Saturday, December 01, 2012

November 2012

To know and to care are the only antidotes for ignorance and apathy. – Paul Balles

Intro: Well, this month was different.  Big stories took up most of the media space, and that included Hurricane Sandy, the US election, the Petreaus affair (nice touch that the FBI spied on the director of the CIA) and its many complications, then the Gaza assault, followed by the truce. [While the world focused on Gaza, many more people were killed in Syria. Syria is a huge, huge mess. Iraq is not doing well either. DR Congo is becoming more of a mess every day. – all of that missed in the corporate media.] At the end of the month, there was a seemingly endless discussion about the “fiscal cliff” in our corporate media.

But here are some stories you might have missed:

USA – The US Navy is now arming drone boats.

USA – Homeland Security now has underwater drones.

USA – Obama administration sets out to “codify” drone rules for next administration. [Since Obama does not care about legislative or judicial oversight, why would the next President?]

USA – Record number of people on food stamps in August 2012. PBS has made a documentary about poor kids in the USA.

USA – The US government battles Iraq and Afghanistan over detention without charges.  The Obama administration fights to spread its own values on the core, fundamental right of due process.  [They are arguing to spread the practice of indefinite detention without a trial.  How far we have fallen.]

USA – Militia groups in US grow to more than 1,200.

USA – US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack strikes again. Food pantries are hurting while farmers are “selling their crops overseas” at record high prices due to the drought and higher demand. Of the corn crop, 40% goes to ethanol, 40% to feed animals and 20% for consumers to eat. In August the UN asked the US to stop using so much corn for biofuels given world-wide hunger. Vilsack rejected the notion.

USA – The US Senate passed a non-binding resolution that backs a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan. [Some good news!]

Environment – Are you 28 yet? No? Then you have never seen a cooler-than-average month.

Environment – For the first time ever, a large tanker has sailed north through the Arctic on its way from Norway to Japan, cutting the travel time by 20 days. Global warming has made this possible.

Jordan – Protesters called for the downfall of the regime on 11-16-12.

Gaza – Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Gaza and Israel collapsed today when Israel launched a major escalation.  In airstrikes almost certainly involving U.S.-made F-16 warplanes and/or U.S.-made Apache helicopters, Israel’s air force assassinated Ahmad Jaabari, the longtime military leader of Hamas. 11-14-12

Gaza – Massive Israeli bombing of Gaza started on 11-14-12.  Hamas fired rockets into Israel, killing three.  Israeli bombing killed 27 by the evening of 11-16-12, and seven of them were children.  Israel calls up 75,000 Reservists. The US Senate votes unanimously to support the Israeli attack on Gaza. Also supported by Obama and the US House of Representatives. As of the morning of 11-19-12, over 100 Palestinians and 3 Israelis were killed.  Twenty four of the killed Palestinians were children.

Gaza – Ceasefire is place on 11-21-12. After eight days of attacks, the death toll is 170 Palestinians and 5 Israelis. 50 of the dead were children.

Gaza – In spite of Hamas’s support for the Free Syrian Army, Iran and Hezbollah still express their support during the attack by Israel.

Palestine – UN General Assembly recognizes the Palestinian state. [More good news!]

Israel – Israel is attacked by Anonymous.  More than 44 million hacking attempts have been made on Israeli government websites since Wednesday when Israel began its Gaza offensive, according to Israeli officials.  [Israel claims most of these attacks came from around the world, but the majority were from inside Israel and occupied Palestine.] Anonymous said on 11-17-12 that it had taken down or erased the databases of nearly 700 Israeli private and public websites, including that of the Bank of Jerusalem finance house.

Israel – They authorized the building of 3,000 more settlements after Palestine is recognized as a state at the UN.

Israel – Israel and the US are planning to build a $100 million nuclear bunker near Tel Aviv.

World – Protests around the world against the Israeli bombing of Gaza.

Anonymous – They stand with Gaza.  They have attacked Israeli websites in response to an Israeli threat to turn off telecommunication links in Gaza.

Nigeria – Massive oil spill by Exxon spreads over 20 miles.

Libya – Dozens of gunmen have occupied Libya’s parliament to register their anger over the formation of the new government. They want some ministers removed who are suspected of “links to the late Muammar Gaddafi’s regime”. Trucks carrying anti-aircraft guns are outside Parliament. 11-1-12

Libya – The man who led Libya’s rebel movement at the height of U.S. and NATO involvement in last year’s uprising has been ordered to face questions over the assassination of the top rebel army general whose troops helped end Gadhafi’s regime.

Libya – Petraeus’s mistress spilled the beans last month in saying that there were Libyan militiamen being held at the Benghazi CIA compound. The CIA denies this.  [Meanwhile, 22,000 shoulder-held missiles are still unaccounted for.  They were part of Gaddafi’s weapons. They are reportedly going to Syria and some may have ended up in Gaza.]

Libya – Libyan security chief assassinated in Benghazi. The Libyan security chief who led an anti-militia crackdown in the wake of the killing of the country's US ambassador has been assassinated in Benghazi, raising questions about the government's ability to impose the rule of law. [There is no ‘rule of law’ in a civil war zone.]  

Libya – Petraeus told lawmakers that the agency had secretly assessed that al Qaida-linked gunman attacked the US consulate in Benghazi.  [November 16]

Libya/Syria – Stolen anti-aircraft missiles from Libya appear to be in Syria.  They also showed up in Gaza. 

Syria – Syrian rebels executed at least a half-dozen unarmed government soldiers after attacks on checkpoints near the town of Saraqeb in northwest Syria.  At least 28 soldiers and five opposition fighters were killed in the rebel operation, which targeted checkpoints on roads connecting Saraqeb to Aleppo and Ariha, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 11-1-12

Syria – A top U.S. diplomat met into the wee hours Wednesday with leaders of the Syrian National Council to discuss future coordination with them, just a week after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had chastised them as being out of touch with the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad and said the United State no longer would recognize the council as a key player in the rebellion.

Syria – GCC recognizes new Syrian opposition forces.  [What could go wrong?]

Syria – Israel shells Syria after Golan Heights mortar blast for second day. [Nov 12, 2012]

Syria – Rebels take villages near Golan Heights. During a tour of the Golan Heights, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave a scathing assessment of Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and said Israel will remain "vigilant and alert." [But the rebels are not working for Assad, they are fighting Assad’s forces.]

Syria – Kurds in disputed town on Turkish border ask Syrian rebels to withdraw. “Every place the Free Syrian Army controls has been destroyed,” Suleiman Ismail, a Kurdish National Council representative in Dar Bassiyeh, a predominantly Kurdish city about 30 miles east of Ras al Ayn.

Syria – Fresh fighting between Kurdish militiamen and Syrian rebels erupted on Tuesday [November 20] in the northern Syria town of Ras al-Ain, where dozens have died since the new front in Syria's complex civil war opened last week.  The casualties included four Kurdish fighters, a local Kurdish official, and 24 members of the Islamist Al-Nusra Front and Gharba al-Sham rebel battalions.  The Kurdish fighters are members of the People's Defence Units, the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is linked to Turkey's rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).,-rebels-clash-in-northern-Syri.aspx

Syria –At least 122 people were killed nationwide on Monday [November 19] in Syria -- 37 civilians, 28 soldiers and 57 rebels, according to the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics in civilian and military hospitals.,-rebels-clash-in-northern-Syri.aspx

Syria – Turkey made it clear on Thursday [November 15] that it officially recognized a newly formed rebel coalition as the legitimate leader of the Syrian people, an important step in the group’s effort to attract legitimacy and, it hopes, more weapons to bring about the end of President Assad’s rule.  On Monday, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait — recognized the group, known as the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. On Tuesday, France became the first Western country to do so, and it said it was considering providing arms to the insurgent groups within Syria that have been engaged in a 20-month-long war with the government that has claimed nearly 40,000 lives.

Syria – Islamist groups reject opposition coalition. A group of extremist Islamist factions in Syria has rejected the country's new opposition coalition, saying in a video statement they have formed an "Islamic state" in the embattled city of Aleppo to underline that they want nothing to do with the Western-backed bloc.

Syria – The Pentagon has told the Obama administration that any military effort to seize Syria’s stockpiles of chemical weapons would require upward of 75,000 troops, amid increasing concern that the militant group Hezbollah has set up small training camps close to some of the chemical weapons depots, according to senior American officials.

Syria – With Syria’s eastern oilfields in rebel hands, a brisk business in pirated crude grows.

Syria – More than 40,000 people have been killed in 20 months of conflict between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and those fighting for his overthrow, a violence monitoring group said on Friday. [November 23] Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said about half the fatalities were civilians and the other half split about evenly between rebels and government soldiers. "The figure is likely much higher as the rebels and the government lie about how many of their forces have died to make it look like they are winning," Abdelrahman told Reuters.

Syria – Syrian newspaper named 142 dead foreign fighters. A Syrian newspaper yesterday published the names of 142 foreign fighters from 18 countries the regime said were killed alongside rebels in Syria's conflict. "Most are jihadists who belong to Al Qaeda's network, or who joined it after arriving in Syria," the paper reported.

Syria – Two car bombs killed at least 34 people in a district of Damascus loyal to President Bashar Assad on Wednesday [November 28] in the deadliest attack on the Syrian capital in months.

Syria – Human Rights Watch has accused Syrian rebels of using young boys for fighting.

Syria – Rebels have used surface-to-air missile to strike down two aircraft in northern Syria.

Syria – Syrian rebel films himself shooting ten unarmed prisoners.

Syria - Seventeen young Sunni men from the Lebanese city of Tripoli were killed in the Syrian border town of Tal Kalakh, a Lebanese security source and an Islamist leader said. [It appears they were executed by Syrian forces.]

Mali – European armies are expected to send up to 400 special forces troops to Mali to join an African-led mission against Islamists allied to al-Qaeda occupying the country’s desert north, diplomats said. [Because, of course, the white men are only going to Africa to help, just like they do everywhere else in the world. War is coming to Mali, mainly thanks to the Obama administration.]

Yemen – US drones hit Yemen a day after Obama wins the election.

Iran – The Pentagon says an Iranian military plane fired upon, but did not hit, an unarmed U.S. drone aircraft a week ago in what a spokesman said was international airspace over the Persian Gulf.

Iran – US denies visas to Iranian officials for U.N. meeting. [And this is why the U.N. headquarters should not be in the USA.]

Iraq – Two Iraqi civilians were killed and three more wounded in a Turkish airstrike on northern Iraqi Kurdistan targetting Kurdish separatists. [November 7]

Iraq – Turkish ground forces carried out a two-day cross-border operation targeting Kurdish militants in northern Iraq on November 5-6, Turkish media reported on Wednesday.

Iraq – At least 17 people have been killed and dozens wounded in bombings across Iraq, on the eve of the Islamic new year and the holy month of Muharram. [Another source says 19 were killed and over 150 wounded.]
Iraq – 5.3 million children in Iraq still deprived of many rights.  Child rights violations across Iraq that need to be addressed include: inadequate access to and promotion of health services; lack of access to quality education; violence against children in schools and families; psychological trauma from years of extreme violence; discrimination; prolonged detention in juvenile facilities; insufficient attention to the special needs of children with disabilities and who are not in their family environment; and lack of access to information and participation in cultural life.  While the majority of children in Iraq experience at least one violation of their fundamental rights, around 1.7 million children, or 10 per cent of all Iraqi children, have most of their rights fulfilled.

Iraq – Two people were killed and 10 others wounded in clashes Friday between Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish forces in Tuz Khurmato, a town in a disputed area of northern Iraq, police officials in Kirkuk and Baghdad told CNN. [There have been several incidents like this in Iraq this month, particularly around Kirkuk.]

Iraq – Iraqi Kurds send more troops into standoff with Iraq army.

Iraq – 29 killed, 126 wounded in eight car bombings.  [November 27] This happened in Kirkuk and Baghdad.  No claim of responsibility, al Qaeda suspected.

Iraq – At least 49 killed and 150 injured in bombs in Hilla and Karbala. [November 29]

Pakistan – Obama victory infuriates Pakistani drone victims.

Pakistan – At least 36 people killed in string of Pakistan attacks in the cities of Karachi, Quetta and Rawalpindi. The attacks in Karachi and Rawalpindi targeted members of the Shia sect.

Afghanistan – British soldier killed by insider attack.

Afghanistan – Logar, a strategic province that neighbors Kabul and is home to an all-important copper mine, is increasingly under Taliban control as NATO sources begin to withdraw.

Afghanistan – Daily reports of violence at this blog:

Cambodia – US expands counterterrorism assistance in Cambodia in spite of humanr rights concerns.  [The article refers to human rights concerns about Cambodia’s leaders; I have more concerns about Obama human rights records.]

Bahrain – Twenty three Bahraini health workers sentenced to prison for treating Bahraini protesters and taking part in demonstrations. 

Egypt – President Morsi has granted himself sweeping new powers.  Major protests break out.

Saudi Arabia – They implemented an electronic tracking system for women when they happen to cross a border.  A text message goes to their male “guardians”.

Honduras – US State Department issues a warning about Honduras to US travelers.  Honduras has become the homicide capital of the world since the US-supported coup in June 2009.  [Thanks, Obama!]

Congo – Congo once again descends into chaos. Such is the cycle of despair in the Democratic Republic of the Congo – scene of massacres, of mass rape, of children forced to fight, of families fleeing in fear again and again, so many sordid events that rarely make the headlines. It can seem a conflict of crushing complexity rooted in thorny issues of identity and race, involving murderous militias with an alphabet of acronyms and savagely exploited by grasping outsiders. But consider one simple fact: right now, there is the risk of another round breaking out in the deadliest conflict since the Second World War.

Congo – “The resurgent conflict in the vast African nation of Congo involves several armed groups, at least two other countries and the minerals [gold, tin, tungsten, copper, coltan and cobalt] . . . It’s complicated but it boils down to a struggle for wealth, ethnic animosity and a lack of central government control.” Concise, clearly-written article on a very complex and tragic situation.

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