THE HANDSTAND

APRIL 2004



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from the Islamic Society of Britain.....
In a typically forthright piece in today's edition of the Guardian, Max Hastings - the former editor of the Daily Telegraph (1986-1995) and London's Evening Standard (1995-2002) - throws light on the pro-Israeli influence that so blights coverage of the Middle East in UK newspapers.

Hastings' view that aside from the Guardian and the Independent, no other national UK paper covers the Middle East in a balanced manner, is one that we have repeatedly stated at the ISB Open Egroup.

For those of you who want to obtain a detailed and frank insight into how national newspapers operate and the influence proprietors often bring to bear on their newspapers, we would strongly recommend Max Hastings' splendid book, Editor: An Inside Story of Newspapers, published in 2003.

A grotesque choice http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1166637,00.html.
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A grotesque choice

...Israel's repression of the Palestinian people is fuelling a resurgence of anti-semitism.....

Max Hastings
Thursday March 11, 2004
Regret this is only an excerpt of Max Hasting's article

I feel a commitment to the Jewish people, founded on awareness partly of their history, partly of their genius. Yet I see no reason why this should prevent me from asserting that the policies of Sharon and Netanyahu bring shame upon Israel.

It is ironic that Israel's domestic critics - former intelligence chiefs and serving fighter pilots - have shown themselves much braver than overseas Jews. If Israel persists with its current policies, and Jewish lobbies around the world continue to express solidarity with repression of the Palestinians, then genuine anti-semitism is bound to increase. Herein lies the lobbyists' recklessness. By insisting that those who denounce the Israeli state's behaviour are enemies of the Jewish people, they seek to impose a grotesque choice.

The Israeli government's behaviour to the Palestinians breeds a despair that finds its only outlet in terrorism. No one can ever criticise the Jewish diaspora for asserting Israel's right to exist. But the most important service the world's Jews can render to Israel today is to persuade its people that the only plausible result of their government's behaviour is a terrible loneliness in the world.

Max Hastings is a former editor of the Daily Telegraph and the London Evening Standard


The Murder of a Journalist in Iraq

Robert Fisk - The Independent April 3, 2004

Yesterday morning, I sat down in a Baghdad home with a poor old man and his daughter who were mourning their adored son and brother who was killed by American soldiers. Now, you may ask why I do not write about Fallujah and the atrocities which occurred there three days ago: the cruel and atrocious murder of four Americans who were hauled, begging for their lives, from their two sports utility vehicles, burned, mutilated, dragged through the streets and then hanged naked - what was left of their bodies - from a decaying British railway bridge over the Euphrates river. The answer is simple. US proconsul Paul Bremer called their deaths "barbaric and inexcusable". Paul Bremer was right. But their deaths were not inexplicable.

The old man was Abdul-Aziz al-Amairi - his daughter's name is Sundus - and their son and brother was a journalist, a news cameraman whose brains I saw lying on the back seat of the car in which he, Ali Abdul Aziz, and his reporter colleague, Ali al-Khatib, were shot dead by US troops just over two weeks ago. Because I almost lost my own life on the Afghan border in December 2001, I take a special interest in such people - and their fate. They were journalists.

So here are a few facts. Two Thursdays ago, a rocket smashed into a hotel in southern Baghdad. The spanking new Arab news channel Arabia sent its crew to cover the story. The two Alis arrived with their driver, Abu Mariam, at the scene of the attack, parked their car 250m away and went up to speak to the US troops guarding the road. They were told they could film, but could do no "stand-uppers" - face-to-camera shots in front of the building. They completed their report, returned to their car and prepared to leave.

But as they did so, a 67-year-old man called Tariq Abdul-Ghani drove his Volvo down the road towards the US checkpoint, unaware that anything was amiss. He drove into a hail of American gunfire. His family - to whom I also spoke at length - says he received 36 bullets to his body. The Volvo crashed into one of the US vehicles. Tariq's widow and son say that he could not have seen the US checkpoint. The two reporters and their driver, Abu Mariam, were 120m from the scene. Ali al-Khatib, the reporter, told Abu Mariam not to follow the Volvo, but to turn the car across the low median and drive away in the opposite direction.

Abu Mariam obeyed the instruction. "We crossed the median and began to drive away down the opposite side of the road away from the Americans," he says. "We had gone quite a way when bullets hit our car. The bullets came through the back window. The cameraman was hit in the head, then Ali al-Khatib, the reporter, suddenly lay his head on my shoulder and said: 'Abu Mariam.' I made a right turn. Our Arabia colleagues called me on the phone and said, 'What is happening?' I said: 'Fuck you, I've got to find a hospital - I don't know where the nearest hospital is.' I took them to the Ibn al-Nafis hospital. Ali al-Amairi was dead on arrival. The other Ali died the next day."

Three more civilians had died in "liberated" Iraq. The Arabia channel responded with fury. They demanded an enquiry from the Americans and they decorated their head office in Baghdad with mourning posters. At first, the Americans announced that they could not have killed the reporter and cameraman. Both were killed with single shots to the head. How was it possible for US troops so far away to have been so accurate in killing two men with single shots to the head? Good point.

So with the son of the Volvo driver, Ali Tariq al-Hashimi, I visited the police station where he wished to register his father's death. The Iraqi police major at the Mesbah police station was polite, sympathetic and showed the documents on the case to the Volvo driver's son - and to me. The son asked for the car and its contents. You must ask the Americans for them, he was told.

"I went to the US base at the presidential palace," he told me. "They said I could not have the car back. I asked for my father's wallet and is money and his wristwatch and his ring. The soldier was on the phone and he said to me: 'You must forget the car - why do you want it?' I said I wanted to put it in my garden because this would be a symbol of my father's death. He was kind. He lowered his head and shook my hand and said how sorry he was."

Even more disturbing were the words of the major in the Mesbah police station. He told me that, shortly after the incident, American troops had come to the police station and had smashed the back window of the Volvo so that no traces remained of the bullet holes. Horrifically, the brains of Ali al-Amairi still lay on the back seat. But I climbed into the vehicle and counted nine rounds through the vehicle - through the back seats and the front window.

A few days later, the Americans came up with a new version of the killing. The Volvo had approached the checkpoint at speed. The soldiers thought they were under attack, fired at the vehicle and some of their bullets must have hit the Arabia car as it sped away. The US troops did not know they had hit the journalists. The Americans admitted responsibility, but it was not deliberate.

Hmmm. But there's a problem. The journalists crossed the median because the Volvo was a target. They didn't turn before the gunfire. So how could they have been hit by the same rounds that killed 67-year-old Tariq Abdul-Ghani when he was dead before they decided to leave? And why did American troops smash the back window of the Arabia car hours later when the bullet holes would have proved how many rounds had been fired at the car?

Back to the family living room yesterday morning. Old Abdul-Aziz was weeping and his daughter - Ali the cameraman's sister, Sundus - was crying too. "The Americans came to liberate us - and they killed our Ali. The last time we saw him he said that he was fine, but then he came back from the gate and asked his father to embrace him, and he kissed our father three times. He called us a few minutes before he went out on his last story. He said he would be OK."

Three more families - good, decent, Iraqi people, educated and believing in the same freedom and democracy that we Westerners believe in - now rage at the American occupation of Iraq. "I have only one brother and the Americans took him from us. From where can I get another brother?" she wept. Ali al-Amairi was married with no children. His reporter colleague had been married only four months. His wife was pregnant. The Volvo driver Abdul-Ghani leaves a widow and a son and three daughters. All gave me tea and assurances of their love of peace and love. And all hate the occupation and the American soldiers.

No, I don't think this excuses the barbarities in Fallujah. But I do understand that insatiable anger that these Iraqi relatives feel. The Americans, after all, killed three Western journalists on 9 April last
year, and a cameraman outside the Abu Ghoreib prison a few months later and then an ABC cameraman in Fallujah last week. And the two Alis last month. "We regret the accidental shooting of the Arabia employees," the US military said this week. And that's that.

What more can I say? Maybe, as I wrote after other innocent deaths in Bosnia 12 years ago, I should end each of my reports with the words: Watch Out!


Last updated 05/04/2004

Requiem For America On Line

Jim Kirwan
kirwanstudios@earthlink.net
4-4-4

Long before the Internet there was an America. Shortly after the Internet began, as a global medium for knowledge and information, as well as communication, America On Line was born. Very soon it became a household word that became simply AOL. It was one of many ISP's and very soon it became one of the largest, and most profitable in a large field of service oriented on-line institutions.
 
Then came the hijacking of the nation by the cabal of Cheney-Bush. Shortly after that the disaster of 9-11 began to take us all into a completely other dimension. In this New World Order, security became not just the most important thing, but also the only thing that seemingly anyone cared about. Fear had once again triumphed over freedom and civil rights. That ushered in TIA or Total Information Awareness, with its director being a convicted felon, the former Admiral John Poindexter. His idiocies were finally exposed and the programs supposedly were killed, but they never died. They just changed their name and are now not only healthy, but the FBI has just instituted all of Poindexter's wildest dreams on all this nation's ISP's: "Carnivore" is alive and well and inside whatever you send or receive.
 
AOL, despite all their success and their entire marketing, advertising, and increasing subscriber base, has decided to become an unofficial arm of HOMELAND security and the Justice department. To that end they have instituted new software that reads all messages that pass through their ISP, and they have begun deciding who will be allowed to read what. Hence America-On-Line has now become ASHCROFT-on-line.
 
AOL currently hides behind "new software" which is their excuse for every intrusion into the thoughts and transmissions between private individuals. Whenever anyone complains about these detected intrusions into private communications between any number of people a computer message handles all the dirty-little-details and cannot be confronted about what is really going on. So all attempts to discuss the reasons for any blocked messages have no quarter to appeal to.
 
AOL is in effect hijacking what you can say, or what those who are subscribers, are "allowed to read." There does not seem to be a law against this foul practice, but there damn well ought to be. The speed and ease of communication, without censorship, by the government was part of the original appeal behind the Internet, and was one of the reasons that this medium has become so popular among so many world-wide.
 
So when you see AOL in that address on your computer, just beware that whatever or whoever you are sending to, or receiving from, is being closely monitored by several agencies of the government. There are those who are not bothered by this 'added safeguard.' But for the rest of us, please remember that AOL now stands for ASHCROFT on-line.
 
AOL is also deceptive in their privacy rules, hiding the names of those who own it and direct it: Once the public learns about their current real purposes, they may not have a company to worry about much longer. There will be an America long after AOL has spent their unearned reputation, and gone the way of all despicable and opportunistic endeavors: and that is as it should be. Because if AOL cannot make it by being straight with its customer base, then they should fail, after-all isn't that the "American-way-of-Business"?
 
These are very difficult times in which we live. Everyone needs to be able to depend on what they are able to learn, about all the various explosive situations that are unfolding on both the national and international stages of our lives. Of course there's a lot of disinformation out there on all sides. But no one needs to have yet another false-flag institution in the middle of these debates. And no one has asked for commercial censorship, except John "J. Edgar" Ashcroft. If Ashcroft-on-line wants to continue as the US Department of Justice's ISP, then they should say so, proudly! Otherwise they deserve to lose the support of all those who disagree with their current policies.
 
Think about this. What's next from AOL? Will they now begin to edit the messages sent, of course to better protect their subscribers, from the big-bad wolf of world affairs? It's not impossible: after all they are already the uninvited censors in all that their subscribers now say or send so why not just help them out a bit more, by adding or subtracting just a word or two?
 
The decision is yours to make. Will you continue to use AOL, or receive e-mail from AOL addresses? This is not about preference it's about survival. This is not a matter of commercial choice it's about your rights to expected privacy, and the privacy that you are paying to receive! Perhaps whether or not there will continue to be an America, may also depend on the outting of institutions, such as Ashcroft On Line. This is our country, and we ought to be able to have some say about what goes on inside it!
 
kirwan
  Forwarded by Peter McCallum news-report-owner@wiretapped.net
Feedback to Neil Baird nbaird@goanna.net.au