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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

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August 2008

Al-Jazeera’s report on Free Gaza arrival

Really interesting to see the speaker for Israel’s hutzpah and how he reverses the situation : the blockade is enforced by Hamas !

See Part II here

Israel releases 198 Palestinian prisoners, including 32-year detainee

Date: 25 / 08 / 2008 Time: 09:58


A freed Palestinian prisoner is greeted
by relatives in Bethlehem [Ma’anImages]

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed 198 newly liberated Palestinian prisoners at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

The scene at the Muqata’a was one of pronouncedly mixed emotions: jubilation at the release of the prisoners, and sadness for the 11,000 Palestinians still in Israeli jails. One Sunday night alone, Israel seized six more Palestinians during a raid in Ramallah.

“We’ll never feel comfortable unless all prisoners are freed and prisons are cleared. There will be no peace without releasing all the prisoners,” said Abbas, speaking to the assembled prisoners, families, and PA officials.

Addressing women prisoners who are still imprisoned, he said, “Your turn will come.”

Turning to the political issues at stake in his negotiations with Israel, he asserted that the status of “Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and borders either can be solved together, at once, or we will not accept other solutions. ”

Most prominent among the freed prisoners is Sa’id Al-Atabah, who spent 32 years in jail. Another senior prisoner released on Monday is Abu Ali Yatta, who spent 28 years in jail, as well as senior Fatah leader Husam Khadir who served six years.

READ ON

FREE GAZA BOATS ARRIVE IN GAZA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Date : 08-23-2008

GAZA (23 August 2008) – Two small boats, the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty, successfully landed in Gaza early this evening, breaking the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

The boats were crewed by a determined group of international human rights workers from the Free Gaza Movement. They had spent two years organizing the effort, raising money by giving small presentations at churches, mosques, synagogues, and in the homes of family, friends, and supporters.

They left Cyprus on Thursday morning, sailing over 350 kilometers through choppy seas. They made the journey despite threats that the Israeli government would use force to stop them. They continued sailing although they lost almost all communications and navigation systems due to outside jamming by some unknown party. They arrived in Gaza to the cheers and joyful tears of hundreds of Palestinians who came out to the beaches to welcome them.

Two small boats, 42 determined human rights workers, one simple message: “The world has not forgotten the people of this land. Today, we are all from Gaza.”

Tonight, the cheering will be heard as far away as Tel Aviv and Washington D.C.

QUOTES FOR PUBLICATION

“We recognize that we’re two, humble boats, but what we’ve accomplished is to show that average people from around the world can mobilize to create change. We do not have to stay silent in the face of injustice. Reaching Gaza today, there is such a sense of hope, and hope is what mobilizes people everywhere.”
–Huwaida Arraf.

Huwaida is Palestinian-American, and also a citizen of Israel. She’s a human rights activist and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement. In 2007 she received her Juris Doctor from American University in Washington D.C. Currently she teaches Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at Al Quds University in Jerusalem. Huwaida sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Liberty.

“We’re the first ones in 41 years to enter Gaza freely – but we won’t be the last. We welcome the world to join us and see what we’re seeing.”
–Paul Larudee, Ph.D.

Paul is a cofounder of the Free Gaza Movement and a San Francisco Bay Area activist on the issue of justice in Palestine. He sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Liberty.

“What we’ve done shows that people can do what governments should have done. If people stand up against injustice, we can truly be the conscience of the world.”
–Jeff Halper, Ph.D.

Jeff is an Israeli professor of anthropology and coordinator of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), a non-violent Israeli peace and human rights organization that resists the Israeli occupation on the ground. In 2006, the American Friends Service Committee nominated Jeff to receive the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with Palestinian intellectual and activist Ghassan Andoni. Jeff sailed to Gaza aboard the SS Free Gaza.

For More Information, please contact:

(Gaza) Huwaida Arraf, tel. +972 599 130 426

(Gaza) Jeff Halper, tel. +972 542 002 642

(Cyprus) Osama Qashoo, tel. +357 99 793 595 / osamaqashoo@gmail.com

(Jerusalem) Angela Godfrey-Goldstein, tel. +972 547 366 393 / angela@icahd.org

They are sailing to Gaza

Forty-six international human rights workers are now sailing to Gaza through international waters with one overriding goal: to break the Israeli siege that Israel has imposed on the civilian population of Gaza. Any action designed to harm civilians constitutes collective punishment (in the Palestinians’ case, for voting the “wrong” way) and is both illegal under international law and profoundly immoral.


Huwaida laying roses for 34 USS Liberty soldiers, shortly before departure

Our mission is to expose the illegality of Israel’s actions, and to break through the siege in order to express our solidarity with the suffering people of Gaza (and of the occupied Palestinian territory as a whole) and to create a free and regular channel between Gaza and the outside world.

SEE HERE

Poets do not die, but only pretend to

Marcel Khalifé : “Would you believe me when I say to you that poets do not die, but only pretend to ?”

For many years, my music has enjoyed a special, and especially gratifying, association with the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish.

Our respective corpora have grown to be reminiscent of each other, so that the name of each of the twain, instantly and without reflection, would evoke the name of the other.

How very appropriate, for all of my musical milestones that punctuate my thirty-year career, beginning with Promises of the Storm and culminating with The Doves Fly, are graced with the lyricism and poignancy that are uniquely Darwishian.

Even before we got to know each other personally, I felt as though Darwish’s poetry, with its divine assertiveness and prophetic cadences, had been revealed to me and for me.

I could nearly savor his mother’s bread that has become iconic to his readers. I could feel the eyes of his Rita as deeply as I could feel the pain that his Joseph suffered at the hands of his treacherous siblings, and I could identify with his passport, which I fancied carried my picture, just as personally as I could identify with his olive grove, his sand, and his sparrows. They were all, at a personal level, mine.

“And I adore my life because if I die I will be ashamed of my mother’s tears”- Darwish

Perhaps, this is the only time that Mahmoud Darwish felt ashamed and it is because he departed before his mother. He left her the tears to shed but not a poem to eulogize him with.

I am the one who carried his poetry and traveled with it to far away places. I am the one who carried his soil and longing to his mother, his Rita, his olive tree and grape vine. Would you believe me when I say to you that poets do not die, but only pretend to ?

Marcel Khalifé

From al-Oufok here

“Caroline: Pull a Cheney!” An Open Letter to Caroline Kennedy

It is not that I endorse Obama wholeheartedly, far from it, but he is the lesser of two evils. As for Moore, I have supported the positions he took so far.

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008
“Caroline: Pull a Cheney!” An Open Letter to Caroline Kennedy(head of the Obama VP search team) from Michael Moore

Dear Caroline,

We’ve never met, so I hope you don’t find this letter too presumptuous or inappropriate. As its contents involve the public’s business, I am sending this to you via the public on the Internet. I knew your brother John. He was a great guy, and I know he would’ve had a ball during this thrilling and historic election year. We all miss him dearly.

Barack Obama selected you to head up his search for a vice presidential candidate. It appears we may be just days (hours?) away from learning who that choice will be.

READ ON

News from the free Gaza boats

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

At 8:30 am Cyprus time, the Free Gaza and the Liberty rounded the last corner
of this lovely island, escorted by the Cypriot Coast Guard, and pulled into on
the Northern side of the commercial port in Larnaca.

“We’ve been waiting a long time to unify our group, which has been split
between Cyprus and Crete. We are excited to combine both groups who have worked
so hard on this project and are so enthusiastic about setting out for Gaza. On
the way in today, we had the Cypriot authorities escorting us. Now, it’s time
for the world to escort us to Gaza.” Said Paul Larudee, one of the
organizers.

After a thorough inspection of both boats, the port authority will let the 20
passengers from Cyprus on board to make final preparations, including a
memorial service for the more than 5000 Palestinians who have lost their lives
since September 2000 as well as the 34 sailors aboard the USS Liberty who were
assassinated by Israel in 1967. They, like the Palestinians, will not be
forgotten. That service should be on Thursday, August 21 just before the boats
begin their final journey to Gaza.

“It was exhilarating to watch the boats come in after waiting so patiently
over the past two weeks. Seeing the sail on the Free Gaza followed to port by
the Liberty has been worth the wait. Now we will get the boats ready to sail to
Gaza, because that is our final destination. We are looking forward to going as
soon as possible. ” Said a delighted Fathi Jaouadi, one of the passengers on
board.

The boats will be in port for the next two days for media to photograph. The
human rights workers on board will also be available for interviews.

Their website

At JFK Airport, Denying Basic Rights Is Just Another Day at the Office

By Emily Feder, AlterNet. Posted August 18, 200

I was recently stopped by Homeland Security as I was returning from a trip to Syria. What I saw in the hours that followed shocked and disturbed me.

I arrived at JFK Airport two weeks ago after a short vacation to Syria and presented my American passport for re-entry to the United States.

After 28 hours of traveling, I had settled into a hazy awareness that this was the last, most familiar leg of a long journey. I exchanged friendly words with the Homeland Security official who was recording my name in his computer. He scrolled through my passport, and when his thumb rested on my Syrian visa, he paused.

Jerking toward the door of his glass-enclosed booth, he slid my passport into a dingy green plastic folder and walked down the hallway, motioning for me to follow with a flick of his wrist. Where was he taking me, I asked him. “You’ll find out,” he said.

We got to an enclosed holding area in the arrivals section of the airport. He shoved the folder into my hand and gestured toward four sets of Homeland Security guards sitting at large desks. Attached to each desk were metal poles capped with red, white and blue siren lights.

I approached two guards carrying weapons and wearing uniforms similar to New York City police officers, but they shook their heads, laughed and said, “Over there,” pointing in the direction of four overflowing holding pens.

I approached different desks until I found an official who nodded and shoved my green folder in a crowded metal file holder. When I asked him why I was there, he glared at me, took a sip from his water bottle, bit into a sandwich, and began to dig between his molars with his forefinger. I found a seat next to a man who looked about my age — in his late 20s — and waited.

READ ON

Military wants to study mind-reading

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) — Here’s a mind-bending idea: The U.S. military is paying scientists to study ways to read people’s thoughts.

Scientists use electroencephalography, or brain wave-reading technology, to measure brain activity.
Scientists use electroencephalography, or brain wave-reading technology, to measure brain activity.

The hope is that the research could someday lead to a gadget capable of translating the thoughts of soldiers who suffered brain injuries in combat or even stroke patients in hospitals. But the research also raises concerns that such mind-reading technology could be used to interrogate the enemy.

Armed with a $4 million grant from the Army, scientists are studying brain signals to try to decipher what a person is thinking and to whom the person wants to direct the message.

The project is a collaboration among researchers at the University of California, Irvine; Carnegie Mellon University; and the University of Maryland.

The scientists use brain wave-reading technology known as electroencephalography, or EEG, which measures the brain’s electrical activity through electrodes placed on the scalp.

It works like this: Volunteers wear an electrode cap and are asked to think of a word chosen by the researchers, who then analyze the brain activity.

READ ON

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