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Video: Free speech threatened in US sex trafficking bill – Telecoms giants

Major tech companies are opposing sex trafficking legislation that would make them liable for content posted by users, arguing that the broad language in...

Free speech threatened in sex trafficking bill, Silicon Valley warns

Major tech companies are opposing sex trafficking legislation that would make them liable for content posted...
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Video: CrossTalk on RT and Sputnik: Attacking Free Speech

The television station you are watching now and the Russian news agency Sputnik may find themselves in legal jeopardy in the United States. The...

Free Speech for the Right? A Primer on Key Legal Questions and Principles

Photo by Fibonacci Blue | CC BY 2.0 The rise in national attention to the “alt-right” and fascist-white supremacist protesters has raised questions about the...

Concerning Free Speech Zones

They say 9-11 changed everything.  Although the U.S. Government has, from the very beginning, done everything within its power to stifle and quarantine free...

The Strange (and Tortured) Legacy of “Free Speech”

Photo by Charlie Nguyen | CC BY 2.0 It has recently come to my attention that new Chancellor Carol Christ at the University of California,...
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Video: Free speech or hate speech: Tensions rise as right-wing rallies cancelled in US

Freedom of speech debates have been reignited in the US, with the state of California now at the forefront of the discourse. Two right-wing...

What the Abolition of the British Slave Trade Can Teach Us About Free Speech

(Photo: National Museum of American History) Adam Hochschild's bestselling 2005 book, Bury the Chains, describes the great debate in the British parliament regarding the abolition of...

Rally-goers arraigned for striking cops at ‘free speech’ Boston rally

Published time: 22 Aug, 2017 23:21 The first 13 arraignments of protesters and counter-protesters at a...
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Video: Torched Confederate flag & witch costumes: Activists protest against ‘Free speech’ rally in...

Thousands of counter-protesters gathered at Boston Common Park to oppose a 'Free Speech' rally on Saturday. Counter-protesters set a Confederate flag on ... Via Youtube

How “Both Sides” Forge U.S. Supremacy: the Nationalistic Hypocrisies of “Violence” and “Free Speech”

Many have focused on President Donald Trump’s statements on Charlottesville condemning the “violence” from “both sides”. Which is understandable, since the killing of Heather...

Boston ‘Free Speech Rally’ massively outnumbered by counter-protesters

A ‘Free Speech rally,’ which some fear includes white supremacists, and a counter-protest are being held...

When "Free Speech" Kills

A chalk mural of Heather Heyer, murdered by a white supremacist hitting her and other anti-racist protesters with his car, adorns the Charlottesville Downtown...

The Misguided Attacks on ACLU for Defending Neo-Nazis’ Free Speech Rights in Charlottesville

Glenn GreenwaldEach time horrific political violence is perpetrated that is deemed to be terrorism, a search is immediately conducted for culprits to blame other...

Free Speech Victory: ACLU Defends Unite the Right!

Aug 8, 2017 By Reinhard Wolff | redice.tv On Monday, Charlottesville City Council moved Unite the Right – originally planned...

Threat to free speech

There is a Senate bill, along with a companion bill in the House, working its way through Congress with strong bipartisan support, that poses...

Comply or Die: the Police State’s Answer to Free Speech Is Brute Force

Photo by Tony Webster | CC BY 2.0 “Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and...
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Video: Former FCC Commissioner on How Greater Media Consolidation is a Threat to Democracy...

https://democracynow.org - As the Trump administration weighs the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger, we talk about the risks of greater media consolidation ... Via Youtube

Utah’s ‘ag-gag’ law unconstitutional & violates free speech – Federal judge rules

A federal judge in Utah has sided with animal rights activists who argued that a law...

Hate Speech Is Free Speech

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Video: Michael Rivero “People Are Looking For Reasons To Be Offended. It’ll Destroy Free...

Please Support The Show – http://paypal.me/richieallen https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in ... Via Youtube

At least 1 arrested as free speech rally at Evergreen College sees counter-protests

Police arrested at least one person at a free speech rally organized to oppose political correctness...

Wisconsin ‘Campus Free Speech Act’ risks stifling free speech, critics say

Wisconsin legislation to protect free speech on college campuses would force the state’s university system to...

‘Free speech or die’: Portland stabbing suspect yells in court (VIDEO)

The man charged in the fatal stabbing of two men after allegedly spewing hate at two young women in a Portland metro train took...

Free Speech on Campus: A Critical Analysis

Two members of the Berkeley College Republicans hold signs while an anti-facist group speaks about Ann Coulter's canceled speech at the University of California,...

Free Speech on Campus: a Critical Analysis

Last weekend, while Vice-President and former Indiana governor Mike Pence was giving the commencement address at Notre Dame University, over 100 students walked out in protest over...

Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?

Free speech is bullshit, at least in the way it is understood by most pundits in the United States.  From the deposed Bill O’Reilly...
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Video: ‘Blow to free speech’: Ann Coulter cancels her talk at Berkley University

Conservative American commentator Ann Coulter has had her planned speech at a California university cancelled. Coulter described the move as a blow to free...

Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech

US authorities are reported to have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This overreach of US government toward a...

Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech

US authorities are reported to have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This overreach of US government toward a...

Marxist Public College Professor Accused of Murder Attempts at Berkeley Free Speech Rally

REPORT: Violent Antifa "U-Lock" Attacker From Berkeley Identified as College Professor Eric Clantonhttps://t.co/ZRqjenHC9Y — Ethan Ralph (@TheRalphRetort) April 20, 2017 ...

Censorship at the Border Threatens Free Speech Everywhere

Defending one’s political and religious beliefs to government officials is an obligation we associate with life in authoritarian regimes, not open societies.  It’s becoming...

Free Speech is Not the Issue; Intellectual Power Is

Photo by Qusai Al Shidi | CC BY 2.0   Abstract rights are in the air. They have recently become the subject of endless obsequious commentary...

US anti-protest bills ‘undemocratic’ & 'alarming' trend against free speech – UN

UN rights experts have voiced concerns over bills recently introduced by a number of US states...

California bill to ban fake news pulled amid free speech concerns

Published time: 30 Mar, 2017 00:26 A California state lawmaker pulled his proposed legislation that would have...

Testing the Principle of Free Speech

A surge in hateful speech toward minorities in the Age of Trump has been met by  a pushback from angry...

Who had the Impudence to Change our Values Regarding Free Speech?

Desperation tactics to shut down discussion of the Israeli regime's mega-crimes reach new heights of absurdity A fake anti-semitism campaign masterminded by the usual Zio...
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Video: Kill Switch: Is EU parliament stopping Free Speech or protecting it?

The EU parliament has granted its president the right to cut the live broadcast of any hate speech or acts in the chamber. RT...

Peter Van Buren: Free Speech Fascists Like Me

For espousing the same beliefs about the First Amendment I did on November 8 (everyone speaks always, unfettered), I am no longer a patriot. Many...
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Video: ‘Beautiful sight’: Congresswoman hails Berkeley riot as media raises concern over free speech

An American congresswoman has dubbed the Trump protest in Berkeley a 'beautiful sight'. The riot against the planned event at the campus has raised...

Ban Trump, Twitter, and Free Speech

In the through-the-mirror world we now live in, people who once unambiguously supported free speech now are finding plenty of things they want censored. Chief...

Preaching student sues Georgia college for restricting his free speech

A lawsuit is accusing Georgia Gwinnett College of censoring free speech. A student was allegedly forbidden...

The Left’s War on Free Speech

We are now in a kind of political no-man’s-land between an administration on its way out and a new administration taking shape. Predictions are...
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Video: ‘EU gives away its own principles’: RT’s editor-in-chief slams ‘free speech doublethink’

The EU resolution was adopted in Strasbourg with 304 MEPs supporting it, 179 voting against and 208 abstaining. It was drawn up by a...

‘Strong RT response to attempted account closure will help save UK free speech’ –...

Steve Hedley, the second-in-command at one of UK’s most powerful unions, says that RT’s decision...

WikiLeaks: 10 Years of Pushing the Boundaries of Free Speech

“To me, freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is… that’s what marks us off from...

WikiLeaks: 10 Years of Pushing the Boundaries of Free Speech

“To me, freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is… that’s what marks us...

WikiLeaks: 10 Years of Pushing the Boundaries of Free Speech

“To me, freedom of speech is something that represents the very dignity of what a human being is… that’s what marks us off from...

National Press Club cancels Alt Right press conference planned in their 'Free Speech Lounge'

Sep 7, 2016 By Reinhard Wolff | redice.tv On Friday, September 9, The National Policy Institute was scheduled to hold...

The Secret Service Hates Free Speech

This summer, we have all witnessed the heavy hand of government intervening in the freedom of speech, as the behavior of the Secret Service...

Free Speech and Political Conventions

This summer, we have all witnessed the heavy hand of government intervening in the freedom of speech, as the behavior of the Secret Service...
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Video: Tony Gosling “Super Injunctions Are Sinister And A Threat To Free Speech &...

Please Support The Show – http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in at ... Via Youtube

'Infringement on free speech': KKK Adopt-A-Highway lawsuit goes to trial

The free speech rights of the Ku Klux Klan were violated when the Georgia Department of...

When Free Speech Signifies Nothing

The United States touts its commitment to free speech but American discourse has degenerated into self-absorbed info-tainment and trivia, ignoring...

Group SSUK condemns excess of Free Speech on Syria

by Paul Larudee / June 6th, 2016 The group SSUK (sŭk), has registered its strong objection to, and condemnation of, the participation of Dr. Tim...

Putting Free Speech Out to Pasture

Hard experience teaches that biotech companies, chemical corporations, and other agribusiness giants have no sense of respect for Mother Nature. Now, Rick Friday has learned they...
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Video: The Israel Lobby’s Growing Assault on Free Speech

Journalist and author Max Blumenthal talks about the growing BDS movement and the efforts to muzzle it. Via Youtube

Privacy vs free speech: Hulk Hogan beats Gawker in lawsuit

The two-week trial of Hulk Hogan versus Gawker has ended with a Florida jury awarding $115...

Standing Up for Free Speech Is Not a Threat to Free Speech

Protesters in Chicago come out in numbers to confront Donald Trump’s threats of violence. (cc photo: nathanmac87) Of all the many disturbing things about Donald...
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Video: Civil Disobedience and Free Speech Tested by Prayer in Ferguson

Rev. Sekou, arrested while in protest and prayer after Michael Brown was shot and kIlled in Ferguson, was found not guilty of failing to...

‘The Right to Tell the Government to Go to Hell: Free Speech in an...

Free speech is not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for those who are easily offended, readily intimidated or who need everything wrapped...
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Video: Free Speech Not Allowed? Mall of America Can’t Stop Black Lives Matter Rally...

Is freedom of speech welcome at the Mall of America? A judge has rejected an effort by the nation's largest shopping center to stop...

Why Only Free Speech Gives Safe Space to the Oppressed

Social justice protests have been roiling American universities, even causing administrative heads to roll. To a significant degree, these campus uprisings have been characterized...

Corporations and Governments Are Still the Real Threats to Free Speech—Not Campus Activists

I find this statement in a New York Times oped (11/12/15), coming from Suzanne Nossel, the head of PEN America, to be absolutely stunning: Some...

Britain’s Tightens Grip In Suffocation Of Free Speech

‘Freedom of Press’ is published by the US-based Freedom House, an NGO established in 1941 that has been ranking countries worldwide since 1980 in...
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Video: Does Free Speech Have a Palestine Exception? Dismissed Professor Steven Salaita Speaks Out

Democracynow.org - A new report by the Center for Constitutional Rights and Palestine Legal has documented hundreds of cases of Palestinian rights activists ... Via...

‘We Need Free Speech Protections Across All of Those Networks’

Janine Jackson interviewed Tim Karr on the telecom industry’s latest strategy against net neutrality for the September 11 CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited...

Targeting Key Individuals, Stifling Free Speech, Arbitrary Detention, Withdrawing Rights

The Conservative party released its plan to scrap the Human Rights Act if it won the General Election. Secretary of State Chris Grayling said...

Free Speech Doesn’t Kill People

  Just hours after Deputy Darren Goforth was murdered in Houston allegedly by a black man there was an anti-police demonstration at the Minnesota State...
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Video: No way to Norway: Snowden may be extradited to US if comes for...

Norway won't guarantee the safety of whistleblower Edward Snowden, should he travel there to collect the 'Freedom of Expression' award he's been given by...

Free Speech Replaced

When a Nobel Prize winner can be hounded from his university chair by the harridans of the Internet (or any other self-constituted group of...

Free Speech, RIP

In the United States, free speechers and anti-free speechers have long been at odds. But lately, the battle has been getting more and more...

Defend student free speech at Humboldt University! Stop state-sponsored censorship!

Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG) and International Youth and Students for Social Equality (WSWS) - The PSG and the IYSSE unequivocally support the Humboldt University students...

From Prison, Chelsea Manning Proposes Free Speech Protection Bill

Legislation would amend existing rules with an eye toward expanding transparency and access to information as well as free speech and press protections (Common Dreams)...

Criminalisation of Free Speech and Double Standards

In what appears to be another attempt to suppress criticism of Israel, the Canadian government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Israel which...

Criminalisation of Free Speech and Double Standards

In what appears to be another attempt to suppress criticism of Israel, the Canadian government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Israel which...
Microphone surrounded by crowd at Trafalgar Square.

How Zionists Are Destroying Free Speech In Universities

If our universities can’t stand up to the Israel lobby and uphold free speech, how will the international community ever stand up to the...

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Online Free Speech Case; Rutherford Institute Warns Against...

John W. Whitehead The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in a case that will significantly impact expression on Facebook, Twitter and other social...

The End of Free Speech: FEC Democrats Move to Kill Political Dissent

Democrats on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) are planning to introduce new regulations regarding political content on the internet, in order to kill free...

The Home of the Free Speech Movement Suppresses Freedom of Speech

Dan Bacher In the home of the Free Speech Movement at the U.C. Berkeley campus, students got a rude awakening when what they describe as...

Free Speech Arrested: Police Union Seeks To Censor College Commencement Speech by Mumia Abu-Jamal

Linn Washington Police carp about college students’ selection of a prison inmate for their commencement speaker. It must have something to do with Mumia Abu-Jamal…the...

Lawsuits Launched to Protect Free Speech on College Campuses

Nonprofit's new project brings civil liberties lawsuits against four public universities. Deirdre Fulton A Philadelphia-based nonprofit devoted to defending free speech and civil liberties on college...

Free Speech Groups Issue New Guide to the International “Necessary & Proportionate Principles”

San Francisco and London — As the global debate over the intelligence programs revealed by Edward Snowden approaches its first anniversary, the Electronic Frontier...

Cambodia’s Draft Law Turns Free Speech into Cybercrime

KIMBERLY CARLSON Historically, Cambodia has been fairly lax in enacting legislation that stifles freedom of expression online–unlike its neighbors of Vietnam and Thailand– but with...

Free Speech, RIP: A Relic of the American Past

“The First Amendment was intended to secure something more than an exercise in futility.”—Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting in Minnesota Board for Community Colleges v. Knight (1984) Living in a representative republic means that each person has the right to take a stand for what they think is right, whether that means marching outside the halls of […]

Free Speech, RIP: A Relic of the American Past

John Whitehead  RINF Alternative News "The First Amendment was intended to secure something more than an exercise in futility."--Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting in Minnesota Board...

Free Speech v. Buffer Zone in Abortion Clinic Case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear arguments for and against a Massachusetts law that forbids abortion opponents from entering a 35-foot buffer...

Russians set up free speech zones for Winter Olympics

bbc.co.ukJanuary 4, 2014 The Russian authorities are to set up a special zone for protest rallies...

New Facebook Page: Boycott A&E, Support Free Speech

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the...

A&E, Duck Dynasty, Free Speech And The Right to Religious Beliefs – CONTACT Information

By Susan Duclos



The news that broke yesterday was that Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the incredibly popular A&E show, expressed his opinion on homosexuality, then A&E suspended him from the show that averages over 14 million viewers, for said opinion.


Below the commentary will be the A&

E company information, along with a page where you can leave a comment, and contact information as well as information on their parent company Hearst.


When did having a belief, based in one's religion and using the constitutional right of free speech to give that opinion become a punishable offense?


His GQ quotes:

"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

"Don't be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won't inherit the kingdom of God. Don't deceive yourself. It's not right."

 "It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man's anus. That's just me. I'm just thinking: There's more there! She's got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I'm saying? But hey, sin: It's not logical, my man. It's just not logical."

Robertson also said and this is what most people are ignoring:


We never, ever judge someone on who's going to heaven, hell. That's the Almighty's job. We just love 'em, give 'em the good news about Jesus—whether they're homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort 'em out later, you see what I'm saying?"

Whether you agree with his beliefs or not, everyone should be standing up for his right to express them... it is a basic constitutional right!


Many didn't agree with him, many do not share his belief, but how does their right not to have their feelings hurt become more important than his free speech rights and freedom of religion?


I see nowhere in the constitution where a person has the right not to have their feelings hrut or where because someone's words offended them they have the right to punish them.


NOWHERE.


A&E's statement shown below:

We are extremely disappointed to have read Phil Robertson’s comments in GQ, which are based on his own personal beliefs and are not reflected in the series Duck Dynasty. His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.”

Well, I can tell A&E that they have 14 million viewers and countless free speech proponents, along with an untold number of people who believe in freedom of religion, "extremely disappointed" in their stance all in the name of political correctness.


CONTACT INFORMATION FOR A&

E, HEARST AND DISNEY

Customer Service page where you can add a comment (many already are) found HERE.

Key Executives For A&

E Television Networks, LLC

Chief Executive Officer and President
President of A&E and BIO Channel
President of the History Channel
Vice President and Deputy General Counsel
Senior Vice President of Digital Media

Address:
235 East 45th Street
New York, NY 10017
United States
Phone: 212-210-1400
Fax: 212-907-9497
Hearst is the parent company behind the network, so you can give them a call with a problem, concern or compliment about A&E customer service.
  • Hearst Television: 1-212-887-6800

[UPDATE] Hearst Corporation's number is (212) 649-2000.

Hearst also claims on a phone call that Disney owns half of A&E Television, so the Disney contact number is 818-460-7477

The Walt Disney Company contact form to leave  message on is found HERE.

When calling Hearst, it seems they deny involvement with A&E, but go to the Hearst website at the bottom and click the "more Hearst sites," the A&E website is listed clearly. Also Hearst's own contact page gives the same number and also, BONUS, offers a contact form.











Cross posted at Before It's News


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Police violently shoved demonstrators back one city block Kit DanielsInfowars.comNovember 22, 2013 Dallas Sheriff's Deputies assaulted peaceful demonstrators almost immediately after arriving at the Dealey Plaza...

Dallas Police Assault Free Speech Activists, Punch Alex Jones

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Live: Alex Jones Protests the Federal Reserve, Fights for Free Speech in Dallas

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The Subtle Mechanics of Unfree Speech

“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”—Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

A cascade of managerial and public relations blunders has prompted Florida Atlantic University administrators to introduce The Agora Project, a broad initiative intending to promote “the practice of civility and civil discourse in an environment of free speech, academic freedom and open dialogue.”

Faculty valuing free speech and academic freedom whose persistent efforts at cultivating such through their teaching and research will likely be intrigued in hearing of the Agora Project, an endeavor proffering “forums on the importance of academic freedom, academic responsibility, and freedom of expression;” the program even promises to “create workshops on how best to practice civil and respectful interaction with others; and provide opportunities to discuss, dialogue and debate matters relevant to FAU and to our world.”

One is to conclude that, left to their own devices, faculty members and students may never arrive at a rational approach toward civility. Moreover, they may even become suspicious in the event that they are force-fed such an agenda. Indeed, after the Delphi-style exercise was presented at a recent faculty meeting, a colleague quietly pulled me aside and remarked, “This isn’t about civility. It’s about control.”

Will this individual soon be vociferously questioning Agora? Likely no. Wouldn’t want to “rock the boat” and draw attention to her/himself. Could s/he perhaps be on to something? Likely yes.

Not coincidentally, Agora was unveiled by university administrators in August 2013, a few short weeks after a speech code issued by FAU’s Division of Student Affairs was condemned by the Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and subsequently revised. “Here at FAU,” the original speech code reads,

we encourage our campus community to exercise this cherished freedom in lively debate. In fact, we protect and promote that right. What we do insist on, however, is that everyone in the FAU community behave and speak to and about one another in ways that are not racist, religiously intolerant or otherwise degrading to others. (Emphasis added.)

FIRE countered that such a policy could impinge on constitutionally-protected speech and expression, possibly quashing not only academic discussion and inquiry, but also protest and debate on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict under the guise of “religious intolerance.”

In addition, an injunction on “racist” speech might be used to discipline vibrant exchanges on immigration and affirmative action. “And the prohibition on ‘otherwise degrading’ speech could apply to speech on virtually any topic that offends another person,” FIRE contends.

 A cynic might conclude that The Agora Project is a backdoor effort to provide the basis for extending such criteria across each of the University’s constituencies—faculty, students, staff—with their implicit approval given the plan’s professed effort of consultation and engagement.

Along these lines, perhaps the endeavor is an effort to assuage certain communities who for some reason aren’t comfortable with or seek to discontinue open discussion, debate, and social protest—all of which are to be anticipated in a space devoted to the expansion of intellectual horizons.

Of course, those in the upper echelons of university oversight—the administrators and trustees—who are pushing for prospective speech protocols are exempt from such measures, as their actions and behavior are apparently beyond reproach.

For example, last spring then-president Mary Jane Saunders ran into a protesting student with her Lexus sedan, fled the scene down the wrong way of a one-way street, and was subsequently defended by FAU trustees while the police investigating the incident discounted Saunders’ clear commitment of one or more felonies.

In the wake of the “conspiracy theory professor” and “stomp on Jesus” controversies, and protests surrounding a deal that would name the university’s new football stadium after a transnational for-profit prison outfit, dental industry entrepreneur and Republican Party functionary Jeffrey Feingold remarked, “I don’t want hear any more people say they think the lunatics have taken over the asylum.”

Feingold went on to criticize continued use of a headhunting firm that identified administrative candidates including Saunders because it allegedly produces “losers.” He went on to suggest a remarkably bizarre and insulting conspiracy theory that nonviolent campus protests by FAU students—the very children of Florida taxpayers who’ve elected to attend FAU–may culminate in violent terrorist attacks comparable to the Boston Marathon bombings! Unsurprisingly, no media attention or faculty outrage is afforded Feingold’s truly wacko theory.

One might ask, how is anyone given license for such behavior and remarks? Well, in January the ever-modest Feingold gave FAU $250,000 to name the university’s Board of Trustees room after him. “From those to whom much is given, much is expected,” he dictated.

With the above in mind, one’s imagination needn’t work overtime to identify the likely proponents of The Agora Project and its velvet-gloved implementation of “free speech and civility.” When FAU’s head honchos recently sat down to discuss selection of a new president, FAU Foundation Board Vice Chair and former Virginia “super lawyer” Jay Weinberg observed,

Because we are a diverse university … that doesn’t mean that we tolerate bigotry or prejudice. You have to draw a keen distinction between free speech and hate speech. I think that [in light of] recent events at this university, we need a president that understands that and who will act decisively with respect to it.

In other words, a principal holders of the institution’s purse strings asserts that the ideal chief administrator should reprimand and perhaps even fire faculty and staff who articulate extraordinary perspectives—ones that may fulfill the arbitrary and Kafkaesque notion of “hate speech.” In Agora-speak, this would inevitably involve violation of proposed “respectful” and “civic” discourse with-a-twist etiquettes.

In the subtly forced conversation on “civility,” “academic freedom,” and “respectful interaction,” a more clear-cut definition of what exactly constitutes meaningful exchange has been wholly lost, or, perhaps more fittingly, supplanted. In reality, couldn’t such a discussion be targeting the ideals that provide the basis for better understanding “something important, something real” that “really bothers” certain individuals … thus challenging them to consider an issue, an event, or a problem at a far deeper level?

When a university ceases to be a place where a wide expanse of “controversial” ideas and dialogues can be spontaneously ruminated on, one can safely conclude that it has made the transition from sanctuary and laboratory of free thought and ideas to a mere appendage of the consciousness industry and workhouse of the mind.

-JFT

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IDF crackdown on soldiers’ social media activity a ‘problem of free speech’

Published time: March 26, 2013 10:35
Screenshot from YouTube user אני גבר

Social media crazes in the Israeli military have seen a number of soldiers behaving in ways “unbecoming of the spirit of the IDF" – videos of soldiers dancing to Internet fads like the Harlem Shake could damage the IDF's image, officials said.

It is believed that viral videos run against the government's attempts to use social media as an effective propaganda tool. Although the IDF boasts its own official Facebook page and Twitter feed, there are fears that 'unauthorized’ materials could harm the image of the military where most young Israeli men and women aged 18 to 21 are required to serve.

“Just as the government uses social media for explaining, for campaigning, for propaganda or for spinning, it also has to deal with private soldiers using new media. Every soldier is a broadcast station,” Israel’s Center for the Protection of Democracy Executive Director Yizhar Be’er told RT.

Israeli military commanders have been recently told to prevent soldiers from uploading material “not appropriate” to the IDF’s “spirit.”

“It’s the problem of free speech… I don't see how you can control it,”
said Dr. Yuval Dror, head of digital media studies at the Middle East college of management-academic studies.

The punishment for such behavior “unbecoming of the spirit of the IDF" can be strict. Earlier this year, two soldiers were sent to military prison for several weeks for posting a clip of their artillery battalion performing a version of the Harlem Shake.

Screenshot from YouTube user אני גבר

“Under the military code of justice, there is an offense... I think it is sergeant and above... which says in effect any conduct which is unbecoming an IDF soldier would therefore potentially at least expose you to criminal liability. Could actually find yourself in jail if you made an offense under that,” former IDF legal advisor David Benjamin told RT.

IDF officials were also incensed when a group of soldiers turned their patrol in Hebron into a dance number: A video titled 'Battalion 50 Rock the Hebron Casbah' featured six armed soldiers in bulletproof vests who start a Macarena-like dance after a Muslim call to prayer is heard.

“You have to remember that soldiers are 18-year-old kids,”
Gil Yogev, who was once an officer with the paratroopers' unit, told RT. Yogev said he would brief his soldiers regularly about what they could and could not post online, but many were careless or childishly unaware of the impact such material could have.

“It is not misuse of power, for them it is just fun,” Yogev added.   

“I don't think that the dancing is abusing power, I do think that putting your sniper aim on an innocent person is an abuse of power and I think that this is the distinction that the army should make,” Yuval Dror said.

Screenshot from YouTube user ניר הירשמן

“You have to remember that soldiers are 18-year-old kids,” Gil Yogev, who was once an officer with the paratroopers' unit, told RT. Yogev said he would brief his soldiers regularly about what they could and could not post online, but many were careless or childishly unaware of the impact such material could have.

“It is not misuse of power, for them it is just fun,” Yogev added.   

“I don't think that the dancing is abusing power, I do think that putting your sniper aim on an innocent person is an abuse of power and I think that this is the distinction that the army should make,” Yuval Dror said.

Sacha Dratwa, the head of the IDF’s social media unit, sparked controversy when he uploaded a Facebook photo with dark mud from the Dead Sea smeared on his face, and a caption reading “Obama style.” The picture provoked mixed reactions, with some accusing the 26-year-old of racism. Dratwa claimed he had been misinterpreted.

‘Americans denied right to free speech’

The US has eroded freedom of speech, moral values and human rights for the American people over the past decades, a political activist tells Press TV.

“[US President] Barack Obama came into office as a constitutional professor and we have seen him do more damage to our constitution than even George Bush did,” said Tighe Barry, an activist with the CODEPINK group.

The advocate further criticized Washington for manipulating the American public by denying them the information needed to make decisions in the political atmosphere.

“It is unfortunate because the people do need to have this information if they are going to make good decisions on what they want out of their foreign policy from their leaders,” said Barry.

Americans have known that their rights are being stolen but they do not want to know the extent of the loss of their freedoms, the activist added.

“They see it on their television sets. They see it in the way their leaders are composing themselves. They see it in the fact that every day you see different headlines of companies that have given up information to the government - your cell phones are now being tapped, we are being watched around the globe, our passports have special chips in them,” said Barry.


He went on to condemn the United States for failing to follow the principles of ‘freedom of speech’ in its foreign policy regarding censorship of Iranian media.

The United States imposed fresh sanctions last month on Iran that include bans on the country’s media despite Washington’s claims of protecting freedom of speech.

“As a matter of fact, we are seeing that the United States and its European and NATO allies seem to be putting pressure around the world to pigeonhole countries such as Iran, Russia and other ones that are not in the sphere of influence of the United States and the European NATO countries,” Barry concluded.

GMA/HGH/SL

‘Iran media ban violates free speech’

A political analyst says the move to take Iranian media channels off the air calls into question the West’s claim of defending freedom of speech, Press TV reports.

“It is really attacking the very fundamental principles which the Europeans claim to spread, which is freedom of speech and freedom of expression,” Intifad Qanbar said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.

“Who can decide what is good and what is bad? Why don’t they go and stop many of the hatred-promoting channels... which are spreading... hatred and war and terrorism across the air all over the world?” the analyst asked.

Qanbar criticized the move to take Iranian media off the air as “true hypocrisy” carried out on a “double standard basis.”

“You cannot just hush people whom you don’t like and claim to be democratic and claim to accept and respect freedom of speech as they continue to say," he pointed out, saying it carried a contradictory message.


In a flagrant violation of freedom of speech, the Spanish government ordered Madrid’s regional government to stop broadcast of Iran’s Spanish-language Hispan TV as of Monday.

This is not the first time that the Iranian media are being targeted.

In October 2012, Eutelsat SA and Intelsat SA stopped the broadcast of several Iranian satellite channels.

In November 2012, the Hong Kong-based Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. (AsiaSat) also took all Iranian channels off the air in East Asia under pressure from the United States.

AR/HJL/MA

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New York Fracking Gag Order Violates Freedom of Speech

SANFORD, NY - February 12 - The Town of Sanford, New York, is violating its residents’ First Amendment right to free speech by placing a gag order on discussion of proposed fracking in the state at town board meetings, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

“If people are silenced by their own elected representatives, how can they trust them to act in their best interests?” said NRDC senior attorney Kate Sinding. “The Sanford Town Board has taken away residents’ right to speak up on one of the most controversial and daunting issues facing them today, in the very forum designed to give them that opportunity. This is particularly troubling given the board’s history of unwavering support for fracking.”

On September 11, 2012, the Sanford Town Board unanimously passed a resolution forbidding further discussion about natural gas development during the public participation portion of Town Board.

The September vote was the most recent in a series of “pro-fracking” town board resolutions that actively lobbied the state to move forward with proposed natural gas extraction. As early as Governor Paterson’s administration, the Town Board urged the governor and legislature to open the state up to development. Last May, the board passed a resolution urging Governor Cuomo to lift the de-facto moratorium on fracking. Then on September 5th — days before the gag order passed—Town Supervisor Dewey Decker signed on to a letter urging Governor Cuomo to legalize fracking in the state.

In addition, the Sanford Town Board has shown ongoing support of fracking industry activities within its borders. These include leasing town land to an oil and gas company, and granting industry access to town resources for use in development.  Between 2008 and 2010, Sanford leased town land to XTO Energy for oil and natural gas extraction and licensed the company to use local roads for fracking-related activities.  Between 2011 and 2012, the town passed a resolution in support of Bluestone Gas Corporation’s application to build a local pipeline, granted Bluestone a waiver for certain road and insurance requirements and entered into an agreement with the company for road-use privileges. 

“At the September 2012 Sanford town meeting, when the board chose to cut off discussion of fracking and related issues, they ended any chance that I might have to affect the future value of my home, or the quality of the air I breathe, or the water I drink,” said Sanford resident Mike Musante, who attended the September meeting. “Without debate there is no democracy, only rule by autocrats.”

“I have not accepted that this board decision is legal or ethical. I feel bullied, stifled and frustrated. We should not have to fight for our basic First Amendment right of assembling peacefully and verbally petitioning the government. I plan to take that substantial energy of frustration and work toward a government that is responsive to the people,” said Barbara Lester, a Sanford resident. 

“We regret that the Sanford Town Board, in removing public participation from the democratic process, has left no alternative but litigation,” said Tom Wilinsky of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

NRDC and CCSE filed their lawsuit on behalf of their members who are residents of Sanford, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Sanford is located in Broome County, in New York’s Southern Tier, along the Pennsylvania border and deep within the Marcellus Shale formation. It is a small, rural town with a population of about 2,400.

WATCH: Video of Silenced Sanford Residents on Kate Sinding’s blog, "You're silencing us" - Protecting Free Speech Rights in Sanford, New York.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

New York Fracking Gag Order Violates Freedom of Speech

SANFORD, NY - February 12 - The Town of Sanford, New York, is violating its residents’ First Amendment right to free speech by placing a gag order on discussion of proposed fracking in the state at town board meetings, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

“If people are silenced by their own elected representatives, how can they trust them to act in their best interests?” said NRDC senior attorney Kate Sinding. “The Sanford Town Board has taken away residents’ right to speak up on one of the most controversial and daunting issues facing them today, in the very forum designed to give them that opportunity. This is particularly troubling given the board’s history of unwavering support for fracking.”

On September 11, 2012, the Sanford Town Board unanimously passed a resolution forbidding further discussion about natural gas development during the public participation portion of Town Board.

The September vote was the most recent in a series of “pro-fracking” town board resolutions that actively lobbied the state to move forward with proposed natural gas extraction. As early as Governor Paterson’s administration, the Town Board urged the governor and legislature to open the state up to development. Last May, the board passed a resolution urging Governor Cuomo to lift the de-facto moratorium on fracking. Then on September 5th — days before the gag order passed—Town Supervisor Dewey Decker signed on to a letter urging Governor Cuomo to legalize fracking in the state.

In addition, the Sanford Town Board has shown ongoing support of fracking industry activities within its borders. These include leasing town land to an oil and gas company, and granting industry access to town resources for use in development.  Between 2008 and 2010, Sanford leased town land to XTO Energy for oil and natural gas extraction and licensed the company to use local roads for fracking-related activities.  Between 2011 and 2012, the town passed a resolution in support of Bluestone Gas Corporation’s application to build a local pipeline, granted Bluestone a waiver for certain road and insurance requirements and entered into an agreement with the company for road-use privileges. 

“At the September 2012 Sanford town meeting, when the board chose to cut off discussion of fracking and related issues, they ended any chance that I might have to affect the future value of my home, or the quality of the air I breathe, or the water I drink,” said Sanford resident Mike Musante, who attended the September meeting. “Without debate there is no democracy, only rule by autocrats.”

“I have not accepted that this board decision is legal or ethical. I feel bullied, stifled and frustrated. We should not have to fight for our basic First Amendment right of assembling peacefully and verbally petitioning the government. I plan to take that substantial energy of frustration and work toward a government that is responsive to the people,” said Barbara Lester, a Sanford resident. 

“We regret that the Sanford Town Board, in removing public participation from the democratic process, has left no alternative but litigation,” said Tom Wilinsky of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

NRDC and CCSE filed their lawsuit on behalf of their members who are residents of Sanford, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Sanford is located in Broome County, in New York’s Southern Tier, along the Pennsylvania border and deep within the Marcellus Shale formation. It is a small, rural town with a population of about 2,400.

WATCH: Video of Silenced Sanford Residents on Kate Sinding’s blog, "You're silencing us" - Protecting Free Speech Rights in Sanford, New York.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

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Freedom, Power, and the Conservative Mind

On Monday the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the Affordable Care Act, ruling that privately-owned corporations don’t have to offer their employees contraceptive coverage that conflicts with the corporate owners’ religious beliefs.

The owners of Hobby Lobby, the plaintiffs in the case, were always free to practice their religion. The Court bestowed religious freedom on their corporation as well – a leap of logic as absurd as giving corporations freedom of speech. Corporations aren’t people.

The deeper problem is the Court’s obliviousness to the growing imbalance of economic power between corporations and real people. By giving companies the right not offer employees contraceptive services otherwise mandated by law, the Court ignored the rights of employees to receive those services.

(Justice Alito’s suggestion that those services could be provided directly by the federal government is as politically likely as is a single-payer federal health-insurance plan – which presumably would be necessary to supply such contraceptives or any other Obamacare service corporations refuse to offer on religious grounds.)

The same imbalance of power rendered the Court’s decision in “Citizens United,” granting corporations freedom of speech, so perverse. In reality, corporate free speech drowns out the free speech of ordinary people who can’t flood the halls of Congress with campaign contributions.

Freedom is the one value conservatives place above all others, yet time and again their ideal of freedom ignores the growing imbalance of power in our society that’s eroding the freedoms of most people.

This isn’t new. In the early 1930s, the Court trumped New Deal legislation with “freedom of contract” – the presumed right of people to make whatever deals they want unencumbered by federal regulations. Eventually (perhaps influenced by FDR’s threat to expand the Court and pack it with his own appointees) the Court relented. 

But the conservative mind has never incorporated economic power into its understanding of freedom. Conservatives still champion “free enterprise” and equate the so-called “free market” with liberty. To them, government “intrusions” on the market threaten freedom.

Yet the “free market” doesn’t exist in nature. There, only the fittest and strongest survive. The “free market” is the product of laws and rules continuously emanating from legislatures, executive departments, and courts. Government doesn’t “intrude” on the free market. It defines and organizes (and often reorganizes) it.

Here’s where the reality of power comes in. It’s one thing if these laws and rules are shaped democratically, reflecting the values and preferences of most people.

But anyone with half a brain can see the growing concentration of income and wealth at the top of America has concentrated political power there as well — generating laws and rules that tilt the playing field ever further in the direction of corporations and the wealthy.

Antitrust laws designed to constrain monopolies have been eviscerated. Competition among Internet service providers, for example, is rapidly disappearing – resulting in higher prices than in any other rich country. Companies are being allowed to prolong patents and trademarks, keeping drug prices higher here than in Canada or Europe.

Tax laws favor capital over labor, giving capital gains a lower rate than ordinary income. The rich get humongous mortgage interest deductions while renters get no deduction at all.

The value of real property (the major asset of the middle class) is taxed annually, but not the value of stocks and bonds (where the rich park most of their wealth).

Bankruptcy laws allow companies to smoothly reorganize, but not college graduates burdened by student loans.

The minimum wage is steadily losing value, while CEO pay is in the stratosphere. Under U.S. law, shareholders have only an “advisory” role in determining what CEOs rake in.  

Public goods paid for with tax revenues (public schools, affordable public universities, parks, roads, bridges) are deteriorating, while private goods paid for individually (private schools and colleges, health clubs, security guards, gated community amenities) are burgeoning. 

I could go on, but you get the point. The so-called “free market” is not expanding options and opportunities for most people. It’s extending them for the few who are wealthy enough to influence how the market is organized.

Most of us remain “free” in limited sense of not being coerced into purchasing, say, the medications or Internet services that are unnecessarily expensive, or contraceptives they can no longer get under their employer’s insurance plan. We can just go without.

We’re likewise free not to be burdened with years of student debt payments; no one is required to attend college. And we’re free not to rent a place in a neighborhood with lousy schools and pot-holed roads; if we can’t afford better, we’re free to work harder so we can. 

But this is a very parched view of freedom. 

Conservatives who claim to be on the side of freedom while ignoring the growing imbalance of economic and political power in America are not in fact on the side of freedom. They are on the side of those with the power. 

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Kiev’s War on Freedom

Kiev's War on Freedom

by Stephen Lendman

Western-supported coup-appointed putschists have no legitimacy. Waging war on freedom reflects official Kiev policy.

Washington endorses it. Upcoming sham May 25 elections exclude democracy from ballot choices.

They're at the same time as Kiev aggression continues. They're attacking Eastern Ukrainians.

They're murdering them in cold blood. So-called "anti-terrorist operation(s)" reflect state terrorism writ large.

Fascist regimes operate this way. They reemerged in Europe. Coup-appointed Kiev thugs represent its epicenter.

Upcoming elections are rigged. Democracy is pure fantasy. Results are largely pre-determined. 

Washington wants illegitimacy approved. So do rogue EU partners. They endorsed fascism. They deplore freedom.

Illusion substitutes for reality. Hypocrisy for legitimacy. Duplicity for fundamental democratic rights. 

What everyone deserves. What fascist ideologues prohibit. What Ukrainians face going forward.

Kiev escalated aggressive war. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashivich said:

"We state that the Kiev authorities are still not ready and do not want to fulfill the decisions agreed upon in the Geneva Declaration of April 17 and developed into a 'road map,' which was prepared and officially distributed by the Swiss chairmanship in the OSCE."

It repudiated violence. Kiev "intensifie(d) (its) punitive operations against its own people…"

It's waging lawless aggression. It's "bombard(ing)" Eastern Ukrainian "cities and settlements." 

It's attacking civilians with "heavy weapons." It ludicrously claims Sunday's sham elections represent democracy.

For all Ukrainians. Doing it fairly. Openly. Freely. Leaving no one out.

Under the barrel of a gun. During premeditated aggression. Excluding real choice. 

Targeting freedom. Wanting it entirely destroyed.  Wanting hardline/top-down ruthlessness replacing it. 

Wanting what Ukrainians nationwide deplore. What they reject.

May 22 brought good news and bad. RT International's stringer journalist Graham Phillips was freed.

He's lucky to be alive. Things could have turned out otherwise. As long as he's in Ukraine, he's endangered. He's vulnerable.

He was lawlessly abducted. He was held captive for 36 harrowing hours. He had no idea how they'd end.

Thankfully he's free. But not safe. He's OK, he said. He was intensively interrogated.

"All my work in order," he said. "(N)o charges. (N)o deportation." 

(N)o one laid a hand on me in anger. Ukrainian authorities treated me fairly."

At the same time, it was touch and go. Things might have turned out otherwise. 

Throughout his ordeal, RT supported him. So did his colleagues and followers, he said.

"Thank you so much for all your support during this. Some moments were a little bit difficult, but I knew you guys were there supporting me and that meant the world," he said.

He did so with genuine sincerity. His reporting was special. He did so in the line of fire. He endured clear and present dangers. They remain.

He represents the best of responsible journalism. So do other RT correspondents doing the same thing. And Russian colleagues.

War zone reporting is hazardous. It risks life and limb. Possible abduction, detention, and abuse exacerbate things. 

Phillips was taking photos near Mariupol. He did it "dozens of times" before, he said. Without incident.

"I was questioning these soldiers at the checkpoint in Mariupol on what happened on that day, and I've done that a lot of times before," he explained.

"And then they saw that I work for RT, and then things escalated after that. It got more serious this time." 

"They started phoning people and then I was detained. I had my things taken off of me and interrogated quite thoroughly."

"I was with soldiers at this point at a block post and then the SBU came. This is the Ukrainian Secret Services (SBU)."

Two locals working with him were released. Not him. Around 9PM Monday, he was taken away.

It was after spending around nine hours at a military checkpoint. He was transferred to Zaporozhye at "gun point."

He was sent to military barracks. "An SBU man made it quite clear that I was under detention," he said.

Kiev authorities accused him of spying. Working for RT is a "black spot," they said. He was viewed with "particular wariness," he explained.

He understands Russian. He speaks it. Questions asked included: 

"You are working for Russian TV?"

"What is your purpose?

"Are you a spy?"

At the same time, his interrogators were "all right," he said. "I mean they fed me."

"They looked after me, but I was held at gunpoint, and that was quite dramatic," he stressed.

Early Wednesday, interrogation ended. He was taken to Britain's Kiev embassy.

At the same time, its defense ministry press service said he was detained for "filming facilities which are forbidden from being filmed."

Phony charges claim anything. Phillips was lucky. Things could have gotten serious. 

He could have been detained longterm. He could have been tortured. 

He could have faced kangaroo court proceedings. He could have been imprisoned. He could have been killed.

Russian LifeNews journalists Oleg Sidyakin and Marat Saichenko remain detained. They're held incommunicado.

False charges claim they transported weapons. Others said they aided and abetted terrorists. They're "members of terrorist groups." 

They're journalists. They're not terrorists. They aided no one. They're not combatants. They were doing their job.

Challenging captors under duress isn't easy. Or refuting their lies.

On May 22, coup-appointed Kiev national security/defense council head Andriy Parubiy said investigating Sidyakin and Saichenkro continues.

It's up to "investigator(s) to decide whether to hand them over to the Russian side."

Putin denounced their detention. "It's absolutely unacceptable, and, of course, the question arises over the legitimacy of all political procedures in Ukraine," he said.

He called accusing them of carrying portable air defense system weapons "nonsense."

Russia's lower house State Duma passed a statement. It demanded Kiev release both journalists straightaway.

Russia's upper house Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matvienko said:

"We will succeed in freeing our two journalists and guarantee the freedom of their activities in Ukraine, including during large upcoming internal political events in Ukraine - the presidential election."

Russia's Foreign Ministry expressed outrage over Kiev denying OSCE representatives permission to visit both journalists. A separate statement said:

"This kind of lawlessness directed against Russian journalists, which has become a regular practice, confirms once again that the Ukrainian side is ignoring basic norms of democracy, in particular, freedom of speech."

Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused Ukraine's military and security services of "dangerously interfering with press freedom."

It called for immediately releasing Russian journalists. Deputy Europe and Central Asia director Rachel Denber said:

"We're deeply worried about the fate and whereabout of (captive) journalists. Detaining (them) and then failing to provide information on what's happening to them or to respect their due process rights are serious violations that have to end."

"Failure to provide information on the whereabouts and fate of anyone deprived of their liberty by agents of the state, or those acting with its acquiescence, may constitute an enforced disappearance." she added.

Acting extrajudicially reflects police state ruthlessness. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki endorses the worst of its dark side.

She supports Kiev lies about Saichenko and Sidyakin supporting terrorism. She claims legitimate journalists doing their job responsibly aren't what they say they are.

She accepted Kiev Big Lies as facts. She did so at face value. She dodged questions about their veracity.

A next day follow-up statement softened too little to matter. She called on Ukrainian authorities to investigate what happened. 

She claimed no further updates on what's ongoing. She said nothing about refuting irresponsible charges. Effectively she endorsed them.

Separately, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich accused OSCE's monitoring mission of suppressing vital information.

Inconvenient truths are buried, he said. Outright censorship, he claimed.

Facts are twisted to fit coup-appointed Kiev putschists' policies.

"We believe that the mission should work with citizens' direct appeals, especially considering that the tasks of interacting with civil society and monitoring human rights violations are directly sealed in the mission's mandate," Lukashevich said.

Ukrainian crisis conditions remain far from resolved. Ongoing conflict continues. It rages out-of-control.

It violates core rule of law principles. It enjoys full Western support. It bears repeating.

It targets Ukrainian freedom. It wants it destroyed altogether. It wants hardline fascist rule replacing it.

It's up for grabs how things will end. Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters are going all-out for fundamental rights everyone deserves.

Their struggle is ours. They deserve 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 

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Koch Brothers-Style Free Society

Koch Brothers-Style Free Society

by Stephen Lendman

Charles and David Koch are modern-day robber barons. They're multi-billionaires. Forbes estimates their April 2014 net worth at $40.3 billion each.

Charles is Koch Industries (KI) chairman and CEO. David is executive vice president.

They're $6 billion richer this year than last. They make money the old fashioned way. Behind every fortune lies a great crime, said Balzac. Maybe he was thinking of Charles and David.

KI is America's second largest private company. Agribusiness giant Cargill holds top spot. Its estimated 2013 revenues were $136.7 billion.

KI's are an estimated $115 billion. Both companies way outdistance number three ranked Dell. Its estimated 2013 revenues were $56.94 billion.

Heads of these and other industrial giants won't go begging. Koch brothers want lots more billions than already. 

Getting them any way possible alone matters. They go all-out for all they can. Charles was quoted earlier saying: 

"Most power is power to coerce somebody. We don't have the power to coerce anybody."

Their deep pockets do their coercing for them. They want unfettered market freedom. They each own 42% of KI. They prefer remaining private. Charles once said KI will publicly offer shares "literally over (his) dead body."

KI operates in dozens of countries worldwide. It's in 45 US states. It employs tens of thousands of workers.

Its businesses include manufacturing, energy, oil refining and distribution, chemicals, fiber, intermediates and polymers, minerals, fertilizers, pulp and paper, chemical technology equipment, ranching, finance, commodities trading, plus other ventures and investments.

Both brothers buy influence. They finance radical right interests to get it. They bankroll neocon political action groups, think tanks, and ideologically over-the-top politicians.

They advance extremist limited government notions. They favor business friendly anti-populist policies. 

They abhor regulations. They want freedom to swindle, cheat and grab all they can.

They want state enterprises sold at fire sale prices. They want first dibs to buy them. They want minimal corporate taxes. Ideally they none at all. 

They want their personal tax obligation shrunk to as little as possible. They want ordinary people forced to pay more so they can pay less.

They want social justice eliminated entirely. They want trade unionism weakened. Ideally they want it gone.

They oppose universal healthcare, financial fairness, public education, and environmental sanity. They love job-killing trade deals.

They'll benefit hugely from Keystone XL's pipeline's completion. According to a report released last October, it represents a potential $100 billion windfall.

KI and both brothers separately own two million acres of Alberta, Canada land. It's where Keystone XL's proposed route begins.

KI subsidiaries benefit from pipeline construction. Tar sands oil development is on Koch Exploration Canada land. Koch Supply and Trading benefits from oil derivatives activities.

KI donated millions lobbying for Keystone XL's construction. Supportive think tanks and congressional members are beneficiaries.

Charles and David's influence is pernicious and then some. They want unfettered freedom replacing civil society restraints. They want information about their activities suppressed.

They want unchallenged control. They want nothing interfering with generating maximum revenues.

They donate millions annually to right wing causes. On March 27, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) headlined "Inside the Koch brothers' campus crusade."

It spans America. It philosophizes about the "moral imperatives of free markets and individual liberty."

It's proselytizing goes way beyond Capitol Hill. It focuses on winning hearts and minds of college students. 

It manipulates their minds destructively. It does so at 163 colleges and universities. They're in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Many are left of center. Some have liberal faculty members.

Koch Brothers want students turned against them. They want their vision taught in classrooms. They claim otherwise. So do recipient schools.

Funds aren't donated strings-free. Agenda politics comes with them.

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) advocates entrepreneurship freedom. It abhors regulatory restraint. It wants minimal taxes. 

It wants "encroachment of government in the economic lives of citizens" halted. It wants nothing restricting what business wants to do.

It fronts for Koch Industries. In 2004, David Koch and KI board member Richard Fink were co-founders. AFP targets progressive initiatives. Millions are spent doing it. Funding surges in election years.

AFP's agenda is corporatist, soulless, anti-labor, anti-eco-sanity, and anti-fairness. It's against consumer protections. It abhors populism. It wants corporate crooks kept free from prosecution.

It's pro-business, pro-war, pro-privilege, pro-super-wealth, anti-dissent, anti-democracy, anti-civil and human rights, and anti-government of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly.

Charles Lewis serves as American University School of Community Investigative Reporting Workshop's executive director. Earlier he founded CPI.

"The Kochs are on a whole different level," he said earlier. There's no one else who has spent this much money." 

"The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation." 

"I've been in Washington since Watergate, and I've never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times."

Their lobbying expenses rank among America's highest. They go all-out to have their interests served.

Ideally they want their message alone getting out. They pressure employees to support candidates they endorse.

They warn them about dire consequences otherwise. Their jobs are on the line. They'll pay for disobedience.

What Charles and David say goes. They represent dual noxious influences. They're more dangerous than corrupt politicians in positions of power.

They wield their own irresponsibly. Super-wealth lets them do what they want. They take full advantage.

For every dollar spent, they expect huge returns. They take no prisoners. They're all take and no give.

They oppose labeling carcinogens found in their products. They want them freely used. 

They're mindless about potential harm to millions. Profits alone matter. People are expendable. Their welfare is unimportant. Business priorities count most of all.

Tony Carrk is Center for American Progress Health Care War Room director. In April 2011, he headlined "The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know About the Financiers of the Radical Right," saying:

"Any attempt to understand the modern conservative movement will eventually lead to billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch." 

"Using their vast wealth and connections, the Koch brothers are key players in bankrolling right-wing political action groups, think tanks, and individual politicians, using this array of political power to advance their ideological agenda of limited government and less regulation." 

"Chances are they are part of any recent right-wing attack you have seen lately."

Charles and David use their vast wealth, business empire, and "political network to pursue their right-wing agenda at nearly every level of government. "

"Whether they are contributing millions in campaign contributions, spending millions on lobbying, or investing millions in right-wing think tank and advocacy groups, the Koch brothers’ influence is pervasive."

Their extreme right wing agenda benefits them at the expense of popular interests. They want them eliminated altogether. 

They want unfettered freedom to invest, speculate, trade and accumulate maximum wealth unrestrained. They want nothing interfering in their right to do so.

Anti-government fervor was a Koch brothers opportunity. They helped organize and fund Tea Party protesters. They turned their private agenda into a mass movement.

They took full advantage shaping and controlling an anti-big government uprising. They turned it into serving their personal interests. 

They got millions of ordinary people to support what harms their own welfare. They got supportive right-wing media help. 

Talk show hosts, commentators, and other media figures joined the movement. The New York Times earlier called it "a diffuse American grassroots group that taps into anti-government sentiment."

It's well-organized. It's controlled top down. It's a combination of loosely affiliated organizations. They're ideologically anti-big government, anti-spending, anti-immigration, and anti-compromise.

They're organized, funded and controlled by right-wing corporate lobbying groups. They're manipulated to support business interests. 

Companies like KI benefit enormously. It denies involvement disingenuously. Its communications director said earlier:

"Koch companies value free speech and believe it is good to have more Americans engaged in key policy issues."

"(N)o funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties." 

Their activities declined significantly since 2010. According to Professor Theda Skocpol, chapters dropped from about 1,000 to 600.

It's still a "very good survival rate," she said. Most groups shifted from national to local issues.

Doing so affected their visibility. Chapters place more emphasis on getting preferred candidates elected than pubic events.

Involvement in 2012 Republican presidential primaries was minimal. Perhaps lack of enthusiasm for unimpressive candidates was responsible.

After Mitt Romney chose Paul Ryan as his running mate, The New York Times called Tea Party lawmakers "indisputably at the core of the modern Republican Party."

Koch brothers influence is very much involved. They bankroll Tea Party candidates. They do so with company and personal contributions.

They're a pernicious influence on US politics. What benefits them harms most others.

They're not going away. Their financial clout hugely influences US policies. Americans get the best democracy money can buy.

A Final Comment

Wall Street Journal editors gave Charles Koch feature op-ed space. On April 2, he headlined "I'm Fighting to Restore a Free Society."

What he has in mind isn't fit to live in. He lied claiming his vision would "create greater well-being and opportunity for all Americans."

He means super-rich ones like himself at the expense of all others. He claims to oppose big government.

He wants federal, state and local politicians as well as bureaucrats benefitting him. He wants government resources helping his interests.

He wants social America destroyed. He ludicrously claimed he's not "trying to rig the system."

Millions spent lobbying buy influence. They're not used for good will. They're investments. Effective ones reap huge returns. 

They go right to KI's bottom line. They fill Charles and David's pockets. They come out of ours.

His notion of "liberty" is more for him and less for us. Everyone should embrace his "vision," he urges.

America already is unfit to live in. Imagine one run his way. Orwell put it this way:

"If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

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 Targets Fundamental Freedoms

Israel Targets Fundamental Freedoms

by Stephen Lendman

Numerous Knesset bills compromise speech, assembly, association and dissent. Israel's free press is endangered. 

Palestine is ruthlessly targeted. The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) documents events daily. Monthly updates follow.

It's latest report covers March. "(N)o significant improvement" occurred, it said. Throughout the Occupied Territories, "violations against (Palestinian) journalists" increased.

Israeli occupation forces (IOF) target them with "stun grenades and rubber bullets…" Injuries result. Arrests follow.

On March 23, Israeli forces attacked AP photographer Iyad Hamad. He was covering Israeli soldiers. They were targeting Aida refugee camp Palestinian youths.

On March 29, IOF attacked journalists covering a Jerusalem Earth Day commemoration.

On March 7, Israeli settlers assaulted three Palestinian photojournalists. Abbas Momani, Maath Misha'al, and Abdul Karin Mesetif were victimed.

On March 16, settlers attacked Palestine Today TV correspondent Fida Nasser. IOF ignored their violence. 

They detained Nasser. She was preparing a report on how Jewish holidays affect Palestinians in Hebron.

On March 23, IOF detained six Palestinian journalists near Nablus and Bethlehem. Mohamed Assayed, Mohamed Hassan, Rami Abdu, Mousa Alshaer, Abd-Alrahman Younis, and an unnamed US photographer were targeted.

On March 29, IOF Al Roaya TV correspondent Ahmed Barahma and cameraman Mohamed Shousha were attacked.

They were en route to a village near Jericho to film "Bab Alkarama."

On March 2, OIF prevented Alquds Net correspondent Diala Jwehan from covering protests against closing the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

On March 18, Maan TV cameraman Jalal Hamied as well as photojournalists Abd-Alrahaman Younis and Mousa Alshaer were prevented from covering a Tekoa area military jeep rollover incident.

On March 24, IOF prohibited Shihab News Agency correspondent Amer Abu Arafa from covering Israeli forces raiding Hebron City near Alansar Mosque.

Journalist Diala Jwehan said she moved from one place to another to take photos. A "Special Forces man approached and he pushed me hard," she said.

"I was also approached by security men who were about to beat me, but colleagues quickly dragged me away from them."

Faten Alwan-Alhura said:

"(S)ecurity personnel in…civil cloth started pushing us and all the journalists who were present on site, including my colleague, Yahya Habayeb - (an) Alhura TV cameraman…" 

"(W)hen (she) asked him why are you doing this…he commanded me to stay away or he (would) confiscate the camera…"

"(W)hen (she) asked him what his name was, he told (her): 'you journalists need discipline,' and then he said: 'Thank your Lord that you are not a man." 

She demanded knowing the security person's name. She wanted to file a complaint against him. "I'm a ghost no one can punish me," he said.

Journalist Abu Taima expressed frustration saying:

"There is a heavy burden on Palestinian women, and for 20 years we have begged the successive governments to protect women by amending the legal penalties and personal status, but without a avail, and since all Palestinian laws guarantee citizens the right to freedom of expression, it is our right as journalists to express our opinions about the government's different policies especially those relating to women." 

"The attempts to intimidate women journalists, offending and abusing them in any form, and imposing censorship on their writing are unacceptable and contrary to the spirit of the laws."

Photographer Abbas Momani said:

"I went to cover the clashes happening near the Israeli settlement of Beit Eil, and before I arrived to the site, I was surprised by armed settlers, they attacked my car and began throwing large stones at it from within a walking distance, and I remained inside the car." 

"The Occupation soldiers did not interfere to prevent it or stop it, and the settlers were moved away by the soldiers after they caused major damage to my car." 

"Luckily I only got minor injuries in my left hand, but they caused major damage to the car, the windshield was crashed and many parts of the car were damaged."

Photojournalist Maath Misha'al said:

"While I was shooting the attack on Momani, a group of arm settlers attacked me and my colleague Mesetif, where one began to beat us and put his hand on the camera lens to prevent us from coverage, and told us that photography is prohibited, and I told him you are not entitled to prevent us and you do not have the authority to do so, he pointed the gun at me, and the situation was scary, so I screamed at the Israeli army, and they moved him away."

Soldiers nearby did nothing to help him while under assault. He could have been seriously injured.

Complaints when filed are whitewashed. Most often Israeli security forces are at fault. Palestinian journalists aren't safe. Attacking them is standard practice.

Fida Nasserfor said settlers attacked, beat and sprayed her with red wine. Soldiers detained her.

Police interrogated her. She was charged with assaulting female settlers. They testified against her. They lied. Their word against Fida's mattered most.

Incidents like these are commonplace. Palestinian rights are violated. Journalists aren't safe. They're fair game. They're targeted for doing their job.

Majd Kayyal is an Israeli Arab journalist/researcher/political activist. On April 12, Richard Silverstein reported his arrest on return from Lebanon and Jordan.

Israel calls him a national security suspect. He attended a Beirut event. It commemorated As-Safir's 40th anniversary. It's a supportive Hezbollah publication, said Silverstein.

Kayyal participated in a 2011 humanitarian flotilla to Gaza. He's involved with the Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. He's linked to the Israeli Arab Balad political party.

His activism makes him vulnerable. He's a "ready target," said Silverstein. After his arrest, Israeli security forces raided his Haifa home. They stole his computer. They took other electronic devices and materials.

He's denied him access to counsel. Doing so is standard Israeli practice during interrogations. 

Kayyal's lawyer said "prohibiting a meeting with an attorney is a gross violation of the suspect's basic rights." 

Victims are isolated. They threatened. They're beaten. They're tortured. Some face rape and/or other forms of sexual abuse threats. They're forced to sign confessions. 

Innocence is no defense. Persecution is longstanding Israeli practice. Palestinians are criminalized for not being Jewish. Rogue states operate this way. Ruthlessness defines Israeli policies.

Silverstein posted an earlier Kayyal Mondoweiss interview. He was asked about being concerned about mistreatment for being Palestinian.

"I hope not, but usually Palestinian activists face more problems from Israeli armed forces," he said. 

"However, as a Palestinian citizen of Israel, it's extremely important to show the unity of the Palestinian people to the international community and remind the political leadership that they cannot abandon our rights and must include the status of '48 Palestinians in any just solution."

Asked how he sees today's Palestinian struggle, he said:

"I think that the Arab spring is the most inspiring and is providing us with a renewed motivation."

He misread events at the time. Arab spring was far from blooming. Conditions today in countries like Egypt and Bahrain are worse than ever. 

Iraq, Libya and Syria are cauldrons of violence and human misery. Saudi Arabian persecution continues unrelenting.

Tunisians where Arab spring protests began remain repressed. Yemenis got same old, same old under new leadership. Palestinian suffering remains extreme.

Kayyal was hopeful, saying:

"I see that we need to rebuild the popular struggle on the ground. We need to revitalize the participation of the youth and the students in forging a more powerful movement…"

"Now is the time to move beyond partisan problems and focus on the main target, which is the colonial and racist regime Israel has imposed on the Palestinian people."

His arrest "constitutes a severe assault on press freedom," said Silverstein. 

Israeli lawlessness is under gag order. Israeli media can't report what happened or remains ongoing. Doing so risks possible prosecution.

On April 14, Silverstein reported more. Kayyal's remand was extended until April 22. Doing so gives Israeli interrogators more time to brutalize him. 

He remains incommunicado. He's isolated from outside help. Police state ruthlessness defines official Israeli policy.

Silverstein got a copy of Israel's gag order (o139 blog). The Electronic Intifada obtained a copy of the charge sheet.

Kayyal is being lawlessly investigated for "unlawful travel to Arab counties." For "contact with a (so-called) foreign agent."

Israel lies calling doing so constitutes "serious offenses against the security of the state."

Jewish Israeli journalists travel freely to Lebanon, Jordan and other Arab countries. Some are told not to. Prosecutions don't follow.

Jewish justice is one thing. Arabs another. Even for Israeli citizens. Rights aren't apportioned equally. Racism is institutionalized. Persecution follows.

Kayyal's freedom flotilla participation to Gaza alone makes him an enemy of the state. He's a marked man. Expect justice systematically denied. Perhaps longterm imprisonment.

Thousands like him languish in Israel's gulag. It's one of the world's worst. Abuse and other forms of ill-treatment are common practice.

Palestinians have no rights whatever. Silverstein puts it this way. Israel is the only so-called regional democracy "where citizens are created equal and treated so - unless you're Palestinian."

Adalah criticizes Israel restricting Palestinian citizens from traveling to other Arab countries. Doing so "impose(s) severe limitations on social, cultural and religious ties between (them and) wider Arab and Muslim nations."

Translated court proceedings indicate Kayyal said:

"I ask to be told the names of the attorneys and the court gave me their names." 

"The court has explained to me about the prohibition from meeting attorneys until 14 April 2014, at midnight, and told me that the hearing was held in the presence of my attorneys, who asked the representative of the police questions." 

"The court has explained to me that my father, mother and brother were present in the courtroom. I have nothing further to add."

Full translated court proceedings were as follows:

At the Magistrate’s Court in Haifa

13 April 2013

Days of Arrest 23318-04-14 Central Unit vs. Kayyal

Before the honorable justice Dr. Zayed Falah

Petitioner: Police Central Unit Versus Suspect Majd Kayyal
Present

  • Attorney for the petitioner - Warrant Officer Marcel Daman
  • Attorney for the suspect - Adv. Aram Mahamid and Adv. Fadi Khouri

  • Suspect - no appearance (he is brought into the court after the interrogation by the attorney for the suspect and the summaries)

  • Relatives of the suspect – his father, brother and mother

Minutes

Attorney for the Petitioner

Restates the content of the petition. Presents the investigative file to the court for perusal. Presents secret material.

Attorney for the Petitioner, in response to questions from the attorney for the suspects:

Q: Are you informed about all the investigative actions taken to date:

A: No.

Q: Have you given the court all the investigative material that has already been collected?

A: Indeed.

Q: Does the material presented to the Court include investigative memoranda and investigative actions that have already been done?

A: Yes.

Q: Have you also conveyed all of the actions that are yet to be taken?

A: Yes.

Q: At what stage is the investigation?

A: The investigation is still at its very beginning. The suspect was only arrested yesterday. According to the material that was found, he is expected to be investigated a few more times and the full future plan is before the court. I cannot commit myself to the number of investigations because I am not an investigator.

Q: What is the suspect suspected of?

A: What appears in the warrant. Contact with a foreign agent, leaving the country unlawfully.

Q: Is there a version for the suspicions?

A: (it is) all before the court. I have not investigated him and I will not investigate him. It’s all by the Security Service (Shabak).

Q: About the foreign agent crime - is it known who he is?

A: I cannot specify. It is all in the secret report.

Q: What are the circumstances of the contact with the agent?

A: It’s indicated in the secret report. As to dates - there is no exact date, everything is in the secret report.

Q: About the two suspicions - are they related?

A: I think so.

Q: Did the contact with the foreign agent happen while he was carrying out the second offense?

A: The investigation is being performed by the security services. All the material is before the court, for perusal. I cannot specify beyond this.

Q: An order restraining a meeting with an attorney at 8. The arrest warrant was issued at 9:30. Explain the gap.

A: It’s a technical computer transaction, (it took) until we took out the computer. He was arrested yesterday evening. He was apprehended at 19:50 hours. This restraining order is under the responsibility of the security entities.

Q: In the matter of the order - did you explain the suspect that he is prohibited from meeting an attorney?

A: I did not review the content of the warning because the security service did the investigation. All the material is before the court and there is a secret report attached. The security services could not appear in court, and that is why I am here.

Q: Did he wish to give a message to his relatives?

A: I know that there was contact with his relatives. He was informed that he is under arrest. Beyond that I have no idea.

Q: Did you inform one of his relatives that he is restrained from contacting an attorney?

A: I have no answer about that. It is in the investigative material.

Q: Was the suspect investigated about one event or about several events?

A: All the material is before the court, all the actions taken from the moment he was arrested to this day. I cannot confirm the number of events.

Q: Can you confirm that the suspect cooperated in his interrogation and answered all the questions?

A: I have not reviewed what was investigated and asked. I was asked to come [here] for extension of the detention. The security services continue their investigation. All the material is before the court.

Q: How many investigative activities did you do yesterday?

A: A preliminary investigation and a continuation today. I don't know how many investigations were done yesterday. There was a preliminary investigation.

Q: Explain why you are asking for 15 days of detention?

A: These are serious offenses against the security of the state and there is material to be investigated.

Q: Are there details of all 15 days that require his continued detention, in the form of a work plan?

A: There are not specific details of each stage and what is done every day. The actions that are detailed could change, because they are dynamic. They cannot be done when he is discharged. The suspect was arrested at his home in Haifa.

Q: Was the search performed in one house or two?

A: The material is in the investigative file.

Q: Did you have a search warrant?

A: Yes. I know about the search warrant at the up-to-date address, which the Israel Police has. I know one address, (REDACTED) Street.

Q: Did you issue search warrants to two addresses?

A: I issued a search warrant for (REDACTED) Street, which is his address, as recorded in his personal ID card.

Q: Confirm that the suspect has no criminal record.

A: I did not examine his criminal record.

The attorney for the petitioner summarizes:
I repeat the petition. I ask that it be fully granted.

The attorney for the suspect summarizes:

This is a 23-year old journalist, with no criminal record, who was apparently apprehended on the Israel/Jordan border. 

Since his arrest he has not been permitted to consult an attorney. No notice was given to his attorney and/or his family to visit him in his detention nor with regard to the prohibition on his meeting an attorney. 

As you know, and it is decided law, that prohibiting a meeting with an attorney is a gross violation of the suspect’s basic rights. I ask the court to take this into account and examine how many actions are required when the suspect is under arrest. 

I ask that he be released immediately. Alternatively, that he be released under conditions. As another alternative, that the number of days required under detention be reduced.

The suspect is brought into the courtroom, his family and attorney leave the room.

The suspect:

I ask to be told the names of the attorneys and the court gave me their names. 

The court has explained to me about the prohibition from meeting attorneys until 14 April 2014, at midnight, and told me that the hearing was held in the presence of my attorneys, who asked the representative of the police questions. 

The court has explained to me that my father, mother and brother were present in the courtroom. I have nothing further to add.

Decision

1. I have before me a request to extend the suspect’s detention for 15 days, due to suspicion of committing the crimes of contact with a foreign agent and unlawful travel to Arab countries.

2. I have reviewed the evidentiary material presented to me and have been persuaded that there is reasonable cause to suspect that the suspect has committed the crimes he is charged with. 

I have also been persuaded that there is the risk that if he is released he could disrupt the investigation and endanger public security.

3. I have perused the secret report prepared by the Shabak, which I have marked BM/1. 

This report includes background, investigative actions taken, and investigative actions that are still required, and I have been persuaded that the security entities must be permitted to complete their investigation fully, to come to the study of the truth.

4. I considered the possibility of releasing the suspect for an alternative form of custody and come to the conclusion that at this stage, there is no space for any alternative.

5. I have taken into account the fact that an order has been issued to prohibit meeting an attorney and I have also taken into account that the court must be permitted to oversee the investigative actions performed by the security entities, and for this reason I have decided to grant a number of detention days (than those) requested.

6. For this reason, I am extending the detention of the suspect until 22 April 2014, at 10am.

7. I issue an order prohibiting publication with regard to all proceedings in this case until 22 April 2014 at 10:00 and the proceedings will be held in camera until that date.

These minutes constitute reference for the detention.
Handed down and informed today, 13 Nissan 5774, 13 April 2014, in the presence of those persons present.

(signature)

Dr. Zayed Falah, Judge

Note: Israeli media are forbidden from publishing this transcript. Israelis are denied permission to read it. 

Police states operate this way. Israel is one of the world's worst.

A Final Comment

On April 17, an Israeli court lifted Kayyal's gag order. According to Adalah:

"Following a request we submitted to the court, the gag order regarding the matter of a visit to Lebanon that foreign media have reported on will be canceled. The cancellation will take effect at noon" April 17 local time.

Lifting it doesn't help Kayyal. At the same time, he was released from detention. It doesn't matter. Israel wants him prosecuted. His fate hangs in the balance.

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

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Obama Takes Control Of ‘Free’ Media!!! (Video)

By Susan Duclos


Americans are poised to lose even the pretense of a free media as the Obama administration proposes placing "government monitors" in newsrooms across the country" to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run."


According to Federal Communications Commissioner Ajit Pai, "The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about "the process by which stories are selected" and how often stations cover "critical information needs," along with "perceived station bias" and "perceived responsiveness to underserved populations."


There is so much wrong with that one paragraph I don't even know where to start.... who determines what information is "critical" for the purpose of the Obama administration's proposal? Who determines bias? Isn't that percieved by what side of the political aisle you are on? Also, how dare them attempt to decide who is deserving and who is not?


Via Mr. Pai's WSJ op-ed:


How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of "critical information" such as the "environment" and "economic opportunities," that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their "news philosophy" and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information. 
The FCC also wants to wade into office politics. One question for reporters is: "Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?" Follow-up questions ask for specifics about how editorial discretion is exercised, as well as the reasoning behind the decisions. 
Participation in the Critical Information Needs study is voluntary—in theory. Unlike the opinion surveys that Americans see on a daily basis and either answer or not, as they wish, the FCC's queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license, which must be renewed every eight years.

There is much more in the op-ed, go read it.


For those that think this is just a proposal, the first feild test starts this spring in Columbia, SC.


In the video below I go over this in more depth and Obama's prior attempts at controlling the media in the video below.


Alternative Media is the wave of the future folks, putting everything out there, trusting readers to decide for themselves what to pay heed to, research more, or even discard rather than the government controlling what is brought to their attention.







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US Press Freedom Threatened

US Press Freedom Threatened

by Stephen Lendman

First Amendment rights matter most. Without them all other freedoms are at risk. Post-9/11 policies threaten them.

Bush waged war against them. Obama escalated it. He promised transparency, accountability and reform. He called whistleblowing "acts of courage and patriotism." He said one thing. He did another.

Press freedoms are endangered. An October Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report discussed Obama and the press. 

Journalists say he's waging war on dissent. He exceeds the worst of George Bush. He's heading America on a fast track to tyranny.

He wants information people have a right to know suppressed. He evades press scrutiny. He aggressively targets leakers.

Anyone suspected of disclosing information he wants concealed is vulnerable. Press freedom is gravely threatened.

On February 12, a CPJ press release headlined "Attacks on the Press: CPJ to launch annual global assessment of press freedom." 

It named three key threats. They include digital surveillance, murdering journalists, and pressuring them to suppress what governments don't want revealed.

Authoritarian states used to be primary battlegrounds, said CPJ. No longer. New technologies potentially threaten press freedom everywhere.

"Governments' capacity to store transactional data and the content of communications undermines journalists' ability to protect sources," said CPJ.

Out-of-control NSA spying harms everyone. It's driving a stake in the heart of press freedom. It's compromised gravely in America.

CPJ first published "Attacks on the Press" in 1986. This year's edition features a chapter titled "The NSA Puts Journalists Under a Cloud of Suspicion."

Mass agency surveillance collects enormous amounts of data. It's retained. Doing so "poses a unique threat to journalism in the digital age," said CPJ.

Virtually everything digital can be monitored. NSA "recreate(s) a reporter's research." It retraces sources' movements.

It follows current and past communications. It uncovers confidential sources. It does so with technological ease.

It renders confidentiality promises meaningless. If current interactions escape scrutiny, they're reconstructed later on.

Doing so compromises free data flows. Sources become reluctant to cooperate. Disclosing information Washington wants concealed entails risks.

Suppressing what people need to know compromises press freedom. Advanced data storage technology creates another potential risk.

"It provides a deep breeding ground for artificial intelligence systems, which may in the future lead to more efficient, even predictive, spying machines," said CPJ.

Washington and other governments will spot what they most wish to know. Perhaps they'll do it in advance.

Imagine the potential ability to discover things before they happen. Unless checked, out-of-control spying may destroy press freedom entirely. Maybe all freedoms.

Perhaps what's ongoing now is prelude to much worse. CPJ interviewed William Binney. America is "a police state," he said. Mass spying is "a totalitarian process."

NSA monitors all journalists. It maintains "a record of all of them so (it) can investigate, so (it) can look at who they'll calling - who are the potential sources that they're involved  in, what probable stories they're working on, and things like that."

National security expert James Bamford told CPJ he believes certain journalists get extra scrutiny.

"If you're writing about national security or the NSA itself, they consider you...a national security danger, and so they feel justified in doing whatever they're doing," he said.

ACLU attorney Alex Abdo litigated against NSA. At issue are compromised constitutionally guaranteed free speech and privacy rights.

"(A)ll reporters should be worried," he believes. Different things affect them.

"Reporters who work for the largest media organizations should be worried probably primarily because their sources will dry up as (they) recognize that there is no way to cover their trail."

Independent journalists may be targeted. They're vulnerable on their own. They lack "institutional protections" MSM reporters get.

When questioned, NSA consistently lies. Spokeswoman Vanee Vines told CPJ:

"NSA is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid foreign intelligence targets in order to protect the nation and its interests from threats such as terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

It bears repeating what other articles explained. America's only threats are ones it invents.

Post-9/11, NSA spying uncovered zero terrorist threats. None! Claims otherwise are false.

Obama lied saying "US intelligence agencies (are) anchored in a system of checks and balances - with oversight from elected leaders, and protections for ordinary citizens."

He lied claiming mass surveillance "prevented multiple attacks and saved lives - not just here in the United States, but around the globe."

He lied saying federal courts and congressional oversight curbed "some of the worst excesses that emerged after 9/11..."

He lied saying he ordered "increased oversight and auditing, including new structures aimed at compliance."

He lied claiming nothing he's seen "indicate(s) that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of (American) citizens."

He lied saying "the men and women of the intelligence community, including the NSA, consistently follow protocols designed to protect the privacy of ordinary people."

He lied claiming "(t)hey're not abusing authority in order to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails."

He lied saying "(w)hen mistakes are made...they correct" them.

He lied saying "our intelligence community follows the law."

He lied claiming terrorist threats "are not going away any time soon. They are going to continue to be a major problem."

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) head James Clapper is an acknowledged perjurer. He belatedly admitted lying to Congress.

Senator Ron Wyden asked him: "Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans?"

"No sir," said Clapper, "not wittingly." Facing perjury charges he wrote Senate Select Committee on Intelligence chairwoman Diane Feinstein. He apologized for "clearly erroneous" remarks under oath.

Russell Tice is a former Office of Naval Intelligence/Defense Intelligence Agency/NSA analyst. His career spanned 20 years.

Earlier he accused NSA of unconstitutionally wiretapping US citizens, saying:

"Everyone at NSA knew what they were doing was illegal, because it’s drilled into our heads over and over that it's against NSA policy, that you do not do that. The choice is to speak out and get fired."

Tice personally witnessed agency spying on news organizations and journalists.

Former army intelligence Sgt. Adrienne Kinne said she monitored phone conversations between journalists in Iraq and their spouses and editors.

Snowden revelations explained much more. Clapper lied to Congress claiming he caused "profound damage."

He exposed lawless spying. He connected important dots for millions. He told people what they need to know. 

He's outrageously charged under the 1917 Espionage Act. It's a WW I relic. It has no relevancy today. 

Obama uses against whistleblowers. He targeted more than all his predecessors combined.

Snowden charges include:

  • "Theft of government property;

  • Unauthorized Communication of National Defense Information (and)

  • Willful Communication of Classified Intelligence Information to an Unauthorized Person."

Bradley (Chelsea) Manning was prosecuted for revealing serious war crimes. He got 35 years in prison for acting responsibly.

Journalists revealing what Washington wants suppressed are vulnerable. Last October, NSA chief General Keith Alexander expressed no patience with journalists investigating agency activities.

"I think it's wrong that newspaper reporters have all these documents, 50,000 or whatever they have, and are selling them and giving them out as these - you know it just doesn't make sense," he said.

"We ought to come up with a way of stopping it. I don't know how to do that..."

"(T)hat's more (for) the courts and the policy makers, but from my perspective it's wrong, and to allow this to go on is wrong."

Most journalists may not end up in NSA's crosshairs, said CPJ. All journalists need to know they're monitored. They're vulnerable if writing about affairs of state and related issues.

It's impossible to know everything NSA collects, said CPJ. It's enough to give everyone pause.

Constitutional violations threaten fundamental freedoms. They're eroding en route to perhaps disappearing altogether.

Computer security expert Bruce Schneier compares meta-data collection and analysis to hiring a private detective to snoop on someone's activities and associations.

"The result would be details of what he did: where he went, who he talked to, what he looked at, what he purchased - how he spent his day," said Schneier.

Bamford calls meta-data surveillance especially dangerous to journalists, saying:

"It’s always dangerous when the government has access to journalists' communication because what journalists guarantee sources is confidentiality, and if there's no such thing as confidentiality from the government, it would inhibit the future cooperation from sources." 

This gravely compromises investigative journalism. If government "see(s) all the numbers you're calling, they're able to tell pretty much what kind of story you're working on, even without getting (its) content..." 

"They're able to tell what the nature of the story is, (and names of) sources you're dealing with."

Binney said NSA didn't build its sophisticated Utah facility for transactional data alone. It's for collecting and storing "content of communications, not just metadata," he stressed.

"They are building more and more storage because they're collecting" vast amounts of data.

They "take everything" off communication lines "and store it." Information is "indexed to the graph of lives and social networks."

NSA can access content to determine a timeline of people's relationships. Binney believes the agency has content and meta-data for the past dozen years. 

Unless checked, imagine how much more it'll have ahead. "(T)he more data you get, the more capacity you have to see into somebody,'s life," said Binney.

Technological advances let NSA spy in unprecedented ways. Journalists have to rethink how they communicate with sources.

"The NSA is gathering power and (it's) gathering more capabilities and more eavesdropping, more invasive technologies," said Bamford.

"At the same time, (it's) deceiving the very weak organizations that are supposed to be the oversight mechanisms - the Congress and the FISA Court." 

"I think it's a very worrying situation, not just for journalists, but for anybody."

Over 100 years ago, former Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called sunlight "the best of disinfectants." He couldn't imagine how badly it's needed now.

A Final Comment

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) called February 11 "The Day We Fight Back."

It joined "thousands of websites in protesting (against) mass (NSA) surveillance…" It used its web site "as a platform for users to speak out against spying abuses..."

It helped them contact congressional members easily. Oppose the FISA Improvement Act, it said. Support the USA Freedom Act.

Protests were held in cities worldwide. People fought back for freedoms too important to lose.

On February 12, EFF asked "How Big Was the Day We (Fought) Back?" It showed a visual image of Michigan Stadium filled to capacity. It holds 109,901 people.

Imagine two MSs filled to capacity, said EFF. Imagine everyone in them "doing the same thing at the same time - contacting Congress and demanding an end to mass surveillance."

You'd be thousands short of nearly 250,000 Americans doing it. They called. They emailed. They demanded Congress support their rights.

Another 200,000 + participated in organized actions worldwide.

At peak times, congressional members were bombarded with over 7,000 calls an hour. EFF stressed what it said before.

February 11 wasn't a one-time action. EFF began challenging lawless NSA spying almost a decade ago. "(W)e're not going to stop now," it said.

Hundreds of thousands of people speaking out is "amazing," it added. "We're proud to have taken part" in what's so important.

EFF expressed gratitude to "many, many" other participants. Freedom isn't something handed out without struggle.

Getting rights requires fighting for them. The same holds for keeping them. Key is not letting energy wane. 

Sustaining it makes winning struggles possible. What's more precious than fundamental freedoms for all.

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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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

Unconstitutional Protect Academic Freedom Act

Unconstitutional Protect Academic Freedom Actby Stephen LendmanOn February 6, Rep. Peter Roskam's (R. IL) press release headlined "Roskam, Lipinski Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Protect Academic Freedom by Preventing Academic Boycott of Israel."O...

Enslavement Of America – Best Speech Ever By Communism Escapee (Video)

By Susan Duclos


Ladies and gentlemen, the statement shown in the video below is six minutes long and should be seen by every single citizen of the United States of America, man, woman and child. 


At a public hearing on proposed gun control legislation, Manuel Martinez, a man who escaped Cuba in 1962 after opposing Fidel Castro and being imprisoned for it, blasts Oregon gun control lawmakers in an impassioned speech that only someone that has lived through communism and Marxism, only someone that watched innocent men, women and children murdered by their own government, only someone that fought against his whole country being enslaved by a dictator, can give.


“They come here in those dog and pony show and cry that their going to protect people. You're going to protect nobody! I want to know what is behind it? Do you know what is behind the problem we have in this country with it's Marxism," Martinez said.

He continues, saying "Marxism is not coming, Marxism is here! Marxism has been in this country for quite a while now. And the politicians allow that because they are ignorant or they're part of the plot!"

“Don’t sell me this. A very powerful man tried to sell me this 50-something years ago, I didn’t buy it, do you think I am going to buy it now after pushing 80 years?" Martinez said. “This is Marxism, plain and clear.”

“They put this dog and pony show saying hey, we are going to protect you. No, what they did was enslave a country,” Martinez said. “They destroyed a country the same way that this country is going to be destroyed if we continue in this fashion. This is what you’re selling here!” Martinez said, holding up old communist magazines from Cuba and stating "This is what you selling here!! You are not selling protection! You don't care about if we die or live!  THIS IS WHAT YOU'RE SELLING!!!

That is just a a portion of this man's statement, watch the entire video as Manuel Martinez speaks up and fights for your rights guaranteed to you under the US constitution.



The fact that an immigrant, a man who fled to the US to escape tyranny and a dictator like Fidel Castro, is willing to stand up, speak out and fight harder for OUR constitutional rights than half the people who were born free in America, says so much about how clueless some Americans truly are to how close to being totally enslaved we are at this moment in time.





Cross posted at Before It's News




Free Expression on Trial in Israel

Free Expression on Trial in Israel

by Stephen Lendman

Israel mocks democratic values. It has no borders. It's to steal Palestinian land.

It has no constitution. Basic laws substitute. They fall woefully short. Ones in place are ignored.

Universally recognized rights are compromised. They include life, liberty and security. They assure privacy. They prohibit cruel and unusual punishments.

They assure everyone equal protection under the law. No distinction can be made based on race, nationality, ethnicity, gender or religious preference.

They guarantee free expression, free assembly, free movement, and free thought. They assure adequate food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, education and other vital services. 

They guarantee government of, by and for everyone equitably and fairly.

Israel is no democracy. It never was. For sure it's not now. It wants critics silenced. Legislation, policies and judicial rulings violate free speech, a free press, freedom of assembly and freedom of religion.

Military censors have final say on published content. They can prohibit material called harmful to national security. True or false doesn't matter.

Israel's Supreme Court limits content suppression to "tangible (or) near certain" instances of public endangerment. Interpretations are crucial.

Israeli authorities are hardline. Rulings are twisted advantageously. Others are ignored. Fundamental rights are systematically violated. Police state justice prevails.

Anat Kamm is Israel's Bradley (Chelsea) Manning. In October 2011, she was prosecuted for whistleblowing. 

She exposed Israeli crimes against humanity. They involved targeted Palestinian assassinations. Ordering them violates international law. Nothing justifies murder.

Kamm was initially charged with espionage. Plea bargaining reduced charges. Prior to conviction, she spent two years under house arrest. 

Tel Aviv's District Court gave her 54 months imprisonment. It added another 18 months suspended sentence.

It did so on charges of collecting, holding and passing on classified material without authorization. She justifiably exposed wrongdoing. It didn't matter. 

She was imprisoned. On December 31, 2012, Israel's High Court shortened her sentence to three and a half years. Her 18 month suspended sentence remained.

On January 15, Israel's Prison Service parole board approved her early release. It did so for good behavior.

On January 26, she was freed. It's after serving two years. Her conviction violated press freedoms. 

Journalists are supposed to report government wrongdoing. It's their job to hold culpable officials responsible.

Not in America. Not in Israel. Potential prison time awaits those who try. Others are vulnerable for demonstrating publicly.

Daphni Leef is a video artist, editor and social activist. Neoliberal harshness is official Israeli policy. Social inequality is extreme. 

Recent data show nearly 40% of Israeli families can't cover monthly expenses. Poverty affects growing numbers. Children and seniors are most vulnerable. Activist Israelis want change.

In summer 2011 and 2012, they rallied across Israel. Leef was a Tel Aviv tent camp organizer.

Israelis want long denied social justice. America, Britain and Israel are the most unjust developed societies. Neoliberal harshness writ large is policy.

Wealth, power and privilege matter more than human need. For two consecutive summers, Israelis said no more. 

Grievances they demanded addressing still fester. Things are worse now than then. Issues include:

  • unaffordable housing;

  • high food and energy prices;

  • low wages and eroding social benefits;

  • onerous taxes;

  • education and healthcare increasingly dependent on the ability to pay;

  • weak labor rights;

  • construction funding disproportionately allocated for settlement development; and 

  • the high cost of raising children.

Instead of addressing vital issues responsibly, Israeli officials ignore them. Privilege alone matters. Most Israelis increasingly are on their own, sink or swim.

Israeli police violence resembles America's. Peaceful protesters are viciously targeted. They're brutalized. They're arrested. They're treated like criminals.

Daphni Leef is Exhibit A. On June 22, 2012, Israeli police targeted her. They beat her. They acted on government orders to do so.

They dragged her out of a group of peaceful demonstrators. They did it violently. They threw her to the ground. 

She tried protecting herself from repeated blows. She sustained multiple injuries doing so. They included a broken arm.

Police claimed peacefully protesting was illegal. They said authorization was needed to do so. 

They lied claiming Leef and other demonstrators "disturbed the peace in a way that could intimidate" public order.

They wrongfully accused her of leading "angry demonstrators and encourag(ing) their acts against inspectors and policemen."

She and 11 others were arrested. They joined hundreds of other protestors. They rallied under the banner "Emergency protest! Returning power to the people."

They headed for Rothschild Blvd. In summer 2011, rallies, marches and tent cities were prominent there for weeks.

Leef and others planned more tent city activism. They were brutally targeted to prevent it. Police states operate this way. Israel is one of the worst.

Arab citizens are treated like fifth column threats. Dissenting Jews are treated like criminals.

Leef was forcefully dragged to a police van. She was thrown inside. Witnesses won't forget what happened. Police violence leaves lasting memories. 

Last June, Leef refused plea bargain terms. They required false self-incrimination. In return, she'd perform 60 hours of community service. She declined to settle for anything less than all charges dropped.

They wrongfully accuse her of participating in a riot, using force and threats, resisting arrest, and obstructing police.

In January 2013, she was formally charged. Days passed before she knew. Summoning to a Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court hearing alerted her.

She requested a postponement. She needed time to study charges. The court acquiesced. She rejects all charges.

"I've been fighting to make (Israel) a better place for a year and a half now," she said. "There's something crazy about receiving an indictment that has no basis in reality."

She protested peacefully. She acted responsibly. Cops responded like thugs. They belong in the dock, not her.

Attorney Gabi Lasky represents her.  Days after the incident, police admitted "arrest(ing) (her) was a mistake," she said.

"We'll prove that this indictment is an even greater mistake," she added.

On February 3, Haaretz editors headlined "Leave Daphni Leef alone," saying:

Police conduct "should be seen as a scare tactic aimed at deterring future demonstrators." 

The evidentiary phase of Leef's trial began days earlier. They reflect Kafkaesque proceedings. They mock legitimacy.

"…Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino (began) to comprehend the injustice and the damage entailed in (Leef's) show trial," said Haaretz editors.

They'll reexamine criminal proceedings, they said. Evidence so far is woefully lacking. 

It shows "video footage in which Leef does not even appear and testimony from a police special forces officer who said he saw Leef shove another officer, the identity of whom he could not remember."

Magistrate Court Judge Shamai Becker wasn't pleased. He criticized poor quality evidence presented. Other video clips showed police using brutal force against Leef.

It proves their culpability. Leef was brutally victimized. "It raises questions about the officers’ credibility and the motivation of the police in this affair," said Haaretz editors.

TheMarker is an Israeli publication. It interviewed Leef. "On the one hand I sit in court and know what a gap there is between what really happened and what the witnesses said, and on the other hand I understand how much this is a matter of the system," she said. 

Weinstein and Danino "must put an end to the Leef affair," said Haaretz editors. They must "compel the police to retreat from the criminal proceedings against her."

They violate "fundamental democratic principles." Doing so is longstanding Israeli policy. Haaretz editors didn't explain.

Leef is one of many victims. Many face false charges. Some react their own way.

In July 2012, Moshe Silman died for justice. He self-immolated. 

He left a letter saying:

"The state of Israel stole from me and robbed me. It left me helpless."

"Two Housing and Construction Ministry committees rejected me, even though I had a stroke."

Disabled and disheartened, he couldn't survive on his monthly $582 allowance. "I can't even live month to month," he said. "I won't be homeless, and so I am protesting."

He blamed "the state of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz for the humiliation that the weakened citizens go through every day, taking from the poor and giving to the rich."

During a 2012 July 14 street protest, he poured gasoline on his body, self-immolated and died days later. He was too far gone to save.

Israel betrayed him like many others. Rights are systematically denied. Imagine dying for social justice. Rallies supported Silman after his death.

They did so under the slogan: "We're all Moshe Silman - The Blood is on the Government's Hands."

Targeting Leef represents Inquisition justice. She deserves widespread support. Doing the right thing demands it. 

Israel is one of the most socially unjust developed countries. Conditions go from bad to worse. Leef and likeminded activists demand change. It's more than ever needed.

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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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

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Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli technician at the Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev desert exposed Israel’s nuclear program to the world in the 1986 Sunday Times (UK).  Vanunu was kidnapped in Italy by Mossad agents and brought to Israel to face an Israeli court.  He was convicted and imprisoned for more than 18 years at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, Israel.  Half of his prison term was in solitary confinement.  He was eventually released in 2004.  Since then, Vanunu has been arrested and even imprisoned for violating his parole.  He was also arrested for trying to leave Israel at one time.  Former Israeli Prime Minister and Noble Peace Prize winner Shimon Peres said “he was a traitor to this country”.

Since Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; the Dimona Nuclear Research center is not subject to inspections from the international community such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  According to the Federation of American Scientists in a 2007 report, Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, but some estimates have their nuclear warheads at less than 200. It is also known that Israel has the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 5,500 kilometers or 3,400 miles, the Jericho III missile named after the biblical city of Jericho, various aircrafts and of course submarines.  The report stated the following:

By the late 1990s the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types. Some published estimates even claimed that Israel might have as many as 400 nuclear weapons by the late 1990s. We believe these numbers are exaggerated, and that Israel’s nuclear weapons inventory may include less than 100 nuclear weapons. Stockpiled plutonium could be used to build additional weapons if so decided

Israel’s nuclear program began after World War II.  Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion once said “What Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Teller, the three of them are Jews, made for the United States, could also be done by scientists in Israel, for their own people”.  David Ben-Gurion wanted to establish a Jewish State with a military force that would repel an attack by any of its adversaries especially in the Arab world.  Ben-Gurion’s speech to the elected assembly of Palestine Jews on October 2nd, 1947 made it clear on the intentions of a new Jewish state:

Political developments have swept us on to a momentous parting of the ways – from Mandate to independence. Today, beyond our ceaseless work in immigration, settlement and campaign, we are set three blazing tasks, whereof fulfillment will condition our perpetuity: defense, a Jewish State and Arab-Jewish Cupertino, in that order of importance and urgency.

Security is our chief problem. I do not minimize the virtue of statehood even within something less than all the territory of the Land of Israel on either bank of the Jordan; but security comes unarguably first. It dominated our concerns since the Yishuv [Jewish community in Palestine] began from the start of colonization we knew we must, in the main, guarantee it ourselves. But recent upsets and upheavals in Palestine, in the Middle East and in the wide world, and in British and international politics as well, magnify it from a local problem of current safety into Zionism’s hinge of destiny. In scope, in intensity, in purport, it is entirely different now. Just think of the new factors that invest the problem with a political significance of unprecedented gravity – and I could add a dozen others: the anti-Zionist policy pursued by the Mandatory Government during the past ten years, the obliteration of European Jewry with the willing aid of the acknowledged leader of the Palestine Arabs, the establishment of an Arab League active and united only in combating Zionism, Bevin’s ugly war against the Jews, the crisis in Britain and its political and economic aftermath, the creation of armed forces in the neighboring States, the intrusion of the Arab Legion. And not a single Jewish unit exists.

We can stand up to any aggression launched from Palestine or its border, but more in potential than yet in fact. The conversion from potential to actual is now our major, blinding headache. It will mean the swiftest, widest mobilization, here and abroad, of capacity to organize, of our resources in economics and manpower, our science and technology, our civic sense. It must be an all-out effort, sparing no man.

Several months later on May 14th, 1948, the state of Israel became a reality with David Ben-Gurion as its first Prime Minister.  Ben-Gurion, Executive head of the World Zionist Organization in 1946 until 1956 and the head of the influential Weizmann Institute of Science and Defense Ministry Scientist Ernest David Bergmann recruited Jewish Scientists from abroad during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.  Israel recruited and funded Jewish scientists to help Israel establish a nuclear program.  By 1949, the Israel Defense Forces Science Corps or ‘Hemed Gimmel’ was in search of Uranium in the Negev Desert, but only small amounts were discovered in phosphate deposits.  Hemed Gimmel financed several students to study nuclear technology overseas.  One of the students attended the University of Chicago to study under Enrico Fermi, who developed the Chicago Pile-1, the first nuclear reactor.  Fermi also made scientific contributions to nuclear, quantum and particle physics among others.  By the late 1950s Shimon Peres had established LEKEM, or the ‘Science liaison Bureau’ a new intelligence service that would search for technology, materials and equipment needed for Israel’s nuclear program.  By 1952, Hemed Gimmel was under Israel’s Ministry of Defense to become the Division of Research and Infrastructure (EMET).    By June 1952, The Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC) was established with Ernest David Bergmann as the first chairman.  Hemed Gimmel was renamed Machon 4 which became the “chief laboratory” of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC).  France was a major partner for Israel’s nuclear program.  France also sold weapons to Israel.  The France-Israel relationship was instrumental in the development of the Dimona Nuclear Research Center.  Israel signed American President Dwight Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace, an agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation between the U.S. and Israel along with Turkey to build a “small swimming pool research reactor” at Nachal Soreq.  It was the first step to building the Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev desert in collaboration with France who faced political turmoil in its former colonies in North Africa.  Israel also faced Arab hostilities in the Middle East, so the cooperation on matters regarding new military technology complemented each other.  On March 20, 1957 a public signing ceremony to build a “small swimming-pool research reactor” took place between France and Israel.  But the reality was that France and Israel collaborated to build a larger facility at Dimona.  In ‘Israel and the Bomb’ by Avner Cohen, he describes Ben Gurion’s ambitious plan regarding Israel’s nuclear program was advanced through the Atoms for Peace Initiative:

With the return of Ben Gurion to power in 1955, nuclear energy became a matter of national priority.  Ben Gurion gave political backing and financial support to those in the Ministry of Defense who were committed to promoting nuclear energy-Peres, Bergmann, Mardor, and the nuclear enthusiasts at Machon 4.  There was also a change in the international climate concerning nuclear energy, in the wake of Eisenhower’s December 1953 Atoms-for-Peace initiative.  Until then, nuclear energy in the United States, Canada, and Britain, the three major countries dealing with nuclear energy, was largely closed to other countries.  The Atoms for Peace Initiative made nuclear energy technology available to the rest of the world.     

The United States under President Eisenhower allowed Israel to seek a nuclear program that would advance its defense capabilities militarily.  By 1958, the construction of the Negev Nuclear Research Center located in the Negev desert in secret through the Protocol of Sevres agreement.   It was a secret agreement between Israel, France and Great Britain at Sevres, France to overthrow Egyptian President Gamal Abdul Nasser through an invasion of Egypt after Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal. Four days after the Sèvres meeting, Israeli forces invaded Egyptian territory.  French and British forces invaded shortly after they vetoed a US sponsored UN Security Council resolution under the guise that they would separate both Israeli and Egyptian forces after Egypt refused their call to withdraw from the Suez Canal.

In 1958, Charles de Gaulle became President of France.  Almost immediately after he assumed office, he wanted to end France’s assistance to Israel’s nuclear program.  He would only support Israel’s nuclear program if international inspectors were allowed to inspect Dimona and that Israel would declare that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes and that under no circumstances reprocess plutonium.  Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres negotiated with the French government allowing a window of opportunity for French companies to continue its work until 1966 with the Israeli government.  Israel also had declared its nuclear program was “peaceful”.  BBC News received secret documents that the British government also supported Israel’s nuclear program by sending illegal and restricted materials that started in the 1950′s.  In 1961, the Ben-Gurion informed the Canadian government that a pilot plutonium-separation plant would be built at the Dimona facility.  By 1962, the nuclear reactor at Dimona went “critical” meaning a critical mass with a small amount of fissile material was needed for a sustained nuclear chain reaction.  Shortly after, Israel secretly acquired more than 90 tons of uranium oxide (yellowcake) from Argentina to fuel the reactor.  By 1965 the Israeli reprocessing plant was completed and ready to convert the reactor’s fuel rods into weapons grade plutonium for a nuclear bomb.  After the Six-Day War, Israel went live producing nuclear weapons.  A new era began in the Middle East.  One that was a dangerous step to a nuclear disaster if Israel decided to use its nuclear weapons against an Arab country.      

In Seymour M. Hersh’s ‘The Samson Option: Israel’s Nuclear Arsenal and American Foreign Policy’ stated the concerns Israel’s leaders had, especially Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion if they did not obtain nuclear weapons.  Hersh wrote:

“What is Israel?” he was quoted by an aide as asking. “. . . Only a small spot. One dot! How can it survive in this Arab world?” Ben-Gurion believed that he understood Arab character and was persuaded that as long as Arabs thought they could destroy the Jewish state, there would be no peace and no recognition of Israel. Many Israelis, survivors of the Holocaust, came to believe in ein brera, or “no alternative,” the doctrine that Israel was surrounded by implacable enemies and therefore had no choice but to strike out. In their view, Hitler and Nasser were interchangeable. 

For these Israelis, a nuclear arsenal was essential to the survival of the state. In public speeches throughout the 1950s, Ben Gurion repeatedly linked Israel’s security to its progress in science.  “Our security and independence require that more young people devote themselves to  science and research, atomic and electronic research, research of solar energy . . . and the like,” he told the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in November 1955.

 Ernst Bergmann explicitly articulated the ein brera fears in a letter two years later: “I am convinced . . . that the State of Israel needs a defense research program of its own, so that we shall never again be as lambs led to the slaughter.” 

Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres, and Ernst Bergmann believed that Israel’s independent arsenal finally could provide what President Eisenhower would not—the nuclear umbrella.

Israel’s nuclear program was built on the belief that it had “no alternative” but to build a nuclear weapon to deter Arab aggression.  Their experience with the Holocaust justifies their intentions on maintaining their nuclear weapons.  Israel’s believes that another Holocaust can be prevented, this time not from Germany but from Iran.  But many Israeli’s during the development stages of nuclear weapons were not keen on obtaining a nuclear bomb because of the Holocaust:

Less compelling to the military men was the moral argument against the bomb raised by some on the left and in academia: that the Jewish people, victims of the Holocaust, had an obligation to prevent the degeneration of the Arab-Israeli dispute into a war of mass destruction” Stated Hersh.  “ Those who held that view did not underestimate the danger of a conventional arms race, but believed that, as Simha Flapan, their passionate spokesman, wrote, “the qualitative advantages of Israel—social cohesion and organization, education and technical skills, intelligence and moral incentive—can be brought into play only in a conventional war fought by men.”

Another aspect of Israel’s foreign policy one should consider is the ‘Samson Option,’ a policy that calls for a retaliation using nuclear weapons against an enemy who threatens the Jewish homeland of its existence.  Hersh explains:

Dimona’s supporters had convinced most of the leadership that only nuclear weapons could provide the absolute and final deterrent to the Arab threat, and only nuclear weapons could convince the Arabs—who were bolstered by rapidly growing Soviet economic and military aid—that they must renounce all plans for military conquest of Israel and agree to a peace settlement. With a nuclear arsenal there would be no more Masadas in Israel’s history, a reference to the decision of more than nine hundred Jewish defenders—known as the Zealots—to commit suicide in A.D. 73 rather than endure defeat at the hands of the Romans.

In its place, argued the nuclear advocates, would be the Samson Option. Samson, according to the Bible, had been captured by the Philistines after a bloody fight and put on display, with his eyes torn out, for public entertainment in Dagon’s Temple in Gaza. He asked God to give him back his strength for the last time and cried out, “Let my soul die with the Philistines.” With that, he pushed apart the temple pillars, bringing down the roof and killing himself and his enemies.  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.] 

In a White House press conference on May 18, 2009, US President Barack Obama’s concern about “the potential pursuit of a nuclear weapon by Iran.”  The United States and other Western nations have not announced any plans to disarm Israel’s nuclear weapons but rather focused its attention on Iran’s nuclear program.  Obama said “Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon would not only be a threat to Israel and a threat to the United States, but would be profoundly destabilizing in the international community as a whole and could set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.”  Israel already won the arms race in the Middle East.  What is to stop Israel’s “Zealot” mentality from using nuclear weapons in the Middle East?  Israel has threatened Iran in the past.  In a 2006 interview with Reuters former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres “the president of Iran should remember that Iran can also be wiped off the map.” It was a response after a false claim Israel and its allies made on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s comment in a 2005 speech at the Ministry of Interior conference hall in Tehran called “The World without Zionism” when he said Israel must be “wiped off the map” which was misinterpreted.  Earlier this year, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak said that the US and Israel would take action against Iran, “I don’t see it as a binary kind of situation: either they [the Iranians] turn nuclear or we have a fully fledged war the size of the Iraqi war or even the war in Afghanistan,” Barak continued “What we basically say is that if worse comes to worst, there should be a readiness and an ability to launch a surgical operation that will delay them by a significant time frame and probably convince them that it won’t work because the world is determined to block them.”  Rouhani is seeking negotiations that would put Iran, the United States and Israel on a path to a peaceful resolution.  One that will recognize Iran’s right to a “peaceful” nuclear program for its country so that they can export more oil and use the revenues it earned for the benefit of the Iranian people.  But do not expect any significant breakthrough between Iran and the US/Israel alliance that seeks to dominate the Middle East politically, economically and militarily.

The Obama administration is not seeking any negotiations with Iran unless they stop its nuclear program which will not happen.  Iran will insist that they are signatories to the NPT and have an “inalienable right” to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  Israel will not be a signatory to the NPT because “This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical. It ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world” according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Another reason Israel will not sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty is because they are victims of the Holocaust which is why they have violated hundreds of U.N. Security Council resolutions and has used chemical weapons on the Palestinians.  The talks between Iran and the US that will be held in Geneva will fail come this October because the US wants to dominate Iran.  Iran has its principles it will stand by, but so will the US on Israel’s behalf.  The US and its staunch allies want Syria, Lebanon, the Gaza strip and the West Bank and every nation on earth under their rule.  That is the plan.

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Paul Krugman makes a point in this post about Cyprus that I’d like use to make a broader and more important point. His point is that Cyprus is already off the euro and has created its own currency, the Cyprus Euro, which at the moment is pegged to the other euro at 1:1. Why is a euro in a Cyprus bank different from other euros? Because you can’t move it freely, so it has less real value. (Read here to see why he thinks that; also here.)

My point, though, is a little different. My point is about unrestricted free trade and capital flow in general and why understanding both is crucial to understanding:

▪ The neoliberal free-trade project, and
▪ Wealth inequality in America

But don’t let your eyes glaze over; this is not hard to understand. It just has a few odd terms in it. Please stick with me.

There’s a straight line between “free-trade” — a prime tenet of both right-wing Milton Friedman thinking and left-wing Bill Clinton–Robert Rubin neoliberalism — and wealth inequality in America. In fact, if the billionaires didn’t have the one (a global free-trade regime) they couldn’t have the other (your money in their pocket). And the whole global “all your money are belong to us”  process has only three moving parts. Read on to see them. Once you “get it,” you’ll get it for a long time.

What does “free trade” mean?

In its simplest terms, “free trade” means one thing only — the ability of people with capital to move that capital freely, anywhere in the world, seeking the highest profit. It’s been said of Bush II, for example, that “when Bush talks of ‘freedom’, he doesn’t mean human freedom, he means freedom to move money.” (Sorry, can’t find a link.)

At its heart, free trade doesn’t mean the ability to trade freely per se; that’s just a byproduct. It means the ability to invest freely without governmental constraint. Free trade is why factories in China have American investors and partners — because you can’t bring down manufacturing wages in Michigan and Alabama if you can’t set up slave factories somewhere else and get your government to make that capital move cost-free, or even tax-incentivized, out of your supposed home country and into a place ripe for predation.

Can you see why both right-wing kings (Koch Bros, Walmart-heir dukes and earls, Reagan I, Bush I and II) and left-wing honchos (Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, Barack Obama) make “free trade” the cornerstone of each of their economic policies? It’s the song of the rich, and they all sing it.

I’ve shown this video before, but it bears repeating. When you think about “free trade,” you probably think of the Walmart heirs (or Apple owners) wallowing in wealth from the world’s slave factories. But it’s a joint project by all of our owners (sorry, major left- and right-wing campaign contributors and job creators).

This is Barack Obama making his case for campaign funding to Robert (Hi “Bob”) Rubin and others in 2006:

Brand-New Senator Barack Obama, 2006
The opening of Robert Rubin’s Hamilton Project Thinktank

At 1:20: “The forces of globalization have changed the rules of the game,” and at 5:52: “Most of us are strong free-traders.” (His “yes-but” to Rubin in that second segment is an appeal to actually do the worthless retraining for non-existent jobs that Clinton earlier supported but never did. See? Pushback. Independence.)

Three things to note:

1. The “forces of globalization” he refers to are not acts of god, whether Yahweh, Juno or Joxer. They were created by the Clinton- and Rubin-crafted CAFTA and NAFTA treaties. If a god did it, that god also caused a certain blue dress to need a dry-cleaning it never got.

2. If Obama doesn’t say what he just said in that room, he doesn’t get a Rubinite dime for his next political campaign. Period. This is his application speech.

3. Never forget that if Oklahoma knuckle-dragger Sam Walton were in that room, or not-America-first Steve Jobs, Obama would say those same words. “Most of us are strong free-traders.” It’s the tie that binds the left and the right. Bind yourself to Obama economically, and you’re tied to the Waltons. Period.

Bonus points for noting that the push to roll back social insurance is part of the NeoLiberal agenda, for example at 1:30 and elsewhere. It’s why we have the Obama Grand Betrayal, the Catfood Snack That Won’t Go Away (do click; there’s a kitty inside).

Finally, listen again to his opening praise of “Bob” Rubin and the others in the first 30 seconds or so. When Obama says that the men he’s praising have “put us on a pathway of prosperity,” what he means is that they’ve put themselves on a path to prosperity. This is wealth inequality in action, wealth inequality on the hoof. Those slave-wage jobs in China (or Indonesia or the Philippines) replace the unionized, high-paying wages you don’t have and will never get back; the men in that room, including Obama, are the reason; and “free trade” is both the cover story and the tool (more on that duality below).

Never forget — “Free trade” is a bipartisan, hands-across-the-aisle screwage of American incomes and wealth. It’s the necessary cornerstone of both left-wing and right-wing economic policy. Period.

The three tools of wealth extraction

Free trade is a primary tool of wealth extraction. What are the others?

Recall that corporations aren’t actors per se, they are machines by which wealth is vacuumed from workers and consumers into the hands and pockets of the corps’ true owners, the CEO and capital class. As we’ve said before:

(1) Corporations are not people, and they don’t have ideas or will. They are empty vessels. If you took a neutron bomb to the home office of MegaCorp.com and let it rip, the building, filled to the brim with inventory and IP, would be empty of humans and a dead thing. You could wait for weeks for the offices to act; they wouldn’t.

(2) This is especially true today, since the corporation now serves a different function than it was designed for. At first, a corporation served to make its stockholders moderately wealthy — or at least wealthier.

Modern corporations serve one function only — to make the CEO class obscenely rich.

The looting of global wealth into the hands of the capital and CEO class is a simple two-step process: Corps use free trade to loot the world. CEOs then loot the corps and live higher and better than the kings and presidents they control.

Yes, “kings and presidents they control.” The only thing needed to make the looting worldwide is government protection. If the capital class doesn’t control government, they can’t institute … global free trade regimes. And there you have it. So what are the three tools needed by the capital-controlling class?

  • CEO capture of corporations
  • Wealth capture of government
  • A global free-trade regime

And that’s all it takes. With those three tools in your pocket, you can loot and own the world, literally.

Hmm, we have all three now. “Mission accomplished,” as they say in private jet circles.

Free trade keeps the rest of the world in crisis

And now we come back to Krugman. A direct consequence of a world in which capital flow is completely unrestricted is constant economic crisis. The Professor explains that well in the context of the Cyprus problem (my emphasis and some reparagraphing):

Whatever the final outcome in the Cyprus crisis … one thing seems certain: for the time being, and probably for years to come, the island nation will have to maintain fairly draconian controls on the movement of capital in and out of the country. …

That’s quite a remarkable development. It will mark the end of an era for Cyprus, which has in effect spent the past decade advertising itself as a place where wealthy individuals who want to avoid taxes and scrutiny can safely park their money, no questions asked. But it may also mark at least the beginning of the end for something much bigger: the era when unrestricted movement of capital was taken as a desirable norm around the world. …

Then he compares the era of capital control to the era of capital freedom:

It wasn’t always thus. In the first couple of decades after World War II, limits on cross-border money flows were widely considered good policy; they were more or less universal in poorer nations, and present in a majority of richer countries too. Britain, for example, limited overseas investments by its residents until 1979; other advanced countries maintained restrictions into the 1980s. Even the United States briefly limited capital outflows during the 1960s.

But like all good things, that changed:

Over time, however, these restrictions fell out of fashion. To some extent this reflected the fact that capital controls have potential costs: they impose extra burdens of paperwork, they make business operations more difficult, and conventional economic analysis says that they should have a negative impact on growth (although this effect is hard to find in the numbers). But it also reflected the rise of free-market ideology, the assumption that if financial markets want to move money across borders, there must be a good reason, and bureaucrats shouldn’t stand in their way.

What marks the difference between those two eras, the era of capital control and our current free-trade era? Near-constant economic crisis:

[U]unrestricted movement of capital is looking more and more like a failed experiment. It’s hard to imagine now, but for more than three decades after World War II financial crises of the kind we’ve lately become so familiar with hardly ever happened.

Since 1980, however, the roster has been impressive: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 1982. Sweden and Finland in 1991. Mexico again in 1995. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea in 1998. Argentina again in 2002. And, of course, the more recent run of disasters: Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus.

Notice the date of change? “Since 1980, however…” Him again. This is not just a coincidence. The Reagan era didn’t just initiate national looting, but international looting as well. Krugman ties these crises, here and elsewhere, to large and unrestricted inflows of capital, followed by large and unrestricted outflows that create economic bubbles, then leave them thoroughly deflated:

[T]he best predictor of crisis is large inflows of foreign money: in all but a couple of the cases I just mentioned, the foundation for crisis was laid by a rush of foreign investors into a country, followed by a sudden rush out.

The rest of the piece shows that this idea doesn’t originate just with The Professor; it’s widely held by many not paid by Money to represent it in the court of public opinion.

There’s an opportunity in Spain, let’s say, to take advantage of cheap labor and prices. Money flows in, builds huge capacity, then flows out as soon as it finds better opportunity elsewhere. What’s left behind? The Spanish in a crashed economy, and in a world in which the holders of their debt (German bankers et al) are using the EU (remember, capture of government) to make sure that creditors are made whole at the expense of whole populations.

Kind of like how Walmart comes into a town, builds a huge store, drives all the other retailers out of business, then leaves as soon as the low-wage-earners in that town can’t keep the store more profitable than other stores in the state.

What’s left? The wreck of an economy. Where’s the money? In the pockets of the Walton family, ‘natch. Win-win for someone (but not for you).

Your “economic crisis” is just their “cost of doing business”

Keep in mind, the purpose of unrestricted “free trade” is to advantage the holders of capital over everyone else on the planet. Great wealth insulates these men and women from crises, so even global economic crisis is just the externalized price (that we pay) for their wealth extraction enterprise — just like a burdened health care system is the externalized price (that we pay) for wealth extraction by billionaire owners of tobacco companies from the constant stream of lung cancer patients.

What’s “a world in constant crisis” to them? Just the cost of doing business. Nothing personal. It’s just business.

Is free trade an ideology or a tool?

One last point. Framing free trade as an ideology may be technically correct in a few cases — there are true believers in almost anything (I believe in kittehs) — but if “free trade” weren’t a money machine for the wealthy, you’d never hear of it. Crickets, as the kids say.

Put simply, the reason you heard Barack Obama tout “strong free trade” with Robert Rubin in the room, is that bankers like Robert Rubin grow obscenely wealthy by financing billionaire store-owner Billy-Bob Walton’s slave factories in Asia.

And non-millionaire Barack Obama wants millionaire Bill Clinton’s post-presidential money — $80 million and counting. (Click the link for a stunning connection between public policy — in this case, the repeal of Glass-Steagal — and a post-presidential payday.)

Obama may not say he wants “Clinton money.” He might even know it, in that self-blind sense of “know.” But I’ve met lots of drunks who’ve explained themselves so long, they really do “know” they’re just “prone to be ill in the morning.” Right. Occam’s Switchblade, Upton Sinclair edition:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

“I’m doing it for the kids,” Obama edition.

Bottom line

The bottom line is simple: A “free trade” system is a regime in which capital always wins, everywhere. It’s the tool by which global wealth is extracted. It’s supported by both parties. The Democratic Party version is called NeoLiberalism. “NeoLiberal” means not-FDR-liberal in the same way that Tony Blair’s “New Labour” means not-Clement Attlee-Labour. Because, framing counts on CNN, and it’s always opposite day there.

And Barack Obama, Bringer and Betrayer of Hope and Change, is the lead NeoLiberal warrior, the point of the spear until 2016, at which point he’ll pass the torch to another testosterone-branded neoliberal, retire into the sunset of global acclaim, create his Foundation for NeoLiberal Love and Global Kittens, and collect his checks. (Or not.)

My suggestion, given the above — don’t help him. You have enough on your conscience, if you’re at all like the rest of us. Unless, of course, you like your economic crises served always on tap. In which case, do sign up.

What Was Wrong with Obama’s Speech in Jerusalem

It was master-crafted as an ingratiating speech by the world’s most important leader and the government that has most consistently championed Israel’s cause over the decades. Enthusiastically received by the audience of Israeli youth, and especially by liberal Jews around the world. Despite the venue, President Obama’s words in Jerusalem on March 21st seemed primarily intended to clear the air somewhat in Washington. Obama may now have a slightly better chance to succeed in his second legacy-building presidential term despite a deeply polarized U.S. Congress, and a struggling American economy if assessed from the perspective of workers’ distress rather than on the basis of robust corporate profits. President Barack Obama looks into the crowd and tries to hear a person yelling at him during his speech at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, Thursday, March 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

As for the speech itself, it did possess several redeeming features. It did acknowledge that alongside Israeli security concerns “Palestinian people’s right of self-determination, their right to justice must also be recognized.” This affirmation was followed by the strongest assertion of all: “..put yourself in their shoes. Look at the world through their eyes.” To consider the realities of the conflict through Palestinian eyes is to confront the ugly realities of prolonged occupation, annexationist settlement projects, an unlawful separation wall, generations confined to the misery of refugee camps and exile, second-class citizenship in Israel, ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem, and a myriad of regulations that make the daily life of Palestinians a narrative of humiliation and frustration. Of course, Obama did not dare to do this. None of these realities were specified, being left to the imagination of his audience of Israeli youth, but at least the general injunction to see the conflict through the eyes of the other pointed the way toward empathy and reconciliation.

Obama also encouraged in a helpful way Israeli citizen activism on behalf of a just peace based on two states for two peoples. A bit strangely he urged that “for the moment, put aside the plans and process” by which this goal might be achieved, and “instead..build trust between people.” Is this not an odd bit of advice? It seems a stretch to stress trust when the structures and practice of occupation are for the Palestinians unremittingly cruel, exploitative, and whittle away day after day at the attainability of a viable Palestinian state. But this farfetched entreaty was coupled with a more plausible plea: “I can promise you this: Political leaders will never take risks if the people do not push them to take some risks. You must create the change that you want to see. Ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things.” There is some genuine hope to be found in these inspirational words, but to what end given the present situation.

In my opinion the speech was deeply flawed in three fundamental respects:

  • by speaking only to Israeli youth, and not arranging a parallel talk in Ramallah to Palestinian youth, the role of the United States as ‘dishonest broker’ was brazenly confirmed; it also signaled that the White House was more interested in appealing to the folks in Washington than to those Palestinians trapped in the West Bank and Gaza, an interpretation reinforced by laying a wreath at the grave of Theodor Herzl but refusing to do so at the tomb of Yasir Arafat. This disparity of concern was further exhibited when Obama spoke of the children of Sderot in southern Israel, “the same age as my own daughters, who went to bed at night fearful that a rocket would land in their bedroom simply because of who they are and where they live.” To make such an observation without even mentioning the trauma-laden life of children on the other side of the border in Gaza who have been living for years under conditions of blockade, violent incursions, and total vulnerability year after year is to subscribe fully to the one-sided Israeli narrative as to the insecurity being experienced by the two peoples.
     
  • by speaking about the possibility of peace based on the two state consensus, the old ideas, without mentioning developments that have made more and more people skeptical about Israeli intentions is to lend credence to what seems more and more to be a delusionary approach to resolving the conflict. Coupling this with Obama’s perverse injunction to the leaders of the Middle East that seems willfully oblivious to the present set of circumstances makes the whole appeal seem out of touch: “Now’s the time for the Arab world to take steps towards normalizing relations with Israel.” How can now be the time, when just days earlier Benjamin Netanyahu announced the formation of the most right-wing, pro-settler government in the history of Israel, selecting a cabinet that is deeply dedicated to settlement expansion and resistant to the very idea of a genuine Palestinian state? It should never be forgotten that when the Palestinian Liberation Organization announced back in 1988 that it was prepared to make a sustained peace with Israel on the basis of the 1967 borders. By doing this, the Palestinians were making an extraordinary territorial concession that has never been reciprocated, and operationally repudiated by continuous settlement building. The move meant accepting a state limited to 22% of historic Palestine, or less than half of what the UN had proposed in its 1947 partition plan contained in GA Resolution 181, which at the time was seen as grossly unfair to the Palestinians and a plan put forward without taking account of the wishes of the resident population. To expect the Palestinians to be willing now to accept significantly less land than enclosed by these 1967 borders to reach a resolution of the conflict seems highly unreasonable, and probably not sustainable if it should be imprudently accepted by the Palestinian Authority.
     
  • by endorsing the formula two states for two peoples was consigning the Palestinian minority in Israel to permanent second-class citizenship without even being worthy of mention as a human rights challenge facing the democratic Israel that Obama was celebrating. As David Bromwich has pointed out [“Tribalism in the Jerusalem speech,”] http://mondoweiss.net/2013/03/tribalism-jerusalem-speech.html Obama was also endorsing a tribalist view of statehood that seem inconsistent with a globalizing world, and with secularist assumptions that a legitimate state should never be exclusivist in either its religious or ethnic character. Obama went out of his to affirm the core Zionist idea of a statist homeland where all Jews can most fully embrace their Jewishness: “Israel is rooted not just in history and tradition, but also in a simple and profound idea: the idea that people deserve to be free in a land of their own.” And with embedded irony no mention was made of the absence of any Palestinian right of return even for those who were coerced into fleeing from homes and villages that had been family residences for countless generations.

Such a regressive approach to identity and statehood was also by implication attributed to the Palestinians, also affirmed as a a lesser entitlement. But this is highly misleading, a false symmetry. The Palestinians have no guiding ethno-religious ideology that is comparable to Zionism. Their quest has been to recover rights under international law in the lands of their habitual residence, above all, the exercise of their inalienable right of self-determination in such a manner as to roll back the wider claims of settler colonialism that have been so grandiosely integral to the Greater Israel vision and practice of the Netanyahu government. And what of the 20% of the current population of Israel that lives under a legal regime that discriminates against them and almost by definition is a permanent consignment to second-class citizenship. Indeed, Obama’s speech was also an affront to many Israeli post-Zionists and secularists who do not affirm the idea of living under in a hyper-nationalist state with pretensions of religious endowments.

In my view, there are two conclusions to be drawn. (1) Until the rhetoric of seeing the realities of the situation through Palestinian eyes is matched by a consideration of the specifics, there is created a misleading impression that both sides hold equally the keys to peace, and both being at fault to the same extent for being unwilling to use them.  (2) It is a cruel distraction to urge a resumption of negotiations when Israel clearly lacks the political will to establish a viable and independent sovereign Palestinian state within 1967 borders and in circumstances in which the West Bank has been altered by continuous settlement expansion, settler only roads, the separation wall, and all the signs are suggesting that there is more of the same to come. Making matters even worse, Israel is taking many steps to ensure that Jerusalem never becomes the capital of whatever Palestinian entity eventually emerges, which is a severe affront not only to Palestinians and Arabs, but to the 1.4 billion Muslims the world over.

In retrospect, worse than speech was the visit itself. Obama should never have undertaken such the visit without an accompanying willingness to treat the Palestinian reality with at least equal dignity to that of the Israeli reality and without some indication of how to imagine a just peace based on two states for two peoples given the outrageous continuing Israeli encroachments on occupied Palestinian territory that give every indication of permanence, not to mention the non-representation and collective punishment of the Gazan population of 1.5 million. Obama made no mention of the wave of recent Palestinian hunger strikes or the degree to which Palestinians have shifted their tactics of resistance away from a reliance on armed struggle.  It is perverse to heap praise on the oppressive occupier, ignore nonviolent tactics of Palestinian resistance and the surge of global solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and then hypocritically call on both peoples to move forward toward peace by building relations of trust with one another. On what planet has Mr. Obama been living? 

© 2013 Richard Falk

Richard Falk

Richard Falk is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. An international law and international relations scholar who taught at Princeton University for forty years, since 2002 Falk has lived in Santa Barbara, California, and taught at the local campus of the University of California in Global and International Studies and since 2005 chaired the Board of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. Read more articles by .

Turkey Targets Press Freedom

No country imprisons more journalists than Turkey. Ragip Zarakolu understands well. He's a prominent human rights activist/publisher. He's a former Nobel Peace Prize nominee. He's been maliciously targeted for years.

HRW calls for freedom of Saudi activist

Saudi protesters hold a demonstration in Eastern Province. (file photo)

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Saudi Arabia to release a rights group founder and a former judge, who was imprisoned in 2011.

HRW said on Wednesday that Sulaiman al-Rashudi, who was one of 16 people arrested in 2007 and sentenced to a 15-year jail term in November 2011, should be released immediately, AFP reported.

"Saudi authorities should immediately release and drop all charges against," Rashudi, who was detained “for peacefully trying to establish a human rights organization in Jeddah," and for "breaking allegiance to the king," HRW said.


Rashudi was the founder of the Saudi Association of Civil and Political Rights.

HRW added that Rashudi also faced "other charges that arose entirely from his peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of association."

Four of those arrested along with Rashudi are facing similar charges and are still in prison.

"The 11 others detained in 2007 were sentenced to prison terms of up to 25 years in 2010, but were released on bail after agreeing to sign pledges that they will not engage in further activity that the authorities consider unlawful," HRW said.

In April 2011, Rashudi was released on bail, but he was detained again in December 2011 after he gave a speech in the capital Riyadh, backing anti-regime demonstrations in the country.

There have been numerous demonstrations in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province since February 2011, with protestors calling for political reform.

Anti-government protests have intensified since November 2011, when security forces opened fire on protestors in Qatif, killing five people and leaving scores more injured.

Activists say there are over 30,000 political prisoners in Saudi Arabia.

In October 2012, Amnesty International called on the Saudi authorities to stop using excessive force against pro-democracy protestors.

“The Saudi authorities must end their repeated moves to stifle people’s attempts to protest against the widespread use of arbitrary detention in the country,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, said on October 16.

“The right of people to peaceful protest must be respected and the security forces must refrain from detaining or using excessive force against people who exercise it,” he added.

NT/MHB

Obama: The Audacity of Freedom

Obama: The Audacity of Freedom

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Posted on Feb 13, 2013
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By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

WASHINGTON—President Obama is a freer man than he has been at any point in his presidency. He is free from the need to save an economy close to collapse, from illusions that Republicans in Congress would work with him readily, from the threat of a rising tea party movement, and from the need to win re-election.

This sense of freedom gave his State of the Union address an energy, an ease and a specificity that were lacking in earlier speeches written with an eye toward immediate political needs. It was his most Democratic State of the Union, unapologetic in channeling the love Bill Clinton and Lyndon Johnson had for placing long lists of initiatives on the nation’s agenda. Obama sees his second term not as a time of consolidation but as an occasion for decisively changing the direction of our politics.

Here was an Obama unafraid to lay out a compelling argument for the urgency of acting on global warming. He was undaunted in challenging the obsession with the federal budget—and in scolding Congress for going from “one manufactured crisis to the next.” By insisting that “we can’t just cut our way to prosperity” and that “deficit reduction alone is not an economic plan,” he brought to mind the great liberal economist John Maynard Keynes. He sought to add another big achievement to near universal health care coverage, announcing a new goal of making “high-quality preschool available to every single child in America.”

And Obama made clear his determination to shift the center of gravity in the nation’s political conversation away from anti-government conservatism, offering a vision that is the antithesis of the supply-side economics that has dominated conservative thought since the Reagan era.

If supply-siders claim that prosperity depends upon showering financial benefits on wealthy “job creators” at the economy’s commanding heights, Obama argued that economic well-being emanates from the middle and bottom, with help from a government that “works on behalf of the many, and not just the few.”

The “true engine of America’s economic growth,” he said, is a “rising, thriving middle class.” He continued: “It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country, the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like or who you love.” With that last phrase, he linked gay rights to an older liberalism’s devotion to class solidarity and racial equality.

An Obama no longer worried about re-election was the worst nightmare of conservatives who feared he would veer far to the left if given the chance. In the GOP’s response, Sen. Marco Rubio conjured that liberal bogeyman, declaring that the president’s “solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more, and spend more.”

But Rubio’s rhetoric felt stale, disconnected from the Obama who spoke before him. Obama did speak for liberalism, yes, but it is a tempered liberalism. His preschool proposal, after all, is modeled in part on the success of a program in Oklahoma, one of the nation’s reddest states. Most of the president’s initiatives involve modest new spending and many, including his infrastructure and manufacturing plans, are built on partnerships with private industry.

Even the president’s welcomed call to raise the minimum wage to $9 an hour and to index it to inflation was cautious by his own standards. In 2008, Obama had urged a $9.50 minimum wage, and it rightly ought to be set at $10 or above.

Moreover, the president’s words were carefully calibrated to the issue in question. On immigration reform—in deference to cross-party work in which Rubio himself is engaged—Obama kept the rhetorical temperature low, praising “bipartisan groups in both chambers.” But he invoked all of his rhetorical skills on the matter of gun safety, a more complex legislative sell. His gospel-preacher’s variations on the phrase “they deserve a vote” will long echo in the House chamber.

No, the liberated Obama is not some new, leftist tribune. He’s the moderately progressive Obama who started running for president before there was a financial crisis or a tea party. In his 2006 book “The Audacity of Hope,” he proposed to end polarization by organizing a “broad majority of Americans” who would be “re-engaged in the project of national renewal” and would “see their own self-interest as inextricably linked to the interests of others.” On Tuesday night, creating this majority was what he still had in mind.

E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2013, Washington Post Writers Group

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Matthews Blasts Rubio’s Rebuttal Speech as ‘Tinker Toy’

I have to say, I completely agree with Chris Matthews here after watching Sen. Marco Rubio's rebuttal to President Obama's State of the Union speech tonight. During MSNBC's coverage immediately following his speech, with Rachel Maddow giving a brief overview of some of what was said and her calling it a “claws out, kind of aggressive speech,” her colleague Chris Matthews was not so kind.

MATTHEWS: I thought it was tinker toys. I thought it was primitive, that it was something you'd hear on a high school debating team. First of all, he went after government as some kind of evil, then he admitted that he had gone to school on student loans. Well, I went to school on student loans, my dad went to school on the G.I. Bill. Most of us have benefited from good government. Government's worked for us. I got in the Peace Corps, changed my life. You know, I am very pro-government and he admitted he was, too.

He says "I love Medicare because of how it takes care of my mother. I took care of my father with dignity. He said I went the student loan route, I benefited from it. I got my education." Where was the consistency here? I didn't get it. He was saying he was a product of solid government and positive programs, and then he just trashed the whole thing. And then he played this victim game that everybody seems to play today.

What's the Republicans' victims. They're paying one in six dollars now, we've got six percent of GDP going to revenues. We're spending twenty five percent. Who's being over-taxed? I mean, what are they talking about?

It was almost like a YAFer speech, Young Americans for Freedom speech in the 1950's. There was no originality to it. It was basic. Again, it was tinker toys. It was a kid's presentation of a philosophy reduced to maybe the ninth grade level. I'm sorry, but that's what it was.

My thoughts were that it sounded like more Ayn Rand worship type of claptrap which is, "I've got mine and the hell with everyone else. I got my help with student loans, but the hell with the rest of you. My parents are benefiting from Medicare and we're not going to harm them, but if you're in your forties, look out because you're going to have to suck it up and have your benefits cut." As Matthews rightfully noted, there was just a ton of inconsistency and hypocrisy laced through the entire speech.

We can have a bit of fun with the water bottle moment, but ultimately I think the criticism as we saw here and the hypocrisy we've seen constantly from the Republicans with their policies and how this speech was just another example of that is what is going to matter more in the long run.

How’s This for a Speech on the Real State of the Union?

The State of the Union is strong. Its politicians, however, are stupid and bought off by everybody from Oil Billionaires like the Koch Brothers and Saudi sheiks, to transnational corporations and defense contractors. Which is problem one. Our Supreme ...

On BDS, Academic Freedom and Democracy at Brooklyn College

Editors Note: Despite a campaign to silence them, philsophers Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti spoke at Brooklyn College last week. In an exclusive, The Nation presents the text of Butler's remarks.

Usually one starts by saying that one is glad to be here, but I cannot say that it has been a pleasure anticipating this event. What a Megillah! I am, of course, glad that the event was not cancelled, and I understand that it took a great deal of courage and a steadfast embrace of principle for this event to happen at all. I would like personally to thank all those who took this opportunity to reaffirm the fundamental principles of academic freedom, including the following organizations: the Modern Language Association, the National Lawyers Guild, the New York ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, the Professional Staff Congress (the union for faculty and staff in the CUNY system), the New York Times editorial team, the offices of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Brooklyn College President Karen Gould whose principled stand on academic freedom has been exemplary.Brooklyn College students protest in support of the upcoming BDS forum at their school. Some elected officials threatened to cut the college’s public funding if the event proceeded. The mayor said he can't think of anything "more destructive to a university and its students" than basing school funding on the political views of professors. (Photo: Reuven Blau/New York Daily News)

The principle of academic freedom is designed to make sure that powers outside the university, including government and corporations, are not able to control the curriculum or intervene in extra-mural speech. It not only bars such interventions, but it also protects those platforms in which we might be able to reflect together on the most difficult problems. You can judge for yourself whether or not my reasons for lending my support to this movement are good ones.   That is, after all, what academic debate is about. It is also what democratic debate is about, which suggests that open debate about difficult topics functions as a meeting point between democracy and the academy. Instead of asking right away whether we are for or against this movement, perhaps we can pause just long enough to find out what exactly this is, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and why it is so difficult to speak about this.

I am not asking anyone to join a movement this evening. I am not even a leader of this movement or part of any of its governing committee, even though the New York Times tried to anoint me the other day—I appreciated their subsequent retraction, and I apologize to my Palestinian colleagues for their error. The movement, in fact, has been organized and led by Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination, including Omar Barghouti, who was invited first by the Students for Justice in Palestine, after which I was invited to join him. At the time I thought it would be very much like other events I have attended, a conversation with a few dozen student activists in the basement of a student center. So, as you can see, I am surprised and ill-prepared for what has happened.

Omar will speak in a moment about what the BDS movement is, its successes and its aspirations. But I would like briefly to continue with the question, what precisely are we doing here this evening? I presume that you came to hear what there is to be said, and so to test your preconceptions against what some people have to say, to see whether your objections can be met and your questions answered. In other words, you come here to exercise critical judgment, and if the arguments you hear are not convincing, you will be able to cite them, to develop your opposing view and to communicate that as you wish. In this way, your being here this evening confirms your right to form and communicate an autonomous judgment, to demonstrate why you think something is true or not, and you should be free to do this without coercion and fear. These are your rights of free expression, but they are, perhaps even more importantly, your rights to education, which involves the freedom to hear, to read and to consider any number of viewpoints as part of an ongoing public deliberation on this issue. Your presence here, even your support for the event, does not assume agreement among us. There is no unanimity of opinion here; indeed, achieving unanimity is not the goal.

The arguments made against this very meeting took several forms, and they were not always easy for me to parse. One argument was that BDS is a form of hate speech, and it spawned a set of variations: it is hate speech directed against either the State of Israel or Israeli Jews, or all Jewish people. If BDS is hate speech, then it is surely not protected speech, and it would surely not be appropriate for any institution of higher learning to sponsor or make room for such speech. Yet another objection, sometimes uttered by the same people who made the first, is that BDS does qualify as a viewpoint, but as such, ought to be presented only in a context in which the opposing viewpoint can be heard as well. There was yet a qualification to this last position, namely, that no one can have a conversation on this issue in the US that does not include a certain Harvard professor, but that spectacular argument was so self-inflationary and self-indicting, that I could only respond with astonishment.

So in the first case, it is not a viewpoint (and so not protected as extra-mural speech), but in the second instance, it is a viewpoint, presumably singular, but cannot be allowed to be heard without an immediate refutation. The contradiction is clear, but when people engage in a quick succession of contradictory claims such as these, it is usually because they are looking for whatever artillery they have at their disposal to stop something from happening. They don’t much care about consistency or plausibility. They fear that if the speech is sponsored by an institution such as Brooklyn College, it will not only be heard, but become hearable, admitted into the audible world. The fear is that viewpoint will become legitimate, which means only that someone can publicly hold such a view and that it becomes eligible for contestation. A legitimate view is not necessarily right, but it is not ruled out in advance as hate speech or injurious conduct. Those who did not want any of these words to become sayable and audible imagined that the world they know and value will come to an end if such words are uttered, as if the words themselves will rise off the page or fly out of the mouth as weapons that will injure, maim or even kill, leading to irreversibly catastrophic consequences. This is why some people claimed that if this event were held, the two-state solution would be imperiled—they attributed great efficacy to these words. And yet others said it would lead to the coming of a second Holocaust—an unimaginable remark to which I will nevettheless return. One might say that all of these claims were obvious hyperbole and should be dismissed as such. But it is important to understand that they are wielded for the purpose of intimidation, animating the spectre of traumatic identification with the Nazi oppressor: if you let these people speak, you yourself will be responsible for heinous crimes or for the destruction of a state, or the Jewish people. If you listen to the words, you will become complicit in war crimes.

And yet all of us here have to distinguish between the right to listen to a point of view and the right to concur or dissent from that point of view; otherwise, public discourse is destroyed by censorship. I wonder, what is the fantasy of speech nursed by the censor? There must be enormous fear behind the drive to censorship, but also enormous aggression, as if we were all in a war where speech has suddenly become artillery. Is there another way to approach language and speech as we think about this issue? Is it possible that some other use of words might forestall violence, bring about a general ethos of non-violence, and so enact, and open onto, the conditions for a public discourse that welcomes and shelters disagreement, even disarray?

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is, in fact, a non-violent movement; it seeks to use established legal means to achieve its goals; and it is, interestingly enough, the largest Palestinian civic movement at this time. That means that the largest Palestinian civic movement is a non-violent one that justifies its actions through recourse to international law. Further, I want to underscore that this is also a movement whose stated core principles include the opposition to every form of racism, including both state-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism. Of course, we can debate what anti-Semitism is, in what social and political forms it is found. I myself am sure that the election of self-identified national socialists to the Greek parliament is a clear sign of anti-Semitism; I am sure that the recirculation of Nazi insignia and rhetoric by the National Party of Germany is a clear sign of anti-Semitism. I am also sure that the rhetoric and actions of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are often explicitly anti-Semitic, and that some forms of Palestinian opposition to Israel do rely on anti-Semitic slogans, falsehoods and threats. All of these forms of anti-Semitism are to be unconditionally opposed. And I would add, they have to be opposed in the same way and with the same tenacity that any form of racism has to be opposed, including state racism.

But still, it is left to us to ask, why would a non-violent movement to achieve basic political rights for Palestinians be understood as anti-Semitic? Surely, there is nothing about the basic rights themselves that constitute a problem. They include equal rights of citizenship for current inhabitants; the end to the occupation, and the rights of unlawfully displaced persons to return to their lands and gain restitution for their losses. We will surely speak about each of these three principles this evening. But for now, I want to ask, why would a collective struggle to use economic and cultural forms of power to compel the enforcement of international laws be considered anti-Semitic? It would be odd to say that they are anti-Semitic to honor internationally recognized rights to equality, to be free of occupation and to have unlawfully appropriated land and property restored. I know that this last principle makes many people uneasy, but there are several ways of conceptualizing how the right of return might be exercised lawfully such that it does not entail further dispossession (and we will return to this issue).

For those who say that exercising internationally recognized rights is anti-Semitic, or becomes anti-Semitic in this context, they must mean either that a) its motivation is anti-Semitic or b) its effects are anti-Semitic. I take it that no one is actually saying that the rights themselves are anti-Semitic, since they have been invoked by many populations in the last decades, including Jewish people dispossessed and displaced in the aftermath of the second world war. Is there really any reason we should not assume that Jews, just like any other people, would prefer to live in a world where such internationally recognized rights are honored? It will not do to say that international law is the enemy of the Jewish people, since the Jewish people surely did not as a whole oppose the Nuremburg trials, or the development of human rights law. In fact, there have always been Jews working alongside non-Jews—not only to establish the courts and codes of international law, but in the struggle to dismantle colonial regimes, opposing any and all legal and military powers that seek systematically to undermine the conditions of political self-determination for any population.

Only if we accept the proposition that the state of Israel is the exclusive and legitimate representative of the Jewish people would a movement calling for divestment, sanctions and boycott against that state be understood as directed against the Jewish people as a whole. Israel would then be understood as co-extensive with the Jewish people. There are two major problems with this view. First, the state of Israel does not represent all Jews, and not all Jews understand themselves as represented by the state of Israel. Secondly, the state of Israel should be representing all of its population equally, regardless of whether or not they are Jewish, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

So the first critical and normative claim that follows is that the state of Israel should be representing the diversity of its own population. Indeed, nearly 25 percent of Israel’s population is not Jewish, and most of those are Palestinian, although some of them are Bedouins and Druze. If Israel is to be considered a democracy, the non-Jewish population deserves equal rights under the law, as do the Mizrachim (Arab Jews) who represent over 30 percent of the population. Presently, there are at least twenty laws that privilege Jews over Arabs within the Israeli legal system. The 1950 Law of Return grants automatic citizenship rights to Jews from anywhere in the world upon request, while denying that same right to Palestinians who were forcibly dispossessed of their homes in 1948 or subsequently as the result of illegal settlements and redrawn borders. Human Rights Watch has compiled an extensive study of Israel's policy of "separate, not equal" schools for Palestinian children. Moreover, as many as 100 Palestinian villages in Israel are still not recognized by the Israeli government, lacking basic services (water, electricity, sanitation, roads, etc.) from the government. Palestinians are barred from military service, and yet access to housing and education still largely depends on military status. Families are divided by the separation wall between the West Bank and Israel, with few forms of legal recourse to rights of visitation and reunification. The Knesset debates the “transfer” of the Palestinian population to the West Bank, and the new loyalty oath requires that anyone who wishes to become a citizen pledge allegiance to Israel as Jewish and democratic, thus eliding once again the non-Jewish population and binding the full population to a specific and controversial, if not contradictory, version of democracy.

The second point, to repeat, is that the Jewish people extend beyond the state of Israel and the ideology of political Zionism. The two cannot be equated. Honestly, what can really be said about “the Jewish people” as a whole? Is it not a lamentable sterotype to make large generalizations about all Jews, and to presume they all share the same political commitments? They—or, rather, we—occupy a vast spectrum of political views, some of which are unconditionally supportive of the state of Israel, some of which are conditionally supportive, some are skeptical, some are exceedingly critical, and an increasing number, if we are to believe the polls in this country, are indifferent. In my view, we have to remain critical of anyone who posits a single norm that decides rights of entry into the social or cultural category determining as well who will be excluded. Most categories of identity are fraught with conflicts and ambiguities; the effort to suppress the complexity of the category of “Jewish” is thus a political move that seeks to yoke a cultural identity to a specific Zionist position. If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered to be anti-Semitic, if any number of internationals who have joined thus struggle from various parts of the world are also considered anti-Semitic and if Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination are so accused as well, then it would appear that no oppositional move that can take place without risking the accusation of anti-Semitism. That accusation becomes a way of discrediting a bid for self-determination, at which point we have to ask what political purpose the radical mis-use of that accusation has assumed in the stifling of a movement for political self-determination.

When Zionism becomes co-extensive with Jewishness, Jewishness is pitted against the diversity that defines democracy, and if I may say so, betrays one of the most important ethical dimensions of the diasporic Jewish tradition, namely, the obligation of co-habitation with those different from ourselves. Indeed, such a conflation denies the Jewish role in broad alliances in the historical struggle for social and political justice in unions, political demands for free speech, in socialist communities, in the resistance movement in World War II, in peace activism, the Civil Rights movement and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It also demeans the important struggles in which Jews and Palestinians work together to stop the wall, to rebuild homes, to document indefinite detention, to oppose military harassment at the borders and to oppose the occupation and to imagine the plausible scenarios for the Palestinian right to return.

The point of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is to withdraw funds and support from major financial and cultural institutions that support the operations of the Israeli state and its military. The withdrawal of investments from companies that actively support the military or that build on occupied lands, the refusal to buy products that are made by companies on occupied lands, the withdrawal of funds from investment accounts that support any of these activities, a message that a growing number of people in the international community will not be complicit with the occupation. For this goal to be realized, it matters that there is a difference between those who carry Israeli passports and the state of Israel, since the boycott is directed only toward the latter. BDS focuses on state agencies and corporations that build machinery designed to destroy homes, that build military materiel that targets populations, that profit from the occupation, that are situated illegally on Palestinian lands, to name a few.

BDS does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their national citizenship. I concede that not all versions of BDS have been consistent on this point in the past, but the present policy confirms this principle. I myself oppose any form of BDS that discriminates against individuals on the basis of their citizenship. Others may interpret the boycott differently, but I have no problem collaborating with Israeli scholars and artists as long as we do not participate in any Israeli institution or have Israeli state monies support our collaborative work. The reason, of course, is that the academic and cultural boycott seeks to put pressure on all those cultural institutions that have failed to oppose the occupation and struggle for equal rights and the rights of the dispossessed, all those cultural institutions that think it is not their place to criticize their government for these practices, all of them that understand themselves to be above or beyond this intractable political condition. In this sense, they do contribute to an unacceptable status quo. And those institutions should know why international artists and scholars refuse to come when they do, just as they also need to know the conditions under which people will come. When those cultural institutions (universities, art centers, festivals) were to take such a stand, that would be the beginning of the end of the boycott (let’s remember that the goal of any boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is to become obsolete and unnecessary; once conditions of equality and justice are achieved, the rationale for BDS falls away, and in this sense achieving the just conditions for the dissolution of the movement is its very aim).

In some ways, the argument between BDS and its opponents centers on the status of international law. Which international laws are to be honored, and how can they be enforced. International law cannot solve every political conflict, but political conflicts that fully disregard international law usually only get worse as a result. We know that the government of the state of Israel has voiced its skepticism about international law, repeatedly criticizing the United Nations as a biased institution, even bombing its offices in Gaza. Israel also became the first country to withhold cooperation from a UN review of its human rights practices scheduled last week in Geneva (New York Times, 1/29/13). I think it is fair to call this a boycott of the UN on the part of the state of Israel. Indeed, one hears criticism of the ineffectiveness of the UN on both sides, but is that a reason to give up on the global human rights process altogether? There are good reasons to criticize the human rights paradigm, to be sure, but for now, I am only seeking to make the case that BDS is not a destructive or hateful movement. It appeals to international law precisely under conditions in which the international community, the United Nations included, neighboring Arab states, human rights courts, the European Union, The United States and the UK, have all failed effectively to rectify the manifest injustices in Palestine. Boycott, divestment and the call for sanctions are popular demands that emerge precisely when the international community has failed to compel a state to abide by its own norms.

Let us consider, then, go back to the right of return, which constitutes the controversial third prong of the BDS platform. The law of return is extended to all of us who are Jewish who live in the diaspora, which means that were it not for my politics, I too would be eligible to become a citizen of that state. At the same time, Palestinians in need of the right of return are denied the same rights? If someone answers that “Jewish demographic advantage” must be maintained, one can query whether Jewish demographic advantage is policy that can ever be reconciled with democratic principles. If one responds to that with “the Jews will only be safe if they retain their majority status,” the response has to be that any state will surely engender an opposition movement when it seeks to maintain a permanent and disenfranchised minority within its borders, fails to offer reparation or return to a population driven from their lands and homes, keeps over four million people under occupation without rights of mobility, due process and political self-determination, and another 1.6 million under siege in Gaza, rationing of food, administering unemployment, blocking building materials to restore bombed homes and institutions, intensifying vulnerability to military bombardment resulting in widespread injury and death.

If we conclude that those who participate in such an opposition movement do so because they hate the Jews, we have surely failed to recognize that this is an opposition to oppression, to the multi-faceted dimensions of a militarized form of settler colonialism that has entailed subordination, occupation and dispossession. Any group would oppose that condition, and the state that maintains it, regardless of whether that state is identified as a Jewish state or any other kind. Resistance movements do not discriminate against oppressors, though sometimes the language of the movement can use discriminatory language, and that has to be opposed. However, it is surely cynical to claim that the only reason a group organizes to oppose its own oppression is that it bears an inexplicable prejudice or racist hatred against those who oppress them. We can see the torque of this argument and the absurd conclusions to which it leads: if the Palestinians did not hate the Jews, they would accept their oppression by the state of Israel! If they resist, it is a sign of anti-Semitism!

This kind of logic takes us to one of the traumatic and affective regions of this conflict. There are reasons why much of the global media and prevailing political discourses cannot accept that a legitimate opposition to inequality, occupation, and dispossession is very different from anti-Semitism. After all, we cannot rightly argue that if a state claiming to represent the Jewish people engages in these manifestly illegal activities, it is therefore justified on the grounds that the Jews have suffered atrociously and therefore have special needs to be exempt from international norms. Such illegal acts are never justified, no matter who is practicing them.

At the same time, one must object to some of the language used by Hamas to refer to the state of Israel, where very often the state of Israel is itself conflated with the Jews, and where the actions of the state reflect on the nature of the Jews. This is clearly anti-Semitism and must be opposed. But BDS is not the same as Hamas, and it is simply ignorant to argue that all Palestinian organizations are the same. In the same vein, those who wrote to me recently to say that BDS is the same as Hamas is the same as the Nazis are involved in fearful and aggressive forms of association that assume that any effort to make distinctions is naïve and foolish. And so we see how the conflations such as these lead to bitter and destructive consequences. What if we slowed down enough to think and to distinguish—what political possibilities might then open?

And it brings us to yet another outcry that we heard in advance of our discussion here this evening. That was BDS is the coming of a second holocaust. I believe we have to be very careful when anyone makes use of the Holocaust in this way and for this purpose, since if the term becomes a weapon by which we seek to stigmatize those with opposing political viewpoints, then we have first of all dishonored the slaughter of over 6 million Jewish people, and another 4 million gypsies, gay people, disabled, the communists and the physically and mentally ill. All of us, Jewish or not Jewish, must keep that historical memory intact and alive, and refuse forms of revisionism and political exploitation of that history. We may not exploit and re-ignite the traumatic dimension of Hitler’s atrocities for the purposes of accusing and silencing those with opposing political viewpoints, including legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel. Such a tactic not only demeans and instrumentalizes the memory of the Nazi genocide, but produces a general cynicism about both accusations of anti-Semitism and predictions of new genocidal possibilities. After all, if those terms are bandied about as so much artillery in a war, then they are used as blunt instruments for the purposes of censorship and self-legitimation, and they no longer name and describe the very hideous political realities to which they belong. The more such accusations and invocations are tactically deployed, the more skeptical and cynical the public becomes about their actual meaning and use. This is a violation of that history, an insult to the surviving generation, and a cynical and excited recirculation of traumatic material—a kind of sadistic spree, to put it bluntly—that seeks to defend and legitimate a very highly militarized and repressive state regime. Of the use of the Holocaust to legitimate Israeli military destructiveness, Primo Levi wrote in 1982, “I deny any validity to [the use of the Holocaust for] this defence.”

We have heard in recent days as well that BDS threatens the attempt to establish a two-state solution. Although many people who support BDS are in favor of a one-state solution, the BDS movement has not taken a stand on this explicitly, and includes signatories who differ from one another on this issue. In fact, the BDS committee, formed in 2005 with the support of over 170 organizations in Palestine, does not take any stand on the one state or two state solution. It describes itself as an “anti-normalization” politics that seeks to force a wide range of political institutions and states to stop compliance with the occupation, unequal treatment and dispossession. For the BDS National Committee, it is not the fundamental structure of the state of Israel that is called into question, but the occupation, its denial of basic human rights, its abrogation of international law (including its failure to honor the rights of refugees), and the brutality of its continuing conditions—harassment, humiliation, destruction and confiscation of property, bombardment, and killing. Indeed, one finds an array of opinions on one-state and two-state, especially now that one-state can turn into Greater Israel with separated Bantustans of Palestinian life. The two-state solution brings its own problems, given that the recent proposals tend to suspend the rights of refugees, accept curtailed borders and fail to show whether the establishment of an independent state will bring to an end the ongoing practices and institutions of occupation, or simply incorporate them into its structure. How can a state be built with so many settlements, all illegal, which are expected to bring the Israeli population in Palestine to nearly one million of its four million inhabitants. Many have argued that it is the rapidly increasing settler population in the West Bank, not BDS, that is forcing the one-state solution.

Some people accept divestment without sanctions, or divestment and sanctions without the boycott. There are an array of views. In my view, the reason to hold together all three terms is simply that it is not possible to restrict the problem of Palestinian subjugation to the occupation alone. It is significant in itself, since four million people are living without rights of mobility, sovereignty, control over their borders, trade and political self-determination, subjected to military raids, indefinite detention, extended imprisonment and harassment. However, if we fail to make the link between occupation, inequality and dispossession, we agree to forget the claims of 1948, bury the right to return. We overlook the structural link between the Israeli demand for demographic advantage and the multivalent forms of dispossession that affect Palestinians who have been forced to become diasporic, those who live with partial rights within the borders, and those who live under occupation in the West Bank or in the open air prison of Gaza (with high unemployment and rationed foods) or other refugee camps in the region.

Some people have said that they value co-existence over boycott, and wish to engage in smaller forms of binational cultural communities in which Israeli Jews and Palestinians live and work together. This is a view that holds to the promise that small organic communities have a way of expanding into ever widening circles of solidarity, modeling the conditions for peaceable co-existence. The only question is whether those small communities continue to accept the oppressive structure of the state, or whether in their small and effective way oppose the various dimensions of continuing subjugation and disenfranchisement. If they do the latter, they become solidarity struggles. So co-existence becomes solidarity when it joins the movement that seeks to undo the structural conditions of inequality, containment and dispossession. So perhaps the conditions of BDS solidarity are precisely what prefigure that form of living and working together that might one day become a just and peaceable form of co-existence.

One could be for the BDS movement as the only credible non-violent mode of resisting the injustices committed by the state of Israel without falling into the football lingo of being “pro” Palestine and “anti” Israel. This language is reductive, if not embarrassing. One might reasonably and passionately be concerned for all the inhabitants of that land, and simply maintain that the future for any peaceful, democratic solution for that region will become thinkable through the dismantling of the occupation, through enacting the equal rights of Palestinian minorities and finding just and plausible ways for the rights of refugees to be honored. If one holds out for these three aims in political life, then one is not simply living within the logic of the “pro” and the “anti”, but trying to fathom the conditions for a “we”, a plural existence grounded in equality. What does one do with one’s words but reach for a place beyond war, ask for a new constellation of political life in which the relations of colonial subjugation are brought to a halt. My wager, my hope, is that everyone’s chance to live with greater freedom from fear and aggression will be increased as those conditions of justice, freedom, and equality are realized. We can or, rather, must start with how we speak, and how we listen, with the right to education, and to dwell critically, fractiously, and freely in political discourse together. Perhaps the word “justice” will assume new meanings as we speak it, such that we can venture that what will be just for the Jews will also be just for the Palestinians, and for all the other people living there, since justice, when just, fails to discriminate, and we savor that failure.

© 2012 The Nation

Judith Butler

Judith Butler is a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature department at UC Berkeley. She is the author of several books on feminist theory, continental philosophy and contemporary politics.

On BDS, Academic Freedom and Democracy at Brooklyn College

Editors Note: Despite a campaign to silence them, philsophers Judith Butler and Omar Barghouti spoke at Brooklyn College last week. In an exclusive, The Nation presents the text of Butler's remarks.

Usually one starts by saying that one is glad to be here, but I cannot say that it has been a pleasure anticipating this event. What a Megillah! I am, of course, glad that the event was not cancelled, and I understand that it took a great deal of courage and a steadfast embrace of principle for this event to happen at all. I would like personally to thank all those who took this opportunity to reaffirm the fundamental principles of academic freedom, including the following organizations: the Modern Language Association, the National Lawyers Guild, the New York ACLU, the American Association of University Professors, the Professional Staff Congress (the union for faculty and staff in the CUNY system), the New York Times editorial team, the offices of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Andrew Cuomo and Brooklyn College President Karen Gould whose principled stand on academic freedom has been exemplary.Brooklyn College students protest in support of the upcoming BDS forum at their school. Some elected officials threatened to cut the college’s public funding if the event proceeded. The mayor said he can't think of anything "more destructive to a university and its students" than basing school funding on the political views of professors. (Photo: Reuven Blau/New York Daily News)

The principle of academic freedom is designed to make sure that powers outside the university, including government and corporations, are not able to control the curriculum or intervene in extra-mural speech. It not only bars such interventions, but it also protects those platforms in which we might be able to reflect together on the most difficult problems. You can judge for yourself whether or not my reasons for lending my support to this movement are good ones.   That is, after all, what academic debate is about. It is also what democratic debate is about, which suggests that open debate about difficult topics functions as a meeting point between democracy and the academy. Instead of asking right away whether we are for or against this movement, perhaps we can pause just long enough to find out what exactly this is, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, and why it is so difficult to speak about this.

I am not asking anyone to join a movement this evening. I am not even a leader of this movement or part of any of its governing committee, even though the New York Times tried to anoint me the other day—I appreciated their subsequent retraction, and I apologize to my Palestinian colleagues for their error. The movement, in fact, has been organized and led by Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination, including Omar Barghouti, who was invited first by the Students for Justice in Palestine, after which I was invited to join him. At the time I thought it would be very much like other events I have attended, a conversation with a few dozen student activists in the basement of a student center. So, as you can see, I am surprised and ill-prepared for what has happened.

Omar will speak in a moment about what the BDS movement is, its successes and its aspirations. But I would like briefly to continue with the question, what precisely are we doing here this evening? I presume that you came to hear what there is to be said, and so to test your preconceptions against what some people have to say, to see whether your objections can be met and your questions answered. In other words, you come here to exercise critical judgment, and if the arguments you hear are not convincing, you will be able to cite them, to develop your opposing view and to communicate that as you wish. In this way, your being here this evening confirms your right to form and communicate an autonomous judgment, to demonstrate why you think something is true or not, and you should be free to do this without coercion and fear. These are your rights of free expression, but they are, perhaps even more importantly, your rights to education, which involves the freedom to hear, to read and to consider any number of viewpoints as part of an ongoing public deliberation on this issue. Your presence here, even your support for the event, does not assume agreement among us. There is no unanimity of opinion here; indeed, achieving unanimity is not the goal.

The arguments made against this very meeting took several forms, and they were not always easy for me to parse. One argument was that BDS is a form of hate speech, and it spawned a set of variations: it is hate speech directed against either the State of Israel or Israeli Jews, or all Jewish people. If BDS is hate speech, then it is surely not protected speech, and it would surely not be appropriate for any institution of higher learning to sponsor or make room for such speech. Yet another objection, sometimes uttered by the same people who made the first, is that BDS does qualify as a viewpoint, but as such, ought to be presented only in a context in which the opposing viewpoint can be heard as well. There was yet a qualification to this last position, namely, that no one can have a conversation on this issue in the US that does not include a certain Harvard professor, but that spectacular argument was so self-inflationary and self-indicting, that I could only respond with astonishment.

So in the first case, it is not a viewpoint (and so not protected as extra-mural speech), but in the second instance, it is a viewpoint, presumably singular, but cannot be allowed to be heard without an immediate refutation. The contradiction is clear, but when people engage in a quick succession of contradictory claims such as these, it is usually because they are looking for whatever artillery they have at their disposal to stop something from happening. They don’t much care about consistency or plausibility. They fear that if the speech is sponsored by an institution such as Brooklyn College, it will not only be heard, but become hearable, admitted into the audible world. The fear is that viewpoint will become legitimate, which means only that someone can publicly hold such a view and that it becomes eligible for contestation. A legitimate view is not necessarily right, but it is not ruled out in advance as hate speech or injurious conduct. Those who did not want any of these words to become sayable and audible imagined that the world they know and value will come to an end if such words are uttered, as if the words themselves will rise off the page or fly out of the mouth as weapons that will injure, maim or even kill, leading to irreversibly catastrophic consequences. This is why some people claimed that if this event were held, the two-state solution would be imperiled—they attributed great efficacy to these words. And yet others said it would lead to the coming of a second Holocaust—an unimaginable remark to which I will nevettheless return. One might say that all of these claims were obvious hyperbole and should be dismissed as such. But it is important to understand that they are wielded for the purpose of intimidation, animating the spectre of traumatic identification with the Nazi oppressor: if you let these people speak, you yourself will be responsible for heinous crimes or for the destruction of a state, or the Jewish people. If you listen to the words, you will become complicit in war crimes.

And yet all of us here have to distinguish between the right to listen to a point of view and the right to concur or dissent from that point of view; otherwise, public discourse is destroyed by censorship. I wonder, what is the fantasy of speech nursed by the censor? There must be enormous fear behind the drive to censorship, but also enormous aggression, as if we were all in a war where speech has suddenly become artillery. Is there another way to approach language and speech as we think about this issue? Is it possible that some other use of words might forestall violence, bring about a general ethos of non-violence, and so enact, and open onto, the conditions for a public discourse that welcomes and shelters disagreement, even disarray?

The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement is, in fact, a non-violent movement; it seeks to use established legal means to achieve its goals; and it is, interestingly enough, the largest Palestinian civic movement at this time. That means that the largest Palestinian civic movement is a non-violent one that justifies its actions through recourse to international law. Further, I want to underscore that this is also a movement whose stated core principles include the opposition to every form of racism, including both state-sponsored racism and anti-Semitism. Of course, we can debate what anti-Semitism is, in what social and political forms it is found. I myself am sure that the election of self-identified national socialists to the Greek parliament is a clear sign of anti-Semitism; I am sure that the recirculation of Nazi insignia and rhetoric by the National Party of Germany is a clear sign of anti-Semitism. I am also sure that the rhetoric and actions of Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are often explicitly anti-Semitic, and that some forms of Palestinian opposition to Israel do rely on anti-Semitic slogans, falsehoods and threats. All of these forms of anti-Semitism are to be unconditionally opposed. And I would add, they have to be opposed in the same way and with the same tenacity that any form of racism has to be opposed, including state racism.

But still, it is left to us to ask, why would a non-violent movement to achieve basic political rights for Palestinians be understood as anti-Semitic? Surely, there is nothing about the basic rights themselves that constitute a problem. They include equal rights of citizenship for current inhabitants; the end to the occupation, and the rights of unlawfully displaced persons to return to their lands and gain restitution for their losses. We will surely speak about each of these three principles this evening. But for now, I want to ask, why would a collective struggle to use economic and cultural forms of power to compel the enforcement of international laws be considered anti-Semitic? It would be odd to say that they are anti-Semitic to honor internationally recognized rights to equality, to be free of occupation and to have unlawfully appropriated land and property restored. I know that this last principle makes many people uneasy, but there are several ways of conceptualizing how the right of return might be exercised lawfully such that it does not entail further dispossession (and we will return to this issue).

For those who say that exercising internationally recognized rights is anti-Semitic, or becomes anti-Semitic in this context, they must mean either that a) its motivation is anti-Semitic or b) its effects are anti-Semitic. I take it that no one is actually saying that the rights themselves are anti-Semitic, since they have been invoked by many populations in the last decades, including Jewish people dispossessed and displaced in the aftermath of the second world war. Is there really any reason we should not assume that Jews, just like any other people, would prefer to live in a world where such internationally recognized rights are honored? It will not do to say that international law is the enemy of the Jewish people, since the Jewish people surely did not as a whole oppose the Nuremburg trials, or the development of human rights law. In fact, there have always been Jews working alongside non-Jews—not only to establish the courts and codes of international law, but in the struggle to dismantle colonial regimes, opposing any and all legal and military powers that seek systematically to undermine the conditions of political self-determination for any population.

Only if we accept the proposition that the state of Israel is the exclusive and legitimate representative of the Jewish people would a movement calling for divestment, sanctions and boycott against that state be understood as directed against the Jewish people as a whole. Israel would then be understood as co-extensive with the Jewish people. There are two major problems with this view. First, the state of Israel does not represent all Jews, and not all Jews understand themselves as represented by the state of Israel. Secondly, the state of Israel should be representing all of its population equally, regardless of whether or not they are Jewish, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity.

So the first critical and normative claim that follows is that the state of Israel should be representing the diversity of its own population. Indeed, nearly 25 percent of Israel’s population is not Jewish, and most of those are Palestinian, although some of them are Bedouins and Druze. If Israel is to be considered a democracy, the non-Jewish population deserves equal rights under the law, as do the Mizrachim (Arab Jews) who represent over 30 percent of the population. Presently, there are at least twenty laws that privilege Jews over Arabs within the Israeli legal system. The 1950 Law of Return grants automatic citizenship rights to Jews from anywhere in the world upon request, while denying that same right to Palestinians who were forcibly dispossessed of their homes in 1948 or subsequently as the result of illegal settlements and redrawn borders. Human Rights Watch has compiled an extensive study of Israel's policy of "separate, not equal" schools for Palestinian children. Moreover, as many as 100 Palestinian villages in Israel are still not recognized by the Israeli government, lacking basic services (water, electricity, sanitation, roads, etc.) from the government. Palestinians are barred from military service, and yet access to housing and education still largely depends on military status. Families are divided by the separation wall between the West Bank and Israel, with few forms of legal recourse to rights of visitation and reunification. The Knesset debates the “transfer” of the Palestinian population to the West Bank, and the new loyalty oath requires that anyone who wishes to become a citizen pledge allegiance to Israel as Jewish and democratic, thus eliding once again the non-Jewish population and binding the full population to a specific and controversial, if not contradictory, version of democracy.

The second point, to repeat, is that the Jewish people extend beyond the state of Israel and the ideology of political Zionism. The two cannot be equated. Honestly, what can really be said about “the Jewish people” as a whole? Is it not a lamentable sterotype to make large generalizations about all Jews, and to presume they all share the same political commitments? They—or, rather, we—occupy a vast spectrum of political views, some of which are unconditionally supportive of the state of Israel, some of which are conditionally supportive, some are skeptical, some are exceedingly critical, and an increasing number, if we are to believe the polls in this country, are indifferent. In my view, we have to remain critical of anyone who posits a single norm that decides rights of entry into the social or cultural category determining as well who will be excluded. Most categories of identity are fraught with conflicts and ambiguities; the effort to suppress the complexity of the category of “Jewish” is thus a political move that seeks to yoke a cultural identity to a specific Zionist position. If the Jew who struggles for justice for Palestine is considered to be anti-Semitic, if any number of internationals who have joined thus struggle from various parts of the world are also considered anti-Semitic and if Palestinians seeking rights of political self-determination are so accused as well, then it would appear that no oppositional move that can take place without risking the accusation of anti-Semitism. That accusation becomes a way of discrediting a bid for self-determination, at which point we have to ask what political purpose the radical mis-use of that accusation has assumed in the stifling of a movement for political self-determination.

When Zionism becomes co-extensive with Jewishness, Jewishness is pitted against the diversity that defines democracy, and if I may say so, betrays one of the most important ethical dimensions of the diasporic Jewish tradition, namely, the obligation of co-habitation with those different from ourselves. Indeed, such a conflation denies the Jewish role in broad alliances in the historical struggle for social and political justice in unions, political demands for free speech, in socialist communities, in the resistance movement in World War II, in peace activism, the Civil Rights movement and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It also demeans the important struggles in which Jews and Palestinians work together to stop the wall, to rebuild homes, to document indefinite detention, to oppose military harassment at the borders and to oppose the occupation and to imagine the plausible scenarios for the Palestinian right to return.

The point of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is to withdraw funds and support from major financial and cultural institutions that support the operations of the Israeli state and its military. The withdrawal of investments from companies that actively support the military or that build on occupied lands, the refusal to buy products that are made by companies on occupied lands, the withdrawal of funds from investment accounts that support any of these activities, a message that a growing number of people in the international community will not be complicit with the occupation. For this goal to be realized, it matters that there is a difference between those who carry Israeli passports and the state of Israel, since the boycott is directed only toward the latter. BDS focuses on state agencies and corporations that build machinery designed to destroy homes, that build military materiel that targets populations, that profit from the occupation, that are situated illegally on Palestinian lands, to name a few.

BDS does not discriminate against individuals on the basis of their national citizenship. I concede that not all versions of BDS have been consistent on this point in the past, but the present policy confirms this principle. I myself oppose any form of BDS that discriminates against individuals on the basis of their citizenship. Others may interpret the boycott differently, but I have no problem collaborating with Israeli scholars and artists as long as we do not participate in any Israeli institution or have Israeli state monies support our collaborative work. The reason, of course, is that the academic and cultural boycott seeks to put pressure on all those cultural institutions that have failed to oppose the occupation and struggle for equal rights and the rights of the dispossessed, all those cultural institutions that think it is not their place to criticize their government for these practices, all of them that understand themselves to be above or beyond this intractable political condition. In this sense, they do contribute to an unacceptable status quo. And those institutions should know why international artists and scholars refuse to come when they do, just as they also need to know the conditions under which people will come. When those cultural institutions (universities, art centers, festivals) were to take such a stand, that would be the beginning of the end of the boycott (let’s remember that the goal of any boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is to become obsolete and unnecessary; once conditions of equality and justice are achieved, the rationale for BDS falls away, and in this sense achieving the just conditions for the dissolution of the movement is its very aim).

In some ways, the argument between BDS and its opponents centers on the status of international law. Which international laws are to be honored, and how can they be enforced. International law cannot solve every political conflict, but political conflicts that fully disregard international law usually only get worse as a result. We know that the government of the state of Israel has voiced its skepticism about international law, repeatedly criticizing the United Nations as a biased institution, even bombing its offices in Gaza. Israel also became the first country to withhold cooperation from a UN review of its human rights practices scheduled last week in Geneva (New York Times, 1/29/13). I think it is fair to call this a boycott of the UN on the part of the state of Israel. Indeed, one hears criticism of the ineffectiveness of the UN on both sides, but is that a reason to give up on the global human rights process altogether? There are good reasons to criticize the human rights paradigm, to be sure, but for now, I am only seeking to make the case that BDS is not a destructive or hateful movement. It appeals to international law precisely under conditions in which the international community, the United Nations included, neighboring Arab states, human rights courts, the European Union, The United States and the UK, have all failed effectively to rectify the manifest injustices in Palestine. Boycott, divestment and the call for sanctions are popular demands that emerge precisely when the international community has failed to compel a state to abide by its own norms.

Let us consider, then, go back to the right of return, which constitutes the controversial third prong of the BDS platform. The law of return is extended to all of us who are Jewish who live in the diaspora, which means that were it not for my politics, I too would be eligible to become a citizen of that state. At the same time, Palestinians in need of the right of return are denied the same rights? If someone answers that “Jewish demographic advantage” must be maintained, one can query whether Jewish demographic advantage is policy that can ever be reconciled with democratic principles. If one responds to that with “the Jews will only be safe if they retain their majority status,” the response has to be that any state will surely engender an opposition movement when it seeks to maintain a permanent and disenfranchised minority within its borders, fails to offer reparation or return to a population driven from their lands and homes, keeps over four million people under occupation without rights of mobility, due process and political self-determination, and another 1.6 million under siege in Gaza, rationing of food, administering unemployment, blocking building materials to restore bombed homes and institutions, intensifying vulnerability to military bombardment resulting in widespread injury and death.

If we conclude that those who participate in such an opposition movement do so because they hate the Jews, we have surely failed to recognize that this is an opposition to oppression, to the multi-faceted dimensions of a militarized form of settler colonialism that has entailed subordination, occupation and dispossession. Any group would oppose that condition, and the state that maintains it, regardless of whether that state is identified as a Jewish state or any other kind. Resistance movements do not discriminate against oppressors, though sometimes the language of the movement can use discriminatory language, and that has to be opposed. However, it is surely cynical to claim that the only reason a group organizes to oppose its own oppression is that it bears an inexplicable prejudice or racist hatred against those who oppress them. We can see the torque of this argument and the absurd conclusions to which it leads: if the Palestinians did not hate the Jews, they would accept their oppression by the state of Israel! If they resist, it is a sign of anti-Semitism!

This kind of logic takes us to one of the traumatic and affective regions of this conflict. There are reasons why much of the global media and prevailing political discourses cannot accept that a legitimate opposition to inequality, occupation, and dispossession is very different from anti-Semitism. After all, we cannot rightly argue that if a state claiming to represent the Jewish people engages in these manifestly illegal activities, it is therefore justified on the grounds that the Jews have suffered atrociously and therefore have special needs to be exempt from international norms. Such illegal acts are never justified, no matter who is practicing them.

At the same time, one must object to some of the language used by Hamas to refer to the state of Israel, where very often the state of Israel is itself conflated with the Jews, and where the actions of the state reflect on the nature of the Jews. This is clearly anti-Semitism and must be opposed. But BDS is not the same as Hamas, and it is simply ignorant to argue that all Palestinian organizations are the same. In the same vein, those who wrote to me recently to say that BDS is the same as Hamas is the same as the Nazis are involved in fearful and aggressive forms of association that assume that any effort to make distinctions is naïve and foolish. And so we see how the conflations such as these lead to bitter and destructive consequences. What if we slowed down enough to think and to distinguish—what political possibilities might then open?

And it brings us to yet another outcry that we heard in advance of our discussion here this evening. That was BDS is the coming of a second holocaust. I believe we have to be very careful when anyone makes use of the Holocaust in this way and for this purpose, since if the term becomes a weapon by which we seek to stigmatize those with opposing political viewpoints, then we have first of all dishonored the slaughter of over 6 million Jewish people, and another 4 million gypsies, gay people, disabled, the communists and the physically and mentally ill. All of us, Jewish or not Jewish, must keep that historical memory intact and alive, and refuse forms of revisionism and political exploitation of that history. We may not exploit and re-ignite the traumatic dimension of Hitler’s atrocities for the purposes of accusing and silencing those with opposing political viewpoints, including legitimate criticisms of the state of Israel. Such a tactic not only demeans and instrumentalizes the memory of the Nazi genocide, but produces a general cynicism about both accusations of anti-Semitism and predictions of new genocidal possibilities. After all, if those terms are bandied about as so much artillery in a war, then they are used as blunt instruments for the purposes of censorship and self-legitimation, and they no longer name and describe the very hideous political realities to which they belong. The more such accusations and invocations are tactically deployed, the more skeptical and cynical the public becomes about their actual meaning and use. This is a violation of that history, an insult to the surviving generation, and a cynical and excited recirculation of traumatic material—a kind of sadistic spree, to put it bluntly—that seeks to defend and legitimate a very highly militarized and repressive state regime. Of the use of the Holocaust to legitimate Israeli military destructiveness, Primo Levi wrote in 1982, “I deny any validity to [the use of the Holocaust for] this defence.”

We have heard in recent days as well that BDS threatens the attempt to establish a two-state solution. Although many people who support BDS are in favor of a one-state solution, the BDS movement has not taken a stand on this explicitly, and includes signatories who differ from one another on this issue. In fact, the BDS committee, formed in 2005 with the support of over 170 organizations in Palestine, does not take any stand on the one state or two state solution. It describes itself as an “anti-normalization” politics that seeks to force a wide range of political institutions and states to stop compliance with the occupation, unequal treatment and dispossession. For the BDS National Committee, it is not the fundamental structure of the state of Israel that is called into question, but the occupation, its denial of basic human rights, its abrogation of international law (including its failure to honor the rights of refugees), and the brutality of its continuing conditions—harassment, humiliation, destruction and confiscation of property, bombardment, and killing. Indeed, one finds an array of opinions on one-state and two-state, especially now that one-state can turn into Greater Israel with separated Bantustans of Palestinian life. The two-state solution brings its own problems, given that the recent proposals tend to suspend the rights of refugees, accept curtailed borders and fail to show whether the establishment of an independent state will bring to an end the ongoing practices and institutions of occupation, or simply incorporate them into its structure. How can a state be built with so many settlements, all illegal, which are expected to bring the Israeli population in Palestine to nearly one million of its four million inhabitants. Many have argued that it is the rapidly increasing settler population in the West Bank, not BDS, that is forcing the one-state solution.

Some people accept divestment without sanctions, or divestment and sanctions without the boycott. There are an array of views. In my view, the reason to hold together all three terms is simply that it is not possible to restrict the problem of Palestinian subjugation to the occupation alone. It is significant in itself, since four million people are living without rights of mobility, sovereignty, control over their borders, trade and political self-determination, subjected to military raids, indefinite detention, extended imprisonment and harassment. However, if we fail to make the link between occupation, inequality and dispossession, we agree to forget the claims of 1948, bury the right to return. We overlook the structural link between the Israeli demand for demographic advantage and the multivalent forms of dispossession that affect Palestinians who have been forced to become diasporic, those who live with partial rights within the borders, and those who live under occupation in the West Bank or in the open air prison of Gaza (with high unemployment and rationed foods) or other refugee camps in the region.

Some people have said that they value co-existence over boycott, and wish to engage in smaller forms of binational cultural communities in which Israeli Jews and Palestinians live and work together. This is a view that holds to the promise that small organic communities have a way of expanding into ever widening circles of solidarity, modeling the conditions for peaceable co-existence. The only question is whether those small communities continue to accept the oppressive structure of the state, or whether in their small and effective way oppose the various dimensions of continuing subjugation and disenfranchisement. If they do the latter, they become solidarity struggles. So co-existence becomes solidarity when it joins the movement that seeks to undo the structural conditions of inequality, containment and dispossession. So perhaps the conditions of BDS solidarity are precisely what prefigure that form of living and working together that might one day become a just and peaceable form of co-existence.

One could be for the BDS movement as the only credible non-violent mode of resisting the injustices committed by the state of Israel without falling into the football lingo of being “pro” Palestine and “anti” Israel. This language is reductive, if not embarrassing. One might reasonably and passionately be concerned for all the inhabitants of that land, and simply maintain that the future for any peaceful, democratic solution for that region will become thinkable through the dismantling of the occupation, through enacting the equal rights of Palestinian minorities and finding just and plausible ways for the rights of refugees to be honored. If one holds out for these three aims in political life, then one is not simply living within the logic of the “pro” and the “anti”, but trying to fathom the conditions for a “we”, a plural existence grounded in equality. What does one do with one’s words but reach for a place beyond war, ask for a new constellation of political life in which the relations of colonial subjugation are brought to a halt. My wager, my hope, is that everyone’s chance to live with greater freedom from fear and aggression will be increased as those conditions of justice, freedom, and equality are realized. We can or, rather, must start with how we speak, and how we listen, with the right to education, and to dwell critically, fractiously, and freely in political discourse together. Perhaps the word “justice” will assume new meanings as we speak it, such that we can venture that what will be just for the Jews will also be just for the Palestinians, and for all the other people living there, since justice, when just, fails to discriminate, and we savor that failure.

© 2012 The Nation

Judith Butler

Judith Butler is a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature department at UC Berkeley. She is the author of several books on feminist theory, continental philosophy and contemporary politics.

Corporate Speech and Advertising Are at the Heart of Solving Gun Violence

There's a big difference between the free speech rights of individuals under the First Amendment and socially destructive marketing by corporations of products that kill.

January 28, 2013  |  

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The Obama Administration's gun-control agenda is unlikely to prevail unless it's accompanied by a wrenching national struggle on two fronts: re-thinking the "well regulated" part of the Second Amendment, and curbing paid corporate gun glorification that undermines "free" speech under the First Amendment. As the president said in his inaugural address, we must re-impose rules of fair play on markets.

National Rifle Association vice-president Wayne LaPierre was right to charge that violent video-games such as Doom and Call of Duty seed social storms of fear and mistrust with gladiatorial spectacles that have been virtual instruction manuals for mass shooters in Colorado, Connecticut and Norway, who were inveterate players of those games.

But LaPierre didn't note that game producers had "a mutually beneficial marketing relationship" with the very gun manufacturers that support his own NRA.  As the New York Times reported, the games' pictures of real guns come with embedded links to sales sites. Commercial speech like that can be regulated without violating the First Amendment.

Most of these games' content isn't free "speech" at all. Only the Supreme Court's confusion of free speech with anything that profit-driven corporations pay anyone to say or depict makes it seem otherwise. Regulating some games' marketing -- or even content -- would not suppress speech that a republic should protect.

The problem isn't that the profit-driven, legally constrained corporations driving violent entertainment are malevolent; it's that they're civically mindless. They're inherently incapable of free speech because the positions they take are just the result of fiduciaries -- directors, managers and public relations officers -- attempting to maximize stock value without regard to their own values, or anyone else's. Advances in manipulative advertising and a narrow focus on profit have made them runaway engines that can't be persuaded by rational or moral appeals to stop inciting exaggerated fears of armed home invasion, government takeovers, or fantasies of victory by gunplay. So long as the law and stock market demand they pursue profit, and selling guns and vengeance remains profitable, they'll keep doing it.

The danger we're facing isn't majoritarian censorship of noisy argument, transgressive art, or survivalists' politics. It's law promoting profiteers' own "sensor-ship," if you will -- their ever-more intrusive, intimate shaping of how people, especially of the immature and impressionable, view the world.

Rational and robust debate about the effects of gun violence is forced to compete with an eerily silent, algorithmically driven, massively funded effort to titillate and intimidate audiences -- bypassing our brains and hearts on its way to our lower viscera and wallets.

We have every right to stop uses of corporate money that impair the public good, just as we can break up monopolies, require firms to pay for the pollution they cause, and stop misleading advertising.Only a few people take such messages literally, but the relentless depiction of "bad guys" who must be killed undermine hopes, along with republican politics. Lonely mass murderers may actually be attuned more acutely to these undercurrents than those who insist they don't matter.

Nothing obligates us to let the minions of marketing manipulate our deliberations using "other people's money," as Justice Louis Brandeis put it in referring to corporate abuses of politics. We can change corporate law -- without interfering with any actual citizen's speech -- to prevent customers' and investors' money from overwhelming democratic give and take by using it to pay for political and other messages driven only by the firms' bottom lines, without regard to other priorities that citizens might share.

To do that, we need to insist on some crucial distinctions.

FDR’s Four Freedoms: Diminished and Defiled

If asked why we live in a great country, an American is likely to respond: "Because we are free." Fortunately for the respondent, explanation is rarely required. Freedom is difficult to define, and today it seems to exist more in our minds than in rea...

“The American Military Coup of 2012″: Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in...

THE COUP OF 2012: Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms, Militarized Police State in America

Back in 1992 the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff held a “Strategy Essay Competition.”

The winner was a National War College student paper entitled, “The Origins of the American Military Coup of 2012.” Authored by Colonel Charles J. Dunlap, Jr. the paper is a well documented, “darkly imagined excursion into the future.”

The ostensibly fictional work is written from the perspective of an imprisoned senior military officer about to be executed for opposing the military takeover of America, a coup accomplished through “legal” means. The essay makes the point that the coup was “the outgrowth of trends visible as far back as 1992,” including “the massive diversion of military forces to civilian uses,” particularly law enforcement.

http://www.carlisle.army.mil/USAWC/Parameters/Articles/1992/1992%20dunlap.pdf

Dunlap cites what he considered a dangerous precedent, the 1981 Military Cooperation with Civilian Law Enforcement Agencies Act, an act that sanctioned US military engagement with law enforcement in domestic “support operations,” including “civil disturbance” operations. The act codified the lawful status and use of military “assets” in domestic police work. 

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/subtitle-A/part-I/chapter-18

Encroachment upon Basic Freedoms

Since that time the American people have been subject to a series of deeper and deeper encroachments upon our basic freedoms, increasingly extensive deployment of military operations on the home front, perpetrated by a corporate driven military mission creep that now claims the right and duty to arrest and detain us on the word of a Pentagon or White House operative. President Obama’s signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) whose Section 1021 sanctions the military detention of American citizens without charge, essentially aims to put the last nail in the coffin of our Constitution, our teetering Republic and our most basic democratic traditions.

The statute contains a sweeping worldwide indefinite detention provision. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration (“you can trust me”) would use the authorities granted by the NDAA, and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations. The White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA, but reversed course (of course) shortly before Congress voted on the final bill, which the President signed on the 31st of December 2011, a day that will go down in infamy.

“President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.” According to Senator Dianne Feinstein. “Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite imprisonment of American citizens, without charge,” she said. “We are not a nation that locks up its citizens without charge.” Think again. (Guardian, 12/14/11)

Under the legislation, suspects can be held without trial  ”until the end of hostilities.” They will have the right to appear once a year before a committee that will decide if the detention will continue. A spokesperson for Human Rights Watch implied that the signing of such a bill by a President would have once been unthinkable, noting that “the paradigm of the war on terror has advanced so far in people’s minds that this has to appear more normal than it actually is.” Further, “it wasn’t asked for by any of the agencies on the frontlines in the fight against terrorism in the United States. It breaks with over 200 years of tradition in America against using the military in domestic affairs.”

In fact, the heads of several “security agencies,” including the FBI, CIA, the director of national intelligence and the attorney general objected to the legislation. Even some within the Pentagon itself said they were against the bill. No matter, and no matter the intention inherent in lip service opposition, the corporate elite who drive the disastrous and inhumane polices of this country see it otherwise, and they, not the generals or anyone else, call the shots!

And they’ve been at this for some time. A persistent and on-gong counter-insurgency directed against the American people, the detention provisions embedded in the NDAA are about more than “social control.” It amounts to a direct attack on the person, an “unreasonable search and seizure” in the cause of maintaining the shaky capitalist ship of state; suppressing popular resistance, dissent and protest, movements of peace and justice, recast as “civil disorder,” “civil disturbance” and “domestic terror.”

Current U.S. military preparations for suppressing “civil disturbance” and “domestic terrorism” including the training of National Guard troops, local police and the authorization of massive surveillance, are part of a long history of American “internal security” measures dating back to the first American Revolution. Generally, these measures have sought to thwart the aims of social justice movements, embodying the concept, promulgated by elite sectors intent on maintaining their grip on the levers of state; that within the civilian body politic lurks an enemy that one day the military might have to fight; or at least be ordered to fight. (See: Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980, Joan M. Jensen, Yale University Press, 1991)

Thus, in reaction to a period of social upsurge flush with movements of liberation, justice and peace, and the mounting of powerful campaigns which threatened the status quo and elite control, the US military’s stand alone apparatus for conducting “civil disturbance suppression” operations, including detention, was born, immediately on the heels of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968.

The Garden Plot Operation

US Military Civil Disturbance Plan 55-2, code-named Operation Garden Plot, follows, as was mentioned, in the footsteps of a long tradition of US military involvement in the suppression of dissent. Intriguingly, the Garden Plot operation is cited in documents related to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. (See: Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, William Pepper, Carroll and Graf, 1995)

http://www.dod.gov/pubs/foi/operation_and_plans/Other/GARDEN_PLOT_DoD_Civil_DisturbancePlan.pdf

http://www.911truth.org/osamas/morales.html

Currently, the Garden Plot operation is centered at the Pentagon’s Northern Command (USNORTHCOM). “Stood up” in 2002, (though In the works prior to 9/11), NORTHCOM, America’s “domestic military command,” is tasked with various “counter-terror,” “homeland defense” and “homeland security” activities, including “civil disturbance suppression” operations, and “assisting law enforcement” within Canada, the United States and Mexico. http://www.northcom.mil/

Under NORTHCOM, Operation Garden Plot functions, with the US Army as “executive agent,” as “ConPlan 2502.” In two parts, the “con plan” is officially listed as: United States Northern Command, Concept Plan (CONPLAN) 3501 (formerly 2501), Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), dated 11 April 2006; and the United States Northern Command, Concept Plan 3502 (formerly 2502), Defense Support of Civil Authorities for Civil Disturbance Operations (CDO), 23 January 2007.

As noted above, the latest development in the Pentagon’s evolving mission of suppressing, at the behest of it’s corporate “civilian” overseers, a detention provision, is buried within the massive National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 signed by President Obama in the fog (grog) of this past New Years Eve.

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-112hr1540enr/pdf/BILLS-112hr1540enr.pdf

NDAA 2012

Section 1021 of the NDAA 2012 seemingly allows (the language is evasive) for the detention (without trial or charges) of American citizens redefined by the “executive” elite as “enemy combatants” in the so-called “war on terror, ” a “war” which has become in the eyes of many, a war against the Constitution and civil liberties, a war against the disenchanted, fed-up and dissenting American public, spearheaded by a militarized police state allied to imperial military courts and “tribunals,” buttressed and rationalized with mind-bending mil-speak of “enemy combatants,” “unlawful combatants,” “enemy belligerents,” “homeland battlefield” “domestic extremists” “domestic terrorists” and the like.

And yet, behind all the sophistry, lies and manipulation, the brutal truth is obvious: The corporate elite that directs things has seen fit to unleash it’s military on it’s own people in a desperate attempt