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الأربعاء، 25 سبتمبر 2013

Weapons of mass destruction: produced and used by the United States

Weapons of mass destruction: produced and used by the United States
by BRussells Tribunal on 17-09-2013
BRussells Tribunal
Chemical weapons were used in Syria: by whom is not clear. In Iraq weapons of mass destruction were used. By whom is very clear: the United States.

This Iraqi child is one of the millions of victims of the US Weapons of Mass Destruction

Already in 2005, The BRussells Tribunal published extensive reports on the use of white phosphorus in Iraq.
Do you want to study these reports again: click here
The BRussells Tribunal: essential in documenting the use of WMD and exposing the lies
* Dahr Jamail tells the real story: Fallujah Revisited (14 Nov 2005)
* Dr Geert Van Moorter in the RAI Video: Star Wars in Iraq , about lasers and microwave weapons (16 May 2006) - Read text file

RAI VIDEO | Star wars in Iraq , about lasers and microwave weapons,  with Dr. Geert Van Moorter (16 May 2006)  - Read text file

 
Fallujah - the hidden massacre Photo gallery (07 Nov.2005) | Using Napalm in Iraq - The Story That Won't Die (07 Nov. 2005) | BBC and Fallujah: War Crimes, Lies and Omertà (07 Nov 2005  | U.S. Used Chemical Weapons In Iraq (07 Nov 2005) |  Fallujah – Where is the outrage? The story the mainstream media won’t tell you (08 Nov 2005) |  The BBC is WRONG!!!  (08 Nov 2005)  |  The White Death (09 Nov 2005) | What I saw in Iraq with regards to White Phosphorus (09 Nov 2005) | Melting the Skin Off of Children [GRAPHIC] (09 Nov 2005) | US Army Admits Use of White Phosphorus as Weapon (09 Nov 2005) |  U.S. Army publication confirms United States used incendiary weapon in Falluja (10 Nov 2005) | The White Death (11 Nov. 2005) | US Army Article Confirms White Phosphorous Use In Fallujah (11 Nov 2005) |  The fog of war: white phosphorus, Fallujah and some burning questions (15 Nov 2005) The US used chemical weapons in Iraq - and then lied about it (15 Nov 2005) | The BBC, of course! (16 Nov 2005) | Pentagon Admits Using Phosphorous Bombs on Fallujah (16 Nov 2005)  | Media Lies regarding the Use of White Phosphorus Bombs (16 Nov 2005)  |  Chemical hypocrisy (17 Nov 2005)  | U.S. Admits: Phosphorus may have killed civilians in Iraq (17 Nov 2005)  | The BBC’s Big White (Phosphorus) Lie (18 Nov 2005) | Incendiary weapons: The big white lie (17 Nov 2005) | How the Pentagon Justifies Phosphorous Bombs on Fallujah (18 Nov 2005) | Willie Pete and the Theo-logicians of Empire (20 Nov 2005)  | Tim Collins trained troops to fight with white phosphorus (20 Nov 2005)  | US Used Chemical Weapons Against Iraq (20 Nov 2005)  |  Spinning the News: Fallujah (21 Nov 2005)  | New revelations of US military use of white phosphorus in Iraq (21 Nov 2005) |  Behind the phosphorus clouds are war crimes within war crimes  (22 Nov 2005) | UK's deadly legacy: the cluster bomb (22 Nov 2005)US Intelligence Classified White Phosphorus as 'Chemical Weapon' (23 Nov 2005) | White Phosphorus, Continued (25 Nov 2005)Iraq: A Criminal Process  (27 Nov 2005) | US: White phosphorus use legitimate (30 Nov 2005) |

 
Flashbacks: Fallujah: The Flame of Atrocity (website including pictures and movies of  Fallujah) | Israel Used White Phosphorous (09 Nov 2005) | Incinerating Iraqis: The Napalm Cover-Up (07 July 2005) | Bush Officials Lied to Britain About US Use of Napalm in Iraq (17 June 2005) | PDF File: Fire bombs in Iraq: Napalm by any other name (17 Apr 2005) - Iraqanalysis.org | Napalm, Chemical Weapons Used at Fallujah – Iraqi Official (05 March 2005) | WMD Employed by US to Imolate Falluja: White Phosphorus is a Chemical Weapon (07 March 2005) |  Odd Happenings in Fallujah (18 Jan 2005) - Dahr Jamail | Firebombing Falluja (01 Dec 2004)  | Fallujah napalmed (29 Nov 2004) | U.S. uses napalm gas in Fallujah – Witnesses (28 Nov 2004) | Fallujah napalmed (28 Nov 2004) | 'Unusual Weapons' Used in Fallujah (26 Nov 2004)  | US Troops Reportedly Gassing Fallujah  (10 Nov 2004) | US admits it used napalm bombs in Iraq (10 Aug 2003)  | Napalm use reported by CNN (March 2003) |
 
 
Answer of the US State department: Did the U.S. Use "Illegal" Weapons in Fallujah? . Excerpts: napalm or napalm-like incendiary weapons are not outlawed. International law permits their use against military forces, which is how they were used in 2003. (...) Finally, some news accounts have claimed that U.S. forces have used "outlawed" phosphorous shells in Fallujah. Phosphorous shells are not outlawed. U.S. forces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, for illumination purposes. They were fired into the air to illuminate enemy positions at night, not at enemy fighters.
[November 10, 2005 note: We have learned that some of the information we were provided in the above paragraph is incorrect. White phosphorous shells, which produce smoke, were used in Fallujah not for illumination but for screening purposes, i.e., obscuring troop movements and, according to an article,
"The Fight for Fallujah," in the March-April 2005 issue of Field Artillery magazine, "as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes …." The article states that U.S. forces used white phosphorous rounds to flush out enemy fighters so that they could then be killed with high explosive rounds.]
There is a great deal of misinformation feeding on itself about U.S. forces allegedly using "outlawed" weapons in Fallujah. The facts are that U.S. forces are not using any illegal weapons in Fallujah or anywhere else in Iraq.

“American pilots dropped the controversial incendiary agent napalm on Iraqi troops during the advance on Baghdad. (…) ‘We napalmed both those [bridge] approaches,’ said Colonel James Alles, commander of Marine Air Group 11. ‘Unfortunately there were people there ... you could see them in the [cockpit] video. They were Iraqi soldiers. It's no great way to die. The generals love napalm. It has a big psychological effect.’" The Independent 10 August 2003
“One is sitting here in front of me on a stretcher, his face is very badly burned. Bits of skin are peeling off, other areas are simply weeping wounds, his hands are bandaged. The other man, his nephew, has lost all the skin off his back. It is a sickening sight. One of the men explains that the bombing from an American aircraft came without warning. There was no reason to attack their house. They had no weapons and were just relaxing at home. Speaking through a US marine interpreter the man said the US air strike killed 11 members of his family. Six were also badly burned as the phosphorus turned the inside of his home white hot.” BBC report 5 April 2003
Apparently for the US nothing is "outlawed". White Phosphorous, Daisy cutters, Depleted Uranium, Thermobaric bombs, Clusterbombs, Napalm, microwave weapons…. The US used Weapons of Mass Destruction against civilians.
And how many times will they have to adjust their official version?
The United Nations banned the use of napalm against civilians in 1980 after pictures of a naked wounded girl in Vietnam shocked the world.
The United States, which didn't endorse the convention, is the only nation in the world still using napalm.
Let's be very clear: White phosphorous, uranium weapons, napalm, cluster ammunition: they are all weapons of mass destruction, and only the US is using them, and according to numerous reports & witnesses, against Iraqi civilians.
A de-classified report from the US Department of Defense, dated April 1991 and titled “Possible use of phosphorus chemical” reads:
(…) IRAQ'S POSSIBLE EMPLOYMENT OF PHOSPHOROUS CHEMICAL WEAPONS -- IN LATE FEBRUARY 1991, FOLLOWING THE COALITION FORCES' OVERWHELMING VICTORY OVER IRAQ, KURDISH REBELS STEPPED UP THEIR STRUGGLE AGAINST IRAQI FORCES IN NORTHERN IRAQ. DURING THE BRUTAL CRACKDOWN THAT FOLLOWED THE KURDISH UPRISING, IRAQI FORCES LOYAL TO PRESIDENT SADDAM ((HUSSEIN)) MAY HAVE POSSIBLY USED WHITE PHOSPHOROUS (WP) CHEMICAL WEAPONS AGAINST KURDISH REBELS AND THE POPULACE IN ERBIL (…)
In other words, the Pentagon considers white phosphorous an illegal chemical weapon.

US wars in Afghanistan, Iraq to cost $6 trillion

LAHORE: The decade-long American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would end up costing as much as $6 trillion, the equivalent of $75,000 for every American household, calculates the prestigious Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.


Remember, when President George Bush’s National Economic Council Director, Lawrence Lindsey, had told the country’s largest newspaper “The Wall Street Journal” that the war would cost between $100 billion and $200 billion, he had found himself under intense fire from his colleagues in the administration who claimed that this was a gross overestimation.
Consequently, Lawrence Lindsey was forced to resign.It is also imperative to recall that the Bush administration had claimed at the very outset that the Iraq war would finance itself out of Iraqi oil revenues, but Washington DC had instead ended up borrowing some $2 trillion to finance the two wars, the bulk of it from foreign lenders.
According to the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government 2013 report, this accounted for roughly 20 per cent of the total amount added to the US national debt between 2001 and 2012.
According to the report, the US “has already paid $260 billion in interest on the war debt,” andfuture interest payments would amount to trillions of dollars.This Harvard University report has also been carried on its website by the Centre for Research on Globalisation, which is a widely-quoted Montreal-based independent research and media organisation.
In its report under review, the 377-year old Harvard University has viewed that these afore-mentioned wars had not only left the United States heavily indebted, but would also have a profound impact on the federal government’s fiscal and budgetary crises over a protracted period.
The report has attributed the largest share of the trillions of dollars in continuing costs to care and compensation for hundreds of thousands of troops left physically and psychologically damaged by the two wars being discussed here.
The report states: “The Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, taken together, will be the most expensive wars in US history—totaling somewhere between $4 trillion and $6 trillion. This includes long-term medical care and disability compensation for service members, veterans and families, military replenishment and social and economic costs. The largest portion of that bill is yet to be paid.”
It asserts: “Another major share of the long-term costs of the wars comes from paying off trillions of dollars in debt incurred as the US government failed to include their cost in annual budgets and simultaneously implemented sweeping tax cuts for the rich. In addition, huge expenditures are being made to replace military equipment used in the two wars. The report also cites improvements in military pay and benefits made in 2004 to counter declining recruitment rates as casualties rose in the Iraq war.”
The authors of this report have warned that the legacy of decisions taken during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars would dominate future federal budgets for decades to come.
According to the Harvard University report, some 1.56 million US troops—56 per cent of all Afghanistan and Iraq veterans—were receiving medical treatment at Veterans Administration facilities and would be granted benefits for the rest of their lives.
It reveals: “One out of every two veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan has already applied for permanent disability benefits. The official figure of 50,000 American troops “wounded in action” vastly underestimates the real human costs of the two US wars. One-third of returning veterans are being diagnosed with mental health issues—suffering from anxiety, depression, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
The report notes that in addition, over a quarter of a million troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI), which, in many cases, were combined with PTSD, posing greater problems in treatment and recovery.
“Constituting a particularly grim facet of this mental health crisis is the doubling of the suicide rate for US Army personnel, with many who attempted suicide suffering serious injuries,” opine the report authors.
It maintains: “Overall, the Veterans Administration’s budget has more than doubled over the past decade, from $61.4 billion in 2001 to $140.3 billion in 2013. As a share of the total US budget it has grown from 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent over the same period. Soaring medical costs for veterans is attributable to several factors. Among them is that, thanks to advancements in medical technology and rapid treatment, soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan have survived wounds that would have cost their lives in earlier conflicts.”
The Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government report has estimated: “While the US government has already spent $134 billion on medical care and disability benefits for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, this figure will climb by an additional $836 billion over the coming decades.”
It notes that the largest expenditures on health care for World War II veterans took place in the 1980s, roughly four decades after the war, and that spending on medical care and disability payments for Vietnam War veterans was still on the rise.
Here follows the description: “The most common medical problems suffered by troops returning from the two wars include: diseases of the musculoskeletal system (principally joint and back disorders); mental health disorders; central nervous system and endocrine system disorders; as well as respiratory, digestive, skin and hearing disorders. Overall, some 29 per cent of these troops have been diagnosed with PTSD.”
The report goes on to argue: “Among the most severely wounded are 6,476 soldiers and Marines who have suffered “severe penetrating brain injury,” and another 1,715 who have had one or more limbs amputated. Over 30,000 veterans are listed as suffering 100 percent service-related disabilities, while another 145,000 are listed as 70 to 90 percent disabled.”
It reads: “The worst of these casualties have taken place under the Obama administration as a result of the so-called surge that the Democratic president ordered in Afghanistan.”
It mentions that the Walter Reed Medical Centre, US Army’s flagship hospital at Washington DC, was treating hundreds of recent amputees and severe casualties, adding that this facility had received 100 amputees for treatment during 2010; 170 amputees in 2011; and 107 amputees in 2012.
The report has also stated that the US Marines have suffered an especially high toll.
The report points out: “Massive direct spending on the two imperialist interventions continues. With over 60,000 US troops remain in Afghanistan, it is estimated that the cost of deploying one American soldier for one year in this war amounts to $1 million. These troops continue suffering casualties—including in so-called “green on blue” attacks by Afghan security forces on their ostensible allies. As they are brought home, they will further drive up the costs of medical care and disability compensation. The US is maintaining a vast diplomatic presence in Iraq, including at least 10,000 private contractors providing support in security, IT, logistics, engineering and other occupations; as well as logistics support and payments for leased facilities in Kuwait.”
In its conclusion, the report not only seeks to dispel illusions that ending full-scale wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would produce any kind of “peace dividend” that could help ameliorate conditions of poverty, unemployment and declining living standards for working people in the US itself, but makes it clear that the legacy of decisions made during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts would impose significant long-term costs on the federal government for many years to come.
Sabir Shah

Is the FBI's Domestic Spying Out of Control?

Is the FBI's Domestic Spying Out of Control?

By John Knefel


The seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, D.C.


A new ACLU report shows how the Bureau's domestic surveillance program has exploded since 9/11

uruknet.info

The FBI has vastly expanded its domestic spying powers since 9/11, often justifying surveillance and infiltration of activist or religious communities under the banner of fighting terrorism, according to a new report by the ACLU. Requirements for opening investigations into groups or individuals have been repeatedly watered-down over the past decade, and the report documents many examples of FBI investigations based on what seems to be protected First Amendment activity.
"Before 9/11, the FBI operated within rules designed to focus its investigative efforts on people reasonably suspected of wrongdoing. These rules didn't always prevent abuse, but at least when abuse was discovered the agency could be held to account," says Mike German, the former FBI agent who authored the ACLU report. "What has changed since 9/11 is that Congress and successive administrations loosened the rules and at the same time increasing secrecy demands reduced oversight opportunities."
With the creation of the FBI Office of Intelligence in 2003, the FBI began a massive new intelligence-gathering project with the stated goal of preventing terrorist attacks before they occurred. With this new mandate came new powers, such as the ability to issue National Security Letters (NSLs), authorized under the Patriot Act – which author Tim Weiner's FBI history Enemies describes as having "the combined power of a subpoena and a gag order." The use of NSLs remains controversial today, and the constitutionality of their gag order element has been called into question by a federal judge.
Another significant tool the FBI has employed in the past decade is the use of informants to infiltrate Muslim communities. Trevor Aaronson, an investigative reporter with Al Jazeera Media Network and author of The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI's Manufactured War on Terrorism, has previously reported that there are 10 times as many informants working for the FBI today than during the 1960s' COINTELPRO program, often regarded as a low point in the FBI's history. "Today the bureau has
15,000 registered informants – and these informants are inserted into U.S. Muslim communities to gather information," Aaronson says. "Informants have testified in court that they have spent months trolling Muslim communities without a specific target." Of 508 federal terrorism trials in the decade after 9/11, 158 defendants were targeted through an informant, according to Aaronson, who writes in The Terror Factory that nearly all of the rest were small-time violations that didn't pose an actual risk to U.S. citizens.
It's not only Muslim communities that were the subject of increased suspicion – political groups and activists have been targeted as well. A Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund found that the FBI began investigating the Occupy movement in August 2011, even before the establishment of the encampment in New York's Zuccotti Park. The activist and anarchist Scott Crow requested his own files from the FBI, and was given 440 heavily redacted pages, though as The New York Times reported, he had "never been convicted of anything more serious than trespassing."
One of the most powerful new tools the FBI has had at its disposal since 9/11 is a program called Domain Management, which Aaronson says "allows the FBI to map the United States along ethnic and religious lines, and then assign agents and informants to those communities." The ACLU report notes that the FBI's field office in Detroit, for instance, stated in a memo that "many [State Department-designated terrorist] groups come from the Middle-East and Southeast Asia." The memo continues: "because Michigan has a large Middle-Eastern and Muslim population, it is prime territory for attempted radicalization and recruitment by [State Department-designated] terrorist groups."
The FBI denies that Domain Management works the way critics allege. "Domain management efforts are intended to address specific threats, not particular communities," says spokesperson Christopher Allen. "These efforts seek to use existing, available government data to locate and better understand the communities that are potential victims of the threats."
Asked about recent reports that the FBI increased surveillance of Syrians in the United States in a run-up to a possible air strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Allen says, "I would not assume the details of that story are accurate."
Interviewing people in the U.S. based on nationality prior to a U.S. military strike would not be without precedent for the Bureau, however. In 2003, then-FBI director Robert Mueller confirmed that his agents sought to interview roughly 11,000 Iraqis living in the United States, "to protect them from hate crimes and to elicit information on any potential operations of Iraqi agents or sympathizers."
Some of the FBI tactics employed since 9/11 seem to resemble tactics the controversial NYPD Intelligence Division has used, including mapping communities based on ethnic, racial and religious identities. Both organizations also have similar guidelines, adopted post-9/11, that allow officers to attend political meetings that are open to the public, often without disclosing their status as law enforcement. However in some cases, such as the investigation of alleged terrorist Ahmed Ferhani, the NYPD has used tactics that could be construed as entrapment, which were beyond the pale for the FBI. The ACLU is currently suing the NYPD on behalf of several Muslim plaintiffs who say NYPD policies infringe on their Constitutional rights.

Source

'Performing in my stolen home': An open letter to Ehud Banai

'Performing in my stolen home': An open letter to Ehud Banai

By +972blog


Nasser Nawajaah, a displaced Palestinian resident of the south Hebron Hills village of Susya, writes to an Israeli singer who is scheduled to perform in the settlement built on his family’s stolen land.
A Palestinian family outside their tent home in the south Hebron Hills village of Susya (Photo: Activestills.org)
Several weeks ago a number of Israeli left-wing individuals and organizations launched a campaign to pressure Israeli singer Ehud Banai not to perform in the south Hebron Hills settlement of Susya.
Alongside the campaign, Israeli organizations Rabbis for Human Rights, Breaking the Silence and Ta’ayush offered to take Banai on a tour of the area, including Palestinian Susya, a village that was forcibly evicted in order to make room for the Jewish settlement of the same name. Banai turned down the offer, saying he didn’t have time but said he would do so after the concert.
Mr. Banai eventually canceled his show in the settlement of Susya, citing anger and vitriol directed toward him by the settler community following a Facebook post asserting that he opposes the occupation.
On September, 18, however, he posted yet another Facebook post (both have since been deleted) announcing that he will perform in Susya as planned on September 22.
Ehud Banai (Photo: Eman/CC)
The following is an open letter to the Israeli singer by Nasser Nawajaah, a resident of Palestinian Susya. (Translated by Talia Beth Krevsky)
Dear Mr. Banai,
At the very moment when news reached us that you decided, nevertheless, to hold your concert in old Susya, my family, residents of Susya and the surrounding land were gathered to write you a letter of gratitude and respect for choosing not to perform on our stolen land. Instead, I find myself writing you a letter principled on deep disappointment over your decision to perform there anyway.
You preferred good relations and a spirit of reconciliation with the settlers over an expression of human solidarity with the victims who suffered from theft and violence at the hands of the same people, in front of whom you will perform. I will not get into your considerations, but I still hope that you came to your decision because there are facts still unknown to you. If you wish, you can learn about them here. Here are a few of them:
In the fenced compound in which you will perform, until 1986, there was a Palestinian village. Several hundred residents from the Nawajaah, Harini, Marnam, Shritah, Abu Tsbaha, and Hadaar families lived there. My family also lived there; I myself was born there. I was four years old when the soldiers arrived and expelled us from our homes. "Expropriation for public purposes," they explained to us, and declared Susya an archaeological site, handing over its management to the settlers of Susya as a source of income.
Homeless and without possessions, we moved to live in caves located near our agricultural land. When the new location was too close for the taste of the settlers of Susya, however, the armed forces returned and expelled us from our homes. Again, we were forced to start anew, this time on another part of our land, further from the settlement. In 2001, we were expelled again, twice, the second time following a Supreme Court ruling deeming our expulsion illegal. "A mistake," they explained to us, "the field commander was not aware of the Supreme Court’s decision." However, the expulsion was accompanied by a spree of massive destruction of our dwellings, water cisterns, caves and fields. Again, we returned to live on our land and began rebuilding the ruins of our homes.
When you perform on the site, Mr. Banai, look around you. You will still be able to see the remains of the village around you, the caves in which we lived, the water cisterns from which we drank. Look also around the site, at what was once our land, but to where our access has been prevented due to its proximity to the settlement.
The lighting and sound equipment for your performance are powered by an electrical line that passes over our land, though for us, and all other small Palestinian villages south of Mount Hebron, there is no connection to the electricity grid. Even the water pipe that reaches the site passes over our land, only a few meters from the tents in which we live. But for us, it’s forbidden to connect to the water network and we are dependent on the little water that accumulates in our cisterns throughout the winter. We are prohibited from accessing most of our water cisterns to this day. Please look now at the small piece of land next to the entrance of the site. Located there are three wells that served us in the past, but to which today we are forbidden access.
Throughout the concert, please look at the crowd in front of you, Mr. Banai. Among the people sitting there you will find the settlers of Susya and the surrounding land, who are responsible, according to Israeli police, for dozens of incidents of assault and damage to our property, the destruction of fields and tress, ruining cisterns and water reservoirs, poisoning grazing lands and water wells, systematically driving out shepherds from their grazing lands, and even setting fire to tents and attacking families in their homes in the dead of night.
Among your audience and the people who organized your show, Mr. Banai, you will find those personally responsible for efforts of the "Susya Cooperative Society" and the "Regevim" settler organization to coerce the army to demolish Palestinian Susya yet again. The danger of destruction currently threatens all residential tents, each house, solar energy facilities and water cisterns, a medical clinic and outhouses.
For me, this is the significance of your decision to perform in my stolen home, Mr. Banai.
Our daily struggle to live on our land will continue to exist even without you. We hope and believe that we will find moral humane voices within the Israeli and international societies, which will stand with us against acts of dispossession, robbery and expulsion.
Nasser Nawajaah, Susya

Source

Funeral Bombing, Other Attacks Leave 33 Iraqis Dead, 131 Wounded


Funeral Bombing, Other Attacks Leave 33 Iraqis Dead, 131 Wounded

Margaret Griffis




At least 33 Iraqis were killed and 131 were wounded in a series of attacks in central and northern Iraq. A retaliatory attack against a Sunni funeral took place in Baghdad while bombing against civilians and security personnel took place in the north.
In Baghdad, a suicide bomber killed 16 people and wounded at least 42 more when he entered a funeral tent for a Sunni man in the Doura neighborhood. Gunmen killed two young men in Mashtal. Two dumped bodies were found in Husseiniya. In Adhamiya yesterday, a Sahwa official was assassinated.
A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives in a residential neighborhood of Kirkuk where he wounded 51 people. Within the neighborhood is a Kurdish educational center and the home of a Christian lawmaker. A separate bombing wounded five policemen.
In Mosul, five policemen were killed and 20 more security members were wounded when two bombs were detonated at a checkpoint south of the city. A roadside bomb targeting a convoy killed two soldiers and wounded two more. Gunmen killed a policeman at his home. A bomb wounded two civilians. Seven civilians were wounded when bombs demolished a number of homes.
A civilian was killed and another was wounded when gunmen shot at their car in Abu Saida.
A Sahwa member was shot dead in Shurqat.
An explosion near Saidiya wounded a soldier.

Source

Defying the Apartheid Wall: A Conversation With Palestinian Artist, Filmmaker, & Photographer Khaled Jarrar About His Documentary 'Infiltrators'

Defying the Apartheid Wall: A Conversation With Palestinian Artist, Filmmaker, & Photographer Khaled Jarrar About His Documentary 'Infiltrators'

by Malihe Razazan


22i-images-6.jpg
A scene from the documentary film "Infiltrators"

September 22, 2013

Palestinian visual artist Khaled Jarrar’s award-winning documentary film, Infiltrators, documents how Palestinians defy Israel’s twenty-six-foot apartheid wall by jumping over the wall or going through underground tunnels. Thousands of Palestinians who take the harrowing journey for work, a short visit with loved ones or medical treatment they cannot receive in the West Bank. In this journey, they risk arrest, injury or even death. "Infiltrators" will be screened on 5 October 2013 as part of the third annual Palestine Film and Arts Festival in Washington DC, which kicks off on 28 September and will run through 8 October. Khaled Jarrar's acclaimed film 'Infiltrators' will be showcased on 5 October at 7 PM, followed by Q&A with Professor Noura Erakat. I spoke with Khaled about the making of Infiltrators and why it took him four years to finish it.


O


Source

Eric Schlosser: If We Don't Slash Our Nukes, "a Major City Is Going to Be Destroyed"

Eric Schlosser: If We Don't Slash Our Nukes, "a Major City Is Going to Be Destroyed"

—By Michael Mechanic


21badgernucleartest630.jpg
A 1953 detonation of the 23 kiloton XX-34 Badger at the Nevada Test Site. The Official CTBTO Photostream/Flickr Creative Commons

The "Fast Food Nation" author on his frightening new exposé of America's nuclear weapons mishaps.


uruknet.info

The term "wake-up call" is a tired cliché, but it is appropriate in the case of Command and Control, the frightening new exposé of America's nuclear weapons mishaps by Fast Food Nation author Eric Schlosser. (Click here to read an excerpt and my detailed review [1].) In short, Schlosser delivers a book full of revelations that left me agape. While we still worry in the abstract about Iran and North Korea and Pakistan, it's easy to forget that we still have thousands of our own ungodly devices on hair-trigger alert at this very moment. And even if we never drop or launch another nuke on purpose, these weapons are, in Schlosser's words, "the most dangerous machines ever invented. And like every machine, sometimes they go wrong."
That's what the book is about. Through hard-fought documents and deep digging and extensive interviews, Schlosser reveals how close we've come, on numerous occasions, to a domestic nuclear detonation or an accidental war in which there are only losers. Command and Control will leave many readers with a deep unease about America's ability to handle our nukes safely. Schlosser's hope is that this unease will beget a long-neglected debate about "why we have them and when we use them and how many we need." But his book is no screed. Schlosser delivers an engrossing page-turner [1]. Would that it were fiction.
Mother Jones: The safety of America's nuclear arsenal is far cry from fast food. What got you interested in this topic?
Eric Schlosser: I spent some time with the Air Force before Fast Food Nation came out. I was interested in the future of warfare in space: space weapons, particle-beam weapons, lasers, directed-energy devices. A lot of the people who were involved in it had started their careers as missile-crew officers. As I spent time with them, I became more interested in their stories from the Cold War about nuclear weapons than I did in the future of warfare in space.
MJ: How long did it take to research the book?
ES: A lot longer than I thought it would. I originally was going to write a relatively short book about this accident in Damascus, Arkansas, which was an extraordinary story. But the deeper I got, the more I realized that the subject of nuclear weapons accidents hadn't really been written about, and that the threat was much greater than I thought it was. So what started out as a two-year project turned into six—and an extraordinary amount of digging around in strange places.
MJ: My general takeaway is that, given our history of near misses, it's essentially dumb luck that we haven't had an accidental nuclear detonation on American soil, or an accidental launch.
ES: If we don't greatly reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, or completely eliminate them, a major city is going to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon. It's remarkable—it's incredible!—that a major city hasn't been destroyed since Nagasaki. We can confront this problem or we can accept that hundreds of thousands or more will be killed. And I don't think that's inevitable. The book was really written with a notion of trying to prevent that.
MJ: But is you suppose it's inevitable if we maintain our current course?
ES: My background, academically, is history. I hate the word "inevitable" because I feel like things don't have to be the way they are. But we really need to change our policies. I think Obama has done a terrific job of trying to raise awareness about nuclear weapons. But we really need to sit down with Russia, China, England, France, India, Pakistan, and think about how to greatly reduce, if not eliminate, these weapons. And that may sound totally absurd and unrealistic, but when I was in my 20s, if someone had said that the Soviet Union would vanish without a nuclear war and the Berlin Wall would come down and all this would happen without tens of thousands, or millions, of deaths, people would have thought that was absurd.
MJ: What do you think might befall our society were an accidental detonation to occur? I mean, suppose that H-bomb had exploded in North Carolina?
ES: It would have profoundly shocked this country and the world. When you look back at the response after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, that was around the period that the United Nations was nominally created, and support for eliminating nuclear weapons was not only in the air, but was embraced by the majority of Americans. As the decades passed, particularly since the Second World War, we lost the sense of how devastating these weapons can be—and also what its like to be in a society that's been completely destroyed by warfare. We're very fortunate in the United States that we've been protected by geography. I was in Manhattan on 9/11, and the difference between having 3,000 Americans killed, which was horrible on 9/11, versus 500,000 or a million is almost impossible to comprehend. These weapons are machines, and I think they are the most dangerous machines ever invented. And like every machine, sometimes they go wrong.
MJ: I find it remarkable how little public attention has been paid to the safety of nuclear weapons since the end of the Cold War.
ES: I can't really blame the media. The government—lying might be too strong a word, although in some instances they absolutely lied about it—but they did everything they could to cover up these accidents, to distract attention from them, and when attention was paid to them, in most cases, to mislead the press
MJ: Some examples?
ES: Throughout the '50s and '60s, it was almost boilerplate for Defense Department officials to say that during an accident there was no possibility of a nuclear detonation, while privately, at the weapons laboratories, there were physicists and engineers who were extremely worried and were well aware that we had come close to having it happen on American soil. If you look at the official list of broken arrows that the Pentagon released in the '80s, it includes 32 serious accidents involving nuclear weapons that might have threatened the public safety. The list is entirely arbitrary: Some of those accidents didn't even involve weapons that had a nuclear core, so they never could have detonated. But many, many serious accidents aren't on that list.
One document I got through a Freedom of Information Act request listed more than 1,000 weapons involved in accidents, some of them trivial and some of them not trivial. There's somebody who worked at the Pentagon who has read this book, and one of his criticisms was that I'm so hard on the Air Force—he said that there were a great number of accidents involving Army weapons that I don't write about.
You know, it's very difficult to get this information. I did the best that I could, but I have no doubt that there are other incidents and accidents that still have not been reported, so I can't blame the mainstream media so much as blame this national security apparatus. Again and again I would see by comparing documents that what was being redacted wasn't information that would threaten the national security—it was information that would be embarrassing, or put these defense bureaucracies in an unflattering light.
MJ: Were you surprised the Air Force gave you as much as it did?
ES: The Air Force was remarkably unhelpful. I was able to get what I got through FOIA requests to the Department of Energy and the Pentagon—some of these things took a couple of years, and some of them were heavily excised. We're talking about a nation that no longer exists, the Soviet Union. We're talking about weapons that are no longer in the stockpile. And yet when you get these documents, it's remarkable how much has been blacked out. The thing that was enormously helpful to me, and surprising, was to find that some of the most anti-nuclear people in the US are the people who designed, handled, had command of these weapons.
MJ: When most people think of nukes, we think of these massive, high-yield bombs, but you also write about nuclear artillery shells, nuclear depth charges, and even a nuclear rifle called the Davy Crockett. How is it even possible, given the institutional dysfunction of the military, to maintain tight control with all these small nukes around?
ES: It was a constant challenge, and particularly when these weapons were being stored in Europe for use against an invading Red Army, it was a matter of inventory control. This book is critical of the management of our nuclear weapons, and yet the Pentagon deserves its due: To my knowledge, there was never an accidental detonation. If you add them all up, we probably made 70,000 of these things. If one of them had detonated, it means 69,999 did not. And that's very good management. But still, the consequences of one detonation are almost unimaginable.
MJ: You can't screw up!
ES: You can't screw up once! And that's the unique danger of these machines. The incident in 2007, when we lost half a dozen hydrogen bombs for a day and a half, was an incredibly serious security lapse: The fact that nobody was asked to sign for the weapons when they were removed from the bunker, the fact that nobody in the loading crew or on the airplane even knew that the plane was carrying nuclear weapons is just remarkable.
MJ: And this was six years ago!
ES: Yes. And the Air Force seems still not to have gotten its act together. There was a decertification of launch crews at Malmstrom Air Force Base, one of our three Minuteman bases, just a few weeks ago. There was a decertification at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, which is where the Air Force stores most of its nuclear weapons.
MJ: What's a decertification?
ES: It means they're failing their safety inspections. This is very, very serious stuff. The margin for error is as small as can be.
MJ: In the book, you relate how Harold Agnew, a Los Alamos physicist visiting a German base in 1960, "nearly wets his pants" when he saw planes with fully assembled H-bombs being guarded by lone US soldiers who weren't even trained in what to do if someone tried to commandeer the plane. I can't imagine that we're still so careless.
ES: What was remarkable then was that we were sharing these weapons with our NATO allies. In that case, he saw a powerful nuclear weapon loaded onto a jet that was part of the German air force and had the Iron Cross markings on its wings. His concern—this wasn't so long after the end of World War II—was that a disgruntled German pilot might just take off, head for Russia, drop his bomb, and there was absolutely nothing except for the air defense system of the Soviet Union to prevent him from doing that. There were no locks on the bombs. There were no codes required to activate the bomb. It was in the early days of the Kennedy administration that there was a crash program begun to do something you'd think common sense would dictate, which would be: Put locks on the nuclear weapons, and put coded switches on them so only the person who has the code could set them off. But there was a learning curve in the management of nuclear weapons, and we are very, very lucky. And there's no guarantee that luck will last.
MJ: Describe the reaction of Sandia weapons safety expert Bob Peurifoy when you showed him the list of broken arrows you obtained through FOIA requests.
ES: I think Peurifoy is a national hero. He was a weapons designer at the lab who became concerned about safety and fought for 20 years to get modern safety devices installed on our nuclear weapons, at great personal cost. He knew as much about nuclear weapons accidents as any person in our national security establishment. There was a document I got listing accidents and less-serious nuclear incidents, and I gave him a copy to see what he thought of it. And he was stunned and very depressed by it, because it was clear that there were many incidents that were not being shared with him.
There was an enormous amount of compartmentalized secrecy, and that was to prevent secrets from being too widely shared and potentially leaked. But what that meant was people in different parts of the system didn't have an overall view of how the system was operating—and that can be very dangerous. The people designing the weapons literally often didn't know how they were being handled in the field by the Air Force—and a lot of people in the Air Force didn't understand some of the dangers. There's a very strong element of madness in this.
MJ: One of the Peurifoy's greatest challenges was this constant tug-of-war between the desire to deploy a weapon quickly and the desire to have it not go off accidentally. The military invariably erred on the side of speed. Has that balance changed since the end of the Cold War?
ES: It hasn't. There's always going to be that inherent tension when you have these conflicting design goals. They can be expressed by the phrase "always/never." The things that would ensure the weapon always works flawlessly may conflict with the things that make sure it never goes off accidentally, never gets stolen, never gets sabotaged.
This is especially important when you want your nuclear weapons available for immediate use, as we do in the United States. Right now, our land-based missiles are ready to be launched pretty much within a minute or so. To keep these WMDs on a trigger like that means that you're adding an element of danger, a chance of accidental launch—whereas if you, for example, were to take the warheads off the missiles and not have them available for immediate use, they would be considerably safer. We still have the capability, if we get a signal that China or Russia has attacked the United States, to launch our missiles before they're destroyed by these incoming weapons. But that means you've got to really make sure the radar signals are the right ones.
MJ: And you haven't much time, especially with a submarine launch.
ES: Yeah, the time between when you see them on the radar and when they might hit might be six, seven, eight minutes if the sub is off the coast of the United States.
MJ: You describe a bunch of WarGames-type incidents during which this really happened—we got false launch signals or the Russians got false signals.
ES: There were two major false alarms during the Carter administration. One of them occurred when a training tape was accidentally put into the computer at NORAD that was supposed to warn us of a Soviet attack. It was a very realistic simulation of a Soviet attack, and so that created a great deal of concern until it was realized that it was a false alarm. Not that long afterward, during the tense period after the Soviets had invaded Afghanistan, there was a computer error at NORAD that basically said that more than 1,000 missiles were on their way. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski [2] was woken up in the middle of the night and told that it looked like the US was under attack. He waited for more confirmation before calling the president, but he was fully prepared for this nuclear strike and to order a counter-attack. According to Bob Gates, who was head of the CIA and later Secretary of Defense, Brzezinski deliberately didn't wake his wife, because if they were all going to die, he just wanted it to happen while she was sleeping. Having a launch-on-warning capability like we do, and having our missiles on alert is a very dangerous game, because once one of our missiles is launched—unlike bombers—there's no calling it back.
MJ: In the early days of nuclear weapons, the authority to launch was solely in the hands of the president, and that got diluted. How many people have that authority now?
ES: Good question, and that's probably very top secret. What happened was, as there was a great realization that Washington could be destroyed by the Soviets with little or no warning, there was a need to delegate the presidential authority so that if the president were killed, the United States could mount a retaliation. But once you start delegating authority—essentially sharing the launch codes—you introduce the possibility that somebody could start using our weapons without the authorization of the president. And this was particularly of concern with NATO, because it's clear that the supreme allied commander in Europe had been delegated the authority to use nuclear weapons; if there was a communications breakdown between the United States and Europe, the NATO officers on their own could initiate the use of nuclear weapons, and things could spiral completely out of control very quickly. It's not clear to me who is delegated to authorize their use today.
MJ: NATO no longer has that authority?
ES: NATO doesn't really have nuclear weapons on alert anymore—there are some delegated to NATO through submarines, and there are maybe 200 tactical nuclear bombs, but they're not mounted on airplanes.
MJ: Your book's central narrative involves the deadly explosion you mentioned, which took place at a Titan II missile silo in Arkansas in 1980. What were the key lessons of that disaster, and do you think the military has learned them?
ES: I'm quite concerned. One of the lessons would be, if you're going to have nuclear weapons, you must spare no expense in the proper maintenance of them. The Titan II was widely regarded as obsolete. They were running out of spare parts. There were frequent leaks, and the warhead was acknowledged not to have adequate safety devices. The people working on it were often poorly trained, poorly paid, overworked. There were shortages of trained technicians. In retrospect, it was completely irresponsible to have all of those things occurring with a missile carrying the most powerful warhead ever put on an Air Force missile. It's just extraordinary! And there were high rates of drug use. I spoke to people who had been involved in sensitive nuclear positions who were smoking pot at the time. You don't want people smoking pot and handling nuclear weapons. So those are some of the crucial takeaways. And yet our land-based missile, the Minuteman III, is upward of 40 years old. The B-52 bomber hasn't been manufactured since John F. Kennedy was president, and some of those bombers are getting close to 65 years old. We really should either invest in our weapons systems or get rid of them.
Look at what happened with the Air Force, starting with that 2007 incident when they lost those hydrogen bombs. A few years ago, they lost communication with an entire squadron of Minutemen missiles—50 missiles!—for almost an hour. They had to decertify the maintenance crew that looks after the biggest Air Force storage facility in New Mexico. Seventeen launch officers were taken off duty earlier this year for safety violations. There's a sense of a lack of direction, and mismanagement right now—particularly in the Air Force. And it's intolerable. It's unacceptable.
MJ: Obviously, the warhead on that Titan II didn't detonate. But even barring a nuclear explosion, should we be worried about a dirty-bomb type scenario where, say, plutonium is dispersed over a populated area?
ES: Yes. That warhead didn't contain plutonium, but the warheads on top of our Trident II missiles do. They are mounted around the third stage of the missile in a way so that if the rocket fuel were to detonate, you could have a major scattering—and that's still a major issue with our Trident bases in Washington state and in Georgia. You have to be extremely careful about how these warheads are mounted on the missiles and how the missiles are put in the submarines. These are dangerous devices. And I'm not the first person to say that. I know that the Navy is quite aware of it, but I don't think the general public is.
In college, I studied game theory and nuclear strategy, and I was interested in the nuclear freeze movement, so I read an enormous amount about nuclear weapons. But doing this book, I realized that my ignorance was profound. And this is important knowledge for American citizens to have, because we need to have a meaningful debate about nuclear weapons, about nuclear strategy, and why we have them and when we use them and how many we need. That's pretty much why I wrote the book.
MJ: Curtis LeMay, who ran the Strategic Air Command back in the day, was almost this kind of caricature of a military hawk. On the other hand, it seems like America's nuclear weapons were under far tighter control on his watch.
ES: Yeah. LeMay at one point was considered a great American hero, protecting us from the Soviets. He later became widely reviled in the United States, the symbol of a warmongering general who was caricatured in Dr. Strangelove as the mad general played by George C. Scott. LeMay's politics are different from mine, and many of his theories of nuclear warfare are ones that I don't endorse, but I think he was one of our truly great generals. He was an engineer by training, and if you're going to have nuclear weapons, you want them managed by someone who has absolutely no tolerance for error, who's a great believer in checklists and proper organization. He was all of those things. LeMay was absolutely ruthless with his men about ensuring that there was no sloppiness.
The other thing I think made him a great general was that he was brave and willing to take risks himself. During the Second World War, he flew the lead plane during some dangerous bombing missions just to show his men that the plan was a sound one. He was the sort of commander that's more and more sort of missing in America.
With this nuclear weapon accident in Arkansas, there was a remarkable lack of accountability. The people who were held responsible and punished for it were the low-level enlisted men, and not some of the high-ranking officers and generals who had made the crucial decisions that contributed to the disaster. So, LeMay certainly made mistakes, but if you look at how our nuclear weapons are being managed now, we could use a little bit more of Curtis LeMay.

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Suicide Bombers Attack Iraq Funeral, Police; 115 Killed, 255 Wounded

Suicide Bombers Attack Iraq Funeral, Police; 115 Killed, 255 Wounded

Margaret Griffis



Updated at 11:38 p.m. EDT, Sept. 22, 2013
At least 115 people were killed and 255 more were wounded today, mostly in two brazen attacks. In the worst assault, suicide bombers targeted a funeral in heavily populated Sadr City. Suicide bombers, these wearing police uniforms, also took advantage of a national police station in the north, as the commandos were out on maneuvers.
Two suicide bombers attacked a Sadr City funeral, leaving 78 dead and 202 wounded. The first bomber stationed an explosives-laden car near a funeral tent in this large district of the capital. A second bomber then walked in before exploding his bombs. A car bombing was also reported in the Jamila neighborhood, but the number of casualties wasn’t reported.
In Baghdad, a bomb killed nine people and wounded 14 more in the Ur neighborhood, near Sadr City. Four people were killed in a shooting at a Adhamiya district liquor store.
Six suicide bombers dressed in SWAT uniforms stormed a police commando headquarters in Baiji, where they killed seven policemen and wounded 21 others. Many of the real commandos stationed there were out on a security operation at the time.
In Mosul, two prison guards were killed at their homes; the one of their mothers was wounded. A roadside bomb killed two soldiers and wounded four more. A soldier was shot dead at a checkpoint. A lawmaker’s home was blown up.
One person was killed and six more were wounded when an I.E.D. exploded near homes and shops in Abu Ghraib.
Gunmen killed one Sahwa member and wounded four more in Shirqat.
Smugglers at the Syrian border killed a captain and wounded two soldiers.
One soldier was killed and another was wounded when an I.E.D. blew up near Falluja.
A clash took place in Hawija, but no casualties were reported.
A bomb targeting the deputy chairman on the Anbar province council exploded in Amiriyat al-Falluja, but no casualties were reported.

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Erdogan ignores fresh protests

Erdogan ignores fresh protests

Sayed Abdel-Maguid


20ep2013-635150449879896524-989_resized.jpg
Demonstrators set barricades on fire as they clash with riot police during a protest in Ankara (photo: Reuters)

Turkey’s Erdogan blusters on in blind ignorance that public dissent in the country could be based on real grievances, writes Sayed Abdel-Maguid

uruknet.info

Turkey is once again haunted by the same turmoil that engulfed it in May. But this time the protests are focussed in the Hatay region on the borders with Syria.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is still in denial about it all. For him, the disturbances are but abnormal occurrences, having nothing to do with how the majority of the population feels. He even threatened those who "attempt to sow disorder", without admitting the veracity of the underlying grievances.

In fact, the recent heavy-handedness of the police in Ankara and Istanbul suggests that the government has no intention of changing its current policies.

Recently, Erdogan lashed out at what he called the "special interests groups". He was particularly angry at men of finance who, having benefitted from deregulation of the economy, went ahead and offered excessive credit facilities to the public, many of whom later on defaulted on their credit card payments.

Having attributed the current crisis to "fabricated unrest", the ruling elite in Turkey now intends to clamp down on the opposition.

As the protests continue, Erdogan’s posturing is poised to backfire.

When a protester in Hatay was killed by a tear gas canister on 9 September, thousands took to the streets in Istanbul to vent their anger at police brutality.

The largest protests took place in Kadikoy, a heavily populated suburb on eastern Istanbul that has just been connected with the western Istanbul via an underwater metro line.

The population of Kadikoy had every reason to be grateful for Erdogan over the new metro line, but instead the crowds chanted anti-government slogans. One of them said, "We are not going to stop and the government knows that."

When the famous Taksim Square reopened to the public after extensive renovation a while ago, the media voiced satisfaction. But the public took no interest whatsoever.

The Turks are simply too distraught over the country’s problems to invest any emotion in symbolic gestures.

The very fabric of society is at risk. The national unity that Turkey has always taken for granted looks tenuous now, as the spectre of sectarian fragmentation — for which the prime minister himself is to blame — looms large.

While the protests continued, many feared that the clashes between the Justice and Development Party (JDP) and its opponents might acquire sectarian overtones. So far, much of the anti-JDP movement is concentrated in areas inhabited by Turks from Arab origin that follow the Alawite-Nasiri faith, as many Syrians do.

An editorial that appeared in the opposition newspaper Sol a week ago noted that those killed in the clashes between the police and the demonstrators, including those in Taksim Square, were mostly Alawites.

Many were incensed when Erdogan, instead of tackling the mounting discontent at home, developed an obsession with hosting the 2020 Olympics. The Turkish minister for EU affairs, Egemen Bagis, even warned demonstrators that, "if Istanbul loses, it will be your fault."

Writing in the newspaper Radikal, Deniz Zeyrek said that Erdogan was eager for Istanbul to host the 2020 Olympics in order to make up for his failure in Taksim Square.

Meanwhile, Erdogan’s policy on Syria bombed and his support for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood bordered on the embarrassing.

Writing in Hurriyet on 9 September, Yusuf Kanli said that, "a government which uses excessive force against demonstrators cannot hope for much support in its bid for the Olympics."

To make things worse, Erdogan began to mix sports with religion. "Istanbul’s turn should come at last — when the Olympics Committee accords the honour to a Muslim country for the first time, it will be giving a signal of recognition to the Islamic world," he declared

When the Turkey finally lost the bid, he accused the selection committee of bias, saying that it ignored the sentiments of Muslims around the world.

Writing in Taraf on 9 September, Semih Ediz said, "the bid to host the Olympics is not about religion. The JDP is clearly unable to tackle the challenges of the modern world. It failed to understand the West, and doesn’t seem to understand the East either."

Does Erdogan really believe that 1.5 billion Muslims around the world care about Istanbul’s chances to host the Olympics? Or that they are dismayed when Tokyo was selected?

If so, then he is more out of touch than even his opponents had imagined.

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الجمعة، 20 سبتمبر 2013

Palestinian family trapped in home as blaze raged in Israeli chemical plant

Palestinian family trapped in home as blaze raged in Israeli chemical plant

Patrick O. Strickland


17tulkarem-fire.jpg
Smoke billows from an Israeli industrial park on 13 September, several days after a major fire.(Dylan Collins)

uruknet.info

Small flames were still burning and smoke was blowing into the downwind neighborhood ten days after a massive explosion in an illegal Israeli industrial area on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank.
According to the Arabic-language al-Fajer TV News, the explosion took place around 11pm on Thursday, 5 September and the fire broke out at a nylon factory. Israeli occupation forces fired tear gas canisters on local youth that gathered at a junction near the factory.
Cell phone videos and photos captured by local residents show that flames ranged between 10 and 15 meters in height.
"They [Israeli firefighters] only put out the fire that was edging towards other Israeli factories," Abdelhadi Salman, whose three-story home sits on the street in front of the factory, told The Electronic Intifada.
Gesturing to a completely charred and blackened plot of farmland in front of the factory, Salman said that the fire that had spread to Palestinian land was not extinguished until Palestinian firefighters were allowed to approach the scene much later.

"We would have died"

Eyad al-Jallad lives approximately 100 meters from the factory.
"When people came outside after hearing the explosion to see what was happening, soldiers attacked them with tear gas," al-Jallad said. "With the smoke and the tear gas everywhere, we had to stay inside and seal the windows."
Because Israeli soldiers were blocking the junction in front of their house, al-Jallad’s family was trapped inside. "If the fire had spread any further and caught my house on fire, we would have died," he added.
The industrial area, known as Nitzanei Shalom, is located close to Israel’s wall in the West Bank and is built on confiscated Palestinian land. The 12 factories located there fall within Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank that is under full Israeli control as a result of the Oslo accords signed by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s.
The first factories were moved to the area in the 1980s following public outcry against pollution in cities inside present-day Israel.
One of the factories is run by Geshuri Industries, a pesticides and fertilizer manufacturer that was originally located in Kfar Saba, a city in the Central District of Israel. That location closed as a result of a 1982 Israeli court order.
Another firm, Dixon Gas Company, moved to Tulkarem after being ordered to close its location in Netanya, a city in Israel some 15 kilometers away.

Constant pollution

Giving an example of the practices of the factories, al-Jallad said: "When they clean the gas pipes, they leave them open in our direction. Everyone here is suffering from these factories. This is not the first time there was a fire — it’s the third. But this one was the worst so far."
"After these fires, no one comes to clean up," al-Jallad added.
The constant pollution has also damaged local farmland, as documented on video by the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq.
"We used to be able to plant on our farmland three times a year, but now we are only able to do it once a year and we have to use unnatural amounts of fertilizers," al-Jallad said. "Look at the land: it’s just dry dirt now. We can hardly use it."
A report published in 2007 by a joint project between the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem and the Land Research Center confirms that "the wastewater flowing from these factories is a major element contributing to the depletion of the fertile soil and plants."

"Factories of death"

Another nearby resident, Suheil Salman, told The Electronic Intifada that "local businesses, landlords and farmers are struggling. The fumes and the waste from the factories are killing us. We call them 'factories of death.’"
All of the local residents interviewed by The Electronic Intifada blamed the chemical factories for Tulkarem’s elevated cancer rates and other illnesses, most of which are respiratory conditions.
They also said that the factories are always closed for the day when the wind blows in the direction of the Israeli side of the West Bank wall.
A 2003 study conducted by An-Najah University in Nablus concludes that Tulkarem has the highest rates of lung cancer in the West Bank due to fumes from the industrial area. It states that the areas most affected by lung cancer were Jenin and Tulkarem ("Lung cancer and associated risk factors in the West Bank," June 2003 [PDF]).
Despite both the suggestive evidence and the firm belief of residents that the chemical factories are taking a serious toll on the health of Palestinians in Tulkarem, there is little to no reliable research examining the relationship between pollution from the industrial zone and increased rates of cancer and other illnesses.
Suheil Salman said, "We all get respiratory inflammation, pneumonia, inflammation in our eyes. Most of the people who lived in the area moved out. Many people have been diagnosed with cancer in recent years."
On the night of the fire, Fulla, who lives in a nearby neighborhood, had to close the windows and the air conditioner so that her family could sleep. "My brother has asthma … my mother had swollen and teary eyes, and my sister was coughing badly," Fulla, who asked that her full name not be used, said.
"We’ve been suffering from these factories for as long as I can remember," she said, adding that her father died of lung cancer in 2010. "The doctors used to always ask him if he lived near the Geshuri factories."
Israel’s ongoing occupation has resulted in a slew of environmental abuses.
Ubiquitous military installations, illegal Jewish-only settlements and major corporations operating in East Jerusalem and the wider West Bank have left a permanent ecological footprint on the landscape by damaging and stealing Palestinian natural resources — primarily water and land. Israeli settlers regularly attack Palestinian farmers and set ablaze entire orchards of olive trees.
According to an audit conducted by Israel’s Ministry of Industry between 2006 and 2010, in the West Bank there approximately 20 industrial zones under Israeli administration. Regarding these industrial zones, the state comptroller noted a "continued failure for years of the lack of substantial supervision and enforcement in the field of safety and hygiene in Israeli factories in Judea and Samaria [the occupied West Bank], which has to point to ongoing disregard for human life."

"Your problem — you deal with it"

"Successive Israeli governments have provided incentives to Israeli businesses to start operations beyond the Green Line," Shawan Jabarin, director of Al-Haq, told The Electronic Intifada, referring to the armistice line marking the boundary between Israel and the occupied West Bank.
"Such incentives may include financial benefits such as tax cuts and subsidized water," Jabarin added. "Although Israel has extended its civil laws and jurisdiction to all settlements … rarely are they held accountable for violations of the obligations incumbent on them."
Palestinian laborers who work in Israeli businesses in the West Bank are not entitled to minimum wage or permitted membership in Hisdarut, Israel’s official labor union — although they are obliged to pay membership dues.
Tulkarem’s chemical factories are no exception. Corporate Occupation, a project that tracks corporate complicity in Israel’s occupation, published an interview with two Palestinian workers from Nitzanei Shalom in 2010. Ahmad and Rashid stated that Palestinian trade unions have not been allowed access to the area since 2008 ("The buds of peace?").
Between 2002 and 2008, Rashid told Corporate Occupation, "three workers have died — in 2000, 2002 and 2008 from burns sustained from gas-related fires at the factory."
According to Al-Haq’s Jabarin, "International law clearly prohibits Israel, as an occupying power, from appropriating land located in the West Bank. Israel is also prohibited from constructing infrastructure that primarily benefits its own economy."
Jabarin also added that Israel is obligated to protect the health and safety of Palestinians and to ensure "the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living."
Yet several attempts to challenge the chemical factories have so far proved fruitless.
"Whenever we try to have the factories closed down, the answer is always the same: [the pollution] is only on Palestinian land — your problem, you deal with it," said Fulla.
"We’ve taken the issue to the [Israeli] courts, we’ve had demonstrations, we’ve tried to raise awareness. There’s no hope because they think Palestinian lives are worth less than theirs."
Patrick O. Strickland is an investigative journalist for Mint Press News. His articles have appeared at Al Jazeera English, Truthout and The Electronic Intifada. Follow him on Twitter: @P_Strickland_.

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