ISSUE 177 TABLE OF CONTENTS
by David Cronin Israel's refusal to allow civilians any exit route from Gaza as its defense forces rained bombs down on schools and houses appears unprecedented in modern warfare, a United Nations investigator has said
by Erin Cunningham As the ceasefire continues to hold, the sheer scale of the destruction in the Gaza Strip is finally emerging. The deadly, three-week assault by Israel has been devastating. Generations of families are vanished, and entire villages now destroyed. Many of the dead are still buried beneath the rubble, their neighbors and relatives left with no way to retrieve them
by Thalif Deen When Israel went on a military rampage during its 22-day air strikes and artillery attacks on Gaza, it largely singled out residential neighborhoods, hospitals, schools and UN buildings on the pretext of targeting Hamas fighter
by Nora Barrows-Friedman The Israeli government is stepping up efforts to suppress dissent and crush resistance in the streets. Police have been videotaping the demonstrations and subsequently arresting protesters in large numbers
by Earl Ofari Hutchinson Latinos did vote in bigger numbers and in a higher percentage for Obama than Democratic presidential loser John Kerry in 2004. Their vote did help seal the win for Obama in Florida, New Mexico and Colorado. Bush won Colorado and Florida in 2000 and all three states in 2004. But the electoral math shows that even if Obama had lost both states he still would have beaten Republican rival John McCain
Al-Shihan said his committee was drawing up a plan to encourage Iraqi men who lacked the necessary funds for marriage -- to apply for government funding if they wanted to marry a widow. 'In this project, we propose offering 10 million Iraqi dinars [about $8,500] to men in their late 30s or 40s who can't get married due to soaring prices, if they marry a widow'
by Shane Bauer Israel's attacks on Hamas have served to strengthen the movement, according to Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk. Despite a death toll of some 700 Palestinians and 3,100 injured, the bald-headed, close-shaven Marzouk speaks as though his organization is on the verge of victory in Gaza
by Jalal Ghazi Israel arguably has the upper hand in the battle on the ground, but it is losing the war on the airwaves. Arab countries are broadcasting graphic images of the violence in Gaza on their state-sponsored television stations in order to mask their own failure to do anything tangible to stop the Israeli military operation. The end result, however, is the demonizing of an already hated enemy without advancing solutions
by Mohammed Omer Many in Gaza, including Hamas members, say they do not know what to do to stop this. Some scattered groups not under Hamas control continue to fire rockets into Israel. But the rockets are only an excuse for Israel to destroy the Palestinian structure, Gazans say. An Israeli military spokesman has said the Israeli Defense Forces trained for the attack 18 months at a model of the main city on a desert army base
by Gareth Porter Contrary to Israel's argument that it was forced to launch its air and ground offensive against Gaza in order to stop the firing of rockets into its territory, Hamas proposed in mid-December to return to the original Hamas-Israel ceasefire arrangement
by Steve Niva The countdown to a war began, according to a detailed report by Barak Raviv in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, when Israel's Defense Minister Ehud Barak started planning the current attack on Gaza with his chiefs of staff at least six months ago -- even as Israel was negotiating the Egyptian brokered ceasefire with Hamas that went into effect on June 19
by Mel Frykberg While Hamas was trying to present a tough demeanor and attempting to get the last word in, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was endeavoring to hide his obvious satisfaction at the outcome of the Gaza campaign. Suppressing a smile, Olmert faced the cameras at a press conference at the Israeli Defence Ministry in Tel Aviv. "We won. The IDF objectives for its operation in the Gaza Strip were obtained in full. Hamas was surprised and badly beaten
Analysis by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler There's no formal agreement with Hamas. Israel wants to avoid the Islamist organisation being put on an equal footing. Olmert and Barak warned that if Hamas refuses to hold its fire, Israel will respond forcefully. On the ground Sunday morning, the only incidents were those initiated by Hamas. For now, Israeli forces remain in all areas of Gaza they have conquered. Indications are that Israel does not intend to stay for long
by Daniel Luban The U.S. State Department fiercely denied claims made by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert about his influence over President Bush, in an incident that has stirred up old debates about the role of the Israeli government and the so-called 'Israel lobby' in formulating Middle East policy in Washington
by David Cronin Senior European Union figures have signalled that they could push ahead with plans to strengthen formal ties with Israel, even though more than 1,000 have now been killed by the bombardment of Gaza
by Mel Frykberg A number of armed attacks have taken place on Israel's borders with Palestinian territories in the last six days as Arab public anger over the death and destruction wrought on Gaza spills over from massive street demonstrations
Analysis by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler Israel is fast reaching the conclusion that the damage it has sustained politically and diplomatically from the ongoing suffering it has inflicted on the non-combatant population in Gaza is beginning to outweigh any direct gains they've made against Hamas
by Shane Bauer The United Nations says 80 percent of people in Gaza are in urgent need of food aid. The humanitarian situation is compounded by the fact that some 75 percent of Gaza is without electricity and 70 percent is without running water
by Mel Frykberg This turns to dust on impact, as it loses inertia very quickly due to air resistance, burning and destroying everything within a four-metre range, as opposed to shrapnel which results from the fragmentation of a metal casing
by Haider Rizvi On Jan. 8, the Security Council passed a resolution calling for unimpeded provision throughout Gaza of food, fuel and medical treatment, as well as intensified international arrangements to prevent arms and ammunition smuggling. Fourteen of the Council's 15 members voted in favor of the resolution, with only the United States, a staunch ally of Israel, abstaining
by Alexander Cockburn If the power of the Israel lobby here in the United States is as obstructive as ever to the formation of any equitable domestic policy to address Palestinian aspirations, the international situation does offer opportunity and demands a shift
by Alexander Cockburn Israeli gunners have managed to shell and kill nearly 50 Palestinians, including women and children, fleeing a United Nations-run school in Gaza. I can guarantee that Israeli claims about Hamas's use of that school are already on the wires
by Alexander Cockburn So far as the progressive Obama base is concerned, it's been one bitter pill after another, starting with Rahm Emanuel (the only man in the Illinois congressional delegation to vote yes to the war on Iraq), moving on to Hillary Clinton (another yes on the war), Robert Gates, and the whole economic team. There was a brief ray of hope when Larry Summers didn't return to Treasury. Then he bobbed up as director of Obama's economic recovery team
by Alexander Cockburn Each time a new president strides forth, florishing his inaugural menu of change, one feels the same gloom at these quadrennial displays of leader-lust. Eight years of complaining about George Bush's arrogation of unconstitutional powers under the bizarre doctrine of the 'unitary executive'and here we have the national audience enthusiastically applauding yet another incoming president rattling off the I-will-do's as though there were no Congress and as if he were Augustus Caesar
by Alexander Cockburn Obama can scarcely be blamed for putting up his $825 billion pump primer. It was a given, from the moment he got elected. The folly comes with the impending $2 to 4-trillion bailout package for the banks, signaled by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. If anything can make Wall Street smile bravely through the hail of public ridicule for the way it's been handing out the previous wad of bailout money in the form of bonuses, it's the prospect of getting further truckloads of greenbacks to lend out to Americans already crippled by debt
by Steve Young Oh, comedy gods who gave us 43, remind me once again...how do I write when I've survived the past eight years just cut and pasting astonishing malapropisms and prodigious bad judgements?
by Steve Young If talk radio were running the air waves back then like they do today, Nixon would have made it though to the end of his second term, a few bumps and bruises, but still considered an honored statesman
by Steve Young Why did we fall out of love? Was it just because the dew had fallen off the rose, or was it because we became tired of making excuses for him? Sometimes it was like the nightmare of living in a small town where everyone knew your husband was an abusive, dangerous drunk, yet you couldn't find a lawyer courageous enough to file for divorce
by Steve Young Rush, Sean, Glenn and the wannabes who received the gift of an overwhelming Republican defeat will spend the next couple weeks building up the momentum so that January 20th will kick off at two, four or more years of blaming the new President and Democrats in power. You think tearing apart every word and move by President Obama won't be a helluva lot more fun than defending the Bush debacle?
by Robert Scheer Why rush to throw another $350 billion of taxpayer money at the Wall Street bandits and their political cronies who created the biggest financial mess since the Great Depression? And why should we taxpayers be expected to double our debt exposure when the 10 still-secret bailout contracts made in the first round are being kept from the public?
by Robert Scheer Only a week into the new administration, and yet there is this nagging thought that Barack Obama's legacy already hangs in the balance. Sounds absurd, I know, given the brief time, but his early response to the financial meltdown is just that important. Despite a terrific start in so many directions, Obama is up against an economic crisis that, although not of his making, will, if handled improperly, spell his -- and the nation's -- undoing
by Robert Scheer Tuesday was welcome theater, as profound as it gets, particularly in the unity of race demonstrated so visibly to ourselves as well as the rest of the world. In that sense the presidency of Barack Obama will always be marked as an enormous winner, even when things, as he predicted, at times go wrong. But today, as Obama has declared, begins a new era of responsibility and accountability, and it is time for this columnist to get back to work
by Joe Conason The Republicans' sudden reversion to the solemn frugality of their forebears would be amusing were it not so dangerous. Having established a record over the past decade or so as the wildest wastrels in the nation's history, they now present themselves as straight-laced accountants who simply cannot abide a misspent dime
by Joe Conason As always, Mr. Limbaugh articulates his opposition to the stimulus plan in the ideological jargon favored by his party. Evidently he fears that if the United States spends more money on highways, railroads and modernizing our electrical grid, we will shortly come to resemble the old Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China or even Cuba. Improving schools and expanding health coverage is just more socialism
by Joe Conason 'We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things.' Such childish things, which he did not stoop to mention, as the scare tactics that typified the campaign against him only a few months ago. With that pithy phrase he dismissed the style of attack politics, employed by a generation of Republican strategists, that began 20 years ago with the frightening image of a black criminal named Willie Horton
by Joe Conason Would it be rude to ask whether the Republicans have any new proposals to save the country from this worsening recession? The question arises not because anyone expects the minority party to burst forth with creative ideas, but because conservatives in Congress and the media seem so determined to thwart or stall the economic stimulus plans of President-elect Barack Obama
by Ashfaq Yusufzai There are no schools for children, and no hopes for employment for the adults. 'These children could turn into monsters in future in case they aren't rehabilitated,' warns Hameed. He was drawing a parallel with the Taliban, from Afghan refugee families in Pakistan, who seized power in Kabul and planted the seeds for the current conflict in both countries
by Stephen Leahy This dramatic increase of in tree mortality applies to all kinds, sizes, ages and locations of trees. In the Pacific Northwest and southern British Columbia, the rate of tree death in older coniferous forests doubled in 17 years. In California, doubling mortality rates took a little longer at 25 years. For interior states it took 29 years
by Jim Lobe Six days into his new job, Obama directed the EPA to reconsider the Bush administration's denial of a 2007 request by California and 13 other states to implement strict new limits on tailpipe emissions that contribute to global warming. He also directed the Department of Transportation to follow through on Congressional legislation to raise existing fuel economy standards on new cars and trucks by 40 percent beginning in 2011
by William Fisher The pressure on the Obama team escalated last week when a senior Bush administration official admitted that Guantanamo interrogators and guards had tortured one of the detainees, Mohammed al Qahtani, a Saudi national accused of planning to take part in the 9/11 attacks
by Cintli Rodriguez To Ramos's and Compean's supporters, the officers had simply been doing their job when they shot a drug dealer. It doesn't matter that they violated the law and the code of ethics of the U.S. Border Patrol and that they were convicted in a court of law and that their convictions were upheld on appeal. To the anti-immigrant movement, the person shot was actually not a person
by Eve Pell Over the years, he was a tireless worker for peace and engineered passage of a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons on the ocean floors. Besides the Pell Grants that have helped to send 54 million needy students to college, he sponsored legislation creating the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.
by Bill Berkowitz For nearly 40 years, the DeVos family has been a major benefactor of both the religious right and the Republican Party. Shortly before the 1994 election, the Amway Corporation gave the Republicans $2.5 million which, at the time, was the largest political donation in recent American history, the Washington Post reported. In April 2005, Rolling Stone magazine reported that DeVos was connected with the dominionist political movement in the United States and that DeVos was had given more than five million dollars to the late D. James Kennedy's Coral Ridge Ministries
by Julio Godoy What broke Merckle was eventually a model of capitalism built up on a belief that it is possible to make vast amounts of money through a multiplication of projected figures, and where speculation became the quick-fix to substitute long-term investment and production. He was not alone
As many as 500-600 children per year ended up killed or injured. 'Manhood is linked with bearing arms. A man would feel proud to see his son carrying a gun and shooting,' he said, adding that the participation of children in armed conflict was regarded as normal.He said there was pressure to recruit child soldiers when the number of adult fighters was insufficient, and it was also a way of inculcating tribal hatred at an early age. Almost half of YemenŐs 21 million people are under 15
by Jim Lobe Overall global growth will fall to 0.5 percent this year with the world's most advanced economies -- in North America, Europe, and East Asia -- leading the plunge. The Fund said world economic growth should bounce back to three percent in 2010, but warned that the possibility of a more severe decline of greater duration cannot be dismissed
by Robert Scheer The major news outlets meekly accepted Israel's ban on entering Gaza as an excuse for downplaying collateral civilian casualties; our president-elect, Barack Obama, has said not a word about an invasion that will much complicate his future Mideast peace efforts; and most commentators easily rationalize Israel's many-more-eyes-for-an-eye killings
by Robert Scheer So why didn't they give peace a chance? Why did the leaders of Hamas and Israel not wait for the new U.S. president's inauguration before mutually escalating hostilities? Here was a president-elect chosen, in part, on the expectation that he could enhance prospects for Mideast peace, even if it meant negotiating with people thought to be enemies
After Niger, Afghanistan has the second highest maternal mortality rate in the world, and each pregnant Afghan faces a 1:8 risk of dying from complications, according to UNICEF
by Antoaneta Bezlova China's army is no longer content with military recruits drawn from the urban unemployed and the low-skilled peasant boys. Since last autumn the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been offering competitive grants to attract graduates from colleges and vocational schools, aiming to raise the army's profile and enhance its skills
by Ashfaq Yusufzai Last year, Taliban destroyed 162 girls' schools in Swat, which until two years ago was a famous skiing destination. Roughly 88 boys' schools have been torched during this time. Parents have been warned against sending their daughters to "un-Islamic" schools
by George Koo The nomination of Timothy Geithner as the new treasury secretary and the statement Mr. Geithner submitted in his pre-confirmation hearing about China's alleged currency manipulation is deeply troubling
by Mel Frykberg Fatah, affiliated with the ruling Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank, accuses Hamas of killing, torturing and beating up a number of Fatah activists in Gaza. Hamas, which controls Gaza, in turn accuses Fatah members of guiding and helping the Israeli military to strike Hamas targets in the Gaza strip during the war
by Steve Young The president-elect doesn't want the U.S. to torture or send prisoners to other countries where they will be tortured. That, combined with the selection of former Clinton Chief of Staff, Leon Panetta, to head the CIA set up the O'Reilly declaration this week that our new president is a sociopath
by Eva Bartlett Three Palestinians have been killed since the ceasefire and 15 injured, including the ten injured Jan. 22, according to both Mu'awiyah Hassanain and Dr. Hassan Khalaf. Hours after the ceasefire was said to have come into effect Jan. 18, Israeli warplanes flew extremely low over areas of Gaza
by Daniel Luban Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank increased sharply in 2008, despite Israel's pledge at the beginning of the year to freeze all construction, according to a new report by an Israeli non-governmental organization. The report by the group Peace Now, found that settlement construction in 2008 increased by almost 60 percent, including new construction both inside and outside of the security barrier and within illegal settlement outposts
by William Fisher The 'other GITMO' was set up by the U.S. military as a temporary screening site after the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan overthrew the Taliban. It currently houses more than three times as many prisoners as are still held at Guantanamo
by Lucy Komisar The New York Fed under Geithner's presidency has failed to stop massive naked short selling of U.S. Treasury bonds that threatens the stability of the market and sale of the bonds. Ironically, the scam, enabled by a lack of regulation at the behest of Wall Street brokerage houses, makes it more expensive for the U.S. to bail out those same financial institutions
by Shane Bauer While other networks are increasingly severed from Gaza as phone lines are cut and 75 percent of the territory is without electricity, Al Jazeera is bringing its approximately 140 million English- and Arabic-speaking viewers live images of bombings, tanks rolling through Gaza's farmland, and interviews with civilians and aid workers inside Gaza city
by Mel Frykberg At least 42 Palestinians sheltering in a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza city were killed January 6 after two Israeli tank shells exploded outside the school. Hundreds of terrified Palestinians, desperately trying to escape the bombing, had sought shelter there assuming that a clearly marked school would not be targeted. Palestinian sources reported that the school was one of 26 residential buildings hit
by Mel Frykberg Israel launched a ground incursion into Gaza late on January 3, 2009, ending a week of speculation whether a ground assault would follow a week's intensive bombardment of Gaza from the air and coast. Simultaneously, Israeli officials in Jerusalem expressed satisfaction at a U.S. veto of a draft UN Security Council resolution, put together by Libya, which outlined a proposed ceasefire
Analysis by Jerrold Kessel and Pierre Klochendler Not only does the war continue to enjoy widespread public support, but Israeli officials are basking in a perception that their operation enjoys a fair degree of legitimacy in the region, and around the world: officials point to Egypt's blaming of Hamas as 'responsible' for the slide into hostilities, the failure of the Arab League to adopt a unified stand, the postponement of any UN Security Council resolution
Analysis by Gareth Porter The Bush administration helped Israel by deliberately provoking Hamas to seize power in Gaza. That plan was aimed at getting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the democratically elected Hamas government -- something Bush had tried unsuccessfully to do for many months
Just two weeks before he leaves office, President George W. Bush set aside January 6 three new marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean. Taken together, the three monuments cover nearly 200,000 square miles, and they will now receive America's highest level of environmental recognition and conservation, the president said
by Jim Lobe Friday's order marked a major reversal in U.S. population and reproductive-health policy under the administration of former President Bush, who imposed the ban on abortion-related funding as one of his very first acts as president after his inauguration eight years ago
by Jim Lobe In the first comprehensive statement of President-elect Barack Obama's foreign policy priorities, his nominee for secretary of state, Sen. Hillary Clinton, said 'cooperative engagement' backed up by what she called 'smart power' will define Washington's approach to the rest of the world
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