Congressman Keith Ellison – understanding the Palestinian narrative

Keith Ellison, a US congressman for the state of Minnesota and the only Muslim to be elected to US congress, talks to Al Jazeera’s Shihab Rattansi about the Israeli offensive in Gaza and why he feels so few US politicians understand the Middle East.

Ellison also draws attention to possible US complicity in war crimes through the use of US supplied weaponry by Israel.

In further updates, Hugo Chavez has expelled the Israeli Ambassador.

Israel will halt its bombardment of Gaza for three hours daily to allow residents of the Gaza to obtain much-needed supplies.

However, Israel insists it has already allowed enough supplies into Gaza during the conflict, although the UN says there is a humanitarian crisis because of shortages of food, fuel and medicines.

Heba, a Gaza resident and mother of two, told Al Jazeera there was no place left in Gaza that can be considered safe.

“What happened in the school was a hugely offensive and inhumane thing. We never expected that people who sought refuge in a UN building would be attacked and killed,” she said.

Randa Seniora, from the Independent Commission on Human Rights, told Al Jazeera: “What is happening in Gaza are crimes against humanity.

“Israel cannot claim, as an occupying authority, that it is acting in self defence because simply it is considered a war crime to create harm and damage among civilian populations.”

@AJGaza Hamas says it will not fire rockets into Israel during the same period of time, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reports.

@AJGaza Shelling heard in #Gaza during Israel’s three hour ceasefire to allow Palestinians access to aid, Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reports.

@AJGaza Five houses in #Gaza hit by Israeli air attacks ten minutes into Israel’s three-hour pause in hostilities, Al Jazeera’s correspondent says.

@AJGaza One rocket and two mortars fired from #Gaza by Izz al-Din Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, thirty minutes into hostility pause.

@AJGaza Israeli apache helicopters open fire in Beit Lahiya, Al Jazeera’s correspondent reports.

@AJGaza Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, says Israel and the Palestinian Authority had accepted a truce plan for #Gaza announced by Egypt.

Are Hamas being marginalised in this pseudo-truce? – Israel and the PA are already in cahoots, there hasn’t needed to be a truce between them. Has Abbas received the nod from the big boys?

Has Al Qaeda been taking lessons from neocons? or from Israel and their “proportionate responses”?

(CNN) — An audio message reportedly from al Qaeda’s deputy chief vows revenge for Israel’s air and ground assault on Gaza and calls the Jewish state’s actions against Hamas militants “a gift” from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

Al Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri is said to address Muslims in Gaza in an audio message released Tuesday.

The speaker, identified as Ayman al-Zawahiri, addresses Muslims in Gaza. He said the violence “is one part of a series of a crusade war against Islam and these air strikes are a gift from Obama before he takes office, and (Egyptian President) Hosni Mubarak, that traitor, is the main partner in your siege and killing.”

The message, posted Tuesday on various Islamist Web sites with a picture of al-Zawahiri next to an image of a wounded child, urges militants to rally against Israel.

“My Muslim brothers and mujahedeens in Gaza and all over Palestine, with the help of God we are with you in the battle, we will direct our strikes against the crusader Jewish coalition wherever we can.”

@AJGaza Osama Hamdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon, says Franco-Egyptian peace initiative “still being discussed”.

@AJGaza Israel’s pause in hostilities to allow Palestinians access to aid only applied to #Gaza City in the #Gaza strip, Israel says.

Even to say Hamas is the cause of this is to blame the rape victim for what she was wearing.

@rafahkid Binational state? Not a chance because Israel has to be Jewish. Two states? Not a chance because Palestine has the resources. So, we die.

The UNHRC is holding a special session on Friday on Gaza

at the request of Islamic and developing countries as well as Russia.

The formal request — from 29 members of the 47-nation body — says the session should discuss “the grave violations of human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory including the recent aggression in the Occupied Gaza Strip.”

Resolutions issued by the Council are not binding.

Still, a resolution now might add to the weight of proceedings at Le Hague later on when the war criminals are tried.

@AJGaza Israel’s halt in fire agreement applies to whole of #Gaza and not just #Gaza City, correcting earlier statement, Israeli military says.


Hamas will not accept a permanent truce without an end to the occupation and opening of the crossings i.e. end to the terrible blockade which Israel has inflicted on its less than model concentration camp for nearly 2 years. Sounds reasonable. Perhaps Hamas feels the world is paying attention, and now is as good a time as any to make a stand?

National Summit on Climate Change

Kevvy has a new site up for airing the outcomes, transcripts and vids from the ALP’s National Summit on Climate Change. Sadly, there’s no facility for interaction, no forums, no blogs. Despite their apparent fascination for broadband tech, as media whiz Trevor Cook points out, Kevvy’s team is behind the net-times!

Nevertheless there’s some interesting-looking downloads on carbon trading at which we’ll have a closer look soon. As yet we can’t spot anything on U, though there’s clean coal info.

We wonder how many Laborites will be inspired enough to put their money for the first time into the enticing range of cleaner energy tech stocks on the market.

Of SubPrimes and Pigs in Shit

Howard Wallowing

With the passing of the Ides of March, we have strong suspicions that the second market correction may be over – will there be a third? It is possible the subdued buying of resources – first copper, then zinc – by the Chinese in the past little while was deliberately orchestrated to engineer prices down to coincide with the beginning of the Year of the Gold Pig. Of relevance here may be the decision by the Asstralian government last December to remove capital gains taxes for foreign investors and the more recent Chinese government decision not to impose capital gains tax on their investors. Metals prices rose strongly last night. Will the bull market resume or will the crazy crazy selloff of our precious resources continue unabated?

A Porky MonarchyWho wouldn’t like to have been a cashed up Chinese investor this year, rolling in US dollars, eager to drop them into cheap physical resources as the United Stupids economy sags under the weight of precarious hedge and subprime mortage funds and a tenuous bond market?

And where better to invest than in relatively insulated CGT free rich Australian resources at bargain basement prices – particularly uranium (Citic has been buying up more SAU this week), gold and zinc.

Kiss goodbye to your birthright treasures, fellow Asstralians – and don’t expect to reap any of the proceeds of the fire sale in additional community services in this election year – Howard’s mudslingers need every cent to artificially deflate the trade deficit, to buy more crappy US jet fighters and electioneering pork. And as for you pathetic, whinging Asstralian mortgagees, get ready to wear another interest rate rise you have to have, trust me, it’s for your own good,.

The Energo-Fascism of the Future

Here’s an excellent essay on what the very near future may look like in a world dominated by a dwindling supply of oil and a thirst for nuclear power.

Michael Klare examines “energy blackmail in a great-power world and the Big-Brother-style dangers of making nuclear power a major future alternative source of energy.”

An excerpt:

“Surprisingly, there are very few energy haves in the world today. Most notable among these privileged few are Australia, Canada, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Iran, Iraq (if it were ever free of conflict), and a few others. These countries are in an envious position because they do not have to pay stratospheric prices for imported oil and natural gas and their ruling elites can demand all sorts of benefits — political, economic, diplomatic, and military — from the foreign leaders who come calling to procure copious quantities of their energy products. Indeed, they can engage in the delicious game of playing one foreign leader against another, as Kazakhstan’s President, Nursultan Nazarbayev

— a regular guest in Washington and Beijing — has become so adept at doing.

Pushed even further, this pursuit of favors can lead to a quest for political domination — with the sale of vital oil and natural gas supplies made contingent on the recipient’s acquiescing to certain political demands set forth by the seller. No country has embraced this strategy with greater vigor or enthusiasm than Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”

The Vatican Rag 11


“The invariable response to market shocks that threatened the now infamous virtuous circle of a strong currency and the bull market was decisive market intervention by the Federal Reserve and US Treasury. For example:

– Market crises triggered by the Asian meltdown, the Russian default, the collapse of LTCM, and plummeting stock prices post the NASDAQ mania, were countered by injections of liquidity by the Federal Reserve along with high profile public statements of assurance to the markets.

– The cosmetics of low inflation were fortified by debasement of Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation measures through dubious hedonic price adjustments and false productivity measures.

– A flare up in the gold price caused by a short squeeze following the Washington Agreement in 1999 was doused by fresh liquidity solicited from Kuwait, the Vatican, and Singapore. As discussed later, these maneuvers included mobilization of US gold reserves.

– The attempt to bring down long-term rates by suspending issuance of 30-year treasuries is the most recent and clumsiest of notable anti-market actions.

– In the true spirit of globalization, the government of Italy manipulated its own bond market to hide the true size of its budget deficit in order to be admitted to the European single currency. In a report published by the International Securities Market Association (November, 01), a currency bond swap was completed in 1997 to mask the true size of the country’s internal deficit. The transaction was orchestrated by Long Term Capital Management, which counted the Italian Central Bank among its clients.”


“This newly unearthed evidence leads
Pollard to conclude that the 1930s witnessed a revolutionary moment in Vatican financial
history. As a result of the Lateran Pacts of 1929, the Holy See received a cash payment
of 750 million lire from the Mussolini government, thereby stabilizing papal finances.
Nogara used this money to pioneer a new investment strategy that involved building up
gold reserves, diversifying into property, experimenting with various forms of arbitrage,
cultivating close connections with Swiss banks, and investing heavily in Italian economic
enterprises. As a result, by the middle of the 1930s, the Vatican “was placed at the centre
of a world-wide network of banking, and other financial institutions” (p. 168), and its
traditional financial portfolio had been irrevocably altered.”


“The Vatican Bank was a successful and profitable bank. By the 1990s, the Bank had invested somewhere over US$10 billion in foreign companies. Part of what made the Bank so profitable was that it offered certain illegal services; for 5%, the Bank would launder industrialists’ money, or money of those well-connected with the Catholic Church. The money laundering scandal leaked out in 1968 due to a change in Italian financial regulations, which would have mandated more transparency. To prevent the scandal that would occur when the public learned that the Vatican Bank (which was supposed to funnel all profits directly and immediately to charity) had in fact retained most of its profits and expanded its operations, Pope Paul VI enlisted Michele Sindona as papal finance advisor to sell off assets and move money overseas to hide the full extent of Vatican wealth”