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Trump at the United Nations

The United States of America has been among the greatest forces for good in the history of the world, and the greatest defenders of...

Trump at the United Nations: Derangement and Delusion Reign Supreme

If any further proof were needed that the United States has descended into the realm of magical thinking, there could be no clearer example...

Palestine: Apartheid, Stolen Lives and Land, History Erased, United Nations Deaf Mute

“All 100 U.S. Senators signed a letter Thursday asking U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to address what the lawmakers call entrenched bias against Israel...

Israel vs. the United Nations

The United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, seems to be championing a single cause: Israel. When Haley speaks about Israel, her language...

United Nations Elects Saudi Arabia to Women’s Rights Commission

The United Nations Economic and Social Council voted late last week to place Saudi Arabia on the Commission on the Status of Women...

Trump, AIPAC and the United Nations

Photo by Ninian Reid | CC BY 2.0   Since Donald Trump became president of the United States, it may be an exaggeration to say that...

US exit from United Nations could become reality with fresh bill

A Republican-proposed House Resolution has quietly slipped past the public radar – proposing that the United...

The Betrayal of Syria: The US, France, and Britain’s UN Ambassadors and the United...

An ambassador is a … gentleman sent to lie abroad for the good of his country. — Attributed to Sir Henry Wotton, 1568-1639 When Vitaly Churkin,...
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Video: ‘UN-balanced report’: United Nations ignores Russia’s anti-ISIS efforts in Syria – Churkin

Russia's envoy to the United Nations has criticized the latest UN report that singled out the US coalition efforts in fighting ISIS, overlooking the...

What Good is the United Nations, International Law and its Courts?

There has been widespread criticism against ‘international law’ due to its clear inconsistency. States may vary greatly in their opinions and interpretations of issues...
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Video: Taking the Black Struggle to the United Nations

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent were in Washington, DC last week for a town hall convened by Pan-African Community...

United Nations Discovery of Secret Detention Center Revives Nightmares

The tales of the missing are still haunting Sri Lanka six and half years after a bloody civil war ended. (Photo: Amantha Perera/IPS) Colombo, Sri...
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Video: CrossTalk: Putin’s United Nations (pre-recorded)

At the annual opening of the UN General Assembly the Russia's President Vladimir Putin made it abundantly clear the West's business as usual approach...
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Video: Historic: Palestinian flag raised at United Nations HQ

Palestinian flag was raised at United Nations HQ on Wednesday. Palestinian leader attended the ceremony. RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air Subscribe to RT! Via Youtube
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Video: Henry Siegman, Leading U.S. Jewish Voice for Peace: “Give Up on Netanyahu, Go...

http://democracynow.org - Jewish and Palestinian women are holding a hunger strike outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's residence in Jerusalem to ... Via Youtube
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Video: Can the United Nations Stop War?

Has the UN failed to deliver on its founding mission? Follow the discussion with Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report and Robert Naiman, policy...

Netanyahu Claim to Jerusalem As “Capital City of Israel” Rejected by United Nations

Anthony Bellchambers The UN General Assembly has stated that the international community, through the United Nations has a legitimate interest, regarding the protection of Jerusalem’s...

Israel Bombs Yet Another United Nations School, Killing Women and Children

6th UN Shelter Bombed by Israel Many Gazans have been ordered by the Israeli military to leave their homes. The Gaza strip was already very small...

United Nations report: US, UK surveillance programs violate international law

Thomas Gaist A report released Wednesday by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) Navi Pillay, entitled “The Right to Privacy in the Digital...

Syria’s Press Conference the United Nations Doesn’t Want You To See

Syrian Elections Observers Report to UN https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZnFQd4wBXnk

Truth and Reconciliation to be Debated at United Nations

The press conference held by Jordan's Ambassador to the UN to introduce Jordan's presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of January...

Religious NGOs, Civil Society and the United Nations

Paul O'Keeffe RINF Alternative News Religion — It is time to move on A new study by the University of Kent's Department of Religious Studies in the...

The World Unites Behind Mandela: An Unreported United Message From The United Nations

Millions of South Africans mourned the death of Nelson Mandela as you would expect, but the rest of world also joined in an...

United Nations’ drones: A sign of what’s to come?

News that the United Nations is using drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) to collect information in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo...

NSA Spying Challenged in the United Nations

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Another Vote on Washington’s Anti-Cuba Policy at the United Nations

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The Multi-billion Dollar Laundering of Drug Profits. United Nations Reports Record Afghan Opium Production

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The United Nations’ Big Green Machine

In July 1999, I traveled to Paris to speak in defense of American property rights and against the growing eco-imperialism of the United Nations....

United Nations “Peacekeepers” Will Now Go On the Offensive in Africa

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United Nations To Take Over The Alamo

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United Nations to Adopt Asteroid Defense Plan

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21 Nations United Nations Resolution against the US for Spying on World Leaders

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21 Nations United Nations Resolution against the US for Spying on World Leaders

The National Security Agency's global spying activities have prompted 21 countries to seek a resolution against the United States at the United Nations.The resolution...

21 Nations United Nations Resolution against the US for Spying on World Leaders

The National Security Agency's global spying activities have prompted 21 countries to seek a resolution against the United States at the United Nations.The resolution...

21 Nations United Nations Resolution against the US for Spying on World Leaders

The National Security Agency's global spying activities have prompted 21 countries to seek a resolution against the United States at the United Nations.The resolution...

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Iraq War Crimes: The United Nations in Violation of UN Charter, Complicit in Abetting...

“The U.N. Charter charges the Security Council with the task of preserving international peace and security. To do so, the Security Council must maintain...

Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Venezuela, and Latin America at Odds with the US at the...

Security concerns have prompted Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to cancel plans to attend the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly. On Wednesday, Maduro...

Talk Nation Radio: Taking Kent State to the United Nations

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Why Is The United Nations’UNICEF Defaming&Monitoring Independent Health Sites?

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World Citizen Asks United Nations to Disarm America: “The World Cannot Stand Idly By”

(Pictured: Henry Porter, World Citizen) In his latest article, London Observer writer Henry Porter denigrates American gun owners by calling...

The Role of the UN in the Unending Korean War. “United Nations Command” As...

Some Background The story of the Korean War is a story not often told. Yet sixty years after the agreement to end the military hostilities...

The Sellstrom Report: The United Nations’ Syria Inspector Shills for NATO and Israel

Instead of a non-politicized investigation and lab analysis, the UN investigation of alleged nerve-gas attacks inside Syria was led by Professor Ake Sellstrom, a...

UN Sec’y Gen.: National Sovereignty Is a Gift of the United Nations

On September 11, the United Nations reasserted that it believes it has the exclusive and undeniable right to determine when a people is worthy...

Hans Blix: US Government Disrespects United Nations

Former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Hans Blix in a phone call interview with Neday Enghelab discussed his views on the current...

Syria asks the United Nations to stop U.S. strike

ReutersSeptember 2, 2013 Syria has asked the United Nations to prevent “any aggression” against Syria following...

Latin America Condemns US Espionage at United Nations Security Council

Simon Bolivar: “The United States appears to be destined by Providence to plague America with misery in the name of liberty.” Throughout the day, on...

Jesse Jackson Calls for United Nations Investigation of Trayvon Martin Shooting

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Cross Purposes at the United Nations: Sabotaging Hope for a Negotiated Peace in Syria

United Nations General Assembly A/67/L.63, adopted by a slim majority on May 15, 2013, is a deliberate and pathological refusal to acknowledge reality, in...

NATO Is Antithetical To The Spirit Of The United Nations

Colombia may be on a list for membership in NATO further expanding what was originally a North Atlantic defense organization, into a global...

US Imperialism, International Law and the United Nations

liberty statue gun

The broad principles underlying the United Nations (UN) are noble and peaceful. They have unfortunately been perverted from the UN’s inception.

The UN is currently being used as an instrument of domination by several permanent member States of the UN Security Council.

According to the Charter’s Preamble the UN was established:

“to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war [...] to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained [...]” (Charter of the United Nations)

The UN General Assembly (GA) is democratic. One country, one vote. Unfortunately, even if it represents all 193 member states and passes very important resolutions, its members often follow the diktats of the powerful nations on which they depend financially.

The GA has no power. The latter lies in the self-given authority of the five permanent members of the Security Council (U.S.,UK, France, Russia, China), the only ones in possession of the very arbitrary and very powerful veto.

The astonishing number of resolutions passed by the GA regarding Israel have had no effect whatsoever and have invariably been blocked by the US at the Security Council (SC).

In his historic speech at the UN in 2009, which the New York Times unfairly qualified as “rambling”, the late Muammar Gaddafi rightfully and virulently criticized the unjust and contradictory nature of the UN:

The Preamble is very appealing, and no one objects to it, but all the provisions that follow it completely contradict the Preamble. We reject such provisions, and we will never uphold them; they ended with the Second World War. The Preamble says that all nations, small or large, are equal. Are we equal when it comes to the permanent seats? No, we are not equal.

[…] Do we have the right of veto? Are we equal? The Preamble says that we have equal rights, whether we are large or small.

That is what is stated and what we agreed in the Preamble. So the veto contradicts the Charter. The permanent seats contradict the Charter. We neither accept nor recognize the veto.

The Preamble of the Charter states that armed force shall not be used, save in the common interest. That is the Preamble that we agreed to and signed, and we joined the United Nations because we wanted the Charter to reflect that. It says that armed force shall only be used in the common interest of all nations, but what has happened since then? Sixty-five wars have broken out since the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council — 65 since their creation, with millions more victims than in the Second World War. Are those wars, and the aggression and force that were used in those 65 wars, in the common interest of us all? No, they were in the interest of one or three or four countries, but not of all nations. (Muammar Gaddafi cited in Who is Muammar Al-Qadhafi: Read his Speech to the UN General Assembly, Global Research, March 23, 2011)

It is worth noting that the Libyan leader was killed during the 2012 NATO military invasion, which had been been approved by the Security Council. Three of the SC”s permanent members namely the U.S., the UK and France, participated in this NATO led invasion.

According to Mahmoud Jibril, Libya’s interim Prime Minister during the Western-backed armed insurrection in 2011, Gaddafi was killed by a French intelligence operative “acting under direct instructions of the French government”.

French President “Sarkozy was eager to prevent the possibility of Gaddafi standing trial, particularly after the Libyan leader had threatened to expose his alleged financial dealings with the French President”. (Joseph Fitsanakis, Did French intelligence agent kill Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi?, intelNews.org, October 2, 2012.)

These allegations are not surprising since France played a leading role in the invasion of Libya.

Was the war on Libya, like the other wars Gaddafi mentioned, “in the common interest of us all” or “in the interest of one or three or four countries”?

Libya was invaded and its leader killed for many reasons, all of which were of financial and geostrategic nature. Mahdi Nazemroaya explains how only a few nations, most of all the U.S., control the UN:

The manipulation of the United Nations for imperialist interests, […] goes back a long way. From its inception, the United Nations was meant to facilitate the global influence of the US after the Second World War. [...]

The UN was used as a tool to control most these former Western European and American colonies of the Third World. At first the US and its post-war allies maintained their domination over the newly formed UN and the former colonies through their numbers and then through a Western Bloc monopoly over the structures of the United Nations. Hereto this monopoly includes control over the agencies and permanent veto-wielding chairs of the fifteen-member Security Council of the United Nations.

The Security Council above all has been used by the US as a means of protecting its interests. The purpose of the Security Council veto is to reject any international resolutions and consensuses against the national interests (or more precisely the interests of the ruling elites) of the US and the other major post-World War II powers [...]

As the Western Bloc began to lose its numerical advantage, control over the Secretariat would be maintained through the Security Council. The UN Security Council does this by filtering all the candidates for the top UN post in the Secretariat. Secretaries-general of the UN are appointed by the UN General Assembly based on the recommendation of the UN Security Council. Thus, the US and other permanent members of the Security Council have vetoes that can eliminate any candidates that would be hostile to their interests. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, America’s Takeover of the United Nations, Press TV 3 September 2012.)

The selection process of the UN Secretary-General reveals why those in office espouse concepts such as the so-called “responsibility to protect” (R2P), which actually refers to “military invasion”, and why they fail to act as “spokesm[e]n for the interests of the world’s peoples, in particular the poor and vulnerable among them”, as their position requires. If R2P had been drafted with genuine intent, it would have been invoked to protect Palestinians against the permanent Israeli aggression. Under Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretariat has rather endorsed Israeli agressions and approved the illegal blockade of Gaza. Kofi Annan was “an enabler of ‘responsibility to protect’” and Ban Ki-moon its “executioner”, Nazemroaya argues.

In regards to both Libya and Syria, Ban Ki-moon has followed the US and NATO script for R2P and regime change. When a major propaganda effort was launched against Syria following the Houla Massacre, Ban Ki-moon and other UN officials quickly followed the US line and condemned Damascus at a special session of the UN General Assembly in New York City. (Ibid.)

Ronda Hauben details the “mysterious process” by which the Security Council was able to influence the way the UN investigation on the Houla massacre was conducted and how a one-sided version of the events supporting the Western propaganda prevailed:

By a rather mysterious process, the Security Council’s request that an investigation of the Houla massacre, which was to be carried out with the involvement of UNSMIS, was shifted to a significantly different process that was carried out by the Human Rights Council and the Commission of Inquiry it created, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic (hereafter CoI). How this shift happened and the significance of this change, merit serious consideration by those who are concerned about the role the UN is playing in the conflict in Syria [...]

Major-General Robert Mood, head of UNSMIS, [...] said that UNSMIS had been to Houla with an investigating team [...] They interviewed locals who told one story. They interviewed locals who told another story. But the circumstances leading up to Houla, the detailed circumstances, the facts related to the incident still remained unclear to the UNSMIS investigators. This led General Mood to say that if there was a decision to support a more extensive on the ground investigation, UNSMIS could help to facilitate it.

In his June 15 press briefing, General Mood said the UNSMIS Report on Houla included statements and interviews with locals with one story and statements and interviews with locals with another story. The August Report of the CoI tells only one story and claims that they either do not have other information or that any other information they know of is inconsistent, so that they have accepted that there is only one story. The Reports that the CoI produced had no on-site interviews or statements, but only telephone or Skype interviews with insurgents or those supporting the account of Houla presented by the armed insurgents. (Ronda Hauben, US-NATO Sponsored Crimes against Humanity in Syria. Coverup by UN Human Rights Council, taz.de,November 28, 2012)

Of all 297 UNSMIS international unarmed military observers on the groundto monitor a cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties“, none were from the US. The conditions of the UNSMIS mandate were set by the Security Council, which decided on July 20, 2012 it would allow the mission to be extended only if it confirmed “the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence sufficient by all sides”. The US must have known those conditions would be impossible to meet since it had itself been providing the rebels with heavy weaponry and contributing to the violence. Even The New York Times ran a story on the CIA arming Syrian rebels on June 21. The UNSMIS mandate was ended on August 19. If the US was not part of the UNSMIS, it was and still is, on the other hand, a member the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). The US possibly used its influent position at the Security Council to request that the HRC takes over the Houla massacre investigation, where it could play a part in its findings and align them with its war agenda.

[T]he US was elected to a second three-year term on the 47-member United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC). President Bush boycotted the HRC for criticizing Israel too much, but Obama joined in 2010 to ‘improve’ it. US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice welcomed Washington’s re-election this week, saying that the HRC “has delivered real results”, citing its criticism of Syria, though she criticized the rights council’s continued “excessive and unbalanced focus on Israel”. (Eric Walberg, Human Rights: the People vs the UN, November 18, 2012.)

While it should be the guardian and promoter of international law, the UN has shown several times it acts on behalf of the powerful against the powerless. NATO has been manipulating the UN to legitimize its brutal neo-colonial designs and international law is being used in a very selective manner by imperial powers. James Petras explains:

Imperial law supersedes international law simply because imperial law is backed by brute force; it possesses imperial/colonial air, ground and naval armed forces to ensure the supremacy of imperial law.  In contrast, international law lacks an effective enforcement mechanism.

Moreover, international law, to the extent that it is effective, is applied only to the weaker powers and to regimes designated by the imperial powers as ‘violators’. [T]he application and jurisdiction of international law is selective and subject to constraints imposed by the configurations of imperial and national power [...]

To counter the claims and judgments pertaining to international law, especially in the area of theGenevaprotocols such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, imperial legal experts, scholars and judges have elaborated a legal framework to justify or exempt imperial-state activity [...]

This does not imply that imperial rulers totally discard international law: they just apply it selectively to their adversaries, especially against independent nations and rulers, in order to justify imperial intervention and aggression – Hence the ‘legal bases’ for dismantlingYugoslaviaor invadingIraqand assassinating its rulers [...]

Imperial legal doctrine has played a central role in justifying and providing a basis for the exercise of international terrorism.  Executives, such as US Presidents Bush and Obama, have been provided with the legal power to undertake cross-national ‘targeted’ assassinations of opponents using predator drones and ordering military intervention, in clear violation of international law and national sovereignty.  Imperial law, above all else, ‘legalizes’ aggression and economic pillage and undermines the laws of targeted countries, creating lawlessness and chaos among its victims. (James Petras“Legal Imperialism” and International Law: Legal Foundations for War Crimes, Debt Collection and Colonization,December 03, 2012)

On behalf of four men, Canadian and American lawyers recently filed a complaint against Canada with the United Nations Committee against Torture, because the Canadian authorities failed to prosecute George W. Bush during his visit to the country. Considering its strong economic, diplomatic and military ties to the U.S, such a move was not expected from Canada and its inaction demonstrates yet again how the U.S.’ imperial law overcomes international law.

As a signatory to the Convention against Torture, Canada has an obligation to investigate and prosecute a torture suspect on its soil. This is the first time a complaint concerning torture allegations against a high-level U.S. official has been filed with the U.N. Committee. The Canadian Centre for International Justice (CCIJ) and the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the complaint on the men’s behalf.

“Canada has the jurisdiction and the obligation to prosecute a torture suspect present in Canada, including a former head of state, and even one from a powerful country,” said Matt Eisenbrandt, CCIJ’s Legal Director. “Canada’s failure to conduct a criminal investigation and prosecution against Mr. Bush when there was overwhelming evidence against him constitutes a clear violation of its international obligations and its own policy not to be a safe haven for torturers.” (Lawyers against the War, Survivors File U.N. Complaint Against Canada for Failing to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture The Canadian Centre for International Justice, November 14, 2012.)

Global Research offers its readers a list of selected articles on this very important issue. For more in-depth analysis, visit our archives United Nations and Law and Justice.

Global Research has been committed to peace and justice and over the years has provided its readers with insightful analyses pertaining to the UN, international law and illegal wars. We need your help to continue to fight the brutal domination of a ruling elite willing to send young men and women fight unjust wars of aggression to remain in power through destruction and exploitation. You find our articles useful? Make a donation or become a Global Research member!

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SELECTED ARTICLES

Who is Muammar Al-Qadhafi: Read his Speech to the UN General Assembly, March 23, 2011

America’s Takeover of the United Nations, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya,  September 3, 2012

US-NATO Sponsored Crimes against Humanity in Syria. Coverup by UN Human Rights Council, Ronda Hauben, November 28, 2012

Human Rights: the People vs the UN, Eric Walberg, November 18, 2012

“Legal Imperialism” and International Law: Legal Foundations for War Crimes, Debt Collection and Colonization, James Petras, December 03, 2012

Survivors File U.N. Complaint Against Canada for Failing to Prosecute George W. Bush for Torture, Lawyers against the War,  November 14, 2012

Hamas Shouldn’t Fire Rockets … But Israel Has Violated HUNDREDS of UN Resolutions, Washington’s Blog, November 20, 2012 

UN General Assembly Vote On Syria: World Gone Unipolar – And Mad, Rick Rozoff, August 06, 2012

Canada’s Vote Opposing UN Recognition of Palestine. Quebec’s Motion to Recognize Palestine Statehood, Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, December 05, 2012

UN Vote on Palestine, Stephen Lendman, December 01, 2012

UNESCO Human Rights Conference Honoring Israel’s President Shimon Peres. Four of Five Speakers Pull Out, Ali Abunimah, October 24, 2012

Boycott and Chaos at the United Nations in Geneva: Who Committed War Crimes in Iraq? Dirk Adriaensens, October 03, 2012

The UN and General Mood’s “Missing Report” on Conflicting Accounts of Houla Massacre, Ronda Hauben, September 11, 2012

UN Envoy Brahimi bears Poison Chalice to Syria, Finian Cunningham, September 10, 2012

NAM Summit: Ban Ki-Moon in disgraceful show of US puppetry, Finian Cunningham, August 30, 2012

Can the US and its Allies arbitrarily Violate International Law?, Rick Rozoff and John Robles, August 17, 2012

Terrorism as an Instrument of US Foreign Policy: UN-Backed Rogue States Plan Syria’s Slaughter, Felicity Arbuthnot, August 11, 2012

2013: What is the United Nations Organization For?

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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.

The United Nations Coming For Our Children?

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The United States as Destroyer of Nations

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Diversity is Destroying the Cohesion and Social Capital of Western Nations

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Boycott Israel & you won’t get aid donations, Hurricane Harvey victims told — RT...

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US limits visas for African, Asian nations over deportations

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The Nations that Accept Nazism Today

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Global Polling: Which Nations Are Happiest? Unhappiest?

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‘Once We Move Into Space With Weaponry, Other Nations Will Follow’

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On Fighting Inequality, Which Nations Do More Than Pay Lip Service?

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Most of Gulf nations’ demands on Qatar unrealistic, but some could be negotiated ‒...

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Putin: U.S. Routinely Meddles in Russian and Other Nations’ Elections

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Hacked Emails Expose US Machinations Against Qatar

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How the United States Ultimately Talks with Its “Enemies”

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Most Americans don’t realize this, but 136 countries already formally recognize a Palestinian state.  Those 136 nations have a combined population of more than 5.5 billion people.

As of this moment, the major holdouts are the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and most of Europe.  But most of the European nations have already indicated that they are ready to recognize a Palestinian state if the United States will.  In fact, as I mentioned above, France plans to lead the push for a Palestinian state at the UN Security Council.

The “State of Palestine” already has “non-member observer” status at the UN, but obviously they are not satisfied with that.  They have been very eager for formal recognition by the UN, and now that the Vatican has given them formal recognition that has really bolstered their cause.  The following is from a CNN article about the Vatican announcement that stunned the world on Wednesday…

The Vatican announced Wednesday that it had brokered a treaty with the “state of Palestine,” upsetting Israeli advocates and propelling Pope Francis into the heart of yet another geopolitical fray.

The treaty is expected to be signed “in the near future,” the Vatican said. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, is scheduled to visit Pope Francis on Saturday, the day before the church canonizes two Palestinian nuns.

The treaty is thought to mark the first time the Holy See has formally recognized Palestinian statehood in a legal document.

Of course this didn’t come out of a vacuum.  The truth is that the Vatican has been moving in this direction for quite some time.  Just consider what the Washington Post had to say about the matter…

The move should not be too great a surprise. Since the U.N. General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state” in 2012, the Vatican has referred to the “state of Palestine” in its communiques. When Pope Francis visited the Holy Land last year, the official Vatican program referred to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as the leader of the “state of Palestine.” And the pontiff publicly referred to the “state of Palestine” at a speech in the West Bank.

Now that the Vatican has done this, international pressure on Obama to support a UN Security Council resolution on a Palestinian state is increasing.

When the UN Security Council resolution being drafted by France comes up for a vote later this year, what will Obama do?

Well, according to Debka, Obama has already given the “green light” for France to move forward…

US President Barack Obama did not wait for Binyamin Netanyahu to finish building his new government coalition by its deadline at midnight Wednesday, May 6, before going into action to pay him back for forming a right-wing cabinet minus any moderate figure for resuming negotiations with the Palestinians.

Banking on Netanyahu’s assertion while campaigning for re-election that there would be no Palestinian state during his term in office, Obama is reported exclusively by our sources to have given the hitherto withheld green light to European governments to file a UN Security Council motion proclaiming an independent Palestinian state.

Not only that, Debka is also reporting that members of the Obama administration have actually traveled to France to help draft the resolution…

To show the administration was in earnest, senior US officials sat down with their French counterparts in Paris last week to sketch out the general outline of this motion. According to our sources, they began addressing such questions as the area of the Palestinian state, its borders, security arrangements between Israel and the Palestinians and whether or not to set a hard-and-fast timeline for implementation, or phrase the resolution as  a general declaration of intent.

Incorporating a target date in the language would expose Israel to Security Council sanctions for non-compliance.

If what Debka is reporting is accurate, this represents a massive betrayal of Israel by the Obama administration.

However, the Jerusalem Post is reporting just the opposite.  They are reporting that Obama plans to veto the French resolution…

US President Barack Obama has told associates that he intends to veto the French proposal for a UN Security Council resolution mandating the creation of a Palestinian state and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank within two years, Channel 10 is reporting on Friday.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said this past March that Paris planned to start discussions with partners in the “coming weeks” on a United Nations Security Council resolution to lay out the parameters for ending the Middle East conflict.

“I hope that the partners who were reluctant will not be reluctant anymore,” said Fabius, referring to the United States, which has traditionally shielded its ally Israel from any action at the United Nations.

So what is the truth?

Only time will tell.

But what we do know is that Obama was absolutely furious when Netanyahu promised during his most recent campaign that there would not be a Palestinian state as long as he was in office.

And we do know that the Obama administration has pledged to “reevaluate our approach” and has said that it will not “prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action”

The U.S. would “reevaluate our approach” based on Netanyahu’s “change in his position,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters as the president flew to Cleveland to deliver a speech on economic policy.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki raised the possibility that the reevaluation could include a shift in position at the U.N. She avoided the usual U.S. language about vetoing Security Council resolutions that Israel opposes.

“The prime minister’s recent statements call into question his commitment to a two-state solution,” Psaki told reporters. “We’re not going to prejudge what we would do if there was a U.N. action.”

In the final analysis it is so hard to tell exactly what Obama will do, because as he has shown over and over again, lying comes as naturally to him as breathing does.

However, I think that we can get some clues about how obsessed Obama is with the establishment of a Palestinian state from public statements that he has made throughout his presidency.  The following quotes from Barack Obama regarding the need for a Palestinian state come from one of my previous articles

#1 “Negotiations will be necessary, but there’s little secret about where they must lead: two states for two peoples”

#2 “And I think everybody understands the outlines of what a peace deal would look like, involving a territorial compromise on both sides based on ‘67 lines with mutually agreed upon swaps, that would ensure that Israel was secure but would also ensure that the Palestinians have a sovereign state in which they can achieve the aspirations that they’ve held for so long.”

#3 “The only way for Israel to endure and thrive as a Jewish and democratic state is through the realization of an independent and viable Palestine”

#4 “Neither occupation nor expulsion is the answer. Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”

#5 “Let me be clear: The United States strongly supports the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security. That is a goal shared by Palestinians, Israelis, and people of goodwill around the world. That is a goal that the parties agreed to in the road map and at Annapolis. That is a goal that I will actively pursue as President of the United States.”

#6 “…we continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way for the long-term security of Israel, if it wants to stay both a Jewish state and democratic”

#7 “It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of her own, and lives with the presence of a foreign army that controls the movements of her parents every single day.”

#8 “None of us are under any illusion that this would be easy.  As I said in my speech this morning, it has already entailed significant political risk by President Abbas, as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu.  But I think the reason that they’ve been willing to take those risks is they realize this is the best way, the only way, for us to achieve what should be our goal:  two states living side-by-side in peace and security.  It’s right for Palestinian children.  It’s right for Israeli children.”

#9 “Just as the Israeli people have the right to live in the historic homeland of the Jewish people, the Palestinian people deserve the right to self-determination. Palestinian children have hopes and dreams for their future and deserve to live with the dignity that can only come with a state of their own.”

#10 “The only solution is a democratic, Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent Palestinian state.”

In the end, I believe that Barack Obama is going to choose to betray Israel at the United Nations, and it will have very serious ramifications that will literally be felt all over the planet.

So what do you think?  Please feel free to participate in the discussion by posting a comment below…

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Israeli Extrajudicial Assassinations

Israeli Extrajudicial Assassinations

by Stephen Lendman

They're willful, premeditated cold-blooded murder. They're official Israeli policy.

Killers get impunity. Investigations rarely happen. Occasional ones are whitewashed. In May 2007, former Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said:

"We decided to carry out more physical liquidation operations against (Palestinian) 'terrorists' "

"I think this will eliminate the damage caused to Israeli territory due to the launching of Palestinian rockets."

Just cause for murder doesn't exist. Claiming otherwise rings hollow. International law is clear and unequivocal.

Article 23b of the 1907 Hague Regulations prohibits "assassination, proscription, or outlawry of an enemy, or putting a price upon an enemy's head, as well as offering a reward for any enemy 'dead or alive.' " 

Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states "Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person." 

UDHR recognizes the "inherent dignity (and) equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family."

The 1980 Sixth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders condemned "the practice of killing and executing political opponents or suspected offenders carried out by armed forces, law enforcement or other governmental agencies or by paramilitary or political groups."

On December 15, 1980, the General Assembly adopted resolution 35/172.

It urged member states abide by the provisions of Articles 6, 14 and 15 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights.

They cover the right to life and various safeguards. They mandate fair and impartial judicial proceedings. 

The 1989 UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions states: 

"Governments shall prohibit by law all extra-legal, arbitrary and summary executions and shall ensure that any such executions are recognized as offences under their criminal laws, and are punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account the seriousness of such offenses." 

"Exceptional circumstances, including a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency may not be invoked as a justification of such executions." 

"(They) shall not be carried out under any circumstances including, but not limited to, situations of internal armed conflict, excessive or illegal use of force by a public official or other person acting in an official capacity or by a person acting at the instigation, or with the consent or acquiescence of such person, and situations in which deaths occur in custody." 

"This prohibition shall prevail over decrees issued by governmental authority."

These international law principles apply to occupied populations. So does Fourth Geneva.

Its Article 3 affords them special protections. They cover all actions related to "(v)iolence to life and person, murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture."

"The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees (is) recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples."

Article 32 states:

"(T)he High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands." 

"This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person, but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or military agents."

"Article 85 refers to "Grave Breaches." They're defined as "(a)cts committed willfully and causing death or serious injury to body or health…"

They subject civilian populations or individuals to "indiscriminate attack(s) affecting (them) or civilian objects…"

The International Criminal Court's Rome Statute calls these violations war crimes. Under Article 8, they include:

  • "Grave" Geneva Convention breaches;

  • "Willing killing..."

  • "Intentionally launching an attack" knowing it will "cause incidental loss of life..."

  • "Killing or wounding" combatants who've laid down their arms;

  • extrajudicial killings; and

  • "Killing or wounding treacherously a combatant adversary..."

On May 31, Haaretz headlined "Israeli military hiding targeted killing investigative panel," saying:

"The Defense Ministry and Israel Defense Forces recently formed a committee to investigate allegations of war crimes raised after recent targeted aerial strikes against Palestinian militants." 

"The names of panel members, however, were not disclosed." Officials called doing so too sensitive.

A retired judge heads the panel Other members include a "veteran general, retired Shin Bet commander and an expert (on) international law."

An IDF spokesman didn't surprise. No incident reviewed so far was illegal, he said. According to Haaretz:

"Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Danny Efroni publicly commended the establishment of an external body to probe into the legality of targeted killings…"

He "avoided commenting on" member names. He was silent on whether they were to examine claims "about civilian harm."

Potentially they could constitute crimes of war or against humanity.

The current panel follows two earlier ones. The initial one followed Sheikh Salah Mustafa Shehade's 2002 assassination. 

Fourteen Gazans were killed. In February 2013, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz ordered an "independent military investigative body."

According to Efroni, "(t)oday we open an investigation for every incident in which a civilian, unaffiliated with insurgent activities, is killed in Judea and Samaria during a (military) operation that is not an official campaign."

Gaza and neighboring Arab countries policy differs from West Bank practices. Judea and Samaria are largely under Israeli control. Aerial killings aren't used.

Gaza, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria "operate under the shelter of civilian populations and from within them," Israel claims.

Doing so justifies the unjustifiable, it says. Aerial killings are standard practice. 

Haaretz discussed Israel's targeted killings code. It listed 10 "partially vacuous" 10 commandments.

(1) Israel claims it's permissible to attack combatants and anyone called belligerent civilians.

(2) It calls aerial attacks constrained. Civilians killed are called combatants.

(3) Arrests must be considered before ordering targeted killings. Israel says one thing. It does another.

(4) Israel claims it exceeds the proportionality principle. Sometimes aborting attacks. Minimizing collateral damage.

Longstanding Israeli practices are polar opposite duplicitous claims.

(5) "Operational processes" control aerial attacks. "Procedures and standing" orders decide things.

Mumbo jumbo jargon conceals Israeli ruthlessness. Commanders kill without constraint. 

So do pilots and rank-and-file soldiers. They're taught Arabs are violent gun-toting terrorists. 

Killing them violates no law. Truth is turned on its head.

(6) Operational planning for preplanned air strikes isn't practicable "in real time" when threats exist. Israel invents them out of whole cloth.

(7) According to Israel, its military and government officials needing to know are trained in international laws.

Anyone able to read can understand them. Israel spurns them repeatedly. It does what it wants with impunity.

It calls legitimate self-defense terrorism. It claims crimes or war, against humanity and genocide are justified. It turns truth on its head saying so.

(8) According to Israel, military commanders "properly implement the principle of discrimination, the principle of proportionality, and the imperative to take necessary safety precautions, both in relation to the decision to carry out the attack and in the way the attack is to be carried out (e.g. at what time, the kind of weapon used, etc.)."

Military commanders, pilots and rank-and-file soldiers operate without restraint. They do so with impunity. They get away with murder repeatedly.

(9) Israel claims investigations follow war crimes accusations. Virtually always they're whitewashed. Victims are blamed for Israeli crimes.

(10) According to Haaretz, (t)he 10th commandment deals without detail, with the committee of assassinations."

Israel calls it "a special test process…(It) was established in accordance with the ruling of the High Court on targeted killings and is an extra-military committee, which looks into the legality of targeted killings."

The committee's existence and charter "are beyond" what international law requires, claims Israel.

It's makeup is kept secret. Doing so reflects its independence as well as legal and operational professionalism, Israel says.

It bears repeating. Israel does what it wants. International law, its own and High Court decisions don't matter.

Rogue states operate this way. Israel and America are by far the world's worst. 

State terror is standard practice. Anything goes is policy. So is cold-blooded murder.''

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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The Post’s report, “Documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program,” testifies to the integration of the surveillance apparatus exposed in recent months into US imperialism’s global military operations. Officials cited by the Post said that the NSA has deployed analysts to work along side Central Intelligence Agency personnel at the CIA Counterterrorism Center and at “every major US embassy or military base overseas.”

The report further documents the NSA’s systematic attempts to overcome encryption, including the extraction of PGP encryption keys from targets. The agency reportedly was able to capture 16 keys from a single electronic raid on a suspected Al Qaeda computer.

According to the report, the NSA’s “Tailored Access Operations,” a cyber-warfare and intelligence gathering program, conducts surveillance of targets in Pakistan, Yemen, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and throughout Africa. TAO runs programs such as UNITEDRAKE and VALIDATOR, which launch cyber attacks using “software implants” to grab sensitive data such as keystroke logs and audio files.

ArsTechnica reported in August that advanced software used by TAO enables operatives to tap directly into hardware such as “routers, switches and firewalls,” and that TAO’s activities are integrated into data systems such as XKeyscore.

Information gathered by the NSA has been used in particular in the course of the CIA’s drone war in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan. As summarized by the Post, the NSA has “draped a surveillance blanket over dozens of square miles of northwest Pakistan.” One US intelligence official told the Post, “NSA threw the kitchen sink at the FATA.” To date, at least 3,000 people have been killed as a result of US drone operations in Pakistan, including hundreds of civilians.

Both the NSA surveillance and the policy of drone war that it facilitates are criminal operations, carried out in violation of international law. The Obama administration asserts the right to kill anyone in the world without due process, including US citizens, in violation of the Bill of Rights. Among those killed have been US citizens including Anwar al-Awlaki and his teenage son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, in Yemen.

A full accounting of the Pakistanis murdered by US drones may never be completed. However, a study published by Stanford University and New York University earlier this year showed that large sections of the population living in the FATA suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the buzzing of drones overhead and the never-ending barrage of ordnance raining down on the area.

UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Ben Emmerson wrote in March of this year, “As a matter of international law, the US drone campaign is therefore being conducted without the consent of the elected representatives of the people, or the legitimate government of the state. It involves the use of force on the territory of another state without its consent, and is therefore a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.”

The Post described the leaked NSA documents as “self-congratulatory in tone” and “drafted to tout the NSA’s counterterrorism capabilities.” According to Fox News, the Post withheld substantial information about the drone strikes “at the request of US intelligence officials.”

The Post report highlights the case of Hassan Ghul, who was killed as a direct result of intelligence acquired through electronic surveillance operations run by the NSA. After his capture in 2004, Ghul was held at a secret CIA prison in Eastern Europe until 2006, where he was subject to “enhanced interrogation techniques” (i.e., torture), including slapping, sleep deprivation, and stress positions.

In 2006, Ghul was transferred to Pakistan, where he was released and rejoined Al Qaeda militants in Waziristan. Ghul worked to set up logistical networks for Al Qaeda after being freed, according to a Treasury Department document from 2011. No explanation has been offered by US or Pakistani authorities for Ghul’s release.

Ghul was then killed in 2012 by a drone strike in Mir Ali, after having been monitored for a year prior to his death by a secret NSA unit called the Counter-Terrorism Mission Aligned Cell (CT MAC), which specializes in finding high priority targets in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Ghul’s location was discovered through analysis of an email sent to him by his wife. His death was never officially acknowledged by the US government, despite the fact that his interrogation supposedly provided intelligence about an Al Qaeda courier named al-Kuwaiti, which supposedly led to the killing of Osama bin Laden.

The scope of the integration of the NSA, CIA, military and police agencies extends far beyond what is taking place in Pakistan. The entire world is the subject both of the intelligence-gathering operations of the NSA and the drone strikes of the CIA.

Under the Obama administration, the NSA’s surveillance operations gather the communications of every telephone and Internet user on the planet, US citizens and non-citizens alike. This week has already seen new evidence emerge that the NSA is stealing address books—which often contain large amounts of personal information—from various web platforms and storing them in its archives. (See “ NSA ‘harvesting’ electronic address books and contact lists”)

The possibility of strikes being launched against American targets has been raised by top officials, and drones are already deployed on non-strike missions over the US. In a letter of March 4, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote that the president “has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a US citizen on US soil, and without trial,” saying that in certain cases such action would be “necessary and appropriate.”

If and when such operations are initiated, the state will have no shortage of data with which to target Americans, whose communications are subject to constant scrutiny by the surveillance apparatus.

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The United Nations is hosting talks in New York today as more than 150 countries discuss a global arms treaty designed to lessen the illicit gun trade, especially as it intersects with international conflict zones.

The NRA's Wayne LaPierre lashes out at gun control efforts during his CPAC speech last week. (Photo: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP) The National Rifle Association, however, is using the opportunity to once again prove that their primary mission is not the altruistic promotion of individual gun rights, but rather to serve the interests of the powerful US gun industry.

In a statement put out ahead of the conference, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, "It is our collective responsibility to put an end to the inadequate regulation of the global trade in conventional weapons — from small arms to tanks to combat aircraft."

Reiterating his support for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), Ban said agreement on the pact would "alleviate the plight of the millions of people affected by conflicts and armed violence and enable the United Nations to better carry out its mandate to promote peace, development and human rights around the world."

Describing the treaty and the nature of the negotiations, Reuters reports:

Diplomats say that if the treaty conference fails to reach the required consensus because the United States, Russia or another major arms producer opposes it, nations can still put the draft treaty to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly.

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______________________________

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Joe Scarborough Rips Graham for Obstructing National Security Nominations

When your petulance, mugging for the cameras and obstruction get so bad that it's even too much for bully Joe Scarborough, you've got problems. Morning Joe Crew Rips Republicans For Hagel Obstruction: ‘It’s A Colossal Mistake’:

Republican Joe Scarborough is tired of his party’s mistreatment of Defense Secretary-nominee Chuck Hagel and its continuing, all-consuming focus on Benghazi.

The focus of Scarborough’s ire this morning on his MSNBC show Morning Joe was Sen. Lindsey Graham’s announcement on Sunday that he will place a hold not only on Hagel, but also on CIA Director-nominee John Brennan -- until he gets further action from the White House on Benghazi.

Scarborough lashed out at Graham and his neoconservative cohorts, unable to believe how misguided their attacks on the Obama administration have been:

SCARBOROUGH: If you’ve got a working class guy who has voted Republican every four years and he turns on the Sunday shows and he’s flipping around the channels and he sees Republicans in February still talking about Benghazi, saying they’re going to hold up the picks for secretary of defense and CIA director for something that happened back in the fall, and they are continuing on this…to hold up this and talk about it on Sunday morning, it’s a colossal mistake.

[...] Graham has been seeking out “the truth” on the attack in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead for months now, despite an ample amount of facts already having been uncovered. A Cabinet nominee has never been filibustered by the Senate, leaving Graham’s threat in a position to make history.

Regular Mike Barnicle wasn't much kinder. After Scarborough said the other members of the Senate basically need to tell Graham to get off of the television, he followed with this:

BARNICLE: Reading the transcripts is pretty disturbing, what Sen. Graham had to say yesterday. He basically said --and I'm paraphrasing here --if the President of the United States had picked up the phone and called someone in Libya, he could have saved the lives of the Americans.

Clearly, evidence means nothing to him. Clearly the timeline of events means nothing to him and someone should give Sen. Graham a Snickers bar and tell him to go sit in the corner until he's happy about something. It's disturbing.

I said before Graham's not going to stop as long as there's no punishment in the media for his behavior. Perhaps this is a start on seeing that happen, but until media outlets quit putting this arrogant, irrational twit on the air, he's going to keep it up.

Jeremy Scahill: Assassinations of US Citizens Largely Ignored at Brennan CIA Hearing

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: During his confirmation hearing Thursday, President Obama’s nominee to run the CIA, John Brennan, forcefully defended the president’s counterterrorism policies, including the increased use of armed drones and the targeted killings of American citizens. He also refused to say that waterboarding was a form of torture, and he admitted that he did not try to stop waterboarding while he was a top CIA official under President George W. Bush.

Four years ago, Brennan was a rumored pick for the CIA job when Obama was first elected, but he was forced to withdraw from consideration amid protests over his public support for the CIA’s policies of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" and extraordinary rendition program.

AMY GOODMAN: The start of Brennan’s confirmation hearing had to be temporarily halted following repeated interruptions by protesters. Members of the group CODEPINK began standing up one by one to condemn Brennan’s role in the drone war, much to the chagrin of Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein.

JOHN BRENNAN: Chairman Feinstein, Vice Chairman Chambliss, members of the committee, I am honored to appear—

ANN WRIGHT: [inaudible]

JOHN BRENNAN: —before you today as the—

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: All right.

JOHN BRENNAN: —president’s nominee to—

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Would you halt please? We’ll ask the police to please remove this woman.

ANN WRIGHT: ...no children, no women. We cannot—

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much.

ANN WRIGHT: [inaudible] the sort of thing going on [inaudible]. But we cannot [inaudible]—

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Please remove—

ANN WRIGHT: —torture. It’s jeopardizing U.S. soldiers. It’s not defending them.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That CODEPINK protester interrupting John Brennan was retired Army colonel and former diplomat Ann Wright, who oversaw the reopening of the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan in 2001 as deputy chief of mission. When she interrupted Brennan, she was wearing a sign around her neck with the name of Tariq Aziz, a 16-year-old Pakistani boy who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. The sign she held up read, "Brennan equals drone killing." Ann Wright and seven others were arrested. John Brennan later addressed the protesters as he defended the drone program.

JOHN BRENNAN: I think there is a misimpression on the part of some American people, who believe that we take strikes to punish terrorists for past transgressions. Nothing could be further from the truth. We only take such actions as a last resort to save lives when there’s no other alternative to taking an action that’s going to mitigate that threat. So, we need to make sure that there is understanding, and the people that were standing up here today, I think they really have a misunderstanding of what we do as a government and the care that we take and the agony that we go through to make sure that we do not have any collateral injuries or deaths. And as the chairman said earlier, the need to be able to go out and say that publicly and openly, I think, is critically important, because people are reacting to a lot of falsehoods that are out there.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, for more, we’re joined via Democracy Now! videostream by Jeremy Scahill, producer and writer of the documentary, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, which premiered last month at the Sundance Film Festival. His book, Dirty Wars, goes on sale in April. He’s national security correspondent for The Nation, author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and Democracy Now! correspondent.

Jeremy, welcome to Democracy Now! Your assessment of what it is that John Brennan said yesterday and the questions he was asked?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, if you—if you look at what happened yesterday at the Senate Intelligence Committee, I mean, this is kabuki oversight. This was basically a show that was produced by the White House in conjunction with Senator Feinstein’s office. I mean, the reality was—is that none of the central questions that should have been asked of John Brennan were asked in an effective way. In the cases where people like Senator Angus King or Senator Ron Wyden would ask a real question, for instance, about whether or not the CIA asserts the right to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, the questions were very good. Brennan would then offer up a non-answer.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s—

JEREMY SCAHILL: And then there’d be almost no follow-up.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, let’s go to Democratic Senator Ron Wyden’s questioning of John Brennan Thursday. He has led the push for the White House to explain its rationale—Senator Wyden has—for targeting U.S. citizens.

SEN. RON WYDEN: Let me ask you several other questions with respect to the president’s authority to kill Americans. I’ve asked you how much evidence the president needs to decide that a particular American can be lawfully killed and whether the administration believes that the president can use this authority inside the United States. In my judgment, both the Congress and the public need to understand the answers to these kind of fundamental questions. What do you think needs to be done to ensure that members of the public understand more about when the government thinks it’s allowed to kill them, particularly with respect to those two issues, the question of evidence and the authority to use this power within the United States?

JOHN BRENNAN: I have been a strong proponent of trying to be as open as possible with these programs, as far as our explaining what we’re doing. What we need to do is optimize transparency on these issues, but at the same time optimize secrecy and the protection of our national security. I don’t think that it’s one or the other. It’s trying to optimize both of them. And so, what we need to do is make sure we explain to the American people what are the thresholds for action, what are the procedures, the practices, the processes, the approvals, the reviews. The Office of Legal Counsel advice establishes the legal boundaries within which we can operate. It doesn’t mean that we operate at those out of boundaries. And, in fact, I think the American people will be quite pleased to know that we’ve been very disciplined, very judicious, and we only use these authorities and these capabilities as a last resort.

AMY GOODMAN: That was John Brennan answering Senator Wyden’s question. He’s been the chief critic. President Obama, two days ago, called Senator Wyden, because a group of them had said they would stop the hearing if information wasn’t provided about the legal basis for drone strikes. When Wyden yesterday attempted to get that information, he raised in the hearing that he wasn’t able to. Jeremy Scahill?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, if you listen to John Brennan, I mean, it’s like he’s talking about buying a used car and what, you know, sort of little gadgets and whistles it has on it. He used "optimize"? Ron Wyden was asking him about whether—about the extent of the CIA’s lethal authority against U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil and abroad. And, see, the problem is that while some questions were asked that are central questions, there was almost no follow-up. People wouldn’t push—senators wouldn’t push Brennan back when he would float things that were nonsensical or just gibberish, you know, or using terms like "we need to optimize this, we need to optimize that." There was no sense that—I mean, remember, this is a guy who is, for all practical purposes, President Obama’s hit man or assassination czar. This guy has been at the center of a secret process where the White House is deciding who lives and who dies around the world every day, and yet the conversation that took place was as though they were, you know, sort of talking about whether or not they’re going to add a wing onto a school in Idaho or something, when they were talking about life-and-death issues for people, not only U.S. citizens, but around the world.

There was no discussion at all of the so-called signature strikes—the idea that the U.S. is targeting people whose identities it doesn’t know, whose actual involvement in terror plots is actually unknown. There was no discussion of the fact that the Obama administration authorized operations that killed three U.S. citizens in a two-week period in 2011, one of whom was a 16-year-old boy who was sitting and having dinner with his cousins in Yemen. No discussion of the case of Samir Khan, a Pakistani American who was killed alongside Anwar Awlaki. His family had met with the FBI prior to his death. The FBI told his family that Samir Khan was not indicted, that Samir Khan was not accused of a crime, and yet you have three U.S. citizens being killed.

When Anwar Awlaki’s name was raised during the course of the hearing, it was one of the most disgusting displays of a show trial or a faux trial that I’ve ever seen. Dianne Feinstein and John Brennan set out to put Anwar Awlaki on trial, posthumously, without presenting any evidence and to issue a guilty verdict. The whole thing was a show. And I believe that—

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, let’s go to Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein asking Brennan to talk about Anwar Awlaki, what you’re describing, the American citizen who was assassinated in Yemen in a drone strike in 2011.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Could I ask you some questions about him?

JOHN BRENNAN: You’re the chairman.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: You don’t have to answer. Did he have a connection to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who would attempt to explode a device on one of our planes over Detroit?

JOHN BRENNAN: Yes, he did.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Can you tell us what that connection was?

JOHN BRENNAN: I would prefer not to at this time, Senator. I’m not prepared to.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: OK. Did he have a connection to the Fort Hood attack?

JOHN BRENNAN: That is a—al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has a variety of means of communicating and inciting individuals, whether that be websites or emails or other types of things. And so, there are a number of occasions where individuals, including Mr. Awlaki, has been in touch with individuals. And so, Senator, again, I’m not prepared to address the specifics of these, but suffice it to say—

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Well, I’ll just ask you a couple of questions. You don’t—did Faisal Shahzad, who pled guilty to the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt, tell interrogators in 2010 that he was inspired by al-Awlaki?

JOHN BRENNAN: I believe that’s correct, yes.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Last October, Awlaki, did he have a direct role in supervising and directing AQAP’s failed attempt, well, to bring down two United States cargo aircraft by detonating explosives concealed inside two packages, as a matter of fact, inside a computer printer cartridge?

JOHN BRENNAN: Mm-hmm. Mr. Awlaki—

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: Dubai?

JOHN BRENNAN: —was involved in overseeing a number of these activities, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s John Brennan answering Senator Feinstein’s questions. Jeremy Scahill, continue.

JEREMY SCAHILL: All right. I mean, see, what you’re seeing there—first of all, let’s remember, the Obama administration never sought an indictment against Anwar Awlaki, that we know of. He was never charged with a crime, that we know of. And he was executed on orders from the president of the United States in September of 2011. The issue here is not who Anwar Awlaki was or what we think of Anwar Awlaki. The issue here is the Constitution. The issue here is due process.

And what we saw, I believe—I believe that Senator Feinstein’s office coordinated this moment with the White House to put on this show trial because of the deadly serious questions surrounding the killing of a U.S. citizen without due process. And what we saw play out there was absolute theater, where you had Anwar Awlaki being posthumously tried, with no evidence. And what came after the clip you just played is Feinstein and Brennan agreeing, quite happily, that Anwar Awlaki was a bad man and that it was justified to take him out and kill him. There was no question about the fact that two weeks later they killed Anwar Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, who no one has ever alleged had any ties whatsoever to terrorism or any militant organization. His only connection was his lineage, who his father was. So, you know, there was something really insidious that happened there, and I think it really is patronizing of the sensibility of the American people to engage in something like that, with one of the most powerful lawmakers on Capitol Hill essentially conspiring with the White House and its nominee to be the CIA to retroactively justify the killing of a U.S. citizen who was never charged with a crime.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeremy—

JEREMY SCAHILL: I’m not—go ahead.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Jeremy, I’d like to move to another aspect of the hearing, because in a few cases, some of the Republican members asked somewhat tougher questions of Brennan, and especially Saxby Chambliss, questioned him about the whole—the whole issue of high-value targets and how effective this program had been. Here’s a clip from that exchange.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: How many high-value targets have been captured during your service with the administration?

JOHN BRENNAN: There have been a number of individuals who have been captured, arrested, detained, interrogated, debriefed and put away by our partners overseas, which is, we have given them the capacity now, we have provided them the intelligence. And unlike in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when a lot of these countries were both unwilling and unable to do it, we have given them that opportunity. And so, that’s where we’re working with our partners.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: How many high-value targets have been arrested and detained, interrogated by the United States during your four years with the administration?

JOHN BRENNAN: I’ll be happy to get that information to you, Senator, in terms of those high-value targets that have been captured with U.S. intelligence support.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS: I submit to you the answer to that is one. And it’s Warsame, who was put on a ship for 60 days and interrogated.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Saxby Chambliss. However, Dianne Feinstein had a little different take in terms of what had happened in terms of the high-value targets. This is what she said at a certain point in the hearing.

SEN. ANGUS KING: Having the executive being the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and the executioner, all in one, is very contrary to the traditions and the laws of this country, and particularly in a situation where there is time. If—a soldier on a battlefield doesn’t have time to go to court. But if you’re planning a strike over a matter of days, weeks or months, there is an opportunity to at least go to some outside-of-the-executive-branch body, like the FISA court, in a confidential and top-secret way, make the case that this American citizen is an enemy combatant.

JOHN BRENNAN: Senator, I think it’s certainly worthy of discussion. Our tradition, our judicial tradition, is that a court of law is used to determine one’s guilt or innocence for past actions, which is very different from the decisions that are made on the battlefield as well as actions that are taken against terrorists, because none of those actions are to determine past guilt for those actions that they took. The decisions that are made are to take action so that we prevent a future action, so we protect American lives. That is an inherently executive branch function.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Angus King, Senator Angus King, questioning Brennan, not Dianne Feinstein. But, Jeremy, your response to those two clips?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, I mean, first of all, Senator Angus King did a very good job of raising some of these issues. I mean, he’s new to the Senate and didn’t get the memo that you don’t talk to—to White House officials that way, so it was actually kind of a relief within the hearing when King started to ask these questions.

You know, Juan, though, you brought up the issue of the Republicans asking tougher questions. I mean, in general, what we saw the Republicans doing was engaging in a partisan theater of their own, where, you know, they made the whole issue about White House leaks, for the most part. They were talking about, you know, Benghazi, which is sort of the second coming of 9/11 to the—to a lot of the Republicans on Capitol Hill and this sort of Watergate-type scandal. But I think there’s something—while the Republicans did ask some good questions, there’s something that’s just fundamentally dishonest and full of hypocrisy with the GOP line on this. You know, they’ve been hammering, since the Department Justice white paper came out a couple of days ago, that sort of outlines some of the legal basis for—or, purported to outline the legal basis for targeting U.S. citizens—they’ve been hammering away on the Obama administration and saying, you know, "How is it that Obama is able to essentially conduct these killing operations around the world with very little protest?" The reality is that, you know, when George Bush was president, he was doing these very same actions and engaged in a widespread targeted killing operation, and he was running secret prisons around the world, and they were torturing people, and they were using waterboarding and other techniques, and the Republicans are sort of portraying it as though: "Well, in the good old days of the Bush administration, we would actually arrest people, and we would ask them questions, and now Obama is just running around the world bumping them off." Well, there’s some nugget of truth to the idea that the Obama administration seems to prefer to just kill people rather than take them into custody. But the idea that the Republicans have a moral ground to stand on with this is absolutely laughable. I mean, these guys were Murder Inc. for two straight administrations, where members of Congress just participated in rubber stamping these operations, particularly the Republican members of Congress. So, you know, I take what they say with a grain of salt.

But at the end of the day, I mean, I can’t say I was surprised at what happened on Capitol Hill, but it really was more or less a love fest between the most powerful senators, when it comes to intelligence operations in the U.S., and John Brennan, a man who could not get confirmed last time Obama tried to make him CIA director, because of very serious questions about his views on and role in the torture program under the Bush administration—has served for more than four years as the assassination czar, and it basically looked like they were discussing purchasing a used car on Capitol Hill. I mean, it was total kabuki oversight. And that’s a devastating commentary on where things stand right now.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Jeremy, Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Dianne Feinstein, in her opening statement, asserting few civilians have died in U.S. drone strikes.

JEREMY SCAHILL: I would invite all—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to—we’re going to play a clip.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN: [I’ve ... been attempting to speak publicly] about the very low number of civilian casualties that result from such strikes; I have been limited in my ability to do so. But for the past several years, this committee has done significant oversight of the government’s conduct of targeted strikes, and the figures we have obtained from the executive branch, which we have done our utmost to verify, confirm that the number of civilian casualties that have resulted from such strikes each year has typically been in the single digits.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill, your final comment?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah. I would invite Senator Feinstein and other members of the Intelligence Committee to travel to Abyan province in Yemen, where I was a few months ago, and meet with the Bedouin villagers of al-Majalah, where more than 40 people were killed, several dozen of them women and children, their bodies shredded into meat with U.S. cluster bombs, and then come back and go on national television and talk about single digits. There were over 40 people killed in one strike alone. And you know what? That wasn’t even a drone strike. That was a cruise missile strike. Everyone is talking about drones these days and obsessed with drones. The U.S. uses AC-130 gunships, night raids, Tomahawk cruise missile strikes. Some of the most devastating strikes were not even drone attacks.

So, you know, this Congress is totally asleep at the wheel when it comes to actually having any effective oversight. You know, they allowed John Brennan to say repeatedly, "Well, I’m not a lawyer," while simultaneously saying, "Everything we’ve done is perfectly legal." And then they say, "Well, what about torture?" And he goes, "Well, I’m not a lawyer, and that has legal implications." I mean, what kind of a show is this? I mean, what does this say about our society when this is the extent of the debate we can have when an administration in power has asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens and foreigners alike around the world without trial? I mean, it’s devastating. It should be a very sobering moment for all of us.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, the last bit of news that we read in headlines today about the U.S. news outlets—you complained about the Democratic senators working with the White House. What about U.S. news outlets facing criticism for revealing they complied with an Obama administration request to hide the location of a U.S. drone base in Saudi Arabia that had already been publicly reported?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Yeah, what’s new? What’s new? I mean, this has been going on—this has been going on forever in this country. I mean, look at how many times we had major powerful media outlets colluding with the Bush administration to either—you know, either facilitating administration propaganda, or as you’ve called it, sort of this conveyor belt of lies, or, on the other hand, concealing potentially illegal programs or actions that were being conducted by the Bush administration. I mean, this happened throughout the Bush era. And so, to have it right now with the Obama administration is just par for the course. I mean, this is how things are done in Washington.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, we want to thank you for being with us. Jeremy Scahill, national security correspondent for The Nation magazine, he is also the narrator and subject of the new film, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, and is author of a forthcoming book by the same title.

This is Democracy Now! When we come back, the woman who has just returned from Pakistan who went to John Brennan’s house, knocked on the door, and he answered, invited her in, and they had a conversation. She’s the founder of CODEPINK, Medea Benjamin. Stay with us.

We Must Out-Educate and Out-Innovate Other Nations

My fellow Americans, I have said in previous addresses on this occasion that the key to our future success is to make sure that the education we provide our young people is the best in the world. I have said that we must out-educate and out-innovate other nations.

Signs at an education rally in Austin, TX. (Photo: Cyberchuck2000 via Flickr)Over the past four years, I have learned what we need to do. First, we must end the pressure on teachers to teach to the test. I have said it before and I will say it again: We want teachers to teach with creativity and passion. I call on states not to pay bonuses to teachers to produce higher test scores and to stop evaluating teachers based on the test scores of their students. We now realize that this causes teaching to the test. That must stop now. Of course, teachers should be evaluated, but they should be evaluated by other professionals, not by their students’ test scores.

Too much testing crushes creativity and innovation, and that’s why we must stop it — now.

Second, we must strengthen and improve our public schools. We must end all efforts to privatize them. I am firmly opposed to vouchers. I will cancel federal subsidies to any charter school that does not seek out and enroll students with disabilities and students who have dropped out. I call on the states to prohibit for-profit schools and for-profit management of schools. Every dollar taken from taxpayers must go to classrooms, not to investors.

Let us recognize here and now that public education is an essential institution of our democratic society. We must make it better, not privatize it.

We will improve education by improving the lives of children. The United States leads the advanced nations of the world in child poverty. This is a scandal, and we must dedicate ourselves to reducing it.

We are #24 in the world in providing early childhood education. We must extend early childhood education to all children, especially those who are poorest.

A study last year by the March of Dimes said we are #131 out of 184 nations in assuring prenatal care for pregnant women. Women who don’t get prenatal care are at risk of having children with developmental deficiencies. That is unacceptable.

When all our children start school healthy and ready to learn, we will be a better society with better schools. Let’s start now.

© 2013 Public Affairs Television Inc.

Diane Ravitch

Diane Ravitch is a historian of education at New York University. She is a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has written many books and articles about American education, including: The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, Left Back: A Century of Battles Over School Reform, (Simon & Schuster, 2000); The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn (Knopf, 2003); The English Reader: What Every Literate Person Needs to Know (Oxford, 2006), which she edited with her son Michael Ravitch.

Eleven EU Nations Take on ‘Financial Elite’ with Robin Hood Tax

In a "major milestone in tax history," 11 European countries are taking on the financial industry by agreeing on Tuesday to implement a Robin Hood tax earning potentially billions of euros for a region besotted with economic distress, finally taxing those institutions that created the current fiscal mess.

Proponents of the tax who campaigned last February can now celebrate the 11 EU Nations who agreed to the levy on Tuesday Jan. 22. (Photo: Martin Argles/ the Observer) The micro 0.1-0.01% financial transaction tax (FTT) would apply to trading in stocks, bonds and derivatives and could be implemented as early as next year.

The goal of the tax, according to a statement issued by the European Council, is "for the financial industry to make a fair contribution to tax revenues, whilst also creating a disincentive for transactions that do not enhance the efficiency of financial markets."

Writing for the Guardian, Peter Hain notes:

The social justice arguments for an FTT are incontrovertible: the City's financial elite may have sparked the financial crisis, but it is the rest of society, especially the poor, who are paying the price with the harshest program of austerity since world war two. Yet amid the 2.5 million unemployed and the threat of a triple dip recession, the financial sector has over the past year enjoyed one of the strongest performances of any sector on the FTSE 100. But it is the economic common sense, the potential to raise billions in additional revenue, that has led the center-right in Angela Merkel's Germany, Mariano Rajoy's Spain and Mario Monti's Italy to back this tax. It will collectively raise the 11 countries involved £30bn [$47.5bn] a year – no small beer.

Meeting in Brussels at the Economic and Financial Affairs Council, the participating EU member states are Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain; together making up 90% of Eurozone GDP.

The one notable exception to the group is the United Kingdom. As the largest trading hub in Europe, British participation would bring an additional £8bn [$12.7bn] of annual revenue. "[The British] government opted out," said Hain, "choosing instead to dance to the City of London's tune," referring to the financial elite in the UK.

Calling the vote "an example the rest of Europe and the world should follow," EU policy adviser for Oxfam International Nicolas Mombrial called on those involved to ensure the tax lives up to its moniker and help fund climate and other development projects.

“It will only be a Robin Hood Tax if a big chunk of the estimated €37 billion annual revenue is used to help poor people at home and abroad who have been hit hardest by the economic crisis and climate change,” he said.

Oxfam is asking for a quarter of the sum be allocated to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), to help fund low-emission and climate-resilient development, particularly in poor, more vulnerable nations. However, there is no agreement yet on how revenues will be allocated.

Sarah Anderson from the Institute for Policy Studies said that international campaigners, like Oxfam, who have been pushing for this tax for several years, "will be redoubling their efforts to demand that revenues to go towards social and environmental purposes"

The European Commission still needs to draft the final legislation, and the 11 states in favor of the law will have to give their unanimous approval before it becomes law.

Warning shot: Gun violence lands US lowest life expectancy among rich nations

(Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi)

(Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi)

Widespread gun ownership and lax firearms controls were deemed major reasons for the US topping a list of violent deaths in wealthy nations. The study comes amid a fiery gun control debate, triggered by the fatal school shooting at Sandy Elementary.

­The 378-page survey by a panel of experts from the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council, listed unintentional injuries, quite often caused by guns, among reasons why people in America die young more often than in other countries.

“The prevalence of firearms in the United States looms large as an explanation for higher death rates from violence, suicidal impulses, and accidental shootings,” read the recent study, based on a broad review of mortality and health studies and statistic.

The blame placed on firearms – that in the US are often being stored unlocked at home –comes amid an increasingly divided battle over American gun regulation.  Fiery debate on the issue was triggered anew by the deadly shooting in a Newtown school. The massacre on December 14 claimed lives of 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Conn. – 20 of whom were children.

The study highlights “dramatic” numbers of arms possessions in the US.

For example, the United States has the highest rate of firearm ownership among peer countries — 89 civilian-owned firearms for every 100 Americans, and the US is home to about 35 to 50 per cent of the world's civilian-owned firearms, the report noted.

“One behavior that probably explains the excess lethality of violence and unintentional injuries in the United States is the widespread possession of firearms and the common practice of storing them (often unlocked) at home,” said the survey.

The United States has about six violent deaths per 100,000 residents, says the report, that also reviewed Canada, Japan, Australia and much of Western Europe. None of the 16 other countries examined in the study came anywhere close to that figure. Finland, which is said to have slightly more than two violent deaths per 100,000 residents, was closest to the US in the table.

“Although US youth may be no more violent than those in other countries, they are more likely to carry a firearm. In a survey of high school students in Boston, 5 percent reported carrying a firearm,” showed the study.

The researches listed homicide as the second leading cause of death among people aged 15-24, adding that the large majority of those homicides often involve firearms.

“The presence of a firearm in the home is a risk factor for suicide: fully 52 percent of all US suicides involve a firearm,” researchers found out. 

The survey revealed that the life expectancy for men in the United States ranked the lowest among the 17 countries reviewed, at 75.6 years, while women ranked second lowest at 80.7 years.

To explain this, the researchers examined three categories: the US health care system, harmful behaviors and social and economic conditions.

Thus, in addition to the impact of gun violence, Americans consume the most calories among peer countries and are involved in more accidents involving alcohol and drug use. AIDS, infant mortality and unintentional injuries have been also listed among reasons of lower life expectancy.

“With lives and dollars at stake, the United States cannot afford to ignore this problem,” the report said.

­

Gun control debate reloaded

­The horrific Newtown shooting has once again sparked debates over the nation's gun laws. Many politicians and public figures called for new restrictions, whilst gun rights defenders claim the ban on arms violates the second Amendment and will not stop shooters, because the “real problem is the criminal”.

Vice- President Joe Biden, whose leading a panel on the issue, formed after 20 schoolchildren and six adults were killed on December 14, kicked off a series of meetings on gun violence Wednesday. It will negotiate with gun-control advocates and gun-rights supporters.

His group is expected to recommend to Congress the reinstatement of an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004.

President Obama has vowed to make gun control his priority as soon as he begins his second term on January 20.

The president said he believes that most Americans would support the reinstatement of a ban on the sale of military-style assault weapons as well as background checks on buyers before all gun purchases.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Hagel Nomination Defies Neo-Cons and AIPAC; Brennon at CIA will Expand Drone Assassinations

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

Bio

Ray McGovern is a retired CIA officer. McGovern was employed under seven US presidents for over 27 years, presenting the morning intelligence briefings at the White House under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. McGovern was born and raised in the Bronx, graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University, received an M.A. in Russian Studies from Fordham, a certificate in Theological Studies from Georgetown University, and graduated from Harvard Business School's Advanced Management Program. McGovern now works for “Tell the Word," a ministry of the inner-city/Washington Church of the Saviour, which sent him forth four weeks ago to join other Justice people on "The Audacity of Hope," the U.S. Boat to Gaza.

Transcript

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

President Obama announced his nominations for the new secretary of defense and director of the CIA, Chuck Hagel at defense and John Brennan for the CIA. Now joining us to discuss these appointments is Ray McGovern. Ray is a former CIA analyst for several decades. He's a prolific writer, does many things, including he's an often-contributor to The Real News. Thanks for joining us, Ray. So let's start with Chuck Hagel at Defense. You wrote a piece for The Baltimore Sun where you thought it would be a good idea for President Obama to select Hagel, and he did. But why did you think that would be a good idea?RAY MCGOVERN, CIA AGENT (RET.): Well, in short, Paul, Hagel is no chickenhawk. He volunteered to go to Vietnam at the worst of the fighting, wounded twice. He'd been there, done that. Okay? And he's been very, very upfront about his reluctance or anyone's reluctance should be to send U.S. troops into battle for no good reason.JAY: And chickenhawk, for those that don't know, although I suppose everybody does, is somebody who sits in Washington ordering other people to go fight.MCGOVERN: That's exactly right. Or you could go back to George W. Bush, who, you know, his daddy got him a job with the Texas National Guard because expressly, explicitly George Bush said he didn't want to go to Vietnam. Or you look at Dick Cheney, with five deferments. How many deferments do you think Joe Biden had? Five. Okay? So you've got a bunch of people that have no direct experience in war. That is really important. Chuck Hagel would be the first person with combat experience to be secretary of defense in 30 years. Mel Laird was the first one. He was a naval—he was a midshipman.JAY: Okay. You would think with this kind of a record it would be a rather popular choice. He's a Republican. You would think Republicans would embrace him. But as we know, far from embracing him, there's a campaign to block this nomination. In fact, there's already a lobby group been formed with lots of money to take out ads against Hagel. Apparently there's been some website created specifically just to attack Hagel. So what's getting them all riled up?MCGOVERN: Well, Paul, Hagel has not been sufficiently passionately attached to Israel. He said some things that have really rubbed some noses out of joint. For example, he had the temerity to say that I am the American senator, not an Israeli senator. Oh. Now, on the face of that, you know, who could object to that? Well, there's an awful lot of people, like the felon Elliot Abrams, who I heard at NPR yesterday saying that Hagel was anti-Semitic. He's anti-Semitic because he's the senator from the U.S. [crosstalk]JAY: Well, no, they say he's anti-Semitic 'cause he talked about the Jewish lobby and not the Israel lobby. He used the—he didn't say Zionist or Israel; he said Jewish.MCGOVERN: Yeah. Well, okay. So he said that. The problem really is that these folks—they're called the neocons—these folks who have real difficulty distinguishing between the objective aims or the strategic aims of Israel on the one hand and the strategic needs of the United States on the other, those are the people that think that Hagel might decide that contrary to even what the president has said in terms of marching in lockstep with Israel, that Hagel might say, wait a second, wait a second, does this really make sense. I mean, Mr. President, I know you said before the Super Bowl last year that your primary objective is the defense of the United States, and also Israel; I think we should give the United States a separate sentence this year and say, your primary objective is to secure the United States, and then if you want to add as a second sentence, "And we're also interested in defending Israel," that'll be alright. But people need to know that you're interested first and foremost in U.S. policy toward the Middle East bereft of any passionate attachment, the kind of attachment that George Washington himself warned against in his—.JAY: It's a very interesting appointment by Obama, because he had to know the pressure that was going to be brought to bear against him on this. He knew that the Likud, the right-wing party in power in Israel, and their allies in AIPAC and the lobby group in the United States and all the senators and members of the House, he knew this was going to be not very well liked, and he did it anyway.MCGOVERN: Yeah, and that's a very good sign, Paul. It shows that there's a little bit of maybe a spine implant that Obama has gotten over Christmas. This is big. Last year was really a rollercoaster with respect to U.S.-Israeli relations. In February, as I already said, Obama's saying, we're going to march in lockstep with Israel. Israel is equal foot in terms of our determination to defend it. Come around September, come around late August, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is saying, I don't want to be complicit if the Israelis attack Iran. Hillary Clinton is saying, you know, these red lines about Netanyahu, that's BS; we're not interested in that. And the president is saying, sorry, I have to be on The View on TV. I can't meet with you, Netanyahu, when you come to the United States. There was a sea change there. Obama faced them down. Now, this appointment, which I dearly feared would be in jeopardy because of all this opposition, Obama stood by it. And that speaks volumes. It means that the second part of 2012 is the continuity here and not the blind, the blind support of whatever Netanyahu does, including the settlements that keep going on with just verbal opposition from the United States. But that's the thing of the past, that this is a new era, and Hagel's going to make some changes.JAY: Well, we don't know yet whether there's any change in terms of Obama and pressure on Israel vis-à-vis settlements and resolution with the Palestinians and two-state issues and those kinds of questions. What we do know from Obama's history—and if you look at what he said about the Iraq War, he opposed the Iraq War not because he's against projecting U.S. power all over the world; he just thought it was a stupid war, the Iraq War. And I think what this is telling us is he thinks an attack on Iran would be stupid and doesn't want to do it. It doesn't mean he's against projecting U.S. power. And you can see this from his second appointment of John Brennan—the guy he's been sitting with choosing who to kill with drones is now head of the CIA.MCGOVERN: Well, you're right about that. But, you know, he also realizes now, four years later, that Afghanistan is a fool's errand and he needs support in the Senate to contend with the backsniping that is already occurring about losing Afghanistan. So the Iran thing is crucial. And Hagel is one of the last people that would think that we could send U.S. service people into war with Iran simply because Israel started it or simply because Israel wanted us to do it. So that is big. Okay?Now, with respect to projecting power, you know, there's only a limited amount of power you can project. And what we're seeing now is a retrenchment. You know the problems here in this country. I think Obama will be helped by Hagel in sort of delimiting the defense budget, which is going out of all proportion to the threats that Americans face.JAY: I guess my point is I think it's a rational, it's a good thing that Hagel's there, because—I don't know if people on The Real News have heard me say this; I've been saying it informally right from the first day Obama was president, that the one thing I was actually hopeful for is he might be more rational on Iran than the Republicans would be. I didn't have a lot of expectations otherwise. And I think this Hagel appointment is that. But when you look at Brennan going to the CIA, does it not mean sort of an expansion of this drone assassination program?MCGOVERN: Sure. Now, Paul, just one little footnote about Hagel. Hagel has served on the president's foreign intelligence advisory board. That is key. He knows intelligence back and forth. And he knows very well that in November 2007, the entire intelligence community pronounced itself unanimously and with great confidence that Iran had stopped building a nuclear weapon at the end of 2003. And that judgment has been revalidated every year since by the director of national intelligence. I think Hagel will be able to use that cudgel against the neocons, say, why do we have to attack a country that's not building nuclear weapons. So that's a key thing. You're right to focus on Iran. I'm more hopeful now than I would have been if the president had sort of caved again and [crosstalk]JAY: Alright. So what do you make of the John Brennan appointment as director of the CIA?MCGOVERN: Well, I wish I could be more optimistic, Paul. I know Brennan. I know him as a young sort of failed analyst. The way you promote yourself these days at Washington is you find a job in the White House and catch the attention of people like George Tenet, who was at the White House. And Tenet brought him back when Tenet became deputy CIA director, brought him back to CIA and made him into what he is today. He even sent him to Saudi Arabia to be a chief of station. Now, Brennan pretends to know Arabic. He can say Abdulmutallab just really good—I'll practice that: Abdulmutallab. Okay? So when he goes before the press and he says "Abdulmutallab," that's very impressive. But when Helen Thomas asks him, why do they hate us, why did they do these things, why did Abdulmutallab try to knock down that plane over Deroit, he says, they're hardwired to hate us. It's their religion. Helen says, oh, so it's the—. Well, it's not the religion; it's the way—I—they just hate us, they hate us, and they're a danger to our homeland.Now, either Brennan is dumb (and that's possible, you know) or he's really sold out to the people who are profiteering on these unending wars. Right? Why would you continue to press these things? Pakistan has 175 million people. What are we doing? We're alienating hundreds of them every day with these drone strikes. They also have nuclear weapons. So, you know, it doesn't make any sense, unless—.JAY: Well, just to refresh everybody's memory here, Brennan sits in the White House with President Obama deciding who they're going to kill with drones. He helps draw up the kill list. Is that correct?MCGOVERN: That's right. Yeah. That's pretty confirmed now. You know, picture it. Now, I've been in the White House. I used to brief there. But, you know, my picture is Brennan comes in on Tuesday, 'cause that's the day they do the kill list, and he says, Mr. President, we have 13 here, here are the names, can you sign off on this. And Obama looks at him, and he says, well, number three—didn't you tell me last week number three has three small kids? Well, yes, Mr. President, but we know, we know he's a suspected militant, we know. So, well, look, take three, put him in—let's do three next week, and let's just do 12 this week. Sign off. And then he goes—Barack Obama goes to have a nice lunch with his wife.Give me a break. That's what goes on in the White House now. You know, that's almost as bad as Condoleeza Rice presiding over demonstrations of enhanced interrogation techniques, which were also done at the White House.JAY: And this was more or less leaked to The New York Times, right? It's not like you're speculating. The New York Times kind of described these meetings.MCGOVERN: Well, yeah. This was when the White House saw some incentive in showing the president to be a tough guy like Brennan, you know. I know Brennan. He's from northern New Jersey. He's a tough guy. When he says, yeah, we do this without due process, well, don't be stupid here. We do due process right here in the White House. That's how we do due process now. Eric Holder says so. Give me a break. That's the kind of mentality you have there. And what really, really is missing here: where's the legal profession in this country? You know? Due process means the judiciary, it means the courts. And here they're letting these people get away with saying no, no, we do due process here in the White House. It's unconscionable.JAY: So what does it mean for the CIA? Any changes from the way it's acting?MCGOVERN: Well, Paul, as you know, there are two CIAs, one the analysis CIA that Truman envisaged and set up. That's the one I worked in, and that's the one that prevented a war with Iran—that's no exaggeration, with that estimate saying they had stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003. That one still has some people of integrity in it. The other one that Truman never envisaged, this operational, you know, covert actions sort of thing, well, they're riding high. They're flying drones all over the place. And Brennan can be expected to enhance the military capabilities that really should not belong in the CIA. And Truman said so before he died.JAY: And now President Obama has his guy controlling those drones. So in a sense it's an extension of the drone program and what they've been doing together.MCGOVERN: I think Obama, you know, has a certain confidence in Brennan that he has in nobody else. I hope it's not a misplaced confidence. Brennan's a pretty treacherous guy, and I think the way Obama looks at the CIA is, if he has his own man controlling the CIA, Brennan, that there's less danger that the CIA will play games, less prospect that the CIA will get involved in the kinds of things against John F. Kennedy that happened then.JAY: Thanks for joining us, Ray.MCGOVERN: Most welcome.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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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.

What Obama’s Nominations Mean: The Military Is Being Downsized, But CIA Covert Operations Are...

persiangulf

The CIA Is Taking Over the Dirty Work in Fighting America’s Wars

Obama has nominated a veteran – not a chickenhawk – to serve as Secretary of Defense.  The Washington Post reports that Chuck Hagel:

… was deputy director of the Veterans Administration during the Reagan administration and later served as president of the United Service Organizations.

U.S. News and World Report notes:

The Vietnam War veteran and the recipient of the purple heart, Hagel would be the first enlisted soldier in the military to rise to the ranks of defense secretary.

Indeed, while all of the neocon warmongers are chickenhawks who dodged service to their country, many veterans and active-duty service men are opposed to the endless wars, which only weaken our national security and increase terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

 What Obamas Nominations Mean: The Military Is Being Downsized ... But Covert Operations Are Gearing Up

No wonder Hagel is more moderate than those who want to start conflagrations all over the world.

U.S. News and World Report  continues:

While Hagel is a Republican, his views on foreign policy alarm some of his GOP colleagues. During his time in the Senate, Hagel was verbose in his opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, he voted against sanctioning Iran on multiple occasions and has suggested Israel should negotiate with Hamas directly. Republicans and Democrats alike worry he’s not a strong enough friend to Israel …

The Washington Post reports:

Last year, Hagel endorsed a report by the advocacy group Global Zero that called for an 80 percent reduction in the U.S. nuclear-weapons arsenal. Such a cut could save $100 billion over 10 years, the group estimated.

On the other hand, Obama’s nominee for CIA director – John Brennan – endorsed torture, assassination of unidentified strangers without due process, and spying on all Americans. As Glenn Greenwald writes:

Brennan, as a Bush-era CIA official, had expressly endorsed Bush’s programs of torture (other than waterboarding) and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program.

***

Obama then appointed him as his top counter-terrorism adviser…. In that position, Brennan last year got caught outright lying when he claimed Obama’s drone program caused no civilian deaths in Pakistan over the prior year. He also spouted complete though highly influential falsehoods to the world in the immediate aftermath of the Osama bin Laden killing, including claiming that bin Laden “engaged in a firefight” with Navy SEALS and had “used his wife as a human shield”. Brennan has also been in charge of many of Obama’s most controversial and radical policies, including “signature strikes” in Yemen – targeting people without even knowing who they are – and generally seizing the power to determine who will be marked for execution without any due process, oversight or transparency.

What do these two nominations tell us?

That the Obama administration doesn’t plan on fighting as many conventional wars with men in uniform – soldiers, sailors, pilots and marines – but does plan to crank up assassinations, drone strikes and other covert operations worldwide.

Obama Signs NDAA Bill Allowing Indefinite Detention; Obama Orders Assassinations with No Oversight

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

Bio

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.

Transcript

PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore. And welcome to this week's edition of The Ratner Report with Michael Ratner, who now joins us from New York City.

Michael is the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York. He's chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. And he's a board member of The Real News.Thanks for joining us again, Michael.MICHAEL RATNER, PRESIDENT EMERITUS, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: It's always good to be with you. And happy new year to you and all your viewers.JAY: Thank you. And what are you following now?RATNER: You know, it's—unfortunately, it's more of the same, which is the war-on-terror excesses, first of the Bush administration, and now the Obama administration. We're going into, really, the middle of the 11th year of what I consider to be a lawless way of carrying out the so-called war on terror. The model that has been used is essentially presidential fiat, congressional fiat, no due process, no trials, indefinite detention. And just this week the president signed—and it's into law—the National Defense Authorization Act, which comes up every year. It's a 620-page bill. It funds all our military adventures all over the world. But for my purposes, on the so-called war on terror what it does is continue what I call the Bush–Obama policies.The first of those policies is indefinite detention, that you can pick up people anywhere in the world—and what's interesting: including American citizens—and hold them indefinitely without trial, and even hold them offshore. We expected this last Congress to try and put in legislation that would at least prohibit the holding of U.S. citizens. They didn't, so it's still authorized by the law. And, of course, that's the lawsuit that Chris Hedges and Daniel Ellsberg had gone to court to try and declare that section of the old law, now of the new law, unconstitutional. So you have an NDAA that first allows indefinite detention of anyone in the world, including U.S. citizens. Secondly, it really destroys any chance of closing Guantanamo.JAY: Before you get into that, Michael, wasn't there some amendment that came out of the Senate that ensures or at least is supposed to ensure habeas rights for U.S. citizens?RATNER: Well, they have a habeas right, but they can still be held indefinitely in detention.JAY: So explain what that means, a habeas right.RATNER: Okay. Everyone can now, because of the cases we won at the Center over the last ten years, has a right to go to court and say to the court, which will say to the jailor, the United States, are you holding me legally. The problem with it is is legally is now defined by the NDAA as holding someone in indefinite detention for their, quote, associational interests, or association with al-Qaeda or related forces. And so all that the government has to come into court and prove is that somehow this person has some relationship to al-Qaeda or whatever related forces means, which could be almost anything. And that's the way it's been used. So the U.S. picks up people, whether it's in Afghanistan or Pakistan, or Yemen,—JAY: Or Pittsburgh.RATNER: —Pittsburgh, or Somalia, or anywhere, or England, or anywhere, and says, well, that person's associated with al-Qaeda or associated forces. And then you have a right, yes, to go to court and challenge that.But the court has been completely unwilling to hear those challenges. The lowest court has heard them, and in some cases even said, well, the government's not holding with a good reason; it goes to the court of appeals, and they have never actually let anyone out of Guantanamo or any other type of this indefinite detention. My problem, of course, is not that they give habeas rights. Sure, that's good. But the problem is they use a indefinite detention model and not a law enforcement model. My view is no one should be held in indefinite detention. Every human being who's picked up anywhere in the world should be charged with a crime if they're going to be kept, and tried for the crime. Instead, you have these masses of people being held without being charged. And if we look at Guantanamo, it's the perfect example. And that gets to the second part of the NDAA legislation. There's 166 people left in Guantanamo. Eighty-six of those people have been cleared for release. That means they shouldn't be there at all. The rest of them—whatever, 80 or so—have not been charged, with exceptions of a few, such as the so-called, you know, people who were allegedly involved in the conspiracy of the World Trade Center, which is a half a dozen people or so. So most of those people have never been charged. And, in fact, more than half have been cleared for release. So what does the NDAA do to those people? It says two things, which it said consistently year after year, that the president can't transfer anybody to the United States, even those cleared for release. So that means: how do you get those people out of Guantanamo? And secondly, it puts very heavy restrictions on transferring any of those people to foreign countries. They have to notify the Senate, they have to approve it in certain ways. And, in fact, because of those restrictions, no one's been transferred to a foreign country, or to the United States, obviously, in the last two years.Now, so that's what you have. You have heavy restrictions. So that means you're going to have trouble closing Guantanamo altogether. Now, Obama made all kinds of noises last year, and he made all kinds of noises this year, that he was going to veto the NDAA because of what he considers these restrictions on his presidential power to, one, transfer people out of Guantanamo to the United States, or transfer them to foreign countries. But last year he didn't veto it, and this year he didn't veto it. So what he does is he does a bunch of saber-rattling. But what he did was do a signing statement. Now, signing statements, I want to explain, have no legal efficacy. In the United States, you either have to approve legislation as the president or veto it. Obama, by approving it, basically says this is the law. He then signs something that says, well, I don't like this law, I don't think it's constitutional, I don't think this, I don't think that, but that it has no legal efficacy. The law is the law, and he's not about to necessarily disobey the law—he didn't last year, and he didn't this year.Now, what's interesting about Obama's signing statements is two things. One, he criticized them when Bush used them, saying, Bush shouldn't be doing these signing statements; he should either veto the law or approve the law, but not say, I approve it, but—you can't do that. And secondly, last year when he made a signing statement on the NDAA, he said, I will challenge this law as unconstitutional in these respects, etc., etc. This time, because it's past the election, he didn't even say that. And so we now have an NDAA that ostensibly allows the indefinite detention of American citizens, makes it impossible to close Guantanamo, and a president who is unwilling to challenge Congress about the law.JAY: And what's the status of that lawsuit that Chris Hedges and his colleagues launched?RATNER: Well, Judge Forrest, who is a very good judge in the District of Columbia, actually ruled in favor of Hedges and Ellsberg that the law was unconstitutional because Ellsberg, Hedges, and others who challenge the law could actually be held in indefinite detention for the words that they spoke or what they wrote. And the government refused to say initially that they couldn't be held like that. And so Judge Forrest, who is the judge, said, well, I'm ruling it's unconstitutional. The government then, in the most aggressive way they could, Obama appealed that to the circuit court. The circuit court stayed the decision, which means they said, we're not going to hold this unconstitutional; we're going to stay it until we hear the entire argument again. So right now the NDAA is still good law, because the circuit court went against the district court, the lower court, and basically said, we're going to allow the law to continue. So it's still being heavily, heavily litigated. Now, it seems to me that two things are apparent to me. One is, of course, I don't think it's good to hold anyone in indefinite detention, citizens or not. Of course, Hedges attacked the most pernicious aspect and the most constitutionally protected aspect, which is holding an American citizen. And secondly, we're still left with Guantanamo. Now, it brings me to—so we have an NDAA out there. Now, it brings me to a second issue that I want to get to in this short piece, which is Obama's drone policy. Again, it comes up in the context of the murder of, killing of American citizens Anwar al-Aulaqi, his son, Rahman al-Aulaqi, and another American citizen, all in Yemen. The Center for Constitutional Rights challenged those killings initially. We lost. They were killed by drones after our lawsuit.We now have another challenge, challenging them in terms of trying to get damages for them. But an extraordinary decision was written this week by a judge about targeted assassinations by Obama and his administration. It was a case in which the ACLU and The New York Times went to court to try and get the legal basis under which Obama said he could designate people for death, American citizens and otherwise. And the judge said that they weren't entitled, in the end, to the document that was written by the Department of Justice laying out the legal reasoning about why you could kill American citizens or others utterly outside a war zone, whether in Yemen or in Somalia or in the United Kingdom or here in the United States. The judge said—because it was classified, while the judge didn't like giving the decision she did, she'd said, I can't do anything about it, my hands are tied, I'm in a catch-22. And what she said about it was extraordinary. She said, look it, when we had torture in the United States, it was critical to get out the memos regarding the legal reasoning about why the U.S. could torture people, so that it could be fully, fully debated. Here my hands are tied. And what we should have is, like torture, we should get out the legal memos about why the president should be able to assassinate people outside a war zone so we can have a serious debate about it.JAY: Well, does the president have to show these memos to anybody?RATNER: Not really, no.JAY: There's no congressional oversight? Not given the history of whatever oversight there's been would mean that much, but is there? I mean, I don't understand. The—then I don't understand. The president could create any memo he wants and—?RATNER: Well, the Justice Department creates the memo, they give it to the president. He could technically withhold it from Congress. I don't know whether Congress has asked him for it or whether he has withheld it, or whether Congress is entitled to find out much about the policy, because while the Congress is entitled to find out about, particularly, CIA covert operations, whether this falls within that is hard to say. And secondly, this isn't only done by the CIA, but targeted assassination is done by Joint Special Operation Command, or JSOC, the military. Congress has no ability to really—or no law that requires the president to report to Congress on the murders or assassinations by JSOC. So you have this policy of the president on his own deciding who can be murdered or assassinated, even if they're American citizens. And what was incredible about the judges' decision, the judge said or implied that the president could actually be criminally prosecuted for killing of a U.S. citizen overseas and said the president is not exempt from the law that prohibits people or citizens in the United States or people anywhere in the world from killing U.S. citizens overseas. So she made an implication that it may be that the president could actually be prosecuted for these targeted assassinations around the world. So while she denied, ultimately, the memo, it's just this opinion, which is some 75 pages long, just drips with anger and really, I think, what you would have to say is deep unease at the president saying on his own, without providing the American people with a legal basis, for assassinating American citizens anywhere in the world.Taken together, what you have here, you have the NDAA law which allows the indefinite detention of American citizens, you have the al-Aluaqi decisions, and this recent one which allows the targeted assassination of American citizens, both detention and killing, at the behest of one man. And what the judge says: this is supposed to be—supposed to be a democracy, a constitutional democracy based on the rule of law and not on the rule of men. And I guess she's questioning whether that's what we have any longer.JAY: Thanks for joining us, Michael.RATNER: Thanks for having me, Paul.JAY: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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The demonization of dissent in the United States

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Palestinians must stand against Israel with all means: Analyst

Press TV has conducted an interview with Hani al-Basoos, a professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, from Washington to get his take on Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks over popular resistance against Israeli occupation.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: How likely will Israel give in to Abbas’s conditions?

Al-Basoos: I don’t think that the Israelis will give in to Abbas’ conditions. We understand the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition government are extremists who do not believe in peace, they do not believe in establishing a Palestinian state. And he made it clear in a statement in his campaign for the election that no Palestinian state would be established. So, I don’t think that such an extremist person will give in to Mr. Mahmoud Abbas and to the Palestinians.

This is what led Abu-Mazen, Mahmoud Abbas, to make his statement saying that the possibility for the Palestinian people is to struggle against the Israeli occupation. Because, we today commemorate the 67th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, which is continuous, where the Israeli army and Jewish forces in Palestine 67 years ago expelled most of the Palestinian people.

The situation is continuous in Gaza and the West Bank and even in Jerusalem [al-Quds]. I think even the stand which has been taken by the Israeli government for past few year, which is sustained now by the Israeli government, would not give any chance for the peace process to come back again to life. I think the chance for the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people is to stand against the occupation.

There are many means and methods could be used by the Palestinian Authority like going to the UN. And the UN, we understand the fact, the UN has not even been able to make a stand with the Palestinian Authority to satisfy the needs of the people of Palestinian. When it comes even to the United States, which has not been able to even make any pressure on Israeli side, I think, the only one of the means for the Palestinian people is to stand against the Israeli occupation by all means they have. That is what we have been witnessed for the past few days that Palestinian factions and the Palestinian Authority ... calling for an end to the Israeli occupation.

Press TV: We know that Palestine is a member of ICC now, but how powerful a leverage is Palestine’s membership at the ICC to use it against Israel to give in to Palestine’s demands and end settlement construction and so on?

Al-Basoos: I think this is one of the options of the Palestinian people going to the ICC but this should be taken ahead by the Palestinian Authority, which I think still Mr. Mahmoud Abbas is hesitant to take a step toward the ICC, because he thinks the reaction would be so harsh from the Israeli side and from the United States’ administration, because they might stop the money going to the Palestinian Authority, they would limit freedom of movement of Palestinian leaders and elites.

I think this is an option and could be taken now soon by the Palestinian people and the Palestinian Authority to go to the ICC to prosecute the Israeli war criminals. There is no fear on the Palestinian side, because some were saying that maybe this would cause even harm to the Palestinians because they have been involved in action against the Israeli civilians but this is not the case, this is not the fact.

The fact we have seen for the past years, the occupation forces have launched many attacks against Palestinian civilians. We witnessed this in summer last year when I was in Gaza devastating, destruction action by the Israeli army have been taken that, I think it is a clear evidence which could be taken to the ICC. And the Palestinian Authority can take an action and should not be late. I think the action has to be taken soon.

Press TV: We know that Pop Francis recently recognized Palestine as a state, how much could this help?

Al-Basoos: This would help them but not on the political level. We understand the fact that many states and the European community and lately the Vatican have recognized Palestine as state, but we need actions, we need to stop the occupation.

The state they have been talking about is [based] on the 1967 border and this has been under the Israeli occupation for many years. I think the European community, the international community has to take action against the occupation to stop the occupation to dismantle the settlements and not only to recognize Palestine.

Palestine exists by all means, by its own people and by its own authorities. The Palestinian people have been doing their best to preserve the rights for them to have their own state. So, action has to be taken by the international community from a legal point of view and from a political point of view.

Even if the United States is not with this stand, I think the situation would change and it is maybe a year or two where the international community including the United States has to accept the fact Palestine is a state and has to be established by all means.

And I think, this acknowledgement and the recognitions by some states and the European community and lately by the Vatican would help to sustain and to support the Palestinian demand that the international community have to come or have come to understand the fact that the people of Palestine have to establish their state based on the United Nations resolutions and based on their basic rights. This would help again step by step by the international community. They come to term that Palestine has to exist by all means legally and politically.

ABN/HMV

10 Pictures That Show How America Is Becoming A Lot Like Nazi Germany

The history books tell us about how evil and wicked the Nazis were, so why aren’t we more alarmed that the United States is becoming more like Nazi Germany with each passing day?  More than three years ago, I wrote an article entitled “25 Signs That America Is Rapidly Becoming More Like Nazi Germany” which got a ton of attention.  Unfortunately, nothing has gotten better since I first published that piece.  Government control freaks are still watching us, tracking us, recording our phone calls and monitoring our emails.  TSA thugs at our airports are still fondling the private parts of our women and children and laughing while they do it.  Our police and our military are still training for civil unrest and martial law in America.  And even though our politicians are socializing our economy and destroying our constitutional freedoms, the American people keep sending most of them back to Washington time after time.  It is an incredibly sad thing to watch the country that you love slowly die right in front of your eyes.

At the heart of Nazism was a desire to control everyone and everything, and that is exactly what we are seeing in America today.  Most of our “leaders” are psychotic control freaks that want to micromanage every aspect of our lives.  For example, a bill that was just introduced in Congress would force all children in public schools nationwide to be vaccinated with no exceptions whatsoever.  Other new legislation that was just introduced would ban all sales of ammunition over the Internet and require ammo dealers to report all bulk sales to individuals to the government.  Our founders intended for this nation to be a place where individual freedom and liberty were maximized, but today we literally have millions of laws, rules and regulations that wrap us so tightly in red tape that we can hardly breathe.

To say that we are becoming just like the Nazis is a very strong statement, but I think that after reviewing the evidence you will agree with me.  The following are 10 pictures that show how America is becoming just like Nazi Germany…

#1 It surprises most people to learn that the Nazis were actually radical leftists that had great animosity for free market capitalism.  For example, National Socialist theologian Gregor Strasser once made the following statement

We National Socialists are enemies, deadly enemies, of the present capitalist system with its exploitation of the economically weak … and we are resolved under all circumstances to destroy this system.

With that in mind, I want you to check out the following political cartoon from 1934.  The same kinds of things that helped the communists rise to power in Russia and the Nazis rise to power in Germany are happening in the United States today…

#2 Just like in Nazi Germany, political leaders in America tend to foster cult followings.  At this point, there are millions of Americans that would support Barack Obama and believe whatever he had to say even if he was sacrificing children on the White House lawn.  These kinds of followers are called “sheeple” for a reason…

#3 The Nazis were well known for their brutal police tactics, and that is definitely true of us today.  The following photo is a powerful commentary on the transformation of police in America over the past several decades…

Just recently, representatives from 117 countries confronted the U.S. about all of this police brutality at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council.  Unfortunately, I don’t think that this is actually going to change anything…

The United States was slammed over its rights record Monday at the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, with member nations criticizing the country for police violence and racial discrimination, the Guantánamo Bay Detention Facility and the continued use of the death penalty.

The issue of racism and police brutality dominated the discussion on Monday during the country’s second universal periodic review (UPR). Country after country recommended that the U.S. strengthen legislation and expand training to eliminate racism and excessive use of force by law enforcement.

#4 Why do so many of our police insist on dressing up like Darth Vader these days?  Yes, I know that body armor is called for in certain situations, but many believe that the primary goal of these outfits is to intimidate.  The following photo was submitted to Flickr by Elvert Barnes…

#5 In recent years, the American people have become conditioned to seeing troops in our streets.  This next picture is from the Ferguson protests.  The fact that sharpshooters were deployed on rooftops during the unrest there is more than a little disconcerting…

#6 Just like in Ferguson, when rioting started in Baltimore the police were initially ordered to stand down and allow it to spiral out of control.  Then after a few hours, National Guard troops were finally deployed to help restore order.  We are slowly getting used to the idea that martial law in our cities is a good thing…

#7 Meanwhile, “progressives” continue to use our system of public education to launch a relentless attack on the values that this country was founded upon.  The Nazis were also big believers in “public education”, and they used it with shocking efficiency.  Today, our children are being brainwashed to accept “progressive values”, and most Americans don’t seem to be too concerned about what is happening…

#8 Yes, the Nazis loved gun control.  In fact, they eventually had everyone in the general population turn in their guns, and that is precisely what the “progressives” would love to see take place in the U.S. today.  But what would this country look like if that actually happened?  I think that this next photo which has been circulating on Facebook gives us a clue…

#9 Under the Nazis, the Germans were taught to salute a new flag and to adopt an entirely new set of values.  In America today, it is not “politically correct” to display the American flag publicly or to show honor for it.  Instead, we are being trained to think of ourselves as “global citizens” and to never question the growing power of international institutions such as the United Nations.  Fortunately, there are many Americans that never plan to accept the “global governance” that the elitists have planned…

#10 In the end, the reason why the Nazis were so successful in Germany was because the vast majority of the German population simply complied with their demands.  As Americans, we are going to be faced with our own choices in the years ahead…

So what do you think?

Is America becoming more like Nazi Germany?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

Europe defense ministers to discuss military force against migrant boats

Five European defense ministers are to discuss military action to halt human trafficking to their shores and stem the flow of migrants from North Africa’s coastal waters.

Defense ministers from France, Germany, Poland, Italy and Spain are to meet Sunday on the sidelines of the events commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Lorient in western France to discuss ways to counter what they refer to as a new threat to Europe that has so far left thousands dead, AFP reported.

Following a number of the deadliest migrant shipwrecks ever witnessed in the Mediterranean so far this year, the ministers "will examine possible options for European (military) action," the French Defense Ministry said.

The most controversial option due to be discussed during the meeting will be the destruction by military force of the boats used by human traffickers before they are loaded with migrants for a risky journey to European shores.

Most of the boats load the migrants in the lawless shores of the war-ravaged Libya, where persisting national conflict among rival governing bodies has allowed human traffickers to operate with impunity.

The development comes after over 5,000 refugees were killed over the past 18 months as boats operated by human traffickers capsized off Libya's coastal waters, alarming European authorities to stop the flow of immigrants.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is also scheduled to submit a plan to the United Nations Security Council on Monday, demanding that the UN  lead military operations against smugglers.

Critics, however, insist that taking military action in Libyan waters or halting a vessel flying the country's flag without an international mandate would be in violation of the international law.

Additionally, the defense ministers are also expected to discuss the Saturday crash of the new Airbus A400M military aircraft in Spain during a test flight that killed four people.

The deadly incident led Britain, Germany and Turkey to ground their new troop and vehicle transporter, while France announced that it will continue flying its fleet of the aircraft.

MFB/KA/SS

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington (Reuters / Jason Reed)

Washington and Saudis Plan Escalated Aggression on Yemen

Washington and Saudis Plan Escalated  Aggression on Yemen

by Stephen Lendman

On Thursday, John Kerry met with Saudi officials in Riyadh. They planned escalated aggression on Yemen harming defenseless civilians most.

A so-called proposed 5-day humanitarian ceasefire is phony. Terror-bombing continues. US/Saudi enforced blockade prevents enough essentials to life from entering Yemen. 

Suggesting a limited pause in fighting is willful deception. Washington wants all-out terror war against 25 million Yemenis.

It wants control regained over its former client state - no matter how much mass slaughter and destruction it takes to achieve it.

It bears repeating what other articles stressed. Yemen is Obama's war - using Saudis and other regional rogue states as US proxies.

Six weeks of terror-bombing achieved nothing strategically. Nor have thousands of imported takfiri terrorists been able to challenge Houthi rebels effectively.

Is large-scale invasion planned? Launching one assures a far greater bloodbath than already.

On Wednesday, Yemeni UN envoy Khaled Alyemany representing the illegitimate (US-installed) ousted government called for intervention by foreign ground forces.

Russia's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin called invading Yemen "reckless - an escalation of the situation."

"What we need is a speedy resumption of negotiations under the mediation of the United Nations," he stressed.

Otherwise, expect endless conflict, far more deaths, destruction and mass displacement, as well as greater humanitarian crisis conditions than already.

On Thursday, UN humanitarian coordinator for Yemen Johannes van der Klaauw called for an immediate halt to fighting, saying:

"Civilians were reportedly targeted while they were trying to flee to safer areas, having been trapped in Aden with limited or no access to water, food and health care for weeks."

"People in Aden have endured extreme hardship as a result of conflict over the last six weeks and must be able to move to safer areas to seek medical and other assistance." 

"Violence towards civilians and aid workers, and attacks on hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, must stop immediately."

On May 7, Yemeni doctors and other medical workers demonstrated in front of Sanaa's UN office. A doctor attending the rally said:

"We have come here…to call for the UN Secretary-General to put an end to this genocide war against the Yemenis. Many patients die at the hospitals because of" no fuel or medical supplies.

Thousands have died, mostly noncombatant civilians either in harm's way or deliberately targeted.

Thousands more were injured, many maimed for life. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced - desperate people in harm's way wherever they go.

Continued Saudi terror-bombing and proxy takfiri terrorist attacks assure it.

Riyadh's military spokesman Brig. General Ahmed al-Assiri responded to Houthi and tribal fighters' cross-border attacks in retaliation against Saudi terror-bombing, ludicrously saying:

"The Houthi militias have crossed red lines and they will be dealt with differently now. (They'll) pay a harsh and expensive price."

"The formula has changed after Saudi towns and civilians" were shelled.

AP said Houthis and allied forces consolidated control over most of Aden while Kerry was in Riyadh. The previous day they "overwhelmed" Tawahi's downtown district and an area presidential palace.

Reuters reported Riyadh's vow to hit Houthis hard despite a 5-day ceasefire offer. Asseri declined to say if ground invasion is coming. All options are open, he stressed.

In a letter to UN officials, Houthis called for international action against Saudi-led aggression.

Senior Houthi official Tawfiq al-Himyary denounced Riyadh's phony ceasefire offer - calling it "cover" for its failures.

"Saudi Arabia feels it is in trouble after more than 40 days of aggression," Himyary said. "It did not reach its stated goals, but killed and displaced thousands of civilians."

"Saudi Arabia has no right to attack the Yemenis or even to give them any kind of truce. There is no trust in this regime at all."

In April, it lied claiming an end to terror-bombing - replacing it with diplomatic efforts to resolve things.

Dirty war without mercy continued - at times more intensively than earlier. Comments from Riyadh lack credibility.

Rogue regimes operate by their own rules. Ruthlessness defines them - horrific war crimes by any standard.

Expect endless conflict to continue. Yemen is being systematically raped. It's becoming one of history's great crimes. 

Obama bears full responsibility. Saudis and other rogue regional partners share it. Millions of Yemenis suffer largely out of sight and mind. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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The U.S-Israel Alliance: War, Chaos and Netanyahu’s Big Lie

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The relationship between the U.S. and Israel in the last 6 years under the Obama administration has never been stronger.  In 2012, The National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) declared that President Obama’s aid package for Israel was the largest in U.S. history, a fact that is hard to ignore: 

President Barack Obama requested a record $3.1 billion in military assistance to Israel for the 2013 fiscal year. The requested amount is not just the largest assistance request for Israel ever; it is the largest foreign assistance request ever in U.S. history

President Barack H. Obama and Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged tenuous relationship is not what it seems.  Sure they probably annoy each other, but Obama has provided U.S. foreign aid just as every U.S. President before him.  The invitation granted by the speaker of the house John Boehner to Netanyahu so that he can present his case against Iran to the U.S. congress to prove that Obama’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program was a “bad deal.”    According to Netanyahu, Iran threatens Israel’s existence and the world.  Netanyahu’s speech was political theater.  Several democrats did not attend Netanyahu’s show.  Those that did criticized Netanyahu for trying to undermine the Obama administration is once again, all political theater.  The democrats who skipped Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent speech to show solidarity with President Obama’s policy towards Iran were going to attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) event featuring an appearance by Netanyahu the following week as the Washington Examiner reported earlier this month:   

All of the members skipping Netanyahu’s congressional speech the Examiner interviewed were quick to say their anger toward the prime minister and his attempt to scuttle the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program did not extend to pro-Israel committee.

“Why would I not want to meet with my friends? They’re coming to see me next week and why wouldn’t I see them?” asked Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., referring to two American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists he’s known and worked with for 25 years

Since 1948, U.S and Israeli actions taken in the Middle East has proven to be a tragic period for all people of the Middle East whether Arab, Christian, Jew, Kurdish, Sunni or Shiite.  Nothing but wars and Sectarian conflicts, poverty and Western-funded extremists has destroyed Arab countries and killed millions of Muslim men, women and children that are physically and emotionally scarred for the rest of their young and innocent lives. 

Can anyone think of the U.S. and its Democratic ideals as a success?  The U.S. has done everything it can to create “order out of chaos.”  In 1947 following the “creation of Israel” by Great Britain when the Foreign secretary Arthur James Balfour confirmed a “national home of the Jewish People” when he sent the Balfour Declaration to Walter Rothschild, head of the Rothschild banking dynasty, the Palestinian people have been living in hell.  Palestine became a prison enforced by Israel’s security apparatus that resembles what George Orwell described as a total police state in his classic book “1984.”  Palestine has been divided; 1.7 million Palestinians live in an open air prison in the Gaza strip while others live in the West Bank under a police state controlled by heavily armed Israeli soldiers and police.  The Palestinians have been losing lands in an unprecedented fashion and in recent decades only to be accelerated under Netanyahu’s watch with a 40% increase in 2014 alone, outpacing the prior year. 

Israel’s ambitions for nuclear weapons capability began after Israel became a Western sponsored state with the U.S, U.K. and France as its main allies.  Many conflicts in the Middle East soon followed.  The Israeli war of Independence against the Arab countries included Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria which led to the 1949 Armistice which outlined the borders of Israel.    The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soon began military operations against Egypt, Lebanon and Jordon to prevent terrorist attacks against its Jewish citizens.  In 1956, Great Britain and France joined Israel in attacking Egypt after its government decided to nationalize the Suez Canal after the U.S. and Great Britain declined to fund the Aswan Dam.  Israel was forced to retreat from the attack by the U.S. and the USSR.  Soon after, the Six-Day War in 1967 began when Israel fought againstEgypt, Syria and Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and others contributed weapons and troops to the Arab forces.  Israel defeated the Arab armies and expanded its territory in the West Bank which included East Jerusalem to Jordan, the Golan Heights in Syria, the Sinai and the Gaza strip.  Then the War of Attrition (1967-1970), the Yom Kippur War (1973) and the War in Lebanon (1982) which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) invaded Southern Lebanon to eliminate Palestinian guerrilla fighters (the resistance) from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) which led to the Israeli Security Zone in South Lebanon.  Then the South Lebanon conflict with Hezbollah that lasted for at least 20 years.  It still continues today.   The first and Second Intifadas began with the Palestinian uprising against a brutal Israeli occupation and the disappearance of their lands.  Several wars soon followed.  The last war called ‘Operation Protective Edge’ which Israel launched against the Gaza Strip.  According to the State of Palestine Ministry of Health who reported on August 17, 2014 that there were 2,300 deaths and over 19,000 injured in Gaza which was a devastating conflict that traumatized the Palestinian people especially the children.  It is a tragic consequence that will last a lifetime for many.    

During all of the conflicts, Israel was seeking weapons to defend their new “Jewish” nation.  Israel was eventually exposed as an undeclared nuclear power thanks to an Israeli man named Mordechai Vanunu who spent 18 years in the Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, with 10 of those years in solitary confinement.  Mordechai exposed Israel’s secrets nuclear program to the British press in 1986.

Israel is the aggressor.  It’s an illegal occupation which began under the British government and it is supported by other Western-powers, mainly the U.S. and France.  Israel’s history is filled with conflicts and terrorism against the Arab world.  Israel has committed political assassinations, supported extremists to topple governments including its current support to “moderate rebels” to oust Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.  It has control over the natural resources including vital water supplies that Palestinians solely depend on to survive.  So my question is why everyone is surprised by Netanyahu’s speech he recently gave in the U.S. House of congress?  Several members of congress were “appalled” or “upset” because he disrespected U.S. lawmakers, but the reality is that the majority of elected officials in congress and every administration even before Obama have approved military aid for Israel’s security since Israel was created in 1948.  Who are they fooling?  Netanyahu sounded like he was the U.S. president with constant standing ovations and thunderous applauds by the AIPAC controlled congress.  Those on both sides of the aisle whether democrat or republican always look forward to Jewish (Zionist) support for campaign funds.  There are several members of congress who have dual citizenships that seek to protect Israel at all costs (although the actual “costs” come at the expense of U.S. taxpayers). The U.S. has been involved in the Middle East for a long time.  Do not expect peace or stability.  War and conquest is the true nature of both the Americans and Israeli’s regarding Middle East policies.  ISIS is a perfect example of how the U.S. operates by bringing democracy to an already volatile region with its support of the Syrian rebels, al-Nusra and the decade old “al-Qaeda” with weapons to topple governments not in line with Washington only proves that war is on the agenda.  Not only does the U.S. and its allies support ISIS and other terrorist organizations to topple Arab governments they protect them according to an article by Michel Chossudovsky titled Obama’s “Fake War” against the Islamic State (ISIS). The Islamic State is protected by the US and its Alliesand made an important point when he said:

What would have been required from a military standpoint to wipe out an ISIS convoy with no effective anti-aircraft capabilities?  Without an understanding of military issues, common sense prevails.  If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June

The U.S. and Israel clearly want chaos in the Middle East.  It is obvious.  However, Netanyahu did say that:

The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.  Because America and Israel, we share a common destiny, the destiny of promised lands that cherish freedom and offer hope. Israel is grateful for the support of American — of America’s people and of America’s presidents, from Harry Truman to Barack Obama

Yes, the alliance between the U.S. and Israel is “above politics” and I agree it’s supposed to achieve “Full Spectrum Dominance” with the West and Israel controlling every aspect of Arab life including its lands, economy, and its natural resources in the Middle East.  This is the “destiny” which Netanyahu speaks of.  There is a vast amount of resources including the obvious oil, water and natural gas in the Middle East for which both the U.S. and Israel is solely interested in.  It also provides a market for the Military-Industrial Complex and corporate interests.  Netanyahu’s speech in Washington resembles what a genuine hypocrite that will claim it is he who is a victim of hatred, while committing heinous crimes against those he hates.  Netanyahu thanked President Obama for his support over the years which are no surprise:                  

We appreciate all that President Obama has done for Israel.

Now, some of that is widely known.  Some of that is widely known, like strengthening security cooperation and intelligence sharing, opposing anti-Israel resolutions at the U.N.  Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well- known.

I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire, and he immediately agreed to respond to my request for urgent aid.  In 2011, we had our embassy in Cairo under siege, and again, he provided vital assistance at the crucial moment.  Or his support for more missile interceptors during our operation last summer when we took on Hamas terrorists

‘Operation Protective Edge’ was supported by the Obama administration.  They have collaborated on various programs including Israel security forces that provided training to U.S. Police forces.  I was not surprised by the recent revelations in Chicago, Illinois concerning its secret black sites used by the Chicago police department to detain and even torture suspects.  This happened under former White House Chief of Staff and also an IDF civilian volunteer and Israel supporter Rahm Emanuel whose father Benjamin M. Emanuel was once a member of the Irgun, a terrorist organization that operated in Mandate Palestine.  As Netanyahu continued:

But Iran’s regime is not merely a Jewish problem, any more than the Nazi regime was merely a Jewish problem. The 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis were but a fraction of the 60 million people killed in World War II. So, too, Iran’s regime poses a grave threat, not only to Israel, but also the peace of the entire world. To understand just how dangerous Iran would be with nuclear weapons, we must fully understand the nature of the regime. 

The people of Iran are very talented people. They’re heirs to one of the world’s great civilizations. But in 1979, they were hijacked by religious zealots — religious zealots who imposed on them immediately a dark and brutal dictatorship

Netanyahu said that “religious Zealots” imposed a dark brutal dictatorship?  Well I guess the Western-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi or the “Shah of Iran” and his secret police force the Savak who terrorized the Iranian people was their preference to keep Iran under their control.  Savak was trained and supported by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Israeli Mossad.  The most brutal dictatorship in the Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia is an ideal model for the U.S. and Israel.  If you look at the dictatorships the U.S. has supported to spread “American-Style Democracy” in the last 100 years.  The results of “American-style democracy” were disastrous causing human rights violations, countless deaths and disease.  Those same nations the U.S. either invaded or helped overthrow their respective governments (many of them democracies) still suffer from Washington’s “medicine.”  From Pinochet in Chile, to the Somoza dynasty in Nicaragua, Papa and Baby Doc Duvalier regime in Haiti to the Gulf Monarchies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and the list goes on, U.S. policy is about dominating nations for geopolitical interests including for the control of their natural resources.  The U.S. and Israel have an interest in the Middle East and that is to dominate it under their so-called “World Order.”   If they remove Syria and then Iran, the Middle East would become a region that would look like Iraq or Libya.  It would be a cash bonanza for the Military-Industrial Complex if they keep the civil wars among different sects and tribes going, creating a market for weapons exports.  Netanyahu said Iran is a “grave threat” to World peace.  Can someone say “Samson Option”?  Seymour M. Hersh’s ‘The Samson Option’ noted a commentary by Norman Podhoretz that summarizes how Israel would respond if they were on the verge of defeat at the hands of Arab nations in the Middle East:    

For Israel’s nuclear advocates, the Samson Option became another way of saying “Never again.”  [In a 1976 essay in Commentary, Norman Podhoretz accurately summarized the pronuclear argument in describing what Israel would do if abandoned by the United States and overrun by Arabs: "The Israelis would fight . . . with conventional weapons for as long as they could, and if the tide were turning decisively against them, and if help in the form of resupply from the United States or any other guarantors were not forthcoming, it is safe to predict that they would fight with nuclear weapons in the end. ... It used to be said that the Israelis had a Masada complex . . .but if the Israelis are to be understood in terms of a 'complex' involving suicide rather than surrender and rooted in a relevant precedent of Jewish history, the example of Sarnson, whose suicide brought about the destruction of his enemies, would be more appropriate than Masada, where in committing suicide the Zealots killed only themselves and took no Romans with them." 

Podhoretz, asked years later about his essay, said that his conclusions about the Samson Option were just that—his conclusions, and not based on any specific information from Israelis or anyone else about Israel's nuclear capability 

What Mr. Podhoretz was describing was a “if we go down, everyone else is going down with us” scenario which is a dangerous policy for the world peace.  Netanyahu also says that Assad who is backed by Iran is slaughtering Syrians.  This serves the Obama Administration’s long-term goal to remove Assad from power: 

Iran's goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror. Backed by Iran, Assad is slaughtering Syrians. Back by Iran, Shiite militias are rampaging through Iraq. Back by Iran, Houthis are seizing control of Yemen, threatening the strategic straits at the mouth of the Red Sea. Along with the Straits of Hormuz, that would give Iran a second choke-point on the world's oil supply

Netanyahu claim that the Jewish people can defend themselves which I agree especially when you have nuclear weapons that can destroy the entire Middle East:

We are no longer scattered among the nations, powerless to defend ourselves. We restored our sovereignty in our ancient home. And the soldiers who defend our home have boundless courage. For the first time in 100 generations, we, the Jewish people, can defend ourselves

Iran, Syria, Lebanon (Hezbollah) and Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza) are targets for the U.S. and Israel.  They want to destabilize Syria and Iran and turn it into an Iraq and Libya with tribal and sectarian infighting among the populations.  The U.S. destroyed Iraq with the intention of dividing the people.  They create the conflict, develop hatred along Sunni and Shiite sects, and enforce a government subservient to Western interests.  How does this benefits Israel?  They keep the wars going by destabilizing regimes through ISIS and other Western-funded terrorist groups while Israel expands its territories beyond its borders.  Once Syria and Iran are destroyed, the U.S. and Israel will have no use for ISIS.  No more weapons will be shipped to ISIS and other groups and the U.S. and Israel with its military capabilities can easily defeat ISIS as Chossudovsky mentioned in his article.  It sounds cynical but it’s the truth.  It is what I call “Mafia-Style” politics, something the U.S. and Israel are very good at.  The world is not fooled by the bickering between the democrats and republicans because as we all know, they are one, united with an “unbreakable bond “with Israel as Obama declared in 2013.  We all know that without U.S. support, Israeli occupation of Palestine would end tomorrow.  But that will not happen unless the U.S. Empire falls from power and only then, a lasting peace will ensue.     

Netanyahu concluded with “May God bless the state of Israel and may God bless the United States of America” And no one else, right Mr. Netanyahu?  What kind of God would bless two nations that have committed genocide against its indigenous populations?  Why would God bless a nation that lies to its people and declares war on nations that want their sovereignty respected?  If this is the God we as humans supposed to honor, then God is not who we think he is. 

In conclusion, Netanyahu should listen to an interview conducted by Press TV based in Tehran, Iran in 2014 with Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss, associate director of ‘Neturei Karta International: Jews United against Zionism’ (www.nkusa.org) and was asked about U.N. monitor Richard Falk who accused Israel of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.  His response was as follows:

With the help of the almighty, I pray to the almighty to bestow upon me his truth, his wisdom. We are always confounded by this seeming ignorance of the issues and the ignoring of what is happening. The issues are clear from day one.  Well over one hundred years ago when this Zionist ideology came about of Jewish people creating their own sovereignty and then eventually deciding to make their sovereignty in the Holy Land, the biblical authorities in the Holy Land, the chief rabbi of Palestine, Rabbi Dushinsky..., of that time, and later in 1947 prior to the ratification of... Israel by the United Nations, the chief rabbi was Rabbi Dushinsky; he went to a meeting in Jerusalem [al-Quds] with the members of the United Nations and he pleaded with them in the name of Judaism and the religious community that we do not want, in any form, a state …, that it is illegal, it is illegitimate. Judaism does not permit us to have to have a Jewish sovereignty, Judaism does not permit us to oppress other people, steal the land, or in any manner being uncompassionate to the people.

On the contrary we were living together with the Muslim community, with the Arabs and Muslims for hundreds and hundreds of years in Palestine and every Muslim state in total harmony without any human rights group to protect us and since this creation of Zionism and then eventually … Israel, there is an endless river of bloodshed. It is impossible to subjugate people and expect that there will be peace. Now, we are condoning what is emanating from this fact that there is a state but the fact is that it defies logic; it flies in the face of …,  righteousness and everything that the humanity calls for, by occupying Palestine and so our rabbis universally opposed the existence of … Israel and that the world should totally confuse this issue.

So You Want To Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology And Falsehoods...

Countercurrents and RINF 23/2/2015, Global Research and The 4th Media 24/2/2015, Il Cambiamento 25/2/2015, London Progressive Journal 21/3/2015

According to Mathew Holehouse in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper (here), former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson will this week accuse the European Union and Greenpeace of condemning people in the developing world to death by refusing to accept genetically modified crops. Speaking in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday, Paterson will warn that a food revolution that could save Africa from hunger is being held back and that the world is on the cusp of a green revolution, of the kind that fed a billion people in the 1960s and 1970s as the world’s population soared.

After talking about a growing global population and the pivotal role of GMOs in feeding it, Paterson will assert:

"This is also a time, however, of great mischief, in which many individuals and even governments are turning their backs on progress. Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organised, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves ‘progressive’, but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive… their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. And their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques would decimate the earth’s remaining wild spaces, devastate species and biodiversity, and leave our natural ecology poorer as a result.”

Instead of parroting the corporate spin of the pro-GMO lobby, Paterson would do better to consider more viable options that he likes to denigrate as 'backward-looking and regressive' by listening to what Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated in April of last year: 

“We don’t have a goal of developing GM products here or to import them.  We can feed ourselves with normal, common, not genetically modified products.  If the Americans like to eat such products, let them eat them.  We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” (see here)

Or maybe Paterson would benefit from heeding a Statement signed by 24 delegates from 18 African countries to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in 1998:

“We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial to us. We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia, and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.”

Perhaps he should also listen to Viva Kermani (here - supported by data) when talking about the situation in India:

“… the statements that they [supporters of GMOs] use such as “thousands die of hunger daily in India” are irresponsible and baseless scare-mongering with a view to projecting GM as the only answer. When our people go hungry, or suffer from malnutrition, it is not for lack of food, it is because their right to safe and nutritious food that is culturally connected has been blocked. That is why it is not a technological fix problem and GM has no place in it.”

Paterson has a history of engaging in the type of emotional blackmail and smearing of critics that comes second nature to the pro-GMO lobby. Anyone (usually portrayed as affluent Westerners – which is not true, given many of the critics are not ‘Western’, affluent or reside in ‘developed’ countries) who opposes GM crops or food is painted as an enemy of the poor because they take food from their bellies (see this). Paterson is using a rhetorical device deliberately designed to mislead and stir up emotion. His tactics are based on spurious claims about the efficacy of GMO technology and are intended to divert attention away from the true nature and causes of hunger and food poverty.

Proponents of GM crops constantly claim that we need such technology to address hunger and to feed a growing global population. We are told by the GMO biotech lobby that GM crops are essential, are better for the environment and will provide the tools that farmers need in a time of climate chaos. They claim that GM crops provide higher yields and higher incomes for farmers around the world. All such claims have been shown to be bogus.

For example, let us take one report from the many that could be cited to show the fallacious nature of these claims. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) last year released a report that concluded hunger is caused by poverty and inequality and that we already produce enough food to feed the world’s population and did so even at the peak of the world food crisis in 2008. The report went on to say that current global food production provides enough to feed ten billion people and the recent food price crises of 2008 and 2011 both took place in years of record global harvests, clearly showing that these crises were not the result of scarcity.

CBAN also noted that the GM crops that are on the market today are not designed to address hunger. Four GM crops account for almost 100 percent of worldwide GM crop acreage, and all four have been developed for large-scale industrial farming systems and are used as cash crops for export, to produce fuel or for processed food and animal feed.

The report also stated that GM crops have not increased yields and do not increase farmers’ incomes. GM crops lead to an increase in pesticide use and cause further harm to the environment. Pesticide reduction was the primary selling point for Bt cotton adoption in India, but overall pesticide use has not decreased in any state that grows Bt cotton, with the exception of Andhra Pradesh. Read the full report that contains over 100 references in in support of these claims.

Hunger, food security and ‘feeding the world’ is a political, social and economic problem and no amount of gene splicing is capable of surmounting obstacles like poor roads, inadequate rural credit systems and insufficient irrigation.

Paterson's talk about backward, regressive, primitive farming practices that would condemn millions to hunger and decimate the ecology is again playing on fear and emotion. What he says has no basis in reality.

Numerous official reports have argued that to feed the hungry in poorer regions we need to support diverse, sustainable agro-ecological methods of farming and strengthen local food economies: for example, see this UN report, this official report, this report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and this report by 400 experts which was twice peer reviewed. 

See also see this report that indicates GMOs are not necessary to feed the world.

So from where and from who is Paterson getting his information from? I think we know the answer.

It is after all small farms and peasant farmers (more often than not serving local communities) that are more productive than giant industrial (export-oriented) farms and which produce most of the world’s food (see this report from GRAIN). The experience with GM crops shows that the application of GM technology is more likely to actually undermine food security and entrench the social, economic and environmental problems created by industrial agriculture and corporate control (see this other report from GRAIN and this article by Helena Paul documenting ecocide and genocide in South America due to the imposition of GM crops there).

“The problem is that the poor have no money to buy food and increasingly, no access to land on which to grow it… GM is a dangerous distraction from real solutions and claims that GM can help feed the world can be viewed as exploitation of the suffering of the hungry. GM crops do not increase yield. Nor are there any GM crops that are better than non-GM crops at tolerating poor soils or challenging climate conditions. Thus it is difficult to see how GM can contribute to solving world hunger… The two major GM crops, soy and maize, mostly go into animal feed for intensive livestock operations, biofuels to power cars, and processed human food – products for wealthy nations that have nothing to do with meeting the basic food needs of the poor and hungry.”

This above quote is from the Open Earth Source report GMOs Myths and Truths. The report provides specific details about GM crops that have been specifically promoted as helping small-scale and poor farmers in Africa. However, the results were the opposite of what was promised and all these projects failed.

Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of GM technology, so staunch in fact that fellow Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith stated Paterson was little more than an industry puppet (see this in the UK’s Independent newspaper that quotes Goldsmith).

Paterson is ignorant of or at least content to side line the devastating, deleterious health, environmental, social and economic impacts of GMOs, which are outined in the 'GMO Myths and Truths' report. He acts as a mouthpieces for the GMO biotech sector and has made numerous false claims about the benefits and safety of GMOs that fly in the face of research findings.

In the recent past, he was keen to reassure the British public that safety concerns over GMOs are based on "humbug" and that GM food is completely safe to eat. See this article, which outlines Paterson’s stance and critiques his claims. 

When Paterson talks about 'enemies' of the 'green revolution' as being fanatical Luddites, he may also like to consider that the ‘green revolution’ was not the resounding success he likes to portray it as. Raj Patel provides some revealing insight into how the ‘green revolution’ took credit for many gains in Indian agricultural that were due to other influences (see this). And, of course, the ‘green revolution’ was based on, among other things, massive external inputs, violence, severe environmental and human health degradation and debt (see this – the entire text of Vandana Shiva’s book ‘The Violence of the Green Revolution’ - and this and this, which both highlight the current agrarian crisis in Punjab, the original ‘poster boy’ of the ‘green revolution’).   

It comes as no surprise that Paterson would state the things he does. As Environment Minister, his support for GMOs was being carried out in partnership with a number of pro-GMO institutions, including the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is backed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. Last year, despite government attempts to throw a veil of secrecy over meetings and conversations it had with the industry, GeneWatch UK uncovered evidence that GMO companies are driving UK government policy in this area (see here). 

So if you were still wondering from where and whom Paterson is getting his information from, it should by now be clear. 

His attacks on Greenpeace and others who advocate a shift away from petrochemical/GM agriculture towards sustainable farming are part of the wider media campaign to demonize scientists and prominent anti-GMO campaigners. A number of hatchet pieces have in recent months branded Vandana Shiva a liar and a charlatan and the GMO lobby has assembled all the ingredients (not least a massive amount of money) of a classic yet predictable propaganda campaign (see this and this). From the UK, to Ghana (see this) and India (see this), there is a concerted campaign by the GMO lobby and its political handmaidens to demonize critics of GMOs. 

Paterson plays his role well.

Such tactics are used because the pro-GMO lobby has a big problem. It cannot provide a convincing case for GMOs. It therefore resorts to populism, intimidation, character assassination, emotional blackmail, falsehoods, panic mongering and unfounded claims (see this to see how its rhetoric about ‘sound science’ and dispassionate reason informing the debate on GMOs contradicts how it acts in reality). In fact, it goes above and beyond such things by tightening its grip on countries on the back of coups, war and conflict (see this to understand how big agritech concerns benefit from and fuel the situation in Ukraine).

Yes, it is a time of great mischief as Paterson says – but not because of what his critics say or do – but because of what he and his backers do by turning their backs on the type of sound science and progress in the way that he falsely he accuses GMO critics of doing. 

Paterson belongs to the pro-big business Conservative Party which champions the type of privatisation, public expenditure reduction, deregulation, tax avoiding and ‘free’ trade policies that have ceded policy decision making to powerful corporate players. This has in turn led to a concentration of wealth (see this) and imposed ‘austerity’ and drives hunger, poverty, land grabs and the disappearance of family/peasant farms (see this analysis of food commodity speculationthis description of the global food system and this report by the Oakland Institute on land grabs) – the very bedrock of global food production (see this).

What Paterson and the agritech cartel offer is more of the same by tearing up traditional agriculture for the benefit of corporate entities. Paterson talks of critics of GMO as being Luddites, fanatics and condemning billions (yes, he does say billions!) to poverty and underdevelopment with regressive policies. He should look closer to home.

He should realise that elite interests in the West have condemned tens of millions to hunger and poverty in Africa by enslaving them and their nations to debt and that agriculture has for many decades been an important means by which US foreign policy creates dependence and subservience (see here). But such things are not to be debates by Paterson. Like all good (or should that be bad?) politicians, he twists the truth and turns deception and hypocrisy into an art.  

The current global system of chemical-industrial agriculture and World Trade Organisation rules that agritech companies helped draw up for their benefit to force their products into countries (see  here) are a major cause of structural hunger, poverty, illness and environmental destruction. By its very design, the system is meant to suck the life from people, nations and the planet for profit and control (see  here). Blaming critics of this system for the problems of the system is highly convenient. And forwarding some bogus technical quick-fix will not put things right. It represents more of the same.

So you want to ‘help’ Africa Mr Paterson?

Daniel Maingi works with small farmers in Kenya and belongs to the organization Growth Partners for Africa. Maingi was born on a farm in eastern Kenya and studied agriculture from a young age. He remembers a time when his family would grow and eat a diversity of crops, such as mung beans, green grams, pigeon peas, and a variety of fruits now considered ‘wild’. Following the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s and 1990s and a green revolution meant to boost agricultural efficiency, the foods of his childhood have been replaced with maize, maize, and more maize. He says:

 "In the morning, you make porridge from maize and send the kids to school. For lunch, boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, ugali, [a staple dough-like maize dish, served with meat]… [today] it’s a monoculture diet, being driven by the food system – it’s an injustice.” (see here  and here for the sources that quote Maingi and other commentators mentioned below).

As much of Africa is so dry, it’s not suited for thirsty crops, and heavy use of fertilizer kills worms and microbes important for soil health. Maingi therefore argues that the model of farming in the West is not appropriate for farming in most of Africa and that the West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology.

Growth Partners Africa works with farmers to enrich the soil with manure and other organic material, to use less water and to grow a variety of crops, including some that would be considered weeds on an industrial farm. For Maingi, food sovereignty in Africa means reverting to a way of farming and eating that pre-dates major investment from the West.

Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety in South Africa says that many countries are subsidizing farmers to buy fertilizer as part of the chemical-industrial model of  agriculture, but that takes money away from public crop-breeding programmes that provide improved seeds to farmers at low cost:

“It’s a system designed to benefit agribusinesses and not small-scale farmers.”

She adds because so many institutions, from African governments to the World Bank, have ‘embraced’ the ‘green revolution’ so much that alternative farming methods are getting short shrift.

Elizabeth Mpofu, of La Via Campesina, grows a variety of crops in Zimbabwe. During a recent drought, neighbours who relied on chemical fertilizer lost most of their crops. She reaped a bounty of sorghum, corn, and millet using what are called agro-ecological methods: natural pest control, organic fertilizer, and locally adapted crops.

There is also concern about the increased reliance on expensive inputs and the dramatic drop in price of crops. This has resulted in poverty for the small farmer.

Daniel Maingi:

“What the World Bank has done, the International Monetary fund, what AGRA and Bill Gates are doing, it’s actually pretty wrong. The farmer himself should not be starving”.

He added that what the Gates Foundation/big agritech backed Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) (see this) is doing is “out of sync with the natural process” by bringing in imported seeds, which are not adapted to the land and require excessive fertilizer and pesticides. 

In effect, giant agritech corporations with their patented GMO seeds and associated chemical inputs are working to ensure a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and environmental sustainability. The evidence provided by GRAIN and the Oakland Institute shows that small farmers are being displaced and are struggling to preserve their indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge of farming systems. 

Globally, agritech corporations are being allowed to shape government policy by being granted a strategic role in trade negotiations (see this). They are increasingly setting the policy/knowledge framework by being allowed to fund and determine the nature of research carried out in public universities and institutes (see this). They continue to propagate the myth that they have the answer to global hunger and poverty.

… take capitalism and business out of farming in Africa. The West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology, education and infrastructure and stand in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement.” Daniel Maingi, Growth Partners for Africa.

Paterson and his corporate associates believe that the poor must be ‘helped’ by the West and its powerful corporations and billionaire 'philanthropists'. It harks back to colonialism. The West has already done enough damage in Africa as Michel Chossudovsky has described:

“The “economic therapy” imposed under IMF-World Bank jurisdiction is in large part responsible for triggering famine and social devastation in Ethiopia and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, wreaking the peasant economy and impoverishing millions of people. With the complicity of branches of the US government, it has also opened the door for the appropriation of traditional seeds and landraces by US biotech corporations, which behind the scenes have been peddling the adoption of their own genetically modified seeds under the disguise of emergency aid and famine relief. Moreover, under WTO rules, the agri-biotech conglomerates can manipulate market forces to their advantage as well as exact royalties from farmers. The WTO provides legitimacy to the food giants to dismantle State programmes including emergency grain stocks, seed banks, extension services and agricultural credit, etc.), plunder peasant economies and trigger the outbreak of periodic famines.” See the full article (‘Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia’) from which this extract is taken here


When Owen Paterson accuses critics of GMOs of being elitist and regressive, he is merely attempting to shift the focus from his own own elitist, regressive ideology. 

Hasn't the world had enough of the type of Western 'humanitarianism' that Paterson espouses?

What if the Children Dying in Gaza were Jews?

Let’s do a thought experiment and imagine that the Arabs had gotten the better of the Israelis in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and after years of conflict, all that was left of Israel was the Gaza strip.

Assume for a moment that instead of Palestinians, over 1.8 million Jews were crammed into the 11 mile Gaza strip and the state of Palestine, subsidized and supported by a superpower, was administering the calories to the Jews in Gaza, keeping them to a limit of 2,300 a day.

Imagine that instead of Palestinian children, it was Jewish children living under a Palestinian embargo that denied them toys, books, music and until a few years ago, even pasta.  How do you think the world would react?  Imagine if it were Palestinian commandos who had assaulted a peaceful cargo ship attempting to break the embargo to bring supplies to Jews in Gaza, killing nine, including one American.   Do you think 85 US Senators would have signed a letter supporting the embargo on Gaza and the deadly attack on the cargo ship if that ship had been on a humanatarian mission to help Jews in Gaza?


NBC correspondent  Ayman Mohyeldin reported first hand the death of four boys playing on the beach in Gaza.  “The attack - and its heartrending aftermath – was witnessed by NBC News. Moments earlier, the boys were playing soccer with journalists on the beach.  The four victims were named as Ahed Atef Bakr and Zakaria Ahed Bakr, both 10 years old, Mohamed Ramez Bakr, 11, and Ismael Mohamed Bakr, 9.”  Ayman Mohyeldin, who is Egyptian-American, was later ordered by NBC to leave Gaza.

Glenn Greenwald reported that, “numerous NBC employees, including some of the network’s highest-profile stars, were…indignant,” and that Mohyeldin had been removed from Gaza allegedly due to pressure from Neo-con quarters which claimed Mohyeldin had been soft on Hamas.

It's almost impossible to imagine that Mohyeldin would have been replaced if he had been reporting on the death of four Jewish youngsters at the hands of a Palestinian gunboat.  What we see repeatedly in Gaza is how the media values Palestinian lives differently than Israeli ones.

The day after the attack, Samantha Power, US ambassador to the United Nations, began her comments this way:

"The United States is deeply concerned about the rocket attacks by Hamas and the dangerous escalation of hostilities in the region. In particular, we are concerned about the devastating impact of this crisis on both Israeli and Palestinian civilians."

It's unimaginable that if a Hamas rocket had landed in a park and killed four Israeli children that Ms. Power would have begun her remarks this way:

"The United States is deeply concerned about the Israeli incursion into Gaza and the dangerous escalation of hostilities in the region..."

Why is this inconceivable?  Because Ms. Power and the government she represents support Israeli apartheid and simply do not value the lives of Palestinian children the same way they value the lives of Israeli children.

As reported by MSN, CNN reporter Diana Magnay was removed from Gaza because:

"Magnay was reporting live on the air as a group watched the Israeli bombardment of Gaza around her. After the report was over, she wrote on Twitter: ‘Israelis on hill above Sderot cheer as bombs land on #gaza; threaten to 'destroy our car if I say a word wrong.' Scum.’  CNN said in a statement Friday that Magnay was referring specifically to those who threatened her. CNN said the network and Magnay are sorry if anyone was offended.  The network said Magnay has been reassigned to Moscow.”

If the people on the hill above her had been Arabs cheering on a Palestinian artillery battery hammering Jews, would Ms. Magnay have been reassigned to Moscow for calling those who threatened her ‘scum’?  Unlikely.

World renowned Israeli novelist Amos Oz, who supports the war calling it “justified, but excessive”, asked the following questions during an interview to explain why he supports the Israeli offensive:

QUESTION 1: What would you do if your neighbor across the street sits down on the balcony, puts his little boy on his lap, and starts shooting machine-gun fire into your nursery?

QUESTION 2: What would you do if your neighbor across the street digs a tunnel from his nursery to your nursery in order to blow up your home or in order to kidnap your family?

Maybe the question for Mr. Oz should be:  What would you do if your entire neighborhood was forced to live in a giant outdoor prison where your children were denied books, toys and forced to live on a bare minimum of calories?   Would you fight back?  Would your rhetoric become extreme?

Over 400 hundred Palestinian children have been killed during the current fighting in Gaza, children who during their short lives had been denied the basic necessities for having committed the crime of being born in the land of their ancestors.  No one had more of a right to live in Palestine than did those children, yet Bob Scheifer of CBS News said the following:

“In the Middle East, the Palestinian people find themselves in the grip of a terrorist group that has embarked on a strategy to get its own children killed in order to build sympathy for its cause – a strategy that might actually be working at least in some quarters.”

Scheifer can only blame the Palestinians for 'provoking' the IDF.

Of course in Europe, the coverage is somewhat more balanced, but Roger Cohen of the NY Times let's us know what's behind that.  He begins by quoting poet James Lasdun, "There is something uncannily adaptive about anti-Semitism: the way it can hide, unsuspected, in the most progressive minds."  Then Cohen continues, "...the war has also suggested how the virulent anti-Israel sentiment now evident among the bien-pensant European left can create a climate that makes violent hatred of Jews permissible once again."  What Mr. Cohen is saying is that if one applies the full measure of moral outrage towards the Israeli slaughter of children, as the Europeans are doing and the Americans refuse to do, then you are toying with anti-Semitism of the National Socialist variety.

A good example of Cohen's logic at work was when Jimmy Carter used the word ‘apartheid’ to describe the situation in Gaza and was branded "dangerous and anti-Semitic" for simply stating the obvious.

While there has been some limited criticism from the United States regarding the Israeli invasion, no one should doubt who is calling the shots in the US/Israeli relationship.  During the last conflict in Gaza in 2009, Condolezza Rice was going to vote for a UN resolution calling for a cease fire but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would have nothing of it.  He explained what happened in a speech:

"When we saw that the secretary of state, for reasons we did not really understand, wanted to vote in favour of the UN resolution ... I looked for President Bush and they told me he was in Philadelphia making a speech. I said, 'I don't care. I have to talk to him now'. They got him off the podium, brought him to another room and I spoke to him. I told him, 'You can't vote in favour of this resolution.' He said, 'Listen, I don't know about it, I didn't see it, I'm not familiar with the phrasing.' He gave an order to the secretary of state and she did not vote in favour of it - a resolution she cooked up, phrased, organised and maneuvered for. She was left pretty shamed and abstained on a resolution she arranged."

Who decides when a child deserves books, toys, and pasta or is better served by an artillery barrage?  Mr. Netanyahu and his accomplices in the American government and media have no doubts about who deserves what.

So That’s Why They Kept the Drone Kill Memo Secret

Now that the U.S. government has released parts of its We-Can-Kill-People-With-Drones memo, it's hard to miss why it was kept secret until now. Liberal professors and human rights groups and the United Nations were claiming an inability to know whethe...

US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, in Turkey and Jordan to Discuss Syria

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – According to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Powers will travel to Jordan and then Turkey to discuss a “range of issues, including the effects of the conflict in Syria.” The meetings are to take place starting on June 10th until the 14th. Powers is a war hawk and a supporter of the American Empire who has advocated for air strikes against the government of Bashar al-Assad in the past. Powers wrote an article for the New Republic that explains her stance, the title alone says it all ‘Force Full.’ She wrote:

These days, though, the best argument for marrying power and principle is that power exerted in a unilateralist, morally selective, ahistoric, unprincipled fashion is not simply harming foreigners; it is gravely undermining U.S. security. The terrorists will thrive in a sea of anti- Americanism. That sea will not be drained by adding another $46 billion to the U.S. defense budget. It will not be drained by training more Arabists in the U. S. government. Liberals and conservatives, hawks and doves alike, must see that American power can be a force for human rights around the world, and greater human rights enjoyment is an indispensible requirement for the preservation of U.S. power.

Embedding U.S. power in an international system and demonstrating humility would be painful, unnatural steps for any empire, never mind the most potent empire in the history of mankind. But more pain now will mean far less pain later

It is a bold statement made by Powers to admit that the US Empire is a force for good in the world. In a 2013 speech at the Center for American Progress, Powers explains to the audience why limited off-shore strikes against Syria were necessary. She said:

From 1992, when the Bosnian genocide started, til 1995, when President Clinton launched the air strikes that stopped the war, public opinion consistently opposed military action there. Even after we succeed in ending the war, and negotiating a peace settlement, the House of representatives, reflecting public opinion, voted against deploying American troops to a NATO peace-keeping mission.

There is no question that this deployment of American power saved lives and returns stability to a critical region of the world and a critical region for the United States.

We all have a choice to make, whether we are Republicans or Democrats, whether we have supported past military interventions or opposed to them, whether we have argued for or such action in Syria prior to this point

The Obama administration is re-launching a campaign to remove President Bashar al-Assad even though he won more than 88% of votes in recent elections which does legitimize his presidency. What will the US government attempt besides aiding the rebels with more military hardware? Will they attempt to launch limited air strikes into Syrian territory? Better yet, Will Turkey and Jordan follow Washington’s orders to destabilize Syria? The Turkish government has supported Syrian opposition groups who crossed into Syrian borders with US backing. Turkey also has a joint military-intelligence apparatus with Israel that gathers information on Syria. Turkey has also pressured Damascus to conform to Washington’s demands for regime change. Turkey and Jordan has given covert support to the Syrian rebels including the transfer of weapons across borders since the civil war began. Turkey and Jordan is subservient to Washington and Israel. Samantha Powers is planning the next step to remove the Assad government with the help of both Turkish and Jordanian governments. Powers or the Obama administration is not interested in preventing war or genocide of innocent civilians as Powers has claimed in the past, it really is about US imperial ambitions over the resource rich Middle East region.

The Results of the US “Spreading Democracy” in Iraq: Terrorism, Civil War and Joe...

Iraq’s not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement

US President Barack H. Obama

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), an extreme fascist Islamic terrorist organization has taken control of Mosul and Tikrit and now they’re on their way to Bagdad. The Washington Post reported what had occurred in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul:

Death was everywhere in the sacked the city of Mosul, a strategically vital oil hub and Iraq’s largest northern city. One reporter said an Iraqi woman in Mosul claimed to have seen a “row of decapitated soldiers and policemen” on the street. Other reports spoke of “mass beheadings,” though The Washington Post was not able to confirm the tales. But the United Nations Human Rights chief, Navi Pillay, said the summary executions “may run into the hundreds” and that she was “extremely alarmed

Iraq is a monumental failure for US foreign policy. The US-led war to “spread democracy” and freedom to the people of Iraq under Operation Iraqi Freedom was a farce. The United States invaded Iraq in 2003 for two main reasons according to the Bush administration and Congress. First, they claimed that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems capable of striking the United States. Second, they publically lied to the world that Iraq had been involved in the 9/11 terror attacks with Al-Qaeda through its “credible” intelligence services. Both claims were completely fabricated. The Pentagon and CIA (although there were some members that did not agree with the assessment) knew that the case was being made for war and eventually went along with the Bush administration’s plan to invade Iraq. The US government wanted absolute control over the production and transport of oil for US markets and for the military-industrial complex war machine. The result is catastrophic. More than 1.4 million Iraqis, 4,800 US soldiers and 3,400 International occupation forces were killed. The total cost of the war exceeds $1.5 trillion.

The US exploited differences between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds since Iraqi society was already deeply divided. These divisions were manipulated by coalition forces to subdue the population. Between 2006 and 2008, a sectarian conflict erupted which resulted in over 60,000 deaths most of them civilians. Now there is the threat of Iraq becoming even more divisive, one of them becoming an Islamic state based on Sharia law under the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Since the US invasion, Iraqi population has constantly witnessed terrorist attacks resulting in numerous deaths including women and children. Divisions between Sunni and Shite are even greater today than under Saddam Hussein.

US Vice-President Joe Biden wanted to systematically divide Iraq along ethnic-lines into three states. He wrote a New York Times opinion editorial in 2006 with Council of Foreign Relations member Leslie H. Gelb how the plan would work:

The idea, as in Bosnia, is to maintain a united Iraq by decentralizing it, giving each ethno-religious group — Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab — room to run its own affairs, while leaving the central government in charge of common interests. We could drive this in place with irresistible sweeteners for the Sunnis to join in, a plan designed by the military for withdrawing and redeploying American forces, and a regional nonaggression pact

Well Biden’s wish is might be coming true. Iraq is becoming increasingly more divided and even more dangerous since the US withdrew its forces in 2011. Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish groups remain divided. Now with a situation involving al-Qaeda and its splinter groups such as ISIS forming their own organization whether Western-funded or not, the Iraqi government is losing control. According to the Agence France-Presse (AFP) the Syrian government is blaming the West and Saudi Arabia for its ties to ISIS:

Syrian state media on Thursday accused Saudi Arabia and the West of complicity with the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) that has captured swathes of Iraqi territory. Echoing claims often made by the regime and its supporters, state media said Saudi and other allies of the Syrian opposition were funding and arming jihadist groups like ISIS. “Terrorism is spreading in front of the eyes of the western world… and alongside it are the fingers of Saudi Arabia, providing money and arms,” the Al-Thawra daily wrote

Iraqi President Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki also believes that Saudi Arabia and Qatar has funded terrorist groups in Iraq according to a report by Patrick Cockburn of The Independent:

Iraq has long suspected the hidden hand of Wahhabism, the variant of Islam espoused by Saudi Arabia, as being behind many of its troubles. But it was only this month that Mr Maliki, in an interview with France 24 television, put the blame squarely on Saudi Arabia and Qatar, saying that “these two countries are primarily responsible for the sectarian, terrorist and security crisis in Iraq

The United States and the Gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar support of ISIS seems accurate since Iraq has been divided along ethnic lines and the attempt to further destabilize Syria has been part of the US foreign policy. Cockburn says:

How much truth is there in Mr Maliki’s accusations? A proportion of aid from the Gulf destined for the armed opposition in Syria undoubtedly goes to Iraq. Turkey allows weapons and jihadist volunteers, many of them potential suicide bombers, to cross its 500 mile-long border into Syria and inevitably some of the guns, fighters and bombers will go to Iraq. This is hardly surprising given that Isis operates in both countries as if they were one

The Guardian reported on what Wikileaks cables had revealed Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s memo on Saudi Arabia’s involvement in financing terrorist organizations “Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest source of funds for Islamist militant groups such as the Afghan Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba – but the Saudi government is reluctant to stem the flow of money, according to Hillary Clinton”.

The BBC reported in 2013 that Al-Nusra and ISIS are the majority of foreign fighters in Syria:

According to a recent estimate by Aaron Zelin of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, there could be up to 11,000 of these fighters. It raises the questions of which groups they join, and what the relations between these groups are. By far the two most popular banners for these foreign fighters are al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, the al-Nusra Front, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

ISIS is the result of a unilateral attempt by the leader of Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to merge his group with al-Nusra. The move was rejected al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Mohammed al-Julani, and by al-Qaeda overall leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but Baghdadi refused to disband ISIS

Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Leader of ISIS?

The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, also known as Abu Dua. ISIS was created in Iraq after the Bush Administration’s orchestrated a US-led invasion. Who is al-Baghdadi? According to Patrick Cockburn, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS was a former prisoner in an American run facility called the Bocca Camp in Southern Iraq:

There are disputes over his career depending on whether the source is ISIS itself, US or Iraqi intelligence but the overall picture appears fairly clear. He was born in Samarra, a largely Sunni city north of Baghdad, in 1971 and is well educated. With black hair and brown eyes, a picture of al-Baghdadi taken when he was a prisoner of the Americans in Bocca Camp in southern Iraq between 2005 and 2009, makes him look like any Iraqi man in his thirties.

His real name is believed to be Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, who has degrees in Islamic Studies, including poetry, history and genealogy, from the Islamic University of Baghdad. He may have been an Islamic militant under Saddam as a preacher in Diyala province, to the north east of Baghdad, where, after the US invasion of 2003, he had his own armed group. Insurgent movements have a strong motive for giving out misleading information about their command structure and leadership, but it appears al-Baghdadi spent five years as prisoner of the Americans

The US has offered a $10 million reward for leads that can either capture or kill Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in 2011. That offer still stands. The US has destabilized Iraq, and now terrorist organizations threaten all nations across the Middle East, including Turkey, Israel, Lebanon, Iran and Syria. It is no coincidence that the Obama administration is taking advantage of Iraq’s situation. Last month, Obama gave a speech in a commencement ceremony at the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. It signified how Washington is planning to topple the Syrian government. He said:

A critical focus of this effort will be the ongoing crisis in Syria. As frustrating as it is, there are no easy answers there, no military solution that can eliminate the terrible suffering anytime soon. As president, I made a decision that we should not put American troops into the middle of this increasingly sectarian civil war, and I believe that is the right decision. But that does not mean we shouldn’t help the Syrian people stand up against a dictator who bombs and starves his own people. And in helping those who fight for the right of all Syrians to choose their own future, we are also pushing back against the growing number of extremists who find safe haven in the chaos.

So with the additional resources I’m announcing today, we will step up our efforts to support Syria’s neighbors — Jordan and Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq — as they contend with refugees and confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders. I will work with Congress to ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition who offer the best alternative to terrorists and brutal dictators. And we will continue to coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis and to make sure that those countries and not just the United States are contributing their fair share of support to the Syrian people

Syria is part of the US Imperial agenda. Now with ISIS expanding its base and launching attacks across Iraq creating an uncertain future for the war torn country, Syria will experience the same fate if President Bashar al-Assad is removed from power. The Syrian government and the people will prevent ISIS and Washington’s so called “moderate rebels” from destabilizing their country. ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are all Western backed terrorist groups seeking to gain power across the region. The consequence of the US invasion has destabilized Iraq with no hope of re-establishing itself as a united country as it once was under Saddam Hussein. The US, Turkey, Israel and the Gulf states are attempting to do the same to Syria by funding terrorist organizations in hopes of installing a puppet regime that will remain loyal to Western interests. Iraq is a failed state because of Western intervention, so why would they attempt the same policy towards Syria knowing what happened to Iraq? Do they believe this time would be successful? I certainly doubt it. But then again do they really want success? Or do they want to divide the region in order to control all sides?

                               

Difficult tests await the new Palestinian unity government

The National – 9 June 2014

In last week’s celebratory atmosphere as the Palestinian unity government was sworn in, ending a seven-year feud between Fatah and Hamas, it was easy to overlook who was absent.

Hamas had agreed to remain in the shadows to placate Washington, which is legally obliged to refuse aid to a government that includes a designated terrorist group. The new Palestinian cabinet looked little different from its predecessor. Hamas’s input was limited to three independents, all in low-level ministerial positions.

And because this transitional government is still operating within the confines of Israeli occupation, the three ministers from Gaza were refused permits to travel to the West Bank for the swearing-in ceremony.

The appointment of a temporary government of technocrats is likely to be the easiest phase of the reconciliation agreed in late April. The deal has endured so far because Hamas, in even more desperate straits than its rival, Fatah, has capitulated.

For that reason, the US and most of the world hurried to offer their blessing. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the other hand, made dire warnings about the “strengthening of terror” and approved 3,300 settler homes to punish the Palestinians.

A far trickier stage is still to come: the Palestinian cabinet under President Mahmoud Abbas needs to oversee a bitterly contested national election between Fatah and Hamas.

The elections, expected next year, are vital. Palestinians have had no say in who rules them since 2006, when Hamas was victorious. A year later, Hamas and Fatah created separate fiefdoms in Gaza and the West Bank. Both need to prove their legitimacy at the ballot box. Should voting take place, and Hamas win again, the US and others can be expected to boycott the new government as they did back in 2006.

Other aspects of the earlier election’s conduct are instructive. In the months prior to voting eight years ago, Israel initiated a wave of arrests of Hamas leaders in an attempt to disrupt the democratic process. Israel also hoped to block voting in occupied East Jerusalem, which it considers part of its “eternal, indivisible” capital. But the White House – realising a ballot without Jerusalem would lack credibility – pressured Israel into grudging acquiescence.

Less well remembered is that Fatah quietly conspired with Israel to try to postpone the national vote. Fearing that Hamas would sweep the board, Fatah hoped to use Israeli intransigence in Jerusalem as the necessary pretext to delay the wider elections to a time more favourable to its candidates.

Mr Netanyahu has already announced that he will not allow an election in East Jerusalem, as well as indicating that Hamas will be barred from running elsewhere. That is hardly surprising: Israel has spent the past eight years eradicating Hamas from Jerusalem by jailing its leaders or expelling them.

But Fatah’s behaviour in 2006 hints at an even bigger obstacle to consummating the reconciliation. The reality is that Hamas and Fatah have entered the process only out of mutual despair.

Hamas’s political and geographical isolation in Gaza has plumbed new depths since the Egyptian regime turned hostile. Blockaded on all sides, Hamas has seen its support erode as the enclave’s economic crisis has deepened. A deal with Fatah seems the only way to open the borders.

The credibility of Fatah and Mr Abbas, meanwhile, has been steadily undermined by years of cooperation with Israel – all while the settlements have expanded – in the hope of extracting a concession on statehood.

Mr Abbas’s new strategy – creating a momentum towards statehood at the United Nations – requires that his government-in-waiting establish its democratic credentials, territorial integrity and a national consensus behind the diplomatic option.

The priority for Mr Netanyahu is not only to void the elections but to weaken the two sides’ commitment to unity by punishing them for their insolence. He can do so given Israel’s control over all aspects of Palestinian life.

Israel has begun not only with another fierce round of settlement building, but by declaring war on the Palestinian economy, refusing to accept shekel deposits from Palestinian banks, and by imposing collective daily blackouts on Palestinians for unpaid bills to Israel’s electricity company.

Mr Abbas, now responsible for paying the salaries of tens of thousands of public employees in Gaza each month, will be even more vulnerable to Israeli threats to refuse to transfer tax and customs revenues. It emerged yesterday that Israel is also lobbying foreign capitals to hold the Palestinian president directly responsible for any rockets fired from Gaza.

Hamas faces a no less difficult period ahead. If it strays too far from Fatah’s dictates, it will be blamed for destroying the unity pact, but if it adheres too close to Fatah, it will lose its identity and risk being outflanked by more militant groups like Islamic Jihad.

Samah Sabawi, a political analyst, observed of the unity government: “What we need more than ministries and authorities is resistance and liberation.” The unity government – whether of technocrats or elected officials – will still operate within the limitations imposed by Israel’s occupation.

In fact, the unity government simply breathes new life into the illusion – created by the Oslo accords of two decades ago – that good governance by the Palestinian Authority can change the Palestinians’ situation for the better.

In practice, such governance has entailed submitting to Israel’s security demands, a Palestinian obligation Mr Abbas termed “sacred” last week.

As Ms Sabawi suggests, an occupied people needs not better rubbish collection or street lighting but an effective strategy for resistance.

Palestinians will not benefit from a PA that polices the occupation simply because it becomes more “unified”. Rather, their struggle to attain real freedom will grow that bit more daunting.

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Washington Wants Maduro Dead

Washington Wants Maduro Dead

by Stephen Lendman

He's Venezuela's democratically elected president. It doesn't matter. Washington's dirty war continues. 

It's done so since Chavez's December 1998 election. He became president in February 1999. He served until his March 5, 2013 death. 

He survived Washington's April 2002 coup attempt. A 64-day 2002 - 03 general strike and oil management lockout.

A failed August 2004 national recall referendum. He was Washington's main hemispheric enemy. It wanted him ousted.

It wanted him dead. Obama killed him. Most likely by poison or cancer causing substances. Four major surgeries in 18 months couldn't save him.

He knew he was marked for death. He said so numerous times. So did Maduro, saying he "was poisoned by dark forces in order to hit at the Venezuelan people and Latin America."

Washington targets all independent nations for regime change. It wants subservient pro-Western governance replacing them.

It wants convenient stooges it controls empowered. Venezuela made a client state. Bolivarianism crushed. State-owned enterprises privatized. 

Predatory capitalist harshness replacing economic and social justice. Control of Venezuela's vast hydrocarbon resources. 

By far the world's largest. Proved mostly light sweet reserves are around 300 billion barrels.

The Department of Energy estimates heavy and extra-heavy oil resources at up to 1.36 trillion barrels. 

It's a prize Washington covets. For over 15 years, US administrations targeted Venezuela disruptively. Obama continues what his predecessors began.

America's National Endowment for Democracy (NED), National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), US Agency for International Development (USAID), Development Alternatives, CIA and FBI actively wage economic and political war on Venezuela.

It continues. In mid-February, US-manipulated destabilizing protests began. They continue violently. Dozens died. Hundreds were injured.

Weeks earlier, John Kerry lied saying:

"(T)he Venezuelan government has confronted peaceful protesters with force and in some cases with armed vigilantes claiming to support the government."

On May 8, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski turned truth on its head, saying:

"(D)emocracy is…under threat in Latin America. (W)hat is happening in Venezuela illustrates the threat perfectly."

"(S)uccessive rulers in Venezuela eroded respect for democratic principles…"

Protests became "a movement to restore the democratic freedoms that Venezuelans have lost."

"The government has responded…with teargas, with plastic bullets, leaving more than 40 people dead and hundreds injured." 

"It has empowered armed civilian thugs to intimidate and kill" anti-Bolivarian Venezuelans.

Fact: Venezuelan democracy is real.

Fact: It's by far Latin America's best.

Fact: It shames America's sham system.

Fact: Monied interests rule.

Fact: People have no say.

Fact: Democracy is pure fantasy.

Fact: Venezuelans have the real thing.

Fact: It's model democracy.

Fact: Its electoral system is the world's best.

Fact: It's constitutionally mandated.

Fact: Washington instigated Venezuelan protests.

Fact: It manipulates them.

Fact: They're in middle income and upscale neighborhoods only.

Fact: Most Venezuelans oppose them.

Fact: They support Bolivarian fairness.

Fact: They deplore Washington's dirty hands.

Fact: They oppose disruptive US practices to change things.

Obama wants Venezuela looking like Ukraine. He wants fascists replacing democrats. He wants Washington dictating Venezuelan policy.

He's mindless of what most Venezuelans cherish. Bolivarian fairness is polar opposite neoliberal contempt for social justice.

It bears repeating. Obama wants Maduro ousted. He wants him dead. Fascist anti-government National Assembly member Maria Corina Machado was involved in the aborted April 2002 coup.

She's up to her old tricks again. Venezuela's Bolivarian Intelligence Service was commissioned to intercept or record her private communications by court order.

An email she sent said:

"I believe the time has come to join forces, make the necessary calls, and obtain the financing to annihilate Maduro…"

"(A)nd the rest will come falling down," she added.

She wants Maduro assassinated. She wants him dead. She's currently charged with incitement and other crimes. 

In March, Venezuela's National Assembly (NA) passed an emergency motion to impeach her.

To remove her parliamentary immunity. Ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) member Tania Diaz accused her of treason.

For "seeking foreign government support and advice to sabotage Venezuelan democracy," she said.

NA Speaker Diosdado Cabello supports Diaz. He requested Machado be investigated on charges of terrorism and murder, as well as incitement of violence and related crimes.

"(T)his congresswoman will have to face the Venezuelan justice system for her crimes, destruction, disasters, and the incitement of crime from her calls for destabilization," he said.

"We will investigate and arrive at consequences," he added. 

"There will be no impunity in Venezuela, and this is the message that we send to the people, to be calm and remain confident in Maduro's leadership."

Machado "will be judged as a murderer and a terrorist." 

"She will be tried for crimes against humanity, conspiracy, and destabilization."

Since February, she called for Maduro's ouster. She did so publicly. She encouraged street violence.

She requested foreign intervention. She lied claiming Maduro committed "severe crimes against humanity."

Her May 23 email was intercepted. International strategy isn't working, she said. It's "taking too long," she complained.

"I'm fed up with waiting," she said. "We have to take out this trash - starting with the one heading it and by taking advantage of the world situation with Ukraine and Thailand as soon as possible." 

She intends "struggl(ing) until the end," she added. She wants street violence continued.

"(I)n the subway, Metrobus, Bolivarian high schools, public universities, and everywhere…" 

"We will invade everywhere with women expressing despair at living in a country with no freedom," she claimed.

It bears repeating. She wants Maduro dead. He thanked 20 governors and 255 mayors. On May 30, they "formally rejected the plan for my assassination," he said.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua compared Venezuela to Washington's disruptive Ukrainian policy, saying:

"The United States' plan to isolate and manipulate Russia…and Venezuela will not succeed, given that the US government no longer has the capacity to determine the fate of the majority of the world's countries."

On May 28, US House members overwhelming passed legislation mandating sanctions against Venezuela.

They did so by voice vote. They acted illegitimately. 

On May 20, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee overwhelmingly approved the "Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act."

It includes sanctions on Venezuelan officials. "(F)or ordering human rights abuses against the citizens of Venezuela, and for other purposes," it said.

It turned truth on its head. Washington's criminal class is bipartisan. It deplores fundamental freedoms. 

It mocks democratic rights. It represents Washington's imperial agenda. It reflects fascism writ large. It wages war on humanity.

Jaua responded. He called congressional action "completely illegal."

"There is nothing in international law that authorizes the US government and its legislature to employ unilateral sanctions," he said. 

"The only body authorized to so is the Security Council of the United Nations."

Usurping its authority doesn't wash. "These are psychological messages," Jaua added.

Washington targets "countries that have taken a path toward independence, toward sovereignty, toward self-determination."

He recalled Chavez's democratic vision. He championed "a balanced world, with many poles of power, so that nobody can exercise imperial hegemony over another, as the United States" claims a divine right to do.

"We've had enough," Jaua stressed. La Salida (the ousting) reflects opposition political strategy. 

Fascist extremists declared war on Venezuelan democracy. Opposition elements say violence will continue until "we remove those who govern us."

By any means possible. Maybe another coup attempt. By ousting Maduro. By killing him.

Venezuela Solidarity Campaign (VSC) issued a statement. In part, it said:

Bolivarian fairness threatens hardline elements. Their "illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional objectives."

"We therefore:

  • Condemn the violence unleashed by extreme right wing elements during opposition rallies and marches that led to the death of innocent people as a result of that violence, and condemn any undemocratic, illegal and unconstitutional actions against the democratically elected and constitutional government of President Maduro.

  • Call for the immediate cessation of extreme right wing violence against the established and constitutional authorities of Venezuela, and urge everybody to heed President Maduro's call for peace and dialogue in Venezuela.

  • Express our unconditional support for President Maduro, his elected government and the constitutional principles enshrined in the democratically-endorsed constitution.

  • Urge statements of solidarity for the the elected government of Venezuela and condemning the extreme right wing violence."

"No to violence! No to coup-mongering in Venezuela! Yes to dialogue, peace and respecting the democratic will of the majority!"

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

How Global Agribusiness Destroys Farming

Global Research and Countercurrents 30/5/2014 and Deccan Herald 31/5/2014

A new review carried out by the organization GRAIN reveals that small farms produce most of the world’s food. However, they are currently squeezed onto less than a quarter of the world’s farmland. The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of the rich and powerful. If we do nothing to reverse this trend, the world will lose its capacity to feed itself.

This claim is based on the findings of the report, ‘Hungry for Land’ (1), which states that small farmers are often much more productive than large corporate farms. For example, if all of Kenya’s farms matched the output of its small farms, the nation’s agricultural productivity would double. In Central America, it would nearly triple. In Russia, it would be six fold.

Marina Dos Santos of the Coordination of the Brazilian Landless Movement (MST) states that the peasantry is currently being criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. Small farmers are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion from their land, which not only affects peasants but also many other small farmers and indigenous peoples who are the target of foreign corporations. Dos Santos says that small farmers want land in order to live and to produce as these are their basic rights against land-grabbing corporations who seek only speculation and profit.

If the current processes of land concentration continue, she argues that then no matter how hard-working, efficient and productive they are, small farmers will simply not be able to carry on.

While it is often stated in official circles that the planet needs to produce more food to feed the growing population, the report suggests that more food could be produced almost immediately if small farmers had access to more land and could work in a supportive policy environment, rather than under the siege conditions they are facing today.

Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, says that the vast majority of farms in Zimbabwebelong to smallholders and their average farm size has increased as a result of the Fast Track Land Reform Programme. Small farmers in the country now produce over 90% of diverse agricultural food crops, while they only provided 60-70% of the national food before land redistribution. Mpofu says that we need to urgently put land back in the hands of small farmers and make the struggle for genuine and comprehensive agrarian reform central to the fight for better food systems.

The world is fast losing farms and farmers in many places, while big farms are getting bigger. One major reason why small farms are disappearing is the rapid growth of monoculture plantations. In the last 50 years, 140 million hectares – well more than all the farmland inChina – have been taken over for soybean, oil palm, rapeseed and sugar cane alone. By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Big agritech corporations take over scarce fertile land and prioritise commodities or export crops for profit and markets far away that cater for the needs of the affluent. 


This process impoverishes local communities and brings about food insecurity (2). GRAIN’s Camila Montecinos concludes that the concentration of fertile agricultural land in fewer and fewer hands is directly related to the increasing number of people going hungry every day.


GRAIN’s report relies on statistics that show small farms are technically more productive than big farms. While industrial farms have enormous power, influence and resources, small farms almost everywhere outperform big farms in terms of productivity.  


The review comes on the heels of a September 2013 report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (3), which also stated that farming in rich and poor nations alike should shift from monoculture towards greater varieties of crops, reduced use of fertilisers and other inputs, greater support for small-scale farmers and more locally focused production and consumption of food. More than 60 international experts contributed to the report.

The report stated that monoculture and industrial farming methods are not providing sufficient affordable food where it is needed. The system actually causes food poverty, not addresses it.

Numerous high level reports from the UN and development agencies have argued in favour of small farmers and agro-ecology, but this has not been translated into real action on the ground where peasant farmers increasingly face marginalisation and oppression.

Despite what these reports conclude and the evidence that indicates small farms have better productivity, Indiafor example is abandoning the small farmer in favour of foreign agritech corporations. This is resulting in a forced removal of farmers from the land and the destruction of traditional communities on a massive scale. In 2008, former Finance Minister P. Chidambaram envisaged at least 600 million people from rural Indiaeventually shifting to cities, leaving just 15% left to work the land or associated with the rural economy (4).

This process is so severe, so shocking even, that environmentalist Vandana Shiva has called what is happening constitutes the biggest forced removal of people from their lands in history. According to a 2009 report commissioned by the rural development ministry and chaired by the then minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, in certain areas of India it also involves the biggest illegal land grab since Columbus(5). 

The trend in India, as elsewhere, is being driven by big agritech that is working with the government to ensure a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and environmental sustainability. Policies that allow for the protection of local seeds and farmers’ rights to use them are paramount. Yet small farmers are being displaced and are struggling to preserve their indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge of farming systems. By patenting and monopolising seeds, big agritech is preventing farmers from saving and exchanging their own seeds that were developed over thousands of years. Agritech corporations are being allowed to shape government policy by being granted a strategic role in trade negotiations (6). They are consequently setting the policy/knowledge framework by being allowed to fund and determine the nature of research carried out in public universities and institutes (7).

Throughout the world, we continue to witness land grabs for non-food crops, industry or real estate interests, monocultures for export and the hijack of agriculture by big corporations backed by their co-opted scientists, media outlets and politicians (8) who continue to propagate the myth that they have the answer to global hunger and poverty. Despite mounting evidence that they do not, they continue to colonise agriculture all over the world - look no further than Africa where the Gates Foundation, Monsanto and Western governments are placing it in the hands of big agritech for private profit under the old colonialist pretext of helping the poor (9).

A shift from corporate-controlled, profit oriented commodity agriculture is required and involves moving towards more biodiverse organic systems that place emphasis on small farmers, local economies and food sovereignty.

Rather than addressing poverty, food inequality and hunger, big agritech corporations merely serve to perpetuate these problems and exploitative global power relations by sucking power, wealth and food from poorer countries, small farmers and local communities to satisfy themselves, their shareholders and affluent urban consumers in foreign lands. As long as petro-chemical corporate agriculture predominates and is expanded throughout the planet, the less food security and local/national food sovereignty we will see - and the more wars fuelled by oil interests, conflicts over land and water and damage to the environment we shall witness.


Notes





Political Prisoner Nabeel Rajab Freed

Political Prisoner Nabeel Rajab Freed

by Stephen Lendman

Bahrain's Al Khalifa monarchy rules despotically. Ruthlessly. Extrajudicially. State terror is official policy. 

Activists are targeted, arrested, tortured, and imprisoned. Kangaroo court proceedings deny justice.

Nabeel Rajab is one of Bahrain's best. He's a prominent human rights leader. A courageous one. Committed for right over wrong.

In 2002, he, current political prisoner Abdulhadi Alkhawaja, and others co-founded the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR). 

Its objectives include:

(1) Promoting civil, political, and economic freedom.

(2) Ending racial discrimination.

(3) Disseminating human rights culture.

(4) Supporting and protecting victims' rights.

Promoting fundamental human and civil rights in Bahrain risks life and limb. Rajab was targeted before.

He was harassed, vilified, beaten, injured, arrested, tortured and detained. Bahraini justice is none at all.

Activists like Rajab know what they face. They challenge Al Khalifa ruthlessness anyway.

On August 16, 2012, Rajab was sentenced to three years in prison. At the time, BCHR condemned it "in the strongest terms." 

He was already serving a three month sentence. For defending fundamental rights. For "libeling the citizens of the town of Muharraq over twitter," prosecutors said.

Rajab responded, saying "(y)ou can jail me for 3 years or 30 years, but I will not back down or retreat."

No matter the personal cost. He promised continued support for democratic values. He called them too important to be denied.

"I think we have to pay a much higher price than what normally people pay for freedom and democracy because you will not hear much about what’s going on here, as much as you will hear things happening in different countries," he explained.

On March 20, 2011, masked security forces dragged him from his home. They did so after midnight. They blindfolded and handcuffed him.

They severely beat him. He was attacked before. He was interrogated about statements he made. His family was threatened. 

His children were harassed in school. His wife was sacked from her job.

He was banned from travel for several months. He was denied permission to participate in human rights conferences and meetings.

He was imprisoned for "illegal practices, inciting illegal assemblies, and organizing unlicensed demonstrations through social media websites."

He championed justice. Fundamental human and civil rights. Bahraini authorities criminalized them. King Hamad calls peaceful protests "foreign plots."

Rajab said Washington supports Bahraini despotism. Including "attacks against human rights defenders," he explained. Before his arrest, he said:

"Given that Bahrain in essence lacks a judiciary system that is independent and/or fair, and is far from being in line with international standards of a fair trial, I have decided to boycott the trial against myself." 

"The judiciary system in Bahrain, today, is a tool used against human rights defenders and people calling for democracy and justice."

He explained two formative incidents. They changed him. They inspired his human rights advocacy.

"Two events affected me most," he said. "(O)ne when a colleague dropped himself from second floor to escape under-covered police who stormed school." 

"The second incident was when a dear teacher was arrested. That is when my voice started to rise and become annoying." 

"I was caught while writing apolitical human rights statements on school walls and was given the choice to either be submitted to police or to switch schools." 

"I was the top student back then, but I choose to switch to Sheikh Abdul Aziz school." In college he challenged all forms of injustice.

Later he got involved in national campaigns. In 1999, he co-founded the Bahrain Human Rights Society. In 2002, BCHR followed.

It supports "a prosperous democratic country free of discrimination and other violations of human rights."

It "encourage(s) and support(s) individuals and groups to be proactive in the protection of their own and others' rights."

It "struggle(s) to promote democracy and human rights in accordance with international norms."

Rajab won numerous human rights awards. For wanting Bahrainis to live free. For championing fundamental democratic rights.

He's now free. After serving two years of his three-year sentence. BCHR welcomed him back. 

"His release comes at a time when thousands of others continue to be imprisoned and targeted on trumped up charges," it said.

"It is important to note that (he's) not being released as a gesture of goodwill, but rather because he served the full length of his arbitrary detention sentence."

On December 11, 2012, Bahrain's Court of Appeal reduced his sentence to two years. In prison, he was tortured. He was ill-treated. 

He was subjected to "dire conditions," said BCHR. He was mostly isolated in solitary confinement. Almost naked, he said.

RT International interviewed Rajab. "After two years in prison, I see Bahrain's political environment as more difficult and still without a roadmap for real reforms," he said.

"I was kept separate in a separate building for two years, just to make sure that I did not connect with the other prisoners," he added.

"There were very few people who were with me in that separate building." 

"They were people who did not speak my language or people who were charged with criminal charges, which was completely different from what I was charged with."

He'll keep fighting for justice, he stressed.

"I know this is the cost of the struggle in this part of the world and I am planning to continue my struggle, no matter how much is the cost, knowing that all the countries have freedom and democracy today," he said.

"Maybe some people have to pay this cost in order to achieve democracy and human rights and I am one of many people in this country who is willing to pay this cost for my nation and my second generation to have democracy, justice and human rights."

He was only tortured once, he said. Emotionally things were tougher. Others were less fortunate, he explained.

"I have witnessed other people being tortured in front of my eyes." 

"I have seen people being tortured by the police and I made a lot of noise while I was there." 

"I sent a complaint to the United Nations and they finally told me that they are looking into those accusations."

He said Bahraini political prisoners get little or no attention.

"We have been ignored by the international community because Bahrain is with the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, which has a lot of influence in the west," he said.

The struggle for justice in Bahrain continues. Achieving it is distant. It's a long ways off, Rajab stressed.

"When I was sent to jail, there was no violence. I tweeted that I have said to the government that if you take peaceful people like me, who advocate peaceful gatherings and put them in jail, then you will face people who commit violence." 

"All human rights activists in Bahrain are behind bars and this is why you see such violence."

Achieving real Bahraini democracy is his fundamental goal.

"All the aims which I am holding and the values that I am fighting for, it keeps me going, knowing that a lot of people are waiting for me, a lot of people need me to be out, need me to be focused and strong," he said.

"I will be there for my people."

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) called his detention arbitrary.

It contravened articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and articles 9, paragraph 1, 14, 21 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it said. 

Horrific human rights abuses occur daily. Bahraini officials are rewarded for committing them. 

In July 2013, evidence proving Lt-Colonel Mubarak bin Huwail's guilt was dismissed.

Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al-Khalifa responded saying: "Thank you for your good work."

Bahrain's culture of impunity shows what human rights champions face. Rajab challenged this system courageously. He's not about to quit now.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Chaos in Libya: How the US-NATO War Destabilized North Africa and Now Threatens Europe

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – Libya has been steadily deteriorating politically and economically since the US-NATO invasion of 2011. The South African based News24 reported that a battle had erupted between rebel forces that ousted President Muammar Gaddafi and Islamist militants in the eastern city of Benghazi. Khalifa Haftar (who helped the West remove Gaddafi) and his ‘National Army’ were seeking to “Purge” Libya of suspected terrorists. There were witnesses and even a reporter from the Agence-France Presse (AFP) who actually saw what happened at the scene. “The witnesses said a group led by Khalifa Haftar, a former rebel chief in the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, was backed by warplanes that pounded a barracks occupied by the Islamist “February 17 Brigade” militia” the report said. “Militiamen responded by opening up with anti-aircraft fire.” Both groups also battled in the Sidi Fradj area in the south of Benghazi. According to News24 “Haftar’s group calls itself the “National Army” and a spokesperson for the force, Mohammed Al-Hijazi, told a local broadcaster it has launched “a large-scale operation to flush terrorist groups out of Benghazi”. Interestingly, the Chief of Staff of the army Abdessalem Jadallah al-Salihin “denied the force was involved in clashes in Benghazi.” So who does Khalifa Haftar represent? “In a statement on national television, Salihin called on “the army and revolutionaries to oppose any armed group that tries to control Benghazi by force of arms”. It confirms that Libya is in a chaotic situation. Many former soldiers have joined the ‘National Army’ after constant attacks by various militias and elements of Al-Qaeda since the US-NATO invasion had ended.

The Libyan government currently in power has seen constant violence against its security forces, government officials and even foreigners since the Obama administration ordered “regime change” in the North African country. The intervention in Libya began when President Obama declared “Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians” and “In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people.” The Libyan people have been the victims of Western Imperial powers that sought control over oil supplies and other resources.

The European Union should also be concerned that terrorists can launch attacks against its member states as former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan had warned last month in a report by Al Arabiya News. He said “Libya is in danger of becoming an Al-Qaeda terror base for attacks targeting European countries like Britain and France” he also said that “Libya could be a base for Al-Qaeda for any operation to Italy, to Britain, to France, to Spain, to Morocco, to everywhere. Weapons are everywhere, ammunition is everywhere.” What would happen if a terrorist attack did occur on European territory, especially when its economy is in decline? With austerity measures imposed on millions of working class people all across Europe, a terrorist attack by al-Qaeda or its affiliates would allow European governments to clamp down on anti-austerity protests in the name of fighting terror. It would be a convenient excuse to do so. Let’s hope it does not go that far.

Reuters also reported that the Pentagon has relocated 200 Marines from Spain to Sicily in case the situation spirals out of control. Reuters stated the Pentagon’s main concern is over the security of its US embassies, but the Libyan government might lose control of its oilfields if the civil war intensifies:

The Pentagon declined to single out any countries but two U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said American concerns were centered squarely on Libya, where armed groups and Islamists refused to disarm after the 2011 ouster of Muammar Gaddafi.” The report also said that “The Marines are part of a crisis response unit focused on embassy security created after the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012, which killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans

Pentagon spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren said that the Marines can handle other missions besides providing security for US personal as Reuters explained “Warren stressed that while the Marines were “unquestionably” focused on the protection of embassies, he did not rule out the possibility they could be called upon for a different mission.” Libya’s civil war has not helped the economy increase oil production due to its relentless infighting between terrorist groups and tribal militias. Libya is one of the main oil exporters to Europe. If the situation worsens, then the US Marines would be ordered to protect the oilfields at any cost. Reuters also released a report on Libya’s oil supply and how the government attempted to increase oil production when it negotiated a deal with protesters:

Libya’s El Feel oilfield has been shut again by protests and the OPEC producer’s El Sharara field remains closed, bringing national oil output down to about 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) – far from the 1.4 million bpd pumped last year. On Monday, the government said it was bringing western oilfields and pipelines back up after reaching a deal with protesters, and output had slowly clawed back to around 300,000 bpd

Rising tensions between the Libyan government, terrorist organizations and local militias has Washington, Brussels and multinational oil corporations concerned. If the Libyan government were to lose control of the oilfields, it would disrupt the EU’s oil supply and raise prices at the pump. The US and EU’s decision to remove Muammar Gaddafi has created a terrorist haven in North Africa. However, Brussels is under Washington’s orders, so NATO forces invaded Libya and imposed a new government even though European bureaucrats knew about the political and economic consequences it might have in the future. Since the US-NATO alliance defeated Libyan forces and replaced Gaddafi with the National Transitional Council of Libya, they secured oil exports for Western markets at least for a short period of time. Now internal conflicts for power and economic control are becoming more intense as former rebels and various terrorist groups from Syria and Iraq enter Libya with their own agendas. It creates a dangerous scenario as terrorist organizations expand their operations to other areas of Africa and even possibly Europe.

Brussels obviously knew that there would be consequences of a “humanitarian intervention” in Libya when they collaborated with Washington. They knew how Europe would be affected in the foreseeable future, it was predictable. But they saw political and economic opportunities by removing Gaddafi from power. It is also important to understand that the US and its European partners were also concerned with Gaddafi’s plan to launch the gold dinar as a single African currency, a clear threat against the dollar and euro hegemony on the African continent. Brussels may be just following orders, after all Washington was instrumental in the creation of NATO in the first place. Either way, the people on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea will suffer at the expense of Western Imperialism and their reckless foreign policies.

Neocon WaPo Editors Urge War on Syria

Neocon WaPo Editors Urge War on Syria

by Stephen Lendman

WaPo editors long ago fell from grace. Credibility is entirely gone. Watergate-type exposes are verboten.

Editorial policy fronts for power. Extreme hawkishness defines it. New owner Jeff Bezos has CIA ties. He's in bed with the devil. 

He was bought. He was paid off. He got a $600 million CIA contract.

It's double what he paid to buy WaPo. Late last year he said: "We look forward to a successful relationship with the CIA."

Perhaps it involves much more than meets the eye. He expects lots more business. For sure CIA officials want plenty back besides Amazon Web Services (AWS).

Bezos' disturbing history curries favor with national security officials. After WikiLeaks published State Department cables, AWS removed them.

WaPo should explain Bezos' CIA connection. Readers should know its editorial policy is biased. 

It's propaganda. It turns truth on its head. It's corrupted. It's illegitimate. It's bought and paid for. WaPo is a CIA house organ.

Communications Professor/journalism scholar/media critic Robert McChesney commented, saying: 

"When the main shareholder in one of the very largest corporations in the world benefits from a massive contract with the CIA on the one hand, and that same billionaire owns the Washington Post on the other hand, there are serious problems." 

"The Post is unquestionably the political paper of record in the United States, and how it covers governance sets the agenda for the balance of the news media." 

"Citizens need to know about this conflict of interest in the columns of the Post itself."

"If some official enemy of the United States had a comparable situation - say the owner of the dominant newspaper in Caracas was getting $600 million in secretive contracts from the Maduro government - the Post itself would lead the howling chorus impaling that newspaper and that government for making a mockery of a free press." 

"It is time for the Post to take a dose of its own medicine."

It's time for full disclosure. It bears repeating. WaPo editors front for power. They're extremely hawkish. 

They urge war on invented US enemies. They're militantly anti-Syrian. Last February, they headlined "The president has options on Syria. He should use them."

Obama "has adopted the position that any US intervention in Syria would be ineffective, 'short of us being willing to undertake an effort in size and scope similar to what we did in Iraq.' "

"In reality, the United States has a number of (robust) options for action in Syria…"

"They might not bring the Syrian civil war to a quick end, but they could address several major challenges, including the horrific war crimes being committed by the regime of Bashar al-Assad, the dire humanitarian crisis affecting several parts of the country and the growing power of Islamic extremist forces."

Fact: Syria is Obama's war.

Fact: He planned it.

Fact: He initiated it.

Fact: He's responsible for recruiting, funding, arming, training and directing death squad foreign proxies.

Fact: He wants pro-Western puppet governance replacing independent Syrian sovereignty.

Fact: So does Israel.

Fact: Both countries partnered.

Fact: They're ravaging and destroying Syria.

Fact: So are complicit EU, Arab states and Turkey.

Fact: Assad is wrongfully blamed for Western-sponsored crimes.

Fact: Nothing civil about Obama's war on Syria exists.

Fact: Insurgents are US proxies.

Fact: They're foreign invaders.

Fact: Assad battles them responsibly.

Fact: He deserves universal support.

Nuremberg Charter, Judgment and Principles apply. Crimes of war and against humanity are called crimes against peace. They include:

(1) "Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances;" and

(2) "Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned" above.

War crimes are defined as:

"Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity."

Crimes against humanity include:

"Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done or such persecutions are carried on in execution of or in connection with any crime against peace or any war crime."

"Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity...is a crime under international law."

All of the above apply to Syria. The 1907 Hague Convention on the Opening of Hostilities includes similar laws of war.

The US Army Field Manuel 27-10 covers "The Law of Land Warfare." Section II explains Crimes Under International Law. Paragraph 498 states:

"Any person, whether a member of the armed forces or a civilian, who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible therefor and liable to punishment.

Such offenses in connection with war comprise:

Crimes against peace.

Crimes against humanity.

War crimes."

Paragraph 499 defines War Crimes, saying:

"The term 'war crime' is the technical expression for a violation of the law of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. Every violation of the law of war is a war crime."

Paragraph 500 covers Conspiracy, Incitement, Attempts, and Complicity, saying:

"Conspiracy, direct incitement, and attempts to commit, as well as complicity in the commission of crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes are punishable."

These provisions apply to all US military and civilian personnel. They include top commanders, the Secretary of Defense, his subordinates, and the President and Vice President of the United States.

Under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause (Article VI, paragraph 2), all international laws and treaties are the "supreme Law of the Land."

The UN Charter's Article 2 states:

"The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its members..."

"All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered."

"All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations."

Article 33 states:

"The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice."

Nations are prohibited from settling disputes by planning, instigating or waging direct or proxy wars. Security Council authorization alone permits it.

Only in self-defense. Only when one nation attacks another. Or if attack is too imminent to ignore.

America, rogue EU partners, complicit Arab states, Israel and Turkey wage proxy war on Syria. It's illegal. It's not civil. 

Belligerent states bear full responsibility. So do complicit media scoundrels. They support what demands denunciation.

On May 23, WaPo editors headlined "US inaction on Syria helped make it a hell on earth."

They outrageously accused Assad of waging "war against Syrian civilians…"

"The only thing that could deter him is credible military opposition from the rebels, who continue to receive far too little help from the United States, which realistically is the only country in a position to change the calculus of this terrible war."

WaPo editors quoted Obama's neocon UN envoy Samantha Power. She mocks legitimacy. She shames the office she holds.

"Years from now our grandkids will ask how we could've failed to bring justice to people living in hell on earth," she said.

She stopped short of explaining Washington's full responsibility. Syrians and Assad are victims. Don't expect WaPo editors to explain.

"For more than three years," they said, Obama "resisted advice from inside and outside his administration to abandon his passivity." They want him responding more robustly.

Without more "US involvement, the worst-case predictions are coming true, " they said.

Assad is "stronger than ever. (He) g(ave) up much of his chemical weapons arsenal."

"(H)e continues to launch chemical attacks…(He targets) schools, bakeries and apartment buildings…"

WaPo editors lied. They consistently turn truth on its head. They urge more robust US action. They want Syria entirely ravaged and destroyed.

They want Assad blamed for Obama's crimes. They want all US-invented enemies eliminated. 

They deplore peace. War is their option of choice. They urge it when other methods fail. Neocons operate this way. 

WaPo ones are some of the worst. Propaganda substitutes for legitimate journalism.

Defending the indefensible is official editorial policy. It supports unchallenged US dominance. It urges war on humanity to achieve it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Disgraceful Security Council Resolution o Syria

Disgraceful Security Council Resolution on Syria

by Stephen Lendman

France proposed it. Doing so serves Washington's interests. France is a convenient US proxy. It has its own regional aims in mind.

It partners in Western imperial lawlessness. Not according to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius.

"The members of the United Nations Security Council must unite to bring the Syrian tragedy before the International Criminal Court," he said.

Fact: The ICC serves Western imperial interests. 

Fact: It targets victims. 

Fact: It absolves perpetrators. 

Fact: It ignores its mandate. 

Fact: It has no credibility whatever.

Fabius: Syria "flout(s) war "rules…on a daily basis."

Fact: Syria was invaded.

Fact: Washington recruited, armed, funded, trained and directed death squad killers.

Fact: Salvador Option strategy was chosen. 

Fact: Rules of engagement include massacres, torture, and other atrocities.

Fact: No-holds-barred barbarity reflects official US policy.

Fact: Death squad massacres are OK.

Fact: Assad defends Syria responsibly.

Fact: He enjoys overwhelming support.

Fact: He deserves international community backing.

Fact: He's unjustifiably criticized for doing his job.

Fabius: "Chemical weapons are being used. They killed 1,400 civilians in a single night on August 21 last year."

Fact: Attacking Ghouta was Western provoked lawlessness.

Fact: Insurgents were responsible.

Fact: Evidence proved it.

Fact: So-called anti-Assad intelligence was fabricated.

Fact: At the time, John Kerry lied claiming 1,429 deaths.

Fact: At the same time, France and Britain said several hundred.

Fabius: Syria attacks "thousands of innocent civilians. Sexual violence against women is used..."

"Torture in used on detainees in the tens of thousands…(T)hose in Syria responsible for these crimes are not subject to prosecution."

Fact: Fabius repeated one Big Lie after another.

Fact: No evidence whatever indicts Syria.

Fact: Plenty points fingers the right way.

Fact: Western-supported death squads bear responsibility.

Fact: Wrongfully blaming Assad for their crimes doesn't wash.

Washington's UN envoy Samantha Power shames the office she holds. Edward Herman calls her a prominent "cruise missile left" adherent.

Francis Boyle calls her husband Cass Sunstein a "lethal neo-con." Power matches him blow-for-blow.

She justifies the unjustifiable. She supports US imperial lawlessness. She blames victims for Washington's crimes.

Big Lies infested her May 22 Security Council address. Truth was noticeably absent. She wrongfully blamed Assad for US-supported death squad crimes.

She did so shamelessly. She did repeatedly. "Today is…about accountability," she said. She pointed fingers the wrong way.

She wrongfully accused Assad of "industrial killing." She ignored his freedom struggle. For Syria's sovereignty. Its liberation. Its soul.

For defending his country responsibly. What every responsible leader would do. What Syrians overwhelmingly support.

At the same time, she ignored longstanding US crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. Millions of corpses attest to its barbarity. 

Power turned a blind eye to what matters most. To Obama's war on Syria. His ravaging and destroying the country. 

His regime change scheme. His wanting pro-Western stooge governance replacing its sovereign independence. His war on humanity.

Power's convoluted notion of justice is none at all. She condemned Russia and China. They vetoed France's resolution from hell. They did so responsibly.

Russian UN envoy Vitaly Churkin spoke truth. France's resolution was a "betrayal of Syrian people," he said. 

So-called "good guys" are death squad killers. They enjoy full Western support.

They "pursu(e) regime change by force…at all costs that precipitated the drawing out of the crisis and undermines the Geneva negotiations," said Churkin.

"(T)here is not a single word on the political settlement and the negotiations process among Syrians in the communique of the latest May 15 meeting of the so-called 'London 11.' " 

"And the western 'troika' was taking great pains to dissuade the Secretary General and his Special Envoy from calling another round of Geneva negotiations."

"What justice can one talk about when the overriding policy aims at escalating the conflict?" 

"The draft resolution rejected today reveals an attempt to use the ICC to further inflame the political passions and lay the groundwork for eventual outside military intervention."

Referring Libyans for ICC prosecution resolved nothing, said Churkin. It "added fuel to the flames of conflict."

US-led NATO war followed. Tens of thousands were slaughtered.

"Our colleagues from NATO countries arrogantly refused to address this issue altogether," Churkin stressed. "They even refused to apologize." 

"And they wax eloquent about shame! They advocate fighting impunity, but are themselves practicing the policy of all-permissiveness."

France's Security Council resolution was thinly veiled deception. It was cover for UN Charter Chapter 7 authorization. 

It relates to threats to peace, its breaches and acts of aggression. Appropriate measures are authorized. 

If political and economic ones fail, military force can be used. Security Council members decide.

Adopting France's draft resolution meant Libya 2.0. Vetoing it slowed America's war machine. It prevented further Syrian carnage.

It likely saved tens of thousands of lives. Obama's proxy war continues. Slow-motion genocide reflects it.

Obama bears full responsibility. Rogue Western partners share it. So do Saudi Arabia, Qatar, other Gulf States, Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

Churkin addressed another issue. Washington ignores its own crimes. It solely wants ICC victim prosecutions.

It's "reluctant to accede to the Rome Statute itself," said Churkin. "And in today's draft, the United States insisted on an exemption for itself and its citizens."

"Great Britain is a party to the ICC, but it is for some reason unenthusiastic about the exploration that began there of the issue of crimes committed by the British nationals during the Iraq war."

Both countries have do as they say, not do, policies. So does France. They want others prosecuted for their crimes.

They want freedom to commit them with impunity. If America and Britain "refer(red) their Iraqi file to the ICC together, the world would see they are truly against impunity," said Churkin.

They'd reveal their crimes of war, against humanity and genocide. Instead they ignore them. They blame others.

They remain unaccountable. They prioritize war. They deplore peace. They threaten humanity. 

Their officials are unindicted war criminals. French ones are willing partners in crime.

Media scoundrels support what demands denunciation. Imperial crimes are ignored. Victims are vilified.

On May 22, The New York Times headlined "China and Russia Block Referral of Syria to Court," saying:

"Beheadings, torture, aerial bombardments of schools and hospitals: The war in Syria, raging for more than three years with no sign of relief, represents the very excesses of war that the International Criminal Court was designed to take on."

"Nevertheless, the court will not take on war crimes in Syria, not anytime soon anyway." 

"China and Russia voted Thursday against a Security Council resolution that would have empowered the world tribunal to go after perpetrators of crimes against humanity in Syria."

The Times quoted Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson's disgraceful statement, saying:

"If members of the Council continue to be unable to agree on a measure that could provide some accountability for the ongoing crimes, the credibility of this body and the entire organization will continue to suffer."

Eliason and Ban Ki-moon march in lock step. They're convenient pro-Western imperial stooges.  

They defend the indefensible. They ignore longstanding US-NATO crimes. So do media scoundrels.

They're virtual Western house organs. Propaganda substitutes for real news, information, opinion and analysis. 

They support official policy. They bury vital truths. They substitute Big Lies. They report rubbish. They have no credibility whatever. 

They deserve dumping in history's dustbin where they belong. They warrant lower level of hell justice Dante forgot.

So does Human Rights Watch most often. It's a Western imperial tool. Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Soros and other corporate foundations provide funding.

Its stock and trade is misreporting. It's twisting facts to fit Western policies. It's deception. It's well compensated for doing so.

On May 22, it headlined "UN Security Council: Vetoes Betray Syrian Victims," saying:

"The Russian and Chinese vetoes on May 22, 2014, of a UN Security Council resolution to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) betray victims of serious crimes there." 

"The resolution has broad international support and was approved by the other 13 Security Council members."

HRW's international justice director Richard Dicker lied saying:

"Moscow and Beijing can veto a resolution but they can't suppress the desire for justice by the Syrian people and the dozens of governments that stood for their rights."

"With the Syrian crisis entering a fourth year, atrocities raging on all sides, and the death toll skyrocketing well over 150,000, Russia and China's vote for continued impunity is a disgrace."

It bears repeating. Syria is Obama's war. Death squad proxy killers wage it. Assad's government is wrongfully blamed.  

Failure to hold anti-Syrian Western and regional partners in crime accountable assures war without end continuing.

Supporting imperial crimes is unconscionable. So is blaming victims. HRW stands guilty as charged. 

Media scoundrels share blame. Imperial partners most of all. Syria's liberating struggle continues.

It's sovereign independence demands saving. Its soul. Assad continues going all-out to do it. He deserves universal support.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Anti-Palestinian arson attacks on the rise

Al-Jazeera – 1 May 2014

This week, Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Nazareth had a note delivered at his home, warning that he and his followers had until May 5 to leave the “land of Israel”. On Tuesday April 29, Israeli police announced that a Jewish man from Safed had been arrested after delivering the note.

In a similar incident, vandals also targeted a church at Tabgha on the Sea of Galilee that marks the site where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes. A cross was smashed and several pews damaged.

“The Christian community feels increasingly threatened,” Samuel Barhoum, the Episcopalian archdeacon of Jerusalem, told Al Jazeera. “We see that Israel is going further and further to the right. It does not matter whether you are Muslim or Christian, in these people’s eyes we are the enemy.”

A wave of violence over the past fortnight, including attacks on two mosques and a church, has shocked Israel’s Palestinian citizens, who comprise a fifth of the population, and raised fears that Israeli right-wing extremists are growing bolder as they shift attention to targeting Palestinian areas inside Israel.

One such incident took place in Umm al-Fahm, the second largest Palestinian city in Israel.

‘Dangerous epidemic’

On April 18, Palestinian worshippers, arriving at the Araq al-Shabab mosque in Umm al-Fahm for morning prayers, discovered the mosque had been the target of an arson attack. The doors, according to Jamil Mahajana, the local imam, were still smouldering and the words “Arabs out!” had been sprayed nearby.

The attacks prompted Amir Peretz, a dovish minister in Israel’s government, to speak out, warning that violence by Jewish extremists had become a “dangerous epidemic”.

Palestinians have been protesting against the attacks and demanding action. This week, some 2,500 residents of Fureidis, a town south of Haifa, marched to demand action from the police and the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the day after a local mosque was defaced with a Star of David and graffiti saying “Shut down mosques”. Some 20 cars parked nearby had their tyres slashed.

The protesters chanted, “Netanyahu is a coward” and “Racism is spreading.”

Mohammed Barakeh, a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament who led a protest last week in Umm al-Fahm, personally blamed Netanyahu for the spate of attacks.

“Extremist groups are being encouraged by Netanyahu’s constant sloganeering that Israel is a Jewish state, suggesting that an Arab population has no right to be here,” Barakeh told Al Jazeera.

“The extremists see Netanyahu has made recognition of Israel’s Jewishness a central demand in the peace talks. They see the racist legislation his government adopts. They see the police do nothing to tackle this phenomenon. And they conclude that the government quietly approves of their behaviour.”

Price-tag campaign

In January, a report by a United Nations agency, OCHA, documented 2,100 incidents of settler violence in the occupied territories alone since 2006.

Right-wing extremists describe violence against Palestinians, whether in the occupied territories or in Israel, as “price tag” attacks. The term is meant to indicate that there will be a cost to Palestinians if either the power of the settlers is challenged or the Palestinians seek diplomatic concessions from Israel.

The first major price-tag attack inside Israel occurred in late 2011, when a mosque in the Galilee village of Tuba-Zangaria was set on fire. No one has been charged for the attack.

There may be several possible triggers for this current wave of attacks, including the Israeli right’s concern that the peace talks, which formally came to an end this week, do not make headway. Jewish nationalists are also reportedly angry at the impending visit of the pope.

Israeli officials have indicated recently that they intend to take price-tag attacks more seriously, after several outbreaks of violence by extremist settlers against Israeli security forces. In the most recent incident last month, police were beaten as they tried to demolish unauthorised buildings in the militant settlement of Yitzhar.

‘Acts of terror’

In response, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said he was considering – for the first time – using administrative detention orders against right-wing extremists. That would allow them to be locked up on secret evidence, as is currently the case with the Palestinians.

However, the government has so far refused to categorise settler violence as “acts of terror”, which would give the security forces stronger powers. During a cabinet debate on the subject last summer, Netanyahu reportedly said such a move would be a diplomatic mistake, encouraging observers to draw a comparison between the settlers and the Palestinian movement Hamas.

Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli police, confirmed that there has been a recent “escalation” in violence by hardline nationalists inside Israel, as well as in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Rosenfeld denied that the police were not doing enough to stop the attacks. A special task force was established last year to investigate price-tag attacks. Its activities, however, are limited to the West Bank. Police say they face serious difficulties in tracking down suspects.

“There is no network planning these incidents. They are sporadic and committed by individuals who often decide on the spur of the moment to carry out an attack,” said Rosenfeld.

Calling the attacks “unsettling”, Netanyahu promised that the government would invest more resources, including bringing in the Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence service that is more commonly used against Palestinians.

Palestinian leaders, however, accused Israeli authorities of repeatedly turning a blind eye to attacks by Jewish extremist groups. “If these crimes were being committed by Palestinians against Jews, the culprits would be caught within hours or days,” said Awad Abdel Fattah, a member of the Higher Follow-Up Committee, the main political body for Palestinians inside Israel.

“But no one is protecting us from these attacks. The police and the government see us, not these extremists, as the enemy,” Abdel Fattah told Al Jazeera.

Red line crossed

Barakeh said the attack on a large Palestinian city like Umm al-Fahm was seen as crossing a red line and showing a greater confidence among the extremists.

It is not the first time that Umm al-Fahm has attracted the attention of hardline nationalist groups. The city has also been the focus of a campaign by far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He wants to redraw Israel’s borders to strip some 250,000 Palestinians, including the city’s residents, of their citizenship.

In unfortunate timing for Israel, the US State Department published its annual Country Report on Terrorism this week, noting that “price tag” attacks in Israel and the occupied territories had gone “largely unprosecuted”.

Abdel Fattah said Palestinians in Israel were increasingly concerned that official inaction over these attacks could encourage “another Eden Nathan Zada” – a reference to a settler who opened fire on a bus in the Palestinian town of Shefaram in 2005, killing four passengers and wounding 12 more, apparently as a protest against the disengagement from Gaza.

Abdel Fattah pointed out that the Follow-Up Committee had no trust in the police. Instead, it had decided to establish local popular committees in Israel to organise night-time patrols that would guard communities. They would be modelled on similar committees operating in parts of occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Zahi Njeidat, spokesman for the Islamic Movement in Israel, sharply criticised the police for failing to make progress in the arson attack on Araq al-Shabab mosque. “These are terrorist attacks,” Njeidat told Al Jazeera. “The goal is to make us feel like we have no security in our homes and in our communities, so that we will leave. This is about carrying out our transfer, but we are staying put.”

Last year, according to OCHA’s figures, there were 93 attacks by settlers that resulted in injuries to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

“Our fear is that, if these extremists see that nothing is being done to stop them [in Israel], they will move from attacks on property to attacks on people,” Abdel Fattah said.

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Why the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks were Set-up to Fail

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama met to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian Peace talks. However, it should be no surprise that there is no optimism in the talks. Netanyahu said that “Israel has been doing its part and, I regret to say, the Palestinians have not” according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. The US Secretary of State John Kerry has a deadline on April 29th for a “framework Agreement” between Israel and Palestine. “It’s my belief that ultimately it is still possible to create two states, a Jewish state of Israel and a state of Palestine, with people living side by side in peace and security,” Obama said. “But it’s difficult. It requires compromise on all sides” the report said. On Tuesday Netanyahu demanded that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish State’, “President Abbas: recognize the Jewish state and in doing so, you would be telling your people.. to abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees” he said at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) earlier this month. One of the major compromises that the Palestinians would have to accept according to Netanyahu is for Israel to be recognized as a “Jewish State”. Netanyahu demands comes at a time when his administration continues to build Jewish settlements at unprecedented levels which have been admitted by the Israeli media including the Times of Israel. The Times of Israel stated the facts:

New construction in the West Bank skyrocketed in 2013 compared to 2012, new Israeli data revealed on Monday. The Central Bureau of Statistics reported an increase of 123 percent in construction of new homes in the West Bank in 2013 compared to 2012, a ratio dramatically higher than in the other six districts examined. The southern district, coming in second, witnessed an increase of 12%, Haifa 8%, Jerusalem 3%, central Israel 2%, and northern Israel 1%. New construction in the Tel Aviv district dropped 19% between 2012 and 2013

The Lebanese based online news website the Daily Star reported that Mohammad al-Madani who quoted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as saying “We cannot continue negotiations with ongoing settlement construction,” concerning the negotiations imposed by Washington. The report confirmed that Abbas met Zehava Galon who is head of the Meretz party (an Israeli left wing political party) in Ramallah this past Monday:

A statement from Galon’s office said that in addition to a settlement freeze, Abbas would also demand a release of “further prisoners beyond the next tranche, including women, youths and administrative detainees.”

Israel committed in July to releasing 104 Palestinian prisoners in four tranches. It has so far released 78 of those in three batches.

Abbas also told Galon that “if the American framework agreement will not sufficiently address the fundamental principles of the core issues, we won’t enable extending the negotiations,” according to the statement

For the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ would be devastating politically. It would concede that all Jewish people would have a natural right to be in Palestine. For Palestinians who do live in Palestine, it will be only by permission of the “Jewish State” not as a natural right of the Palestinians who have been in the land for thousands of years. If the Palestinians were to recognize Israel as a “Jewish State” then the Palestinians living in Palestine has been illegitimate.   This is one of the main reasons the Palestinians would not accept the “Jewish State” status of Israel. One other factor that the Israel and the Palestinian Authority will not succeed is because the United Nations recognition of Palestine based on its pre-1967 borders with Israel. This does not sit well with Israel because it legitimizes the Palestinians territorial integrity. Historically Palestinians have a right to be in Palestine and exercise their right to establish a sovereign state of their own. It is important to note that Israel as a Jewish State would also jeopardize the rights of all Palestinians who currently live in the Palestinian territories and of the Palestinian refugees who were forcibly expelled from their homes in 1948 after the state of Israel was created under the Balfour Declaration.

Recognizing Israel as a Jewish State is not beneficial for all people living within Israel as well since 25% of the current population is actually non-Jewish. Despite Netanyahu’s demands, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) under Yasir Arafat recognized Israel in the 1980’while Israel did not recognize Palestine. In 1988, The New York Times reported that Yasir Arafat and the PLO with the Palestinian parliament had ”accepted the existence of Israel as a state in the region” and ”declared its rejection and condemnation of terrorism in all its forms.” But it was rejected by both Washington and Tel Aviv as the New York Times explained why they were not convinced:

In Jerusalem, Israeli leaders discounted the Stockholm declaration and Mr. Arafat’s comments. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres characterized them as a ”cunning exercise in public relations.” What was needed, he said, was ”a commitment in reality” to an end to violence. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir was similarly dismissive.

The United States has long said it would not deal with the P.L.O. until it stated unambiguously that it recognized Israel’s right to exist and United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which lay out the basis for a negotiated settlement and peace in the Middle East. The United States has also asked for an unequivocal statement that the P.L.O. renounces all forms of terrorism

The peace process began in 1991 in Madrid with the intention of establishing peace between Israel and Palestine. The United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 was eventually accepted by Arafat and the PLO in 1993 during the Oslo accords disregarding the Palestinian people. The Oslo Accords or the Declaration of Principles (DOP) resulted in the recognition of Israel by the PLO and  Israel recognizing the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people for whom the Israeli government can negotiate with. The Oslo Accords helped create the Palestinian Authority (PA) with limited self-government over Palestinian lands, but many issues involving Israel’s recognition of Palestine as a state and its occupation and the Palestinian right of return remained unsolved. Overall, a Palestinian state was never granted under the Oslo Accords, it was a failure. When the Oslo Accords began and Yasir Arafat agreed to recognize Israel as a state, it only gave the Israeli government more power over the negotiations and the Palestinian people.  In an article written by human rights advocate and fellow Palestinian Edward Said called ‘The Morning After’ he criticized Arafat’s decision to recognize Israel as a State. He wrote:

By contrast Arafat’s recognition of Israel’s right to exist carries with it a whole series of renunciations: of the PLO Charter; of violence and terrorism; of all relevant UN resolutions, except 242 and 338, which do not have one word in them about the Palestinians, their rights or aspirations. By implication, the PLO set aside numerous other UN resolutions (which, with Israel and the US, it is now apparently undertaking to modify or rescind) that, since 1948, have given Palestinians refugee rights, including either compensation or repatriation. The Palestinians had won numerous international resolutions – passed by, among others, the EC, the non-aligned movement, the Islamic Conference and the Arab League, as well as the UN – which disallowed or censured Israeli settlements, annexations and crimes against the people under occupation

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Yasir Arafat, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin in 1994 for their peace efforts during the Oslo Accords agreement. According to the Oslo Declaration of Principles, it states that “a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338″ which did not address Palestinian rights. MIT professor Noam Chomsky explained in Z magazine in 1993 the flaws regarding UN Resolution 242 and what it meant for the Palestinian people. He wrote:

The draft agreement makes no mention of Palestinian national rights, the primary issue on which the US and Israel broke with the international consensus from the mid-1970s. Throughout these years, it was agreed that a settlement should be based on UN 242.

There were two basic points of contention: (1) Do we interpret the withdrawal clause of 242 in accord with the international consensus (including the US, pre-1971), or in accord with the position of Israel and US policy from 1971? (2) Is the settlement based solely on UN 242, which offers nothing to the Palestinians, or 242 and other relevant UN resolutions, as the PLO had proposed for many years in accord with the nonrejectionist international consensus. Thus, does the settlement incorporate the right of refugees to return or compensation, as the UN has insisted since December 1948 (with US endorsement, long forgotten), and the Palestinian right to national self-determination that has repeatedly been endorsed by the UN (though blocked by Washington)? These are the crucial issues that have stood in the way of a political settlement.

On these issues, the agreement explicitly and without equivocation adopts the US-Israeli stand. As noted, Article I states that the “permanent status will lead to the implementation of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338,” nothing more. Furthermore, as Beilin made explicit, the withdrawal clause of UN 242 is to be understood in the terms unilaterally imposed by the US (from 1971). In fact, the agreement does not even preclude further Israeli settlement in the large areas of the West Bank it has taken over, or even new land takeovers. On such central matters as control of water, it speaks only of “cooperation” and “equitable utilization” in a manner to be determined by “experts from both sides.” The outcome of cooperation between an elephant and a fly is not hard to predict.

Chomsky was correct in his assessment on UN resolution 242 when one of the Nobel Peace Prize Winners Shimon Peres addressed the Israeli public in 1995 and stated that “the deal kept the following in Israeli hands: 73 percent of the lands of the territories, 97 percent of security and 80 percent of the water.”  Another important factor regarding the DOP is in Article XVII Jurisdiction 1.

In accordance with the DOP, the jurisdiction of the Council will cover West Bank and Gaza Strip territory as a single territorial unit, except for:

a. issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations: Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees, borders, foreign relations and Israelis; and

b. powers and responsibilities not transferred to the Council

Which means that the Palestinian matters concerning Israel’s strategic military locations, Israeli settlements, the Palestinian Right of Return to their lands and the issue of Jerusalem becoming the capital of Israel would be under political and strategic control of the Israeli government. Oslo Accords was a failure for the Palestinians and for Israel for the simple matter that they could not wrap their tentacles around the Palestinian people and its lands any tighter than it already is.  Israel would have come out being the benefactor to the peace agreements, not the Palestinians. The peace talks are unfortunately going to fail once again. The pre-conditions for the Palestinians to accept a peace deal with Israel through Secretary of State John Kerry’s “Framework Agreement” will backfire. “Jerusalem will not be divided so long as I’m prime minister” Netanyahu was quoted as saying on Israeli television this past January. President Abbas responded by saying “The Palestinians want confirmation in writing that the capital of a future Palestinian state will be in East Jerusalem, Abbas told the Meretz leader. With regard to the refugee issue, Abbas said that claims he wants to flood Israel with 5 million Palestinian refugees are a lie.” President Abbas was also responding to Netanyahu’s speech at the AIPAC conference. President Abbas said “If the American framework agreement doesn’t address our basic principles regarding the core issues, we will not allow the talks to be extended beyond the original end date of April 29,” Gal-On quoted Abbas as saying” according to the Haaretz report. “Back in the region, Meretz chairwoman MK Zahava Gal-On said after meeting with Abbas yesterday that he was pessimistic about the chances of reaching a framework agreement that would allow the peace talks to continue.”

Allowing Palestine to accept Israel as a “Jewish State” will not happen. The new peace talks are not any different from the previous efforts by the United States and Israel. This time Netanyahu demands the Palestinian government to recognize the “Jewish State” of Israel. However, he does want a two-state solution, but on his terms. He once said “I think that peace will require two states, a Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”

The Palestinians deserve their own state; Palestine is a place that dates back thousands of years, it is a nation. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister admitted that the Palestine belonged to the Palestinians in 1938 speech when he clearly stated “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves … politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country.” Maybe Netanyahu should revisit the historical speeches of Israel’s past leaders, but that would not make a difference anyway. Peace is unachievable with the US backed “Framework Agreement” because what Israel is asking the Palestinians to accept is unrealistic.  It is only a process that would advance Israel’s hegemony in the Middle East and allow it to expand its territory and obtain natural resources with its advanced military capabilities with the help of Washington.


			
                

The “Uganda Plan” Revisted? US Congressional Candidate Proposes ‘New Israel’ in Southeast Texas

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News- A congressional candidate named Allan Levene is proposing a solution to Israel’s problem with the Palestinians (since 1948) by creating a second ‘Israeli’ state in Eastern Texas. Yes, you read this right. Eastern Texas. According to the Times of Israel, Mr. Levene’s idea would only work if “eminent domain” is established by the US government and if Israel withdraws to it pre-1967 borders. That would set the stage for a ‘New Israel’ within the United States:

The idea, briefly, is to take (through eminent domain) roughly 8,000 square miles of sparsely populated land bordering the Gulf of Mexico and give it to Israel as a second, non-contiguous part of the State of Israel. Israel would get the land only if it agrees to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders

I would be curious to see how Texans would react to a Jewish homeland in East Texas. Besides one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States is located in San Antonio, Texas called ‘Christians United for Israel (CUFI)’ who wish to educate Christians on why they should support the State of Israel:

While millions of Christians support Israel, there are millions more who do not yet vocally stand up for the Jewish state. It is crucial to educate Christians on the Biblical and moral imperatives to support Israel and to build Christian support for Israel throughout America

If Levene’s plan follows through if he is elected to congress, Will Texans still support a state of Israel in their own backyard? But Levene says “everybody wins” if the US government agrees to partition the state of Texas:

Israel wins because it would gain a new, peaceful territory far from the strife of the Middle East, in a place where, as Levene suggests, “the climate is similar,” and Israel could “have access to the Gulf of Mexico for international trade.” The U.S. wins because it would no longer need to send Israel billions of dollars a year in foreign aid. Texas wins because of all the construction jobs from building an entirely new state within its borders. The Palestinians win because they get the West Bank, and because now Israel, too, gets to see just how fun it is to have a non-contiguous state. Everybody wins!

The father of modern-political Zionism and the founder of the State of Israel, Thomas Hertzl considered a number of locations including Uganda, Argentina and even Alaska to form a Zionist state of Israel. The Times of Israel also stated:

And, in fact, it’s an idea with plenty of precedent. Theodor Herzl temporarily embraced a British proposal to establish a Jewish homeland in Uganda (though the backlash against the idea almost destroyed the Zionist movement). And in 1938-40, various plans were floated to settle European Jewish refugees in the Alaska territories – a notion that later inspired Michael Chabon’s novel, “The Yiddish Policeman’s Union.”

This idea of a Jewish State besides one based in Palestine is not new. An interesting event took place in Basel, Switzerland on August 26th, 1903. Before the British government offered the country of Palestine to the Zionist political movement in 1948, a country in Africa called Uganda was on the list of possible future Jewish settlements known as the “Uganda Plan”. Before Palestine was turned into the state of Israel, Uganda was seen as a possible home for the Jewish people who were persecuted in Russia. They were subject to anti-Jewish sentiments among the Russian population. Other areas in the world were also considered for a Jewish homeland including Patagonia in Southern part of Argentina. In Joseph Telushkin’s ‘Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know about the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History’ stated a historical fact that “Britain stepped into the picture, offering Herzl land in the largely undeveloped area of Uganda (today, it would be considered an area of Kenya).” The proposal was controversial to the Jewish community. The idea was rejected at the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905. It is interesting to note that a small number of Jewish families did immigrate to Kenya before and after World War II, mostly in the capital of Nairobi. Today, there are a few hundred Kenyan Jews living in Nairobi.

It is hard to imagine the state of Israel in Africa. Besides, racism in Israel is comparable to Apartheid South Africa in the 1960’s. With Ethiopian Black Jews living in Israel facing unprecedented levels of racism including the forced massed sterilizations on Ethiopian women according to a report conducted by Haaretz in 2012 reported that “Women who immigrated from Ethiopia eight years ago say they were told they would not be allowed into Israel unless they agreed to be injected with the long-acting birth control drug Depo Provera, according to an investigative report aired Saturday on the Israel Educational Television program “Vacuum.” According to IRIN, a humanitarian news and analysis service launched by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in 2012, racism against Ethiopian Jews in Israel does exist:

An estimated 125,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, but while they are supposed to be full citizens with equal rights, their community has continued to face widespread discrimination and socio-economic difficulties, according to its leaders. A recent decision – as reported by local media – by 120 homeowners not to sell or rent their apartments to Israeli-Ethiopian families has brought discrimination against Ethiopian Jews in Israel back into the spotlight. 

Hundreds of Ethiopian Israelis took to the streets on 18 January to protest the move by landlords in the southern city of Kiryat Malakhi – Shay Sium’s hometown.

It is an interesting part of history that forces to ask the question: What if Israel did make Uganda, a country in Eastern-Africa their home? If the Palestinians, Ethiopian and Sephardic Jews suffer from racism in modern-day Israel, imagine if Uganda was turned into a Jewish homeland? Would it have been another Palestine? “Shall we choose Palestine or Argentina? Thomas Hertzl wrote.  Argentina? That would have been interesting, but Eastern Texas as the ‘New Israel’? Would Texan’s then be the new Palestinians?  Creating a state through “eminent domain” would treat the citizens of Texas as such.  And it sure won’t be a good start to diplomatic relations.  What is interesting about Allan Levene is that he is running for a congressional seat in two states, Hawaii and Georgia under the Republican Party, but not in the state of Texas. Another very interesting note on Levene’s candidacy is that “He also wants to put conspiracy theories to rest by investigating national catastrophes with not one, not two, but three separate commissions.” I actually agree with his idea for new commissions, perhaps a new “911 commission?” Allan Levene’s proposal would not happen anytime soon, even if he is elected. But the real question we should ask is, would Washington and Brussels consider creating a ‘New Israel’ in Eastern Texas if a war were to take place in the Middle East resulting in the destruction of several countries including Israel?  It does raise a serious debate.

NYT Russia Bashing Stench

NYT Russia Bashing Stench

by Stephen Lendman

In 2005, Chicago's famed City News Bureau closed. Times correspondents, contributors and editors ignore it notable principle. 

"It your mother tells you she loves you, check it out with two independent sources," it said. Get it right before publishing. 

Journalism requires truth-telling. Times rubbish features managed news misinformation. Readers are systematically lied to. The so-called newspaper of record is a de facto Washington house organ.

Discredited Times correspondent Judith Miller wrote daily propaganda rubbish. Front page space featured it. 

War on Iraq was promoted. Lawlessly destroying the cradle of civilization followed.

Miller reflects the worst of irresponsible journalism. She was a reporter with an agenda. 

She was a de facto Pentagon press agent. Her sources were a Noah's Ark of scam artists. She remains unapologetic.

So do current Times correspondents, contributors and editors. They continue her disgraceful agenda. 

They lie for power. They substitute garbage for real news and information.

They bash Russia relentlessly. They do it irresponsibly. They ignore US imperial crimes. They support Kiev fascist putschists. 

They make yellow journalism look good by comparison. The late Gore Vidal called The Times the "Typhoid Mary of American journalism." He did so for good reason.

An April 15 Times article headlined "Russia Is Quick to Bend Truth About Ukraine." 

It lied about Putin and Prime Minister Medvedev. It called their honest assessment "misinformation, exaggerations, conspiracy theories, overheated rhetoric and, occasionally outright lies…"

It turned truth on its head claiming "an extraordinary (Kremlin) propaganda campaign." 

A same day Times editorial headlined "Mr. Putin's Power Play," saying:

"When President Vladimir Putin of Russia talks about what is happening in Ukraine these days, it is as if he’s looking into a mirror." 

"He says fascists and nationalists are running amok in Kiev, even as Crimea is annexed in the name of Great Russia…"

"(H)e says Russians are threatened in eastern Ukraine, even as Russia directs secessionists there to seize administrative buildings and arms…" 

"(H)e calls on President Obama to use his influence to prevent the use of force in Ukraine, even as he puts a major military force on the Ukrainian border."

Fact: Washington toppled Ukraine's democratically elected government. It violated international, constitutional and US statute law doing so.

Fact: It elevated illegitimate fascist putschists to power.

Fact: They're xenophobic, ultranationist, anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, anti-Russian hate-mongers.

Fact: Washington threatens world peace. So do Kiev putschists.

Fact: Putin prioritizes peaceful conflict resolution.

Fact: Washington prioritizes war, mass slaughter, destruction and world domination.

Don't expect Times editors to explain. Lies, damn lies and Big ones substitute for credible news and analysis.

"What the world sees is an outrageous and highly dangerous power play," said Times editors. 

"A report by the United Nations high commissioner for human rights says 'greatly exaggerated stories of harassment of ethnic Russians by Ukrainian nationalist extremists' in Crimea were 'systematically used to create a climate of fear and insecurity.' "

Fact: Russian Ukrainian policy represents the best of peaceful conflict resolution.

Fact: Washington's agenda features "dangerous power play" policies.

Fact: Times reporting substitutes propaganda for real news, information and analysis. It's longstanding editorial policy.

Fact: Eastern Ukrainians acted on their own volition. They've done so without Russian involvement.

Not according to Times editors. They lied claiming Moscow "incit(ed) secessionists…" They make stuff up. No credible evidence supports them. None exists.

Fact: UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay lost credibility long ago. She's an imperial tool. She disgraces the office she holds.

Her reports bury truth. They substitute misinformation garbage. She's pro-putschist. She's anti-democratic governance. 

She marches in lock step with US imperial policy. So do Times editors. Russia bashing persists irresponsibly. Truth is systematically buried.

Big Lies follow earlier ones. In early April, The Times hyped fake satellite photos. They "show(ed) Russia(n)" hoards on Ukraine's borders.

NATO supplied them. Images "offered some of the first documentary evidence of a military buildup that the West says Russia could use to invade Ukraine at any moment," said The Times.

Images released dated from August 2013. Russia's General Staff exposed them. Times mea culpa didn't follow. Liars don't apologize. Big Lies repeat.

A follow-up Times report hyped fake photos allegedly linking masked men in East Ukraine to Russia.

It lied calling them the same "Russian military and intelligence forces - equipped in the same fashion as Russian special operations troops involved in annexing the Crimea region in February."

Clear evidence showed otherwise. Claiming Russian military involvement in Crimean reunification reflected another Times Big Lie.

On April 26, The Times headlined "For Russia, Negatives Seem to Outweigh Positives for an Invasion," saying:

"Thousands of Russian troops are maneuvering along the border, with Russian fighter jets menacing Ukraine’s airspace." 

"Ukrainian leaders have warned that border crossings by any soldiers would be considered an invasion, even while the country pursues military operations against a pro-Russian rebellion in the east."

Fact: Russian military exercises don't threaten Ukraine.

Fact: Its airspace wasn't violated. Russia's Defense Ministry debunked spurious accusations. Its statement said:

"Russia's airspace monitoring systems have not registered any violations of air borders of the states adjacent to Russia, including Ukraine."

On the one hand, said The Times, Putin "seems to have strong reasons to dispatch his tanks: shaping the Ukraine he wants well before elections scheduled for May 25 put a new, legitimate government in place; reclaiming an area that was historically part of Russia; gaining direct access to natural resources and factories that have been crucial to Moscow's military-industrial complex since Soviet times." 

"And his land grab of Crimea in March made him wildly popular at home."

On the other, it added:

"Yet the reasons for Mr. Putin to refrain from further military adventurism make a longer, more tangled list: the cost of a huge occupation force and the responsibility for the welfare of millions more people; the effect of new, more severe Western sanctions on an already weak economy; the possibility of significant Russian casualties caused by an insurgency in eastern Ukraine; a new, implacably anti-Russian western section of Ukraine; and likely pariah status internationally."

Fact: Putin and Obama are geopolitical opposites. 

Putin isn't expansionist. His agenda isn't revanchist. He deplores imperial rampaging. He prioritizes peace and stability. He respects for rule of law principles.

Obama trashes international, constitutional and US statute laws. He's waging multiple direct and proxy wars. His imperial policy threatens world peace.

Don't expect The Times to explain. "Mr. Putin would rather feed the insurrection from afar," it claims.

He "never quite allow(s) the calm that would give Ukraine the opening needed to join the European Union, or worse, NATO." 

"It is a tactic Russia has used successfully in previous attempts by former Soviet republics to shift westward."

Fact: Putin respects national sovereignty. He's polar opposite Washington. He doesn't intervene against other nations lawlessly like Obama and previous warrior presidents. 

He supports peace and stability. He backs multi-polar world policies. He's geopolitically on the right side of history. He reflects leadership America lacks.

Claiming "signs that Russia seems poised to invade" is another Times Big Lie.

A matching one calls US aggression humanitarian intervention. So-called responsibility to protect is pretext for ravaging, destroying and plundering one country after another.

Times correspondents, contributors and editors leave inconvenient truths unexplained. Big Lies substitute. 

Longstanding policy features them. Rubbish substitutes for news fit print. Increasing numbers of readers vote with their feet and ignore it. Maybe some day everyone will.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Marwan Barghouti on Sham Peace Talks

Marwan Barghouti on Sham Peace Talks

by Stephen Lendman

In May 2004, he was lawlessly convicted of three attacks killing five people. A three-judge panel admitted he had no involvement.

It didn't matter. Weeks later, he got five life sentences plus 40 years imprisonment. He's a prisoner of conscience. 

He calls himself "a political leader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, elected by my people. Israel has no right to try me, to accuse me, to judge me." 

"This is a violation of international law. I have a (legal) right to resist occupation."

In October 2002, he called the "State of Israel directly and indirectly criminally responsible for committing specific acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing, including uprooting Palestinians by military attacks, arbitrary arrests and illegal imprisonment, administrative detention, attacks on women, children and the elderly, systematic and wanton destruction of property and homes, (and) systematic expropriation and dispossession…"

He included numerous other crimes. He accused Israel of willfully imposing inhumane conditions. He remains imprisoned. On April 15, he was interviewed. 

He commented on sham peace talks. He had much more to say. Academic Adnan Abu Amer interviewed him in Arabic. More on what he said in translation below.

Last July, Israeli/Palestinian negotiation began. They were dead on arrival. They've gone nowhere. Israel demands everything its way. It offers nothing in return.

Talks are worthless. An agreed on April 29 deadline approaches. Abbas is a longtime Israeli collaborator. He agreed to extend them irresponsibly. 

He said through year end. Perhaps well into 2015. In return, he demands concessions too minor to matter.

Why he'll have to explain. On April 18, Maan News headlined " 'No breakthrough' in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks," saying:

On April 17, five hours of "very difficult discussions" ended with no agreement. An unnamed Palestinian source said:

"The gap (between both sides) is still wide. There was no breakthrough." On Friday, US negotiator Martin Indyk met separately with both sides. Nothing whatever was accomplised.

Israeli commentator Nahum Barnea compared nine months of talks to prolonged "mutual torture." 

He said "Kerry keeps them going like a gambler in a casino, who insists on putting his money on the roulette wheel, in the hope that the wheel will stop on his number at some point."

"He believed that he would reach a peace agreement. Then he limited himself to a framework agreement." 

"He later limited himself even further to an American proposal for a framework. And then just to ideas."

"In the end, the entire prestige of the United States is invested in a marginal, questionable deal, which will only prolong the mutual torture."

It bears repeating what earlier articles stressed. Chances for an equitable, just deal are virtually nil. 

Extending talks doesn't matter. Multiple earlier rounds  accomplished nothing. Don't expect this time to be different.

Barghouti had his say. He did so from prison. In May 2002, he was kidnapped, he said. Abducting him followed several failed Israeli attempts to kill him.

Over three months of grueling investigation followed. He spent several years in solitary confinement.

His cell was two meters long by 1.5 meters wide. Cockroaches, rats and mosquitos infested it.

No ventilation existed. "I was completely isolated from the world," he said. He got six books every six months. International Red Cross representatives supplied them.

He mastered Hebrew while incarcerated. After solitary confinement, he was moved to an isolation ward. He called the Palestinian situation "increasingly difficult."

Israel "thwart(s)" peace process efforts. Occupation harshness persists. "Israelis again elected government unwilling at all to end the occupation and settlements, and making peace with the Palestinians."

He blames Fatah for not reconciling with Hamas. Failure "complicate(s)" the "Palestinian scene," he said.

He supports "national unity." He said achieving it "constitutes the law of the victory of the national liberation movements of oppressed peoples."

"Reconciliation is a prerequisite for the unity of the people and the establishment of the state," he added.

He's confident unity and reconciliation one day will happen. Palestinians will triumph, he said.

Ongoing peace talks are futile, he believes. They failed because Israel prioritizes violence, instability and dominance. 

He wants full Palestinian UN membership. He wants full participation in international agreements and conventions. He wants Israeli officials held accountable in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He wants more international community help isolating and punishing Israel. He wants Israel boycotted politically, economically and militarily.

He wants popular resistance escalated. He wants all Palestinian elements involved. He wants a future Palestinian state within 1967 borders.

He deplores US involvement in peace talks. It provides one-sided supported for Israel, he said. Doing so makes peaceful conflict resolution impossible, he added.

America isn't an honest broker. If it wanted regional peace, it would have "demanded in a clear and explicit way." 

Achieving it depends "ending the occupation of the territories occupied in 1967."

In "preparation for the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem," he added. And "implement(ing) Resolution 194."

In December 1948, it said "refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage which, under the principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the governments or authorities responsible."

Israel's UN admission was conditional on accepting and implementing Resolution 194. General Assembly members affirmed the right of return dozens of times.

Israel denies them. An earlier Israeli Supreme Court decision said:

"Judea, Samaria and Gaza have been under the State's belligerent occupation. They are not part of the State of Israel."

It doesn't matter. Israel governs extrajudicially. Hardliners running things ignore their own High Court decisions.

Jews alone have rights. All aspects of life are affected. Palestinians are systematically denied what's too vital to forego.

Rights include sovereignty, land, housing, culture, education, healthcare, employment, and religious freedom among others. They include everything grounded in international law.

Failure to achieve a just and equitable peace threatens to turn a low-level conflict into a greater one, said Barghouti.

"The Arab Peace Initiative constitutes the minimum accepted by the Arabs to settle (equitably) with Israel," he added.

"But what was issued by the Arab ministerial delegation in Washington in terms of readiness to amend the 1967 borders and accept the principle of the exchange of land damaged the position of Arab and Palestinian rights." 

It open(ed) the appetite of Israel for more concessions. No one has the right to modify or exchange a land border," he stressed.

He wants full Israeli withdrawal from Palestine within 1967 borders. He includes "all settlements." They're on stolen Palestinian land. 

They have no legitimacy. He rejects incorporating them into Israel. 

He calls "the only possible solution at this moment a two-state solution." He stresses sovereign Palestine within 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

It "must not be abandoned," he said. Occupation harshness must end. He wants Palestinian unity working for "an independent state with full sovereignty."

"Israelis should be aware that the last day at the age of occupation is the first day of peace in the region." It must "announce its willingness to end the occupation."

To withdraw outside 1967 borders. To recognize Palestinian self-determination, "including their right to establish an independent state with full sovereignty and its capital in East Jerusalem."

Barghouti demands Israeli "apartheid" end. He calls it "based on occupation, settlements and racism."

"The alternative for the failure of the two-state solution will not be a bi-national state, but a continuing and widening conflict on the basis of a conflict of existence, (one with) no compromises."

Israeli peace with regional countries won't achieve overall stability, he said.

"The Israelis are mistaken if they believe that the status quo will continue as it is, but they have to realize that the security will only be achieved in peace, and that the Arab people have changed and they can not challenge the region forever."

Abbas "missed a historic opportunity to reach peace in the past eight years," he said. He conspires irresponsibly with Israel, Barghouti believes.

He's Israel's enforcer. He "coordinate(s) an unprecedented security" against his own people. In return, Palestinian land is stolen. 

Jerusalem is Judaized. Palestinians are displaced. Their homes, freedoms and futures are destroyed.

Oppressed people have a right to resist, he stressed. By "all means and methods approved by the United Nations Charter and international law."

Abbas' time is passing. Palestinians alone must choose his successor, said Barghouti. He's committed to keep struggling for their freedom, independence and peace.

He prioritizes doing so. He devoted his whole life to popular struggles. He's confident Palestinians will be free one day. Occupation's "demise" is "inevitable," he said. 

He believes Arabs reject "tyranny and dictatorship, occupation and repression, and do not have to live within the confines of an Arab regime paralyzed and helpless, harrowed and subject to the subordination and domination of American political security and" military strength.

"Arab regimes failed (to) build democratic" institutions. Constitutional reform must end decades of dictatorship and repression, he said.

"(N)ew foundations must be built." Democratic rights must be established. They must be based on "political pluralism," religious rights, intellectual freedom, and rule of law principles.

Revolutionary change depends on it, he stressed. Doing so is the only way to end "subordination."

Regional peace depends on Palestinians achieving their fundamental rights. He includes sovereign independence, equity and justice. 

He believes one day they'll be achieved. He'll work imprisoned or free for that day.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

US Anti-Iranian Arrogance

US Anti-Iranian Arrogance

by Stephen Lendman

Iranian President Hassan Rohani appointed Hamid Aboutalebi as permanent Tehran UN ambassador. It's effective July 25, 2014. More on him below.

Last week, Congress unanimously voted to deny him visa permission to enter America. Effectively he was declared persona non grata. 

Legislation passed "den(ies) admission to the United States to any representative to the United Nations who has engaged in espionage activities against the United States, poses a threat to United States national security interests or has engaged in a terrorist activity against the United States."

Neocon Ted Cruz (R. TX) sponsored Senate legislation. He outrageously called Iran a "rogue nation."

Rep. Ed Royce (R. CA) was no better. He maliciously said appointing Aboutalebi "show(s) contempt for the United States."

"Congress has unanimously approved legislation that sends a message to Tehran: 'Application Denied.' "

On Thursday, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Obama opposes Aboutalebi's appointment. His position was "communicated to the Iranians that the selection they've put forward is not viable."

"We concur with the Congress and share the intent of (its) bill." Aboutalebi earlier was Tehran's ambassador to Australia, Italy, Belgium and the EU.

He served as Ministry of Foreign Affairs political director general. In the 1990s, he was part of Iran's New York UN delegation. 

He holds a Belgium-based Katholieke University of Leuven historical sociology doctorate. He's a Sorbonne master's degree graduate. His bachelor's degree is from Tehran University.

His publications include Basic Challenges of US Foreign Policy towards Iran, Rocky Mountains of Nuclear Extremism, Turkey: Modern Diplomacy and New Ottoman Caliphate, and New Challenges of Iran Foreign Policy towards US.

His anthropological book is titled Anthropology of Ethics: First Volume of Philosophy of Social Ethics in 2013.

Iran denounced his rejection. It called doing so "not acceptable." It's illegal. More on this below. 

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham called Aboutalebi one of Iran's most capable diplomats.

Washington earlier granted him visa permission to enter America. Iran insists its appointment stands. 

Iranian National Security and Foreign Policy Commission parliamentarian Mohammad Hassan Asafari called barring Aboutalebi "sheer interference in the internal affairs of the UN."

"The Americans are not entitled to the right to oppose the entry of the Islamic Republic of Iran's representative at the UN and the US Senate approval is illegal," he added.

All nations have sovereign rights to appoint their diplomatic representatives. Others have no right to interfere. 

Washington ignores international laws, standards and norms. Its rules alone apply. Rogue states operate this way. 

America is by far the worst in world history. None past or present match its ruthlessness. Numerous examples explain. 

Denying Aboutalebi is its latest deplorable act. It's illegal. It violates an "Agreement Between the United Nations and the United States Regarding the Headquarters of the United Nations, Signed June 26, 1947, and Approved by the General Assembly October 31, 1947."

At the time, General George Marshall was US Secretary of State. Trygve Lie was UN Secretary-General. 

The Agreement said "federal, state or local authorities of the United States shall not impose any impediments to transit to or from the headquarters district of representatives of Members or officials of the United Nations."

Hassan Rohani, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and other Iranian leaders freely attended New York UN sessions. So did Gaddafi, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, and Yasser Arafat.

Syria's permanent UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari attends Security Council and General Assembly sessions. So do Cuban and North Korean envoys. 

Representatives from all UN member states may attend. It bears repeating. Denying them is illegal.

Aboutalebi is a distinguished diplomat. Deny him US entry is unacceptable. At issue was his alleged involvement during 444 Iranian hostage crisis days.

It lasted from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1971. Carter called holding dozens of US diplomats "victims of terrorism and anarchy."

Media scoundrels regurgitated Washington's position. They called hostage taking "vengeance and mutual incomprehension."

Aboutalebi had no involvement in what happened. He wasn't a hostage taker. He didn't participate in taking over America's embassy. He explained saying he only served as translator during negotiations.

At the time, he was a student. He was a Muslim Student Followers of the Imam's Line (MSFIL) member. So were others involved in occupying Washington's Tehran embassy.

They did so justifiably. They believed it was a den of espionage. They acted nonviolently. Participants were young. 

They were orderly. They were well-behaved. They were calm, responsible men and women.

In February 2013, the film Argo took top honors. Hollywood's 85th Academy Awards chose it the year's top film. There's nothing best about it.

It should have been denounced. It was unconscionable anti-Iranian propaganda. It was malicious. It turned truth on its head. 

It related a little known hostage crisis episode. Fifty-three Americans were held captive. Six others escaped. 

Former Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor sheltered them in his home. He's highly critical. He said script writer Chris Terrio misportrayed events.

Argo recounts their rescue. It downplays Canada's involvement. Terrio took creative liberties. Scenes were fabricated. 

People were mischaracterized. Iran's hospitable side was ignored. It's commonplace Hollywood practice. Truth is twisted to fit official US policy. It's systematically buried.

Argo is Iranophobic. It's trash. It's rubbish. It's fiction, not fact. It's unjust. It's one-sided. It's politically motivated. 

It reinvented history. It turned it on its head. It bears no relation to what happened. It ignored the 1981 Algiers Accords. Iran and Washington signed it. Most Iranian assets were unblocked.

A day later, US hostages were released. It was moments before Reagan's inauguration. Washington want US/Iranian conciliation at the time concealed. It was short-lived.

Argo ignored what should have been featured. It bashed Iran unjustifiably in the process. 

It's part of Washington's propaganda machine. It shouldn't surprise. Doing so is longstanding practice. Hollywood does it for profit. 

America prioritizes unchallenged dominance. It deplores sovereign independence. It wants vassal governance replacing it. Don't expect Hollywood to explain

Argo was some of its worst propaganda. It fomented anti-Iranian hatred. It stereotypically portrayed Iran. It did so according to Western misinformation.

US Anti-Iranian policies persist. Rogue states operate this way. Scoundrel media regurgitate official policy. They march in lockstep. Hollywood follows the same script.

The New York Times downplayed denying Aboutalebi visa permission to perform his UN duties. A Mark Landler/Rick Gladstone article stopped short of denouncing it. They called Washington's decision "unusual." 

A same day editorial was worse. It discussed ongoing Iranian/P5+1 nuclear talks. It's common knowledge in high places that Tehran's nuclear program has no military component.

Not according to Times editors. They lied saying it's "naive to understate how hard it will be to remove the threat of Iran's producing a nuclear weapon." 

They discussed denying Aboutalebi's visa rejection. They ignored reality. They called congressional legislation doing so "unclear legality."

At the same time, they said Obama will "set an unfortunate precedent…saying (he'll) deny Mr. Aboutalebi a visa anyway."

As UN host, America "is supposed to admit" member states' envoys, they said. False! It's legally bound to do so. Failure violates the 1947 agreement.

Times editors outrageously called appointing Aboutalebi "a real misstep." 

"It's hard to believe (Rohani) does not know how acutely the embassy takeover affected Americans and did not realize that he was handing hard-liners a new issue."

Times editors stopped short of explaining Aboutalebi's noninvolvement in what happened. 

Twisting truth to fit US policy is longstanding Times practice. Failure to denounce Washington lawlessness shows which side they're on. Doing the right thing is systematically avoided.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

As peace talks falter, Israel’s intentions become clearer

The National – 6 April 2014

There was a mad scramble by Washington last week to prevent the seemingly inevitable – an implosion of the Middle East peace talks. In a last-ditch effort to stop Israel reneging on a promise to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, the US briefly threw in possibly the biggest bargaining chip in its hand: the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

With Israel still dragging its feet, an infuriated Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas submitted applications to join 15 United Nations conventions, thereby reviving a campaign to win international recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Although Washington will continue quietly arm-twisting the two sides a little longer, President Barack Obama is reported to be worried that US diplomacy is starting to appear “desperate”.

The negotiations’ failure could prove an important clarifying ­moment, signalling the effective demise of the two-state solution.

Both the US and Israel have come to rely on the endless theatrics of the two-decade peace process. Settlement freezes, prisoner releases, rows about Palestinian Authority funding and, of course, intermittent negotiations have served as useful distractions from the main developments on the ground.

As Bassem Khoury, a former Palestinian Authority minister, observed last week: “Israel hasn’t changed. It is the same colonial entity pursuing the same ethnic cleansing policies it did for decades.”

That was also the little-noticed conclusion reached by Richard Falk as he stepped down last month as the UN’s special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied territories. In line with warnings he has issued in his UN post for the past six years, Mr Falk, a professor emeritus in international law at Princeton University, said Israeli policies were designed to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from the occupied territories, and especially East Jerusalem, the expected capital of any Palestinian state.

Mr Falk noted that Israel had cynically exploited the peace process to expand its settlement programme, as it did again during these past nine months of talks.

In his meeting last month with Mr Obama at the White House, Mr Abbas unveiled a map showing that Israel had approved more than 10,000 settler homes since the talks began. That number has grown further, with Israel unveiling 2,000 more, including 700 last week in the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo.

For every settler home built, Palestinians lose territory needed not only for a state but also to keep individual families living where they are now. The innocuous term “settlements” conceals their true role: as Israel’s primary vehicle for ethnic cleansing Palestinians through dispossession and harassment.

Washington welcomed Mr Falk’s departure, calling him a “noxious” presence. But his warnings have been echoed by others, including Israeli and Palestinian human rights organisations. Mr Falk’s findings were also confirmed by a usually circumspect group: European Union diplomats. A leaked joint report by EU consulates in the occupied territories observed that ethnic cleansing was advancing at an ever-accelerating pace in East Jerusalem.

The diplomats’ immediate concern is a “conflagration” as Israel’s extreme right is allowed ever greater access to the supremely sensitive site of the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Pushing to be given prayer rights there, the Israeli right hope they can eventually win from their government a partition of the site, as occurred earlier at the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron. There, the settlers’ control has effectively turned the once-thriving centre of Hebron into a Palestinian ghost town.

In East Jerusalem, Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies are at their most intense. As the EU notes, Palestinians have been starved of municipal funds, deprived of schools and blocked from commercial activity, and are leaving, heading for the greater security of West Bank cities.

In recent weeks, Palestinians in sections of East Jerusalem have even discovered that, despite its claims to treat Jerusalem as its “unified capital”, Israel has stopped supplying them with water.

Official data provide clues to Israel’s real intentions. This year’s first-quarter figures show that Israel sold more land to settlers for house building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem than it did for construction inside Israel itself.

Last week a Knesset committee effectively stymied efforts to force the government to disclose how much it is spending on settlement construction. Nonetheless, left wing legislators managed to extract partial treasury figures showing that the settlement budget has increased by at least $143 million (Dh525m) over the past six months, during the height of talks with the Palestinians.

In another sign of how Israel has been entrenching the settlements while paying lip-service to a peace process, the Israeli media revealed that 24 major infrastructure projects had been approved for the West Bank. They include more than $57 million for new settler roads and the first planned train service linking the settlements to Israel.

Israeli dispossession policies are not limited to the occupied territories. Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s plan to redraw the borders to strip part of Israel’s large Palestinian minority of its citizenship received a major fillip last month. For the first time government lawyers rejected the opinion of international law experts and gave their blessing to what the liberal Haaretz daily called Mr Lieberman’s programme of “ethnic cleansing” of its own citizens.

If negotiations collapse, it should be clear that, while both sides were supposed to be talking, one side – ­Israel – was vigorously and unilaterally acting to further its goals.

It now seems the Palestinian leadership will respond in kind, by pushing their bid for statehood at the UN. Israel has already threatened “punitive measures”, meaning things are likely to turn yet uglier. But the era of wishful thinking may finally be coming to an end – and that will be progress in itself.

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Duplicitous Mideast Peace Talks

Duplicitous Mideast Peace Talks

by Stephen Lendman

Peace isn't in Israel's or Washington's vocabulary. Talks with Palestinians date from the mid-1970s. Multiple rounds were dead on arrival. Hypocrisy defined them.

They're the most outrageous scam in modern diplomatic history. This time is no different. Washington is hardline. It negotiates one-way. Longstanding Israeli policy is unchanged.

It claims an unassailable right to settle anywhere in the land of the Bible. Peace talks are a useful fiction. 

Current Defense Minister/former Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon said earlier they're used "to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people."

Past and current Israeli officials call occupation permanent. Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir (1983 - 1984 and 1986 - 1992) once said he wanted to drag out peace talks for a decade while vastly expanding settlements.

From Oslo (1993) through today, settler population more than tripled. It went from around 200,000 to about 650,000. 

Numbers increase daily. Construction is unabated. Daily crimes against humanity prevent peace. 

It's been stillborn for around 40 years. It's more so than ever under Netanyahu. Daily events explain.

On April 2, Israeli soldiers invaded Bil'in. Operations continued for two days. Dozens of Palestinian homes were broken into violently.

They were searched. They were ransacked. Residents panicked. Children were terrified. They were traumatized.

Bil'in residents are in the forefront of Apartheid Wall resistance. They number around 1,800. Israel stole over 60% of their land.

They hold weekly protests. They do so courageously. They're targeted for fighting for justice. Israel violently attacks them for doing so.

On April 2 and 3, The Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements said five groups of around 12 soldier each invaded.

They've done it many times before. They target other towns and villages throughout the West Bank. They do it multiple times daily.

They've done it every day throughout months of sham peace talks. Doing so reveals Israel's real agenda.

It reflects militarized occupation ruthlessness. Peace is a non-starter. It's a convenient illusion. 

State terrorism is official Israeli policy. It's worse than ever under Netanyahu. 

He wants Palestinians denied all rights. He wants Jews alone afforded them. Business as usual persists.

Months of talks accomplished nothing. On April 3, Maan News headlined "Heated Jerusalem peace talks end in impasse."

They lasted nine hours. US Special Envoy Martin Indyk, Israeli negotiators Tzipi Livni and Yitzhak Molcho, as well as PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian intelligence head Majid Faraj participated.

Unnamed sources called discussions a "fierce political battle." Erekat said "we are here to negotiate in the name of the UN-recognized State of Palestine, not in the name of a Palestinian Authority whose inputs and outputs are controlled by Israel."

Israeli negotiators responded as expected. Threats were made. "(E)ndless" sanctions would be imposed, they said. They called them unprecedented.

Financial aid would be cut off. Indyk duplicitously stressed Israel's security. No threats whatever exist. He lied claiming otherwise.

Faraj said Palestinians were there to discuss "political, not security" issues. They want assurances about East Jerusalem as their exclusive capital.

They want border issues resolved. They other major ones handled equitably. They want what Israel fundamentally opposes.

Borders are fundamental. Clear definitions are key. Israel won't discuss them. It wants them expanded at Palestine's expense.

It wants Palestinian land stolen. Annexation is planned. It controls around 60% of West Bank territory already. 

It wants East and West Jerusalem exclusively. It wants control over air, water, and resource rights. It wants Palestinians having virtually no say over their own land.

It wants what no legitimate Palestinian negotiators would accept. Erekat perhaps made a hollow threat. If things escalate, he said, Palestinians will prosecute Israel in the World Court. Or its officials in the International Criminal Court.

John Kerry appealed to Netanyahu and Abbas to take the "lead." Do it to save the peace process, he said. How can what doesn't exist be salvaged? Kerry didn't explain.

He discussed Ukraine with EU foreign ministers in Brussels. Late Wednesday, he arrived in Algeria. He did so for regional security talks. His participation was criticized. 

Three opposition Islamist parties comprise the Green Algeria Alliance. They warned against "American exploitation" of Algeria.

It's ongoing ahead of scheduled April 17 presidential elections. Incumbent Abdelaziz Bouteflika took office in April 1999.

He's Algeria's longest serving president. He seeks reelection. If successful, he'll serve another five years. 

In April 2009, he won with over 90% of the vote. Several opposition parties boycotted the vote. They claimed "a tsunami of massive fraud." Perhaps again this time.

From Algeria, Kerry pressured peace talk negotiators long distance, saying:

"You can facilitate. You can push. You can nudge, but the parties themselves have to make fundamental decisions and compromises." 

"The leaders have to lead and they have to be able to see a moment when it's there."

None existed before. For sure not now. Washington and Israel don't compromise. They warn. They threaten. 

They bully others to comply. They offer nothing in return. Palestinians are worse off today than ever. Multiple rounds of peace talks lost more rights.

Kerry lied saying failure would be "trag(ic)" for both sides to miss out "get(ing) to those real issues that are the differences of the final status agreement."

So-called "real issues" have been unresolved for decades. Expect nothing different this time.

Late Wednesday, Kerry spoke to Netanyahu and Abbas from Algeria. He did so with talks on the brink of collapse.

Agreement was reached to keep talking through April 29. It's the final date agreed on earlier. 

What happens next remains to be seen. For sure no conflict resolution. Palestine remains occupied. Militarized harshness persist.

Israel steals more Palestinian land daily. Besieged Gazans continue to be suffocated. 

On March 28, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted four Palestinian related resolutions. Members voted 46 - 1. Washington alone expressed opposition.

Observing international law was stressed. This year's resolutions improved on earlier ones. 

During discussions, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council (PHROC) submitted a written statement.

It called on HRC members not to tolerate Israel's culture of impunity. It urged addressing its violations seriously. It called doing so a matter of urgency.

On March 27, HRC members adopted Israel's Universal Periodic Review (UPR). It was held on October 29, 2013.

It was rescheduled from January 2013. It was because Israel refused to engage in its review process. It wants its crimes buried.

It gets away with murder. It does so with impunity. It remains unaccountable. It gets undeserved concessions. US and EU allies assure them. 

They partner with Israel. They're involved in each other's crimes. Victors' justice prevails. Victims alone are punished. 

Accountability is nowhere in sight. Best efforts to change things go nowhere. Business as usual persists.

Last November, Palestinian negotiator Mohammad Shtayyeh resigned in disgust. Doing so was in response to "increasing settlement building and the absence of any hope of achieving results," he said.

Israel bears full "responsib(ility) for the failure of negotiations," he added. On Wednesday, he said Palestinians will continue talks until April 29.

If failure continues, joining 63 international organizations will follow, including the International Criminal Court. Negotiations throughout April will focus solely on borders.

He challenged Israel to present a map based on 1967 lines. He criticized Netanyahu's duplicity.

PLO executive committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo warned against meaningless Israeli gestures.

"We can't return to the empty routine, a search for a framework for talks - this empty routine which is negotiating about negotiating," he said.

"The Palestinian leadership…wants the political process to continue. But we want a real political process, without tricks," he added.

Israeli chief negotiator Livni lied saying "(w)e repeat and pledge that we will continue to fight for peace and stand like a fortified wall against the extremists, in the government as well, who are attempting to pass extreme legislation."

Deputy Foreign Minister Ze'ev duplicitously said "(t)he time has come to stop being the go-to sucker of the Middle East." 

"I call on the prime minister and Minister Livni to end the entire negotiation process so long as Abbas doesn't withdraw his request from the United Nations, and unilaterally implement the many measures Israel has in order to convince the Palestinian leadership that it doesn't pay for them to fight us in the international arena."

In other words, Ze'ev demands unconditional Palestinian surrender. So do Netanyahu, other majority Israeli hardliners, and their negotiators bargaining one-way.

All take! No give! No compromises! How Israel always negotiates. It wants its demands alone accepted. 

It wants Palestinians entirely denied. It's been this way for nearly 47 years. Nothing is different now.

Talks went nowhere for months. Failure defines them. Claims otherwise don't wash. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli obstructionism.

Israel irresponsibly called Palestine justifiably joining world bodies and treaties a "major breach" of trust.

Abbas should have done it years ago. Whether he'll use world organizations advantageously is another matter entirely. 

It takes a great leap of faith to think so. He never did before. His entire tenure reflects lost opportunities. It reflected betrayal. Don't expect this time to be different.

A Final Comment

On April 3, a disappointing Haaretz editorial headlined "As Kerry falters, where is Netanyahu leading."

It claimed he "threw a spanner" into negotiations by demanding Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Israel's entire approach reflects "spanner" duplicity. Nothing respecting Palestinian rights is included. Israeli ones alone matter.

Haaretz editors didn't explain. They pretended otherwise. They falsely claimed Netanyahu committed himself to a two-state solution.

Achieving one demands including all land within 1967 borders. It's 22% of historic Palestine. 

Palestinians agreed to sacrifice the other 78%. They'll do it in return for having their fundamental rights respected.

They want full sovereignty over West Bank and East Jerusalem territory. It's their land. It's their right. It doesn't belong to Israel.

Ending militarized occupation is fundamental. So are fixed borders and other important rights too important to sacrifice.

Netanyahu is committed solely to Israel. He spurns Palestinian rights. He wants them entirely denied. He's uncompromisingly hardline. Haaretz editors didn't explain.

They ludicrously claimed talks hit stalemate "without American mediation."

Nonsense! Washington is the problem. It's not the solution. It's been this way since Harry Truman became the first world leader to recognize the new Israeli state in May 1948.

It's been all downhill since. It's worse than ever now. Kerry one-sidedly favors Israel. 

He gives Palestinian rights short shrift. He ignores them altogether. He's Israel's man in Washington.

As long as he and so-called US negotiators are involved, talks will go nowhere. Israeli rights alone will be served. 

Palestinians will be entirely denied like always. This time is different in one respect only. It's worse than ever.

Combined US/Israeli heavy-handed tactics threaten Palestinians. They bully them to agree to what no responsible negotiators would accept.

They demand unconditional surrender. They demand Palestinians sacrifice all rights. Peace talks teeter on collapse. 

Haaretz editors are partly right. They hold Netanyahu responsible. He shares it with Kerry. 

Expect no meaningful change going forward. It takes a giant leap of faith to believe otherwise.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

The Israeli spy and Palestinian peace talks

Al-Jazeera - 3 April 2014

US using Jonathan Pollard as a bargaining chip raises the stakes in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations

Reports that Washington was offering to free Israel’s most notorious spy, Jonathan Pollard, as part of an unorthodox prisoner exchange has provoked feverish excitement in Israel.

US security officials have always objected to releasing Pollard early, after he was jailed 29 years ago for passing thousands of classified documents to Israel while serving in US naval intelligence. Pollard is eligible for a parole hearing next year.

The move appeared to be the sweetener in a last-ditch effort by US President Barack Obama’s administration to prevent the demise of current peace talks on April 29. Washington wants to persuade Israel and the Palestinian leadership to extend the negotiations timetable till at least the end of the year.

Neve Gordon, an Israeli political scientist at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva, said the Israeli right had turned Pollard into a “powerful symbol”.

“The right asks: How can we leave Pollard rotting in prison – and not just any prison, a US prison? Most Israelis feel Pollard has been in jail too long and suffered too much. It feels like a horrendous act of vindictiveness by the US.”

Pollard, an American Jew, was given Israeli citizenship in 1995 and his role as a spy officially was confirmed by Israel three years later. Requests for clemency have been rejected by previous US administrations.

The Obama administration was said to be considering freeing Pollard in return for Israel’s agreement to carry out a promised release of 26 Palestinian prisoners due last weekend.

After Israel failed to deliver, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas applied to the United Nations this week to become a signatory of 15 international conventions, apparently reviving the Palestinian Authority’s efforts to win international recognition of Palestinian statehood.

The US deal, it is reported, would also require Israel to release hundreds more Palestinian prisoners and implement a temporary freeze on settlement building.

Buying time

The possibility of Pollard being used as a bargaining chip has upset many commentators. A New York Times editorial called the move “lamentable“, while The Washington Post wondered why the US was the one “offering its own concessions” to keep the two sides talking.

Yossi Alpher, a political analyst and former adviser to Ehud Barak, Israel’s prime minister during the Camp David peace talks in 2000, said Obama’s chief concern was keeping the negotiations going.

“This deal has been put together not to advance a two-state solution but to buy time, to keep a ‘non-process’ rolling a few months more so that the Obama administration can get past the elections.”

Although the reports that Pollard might soon be handed over were welcomed in Israel, analysts warned there was a danger it could rub salt into a still-festering wound. Writing in Haaretz newspaper, Anshel Pfeffer noted: “A national carnival around the liberated spy will cause new damage to the relationship with Washington.”

Alpher concurred, saying the right had turned Pollard into a “martyr”. “They have presented him as a persecuted Jew, suggesting that it is Israel’s duty to save him.”

Pollard appealed unsuccessfully to the Israeli Supreme Court in 2005 to have himself recognised as a “prisoner of Zion“, a title that more usually refers to Jews who were imprisoned by the Soviet Union to prevent them from emigrating to Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been closely identified with the campaign to win Pollard’s release. Although recent Israeli prime ministers have quietly lobbied Washington on Pollard’s behalf, Netanyahu became the first to risk incurring the White House’s ire by making a public call for clemency in early 2011.

He also raised the matter with the White House in 2010 during an earlier round of peace talks, proposing a continuation of a partial settlement freeze in return for Pollard’s release. On that occasion, talks broke down.

In a sign of the consensus over Pollard, 106 of the 120 legislators in Israel’s parliament signed an appeal to Obama last December urging him to release the spy as a “humanitarian gesture“. Those not signing were mostly Palestinian members of the Israeli Knesset.

At that time, Israel’s Channel 10 TV station quoted an unnamed White House source saying Obama’s view was that “Pollard committed a very serious crime, and he has no intention of releasing him”.

Strong obligations

During Pollard’s plea bargain before he was sentenced in 1987, it emerged that he had been paid at least $50,000 by Israeli handlers for information. Pollard told the court he had passed on “360 cubic feet” of documents over a 17-month period, reportedly to South Africa and Pakistan as well as Israel.

The information is believed to have included the location of the Palestine Liberation Organisation’s headquarters in Tunisia, which Israel bombed in 1985, killing 35 people, and reports on Soviet arms shipments to Arab states. He is also reported to have revealed details of how the US operated its intelligence-gathering satellites.

According to US media reports, some of the classified documents may have found their way to the Soviet Union, probably in exchange for the emigration of Russian Jews to Israel.

Netanyahu’s support for Pollard had won popular backing, said Alpher, because most Israelis felt a strong obligation to Pollard, even if it meant antagonising the US. “It’s deep in the Israeli culture not to leave behind someone who is wounded or captive, whatever the circumstances.”

But the right, he added, had gone further, creating the impression that he is “being held in unreasonable conditions, that he is being singled out by the US”. There was, he added, an implication that the American treatment of Pollard was driven by “anti-semitism”.

That served the right’s cause, he said, justifying their refusal to make territorial and political concessions in peace talks.

Pfeffer noted that while in prison, Pollard had adopted the hardline positions of the Israeli extreme right. His thinking, Pfeffer said, had been affected by what he called a stream of visits by “far-right Israeli politicians and settler rabbis”.

In 2009, Pollard was reported to have opposed a prisoner deal to free Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held in Gaza for five years by Hamas. He suggested Israel instead made a list of Hamas prisoners in its jails so that it could “kill one of them every day until they release Gilad”.

The Pollard campaign has been bolstered among the Israeli public by the publication late last year of documents, originally leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden, that the US had spied on its closest allies, including Israel. Israelis sensed a double standard from Washington, said Neve Gordon.

Political pawns

Gordon added that Netanyahu would benefit from Pollard’s release. “Pollard has come to represent for Israelis a sense of our own powerlessness, even with our friend the US. If Netanyahu manages to get him freed, it will strengthen his political position.”

The biggest carrot that might keep the Palestinians at the talks, meanwhile, would be a promise from Israel to release the Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who is widely seen as Abbas’ heir apparent.

Last week’s cancelled prisoner release was always likely to be contentious for Israel, because it included 14 members of Israel’s large Palestinian minority.

Alpher said the arrangement put a question mark over who the 14 prisoners owed their allegiance to – Israel or Abbas? “That plays straight into the hands of people like [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman, who says Israeli Arabs are not loyal and cannot be trusted.”

Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organisation based in Ramallah, warned it was difficult to trust Israel in such deals.

It noted that, as part of a 2011 prisoner exchange for Shalit, Israel agreed to release a first batch of 477 Palestinians in October that year. Over the next two months, the organisation documented some 470 new arrests across the West Bank.

Gavan Kelly, a spokesman for Addameer, said: “Israel gives with one hand and takes with the other. On this occasion too, Israel can agree to free Palestinians and then make more arrests or re-arrest those it releases.”

According to Addameer, 5,000 political prisoners are in Israeli jails, including more than 130 who have never been charged.

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A 15-Year Murder Spree

"The notion of a 'humanitarian war' would have rang in the ears of the drafters of the UN Charter as nothing short of Hitlerian, because it was precisely the justification used by Hitler himself for the invasion of Poland just six years earlier." —Michael Mandel

Fifteen years ago, NATO was bombing Yugoslavia.  This may be difficult for people to grasp who believe the Noah movie is historical fiction, but: What your government told you about the bombing of Kosovo was false. And it matters.

While Rwanda is the war that many misinformed people wish they could have had (or rather, wish others could have had for them), Yugoslavia is the war they're glad happened -- at least whenever World War II really fails as a model for the new war they're after -- in Syria for instance, or in Ukraine -- the latter being, like Yugoslavia, another borderland between east and west that is being taken to pieces.

The peace movement is gathering in Sarajevo this summer. The moment seems fitting to recall how NATO's breakout war of aggression, its first post-Cold-War war to assert its power, threaten Russia, impose a corporate economy, and demonstrate that a major war can keep all the casualties on one side (apart from self-inflicted helicopter crashes) -- how this was put over on us as an act of philanthropy.

The killing hasn't stopped. NATO keeps expanding its membership and its mission, notably into places like Afghanistan and Libya.  It matters how this got started, because it's going to be up to us to stop it.

Some of us had not yet been born or were too young or too busy or too Democratic partisan or too caught up still in the notion that mainstream opinion isn't radically insane.  We didn't pay attention or we fell for the lies.  Or we didn't fall for the lies, but we haven't yet figured out a way to get most people to look at them. 

Here's my recommendation.  There are two books that everyone should read.  They are about the lies we were told about Yugoslavia in the 1990s but are also two of the best books about war, period, regardless of the subtopic.  They are: How America Gets Away With Murder: Illegal Wars, Collateral Damage, and Crimes Against Humanity by Michael Mandel, and Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions by Diana Johnstone. 

Johnstone's book provides the historical background, the context, and analysis of the role of the United States, of Germany, of the mass media, and of various players in Yugoslavia.  Mandel's book provides the immediate events and a lawyer's analysis of the crimes committed.  While many ordinary people in the United States and Europe supported or tolerated the war out of good intentions -- that is, because they believed the propaganda -- the motivations and actions of the U.S. government and NATO turn out to have been as cynical and immoral as usual.

The United States worked for the breakup of Yugoslavia, intentionally prevented negotiated agreements among the parties, and engaged in a massive bombing campaign that killed large numbers of people, injured many more, destroyed civilian infrastructure and hospitals and media outlets, and created a refugee crisis that did not exist until after the bombing had begun.  This was accomplished through lies, fabrications, and exaggerations about atrocities, and then justified anachronistically as a response to violence that it generated. 

After the bombing, the U.S. allowed the Bosnian Muslims to agree to a peace plan very similar to the plan that the U.S. had been blocking prior to the bombing spree.  Here's U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali:

"In its first weeks in office, the Clinton administration has administered a death blow to the Vance-Owen plan that would have given the Serbs 43 percent of the territory of a unified state. In 1995 at Dayton, the administration took pride in an agreement that, after nearly three more years of horror and slaughter, gave the Serbs 49 percent in a state partitioned into two entities."

These many years later it should matter to us that we were told about fake atrocities that researchers were unable to ever find, any more than anyone could ever find the weapons in Iraq, or the evidence of plans to slaughter civilians in Benghazi, or the evidence of Syrian chemical weapons use.  We're being told that Russian troops are massing on the border of Ukraine with genocidal intentions. But when people look for those troops they can't find them. We should be prepared to consider what that might mean.

NATO had to bomb Kosovo 15 years ago to prevent a genocide? Really? Why sabotage negotiations? Why pull out all observers?  Why give five days' warning? Why then bomb away from the area of the supposed genocide?  Wouldn't a real rescue operation have sent in ground forces without any warning, while continuing diplomatic efforts?  Wouldn't a humanitarian effort have avoided killing so many men, women, and children with bombs, while threatening to starve whole populations through sanctions?

Mandel looks very carefully at the legality of this war, considering every defense ever offered for it, and concludes that it violated the U.N. Charter and consisted of murder on a large scale.  Mandel, or perhaps his publisher, chose to begin his book with an analysis of the illegality of the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and to leave Yugoslavia out of the book's title.  But it is Yugoslavia, not Iraq or Afghanistan, that war proponents will continue pointing to for years to come as a model for future wars -- unless we stop them.  This was a war that broke new ground, but did it with far more effective PR than the Bush administration ever bothered with.  This war violated the UN Charter, but also -- though Mandel doesn't mention it -- Article I of the U.S. Constitution requiring Congressional approval.

Every war also violates the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  Mandel, all too typically, erases the Pact from consideration even while noting its existence and significance.  "The first count against the Nazis at Nuremberg," he writes, "was the 'crime against peace . . . violation of international treaties' -- international treaties just like the Charter of the United Nations."  That can't be right.  The U.N. Charter did not yet exist.  Other treaties were not just like it.  Much later in the book, Mandel cites the Kellogg-Briand Pact as the basis for the prosecutions, but he treats the Pact as if it existed then and exists no longer.  He also treats it as if it banned aggressive war, rather than all war.  I hate to quibble, as Mandel's book is so excellent, including his criticism of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch for refusing to recognize the U.N. Charter.  But what they're doing to make the U.N. Charter a treaty of the past, Mandel himself (and virtually everyone else) does to the Kellogg-Briand Pact, awareness of which would devastate all arguments for "humanitarian wars."

Of course, proving that every war thus far marketed as humanitarian has actually harmed humanity doesn't eliminate the theoretical possibility of a humanitarian war.  What erases that is the damage that keeping the institution of war around does to human society and the natural environment.  Even if, in theory, 1 war in 1,000 could be a good one (which I don't believe for a minute), preparing for wars is going to bring those other 999 along with it.  That is why the time has come to abolish the institution.

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NATO Plans Global Dominance

NATO Plans Global Dominance

by Stephen Lendman

NATO was established in April 1949. It's a US imperial tool. It's been this way from inception. Washington provides the lion's share of funding. It's around 75%.

Claiming a NATO "political and military alliance for peace and security" doesn't wash. It never did. It's polar opposite truth. NATO's mission is offense, not defense. 

Post-WW II, the Russians weren't coming. War devastated their country. It took years to recover. Cold War hysteria was contrived. It stoked fear. 

It launched an arms race. War profiteers benefitted hugely. Napoleon once said: "Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self-interest." 

Robert Griffiths is UK Communist Party general secretary. In 2010, he called NATO a "global military and reconnaissance infrastructure…created to support US, British and western European big business interests, especially energy, financial and armaments monopolies."

What began "as a cold war provocation against a non-existent Soviet threat (now) invent(s) or exaggerat(es) threats from so-called failed or rogue states, Islamic fundamentalism and cyber-terrorism."

NATO's original 12 members included America, Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Portugal and Iceland. 

Four new members were added before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. They included Greece and Turkey (1952), West Germany (1955), and Spain (1982).

NATO currently includes 28 member nations, 22 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) ones, seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries, and four Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) states.

They comprise nearly one-third of world nations. NATO plans exponential expansion. It wants new members and partners on all continents. It wants them virtually everywhere.

It's Washington-led. It's a global killing machine. It wants all adversaries and potential ones eliminated. It wants unchallenged world dominance. 

April 4, 2009 was NATO's 60th anniversary. Peace groups, global justice movements, trade unions, students, and others met in Strasbourg, France.

They rallied under the slogan "No to War - No to NATO." They called NATO an obstacle to world peace. They issued a public statement, saying:

NATO "is a vehicle for US-led use of force with military bases on all continents, bypassing the United Nations and the system of international law, accelerating militarization and escalating arms expenditures."

"To achieve our vision of a peaceful world, we reject military responses to global and regional crises. We refuse to live under the terror of nuclear weapons, and reject a new arms race."

World security depends on peaceful cooperation and coexistence. NATO dominance prevents it.

Bogus threats justify the unjustifiable. Enemies are invented when none exist. They're pretexts for aggressive wars. 

They follow one after another. Multiple ones continue at same time. New nations await targeting.

A permanent state of war exists. World peace is threatened. Bosnia 1995 was NATO's first war of aggression. In 1999, raping Yugoslavia followed. So did war on humanity through today.

Most world nations are allied militarily with America and its NATO allies. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) alone includes 53 nations.

Dozens of countries partner in America's wars. Since 1999, they included air and ground conflicts on three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa. 

Will more European war follow? Will US-led NATO dare risk it with Russia? Will South America be targeted? Will Venezuela be ground zero? 

Will war on humanity destroy it? Will lunatics making policy risk it? Conditions today are incendiary. World peace was never more threatened. 

Ukrainian geopolitical flashpoint conditions risk global war. Paul Craig Roberts calls it a "final" one. World wars I and II were warmups.

Weapons used then were toys compared to now. Humanity could be annihilated in 24 hours or less. The insanity of potential nuclear war makes the unthinkable possible.

Roberts says we're "again on the road to World War." The "drive (toward it) is blatantly obvious." Big Lies precipitating global conflict are "obvious."

America, rogue NATO partners, other willing governments and media scoundrels are involved. Propaganda wars precede hot ones.

Big Lies repeat with disturbing regularity. Rule of law principles don't matter. World peace is a non-starter. Global conquest is US-led NATO's long sought goal. It's insatiable. It's madness.

Imagine risking planet earth's destruction to control it. NATO plans eastern expansion. 

Obama lied saying contingency plans must be "updated" to assure "we do more to ensure that a regular NATO presence among some of these states that may feel vulnerable" to Russia.

No threat whatever exists. America and its rogues allies alone threaten world peace. Their agenda goes all-out to prevent it.

Millions of corpses bear witness. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a US imperial stooge. He regurgitates what his US masters tell him.

"I join Barack Obama in considering additional NATO measures: updated defense plans, enhanced exercises, (and) appropriate deployments" closer to Russia's borders, he said.

Military cooperation with Ukraine will be enhanced, he added. On April 1, Reuters headlined "NATO plans support for east Europeans worried about Crimea."

It switched headlines midday to "NATO sees no sign of Russian pullback from Ukraine border."

On April 1 and 2, NATO ministers met in Brussels. They examined "options ranging from stepped-up military exercises and sending more forces to eastern members states, to the permanent basing of alliance forces there…"

Encroaching closer to Russia's border is hugely provocative. Imagine Washington's reaction if Moscow planned deploying its forces along America's northern and/or southern borders.

Imagine if its warships patrolled its east, west, and Gulf of Mexico waters. Imagine if its warplanes patrolled close to its airspace.

Imagine potential war erupting. Imagine it following provocative US-led NATO plans.

Claiming a Russian threat doesn't wash. None whatever exists. Moscow prioritizes peaceful co-existence. America is obsessed with empire building.

A circulating social media graphic shows Western and Eastern Europe infested with NATO bases encroaching on Russia's borders. 

How dare Moscow locate its territory close to NATO military installations, it suggests. 

Putin abhors acquiring territory belligerently. He's polar opposite Obama. He prioritizes peace and stability. 

You'd never know it from how intensively he's bashed. He's an obstacle to unchallenged US global dominance. 

He's the best chance around to prevent it. He deserves praise, not condemnation. 

He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition. He deserves what only war criminals get. Obama is Exhibit A.

He claims no intention in intervening militarily in Ukraine. He's a serial liar. He broke every major promise made. His word isn't his bond. 

He represents the worst of rogue leadership. His conspiratorial partners share responsibility. Wrongfully claiming Russia seized Crimean is a rallying cry for war.

Germany is more belligerent than any time since WW II. It's considering sending warplanes to patrol Eastern European airspace.

NATO deployed aircraft doubled in recent weeks. Expect more of the same ahead. Expect Western warships patrolling Black Sea waters provocatively.

Expect NATO forces establishing a permanent Ukrainian presence. Expect fascist putschists supplied destructive weapons and munitions. 

Expect provocative NATO-led war games on Russia's borders. Washington already increased its Eastern Europe air patrols.

Its NATO ambassador Douglas Lute said Kerry would discuss additional measures with Eastern European allies.

"They will talk about…what more can be done to amplify the measures that have been taken already and to sustain them over time so that these measures are not simply short-term gestures," he said. 


Preparing for was takes time. Perhaps plans were drawn to wage what Paul Craig Roberts calls the "final" one. 

A nonexistent Russian threat is being hyped provocatively. America's sordid history is long and disturbing. 

Enemies are invented. They're pretexts for war. Permanent ones reflect official US policy. 

The late Gore Vidal once said "our rulers…made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own."

Historian Harry Elmer Barnes (1889 - 1968) worried about disturbing trends. If they continue, "we shall soon reach this point of no return, and can only anticipate interminable wars, disguised as noble gestures for peace," he said.

Washington threatens humanity. Hans Morgenthau (1904 - 1980) was a prominent geopolitical observer. Ignore reality and perish, he believed.

He called a third world war inevitable. A "strategic nuclear war," he said. "I do not believe anything can be done to prevent it." 

"The international system is simply too unstable to survive for long." America bears full responsibility. Rogue European, Israeli and other conspiratorial partners share it.

Escalating tensions makes the unthinkable possible. Obama itches for more war. His entire tenure reflects it. He waged multiple and direct ones from day one to now.

They're wars of choice, not necessity. They lawless acts of aggression. They continue out-of-control. He's got lots more targets in mind. Imagine challenging Russia belligerently.

Imagine what no previous US presidents dared. Imagine lunatics doing it for unchallenged power. Imagine the worst of all possible outcomes. Imagine risking mass annihilation.

The road to hell is paved with megalomaniacal ambitions. Whether or not Nero fiddled while Rome burned pales in comparison today's threat.

Incendiary geopolitical global conditions exist. They're worse than any time since WW II. They're real. It bears repeating. At stake is humanity's survival. 

Obama risks destroying it entirely. East/West global war is the surest way to do it. His agenda heads increasingly closer to waging it.

It's hard imagining anything more reckless. Stopping him before it's too late matters most. Humanity's survival depends on it. What greater priority than that.

A Final Comment

On April 1, NATO suspended all military and civilian cooperation with Russia. It did so based on lies relating to Ukraine. A statement said:

"We have decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia." 

"Our political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council can continue, as necessary, at the Ambassadorial level and above, to allow us to exchange views, first and foremost on this crisis."

In June, NATO/Russian relations will be reviewed. NATO foreign ministers urged Moscow "to take immediate steps…to return to compliance with international law."

US-led NATO blames lawlessly targeted countries for its crimes. It's "implement(ing) immediate and longer term measures to strengthen Ukraine's ability to provide for its own security."

It's not threatened. It doesn't matter. NATO wants greater encroachment on Russia's border. It wants it provocatively targeted. 

It wants long range nuclear armed missiles targeting its heartland. It wants what no responsible threatened leader would tolerate.

It wants its fascist putschist allies involved in provocative lawlessness. Perhaps a major false flag operation is planned. 

Perhaps it's to goad Russia into belligerent confrontation. Perhaps it's for what Paul Craig Roberts calls "final" war. 

Hegemons operate this way. America exceeds the worst of all earlier ones. Obama heads the world's most ruthless one by far. 

World conquest involves lots more death and destruction he has in mind. It means eliminating all rivals and potential ones. 

It may end up destroying planet earth to own it. Perhaps nothing will be left worth fighting for.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Planned Turkish False Flag Exposed

Planned Turkish False Flag Exposed

by Stephen Lendman

Welcome to police state Turkey. It's no democracy. Claiming otherwise is a convenient illusion. 

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is tyrannical. He's ruthless. He blames victims for his crimes. He's unapologetic. 

He heads Ankara's rogue government. Turkey is one of 28 NATO countries. Erdogan partners with Washington's imperial wars.

He's part of Obama's agenda to ravage and destroy Syria. At issue is ousting Assad. It's replacing him with pro-Western puppet leadership. 

It's denying Syrians all rights. It's exploiting them ruthlessly. It's stealing Syrian resources. It's eliminating an Israeli rival. It's isolating Iran before targeting its government the same way.

It's reckless. It's lawless. It's out-of-control. It risks regional war. It risks expanding it globally. It risks what no responsible leader would dare. It's happening in real time.

Obama wants a pretext for full-scale US-led NATO intervention. Last summer's false flag Ghouta chemical weapons attack failed.

Hoped for popular US support didn't follow. Mass opposition emerged. Libya 2.0 was postponed. It wasn't cancelled. It remains another major false flag incident ahead.

On March 28, RT International headlined "You Tube ban: How Turkish officials conspired to stage Syria attack to provoke war."

At issue is pretext for invoking NATO's Articles 4 or 5. 

Article 4 calls for members to "consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence, or security of any" is threatened.

Article 5 considers an armed attack (real or otherwise) against one or more members, an attack against all. It calls for collective self-defense.

Invoking it gives Obama pretext for war. Bombs away would follow. Libya 2.0 would entirely ravage and destroy Syria. Perhaps turning it to rubble is planned.

Potentially hundreds of thousands could die. Many more would be injured. Millions more displaced. 

Humanitarian disaster conditions would increase exponentially. Obama's rap sheet already is blood-drenched.  

How many more millions does he plan to murder? Is war with Russia next? Doing so is as simple as ordering ready, aim, fire. Major conflicts start this way.

Turkey was caught red-handed. Ergodan responded lawlessly. He blocked You Tube. He lied claiming national security concerns. 

Days earlier, he restricted Twitter access. He called the You Tube recording "a vile, cowardly, immoral act."

Turkey is notorious. It suppresses press freedom. It imprisons more journalists than any other country. Speaking truth to power is criminalized.

Thousands of journalists, lawyers, activists and others are falsely accused of state terrorism. An atmosphere of fear prevails. No one is safe. Everyone is potentially vulnerable.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) earlier said Turkish "authorities are waging one of the world's biggest anti-press campaigns in recent history." 

"Dozens of writers and editors are in prison, nearly all on terrorism or other anti-state charges. The evidence against them? Their journalism."

Erdogan restricts free expression. He denigrates it. He goes all-out to quash it. He represents hardline rogue governance. 

His latest dirty scheme was exposed. What follows remains to be seen.

Leaked audio revealed comments made by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) head Hakan Fidan. 

Others involved included Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioglu and Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. General Yasar Guler.

They discussed plotting a false flag pretext for full-scale war on Syria. Davutoglu was heard saying "I'll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey" from insurgent held Syrian territory.

He called doing it "a declaration of war. He suggested targeting the Tomb of Suleiman Shah. It's inside Syria. It's sovereign Turkish territory. It's authorized under 1921 Treaty of Ankara terms.

Davutoglu was heard saying:

"The prime minister said that in the current conjuncture, this attack must be seen as an opportunity for us."

Fidan replied saying: 

"I'll send four men from Syria, if that's what it takes. I’ll make up a cause of war by ordering a missile attack on Turkey. We can also prepare an attack on Suleiman Shah Tomb if necessary."

Sinirlioglu said: "Our national security has become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit."

Guler: "It's a direct cause of war. I mean, what're going to do is a direct cause of war." 

The full conversation reveals how rogue states operate. It continued as follows:

Davutoglu: "I couldn't entirely understand the other thing; what exactly does our foreign ministry supposed to do?" 

"No, I'm not talking about the thing. There are other things we're supposed to do." 

"If we decide on this, we are to notify the United Nations, the Istanbul Consulate of the Syrian regime, right?"

Sinirlioglu: "But if we decide on an operation in there, it should create a shocking effect. I mean, if we are going to do so." 

"I don't know what we're going to do, but regardless of what we decide, I don't think it'd be appropriate to notify anyone beforehand."

Davutoglu: "OK, but we're gonna have to prepare somehow. To avoid any shorts on regarding international law." 

"I just realised when I was talking to the president (Abdullah Gul), if the Turkish tanks go in there, it means we're in there in any case, right?

Guler: "It means we're in, yes."

Davutoglu: "Yeah, but there's a difference between going in with aircraft and going in with tanks…"

Guler: "Maybe we can tell the Syrian consulate general that, ISIL is currently working alongside the regime, and that place is Turkish land. We should definitely…"

Davutoglu: "But we have already said that, sent them several diplomatic notes."

Guler: "To Syria…"

Sinirlioglu: "That's right."

Davutoglu: "Yes, we've sent them countless times. Therefore, I'd like to know what our Chief of Staff's expects from our ministry."

Guler: "Maybe his intent was to say that, I don't really know, he met with Mr. Fidan."

Fidan: "Well, he did mention that part but we didn't go into any further details."

Guler: "Maybe that was what he meant...A diplomatic note to Syria?"

Fidan: "Maybe the Foreign Ministry is assigned with coordination…"

Davutoglu: "I mean, I could coordinate the diplomacy but civil war, the military…"

Sinirlioglu: That's what I told back there. For one thing, the situation is different. An operation on ISIL has solid ground on international law." 

"We're going to portray this is Al-Qaeda, there's no distress there if it's a matter regarding Al-Qaeda. And if it comes to defending Suleiman Shah Tomb, that's a matter of protecting our land."

Guler: "We don't have any problems with that."

Fidan: "Second after it happens, it'll cause a great internal commotion (several bombing events is bound to happen within). The border is not under control…"

Sinirlioglu: "I mean, yes, the bombings are of course going to happen. But I remember our talk from 3 years ago…"

Guler: "Mr. Fidan should urgently receive back-up and we need to help him supply guns and ammo to rebels." 

"We need to speak with the minister. Our Interior Minister, our Defense Minister. We need to talk about this and reach a resolution sir."

Davutoglu: "How did we get special forces into action when there was a threat in Northern Iraq? We should have done so in there, too." 

"We should have trained those men. We should have sent men. Anyway, we can't do that. We can only do what diplomacy…"

Sinirlioglu: "I told you back then, for God's sake, General. You know how we managed to get those tanks in. You were there."

Guler: "What, you mean our stuff?"

Sinirlioglu: "Yes, how do you think we've managed to rally our tanks into Iraq? How? How did we manage to get special forces, the battalions in?" 

"I was involved in that. Let me be clear. There was no government decision on that. We have managed that just with a single order."

Guler: "Well, I agree with you. For one thing, we're not even discussing that. But there are different things that Syria can do right now."

Davutoglu: "General, the reason we're saying no to this operation is because we know about the capacity of those men."

Guler: "Look, sir, isn't MKE (Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation) at minister's bidding?" 

"Sir, I mean, Qatar is looking for ammo to buy in cash. Ready cash. So, why don't they just get it done? It's at Mr. Minister's command."

Davutoglu: But there's the spot we can't act intergratedly. We can't coordinate."

Guler: "Then, our Prime Minister can summon both Mr. Defence Minister and Mr. Minister at the same time. Then he can directly talk to them."

Davutoglu: "We, Mr. Siniroglu and I, have literally begged Mr. Prime Minster for a private meeting. We said that things were not looking so bright."

Guler: "Also, it doesn't have to be a crowded meeting. Yourself, Mr. Defence Minister, Mr. Interior Minister and our Chief of Staff, the four of you are enough." 

"There's no need for a crowd. Because, sir, the main need there is guns and ammo. Not even guns, mainly ammo. We've just talked about this, sir." 

"Let's say we're building an army down there, 1000 strong. If we get them into that war without previously storing a minimum of 6-months' worth of ammo, these men will return to us after two months."

Davutoglu: "They're back already."

Guler: "They'll return to us, sir."

Davutoglu: "They've came back from...What was it? Cobanbey."

Guler: "Yes, indeed, sir. This matter can't be just a burden on Mr. Fidan's shoulders as it is now. It's unacceptable. I mean, we can't understand this. Why?"

Davutoglu: "That evening we'd reached a resolution. And I thought that things were taking a turn for the good. Our…"

Sinirlioglu: "We issued the MGK (National Security Council) resolution the day after. Then we talked with the general…"

Davutoglu: "And the other forces really do a good follow up on this weakness of ours. You say that you're going to capture this place, and that men being there constitutes a risk factor." 

"You pull them back. You capture the place. You reinforce it and send in your troops again."

Guler: "Exactly, sir. You're absolutely right."

Davutoglu: "Right? That's how I interpret it. But after the evacuation, this is not a military necessity. It's a whole other thing."

Sinirlioglu: "There are some serious shifts in global and regional geopolitics. It now can spread to other places. You said it yourself today, and others agreed…" 

"We're headed to a different game now. We should be able to see those. That ISIL and all that jazz, all those organisations are extremely open to manipulation." 

"Having a region made up of organisations of similar nature will constitute a vital security risk for us." 

"And when we first went into Northern Iraq, there was always the risk of PKK blowing up the place. If we thoroughly consider the risks and substantiate...As the general just said…"

Guler: "Sir, when you were inside a moment ago, we were discussing just that. Openly. I mean, armed forces are a "tool" necessary for you in every turn."

Davutoglu: "Of course. I always tell the Prime Minister, in your absence, the same thing in academic jargon, you can't stay in those lands without hard power. Without hard power, there can be no soft power."

Guler: "Sir."

Sinirlioglu: "The national security has been politicised. I don't remember anything like this in Turkish political history. It has become a matter of domestic policy." 

"All talks we've done on defending our lands, our border security, our sovereign lands in there, they've all become a common, cheap domestic policy outfit."

Guler: "Exactly."

Sinirlioglu: "That has never happened before. Unfortunately but…"

Guler: "I mean, do even one of the opposition parties support you in such a high point of national security? Sir, is this a justifiable sense of national security?"

Sinirlioglu: "I don't even remember such a period."

Guler: "In what matter can we be unified, if not a matter of national security of such importance? None."

Davutoglu: "The year 2012, we didn't do it 2011. If only we'd took serious action back then, even in the summer of 2012."

Sinirlioglu: "They were at their lowest back in 2012."

Davutoglu: "Internally, they were just like Libya. Who comes in and goes from power is not of any importance to us. But some things…"

Guler: "Sir, to avoid any confusion, our need in 2011 was guns and ammo. In 2012, 2013 and today also. We're in the exact same point. We absolutely need to find this and secure that place."

Davutoglu: "Guns and ammo are not a big need for that place. Because we couldn't get the human factor in order…"

Turkish officials responded as expected. They lied calling the conversation "partially manipulated." It was a "wretched attack" on Turkey's national security, they added.

Rogue states caught red-handed reply this way. Their conversation speaks for itself. 

It represents Turkey's alliance with Washington. It's Obama's lead anti-Assad attack dog. It's a convenient proxy. 

It's a useful stooge. Days earlier, Ankara provocatively downed a Syrian warplane. 

It lied claiming it violated Turkish airspace. At most only briefly before correcting a navigational error. It crashed inside Syria. The pilot ejected. He landed safely on Syrian soil.

Turkey's plot was exposed. Will plans proceed anyway? Will something new be proposed? Is full-scale US-led NATO war on Syria coming? Ankara appears part of a conspiracy to wage it.

Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Fayssal Mikdad denounced Turkey's agenda. Erdogan bears full responsibility. 

He supports anti-Syrian terrorist groups, he said. They're responsible for numerous atrocities.

Erdogan and likeminded government officials are "insane and stupid," Mikdad added. He'll "achieve results similar to those achieved by all insane and stupid people."

On Friday, Syria's UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari denounced Erdogan. He cited the above leaked conversation. 

He called plotting aggression on Syria a "major scandal." He wants Security Council members to address what's revealed.

He wants Turkey held responsible for escalating terrorism on Syria. He called doing so "infringing blatantly upon the sovereignty of a UN member state."

Whether full-scale war on Syria follows remains to be seen. Obama didn't initiate conflict to quit. He wants another imperial trophy. 

Ruthlessness defines his agenda. Rogue state hegemons operate this way. America is by far the worst.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Israel to consider war crimes case

Al-Jazeera – 29 March 2014

For the first time Israel’s Supreme Court is set to consider evidence on April 2 that senior Israeli political and military officials committed war crimes in relation to major military operations in Gaza and Lebanon.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, the current justice minister, are among the high-level figures accused of breaking the laws of war when they launched attacks on Lebanon in 2006, and on Gaza in the winter of 2008-09.

The allegations have been levelled by Marwan Dalal, the only Israeli lawyer to have served as a senior prosecutor in one of the international criminal courts at The Hague in the Netherlands.

Dalal, who spent three years as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, belongs to Israel’s Palestinian minority, which comprises a fifth of the country’s population.

He said he had based his petition to the court on “strong factual and legal findings” from public sources, including the reports of Israeli official inquiries.

His evidence includes statements from senior Israeli officials in which they appear to implicate themselves in actions – including killing, collective punishment and attacks on civilian infrastructure – not justified by military necessity. Such acts are breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention as well as Israeli law.

Dalal will argue before the court that the Israeli police are required to investigate the evidence in preparation for possible indictments for war crimes.

“The evidence is in the public realm and obliges Israeli prosecutors to order investigations,” he said. “The failure to do so is unreasonable conduct and the court must rectify the matter.”

Official ‘impunity’

The action is the first brought by Dalal under the auspices of Grotius, an organisation he founded last year to collect information on war crimes. Although Grotius’ focus is on Israel and the occupied territories, it has also provided information to the special tribunal for Lebanon, investigating the killing in 2005 of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

The 52-page petition relates to three major military operations launched by Israel over a four-year period, in which many of the same officials were involved: the war against Lebanon in summer 2006, Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in late 2008, and a naval attack in international waters on a humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza in May 2010.

Israel has become increasingly fearful that its officials may face prosecutions for war crimes, either in third countries or, since the United Nations’ vote in 2012 to upgrade the Palestinians’ membership status, at the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

One of the conditions insisted on by Israel and the US before launching the current peace talks, was that the Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas promise not to apply for membership of international bodies, including The Hague court.

The Israeli legal system has launched a handful of criminal investigations into the actions of relatively low-ranking soldiers involved in Cast Lead. The three-week operation killed some 1,400 Palestinians, of which only 400 have been identified as fighters.

Of the criminal prosecutions, the longest sentence, at seven and a half months, was imposed on a soldier who stole a credit card.

Israeli prosecutors have so far not considered the evidence of war crimes committed by its leaders.

‘No discussion’

Sarit Michaeli, a spokeswoman for B’Tselem, an Israeli organisation that documents human rights abuses in the occupied territories, said the impunity of senior Israeli officials was a great concern.

“There has been no discussion in Israel of the responsibility of high-ranking officials for issuing apparently illegal orders such as using white phosphorus in built-up areas, the adoption of flexible open-fire regulations, and a policy of targeting certain population groups, such as males over a certain age.”

Dalal has had previous high-profile successes against the Israeli military in Israel’s Supreme Court. In 2005, the court ordered the Israeli army to stop the practise of using Palestinians as “human shields” during military operations.

Grotius has sent an advisory paper to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah detailing the status of Israeli settlement-building in the occupied territories as a war crime.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat told Al Jazeera in February that the Palestinians’ first approach to the International Criminal Court (ICC) would be to ask it to investigate Israeli officials for sanctioning the construction of settlements and moving Israelis into the occupied territories.

Sharon Weill, an international law expert at the Sciences Po in Paris, said that the ICC is only authorised to consider war crimes that occur after a party ratifies its establishing treaty, the Rome Statute.

“It seems clear that in international law the settlements are a war crime and an ongoing one as they are being continuously built and expanded. So the Palestinians could bring a case after they decide to join the ICC.”

Dalal conceded that he expected “judicial resistance” in Israel to his current petition.

In 2003, the Supreme Court rejected a petition from Yesh Gvul, a group of Israeli combat veterans who refuse to serve in the occupied territories, which argued that the head of the Israeli air force should be investigated for breaches of international law.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Dan Halutz had approved dropping a one-tonne bomb on a residential district of Gaza in 2002 that killed 14 people, many of them children.

However, Dalal and other leading lawyers note that refusal by the court to order an investigation could suggest that Israel lacks a reliable domestic procedure for holding officials accountable for war crimes.

Universal values

Several countries, including most prominently, the UK, the Netherlands and Spain, have adopted the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows them to prosecute war crimes that took place outside their territory and did not involve any of their nationals.

Michael Sfard, an Israeli lawyer who was involved in the Yesh Gvul petition, said: “A case that indicates Israel is unwilling to seriously investigate or bring to justice officials whose decisions appear to have violated international law can help outside actors seek their own legal remedies.”

In addition to Olmert and Livni, the petition names two former military chiefs of staff, along with a former domestic intelligence chief and a former minister of defence.

According to Dalal, factual evidence of war crimes is provided in official Israeli reports produced by the Winograd inquiry into the 2006 Lebanon war and the two Turkel inquiries into the 2010 attack on the aid flotilla.

Dalal also drew on the extensive research of UN-appointed investigations, including the Goldstone commission into the attack on Gaza in late 2008, and two commissions, led respectively by Karl Hudson-Philips and Geoffrey Palmer, into the flotilla attack.

In the case of the 2006 Lebanon war, for example, Dalal cites several statements that implicate Halutz, the then-military chief of staff, in policies of collective punishment and targeting civilian infrastructure.

Some 1,200 Lebanese were killed in the month-long war, of which the majority were civilians. The UN children’s charity UNICEF has estimated that nearly a third of the dead were children under the age of 13.

In the Winograd inquiry, Halutz is quoted as saying, shortly after two soldiers were captured by the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, his forces “should operate on two levels, against the state of Lebanon and against Hezbollah without leaving anyone immune from targeting. This is the meaning of deterrence.”

The same day, the media reported him issuing similar threats to “turn back the clock in Lebanon by 20 years”, unless the soldiers were returned.

The Winograd report cited him telling the prime minister the next day: “The main objective is to make Lebanon take a stance [against Hezbollah] by targeting infrastructure.”

Dalal said: “The Winograd report clearly shows that the military and political leadership either intended to hurt civilians in Lebanon or at the very least had a disregard for their safety. From their statements we can show both an intention and operational results that accorded with that stated intention.”

Halutz and Olmert, who ordered the attacks on Lebanon and Gaza, recently announced that they would be setting up a new consultancy firm expected to offer advice on defence matters.

‘Uncomfortable’ allegations

The UN’s Palmer Commission into the killing by Israeli naval commandos of nine humanitarian activists aboard the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza in May 2010, found evidence that suggested most of the victims had been executed.

In its prepared response to the court, the Israeli justice ministry stated: “Our position is to recommend the rejection of this petition because the accusations are too general, they lack a minimal foundation in factual evidence, while the events are now far in the past, as well as being unrelated to each other.”

Israel has claimed that efforts to prosecute its officials are part of a campaign of delegitimisation it terms “lawfare“.

It has also pressured European countries to change their universal jurisdiction laws. Its concerns were heightened in 2009 by the decision of a London court to issue an arrest warrant for Livni in connection to Operation Cast Lead. The warrant was revoked when it emerged that Livni was not in the UK.

Earlier, several senior Israeli military commanders, including Halutz, were forced to cancel visits to the UK for fear of being arrested.

Under pressure from Israel, Britain altered its rules in 2011, giving the head of the state prosecution service the power to overrule a court decision to issue an arrest warrant for a visiting official.

Weill said it would be difficult to get either the ICC or countries with universal jurisdiction laws to investigate Israel because political considerations tended to overshadow legal ones.

“It is hard to persuade Western countries that a state like Israel, which is seen as a similar kind of democracy, has a failing legal system, incapable of conducting proper investigations.”

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New York Times Editors Front for Power

NYT Editors Front for Power

by Stephen Lendman

The New York Times is an establishment broadsheet. It's the leading one. It dates from September 18, 1851. Its feature stories get worldwide coverage.

Its editors are notorious. They support wealth, power and privilege. They're on the wrong site of history. They defend the indefensible. 

They're in lockstep with Western imperial lawlessness. They endorse US global dominance. 

They turn a blind eye to homeland police state repression. They're mindless about disappearing freedoms. 

They ignore monied interests running America. They support what demands condemnation.

The so-called newspaper of record is the closest thing to an official US ministry of misinformation and propaganda. 

Reports, editorials, commentaries and op-eds are biased. They're one-way. They ignore what readers most need to know. 

Vital truths are buried. Managed news misinformation substitutes. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

Outrageous contributors get feature op-ed space. Previous articles explained. Saudi Arabia is one of the world's most ruthless regimes. It mocks legitimacy.

It's a terror state. Democracy is verboten. Fundamental freedoms are denied. Authority rests solely with King Abdullah and royal family members.

Dissenters face arbitrary arrest and imprisonment. Political critics, independent journalists, academics, foreign nationals, and human rights activists are especially vulnerable.

Fundamentalist Sunni Islam Wahhabism is official state religion. Fanaticism defines it. Majority Shia nations are considered enemies. So are secular Arab ones.

Saudi despots want Syria's Assad ousted. They're heavily involved in recruiting, funding and arming terrorist invaders.

They were caught red-handed supplying them with chemical weapons. New York Times editors buried what demanded headlines.

They turn a blind eye to US/Saudi-backed death squad atrocities. Doing so supports horrendous crimes too grave to ignore.

Royal family member Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz al Saud is Saudi Arabia’s UK ambassador. 

Last December, Times editors gave him feature op-ed space. Imagine publishing what no legitimate editors would touch. His op-ed was vicious. It was outrageous. It was polar opposite truth. 

It repeated one Big Lie after another. It endorsed toppling Syria's sovereign government.

It outrageous called Saudi despots "champions of moderation." He blamed victims for crimes committed against them. Times editors embraced his rubbish. It's longstanding editorial policy.

On March 19, convicted Russian embezzler Alexey Navalny got feature op-ed space. He masquerades as an anti-corruption activist.

He's a Western darling. He ludicrously calls himself a "patriot." He's no democrat. He's ideologically driven. He's way over-the-top. He gets generous State Department funding. 

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) provides it. Doing so advances US interests.

NED, its National Democratic Institute (NDI) arm, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and similar organizations are destabilizing US foreign policy tools.

They support pro-Western and/or regime change initiatives worldwide. They're CIA alter egos. They covertly fund opposition groups. They're actively anti-Putin. 

Navalny and likeminded ideologues are convenient US imperial stooges. Don't expect Times editors to explain. Don't expect apologies for featuring them.

His op-ed featured Russia bashing. Pile on punishment, he urged. A litany of lies followed.

Times editors didn't challenged his misinformation. They featured it. They highlighted it. They match it with their own vitriol. 

At the same time, neocon Washington Post editors gave Garry Kasparov got feature op-ed space. He's another convenient US stooge. He's a former world chess champion turned hard right politician. 

He gets generous National Endowment for Democracy funding like Navalny and likeminded ideologues. His diatribe said Putin must go.

Lies substituted for truth. Kasparov is connected to some of the most extremist neocon ideologues. 

They deplore peace. They endorse war. They want one country after another ravaged. They want them plundered. They want monied interests alone benefitting. 

They want ordinary people exploited. They want despots they control replacing democrats. Their agenda risks global war.

Imagine featuring ideology this extreme. It's longstanding Times and WaPo policy. On March 25, neocon extremist Zalmay Khalilzad got featured NYT op-ed space. More on this below.

He's an Afghanistan native. He studied under Albert Wohlstetter (1913 - 1997). He was a controversial Cold War nuclear strategist.

He was a RAND Corporation senior policy analyst. In 1985, Reagan awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He endorsed suppressing it. 

He heavily influenced neocon thinking. He chaired dissertation committees for Wolfowitz and Khalilzad.

Both figures are notorious neocon extremists. Their rap sheets are long and loathsome. Khalilzad is a former Bush administration ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the UN.

He's a Project for the New American Century (PNAC) founding member. It's now called the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). It deplores peace. It endorses war.

Khalilzad is a Republican party hardliner. In the 1980s, Wolfowitz recruited him. He was a Reagan administration State Department policy planning staff member.

He was involved in Washington providing anti-Soviet mujahideen fighters with military, logistical, and related support. He advised on US Iraq/Iran war policy.

Under GHW Bush, he helped draft post-Cold War military strategy. He, Wolfowitz and I. Lewis Libby produced the 1992 Draft Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) policy paper. It was militantly over-the-top.

At the time, Dick Cheney was defense secretary. Richard Perle and Wohlstetter were involved. So was Pentagon Office of Net Assessment Andrew Marshall.

They called for massive defense spending increases. They urged assuring America sole superpower status. They endorsed preemptive wars. They promted global ones.

DPG said Washington must "show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests."

"Our first objective is to prevent the reemergence of a new rival. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power. These regions include Western Europe, East Asia, the territory of the former Soviet Union, and Southwest Asia." 

"There are three additional aspects to this objective: First the United States must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests." 

"Second, in the non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order." 

"Finally, we must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role." 

Their extremist draft document was initially rejected. It later became National Security Strategy policy. Post-9/11 wars followed. 

They continue ruthlessly under Obama. All sovereign independent governments are targeted. Eliminating US rivals is prioritized. Ongoing Russia bashing reflects it. Whether confrontation erupts belligerently remains to be seen.

Author James Mann called Khalilzad one of a handful of extremist Wolfowitz acolytes. For over two decades, he and likeminded ideologues comprised "the heart of a new neoconservative network within the foreign policy bureaucracy," said Mann.

Zbigniew Brzezinski once called him a "broad-minded and insightful strategist." In 2002, foreign policy analyst Anatol Lieven said "(i)f he was in private business rather than government, he would have been sacked long ago."

In 2000, he headed the Bush/Cheney defense issues transition team. He served as their presidential foreign policy team member.

He's a right-wing Center for Strategic and International Studies counselor. He heads his own international consulting firm - Khalizad Associates. Likeminded ideologues staff it.

He's a RAND Corporation Middle East Studies Center and National Endowment for Democracy board member.

In 2001, he co-authored with Straussian acolyte Abram Shulsky the Pentagon policy paper titled "The United States and Asia: New US Strategy and Force Posture."

He's connected to Big Oil. He was a Unocal adviser. While at Cambridge Energy Research Associates, he conducted risk analyses in doing business with repressive oil-rich nations.

He's fiercely militant. He endorsed war on Afghanistan and Iraq. He believes first-strike nuclear weapons policy is essential for what others like him call "permanent peace." 

He supports US imperial wars to achieve it. Unchallenged US dominance defines it. He opposes sovereign independent governments. He urges toppling them. He wants subservient pro-Western regimes replacing them.

He warns of a nonexistent Iranian threat. He urges "immediate" US "leadership" to counter it.

On March 25, he headlined "Stand Up to Russia Now." Its Security Council veto provides "leverage against Western interests," he said.

"On issues that the West is intent on handling through the United Nations, Russian obstructionism in the Security Council could impose tradeoffs that the West is unwilling to make for the sake of punishing Moscow."

"In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, Russia is most likely to retaliate on issues like Iran, Syria and Afghanistan - three fronts where American strategy has relied on understandings with Russia to enforce nonproliferation standards…"

Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow might "raise the stakes." It may retaliate diplomatically,  economically and other ways in response to irresponsible Western bashing.

Klalilzad expressed concern. Putin could enhance Iranian air defenses and other capabilities, he said.

He could "double down on his backing of Bashar al-Assad’s regime despite having brokered a Security Council agreement to disarm Syria of chemical weapons."

"Russian intransigence" shouldn't deter Western Ukrainian policy, he urged. He endorsed illegitimate Kiev putschists. 

He wants them sent military support. He wants stiffened anti-Russian policy. He urged "American missile defense commitments and the movement of NATO forces into Eastern Europe."

He wants "arm(ed) forces willing to resist a Russian occupation of Eastern Ukraine."

He lied claiming Moscow is "emboldened to pursue absolute hegemony in the region…"

He ludicrously claimed nations near Russia's borders are threatened. He urged "heightened American engagement in Iran, Syria and Afghanistan."

He supports Washington confronting Russia. Perhaps belligerently. He endorsed bypassing Security Council authority. It's longstanding US policy.

"Russia has much to lose if the United States relies on alternatives to the United Nations - including the prerogative to check Western interventions," he said.

He barely stopped short of urging all-out war. He's ideologically driven to endorse it. Times editors embraced his militant over-the-top rant.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

NATO’s Rape of Yugoslavia

NATO's Rape of Yugoslavia

by Stephen Lendman

March 24, 1999 will go down in history as a day of infamy. US-led NATO raped Yugoslavia. Doing so was its second major combat operation.

It was lawless aggression. No Security Council resolution authorized it. NATO's Operation Allied Force lasted 78 days. 

Washington called it Operation Noble Anvil. Evil best describes it. On June 10, operations ended.

From March 1991 through mid-June 1999, Balkan wars raged. Yugoslavia "balkanized" into seven countries. They include Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Slovenia.

Enormous human suffering was inflicted. Washington bears most responsibility.

Diana Johnstone's book titled "Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions" is a definitive account of what happened.

Claims about Milosevic's "Greater Serbia" ambitions were false. Washington-led wars wanted Yugoslavia balkanized. Germany was very much involved.

Both countries encouraged cessation. They provoked conflict. After ravaging and destroying Yugoslavia, they took credit for ending it.

Milosevic wanted Yugoslavia's disintegration prevented. He wanted minority Serbs protected. Johnstone said Washington's aims included:

  • preventing a European-backed settlement;

  • "assert(ing) its dominance over European allies in the arbitration of European conflicts;" 

  • expanding NATO through a new "out of area" humanitarian mission (aka US dominated colonization); and

  • "gain(ing) influence in the Muslim world by championing the Bosnian Muslims."

She called "government by international bureaucracy (a) new trend in the New World Order."

After the 1995 General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (the Dayton Accords), "Bosnia-Herzegovina (was) ruled by…a complicated set of local authorities under the strict supervision of a 'High Representative' (a contemporary Proconsul or Viceroy) who can, and does, annul laws adopted by the local democratic institutions or dismiss democratically chosen officials" not supportive of US imperial aims, said Johnstone.

In other words, democracy was verboten. It prevented from emerging. Washington rules were instituted. Colonization ended Yugoslavia's market socialism experiment.

Predatory free-market harshness replaced it. Complete with IMF-imposed financial terrorism. In October 1998, a NATO air verification mission was agreed to for Kosovo.

In November, Milosevic agreed to a framework political settlement. A second Verification Mission was established to assure compliance with UN Security Council Resolutions 1160 and 1199.

The former banned arms sales to Serbia. It imposed economic sanctions. The latter ordered both sides in Kosovo to end hostilities and observe a ceasefire.

The so-called February 1999 Interim Agreement for Peace and Self-Government in Kosovo (the Rambouillet Agreement) was prelude for war.

It was an ultimatum Milosevic couldn't accept. It was designed for rejection. It was a take-it-or-leave-it demand. 

It ordered Milosevic to surrender Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) sovereignty to a NATO occupation force.

It demanded unimpeded access to its land, airspace and territorial waters, as well as any area or facility therein. 

It required the FRY to let NATO freely operate outside federal law. Demanding it was outrageous. Milosevic's justifiable refusal became pretext for war.

It followed mercilessly. Nobel laureate Harold Pinter denounced what happened. 

He called US-led bombing and dismemberment of Yugoslavia "barbaric (and despicable), another blatant and brutal assertion of US power using NATO as its missile (to consolidate) American domination of Europe."

For 78 days, around 600 aircraft flew about 3,000 sorties. Thousands of tons of ordnance were dropped, as well as hundreds of ground-launched cruise missiles. Up to then, its ferocity was unprecedented. 

Nearly everything was struck. Massive destruction and disruption followed. Known or suspected military sites were targeted.

So were civilian sites and infrastructure unrelated to military operations. They included: 

  • power plants; 

  • factories; 

  • civilian transportation; 

  • telecommunications facilities; 

  • roads, bridges and rail lines; 

  • fuel depots; 

  • schools; 

  • a TV station; 

  • China's Belgrade embassy willfully on a false pretext (claiming a mistake didn't wash); 

  • hospitals; 

  • government offices; 

  • churches; 

  • historic landmarks; and more.

Cities, villages and other areas were struck throughout the country. NATO began running out of targets. It didn't matter. Bombing continued relentlessly.

It was willful, lawless aggression. Horrendous war crimes were committed unaccountably. Humanitarian disaster followed.

Outrageous claims about humanitarian intervention were fraudulent. Washington claimed another imperial trophy. The former Yugoslavia no longer exists. 

An estimated $100 billion in damage was inflicted. Environmental contamination was extensive. 

Large numbers were killed, injured or displaced. Two million people lost their livelihoods. Many their homes and communities. Most their futures.

Serbia's sovereign Kosovo territory was lost. It's now US/NATO occupied territory. It's home to Camp Bondsteel. It's one of America's largest military bases. 

Kosovo is run by Hashim Thaci. He's a former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright protege. 

In 2000, she ordered then chief Hague prosecutor Carla del Ponte to exclude his name from a list of suspected war criminals.

He's a street thug posing as prime minister. He's nicknamed "The Snake" for good reason. 

Former Clinton Balkans envoy Robert Gelbard called him and likeminded figures "terrorists."

Former US DEA official Michael Levine said:

He has known organized crimes ties. "The KLA (he formerly headed) is tied in with every known Middle and Far Eastern drug cartel." 

"Interpol, Europol, and nearly every European intelligence and counter-narcotics agency have files open on drug syndicates that lead right to the KLA…"

He remains unindicted. Washington, EU nations and UN officials elevated him to power.

He's a former Kosovo Liberation Army  (KLA) commander. Post-war, he usurped power. He took control of many municipalities.

It doesn't matter. He's Washington's man in Kosovo. He runs it like a crime family. Friends in high places support him.

Washington and complicit EU partners opened an avenue to Eurasia. A permanent US military presence was established where it previously didn't exist. It serves America's broader imperial agenda. 

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria followed. So does slow-motion genocide in Palestine. Iran's turn awaits. 

Washington's dirty hands want Venezuela's democratically elected government ousted. Obama's war on humanity continues. 

Russia is in the eye of the storm. Global war is threatened. Neocons infest Washington. They influence administration and congressional policy.

What's ongoing bears erie resemblance to events preceding WW I. Barbara Tuchman's "The Guns of August" explained its beginning and early weeks.

One thing led to others. Events spun out-of-control. Deadly consequences followed. Before it ended, over 20 million died. Many more were wounded and/or maimed. An entire generation of youth was lost.

Weapons used then were toys compared to now. A possible armageddon end times scenario looms. Irresponsible leaders risk it. Media scoundrels support what demand opposition.

History has a disturbing way of repeating. George Santayana famous dictum is forgotten. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," he said.

George Bernard Shaw once said: "We learn from history that we learn nothing from history."

Damn fools run things now like before. Today's super-weapons make earlier ones seem like toys. 

Crazies act like nuclear missiles and bombs are king-sized hand grenades. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.

Will Ukraine become a flashpoint for East/West confrontation. Will something erupt making Yugoslavia's destruction look insignificant by comparison?

Will Washington neocon extremists challenge Russia belligerently? Will media scoundrels support them? Will public outrage fail to materialize? 

Will potential armageddon be risked? Will never again really happen this time? Einstein once said he didn't know what WW III weapons would be used.

"…WW IV will be fought with sticks and stones," he said. Betrand Russell was an Einstein contemporary. 

"Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war," he asked? It's the only way to live in peace. The alternative risks annihilation. 

The choice is clear. The wrong one assures potential disaster. America heads humanity dangerously toward it. Either we end wars or they'll end us. There's no in between.

A Final Comment

The late Michael Mandel (1948 - 2013) was among a group of law professors wanting justice. They filed war crimes charges against numerous Western officials and complicit allies.

They did so at International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. Notable US ones charged included Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, William Cohen and General Wesley Clark.

European ones included Tony Blair, Robin Cook, George Robertson, Javia Solana, Jamie Shea, and numerous others - 68 in all.

On February 22, 2000, in testimony before Canada's House of Commons, Mandel explained he "specialize(d) in criminal law and comparative law with an emphasis on domestic and foreign tribunals."

He got involved because of the outrageous "killing and maiming of innocent people for what…were purely self-interested motives."

He called it "the farthest thing from humanitarianism." NATO's war was illegal, he stressed. Force is justified only in self-defense or when Security Council authorized.

He explained relevant UN Charter provisions. They leave no ambiguity. They were systematically violated. So was the NATO Treaty and Canadian law.

The NATO Treaty Preamble states:

"The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments."

"Article 1: The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations."

"Article 7: This treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security."

The Canada Defense Act states:

  • "31. (1) the Governor in Council may place the Canadian forces or any component, unit or other element thereof on active service anywhere in or beyond Canada at any time when it appears advisable to do so.

  • (a) by reason of an emergency, for the defence of Canada; or

  • (b) in consequence of any action undertaken by Canada under the United Nations Charter, the North Atlantic treaty or any other similar instrument for collective defence that may be entered into by Canada."  

Mandel was unequivocal saying:

"The illegality of NATO's war on Yugoslavia is not disputed by any legal scholar of repute, even those who had some sympathy for the war…"

"NATO has no humanitarian lessons to teach the world," he stressed.

"Much more plausible than the humanitarian thesis is the one that the United States deliberately provoked this war, that it deliberately exploited and exacerbated another country's tragedy…for purely selfish (political) and economic" reasons.

It ravaged and destroyed a country for power and profit. War crimes charges against culpable officials are warranted.

Grave international law breaches were committed. No Western or complicit official was held accountable. Justice remains denied.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

When the peace process grinds to a halt, what then?

The National – 23 March 2014

For the first time since the US launched the Middle East peace talks last summer, the Palestinian leadership may be sensing it has a tiny bit of leverage. Barack Obama met the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Washington last week in what Palestinian officials called a “candid and difficult” meeting. The US president hoped to dissuade Mr Abbas from walking away when the original negotiations’ timetable ends in a month.

The US president and his secretary of state, John Kerry, want their much-delayed “framework agreement” to provide the pretext for spinning out the talks for another year. The last thing the US president needs is for the negotiations to collapse, after Mr Kerry has repeatedly stressed that finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is imperative.

The US political cycle means Mr Obama’s party is heading into the Congressional midterm elections this autumn. A humiliating failure in the peace process would add to perceptions of Mr Obama as a weak leader in the Middle East.

Renewed clashes between Israel and the Palestinians in the international arena would also deepen US diplomatic troubles at a time when Washington needs to conserve its energies for continuing negotiations with Iran and dealing with the fallout from its conflict with Russia over Crimea.

Mr Obama therefore seems committed to keeping the peace process show on the road for a while longer, however aware he is of the ultimate futility of the exercise.

In this regard, US interests overlap with those of Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel has been the chief beneficiary of the past eight months: diplomatic pressure has largely lifted, Israeli officials have announced an aggressive programme of settlement building in return for releasing a few dozen Palestinian prisoners and the White House has gradually shifted ground even further towards Israel’s hardline positions.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, have nothing to show for their participation, and have lost much of the diplomatic momentum gained earlier by winning upgraded status at the United Nations. They have also had to put on hold moves to join dozens of international forums, as well as the threat to bring Israel up on war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court.

Mr Abbas is under mounting pressure at home to put an end to the charade, with four Palestinian factions warning last week that the Kerry plan would be the equivalent of national “suicide”. For this reason, the White House is now focused on preventing Mr Abbas from quitting next month – and that requires a major concession from Israel.

The Palestinians are said to be pushing hard for Israel’s agreement to halt settlement building and free senior prisoners, most notably Marwan Barghouti, who looks the most likely successor to Mr Abbas as Palestinian leader.

Some kind of short-term settlement freeze – though deeply unpopular with Mr Netanyahu’s supporters – may be possible, given the Israeli right’s triumph in advancing settlement-building of late. Mr Abbas reportedly presented Mr Obama with “a very ugly map” of more than 10,000 settler homes Israel has unveiled since the talks began.

Setting Mr Barghouti free would be an even harder pill for the Israeli government to swallow. Cabinet ministers are already threatening a mutiny over the final round of prisoner releases, due at the end of the week. But Israeli reports yesterday suggested Washington might consider releasing Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, possibly in return for Israel freeing more Palestinians, to keep the talks going.

Simmering tensions between the US and Israel are suggestive of the intense pressure being exerted by the White House behind the scenes.

Those strains exploded into view again last week when Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s defence minister, used a speech to lambast Washington’s foreign policy as “feeble”. In a similar vein, he infuriated the White House in January by labelling Mr Kerry “obsessive” in pursuing the peace process. But unlike the earlier incident, Washington has refused to let the matter drop, angrily demanding an explicit apology.

The pressure from the White House, however, is not chiefly intended to force concessions from Israel on an agreement. After all, the Israeli parliament approved this month the so-called referendum bill, seen by the right as an insurance policy. It gives the Israeli public, raised on the idea of Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive and “eternal capital”, a vote on whether to share it with the Palestinians.

Washington’s goal is more modest: a few more months of quiet. But even on this reckoning, given Mr Netanyahu’s intransigence, the talks are going to implode sooner or later. What then?

Mr Obama and Mr Kerry have set out a convincing scenario that in the longer term Israel will find itself shunned by the world. The Palestinian leadership will advance its cause at the UN, while conversely grassroots movements inside and outside Palestine will begin clamouring for a single state guaranteeing equality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Israel’s vehement and aggressive opposition on both fronts will only serve to damage its image – and its relations with the US.

An unexpected voice backing the one-state solution emerged last week when Tareq Abbas, the Palestinian president’s 48-year-old son, told the New York Times that a struggle for equal rights in a single state would be the “easier, peaceful way”.

Bolstering Washington’s argument that such pressures cannot be held in check for ever, a poll this month of US public opinion revealed a startling finding. Despite a US political climate committed to a two-state solution, nearly two-thirds of Americans back a single democratic state for Jews and Palestinians should a Palestinian state prove unfeasible. That view is shared by more than half of Israel’s supporters in the US.

That would constitute a paradigm shift, a moment of reckoning that draws nearer by the day as the peace process again splutters into irrelevance.

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Capitulating to Monsanto and the Wall Street Jackals: What Future India?

Countercurrents and Global Research 24/3/2014

Indian Oil and Environment Minister Veerappa Moily has added fuel to the debate about genetically modified organisms (GMOs) by approving field trials of 200 GM food crops on behalf of companies like Monsanto, Mahyco, Bayer and BASF. This is despite Supreme Court appointed Technical Expert Committee (TEC) recommending a ten-year moratorium on GM organism approvals until scientifically robust protocols, independent and competent institutions to assess risks and a strong regulatory system are developed.
This will involve a deliberate release of GM organisms in the open environment and a potential contamination of non-GM crops, as has been the case in the US, with GM open field trials having contaminated parts of the wheat supply (1). Despite mounting evidence appearing in peer-reviewed journals that GM and glyphosate are adversely impacting human health, the nutritional value of food crops, plant immunity, soil fertility, biodiversity, the environment and yields (2 - 15), politicians seem hell-bent on facilitating the aims of the GM biotech sector.

It was a similar story with the ‘Green Revolution’. The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations backed this chemical-laden revolution in agriculture and managed to co-opt strategically placed scientists, institutions and politicians in various areas of the globe (16). With their compliance, the result has been that over the past 50 to 60 years, thanks to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, agriculture has changed more than it did during the previous 12,000 years.

We need look no further than Punjab to see the impact of the Green Revolution. Reports of water scarcities and contamination, increasing levels of cancer, farmer indebtedness and decreasing yields highlight the unsustainable and deleterious impacts of chemical-industrial agriculture (17). It all begs the question, what was wrong with agriculture in the first place that warranted this disastrous shift towards chemical agriculture and now GMOs? The answer to that is, by comparison, probably not a lot.  

In 2013, researchers at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand concluded that the GM strategy used in North American staple crop production is limiting yields and increasing pesticide use compared to non-GM farming in Western Europe (18). Led by Professor Jack Heinemann, the study’s findings were published in the International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. The study found that Europe is decreasing chemical herbicide use and achieving even larger declines in insecticide use without sacrificing yield gains, while chemical herbicide use in the <