Catastrophe in the Shaky Isles

Today, my distress after the dreadful earthquake rocking Christchurch in New Zealand’s South Island is increasing. Civil Defence Minister John Carter has declared the death toll indeterminate for the present. Adding insult to injury, the scurrilous vamperazzi has outdone itself with a monstrous feasting on human suffering. In juxtaposition, the CTV building has been destroyed and there are fears for the lives of 100 people who may have been inside. I wait, along with so many others, to hear from a friend whom I love.

Whilst I am a ‘strict’ atheist, Christchurch Cathedral is one of my favourite buildings, where charming volunteers are always happy to take folks on a grand guided tour. The cathedral has been shaken and damaged by quakes several times since its construction in 1881 but in the latest quake, the cathedral spire has fallen, as though the symbolic connection with the heavens are broken while underworld ogres wreak their wrath on mere mortals and their puny dwellings. Worse, there may be several people still trapped inside.

I’ve played the magnificent cathedral organ and inspected the wonderful archive of music, sacred and secular, from all performances ever held at the cathedral. In another life, I would have loved to have been the organist at this special community hub which cared even to include me. The architecture inside the cathedral is stunning, most particularly, the roof, buttressed inside by the upturned hull beams of a ship constructed with matai and totara. Another fabled local attraction, the Wizard of New Zealand, orates outside in the square. Fortunately the Wiz is unscathed though his home has minor damage.

Floods and fires there are in Australia aplenty, yet not so many quakes as in New Zealand which sits squarely on the Pacific Ring of Fire. There’s something deeply disturbing about earthquakes – solid ground proves not so reliable, protective structures are racked and shattered by forces beyond restraint. Blessings to everyone affected by this tragedy which has devastated a city and people I love.

HOW TO DONATE

Donate to The Salvation Army:
Freephone 0800 530 000; online at www.salvationarmy.org.nz; or by post: The Salvation Army, PO Box 27001, Marion Square, Wellington, 6141. Mark correspondence: “Canterbury Earthquake Appeal”.

Donate to the Red Cross:
http://www.redcross.org.nz/donations

Donation drive from the Auckland University Students’ Association:
Call (09) 309 0789 or go to Auckland University’s Student Union building.

Donate via Westpac:
Westpac account 03 0207 0617 331 00.

Donate via ANZ:
ANZ account 01 1839 0188939 00.

Beware email scams asking for donations

NEW ZEALAND INFORMATION

What you need to know
Christchurch earthquake: How to donateHow to donate

AND IN OTHER DISPATCHES

Israel’s theft and denial of water from Palestinians is an integral part of the ziocolony’s genocidal tactics which support its expansionism.

Racist violence in Jerusalem against Palestinians, where a Palestinian youth is murdered by Israeli youths – as Joseph Dana notes, the incident was covered up by the government, then ignored and distorted by the media.

The Israeli government quickly put a media blackout on the case fearing a violent reactions from Palestinians in Jerusalem, Israel and the West Bank. Once the media blackout was lifted, select Israeli media outlets covered the story as a “drunken brawl turned bad” and the story was largely ignored.

Palestinian Unity Revolution for March 15 Promo:

Egypt Links

Conversation with an Egyptian socialist
How taking it to the streets works to overthrow oppressive regimes

Libya Links

Live Blog – Libya Feb 23
The Gaddafi family and the limits of western education
Gaddafi’s former number two resigns in support of protesters
Libya’s tragedy, Gaddafi’s farce
Gadafy family may have billions in secret accounts
Libya’s free to the East
The King of Kings’ speech
30% of Libya in Hands of Youth Movement
Bouazizi family’s message to Libya
The Nato Plan Is To Occupy Libya – Reflections by Comrade Fidel – oh dear, Fidel!
Where does the US draw the line with Libya?

Palestine / Israel Links

The Knesset Passes Human Rights NGO Harassment Bill
Israeli army will cash in on Egypt’s upheavals
Knesset member Aryeh Eldad places ad in Haaretz calling on Jordan to declare itself Palestine.
Is the West Bank next?
FRANKLIN LAMB : FROM TAHRIR SQUARE TO SHATILA CAMP, “HURRIYA” (FREEDOM)
Israeli army will cash in on Egypt’s upheavals
Stop international soccer championship in Israel
Israeli shelling east of Gaza City, reports of injuries
Israeli Army Arrests Palestinians from Hebron Area
Fayyad willing to visit Gaza to discuss Hamas unity deal
Palestinian house inside cage in Jewish settlement
Palestinian hit by gunfire sent to IDF jail despite injury
Israel Philharmonic Protest NY Carnegie Hall 22/2/2011
New Yorkers protest Israel Philharmonic, more protests planned in other cities

Other Links

An end to this soft bigotry against the Arab world
Irony of the day : Iran urges rights body to examine Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya
Afghan resistance statement : Statement of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan Regarding the Martyrdom of Innocent Afghan Civilians as a Result of American Merciless Bombardment in Ghazi Abad District, Kunar Province.
Will the House of Saud Be the Next to Go Down?
Middle East Uprisings: Like 1989? How About 1848?
WikiLeaks: US Lied About Bala Baluk Massacre, Red Cross Concealed Truth
Regardless of Shameful U.S. Endorsement; Toss Elections
Saudi king announces reforms ahead of return: report
Indiana Official: “Use Live Ammunition” Against Wisconsin Protesters

Will the US Veto Assist Palestinian Unification?

While the US ambassador to the UN, “>Susan Rice disingenuously claimed that “We think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians” with regard to the UNSC resolution against illegal Israeli settlements, the fallout against the US and Israel may turn out to be a decisive factor in unifying Palestinians in Gaza, Israel and the West Bank along with consolidating the resistance of Arabs across the Middle East against US imperialism and its belligerent, expansionist, apartheid special friend.

In Gaza, Hamas described the US position as outrageous and said Washington was “completely biased” towards Israel.

Ibrahim Sarsour, an Israeli-Arab member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, said it was time to tell the US president, Barack Obama, to “go to hell”.

“Obama cannot be trusted,” he wrote in an open letter to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. “We knew his promises were lies. The time has come to spit in the face of the Americans.”
The Egyptian foreign ministry said the US veto would “lead to more damage of the United States’ credibility on the Arab side as a mediator in peace efforts”.

The use of the veto for the first time under Obama will strengthen perceptions in the Arab world that for the US, protection of its ally Israel overrides its desire for a just outcome for Palestinians in the decades-old conflict.

There’s also the strong possibility that the US interactions with Abbas were stage-managed – had Abbas not stood firm backing the UNSC resolution, his leadership likely would be challenged by outraged Palestinians in the West Bank. Now, the US’s investment in their collaborator satrap for converting the West Bank into neoliberal-friendly, pliant industrial zones and encouraging by default the growth of illegal Israeli settlements has outweighed any justice dividend. This US decision seems likely to prove unwise, damaging US credibility across the globe and adding fuel to burgeoning anti-imperialism in the region and beyond. With grass-roots revolutions for democracy in Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia. Yemen and Libya flourishing, the days of US hegemonical control of the vast resources of the Middle East may be numbered.

In other outrages, the US has refused a visa for Palestinian BDS leader Omar Barghouti, preventing him from attending his speaking tour in the US to promote his latest book. Barghouti squarely nails the problem Palestinians, and other folks in the region face, and the appropriate response.

Freedom, from the US establishment’s perspective, amounts to the “liberty” to bow to their hegemony and accepting their multinationals’ pillage of the world as fate. We shall continue to speak truth to power no matter what the consequences. We shall continue to struggle for nothing less than full freedom, full justice, full self determination, and full emancipation from US imperial hegemony.

Palestine / Israel Links

B.D.S. Song/Dance Flash Mob : Step-by-Step How-To Kit
From Tahrir Square to Shatila Camp: “Cry Hurriya!” (freedom!)
Hitting Israel where it hurts most
Arab anger to turn against U.S.
Israeli army arrests children in Beit Ummar
Palestinians plan ‘day of rage’ after US vetoes resolution on Israeli settlements
McEwan attacks the “great injustice” in Middle East (Hamas called for an end to suicide bombings in 2006.)
Author McEwan protests in Jerusalem

The Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement lauded McEwan’s support for its cause.
“Ian McEwan today joined a long list of figures – including former President Jimmy Carter, writer Mario Vargas Llosa, and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahanman – who honored the protestors with their presence,” group member Avner Inbar said.

Palestinians shun McEwan over Israel honor – McEwan denies Palestinians agency:

“The message has come through to me that they can’t meet me. They won’t meet me. Pressure has been brought to bear – I guess, of a parallel but probably much more vigorous kind than was brought to bear on me”

Jerusalem Prize Acceptance Speech
Let the tribute fit the crime

Novelist Ian McEwan criticizes Jewish settlements
McEwan receives Jerusalem prize, criticizes Israel
The prize of democracy
Next, Palestine
Israel and Chile cooperated to spy on Iran, WikiLeaks reveals
The United States Stands Alone with Israel in the UN Security Council [or How (Dis)honest is the Honest Broker?]

After all for more than 43 years the Israelis have been whittling away at the substance of the two state consensus embodied in unanimous Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), contending at every phase of the faux peace process that an agreement must incorporate ‘subsequent developments,’ that is, unlawful settlements, ethnic cleansing. In the end, the Israelis may turn out to have been more clever by half, creating an irresistible momentum toward the establishment of a single secular democratic state of Palestine that upholds human rights for both peoples and brings to an end the Zionist project of an exclusive ‘Jewish state.’

Oslo demands relocation of Israeli embassy : City officials say embassy poses security threat to surroundings; demands it be moved to an alternate site within a year. Ambassador: No one wants to sell us property

Egypt Links

Egyptian independent trade unionists’ declaration – Demands of the workers in the revolution
Egyptians Are Buying Pizza for Wisconsin Protestors
The Egyptian military ‘ignored the advice of the Saudis, who, in calls to Washington, said that President Hosni Mubarak should open fire if that’s what it took, and that Americans should just stop talking about “universal rights” and back him.
Egyptian army pokes itself and joins Facebook

As the contagion of democracy protests spread in the Arab world last week, Bahrain’s far less disciplined forces decided, in effect, that the Saudis, who are their next-door neighbors, were right. They drew two lessons from Egypt: If President Obama calls, hang up. And open fire early.’

Libya Links

Live Blog – Libya
@AJELive Moftah, Benghazi protester, told Al Jazeera earlier that security and military forces have withdrawn and the city is run by “young people”. #

Concern over rising Libya violence – Top US diplomats condemn crackdowns on protesters but stopped short short of calling for a change of government.
Libya clashes spread to Tripoli – Clashes between anti-government protesters and Gaddafi supporters escalate as army unit ‘defects’ in Benghazi.
@freeourlibya: PLEASE RT URGENT Google Speak2tweet 4 #LIBYA. Numbers: +16504194196 (ct) http://deck.ly/~NRc5r #

Other Links

Robert Fisk: Dark humour in a time of dictatorship
Hitting Israel where it hurts most

The Hypocrisy of the US on Illegal Israeli Settlements

The US has signalled that it will be vetoing the resolution currently before the UN Security Council against Israeli settlement expansion, despite the resolution’s consistency with existing US policy and previous votes in the UN.

M J Rosenberg considers that this US veto “violates broader US interests”, is a function of US domestic policy and the power of the campaign finance from the ubiquitous Israel lobby is to blame:

This is from AFP’s report on what Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We have made very clear that we do not think the Security Council is the right place to engage on these issues,” Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We have had some success, at least for the moment, in not having that arise there. And we will continue to employ the tools that we have to make sure that continues to not happen,” said Steinberg.

There is so much wrong with Steinberg’s statement that it is hard to know where to start.

First is the obvious. Opposition to Israeli settlements is perhaps the only issue on which the entire Arab and Muslim world is united. Iraqis and Afghanis, Syrians and Egyptians, Indonesians and Pakistanis don’t agree on much, but they do agree on that. They also agree that the US policy on settlements demonstrates flagrant disregard for human rights in the Muslim world (at least when Israel is the human rights violator).

Accordingly, a US decision to support the condemnation of settlements would send a clear message to the Arab and Muslim world that we understand what is happening in the Middle East and that we share at least some of its peoples’ concerns.

The settlement issue should be an easy one for the United States. Our official policy is the same as that of the Arab world. We oppose settlements. We consider them illegal. We have repeatedly demanded that the Israelis stop expanding them (although the Israeli government repeatedly ignores us). The administration feels so strongly about settlements that it recently offered Israel an extra $3.5bn in US aid to freeze settlements for 90 days.

It is impossible, then, for the United States to pretend that we do not agree with the resolution (especially when its language was carefully drafted to comport with the administration’s official position). So why will we veto a resolution that expresses our own views?

Steinberg says that “We do not think the Security Council is the right place to engage on these issues.”

Why not? It is the Security Council that passed all the major international resolutions (with US support) governing Israel’s role in the occupied territories since the first one, UN Resolution 242 in 1967.

He then adds, with clear pride that:

“We have had some success, at least for the moment, in not having that [the settlements issue] arise there.”

Very impressive. The United States has had no success whatsoever in getting the Netanyahu government to stop expanding settlements — to stop evicting Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to make way for ultra-Orthodox settlers — and no success in getting Israel to crack down on settler violence, but we have had “some success” in keeping the issue out of the United Nations.

The only way to resolve the settlements issue, according to Steinberg, “is through engagement through the parties, and that is our clear and consistent position”. Clear and consistent it may be. But it hasn’t worked. The bulldozers never stop.

Of course, it is not hard to explain the Obama administration’s decision to veto a resolution embodying positions that we support. It is the power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is lobbying furiously for a US veto (actually not so furiously; AIPAC doesn’t waste energy when it knows that its congressional acolytes — and Dennis Ross in the White House itself — will do its work for them).

The power of the lobby is the only reason we will veto the resolution. Try to come up with another one. After all, voting for the resolution (or, at least, abstaining on it) serves US interests in the Middle East at a critical moment and is consistent with US policy.

But it would enrage the lobby and its friends who will threaten retribution in the 2012 election.

Simply put, our Middle East policy is all about domestic politics. And not even the incredible events of the past month will change that.

That is why US standing in the Middle East will continue to deteriorate. We simply cannot deliver. After all, there is always another election on the horizon and that means that it is donors, not diplomats, who determine US policy.

Yet the power of campaign finance and political pressure from the Israel lobby cannot be separated from the skewed system which facilitates corruption of imperial power. Other interests wilfully operate against people’s welfare within and without the empire besides the Israel lobby – big tobacco, big pharma, big banks, big chemicals, big oil and big defence are also empowered disproportionately by the US campaign finance and lobbying system.

A fundamental overhaul of the plutocratic US political system which presently permits the rich to rule courtesy of campaign bribery and extortionist lobbying would assist greatly the reassertion of balanced US foreign and domestic policy.

UPDATE

It seems the US is attempting to head off the UNSC settlements resolution by supplanting a mealy-mouthed statement.

The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.

But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday, according to officials familar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospect that the Obama adminstration will cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.

Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with Israel and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to its key ally to stop its construction of new settlements. The Palestinian delegation, along with Lebanon, the Security Council’s only Arab member state, have asked the council’s president this evening to schedule a meeting for Friday. But it remained unclear whether the Palestinian move today to reject the U.S. offer is simply a negotiating tactic aimed at extracting a better deal from Washington.

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, outlined the new U.S. offer in a closed door meeting on Tuesday with the Arab Group, a bloc of Arab countries from North Africa and the Middle East. In exchange for scuttling the Palestinian resolution, the United States would support the council statement, consider supporting a U.N. Security Council visit to the Middle East, the first since 1979, and commit to supporting strong language criticizing Israel’s settlement policies in a future statement by the Middle East Quartet.

. @PJCrowley for goodness sake, just support the UNSC resolution against Israeli settlements – mealy-mouthed statements aren’t sufficient! #

UPDATE 2

Obama calls Abbas in bid to prevent UN vote on settlements
Hey Conservatives! You’ll never guess who else rebuked Israel for its settlement policy at the UN. John Bolton
Reading beyond the headlines
Missing the resolution, not missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity

UPDATE 3

U.S. Blocks Security Council Censure of Israeli Settlements
Israel: US Veto on Settlements Undermines International Law

The guests: Rashid Khalidi, JPS editor and a professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University; Clovis Maksoud, the director of the Center for the Global South; and Samer Shehata, a professor of Arab Studies at Georgetown University, and Seymour Hersh.

The interviewees are: Mehran Kamrava, the interim dean of Georgetown University, Qatar; and Bernard Haykel, a professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University.

Palestine / Israel Links

UN eyes vote on resolution against Israel
The Eleventh Annual Herzliya Conference: The Balance of Israel’s National Security
A House Surrounded on all Sides
Ashton urges FM to come up with proposals
The New York Times Shows Its Poor Journalistic Standards
Illegal for Israelis to support BDS?
Im Tirzu’s Iranian Connection
Israeli Academics Call Poland to Boycott Israeli-Made Weapons
Education Minister proposes student trip to Hebron holy site
How Israel lost its soul during Gaza, and how Egypt has restored a vital principle of resistance
The Imperialistic Israeli Economy
Empire – Pax Americana
120 New Settlement Homes Approved In East Jerusalem
Overcoming Israel’s attempts to discredit protest
Ashton urges FM to come up with proposals
Thomas Friedman’s latest column drove the Israeli media into a frenzy
From Tunis to Cairo to Riyadh?

While a radical regime in Egypt would threaten Israel directly but not America, a radical anti-Western regime in Saudi Arabia—which produces one of every four barrels of oil world-wide—clearly would endanger America as leader of the world economy.

Escape from Gaza
Israeli anti-boycott bill approved for vote by Knesset plenary
Ilan Pappé Interview: There is no end to the dispossession
Serious doubt cast on FBI’s anthrax case against Bruce Ivins
Flashback to 2002: While Media Spotlights One Anthrax Suspect, Another Is Too Hot to Touch

‘Soon after the 9/11 attack, a long, typed anonymous letter was sent to Quantico Marine Base accusing the long-suffering Assaad, Zack’s victim in 1991, of plotting terrori…sm. This letter was received before the anthrax letters or disease were reported. The timing of the note makes its author a serious suspect in the anthrax attacks. The sender also displayed considerable knowledge of Dr. Assaad, his work, his personal life and a remarkable premonition of the upcoming bioterrorism attack.

After interviewing Assaad on Oct. 2, 2001, the FBI decided the letter was a hoax. While major newspapers noted that an anonymous letter had accused Dr. Assaad of bioterrorism, none followed up on it after his innocence was established. Zack’s name never surfaced again as one of the 30 suspects.

When the Washington Report asked Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, Ph.D., a biological arms control expert at the State University of New York, if the allegations regarding Dr. David Hatfill now took the heat off Lt. Col. Philip Zack, she replied, “Zack has NEVER been under suspicion as perpetrator of the anthrax attack.”

It is hard to believe that, with his connection to Fort Detrick, Dr. Zack is not one of the 20 to 50 scientists under intense investigation.

When asked if Hatfill was part of the group that ganged up on Dr. Ayaad Assaad, Dr. Rosenberg answered, “Hatfill was NOT one of the persecutors of Assaad.”

She is convinced that the FBI knows who sent the anthrax letters but isn’t arresting him because he knows too much about U.S. secret biological weapons research and production. But she isn’t naming names. Neither is Dr. Assaad, who did not return calls from the Washington Report.’

Egypt Links

Restoring Egypt’s regional role

Egypt will almost certainly return to its Arab base, liberate its foreign policy and restore its leadership role. That means a liberated Arab League and a constructive restoration of the Arab political structures that have deteriorated for the last four decades to the point of irrelevance.

The new Egypt will be a much-needed catalyst for change.

Alarming as it may sound for Israel and its Western backers (those who keep lecturing us about democracy but are the first to resist our struggle to achieve it), it actually is the right, peaceful and accurate course for stability and better relations of cooperation within and beyond the region.

Democracies in Tunisia and Egypt – and perhaps elsewhere – would be more likely to build relations with the US and the rest of the world on the basis of mutual respect and equality, not hegemony and exploitation in favour of Israel.

Israel would never choose to enter into serious negotiations with its Arab neighbours while they are weak, disunited and powerless. If we are at the beginning of a process that will reverse the situation that has existed until now, we have every reason to be optimistic about the region’s future.

Rashid Khalidi, Prof. of Modern Arab Studies, Columbia University, and Michael Vlahos, Prof. of Strategy, U.S. Naval War College, discuss the spread of Mideast protests from Egypt to Iran, Bahrain, Yemen and Algiers
Mubarak has given up and wants to die, says Saudi official
The influence of German intel on the Egyptian military – two links, here and here.
Revolutionary Prospects After Mubarak : Richard Falk
Robert Fisk: Three weeks in Egypt show the power of brutality – and its limits
The promise of real democracy in Egypt by Rashid Khalidi

In effect, the Obama administration was seeking to keep Mubarak in office as long as possible, and to keep his police state alive thereafter. For all the recent talk about supporting Egyptian democracy, what is ultimately vital to American policymakers is Egypt’s geopolitical alignment with the United States and its acquiescence in Israel’s regional hegemony — a policy Mubarak, and under him Suleiman, have long facilitated. These core interests could well be affected by a fully democratic Egypt that sought to play a role commensurate with its size and history in regional politics and that represented faithfully the wishes of its people (as the current democratic Turkish government does).

A democratic Egypt might challenge American support of Israel’s Middle Eastern nuclear monopoly, refuse to collude in Israel’s illegal and immoral siege of Gaza, actively back a genuine inter-Palestinian reconciliation, or otherwise assert its independence from American and Israeli policies. It might do so even while respecting the letter of the (highly unequal) peace treaty with Israel and existing accords with the U.S. Given the blinders worn by American policymakers, such an Egypt would be a policy headache in Washington on the level of that caused by all three major regional powers, Israel, Turkey and Iran.

Why Egypt’s Military Cares About Home Appliances
What not to say about Lara Logan
Egypt labor not resting after Mubarak’s ouster

Wikileaks Links

Washington loathes Wikileaks; Arabs love it
Is anybody in Australia being targeted for backing Wikileaks?

Other Links

Bin-Ali and Mubarak Are Waiting For You (on the King of Jordan)
Bahrain in turmoil as second protester is killed
DN! EXCLUSIVE: Authorities Search and Copy U.S. Journalist’s Notes, Computer and Cameras After Returning from Haiti
Young Iranians are looking for a new revolution?
Bahrain: Stop using excessive force against public demonstrations and respect the rule of law, says Pillay
Bahrain Rising
Cameron’s scapegoating will have a chilling, toxic impact
Exclusive: New National Intelligence Estimate on Iran complete

The Egyptian Revolution Continues

Keep the revolution flowingThe roots of the Egyptian people’s revolution lie in the labour movement. It does not augur well that the ‘interim’ army rulers are intending to restrict worker meetings and strikes. In effect: ‘you won democracy so now give up one of democracy’s key tenets’.

From Reuters:

‘Egypt’s new military rulers will issue a warning on Sunday against anyone who creates “chaos and disorder”, an army source said.

The Higher Military Council will also ban meetings by labour unions or professional syndicates, effectively forbidding strikes, and tell all Egyptians to get back to work after the unrest that toppled Hosni Mubarak.’
Egypt’s military to warn against “chaos and disorder”

In response, an action plan which builds on the original strategy:

@3arabawy: Don’t trust the Generals! Don’t trust the Generals! Keep building your trade unions. That is the only thing that can protect our revolution. #

@3arabawy: Everyone should start forming unions & labor associations now. If we don’t build those now, we’ll be fucked by the regime soon. #egyworkers #

@3arabawy: Army is now warning against strikes. Remember when army took over in 1952, 1st thing they did: executing 2 strike leaders in Kafr el-Dawwar. #

@stupiditytries what are they going to do??? shoot people? let them try. if people want to organize, they will (and they should). #

@InasBseisos the military are waving with STICK after they already lured us with the carrot #Jan25 #

@jmayton: The military in #Egypt is not looking so “honorable” right now. Getting reports of people being roughed up by army. #Jan25 #

Egypt is now led by the Defence Minister and leader of the military, Hussein Tantawi.

Egypt’s new military rulers on Sunday suspended the constitution and dissolved a parliament dominated by the ruling party of former president Hosni Mubarak, after he was overthrown in a popular revolt. Skip related content

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ “communique number five”, which was read out on state television, said a transitional period of military rule would last six months while reforms were put in place to allow free elections.

The council announced the suspension of the constitution and said it would “run the affairs of the country on a temporary basis for six months or until the end of parliamentary and presidential elections.”

It announced the “dissolution of the lower and upper houses of parliament” and said it would continue to issue decrees during the transitional period.

The legislative body was seen as illegitimate following elections last year that were marred by widespread allegations of fraud and gave Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) an overwhelming majority.

A committee will also be formed to oversee amendments to the constitution and a popular referendum will be organised to vote on the changes, the council said, in a bid to ease restrictions on presidential candidates.

The statement also confirmed Defence Minister Hussein Tantawi as Egypt’s de facto head of state.

“The head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will represent the council domestically and internationally,” it said, stressing its commitment to international agreements.

What is to come?

@RamyYaacoub From @Ghonim ‘s meeting with Military leadership: Constitution amendment council might be pumping out amendments in 10 days #Jan25 #Egypt #

A double narrative of the Egyptian people’s revolution is emerging after the military assumption of power : one is the solid perspective from the Egyptian trade union movement which built and is maintaining the revolution, and the other from the middle class represented in western media by Google executive Wael Gonim which responded in self-interest to the killing of middle class Khaled Said, attributing much of the revolution’s success to twitter and facebook and which now feels appeased. The alliance between the working class and bourgeois has proved a winning combination, but let’s not forget where the revolution started and continues – in the grassroots trade union movement.

Egypt Links

“There is a Pre-History to this Revolt”: As Egypt’s Military Bans Labor Strikes, Mona El-Ghobashy Examines How Egyptian Labor and Social Movements Laid the Foundation for Revolution
Egypt: The Distance Between Enthusiasm and Reality
Army urges Egyptians to end strikes
Egypt’s military dissolves parliament, suspends constitution
Industrial Action Updates
Mubarak’s Folly: The Rising of Egypt’s Workers
Egypt’s military to warn against labor strikes
Biting the hand that fed you : Mubarak slammed U.S. in phone call with Israeli MK before resignation
Jordan Muslim Brotherhood: Israel, U.S. main losers in Mubarak ouster
Mubarak’s final hours: Desperate bids to stay
Revolutionary Socialism #Egypt #Jan25 #EgyWorkers [arabic]
Israel and new Egyptian leadership make contact
#Jan25 Opera #egyworkers on strike
Egypt’s military rejects swift transfer of power and suspends constitution
Wael Ghonim and Egypt’s New Age Revolution
Was the Revolution Facebooked? 1 of 2
Where in the world are the Mubaraks ?
Did Facebook bring down Mubarak?
Egypt’s thirst for freedom has intensified, even after Mubarak’s exit
Egypt: It’s Not Over Yet!
Egypt being governed same way as before, PM says
The rumor trail: Where is Mubarak?
Paul Barry: where’s Mubarak’s loot?
Egyptian military tortured, “disappeared” thousands of demonstrators
Mubarak in life/death state in Germany hospital
Visualizing The New Arab Mind
West has ugly history of blocking Arab freedom
Rendition For Mubarak: Hand Him Over To The Iraqi Resistance
Public transport #egyworkers strike
Egyptian activist Mona Seif: It’s a revolution, and it’s not over
OK. It is official. Wael Ghonim is starting to annoy me
Military urges halt to strikes gripping Egypt
Knowing and Unknowing the Egyptian Public

Palestine / Israel Links

#BDS: Focus On Israel’s Tel Aviv-Jerusalem Fast Train
Israel/Palestine: Apartheid of a special type?
Israel wary of changes in Egypt as ex-officials predict hostility

Indeed, Israeli officials appear to have little sympathy for the democratic aspirations of citizens in Arab states. As Gabi Ashkenazi, the outgoing Israeli army chief, was quoted by Israeli media as saying last week: “In the Middle East, stability is preferable to democracy.”

When will Obama start talking to Hamas and Hezbollah?
Hamas prohibits import of Israeli-manufactured clothing
Youth Against Normalization: #BDS: Boycott Sign in Washington State
Only someone like Mubarak could defend Netanyahu’s brand of democracy
Beit Ommar Demonstrators Protest Settlers, Vow Solidarity With Egypt
International/Egyptian March to Gaza, Rafah Crossing, on February 26th, 2011
Haaretz notices GOD TV’s role in JNF Forest of Hate (while GOD TV squirms)
Israeli and PA Forces Suppress Solidarity with Egyptians
An Open Letter to the Participants of the Red Sea Chamber Music Festival
Egypt’s revolution and Israel: “Bad for the Jews”
US vows to oppose UN resolution on Israel
Israel’s fruitless lie

Wikileaks Links

RT @crowdleaks: Search through all the #hbgary emails using the #crowdleaks search tool http://ping.fm/Vi7dg
For those who may be interested, got a response from @JuliaGillard to the open letter about #Assange.

Australia Links

1988 Anti-Bicentennial Cartoon Book
Remove Schedule 2 of the FaHCSIA and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2010
In Australia, a Fight Over Aboriginal Lands
Australia is the same as Israel – without guaranteed equal rights, all rights can be compromised by the majority racist government. Australia desperately NEEDS a Bill of Rights for real equality and justice.

Other Links

Live conversations and updates on Algeria protests as they happen!
Tunisia: An On Going Battle for Democracy
Uncertainty In Arab Countries After Protests Dispersed In Algeria, Yemen
@exiledsurfer: Protest schedule: #Bahrain #feb14, #Libya #feb17, #Algeria #feb19, #Morocco #feb20, #Cameroon #feb23, #Kuwait #Mar8 #
Inside the Muslim (Journalist’s) Mind
Four Myths About Iran’s Clerical Regime : Is Ahmadinejad an anti-imperialist, or really a deceptive populist?

The Insane Reign of Count Mubarak Ends

The most bizarre show on earth – opened by the support act of Obama, leader of the hegemon, gave imprimature to the proceeding freak main acts. Looking like a saturnine Count Dracula, Mubarak handed over ‘some powers’ to his selected successor, US pet and arch-torturer, ‘Egypt is not ready for democracy’ Omar Suleiman. A’sad Abukhalil commented:

This speech will go down in history as the dumbest speech ever delivered by a dictator.

The anguish of the Egyptian masses that their debased tyrants would not abdicate echoed around the planet. Egyptians marched to the state television tower and presidential palace though after his address Mubarak had swiftly fled to his holiday residence at Sharm el Sheikh on the Red Sea. And then, a few hours later Suleiman announced:

“Citizens, during these very difficult circumstances that Egypt is going through, president Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as the president of the republic and has entrusted the High Council of the Armed Forces to carry out the dealing of the country”.

The military says the cabinet will be sacked, the parliament suspended and they will work with the judges of the Supreme Court to amend the constitution to allow for fair and free elections currently scheduled for September.

So the military’s promise that the people would get what they wanted has been partially honoured – the peopleare unlikely to settle for less than complete fulfillment. According to Tariq Ali:

And so it ended badly for Mubarak and his old henchman. Having unleashed security thugs only a fortnight ago, Vice-President Suleiman’s failure to dislodge the demonstrators from the square was one more nail in the coffin. The rising tide of the Egyptian masses with workers coming out on strike , judges demonstrating on the streets, and the threat of even larger crowds next week, made it impossible for Washington to hang on to Mubarak and his cronies. The man Hillary Clinton had referred to as a loyal friend, indeed “family”, was dumped. The US decided to cut its losses and authorised the military intervention.

Omar Suleiman, an old western favourite, was selected as vice-president by Washington, endorsed by the EU, to supervise an “orderly transition”. Suleiman was always viewed by the people as a brutal and corrupt torturer, a man who not only gives orders, but participates in the process. A WikiLeaks document had a former US ambassador praising him for not being “squeamish”. The new vice president had warned the protesting crowds last Tuesday that if they did not demobilise themselves voluntarily, the army was standing by: a coup might be the only option left. It was, but against the dictator they had backed for 30 years. It was the only way to stabilise the country. There could be no return to “normality”.

The age of political reason is returning to the Arab world. The people are fed up of being colonised and bullied. Meanwhile, the political temperature is rising in Jordan, Algeria and Yemen.

This time, Obama’s speech of congratulations to the people of Egypt followed the main act.

This is the power of human dignity, and it can never be denied. Egyptians have inspired us, and they’ve done so by putting the lie to the idea that justice is best gained through violence. For in Egypt, it was the moral force of nonviolence — not terrorism, not mindless killing — but nonviolence, moral force that bent the arc of history toward justice once more.

And while the sights and sounds that we heard were entirely Egyptian, we can’t help but hear the echoes of history — echoes from Germans tearing down a wall, Indonesian students taking to the streets, Gandhi leading his people down the path of justice.

As Martin Luther King said in celebrating the birth of a new nation in Ghana while trying to perfect his own, “There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.” Those were the cries that came from Tahrir Square, and the entire world has taken note.

Today belongs to the people of Egypt, and the American people are moved by these scenes in Cairo and across Egypt because of who we are as a people and the kind of world that we want our children to grow up in.

The word Tahrir means liberation. It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore it will remind us of the Egyptian people — of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country, and in doing so changed the world.

The reign of madness is over. 7000 years of Pharaonic rule is broken. Now, the fate of other dictatorial vampires of the region hangs in the balance. We are all Tunisians and Egyptians now – watch out Israel, liberation of Palestinians is coming!

Bye Bye Mubarak from Ramy Rizkallah on Vimeo.

Egypt Links

Zbigniew Brzezinski: US can not ignore Hamas and Hezbollah
The revolution continues after Mubarak’s fall
24 hours in Cairo
Egypt: European Council – Statement on Recent Developments in Egypt
Egypt celebrates as Mubarak era ends
Joint Chiefs chairman to reassure Jordan, Israel
Where Egypt goes the region will follow
Ben-Eliezer: Mubarak slammed US in phone call

“He gave me a lesson in democracy and said: ‘We see the democracy the US spearheaded in Iran and with Hamas, in Gaza, and that’s the fate of the Middle East,'” Ben-Eliezer said.
“‘They may be talking about democracy but they don’t know what they’re talking about and the result will be extremism and radical Islam,'” he quoted Mubarak as saying.
Ben-Eliezer said Mubarak expanded in the telephone call on “what he expects will happen in the Middle East after his fall.”
“He contended the snowball (of civil unrest) won’t stop in Egypt and it wouldn’t skip any Arab country in the Middle East and in the Gulf.
“He said ‘I won’t be surprised if in the future you see more extremism and radical Islam and more disturbances – dramatic changes and upheavals,” Ben-Eliezer added.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of an Iran-style Islamist revolution in Egypt should Mubarak’s Muslim Brotherhood rivals eventually take over.
“(Mubarak) was looking for an honorable way out,” Ben-Eliezer said.
“He repeated the sentence, ‘I have been serving my country, Egypt, for 61 years. Do they want me to run away? I won’t run away. Do they want to throw me out? I won’t leave. If need be, I will be killed here.'”

When the media leave Egypt
Tower Hamlets council backs Israel boycott
Egypt’s Military Leaders Face Power Sharing Test
The ascent of the Palestinian pharaoh
Egypt says military intervention on table
Egypt shows Washington’s industrial hypocrisy
Sitting on His Assets : How Switzerland was able to freeze Mubarak’s Swiss bank accounts.
US can celebrate Egyptian people’s triumph
Could Hosni Mubarak End Up in L.A? He Reportedly Owns Property in Beverly Hills

Someday, we’ll get the back story on how, in just 24 hours, the military went from evidently backing Mubarak to ditching him. This was crucial, and I doubt very much the US played no role in this. I’d wager that Pentagon chief Robert Gates and Mike Mullen, the heads of the joint chiefs of staff, had quite a lot to do with that.

With the Egyptian army relying on US military aid basically to exist, their words surely carried weight. Maybe all that aid over years, excessive as it has been in many ways, paid important dividends in the last two weeks. The army behaved professionally, not like some tinhorn’s personal secret security service. That was one of the most breathtaking things about this, and could stand as one of the most hopeful in terms of serving as a model for future situations like this.

There’s a long way to go from here, of course. This is a happy beginning, not a happy ending. But now, the US can and should start playing the less ambiguous role it took on, as of Thursday night. We need to be on the side of democracy and rights and freedoms, and stay on that side, and we do need to continue to be concerned with the positive aspects of regional stability to which Egypt has contributed. There are more needles to thread.

Finally: no, I will not say that Obama deserves much credit for this. At the same time, I have no doubt in my mind that if President McCain had given a speech on democracy in Cairo 20 months ago and now this happened, the neocons and Fox News and the usual suspects would be calling it “the McCain Revolution” and baying about how it proved that a bold stance by an American president had made all the difference.

I won’t parrot that kind of inanity. I’ll simply say that, from his Cairo speech until today, Obama has helped this process more than he’s hindered it. And we didn’t have to invade two countries, either. That’s the right side – for him, and for us, the people of the United States. Now, we need to stay there.

Mubarak finally takes the hint, steps aside for the Army
Meet Egypt’s New (Interim) Ruler: Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
Live report: Wave of joy sweeps across Egypt
Toppling the Autocrat
Egypt’s lessons for Palestine
Middle East: Human rights must not be cast aside amid Middle East politics
Anatomy of a Dictatorship: Hosni Mubarak
Egypt’s Mubarak resigns as leader
As Mubarak Resigns, Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Mamdouh Habib Reminds the World that Omar Suleiman Personally Tortured Him in Egypt
The resurrection of pan-Arabism

In Ramallah, the protesters repeated a slogan calling for the end of internal Palestinian divisions (which, in Arabic, rhymes with the Egyptian call for the end to the regime), as well as demanding an end to negotiations with Israel – sending a clear message that there will be no room left for the Palestinian Authority if it continues to rely on such negotiations.

Egypt: The road to the President’s downfall
Mubarak’s speech: Deepening crisis
The vast and complex military machine will decide its nation’s future
Egyptians in Australia hail Mubarak’s fall
U.S. Intelligence Chief Defends Egypt Reports
Ahead of Hosni Mubarak’s speech and in the wake of an earlier statement by the military, word spread that he was planning to resign, leading to celebrations in Tahrir Square in Cairo and confident statements in social media
It seems that all of Cairo has come to dance and scream and shout and celebrate. ‘When people find out that Switzerland has frozen assets believed to belong to the Mubarak family that will make them really happy. ‘
Is Hosni Mubarak still president of Egypt?
Egypt 1/7: Illusions About Egyptian Military Can Damage Movement
Learning from the Arab Revolutions
Egypt’s military promises to hand power to elected government, maintain peace with Israel

Palestine / Israel Links

Tower Hamlets council backs Israel boycott
Ex-Egypt envoy: Israel in trouble : Zvi Mazel, former ambassador to Cairo, says Israel facing ‘hostile situation’ following Mubarak’s downfall. ‘The army will rule Egypt for years. It’s a whole new world, with no one left to lead the pragmatic states’
Israel’s discriminatory civil service program challenged
Queries about the provenance of conflict free diamonds leads to censorship by world’s leading online diamond retailer.
Weekly Demonstration in al Ma’asara Remains Strong in Face of Military Repression
Turkish inquiry finds Israel violated international law in attack on aid ships
Opening remarks by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at press conference in Jerusalem
The Palestine Papers, or How Everything You Thought You Knew About the Peace Process Was Wrong
Lieberman threatens to dissolve govt over bill
Palestinian Authority: End Violence Against Egypt Demonstrators – US, EU Should Suspend Security Assistance to PA Unless Abuses are Addressed
Anti-Israel protesters target UK water company
Professor Lawrence Davidson Discusses Egypt, the U.S., and Israel

Israel’s leadership, from the very beginning of the state, has believed that security is a function of alliances with the West and military force in the region. They have never sought any meaningful compromises with their neighbors. Their only “friends” in the region are dictators who cooperate with Israel because they fear it and because the Americans pay them to do so. This is not a good basis for long term security. Israel’s strategy of security through the application of force is now being revealed as inadequate.

Wikileaks Links

WikiLeaks, Assange, and Why There’s No Turning Back (Exclusive Excerpt)
Did Assange Play Lawyer?
The leaked campaign to attack WikiLeaks and its supporters
Julian Assange – U.S. International Extradition and Alternatives to Extradition

Other Links

Algeria Prepares for Day of Pro-Democracy Protests
The Apostate by Lawrence Wright
‘War criminal!’: Ron Paul backers crash Cheney-Rumsfeld reunion
The complex chaos for some Afghan women
Social media and protest in Yemen
Alger en état de siège
Yemen: Protests Continue Away from International Media Eyes
My revolution betrayed – Ukraine
Algeria police try to stifle Egypt-inspired protest
Amnesty International Says Libyan Writer is Jailed for Calling for Protests for Greater Freedoms in Libya
Anonleaks