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Gaza crisis: Grandfather in mourning after family of 11 killed in Israeli airstrike on their home November 20, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Foreign Policy, Genocide, Israel, Gaza & Middle East.
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Roger’s note: According to the Israeli government, a nine month old baby who allows his fellow Gazans to vote for Hamas deserves to die.  And, of course, as President Obama so eloquently stated, Israel has the right to defend itself from a virtually hopeless and beseiged people who have about 1% of the military resources that Israel does.

A man carries the body of one of the Dalou children killed on Sunday when an Israeli missile struck their two-storey home in a residential area of Gaza City.
By Mitch Potter Washington Bureau
Toronto Star, November 20,2012
GAZA CITY—If the gates of hell are to swing shut now over the Gaza Strip amid talk of possible ceasefire, they will leave Jamal Dalou forever locked in their grip.

Patriarch of a family that is no longer, Dalou, 50, stared into the pancaked rubble that a day earlier was his three-storey home, his face a mask of alternating shock, sorrow and stunned defiance.

None of it had really sunk in yet, even as the Palestinian cause had hoisted him instantly from obscure market vendor to become the totem of Gaza’s newest misery. The chaotic funeral procession was over, and with it, Dalou’s last glimpse of his wife Tahani, his sister Suheila, his son Mohammed, and four grandkids, including his 9-month-old namesake, Jamal.

Eleven family members in all, with one body still believed trapped under the three-metre-high mound of broken concrete and twisted steel. And parts of the others, one neighbour whispered quietly in an aside to the Toronto Star.

All from a single Sunday afternoon missile strike the Israel Defense Forces said was meant for a local militant commander responsible for 200 to 300 rockets fired from Gaza in recent days. Faced with widening outrage a day later, the IDF said it was “still looking into” what happened but characterized the civilian casualties as an accident.

The two sides offered contradictory narratives as to whether any such commander even lives in these streets of Gaza City’s North Rimal neighbourhood.

Dalou readily acknowledged his son’s ties to Gaza’s Hamas-controlled government. But he and his neighbours insisted the 28-year-old served simply as a local police officer and not a member of the militant Qassam brigades.

The question alone prompted contempt from Dalou, as he and his three surviving sons received condolences under a mourning tent.

“Does a nine-month-old baby feeding at his mother’s breast have a gun in his hand?” Dalou said. “This area is empty of rockets, we have nothing.

“Israel is the stronger party — the sky, the sea, the land, everything is in their hands. And now they have destroyed my family. All the women, all the children. Gone.”

Thousands joined in the frenzied funeral procession, thrusting fists in the air in a codified ritual of martyrdom so familiar to Gaza. A Hamas minister spoke of vengeance, telling mourners: “This blood which was provided by your family will not go in vain. The rights of these children, these flowers, is on our neck.”

What was different this time was the presence of an Egyptian delegation, which later visited the Dalou mourning tent, offering bear-hugs for the patriarch and a blistering message from the neighbouring Arab Spring, intended for global consumption.

“We come here from the Muslim Brotherhood, from the salafists, from the liberals — all the parties of the Egyptian revolution — to say we are with you,” Egyptian activist Safuat Hijazi told the mourners.

“Down, down with Israel. We say, generation after generation, destroy Tel Aviv. And we ask, where are the others — the ones living in the palaces? The Gulf kings, the emirs with money filling up American banks. We want you to stand with us.”

As the six-day death toll rose to more than 100 Palestinians and three Israelis, Egyptian mediators working toward a negotiated ceasefire in Cairo signalled that a breakthrough may be in sight.

A survey by Israeli newspaper Haaretz showed that while 84 per cent of Israelis support an air campaign aimed at suppressing rockets from Gaza, only 30 per cent favour a ground invasion. That, coupled with the fact that the country is vectoring toward new elections in January, appeared to leave at least some space for compromise on the Israeli side.

“We prefer the diplomatic solution if it’s possible. If not we can escalate,” an Israeli official told the Associated Press. But Israel is demanding “international guarantees” that Hamas will not simply rearm or use the Egyptian Sinai next door to renew attacks in the coming months.

Khaled Meshal, the exiled Hamas leader, maintained a firm stance in Cairo, telling reporters that Israel must satisfy the group’s demands for an end to the blockade of Gaza if it expects the rocket barrage to end.

“We don’t accept Israeli conditions because it is the aggressor,” Meshal said. “We want a ceasefire along with meeting our demands.”

With the diplomatic window still ajar, the tempo of violence eased slightly Monday. But as night fell over Gaza a series of concussion explosions resumed.

Israeli officials, meanwhile, said at least 100 rockets were fired toward Israel during the day, bringing to more than 1,000 the number fired since Wednesday.

Some 35,000 Israeli army regulars and reservists, meanwhile, remain mobilized on the edge of the narrow Gaza Strip, awaiting orders to move in or stand down. And inside Gaza itself, the broken bones of bombarded Hamas government infrastructure, from police stations to political offices and even the Gaza City football stadium, suggest Israel may be near to exhausting its list of aerial targets.

For Jamal Dalou, who still has barely begun to process his loss, the idea of ceasefire sparked only an exhausted shrug.

“We want to work to relax, to live our lives. Not to come home and see our kids buried. But I still have God. That’s all I can say.”

Author Naomi Klein arrested in oilsands protest September 3, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, Energy, Environment.
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Demonstrators, including Canadian activist Naomi Klein (fouth from left), hold up signs in front of the White House in Washington, Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, to protest the Keystone XL Pipeline project in the US, and the Tar Sands Development in Alberta Canada.
Mitch Potter, Toronto Star, September 3, 2011

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WASHINGTON—More than 1,000 people have been busted at the gates of the White House the past two weeks, as the most ambitious of climate protests against Canadian oil comes to a head.

Toronto author and activist Naomi Klein was not planning to be among them. Support the cause? Sure. Speak to the anti-tarsands faithful? Absolutely. But to actually get arrested?

No, Klein and the other Canadian protesters in Washington agreed — that is a stand best left to their U.S. counterparts, who need not worry whether such close encounters with law enforcement will hamper their ability to cross borders in the future.

Yet there was Klein on Friday, being led away by police in the latest harvest of detainees after a last-second decision to put her liberty on the line in opposition to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

Two weeks ago, when the rolling protests began, the detentions lasted two full days. But the sheer volume of arrests — Klein was among 166 taken away Friday — has forced DC authorities to accelerate processing. Barely two hours after she was taken away, Klein was let go. Like everyone else, she was cited for “failure to obey.”

“I wasn’t planning to get arrested,” Klein told the Star minutes after she was sprung.

“It was a last-minute decision. I was sitting there with several indigenous leaders from Canada. And when it became clear they intended to stay where they were and expose themselves to arrest, well . . .” She did the same.

For Klein, it was a first-ever arrest. “I write. And I’m an activist. But I’m not a chanter, not a marcher. I’ve never been arrested before.

“But that’s what’s been happened for two weeks. Climate scientists, landowners, a wide range of people who all feel this same sense of urgency. The feeling is that we can’t just talk about the stakes on Twitter and leave it at that. If we mean what we say then we have to act like it.”

Klein is unsure yet whether the bust will come back haunt her in future cross-border travels. For now, her speedy release means she will be free to fulfill plans to address Saturday’s campaign-ending protest in Lafayette Park opposite the White House.

The overarching question in D.C., however, is whether the cause is already lost.

Though no final decision on the $7 billion TransCanada pipeline is expected for 90 days, all the body language emanating from the Obama administration suggests minds are made up and the project to nearly double the American intact of carbon-intensive Alberta bitumen is a go.

Last week the U.S. State Department gave the strongest endorsement yet of the plan to build the metre-wide steel straw from Alberta to Texas in its final environmental assessment.

U.S. Energy Secretary Steve Chu, in a subsequent interview, framed the issue as “not perfect, but it’s a trade-off.

“It’s certainly true that having Canada as a supplier for our oil is much more comforting than to have other countries supply our oil,” Chu said.

And Friday, Team Obama was hastily retreating on another key environmental policy, instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to delay plans to tighten ozone standards. The Sierra Club, among others, denounced the decision as a gift to “coal and oil polluters.”

Many longtime interpreters of Washington’s political tea leaves suggest the final political considerations for Keystone XL come down to jobs. A $7 billion, shovel-ready project here and now, for a President whose future likely depends on how Americans are working in November, 2012, when Obama comes up for re-election.

The political risks for Obama are vast, insofar as many of those arrested these past two weeks are among his truest believers — the young, grassroots activists who help lift him to power in 2008, fully expecting an administration that would follow through on its promise to wean the country off fossil fuels.

One of them, Courtney Hight, acknowledged her discomfort in an interview with the Star. The Floridian activist was “one of the first boots on the ground for Obama,” dedicated three years of her life as his campaign’s Youth Vote Director. She went on to join the White House Council on Environmental Quality before shifting back to activism as co-director of the Energy Action Coalition.

She was arrested Thursday, outside the front door of the President she thought agreed with her.

“It feels inherently weird and uncomfortable for me to do something remotely critical of this president,” Hight told the Star after her release.

“But I feel ownership over his current position. I am disappointed he is not being stronger, although it is understandable given the continuing attacks he is facing,” said Hight.

“We need old Barack Obama to rise above the politics and just barrel through. And so getting arrested, if that is what it takes, is meant to remind him of the things he once believed — things I think he still believes — that inspired millions of young people to support him.”

None are ready to concede defeat on Keystone XL. As Klein says, if the pro-tarsands lobby was “100 per cent convinced the deal is done they would not be blanketing the U.S. TV networks with ads trying to sell this thing to the public.”

But Klein observed that if Obama ultimately approves Keystone XL, part of the fallout will be to free the broader climate movement from the illusion that “there is a saviour in the White House who just needs to be awakened to come to the rescue.”

The protests against Keystone XL, says Klein, are simply one facet of a broader, multi-pronged campaign targeting the industry through multiple pressure points, from consumer campaigns to boycotts to agitating individual corporations to commit to avoiding tarsands oil.

“Powerful movements are built on strategy, not saviours. So if it turns out that Obama approves this pipeline, the movement is not going to crawl away, it’s going to change strategy,” she said.

“It will be healthy for people to know there isn’t a saviour in the White House. We have to build the movement we want. And the strategy can’t be trying wake up one person.”

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