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Tuesday, July 29, 2008


It shook like HELL, my two daughters were still in bed, tired from coming home from a five day trip to Havasu. The bedroom is upstairs so the shaking whenever an earthquake hits is much stronger up there.

I was on the phone with my mom who lives in Texas, sitting outside on the porch when suddenly everything started shaking. It went on for a good twenty seconds. I went inside to call them downstairs IMMEDIATELY.

Phones worked for a minute, then went out, both land line and cell phones. They were out completely for about 45 minutes..

My daughter's boyfriend is on the way over here, his college, Citrus Community College in Azusa was evacuated and all students sent home.

Another friend of hers lives in Pomona and said the whole house swayed as if it was on a boat.

My daughter's best friend lives in Diamond Bar and was home alone. We just got a hold of her and she is hysterical, her brother is on his way home from Pomona Clairmont College which is also evacuating.

They're saying no immediate damage reports from the epicenter, between Chino and Diamond Bar, about fifteen miles from where I live, but I'm remembering they said the same thing when the Whittier earthquake hit in 1987. It took hours before the damage reports started coming in.

There have been 15 reported aftershocks, but we have only felt one where we live.

Everyone stay SAFE..............

Earthquake Shakes Los Angeles

By Brandon Keim EmailJuly 29, 2008 | 2:21:04 PMCategories: Geology

Quakemap_2 A moderately powerful earthquake struck southern California just minutes ago. Though originating from the Chino Hills, it shook buildings 30 miles away in Los Angeles.

According to the United States Geological Survey, the quake measured 5.8 on the Richter scale -- comparable to the aftershocks of the massive earthquake that hit central China in May.

Those aftershocks destroyed some 70,000 already-shaken and poorly-constructed buildings, but early anecdotal reports -- largely from users of social networking platform Twitter -- suggest that damage is minimal.

The quake was not likely not produced by tectonic shiftings underneath the the San Andreas fault, but the lesser-known Elsinore fault.


Will post updates.

Yep, we have Verizon on both land line and cell phone

Southern California earthquake takes out phones

The earthquake that hit Southern California on Tuesday disrupted phone service near its epicenter, Verizon Communications Inc. said.

Verizon spokesman Bill Kula there were sporadic outages for landline phones service in and around the Pomona area, but no effect on wireless service. (NOT TRUE)

AT&T Inc. spokesman Fletcher Cook said he had no damage reports yet.

Both companies provide local phone service in areas affected by the quake.

Preliminary information from the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the quake at magnitude 5.8, centered 29 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. (source)


Cal-State Long Beach evacuated


LIVE FEED from channel 4 news (Caltech on right now)

A Buddhist reaction.........

Monday, July 28, 2008

Reagan: "'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his n'er-do-well son around this morning......"

Thanks Pat & Samir!

Beneath the photo from the REAGAN DIARIES is an actual quote that Reagan wrote about George 'W' in his diaries, recently edited by author Doug Brinkley and published by Harper Collins

'A moment I've been dreading. George brought his n'er-do-well son around this morning and asked me to find the kid a job. Not the political one who lives inFlorida; the one who hangs around here all the time looking shiftless. This so-called kid is already almost 40 and has never had a real job. Maybe I'll call Kinsley over at The New Republic and see if they'll hire him as a contributing editor or something. That looks like easy work.'

From the REAGAN DIARIES------entry dated May 17, 1986.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Offering #61: Peace it Together Makes it "Sweet Like Chocolate"

Peace It Together underway

Peace it Together will bring together over 30 youth aged 16 – 18 from Palestine, Israel and Canada, in order to promote peace in a region that has long been the subject of conflict and turmoil. The program takes place at Xenia on Bowen Island where the youth will make films that promote collaboration and peacemaking.

The first public screening of the films that the youth will create will be at Cates Hill Chapel on August 16. (source)

Website for Peace it Together

"sweet like chocolate" was produced at The Gulf Islands Film and Television School ( by Kelsey Smith, Hadeel Yassen, Nir Ayalon, and Nadav Strumtza.

Abstract visions are intertwined with future hopes. Sweet Like Chocolate captures testimonies exploring peace, freedom and fear.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Dick Morris: Israel's Bombing of Iran Will Determine our Election Outcome!

Last evening I was watching FOX news as the horrifying Dick Morris suggested it is only a matter of timing per our elections and who is ahead in the polls as to when Iran is bombed by Israel. This is all supposed to be a good thing for McCain and lo and behold, it's Israel who's going to choose our next president by their actions.

GLORY BE Dick, who's been sucking your toes lately, you're so gleeful I'm thinking someone, hm, Hannity perhaps was under the table sucking your toes as you spoke!

Happy as a clam good ole toe-sucking Dick goes on to suggest that Israel may go on to attack Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza!

Someone needs to lock this lunatic up!

Ellen over at Newshounds writes about last evenings Machiavellian rantings of Dick Morris HERE.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Surprise, General Jones Critical Report Of Israel Has Yet To Be Published

Two days ago I posted this article, "Is it Finally Time for Israel to Squirm" concerning General Jones's scathing report of Israel which was reported in Haartz. Now there is a report written by Pierre Tristam (posted below) which claims the Bush administration is holding up the publishing of that report.

But first, let's see how Mr. Gallegos of the US State Department responded when asked about why the report still has not been published:

QUESTION: There’s a report in the Middle East that General James Jones presented a report to Secretary Rice about the security situation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and it was very critical to Israel. Do you have anything about this?
MR. GALLEGOS: Yeah. My understanding is that he is yet to publish a report. There are stories about drafts that have been released. The bottom line is the general has been there. He’s taken a look at the situation. He has the full support of the Secretary. We’re going to continue working through him and with him and we’ll see – ultimately see what is published.
QUESTION: Does the President have a decision made on whether the full report will be published and public?
MR. GALLEGOS: I don’t have any information on that (inaudible).
QUESTION: Is that under discussion at the moment?
MR. GALLEGOS: I’ll have to check. I don’t have anything on that.
QUESTION: Does the State Department have a position on whether it should be?
MR. GALLEGOS: I’ll have to check. (source)

Ah, but Israeli defense sources are in pre-emptive expectation mode, spinning the report before it is even published according to JPost:

While earlier media reports have claimed that the document will slam Israel for its policies in the territories, Israeli defense and diplomatic officials told The Jerusalem Post this week that the report would instead reflect the tension between Jones and another American security envoy operating in the region - Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton.

"There is tension between Jones and Dayton," a senior defense official told the Post. "The report needs to be looked at as part of an American domestic power struggle and is less about Israel and its policies in the territories."

So are we to suspect the veracity of the report because according to Israeli officials it's really about one general trying to one up another in a turf war?


Now let's read what Tristam has to write about the situation:

Thin Red Line: Bush Blocking Report Critical of Israel's West Bank Policies


Thursday, July 24, 2008

"F Students" Need Parking Permit!

Above is a sign at my daughter's university, Cal-Poly Pomona. I think maybe the administration should have thought to skip this letter of the alphabet when designating their parking lots.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Is It Finally Time For Israel to Squirm?

It seems Israel is in for some criticism from none other than a retired US general, James Logan Jones. Last year at the time of the Annapolis "peace talks", Jones was appointed Special Envoy for Mideast Security.

General Jones is not your average run of the mill retired general (sarcasm intended), apparently some are even saying that Jones has popped up on the Obama short list for vp. Interesting indeed considering Obama just wrapped up his 36 hour stay in Israel/Palestine, spending all of less than two hours of that visit with Abbas in Ramallah, without even a thought of swinging by Gaza.

Just who is retired General James Logan Jones?

General James Logan Jones, Jr. USMC (born December 19, 1943) is the former Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR) (2003-2006) and the Commander of the United States European Command (COMUSEUCOM) (2003-2006); and served as the 32nd Commandant of the Marine Corps (July 1999-January 2003). Jones retired from the United States Marine Corps on February 1, 2007 after 40 years of service.[1]

In 2007, Jones served as Chairman of the Congressional Independent Commission on the Security Forces of Iraq, which investigated the capabilities of the Iraqi police and armed forces. In November 2007, he was appointed by the United States Secretary of State as special envoy for Middle East Security.

He is currently the Chairman of the Atlantic Council of the United States. (more)

Bush trusted him there, let's see what the administration does with this report.

One thing not included in the report for sure since it is recent, is the fact that Israel just sent an IOF soldier straight back to his unit after he was filmed taking point blank aim at the feet of a blindfolded handcuffed Palestinian from just a few feet away. Watch that video HERE (watch closely, the soldier who shoots him is in front of him to the left as he is standing, then he shoots) and read Desert Peace's commentary with the article HERE.

Maybe there's still time to add this latest incident in General Jones.

Israel fears scathing U.S. report on its West Bank policies
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff
Tags: Israel, West Bank, IDF

The United States security coordinator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, retired general James Jones, is preparing an extremely critical report of Israel's policies in the territories and its attitude toward the Palestinian Authority's security services.

A few copies of the report's executive summary (or, according to some sources, a draft of it) have been given to senior Bush Administration officials, and it is reportedly arousing considerable discomfort. In recent weeks, the administration has been debating whether to allow Jones to publish his full report, or whether to tell him to shelve it and make do with the summary, given the approaching end of President George Bush's term.

Jones was appointed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice following the Annapolis peace conference last November. His assignment was to draft a strategic plan to facilitate stabilization of the security situation, as a necessary accompaniment to Israeli-Palestinian final-status negotiations. In this context, he assessed the PA security forces in the West Bank, whose reform is being overseen by another American general, Keith Dayton. Jones has visited the region several times and met with senior Israeli government officials and army officers.

According to both Israeli and American sources, the envoy's conclusions about Israel are scathing. Israelis who met with Jones on his most recent visit here a few weeks ago, including Israel Defense Forces officers, said their impression was that the report would be "very harsh, and make Israel look very bad."

Jones is apparently critical of Israel on two key issues. One is its fairly broad definition of its security interests in the West Bank under any final-status agreement. The other is its attitude toward the PA security services.

However, the sources said, Jones also had some criticism for Washington: He said its efforts to reform the PA security services fell short and complained that U.S. government agencies are not coordinating their assistance for these forces. In addition, he reportedly concluded that the PA forces are not yet capable of effectively enforcing the law in the West Bank.

The harsh criticisms contained in the executive summary are reportedly upsetting the Bush administration. Some senior U.S. officials are demanding that the full report not be published, so as not to create a storm in advance of the presidential elections in November. Jones, however, is apparently insisting that his full report be published,
just as the report he issued last year on the Iraqi security forces was.

Officials at the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv declined to comment. (source)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Mormons at my Door

Last night the door bell rang about 6:00 in the evening. My front door is a country style door, with glass panes, no curtain on it. Standing there were two young men in black trousers, white shirts with ties. Immediately I knew, there are Mormons at my door. Jehovah's witnesses come also, but Mormons wear a sort of uniform that lets you know who they are.

Caveat emptor, my father was born Morman in Salt Lake City to two "Jack-Mormons" (non-practicing) His entire side of the family are Mormons, but I didn't grow up anywhere near them, in fact I only remember meeting one second cousin and an aunt on that side. That same cousin about 20 years ago sent me a book of Mormon and a family geneology that goes back about 400 years. I've studied the basics, but have never had any desire to go further other than to get a feel for their beliefs, more an academic curiosity than anything else.

Last night when they came, I didn't quite know what I was going to say, but I knew I had no desire to do anything but be polite and send them on their way. Four years ago, at the age of 49, after YEARS of never committing to any faith, I was baptized Catholic. Am I a "good Catholic"? If that means attending church, the answer is I haven't attended regularly for two years. How do I see that? I see that as an issue between myself and my creator, no one else.

Anyways, here's the conversation as it went:

Me: Hello, can I help you?

Young Man: Hi, my name is Jeffrey, how are you this evening?

Me: I'm fine thank you. May I ask , are you Mormons?

Young Man: Yes we are (smile) do you have a moment to spend with us?

Me: Yes I have a moment, but let me tell you up front, I'm a Catholic. My father's entire family on his side are Mormons, my father was never practicing, nor were his parents while he was growing up. I don't know his side of the family, but I've heard they're good people and I respect their choice of faith.

Young Man: Oh, your father's entire family was Mormon but you chose to be a Catholic? Have you read the Book of Mormon? I have, I read it many times and I have prayed, and I know it is the truth. Would you give us some time to share our faith with you?

Me: That would be fine, I don't have that much time right now, but I'd like to share my faith with you too for the time we talk, would that be OK?

Young Man: Well, we're doing missionary work you know, and it's our job to share our faith with others.

Me: Yes I know, but if I give you my time out of respect for your beliefs that you hold dear, don't you think you should do the same for me?

Young Man: Well, I know my faith is the true faith.

Me: I am more than happy you feel that way and have found what fulfills you, but I've found that same thing in another faith.

Young Man: So are you saying you don't want us to share with you?

Me: No, what I'm asking is that since I'm openly telling you I respect your choice, I would like you to do the same for me.

Young Man: you know anyone else that you could lead us to who might want to have us share our faith?

Me: Well, the people I would send you to would either have their own faith or no faith, agnostics or atheists. Would you let them share their faiths with you? Because I don't believe in a one-sided conversation and monopoly on "truth" by any faith. I think that faith is a very personal choice.

Young Man: So you don't know anyone else?

Me: If all you want to do is talk and not listen, to try to convert, then I'm sorry, no I do not. I would tell you good luck, but what I'd really like to say is that you need to show respect for others just like you expect them to respect you. Have a nice evening gentlemen, be careful, there are no sidewalks in this neighborhood so walk carefully.

Note, I am not picking on Mormons in particular at all, they have every right under the sun to do their prostelyzing just like anyone else. BUT, just like anyone else who chooses to do this sort of thing, and I do mean anyone from ANY faith, if you encounter someone who has a faith of their own, RESPECT IT. Who knows, you might LEARN something about other faiths that you never knew if you allow people to be who they are and show them the very thing you are seeking yourself, an ear and a friendly smile. We are all children of God, so treat your family kindly.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mohammed Omer: "Gaza Journalist Assaulted by Shin Bet"

The below article is written by Sarah Price for the coming edition of The Independent Monitor, a monthly newspaper published by Sami Bishara Mashney, attorney at law. This article has been republished here with her permission. Her blog is "A View to the Middle East" where you can find other articles written by her which have appeared in The Independent Monitor and elsewhere. Thank you Sarah for an in depth piece of journalism which gives the story of the man most in the MSM are either ignoring or disseminating an article about which is not worth the paper it is printed on.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Gaza Journalist Assaulted by Shin Bet

Gaza Journalist Assaulted by Shin Bet
By Sarah Price
The Independent Monitor, July 2008

The last words in his acceptance speech were, I can’t wait for the day I retire as a war correspondent. Then he came home to a whole new battle.

This was originally going to be a profile of young Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, called “Gaza’s Best Hope.” I was going to write about his rise from the poverty-stricken refugee camps of the Gaza Strip to international readership and acclaim; the murder and maiming of family members and demolition of his home by the Israel Occupation Forces that have only served to fuel the fire of his mission: to get the word out about the truth of life in Occupied Palestine; and of his peaceful nature, despite years of tragic loss – his own and that of his homeland. He wants peace on both sides, and admonishes violence toward Israeli citizens as much as he does that toward Palestinians. He made a choice, in his words, “not to pick up a gun, but to pick up a camera,” because he knew the only solution was to document the truth of what is going on, and he has done so diligently for the last seven years.

But since the events of June 26, 2008, the focus has changed.

On Saturday, May 17, I received an excited e-mail from Mohammed: he had won the prestigious Martha Gellhorn Prize, an award given “for journalism that exposes establishment propaganda,” and would be sharing it with his friend, Dahr Jamail, an American journalist celebrated for his independent reports from Iraq. He had just received the news from John Pilger, an Australian-born, UK-based journalist and former war correspondent who sat on the judging panel, and had come to admire Mohammed for his work. At age 24, he would be the youngest journalist ever to have won it.

He was due some good news. He was still recovering from the loss of two close friends one month earlier: Gazan Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana, who was killed by an Israeli tank shell on April 16; and Palestinian rights activist Riad Hamad, the news of whose suicide circulated a day later. The previous four months had been hell for Gaza, in general. An Israeli siege hit the small strip of land in January, two months after peace talks had begun between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Over 120 Palestinians were dead – most of them civilians, and dozens of them children, and several hundred more injured. A small number of their most critical cases were being sent to Egypt for treatment, but only about one-third were being granted entry. “The rest of the cases,” said Dr. Medhat Abbas, Director of Crisis Management at the Gaza Ministry of Health, “will continue receiving the new formula of PFU in Gaza (‘pray for us’).”

Mohammed had been working constantly through fear, fatigue, and close calls on his own life to keep up with his reports about the siege for the number of publications for whom he writes: The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (WRMEA) in Washington, DC, New Statesman in the UK, Inter Press Service (IPS) in Italy, and several publications throughout Europe, for whom his articles are translated into various languages, as well as maintaining his own website,, named for his hometown, located on the Egyptian border. He also regularly works to help patients who can’t get the treatment they need in Gaza, to get out and get what they need from Israeli hospitals – an almost impossible feat that he attempts for one patient after another, taking each case personally. He supports his parents and six siblings, and has done so since the beginning of his father’s 12-year imprisonment in an Israeli jail. He found work in a factory, which he would do every day after school, and late into the night. He would come home around 11pm, exhausted from school and work, sleep until about 5am, and get up and do it all again, still barely making enough to feed his family. And he was six years old.

His dream growing up had been to work as an interpreter for the International Red Cross. He loved languages, and even in grade school, taught himself new words in English when he came across them, getting so far ahead of his classmates that they accused him of having an American mother. By his mid-teens, he was already taking courses in international public relations, photography and journalism, and translation. In 2006, he graduated from the Islamic University of Gaza with a BA in English.

But by the time he was 17, his dream of being an interpreter had been replaced by what he saw as an obligation to become a journalist. He was seeing bloodshed on a daily basis – his town being bombed; people being shot by soldiers in the street; and the homes of his relatives and friends being bulldozed with no warning in the middle of the night. And yet, there seemed to be no coverage of this anywhere in the press. No one else is documenting this, he thought, so I need to. He started with just a notepad, writing every day what he saw. After a while, he put together a website, documenting with his words and photographs, life in Gaza.

In 2003, he began keeping a journal regularly on RafahToday. But he was not yet aware of the terrible year he was soon to document.

In January, Israeli forces destroyed two water wells and demolished more than 50 homes in the last week alone, in order to make room for a wall between Rafah and Egypt, its neighbor to the south; between March and May, peace activists Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall, and filmmaker James Miller were killed by Israeli forces in Rafah. In March, his own home was demolished by an Israeli bulldozer, with his mother and sister inside. They managed to get out through the kitchen window as the walls and roof fell in, but his mother still suffers from the leg injuries she sustained from her escape.

But by November, things were much worse.

In late September, Mohammed’s younger brother Issam was shot in the leg, which had to be amputated; and on October 18, his younger brother Hussam was shot seven times and killed by an Israeli sniper. Trying to bring his body out of the street, their next door neighbor was also killed, and trying to save her, her husband was injured – all in full view of their small children. “The moments can't be described when my mother got the news of the murder of my brother,” he wrote. “They were the worst in my whole life.”

But through it all, he persisted. Within a year, he was contributing to WRMEA, Morgenbladet newspaper in Norway, Agence France Presse, and the BBC, as well as several newspapers across Europe. In November 2006, he was awarded his first journalism prize, New America Media’s Best Youth Voice Award, but because of the difficulties getting permission to leave Gaza, he missed the ceremony, but was able to embark on a 15-city tour of the US, to give his presentation of life in Gaza, Gaza on the Ground, to thousands of people. Six months later, he was doing the same thing in Europe, but he had updated it, calling it Welcome to Hell. Days earlier, just before his 23rd birthday, he had survived an encounter with militants in Gaza who had cornered him on a dark street when he was trying to make his way home to Rafah from his work in Gaza City. The three gunmen surrounded him, discussing with each other where to shoot him, and whether or not to just kill him. He talked to and pleaded with them until they tired of him and let him go.

But with great struggle and work has come great admirers. The growing popularity of his writing spread to include international dignitaries and well-known writers. Soon, he was in touch with the likes of Noam Chomsky and Norman Mailer, who, before his passing in November 2007, was helping Mohammed write a book about his life; and had more requests from Europe and the United States for personal appearances. But the ongoing siege in Gaza made leaving even more difficult, so the news of his award in May was tempered with caution – he wanted to combine his visit to receive the award in London on June 16 with the opportunity to accept the invitation to speak to press and parliament members in Greece, Holland, France, and Sweden, and address the House of Commons in London, but didn’t know if he would make it out. The Dutch Foreign Ministry stepped in on his behalf, but Israel was making it very difficult to get the green light. Mohammed had been frustrated in Gaza for some time and was desperate for a chance to get away from the death and destruction he not only had to see every day, but as a journalist, had to seek out. By the end of May, he felt certain he would not get to go. “I am rejected and imprisoned in this hell,” he wrote.

But then the call came that he had been granted exit, and he rushed to get ready to go.

The three-week whirlwind tour of Europe was a great success. The opportunity to meet and speak with so many government and press representatives energized him, and gave him new contacts and notes for future articles. In his acceptance speech on June 16, he thanked his supporters, but said that he looked forward to the day that he could retire as a war correspondent.

Mohammed with co-recipient Dahr Jamail (left) and John Pilger in London, June 16 (Photo: Paul de Rooij)

In trying to get him permission to leave, they had been careful to do everything correctly, so that getting back in would not be a problem. He was trying to get back to Gaza for his brother Fadi’s wedding, and expected to be home on Sunday, June 22. But upon his arrival in Amman, Jordan, he received the news that Israel was not granting him re-entry. Between Saturday, June 21, and Wednesday, June 25, the Dutch Foreign Ministry worked frantically to convince Israeli officials to let him cross back home to Gaza. John Pilger urged Mohammed to go to the press, but he preferred to handle it diplomatically, and failing that, would go public. But he wanted to see if they could do it quietly first. He was concerned about his status, because upon returning from his US tour in December 2006, he had been stuck in Cairo, trying to get back in, for three weeks, and he had already met people in Jordan who had been stranded there for months. But he hoped that since he had more diplomatic help this time, it wouldn’t take too long. On Wednesday, they finally got word that he would be allowed back in the next day. “Why can’t I go today?” he asked. “We don’t know,” was the response. “They just said tomorrow.” The answer made him suspicious and nervous.

He passed through the Jordan side of the Allenby Bridge crossing early the next morning, but when he came to the Israeli side, there was trouble right away. He gave his passport to the woman at passport control and she asked where he was going. When he answered, “Gaza,” she asked “what?” in Hebrew several times as he tried to make her understand. Finally, he answered her in Hebrew, “Azzah.”

“Oh,” she replied. “Actually, according to my computer, you have no coordination.”

He did have coordination, he protested, but she told him to wait at the side, where he stayed for the next 90 minutes, until someone came to get him and told him to bring his bags. He had been through x-ray by this time, and his bags had already been searched and were ready to be picked up. He was made to wait at the Shin Bet office, and could see that there were two cameras on him, on either side. Then he saw two Palestinian men coming out from other offices and they were dressing themselves. He knew then that these were rooms for strip-searching, and that he was probably in trouble.

A young blond Shin Bet agent told him to come with him, collecting his bags from the holding area, where they had been searched already, and demanded his cell phone. Mohammed was going through the Allenby Bridge crossing under diplomatic escort from the Dutch embassy, as he had left, and asked if could call his escorts to let them know what was happening. The young man barked at him that no, he could not.

After a few minutes, another agent, an investigator in his forties referred to as “Avi” by the other agents, entered and started going through all his belongings, along with another interrogator who had joined him. After searching through everything and dumping all his notes, cell phone, and memory cards into a box, they demanded to know where the money was. He wasn’t sure what they meant, but told them what traveling money he had on him – various amounts in British pounds, Euros, Israeli shekels, and Jordanian dinars. They demanded he put it all on the table, which he did, thinking maybe this was a shakedown – they would take the money he had and then let him go. But they were still dissatisfied. They asked again about the English pounds he had, and he realized then that they were looking for the prize money. The Martha Gellhorn Prize, since it was shared, would come out to roughly $5000 USD. But he had felt it safer to have it transferred to his bank, rather than carry it with him. When he told them this, he said, they were visibly irate and called him a liar.

By this point, the room had filled with more agents and he was outnumbered eight-to-one. They were angry and wanted money he didn’t have. And they were armed. When he repeated that he had shown them everything he had on him, Avi escorted him to an empty room.

“Take off your clothes,” he ordered him. Mohammed refused. He had already been through x-ray, and a pat-down would have revealed anything he might have been hiding.

“Take off your clothes,” he demanded again. So, he stripped down to his underwear.

“Take off everything,” he pressed.

Mohammed refused again. “I am a journalist,” he said, “and I have an escort from the Dutch embassy waiting for me. Call them and tell them what’s happening and that you want me to take off my clothes.”

Avi retorted that he knew all this, and insisted again that he take off his underwear. By this time, Mohammed was frightened. “Why are you treating me this way?” he asked.

“This is nothing compared to what you will see now,” Avi replied, putting his hand on his revolver, pressing his weight against Mohammed’s hip and forcibly pulling it off. He then patted his body down, “up one side and down the other,” Mohammed said later, and he was subjected to a cavity search. He then demanded he move to the left and right, in some kind of dance. When Mohammed refused, Avi pulled him left and right.

He had held his composure as long as he could, and started to cry. Avi backed off at that point.

“He looked satisfied,” he said. “He just wanted to humiliate me. He didn’t care about what I had. The intention was not to bring me to Gaza.”

He ordered him to get dressed and come back into the other room, where another of the intelligence officers was still going through his belongings.

The agent shook his head at Mohammed. “You are a crazy man,” he said. “I can’t understand why someone who has traveled to Sweden, Holland, Greece, London and Paris is coming back to Gaza. Gaza is a dirty place with dirty people. I thought the dream of those people is to leave Gaza and live in Europe. Why do you want to go to Gaza? There’s nothing in Gaza – no food, no fuel, no clean water. There is darkness. Go live in Paris; it’s beautiful there. Or do you like to be around the Hamas system in Gaza?”

Goading him, and not really looking for a response, he continued: “Aren't you ashamed to have your name and reputation associated with such a dirty place as Gaza?”

Mohammed answered, “No, I want to be there because I want to be a voice for the voiceless. I want to get the truth out. I have no affiliation with Hamas; I don’t even think they like me.”

“Then you choose to suffer.”

“No,” Mohammed said, “I choose to tell the truth.”

They continued to go through his luggage, taunting him about various items he had come home with:

“What are the perfumes for?”
“My friends and family, people I love.”
“Oh, you have love in your culture?”
“Of course.”

“What is this?” they asked, referring to a trophy he was given by the Greek Union of Journalists. When he told them, Avi replied that Greece was not a friend of Israel, only of the Palestinians.

“I don’t know,” Mohammed responded, wondering how Greece would feel about that, “it’s not my business.”

He had been standing for quite some time by then and had been without food, water, or a toilet for several hours. The stress and abuse caused him to feel faint, and he vomited and collapsed. A doctor said later that he had suffered a nervous breakdown. He was unconscious for nearly an hour and a half on the floor, he estimates, but could hear what they were saying, and feel what they were doing to him.

“They didn’t believe I had really passed out,” he said, “so they were out to make me react to their pressure.”

One agent dug his nails into the skin under his eyes and behind his ears, pinching him. Another pressed his shoe hard enough against his neck, that Mohammed could feel the outline of it. Another used two fingers to press into the space between his neck and chest, cutting off his airway. Mohammed remembers feeling himself choking. The damage to his trachea was so severe that even weeks later, he could not swallow anything but liquids. Finally, another pressed his hands into his chest with all the weight of his body, which eventually resulted in several fractured ribs, and breathing problems. They also continued to taunt him, saying, “Come on, Mohammed, we’re going to take you to Rafah now!,” expecting that would cause him to suddenly recover.

They eventually realized the severity of the situation and began to panic, calling for an ambulance, and an Israeli doctor checked his heart and performed an EKG. He was still unconscious in the ambulance, but Shin Bet agents continued trying to revive him – calling his name, forcing open his eyes, and spraying a sort of smelling salts into his face. But the efforts were not out of concern for his health: they needed him to sign a waiver, releasing them from all responsibility. Fortunately, the Palestinian ambulance driver, Mahmoud Taraira, intervened. He cannot sign that, he protested, he’s unconscious. He added that anything signed in that state of mind is non-binding.

They finally made it to the Palestinian doctors in Jericho, who were reassuring him he would be OK now.

At last able to call his escorts, after at least five hours, he found his cell phone amongst his belongings, but then he noticed his mobile was acting strangely – it was dialing numbers and sending messages by itself. The agents had told him earlier to give it to them and take out the battery. He believes that they used that opportunity to put something in it to track him. For days, it would only work off and on. Sometimes people could get through, others times, not at all. So he borrowed a phone and called the Dutch embassy to come get him. He arrived home safely, but by the next day, he was back in the hospital with breathing problems and chest pains. Due to the damage to his trachea, he couldn’t swallow, and spent six days in European Hospital in Khan Younis, being fed and medicated through an IV drip.

He discovered later that although all the money had been returned, an expensive watch and some other items had not.

In his bed at European Hospital in Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip (Reuters)

Israel’s immediate responses ranged from being completely unaware of the incident to washing their hands of the actions of Shin Bet.

Lisa Dvir, from the Israeli Airport Authority (IAA), the body responsible for controlling Israel’s borders, told IPS, “We would like to know who Omer spoke to in regard to receiving coordination to pass through Allenby. We offer journalists a special service when passing through our border crossings, and had we known about his arrival this would not have happened.”

The truth is that Palestinian journalists have been targeted for some time.

Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana, 23, had shown up at the site of an air strike on April 16, 2008, to film the outcome of the incident, when he was killed by an Israeli tank shell, filled with small metal darts called flechettes, in full view of the soldiers operating the tank. His car was clearly marked “TV” and “Press,” as was his bullet-proof vest. The blast also injured his soundman, and killed two children in the area instantly, and two more from their injuries days later. He was filming the tank when they fired at him. The tape from his destroyed camera shows the shell coming at him.

Al-Aqsa TV cameraman Imad Ghanem, 21, was shot while he filmed a clash between Palestinian militants and Israeli soldiers on July 5, 2007. As he fell to the ground, he held up his camera to show he was unarmed, but a tape filmed by a colleague shows that he continued to be fired upon. He survived, but lost both legs.

On July 8, 2006, photojournalist Mohammed al Zanoun, 20, was shot by a helicopter as he documented Israeli attacks in Gaza City. As paramedics rushed to save him, he pleaded with them to save the camera, so that what he saw would be documented. He has sustained permanent damage to his head and chest.

Omer had recently reported, after Shana’s death, that “journalists have long been targeted in the region. Since September 2000, Israeli forces have killed nine journalists, and have wounded at least 170 others.”

The news of Mohammed’s attack started to spread on Friday, June 27, as friends and colleagues were in touch with him from his hospital bed.

Hans van Baalen, a member of the Party for Freedom and Democracy in the Dutch parliament, who had been personally responsible for arranging his exit from Gaza both for this European tour and his previous one, in June 2007, said, “I cannot understand it because Israel wanted him to travel through Israel. The Dutch embassy escorted him a year ago and this time, so they should have known he is decent journalist and should have treated him in a decent way, they should also treat other innocent Palestinians and other travelers decently. But this did not happen.”

He filed a protest with the Israeli government and asked that Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Verhagen do the same, demanding “an investigation with public conclusions.”

“We will monitor this,” he said. “If we don’t like [the results of the investigation], we will speak out.”

Harry Kney-Tal, the Israeli ambassador to the Netherlands, assured them that if the claims were accurate, that this act was not according to official procedure. In response to a claim reported by Reuters that an Israeli official said that no rules were breached and that Omer had fallen somehow on his own, breaking his ribs, Kney-Tal said that was not the official response, and that there was a full investigation in progress and he expected results shortly.

However, on July 9, The Israeli Government Press Office released a statement on the incident, discrediting Omer. In it, they claimed that he and his baggage were searched, “due to suspicion that he had been in contact with hostile elements and had been asked by them to deliver items to Judea and Samaria.” (“Judea and Samaria” is a phrase commonly used by the Israeli right wing to dismiss the existence of the West Bank and to claim the area as exclusively Israeli), although he had been x-rayed and his baggage searched before the interrogation occurred. The press release went on to point out several points in Omer’s claim that they said contradicted their investigation, but it failed to cite the sources of their research, and often quoted him out of context.

When the Dutch Press Office became aware of the press release, they were surprised, said spokesman Robert Dekker, and they confronted Ambassador Kney-Tal about it. “He confirmed that this is not the official report, and that it is still expected in the next few days,” he said.

News of Omer’s attack spread quickly across the blogosphere and alternative news sources, as well as media outlets across the Middle East, but getting into the mainstream media in the West has been difficult. Concerned friends and colleagues deluged CNN, BBC and AP offices with requests that they cover the story, to no avail. When it was mentioned by the BBC and the New York Times, it was to say that Israel was denying the charges. But when Karin Laub, from the AP Jerusalem bureau published an article also disputing Omer’s claims, yet also failing to cite sources, it was the story that spread across American news websites. While she was interviewing him, Omer said later, she continually cut him off while he tried to give her his account of the incident, and although in her article she stated that strip-searching was not the norm in Israeli security procedure, when he was telling her about his, she said that that was normal.

More respected writers in the US have also had trouble getting the US press to pay attention.
“I've been following it closely, signing petitions, joining in protests,” said author and political activist Noam Chomsky. “I've brought it to the attention of the very few journalists with whom I still have contact. It will, I'm afraid, be very hard to get the US media to pay any attention, or even to believe the facts.”

Omer’s Martha Gellhorn Prize co-recipient Dahr Jamail has also faced difficulty in getting the news published.

“I'm doing all I can to get it out,” he said. “Nada in the US mainstream, which is no surprise. The only response I got was an email from someone at CBS asking to be removed from my dispatch list when I sent out the press release about his torture. Doing all I can....but of course we know that they will censor this the best they can.”

Omer’s editors at the Washington Report circulated a petition protesting the abuse, which they planned to hand-deliver in a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, garnered approximately 2500 signatures; Israeli civil rights group New Profile also circulated a petition calling for the just treatment of journalists, citing Omer as one of many recent abuses, which had an additional 1000, and British Member of Parliament Colin Breed brought a measure to the Parliament House Assembly, calling on an official criticism of Israel’s torture of Omer, and for Israel to compensate him for his medical costs.

But despite the efforts, Omer is not optimistic. They have committed one crime after another that they have not had to explain or pay for, he says, and he doesn’t believe his case will be any different.

In his article for the Guardian, John Pilger quoted former Dutch ambassador Jan Wijenberg, who said: "This is by no means an isolated incident, but part of a long-term strategy to demolish Palestinian social, economic and cultural life ... I am aware of the possibility that Mohammed Omer might be murdered by Israeli snipers or bomb attack in the near future."

Omer has no doubt that could happen, but is not letting it deter him.

"The Israelis were trying to punish me for the work I am doing and getting the message out," he told IPS from his hospital bed. "But they won't break me. As soon as I am better, and my limbs are working properly, I will be back on the beat and reporting what is happening. They have made me more determined than ever."

Mother Teresa once said, “I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn’t trust me so much.” It would not be surprising if the same thought crossed Mohammed Omer’s mind once in a while. With his astonishing rise from poverty and tragedy to success and acclaim in his short 24 years, he may very well be Gaza’s best hope. Not merely because of his success, but because of what it took to get it – diligence, hard work, and a daily show of courage that most will never be forced to display; but above all, a belief in his fellow human beings that keeps him going – through the imprisonment of his father, the murder and maiming of his brothers, the demolition of his home and the loss of everything he had, and the brutal attempts to silence him. Gaza’s best hope is that there is still hope.

Barely out of the hospital, still on a liquid diet and unable to breathe comfortably yet, Mohammed is already hard at work, writing again.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I FINALLY Found A Presidential Candidate Worth Voting For!!!

I give up, NO McCain, Obama full of flip-flopping tilting right"hope and change", McKinney choosing a hip-hop artist as running mate (not that she had a snowball's chance in hell of winning in the first place-same with Nader) I FOUND MY CANDIDATE!!!

There's even a website where you can vote!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

"Uncounted" (video)

UNCOUNTED is a wakeup call to all Americans. Beyond increasing the public’s awareness, the film inspires greater citizen involvement in fixing a broken electoral system. As we approach the decisive election of 2008, UNCOUNTED will change how you feel about the way votes are counted in America.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why is the US State Department Purchasing and Supplying Gas to Israel (Valero Inc)

Below this article, read Julie's letter to the editor at the San Antonio Business Journal asking why our government is purchasing and supplying gas to Israel.

My two cents, with the price of gasoline here in the United States breaking family's budgets, while our government refuses to regulate the price of gas, WHY is our government acting as the purchasing agent for ISRAEL's gasoline when US citizens get NO relief from our own government? Can't Israel buy their their own gas directly? All they do is brag about being such a robust economy. But they are totally dependent on the U.S. government, even for their GASOLINE! This gasoline also goes to the Israeli GOVERNMENT, the very entity brutally and illegally occupying Palestine.

Maybe if they were a better Middle East citizen, they could get their gas from one of their oil rich neighbors! Wait a minute, they ARE getting their "gas from the Middle East. Valero depends on the Middle East for 1/3 of it's crude 2007 figure: (source) So the Mideast supplies 1/3 of this company's crude which they turn around and sell through the State Department to Israel! Lovely. Middle East oil refined in to jet fuel by Valero, shipped to Israel, to bomb the hell out of Lebanon. This upcoming date's delivery is as Julie suggests, possibly "bellicose". Those Israeli training missions over the Mediterranean just recently taking place and all the saber rattling against Iran.

Company Total Persian Gulf % Persian Gulf


Link for Valero Inc.. Here in California they operate Valero gas stations. Elsewhere, they operate Shamrock stations. In 2006, Circle K dropped their contract with Citgo (Venezuelan) and went with Valero gas.

UPDATE: More: In 2006 when Israel was busy obliterating Lebanon by airstrikes, it seems Valero got the contract to ship jet fuel to them then.

More: LOOK at how much our State Department is helping out Valero by facilitating "gasoline"sales to Israel. Answer to Julie's question, was it put out to bid-yes, on the web, with ONE response (hat-tip to Chet for this information link)

And what have Israeli jets been up to lately according to THIS source?

Israeli jets using Iraq's airspace

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The US has allowed Israeli jets to use US airbases and fly over Iraqi air space for a likely attack against Iran, Iraqi media say. It is more than a month that some Israeli planes belonging to Israeli air force use the US military bases in Iraq to land and take off, Iraqi Nahrainnet news network said Wednesday, quoting informed sources close to Iraq's Defense Ministry.

The activities and traffic of warplanes- especially at nights- has lately increased in the US airbases in Nasiriya southeast of Baghdad and Haditha a city in the western Iraq province of Al Anbar, the Iraqi residents and sources said. More>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Defense Department awards Israeli fuel contract to Valero

San Antonio Business Journal

Valero Energy Corp. won a $46 million U.S. Department of Defense contract to supply fuel to the Israeli government.

The contract is being managed by the Defense Energy Support Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., which handles all bulk fuel purchases for the Defense Department.

Valero Marketing & Supply Co., a subsidiary of Valero Energy (NYSE: VLO), will supply the fuel by Aug. 13, 2008. The Defense Department did not disclose the amount of fuel that will be shipped to Israel. ($45,978,408.00 worth from above source, goodness knows at what price because the DOD won't disclose the amount)

San Antonio-based Valero is an oil refining and marketing company. The oil company owns and operates 16 refineries throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean with a combined throughput capacity of 3 million barrels of oil per day. (source)

Julie's letter posted here with her permission:

There are two questions not addressed by the recent article regarding the Valero
fuel contract.

The obvious question is why is our Defense Department acting as a purchasing
agent for the Israeli government? Is this a usual and customary activity, or is
this some agreement with Israel that foreshadows a future relationship possibly
of a bellicose nature?

The secondary question is why do we have domestic refiners selling oil to
Foreign governments through our Defense Department, when we are trying to get
off our dependence on foreign oil and our gas prices have tripled in the last 5

Would it be possible to get further information on this contract, what its terms
are, why it exists at all and who authorized it? Was it a no bid contract? Does
anyone in our government have any kind of interest in this company and why is
the fuel being delivered by August 13? What is the magic date about?

And most importantly, are the taxpayers of this country paying in any way for

At the very least, they are paying for the salaries of the folks at Defense Energy Support Center
and all the other bureaucratic entities who work on this deal.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Why the AP Story on Mohammed Omer is LACKING in Journalistic Integrity

Following below are my own personal efforts to try to get the MSM in the US to cover what occurred to prize-winning Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Omer at the hands of the Shin Bet when returning home from a multi-capital tour of Europe where he received the prestigious Martha Gellhorn prize and addressed the parliaments of Great Britain, Sweden and Greece. I am writing this out of sheer frustration, because after working at this since this happened to Mohammed, the MSM here finally covered it in a very POORLY written article which shows the clear bias and lack of journalistic integrity on the part of the Associated Press.

Eight days ago, Wednesday July 2, I began pestering the AP to cover what had occurred to prize-winning Palestinian journalist, Mohammed Omer at the hands of the Shin Bet at the Allenby crossing. This was four days after I had contacted Rory Suchet by phone at the international desk of CNN Los Angeles. At the time I first contacted Rory on Saturday June 28, there was not that much information concerning this horrendous story. He asked me for Mohammed's phone number which I gave him after he said that it sounded AWFUL what had occurred. So by Wednesday, when I contacted Barbara Whitaker by phone at the Associated Press in New York (and CNN was still not covering it), there was much more information to give, links to statements, articles, and phone numbers of who to call to verify this incident.

On July 2, last Wednesday, when I reached Barbara Whitaker by phone, I gave her a synopsis of this event. Then she stated, "I don't know if we have received this story before and taken a pass on it".

I stated to her clearly, Mohammed Omer is not only a prize-winning journalist, he is your collegue Barbara, and the European tour of various capitals where he spoke to three different parliaments (Britain, Sweden and Greece) was coordinated by an American publication for which he is the Gaza correspondent (WRMEA). This is the story of the abuse of your fellow journalist, it REALLY needs to be covered."

She asked me to forward her everything I had, so I did. I also forwarded this information to Rory at CNN and to Amrita at the Real News (who also have not covered this story yet) who I also spoke to on the phone.

Yesterday the Israeli Government Press Office released a statement denying any abuse of Mohmmed Omer. The first place this press release appeared in English was HERE, a blog belonging to the Jewish Federation of Des Moines, Iowa. More than twenty four hours after this press release was supposedly released, it still does not appear on their English website. Since I cannot read Hebrew, I have no idea if it is on the Hebrew website for the Israeli GPO. But doesn't it seem odd that this "press release" is not on their English website? They responded to another reporter covering this story that yes, it is their press release. Why is it, that while it is the English press who in the GPO's own words has regretably given credence to Mohammed's allegations and reported them, why have English readers not been given the respect of even posting their press release in English on their website? Also, why is it that they refer to the West Bank as "Judea and Samaria"? There's a simple answer to that one: "Judea and Samaria" is the term used by the right wing zionists because they see these lands as part of Eretz Israel, Arab occupied land rather than the obvious, Israeli occupied lands which supposedly are to belong to the Palestinians as their own state in a two state solution.

Today, the Associated Press published their article which first showed up on their own site, then Fox, many others following, and just a little while ago MSNBC. It is written by Karin Laub who did interview Mohammed.

Karin Laub wrote, "Palestinians have long complained about rough treatment at Allenby. However, Omer's allegation of being forced to strip naked appeared unusual."

UNUSUAL? Strip searches at Israeli checkpoints and Ben Gurion are COMMON. Read what occurred to
Jaleh Tahiri, an American senior citizen (not Arab or Jewish) and watch a 10 minute video on this COMMON occurance HERE. (five women brave enough to bare themselves again by revealing what happened to them while undergoing this humiliating experience-listen hard to what occurred to Hedy Epstein and the other women )

What really concerns me about this article, is that NO WHERE were people written about as being interviewed who could corroberate the fact of Mohammed's condition after crossing Allenby except for a statement from a Dr. Husseini who claims there were no signs of physical trauma. Where are her interviews of the Dutch who were accompanying Mohammed to Allenby, who waited the 4 1/2 hours while this was occurring to him and who then picked him up from the hospital in Jericho to take him to the Eretz crossing, home to Gaza? I told Barbara Whitaker these people were essential witnesses and needed to be interviewed, to get that info from the gentleman at the Hague. Where are her interviews of the doctors in Gaza who could give her his physical condition after going through this, when he had to spend almost a week in the hospital and be fed by iv, who could state clearly why he was in the hospital for this long?

I am going to post here, the email which was sent to Barbara Whitaker. When a phone number is given, I need to **** it out for the sake of privacy. Any red print, is my explanation added to the email originally sent.

NOTE: Mohammed was manhandled, psychologically tortured, strip searched and body cavity searched and physically abused at the Allenby crossing while the Dutch envoy who had coordinated his travel and were traveling with him were waiting outside. The Shin Bet refused to allow Mohammed to call them. The Dutch followed the ambulance which took him from Allenby to the hospital in Jericho and then took him to Eretz. It was the DUTCH who immediately issued a demand to the Israelis to investigate the incident. They are still waiting for the official investigation, not a press release.

At the top is Barbara's answer that she received my information. When Mohammed's ten page statement was posted on Jim Loeb's blog, I sent that to her also after the below email. I also forwarded to her Mohammed's letter written to Secretary Rice in 2006 who then intervened on his behalf to get him out of Gaza to the US to come and receive his first major award, the Young America's Voices award.

At that time Israel was refusing to allow him to leave Gaza. He was eventually allowed to leave, but not in time to arrive for the awards ceremony. He embarked on a multi-city speaking tour of the US and also appeared on C-SPAN then. (HERE are the first ten minutes of that appearance)

Ms. Laub, your article is SORELY lacking in details, you either omitted or did not conduct the interviews needed to cover Mohammed's ordeal properly. How would YOU feel if this had happened to you and the article done on it by your collegue finished with the party doing this to you saying you were insincere? I suggest strongly you have shown your bias in your report and lack of journalistic integrity.

Email exchange between Barbara Whitaker of the Associated Press and myself, July 2, 2008

> Hi,
> Wanted to let you know that I received the information. I have passed it
> along to assignment editors on the International Desk for review. Thanks
> for thinking of us. Barb
> -----Original Message-----
> From: ********
> Sent: Wednesday, July 02, 2008 1:41 PM
> To: Whitaker, Barbara
> Subject: Mohammed Omer/Palestinian journalist
> Hi Barbara,
> Thank you so much for taking my call. Following is information
> concerning what occurred to Mohammed Omer at the Allenby Bridge. He was
> returning to his home in Gaza after a multi European city tour, where he
> had stopped in London to receive the Martha Gellhorn Prize in Journalism
> which he shared this year with Dahr Jamail.
> I became aware of this situation by alert from Washington Report on
> Middle East Affairs for whom Mohammed is their Gaza correspondent .
> This report came to me Friday evening. The incident had occurred that
> morning Palestine time.
> The Dutch, who were coordinating his travel coordinates issued a quick
> condemnation-they knew immediately what had occurred, because Dutch
> officials were traveling with him, but he was taken in for "questioning"
> by the IDF for 4 1/2 hours
> otests-treatment-of-journalist
> The first press release involving this incident was from IPS for whom
> Mohammed is their Gaza correspondent
> Mohammed has prepared a twelve page written report for the Dutch who
> have filed
> the complaint to Israel. (sent later) The person to speak with at the Hague is
> Robert
> Decker. His phone number is *********** (time difference of
> course is an
> issue.) (This interview is CRUCIAL to Mohammed's claims, and is NOWHERE in Karin Laub's AP article)
> WRMEA who sponsored his trip are preparing a press release which will be
> up very
> soon.
> The person to speak to in DC at WRMEA is Delinda Henley, phone Phone:
> **************
> Ashraf Khalil of the LA Times is interviewing him probably today. (was contacted last week, twice on Sunday by myself, given Mohammed's phone number, still no story in the LA Times. Ashraf said he could not promise he could get it in to the LA Times proper, but could promise to put it on the LA Times blog, Babylon and Beyond, which has not occurred)
> If he is up to it, Don Bustany of KPFK will be interviewing him live on
> air this
> evening on his program Middle East in Focus at 8:00 pm (Did not occur)
> Democracy Now WOULD be interviewing him today, but he is still in the
> hospital
> in not so great condition with a very busy schedule. (Amy Goodman interviewed him HERE on Monday, July 8th) When Mohammed was
> here in
> Dec 2006, Amy Goodman interviewed him about the award he was given at
> that
> time,the New America Media's Best Youth Voice
> Reporters Without Borders issued a condemnation:
> The Committee to Protect Journalists in DC was contacted yesterday, but
> as of
> this moment have not released a statement, but are expected to soon. (Done of July 9th, found HERE)
> The BBC ran a short story from Reuters
> (mind you, I heard
> that the
> Dutch when they spoke to Israeli officials said the Israeli official
> they spoke
> with is most embarrassed by this incident)
> The Independent ran an article:
> nian-rep
> orter-abused-by-israeli-security-officers-858342.html
> The Guardian ran John Pilger's (who presented him with the Martha
> Gellhorn
> prize) article.
> ians.civ
> illiberties
> I spoke to Mohammed VERY briefly on the phone Sunday. He had just been
> given
> pain medication and had problems talking. He is still on an iv in the
> hospital
> Sarah ****** who is the editor for a small paper here, ****************,
> and very close friend to Mohammed spoke to him yesterday for more than
> an hour,
> taking his statements clearly, discussing some of the details of what
> occurred
> to him being reported innacurately. She is in ******, CA Her phone is
******** (Sarah has since spoken to Mohammed several times and has done a thorough job of interviewing all parties who can witness to what occurred to Mohammed, unlike the story written by Karin Loeb which either did NOT contact these parties, or omitted their statements from her story)
> I will send you further information as I become aware and am awaiting
> coverage of this incident which was an attack on a very well known and
> respected
> Palestinian journalist.
> On the phone you stated that you don't know if the AP has been made
> aware and taken a pass on the story. I hope this is not the case
> Barbara. This should be of earnest concern to the Associated Press
> since it is an incident affecting a prize winning fellow journalist
> against whom a crime has been committed.
> Thank you for your attention Barbara. Looking forward to the AP
> coverage of this incident.
> Robin

Monday, July 7, 2008

Mohammed Omer on Democracy Now

Award-Winning Palestinian Journalist Mohammed Omer Details Abuse by Israeli Security Officials


Real Video Stream

Real Audio Stream

MP3 Download


Transcript of Mohammed Omer's interview with Amy Goodman HERE

ACTION ALERT: WRMEA Update on Mohammed Omer Petition to Condaleeza Rice

Washington Report

July 7, 2008

Washington Report Correspondent Mohammed Omer Released From Hospital Following Detention by Israeli Soldiers at Allenby Bridge Crossing

More than 2,300 people have signed a petition drafted by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs calling for the Israeli government to protect journalists and end its harassment of journalists, academics and other travelers to and from the occupied Palestinian territories.

We are requesting a meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the U.S. State Department at which we plan to submit, along with our petition, Omer’s medical report detailing his injuries. We will call for an investigation of Omer’s treatment at the Allenby border crossing, as well as assurances from Israel that it will not target journalists, especially Omer, working in the occupied territories.

Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer, Gaza correspondent for the Washington Report, Inter Press Service News Agency contributor, and co-recipient of the 2008 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, was hospitalized with cracked ribs and other injuries inflicted by Israeli soldiers June 26 at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan into the occupied West Bank.

Omer was returning home to Gaza after a European speaking tour and the June 16 London ceremony at which he accepted the prestigious Gellhorn Prize.

Omer was detained, questioned by a Shin Bet agent, strip searched at gunpoint, assaulted and dragged by the heels to an ambulance after he began vomiting and going in and out of consciousness. When he finally came to, he was in a Palestinian hospital in Jericho, where he was treated and allowed to return home in the custody of the Dutch diplomats. See the following article by John Pilger in the July 2 Guardian:

Unable to eat and still in pain, Omer was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Gaza on June 28, re-examined, treated, and fed on an intravenous drip. He was released over the past weekend, but is far from recovered.

In his article in the August 2008 Washinxzgton Report, “A Voice for the Voiceless,” Omer defines his life’s mission as “to get the truth out,” and describes himself as “not pro-Palestinian or anti-Israeli, but simply…an eyewitness on the ground, reporting what happens and why.” Palestinian journalists risk their lives on a daily basis to tell the world what is happening in their homeland.

Please visit the Washington Report website,, to sign the petition condemning Israel’s attacks on journalists, both Palestinian and international. We urge you to forward this petition to everyone you know. Add your voice to Mohammed Omer’s on behalf of voiceless Gazans and Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation—an occupation made possible by American tax dollars.

Source: email alert

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Truth Commision

Op-Ed Columnist

The Truth Commission

Published: July 6, 2008

When a distinguished American military commander accuses the United States of committing war crimes in its handling of detainees, you know that we need a new way forward.

“There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes,” Antonio Taguba, the retired major general who investigated abuses in Iraq, declares in a powerful new report on American torture from Physicians for Human Rights. “The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”

MUST read further>>>>>>>>>>>

For the report from Physicians for Human Rights, "Broken Laws, Broken Lives, Medical Evidence of Torture by the US" link HERE

Happy day after Independence Day........

Friday, July 4, 2008

LISTEN to Mohammed Omer on His Torture by the IOF on Podcast

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.PHOTO from WRMEA

Sorry, I have no idea how to embed a podcast. Mohammed doesn't actually come on himself til just before 12 minutes.

On KPFA Pacifica Radio, "Flashpoints". Recorded on podcast on Monday, June 30, 2008. Today is Friday, July 4, 2008. This is too hard to listen to...........

Award-winning journalist and Flashpoints contributor Mohammed Omer beaten and tortured by Israeli secret police, we speak to him in his hospital bed; also, Ali Abunimah responds to the attack and speaks about the anti-Palestinian stance of the major presidential candidates

Listen HERE

Palestinian Journalist Abused, Stripped

By Nora Barrows-Friedman and Dennis Bernstein
July 5, 2008

Editor’s Note: Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer recently traveled to Europe where he received an award given to reporters engaged in coverage of dangerous conflicts. However, Omer found the risk of returning to Gaza through Israel a hazard that he had not anticipated.

Below is a commentary expressing the outrage of two of Omer’s colleagues at the radio program, “Flashpoints,” followed by an interview with Omer about his ordeal:

The U.S.-supported occupation violence against Palestine continues unchecked. The failure of major Western politicians and the Big Press to cover the story has given Israel an absolute free hand to prosecute its program of ethnic cleansing.

It is nearly impossible these days to get substantial, unbiased information out on punishing Israeli policies. The few reporters who have chosen to take on the story head-on oftentimes risk their life and their limbs to do their work.

A week ago Thursday, the Israeli occupation violence hit close to home as award-winning reporter and Flashpoints correspondent Mohammed Omer was detained and tortured trying to return back to his home in Gaza through Jordan.

Mohammed Omer was returning home from Europe with great pride, having been distinguished with the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism. The prize is given every year with great fanfare to frontline reporters who take great risks to report their stories.

Omer, who is also the recipient of the New America Media's Best Youth Voice Award, was detained on his way back from Europe, trying to cross back home into the Gaza Strip via Jordan and the West Bank.

Omer, knowing the dangers he would face going back to Gaza, had the assistance of the Dutch diplomatic core in the West Bank to escort him back through Israel into the northern Gaza Strip's Erez crossing.

But even this proved to be a worthless effort – at the Allenby crossing between Jordan and the occupied West Bank, Omer was detained, humiliated, interrogated, beaten and tortured, according to Omer, by Israeli Shin Bet agents.

What follows is a Flashpoints interview with Mohammed Omer from his hospital bed in central Gaza, where he was finally transported after he received critical wounds, including fractured ribs and an injured trachea, from the Israeli forces.

The interview was broadcast on Pacifica Radio’s Flashpoints show on Monday, June 30.

Omer is a featured and regular correspondent for Flashpoints and a working colleague at Inter Press Service with Flashpoints Senior Producer Nora Barrows-Friedman, who herself has returned from Gaza and the West Bank.


Flashpoints: Mohammed, if you could tell us where you are and what happened to you on Thursday (June 26).

Mohammed Omer: I am in hospital in Gaza. I have difficulty breathing. And I have also difficulty swallowing in addition to some damage on my larynx. As I started to approach the terminal of Allenby bridge, the Israeli soldiers stopped me and they say that I have no permission.

When I give my passport to the passport control, they say that I have no permit to go into Gaza, back to my own home. They ask me to sit for one hour and a half. After that, they rechecked my bags, my suitcases, and everything, making fun of me, making fun of everything I got, making fun of my life, and saying that I am a crazy man to come to Gaza. I have been to France, Sweden, Greece, England, and to Holland, and I decided to come back to the hell of Gaza.

They told me, “The Shevak is unfit to me. There is no electricity there. How come you go there? There is no life, there is no security, there is no food, there is no cooking gas, there is no cooking oil, there is nothing. You’d better go out back.”

And I told them that I want to be the voice for the voiceless, and I want to get the message out from the Gaza Strip to the world. Then he said to me, “Okay. Then you should suffer.” I said, “No, I should tell the truth.”

He said to me, “Okay, how much money you have?” I said, “I have a lot, leftover money. Some euros, some Jordanian dinars, some shekels. I have also some English pounds.” He said, “I want you to put all the money on the table, English pounds. I want all the English pounds.” He said to me, “That’s all? Four hundred eighty? You are a liar. You have more.” I said, “No.”

He takes me inside the room and force me to take off my clothes, my t-shirt, my jeans, my shoes, my socks. And then he said to me that I have to take off my underwear. I said, “No, I’m not going to take it off. I’m a journalist and the Dutch embassy escort is waiting for me outside. Call them and tell them that Mohammed is here, and tell them that you want me to take off all my clothes.”

Then he start shouting at me, and he puts his hand on his gun, saying, “Mohammed, take off your clothes now.” I said no. He put his gun again, and then he lean into my knees, he take off my clothes. So then I start to be completely naked. He said to me, “Move right, move left.” I said, “No, I can’t move right, I can’t move left. I wear my clothes.”

And then he asked me to go outside with him while he checked my bags, every piece of paper. He was collecting all the information, the letters that my readership had written, my papers, my documents, the business cards from all the people that I met in the House of Commons, the Swedish parliament and the Greek parliament, and other journalists around the world. He was making fun of the people that I met.

The Israeli agent kept looking at my papers. Every detail that he find, he just put it in a blue box. The soldier is asking me, “Mohammed, why do you bring the perfumes?” I said that I got these perfumes as a gift for the people that I love. He said to me, “Do you have love in your culture?” I said, “Of course.”

He saw a trophy from other journalists in Greece. He asks me, “Where is this trophy from?” I said, “Greece.” He said, “Mohammed, you know that Greece is not a friend of Israel? It’s a friend of the Palestinians.” I said, “I don’t care. It is none of my business.”

I collapsed on the ground, on the floor, started vomiting everywhere. One soldier was putting his shoes in my head, and on my neck. One other was using his nails to torture me under my eyes, another one under my ears. Another one who caused me all the pain, he used his fingers, and he put them in the holes between my body, my neck, and my chest, trying to grab me from my bones. I was unconscious, afraid, and totally scared. I throw [up] more, making all the area, vomiting everywhere.

Then they dragged me out by my feet. They dragged me into somewhere else, some few meters. One hour and thirty minutes as I estimate, I kept lying down on the floor. After that, they transfer me into a clinic for the Israeli army.

And then from there, they found out that my situation was not getting any better. They call Jericho Hospital and they send me an ambulance after spending more than four hours under torture simply because I win an international prize and because I choose to be a voice for the voiceless.

From there, I called the Dutch embassy and had one of the ambulance crews talk to them. They commented that they are waiting at the crossing and Israel say that we haven’t seen Mohammed yet. And then, the embassy came to pick me up from the hospital, transfer me here, to Gaza.

And there I am, laid up at the … hospital. I can hardly breathe, I can hardly, I cannot swallow at all. I have a fracture in my chest and I can’t wait for the days to retire as a war correspondent.

Flashpoints: Mohammed, you’re 24 years old. You have your entire life ahead of you. You’ve just won the Martha Gellhorn Prize for journalism. You were awarded it along with our good friend and special correspondent, Dahr Jamail. In any other country in the world, you would be treated as someone of the utmost importance and with pride and honor.

But because you are a Palestinian journalist from Gaza, trying to get home after winning this award, after speaking to many European parliaments, you are now suffering and you’re in the hospital. Is there anything that you would want to say, maybe to the Committee to Protect Journalists or to the Israeli government right now?

Mohammed Omer: If I want the message, it should go first to the Israeli secret police. I tell them, before I’m Palestinian, I’m a human being. And they should judge me and they [should] treat me as a human being, as a human being that deserves to live in dignity and be well treated.

I feel sorry that they treat me badly. They torture me. I was hoping that they would make it easy for me because I’m getting the truth out of Gaza. But obviously, as someone told me, they don’t want me back in Gaza because the Israeli agent said to me, “If I knew that you would be coming back to Gaza, I wouldn’t have let you out in the first place.”

For the Committee of Journalists’ Protection, I appeal to them to protect the rights of journalists. We are being abused, we are being tortured, arrested, and some are even killed. And no one cares. We are all human beings. Enough is enough.

It’s time to move, to protect freedom of expression, to protect journalists simply because they are telling the truth and getting the message across. We are not with any party of this conflict. We are just reporting the truth as it is. And we will continue to do so.

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