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Today in Palestine!

Palestinian prisoners in Ofer Prison near Ramallah are tortured-3 reports
JENIN, December 23, 2008 (WAFA)-Ofer Prison Administration has told 400 Palestinian prisoners that their families will not be allowed to visit them starting Tuesday until January 19, 2009. Palestinian Prisoners said in a message to WAFA that Israeli Occupation Authorities cited “incitement against the Occupation” for a pretext for this arbitrary punishment.
http://www.kibush.co.il/show_ file.asp?num=30696

Israeli forces assault Palestinian prisoners
At approximately 11:00am on Saturday, 20 December 2008, dozens of Israeli prison guards, accompanied by representatives of Ofer the detention facility administration arrived at Department B to conduct a search without prior coordination with the representatives of detainees. They provocatively searched the department and violently beat a number of detainees.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10047.shtml

Spanish peace activists march through Hebron Old City
Several Spanish peace activists marched in solidarity with Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday.  Israeli soldiers prevented some of the activists from passing an Israeli checkpoint leading to Ash-Shuhada Street.  But the group still managed to march through the Old City playing bagpipes, one of the activists said, “in support of the Palestinian people.”
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=34190

Western Ramallah nonviolent resistance movement targeted
The western Ramallah town of Na’lin, known for its nonviolent resistance movement, is the frequent target of Israeli forces. This morning dozens of soldiers invaded. Military vehicles crowded the town center while explosions of concussion grenades and gas bombs woke residents from a 3:00 am sleep.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4266&Itemid=49

Israeli activist arrested while attempting to leave Gaza

An Israeli citizen who sailed to the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade was arrested on Monday while attempting to leave Gaza through the land border with Israel. Neta Golan, International Solidarity Movement (ISM) will appear in court in the city of Kiryat Gat tomorrow. Golan arrived in Gaza on 20 December along with 17 others on the SS Dignity, on the fifth voyage to break the blockade since August.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=34169

Includes pictures: ISM Gaza Strip: Drone rockets strike Gazan people
After welcoming the 5th Free Gaza boat this morning, ISM activists based in the Gaza Strip went to see the site of an Israeli rocket attack that had occurred just as the boat arrived, at about 8.30am. Three rockets were fired from a drone plane, killing an Al Aqsa Brigades fighter and wounding a second.
http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/2008/12/21/ism-gaza-strip-drone-rockets-strike-gazan-people/

Due to Israeli threats of targeted assassination Hamas leaders operating underground

ImageGaza /PNN – Under direct threat of assassination Hamas leaders in Gaza have moved underground. Party spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said on Monday that “in anticipation of a campaign of assassinations that Israel has threatened to implement, the leadership has begun to function in close circles.” Israeli forces renewed direct threats of targeted assassination, despite the illegality under international law, earlier in December with an escalation at the end of the six-month “period of calm.”
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4267&Itemid=1

Mubarak extends rare invite to Livni for talks on Gaza violence
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to discuss escalating violence between Israel and Gaza militants in a rare visit to Cairo on Thursday. The invitation was personally extended to Livni on Sunday by her Egyptian counterpart, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, in a telephone conversation. Livni is also set discuss with Mubarak ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049009.html

Hamas offers to study fresh Gaza truce with Israel
Hamas would consider renewing a lapsed truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip, but wants guarantees the Jewish state will halt incursions and keep border crossings open for supplies of aid and fuel, a spokesman said on Tuesday.
http://archive.gulfnews.com/region/Middle_East/10269525.html

UNRWA: Escalation is a ‘recipe for disaster’ in Gaza

An escalation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip would push more families in Gaza under the poverty line and put them in need of food and cash assistance from the already resource-strained UNRWA, officials from the agency warned Monday.
The continuing blockade on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, coupled with the end of the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire was “a recipe for disaster” for the coastal territory’s impoverished population and would further impede the international organization’s mandate for human development work, said Jerusalem-based UNRWA spokesman Sami Mshasha.
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1229868820574& pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle% 2FShowFull

Israel Must Choose between Bad & Worse Options on Gaza

22/12/2008 Senior Israeli occupation army officers told Israeli daily Haaretz on Sunday that the army has not been ordered to make any preparations for a major operation in the Gaza Strip, but did not rule out the possibility of a future offensive.  The Gaza Division has received no orders for any ground operations, said the officials, despite Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s announcement Sunday that he has instructed the defense establishment to prepare for an offensive on Gaza in light of the escalating rocket fire from the coastal territory.
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=67846&language=en

International player could enter Gaza cease-fire impasse
An international player is attempting to renew talks between Israel and Hamas about the cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, according to senior government sources in Jerusalem, who would not identify the entity involved because of the sensitivity of the issue. The contacts were currently at the level of initial feelers, said the sources.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049043.html

Fewer attacks, more hatred
You do not have to travel far to reach another country-just five minutes from Kfar Sava. These lines were written while doing reserve duty last June in the Qalqilyah area. And for me, reserve duty in the territories is routine; I have been doing it every year for many years now. So I am no stranger to Palestinian suffering. But this time, I was exposed to a new and oppressive reality-all thanks to the separation fence.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049051.html

Beware the Israeli attacks

Ramallah, 22/12/08. Even before the official end to the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Israel began initiating a public relations campaign, aimed at both their own people and the international community, which would ‘prepare us all’ for the eventual military assault on the tiny, besieged Strip.  Though to many, it may seem cynical that Israel would consider a dramatic increase in violence against Gaza while the eyes of the world are on the little city of Bethlehem, one should keep recent history in mind.
http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article732

US-led siege on Gaza pushes Arab leaders to drown Rice in Jewelry
An article I read today pushed me to write this piece; maybe it’s anger or disappointment, or maybe it is just the uncomfortable feeling that we are right when we say that Arab leaders are also responsible for our misery as Palestinians living under Israeli occupation.
http://www.imemc.org/article/58123

No supplies getting through as Gaza crossings remain closed – UN
No humanitarian aid, fuel or other commodities were able to get into Gaza today, as the border crossings into the area remained closed, the United Nations reported. The Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process (UNSCO) also reported that Gaza’s power plant is still not operating owing to lack of fuel.
http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900SID/KSAI-7ML3WB?OpenDocument&RSS20=02-P

Report: Egyptian relief convoy blocked from entering Gaza

An Egyptian convoy carrying relief materials has been blocked from entering the Palestinian territory of Gaza Strip for three days, the Palestinian embassy in Cairo said on Monday. Due to “obstacles by Israeli forces,” the Egyptian aid convoy still can not cross into the coastal enclave, the Egyptian MENA news agency reported, citing a press release of the Palestinian embassy.
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-12/23/content_ 10544911.htm

Israeli administration blocks EU funds from reaching Gaza

Payment of PEGASE social allowances to over 47,000 Palestinian families facing hardship: Gaza recipients face delays due to Israel stopping the PA’s cash shipments to Gaza. No funds were sent over the weekend. The 24,000 vulnerable families in Gaza who should have been able to start collecting their social allowance payments next week will face delays due to Israel’s continued restrictions on the shipment of cash by the Palestinian Authority into Gaza.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4265&Itemid=1

Head of Emergency to PNN: Gaza hospitals continue to breakdown due to siege

Due to the ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip, only emergency surgeries will be performed, Dr. Muawiya Hassanein said today. As director of both Gaza City’s largest hospital and of Emergency and Ambulance in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Hassanein told PNN on Monday that care should also be taken regarding burning materials as new illnesses are cropping up particularly in infants and the elderly.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4268&Itemid=1

Gaza’s Bakeries Shut Down

Bakery owners in Gaza announced today that they have closed their doors to residents because of their inability to obtain cooking gas and wheat in order to make bread.
http://www.imemc.org/article/58126

Jerusalem patriarch slams Israel during Gaza Christmas address
The top Catholic leader in Palestine on Tuesday called on Israel to lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip, where he prayed with Christian Palestinians on Sunday. Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal met with Christians during his visit on Sunday, and on Tuesday called on Israel to “put an end to the occupation and the injustice.”  The Christian leader delivered his seasonal address to the Gaza Strip early this year due to Israel’s refusal to allow Gazan Christians to attend Christmas mass in Bethlehem on 25 December.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=34187

Jerusalem`s Latin Patriarch blasts Gaza blockade in pre-Christmas message
The Holy Land’s top Roman Catholic cleric has lashed out at Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and is calling on Palestinians to heal their political rift in his first pre-Christmas message. Jerusalem’s Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal has also expressed concern about the Holy Land’s Christian communities, saying their presence is threatened by emigration and political instability.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049332.html

Activists to sail from Lebanon in new bid to break Gaza blockade

Organizers say a cargo ship carrying Lebanese activists and supplies will set sail for the besieged Gaza Strip early next year to defy an Israeli blockade.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049337.html

Cairo protests anti-Egypt demos in Syria over Gaza
CAIRO, Egypt: The Egyptian Foreign Ministry is protesting demonstrations held in Syria over Egypt’s role in the blockade of the Gaza Strip.  The state-owned Middle East News Agency says Deputy Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Salah expressed concern about the demonstrations to the Syrian ambassador after summoning him to the ministry Tuesday.
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/23/news/ML-Egypt-Syria-Protest.php

Activist to Arab youth: Ignore your governments; visit Gaza
Lebanese activist Natali Abu Shaqra sailed to the Gaza Strip in early December aboard the latest vessel to break the siege. During an interview with Ma’an, Shaqra said that Arab youth should “ignore their governments and pay visits to the Gaza Strip on their own.” Herself a Lebanese citizen prohibited by both Lebanese and Israeli law to visit Israel, bypassed the Jewish state by sea, arriving in the Gaza Strip onboard the Free Gaza Movement’s USS Dignity, sponsored in part by a Qatari medical relief organization.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=34186

Israel/AIPAC seem defensive about Gaza coverage
AIPAC just released a statement condemning Hamas for failing to extend the “tahdiyeh,” or period of calm that ended on Dec. 19. In that statment, AIPAC bragged about Israel’s efforts to provide for Gaza.
http://www.philipweiss.org/mondoweiss/2008/12/israelaipac-seem-defensive-about-gaza-coverage-.html

Abbas says Israel, Hamas to blame for siege on Gaza
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that he agrees with Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak to resume a Palestinian dialogue aimed at ending the current state of disunity between Fatah and Hamas. Following talks in Cairo, Abbas said that he had reached an agreement “with our Egyptian brothers that the dialogue should be resumed despite Hamas’ decision to halt it.”
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=34189

U.K. cop says PA West Bank police equipped to handle challenges

Colin Smith sounded more optimistic than in the last interview with him, six months ago. The British police officer, who as head of mission of the European Union Police Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support had trained the Palestinian police force in the West Bank for the past two years, says his trainees are equipped to cope with complex domestic challenges.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049041.html

Divide and Shock in Palestine

The Palestine Trade and Investment Forum began in London this weekend. Organised on the behalf of UK Trade and Industry and the Department for International Development, this British government lead initiative welcomed over 40 Palestinian delegates from the occupied West Bank, and just three from besieged Gaza.  Whilst private sector business representatives talked of privatising Palestinian assets, services and natural resources, Israel continues to develop new settlements in the west bank and East Jerusalem, a light railway system on occupied territory and an apartheid wall declared illegal by the International Criminal Court; facts on the ground which fly in the face of any semblance of both sovereignty and territorial contiguity or independent development.
http://www.zcommunications. org/znet/viewArticlePrint/20029

Picture: Israeli soldiers mistreat Santa near Bethlehem
http://jewssansfrontieres.blogspot.com/2008/12/israeli-soldiers-mistreat-santa-near.html

Christmas in Bethlehem underway

The biggest day of the year for Bethlehem is 24 December when the streets are the most full with tourists, pilgrims, local Christians and Muslims. Christmas in the purported birthplace of Jesus is no small affair.
It is also the busiest day of the year for local journalists, 24 hour live coverage. The Peace Center on Manger Square is hosting Santa Claus this afternoon before the Elviz Group from the UK performs. The streets are strung with lights and plastic Santas wave on the streets under the constant din of carols.
http://english.pnn.ps/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4272&Itemid=1

Top-level British delegation visits Hebron to witness “facts on the ground”
British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Bill Rammell toured the southern West bank city of Hebron and called for removal of “illegal” Israeli settlements in the city on Monday afternoon. Rammell was accompanied on his tour of Hebron by the British consul general in Jerusalem Richard Makepeace, his deputy John Edward and consul for political affairs Karin Mckloski accompanied the minister in his visit.
http://www.maannews.net/en/index.php?opr=ShowDetails&ID=34167

Renowned author Amos Oz lays into Barak for ‘letting settlers wreak havoc’

Renowned Israeli author Amos Oz on Monday scathingly criticized Labor Chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak for inaction in the face of settler violence. “What kind of leader is he who allowed the hill top youth to wreak havoc on Arabs and Israel Defense Forces soldiers?” Oz asked, referring to settler youths who commit acts of violence or vandalism against Palestinians or their property.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049013.html

Intolerable tolerance
As everyone knows, Jerusalem is a city of seers and visionaries. The archives are full of plans for palaces and grandiose towers that savers of the world have dreamed of building in Jerusalem to spread peace and brotherhood. However, in contrast to those plans, which remain buried in the archives, one plan arrived not long ago that is supposed to take on flesh and sinew. A splendid Museum of Tolerance, initiated by beneficent Jews from Los Angeles, is set to go up in the heart of the city.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049050.html

Fight against settlements not about boycotting Israel, says U.K. envoy
Britain’s envoy to the Middle East on Monday said the United Kingdom would continue its fight against West Bank settlements, but would not mount a broader divestment campaign. “This isn’t about boycotting Israel. The settlements are not Israel,” said Bill Rammell. He made the comments in Jerusalem after meeting Israeli and Palestinian leaders and touring parts of the West Bank.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049022.html

Bethlehem adapts to life in shadow of Israeli wall

BETHLEHEM, West Bank: Most of the thousands of pilgrims expected here on Christmas Eve probably won’t venture far beyond the lights of Manger Square. A few streets away, Palestinians struggle with a tough reality, including a towering wall choking their town. Some have found ways to adapt.
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2008/12/23/news/ML-Christmas-The-Other-Bethlehem.php

Singing the Praise of Fruitless Peace Talks
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrats’ new ‘shadow’ foreign secretary here in Britain, reports on his first trip to Palestine/Israel in TotallyJewish.com, a strange choice of platform for a self-styled ‘liberal’. His biggest impression, he says, was optimism for the peace process: “I developed a strong sense that both sides trusted each other.” But as far as I’m aware he didn’t meet the Palestine side – only the Fatah faction, whose cosiness with Israel is the stuff of scandal.
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=14517

Obama v. Richard Falk on Israel, Occupied Palestine
Obama leaves no ambiguity where he stands. From public statements, campaign pledges, policy advisors, and war cabinet selections, his positions affirm…
http://palestinechronicle.com/view_article_details.php?id=14516

Controversial E. Jerusalem road stands empty one year after completion

The construction of a controversial road built in East Jerusalem was completed roughly one year ago, but it has yet to see a single car.  The so-called road, which required the expropriation of Palestinian lands, cost NIS 120 million to build, and is designed to connect the West Bank settlements surrounding Jerusalem to the capital.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049000.html

Settlers latch on to tourism as key to holding West Bank

From Givat Ahiyah, 857 meters above sea level, one can see thousands of olive trees in the Shilo Valley below. When Yossi and Ronit Shoker planted them here 12 years ago, their action had a lot of romance in it and mostly ideology. The hundreds of dunams on which the trees were planted were leased to the Ahiyah Farm by the World Zionist Organization`s settlement department. There was a dual purpose: redeeming as much state land as possible to prevent Palestinians from taking them over, and creating a foundation for Hebrew labor.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1049069.html

If Gaza falls . .
Israel’s siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then. Israel’s siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt. That is why the Israelis tolerate the hundreds of tunnels between Gaza and Egypt around which an informal but increasingly regulated commercial sector has begun to form. The overwhelming majority of Gazans are impoverished and officially 49.1 per cent are unemployed. In fact the prospect of steady employment is rapidly disappearing for the majority of the population.
http://www.normanfinkelstein.com/article.php?pg=11&ar=2252

Quebec supporting apartheid?

Quebec inked an economic partnership agreement with Israel this fall in Jerusalem. Attracting little attention from major media outlets, Quebec’s bilateral accord was signed during a government-led delegation to Israel that included high-level state officials and corporate representatives this past September, amidst Israel’s ongoing siege of Gaza. Quebec’s accord with Israel stands in contrast to the growing international calls for an economic boycott of the Israeli government. Stefan Christoff comments.
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10043.shtml

Haredi, religious residents clash in Beit Shemesh

Three religious teen girls beaten up by ultra-Orthodox mob while passing through haredi neighborhood. Religious residents report escalating violence on haredim’s behalf, latter cite promiscuity as trigger for clashes.
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3641737,00.html

Seth Freedman: Stirring up trouble in Umm al-Fahm

After six straight Shabbats in the homogeneity of Hampstead Garden Suburb, I spent the seventh in a similarly uniform environment, albeit a Muslim manor rather than a Jewish one. Umm al-Fahm, a teeming town just west of the Green Line, is home to 50,000 Israeli Arabs, whose connection to the authorities under whose jurisdiction they fall is something of a double-edged sword.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/dec/23/israelandthepalestinians-middleeast

Report: U.S. fears jailed Agriprocessors` CEO will flee to Israel if freed on bail
The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to deny bail to the former CEO of a kosher meatpacking plant exposed for alleged labor law violations, on the grounds that he may use his “Jewish heritage” to file for citizenship in Israel, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1048976.html

$50-$60 Billion Laundered from US nonprofits into illegal West Bank colonies creates threat of terrorism backlash
The following document case file reveals the failure of US law enforcement agencies to act on credible, specific public and private allegations that up to $60 billion has been laundered from the United States into illegal colonization of the West Bank.  The US national security interest in averting another 9/11style attack motivated by this type of ongoing illegal activity continues to be high.
http://www.irmep.org/ila/moneylaunder/

Arabic article:  Lebanon’s Minister of Defense said that Russian planes are intended to attack the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.
http://assafir.com/Article. aspx?EditionId=1122&articleId=2238&ChannelId=25683

Two Men Captured From Israel-Lebanon Border, Sound Familiar?
It happened again, just slightly different this time. Two men were captured by Israeli soldiers near the town of Blida on Lebanon’s southern border with Israel on Friday. The two brothers, Tarraf Tarraf and Hassan Tarraf, claim they were beaten and interrogated by soldiers asking them about possible links with Hezbollah.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ahmed-shihabeldin/two-men-captured-from-isr_b_152619.html

“Has Israel Forgotten Leb. War and Crushing Results?”
Under the title of “Have Politicians Pushing for Gaza War Forgotten Lebanon Debacle”, Israeli daily Haaretz published a report on Tuesday in which it talked about the political dilemma Israel is living these days concerning launching ground military operation in the Gaza Strip and the consequences of such move.
http://almanar.com.lb/NewsSite/NewsDetails.aspx?id=67983&language=en

Waltz with Bashir
A potent and profound document of war and its aftermath done as a cartoon — what’s that all about?Watch and learn, cynics, even if you think animation is strictly for kung-fu pandas and you know squat about assassinated Lebanese president Bashir Gemayel. For what’s on view in Ari Folman’s Waltz With Bashir, submitted for Oscar consideration by Israel as both foreign-language film and animated feature, is hallucinatory brilliance in the service of understanding the psychic damage of war.
http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/movie/20532240/review/25197454/waltz_with_bashir?source=movie_reviews
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Monday: 1 US Soldier, 1 Iraqi Killed; 4 Iraqis Wounded

Excerpt: Updated at 12:45 p.m. EST, Dec. 22, 2008 Debate over the journalist shoe-thrower forced parliament to postpone voting on the fate of foreign troops in Iraq and instead focus on the removal of its speaker. Meanwhile, one Iraqi were found dead and four more were wounded during a quiet day in Iraq. A U.S. soldier died in a non-combat incident as well. Also, a U.S. official admitted that over 10,000 detainees are being held without evidence against them.
http://www.antiwar.com/updates/?articleid=13942

Warm hug kills Iraq Army officer
An Army officer in Mosul was killed as a suicide bomber approached him and hugged him as a friend then detonated himself. The suicide bombing wounded four people including two soldiers and two civilians, Army Major Ahmad Said said.
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-25906-Warm-hug-kills-Iraq-Army-officer.html

University condemns U.S. troops storming of campus
The students and faculty of Baghdad University of Technology have demonstrated against U.S. occupation troops for violating their campus.   Heavily U.S. troops barged into dormitories where female students are housed last night, breaking doors and “using bad words,” according to Ahmad Shakir, the university’s information officer.
http://www.azzaman.com/english/index.asp?fname=news2008-12-23kurd.htm

The new Iraq: The bombing goes on, but the building has begun
The day Dr Sabah left Baghdad she stepped over a corpse sprawled at her front gate. The grim discovery as she fled two years ago merely reinforced her fear that the same fate awaited her family had they stayed in the wasteland that was their home.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/23/iraq-world-news

Mental health: ‘The Iraqi psyche may be scarred for decades’ claims psychiatry specialist
Psychiatry specialist Dr Hassan says the war has weakened the mental health landscape of Iraq.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/23/iraq-mental-health-war

Iraqis hope to sue U.S. troops under new accord
McClatchy Newspapers-BAGHDAD The families of three men who were killed last week during a search of a grain warehouse want to press charges against American soldiers under the terms of a new security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20081222/wl_mcclatchy/3129041

Iraq: Some U.S. Combat Troops To Be Reclassified

The U.S-Iraq agreement calls for the withdrawal of combat forces from Iraq cities by June, but officials say many will remain as reclassified personnel. Military planners acknowledge many will be renamed “trainers” and “advisers” in what officials told The New York Times (NYSE:NYT) are essentially combat roles.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article21517.htm

US troops may stay in Iraq in disguise
Though the deadline for withdrawal of US troops from Iraqi cities has been decided as June 30, 2009, experts have argued that roughly 10,000 American troops should remain in Baghdad after that period, in the guise of “trainers” and “advisers” in what are effectively combat roles.
http://www.asianage.com/presentation/leftnavigation/news/international/us-troops-may-stay-in-iraq-in-disguise. aspx

Iraq parliament votes fo UK troops to stay

Iraq’s parliament has approved a resolution allowing thousands of British and other non-US troops to stay past New Year’s Eve.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iraq-parliament-votes-fo-uk-troops-to-stay-1209504.html

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: They lied about Iraq in 2003, and they’re still lying now

Triumphalists are getting off on Iraq again, intoning hallelujah songs as they did after staging the fall of Saddam’s statue then again and again, sweet lullabies to send us into blissful sleep and wake to a new dawn. The composers and orchestrators – Blair, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Straw, Hoon and Rice – still believe history is on their side.
http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/yasmin-alibhai-brown/yasmin-alibhaibrown-they-lied-about-
iraq-in-2003-and-theyre-still-lying-now-1207408.html

The ‘Coup’ That Wasn’t
If anything underscores the tragic absurdity of the armed effort to “export democracy,” it’s the comic opera that played out the other day in Baghdad. I realize that’s an ambiguous statement, because there’s lots to choose from in that arena, but, no, I don’t mean our hapless president’s encounter with a shoe-throwing Iraqi reporter. On a much deeper and more substantive level, the news of the recent coup attempt – or was it a political setup?– illustrates the tragedy and futility of the Iraq war. Last week’s announcement that 24 officers of the Iraqi army – the army that we have spent billions recruiting, arming, and training – had been arrested on charges of planning a coup were supposedly buttressed by allegations that the detainees had links to al-Awda (“the Return”), a shadowy guerrilla group that seeks to reconstitute the old Ba’ath Party apparatus.
http://www.antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13941

Slowly does it with Iraq withdrawal

The security pact between Washington and Baghdad allowing the United States to maintain a military presence in Iraq for another three years looks good on paper. The reality is that it could be 10 years before the troops are finally out.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/JL24Ak01.html

Looted ancient treasures recovered in Basra ‘sting’
Ancient treasures stolen from museums in the anarchic aftermath of the United States-led invasion of Iraq five years ago have been found in Basra, in one of the biggest recoveries of the loot, The Independent can reveal.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/looted-ancient-treasures-recovered-in-basra-sting-1208500.html

US has assurances from Iraq on Iranian rebels: official

AFP-The United States has received assurances from Baghdad that an Iranian rebel group will not be expelled from Iraq amid fears of persecution at the hands of Tehran authorities, the White House said on Monday.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081222/pl_afp/usattacksirandipomacyrefugees

Bush shoe-thrower tells of ordeal

Muntadar al-Zaidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush of the US during a Baghdad press conference last week, spent his first days behind bars believing his family and colleagues would shun him, the man’s brother said yesterday.
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9f306c1a-d090-11dd-ae00-000077b07658.html

Iraq shoe-thrower to go on trial amid new torture claims
The Iraqi journalist thrust to instant fame when he threw his shoes at US President George W. Bush will go on trial this month on charges that carry up to 15 years in jail, a judge said on Monday.  Investigating judge Dhiya al-Kenani rejected new allegations by the journalist’s family that he had been tortured in custody that were levelled after a brother was allowed a first prison visit.
http://rawstory.com/news/afp/Iraq_shoe_thrower_to_go_on_ trial_am_12222008.html

Iraqi PM: Shoe-thrower blames throat-slitter

AP-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved Monday to undermine the popularity of the Iraqi who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush, saying the journalist confessed that the mastermind of the attack was a militant known for slitting his victims’ throats.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081222/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_iraq

Zaidi sues Iraq security guards for assault
Iraqi journalist Montazer Al Zaidi has filed a complaint against security guards whom he accuses of beating him and assaulting him after the arrest.
http://www.alsumaria.tv/en/Iraq-News/1-25903-Zaidi-sues-Iraq-security-guards-for-assault.html

Shoe thrower exposes Bush’s arrogance
Using humor to shrug off the incident shows how little regard the president has for the opinions of those most affected by administration policies.  The Times’ Dec. 16 editorial, ” Bush’s shoe toss,” takes an appropriate and interesting look at the “history of footwear and politics” and the reactions by President Bush and the Iraqis immediately following the incident. The Times notes how deftly Bush ducked and made light of the “size 10” shoes hurled at him, and we read about how the shoe was “laced” with blame, insult and pent-up anger. We also read about how deeply insulting such a “shoe episode” is in the Arab world, especially when accompanied by the words “you dog.”
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-dewind23-2008dec23,0,6219043.story

Arabs: Glorifying the Shoe

Iraqi protestors are raising their shoes. Children are playing with shoes in the streets of Baghdad. The brother of Iraqi journalist Montadhar al Zaidi shows off his brother’s shoes with pride.
http://www.aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=2&id=15132

Arabs lavish jewels on Secretary of State Rice
President George W. Bush’s foreign policies may be unpopular in the Middle East, but Arab leaders showered his top diplomat with jewelry worth far more than a quarter of a million dollars last year.
http://feeds.sfgate.com/click. phdo?i=94ab28245a7b574a88465005f8c453 78

Why Did Cheney Confess On National Television?
Cheney’s admission of guilt is a plea for a presidential pardon .
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX6KSiA_gbo


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