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Wed 13 December 2017

"Survival of Israel is a paramount goal of US Middle East Policy"
Monday 16th September 2013
Glenn Greenwald et al. in the Guardian:..Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis. ..Israel is allowed to receive "raw Sigint" – signal intelligence. The memorandum says: "Raw Sigint includes, but is not limited to, unevaluated and unminimized transcripts, gists, facsimiles, telex, voice and Digital Network Intelligence metadata and content."

Slavery ban & Capitalism
Monday 02nd September 2013
Sam Jones in the Guardian: ..To placate those opposed to the abolition (of Slavery in 1791), the government used Ł20m of taxpayers' money to compensate 47,000 slave owners for the loss of their "property" and introduced a system of apprenticeships that saw supposedly free slaves doing four to six years' unpaid labour for their former masters. Also among the beneficiaries of slave compensation were the ancestors of Sir Peter Bazalgette, the TV producer and chair of the Arts Council England. Evelyn Bazalgette is shown to have claimed Ł7,350 for 420 slaves on his Jamaican estates. David Cameron, Graham Greene and the TV chef Ainsley Harriott are also descended from compensated slave-owners....s well as paying for the building of dozens of country houses and art collections, the money also helped fund railways, museums, insurance companies, mining firms, merchants and banks

Israel's contrition to Japan
Tuesday 27th August 2013
Israel has issued a formal apology to Japan, after a week of escalating tensions between the two nations, after an Israeli official wrote a crude Facebook post mocking "self-righteous" Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorials. Daniel Seamon, director-general of the Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Ministry, said he was "sick" of "self-righteous" Japanese and international commemorations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims, in posts published by Israel's Haaretz newspaper.

Futility of the IOC
Thursday 22nd August 2013
Zaman from Turkey: Ekmeleddin Ihsanogu, current secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), has been heavily criticized by politicians from the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) for the OIC's failure to speak out against the army-led massacre in Egypt. In a television interview on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag called on Ihsanoglu to resign from his post at such an “ineffective” organization. ...The OIC is based in Jeddah, capital of Saudi Arabia and is the second-largest intergovernmental organization after the United Nations. Ihsanoglu's nine-year term as the head of the organization will expire at the end of this year. Salaam note: to be replaced by a former Saudi Information minister, Iyar Al-Madani!

Bosnia - sweeping under the carpet
Thursday 15th August 2013
Owen Bowcott in the Guardian: By a 4-to-1 majority, the judges quashed a 27-year jail sentence for Momičlo Perišić, a former chief of staff of the Yugoslav army, for providing military support for the Bosnian-Serb Army of the Republika Srpska between 1993 and 1995. He had previously been convicted of aiding and abetting war crimes in Sarajevo and Srebrenica. ...In May the court's lower tribunal returned not guilty verdicts by a 2-1 majority in the case of two Serbian intelligence officers, Jovica Stanišić and Frank Simatović. Accusations that the US and Israeli governments applied improper pressure on the tribunal to ensure military commanders could never be convicted of war crimes are among allegations in circulation...

Whither (wither) USA?
Wednesday 14th August 2013
Janet Daley in the Sunday Telegraph: The West can no longer rely on American leadership in the world. For the remaining duration of the Obama administration, Washington’s judgment and effectiveness in foreign policy cannot be trusted. It is quite an achievement for the one remaining superpower to appear as ineffectual and wrong-footed as the United States has managed to do in the past week. But there it is. The president’s global strategy in his second term was based on two resounding premises. First, al‑Qaeda was “on the run” having been smashed by the killing of Osama bin Laden and the successful US drone operations in Pakistan: in May, Mr Obama gave a triumphal speech in which he declared the War on Terror officially over. That was then. This is now: over the past week, 19 US embassies in the Middle East and North Africa had to be closed for a week, and diplomatic staff evacuated from Yemen because of “specific terrorist threats”. So who exactly is on the run?

Pukka Punjabi: The Day I asked the Home Office...
Thursday 01st August 2013
Pukkah Punjabi in the Guardian: "Umm, I need to go home." Where do you need to get home to?" "Willesden Green." "This scheme is for people who need to go home to a place abroad." "Yes but I'm in Harrow now and your poster said you'd help me get home …" "We provide help to people who are here illegally, such as people whose visas have expired." "I don't have a visa." "Do you think you might be here illegally?" "I don't know. Do I need a visa to travel between Willesden and Harrow?" I kept the (very polite) Home Office man on the phone for some time...

Cameron's silence
Sunday 28th July 2013
Nesrene Malik in the Guardian: When Lee Rigby was murdered, politicians of every stripe scrambled to condemn and reassure. Cobra, the country's top emergency response mechanism, was convened under the home secretary, Theresa May. David Cameron reassured Britons that "we will never buckle in the face of terrorism". Compare this with near-silence that greeted the recent mosque attacks. Muslims have become accustomed, almost resigned, to media double standards – there is no example starker than the wildly different coverage of Rigby and Saleem's killings. But the failure to mobilise, condemn and reassure on the part of the political class is potentially far more dangerous. It suggests not only that a Muslim life is less sacred than a non-Muslim one, but that Muslims do not have the same rights as others to be reassured. That attacks on them are attacks on a minority, and not on British citizens.

I know Abu Qatada – he's no terrorist
Tuesday 09th July 2013
Victoria Brittain in the Guardian: ... Since 2007 as many as 12 senior British judges in various courts have recognised the torture origins of the evidence against him (Omar Othman aka Abu Qatada) – which successive prime ministers and home secretaries have, until a few weeks ago, publicly put all their political weight into ignoring. The US, aided by the UK, on behalf of its key ally Jordan, went so far as to kidnap UK residents Jamil el-Banna and Bisher al-Rawi on a business trip in Africa, torture them in Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, and take them to Guantánamo Bay in order to interrogate them about Othman. When those men sued the British authorities for what they had done, parliament was persuaded to create secret courts to adjudicate on secret defences. ...But the most recent phase of this 12-year saga has left poison in our society. The home secretary, prime minister, mayor of London and countless MPs – including senior Labour party figures – have led the media in reckless and prejudiced comments, making Othman the most demonised individual in Britain.

The man Clinton pardoned
Thursday 04th July 2013
Jennifer Rankin in the Guardian: Marc Rich, the billionaire trader and onetime fugitive who received a controversial pardon from Bill Clinton, has died aged 78 ...Rich was pardoned by Clinton on his last day as US president... ...In a rare interview in 2007 Rich said he did his "most important and most profitable" trades by breaking international embargos and doing business with apartheid South Africa, an admission made to Swiss journalist Daniel Ammann, author of The King of Oil: the Secret Lives of Marc Rich. ..."Marc Rich at one time in the mid 1970s was crucial to Israel's survival because after the Yom Kippur war they were cut off from the oil supply," said Ammann. "Israel really had to fight for their oil and they bought it from Marc Rich."