haiku (La Alameda Press, 1999), which has the Japanese and English printed in Nanao's script.
The Ministry of Education wants
that all grammar schools & junior high schools
should be reorganized into three categories
A, Elite course.
B, Robot course.
C, Dropout course.
Soil for legs
Axe for hands
Flower for eyes
Bird for ears
Mushroom for nose
Smile for mouth
Songs for lungs
Sweat for skin
Wind for mind
©2008 About.com, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.
Guantanamo lawyer says Gates may have committed perjury
12/22/2008 @ 10:58 pmFiled by Andy Worthington
US appears to ignore findings of British court on detainee's tortureLONDON -- The announcement Dec. 1 that Barack Obama had retained Bush Defense Secretary Robert Gates was intended to demonstrate the President-elect's desire for a "big-tent" administration that transcended partisan politics. Gates had voiced his desire to close the Pentagon's notorious Guantбnamo Bay prison almost as soon as he took over from Donald Rumsfeld in December 2006, and this and his subsequent stewardship of the Iraq War earned him a place as a trustworthy figure who might bridge the Bush and Obama divide.
However, a declaration the defense secretary made in a Washington, D.C. District Court filing Dec. 12 during the habeas review of Guantбnamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed might make some rethink the trustworthy label. Mohamed's lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, says that unless Gates retracts his statement, he could find himself accused of perjury.
Mohamed has said that after being seized in Pakistan in April 2002 and held for three months, he was rendered by the CIA to Morocco, where he was tortured for 18 months.
His claims of torture were upheld by the British High Court in a review this summer (PDF), which took place after Mohamed's lawyers sued the British government for alleged complicity in their client's rendition and torture. Both the British government and the British High Court accepted that Mohamed "has put forward a prima facie case of torture," Stafford Smith said.
The court established that Mohamed was "unlawfully rendered from Pakistan to Morocco by the United States authorities," his lawyers said, and was "subject to unlawful incommunicado detention and torture during his interrogation there by or on behalf of the United States authorities." The court also established that Mr. Mohamed was "unlawfully rendered by the United States authorities from Morocco to Afghanistan," where he was "detained unlawfully and incommunicado" and was "tortured or subject to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment by or on behalf of the United States authorities in the 'Dark Prison.'" -- a secret CIA facility near Kabul.
At the end of this ordeal, Mohamed said he made a number of false confessions about his involvement with al-Qaeda and a plot to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in New York as a direct result of his torture in Morocco and at the hands of CIA agents in Afghanistan.
The Bush administration has never provided any explanation for Mohamed's whereabouts from July 2002 to May 2004. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court granted Guantбnamo prisoners habeas corpus rights. Mohamed's case was reviewed by Judge Emmet G. Sullivan in Washington D.C. District Court.
Sullivan set a deadline of Oct. 6 for the government to produce exculpatory evidence relating to the case (in other words, any evidence that tended to disprove the government's claims). When the time arrived, however, the Justice Department dropped the claim about the "dirty bomb" plot.
At a Oct. 30 hearing, Sullivan said, "That raises a question as to whether or not the allegations were ever true."
Sullivan continued to press the government for exculpatory evidence. Although the "dirty bomb" plot claim had been dropped, he ordered the Justice Department to disclose any exculpatory evidence relating to the charge. In order to determine the reliability of Mohamed's statements, he said he wanted to know how the interrogation sessions were conducted.
Sullivan also ordered the Justice Department to secure an affidavit from Gates. The defense secretary swore under penalty of perjury that all exculpatory evidence in Mohamed's case -- including evidence relating to the alleged "dirty bomb" plot -- had been provided to Mohamed's lawyers.
"It is the practice of the United States Government, in preparing factual returns in the Guantбnamo Bay detainee habeas cases, to provide petitioners all evidence encountered in the development of the factual return that tends to materially undermine information presented in the return to support the petitioner's classification as an enemy combatant," Gates said in his declaration.
"Consistent with this practice, on August 12, 2008, the attorneys preparing the factual return in this case provided Petitioner with evidence encountered in the development of his return that meets this standard," Gates added.
He also explained that following Sullivan's ruling, "all exculpatory evidence reasonably available to the government" relating to the "withdrawn allegations" about the "dirty bomb" plot had been provided "on a rolling basis." He added that 42 documents provided by the British government had also been handed over. "As a result," he wrote, "the United States Government has turned over all reasonably available evidence that suggests Binyam Mohamed should not be designated as an enemy combatant."
In a letter sent to the Justice Department on Monday Dec. 15 (which has been seen by The Raw Story), Stafford Smith said he was trying to evaluate whether the defense secretary had deliberately perjured himself, or had been misled.
"I will say that I am extremely disappointed in the declaration that was filed on behalf of Secretary Gates on Friday," Stafford Smith wrote, adding, "There is no question but that it is false." He said he couldn't conclude "whether I would categorize Mr. Gates' statement as outright perjury, or as a misguided consequence of his reliance on an erroneous definition of the legal terms."
"The vast majority of material (almost the entirety of the substantive evidence) submitted against Mr. Mohamed consists of statements attributed to him," and therefore "would qualify as 'exculpatory' under Sullivan's order," he said.
Stafford Smith says it's apparent that a wealth of material has not yet been turned over.
"Without going into anything that is classified, the Government has at no point in this case even acknowledged that Mr. Mohamed was rendered by the U.S. to Morocco on July 21, 2002, or that he was held there for 18 months, or that he was abused there," he wrote. "Nor has the government breathed a word about the five months he subsequently spent being abused and tortured in the Dark Prison in Kabul."
Stafford Smith said his only interest was to secure justice for his client.
"Both my interest, and that of my co-counsel in the habeas and the military commissions litigation, is to represent our client in the best traditions of US justice," he wrote. "It pains me to have to say that the government continues to ignore its own obligations, and is risking sanctions."
"Nothing has changed," Stafford Smith told RAW STORY last week. "Unless Robert Gates revises his opinions, his declaration will demonstrate that he has been drawn into the defense not of the nation, but of some of the worst excesses of the current administration, involving 'extraordinary rendition' and torture, and shameless attempts to cover up all evidence of wrongdoing."
Gates could not be reached for comment.
Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantanamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press).
Protesting the Israeli security forces’ disruption of PalFest
Tuesday, May 26, 2009• Video: PalFest 2008: John Berger Reads Ghassan Kha...
Monday, May 25, 2009
Today, my friends, we saw the clearest example of our mission: to confront the culture of power with the power of culture.Despite attempts to prevent the sharing and transmission of culture, Palfest is using all the communications tools at its disposal to reach out -- for videos, photos, blogs and other Palfest updates go here. Here's a video from the opening night:
Israeli forces ended their offensive against Hamas in Gaza on Saturday, 17 January, following the declaration of ceasefires by Hamas and Israel.
Highlighted below are some of the main buildings identified as destroyed or damaged in Gaza City and the surrounding area as of 16 January, when this latest satellite image was taken.
The image, taken for Unosat at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, has helped researchers identify at least 566 destroyed or damaged buildings.
The map below shows the main areas attacked in the three weeks of violence.
Palestinian medical sources say more than 1,010 Palestinians were killed in the violence, which began on 27 December 2008. Israel says 13 Israelis died, including 10 soldiers in the campaign and three civilians killed as a result of rocket fire from Gaza.
Interesting websites on Iraq
Photographing in Iraq:
Immigration detainees and their families lack basic ways to get information when things go wrong.May 5, 2008N.Y. / RegionNews
After the deaths of two immigrant detainees, a review of the cases prompted recommendations for faster reporting of deaths and better sharing of information.July 3, 2008
The government should be rushing to improve the oversight and care in its sprawling detention system to protect all detainees.June 11, 2008
The immigration detention process is subjected to little oversight or accountability.May 24, 2008
It is increasingly difficult to pry records that should be open out of federal agencies.May 11, 2008
A bill would require the secretary of the Homeland Security Department to report all deaths in immigration detention within 48 hours to the Justice Department's inspector general as well as its own.May 7, 2008
As authorities continue rounding up illegal immigrants in these harsh days of ever-stricter enforcement, the potential for abuse will grow largely out of sight.May 6, 2008
Immigration detainees and their families lack basic ways to get information when things go wrong.May 5, 2008
The Senate immigration bill that is lumbering toward final passage is overloaded with provisions that will make life harsher and more unfair for immigrants.June 27, 2007
Lawmakers and government investigators are examining deaths of immigrants who die while in custody as immigration detention system swells to meet demands for stricter enforcement of immigration laws; family members and advocates have difficulty getting information about those who die in custody of immigrant detention, patchwork of federal, private and local facilities; new Immigration and Customs Enforcement report finds that 62 immigrants have died in custody since 2004; immigration officials ...June 26, 2007
Questions are being raised about the treatment in jail of a detained immigrant who hanged himself.February 23, 2007
A case before a federal court of appeals has linked the Bush administration's methods of interrogating prisoners to a sharp change in the standards of humanitarian law at home.March 11, 2005
Edwin Bulus, who fled Nigeria after members of family were jailed for allegedly plotting coup against military regime, has been detained by Immigration and Naturalization Service since arriving at Kennedy International Airport in May 1995, and his treatment has sometimes been harsh; is accused by Federal Government of entering country with false documents, and has since been denied parole while request for asylum is pending; asylum advocates describe handling of case by immigration service as K...April 1, 1997
SEARCH 12 ARTICLES ABOUT IN-CUSTODY DEATHS:
Explore a Detention Watch graphic showing the locations of immigration detention facilities across the country.
A list of resources as selected by researchers and editors of The New York Times.