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Stop the violence, Pakistani Shias say

Pakistani Shia Muslims marching during a demo in Lahore on January 11, 2013.

Tens of thousands of Pakistani Shia Muslims have staged demonstrations across the country to condemn Thursday’s massacre in the southwestern city of Quetta.

More than 90 Pakistanis lost their lives in twin bomb attacks that targeted Shia Muslims in a crowded billiard hall in Quetta.

Two other bomb attacks were carried out in Pakistan on Thursday -- one in the Swat Valley and one more in Quetta - that left a total of 130 people dead and nearly 300 injured. The outlawed terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the billiard hall attack.

On Saturday and Friday, demonstrations were held in the cities of Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta, Hyderabad, Sukkur, Khairpur, Multan, Muzaffarabad, and many other cities and towns across the country.

The gatherings were organized by the Imamia Student Organization (ISO), the All Pakistan Shia Action Committee (APSAC), and Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen Pakistan (MWMP).

The demonstrators shouted slogans against the government and criticized Pakistan’s security forces for failing to provide security to the country’s Shia Muslims.

They also denounced the Saudi Arabian policy of funding extremist groups that commit acts of violence against Muslims in Pakistan.

In addition, the protesters called on the government to take immediate action against the forces involved in the sectarian killings and said more demonstrations would be staged if justice is not served.

A demonstration was also held outside the High Commission for Pakistan in London, where protesters chanted slogans condemning the Shia killings in the South Asian country.

In Quetta, Shia leaders and the relatives of the billiard hall attack victims demanded that the military take control of the city to protect them and said they would not allow the victims to be buried until their demands are met.

Human rights groups have vehemently criticized the Pakistani government for its failure to stem the rising tide of violence against the country’s Shia Muslims.

On Friday, the Pakistan director of Human Rights Watch also commented the issue.

“2012 was the bloodiest year for Pakistan’s Shia community in living memory and if this latest attack is any indication, 2013 has started on an even more dismal note,” Ali Dayan Hasan said.

“As Shia community members continue to be slaughtered in cold blood, the callousness and indifference of authorities offers a damning indictment of the state, its military, and security agencies,” Hasan said.

“Pakistan’s tolerance for religious extremists is not just destroying lives and alienating entire communities, it is destroying Pakistani society across the board,” he added.


Mehdi’s Morning Memo: Withdraw From The EU? ‘Mad,’ Says PM

The ten things you need to know on Sunday 13 January 2013...


It feels like the early 1990s, with the papers full of Europe stories this morning. The best one is in the Mail on Sunday, where it seems the prime minister's allies have been briefing against his Europhobic backbenchers. That'll go down well, won't it?

The Mail on Sunday's Simon Walters reveals:

"David Cameron thinks it would be 'mad' for Britain to leave the EU and is secretly backing a move by Tory MPs to warn of the perils of cutting all our ties with Brussels.

"The Prime Minister was also 'pleased' at US President Barack Obama sending a clear signal that the White House is opposed to the UK leaving the European Union."

".. [T]hose close to Mr Cameron say he does not believe withdrawal is 'realistic or desirable'."

Meanwhile, as the Huffington Post reports:

"David Cameron could slash Ukip's support by more than a third if he promises an in-out referendum on EU membership, according to a poll.

"Research by ComRes for the Sunday People found 63% of the public want a vote on whether Britain should remain in the union.

"Some 33% said they would cast their ballot in favour of a full withdrawal - including two thirds of Ukip supporters, 27% of Tories, 25% of Labour voters, and 17% of Liberal Democrats.

"However, more people - 42% said they were against leaving the EU."

The poll also shows that Ukip could push the Tories into third place in 2014's European elections - Cameron's Conservatives would fall to 22%, one point below Ukip. Uh-oh.


It's not just the Spice Girls who are getting back together again to perform their greatest hits. From the Observer:

"Tory grandee Ken Clarke is joining forces with Labour peer Lord Mandelson in a historic cross-party bid to turn back the rising tide of Euroscepticism.

"The two political heavyweights will share a platform to call for an abandonment of plans to disengage from the European project. Clarke, who attends cabinet as a minister without portfolio, is determined to fight back against the clamour for Britain to step back from the European Union or withdraw entirely.

"Along with Liberal Democrat Lord Rennard, Clarke and Mandelson will spearhead a new organisation, the Centre for British Influence through Europe (CBIE), which will support a cross-party 'patriotic fightback for British leadership in Europe'. The organisation will hold its launch event at the end of the month."

Hmm. Will it affect public opinion? Tory Eurosceptics, like the Spectator's James Forsyth, don't seem too scared of interventions from the likes of Clarke, Mandelson and - yesterday - Heseltine:

"Eurosceptics need to get organised and start pointing out that the people claiming that renegotiation will lead to the sky falling in are, by and large, the same people who were pushing for Britain to join the single currency. If this message is rammed home to the public, then it should be a lot easier to persuade them to take these warnings with a pinch of salt."

"The Britain in Europe crowd was wrong on the most fundamental public policy issue of our time. They need to be reminded of this fact every time they enter the Europe debate."



Ed Miliband has had a strong and high-profile start to 2013 - and will be buoyed by the latest polls (see Public Opinion Watch, below).

The Independent on Sunday reports on Miliband's

".. plans to protect tenants from 'rogue landlords'.

"In a keynote speech on the future of his party, Labour's leader revived calls for a national register of landlords - and greater powers for councils to bar the worst."

Miliband was on the Andrew Marr programme this morning, where he said "'One Nation' is about the way I want to govern this country...about responsiblity going all the way to top of society".

On Europe, he said he thought it was "incredibly dangerous what David Cameron is doing..sleepwalking us towards the exit door of the European Union".

On the economy and the deficit, he refused to give any pledges on reversing Tory cuts - to child benefit or anything else - but highlighted the importance of tackling tax avoidance and changing the law to prevent multinations from dodging tax in the UK.

He also resisted calls to support "means-testing" on welfare and said "the tax system is a fairer way" of redistributing from rich to poor and pointed out the "best way" to cut the welfare bill is to cut unemployment.

On the leaders' TV debates, the Labour leader didn't seem too keen on having Ukip's Nigel Farage join the 'big three' but said he was "relishing these TV debates...I hope they happen".

On Ed Balls, he said Balls was "doing a great job" as shadow chancellor - Miliband even reminded viewers of Balls' prescient speech on austerity at Bloomberg's HQ in August 2010. Now there's an endorsement!

"There is no vacancy for shadow chancellor," declared Ed.


David Miliband isn't coming back to Labour's front bench anytime soon, says the Sunday Telegraph's Patrick Hennessy:

"Mr Miliband, who lost his party’s leadership election to his younger brother in 2010, was said last week to be giving 'serious thought' to coming back to the political front line - with the post of shadow chancellor claimed to be in his sights.

"However, it can be revealed that Ed Miliband has no plans to replace the current shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, or to hand his brother the job of masterminding Labour’s preparations for the next general election campaign."

The Sunday Telegraph story says the elder Miliband's supporters were briefing journos that David might return because they're 'spooked' by the meteoric rise of the shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna.


The Sunday Mirror seems to have set out to prove David Cameron right that Ukip is a party of "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists', containing "some pretty odd people". The paper reports:

"On the [party's official online] forum, senior Ukip member Dr Julia Gasper branded gay rights a 'lunatic's charter' and claimed some homosexuals prefer sex with animals. She added: 'As for the links between homosexuality and paedophilia, there is so much evidence that even a full-length book could hardly do justice to the ­subject.'

"The former parliamentary candidate and UKIP branch chairman in Oxford now faces the sack over her comments.

"Tackled about her remarks yesterday, she said: 'I'm not going to talk about them. It's none of your business.'

"Lecturer Dr Gasper is just one of many Ukip members who use the forum to vent their controversial views.

".. Another member complained about the impact of immigration on the NHS, writing: 'I am informed by past media that Black Caribbean and not Black African have a higher instance of schizophrenia.

"'I wonder if this is due to inbreeding on these small islands in slave times or is it due to smoking grass.'"


Watch this video of a puppy trying to eat an orange.


Fascinating piece on top civil servant Sir Jeremy Heywood by James Forsyth in the Mail on Sunday today:

"Sir Jeremy is regarded by friend and foe alike as the most formidable operator in Whitehall," he writes, adding: "Aides who want to give Cameron advice without Heywood's knowledge have been reduced to trying to surreptitiously slip a note into the Prime Minister's Red Box."

Forsyth writes:

"Steve Hilton, Cameron's senior adviser, once tried to wrest control of the box from Heywood by demanding that all the box notes had to go through him as well. Yet the sheer weight of material put paid to this effort. Hilton has since gone on sabbatical, partly in frustration at the extent of Heywood's influence."

He concludes:

"Heywood knows that he is playing a long game. In conversation, he sometimes pointedly refers to the 'current Government'.

"It is a reminder that he intends to be at the centre of power far longer than any politician."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times reports on how Hilton:

".. has revealed his 'horror' at the powerlessness of Downing Street to control government decisions, admitting the prime minister often finds out about policies from the radio or newspapers — and in many cases opposes them.

"Steve Hilton, who remains one of Cameron’s close confidants, said: 'Very often you’ll wake up in the morning and hear on the radio or the news or see something in the newspapers about something the government is doing. And you think, well, hang on a second — it’s not just that we didn’t know it was happening, but we don’t even agree with it! The government can be doing things ... and we don’t agree with it? How can that be?'

"He described how No 10 is frequently left out of the loop as important policy changes are pushed through by 'papershuffling' mandarins."


It ain't getting any better. The Sun reports:

"A total of 29 cops were hurt in riots over flying the Union flag in Northern Ireland yesterday.

"Police used water cannon and baton rounds after being bombarded with bricks and fireworks as they tried to separate loyalists and republicans.

".. Chief Constable Matt Baggott said cops acted with 'exceptional courage'. Politicians from Belfast, Dublin and London will discuss the protests this week."


From the BBC:

"French President Francois Hollande has ordered security stepped up around public buildings and transport because of military operations in Africa.

"He was responding to the risk of Islamist attack after French forces attacked militants in Mali and Somalia.

"France's anti-terrorism alert system known as "Vigipirate" is being reinforced immediately, with security boosted at public buildings and transport networks, particularly rail and air. Public gatherings will also be affected.

"The alert will remain at red, the second-highest level at which emergency counter-attack measures are put in place."

Is it wrong of me to point out that the chaos and instability in Mali is a direct result of, and spillover from, the west's intervention in Libya, which France pushed hardest for?

Meanwhile, the HuffPost UK reports:

"David Cameron has agreed to help transport foreign troops and equipment to Mali amid efforts to halt an advance by Islamist rebels in a conflict that has already claimed 120 lives."


From the Sunday Telegraph:

"Defence chiefs have drawn up new contingency plans designed to prevent hostile action by Argentina towards the Falkland Islands.

"A series of military options are being actively considered as the war of words over the islands intensifies.

"It is understood that additional troops, another warship and extra RAF Typhoon combat aircraft could be dispatched to the region ahead of the March referendum on the Falkland Islands' future."

The paper adds, however, that

".. the British government believes that Buenos Aries currently lacks both the political will and military capability to recapture the islands."

Phew. That's alright then.


Conspiracy theorists of the world: you have a new and important ally!

From the Mail on Sunday:

"Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is convinced that a lone gunman wasn't solely responsible for the assassination of his uncle, President John F. Kennedy, and said his father believed the Warren Commission report was a 'shoddy piece of craftsmanship.'

".. He said that he, too, questioned the report.

"'The evidence at this point I think is very, very convincing that it was not a lone gunman,' he said, but he didn't say what he believed may have happened."

Oliver Stone will be delighted.


From the Sunday Times/YouGov poll:

Labour 44
Conservatives 31
Lib Dems 11
Ukip 8

That would give Labour a majority of 124.

From the Observer/Opinium poll:

Labour 41
Conservatives 31
Ukip 12
Lib Dems 7

That would give Labour a majority of 116.


@PeterHain @Ed_Miliband commanding on Marr programme ludicrous to expect detailed Labour tax and spend now: no idea scale of mess we will inherit 2015

@paulwaugh Memories of 'tax bombshell' Saatchi campaign runs deep in Lab psyche. EdM's remarks about 92 prove it. #marr #kinnockyears

@Mike_Fabricant When Hezza attacks David Cameron about Europe, and Norman Tebbit attacks DC about morality, I know we are getting it about right.


Andrew Rawnsley, writing in the Observer, says: "David Cameron should take tips from John Major about Europe."

Janet Daley, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, says: "A system intended to promote social solidarity has had the opposite effect."

John Rentoul, writing in the Independent on Sunday, focuses on Sir Jeremy Heywood: "A civil servant too effective for his own good."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

Indigenous Occupy: Canadian grassroots native movement on rise

First Nations protesters march towards Parliament Hill before the start of a meeting between chiefs and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa January 11, 2013 (Reuters / Chris Wattie)

(38.3Mb) embed video

An indigenous movement known as ‘Idle No More’ is gaining momentum in Canada. The First Nations people have promised to bring the country's economy 'down to its knees' if aboriginals’ voices remain unheard.

Having begun with four members in November, Idle No More has now become reminiscent of other grassroots movements like Occupy Wall Street.

Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper has agreed to meet with native chiefs on Friday to discuss disagreements over treaty rights and other grievances. Despite him promising to pay more attention to their demands, the meeting did not resolve any real issues.

Before the meeting, hundreds of indigenous activists protested in front of the Canada’s parliament, demonstrating their frustration, but also highlighting a deep divide within the country's First Nations on how to push Ottawa to heed their demands.

Mass demonstrations have been sparked by Bill C-45, which was passed by the Canadian government in December. The legislation amends rules about the community's land and protesters say it undermines century-old treaties by altering the approval process for leasing aboriginal lands to outsiders and changing environmental oversight in favor of natural resource extraction.

“Bill C-45 is not just about a budget, it is a direct attack on First Nations lands and on the bodies of water we all share from across this country,” Idle No More said in a statement on its website.

First Nations protesters march towards Parliament Hill before the start of a meeting between chiefs and Canada′s Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa January 11, 2013 (Reuters / Chris Wattie)
First Nations protesters march towards Parliament Hill before the start of a meeting between chiefs and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa January 11, 2013 (Reuters / Chris Wattie)

“Canada is becoming essentially the world’s No.1 corporate colony,” claimed independent researcher and writer Andrew Gavin Marshall. “Our prime minister has negotiated or is negotiating eight free trade agreements – this is opening up Canada to unhindered corporate plundering of the environment and resources. Indigenous peoples are at the front lines of that because their communities are hit first and they are hit hardest. So they may be facing the final stages of the 500-years genocide.”

In an interview with RT, Marshall said the Idle No More movement puts a spotlight on a broad range of problems within Canada. The movement is a resurgence of indigenous resistance against colonialism and oppression, he explained. Apart from that, it addresses human issues, the environment, the economy and society in general.

“In Canada we have essentially what amounts to apartheid system in how we treat the indigenous population. In their communities they have less access to water, food insecurity.”

Another serious issue is the situation that indigenous women are facing. “We have huge numbers of murdered or missing aboriginal women. The police don’t care. It’s unaccounted for.”

As the movement is gaining moment it is spreading outside Canada with hundreds of protests held across the world, Marshall says.“It’s been spreading globally because indigenous issues are human issues and are relevant everywhere around the world. It can spread in the same way the Occupy spread – largely through social media.”

Canadian society is waking up to the fact that the world has changed, Marshall argues.

“You have a youth movement here in Quebec and now an indigenous movement across the country and spreading.”

“What’s happening is part of the global phenomenon of change. This has no national boundaries, this is about people waking up to the power systems that exist and demanding and fighting for change,” he told RT.

“What aboriginal people in Canada are teaching us is that to protect the environment we have to address empire and that’s the reality that people everywhere are facing. As well as economic injustice – these are all related issues – we can’t deal with them separately. We have to deal with them collectively and we have to act on them collectively.”

First Nations protesters march towards Parliament Hill before the start of a meeting between chiefs and Canada′s Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa January 11, 2013 (Reuters / Chris Wattie)
First Nations protesters march towards Parliament Hill before the start of a meeting between chiefs and Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa January 11, 2013 (Reuters / Chris Wattie)

Shias criticize army chief over Quetta

Pakistan army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (R) meets with soldiers (file photo)

Pakistani Shia leaders have criticized the country’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani over law and order situation in the country after more than 100 people, mostly Shia Muslims, were killed in Thursday’s bombings.

“I ask the army chief: What have you done with these extra three years you got (in office). What did you give us except more death,” Maulana Amin Shaheedi, a central leader of the Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, told a press conference in the southwestern city of Quetta on Friday.

"They (the victims) will not be buried until the army comes into Quetta," Shaheedi said.

At least 92 Pakistanis lost their lives and more than 200 others were injured in twin bomb attacks that targeted Shia Muslims in a crowded billiards hall in Quetta. Earlier in the day, 12 security forces were also killed in a bomb explosion at a security check point in the city.

In another incident, a bomb detonated inside a mosque in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwest of Islamabad, leaving 25 Sunni Muslims dead and 80 others wounded.

Early on Saturday, irate Shia leaders in Quetta demanded that the military take control of the violence-hit city to protect them and stated they would not allow the victims of the twin bombing to be buried until their demands were met.

Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan Director of Human Rights Watch, said, "Last year was the bloodiest year for Shias in living memory."

"More than 400 were killed and if yesterday's attack is any indication, it's just going to get worse," he added.

Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered an alliance with the United States in the so-called war against terrorism.

Since late 2009, there has been a surge in militant attacks in Pakistan. Thousands have been displaced by the wave of violence and militancy sweeping the country.


Unchartered waters: Japan and China scramble fighter jets in island dispute

Chinese J-10 fight planes. (AFP Photo)

Chinese J-10 fight planes. (AFP Photo)

The standoff between Japan and China escalated to a new level after both sides sent their jets to tail each other in airspace near the cluster of disputed islands that has created tension between the two powers.

A Chinese Y-8 transport plane flew near the vicinity of the Diaoyu or Senkaku islands (as they are known by the Chinese and the Japanese respectively) on what the Defense Ministry in Beijing described as a “routine patrol” on Thursday. It was immediately tailed by a Japanese F-15. Chinese authorities then ordered two more J-10 planes into the air, to perform “verification and monitoring” on the Japanese aircraft.

"Aircraft from Japan's Self-Defense Forces have intensified their surveillance activities against China, and expanded the area of their scope, disturbing the normal patrols and training of Chinese civilian and military aircraft," said a spokesman from China’s Ministry of Defense.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman followed with another statement, accusing Tokyo of “creating tension”.

Japanese officials responded by claiming that Chinese planes have increasingly intruded into the airspace above the islands, which are currently owned by Japan. They noted that over the past year alone jets protecting the area had to be scrambled over 150 times, though it is not clear how many of those were a reaction to China’s presence.

apan′s Air Self-Defense Force F-15 jet fighter (AFP Photo/Kazuhiro Nogi)
apan's Air Self-Defense Force F-15 jet fighter (AFP Photo/Kazuhiro Nogi)

The Senkaku Islands, located in the East China Sea, have been controlled by Japan since 1895, but China insists that it has historic rights to them dating back to the 16th century. The archipelago, which is halfway between both countries, is currently uninhabited, but the ground below could house significant mineral resources.

"Our stance that we will adamantly protect our waters and territories has not changed at all. As I said before, there is no room for negotiations," said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the wake.

Japan has just increased its defense budget for the first time in 11 years, while China’s has more than quintupled over the past decade and now trails that only of the US.

For some time the islands have proven a blight in relations, with nationalist politicians from both sides increasing their rhetoric in recent years, but tensions have grown rapidly since the Japanese government purchased all privately owned islands in September last year.

This provoked outrage in China, which turned into several violent demonstrations, with Japanese stores ransacked across the country. Some Chinese workers also organized strikes against Japanese employers.

Economic ties between Asia’s two biggest economies, which amount to an annual trade of $340 billion, have also been damaged, with Japanese businesses withdrawing investment, and Chinese ones looking for suppliers elsewhere. Some have estimated that Japan has lost up to 1 per cent of GDP as a result of the dispute.

his file aerial shot taken on September 15, 2010 shows the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in the East China Sea. (AFP Photo/JIJI Press)
his file aerial shot taken on September 15, 2010 shows the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in the East China Sea. (AFP Photo/JIJI Press)

We Share Life in Kabul

We are two weeks into our stay with the Afghan Peace Volunteers and the time is filled with many meetings and discussions. Before their departure our British delegates interviewed several of the peace volunteers about conditions in their country. Zekerullah’s testimony stood out to me; he held such compassion and wisdom beyond his years. He was asked what he would have to say to a young man from the U.K. who is considering joining the military and possibly coming to fight in Afghanistan. He stated that he hoped the man (his counterpart) would not become a soldier but would stay home, do the work that is needed there, and take care of his parents. Zekerullah’s insightfulness typifies the responses I’ve heard, again and again, from the Afghan Peace Volunteers when they talk about the ravages of war and their visions for the future.

Despite the long-term degradations of poverty and war, we are hearing sentiments of hope from a variety of individuals and groups. The majority of Afghanistan’s population is under 25 years of age and they want reform and an end to the violence and corruption perpetrated by foreign, regional and internal self-interests.

We sat with the secretary-general of the Afghanistan Youth Peace National Jirga, a governmental organization of 1,700 members that has a central office in Kabul. Members come from all 34 provinces around the country and include those involved in different Afghan political parties. The purpose of the Youth Jirga is to create a space for a national discourse on Afghanistan’s peace process, involving all domestic groups. There are significant obstacles to peace for the Afghan people who find themselves caught between so many hostile interests with complex alignments that can easily shift. The U.S., U.K., Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Iran and Saudi Arabia all play varying roles. Internal factions include the Taliban (often described as a mask which hides many players), Hezb-i-Islami, past warlords turned ministers, and Karzai’s puppet government.

The Youth Peace National Jirga’s agenda consists of these points:

1. Establish a way forward for the peace process.

2. Address corruption in governmental administration.

3. Discuss/clarify the Bilateral Security Agreement and the future of the U.S. military presence.

4. Address the higher educational needs of the population.

5. Generate employment for both educated and uneducated youth.

This is a very tall order but the issues are clearly identified by the younger generation.

The Youth Peace National Jirga met with President Karzai last summer, hoping to have their voices heard. The Jirga is aware of the peace processes held in or mediated by Doha, with Japan, Turkey, France, Germany and the U.S. Many Afghans feel this effort is being used for political purposes and that a genuine peace process has yet to emerge.

We frequently hear concerns being expressed over the upcoming transitional period of 2014. The importance of this time hinges on the movement of power from Karzai’s administration to a new government, as well as the shifting of security from foreign military to local and national entities. If the power falls into the hands of those who would continue to neglect the peoples’ needs, there will be another lost decade and generation. But many of the young people do have a vision for peace and reconciliation. Our delegation members have listened to dozens of young men and women who are ready to transform the old military and political strategies into a different model. They want a new approach that is based on humanitarian rights and the social well-being of the people, especially those left in abject poverty. It is work and education that will keep the youth out of the hands of the military and Islamic fundamentalists who preach the taking up of arms.

The statistics are grim with many new refugees being displaced daily, the deaths of one in five children under age five, and half of Afghan children unable to attend school. Two billion dollars have been spent weekly on maintaining foreign troops. Despite these realities the young people continue to envision a peaceful and independent tomorrow with education for everyone.

We visited elderly widows who live on the surrounding hillsides above Kabul City where the paths are steep and icy. With no other option, it is the cheapest housing that they can afford. When the water lines freeze they must carry heavy containers up the treacherous paths.

We met victims of U.S. rocket attacks as well as people with other disabilities who work valiantly to organize and provide humane care for those in need.

These small-level efforts are happening all over Kabul. When I look out the window in the early mornings I see the bustle of life, people carrying on with work and school. It is hard to imagine that our friends live with memories that are “painted in blood” as Hakim, our mentor, tells us. I am convinced that the human heart is created for love and love is a stronger force than fear or hatred. I see it every day in the eyes and smiles of those who work so hard to get by each day and who keep hope for tomorrow.

‘Guantanamo creates deep wounds’ — former detainees

The flag over a war crimes courtroom in Camp Justice at US Naval Base Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (Reuters / Michelle Shephard / Pool)

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Guantanamo Bay is sending a very disturbing signal to the world as it legalizes torture, say former detainees. In an interview with RT they shared their painful memories and the feeling of guilt facing the innocent people imprisoned.

Former Guantanamo detainee, Bisher Amin Khalil Al-Rawi, 52, is an Iraqi citizen who became a UK resident in 1980s. He was held in Guantanamo from 2002 to 2007. Al-Rawi argues that he was arrested by the Gambian National Intelligence Agency while on a business trip in Banjul Airport. He was then turned over to US authorities and transferred to Guantanamo Bay. He was held under suspicion of having links with Al-Qaeda.

Al-Rawi tells RT that he still feels guilt in front of those other prisoners who have been cleared off, but still remain in Guantanamo.

Bisher Amin Khalil Al-Rawi
Bisher Amin Khalil Al-Rawi

­“I do not know why I was released and others were not, especially when you know that people who have been cleared still remain in Guantanamo. At the time when I was released I do not know whether I was cleared or not. And I think one cannot but feel uncomfortable and that guilt is lingering in you. Why am I out and they are still in there?”

“Dictators are pressing people, we all know that, but oppression from countries that have put themselves forward as the leaders of the free world, I think oppression from them should not be tolerated. The UK is my country, it is my home, but I think the government can do much more to help. The US needs to be reminded of the wrongs that it is committing.”

Former Guantanamo detainee Omar Deghayes, 43, is a Libyan citizen with residency status in the UK. He was held in Gitmo for five years from 2002 to 2007. Deghayes was arrested in Pakistan and then taken into US military custody and sent to Guantanamo.  After his release he was returned to Britain, but was arrested under a Spanish warrant. In 2008 the extradition attempts were dropped.

Omar Deghayes
Omar Deghayes

Deghayes believes that the message US is sending by enforcing torture is very disturbing and says it creates deep wounds that are not healed easily.

“I have been released now for four years, since December 2007. But the memories of Guantanamo are very clear because of what had happened. The mistreatment does not go away easily. It does create a deep wound that will last a long time. When we talk about Guantanamo, these things do come back.”

“The message that Guantanamo sends to the world is very disturbing and very serious [and] has to be opposed and spoken against. In the US the people who committed the crimes which legalized and engineered torture in Guantanamo not only have not been prosecuted or accounted for what they had committed, but they are at large campaigning very powerfully with media – and now film – to justify and make torture acceptable to the American public at large. Such a message is very dangerous and has to be opposed.”

Human rights lawyer Saghir Hussain talked about Guantanamo prisoner Shaker Aamer, who is a Saudi Arabian citizen and the last British resident held at Gitmo. Aamer was cleared for release by the Bush administration in 2007 and the Obama administration in 2009, but remains in detention.

Saghir Hussain
Saghir Hussain

“The promise [to bring Shaker Aamer back home] has not been fulfilled and that is very disappointing and we urge the British government to fulfill the promise made to the former detainees, who despite their own personal emotional sufferings are strongly concerned about Shaker Aamer and the fact that he is still not back.”

Hussain also spoke out against the ‘Secret Justice’ bill that would allow national security evidence to be heard behind closed court doors.

“[The] Secret Justice bill would allow a Secretary of State to tell the judge what is secret and what is not. So there is no judicial oversight as to what can be open in court.”

The Challenge of the Era of Technological Abundance

Gar Alperovitz. (Photo: Stephen Voss)Truthout's continuing series of excerpts from Gar Alperovitz's "America Beyond Capitalism." This is an exclusive Truthout series from political economist and author Gar Alperovitz. We are publishing weekly installm...

Canada chief warns of native retaliation

The Idle No More protesters block the International Bridge on the Canada-US border near Cornwall, Ontario, in support of the First Nations in Canada, January 5, 2013.

An influential aboriginal leader in Canada has warned the Ottawa government that natives could bring the economy to its knees if their demands are not met.

On Thursday, Grand Chief Derek Nepinak, from the province of Manitoba, called on the Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to immediately address the social and economic grievances facing many of Canada's 1.2 million aborigines, Reuters reported.

"We have had enough. Our young people have had enough. Our women have had enough...We have nothing left to lose," Nepinak said.

Canada's prime minister is due to hold talks on Friday with native leaders who say want more federal money, a greater say over what happens to resources on their land, and more respect from the federal Conservative government.

“These are demands, not requests," said Nepinak, adding, "The Idle No More movement has the people - it has the people and the numbers - that can bring the Canadian economy to its knees…"

"We have the warriors that are standing up now, that are willing to go that far. So we're not here to make requests, we're here to demand attention," he said.

The Idle No More, a protest movement of Canada's native First Nations, has been locking up the country with protests and blockades along the US-Canadian border since November 2012.

On January 3, the Assembly of First Nations National Chief, Shawn Atleo also called on Harper to meet with the community’s leaders over their concerns, saying that the natives across the country have been voicing “concern and frustration with a broken system that does not address long-standing disparities between First Nations and the rest of Canada, and address priorities in ways that will provide for long-term solutions and sustainability.”

Canadian aboriginals have also held demonstrations since the government approved Bill C-45, which seeks to change the rules about aboriginal land. The protests intensified after the Chief of Attawapiskat First Nation in Northern Ontario, Theresa Spence went on a hunger strike on December 11, 2012, demanding a meeting with Harper.

She, however, issued a statement on Wednesday, saying that she would not attend the meeting with Harper, scheduled for Friday, because Governor General David Johnston, who is a representative of Queen Elizabeth II, will not be taking part in it.

In a report, released on December 19, 2012, Amnesty International called on Canada to address human rights abuses in the country, particularly with respect to the rights of indigenous peoples.


Fox News’ Answer to Gun Control: Gun Appreciation Day!

Someone should do a mental health check on Roger Ailes before letting him do any more damage. It's not bad enough that the Fox News anchors have gone utterly crazy over Joe Biden's declaration that executive orders could well be part of a package of gun control measures, but now we have Fox touting a gun owners' coalition putting on Gun Appreciation Day on January 19th.

These people have some serious obsessions with weapons of human destruction. Gun appreciation ranks right up there with worshipping at the drone altar as something I would not be caught dead doing.

According to the Fox News website, "the coalition behind the gun appreciation day includes the Second Amendment Foundation, Special Operations Speaks, Revolution PAC and the Conservative Action Fund." They're a bit hot under the collar and shaking their fists with threats:

“We need to ban politicians who assault our rights, not firearms that are used thousands of times a day to protect lives and property from criminal attack,” said Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

I decided to have a look at these organizations a bit more closely, given that I was sure they were "educating the public about conservative values like liberty and gun ownership." If I had a quarter for every time I've read that phrase in federal disclosures lately, I'd be wealthy beyond belief.

The Second Amendment Foundation

The Second Amendment Foundation had an interesting disclosure buried on the back pages. It seems they have nearly $1.5 million invested in "radio and TV station ownership" and an internet media website. Like Glenn Beck's outfit, maybe?

Screen Shot 2013-01-09 at 9.57.07 PM.png

That's sort of scary, don't you think? No wonder we can't have nice things, when gun nuts own media? Here's the list of what they own. Each station is owned 50 percent by this foundation.

  • KSRN Radio, Inc. Bellevue, Washington
  • KITZ Radio, Inc, Bellevue, Washington
  • KBNP Radio, Inc, Bellevue, Washington

KBNP Radio seems to be the big money maker, with around $135,000 in income for 2011. It's billed as The Money Station, and features Bruce Williams and Lou Dobbs as the big names, with a lot of money tips in between. Awesome that they can send all that free advertising for gun appreciation over to the radio stations.

KITZ Radio is all talk, presumably all right wing talk. KBNP is another Money Station, but it broadcasts in the Portland, Oregon market.

The SAF is the brain child of Alan Gottlieb, shown above in an interview with Bill O'Reilly. He also runs the radio stations.

Special Operations Speaks

This is a far right PAC led by Retired Brigadier General Joe Stringham, who has an interesting past. Via the Center for Public Integrity:

By 1993, the company was active in Angola, providing aerial surveillance operations to oil companies. AirScan’s mission is to patrol oil pipelines and installations to detect and counter guerilla activity by the secessionist Front for the Liberation of Cabinda (FLEC) and by UNITA forces.

AirScan’s commander in Angola was U.S. Brigadier General Joe Stringham, a decorated Special Forces veteran who commanded U.S. military advisors engaged in the unacknowledged war in El Salvador.

Revolution PAC

RevolutionPAC is run by Dan Backer and Lawrence Hunter, PhD. From their "

Dr. Hunter was a White House policy advisor to President Ronald Reagan. He was also Chief Economist and political advisor for Jack Kemp at Empower America between 1996 and 2005. During the 1996 presidential campaign, he served as a member of Senator Bob Dole’s Task Force on Tax Reduction and Tax Reform and on the National Commission on Economic Growth and Tax Reform. He currently serves as a member of the Advisory Board of "Gold Standard 2012," the monetary reform initiative of American Principles in Action (APIA).

Revolution PAC was created to help Ron Paul's bid for the presidency. Now it's joining the parade to worship guns! Yeeeeha.

Finally, the Conservative Action Fund is exactly what the name implies. Their next event according to their website, gun worship day notwithstanding, is an evening with Ann Coulter.

There you go. The groups are lining up to worship AR 15s even as I write, I'm sure. Because you know, there's nothing quite as warm and comforting as a gun in your hand and another on the altar.

Body armor optional, I'm sure.

Mehdi’s Morning Memo: 1% For You, 32% For Us

The ten things you need to know on Friday 11 January 2013...

1% FOR YOU, 32% FOR US

Who says MPs are out of touch, eh? From the Mirror's splash:

"Grasping MPs sparked fury yesterday - by demanding a £20,000 pay rise.

"A poll showed 69% thought their £65,738 salary was not enough.

"Just days after capping benefits and branding hard-up families scroungers, they whined that they should get an average 32% increase."

That would take their salary to £86,250. According to the Guardian, the survey of MPs carried out by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) found that Conservatives - the guys and girls behind the below-inflation 1% rise in benefits - were "the most likely to believe they were underpaid, with 47% saying so, while 39% of Labour MPs and 9% of Liberal Democrats held the same view".

Personally, I think there is a case to be made for higher salaries for MPs - but clearly now is not the time to make it. It's difficult to disagree with Unison's Dave Prentis: "At a time when millions of workers are getting zero pay rises, the idea that MPs believe they deserve a 32 per cent increase is living in cloud cuckoo land."


First, Barack, now Angela. From the Times:

"David Cameron's hopes of negotiating looser ties between Britain and Brussels are all but impossible, according to an ally of Angela Merkel.

"Gunther Krichbaum, chairman of the Bundestag's European Affairs Committee, said that the Prime Minister's strategy was unwise and risked opening a Pandora's box that would threaten European stability.

"He also urged Mr Cameron not to "blackmail" the rest of Europe with threats as he tries win opt-outs from EU treaties."

The paper notes how his intervention comes "after President Obama's Assistant Secretary of State for Europe warned that Britain would be diminished in America's eyes if it marginalised itself within the EU.

"The flurry of diplomatic activity underlines the high stakes for Mr Cameron and his Europe policy with Britain's closest allies. The Prime Minister will promise a referendum in the next Parliament on a new relationship with the EU in a speech this month."

However, the Sun reports that

"David Cameron will hit back at President Obama’s attack on his EU referendum plan by unveiling a major European ally — the Dutch.

"The Sun has learned the PM will spell out his vision of a post-crisis Europe on January 22.

"And he will almost certainly make the speech in The Hague. Dutch leader Mark Rutte will back his bid to fight for powers and money to be returned to nation states."


You could not make this up. From the Independent:

"A Conservative Party donor and venture capitalist whose charity funds two academy schools was appointed an education minister today.

"Labour raised questions about a possible conflict of interest after John Nash was named as the successor to Lord Hill of Oareford, who was promoted to Leader of the Lords on Monday following the surprise resignation of Lord Strathclyde.

"Mr Nash, his family and companies have donated about £300,000 to the Conservatives since the mid-1980s. The charity he founded, Future, sponsors the Pimlico Academy and Millbank Primary Academy in London. He is a former chairman of the British Venture Capital Association."

Nash will be made a peer but won't take a salary and won't take any decisions in which his charity is involved.

Well, that's okay then.


There was a time, not so long ago, when Tony Blair had to make do with a modest MP's salary.

Nowadays, however, as the Times reports, the ex-premier is able to do things like this:

"Tony Blair is in talks about a commercial alliance with one of the most highly paid bankers in the world.

"The combination would bring together Michael Klein's unrivalled contacts in global finance with the former Prime Minister's relationships in politics and government, particularly in the Middle East.

"The discussions, which could lead to a merger of their companies, highlight Mr Blair's ambitions for his commercial operations, which generate millions of pounds a year from advising governments and companies around the world.

The paper says "Mr Klein was co-head of Citigroup's investment bank, which made billions of dollars of losses on holdings of mortgage securities in the financial crisis".

A shameless alliance? You tell me.


The former defence secretary and darling of the Tory right, Dr Liam Fox, has written a letter to 60 constituents. So what, I hear you ask?

Let the Daily Mail explain:

"Liam Fox has become the most prominent Conservative yet to announce that he will vote against gay marriage.

"The former defence secretary dismissed David Cameron's 'absurd' plans as a form of 'social engineering' that is 'divisive, ill-thought through and constitutionally wrong'.

"In a letter seen by the Daily Mail, Dr Fox said same-sex unions will alienate Conservative Party members and weaken the Church.

"He warned that pressing ahead with plans to introduce gay marriage is enraging 'sections of the British public who are not normally stirred to political anger', and called for a rethink before 'things get out of hand'."


Watch this video of two cats sharing one bowl of food. Go on, you know you want to..


The Guardian splashes on "the first hacking conviction":

"Detective Chief Inspector April Casburn, 53, was found guilty of misconduct in public office at Southwark crown court after the jury decided she had tried to sell information from the phone-hacking inquiry, which was set up in 2010, to the News of the World."

Meanwhile, my colleague Ned Simons reports:

"The government will look 'absurd' if it rejects the Leveson Report’s recommendations for the regulation of the press in favour of a Royal Charter, a former chairman of the Conservative Party has said.

"Lord Fowler, also a former chairman of the House of Lords Communications Committee, has urged David Cameron to reverse his opposition to Lord Justice wrLeveson’s suggestion for the statuatory underpinning of the independent self-regulation of the press.

"On Friday peers will debate the Leveson Report, the recommendations of which has split parliament, the coalition and the Tory party down the middle."


From the Daily Mail:

"Skills Minister Matthew Hancock missed his chance to publicise a flagship policy to help unemployed youths become more employable - by oversleeping.

"The red-faced minister was spurned by ITV's Daybreak after he was late for his primetime breakfast slot just before 7am.

"He has admitted that he could not get out of bed on time, despite the broadcaster sending a chauffeur-driven executive car to get him from his West London home."


A shocking story on the front of the Independent (with an eye-catching infographic as its image):

"Fewer than one rape victim in 30 can expect to see her or his attacker brought to justice, shocking new statistics reveal.

"Only 1,070 rapists are convicted every year despite up to 95,000 people – the vast majority of them women – suffering the trauma of rape – according to the new research by the Ministry of Justice, the Home Office and the Office for National Statistics.

"The figures have reignited controversy over the stubbornly low conviction rates for sex crimes, as well as the difficulties in persuading victims to go to police in the first place."


Is Pakistan's Sunni majority engaged in a war on its Shia minority? From the Guardian:

"The vicious double bombing of a snooker club capped one of the bloodiest days in Pakistan for many months yesterday, leaving more than 100 people dead and hundreds injured in three different attacks.

".. Many of the dead and wounded, Murtaza said, were from the Shia sect of Islam, which extremist groups drawn from Pakistan's majority Sunni population regard as heretics.

"Shias, many of whom are members of the Hazara ethnic community in Quetta, have been particularly targeted by sectarian terror groups. Human Rights Watch said the government's failure to protect Shias 'amounts to complicity in the barbaric slaughter of Pakistani citizens.'"


'Call Clegg' on LBC yesterday morning didn't go so well for the deputy prime minister. Even though he had a little 'help' from his friends..

From the Daily Mail:

"After half an hour of tough questioning, Nick Clegg must have been relieved to get a light-hearted question about whether he had worn a onesie.

"But caller 'Harry from Sheffield', was later unmasked as Harry Matthews, 20, a Liberal Democrat student activist and former intern in Mr Clegg's office - who bought the outfit for him.

".. He describes himself online as 'King of the Young Liberals', and gave Mr Clegg the green Incredible Hulk onesie at a party.

"Speaking afterwards, Mr Clegg denied the call was a stunt, saying: 'Of course I had no idea who the guy was.'"

Nick Clegg's 'Incredible Hulk onesie' can be seen here.

The Huffington Post UK's picture desk has done a mock-up of Clegg wearing his green onesie here.

“My core philosophy," the Lib Dem leader joked in front of the parliamentary press gallery lunch yesterday, "is of the Onesie Nation"


From the Sun/YouGov poll:

Labour 42
Conservatives 31
Lib Dems 11
Ukip 10

That would give Labour a majority of 112.


@DavidJonesMP Huge gap in my zeitgeist awareness. Until today I didn't know what a onesie was and thought it was pronounced "oh-kneesy".

@StewartWood Big paradox for UK Eurosceptics that their view that EU membership holds back our engagement with US & China is not shared by the US & China

@caitlinmoran Nadine Dorries: "The teenagers ask me a lot of questions now." "What about?" Unspoken answer: what it's like eating balls. #bbcqt


Philip Collins, writing in the Times, says: "If David Cameron wants to win in 2015 he must find a big problem to take on. Championing care of the elderly fits the bill."

Menzies Campbell, writing in the Guardian, says: "Britain's future in Europe must be defined by its national interests, not those of the Conservative party."

Fraser Nelson, writing in the Telegraph, says: "The Tories have a moral mission – and David Cameron should say so."

Got something you want to share? Please send any stories/tips/quotes/pix/plugs/gossip to Mehdi Hasan ([email protected]) or Ned Simons ([email protected]). You can also follow us on Twitter: @mehdirhasan, @nedsimons and @huffpostukpol

Farmers demand an appeal in Monsanto GMO case

AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen

AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen

A group of farmers are in Washington, DC this week to demand that the federal court reconsiders a case against biotech giants Monsanto.

Last February, District Court Judge Naomi Buchwald dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association in which the plaintiffs sought legal protection from Monsanto, a billion-dollar corporation that has grown exponentially in recent years to become a dominating figure in the American agricultural market. Small time farmers say there is a reason for that, though, and they want the courts to do something about it.

Before Judge Buchwald rejected their plea, the plaintiffs wanted the government to step in to make sure small time farmers would no longer be sued by Monsanto, a company that has introduced a number of lawsuits in recent years against independent growers.

In addition to being a titan in the agricultural field, Monsanto is also known for patenting genetically modified seed types that can spawn crops that rival the ones made by Mother Nature. While those products are a hot commodity among some farmers, others aren’t fortunate enough to add them to their fields. That isn’t to say the occasional wind gust or other method doesn’t move those GMO seeds onto unlicensed farms, though, and Monsanto has spent millions to sue farmers that infringe, even accidently, on their costly patent.

When the plaintiffs hoped for federal protection last year, Judge Buchwald told them it wouldn’t be possible. This week, however, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association is back in the nation’s capital to file an appeal.

“The District Court erred when it denied the organic seed plaintiffs the right to seek protection from Monsanto’s patents,” Dan Ravicher, an attorney representing plaintiffs with the Public Patent Foundation, says in a statement. “At the oral argument on January 10, we will explain to the Court of Appeals the District Court’s errors and why the case should be reinstated.”

Carol Koury, a farmer that operates Sow True Seeds in Asheville, North Carolina, made the trek to Washington this week to show support. Before any news emerged from federal court, though, she was outside the White House to rally for justice.

"We want and demand the right of clean seed not contaminated by a massive biotech company that's in it for the profit," Koury told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was joined by around 200 others outside of the president's residence Thursday morning.

In Judge Buchwald’s original ruling, the justice stated, "there is no evidence to suggest that plaintiffs are infringing defendants' patents, nor have plaintiffs suggested when, if ever, such infringement will occur.” In Washington this week, though, the Public Patent Foundation’s Ravicher directly challenged that decision.

"If our clients don't have standing today to seek protection, when will they have standing? Do they have to wait to be contaminated?" he asked.

Commenting on the case in an official statement, Monsanto says attempts to drag them back into court are without merit.

“The district court ruling dismissing this case noted it was simply a transparent effort by plaintiffs to create a controversy where none exists,” says Tom Helscher, Monsanto’s director of corporate affairs. “Farmers who have no interest in using Monsanto’s patented seed products have no rational basis to fear a lawsuit from Monsanto, and claims to the contrary, to quote from the district Court, are ‘groundless’ and ‘baseless.’ As was stated in the court, it has been, and remains, Monsanto’s policy not to exercise its patent rights where trace amounts of our patents are present in a farmer’s fields as a result of inadvertent means.”

When Ravicher was in court last year to take on Monsanto, he said something quite the opposite.

“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients,” the attorney insisted.

Monsanto announced earlier this month that profits during the first quarter of fiscal year 2013 had more than doubled. Pierre Courduroux, the company’s chief financial officer, tells Bloomberg he expects a gross profit in 2013 of $7.65 billion for the company.

Twin blasts kill 57 in southwest Pakistan

File photo shows flames rising from a car at the site of a bomb blast in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta.

Over 50 people have been killed in two successive bombings that ripped through a billiards hall in the capital of Pakistan's southwestern Balochistan Province.

According to senior police officer Hamid Shakil, the twin blasts went off about 10 minutes apart in the city of Quetta late Thursday evening, killing 57 people and injuring more than 100.

Police officer Mohammed Murtaza said the second bomb caused the building to collapse, adding that many of the dead and wounded were Shia Muslims.

The incident comes hours after a separate bomb attack killed 11 people in a crowded commercial area of the city.

Anti-Shia militant groups have been engaged in a violent campaign against Shias over the past few years.

Hundreds of Shia Muslims were killed across Pakistan last year. The attacks targeted many doctors, engineers, high-ranking government officials, teachers, and politicians.

Human rights groups in Pakistan have vehemently criticized the government for its failure to stem the rising tide of violence against the country's Shia Muslims.

Shias make up almost 20 percent of the country's 176-million-strong population.


Russia-US adoption agreement valid till 2014 — Putin’s spokesman

Orphan children look out from a window. (Reuters)

Orphan children look out from a window. (Reuters)

Russian presidential press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, explains the Russia-US adoption agreement is still in force and will remain so “until the first day of January 2014”.

The interstate agreement between the two nations must remain in force for one year after either of the parties informs the other about its intention to end it.

On January 1 Russian Foreign Ministry officially notified the US State Department that Russia was stopping its participation in the adoption agreement as the Dima Yakovlev Law came into force in the country. A few days later State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland announced that her agency had received the Russian note. The US official added that between 50 and 200 Russian orphans were at different stages of adoption procedure and expressed hope that these children could make it to their future families despite the ban.

The Dima Yakovlev Law is Russia’s reply to the US Magnitsky Act and among various sanctions against US officials allegedly complicit in human rights violations it introduces a complete ban on adoption of Russian orphans by US citizens as well as any participation of US organizations in adoptions of Russian children.

The initiators of the amendment and the MPs who backed the bill said US courts were handlingthe cases of ill treatment or even manslaughter of adopted Russian children with inadmissible leniency and Russia had no other option than to stop the process completely. President Vladimir Putin also supported the move blasting the US attitude to Russian demands and complaints as arrogance that cannot be tolerated.

Russian society was split over the bill. In many people’s view the amendment would deprive many orphans of a chance of a better life with an American family and sometimes medical treatment that they need but cannot afford at home. Dozens of protesters picketed the parliament as the Lower House voted for the bill and besides, about 100,000 signed a petition asking to recall the adoption ban.

Russian legislators pointed out that the country must develop its own mechanism for the care of orphans and approved a framework program for improvements.

The opponents of the bill are maintaining their protest with a major rally scheduled for January 13 in Moscow.

Idle No More: Indigenous Uprising Sweeps North America

Idle No More has organized the largest mass mobilizations of indigenous people in recent history. What sparked it off and what’s coming next?

It took weeks of protests, flash mobs, letters, rallies, and thousands of righteous tweets, but Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper finally caved. He agreed to a meeting with the woman who had been petitioning him for twenty-four days, subsisting on fish broth, camped in a tepee in the frozen midwinter, the hunger striker and Chief of the Attawapiskat Theresa Spence.

No, this is not normal parliamentary process. The hunger strike was a final, desperate attempt to get the attention of a government whose relationship with indigenous people has been ambivalent at best and genocidal at worst, and force it to address their rising concerns. The meeting, set for this Friday, January 11, is unlikely to result in any major changes to Canada’s aboriginal policy. Yet the mobilization around Chief Spence’s hunger strike has already grown to encompass broader ideas of colonialism and our collective relationship to the land. The movement has coalesced under one name, one resolution: Idle No More.

Closed-Door Negotiations Spark a Movement

The Idle No More movement arose as a response to what organizers call the most recent assault on indigenous rights in Canada: Bill C-45, which passed on December 14. Bill C-45 makes changes to the Indian Act, removes environmental protections, and further erodes the treaties with native peoples through which Canada was created.

On December 4, when representatives of First Nations came to the House of Commons to share their concerns about the proposed bill, they were blocked from entering . A week later, after being repeatedly denied a meeting with Harper, Chief Spence began her hunger strike. Since then, the movement has grown to encompass a hundred years’ worth of grievances against the Canadian government, which is required by Section 35 of the Constitution Act to consult with native people before enacting laws that affect them. Indigenous leaders accuse the Harper administration of “ramming through” legislation without debate or consultation.

Even worse is the bill’s “weakening of environmental assessment and the removal of lakes and rivers from protection,” says Eriel Deranger, Communication Coordinator of Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, which is directly downstream from toxic tar sands mining. She knows firsthand the importance of protecting waterways from industrial pollutants. “Indigenous people’s rights,” she says, “are intrinsically linked to the environment.” She adds that the removal of such protections paves the way for resource extraction, bringing Canada closer to its self-stated goal of becoming a global energy superpower. This isn’t just a native thing, Deranger says; this is something that affects everyone.

And so begins the largest indigenous mass mobilization in recent history. Native people and their allies from all over North America have gathered to peacefully voice their support for indigenous rights: they’ve organized rallies, teach-ins, and highway and train blockades, as well as “flash mob” round dances at shopping malls.

With Twitter and Facebook as the major organizing tools, #idlenomore has emerged as the dominant meme in the indigenous rights movement. In addition to events across Canada, a U.S. media blitz tour has inspired solidarity actions all over North America, as well as in Europe, New Zealand, and the Middle East. Mainstream media and the Harper government are taking notice.

Anger at Environmental Destruction in Canada Boils Over

But why now? The answer, says Deranger, is that people are ready. Idle No More arose at a moment of growing awareness of environmental justice issues, frustration with lack of governmental consultation, and widespread opposition to resource extraction on indigenous land—like the tar sands in Deranger’s home province of Alberta and the diamond mines in Chief Spence’s Ontario. It comes after years of grassroots organizing around indigenous rights—which are, in the end, basic human rights.

Visit almost any reserve in Canada, and you’re likely to see third world social indicators in a first world country: high incarceration rates, inadequate housing and sanitation, reduced life expectancy—due in part to abnormally frequent suicides—lack of employment and education opportunities, and substance abuse. This, after more than a century of colonization by a government that refuses to acknowledge its identity as a colonial power. Meanwhile, native youth are the fastest-growing segment of Canada’s population, according to Aboriginal Affairs. Is it any surprise that they’re taking on repressive legislation and using social media to organize?

For Canadians—and potentially all North Americans—this is a moment of reckoning. Just as Chief Spence’s hunger strike forced the issue with Harper, Idle No More forces us all to confront the ugliness of our collective colonial history, and to recognize that colonization continues today.

It holds up a mirror to our society, questioning the historical narrative we’re all taught to believe. It asks: On what values was our country founded? And, because identity is created out of that narrative: Who are we, really? And who do we want to be?

Canada: Prime Minister Harper Launches First Nations “Termination Plan”

On September 4th the Harper government clearly signaled its intention to:

1) Focus all its efforts to assimilate First Nations into the existing federal and provincial orders of government of Canada;

2) Terminate the constitutionally protected and internationally recognized Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights of First Nations.

Termination in this context means the ending of First Nations pre-existing sovereign status through federal coercion of First Nations into Land Claims and Self-Government Final Agreements that convert First Nations into municipalities, their reserves into fee simple lands and extinguishment of their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

To do this the Harper government announced three new policy measures:

  • A “results based” approach to negotiating Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements. This is an assessment process of 93 negotiation tables across Canada to determine who will and who won’t agree to terminate Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights under the terms of Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies. For those tables who won’t agree, negotiations will end as the federal government withdraws from the table and takes funding with them.
  • First Nation regional and national political organizations will have their core funding cut and capped. For regional First Nation political organizations the core funding will be capped at $500,000 annually. For some regional organizations this will result in a funding cut of $1-million or more annually. This will restrict the ability of Chiefs and Executives of Provincial Territorial organizations to organize and/or advocate for First Nations rights and interests.
  • First Nation Band and Tribal Council funding for advisory services will be eliminated over the next two years further crippling the ability of Chiefs and Councils and Tribal Council executives to analyze and assess the impacts of federal and provincial policies and legislation on Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

Imposed Legislation

These three new policy measures are on top of the following unilateral federal legislation the Harper government is imposing over First Nations:

  • Bill C-27: First Nations Financial Transparency Act
  • Bill C-45: Jobs and Growth Act, 2012 [Omnibus Bill includes Indian Act amendments regarding voting on-reserve lands surrenders/designations]
  • Bill S-2: Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act
  • Bill S-6: First Nations Elections Act
  • Bill S-8: Safe Drinking Water for First Nations
  • Bill C-428: Indian Act Amendment and Replacement Act [Private Conservative MP's Bill, but supported by Harper government]

Then there are the Senate Public Bills:

  • Bill S-207: An Act to amend the Interpretation Act (non derogation of aboriginal and treaty rights)
  • Bill S-212: First Nations Self-Government Recognition Bill

The Harper government’s Bills listed above are designed to undermine the collective rights of First Nations by focusing on individual rights. This is the “modern legislative framework” the Conservatives promised in 2006. The 2006 Conservative Platform promised to:

“Replace the Indian Act (and related legislation) with a modern legislative framework which provides for the devolution of full legal and democratic responsibility to aboriginal Canadians for their own affairs within the Constitution, including the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

Of course “modern” in Conservative terms means assimilation of First Nations by termination of their collective rights and off-loading federal responsibilities onto the First Nations themselves and the provinces.

One Bill that hasn’t been introduced into Parliament yet, but is still expected, is the First Nations’ Private Ownership Act (FNPOA). This private property concept for Indian Reserves – which has been peddled by the likes of Tom Flanagan and tax proponent and former Kamloops Chief Manny Jules – is also a core plank of the Harper government’s 2006 electoral platform.

The 2006 Conservative Aboriginal Platform promised that if elected a Harper government would:

“Support the development of individual property ownership on reserves, to encourage lending for private housing and businesses.”

The long-term goals set out in the Harper government’s policy and legislative initiatives listed above are not new; they are at least as old as the Indian Act and were articulated in the federal 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, which set out a plan to terminate Indian rights at the time.

Previous Termination Plans:
1969 White Paper and Buffalo Jump of 1980s

The objectives of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy were to:

  • Assimilate First Nations.
  • Remove legislative recognition.
  • Neutralize constitutional status.
  • Impose taxation.
  • Encourage provincial encroachment.
  • Eliminate Reserve lands and extinguish Aboriginal Title.
  • Economically underdevelop communities.
  • Dismantle Treaties.

As First Nations galvanized across Canada to fight the Trudeau Liberal government’s proposed 1969 termination policy the federal government was forced to consider a strategy on how to calm the Indian storm of protest.

In a memo dated April 1, 1970, David Munro, an Assistant Deputy Minister of Indian Affairs on Indian Consultation and Negotiations, advised his political masters Jean Chrétien and Pierre Trudeau, as follows:

“… in our definition of objectives and goals, not only as they appear in formal documents, but also as stated or even implied in informal memoranda, draft planning papers, or casaul conversation. We must stop talking about having the objective or goal of phasing out in five years… We can still believe with just as much strength and sincerity that the [White Paper] policies we propose are the right ones…

“The final [White Paper] proposal, which is for the elimination of special status in legislation, must be relegated far into the future… my conclusion is that we need not change the [White Paper] policy content, but we should put varying degrees of emphasis on its several components and we should try to discuss it in terms of its components rather than as a whole… we should adopt somewhat different tactics in relation to [the White Paper] policy, but that we should not depart from its essential content.” [Emphasis added]

In the early 1970s, the Trudeau Liberal government did back down publicly on implementing the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, but as we can see from Mr. Munro’s advice the federal bureaucracy changed the timeline from five years to a long-term implementation of the 1969 White Paper objectives of assimilation/termination.

In the mid-1980s the Mulroney Conservative government resurrected the elements of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy, through a Cabinet memo. In 1985, a secret federal Cabinet submission was leaked to the media by a DIAND employee. The Report was nicknamed the “Buffalo Jump of the 1980s” by another federal official. The nickname referred to the effect of the recommendations in the secret Cabinet document, which if adopted, would lead Status Indians to a cultural death – hence the metaphor.

The Buffalo Jump Report proposed a management approach for First Nations policy and programs, which had the following intent:

  • Limiting and eventually terminating the federal trust obligations;
  • Reducing federal expenditures for First Nations, under funding programs, and prohibiting deficit financing;
  • Shifting responsibility and costs for First Nations services to provinces and “advanced bands” through co-management, tri-partite, and community self-government agreements;
  • ‘Downsizing’ of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) through a devolution of program administration to “advanced bands” and transfer of programs to other federal departments;
  • Negotiating municipal community self-government agreements with First Nations which would result in the First Nation government giving up their Constitutional status as a sovereign government and becoming a municipality subject to provincial or territorial laws;
  • Extinguishing aboriginal title and rights in exchange for fee simple title under provincial or territorial law while giving the province or territory underlying title to First Nations lands.

The Mulroney government’s “Buffalo Jump” plan was temporarily derailed due the 1990 “Oka Crisis.” Mulroney responded to the “Oka Crisis” with his “Four Pillars” of Native Policy:

  • Accelerating the settlement of land claims;
  • Improving the economic and social conditions on Reserves;
  • Strengthening the relationships between Aboriginal Peoples and governments;
  • Examining the concerns of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples in contemporary Canadian life.

In 1991, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney also announced the establishment of a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, which began its work later that year; the establishment of an Indian Claims Commission to review Specific Claims; the establishment of a B.C. Task Force on Claims, which would form the basis for the B.C. Treaty Commission Process.

In 1992, Aboriginal organizations and the federal government agreed, as part of the 1992 Charlottetown Accord, on amendments to the Constitution Act, 1982 that would have included recognition of the inherent right of self-government for Aboriginal people. For the first time, Aboriginal organizations had been full participants in the talks; however, the Accord was rejected in a national referendum.

With the failure of Canadian constitutional reform in 1992, for the last twenty years, the federal government – whether Liberal or Conservative – has continued to develop policies and legislation based upon the White Paper/Buffalo Jump objectives and many First Nations have regrettably agreed to compromise their constitutional/international rights by negotiating under Canada’s termination policies.

Canada’s Termination Policies
Legitimized by Negotiation Tables

It has been thirty years since Aboriginal and Treaty rights have been “recognized and affirmed” in section 35 of Canada’s constitution. Why hasn’t the constitutional protection for First Nations’ Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights been implemented on the ground? One answer to this question is, following the failure of the First Ministers’ Conferences on Aboriginal Matters in the 1980s, many First Nations agreed to compromise their section 35 Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights by entering into or negotiating Modern Treaties and/or Self-government Agreements under Canada’s unilateral negotiation terms.

These Modern Treaties and Self-Government Agreements not only contribute to emptying out section 35 of Canada’s constitution of any significant legal, political or economic meaning. Final settlement agreements are then used as precedents against other First Nations’ who are negotiating.

Moreover, Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government policies are far below the international standards set out in the Articles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Canada publicly endorsed the UNDRIP in November 2010, but obviously Canada’s interpretation of the UNDRIP is different than that of most First Nations, considering their unilateral legislation and policy approach.

Canada voted against UNDRIP on Sept. 13, 2007, stating that the UNDRIP was inconsistent with Canada’s domestic policies, especially the Articles dealing with Indigenous Peoples’ Self-Determination, Land Rights and Free, Prior Informed Consent. Canada’s position on UNDRIP now is that they can interpret it as they please, although the principles in UNDRIP form part of international not domestic law.

The federal strategy is to maintain the Indian Act (with amendments) as the main federal law to control and manage First Nations. The only way out of the Indian Act for First Nations is to negotiate an agreement under Canada’s one-sided Land Claims and/or Self-Government policies. These Land Claims/Self-Government Agreements all require the termination of Indigenous rights for some land, cash and delegated jurisdiction under the existing federal and provincial orders of government.

Canada has deemed that it will not recognize the pre-existing sovereignty of First Nations or allow for a distinct First Nations order of government based upon section 35 of Canada’s constitution.

Through blackmail, bribery or force, Canada is using the poverty of First Nations to obtain concessions from First Nations who want out of the Indian Act by way of Land Claims/Self- Government Agreements. All of these Agreements conform to Canada’s interpretation of section 35 of Canada’s constitution, which is to legally, politically and economically convert First Nations into what are essentially ethnic municipalities.

The first groups in Canada who have agreed to compromise their section 35 Inherent and Aboriginal rights through Modern Treaties have created an organization called the Land Claims Agreement Coalition. The Coalition Members are:

  • Council of Yukon First Nations (representing 9 land claim organizations in the Yukon)
  • Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)
  • Gwich’in Tribal Council
  • Inuvialuit Regional Corporation
  • Kwanlin Dun First Nation
  • Maa-nulth First Nations
  • Makivik Corporation
  • Naskapi Nation of Kawawachikamach
  • Nisga’a Nation
  • Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.
  • Nunatsiavut Government
  • Sahtu Secretariat Inc.
  • Tlicho Government
  • Tsawwassen First Nation
  • Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

The Land Claims Agreement Coalition members came together because the federal government wasn’t properly implementing any of their Modern Treaties. So the Coalition essentially became a lobby group to collectively pressure the federal government to respect their Modern Treaties. According to members of the Coalition Modern Treaty implementation problems persist today.

The fact that Canada has already broken the Modern Treaties shouldn’t inspire confidence for those First Nations who are already lined up at Canada’s Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government negotiation tables. According to the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs there are 93 Modern Treaty and/or Self-Government negotiation tables across Canada. Those First Nations who are negotiating at these 93 tables are being used by the federal government (and the provinces/Territories) to legitimize its Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies, which are based upon extinguishment of Aboriginal Title and termination of Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

The First Nations who have been refusing to negotiate and are resisting the federal Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government negotiating policies are routinely ignored by the federal government and kept under control and managed through the Indian Act (with amendments).

Attempts by non-negotiating First Nations to reform the federal Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies aren’t taken seriously by the federal government because there are so many First Nations who have already compromised their Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty rights by agreeing to negotiate under the terms and funding conditions of these Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies.

For example, following the 1997 Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw v. British Columbia decision, which recognized that Aboriginal Title exists in Canada, the Assembly of First Nations tried to reform the Comprehensive Claims policy to be consistent with the Supreme Court of Canada Delgamuukw decision. However, the then Minister of Indian Affairs, Robert Nault on December 22, 2000, wrote a letter addressed to then Chief Arthur Manuel that essentially said why should the federal government change the Comprehensive Claims policy if First Nations are prepared to negotiate under it as it is? A fair question: why do First Nations remain at negotiation tables that ultimately lead to the termination of their peoples Inherent and Aboriginal rights, especially since it appears that Modern Treaties are routinely broken after they are signed by the federal government?

Many of these negotiations are in British Columbia where despite the past twenty years of negotiations the B.C. Treaty process has produced two small Modern Treaties, Tsawwassan and Maa’Nulth. The Nisga’a Treaty was concluded in 2000, outside of the B.C. Treaty process. All of these Modern Treaties have resulted in extinguishing Aboriginal Title, converting reserve lands into fee simple, removing tax exemptions, converting bands into municipalities, among other impacts on Inherent and Aboriginal rights.

The Harper Government’s
Termination Plan

Aside from the unilateral legislation being imposed, or the funding cuts and caps to First Nation’s and their political organizations, the September 4, 2012, announcement of a “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations amounts to a “take it or leave it” declaration on the part of the Harper government to the negotiating First Nations.

Canada’s Comprehensive Claims Policy requires First Nations to borrow money from the federal government to negotiate their “land claims.” According to the federal government:

“To date, the total of outstanding loans to Aboriginal groups from Canada to support their participation in negotiations is $711-million. This represents a significant financial liability for the Aboriginal community. In addition, the government of Canada provides $60-million in grants and contributions to Aboriginal groups every year for negotiations.”

It is Canada’s policies that forced First Nations to borrow money to negotiate their “claims,” so the “financial liability” was a policy measure designed by the federal government to pressure First Nations into settling their ‘claims’ faster. As the federal government puts it, the Comprehensive Claims negotiation process has instead “spawned a negotiation industry that has no incentive to reach agreement.”

This accumulated debt of $711-million along with the $60-million annual in grants and contributions have compromised those negotiating First Nations and their leaders to the point that they are unable or unwilling to seriously confront the Harper government’s termination plan.

Over 50% of the Comprehensive Claims are located in B.C. and the First Nations Summit represents the negotiating First Nations in B.C., although some negotiating First Nations have now joined the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), thus blurring the historic distinctions between to two political organizations. The latter organization previously vigorously opposed the B.C. Treaty process, but now the UBCIC remains largely silent about it.

These two main political organizations – the First Nations Summit and the UBCIC – have now joined together into the B.C. First Nations Leadership Council, further blending the rights and interests of their respective member communities together, not taking into account whether they are in or out of the B.C. Treaty process.

This may partially explain why the Chiefs who are not in the B.C. Treaty process also remain largely silent about the Harper government’s “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations.

First Nations in British Columbia are failing to capitalize on that fact, that since the Delgamuukw Decision, the governments have to list unresolved land claims and litigation as a contingent liability. Such liabilities can affect Canada’s sovereign credit rating and provincial credit ratings. To counter this outstanding liability, Canada points to the British Columbia Treaty Process as the avenue how they are dealing with this liability, pointing to the fact that First Nations are borrowing substantive amounts to negotiate with the governments.

Another recent example of how disconnected B.C. First Nations and their organizations are on international versus domestic policy and law, is the First Nations’ outcry over the recent Canada-China Treaty.

The B.C. Chiefs and their organizations are publicly denouncing the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement as adversely impacting on Aboriginal Title and Rights, yet they say or do nothing about Harper’s accelerated termination plan. It seems the negotiating First Nations are more worried about the Canada-China Treaty blocking a future land claims deal under the B.C. Treaty process.

The Chiefs and their organizations at the B.C. Treaty process negotiation tables have had twenty years to negotiate the “recognition and affirmation” of Aboriginal Title and Rights, but this continues to be impossible under Canada’s policies aiming at the extinguishment of collective rights. As a result only two extinguishment Treaties have resulted from the process. Even Sophie Pierre, Chair of the B.C. Treaty Commission has said “If we can’t do it, it’s about time we faced the obvious – I guess we don’t have it, so shut her down.”

By most accounts the twenty year old B.C. Treaty process has been a failure. It has served the governments’ purpose of countering their contingent liabilities regarding Indigenous land rights. Yet it seems the negotiating First Nations are so compromised by their federal loans and dependent on the negotiations funding stream that they are unable or unwilling to withdraw from the tables en masse and make real on the demand that the Harper government reform its Comprehensive Claims and Self-Government policies to be consistent with the Articles of the UNDRIP.

The same can also be said for the negotiating First Nations in the Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions.

The Chiefs who are not in the B.C., Quebec or Atlantic negotiating processes have not responded much, if at all, to Harper’s “results based” approach to Modern Treaties and Self-Government. The non-negotiating Chiefs seem to be more interested in managing programs and services issues than their Aboriginal Title and Rights. As one federal official put it, the Chiefs are involved in the elements of the 1969 White Paper on Indian Policy like economic and social development while ignoring the main White Paper objective – termination of First Nations legal status.


Given their silence over the Harper government’s “results based” “take it or leave it” negotiations approach, it seems many of the negotiating First Nations at the Comprehensive Claims and/or Self-Government tables are still contemplating concluding Agreements under Canada’s termination policies. This can only lead to further division among First Nations across Canada as more First Nations compromise their constitutional and international rights by consenting to final settlement agreements under the terms and conditions of Canada’s termination policies, while undermining the political positions of the non-negotiating First Nations.

In the meantime, Harper’s government will continue pawning off Indigenous lands and resources in the midst of a financial crisis through free trade and foreign investment protection agreements, which will secure foreign corporate access to lands and resources and undermine Indigenous Rights.

Some First Nation leaders and members have criticised AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo for agreeing to a joint approach with the Harper government, including the Crown-First Nations Gathering (CFNG), but to be fair, the Chiefs across Canada did nothing to pressure Prime Minister Harper going into the CFNG. Instead, many Chiefs used the occasion as a photo op posing with the Prime Minister.

The negotiating First Nations who are in joint processes with Canada seem to be collectively heading to the cliff of the “Buffalo Jump” as they enter termination agreements with Canada emptying out section 35 in the process.

Much of the criticism of AFN National Chief Atleo has come from the Prairie Treaty Chiefs. Interestingly, if one looks at the federal chart of the 93 negotiation tables not too many First Nations from historic Treaty areas are involved in the Self-Government tables, except for the Ontario region where the Union of Ontario Indians and Nisnawbe-Aski Nation are negotiating Self-Government agreements.

As a result of the September 4, 2012 announcements regarding changes to Modern Treaties and Self-Government negotiations, cuts and caps to funding First Nations political organizations and unilateral legislation initiatives, it is obvious that Prime Minister Harper has tricked the AFN National Chief and First Nations by showing that the CFNG “outcomes” were largely meaningless.

One commitment that Prime Minister Harper made at the CFNG – which he will probably keep – is making a progress report in January 2013. The Prime Minister will probably announce the progress being made with all of the negotiating tables across Canada, along with his legislative initiatives.

It appears First Nations are at the proverbial “end of the trail” as the Chiefs seem to be either co-opted or afraid to challenge the Harper government. Most grassroots peoples aren’t even fully informed about the dangerous situation facing them and their future generations.

The only way to counter the Harper government is to:

  • have all negotiating First Nations suspend their talks; and
  • organize coordinated National Days of Action to register First Nations opposition to the Harper government’s termination plan;
  • Demand Canada suspend all First Nations legislation in Parliament, cease introducing new Bills and
  • Change Canada’s Land Claims and Self-Government Policies to “recognize and affirm” the Inherent, Aboriginal and Treaty Rights of First Nations, including respect and implementation of the Historic Treaties.

If there is no organized protest and resistance to the Harper government’s termination plan, First Nations should accept their place at the bottom of all social, cultural and economic indicators in Canada, just buy into Harper’s jobs and economic action plan – and be quiet about their rights. •

Russell Diabo is the Publisher and Editor of First Nations Strategic Bulletin where this article first appeared.

2013: What is the United Nations Organization For?


The United Nations Organization was founded in 1945 to stop conflicts and provide a forum for debate, discussion and dialogue for crisis management. It costs around 15 billion USD a year to run, so in indexed terms has already spent some one thousand billion dollars of taxpayers’ money. On…er…?

The basic question is, what is the UNO for? If the answer is a repetition of the paragraph above, then the response is that it has failed miserably and that it is an absurdly expensive waste of time and space. If it costs around 15 billion USD annually to run, that is getting on for two dollars per person per year, every year, and for what?

Did the United Nations Organization provide a basis for debate before the invasion of Iraq?

No, because the United States of America, the United Kingdom and a handful of NATO countries simply decided to sidestep the Organization, avoiding the UN Security Council because it would have voted against an invasion. The USA and UK therefore rendered it useless back in 2003. Since then, the UNO has spent an additional 150 billion dollars doing what exactly?

Did it stop the war in Libya?

No, it stood back as the aforementioned demonic duo, now joined by France (to form the FUKUS Axis – France, UK, US) ran amok, supporting terrorist groups on their own lists of proscribed groups, placing boots on the ground, despite being bound not to by UNSC 1970 and 1973 (2011) and yet again breaking every law in the book. If the British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary of State, William Hague, is still sitting smugly in his job despite breaking the law of his own country, then it becomes patently obvious that the United Nations Organization has as much clout as a squashed, syphilitic slug lying under a tonne of sea salt.

However, the slug doesn’t spend one thousand billion dollars and certainly doesn’t cost fifteen billion a year.

Let us now move on to Somalia: this conflict started back in the early nineties (more precisely in 1991). What has the United Nations done? What has the United Nations done to stop al-Qaeda, apart from allowing al-Qaeda into Iraq, from which it was barred by Saddam Hussein, and allow al-Qaeda into Libya, from which it was barred by Muammar al-Qadhafi?

Did the United Nations stop the conflict in the Balkans, as the West moved in to stir up hatred among Croats, Bosnians, Serbs, Macedonians?

Did the UNO stop al-Qaeda moving into the Balkans?

Did the UNO stop the Albanian terrorist movement Ushtria Çlirimtare ë Kosovës (Kosovo Liberation Army) perpetrating civil unrest attacks in Kosovo? Did the UNO stop the illegal declaration of independence of the Serbian Province of Kosovo and its subsequent (illegal and inconsequential) “recognition” by FUKUS poodle states?

And what has the UNO done to prevent the bloodshed in Syria, where once again the FUKUS Axis has sided with terrorists, is sending in its own special forces and is making the conflict bloodier, the more the Syrian Government resists this demonic scourge?

True, the UNO does some excellent humanitarian work, clearing up the mess it has failed to prevent; yet, if it did its job properly in the first place, there would be no need for the fire engine. True, UN Women does some excellent work against gender violence and towards women’s rights; UNESCO does a lot to protect world heritage, register languages and so on, António Guterres does a superb job in helping refugees at UNHCR and true, UNICEF does some excellent work in protecting and educating children.

As for the World Health Organization, it is useful as a research facility and reasonably good at distributing medicines and mosquito nets; as a disease prevention organism it is as risible as the crisis management arm – after all, during the Swine Flu crisis in 2009 it limited itself to informing us as to what Phase the new potentially fatal virus was reaching as the WHO sat back and watched Influenza A H1N1 go globe-trotting.

If this is where the UNO is at after sixty-seven years, then let us conclude it is a useful humanitarian organization but would be rendered useless if an effective United Nations Organization was to do the job the UN was set up to do in the first place.

Let us be honest, if any manager of any company had spent a thousand billion dollars over 67 years producing the same sort of ineffective results the UNO has presented, then (s)he would be crucified. As for the UNO, this year it is set to waste another 15 billion USD…of OUR money.

Give me ten valid professionals, a fraction of the money the UN has spent and seven years, not 67, and I can state publicly I would do a far better job myself.

Guest Post: Is American Justice Dead?

Submitted by David Galland, via Casey Research,

Every nation-state has a body of laws woven into the fabric of society. As Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto has commented on extensively, the stronger the rule of law, the stronger the economy.

And by "stronger" laws, I mean laws that are impervious to tampering for personal or political gains. The connection between a sound judiciary and economic health is readily comprehensible, except maybe to a politician... businesses and individuals are far more likely to invest capital in a country with understandable laws that are impartially and universally enforced than if the opposite condition exists.

That's because the lack of a consistent body of law breeds uncertainty and adds a huge element of risk for entrepreneurs. That is the case here in Argentina, where hardly a week goes by without La Presidenta and her meddlesome comrades cooking up some new hurdle for businesses to overcome.

Which brings me back to the matter at hand – American justice on a slippery slope.

Few recent cases make the contention clearer than the announcement last week by the US Justice Department that it had settled its case against HSBC for acting as the bag men for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels. The fine, $1.9 billion, amounts to about five weeks of revenue for the bank.

And that was pretty much it.

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone magazine, who can run hot or cold when it comes to reporting, in my opinion, nails his column on the verdict, which you can read here.

The basic setup is that for years, at the highest levels of HSBC, the bank worked hand in glove with the drug cartels to launder their money. So smooth was their relationship that the drug gangs used special cardboard boxes for them to fill with cash – boxes that were designed to fit easily through the teller windows of the HSBC branches in Mexico.

Now, don't get me wrong – I am 100% against the so-called "War on Drugs." That there are hundreds of thousands of Americans in prison for the "crime" of voluntarily ingesting recreational drugs, or providing said drugs in a rare free-market transaction (there's a willing buyer and a willing seller and no regulations – at least none that anyone pays any attention to), is an abomination.

And so it is that the US has the highest prison population in the world, and by a wide margin: on a per-capita basis, it is 33% higher than the closest contender, Russia.

If you take into account everyone under "correctional supervision," 3.1% of the US population is either in jail or on probation (for blacks, it's a stunning 9.2%). According to Human Rights Watch, since 1980 the number of people in US jails for drug charges has increased twelvefold.

Yet, the money men for the murderous cartels that supply the stuff – the sort of fat-cat villains that serve as the centerpiece of every James Bond movie – get off with a hand slap.

How is this possible? The answer is that, just like the much-maligned "banana republic," the judicial system in the Anglo-Saxon world has been bifurcated into two systems – one for the politically favored and the other for the rest of us.

In the case of HSBC, the rationale for management being spared even a criminal trial, let alone years behind bars, is that the bank is too big to fail. And that should anyone within the bank be collared for their colossal crimes, it could provide the trigger for the widespread collapse of the global financial system.

To which an Anglo-Saxon from the UK might retort, "Bollocks!" This is rather a case of the politically connected and their equally politically connected, high-priced law firms twisting the judicial system to their purposes.

Another recent case is that of the LIBOR fixing scandal.

As you know, in this case a group of banks clearly conspired to rig the rates on the interest-rate index used to underpin over $300 trillion in loans. As the scandal was revealed, it was also revealed that top tax dodger and now US Treasury Secretary Tim "Timmy" Geithner was aware of the rigging as far back as at least 2007 when operating the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Yet Geithner's elevated position in the Obama administration meant that this inconvenient revelation quietly faded into nothingness. As did the clear implication that if Geithner knew about it, so did untold scores of others at the Fed and other institutions at the time.

Meanwhile, back in the present, instead of rounding up the heads of these institutions, it was announced this week that a handful of floor traders – the ever useful minions – have been fingered to take the fall. For the sake of the public show, I suspect the fall will be pretty hard.

Hell, the last time I checked, even Jon Corzine, who as a former senator and governor of New Jersey is the über-insider, is still a free man despite being the lead actor in the bankruptcy of MF Global and the subsequent looting of billions in customer funds. No one, except maybe Corzine himself, thinks that he isn't criminally complicit, yet, at this writing, there isn't even a hint he'll be prosecuted.

As David Webb has so thoroughly documented, a spate of cases over the last decade has set a clear precedent that financial institutions – at least those of a size to count with the political class – are pretty much free to lie, cheat, misrepresent, and even use their clients' funds to trade for their own book.

And if things go wrong, they can pass the losses on to the clients, or in the case of Corzine simply shrug his Savile Row-clad shoulders, and feign ignorance about where said funds went.

It Goes On… and On…

And the conniving and criminality doesn't stop at the judiciary but has infested pretty much every corner of the government.

A personal recent favorite was Hillary Clinton's oh-so-convenient bout of fainting that kept her from testifying about the truly bizarre attack on the Benghazi consulate, thereby skipping the direct damage to her career that would have resulted from having to answer the unanswerable in front of television cameras.

Then there's the sweetheart deal embedded in the soon-to-be-updated federal regulations related to mortgages. Given all the abuses leading up to the housing crash, John Q. might posit that there will be strong teeth in these new regulations. Sure, there's a couple – but lookie what else is in the new regs; this from the New York Times

As regulators complete new mortgage rules, banks are about to get a significant advantage: protection against homeowner lawsuits.

The rules are meant to help bolster the housing market. By shielding banks from potential litigation, policy makers contend that the industry will have a powerful incentive to make higher-quality home loans.

But some banking and housing specialists worry that borrowers are losing a critical safeguard. Industries rarely get broad protection from consumer lawsuits, and banks would seem unlikely candidates given the range of abuses revealed during the housing bust.


Skipping across the pond, we have the truly incredible case of Julian Assange, who is now a prisoner, surrounded by upwards of 100 police officers, in the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he's been seeking asylum.

At one point, a senior British official suggested they were seriously considering throwing hundreds of years of diplomatic precedent out of the window by storming the embassy to get their man.

Yet his purported crime, having consensual sex with two different women without a condom (in one case, he had one, but it apparently broke) would, at most, be treated as a minor offense in pretty much any court, in pretty much every country in the world. Unless, of course, he knew he had AIDS and was deliberately trying to transmit it, which he wasn't.

Do your own research, and maybe you'll draw a different conclusion – here's one fairly thorough story on the charges against Assange – but that the UK government is willing to spend untold sums of money it can't afford keeping him penned up in the Ecuadorian embassy smacks of collusion and corruption.

What's really going on, of course, is that Assange's WikiLeaks organization embarrassed the power elite by doing what the media no longer does – getting to the truth, in this case releasing a stash of embarrassing diplomatic cables.

While Assange is fighting the good fight, it's a fight against entrenched political interests, and so it's a losing battle. Aided by the corrupt judiciary or, failing that, the malleable military, it's just a matter of time before he ends up in a cell next to Bradley Manning whose tortured corpus is now on trial for giving up state secrets that were really not all that secret.

In economic policy, too, the evidence of two different systems is glaring. Look no further than the Fed's recent decision to light the afterburners on over a trillion in new money creation each year.

Whom does such a policy help? The politicians, of course, by allowing them to claim they "fixed" the economy that they broke in the first place… when all they are really doing is replacing the capital formation and spending of a healthy private sector with the polluted effluence of government disbursements.

Whom does such a policy hurt? The population at large, by eroding the value of everything they own and eviscerating their ability to earn money on their money through a free market in interest rates… all the while fostering yet more malinvestment in the Potemkin villages of an uneconomic solar industry, electric cars, high-speed trains, etc.

Make no mistake, the Fed and the government are keenly aware of the damaging consequences of their actions – but, out of self-interest, take those actions nonetheless.

The enviro-socialists that have bought their way into the corridors of power provide another array of examples, using laughably bad science and arbitrary rulings to disadvantage key sectors of the economy such as energy and mining.

What's It Mean to You and Me?

There is little question that the vast majority of the public is ignorant or apathetic, or both, to the pervasive corruption of the political classes and their financiers.

But even if they were paying attention and outraged, the fact of the matter is that things have degraded to the point where there is next to nothing John Q. can do about it. Sure, you can write your Congressman; just be sure to be extra polite, or your letter will end up in the hands of zee Homeland Security.

Ditto if you write angry emails and send them to all your friends. Just don't make the mistake of thinking there is still such a thing as privacy or the right of free speech in the Anglosphere.

And heavens forbid you try to organize a physical protest. Next thing you know, you'll end up wearing a pair of these bad boys coming to your friendly police officer's belt soon.

(Not only do these next-gen cuffs restrain you, but they allow the arresting officer to remotely deliver electric shocks and, if that doesn't do the trick, even inject drugs into you.)

Of course, if your company or industry wants to fight it out in the courts, you have to be ready and able to spend millions in legal fees fighting a government with unlimited funds (provided, of course, by your taxes and money borrowed from the Chinese or ginned up by the Fed).

What I'm trying to say is that, regardless of what the popular corruption indexes show – and those are typically based on fairly suspect surveys on matters such as transparency in corporate reporting or whether bribes are required to do business – when you take into account the systematic skewing of the judicial and electoral systems to favor the entrenched politicos and their friends in high places, the level of corruption in the Anglosphere would make an African despot blush.

It's not an accident that the Republicans and the Democrats, two sides of the same coin despite all the rhetoric, are never remotely at risk of losing their collective grip on power – the system has been carefully and thoroughly rigged to prevent that from happening.

Logically, if there is virtually nothing the public at large can do about the rigged game they are forced to live with, then it comes down to decisions we make as individuals.

Some general approaches for your consideration.

  1. Suck it up. The Stoic approach is to recognize there are certain things you can't do anything about, so put the hypocrisy and self-dealing of officialdom and their enablers out of mind and live your life the best you know how.
  1. Profit from it. While it may seem counterintuitive, the more challenging the environment for business creation, the more money an especially hard-charging entrepreneur can make. This is why Asian shop owners open up in ghettos and why the margins for "war profiteers" are so high – because they literally have to risk life and limb to collect them.

    A successful acquaintance recently told me that, as the head of the Argentine branch of a major international electronics brand, his division was regularly able to pull down margins in excess of 40% while his counterparts in less volatile political environments were happy with less than 10%.

    It just takes an extra measure of patience and fortitude to overcome the challenges that scare less determined individuals away.

  1. Move West… or South, but probably not North. A combination of #1 and 2 above, the brave minority might want to consider taking the show on the road.
  1. If you can't beat them, join them. As Doug Casey has often pointed out, the effect of Pareto's Law operating over time on the large democracies has resulted in the worst sort of people controlling the levers of government at the federal, state and local level. If you happen to be a sociopath with control issues, then you might want to hop on the gravy train and worm your way into government, or into one of the many parasitic enterprises sucking the life from the body politic.
  1. Go outlaw. Yesterday, a flash mob gathered in the southern Argentine city of Bariloche for the sole purpose of looting a large store of electronics, food and booze, and sundry other items that will make the Christmas holidays all the more festive.

    When I heard of the incident, I mentioned to my wife that this could very well be the proverbial first shot in the breakdown of civil society in cities around the world. And sure enough, as I was writing, the news broke that spontaneous mobs have formed in a number of cities around Argentina for the sole purpose of looting stores.

    This is precisely the sort of thing one can expect in an economy laid low by political corruption, malfeasance and self-serving meddling. When people lose hope, and lose faith that the judicial system will protect them from the entrenched interests, then it is well within the range of some of those people to just say screw it and go outlaw.

I could be wrong, but I think what happened in Bariloche yesterday has the potential to be just as seminal as the self-immolation in Tunisia that set off the Arab Spring.

The implications of mobs deciding to come together to just take what they want are potentially huge. In the Anglo-Saxon world, it could provide exactly the excuse needed to bring down the stainless-steel curtain built with hundreds of billions of homeland security expenditures over the past decade.

In fact, while I am probably overstating it, the action of the mob in Bariloche yesterday could be the missing link between Neil Howe's Third and Fourth Turning, ushering in the next and most troubled era.

It's ironic that it's happening in here in my new retreat in Argentina, but it's of no personal import because our new hometown of Cafayate is rural, small and very successful, and the sort of place where everyone knows everyone else. And, besides, there are no large supermarkets to raid.

In addition, despite the dark era of military rule (or perhaps because of it), Argentina is not a violent culture, and the big cities are few and far between. The same can't be said of places like Chicago and Detroit, where flash mobs have been increasingly cropping up with the primary intention of committing violence.

How fast and how far things will spread from here is only a matter of conjecture, but the range of possibilities is wide.

Regardless of whether the rule of law continues to be diminished through the acts of corrupt politicians or a mob – or through the militarized arm of the politicos trying to control the mob – I fear the knock-on consequences on the economy and on society at large.

I really don't want to be a Chicken Little, but taking some basic precautions to protect yourself and your assets is only commonsense at this juncture.

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Shared Hardships and Concerns Bind the Fates of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and Haitians...

A social and political rights movement of Indigenous people is rising across Canada and making international headlines. Protests by the ‘Idle No More’ movement began last month and continue to grow.

The movement has rallied daily across the country in shopping malls, at U.S. border crossings and on major railway lines. Three days ago, it compelled Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to climb down from his refusal to meet with Indigenous leaders to discuss the very deep concerns of Indigenous people. He has agreed to meet a delegation on Friday, January 11. It remains to be seen if anything will issue from this gathering, but it is a significant political victory nonetheless. Protests will continue in the meantime, including an international day of solidarity action called for the day of the planned meeting. (See the Facebook event here.)

The social conditions and concerns that have given rise to this movement in Canada are strikingly similar to those in Haiti. In both cases, a long history of political interference, violations of national sovereignty and failed or harmful social policies are sparking firestorms of protest.

Omnibus Legislation Bulldozes Democratic Consultation

Two overriding concerns have sparked the Idle No More movement. One is the “omnibus” federal budget legislation, Bill C-45, that was approved by the Conservative Party-controlled Parliament and Senate last month.

Bill C-45 significantly amends laws in ways that further degrade sovereign and social rights of Indigenous peoples as well as the natural environment. The amended laws include the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and the Canada Labour Code.

“Bill C-45 will not be enforced or recognized by First Nations,” declared a December 14 statement by the Chiefs of Ontario Political Confederacy. The statement echoes Indigenous opinion right across the country. The Confederacy includes the Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Anishinabek Nation, Grand Council Treaty No. 3, Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians and Independent First Nations. These sovereign bodies represent 250,000 people.

Ontario Regional Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Stan Beardy, a signator of the statement, commented on the adoption of C-45 in saying, “The Canadian government just gave birth to a monster.”

Indigenous leaders are also sounding the alarm about a further wave of legislated changes that the federal government is pressing forward. These would deeply alter the funding and management of education and fundamentally degrade communal property laws and traditions on Indigenous territories.

Housing and Social Rights Uprising

The second spark to the Indigenous uprising is the calamitous social conditions on most Aboriginal territories. One community in northern Ontario, Attawapiskat, has come to symbolize the calamity. It blasted into national news headlines more that one year ago when its leaders declared a state of emergency over the chronic lack of housing, potable water, economic development and other social woes. Years of failure by the federal government to adequately fund social services in that community created conditions where some individuals and families were living year-round in tents or in construction trailers converted into single room dormitories.

One member of Parliament as well as national media undertook to report and publicize the deplorable conditions at Attawapiskat. The emergency declaration and resulting publicity galvanized similar, unresolved grievances right across the country.

Notwithstanding government promises one year ago to begin to address the concerns at Attawapiskat, next to nothing was done. So last month, Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence began a hunger strike in Ottawa that has made national and international headlines.

The key demand of her hunger strike has been that the federal government undertake meaningful discussion with Indigenous leaders to address longstanding and deepgoing concerns. She will be in attendance at the January 11 meeting but has warned there may not yet be enough pressure on the government to bring about meaningful policy changes, the problems are so widespread and long-standing. That’s why protests are continuing unabated.

For example, more than 2,000 people from north-central Manitoba are still living in makeshift housing in the city of Winnipeg, capital of Manitoba, almost two years after their communities were deliberately flooded in order to divert spring, snow melt water from the capital.

In a 2006 report, the International Housing Coalition cited estimates by the Assembly of First Nations that 80,000 housing units are needed in Canada’s 630 Indigenous communities. According to the 2001 Canadian census, 54 per cent of housing units on Indigenous territories were substandard. Many of those were a danger to human health.

According to the National Aboriginal Housing Association (NAHA), one in five non-reservation, Aboriginal households are in core need of housing, compared to one in eight in the general population. In 2006, Aboriginal people made up 0.5 per cent of the population of Toronto but 26 per cent of its homeless. In Edmonton in 2008, the corresponding figures were five per cent and 40 per cent.

NAHA represents non-reserve Aboriginals. According to the 2006 census in Canada, 60 per cent of the Indigenous and Metis population of some 1.2 million (four per cent of the population of the country) are urban residents. Many have moved to urban settings to escape the dire poverty prevalent on most Indigenous territories.

Drinking water contamination and proper sanitation are also critical concerns in many Indigenous communities. In November 2011, CBC News reported on a federal government-commissioned assessment of water and sewer services on reserves that was released in April 2011. It looked at the water and sewer systems of 571 First Nations with 112,836 dwellings and a total population of 484,321. Thirty nine per cent of systems examined were deemed “high risk” to human health.

Mirror of Haiti

The parallels between Canada’s failure to adequately assist in housing its Indigenous population and the inadequacies and failings of its post-2010 earthquake aid to Haiti are striking. In Haiti, too, popular demands for a meaningful housing policy and for clean water and sanitation systems have been ignored and, as a result, protests are on the rise. Close to 400,000 Haitians are still living in harsh, displaced person tent camps with next to no services. Hundreds of thousands more have crammed into damaged buildings, into the homes of friends and relatives, or into informal shelter settlements, including very large settlements on the outskirts of Port au Prince.

In both circumstances, millions and billions of dollars are thrown at the problems and nothing seems to get done. Poor understanding of the plight of the victims and why the aid efforts fail, and the weakness or absence of advocacy on victims’ behalf opens space for prejudicial and racist interpretations of the problems to fester.

Racism is on the rise against the Idle No More movement as opponents of Indigenous rights and sovereignty strike back. Accusations of corruption, favoritism and incompetency against Indigenous communities and leaders are tossed about in ways that mislead and miseducate about the real sources of the policy failures in Indigenous communities.

Haiti received a dose of this treatment last Thursday from none other than Canada’s Minister of International Cooperation, Julian Fantino. Using his brief and only visit to Haiti last November as his prop, the minister blamed Haitians for their plight in an off-the-cuff, telephone interview with a journalist at the Montreal daily La Presse. The minister was newly appointed last year and has no international development experience.

Minister Fantino said Haitians can’t be bothered to organize themselves to clean up their cities and neighbourhoods. They can’t get a national government in place to get meaningful economic development going. They are simply looking for international handouts to solve their problems. “We [Canada] are not a charity foundation,” he said.

The minister used the interview to announce that Canada will freeze all new aid projects in Haiti. The Haitian government learned about the announcement through subsequent news reports.

Fantino’s comments join a string of recent, damaging decisions by Canada concerning Haiti, including sending more Canadian police and soldiers to the country, issuing a travel advisory warning just as Haiti is trying to launch tourism initiatives, and announcing that henceforth, international aid spending will serve first and foremost to promote Canadian business interests.

In Haiti as in Canada’s Indigenous communities, much of the millions and billions of dollars that are said to have been directed toward needy recipients have in fact remained entirely in the control of the donors, be they foreign governments or outside aid agencies. The funds could not be misspent by the recipients because they were never in their hands in the first place. Furthermore in Haiti’s case, half of the funds that were raised or promised for earthquake aid and recovery have not been spent and are not committed to future projects.

The failings or absence of housing and other social policy in Haiti and in Aboriginal territories in Canada can be traced to the deliberate and systematic weakening of political sovereignty and democratic institutions of the affected peoples. The fight to regain that sovereignty is a growing struggle that links the fate of the peoples of the two countries and is a key to their survival and progress. •

Watch a one and a half minute video of the Idle No More march at the U.S.-Canada border at Cornwall, Ontario (Akwesasne) on January 5, 2013. Listen to an informative, 20-minute interview on CBC Radio on January 7 with Idle No More spokesperson Pam Palmateer and former vice-president of United Native Nations in British Columbia, Ernie Crey.

CHAN statement: “Three years after Haiti’s earthquake.”

Roger Annis is a coordinator of the Canada Haiti Action Network. He can be reached at [email protected] This article first published on the website.

Hagel and Brennan Nominations: The Empire’s Agenda is Covert Warfare, Targeted Assassinations and “Counterterrorism”

Senate confirmation on both is required. Expect little opposition to Brennan. More on him below.

Republicans will challenge Hagel. At issue is political opportunism more than who serves. Questions about Obama’s nominee are exaggerated. More on that below.

Rarely ever are presidential nominations rejected. Expect nothing different this time. Candidates are carefully vetted. Selection depends on full support for US policies.

Hagel is a reliable imperial supporter. His Senatorial voting record offers proof. The Peace Majority Report rated him highly. The lower the score, the higher the rating. He scored 5%. John McCain got 4%, Joe Lieberman 26%, and Bill Clinton 74%.

The American Conservative Union called him solidly Republican. It gave him a lifetime 84% rating.

In 1996, Hagel suspiciously defeated Nebraska’s popular Democrat governor Ben Nelson.

At stake was a US Senate seat. Polls suggested a close race. Hagel won by 15 points. Few Nebraskans knew about Hagel’s ties.

He was part owner, chairman and CEO of Election Systems & Software (ES&S). It’s an electronic voting machine company.

At the time, it was called American Information Systems. AIS’ parent company founder, Michael McCarthy, was Hagel’s campaign treasurer. His easy victory made winning suspect.

He never disclosed his business ties. A Senate Ethics Committee investigation was requested. It was rejected. Nothing followed. Expect little or nothing said now.

Hagel serves as chairman of the Atlantic Council (ACUS). In 1961, former Secretaries of State Dean Acheson and Christian Herter established it. It was done to support NATO.

It’s headquartered in Washington. It supports Washington’s global agenda. Past and current members include a rogue’s gallery of reliable American imperial supporters.

Among others, they include Henry Kissinger, George Schultz, James Schlesinger, James Baker, Zbigniew Brzezinski, James Jones, Condoleezza Rice, Richard Holbrooke, Susan Rice, and an array of current and former top military officials.

Frederick Kempe is president and CEO. He’s a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, editor and associate publisher. He’s a regular major media commentator.

Damon Wilson is executive vice president. Formerly he served on George W. Bush’s National Security Council. He’s committed to strengthening NATO. Like all past and current ACUS members, he supports America’s imperial project.

The Washington Post listed other Hagel credentials. Past and current ones include:

  • US senator (Nebraska-R.) from 1997 – 2009;
  • chairman of the US Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Committee;
  • co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board and Defense Policy Board member;
  • Private Sector Council president and CEO;
  • Vanguard Cellular Systems co-founder, director and executive vice president;
  • Communications Corporation International LTD chairman;
  • Hagel & Clarke co-founder, director and president;
  • president McCarthy & Co,;
  • Veterans Administration deputy administrator;
  • Firestone Tire & Rubber government affairs director; and

He’s no dove. He’s solidly right-wing. He supported Bush’s war on terror. He backs it now. He voted for every National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). He endorsed NATO’s 1999 Yugoslavia war.

At the time he said: “When you’re in a war, you’re in a war to win.” He called Slobodan Milosevic “a butcher loose in the backyard of NATO.” He viewed Kosovo as a “goal-line stand.”

He said if America doesn’t respond, “we will be tested every day for the next who knows how many years.” He favored sending US forces to Kosovo. He said “never….take any military option off the table.”

He voted for the Patriot and Homeland Security Acts. He endorsed an “urgent need” for missile defense. He called the 1972 US/Soviet Russia Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) “obsolete.”

He said “We can’t hold America’s national security interests hostage to any threats from some other nation.”

After Bush withdrew from ABM in December 2001, he said “What the president did was responsible. I support it. I think it was the right thing to do.”

He accused North Korea of being “on the verge of fielding a ballistic missile capable not only of striking my home state of Nebraska, but anywhere in the United States.”

He supported the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) for “the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States.”

The Afghanistan war followed. It rages. It shows no signs of ending. It’s America’s longest war. It was lost years ago.

Hagel supported the 2003 Iraq war. When it was too late to matter, his tone got more dovish.

He favors lawless warrantless surveillance. He opposes habeas and due process rights for Guantanamo detainees.

On January 7, the Washington Post headlined “On Israel, Iran, and spending, Chuck Hagel looks a lot like Robert Gates,” saying:

His opponents claim he’ll dramatically change defense spending and America’s position on Israel and Iran. Reality suggests otherwise.

“The bottom line is that” Hagel and Gates “are remarkably similar and appear to share a number of policy preferences.” They include drawing down in Iraq and arguing against Libyan intervention.

Both men differ somewhat on Iran. Gates is more hardline. Hagel tried having it both ways. On the one hand, he claimed sanctions are counterproductive. At the same time, he said they’re “working.”

In his first post-nomination interview, he said critics “completely distorted” his record.

“I have said many times that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism,” he stressed. “I have also questioned some very cavalier attitudes taken about very complicated issues in the Middle East.”

Nonetheless, he favors “direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran.”

He called for direct Hamas/Hezbollah engagement. In 2008, he endorsed direct talks with Syria and North Korea.

There’s “not one shred of evidence” that he’s anti-Israeli, he said. “Israel is in a very, very difficult position. No border that touches Israel is always secure. We need to work to help protect Israel so it doesn’t get isolated.”

He calls “distortions about (his) record….astonishing.” During Senate confirmation hearings, he welcomes “an opportunity to respond” to critics.

At the same time, Politico quoted him saying “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator. I support Israel, but my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel. If I go run for the Senate in Israel, I’ll do that.”

Politico added that:

“In 2006, (he) used the term ‘Jewish Lobby,’ ” saying:

“The political reality is….that the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel. I just don’t think it’s smart for Israel.”

Anti-Defamation League (ADL) head Abe Foxman responded, saying:

“What I find more troubling is, he had sufficient time to distance himself from the ‘Jewish lobby’ quote, to explain, and he hasn’t.”

“He let it stand. I find that more troubling than the original statement. He sees it out there. He sees it being seen as this truly conspiratorial view, that the Jewish lobby controls foreign policy, and there’s no comment.”

AIPAC withheld comment. The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) said:

“While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, (Hagel) will follow the president’s lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel – on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran’s nuclear program.”

On January 8, the right-wing Jerusalem Post headlined “Ayalon: Hagel sees Israel as ‘true and natural’ ally,” saying:

Ayalon is Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister. He’s positive on Hagel’s nomination. “I have met him many times,” he said, “and he certainly regards Israel as a true and natural US ally.”

Netanyahu withheld comment. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin expressed concerns. “Because of his statements in the past, and his stance toward Israel, we are worried,” he said.

He added that Washington’s ties to Israel don’t depend on “one person.”

The New York Times commented on Hagel and Brennan. Obama chose “two trusted advisers,” it said.

Expect Senate hearings for Hagel to be “bruising,” it added. Confirming both will likely follow.

John Brennan is Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. He’s Obama’s chief counterterrorism advisor.

He heads the administration’s Murder, Inc. agenda. He chairs a panel of National Security Council officials. CIA, FBI, Pentagon, State Department, and others are involved.

America’s war on terror is wide-ranging. It includes direct and proxy wars. Special Forces death squads operate in 120 or more countries. CIA agents are virtually everywhere. They’re licensed to kill.

US citizens are fair game. They’re vulnerable at home and abroad. Obama’s kill list picks targets. Brennan advises on who next to assassinate. Victims are a closely held secret.

Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world. Ordinary people, distinguished ones, or officials are fair game. Their crime is opposing US imperialism.

Drone wars are prioritized. Human lives don’t matter. Rule of law principles are spurned. Summary judgment overrides them.

Obama usurped diktat authority. He appointed himself judge, jury and executioner. He and Brennan meet regularly. Eliminating America’s enemies matter most.

Washington calls innocent victims “terrorists.” Names go on kill lists. It’s called America’s “disposition matrix.” Brennan’s in charge of global assassinations. Prioritizing them made him top CIA director choice.

Expect drone wars to expand. So will targeted assassinations. Summary executions will be prioritized. Rule of law principles, standards, and protocols won’t matter. Counterterrorism takes no prisoners.

UN urges Canada to talk with natives

Activists in Canada protest against the government's violations of the rights of the aboriginals. (File photo)

After weeks of protests by the indigenous communities in Canada, the United Nations has urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper government to set up a meaningful dialogue with the aboriginal leaders of the country.

UN Special Rapporteur James Anaya stressed on Tuesday that the Canadian government should set up talks in accordance with the standards expressed in the organization’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

During the past month, the leaders of aboriginal communities, the First Nation, and activists have carried out nationwide rallies under the name ‘Idle no more,’ accusing the Canadian government of violating the aboriginal’s basic rights and undermining previously agreed treaties on the use of lands and resources.

Since December 11, 2012, Chief of Attawapiskat First Nation in Northern Ontario Theresa Spence has been on a hunger strike demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

A meeting is set to be held on January 11, after Harper announced a week earlier that he is prepared to hold talks with some leaders of the aboriginal communities to discuss issues of concern.

Commenting on Spence’s situation, the UN expert, Anaya, said, “I would like to add my voice to the concern expressed by many over the health condition of Chief Spence, who I understand will be joining indigenous leaders at this week’s meeting.”

Demonstrations by the aboriginals in Canada have been held since the government approved Bill C-45 through parliament to change the rules about aboriginal land.


Japan to raise military spending again

Members of the Japan Self-Defense Forces stand guard near Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) land-to-air missiles, deployed at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo. (File photo)

Tokyo has decided to inject an extra USD 2.1 billion into its military spending, one day after announcing a separate increase of USD 1.15 billion.

A Japanese Defense Ministry spokesman made the announcement on Wednesday, highlighting that the extra cash is separate from a requested raise in the military budget for the next fiscal year that was called for on Tuesday.

"We will request 180.5 billion yen (USD 2.1 billion) to be allocated to military spending from a stimulus package," the official said, adding that Tokyo would use some of the money to purchase PAC-3 surface-to-air anti-ballistic missile systems and to renovate four F-15 fighter jets.

On Tuesday, the East Asian nation’s newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party had announced that the country planned to increase its defense budget by more than 100 billion yen (USD 1.15 billion) for the first time in more than a decade in the next fiscal year, which starts from April.

Japan’s announcements for the increased military spending came amid a bitter territorial row with Beijing.

Japan and China remain locked in an ongoing territorial dispute over a group of islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan under the name Senkakus, but claimed by China as the Diaoyus.

On Tuesday, the Japanese government summoned China’s envoy to Tokyo Cheng Yonghua to protest at the presence of Chinese ships in waters around the disputed islands claimed by both nations.

The Tuesday protest move came a day after four state-owned Chinese surveillance ships entered the waters surrounding the islands.

Tensions heightened between the two countries after Japan signed a deal on September 11, 2012 to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago.

The spokesman also highlighted that out of 180.5 billion yen, the ministry intends to employ 60.5 billion yen to “prepare for the changing security environment surrounding Japan.”

The owner of the islands would have exclusive oil, mineral, and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.

Japan's Finance Ministry should approve the request for funds before it could be officially included in the stimulus that the government wants to announce later in January.


NYC court rules ‘stop and frisk’ policy unconstitutional

Activists Organize March And Rally Against Police Stop And Frisks. (AFP Photo / Mario Tama)

Activists Organize March And Rally Against Police Stop And Frisks. (AFP Photo / Mario Tama)

In a victory for civil rights advocates, a New York City judge has deemed an important part of the city's controversial "stop and frisk" program unconstitutional. The program has long been criticized as an illegal abuse of law enforcement.

­Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Sheindlin ordered New York's police to end their policy – part of the city's "Clean Halls" program – of stopping people outside residential apartment blocks and subjecting them to random search. "Clean Halls" exists only in New York's generally impoverished Bronx section, which contains some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in town. 

"While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings," Scheindlin's ruling reads.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) argued in the case that "Clean Halls," despite being billed as a preemptive crimefighting method, generally leads to Bronx residents being harassed, and sometimes even detained, near their place of residence for no reason.

The NYCLU's case centered on Jaenean Ligon, a Bronx teen stopped and searched by four police officers – two of them undercover – as he left his building to buy groceries for his mother in summer 2011.

When police contacted Ligon's mother to verify that he had a reason to be on the block, she feared he was in serious trouble or had been killed.

NYCLU lawyers argued that Ligon's experience with "stop and frisk" is a normal one in higher-crime areas of the city.

Civil rights advocates including the NYCLU have long been vocal in their criticism of "stop and frisk" and "Clean Halls." Statistics released by the group in 2011 showed, for example, that the number of young black men stopped as part of "Stop and Frisk" was actually greater than the total number of young black men living in the city. 

People blow whistles to protest the New York Police Department policy of "stop-and-frisk" in the Harlem section of New York. (AFP Photo / Stan Honda)
People blow whistles to protest the New York Police Department policy of "stop-and-frisk" in the Harlem section of New York. (AFP Photo / Stan Honda)

­Reasons New York cops are allowed to make random stops under "stop and frisk" include "inappropriate attire off season" and "furtive movements." Until recently, police could randomly stop taxis to search passengers.

And though the NYPD has claimed that the program has stopped New Yorkers from carrying guns on the city's streets, NYCLU statistics show that though the annual number of random stops has increased by nearly 525,000 since 2003, only 176 more guns have on average been found.

Judge Sheindlin's ruling was compounded by an order for a January 31 hearing on what other measures might be taken to clean up "stop and frisk" and "Clean Halls."  

"For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of our friend and family, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat,” she wrote.

NYC court rules ‘stop and frisk’ policy unconstitutional

Activists Organize March And Rally Against Police Stop And Frisks. (AFP Photo / Mario Tama)

Activists Organize March And Rally Against Police Stop And Frisks. (AFP Photo / Mario Tama)

In a victory for civil rights advocates, a New York City judge has deemed an important part of the city's controversial "stop and frisk" program unconstitutional. The program has long been criticized as an illegal abuse of law enforcement.

­Manhattan Federal Court Judge Shira Sheindlin ordered New York's police to end their policy – part of the city's "Clean Halls" program – of stopping people outside residential apartment blocks and subjecting them to random search. "Clean Halls" exists only in New York's generally impoverished Bronx section, which contains some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in town. 

"While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings," Scheindlin's ruling reads.

The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) argued in the case that "Clean Halls," despite being billed as a preemptive crimefighting method, generally leads to Bronx residents being harassed, and sometimes even detained, near their place of residence for no reason.

The NYCLU's case centered on Jaenean Ligon, a Bronx teen stopped and searched by four police officers – two of them undercover – as he left his building to buy groceries for his mother in summer 2011.

When police contacted Ligon's mother to verify that he had a reason to be on the block, she feared he was in serious trouble or had been killed.

NYCLU lawyers argued that Ligon's experience with "stop and frisk" is a normal one in higher-crime areas of the city.

Civil rights advocates including the NYCLU have long been vocal in their criticism of "stop and frisk" and "Clean Halls." Statistics released by the group in 2011 showed, for example, that the number of young black men stopped as part of "Stop and Frisk" was actually greater than the total number of young black men living in the city. 

People blow whistles to protest the New York Police Department policy of "stop-and-frisk" in the Harlem section of New York. (AFP Photo / Stan Honda)
People blow whistles to protest the New York Police Department policy of "stop-and-frisk" in the Harlem section of New York. (AFP Photo / Stan Honda)

­Reasons New York cops are allowed to make random stops under "stop and frisk" include "inappropriate attire off season" and "furtive movements." Until recently, police could randomly stop taxis to search passengers.

And though the NYPD has claimed that the program has stopped New Yorkers from carrying guns on the city's streets, NYCLU statistics show that though the annual number of random stops has increased by nearly 525,000 since 2003, only 176 more guns have on average been found.

Judge Sheindlin's ruling was compounded by an order for a January 31 hearing on what other measures might be taken to clean up "stop and frisk" and "Clean Halls."  

"For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of our friend and family, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat,” she wrote.

Japan to increase military budget

This aerial shot shows the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China in the East China Sea. (File photo)

Japan is set to increase its military budget in 2013 for the first time in more than a decade amid ongoing territorial dispute with China.

Japan's newly-elected Liberal Democratic Party has decided to raise the defense budget by more than 100 billion yen (USD 1.15 billion), an unnamed official from the party said on Tuesday.

"We have decided that the additional budget will be used for research into a new radar system as well as fuel and other maintenance costs for early-warning aircraft," the official added.

This comes as the Japanese government has summoned China’s envoy to Tokyo to protest at the presence of Chinese ships in waters around a group of islands in the East China Sea claimed by both nations.

According to a Tuesday statement by Japan's Foreign Ministry, the deputy minister for foreign affairs, Akitaka Saiki told Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua to ask his respective government to stop sending ships to waters around the disputed islands.

Japan and China remain locked in a bitter territorial dispute over the island chain controlled by Japan under the name Senkakus, but claimed by China as the Diaoyus.

Tensions heightened between the two countries after Japan signed a deal on September 11, 2012 to buy three of the islands from their private Japanese owner in line with plans to nationalize the archipelago.

The owner of the islands would have exclusive oil, mineral, and fishing rights in the surrounding waters.

The Tuesday protest move came a day after four state-owned Chinese surveillance ships entered the waters surrounding the islands.

On Monday, Japan’s coastguard issued a statement saying that the vessels were spotted moving within 12 nautical miles of the disputed territory.


Putin Promotes Russia as Tax Haven – Gives Depardieu Citizenship to Flee French Income...

Context: As yet there are no context links for this item.


Aleksandr Buzgalin is a Professor of Political Economy at Moscow State University. He is also editor of the independent democratic left magazine Alternatives, and is a coordinator of the Russian social movement Alternatives, author of more then 20 books and hundreds of articles, translated into English, German and many other languages.


PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.

French actor Gérard Depardieu, in order to avoid a proposed new tax on the very wealthy—apparently about 75 percent—has decided to give up his French citizenship and, on offer from President Putin, has now become a Russian citizen. He's already been given his Russian passport in a meeting with President Putin.Now joining us to talk about all of this is Professor Aleksandr Buzgalin. He's a professor of political economics at Moscow State University. He's also editor of the independent democratic magazine Alternatives. Thanks for joining us again, Aleksandr.ALEKSANDR BUZGALIN, PROF. POLITICAL ECONOMICS, MOSCOW STATE UNIV.: Thank you, and I'm glad to be on your program.JAY: So what do you make of all of this? Why did President Putin step in? And most of the attention so far has been on Depardieu and his—apparently they're proposing a 75 percent tax. And this is, to put it in some context, the tax on the very wealthy in the United States after World War II was 90 percent, so it's not like this is so crazy outrageous. But Depardieu's gone. But what's in this for Putin?BUZGALIN: This is really very symbolic, because in my country, in Russia, we had a lot of debates about Putin's policy. And even among left, it was such opinion that Putin is supporter of ordinary people. But this step, when Putin decided to support Depardieu, who left his country, who left France because he didn't want to and he doesn't want to pay normal taxes—I think—normal taxes for the rich, this is very symbolic, because Putin saw that really he's a right-wing politician, that flat income tax in Russia is not an accident. This is the strategy of our authorities, of our officials. And this is really dangerous from one side and important from another side, because all this show around Depardieu is only attempt to show that Russia is good place for foreigners. But it's not true.JAY: Well, it shows that it's a good place for rich foreigners. What is the tax rate in Russia for the very wealthy?BUZGALIN: So everybody now in Russia pays—everybody pays 13 percent, one-three for everybody. If you are an extremely rich oligarch and you have billions of dollars, you will pay 13. If you are a poor doctor or teacher or worker, you pay the same, 13 percent. And by the way, if you speculate on the stock market, if you speculate on the foreign currency market, you will not pay, even, 13 taxes, because this is a reinvestment of their income. So really rich in my country can pay 6, 5, maybe 7 percent. And this is opposite to all European countries, and opposite even to the United States. And really in the crisis we must find solution and we must find who will pay for the crisis. Our opinion was and is that those who created crisis must pay for this crisis. I think story with Depardieu is also very symbolic, because we can again examine so-called arguments of the right-wing economists and politicians, and they are very primitive. But I want to repeat my debates. First argument, that left, everybody among the left wants to take money from the people who are working hard and give money to those who do nothing and who are just parasites. But what is reality? In reality, Depardieu now is mainly not an actor. He's a rentier. And he is nobody for the real economic development. He is simply taking money from his past star status. And that's it. Nothing else. Normal actor, if he is talented, he's real creator, main motivation for him will be creativity himself, opportunity to give his talent to the people, the reception by the people, the applause of the people, but not money themself. So who will pay this big income tax in France, in the Scandinavian countries? Who must pay, I think, this tax in Russia (but they are not paying this tax, unfortunately, in my country) first of all, all financial speculators, second, all people who are quasi stars for creating simulacrums of so-called mass collage. Depardieu is good actor, maybe not very good actor—it's not my problem. The problem is that mainly these quasi stars in professional sport and mass culture, they're just simulacra of real creativity. And what is important, even talent manager, top manager, if he is, first of all, creator of new organization, of new production, of new innovations, of innovations themselves, he is working as creator, and for creator, it's enough to have maybe ten times more wage or income than ordinary worker. Only one example, Finnish transnational corporation Nokia. It's not the paradise of the socialism at all. This is transnational capitalist corporation. But in Finland, the top manager of Nokia has only ten times more than ordinary worker in Finland. And this is normal. And Depardieu can have ten times more than ordinary actor or ordinary citizen, ordinary teacher, or social worker in France. This is normal for good life. Nobody take everything from Depardieu. This is only problem of income for another million of Europe per year. So this is money which he will spend for nothing, for symbolic, prestige consumption.JAY: Right. Aleksandr, what's in this for Putin? Why draw such attention to the fact that the rich in Russia pays such low tax rates? Why does he want this in terms of Russian public opinion?BUZGALIN: So, first of all, in Russia we have another image. In Russia, everybody in mass media is trying to show that Depardieu came because Russia is paradise of democracy, Russia is paradise of economic development, Russia is paradise for investments, and so on and so far. This is propagandistic show which is very far from the truth. Really, Russia is becoming like a huge offshore zone, like a small island where you can not pay taxes. Now it will be in Russia. It's really terrible. And I am not proud at all that my country—not my country, but the president of my country is trying to realize such policy.JAY: So this is a big PR campaign is Russia as a tax haven.BUZGALIN: Yes, for foreigners as tax haven, for Russians, that such fantastic people like Depardieu—it's not my opinion, again; this is mass media opinion—is coming to Russia. And that means that West loves Russia. And really it's not true. I'm not speaking about normal relations between ordinary people in the United States, in Europe, in China. We can have friendship, we can have common campaign for defense, our civil rights, our social rights, for protection of a college education and so on, and we can love each other. But the problem is that Russia, for real business, is bad country with corruption, without long-term investments, without state programs which can guarantee investments, because country's in the chaos in many aspects, with a lot of problems in infrastructure, with fixed capital, and so on and so far. That's why it's just PR. This is just their lie, if I can say so.JAY: Aleksandr, now, when Depardieu made this announcement, he talked about how democratic Russia was and how it allowed free debate and all of this. How did Russians respond to those comments?BUZGALIN: So, first of all, of course we have some elements of democracy. And it's not fascist regime and it's not a totalitarian regime. But from another side, this is so-called manipulative democracy, and we have concentration of power in the hands of presidential administration and ruling party in the parliament, in Duma. Real opposition is under the control, under the pressure. To organize normal meeting is nearly impossible. To organize normal strike is nearly impossible. You will be, in next day, arrested, or you will lose your job, simply. This is country where all central TV channels are under the control of president or its administration or another officials. And in this situation it's really very difficult to say truth. It's possible to do it in internet, in small opposition newspapers, it's possible to fight in the streets, but this is real fight, and a lot of my friends were arrested, beaten. And it's permanently nervous atmosphere, and nobody knows when KGB or police will come and say that you are hooligan or something like that because you wanted to meet your friends or to tell together that it's not really social-oriented development in Russia, in my country. We are trying to do this. And I love my country. I never will go to France, even in France if I will have, I don't know, ten times more wage here. And I think I can have, as professor, more wage in the West. But I love my country and I will work here.JAY: I guess for Depardieu, saving 60 percent on his taxes, it's not a big price to pay to do some democratic rhetoric about Russia.BUZGALIN: But really he made very bad joke, if it is joke, or maybe very negative decision, because he lost his name in the eyes of, I think, all normal socially oriented, democratic, simply intelligent people. And I am very sorry for Depardieu, because he's really good actor, and to do this, it's like a bad game to save another million or two million of euro for lie and to tell open lie because you will have for this some million of euro. This is not a beautiful decision at all. And, by the way, one more very important detail which I want to stress: very often we say that all poor people has envy, and that's why we want to redistribute everything. It's not true. The real envy [incompr.] the rich people who wants to have not one palace, but two palaces, not, I don't know, boat 100 meters, but boat 130 meters, or something like that. They have this feeling of envy which moves them not to pay taxes, which moves them to consume more and more and more. And for the left, idea of using—of taxes, money from taxes, is opposite. We are thinking about development, development of education, development of ecological programs, development of science, development of social support for ordinary people to become more skilled, more educated, more developed, to support culture. So we are fighting for development, and they're fighting for the consumption of rentier. This is the case.JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Aleksandr.BUZGALIN: Thank you very much, Paul.JAY: Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


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Kuwait gives tweeter 2 years’ jail for ‘criticizing’ rulers

Demonstrators carry placards during a protest in Kuwait City January 6, 2013. (Reuters/Stephanie Mcgehee)

Demonstrators carry placards during a protest in Kuwait City January 6, 2013. (Reuters/Stephanie Mcgehee)

A Kuwaiti court has sentenced a youth activist for allegedly defaming the country’s ruling emir on Twitter. The opposition tweeter is the second person to fall foul of a recent government crackdown on social networking sites in Kuwait.

The court claimed that although the offending tweets written by Ayyad al-Harbi last October did not explicitly mention the emir, it was understood they were meant to insult him. The court sentenced the opposition activist who has over 13,000 followers on Twitter to two years in prison for his supposed crimes.

Al-Harbi categorically denied that the tweets had anything to do with Kuwait’s ruling family. He tweeted on the eve of the court hearing that “tomorrow morning is my trial's verdict on charges of slander against the emir, spreading of false news."

The defendant’s lawyer, Mohammed al-Humidi commented on the ruling following the trial, saying that the judge’s decision had taken them by surprise.

“Kuwait has always been known internationally and in the Arab world as a democracy-loving country,"
Humidi said in a phone call to Reuters. "People are used to democracy, but suddenly we see the constitution being undermined."

Just a day earlier another offending tweeter, Rashid Saleh al-Anzi, was also sentenced to two years behind bars for an incendiary tweet that allegedly "stabbed the rights and powers of the emir."

Under Kuwaiti law, those who defame or criticize the ruling emir are committing a state security offense and as such are liable for a jail term of up to five years. Currently, a number of important opposition figures are awaiting trial on similar charges of insulting the country’s ruler.

The back-to-back rulings drew the attention of the US, which appealed to the Kuwaiti government to respect human rights and freedom of speech.

"You know how strongly we feel about locking people up for their use of Twitter," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. "We call on the government of Kuwait to adhere to its tradition of respect for freedom of assembly, association, and expression."

Public malcontent over Kuwait’s ruling government has increased recently following the parliamentary elections in December. Activists claim that the country’s parliament is dominated by royalist-sympathizers and members of the ruling family.

In an effort to quell protest after the elections, lawmakers passed a bill that requires all public demonstrations to have written permission from the authorities.

The bill sparked protester ire as more than 1,000 anti-government activists took to the streets, disobeying the new decree. Riot police were deployed with teargas and stun grenades to disperse the angry crowd.

Kuwait is widely perceived as having one of the most open and democratic political systems among the Gulf kingdoms. However, the emir still appoints his prime minister, who in turn elects the cabinet.

Where Have you Gone, Joe DiMaggio? Americans Side with Al Qaeda Terrorists…


“France no longer recognizes its children,” lamented Guillaume Roquette in an editorial in the Figaro weekly magazine in Paris. “How can the country of Victor Hugo, secularism and family reunions produce jihadists capable of attacking a kosher grocery store?” 1

I ask: How can the country of Henry David Thoreau, separation of church and state, and family Thanksgiving dinners produce American super-nationalists capable of firing missiles into Muslim family reunions in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia?

Does America recognize its children? Indeed, it honors them. Constantly.

A French state prosecutor stated that “A network of French Islamists behind a grenade attack on a kosher market outside Paris last month also planned to join jihadists fighting in Syria.” 2

We can add these worthies to the many other jihadists coming from all over to fight in Syria for regime change, waving al-Qaeda flags (“There is no god but God”), carrying out suicide attacks, exploding car bombs, and singling out Christians for extermination (for not supporting the overthrow of the secular Syrian government.) These folks are not the first ones you would think of us as allies in a struggle for the proverbial freedom and democracy. Yet America’s children are on the same side, with the same goal of overthrowing Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.

So how do America’s leaders explain and justify this?

“Not everybody who’s participating on the ground in fighting Assad are people who we are comfortable with,” President Obama sad in an interview in December. “There are some who, I think, have adopted an extremist agenda, an anti-U.S. agenda, and we are going to make clear to distinguish between those elements.” 3

In an earlier speech, Secretary of State Clinton acknowledged the scope of the threat from such movements. “A year of democratic transition was never going to drain away reservoirs of radicalism built up through decades of dictatorship,” she said. “As we’ve learned from the beginning, there are extremists who seek to exploit periods of instability and hijack these democratic transitions.” 4

“Extremist” … “radicalism” … No mention of “terrorists” (which is what Assad calls them). No mention of “jihadists” or foreign mercenaries. Or that they were preparing their movement to overthrow the Syrian government well before any government suppression of peaceful protestors in March of 2011, which the Western media consistently cites as the cause of the civil war. As far back as 2007, Seymour Hersh was writing in The New Yorker:

The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Nor any explanation of what it says about the mission of the Holy Triumvirate (the United States, NATO and the European Union) that they have been supplying these jihadist rebels with funds, arms and training; with intelligence and communication equipment; with diplomatic recognition(!); later we’ll probably find out about even more serious stuff. But President Obama is simply “uncomfortable” with them, because Assad, like Gaddafi of Libya, is a non-Triumvirate Believer, while the Jihadists are the proverbial “enemy of my enemy”. How long before they turn their guns and explosives upon Americans, as they did in Libya?

Seeing is believing, and believing is seeing

Is it easier for a believer to deal with a tragedy like the one in Newtown, Connecticut than it is for an atheist? The human suffering surrounding the ending of life forever for 20 small children and six adults made me choke up again and again with each news report. I didn’t have the comfort that some religious people might have had – that it was “God’s will”, that there must be a “reason” for such profound agony, a good reason, which you would understand if you could receive God’s infinite wisdom, if you could be enlightened enough to see how it fit into God’s Master Plan.

“How could God let this happen?”, asked a Fox News reporter of former Republican governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee. “Well,” replied Huckabee, “you know, it’s an interesting thing. We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we’ve systematically removed God from our schools.

Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability? That we’re not just going to have to be accountable to the police, if they catch us. But one day, we will stand before a Holy God in judgment. If we don’t believe that, then we don’t fear that.”

So the former governor is clearly implying that the tragedy was the lord’s retribution for not believing in, or not fearing, or just ignoring His Master Plan. Believing this may well reduce the grief Huckabee feels about what happened; perhaps even provide him some satisfaction that those who were not “accountable” are being punished. Whether he includes the children in this group, or only their parents, teachers, school officials and Democrats I don’t know.

Local pastor Jim Solomon recounted the story of a girl in the first grade who, by playing dead, was the only one in her room to survive: “She ran out of the school building covered from head to toe with blood and the first thing she said to her mom was, ‘Mommy, I’m OK but all my friends are dead’.” This child was spared, said the pastor, “by God’s grace”. 5

Ah yes, God’s grace. Do I need to ask the obvious question?

It may be relevant to recall that the fellow who slaughtered 87 young people in Norway last year was a fundamentalist Christian.

“With or without religion, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things — that takes religion.” – Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

“Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”

How true. And nuclear bombs don’t kill people. Government leaders who decide to use nuclear bombs kill people. So why have any bans on nuclear bombs? Get one for each member of the family; well, for those over 16 at least.

The crazed and the disturbed will always walk amongst us. What we must do is strive to deny them the facile ability to engage in mass murder. Everything else being equal, if the Connecticut killer’s mother didn’t have an arsenal of guns at home, including an assault weapon, the story would probably have been a very different one. Ah, but I hear you asking – on the left and on the right – so you wanna let the government have all the guns and the people nothing to defend themselves with? To which I reply: Do you really think the people could hold their own in an armed battle with the police and the military? Mass suicide.

In the past decade various important rights and freedoms of Americans have been seriously curtailed by the Bush and Obama administrations. Did the 300 million guns in private hands prevent any of this from happening? No. And the rights and the freedoms were taken away much more by pieces of paper than guns.

I’d be in favor of eliminating all guns except for some law enforcement purposes. But if that is not feasible, the goal should be to have as few guns in circulation as possible. Or just ban ammunition, which would be a lot easier and probably even more effective. It would be a good start toward our cherished national goal of becoming a civilized society.

The death of Osama bin Laden. What does it profit a country?

The books and the films are coming out. The subject is a sure winner. The American tracking down and execution of Osama bin Laden in May of 2011. Has there ever been a better example of Good triumphing over Evil? Of Yankee courage and cleverness? “The bin Laden operation was a landmark achievement by our country, by our military, by our Intelligence Community, and by our Agency,” said the acting Director of the CIA, Michael Morell. 6

But even if everything the government has told us about the operation is true … How important was it really? What did it change in Washington’s glorious War on Terror? American taxpayers are not spending a penny less on the bloody spectacle. American soldiers still die in Afghanistan as before. American drones still bring extreme anxiety, death and destruction to children and parents in the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. Guantánamo still holds numerous damned souls who wonder why they are there as they bang their head against a brick wall.

Anti-American terrorists are still being regularly created as a result of US anti-terrorist operations. (Even the way bin Laden was “buried” increased the hatred.) It’s a mass-production terrorist assembly line working three shifts even if the bin Laden model has been discontinued. If only one in 10,000 of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims is moved to want to attack the US because of Washington’s repeated outrages against Muslims, the United States will have created a pool of 160,000 Muslims devoted to seeking revenge against Americans.

“Remember when the United States had a drug problem and then we declared a War on Drugs, and now you can’t buy drugs anymore? The War on Terrorism will be just like that,” declared author David Rees in 2008. 7

The fear mongering remains as is; airport security has not gotten any less stupid, embarrassing, or destructive of civil liberties than before, only worse. “Will that be frisked or naked pictures with your airline ticket, sir?” The No-Fly list grows bigger with each passing day, listing people who are too guilty to fly, but too innocent to charge with anything.

Wherever you go — “If you see something, say something!”

People are entrapped as much as ever, charged with some form of terrorism (or “terrorism”), staged and financed by government agents, put away for terribly long periods. The State Department puts a country on its terrorist list, then the FBI persecutes Americans for helping someone in that country, perhaps no more than medical aid.

And surveillance of Americans … the science fiction methods are expanded without end … no escape from Fortress America. Protestors in America are monitored and harassed and recorded as much as before; witness the recent revelations concerning the FBI/Homeland Security/et al and the Occupy Movement. The Patriot Act is still the law of the land, now joined by the National Defense Authorization Act which makes it easier than ever to hold people in indefinite detention, for any reason, or no reason, including American citizens. And now we have the president’s clandestine “kill list”. 8 Could it be any worse if bin Laden were still alive?

Just imagine

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do.
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too …

John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

Sung New Years Eve by a performer at Times Square.

Such subversive talk.

And on worldwide television.

Followed immediately by NBC-TV commentator Carson Daly declaring that we have to honor our brave soldiers.

I’m surprised that he didn’t also mention honoring God.

Toshiba sponsored the giant glass ball which rose up to the top at midnight.

Viewers had the name “Toshiba” flashed in their face a hundred times during the evening in all kinds of ways.

Imagine that John Lennon had called upon us to “Imagine there’s no Toshiba”.

Without Toshiba would there not have been a New Years Eve?

Stuck in 2012 forever?


“Summer, 1969: I sit next to Fidel Castro as he watches on the University of Havana’s color TV the astronauts landing on the moon. At times he asks me to render certain idioms. He watches with fascination. The program had begun with ‘TANG: THE BREAKFAST FOOD PRESENTS … THE MOON LANDING.’

“And without Tang,” Castro asks, “would there have been no moon landing?”

– Saul Landau, author of numerous books and films on Cuba

One way to look at it

Capitalism can be seen in historical evolutionary terms, independent of any moral point of view or judgement. Broadly speaking, the organization of mankind’s societies has evolved from slavery to feudalism to capitalism. And it’s now time for the next step: socialism.

Socialism or communism have always been given just one chance to work, if that much, while capitalism has been given numerous chances to do so following its perennial fiascos. Ralph Nader has observed: “Capitalism will never fail because socialism will always be there to bail it out.”

Capitalism gave rise to some very important innovations, such as mass production and distribution, and many technological advances. But now, and for some time past, the system has caused much more harm than good. It’s eating its young. And our environment. We can take the advances instituted by capitalism for the purpose of profit and use them to create a society based on putting people before profit. Just imagine.


  1. Washington Post, October 21, 2012
  2. Associated Press, October 11, 2012
  3. Washington Post, December 11, 2012
  4. Washington Post, October 15, 2012
  5. Huffington Post, December 17, 2012
  6. Washington Post, December 22, 2012
  7. In his book Get Your War On
  8. New York Times, May 29, 2012

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.

Canada’s First Nations Confront Ottawa: “Expect Resistance”


“Respect Existence or Expect Resistance”, chant First Nations as a showdown 11 January loams with Prime Minister Harper.

Sparked by Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence’s hunger strike on tiny ‘Victoria’ Island near Ottawa’s Parliament Hill, now in its third frigid week, the native uprising across Canada is in fact the latest manifestation of the world’s colonized peoples trying to throw off the shackles of imperialism. An exciting moment, one of vital import for us all.

Their warrior path brings to mind Egyptian Muslims fighting their westernizers and Mubarakite old guard since the revolution in January 2011, or the struggle by Palestinian natives against Israeli theft of their land. It is a continuation of the Iranian people’s struggle in the face of unrelenting subversion from the West. It’s no coincidence that Cairenes were some of the demonstrators at Canadian embassies, or that native activist-leader Terrance Nelson recently was offered support in Tehran for his efforts to gain a seat at the OPEC table for the real owners of Canada’s oil and gas resources.

This struggle has been going on for more than two centuries. In Canada, it really got underway in the 19th century, as the trickle of colons became a deluge and the theft of native lands accelerated. In Egypt it began in 1798, when Napoleon invaded, and crescendoed in 1875 when British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli ‘brought’ the Suez Canal — built by endentured labor at the cost of tens of thousands of Egyptian lives. In Iran, it also began in the early 19th century, when Russia seized northern Iran (present day Azerbaijan), and picked up steam when Reuter and other western businessmen bribed the Shah to grant them lucrative economic concessions. Palestine has been at the center of the anti-imperial struggle since the western powers imposed illegally a Jewish state at the heart of the Muslim world.

Canada’s natives fought for their land, but were overwhelmed by the wiley and land-hungry colons, and today represent only 3% of Canada’s population, living for the most part short, bleak lives in dire poverty on the dregs of land allotted them by the victors.

But resistance is alive and well. “Idle No More” has swept Canada since Spence pitched her tent near Parliament Hill. Egyptians have risen up four times since Disraeli’s coup, eventually taking back the Canal and today are fashioning a new political order inspired not by western imperial dictates, but by the Quran. Iran finally had its revolution in 1979 and has been affronting the imperial monster ever since, telling truth to the world’s would-be masters.

The ploys of the imperialists were all variations on the program to steal others’ lands, and tie their economies to a world order policed by imperial guns and money. There are many weapons in the imperial arsenal, including nuclear weapons capable of destroying all life on Earth many times over, the latest being the armed drone, deploying ‘depleted’ uranium bunker-buster bombs (guaranteed to ‘keep on giving’ for hundreds of thousands of years).

Postmodern imperialism, the latest fashion, cloaks itself in ‘human rights’ and the fight against WMDs and terrorism. That this is mere subterfuge is revealed by the invasion of Iraq (and planned invasions of Iran and Syria) on the pretext of WMD eradication. Instead, hundreds of thousands of innocent people have been killed by US-led invasions, with no one guilty, no WMDs and no end in sight.

Israel’s flagrant violation of all international norms similarly goes unpunished, indeed is subsidized by the US and and enthusiastically endorsed by Canada.

Imperialism is alive and all too well, and Canada is fortunate to at last have a clear voice shouting this grim truth to other Canadians and the world. The alarm went off for Harper last year when native activist-leader Terrance Nelson went to Tehran, defying the Conservatives’ unprovoked cutting of diplomatic relations with Iran last November. Nelson was pilloried as a traitor, though it should be clear by now to Canadians who is trading away Canada’s sovereignty and our reputation.

Attawapiskat Chief Spence was inspired by four native women in Saskatoon who began a hunger strike also last November, protesting the Harper government’s omnibus bill C-45, which: *abrogates the Indian Act, ending native sovereignty,

*gives band councils greater municipal powers,

*makes reserve lands “fee simple property” (which can be bought and sold, not only leased),

*allows taxes to be charged and collected by the new Native governments.

The battle lines are drawn. The Harperite status quo is now being mobilized to push through his agenda. Commenting on the 1905 treaty governing Attawapiskat, the National Post’s Jonathan Kay wrote: “The whole basis of the treaty was destroyed as soon as traditional native hunting life came to an end. This is the fundamental reason that the Idle No More message on treaties is irrelevant: The great challenge of native policy in the 21st century will be to integrate natives into the larger economy that is based in Canadian population centers. You can’t turn the clock back to 1905, or even to 1930.” The only answer, the assimilationists claim, is to push the remnants of the natives into urban ghettoes, where they can live like other Canadian poor on welfare handouts.

The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffery Simpson lectures natives for “living intellectually in a dream palace”, built on “mythology about environmental protection and the aboriginals’ sacred link to their lands”. Harper was correct in refusing a face-to-face meeting with the native chief, since a prime minister should not be “blackmailed” into doing what any lobby group or individual wants.

As a First Nations chief devoted to her people, it is the “lobbyist” Spence who has the creds as a Canadian leader, not the scheming power-hungry Harper, who clawed his way to the top of the Reform/ Conservative Party over broken promises and lies.

The “scattered incidents” Simpson sneers at are taking place spontaneously from coast-to-coast by First Nations protesters, closing rail lines, roads, flashdancing in malls, even disrupting and closing several bridge border crossings with the US. Demonstrations have been held around the world — Palestine, Cairo, London, the US, Aotearoa (New Zealand).

Despite media disdain, there has been an outpouring of sympathy from Canadians native and non-native. NDP MP Charlie Angus visited Spence in her tent, as did Justin Trudeau: “It was deeply moving to meet Chief Theresa today. She is willing to sacrifice everything for her people. She shouldn’t have to.”

The struggle has quickly been taken up by band leaders trying to co-opt the protests. Shawn Atleo, head of the Assembly of First Nations, has called for a renewed campaign of civil disobedience beginning 16 January with “country-wide economic disruptions” and “breach of treaty” declarations. This should climax with the proposed Crown-First Nations Summit 24 January, a repeat of last year’s meeting, when the appalling housing conditions on the Attawapiskat reserve first hit the media.

Idle No More may well act as a catalyst and ignite a broader struggle against Harper’s agenda, his hollowing out of environmental protection laws and Canada’s declining record on human rights. Perhaps Harper’s grudging agreement to meet with native leaders 11 January is too late for him. Starving a native women leader at the heart Canada’s democracy, at Christmas no less, is not conducive to good PR for a leader whose hold on power is shaky. Spence agreed to attend but refused to end the hunger strike she began 11 December until she is convinced this isn’t just another PR stunt. She insisted that Governor Geneneral David Johnston and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty be at the meeting.

Canada is at last redeeming itself in the world’s eyes after seven humiliating years of kowtowing to the US-Israeli agenda both abroad and at home, and we have the First Nations people to thank, their resolve “a conduit for the pain of the world”, comments Naomi Klein. Idle No More speaks for all Canadians against the 1% who so eagerly sell out Canada’s resources and smirch its reputation in the world. “The greatest blessing of all is indigenous sovereignty itself. If Canadians have a chance of stopping Harper’s planet-trashing plans, it will be because these legally binding rights – backed up by mass movements, court challenges, and direct action will stand in his way.”

Not only do Canada’s natives empower all Canadians against the 1%, they also help us understand Canada’s actions in Palestine and Iran, countries whose people love Canada and rout for our natives, whose struggle against the imperial order is their struggle too. Victory against Canada’s Mubarak helps Egyptians shake off the legacy of neoliberalism, helps Palestinians in their struggle against Jewish colons in Israel, and Iranians dying in hospitals for lack of medicines due to the embargo intended to crush their independence.

Eric Walberg is author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games You can reach him at
A version of this appeared at

Obama’s Targeted Killing: Murdered without Being Charged. Administration Blocks Information Request on Assassination of...

obamadoublespeak (2)

On Wednesday, at the request of the Obama administration, US federal judge Colleen McMahon relied on expansive “national security” privileges to deny requests by the American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Times for government records related to the assassination of US citizens.

The US government’s “targeted killing” program, initiated under the Bush administration and expanded under the Obama administration, has so far resulted in the deaths of thousands of people far from any battlefield, including at least three US citizens. The victims, as well as a great many bystanders, have been murdered without being charged with any crime and without trial or judicial review of any kind.

The Obama administration’s ongoing targeted killing program is in violation of the core historic concept of the American legal system, which is contained in the Fifth Amendment of 1791: “No person shall. .. be deprived of life. .. without due process of law.”

The issue before the court was not even the legality of this program, but the ability of the American people simply to have access to the arguments from the Obama administration to justify it.

“I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for its conclusion a secret,” wrote Judge McMahon, US District Judge for the Southern District of New York.

While ruling for the government, this statement is itself a damning indictment of the Obama administration. Judge McMahon, an appointee of former president Bill Clinton, acknowledged the “Catch 22” and “Alice-in-Wonderland nature” of her ruling in favor of the Obama administration, but she blamed the outcome on “contradictory constraints and rules” outside her control.

The decision does cite extensively from documents and material from the period of the American Revolution, all of which make clear that the framers of the Constitution intended to forbid extrajudicial assassinations. After having reviewed these authorities, Judge McMahon cites numerous public statements by Obama and several senior officials in his administration that clearly indicate that the US government, with the direct involvement of Obama himself, is planning and carrying out extrajudicial assassinations.

The placement of the constitutional prohibition against extrajudicial killing next to the actions and statements of Obama makes a clear case for the impeachment, arrest and criminal indictment of the president and all of the top civilian, intelligence and military officials in his administration.

The case originated as separate and independent requests under the 1966 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by the ACLU and New York Times journalists for information related to targeted killings, particularly of US citizens, in the wake of the assassination of Muslim cleric and US citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki in September 2011. (See “The legal implications of the al-Awlaki assassination”.)

Citing “national security” exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act, government secrecy statutes, and expansive executive privileges, the Obama administration not only failed to disclose the requested documents, but refused even to number or list the documents that were being withheld, on the grounds that to acknowledge that any of the requested documents exist would compromise national security.

The provocative nature of the “no number, no list” response is underscored by dozens of public statements in which the US government alluded to information in its possession regarding the activities of Anwar Al-Awlaki before his assassination, as well as public statements suggesting that internal legal memoranda had been prepared regarding the legality of the targeted killing program.

The lawsuits to compel disclosure of the requested records were ultimately consolidated because the requests were of a similar nature. Except with respect to one minor category of documents, Judge McMahon’s ruling of January 2 effectively disposes of both lawsuits.

The ACLU had requested several broad categories of documents in October 2011 related to the targeted killings of US citizens. These categories included: records pertaining to the presumed legal basis for assassination of US citizens and records pertaining to the process by which US citizens can be targeted, including who is authorized to make such decisions and what evidence is needed to support them.

The ACLU also requested internal documents related to the killing of Anwar Al-Awlaki, “including discussions of. .. The Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause. . .”

Finally, the ACLU requested “records pertaining to the factual basis for the targeted killing of Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki,” the 16-year-old son of Anwar Al-Awlaki, whom the Obama administration murdered along with a large number of bystanders in a missile strike in Yemen in October 2011. (A separate lawsuit brought by the ACLU challenging that killing under the Fifth Amendment remains pending.)

The public naturally has every right to see these documents, which evidence the participation by Obama and others in war crimes and a conspiracy against democratic rights. However, Judge McMahon dismissed the ACLU requests as “facially overbroad.” She dedicated the bulk of her decision to the Times requests, which were significantly narrower.

In denying the Times requests, Judge McMahon cited interests of “national defense and foreign policy,” government secrecy statutes such as the National Security Act and the CIA Act, and other executive expansive privileges in support of her decision. “This Court is constrained by law, and under the law, I can only conclude that the Government has not violated FOIA by refusing to turn over the documents sought in the FOIA requests,” McMahon wrote.

In a footnote in her decision, Judge McMahon indicates that she sent a draft of her decision to the Obama administration for approval before issuing it, “in order to give the Government an opportunity to object to the disclosure of any classified information that may have inadvertently found its way into this document.”

The judge also issued a secret “appendix” to her ruling that is not publicly available. She indicates in her decision that the secret appendix “is being filed under seal and is not available to Plaintiffs’ counsel [i.e., lawyers for the ACLU and New York Times ].”

“This ruling denies the public access to crucial information about the government’s extrajudicial killing of U.S. citizens and also effectively green-lights its practice of making selective and self-serving disclosures,” stated Jameel Jaffer, ACLU deputy legal director, in a press release Wednesday. The ACLU and the Times intend to appeal the decision.

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10 Ways the Drug War Is Causing Massive Collateral Damage to Our Society

From racial injustice to flawed foreign policy, the war on drugs causes harm on many fronts.

January 3, 2013  |  


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The war on drugs is America’s longest war. It has been 40-plus years since Nixon launched our modern “war on drugs” and yet drugs are as plentiful as ever. While the idea that we can have a “drug-free society” is laughable, the disastrous consequences of our drug war are dead serious. While it might not be obvious, the war on drugs touches and destroys so many of the issues we care about and the values we hold. Below are 10 collateral consequences of the drug war and reasons we need to find an exit strategy from this unwinnable war.

1. Racial Injustice

The war on drugs is built on racial injustice. Despite roughly equal rates of drug use and sales, African-American men are arrested at 13 times the rate of white men on drug charges in the U.S. -- with rates of up to 57 times in some states. African Americans and Latinos together make up 29 percent of the total U.S. population, but more than 75 percent of drug law violators in state and federal prisons.

2. Denied Access to Education, Housing and Benefits

Passed by Congress in 1998, the Higher Education Act delays or denies federal financial aid to anyone ever convicted of a felony or misdemeanor drug offense, including marijuana possession. A drug offense will also get you and your entire family kicked out of public housing. Thirty-two states ban anyone convicted of a drug felony from collecting food stamps.

3. Wasted Taxpayer Dollars

U.S. federal, state, and local governments now spend $50 billion per year trying to make America “drug free.” State prison budgets top spending on public colleges and universities. The prison industrial complex is ever more powerful. Nevertheless, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other illicit drugs are cheaper, purer and easier to get than ever before.

4. Unsafe Neighborhoods

Most “drug-related” violence stems not from drug use, but from drug prohibition. That was true in Chicago under alcohol kingpin Al Capone and it is true now. The mass killings in Mexico and in many U.S. cities are not from marijuana or other drug use, but because the plants are worth more than gold and people are willing to kill each other over the profits to be made.  

5. Shredded Constitutional Rights

Armed with paramilitary gear, police break into homes unannounced, terrorizing innocent and guilty alike. Prosecutors seize private property without due process. Citizens convicted of felony offenses lose their right to vote, in some states for life. More and more Americans are subject to urine tests without cause. And the list goes on.

6. Bloodbath in Latin America

U.S. drug policies in Latin America have failed to reduce the supply of illicit drugs. Instead our policies have led to a bloodbath with more than 60,000 people killed in prohibition violence since 2006 in Mexico alone. Our policy and strategies have empowered organized criminals, corrupted governments, stimulated violence, assaulted the environment and created tens of thousands of refugees.

7. Compromising Teenagers’ Safety

The defenders of the failed war on drugs say that we can't discuss alternatives to prohibition because it would "send the wrong message to the kids." Ironically, the drug war is a complete failure when it comes to keeping young people from using drugs. Despite decades of DARE programs with the simplistic “Just Say No” message, 50 percent of teenagers will try marijuana before they graduate and 75 percent will drink alcohol. Young people also feel the brunt of marijuana enforcement and make up the majority of arrests. Arresting young people will often cause more damage than drug use itself. Teenagers need honest drug education to help them make responsible decisions. Safety should be the number-one priority.

The Finance Industry Has Pried into Every Sector of the Economy, and Has Ended...

Finance has moved to capture the economy at large, industry and mining, public infrastructure, and now even the educational system.

December 31, 2012  |  

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Today’s economic warfare is not the kind waged a century ago between labor and its industrial employers. Finance has moved to capture the economy at large, industry and mining, public infrastructure (via privatization) and now even the educational system. (At over $1 trillion, U.S. student loan debt came to exceed credit-card debt in 2012.) The weapon in this financial warfare is no larger military force. The tactic is to load economies (governments, companies and families) with debt, siphon off their income as debt service and then foreclose when debtors lack the means to pay. Indebting government gives creditors a lever to pry away land, public infrastructure and other property in the public domain. Indebting companies enables creditors to seize employee pension savings. And indebting labor means that it no longer is necessary to hire strikebreakers to attack union organizers and strikers.

Workers have become so deeply indebted on their home mortgages, credit cards and other bank debt that they fear to strike or even to complain about working conditions. Losing work means missing payments on their monthly bills, enabling banks to jack up interest rates to levels that used to be deemed usurious. So debt peonage and unemployment loom on top of the wage slavery that was the main focus of class warfare a century ago. And to cap matters, credit-card bank lobbyists have rewritten the bankruptcy laws to curtail debtor rights, and the referees appointed to adjudicate disputes brought by debtors and consumers are subject to veto from the banks and businesses that are mainly responsible for inflicting injury.

The aim of financial warfare is not merely to acquire land, natural resources and key infrastructure rents as in military warfare; it is to centralize creditor control over society. In contrast to the promise of democratic reform nurturing a middle class a century ago, we are witnessing a regression to a world of special privilege in which one must inherit wealth in order to avoid debt and job dependency.

The emerging financial oligarchy seeks to shift taxes off banks and their major customers (real estate, natural resources and monopolies) onto labor. Given the need to win voter acquiescence, this aim is best achieved by rolling back everyone’s taxes. The easiest way to do this is to shrink government spending, headed by Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Yet these are the programs that enjoy the strongest voter support. This fact has inspired what may be called the Big Lie of our epoch: the pretense that governments can only create money to pay the financial sector, and that the beneficiaries of social programs should be entirely responsible for paying for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, not the wealthy. This Big Lie is used to reverse the concept of progressive taxation, turning the tax system into a ploy of the financial sector to levy tribute on the economy at large.

Financial lobbyists quickly discovered that the easiest ploy to shift the cost of social programs onto labor is to conceal new taxes as user fees, using the proceeds to cut taxes for the elite 1%. This fiscal sleight-of-hand was the aim of the 1983 Greenspan Commission. It confused people into thinking that government budgets are like family budgets, concealing the fact that governments can finance their spending by creating their own money. They do not have to borrow, or even to tax (at least, not tax mainly the 99%).

The Greenspan tax shift played on the fact that most people see the need to save for their own retirement. The carefully crafted and well-subsidized deception at work is that Social Security requires a similar pre-funding – by raising wage withholding. The trick is to convince wage earners it is fair to tax them more to pay for government social spending, yet not also to ask the banking sector to pay similar a user fee to pre-save for the next time it itself will need bailouts to cover its losses. Also asymmetrical is the fact that nobody suggests that the government set up a fund to pay for future wars, so that future adventures such as Iraq or Afghanistan will not “run a deficit” to burden the budget. So the first deception is to treat only Social Security and medical care as user fees. The second is to aggravate matters by insisting that such fees be paid long in advance, by pre-saving.

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NEW YORK - As an estimated two million celebrants converge on the U.S. capital for the inauguration festivities of President-elect Barack Obama Tuesday, the...

In farewell speech, Bush insists “war on terror” must continue

By Bill Van Auken  In his final speech from the White House Thursday night, President George W. Bush defended his legacy of war, torture and...

PILGER: Disgrace of the silent treatment

By refusing to condemn Israeli atrocities, intellectuals in the West are complicit in its crimes, argues JOHN PILGER. "WHEN the truth is replaced by silence,"...

Holocaust in Gaza

By Rohini Hensman | In February 2008, Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister Matan Vilnai warned that if Hamas continued firing rockets, they would bring upon themselves...

U.S. Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza

By Thalif Deen | IPS - Israel's two-week military onslaught has resulted in the deaths of over 700 people, including more than 300 civilians, mostly...

What Will Obama Do About Cannabis?

By NORM KENT He picked for Vice President one of the major architects of the Drug War. He picked for Chief of Staff one of the...

ECHR decided against the UK DNA Database

On 4 December 2008, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) gave its judgement in the Marper case related to the controversial National DNA...

UK government bans photography In a letter to the National Union of Journalists, the Minister for security and counter-terrorism, Vernon Kay, clarified that the police may stop...

Exposing Corporate-financed Holocaust in Africa

By Keith Harmon Snow War in Congo has again been splashed across world headlines and the same old clichés about violence and suffering are repackaged...

Canada’s “constitutional coup” and the corporate media

By Keith Jones | Canada's corporate media is either vocally supporting Thursday's "constitutional coup" - the minority Conservative government and the unelected governor-general shut down...

Police turn on anti-government Facebookers

By Zoran Radosavljevic | Croatian police have detained and questioned web activists who are criticizing or ridiculing the government, media and the opposition say,...

Feds to Judge: Don’t ‘Second Guess’ Bush Domestic Spy Program

By David Kravets The Bush administration on Tuesday urged a federal judge to dismiss lawsuits against the nation's telecommunications companies accused of complying with...

In Courtroom Showdown, Bush Demands Amnesty for Spying Telecoms

By David Kravets | SAN FRANCISCO – The Bush administration on Tuesday will try to convince a federal judge to let stand a law...

How to Find out the Hidden Secrets of the Bush Administration

In March 2001, U.S. Archivist John W. Carlin received a letter from Alberto Gonzales, then counsel to the newly inaugurated president George W. Bush....

Block Bush’s Pardons

The Nation -- Our friends at have launched a campaign in support of Rep. Jerry Nadler's H.Res. 1531. The New York City Congressman...

Fury at Labour MPs ‘Orwellian’ tactics over DNA database vote

Liverpool Daily Post | LABOUR MPs were accused of “Orwellian” tactics last night after voting to make it all-but impossible for innocent people to...

US lawmaker accuses Bush of secrecy over Iraq deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. government is refusing to make public the security pact it has signed with Iraq, even though it has already...

Bush Could Pardon Spies Involved in Torture

By Tim Shipman | Senior intelligence officers are lobbying the outgoing president to look after the men and women who could face charges for...

Targeting Hugo Chavez

By Stephen Lendman | Since taking office in February 1999, America’s dominant media have relentlessly attacked Chavez because of the good example he represents...

Space-Based Domestic Spying: Kicking Civil Liberties to the Curb

By Tom Burghardt | Last month, I reported that the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) space-based domestic spy program run by that agency’s National Applications...

The age of George Bush is over

By Stephen Lendman | On November 4, the world exhaled. The age of George Bush ended, and a new one under Barak Obama began....

Bush Spy Revelations Anticipated When Obama Is Sworn In

By Ryan Singel | When Barack Obama takes the oath of office on January 20, Americans won't just get a new president; they might finally...

Lendman: The Wages of Sin

By Stephen Lendman - RINF | “Reaping the whirlwind” for money manager and market strategist Jeremy Grantham in his latest no-nonsense commentary. Worlds different...

The Pentagon Is the President’s Private Army

By Fred Reed | The Pentagon, methinks, is out of control. We no longer have a military in service to the state, but a state...

Policing “target communities”

By Paul Donovan | The decision of the Court of Appeal that the state can place people under control orders (house arrest) without ever...

Pilger: Under cover of racist myth, a new land grab in Australia

In a report for the Guardian, John Pilger describes the deception behind the pretext for a "national emergency" declared by the Australian government in...

Big bankings’ military activities

By Ruth Tanner | The Government’s decision to take a controlling stake in some of the largest British financial institutions comes as a new War...

VIDEO: Centuries of British freedoms being ‘broken’ by security state

Centuries of British civil liberties risk being broken by the relentless pressure from the ‘security state’, the country’s top prosecutor has warned. By Christopher Hope Outgoing...


Progressive Review - Although the poddle press continuous to play into the hands of the GOP on the issue, it is clear that fraud...

No More Investment Banks

Turn Them Into Public Utilities      By Mike Whitney     "If you made it past the credit crisis, you are not making it past the economic carnage." Meredith...

Tony Benn: What went wrong in the capitalist casino?

By Tony Benn | These words are from the 1945 Labour manifesto Let Us Face The Future which brilliantly identified the very same crisis which...

The establishment that destroyed America’s first republic

By Sam Smith | Of George Bush's many sins, one has remained unnoted. He and his aides are so absurdly inept at most of...

The Oppression of Black People, the Crimes of this System, and the Revolution We... | “The young man was shot 41 times while reaching for his wallet”…“the 13-year-old was shot dead in mid-afternoon when police mistook his toy...

Buy Your Poison – Aspartame, Diet Soda, Splenda

Dr. Leo Rebello | Chemist James Schlatter was working on an anti-ulcer drug candidate in the labs of G.D. Searle & Company. He was...

Remembering Edward Said Five Years On

By Stephen Lendman - RINF | Born in West Jerusalem in 1935. Exiled in December 1947. Said was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in...

The Gang’s All Here – Bush, McCain and the Old Iran-Contra Team

By PAM MARTENS | The vetting of Sarah Palin for the McCain campaign by an Iran-Contra alumnus brought an epiphany. (See “The Man Who...

Union leaders stifle growing militancy of London Underground workers

By Daniel O’Flynn and Paul Mitchell | Leaders of the Rail, Maritime and Transport trade union (RMT) are seeking to stifle the growing militancy...

What You Can Do to Put Bush and Cheney Behind Bars

By David Swanson | Remarks on September 14, 2008, at Justice Robert Jackson Conference on Planning for the Prosecution of High Level American War...

Record Corporate Bailout Reveals the Bankruptcy of American Capitalism

WSWS | The US government takeover of the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has dealt a shattering blow to the ideology of...

The Right Dictates MSNBC’s Programming Decisions

By Glenn Greenwald - Salon | MSNBC's announcement that it is replacing Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews with David Gregory as anchors for its main...

Groups protest DNA collection law

By Laura Smitherman | The Legislative Black Caucus and civil rights activists criticized yesterday Gov. Martin O'Malley's plan for implementing a new program for...

‘Stealing America’: Voting-Fraud Documentary

The numbers don't add up. By Michael Ordoña | $3.8 billion: The initial Help America Vote Act allocation that California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen...

Holding murderers accountable

By William John Cox | Although Americans have access to the greatest selection of information sources in the world, including books, newspapers, magazines, radio,...

McCain Suggests Bush Has Endorsed Torture

By Zachary A. Goldfarb | Sen. John McCain today issued some of his strongest criticism of President Bush over an aggressive interrogation technique, clearly...

Labour proposes huge increase in state surveillance

World Socialist Website | In a further escalation of the attack on democratic rights, the Labour government is proposing a huge increase in state surveillance....


By Sam Smith | The confluence of Barack Obama's stadium acceptance extravaganza and John McCain's pick for vice president offers superfluous but final proof...

Calls to drop ID card plans after prisoner data blunder

The Government was under pressure today to abandon its ID card plans after one of the main firms involved in the project lost thousands...

Man Selling Anti-War Shirts Wins Ruling

PHOENIX - A federal judge on Wednesday permanently barred Arizona from using a state law to prosecute an online merchant who sells shirts that...

Anti-Union Groups Run Orwellian Ads

PR Watch | The Center for Union Facts, one of lobbyist Rick Berman's front groups, is railing against the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation...

Bush Covered up Musharraf Ties with Qaeda, Khan

(IPS) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's resignation Monday brings to an end an extraordinarily close relationship between Musharraf and the George W. Bush administration,...

Blackwater guards face prosecution over killing of 17 Iraqi civilians

By James Bone | Six Blackwater Worldwide security guards have been notified that they could face prosecution in America for shooting dead 17 civilians...

Victims of the Drug War Are Forced to Resort to Bizarre Legal Defenses

By Kevin Carey | On November 16, 2005, Willie "Bo" Mitchell and three co-defendants -- Shelton "Little Rock" Harris, Shelly "Wayne" Martin, and Shawn Earl...

U.S. May Ease Police Spy Rules

By Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson | The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state...

Is Perpetual War Our Future? Learning the Wrong Lessons from the Bush Era

TomDispatch | To the problem of an overstretched, over-toured military, there is but one answer in Washington. Both presidential candidates (along with just...

Why the Drug War is a Crime against Humanity Explained

Like the Iraq war and the “war on terror”, the so-called “drug war” is a government contrived “war” based on lies that generates massive...

Bin Laden Firm to Build Saudi Arabian Prisons to Replace Guantanamo Bay

Saudi Arabia prisons to replace Guantanamo bay Pakistan Daily  Saudi Arabia is to build five modern prisons in the kingdom to replace US Guantanamo detention facility,...

Media Censorship at Olympics in China Mirrors FDA Censorship of Health Product Claims in...

NaturalNews | The U.S. media is loudly protesting the censorship of their reporters at the Olympics in Beijing. Betraying its promise to the International...

Electric Cars Are the Key to Energy Independence

By David Morris | Al Gore's heroic speech challenging us to make our electrical system 100 percent renewable promised it would simultaneously address three major...

BP hits a record but warns of Russia risk

BP reported the biggest-ever quarterly profit for a British company but warned of the risks of doing business in Russia and promised to fight to...

Reversing mass imprisonment

Bruce Western | The British sociologist T.H. Marshall described citizenship as the “basic human equality associated with full membership in a community.” By this measure,...

Bush Reveals True Reason for War in Push for Iraqi Agreement

Huffington Post | For five years the Bush administration has played wack-a-mole with the American people as to why we are in Iraq, with a...

Trading away the Planet for Profits

By Joseph Zacune | During the climate talks in Bali last December, NASA scientist James Hansen presented new data showing that serious climate change...

The Bush Admin’s Biowarfare Agenda

By Stephen Lendman - RINF | When it comes to observing US and international laws, treaties and norms, the Bush administration is a serial...

G8 to Poor Women: Let Them Eat Dirt

Real Women, Real Voices | Last week, leaders of the world’s richest countries, the Group of Eight (G8), met to chart the course of...

Gitmo ‘Justice’ for US Citizens?

By Robert Parry | A conservative-dominated U.S. Appeals Court has opened the door for President George W. Bush or a successor to throw American...

Death of Free Internet – Canada Will Be Test Case

In the last 15 years or so, as a society we have had access to more information than ever before in modern history because...

Torture: MPs call for inquiry into MI5 role

By Ian Cobain | MPs are calling for an investigation into allegations that British intelligence has "outsourced" the torture of British citizens to Pakistani...

Court Backs Bush on Military Detentions

By ADAM LIPTAK | President Bush has the legal power to order the indefinite military detentions of civilians captured in the United States, the federal...

Pilger: How Britain wages war

By John Pilger | The military has created a wall of silence around its frequent resort to barbaric practices, including torture, and goes out...

Supreme Court, Inc.: Supremely Pro-Business

By Stephen Lendman - RINF | Pro-business Supreme Court rulings are nothing new, and it's likely most damaging one ever occurred in 1886. In Santa...

The coverup of surveillance crimes and Barack Obama

What we learned in December, 2005 that George Bush and the telecoms were doing -- listening in on the private conversations of American citizens...

Blair Advisers Oppose Brown’s Terrorism Plan in House of Lords

By Kitty Donaldson | Two of Tony Blair's former ministers and his top domestic security official said they will vote against anti-terrorism laws proposed...

Ex-MI5 chief attacks 42-day plan

Baroness Manningham-Buller tells the Lords why she is against the plans (video) The former head of MI5 has dismissed government plans to extend the time...

Many migrant women workers in Saudi treated like slaves

Saudi Arabia should implement labor, immigration, and criminal justice reforms to protect domestic workers from serious human rights abuses that in some cases amount...


SchNews | In the run up to the annual meet and greet by world leaders (and ensuing mass insurrection on the other side of...

Videos of Violent Police Training Appear as Mexico Awaits U.S. Aid

By Manuel Roig-Franzia | Videos showing Mexican police learning torture methods appeared on the Internet this week as the country, soon to receive hundreds of...

The Big Outcome of the ’60s: The Triumph of Capitalism

By Slavoj Zizek | In 1968 Paris, one of the best-known graffiti messages on the city's walls was "Structures do not walk on the streets!"...

Creating the Next Society: Your Revolutionary Ideas Needed Now

By Mike Adams | It's fairly obvious to anyone paying attention that the American Empire, as currently configured and operated, is simply not sustainable....

Zimbabwe and the Question of Imperialism

Democracy Now! |  Listen to the Interview Audio stream  Download mp3  Criticism of Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and the actions of his ruling Zanu PF party is...

Fortress Britain

By Muhammad Idrees Ahmad | “The public has to be more alert”, warned one “international terrorism expert” in the Daily Mail late last year,...

Blackwater’s Private CIA

By Jeremy Scahill | This past September, the secretive mercenary company Blackwater USA found its name splashed across front pages throughout the world after...

Washington ordered destruction of Guantánamo interrogation records

By Bill Van Auken | In another confirmation of the criminal character of Washington’s handling of so-called “enemy combatants,” a “Standard Operating Procedure” manual...

Blackwater’s Private Spies

By Jeremy Scahill | This past September, the secretive mercenary company Blackwater USA found its name splashed across front pages throughout the world after...

The War on Photography

By Bruce Schneier | What is it with photographers these days? Are they really all terrorists, or does everyone just think they are? Since...

Cheney Enrages Iraqis Over Security Deal

By GARY LEUPP | Dick Cheney wants the Iraqi government installed by the U.S. occupation to sign a “security pact” with Washington by the...

Noam Chomsky on Marijuana

By John Veit - HIGH TIMES MAGAZINE | A hundred years from now, Avram Noam Chomsky is going to figure in the history books as...

UK Police Harrass Youths

By Paul Lewis | The police surveillance team had spotted their target: a 12-year-old boy with freckles and ginger hair. He was known to...

US residents in military brigs? Govt says it’s war

By MATT APUZZO | If his cell were at Guantanamo Bay, the prisoner would be just one of hundreds of suspected terrorists detained offshore,...

Schneier: Our Data, Ourselves

By Bruce Schneier | In the information age, we all have a data shadow. We leave data everywhere we go. It's not just our...

FBI files indict Bush, Cheney and Co. as war criminals

By Bill Van Auken | The most stunning revelation in a 370-page Justice US Department Inspector General’s report released this week was that agents...

The Challenge Of Modern Slavery

By Loretta Napoleoni | Slavery is in our refrigerators. From fruit to beef, from sugar to coffee, slave labor brings food to our tables....

Abuse Claims Mount Against Pentagon, Contractors

By William Fisher | As human rights groups demanded the release of a report on a long-running investigation of the role of the Federal...

Abu Ghraib Film Obscures Truth

By Sam Provance | Former Army Sgt. Sam Provance was the only uniformed military intelligence officer at Abu Ghraib who broke the code of...

Green Scare State Terrorism

By Stephen Lendman - RINF | In May 2005, FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism John Lewis told a Senate panel that ecoterrorism is...

FBI wants widespread monitoring of ‘illegal’ web activity

By Anne Broache | The FBI on Wednesday called for new legislation that would allow federal police to monitor the Internet for "illegal activity." The suggestion from...

The Biofuels Scam and Food Shortages

By Mike Adams | It was one of the dumbest "green" ideas ever proposed: Convert millions of acres of cropland into fields for growing ethanol...

Olympic protest movement turns its sights on to sponsors

By Tania Branigan and Paul Kelso | The linked rings on every Chinese Coke bottle and the leaping athletes on each McDonald's paper bag testify to...

Feds to require visitors’ fingerprints when they leave US

AP | The Bush administration would require commercial airlines and cruise-line operators to collect information such as fingerprints from international travelers and send the information...


By by Lee Wood | This 2008 Abolitionist Plank is provisional. We humbly seek and request like-minded recommendations and participation. Tell us what additional structural,...

VA confirms 18 vets attempt suicide every day

By Jason Leopold | VA Tried to Conceal Extent of Attempted Veteran Suicides, Email Shows. Top officials at the Veterans Administration tried to conceal information...

Ending Slavery for Pennies

By Katrina vanden Heuvel and Greg Kaufman | The slave-like conditions in the agriculture industry would shock most Americans. On April 15, at a packed Senate...

Bush Using NAFTA to Eliminate Laws

By Greg Palast |Psst! George Bush has a secret. While you Democrats are pounding each other to a pulp in Pennsylvania, the President has...

What if 5.3 Million More Americans Could Vote?

By Erika Wood | Millions of people in the U.S. can't vote because of felony convictions. Restoring their right to vote means restoring democracy. This is...

U.S. to Expand Collection Of Crime Suspects’ DNA

By Ellen Nakashima and Spencer Hsu | Washington Post Staff Writers | The U.S. government will soon begin collecting DNA samples from all citizens arrested...

Alistair Darling in £50bn gamble to aid banks

By Robert Winnett Alistair Darling will unveil an unprecedented scheme to offer £50 billion in taxpayer-backed loans to high street mortgage lenders today in an...

Behind Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

By DAVID BARSTOW In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just...

Benedict to Confront Skeptics, Scandal in U.S. Trip

By Nadine Elsibai Pope Benedict XVI has a lot of catching up to do with the U.S. and its 69 million Roman Catholics as he...

The Emerging Surveillance State

Ron Paul Last month, the House amended the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to expand the government’s ability to monitor our private communications. This...

The Forbidden Financial Topic: U.S. National Debt

Mike Adams As we wind our way towards an election between the numerous professional liars who have been put forward as candidates for U.S. President,...

Election Madness

Howard Zinn There’s a man in Florida who has been writing to me for years (ten pages, handwritten) though I’ve never met him. He tells...

Watchdog’s threat to 42-day terror law

Alan Travis | The Guardian The government's own human rights watchdog threatened last night to launch a legal challenge to Labour's plan to introduce a law...

House panel passes measure on collecting DNA

Despite last-minute objections from Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, legislation to expand collection of DNA samples from suspects charged with violent crimes moved...

How Corporations Took Over The Supreme Court

The headquarters of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, located across from Lafayette Park in Washington, is a limestone structure that looks almost as majestic...

Media should press candidates on open government

WASHINGTON – At a time of continued government secrecy, the news media should press the presidential candidates on whether their administration would enforce "the...

Police Censorship of Smash Edo film

Police have intervened across the country to censor 'On the Verge' an independent documentary about a campaign to shut down a Brighton weapons manufacturer....

The Iraq War as a War Crime

The Iraq War — now ending its fifth bloody year — represents not only a human tragedy of enormous consequence and possibly the greatest...

MI5 Wants Oyster Card Travel Data

Counter-terrorism experts call it a 'force multiplier': an attack combining slaughter and electronic chaos. Now Britain's security services want total access to commuters' travel...

MPs raise fears over data protection for ID register

Repeated breaches of data protection laws by government departments raise huge question marks over plans for the national identity register required for ID cards...

Millions put at risk from Government ID records

Millions of Britons face having their lives made a "misery" by mistakes on Government databases, it was claimed last night.Experts warned these errors could...

Torture? We’ll just turn a very British blind eye

We were told that Saddam Hussein was an enemy of mankind because he used torture. Now we witness the gruesome spectacle of President Bush...

Khadr’s lawyers want names of U.S. interrogators

Lawyers for Omar Khadr are asking a U.S. military judge for the names of interrogators who questioned the Canadian citizen in Afghanistan in an...

NSA’s Domestic Spying Grows

Five years ago, Congress killed an experimental Pentagon antiterrorism program meant to vacuum up electronic data about people in the U.S. to search for...

CIA Holocaust Claims Twenty Million Victims

The world's number one terrorist organization, the CIA has committed heinous acts of terrorism abroad, murdering critics of US foreign and domestic policies and...

John Pilger: Australia’s hidden Empire

When the outside world thinks about Australia, it generally turns to venerable clichés of innocence — cricket, leaping marsupials, endless sunshine, no worries. Australian...

Can we believe Gordon Brown?

'Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?" Johnny Rotten famously sneered to the audience at the San Francisco Winterland in 1978, just before the...

War Contractor Makes Bid For Election Machines

CHICAGO TRIBUNE - United Technologies Corp. made public Sunday an unsolicited $3 billion bid for Diebold, one of the largest makers of automated teller...

BBC 9/11 Conspiracy Files Appeal Hearing Results

No surprise that the complaint was not upheld, The finding is a joke as you would imagine. For example, the BBC's idea of 'investigation'...

Inside the world of war profiteers

From prostitutes to Super bowl tickets, a federal probe reveals how contractors in Iraq cheated the U.S. By David Jackson and Jason Grotto | Tribune...

Insurance Fears Lead Many to Shun DNA Tests

By AMY HARMON Victoria Grove wanted to find out if she was destined to develop the form of emphysema that ran in her family, but...

Open government and politics

Dr. Joe Harrop: Open government and politics: Who gets what, when, how Dr. Joe Harrop There is always a tension between the need for transparency in...

The Database State Will Have Your Child For Life

Alexandra Frean All 14-year-old children in England will have their personal details and exam results placed on an electronic database for life under a plan...

The Subversion Of The Free Press By The CIA

WRH  "You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month." - CIA operative discussing with Philip...

‘A Century of War’ Part I

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News F. William Engdahl is a leading researcher, economist and analyst of the New World Order who's written on issues of...

Lies, Damn Lies and the Murdock Empire

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News For Big Media, truth is a scare commodity and in times of war it's the first casualty, or as esteemed...

New Charges of Guantanamo Torture

By Adam Zagorin | Time Magazine Majid Khan is seen in 1999 during his senior year in high school in...

Tagging Alzheimer Patients

Alzheimer Tagging Labelled an 'Excuse' for Shocking Care-Home Standards Michael Jolliffe | Newstarget A controversial new scheme to electronically tag the elderly has been blasted by...

Schwarzenegger Backed Immoral Spraying

Governor Schwarzenegger Backed Immoral Sex Pheromone Spraying Continues Rami Nagel | Newstarget Sometimes bad dreams do come true. My bad dream was that the government issued...

How The Clintons Played The Race Card

The Clinton Game: America shouldn't fall for it this time I'm disgusted with Bill and Hillary Clinton. Not merely because they played the race card...

Website ‘spy’ will increase council tax

By Sarah O’Grady LABOUR claims that it has postponed council tax revaluation in England are today exposed as a sham. Gordon Brown has continued to authorise...

Fears of bias as BBC gets £141m in EU loans

Jonathan Oliver THE BBC last night faced accusations of pro-Brussels bias as it was revealed that the corporation had taken out £141m in “soft” loans...

Current financial crisis was topic of Bilderberg 2006

The current financial crisis that has happened due to the Sub prime mortgage crisis was a main topic at Bilderberg 2006 in Ottowa. The green...

Institutionalized Spying On Americans

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News This article reviews two police state tools (among many in use) in America. One is new, undiscussed and largely unknown...

Let’s not spy for the FBI

Plans for the US to access UK citizen's personal information via a shared international database are disturbing: we shouldn't sign up to it Nick Clegg News...

Civil liberties groups criticize Bush

Dispute centers on upgrading of driver's licenses Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff unveiled details of the Real ID program yestereday in Washington. (Kevin Wolf/Associated Press) WASHINGTON...

History of Rudy Giuliani’s Temper

Before he decided that September 11 was his own personal self-aggrandizement machine, Rudy Giuliani pissed off a whole slew of people in a remarkable...

List of Bush Administration Scandals

List of Scandalized Administration Officials By Paul Kiel Boy, was it time for an update. Late last year we decided to take stock of all the Bush...

F. William Engdahl’s Seeds of Destruction

Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News Bill Engdahl is a leading researcher, economist and analyst of the New World Order who's written on issues of energy, politics...

Criminals In The Bush Administration

Criminals In The Bush Administration By- Suzie-Q TPM´s Great List of Scandalized Administration Officials Boy, was it time for an update. Late last year we decided to take...

Un-American Lockheed Martin and Treason for Profit

As more news about Benazir Bhutto's assassination comes out, clearly implicating the Musharraff regime in the murder, our tax dollars are going toward paying...

Thousands Exposed to Poison by Government Spraying

Rami Nagel Sometimes bad dreams do come true. My bad dream was that the government issued quarantine, and forced everybody to be vaccinated for some...

Holiday Season Hypocrisy

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News Christmas is observed December 25 by Christians and others celebrating the spirit of the season while for those of the...

Sealed Off by Israel, Gaza Reduced to Beggary

Scott Wilson GAZA CITY -- The batteries are the size of a button on a man's shirt, small silvery dots that power hearing aids for...

Congress, Bush in clash over CIA interrogation tapes

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Congress and President George W. Bush were headed for confrontation Saturday as US lawmakers accused the Justice Department of blocking their...

AG Denies Details in CIA Tapes Inquiry

By LARA JAKES JORDAN Attorney General Michael Mukasey refused Friday to give Congress details of the government's investigation into interrogations of terror suspects that were...

Blackwater Mercenaries on the USA-Mexico Border

By Nancy Conroy   In San Diego County, California, a firestorm has erupted over plans to build a Blackwater mercenary training camp in the hills behind...

How to Control the AMERICAN Population

How to Control the AMERICAN Population by Paul Ehrlich Brent Jessop Knowledge Driven In 1968, Dr. Paul R. Ehrlich wrote a well publicized book entitled The...

FDA Caving to Corps

The Food and Drug Administration is developing a proposal for how drug companies can inform doctors about drug uses that aren't FDA approved, a...

Ron Paul is needed to end the war

Many have speculated what will happen if Rep. Ron Paul is not elected president. The obvious answer is that nothing will change; that is,...

Greens, Democrats And Impeachment "Now the gloves are off." Let me explain that statement. First, on the issue of Impeachment, either you get it or you don't. Sadly, the Democratic Parties...

America is Going Fascist

Michael Nenonen Republic of East Vancouver The signs are all there for anyone to see, and time is getting short for action Reading Naomi Wolf’s The End...

How America Lost the War on Drugs

After Thirty-Five Years and $500 Billion, Drugs Are as Cheap and Plentiful as Ever: An Anatomy of a Failure  Ben Wallace-Wells 1. AFTER PABLO On the...

Facebook Users Protest Online Tracking

By Louise Story and Brad Stone The New York Times Faced with its second mass protest by members in its short life span, Facebook, the enormously...

Halliburton Concentration Camps Already Constructed

On February 17, 2006, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld spoke of the harm being done to...

Ruling Blocks Challenge to Wiretapping

By ERIC LICHTBLAU A federal appeals court said today that secrecy laws forced it to exclude critical evidence about the National Security Agency’s domestic eavesdropping...

Dems Stay Silent on Bush White House Crimes

It’s Treason: Dems Stay Silent on Bush White House Crimes By Richard W. Behan Lying to the people and the Congress was the most despicable violation...

Blowback, Pakistan-style

Mark LeVine The carnage that greeted Benazir Bhutto, the former Pakistan prime minister, upon her return to the country may have occurred in Karachi, but...

Will 9/11 and BAE Derail Cheney’s Plan To Bomb Iran?

by Jeffrey Steinberg Two recent events, both occurring in the context of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah's visit to London at the end of October, have...

Our Man in Islamabad

Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News The Islamic Republic of Pakistan was established in August,1947 when its majority Muslim population separated from British-controlled India and became a...

Brazil discovers vast new oil reserves

Brazil has discovered huge new petroleum reserves in its south that could turn the country into one of the biggest oil producers in the...

The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran

The Secret History of the Impending War with Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know Two former high-ranking policy experts from the...

David Ray Griffin Interview

David Ray Griffin Interview - DRG Answers Your Questions RINF members had the opportunity to put questions to one of the worlds most credible and...

Identity cards technology under review

Gordon Brown is said to have demanded a review of the technology behind identity cards. The Guardian newspaper has reported that the Prime Minister has...

Punishing Gaza

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News On September 20, Haaretz reported: "The security cabinet voted unanimously yesterday to increase sanctions against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip (and...

Arnie Backs Biochemical Spaying That Harms Kids

Governor Schwarzenegger Backs Aerial Biochemical Spraying That Harms Children Rami Nagel On September 9th, 2007 several planes hired by the State of California Food and Agricultural...

Congressional Shame and Duplicity

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News The latest October Reuters/Zogby Index shows record low approval ratings for George Bush and Congress - 24% for the president...

Government secrecy changes promised

Prime Minister Gordon Brown has presented plans to overhaul secrecy and data protection laws. In a speech on the subject of liberty, the Prime Minister...

Torture, Paramilitarism, Occupation and Genocide

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News On October 5, George Bush confronted a public uproar and defended his administration claiming "This government does not torture people."...

UAW Sellout at GM and Chrysler

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News The September and October United Auto Workers (UAW) GM and Chrysler agreements are just the latest examples of union leadership...

Nobel Hypocrisy

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News Alfred Nobel was a wealthy nineteenth century Swedish-born chemist, engineer, inventor of dynamite, armaments manufacturer and war profiteer who remade...

The Politics Of Absolute Power

The following commentary was written by Philip S. Golub and appears in the Le Monde diplomatique English-language edition for October 2007. Mr. Golub is...

HOW AMERICA’S democracy is being stolen

With record low approval ratings for the Bush/Cheney regime and the albatross of an unpopular war hanging from the GOP's neck, do you think...

Open Letter to the Government from an AWOL Soldier

By James Circello, Iraq Veterans Against The War To those Businessmen and women holding seats in Congress, To the Highest Court of America, To every Department within...

Cynthia McKinney’s Big Issue – 9/11 Truth

The following is a story which appeared in Big Issue No. 765, 8-15 October, 2007, pp. 6-9. John Bird, the publisher, was intent upon...

Fight Over Court Role In U.S. Wiretapping

By Peter Grier While Bush Seeks To Limit Court OKs For Spying, Democrats Fight For More Judicial Oversight To what extent should courts become involved in the...

“Capitalism and Freedom” Unmasked

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News An era ended November 16, 2006 when economist Milton Friedman died. A torrent of eulogies followed. The Wall Street Journal...

On return, veterans face financial ruin

Physical, mental injuries prove costly for families and loved ones By Jeff Donn and Kimberly Hefling TEMECULA - He was one of America's first defenders on...

A Culture of Violence

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News What do you call a country that glorifies wars and violence in the name of peace. One that's been at...

The Bush-Aznar tapes: glimpse of a gangster preparing for war

By Bill Van Auken The transcript of February 2003 discussions between US President George W. Bush and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar published Wednesday...

Do you know the truth about the EU?  1. The Queen has signed 6 of the 7 EU Treaties. 2. The 6 treaties define and build the EU as an unelected dictatorship. 3. The...

The BBC – How Did It Get So Bad?

By Adrian Morgan This article by Adrian Morgan (Giraldus Cambrensis of Western Resistance) appeared today in Family Security Matters and is reproduced with their permission....

How easy is it to create false flag terrorism?

How much nuclear material would terrorists such as renegades within CIA or MI6 need to make a Nuclear Bomb to blame on Muslims to...

Gitmo lawyer worries about being wiretapped

A Vermont lawyer representing a client being held at Guantanamo, Cuba, is worried that his phone is being tapped by the federal government. He ought...

War crime lawyers fight UN on top job

New secretary general is challenged over 'secret appointment' to replace top tribunal prosecutor Ed Vulliamy in The Hague Sunday September 23, 2007 The Observer The new leadership of...

Sanity in Tiny Nibbles

The abyss between "crime against humanity" and "we'll have to look into this" may be all but unfathomable -- deep as a mass grave...

Reviewing Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine”

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News Naomi Klein is an award-winning Canadian journalist, author, documentary filmmaker and activist. She writes a regular column for The Nation...

9/11 Truth: The 9/11 Cover-Up

Thousands of New Yorkers were endangered by WTC debris–and government malfeasance. Michael Mason In the aftermath of the first explosion, the air over Lower Manhattan transformed...

Author under gag order assails producer, ABC for ‘Path to 9/11’

Peter Lance Last Wednesday, in a front page LA Times Calendar piece “Clinton and the missing DVD,” reporter Martin Miller gave voice to the latest...

Middle East Madness

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News Administration rhetoric is heated and the dominant media keep trumpeting it. It signals war with Iran of the "shock and...

Intelligence database worrying

R.G. Ratcliffe After a commercial airline pilot testified before a government agency against the construction of a nuclear power plant, the Department of Public Safety...

The War on Working Americans – Part II

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News This article was written to assess the state of working America in the run-up to Labor Day, 2007. Organized labor today...

The War On Working Americans – Part I

By Stephen Lendman RINF Alternative News As Labor Day approaches, what better time to assess the state of working America. It's under assault and weakened by...


By Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat Former Chief of the Naval Staff, India Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot ..that it do singe yourself. - William...

Terror law puts Britons at risk of surveillance by US agents

Jamie Doward, home affairs editor Sunday August 19, 2007 The Observer A new law swept through Congress by the US government before the summer recess is to...

Concern Over Wider Spying Under New Law

By James Risen and Eric Lichtblau Broad new surveillance powers approved by Congress this month could allow the Bush administration to conduct spy operations that...

Why Are So Many Americans in Prison?

Race and the transformation of criminal justice By Glenn C. Loury The early 1990s were the age of drive-by shootings, drug deals gone bad, crack cocaine,...

House approves changes in terror spy program

Democrats under pressure from Bush vote for measure By Carl Hulse and Edmund L. Andrews Under pressure from President Bush, the House on Saturday gave final...

MPs doubt UK’s commitment to equality

An all-party group of MPs Thursday raised doubts about the British government's commitment to wipe out discrimination, saying that not enough action is being...

Democrats Offer Compromise Plan On Surveillance

Proposal Would Involve FISA Court in Warrants By Ellen Nakashima and Spencer S. Hsu Congressional Democrats outlined a temporary plan yesterday that would expand the government's...

Terror suspect alleges torture for confession

Lolita C. Baldor A suspected Saudi terrorist testified at a military hearing that he was tortured into confessing he was involved in the bombing of...

“Another bacon burger, anyone?”

Jason Miller “If my competitor were drowning, I’d stick a hose in his mouth and turn on the water.”--Ray Kroc“….a funny, jowly, canny, barbarous guy...

New documents expose White House lies

New documents expose White House, Justice Department lies in firing of US attorneys Barry Grey A new batch of email messages and other documents released Friday...

Missouri Legislature Bans UN Agenda 21

Alex NewmanThe New AmericanMay 10, 2013 With a veto-proof majority, the Missouri legislature approved a popular...

Washington’s Presumption

Paul Craig RobertsInfowars.comMay 8, 2013 The new president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, is cast in Chavez’s mold. On May 4, he called US president Obama...

Sen. Manchin: Background Checks “Expand Second Amendment”

Kurt NimmoInfowars.comMay 8, 2013 Democrat Senator Joe Manchin is trying to get another background check bill through the Senate following last month’s defeat of a...

Establishment Media Attacks Rand Paul for Saying Globalists Plotting Against Constitution

Kurt NimmoInfowarfs.comMay 12, 2013 Photo: Rand Paul for U.S. Senate 2010The Washington Post has...