Informed Comment http://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Mon, 25 Jul 2016 05:06:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.4.4 Arab Street Shocked as Saudi Delegation Visits Israel http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/street-shocked-delegation.html http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/street-shocked-delegation.html#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 05:04:09 +0000 http://www.juancole.com/?p=162744 By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Egyptian news site the Arab Observer Network reports that the visit to Israel of a former Saudi military intelligence officer, Gen. Anwar Eshki, came as a body blow to the Arab in the street. He conducted several meetings with Israeli officials last week, along with a “high level” Saudi delegation.

Saudi Arabia and Israel, the old hegemons in the Middle East, are increasingly coordinating to confront a rising Iran.

Eshki met with Dore Gold, the general director of the Israeli foreign ministry, as well as Israeli members of parliament. On his agenda was restarting the Israel-Palestine peace process on the basis of the 2002 Saudi/ Arab League plan, which calls for a two-state solution on the basis of 1967 borders.

Eshki now heads the Saudi Institute for Strategic Studies, but had held a number of jobs in the Saudi military, retiring as a general, as well as having served in the Saudi ministry of foreign affairs.

The Iranian press lambasted the visit,

The Lebanese newspaper “al-Akhbar” (The News) said that Saudi Arabia now appears ready to move to open relations with Israel, and to recognize Israel as an ally, without those moves any longer requiring Israel to make any concessions to the Palestinians.

The left-leaning newspaper al-Safir (The Ambassador) said that the lack of any Saudi government reprimand of Eshki suggests that the visit was approved by Riyadh.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine accused the Saudis of normalizing the Israeli occupation and of giving cover and legitimacy to Israel’s crimes in the West Bank and Gaza.

The current leadership of Saudi Arabia has taken a number of bold steps to confront a rising Iran, including intervention in Syria on the side of radical Salafi groups and making war on the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Now Riyadh seems poised publicly to embrace Israel. Given the unpopularity of Israel in the Arab street, however, this step could backfire.

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Releated video:

France 24: “Middle-East: Israel’s former military intelligence chief sheds lights on Israel-Saudi cooperation” – -FRANCE 24 English”

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Lieberman: Palestinian National Poet Mahmoud Darwish’s Verse is ‘Mein Kampf’ http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/lieberman-palestinian-national.html http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/lieberman-palestinian-national.html#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 04:28:30 +0000 http://www.juancole.com/?p=162736 By IMEMC News | – –

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has compared the broadcast of poetry by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish on Israeli radio to glorifying Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” the Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Israeli army radio broadcast works by the iconic Palestinian writer as part of its “University on Air” program, including Darwish’s famous poem “Identity Card,” which drew the ire of Lieberman and other Israeli officials.

Ma’an News Agency reports that, in a meeting with Army Radio chief Yaron Dekel, Lieberman said that broadcasting the poem contravened the station’s mission to “strengthen solidarity in society, not to deepen rifts, and certainly not to offend public sensibilities.”

Lieberman added that Darwish’s poems could not “be part of the Israeli narrative program” aired on the station, adding: “By that same logic, we can also add to the Israeli narrative Mufti al-Husseini, or broadcast a glorification of the literary merits of ‘Mein Kampf,’” referring to the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1920s and 1930s — whom Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu controversially blamed in October for the Jewish holocaust.

“Identity Card,” written in 1964, details the indignities of life subjected to the bureaucracy of the Israeli occupation, and includes the lines “I do not hate people/Nor do I encroach/But if I become hungry/The usurper’s flesh will be my food,” presumably the part targeted by Lieberman.

According to the Ministry of Defense statement, Lieberman said that there was “a big difference between freedom of expression and freedom of incitement.”

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit called Lieberman “to remind him he has no authority to intervene in Army Radio’s programming.”

Born in Moldova, Avigdor Lieberman is one of the only foreign ministers in the world who does not live in territory officially recognized as his own country. Originally under suspicion over charges of money-laundering and bribery, Lieberman was formally indicted in December of 2012, on lesser charges of fraud and breach of trust.

His party was recently the focus of a corruption probe within the Israeli political spectrum, and, more recently, Lieberman’s life was threatened with an assassination attempt.

On Wednesday, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev called the broadcast of Darwish’s poems “dangerous,” adding that Army Radio “cannot allow itself to glorify the anti-Israel historical tale, as Mahmoud Darwish is not an Israeli, his poems are not Israeli, and they go against the main values of Israeli society.”

Darwish, who died in 2008, is also known as Palestine’s national poet, and stands as one of the most prominent figures of modern Palestinian literature. He has long been criticized by Israeli political figures for his stance against the occupation.

Via IMEMC

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Aljazeera English: “Inside Story – Mahmoud Darwish remembered – 14 Aug 08 – Part 1”

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Our American Crimes against the Future http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/american-crimes-against.html http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/american-crimes-against.html#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 04:06:00 +0000 http://www.juancole.com/?p=162731 By Tom Engelhardt | ( Tomdispatch.com) | – –

I recently dug my mother’s childhood photo album out of the depths of my bedroom closet. When I opened it, I found that the glue she had used as a girl to paste her life in place had given way, and on many pages the photos were now in a jumble.

My mother was born early in the last century. Today, for most of that ancient collection of photos and memorabilia — drawings (undoubtedly hers), a Caruthers School of Piano program, a Camp Weewan-Eeta brochure, a Hyde Park High School junior prom “senior ticket,” and photos of unknown boys, girls, and adults — there’s no one left to tell me who was who or what was what.

In some of them, I can still recognize my mother’s youthful face, and that of her brother who died so long ago but remains quite recognizable (even so many decades before I knew him). As for the rest — the girl in what looks like a gym outfit doing a headstand, all those young women lined up on a beach in what must then have been risqué bathing suits, the boy kneeling with his arms outstretched toward my perhaps nine-year-old mother — they’ve all been swept away by the tides of time.

And so it goes, of course. For all of us, sooner or later.

My mother was never much for talking about the past. Intent on becoming a professional caricaturist, she lit out from her hometown, Chicago, for the city of her dreams, New York, and essentially never looked back. For whatever reason, looking back frightened her.

And in all those years when I might have pressed her for so much more about herself, her family, her youthful years, I was too young to give a damn. Now, I can’t tell you what I’d give to ask those questions and find out what I can never know. Her mother and father, my grandparents who died before I was born, her sister whom I met once at perhaps age six, her friends and neighbors, swains and sidekicks, they’re all now the dust of history in an album that is disintegrating into a pile of black flakes at the slightest touch. Even for me, most of the photos in it are as meaningless (if strangely moving) as ones you’d pick up in an antique store or at a garage sale.

Lost Children on a Destabilizing Planet

I just had — I won’t say celebrated — my 72nd birthday. It was a natural moment to think about both the past that stretches behind me and the truncated future ahead. Recently, in fact, I’ve had the dead on my mind. I’m about to recopy my ancient address book for what undoubtedly will be the last time. (Yes, I’m old enough to prefer all that information on paper, not in the ether.) And of course when I flip through those fading pages, I see, as befits my age, something like a book of the dead and realize that the next iteration will be so much shorter.

It’s sometimes said of the dead that they’ve “crossed over.” In the context of our present world, I’ve started thinking of them as refugees of a sort — every one of them uprooted from their lives (as we all will be one day) and sent across some unknown frontier into a truly foreign land. But if our fate is, in the end, to be the ultimate refugees, heading into a place where there will be no resettlement camps, assumedly nothing at all, I wonder, too, about the world after me, the one I’ll leave behind when I finally cross that border.

I wonder, too — how could I not with my future life as a “refugee” in mind? — about the 65 million human beings uprooted from their homes in 2015 alone, largely in places where we Americans have been fighting our wars for this last decade and a half. And it’s hard not to notice how many more have followed in their path this year, including at least 80,000 of the Sunni inhabitants of Iraq’s recently “liberated” and partially destroyed city of Fallujah. In the process, tens of millions of them have remained internal exiles in their own country (or what is left of it), while tens of millions have officially become refugees by crossing borders into Turkey, Lebanon, or Jordan, by taking to the seas in flimsy, overcrowded craft heading for Greece (from Turkey) or Italy (from Libya) moving onward in waves of desperation, hope, and despair, and drowning in alarming numbers. At the end of their journeys, they have sometimes found help and succor, but often enough only hostility and loathing, as if they were the ones who had committed a crime, done something wrong.

I think as well about the nearly 10% of Iraqi children, 1.5 million of them in a country gripped by chaos, war, ethnic conflict, insurgency, and terror who, according to a recent UNICEF report, have had to flee their homes since 2014, or the 20% of Iraqi kids (kids!) who are “at serious risk of death, injury, sexual violence, and recruitment into armed groups.” I think about the 51% of all those refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere who were children, many separated from their parents and alone on Planet Earth.

No child deserves such a fate. Ever. Each uprooted child who has lost his or her parents, and perhaps access to education or any childhood at all, represents a crime against the future.

And I think often enough about our response to all this, the one we’ve practiced for the last 15 years: more bombs, more missiles, more drone strikes, more advisers, more special ops raids, more weapons deals, and with it all not success or victory by any imaginable standard, but only the further destabilization of increasing regions of the planet, the further spread of terror movements, and the generation of yet more uprooted human beings, lost children, refugees — ever more, that is, of the terrorized and the terrorists. If this represents the formula from hell, it’s also been a proven one over this last decade and a half. It works, as long as what you mean to do is bring chaos to significant swathes of the planet and force yet more children in ever more unimaginable situations.

If you live in the United States, it’s easy enough to be shocked (unless, of course, you’re a supporter) when Donald Trump calls for the banning of Muslims from this country, or Newt Gingrich advocates the testing of “every person here who is of a Muslim background and if they believe in sharia they should be deported,” or various Republican governors fight to keep a pitiful few Syrian refugees out of their states. It’s easy enough to tsk-tsk over such sentiments, cite a long tradition of American xenophobia and racism, and so on. In truth, however, most of this (however hair-raising) remains bluster at this point. The real “xenophobic” action has taken place in distant lands where the U.S. Air Force reigns supreme, where a country that once created the Marshall Plan to raise a continent leveled by war can no longer imagine investing in or creating anything but further vistas of destruction and destabilization.

The Muslims that Donald Trump wants to ban are, after all, the very ones his country has played such a part in uprooting and setting in motion. And how can the few who might ever make it to this country compare to the millions who have flooded Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon, among other places, further destabilizing the Middle East (which, in case you forgot, remains the oil heartland of the planet)? Where is the Marshall Plan for them or for the rest of a region that the U.S. and its allies are now in the process of dismantling (with the eager assistance of the Islamic State, various extremist outfits, Bashar al-Assad, and quite a crew of others)?

What Bombs Can’t Build

We Americans think well of ourselves. From our presidents on down, we seldom hesitate to imagine our country as a singularly “exceptional” nation — and also as an exceptionally generous one. In recent years, however, that generosity has been little in evidence at home or abroad (except where the U.S. military is concerned). Domestically, the country has split between a rising 1% (and their handlers and enablers) and parts of the other 99% who feel themselves on the path to hell. Helped along by Donald Trump’s political circus, this has given the U.S. the look of a land spinning into something like Third World-ism, even though it remains the globe’s “sole superpower” and wealthiest country.

Meanwhile, our professed streak of generosity hasn’t extended to our own infrastructure, which — speaking of worlds swept away by the tides of time — would have boggled the minds of my parents and other Americans of their era. The idea that the country’s highways, byways, bridges, levees, pipelines, and so on could be decaying in significant ways and starved for dollars without a response from the political class would have been inconceivable to them. And it does represent a strikingly ungenerous message sent from that class to the children of some future America: you and the world you’ll inhabit aren’t worth our investment.

In these years — thank you, Osama bin Laden, ISIS, and endless American politicians, officials, military figures, and terror “experts” — fear has gripped the body politic over a phenomenon, terrorism, that, while dangerous, represents one of the lesser perils of American life. No matter. There’s a constant drumbeat of discussion about how to keep ourselves “safe” from terrorism in a world in which freelance lunatics with an assault rifle or a truck can indeed kill startling numbers of people in suicidal acts. The problem is that, in this era, preserving our “safety” always turns out to involve yet more bombs and missiles dropped in distant lands, more troops and special operators sent into action, greater surveillance of ourselves and everyone else. In other words, we’re talking about everything that further militarizes American foreign policy, puts the national security state in command, and assures the continued demobilization of a scared and rattled citizenry, even as, elsewhere, it creates yet more uprooted souls, more children without childhoods, more refugees.

Our leaders — and we, too — have grown accustomed to our particular version of eternal “wartime,” and to wars without end, wars guaranteed to go on and on as more parts of the planet plunge into hell. In all of this, any sense of American generosity, either of the spirit or of funds, seems to be missing in action. There isn’t the faintest understanding here that if you really don’t want to create generations of terrorists amid a growing population loosed from all the boundaries of normal life, you’d better have a Marshall Plan for the Greater Middle East.

It should be obvious (but isn’t in our American world) that bombs, whatever they may do, can never build anything. You’d better be ready instead to lend a genuine hand, a major one, in making half-decent lives possible for millions and millions of people now in turmoil. You’d better know that war isn’t actually the answer to any of this, that if ISIS is destroyed in a region reduced to rubble and without hope of better, a few years from now that brutal organization could look good in comparison to whatever comes down the pike. You’d better know that peaceful acts — peace being a word that, even rhetorically, has gone out of style in “wartime” Washington — are still possible in this world.

Lost to the Future

Before those tides wash us away, there’s always the urge to ensure that you’ll leave something behind. I fear that I’m already catching glimpses of what that might be, of the world after me, an American world that I would never have wanted to turn over to my own children or grandchildren, or anyone else’s. My country, the United States, is hardly the only one involved in what looks like a growing global debacle of destabilization: a tip of the hat is necessary to the Pakistanis, the Saudis, our European allies, the Brexit British, the Russians, and so many others.

I have to admit, however, that my own focus — my sense of duty, you might say — is to this country. I’ve never liked the all-American words “patriot” and “super-patriot,” which we only apply to ourselves — or those alternatives, “nationalist” and “ultranationalist,” which we reserve pejoratively for gung-ho foreigners. But if I can’t quite call myself either an American patriot or an American nationalist, I do care, above all, about what this country chooses to be, what it wants to become. I feel some responsibility for that and it pains me to see what’s happening to us, to the country and the people we seem to be preparing to be. We, too, are perhaps beginning to show the strains of the global destabilization now evidently underway and, unnerved, we are undoubtedly continuing to damage the future in ways still hard to assess.

Perhaps someday, someone will have one of my own childhood photo albums in their hands. The glue will have worn off, the photos will be heading toward the central crease, the pages will be flaking away, and the cast of characters, myself included, will be lost to the past, as so many of those children we had such a hand in uprooting and making into refugees will be lost to the future. At that moment, my fate will be the norm and there will be nothing to mourn about it. The fate of those lost children, if they become the norm, will however be the scandal of the century, and will represent genuine crimes against the future.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 Tom Engelhardt

Via Tomdispatch.com

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

The Young Turks: “”Mistake” US Air Strike Kills Nearly 60 Civilians In Syria”

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Disgraced Wasserman Schultz Resigns as DNC Chair, Gets Hired by Clinton http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/disgraced-wasserman-schultz.html http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/disgraced-wasserman-schultz.html#respond Mon, 25 Jul 2016 04:04:51 +0000 http://www.juancole.com/?p=162738 By TeleSur | – –

Her resignation came hours after Bernie Sanders called on her to step down after emails showed how biased she was against his campaign.

The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, resigned Sunday just two days after thousands of party emails were leaked and was immediately hired by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Clinton unapologetically issued a statement praising “longtime friend” Wasserman Schultz and said she would serve as a surrogate for her campaign.

“There’s simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie–which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign’s 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country,” she said.

Florida congresswoman Wasserman Schultz said in a statement, “I’ve been proud to serve as the first woman nominated by a sitting president as chair of the Democratic National Committee.

“I couldn’t be more excited that Democrats are nominating our first woman presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, a friend I have always believed in and know will be a great President.”

Donna Brazile, DNC Vice Chair, will serve as interim chair from DNC through the election in November.

Her announcement came just hours after Bernie Sanders, who had long accused her of bias during his long primary campaign against Clinton, repeated a call for her departure.

In a statement, Sanders said, “Debbie Wasserman Schultz has made the right decision for the future of the Democratic Party … the party leadership must … always remain impartial in the presidential nominating process, something which did not occur in the 2016 race.”

According to the DNC emails leaked by Wikileaks Friday Wasserman Schultz and her staff shared their exasperation with Sanders, making jokes about him and calling him ”stupid” and a “mess”.

President Barack Obama, who also seemed to favor Clinton from the beginning, said he was “grateful” for Wasserman Schultz’s leadership on the Democratic National Committee.

In a statement Sunday, Obama said the Florida congresswoman “had my back,” particularly during his 2012 reelection campaign.

The latest developments dealt a major blow to the Democratic party which was keen on projecting stability in contrast to the volatility of Republican candidate Donald Trump, who was formally nominated last week, and overshadowed preparations in Philadelphia for Clinton’s coronation as the Democratic nominee to face Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

Via TeleSur

Related video added by Juan Cole:

CBS: ” Debbie Wasserman Schultz to resign”

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Islamophobia Kills: German Munich shooter admired Breivik, Killed Turks http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/islamophobia-shooter-admired.html http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/islamophobia-shooter-admired.html#comments Sun, 24 Jul 2016 05:50:20 +0000 http://www.juancole.com/?p=162727 By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The shooter at a Munich mall last week who killed 9 and left 27 wounded was an admirer of far right wing Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik, and appears to have hated Muslims.

Although David Sonboly was of Iranian heritage, he does not seem to have been a Muslim and appears to have felt no connection to that community.

Iranians are mostly Shiite Muslims who are often victimized by ISIL, so it wasn’t ever very likely that his rampage was inspired by that organization.

The current insistence by politicians and journalists on treating anyone with a drop of Middle Eastern blood as a “Muslim” is frankly racist. After all, millions of people of Christian heritage would now insist that they are not Christians. Why can’t people from Muslim families convert to other things, too? Sonboly appears to have considered himself a Christian or at least a Westerner.

As with many mass killers, the 18-year-old likely had mental problems. But to the extent that he was driven by ideology, it was the that of the Islamophobia Network. Sonboly was part of a far-right anti-Muslim tendency that now haunts Europe .

As many attacks in Europe are carried out by the white far right as by Muslims.

The ambiguities of identity were on display in this case, since Sonboly shouted “I am German!” at the Turkish-Germans he targeted, whom he called ‘Fucking Turks.’ He seems to have blamed practicing Muslims for creating the conditions of prejudice toward people who looked like him in Germany.

But many Germans of Turkish heritage belong to the minority Alevi community and tend to be unreligious in Germany. One of his victims was Greek but had a Muslim name– likely therefore to have been from Greece’s Albanian minority. That young man threw himself in the line of fire to protect his sister.

As it becomes clear that the Munich shooting was not ISIL but rather Western Far Right in inspiration, the case will likely quickly fade and no longer be mentioned on the floor of Congress or in the pages of our elite newspapers. They have another master narrative, and David is just too uncategorizable for it.

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Related video:

Munich gunman ‘obsessed with shootings’ – BBC News

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Maybe Oil was a bad Idea: Temps in Mideast Beat Heat Records for E. Hemisphere http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/mideast-records-hemisphere.html http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/mideast-records-hemisphere.html#comments Sun, 24 Jul 2016 05:05:46 +0000 http://www.juancole.com/?p=162722 By Deirdre Fulton, staff writer | Commondreams.org ) – –

“I’ve never seen Celsius temps like these on a weather map before,” climate scientist Michael Mann said on Twitter.

Thermometers in Kuwait and Iraq reached record-shattering temperatures this week, with Weather Underground reporting that the measurements could be the hottest ever seen in the Eastern Hemisphere.

According to Weather Underground‘s Jeff Masters, the temperature in Mitribah, Kuwait climbed to an “astonishing” 54°C (129.2°F) on Thursday. And on Friday, Basrah, Iraq International Airport reported a high temperature of 53.9°C (129°F).

“Today’s high in Basrah is the second highest reliably measured temperature in world recorded history outside of Death Valley, California,” Masters wrote. “Only yesterday’s 54°C (129.2°F) at Mitribah, Kuwait was hotter.”

“I’ve never seen Celsius temps like these on a weather map before,” climate scientist Michael Mann said on Twitter.

The Washington Post notes, “It’s also possible that these 129.2-degree readings match the hottest ever reliably measured anywhere in the world.”

The Post‘s Jason Samenow explains:

Death Valley currently holds the record for the world’s hottest temperature of 134.1 degrees (56.7 Celsius), set July 10, 1913. But Weather Underground’s [Christopher] Burt does not believe it is a credible measurement: “[T]he record has been scrutinized perhaps more than any other in the United States,” Burt wrote. “I don’t have much more to add to the debate aside from my belief it is most likely not a valid reading when one looks at all the evidence.”

If you discard the Death Valley record from 1913, the pair of 129.2-degree readings from Mitribah and Basra over the past two days would tie the world’s highest known temperature, also observed in Death Valley on June 30, 2013, and in Tirat Tsvi, Israel, on June 22, 1942. But Masters says the Israeli measurement is controversial.

The Middle East is expected to get a respite from the current heat wave on Saturday, according to Weather Underground, when “the ridge of high pressure bringing the record heat will weaken, bringing temperatures about 10°F cooler to Iraq and Kuwait, and about 2-4°F cooler to Iran”—which was expected to break or come close to its own heat records on Friday.

A study published earlier this year in the journal Climatic Change predicted that by the end of this century, “climate change and increasing hot weather extremes in the [Middle East and North Africa], a region subject to economic recession, political turbulence and upheaval, may exacerbate humanitarian hardship and contribute to migration.”

The U.S. is also in the middle of a heat wave, with the National Weather service having issued heat alerts for more than 20 central, southwest, and eastern states.

Via Commondreams.org

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

MIT from last year: “Climate change could bring deadly heat to Persian Gulf”

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Israeli squatters fire on, threaten Palestinians on their private land http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/squatters-threaten-palestinians.html http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/squatters-threaten-palestinians.html#comments Sun, 24 Jul 2016 04:48:13 +0000 http://www.juancole.com/?p=162718 Ma’an News Agency | – –

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Israeli settlers verbally attacked Palestinian residents of the town of al-Khader in the southern occupied West Bank on Saturday, threatening them with a gun as the Palestinians were working in their land, which is situated in the Bethlehem district between the illegal Israeli settlements of Neve Daniel and El-Azar.

The owner of the private land, Samir Jabir, told Ma’an that he was surveying the land to begin re-cultivating it after it had been left dormant for some years. He said his family has ownership papers for the land that dated back to the Ottoman era.

388271C

All of a sudden, he said, a group of Israeli settlers from an illegal outpost known as “Fathers’ Road” arrived and tried to intimidate Jabir in order to make him leave the land.

“They started to chase me, with one of them wielding a gun,” said Jabir. Even after Jabir moved to another tract of land where his cousins were working, the settlers chased after him.

According to Jabir and his cousins, the settler who was holding a gun continued to threaten the men, and shouted anti-Muslim slurs at them.

When they refused the settlers’ demands to leave, one of the settlers pointed his pistol at Jabir and his two cousins, to which Jabir’s cousin responded saying, “you can shoot me but we will not move out.”

Footage recorded by Jabir that he later uploaded to YouTube then shows the settler shooting live bullets into the air above where Jabir’s cousins were standing.

According to Jabir, when he called the Israeli police to ask for assistance, the police officer initially responded by asking if there were any “Jewish individuals among the group being attacked.”

After insisting that he still required assistance and protection, an Israeli army vehicle arrived within 15 minutes, and later an Israeli police vehicle arrived to the scene.

Jabir informed the Israeli police about the incident, showed them the videos he captured on his phone, were escorted by the officers to an Israeli police station in Hebron, where they filed a formal complaint. He said police officers found bullet casings on the scene that backed his claims.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she was looking into reports of the incident. According to Jabir, Israeli police told him they would summon suspected settlers for questioning.

Israeli settlers have carried out at least 60 attacks on Palestinians and their property in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank since the start of 2016, and a total of 221 in 2015, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

However, the perpetrators of violence against Palestinian civilians and their property are rarely punished, with Israeli police closing most investigations without an indictment.

According to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli civilian attacks result in a conviction.

The United Nations reported on Thursday that nine attacks by Israeli settlers resulting in Palestinian injuries or property damage/losses occurred between July 12 and 18, “representing the highest number of settler related incident in a single week since the beginning of 2016.”

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How Roger Ailes at Fox killed Journalism and gave us George W. Bush http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/killed-journalism-george.html http://www.juancole.com/2016/07/killed-journalism-george.html#comments Sun, 24 Jul 2016 04:30:49 +0000 http://www.juancole.com/?p=162711 By Russell Frank | (The Conversation) | – –

Roger Ailes’ 20-year reign as the chairman of Fox News ended this week, the result of a sexual harassment scandal.

He will be remembered by journalism ethicists as the poster boy for conflict of interest. But of Ailes’ many departures from journalistic norms of impartiality, the most egregious was his hiring of a cousin of presidential candidate George W. Bush during the 2000 election.

Partisan journalism, redefined

We talk a lot about conflict of interest in my journalism ethics class: why travel writers shouldn’t accept free trips to Disney World. Why food critics shouldn’t write about their sister-in-law’s restaurant. Why no journalists should actively support or work against any causes or organizations that they may be called upon to write about.

And, especially, why no news executives should assign stories that promote their allies or attack their enemies.

The prohibitions are grounded in the belief in the importance of journalistic independence – the belief that journalists’ first allegiance should be to the public they serve.

It gets complicated, of course. If everyone who has an opinion about abortion rights is disqualified from covering a march for or against abortion rights, there would be no news of such protests. If, as is increasingly the case, the news organization is owned by a corporation that also owns a movie studio, how should the news organization handle a new release by the studio?

Classic cases help us see how such conflicts play out in the real world: the political reporter who was having an affair with the mayor, the news anchor who spoke at a Democratic Party fundraiser and the business reporter whose coverage of a company he owned stock in caused that stock to rise.

Then there’s Fox News, which is in a whole different category.

From one perspective, a conservative-leaning TV news source was needed as a counterweight to all the liberal-leaning sources. From another, the arrival of Fox was part of a two-pronged right-wing strategy: First, relentlessly discredit what were actually more or less impartial news sources as having a liberal bias. Then, offer your own news shows as the “fair and balanced” alternative.

The giveaway was Rupert Murdoch’s 1996 appointment of Roger Ailes, a former adviser to the Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush campaigns, to build the operation. Where individual journalists or newsroom executives might have a conflict of interest covering particular stories or issues, Ailes brought a political agenda to an entire news organization. The master propagandist became a master news producer, enjoying 20 years of powerhouse ratings.

Tilting the 2000 election?

But Ailes’ signature moment was bringing John Ellis on board to analyze the data provided by the Voter News Service on Election Night 2000.

To this day, some claim the networks suppressed Republican turnout by prematurely calling some states for Al Gore; others argue the networks, starting with Fox, influenced the outcome by prematurely calling the election for Bush.

One thing is known: Ellis was on the phone with the Republican nominee and his brother Jeb throughout the evening, and it was Ellis’ declaration that his kinsman was the winner that influenced all the projections that followed.

Before the gig at Fox, in a column he wrote for the Boston Globe, Ellis recused himself from coverage of the election, acknowledging that his first loyalty was to his cousin.

“Dwell on this for a moment,” Tim Dickinson wrote in a 2011 Rolling Stone article. “A ‘news’ network controlled by a GOP operative who had spent decades shaping just such political narratives – including those that helped elect the candidate’s father – declared George W. Bush the victor based on the analysis of a man who had proclaimed himself loyal to Bush over the facts.”

A clip from the documentary ‘Outfoxed’ details how Fox News erroneously called the 2000 election for Bush – and the other networks fell in line.

Once Bush took office, Dickinson wrote, Ailes frequently served as an informal adviser to the president. And when Obama succeeded Bush, Fox News reverted to attack mode, raising doubts about his citizenship and his religious affiliation.

With Ailes at the controls, Fox News has been fair and balanced only if you believe that all other news coverage is so biased that an entire network is needed to counteract it. In other words, in the face of the supposed liberal slant at the other networks, Fox needed to be unfair and unbalanced.

Instead, Ailes has reigned in an era of unprecedented political partisanship. Other networks tried to mimic Fox News’ success; the result has been a proliferation of partisan outlets that have only further polarized viewers, while the public’s trust in the media is at a historic low.

Give Ailes credit. His experiment with overtly partisan news-like programming has been wildly successful for Fox’s bottom line. But his tenure – epitomized by his appointment of John Ellis – has grievously harmed journalism.

The Conversation

Russell Frank, Associate Professor of Communications, Pennsylvania State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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