Brazil: Neoliberalism with a “Human Face”

May 1st, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

This article was first published by Global Research ten years ago on April 25, 2003

The inauguration of Luis Ignacio da Silva (Lula) to the presidency of Brazil is historically significant, because millions of Brazilians saw in the Workers Party  (Partido dos Trabalhadores), a genuine political and economic alternative to the dominant (neoliberal) “free market” agenda.

Lula’s election embodies the hope of an entire nation. It constitutes an overwhelming vote against globalization and the neo-liberal model, which has resulted in mass poverty and unemployment throughout Latin America.

Meeting in Porto Alegre in late January at the World Social Forum, Lula’s anti-globalization stance was applauded by tens of thousands of delegates from around the World. The debate at the 2003 WSF, held barely two months  before the invasion of Iraq, was held  under the banner: “Another World is Possible”.

Ironically, while applauding Lula`s victory, nobody  — among the prominent critics of “free trade” and corporate driven globalization– who spoke at the 2003 WSF, seemed to have noticed that President Luis Ignacio da Silva`s PT government had already handed over the reigns of macro-economic reform to Wall Street and the IMF.

While embraced in chorus by progressive movements around the World, Lula’s administration was also being applauded by the main protagonists of the neoliberal model  In the words of the IMF’s Managing Director Heinrich Koeller:

I am enthusiastic [with Lula's administration]; but it is better to say I am deeply impressed by President Lula, indeed, and in particular because I do think he has the credibility which often other leaders lack a bit, and the credibility is that he is serious to work hard to combine growth-oriented policy with social equity. This is the right agenda, the right direction, the right objective for Brazil and, beyond Brazil, in Latin America. So, he has defined the right direction. Second, I think what the government, under the leadership of President Lula, has demonstrated in its first 100 days of government is also impressive and not just airing intention how they work through the process on this huge agenda of reforms. I understand that pension reform, tax reform is high on the agenda, and this is right. The third element is that the IMF listens to President Lula and the economic team, and that is our philosophy, of course, beyond Brazil. (IMF Managing Director Heinrich Koeller, Press conference, 10 April 2003, http://www.imf.org/external/np/tr/2003/tr030410.htm )

Lula appoints a Wall Street Financier to lead Brazil’s Central Bank

At the very outset of his mandate, Lula reassured foreign investors that “Brazil will not follow neighboring Argentina into default” ( Davos World Economic Forum, January 2003). Now if such is his intent, then why did he appoint to the Central Bank, a man who played a role (as president of Boston Fleet) in the Argentinean debacle and whose bank was allegedly involved in shady money transactions, which contributed to the dramatic collapse of the Argentinean Peso.

By appointing Henrique de Campos Meirelles, the president and CEO of Boston Fleet, to head the country’s Central Bank, President Luis Ignacio da Silva had essentially handed over the conduct of the nation’s finances and monetary policy to Wall Street.

Boston Fleet is the 7th largest bank in the US. After Citigroup, Boston Fleet  is Brazil’s second largest creditor institution.

The country is in financial straightjacket. The key finance/banking positions in Lula’s administration are held by Wall Street appointees:

  • The Central Bank is under the control of Boston Fleet,
  • A former senior executive of Citigroup Mr. Casio Casseb Lima  has been put in charge of the State banking giant Banco do Brazil (BB). Cassio Casseb Lima, who worked for Citigroup’s operations in Brazil, was initially recruited to BankBoston in 1976 by Henrique Meirelles. In other words, the head of BB has personal and professional links to Brazil’s two largest commercial creditors: Citigroup and Boston Fleet.

Continuity will be maintained. The new PT team in the Central Bank is a carbon copy of that appointed by  (outgoing) President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The outgoing Central Bank president Arminio Fraga was a former employee of  Quantum Fund (New York), which is owned by Wall Street financier (and speculator) George Soros.

In close liaison with Wall Street and the IMF, Lula’s appointee to the Central Bank of Brazil, Henrique de Campos Meirelles,  has maintained the policy framework of his predecessor (who was also a Wall Street appointee) : tight monetary policy, generalized austerity measures, high interest rates and a deregulated foreign exchange regime. The latter encourages speculative attacks against the Brazilian Real and capital flight, resulting in a spiraling foreign debt.

Needless to say, the IMF program in Brazil will be geared towards the eventual dismantling of the State banking system in which the new head of Banco do Brazil, a former Citibank official, will no doubt play a crucial role.

No wonder the IMF is “enthusiastic”. The main institutions of economic and financial management are in the hands the country’s creditors. Under these conditions, neoliberalism is “live and kicking”: an “alternative” macro-economic agenda, modeled on the spirit of Porto Alegre is simply not possible.

“Putting the Fox in charge of the Chicken Coop”

Boston Fleet was one among several banks and financial institutions which speculated against the Brazilian Real in 1998-99, leading to the spectacular meltdown of the Sao Paulo stock exchange on “Black Wednesday” 13 January 1999. BankBoston, which later merged with Fleet is estimated to have made a 4.5 billion dollars windfall in Brazil in the course of the Real Plan, starting with an initial investment of $100 million.(Latin Finance, 6 August 1998).

In other words, Boston Fleet is the “cause” rather than “the solution” to the country’s financial woes. Appointing the  former CEO of Boston Fleet to head the nation’s Central Bank is tantamount to “putting the fox to in charge of the chicken coop”.

The new economic team has stated that it is committed to resolving the country’s debt crisis and steering Brazil towards financial stability. Yet the policies they have adopted are likely to have exactly the opposite effects.

Replicating Argentina

It so happens that Lula’s Central Bank president, Henrique Meirelles was a staunch supporter of Argentina’s controversial Finance Minister Domingo Cavallo, who played a key role under the Menem government, in spearheading the country into a deep-seated economic and social crisis. .

According to Meirelles in a 1998 interview, who at the time was President and CEO of Bank Boston:

The most fundamental event [in Latin America] was when the stabilization plan was launched in Argentina [under Domingo Cavallo] . It was a different approach, in the sense that it wasn’t a control of prices or a control of the flow of money, but it was a control of the money supply and government finances.(Latin Finance, 6 August 1998).

It is worth noting that the so-called “control of the money supply” referred to by Meirelles, essentially means freezing the supply of credit  to local businesses, leading to the collapse of productive activity.

The results, as evidenced by the Argentina debacle, was a string of bankruptcies, leading to mass poverty and unemployment. Under the brunt of Finance Minister Cavallo’s policies, in the course of the 1990s, most State owned national and provincial banks in Argentina, which provided credit to industry and agriculture, were sold off to foreign banks. Citibank and Fleet Bank of Boston were on the receiving end of these ill-fated IMF sponsored reforms.

“Once upon a time, government-owned national and provincial banks supported the nation’s debts. But in the mid- Nineties, the government of Carlos Menem sold these off to Citibank of New York, Fleet Bank of Boston and other foreign operators. Charles Calomiris, a former World Bank adviser, describes these bank privatisations as a ‘really wonderful story’. Wonderful for whom? Argentina has bled out as much as three-quarters of a billion dollars a day in hard currency holdings.” (The Guardian, 12 August 2001)

Domingo Cavallo was the architect of “dollarization”. Acting on behalf of Wall Street, he was responsible for pegging the Peso to the US dollar in a colonial style currency board arrangement, which resulted in a spiraling external debt and the eventual breakdown of the entire monetary system.

The currency board arrangement implemented by Cavallo had been actively promoted by Wall Street, with Citigroup and Fleet Bank in the lead.

Under a currency board, money creation is controlled by external creditors. The Central Bank virtually ceases to exist. The government cannot undertake any form of domestic investment without the approval of its external creditors. The US Federal Reserve takes over the process of money creation. Credit can only be granted to domestic producers by driving up the external (dollar denominated) debt.

Financial Scam

When the Argentina crisis reached its climax in 2001, major creditor banks transferred billions of dollars out of the country. An investigation launched in early 2003 pointed not only to the alleged criminal involvement of former Argentinean finance minister Domingo Cavallo, but also to that of several foreign banks including Citibank and Boston Fleet of which Henrique Mereilles was president and CEO:

“Battling to surmount a deep economic crisis, Argentina [January 2002] targeted capital flight and tax evasion, with police searching US, British and Spanish bank offices and authorities seeking explanations from an ex-president about the origins of his Swiss fortune. Claims that as much as 26 billion dollars left the country illegally late last year prompted the police actions. Later in the day, police went to Citibank, Bank Boston [Fleet] and a subsidiary of Spain’s Santander. (…) The various lawsuits in connection with illegal capital transfers name, among others, former president Fernando de la Rua, who stepped down December 20 [2001]; his economy minister Domingo Cavallo; and Roque Maccarone, who quit as central bank chief…” (AFP, 18 January 2003).

The same banks involved in the Argentinean financial scam, including Boston Fleet under the helm of Henrique Meirelles, were also involved in similar shady money transfers operations in other countries including the Russia Federation:

“[A]s many as 10 U.S. banks might have been used to divert as much as $15 billion from Russia, sources said, citing federal investigators. Fleet Financial Group Inc. and other banks are being investigated because they have accounts that belong to or are linked to Benex International Co.which is at the center of an alleged Russian money-laundering scheme.” (Boston Business Journal, 23 September 1999)

The Brazilian Financial Reforms

Everything indicates that Wall Street’s hidden agenda is to eventually replicate the Argentinean scenario and impose “dollarization” on Brazil.  The ground work of this design was established under the Plan Real, at the outset of the presidency of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994-2002).

Henrique Meirelles, who had integrated FHC’s party the PSDB, played a key behind the scens role in setting the stage for the adoption of more fundamental financial reforms:

“In the early 1990s, I  [Meirelles] was a member of the board of the American Chamber of Commerce and in charge of an effort to begin lobbying for a change in the Brazilian Constitution. At the same time I was also chairman of the Brazilian Association of International Banks and was in charge of the effort to open up the country to foreign banks and to open the flow of money. I started a broad campaign of approaching key people, including journalists, politicians, professors and advertising professionals. When I started, everyone told me it was hopeless, that the country would never open its markets, that the country should protect its industries. Over a couple of years, I spoke to about 120 representatives. The private sector was fiercely against the opening of the markets, particularly the bankers.(Latin Finance, op cit)

Amending the Constitution

The issue of Constitutional reform was central to Wall Street’s design of economic and financial deregulation.

At the outset of Fernando Collor de Melo’s presidency in 1990, the IMF had demanded an amendment to the 1988 Constitution. There was uproar in the National Congress, with the IMF accused of “gross interference in the internal affairs of the state”.

Several clauses of the 1988 Constitution stood in the way of achieving the IMF’s proposed budget targets, which were under negotiation with the Collor administration.  IMF expenditure targets could could not be met without a massive firing of public- sector employees, requiring an amendment to a clause of the 1988 Constitution guaranteeing security of employment to federal civil servants. Also at issue was the financing formula (entrenched in the Constitution) of state and municipal-level programs from federal government sources. This formula limited the ability of the federal government to slash social expenditures and shift revenue towards debt servicing.

Blocked during the short-lived Collor adminstration,  the issue of constitutional reform was reintroduced shortly after the impeachment of President Collor de Melo. In June 1993, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who at the time was Finance Minister in the interim government of President Itamar Franco, announced budget cuts of 50 per cent in education, health and regional development while pointing to the need for revisions to the 1988 Constitution.

The IMF’s demands regarding Constitutional reform were later embodied in Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s (FHC) presidential platform. The deregulation of the banking sector was a key component of the Constitutional reform process, which at the time had been opposed by the Workers Party in both the House and the Senate.

Meanwhile Henrique Meirelles, who at the time was in charge of BankBoston’s operations in Latin America (with one foot in FHC’s party the PSDB  and the other in Wall Street), was lobbying behind the scenes in favour of constitutional reform:

“Eventually we reached an agreement that became part of the Constitutional reform. When the Constitution was first supposed to be reformed, in 1993, it didn’t happen. It didn’t get enough votes. However, after Fernando Henrique Cardoso took office, it was reformed. That particular agreement I had worked on was one of the first points in the Constitution that was actually changed. I  [Meirelles] personally was involved in a change which I think at the end of the day meant the beginning of the opening of the Brazilian capital markets. In Brazil, there were restrictions on the flow of capital, on foreign capital acquiring Brazilian banks and on international banks opening branches in Brazil as mandated by the 1988 Constitution, all of which prohibited the development of the capital markets. ” (Latin Finance, 6 August 1998).

The Plan Real

The Plan Real was launched barely a few months before the November 1993 elections while FHC was Finance Minister. The fixed peg of the Real to the US dollar, in many regards, emulated the Argentinean framework, without however instating a currency board arrangement.

Under the Plan Real, price stability was achieved. The stability of the currency was in many regards fictitious. It was sustained by driving up the external debt.

The reforms were conducive to the demise of a large number of domestic banking institutions, which were acquired by a handful of foreign banks under the privatization program launched under the FHC presidency (1994-2002).

A spiraling foreign debt ultimately precipitated a financial crash in January 1999, leading to the collapse of the Real. (for further details see Michel Chossudovsky, The Brazilian Financial Scam, http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/brazil/economy/financialScam.html , October 1998. This article was published three months before the January 1999 financial collapse. See also Michel Chossudovsky, Brazil’s IMF Sponsored Economic Disaster, 12.February 1999,  http://www.heise.de/tp/english/special/eco/6373/1.html )

Cruel Logic of IMF Rescue Loans

IMF loans are largely intended to finance capital flight. In fact this was the logic of the mutlibillion dollar loan package granted to Brazil, immediately following the October 1998 elections which led to the reelection of FHC for a second presidential term. The loan was granted barely a few months prior to the January 1999 financial meltdown:

Brazil’s foreign currency reserves have fallen from $78 billion in July 1998 to $48 billion in September. And now the IMF has offered to “lend the money back” to Brazil in the context of a “Korean style” rescue operation which will eventually require the issuing of large amounts of public debt in G-7 countries. The Brazilian authorities have insisted that the country “is not at risk” and what they are seeking is “precautionary funding” (rather than a “bail-out”) to stave of the “contagious effects”of the Asian crisis. Ironically, the amount considered by the IMF (30 billion dollars) is exactly equal to the money “taken out” of the country (during a 3 month period) in the form of capital flight . But the central bank will not be able to use the IMF loan to replenish its hard currency reserves. The bail-out money (including a large part of the $18 billion US contribution to the IMF approved by Congress in October) is intended to enable Brazil to meet current debt servicing obligations, –ie. to reimburse the speculators. The bailout money will never enter Brazil. (See Michel Chossudovsky, The Brazilian Financial Scam, op cit.)

The same logic underlies the $31.4 billion precautionary loan granted by the IMF in September 2002, barely a couple of months prior to the presidential elections. (See IMF Approves US$30.4 Billion Stand-By Credit for Brazil at  http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2002/pr0240.htm ) This IMF loan constitutes “a social safety net” for institutional speculators and hot money investors.

The IMF pumps billions of dollars into the Central Bank, Forex reserves are replenished on borrowed money. The IMF loan is granted on condition the Central Bank retains a deregulated foreign exchange market coupled with domestic interest rates at very high levels.

So-called “foreign investors” are able to transfer (in dollars) the proceeds of their “investments” in short term domestic debts (at very high interest rates) out of the country. In other words, the borrowed forex reserves from the IMF are re-appropriated by Brazil’s external creditors.

We must understand the history of successive financial crises in Brazil. With Wall Street creditors in charge, the levels of external debt have continued to climb.  The IMF has “come to the rescue” with new multibillion dollar loans, which are always conditional upon the adoption of sweeping austerity measures and the privatization of State assets. The main difference is that this process is now being undertaken under a  president, who claims to be opposed to neoliberalism.

It should be noted, however, that the new multibillion dollar IMF “precautionary loan” granted in September 2002, was negotiated by FHC, a few months before the elections. The IMF loan and the conditionalities attached to it set  the stage for a spiraling external debt during Lula’s presidential mandate. (See Brazil—Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic Policies, and Technical Memorandum of Understanding, at http://www.imf.org/external/np/loi/2002/bra/04/index.htm#mep , Brasília, August 29, 2002.)

Dollarization

With the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance under the control of the Wall Street establishment, this process will eventually lead Brazil into another financial and foreign exchange crisis. While the underlying logic is similar, based on the same financial manipulations as in 1998-99, in all likelihood it will be far more serious than that of  January 1999.

In other words, the macro-economic policies adopted by President Luis Ignacio da Silva could well result, in the foreseeable future, in debt default and the demise of the nation’s currency, leading Brazil down the path of “dollarization”. A currency board arrangement,  similar to that of Argentina could be imposed. What this means is that the US dollar would become Brazil’s proxy currency. What this means is that the country looses its economic sovereignty. Its Central Bank is defunct. As in the case of Argentina, monetary policy would be decided by the US Federal Reserve system.

While not officially part of the Free Trade Area of the America’s (FTAA) negotiations,  the adoption of the US dollar as the common currency for the Western Hemisphere is being discussed behind closed doors  Wall Street intends to extend its control throughout the hemisphere, eventually displacing or taking over remaining domestic banking institutions (including that of Brazil).

The greenback has already been imposed on five Latin American countries including Ecuador, Argentina, Panama, El Salvador and Guatemala. The economic and social consequences of “dollarization” have been devastating. In these countries, Wall Street and the US Federal Reserve system directly control monetary policy.

Brazil’s PT government should draw  the lessons of Argentina where the IMF’s economic medicine played a key role in precipitating the country into a deep-seated economic and social crisis.

Unless the present course of monetary policy is reversed, the tendency in Brazil is towards the “Argentina scenario”, with devastating economic and social consequences.

What Prospects under the Lula Presidency?

While the new  PT government presents itself as “an alternative” to neoliberalism, committed to poverty alleviation and the redistribution of wealth, its monetary and fiscal policy is in the hands of its Wall Street creditors.

Fome Zero (“zero hunger”), described as a program “to fight misery”, largely conforms to World Bank guidelines on “cost-effective poverty reduction”.  The latter require the implementation of so-called “targeted” programs, while drastically slashing social sector budgets. World Bank directives in health and education require curtailing social expenditures with a view to meeting debt servicing obligations.

The IMF and the World Bank have commended President Luis Ignacio da Silva for his commitment to “strong macroeconomic fundamentals.” As far as the IMF is concerned, Brazil “is on track” in conformity with IMF benchmarks. The World Bank has also praised the Lula government:  “Brazil is pursuing a bold social program with fiscal responsibility.”

 ”Another World is possible”?

What kind of “Alternative” is possible, when a government committed to “fighting neoliberalism”, becomes an unbending  supporter of “free trade” and “strong economic medicine.”

Beneath the surface and behind the Workers Party’s populist rhetoric, the neoliberal agenda under Lula remains functionally intact.

The grassroots movement which brought Lula to power has been betrayed. And the “progressive” Brazilian intellectuals within Lula’s inner circle bear a heavy burden of responsibility in this process. And what this “left accommodation” does is to ultimately reinforce the clutch of the Wall Street financial establishment on the Brazilian State.

“Another World” cannot be based on empty political slogans. Nor will it result from a shift in “paradigms”, which is not accompanied by real changes in power relations within Brazilian society, within the State system and within the national economy.

Meaningful change cannot result from a debate on “an alternative to neoliberalism”, which on the surface appears to be “progressive”, but which tacitly accepts the “globalizers” legitimate right to rule and plunder the developing World.

According to the White House itself, there is no evidence that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons of any kind during the two year conflict the West itself has created and continues to perpetuate. Indeed, a letter from the White House via the Washington Post exposed just how tenuous the evidence actually is (emphasis added):

Our intelligence community does assess with varying degrees of confidence that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria, specifically the chemical agent sarin. This assessment is based in part on physiological samples. Our standard of evidence must build on these intelligence assessments as we seek to establish credible and corroborated facts. For example, the chain of custody is not clear, so we cannot confirm how the exposure occurred and under what conditions. We do believe that any use of chemical weapons in Syria would very likely have originated with the Assad regime.

The US and its allies have declared the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government a “red line,” that if crossed would incur a direct military intervention which may include air and missile strikes, the establishment of a Libyan-style no-fly-zone, and perhaps even a ground invasion. Surely, the Syrian government would gain nothing from using chemical weapons if by doing so, would give the West a war it has been seeking with Syria and its ally Iran for over a decade.

Image: Chemical weapons were used extensively during the 8 year Iran-Iraq War during the 1980′s. Despite vast quantities of chemical agents being used, both mustard and nerve gas, these “weapons of mass destruction” would only constitute 2-3% of all of the war’s casualties. Not only has the West lied about Syria using chemical weapons, but they have once again lied to the world about the threat posed by such weapons in the first place.

Syria is Already Winning the War… With Conventional Weapons

Additionally, by all accounts, including now even the Western media, the Syrian Arab Army has turned the tide and is overrunning NATO’s Al Qaeda proxies across the country, including in areas considered “rebel held.” Idlib in particular has seen several stunning victories for the Syrian government, despite the province’s proximity to NATO-member Turkey, who is openly shipping torrents of weapons, cash, and terrorists over the border.

In the Independent’s article titled, “They may be fighting for Syria, not Assad. They may also be winning: Robert Fisk reports from inside Syria,” it was reported that:

The army believe they are at last winning back ground from the Free Syrian Army and the al-Nusra Islamist fighters and the various al-Qa’ida satellites that now rule much of the Syrian countryside. From Point 45 they are scarcely a mile and a half from the Turkish frontier and intend to take the ground in between. Outside Damascus they have battled their way bloodily into two rebel-held suburbs. While I was prowling through the mountaintop positions, the rebels were in danger of losing the town of Qusayr outside Homs amid opposition accusations of the widespread killing of civilians. The main road from Damascus to Latakia on the Mediterranean coast has been reopened by the army.

The Independent continues with a very telling remark (emphasis added):

Bashar’s Special Forces now appear confident, ruthless, politically motivated, a danger to their enemies, their uniforms smart, their weapons clean. Syrians have long grown used to the claims by Israel – inevitably followed by the Washington echo machine – that chemical weapons have been used by Bashar’s forces; as an intelligence officer remarked caustically in Damascus: “Why should we use chemical weapons when our Mig aircraft and their bombs cause infinitely more destruction?

The True Nature of Chemical Warfare – Lessons From the 1980′s Iran-Iraq War

MiGs, artillery, and superior ground forces are indeed vastly more effective than chemical weapons used on any scale, especially in the minute quantities the US is attempting to accuse the Syrian government of using. For a Western population weaned on Hollywood movies, ridiculous TV shows, and an endless torrent of misinformation from their corporate media news outlets, chemical weapons have been portrayed as “weapons of mass destruction,” with even small amounts causing catastrophic devastation.

Under the best conditions and with vast amounts of chemical agents, large casualties can be produced. But history has shown that generally, anything less than these circumstances would be a waste of time, resources, and of course in Syria’s case, politically and strategically unjustifiable.

A document produced by the US Marine Corps, titled, “Lessons Learned: The Iran-Iraq War” under “Appendix B: Chemical Weapons,” a comprehensive look at the all-out chemical warfare that took place during the devastating 8 year conflict is carefully documented. Several engagements are studied in detail, revealing large amounts of chemical agents deployed mainly to create areas of denial.

The effectiveness and lethality of chemical weapons is summarized in the document as follows (emphasis added):

Chemical weapons require quite particular weather and geographic conditions for optimum effectiveness. Given the relative nonpersistence of all agents employed during this war, including mustard, there was only a brief window of employment opportunity both daily and seasonally, when the agents could be used. Even though the Iraqis employed mustard agent in the rainy season and also in the marshes, its effectiveness was significantly reduced under those conditions. As the Iraqis learned to their chagrin, mustard is not a good agent to employ in the mountains, unless you own the high ground and your enemy is in the valleys.

We are uncertain as to the relative effectiveness of nerve agents since those which were employed are by nature much less persistent than mustard. In order to gain killing concentrations of these agents, predawn attacks are best, conducted in areas where the morning breezes are likely to blow away from friendly positions.

Chemical weapons have a low kill ratio. Just as in WWl, during which the ratio of deaths to injured from chemicals was 2-3 percent, that figure appears to be borne out again in this war although reliable data on casualties are very difficult to obtain. We deem it remarkable that the death rate should hold at such a low level even with the introduction of nerve agents. If those rates are correct, as they well may be, this further reinforces the position that we must not think of chemical weapons as “a poor man’s nuclear weapon.” While such weapons have great psychological potential, they are not killers or destroyers on a scale with nuclear or biological weapons.

According the US military’s own conclusions, the use of chemical weapons only enhance conventional warfare, but are not suitable for wiping out large swaths of enemy troops. Their effectiveness is such that the Syrian government could not justify their use, thus risk incurring direct Western military intervention. Therefore, for what strategic purpose would the Syrian Arab Army deploy chemical agents on a “small scale?”  If the Syrian military already holds the initiative with far more effective conventional weapons, what purpose besides inviting the West to intervene militarily, could using quantities of chemical agents far too small to achieve any tactical gain serve?

A Desperate Fabrication – Remember “Curveball”

Conversely, it appears much more likely that such “small scale” use of chemical agents has been used to fabricate a badly needed justification for war with Syria, and open the door for the West to intervene on behalf of a devastated proxy force that is being finally swept away by the Syrian Arab Army.

Almost immediately after the US and its allies attempted to accuse Syria of using chemical weapons on a “small scale,” global backlash recalled similar allegations, which turned out also to be fabricated, in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In the British Independent’s 2012 article, “Man whose WMD lies led to 100,000 deaths confesses all: Defector tells how US officials ‘sexed up’ his fictions to make the case for 2003 invasion,” it was stated:

A man whose lies helped to make the case for invading Iraq – starting a nine-year war costing more than 100,000 lives and hundreds of billions of pounds – will come clean in his first British television interview tomorrow.

“Curveball”, the Iraqi defector who fabricated claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, smiles as he confirms how he made the whole thing up. It was a confidence trick that changed the course of history, with Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi’s lies used to justify the Iraq war.

He tries to defend his actions: “My main purpose was to topple the tyrant in Iraq because the longer this dictator remains in power, the more the Iraqi people will suffer from this regime’s oppression.”

The Independent continues:

But Mr Janabi, speaking in a two-part series, Modern Spies, starting tomorrow on BBC2, says none of it was true. When it is put to him “we went to war in Iraq on a lie. And that lie was your lie”, he simply replies: “Yes.”

US officials “sexed up” Mr Janabi’s drawings of mobile biological weapons labs to make them more presentable, admits Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, General Powell’s former chief of staff. “I brought the White House team in to do the graphics,” he says, adding how “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy”.

How “intelligence was being worked to fit around the policy,” indeed is the most important aspect of the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq, and is without doubt what is being done in Washington, Doha, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv in regards to Syria now.

Those behind the current conspiracy against Syria hope that the public possesses no understanding whatsoever regarding chemical weapons and their true tactical utility as well as their many limitations. They hope that the public never fully realizes that “small scale” use is essentially an admission that the weapons were not used tactically, but at best, used to fabricate a pretext for war by the West and its terrorist proxies.

As the West realizes how politically unsustainable yet another war waged on a blatantly false pretense will be, it may turn to even uglier options in order to topple the Syrian government and to save face after a humiliating stand-down from their “red line.” The West’s legitimacy has long since been exhausted. Its reputation has been permanently disfigured by special interests that have commandeered and abused it.

While Syria and its allies continue to fight against this proxy-war of aggression, it is incumbent upon the rest of us to identify the corporate-financier special interests behind this war, boycott and permanently replace them with local solutions. If allowed to succeed in grave injustices against the Syrian people, these interests will be emboldened to abuse, exploit, and torment others, including those within their own borders.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has done it.  He has succeeded in creating a new housing bubble.  By driving mortgage rates down to the lowest level in 100 years and recklessly printing money with wild abandon, Bernanke has been able to get housing prices to rebound a bit.  In fact, in some of the more prosperous areas of the country you would be tempted to think that it is 2005 all over again. 

If you can believe it, in some areas of the country builders are actually holding lotteries to see who will get the chance to buy their homes.  Wow – that sounds great, right?  Unfortunately, this “housing recovery” is not based on solid economic fundamentals. 

As you will see below, this is a recovery that is being led by investors.  They are paying cash for cheap properties that they believe will appreciate rapidly in the coming years.  Meanwhile, the homeownership rate in the United States continues to decline.  It is now the lowest that it has been since 1995.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  Number one, there has not been a jobs recovery in the United States.  The percentage of working age Americans with a job has not rebounded at all and is still about the exact same place where it was at the end of the last recession.  Secondly, crippling levels of student loan debt continue to drive down the percentage of young people that are buying homes.  So no, this is not a real housing recovery.  It is an investor-led recovery that is mostly limited to the more prosperous areas of the country.  For example, the median sale price of a home in Washington D.C. just hit a new all-time record high.  But this bubble will not last, and when this new housing bubble does burst, will it end as badly as the last one did?

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has stated over and over that one of his main goals is to “support the housing market” (i.e. get housing prices to go up).  It took a while, but it looks like he is finally getting his wish.  According to USA Today, U.S. home prices have been rising at the fastest rate in nearly seven years…

U.S. home prices in the USA’s 20 biggest cities rose 9.3% in the 12 months ending in February. It was the biggest annual growth rates in almost seven years, a closely watched housing index out Tuesday said.

In particular, home prices have been rising most rapidly in cities that experienced a boom during the last housing bubble…

Year over year, Phoenix continued to stand out with a gain of 23%, followed by San Francisco at almost 19% and Las Vegas at nearly 18%, the S&P/Case-Shiller index showed. Most of the cities seeing the biggest gains also fell hardest during the crash.

But is this really a reason for celebration?  Instead of addressing the fundamental problems in our economy that caused the last housing crash, Bernanke has been seemingly obsessed with reinflating the housing bubble.  As a recent article by Edward Pinto explained, the housing market is being greatly manipulated by the government and by the Fed…

While a housing recovery of sorts has developed, it is by no means a normal one. The government continues to go to extraordinary lengths to prop up sales by guaranteeing nearly 90% of new mortgage debt, financing half of all home purchase mortgages to buyers with zero equity at closing, driving mortgage interest rates to the lowest level in 100 years, and turning the Fed into the world’s largest buyer of new mortgage debt.

Thus, with real incomes essentially stagnant, this is a market recovery largely driven by low interest rates and plentiful government financing. This is eerily familiar to the previous government policy-induced boom that went bust in 2006, and from which the country is still struggling to recover. Creating over a trillion dollars in additional home value out of thin air does sound like a variant of dropping money out of helicopters.

And the Obama administration has been pushing very hard to get lenders to give mortgages to those with “weaker credit”.  In other words, the government is once again trying to get the banks to give home loans to people that cannot afford them.  The following is from the Washington Post

The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

President Obama’s economic advisers and outside experts say the nation’s much-celebrated housing rebound is leaving too many people behind, including young people looking to buy their first homes and individuals with credit records weakened by the recession.

We are repeating so many of the same mistakes that we made the last time.

But surely things will turn out differently this time, right?

I wouldn’t count on it.

Right now, an increasingly large percentage of homes are being purchased as investments.  The following is from a recent Washington Times article…

Much of the pickup in sales and prices has been powered by investors who, convinced that the market is bottoming, are scooping up bountiful supplies of distressed and foreclosed properties at bargain prices and often paying with cash.

With investors targeting lower-priced homes that they intend to purchase and rent out, they have been crowding out many first-time buyers who are having difficulty getting mortgage loans and are at a disadvantage when competing with well-heeled buyers. Cash sales to investors now account for about one-third of all home sales, according to the National Association of Realtors.

And as we have seen in the past, an investor-led boom can turn into an investor-led bust very rapidly.

If this truly was a real housing recovery, the percentage of Americans that own a home would be going up.

Instead, it is going down.

As I mentioned above, the U.S. Census Bureau is reporting that the homeownership rate in the United States is now the lowest that it has been since 1995.

In particular, homeownership among college-educated young people is way down.  They can’t afford to buy homes due to crippling levels of student loan debt

For the average homeowner, the worst news is that these overleveraged and defaulting young borrowers no longer qualify for other kinds of loans — particularly home loans. In 2005, nearly nine percent of 25- to 30-year-olds with student debt were granted a mortgage. By late last year, that percentage, as an annual rate, was down to just above four percent.

The most precipitous drop was among those who owe $100,000 or more. New mortgages among these more deeply indebted borrowers have declined 10 percentage points, from above 16 percent in 2005 to a little more than 6 percent today.

“These are the people you’d expect to buy big houses,” said student loan expert Heather Jarvis. “They owe a lot because they have a lot of education. They have been through professional and graduate schools, but their payments are so significant, they have trouble getting a mortgage. They have mortgage-sized loans already.”

And the truth is that there simply are not enough good jobs in this country to support a housing recovery.  In a previous article, I used the government’s own statistics to prove that there has not been a jobs recovery.  If we were having a jobs recovery, the percentage of working age Americans with a job would be going up.  Sadly, that is not happening…

Employment-Population Ratio 2013

 

And as I mentioned above, the “housing recovery” is mostly happening in the prosperous areas of the country.

In other areas of the United States, the devastating results of the last housing crash are still clearly apparent.

For example, the city of Dayton, Ohio is dealing with an estimated 7,000 abandoned properties.

As I wrote about the other day, there are approximately 70,000 abandoned buildings in Detroit, Michigan.

And all over the nation there are still “ghost towns” that were created when builders abruptly abandoned housing developments during the last recession.  You can see some pictures of some of these ghost towns right here.

So the truth is that this is an isolated housing recovery that is being led by investors and that is being fueled by very reckless behavior by the Federal Reserve.  It is not based on economic reality whatsoever.

In the end, will the collapse of this new housing bubble be as bad as the collapse of the last one was?

A diferencia de otros levantamientos, este movimiento, así como la despiadada represión contra los manifestantes han sido prácticamente ignorados por los medios de comunicación”

La primavera árabe en Iraq

A pesar del inmenso trauma que el pueblo iraquí ha padecido durante la violenta ocupación de su país, a pesar de todos los asesinatos, de la limpieza étnica y del desplazamiento forzado, su voluntad de resistir no se ha quebrantado. Nicolas Davies afirma: “[…] Los altos cargos estadounidenses estaban perfectamente preparados para reducir el destino del pueblo iraquí a una lucha sangrienta respecto a la que creían que, en última instancia, su propia capacidad para una violencia mucho mayor demostraría ser decisiva. Como en Vietnam, descubrieron que sus armas podían destruir Iraq pero no conquistarlo”. [1]

Manifestaciones en Adamiya, 23 de marzo de 2013

La resistencia armada no ha cesado nunca desde 2003 y actualmente todavía lleva a cabo unas 200 operaciones semanales contra el ejército estadounidense e iraquí, y contra la Policía Nacional, a pesar de la despiadada represión de las fuerzas de ocupación y de sus títeres locales, pero desde la invasión y subsiguiente ocupación del país también han tenido lugar frecuentes protestas no violentas. En los últimos años, además de las protestas contra la ocupación y el nepotismo, y en favor de los derechos de la mujer, Iraq también ha sido testigo de la emergencia de un poderoso movimiento de trabajadores. Por todo Iraq médicos, enfermeros, taxistas, personal de las universidades, policías, agentes de aduanas y personal de los servicios de urgencia han realizado repetidamente protestas no violentas, huelgas, sentadas y paros; lo han hecho para llamar la atención sobre problemas importantes como sus pésimas condiciones laborales, los problemas que sufren por las diferentes fuerzas de seguridad, las presiones bajo las que trabajan, los despidos injustos, la ineficaz legislación del gobierno y la peligrosa naturaleza de sus trabajos, pero las protestas pacíficas cada vez son mayores. [2]

Como se ha mencionado antes, las necesidades básicas como el agua potable, electricidad en condiciones, recogida de basuras, un sistema de tratamiento de aguas residuales que funcione, trabajo, atención sanitaria, etc., están fuera del alcance de la gran mayoría de los iraquíes. Las quejas son cada vez mayores porque el suministro eléctrico público solo dura unas horas al día. La policía iraquí utilizó mangueras y porras para dispersar a los manifestantes en la ciudad de Nasiriya, al sur del país después de que el 22 de agosto de 2010 estallaran las protestas a causa de los agobiantes cortes de electricidad y los inadecuados servicios. En junio de 2010 se produjeron manifestaciones similares en Nasiriya cuando mil manifestantes trataron de tomar el edificio del gobierno provincial y se enfrentaron a la policía, y también en Basora, donde dos personas murieron en los enfrentamientos con la policía. [3]

En junio de 2010, las violentas protestas que se produjeron en varias ciudades por los cortes de electricidad en Basora y en otros muchos lugares obligaron a dimitir a Kareem Wahid, ministro de Electricidad de Iraq. [4]

Los levantamientos en Túnez y Egipto, entre diciembre de 2010 y enero de 2011, inspiraron a los iraquíes a tomar las calles. La primera vez fue el 30 de enero con dos manifestaciones en Bagdad. Cien personas se reunieron en la plaza Firdos, el lugar en el que durante la invasión de 2003 se produjo el famoso derribo de la Saddam Huseín. Aunque los iraquíes querían demostrar su solidaridad con el pueblo de Egipto, también tenían sus propias reivindicaciones. Pedían un gobierno, unos servicios y una seguridad mejores. Se produjeron otras protestas en la Plaza Tahrir cerca de la Zona Verde, en las que también se mencionaron unos servicios mejores, aunque también se reivindicaba que las autoridades no expulsaran a las personas que habían ocupado edificios públicos. Al día siguiente se produjo también otra manifestación en la capital [5].

Desde febrero de 2011 se han organizado manifestaciones y protestas a diario en muchas ciudades iraquíes, a las que los medios de comunicación dominantes no han dado cobertura. El 4 de febrero la policía disparó al azar contra cientos de manifestantes en el distrito de al-Hamza en la provincia de al-Diwaniya, al sur de Iraq, y mató a una persona e hirió a cuatro. El incidente se produjo después de que el 3 de febrero el Parlamento iraquí publicara una declaración en la que condenaba el uso de la violencia contra los manifestantes en Egipto e instaba a que se respetaran los derechos humanos. Los manifestantes llevaron lámparas y sacos pequeños de azúcar para simbolizar sus reivindicaciones de comida y electricidad.

El 10 de febrero, una manifestación del sindicato de abogados en Basora incluyó la reivindicación de los derechos de la mujer y de transparencia en las finanzas del gobierno. En Bagdad los manifestantes denunciaron los informes sobre torturas, que respalda el gobierno, y otras violaciones de derechos que suceden en las cárceles secretas. A finales de enero, la protesta en Kirkuk se centró en los excesivos cortes de electricidad. La noche del domingo 13 de febrero los residentes en un complejo de viviendas subvencionadas cercano a la célebre Zona Verde de Bagdad se reunieron cerca de una de las entradas de ésta para acusar al primer ministro de obligarlos a abandonar sus viviendas únicamente para permitir que se mudaran a ellas sus aliados en el aparato de seguridad. [6] Ese mismo día en Mosul murió un hombre trasprenderse fuego a sí mismo para protestar por el desempleo. [7]

El lunes 4 de febrero de 2011 se organizó una sentada a largo plazo en diferentes partes del país, incluida la plaza Firdos en el centro de Bagdad, y ante los edificios del gobierno de Diwaniya, Basora, Faluya y Kirkuk. El Movimiento Popular para la Salvación de Iraq, el Frente para la Salvación de Kirkuk, la Organización de Estudiantes y Jóvenes Iraquíes Libres y el Movimiento para la Liberación de Sur organizaron esta manifestación. En la convocatoria se decía: “[…] Esta manifestación pacífica exige la retirada incondicional e inmediata de la ocupación, así como una mejora de los servicios públicos básicos. [La protesta] se realizará en diferentes provincias y ello es la expresión de la unidad de todo el pueblo. También exigimos al gobierno establecido en la Zona Verde la creación de empleo para la juventud iraquí y que los criminales que han perpetrado asesinatos contra el pueblo iraquí y los acusados de corrupción y del desvío de dinero público asuman sus responsabilidades, así como que se les juzgue inmediatamente. Exigimos la inmediata liberación de todos los presos y advertimos de que a menos que se satisfagan estas reivindicaciones, esta manifestación pacífica se convertirá en un levantamiento en todas las ciudades iraquíes, desde Zako a Fao, y que Dios nos ayude”.

Nuestras reivindicaciones actuales son:

1. Erradicar la corrupción y juzgar a aquellas personas que han malversado o despilfarrado fondos públicos.

2. Proporcionar las ayudas completas de acuerdo con el sistema de racionamiento y garantizar una cobertura completa para todos. Iniciar planes de acción inmediatos con el fin de mejorar los servicios públicos básicos.

3. La liberación de los presos que no han sido juzgados o acusados y que se den a conocer de manera inmediata todas las cárceles secretas.

4. Proporcionar oportunidades de empleo a los jóvenes.

5. La puesta en marcha inmediata de atención y del apoyo financiero para los millones de huérfanos y viudas, y la subida de las pensiones.

Estas son nuestras reivindicaciones principales; son las reivindicaciones de la mayoría del pueblo iraquí. Pedimos a nuestros jóvenes que se unan a la manifestación en defensa de estas reivindicaciones nacionales basadas en el sincero deseo de independencia nacional, de reconstruir Iraq y de preservar la unidad y la dignidad de su gente. Deploramos cualquier intento de monopolizar de forma partidista o de manipulación política de este movimiento popular.

Las fuerzas estadounidenses e iraquíes atacaron a los manifestantes pacíficos de la Plaza Firdos con porras y mangueras; rompieron sus pancartas y desmantelaron su campamento. Uday Al Zeidy (hermano de Muntadher Al Zaidi), uno de los organizadores, fue detenido y trasladado con paradero desconocido, lo golpearon y torturaron; las fuerzas especiales del Ministerio del Interior detuvieron también a otros diez manifestantes. La multitud también acusó al consejo provincial de abuso de poder por cerrar los bares y las tiendas de venta de licores.

En un intento por detener las protestas, el primer ministro Maliki ordenó la bajada de sueldo del primer ministro en un 50%, y que la diferencia se devolviera a los presupuestos del Estado iraquí a partir de febrero de 2011. Un día después, anunció que no se iba a presentar para un tercer mandato, aunque legalmente tuviera la posibilidad de hacerlo.

El 16 de febrero murieron tres personas y decenas resultaron heridas en los enfrentamientos entre las fuerzas de seguridad y los manifestantes en Kut, provincia de Wasit, al sur de Iraq después de que unas 2.000 personas atacaran las oficinas del gobierno en protesta por los pésimos servicios públicos. Se prendió fuego a tres edificios del gobierno, incluida la residencia oficial del gobernador.

El 17 de febrero estallaron nuevas protestas en varias ciudades y los guardias de seguridad privada de la ciudad de Suleimaniya, en Kurdistán, dispararon contra un grupo de manifestantes que trataba de asaltar las oficinas del dirigente de la región [8]; mataron a una persona e hirieron a otras 57 [9].

El 19 de febrero varios miles de manifestantes tomaron las calles del centro de Suleimaniya para exigir que asumieran sus responsabilidades quienes dos días antes habían disparado contra los manifestantes, matado a otras dos personas y herido casi a una cincuentena. Antes de esto, en la universidad de la ciudad unos mil estudiantes también se manifestaron para exigir disculpas a Barzan. En Bagdad se reunieron unas 1.500 personas en una manifestación organizada por varias ONG que trataban de poner de relieve la difícil situación en la que se encuentran algunos de los ciudadanos y ciudadanas más vulnerables de Iraq: las viudas y los huérfanos [10]. “[…] Hasta el momento han muerto tres personas y más de cien han resultado heridas”, informaba Reuters, en los enfrentamientos entre los manifestantes y las milicias fuertemente armadas vinculadas a los dos partidos gobernantes en la región semiautómona kurda de Iraq [11]. Lo que une a los manifestantes es su determinación de que las manifestaciones sigan siendo pacíficas, a pesar de la salvaje reacción por parte de los miembros de seguridad y de la policía, como es el disparar y detener a los manifestantes, y herir y matar a varios de ellos en Kut, Suleimaniya y Bagdad.

El 20 de febrero, en la Plaza Tahrir, el periodista Riad al-Rubaie murió en plena manifestación pacífica de jóvenes después de que la policía le golpeara duramente en presencia de los manifestantes.

Al amanecer del 21 de febrero Fuerzas de seguridad, con atuendo civil, irrumpieron en la acampada de la Plaza Tahrir, atacaron a los manifestantes con instrumentos y hojas afiladas, y mataron a una persona e hirieron gravemente a otras nueve. Los manifestantes heridos afirmaron que las fuerzas de seguridad les habían pedido que abandonaran el lugar. Después de medianoche, las fuerzas de seguridad se retiraron del lugar para dejar paso a unos sesenta hombres armados con lanzas, bastones y porras eléctricas para que atacaran el campamento: lo asaltaron y quemaron la tienda de la acampada.

El 24 de febrero de 2011 unos soldados asaltaron la oficina del Observatorio de Libertades Periodísticas, el único grupo de defensa de los medios del país. “[…] Querían hacernos callar con el fin de preparar el camino para lo que ya tenían planeado hacer”, afirma Ziad al-Ajili, director del grupo. Los soldados confiscaron discos duros, cámaras y otros archivos. Cuando en febrero de 2011 empezaron las revueltas populares, los agentes del gobierno empezaron a detener a los periodistas iraquíes que asistían a ellas, a confiscar sus cámaras y cuadernos de notas. Una vez silenciados los cronistas locales, los equipos de seguridad irrumpieron golpeando a grandes cantidades de manifestantes y utilizando gases lacrimógenos, cañones de agua y balas para dispersar a la multitud. En febrero murieron noventa personas y varios miles fueron detenidos. Ajili calcula que en los cinco días de protestas detuvieron a 160 periodistas [12]. Señaló en los meses transcurridos desde entonces cientos de periodistas más han sido detenidos o golpeados [13]. El 8 de septiembre de 2011, el periodista Hadi al-Mahdi’s fue asesinado en Bagdad. Era la víspera de las protestas a escala nacional que él apoyaba. Le dispararon dos veces en la cabeza. No puede caber la menor dudad de que este crimen tenía una motivación política. [14] Hadi al-Mahdi, que había sido detenido el 25 de febrero de 2011, declaró a Amnistía Internacional que había recibido descargas eléctricas en los pies y que cuando lo interrogaba la policía le amenazaron con violarlo. Desde entonces había recibido continuas amenazas. Entonces, la juventud iraquí declaró ese día, el 25 de febrero de 2011, el ‘Viernes de la ira’ y convocó manifestaciones en Bagdad y en el resto del país. A través de Twitter, Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Iraqe.Revolution) y de páginas web creadas especialmente como http://www.iraqi-revolution.com/home.html yhttp://www.wammdh.com/user , la juventud iraquí organizó y discutió medios y acciones, e intercambió información e ideas. Resulta bastante normal que la juventud esté en la primera línea de los movimientos de protesta si se considera que la media de edad en Iraq es de 20,9 años (hombres: 20,8 años, mujeres 21 años [15]) y que normalmente los corazones y las mentes jóvenes albergan la esperanza en un futuro mejor y la negativa a aceptar la injusticia.

La manifestación era totalmente independiente de cualquier corriente política y expresaba las reivindicaciones y sentimientos populares. El ‘Viernes de la ira’ fue el resultado de las paulatinas muestras de la rabia del pueblo iraquí durante los ocho años de destrucción, pillaje y saqueo, violación y catástrofe total. Resulta interesante leer sus consignas y reivindicaciones:

* Basta de silencio. Nuestra paciencia se ha agotado.

* Somos como camellos: comemos hierbajos y transportamos oro.

* Nuestros ingresos anuales por el petróleo son de 100 mil millones de dólares, sin embargo no podemos encontrar pan para comer.

* Muerte a la democracia que nos lleva de lo malo a lo peor.

* Muerte a la democracia que no reconoce unas titulaciones impecables.

* Muerte a la democracia que ha convertido a la gente en extranjeros en su propia patria.

* Muerte a la democracia que mira hacia otra parte mientras los ministros roban y malversan miles de millones y facilitan que huyan de la justicia [referencia al ministro de Electricidad, al de Comercio, etc.].

* Muerte a la democracia que roba el banco a plena luz del día [referencia al robo del banco de Rafidain en Zuwiya].

* Muerte a la democracia que ha prometido transparencia, pero ha creado un ambiente oscuro.

* Muerte a la democracia que ha convertido las posiciones de poder en una religión de culto.

* Muerte a la democracia de asesinatos con pistolas con silenciador.

* Muerte a la democracia que asesina a nuestros mejores académicos y científicos y los sustituye con personas ignorantes que apenas saben leer y escribir.

* Muerte a la democracia de la muerte y decapitación.

* Muerte a la democracia de la pobreza, el atraso y el asesinato.

* Muerte a la democracia que detiene a los asesinos, los deja en libertad y ¡afirma que han escapado!

* Muerte a la democracia que asesinó a los escritores de la oposición y a aquellos que defienden la verdad.

* Muerte a la democracia de las cuotas étnicas y sectarias.

* Muerte a la democracia que nos trajo un cáncer de muros de separación en nuestra querida Bagdad.

Algunas de estas consignas se refieren a la espantosa situación de la educación superior de Iraq y al asesinato de académicos. Otras van dirigidas contra la mínima calidad de los servicios públicos, contra la corrupción, contra las políticas de escuadrones de la muerte y contra la falta de libertad.

Estas protestas son nacionales, no sectarias; la juventud iraquí, la principal instigadora de este movimiento, desafía al gobierno iraquí, sectario y colaboracionista, y rebate los planes estadounidenses e iraníes para el país: no a la partición de Iraq y sí a la electricidad, al empleo, al agua potable, y a la atención sanitaria y a la educación gratuitas; no a la corrupción, no a las ejecuciones sumarias y a los escuadrones de la muerte. No al terrorismo que patrocina el Estado. Estos manifestantes iraquíes quieren un Iraq unido y quieren que el dinero de su propio petróleo se utilice para los servicios públicos. Estos movimientos de protesta son una señal de esperanza, de esperanza en el cambio, de esperanza en que el pueblo iraquí pueda, como nación, revertir la mortífera espiral de limpieza étnica, sectarismo, desesperación y de la cultura de la muerte importada por los jinetes estadounidenses del Apocalipsis y sus títeres iraquíes.

El hecho de que las protestas estallaran simultáneamente en muchas ciudades iraquíes demuestra que existe algún tipo de organización nacional y que las protestas no se produjeron espontáneamente. Y se puede sacar otra conclusión: la resistencia y las organizaciones de la sociedad civil iraquíes se manifestaron codo con codo durante las protestas. Existe un importante debate acerca del uso de métodos violentos o no violentos para acabar con la ocupación y desafiar al gobierno colaboracionista. Algunas organizaciones de la sociedad civil se oponen tajantemente a la resistencia armada iraquí e incluso algunas de ellas la califican de ‘terrorista’. Al verse frente a la violencia de Estado del gobierno de Maliki contra manifestantes pacíficos, estas discusiones temporalmente se acabaron y muchos grupos contrarios a la oposición trabajaron juntos para denunciar la espantosa situación económica y la corrupción del país.

Las protestas en Iraq no han sido tanto en torno al cambio de régimen como ha ocurrido en otros países de la región, sino acciones pacíficas relacionadas con el ritmo de las reformas del actual gobierno electo, las dimensiones del desempleo en el país y las acusaciones de corrupción en muchos ámbitos de la vida pública. [16] La situación en Iraq es totalmente diferente de otros levantamientos en el mundo árabe. A diferencia de otros países, Iraq se encuentra bajo una ocupación extranjera desde 2003. Durante los últimos ocho años, el movimiento antiocupación ha intentado un cambio de régimen; el resultado de luchar simultáneamente contra la ocupación estadounidense y contra el dictatorial gobierno títere instalado por ella han sido diez mil víctimas y el pueblo iraquí ha sufrido enormemente. Por la dura represión, la política indiscriminada de castigo colectivo y los escuadrones de la muerte, muchas personas están cansadas de luchar y ahora tratan desesperadamente de mejorar sus condiciones de vida y de ejercer sus derechos democráticos mediante medios pacíficos, aunque estén tan hartas de esta mortal ocupación como lo estaban hace ocho años.


Recientes manifestaciones en Dulaimiya (23-04-2013) Foto: IraqiSpring.

Todas las capas de la sociedad civil se unieron a los movimientos de protesta por todo el país. Llegaron a pie, chiíes y sunníes, cristianos; personas de la tercera edad, mujeres, adolescentes y niños. La mayoría estaban ahí para apoyar las libertades por las que los iraquíes han luchado tan duramente por mantener durante los últimos ocho años. Incluso participaron en las protestas de los partidos políticos implicados que forman parte del proceso político, como el Partido Nacional Iraquí y el Partido Comunista Iraquí, así como las de las organizaciones de masas afiliadas a ellos. También hay que señalar que el movimiento de protesta es un mosaico de diferentes organizaciones, con diversas reivindicaciones y consignas, que a veces se manifiestan simultáneamente en la misma ciudad en diferentes lugares. No obstante, el hecho de que eligieran manifestarse el mismo día y lo sigan haciendo demuestra que se dan cuenta de la fuerza de la solidaridad y del hecho de hablar con una sola voz para condenar la espantosa situación que existe en el país y las desastrosas políticas que ejecuta su gobierno corrupto. Se podría argumentar que en las protestas en Iraq no se ve a una nación protestando como en Egipto, sino a diferentes grupos sectarios con intereses divergentes. A esto se podría responder que los partidos gobernantes de al-Maliki y de Moqtada as-Sáder urgieron a sus seguidores a no participar en las protestas, pero a pesar de esta prohibición muchos chiíes participaron en el movimiento de protesta y con frecuencia se oye la consigna “Somos una nación, somos un pueblo”.

El 23 de febrero, los organismos de seguridad y los servicios de inteligencia advirtieron a los propietarios de los edificios que rodean la Plaza Tahrir de las consecuencias de permitir a fotógrafos y periodistas permanecer en los tejados y les hicieron constar por escrito la advertencia, para intentar impedir la cobertura mediática del acto del viernes 25 de febrero. El coronel Hamid Kadim, Director de adiestramiento de la Policía en el Ministerio del Interior, ha dimitido por negarse a obedecer las órdenes de atacar a los manifestantes.

Las protestas empezaron pacíficamente pero se fueron volviendo más agresivas. Un grupo de manifestantes se congregó en el cercano puente Jumhuriya que cruza el río Tigris hacia la Zona Verde e intentó derribar los muros blindados de hormigón que se habían instalado un poco antes de las protestas [17]. Una encolerizada multitud tomó una comisaría local de policía en Kirkuk, prendió fuego a una oficina provincial en Mosul y golpeó con estruendo las vallas que rodeaban las oficinas locales del gobierno de Tikrit, lo que dio lugar a que las fuerzas de seguridad dispararan fuego real. Se informó de que habían muerto al menos tres personas en la zona de Tikrit y otras tres en Kirkuk. También se informó de que habían muerto dos personas en Kurdistán, en el norte, y otra en Basora [18].

A la caída de la tarde en Bagdad las fuerzas de seguridad utilizaron las mangueras de agua y estallaron bombas sonoras para dispersar a los manifestantes; persiguieron a varios de ellos por las calles y callejones, y según un testigo, asesinaron a uno de ellos.

Un día después del ‘Viernes de la ira’, que sacó a decenas de miles de iraquíes a las calles en manifestaciones por toda la nación, y que acabó con los soldados disparando contra la multitud, las fuerzas de seguridad iraquíes detuvieron a cientos de personas, incluidos destacados periodistas, artistas e intelectuales.

Cuatro periodistas que fueron puestos en libertad contaron que los detuvieron mucho después de que abandonaran la protesta en la Plaza Tahrir de Bagdad. Afirmaron que los soldados de una unidad de inteligencia del ejército los habían esposado, tapado los ojos, golpeado y amenazado con ejecutarlos.

Durante las manifestaciones en todo el país murieron al menos 29 personas; mientras, la multitud asaltó edificios provinciales, obligó a los agentes locales a dimitir y a libertar a los presos [19]. En Faluya murieron seis personas y otras seis en Mosul, y se informó de otros muertos en cinco incidentes diferentes en todo el país [20].

Como era de esperar, la embajada estadounidense en Bagdad restó importancia a la violencia del viernes, así como a las draconianas medidas tomadas por Maliki para reprimir a los asistentes. Las fuerzas de seguridad de Iraq “[…] No han utilizado la fuerza contra manifestantes pacíficos en general”, afirmó Aaron Snipe, un portavoz de la embajada. “[…] Apoyamos el derecho del pueblo iraquí a expresar libremente sus puntos de vista políticos, a manifestarse pacíficamente y a tratar de obtener compensaciones de su gobierno. Este ha sido siempre nuestro mensaje en Iraq y en toda la región”.

La cantidad de personas que participaron en el ‘Viernes de la ira’ fue inmensa teniendo en cuenta que se celebró después de un toque de queda impuesto a coches e incluso bicicletas para obligar a andar a los participantes a, menudo miles, a tener que andar. También hubo peticiones por parte de Maliki y de clérigos chiíes, incluido Moqtada as-Sáder, de permanecer en casa. Maliki calificó a los manifestantes de ‘enemigos de la libertad’, y sus altos cargos emitieron comunicados que insinuaban que detrás de las protestas estaba la oposición política al proceso político en el país. Algunos llegaron incluso a acusar a al-Qaeda y a los bacistas de participar.

Como demuestran los levantamientos en Túnez y Bahrein, los sindicatos desempeñan un papel clave en los movimientos de masas que exigen dignidad, justicia y democracia. En Iraq son un antídoto que se necesita imperiosamente contra el creciente autoritarismo y sectarismo. Los sindicatos también han desempeñando un papel fundamental en la defensa de los derechos de la mujer [21]. Antes de que estallaran los enfrentamientos más graves en varias ciudades iraquíes durante las protestas del 25 de febrero, los sindicatos en Iraq habían llevado a cabo huelgas y protestas reivindicando una nueva ley del trabajo que otorgue a los sindicatos del sector público todos los derechos.

El 14 de febrero miles de trabajadores se congregaron el centro de Bagdad. Los manifestantes se concentraron en la Plaza Tahrir de la capital y corearon consignas para exigir que el gobierno, respaldado por Irán, emprenda acciones para acabar con el desempleo, aumenten los salarios y se frene el precio, cada vez más alto, de los alimentos. Muchos mostraban pancartas con la imagen de un corazón roto en referencia al día de San Valentín, mientras que otros llevaban pancartas que exigían que los altos cargos corruptos asuman sus responsabilidades [22].

Las huelgas más recientes comenzaron el 13 de febrero cuando una filial de trabajadores del gas y del petróleo de la Federación General de Trabajadores Iraquíes (GFIW, en sus siglas en inglés) organizó protestas en las instalaciones de la Compañía de Petróleo del Norte en Kirkuk. Las acciones de protesta en el norte de Iraq se repitieron el 24 de febrero. Al día siguiente, como parte del ‘Viernes de la ira’, la GFIW y sus afiliados en Basora protestaron para exigir una ley del trabajo que otorgue, por fin, derechos a los trabajadores y sindicatos iraquíes. Las manifestaciones organizadas en Basora por la GFIW exigían también políticas públicas para reducir el desempleo, especialmente entre los jóvenes, servicios básicos para todos los ciudadanos y mejoras en las cartillas de racionamiento. [23] Los saderistas (seguidores de Moqtada as-Sáder) han orquestado algo similar a un golpe de la sociedad civil al apoderarse del movimiento independiente de trabajadores del país. Son una pequeña minoría, aunque importante, en la coalición de gobierno del país y consiguieron el control del Ministerio de Trabajo tras las últimas elecciones. Para preparar las elecciones sindicales, estos altos cargos saderistas han estado emitiendo sus propios carnés sindicales, lo que de hecho les otorga el derecho a decidir quién puede votar. En un incidente similar en 2010 (y un signo preocupante de lo que está por venir) la cabina de votación para las elecciones sindicales se encontraba dentro de las oficinas del Partido Saderista. En abril de 2011, el ministro de Trabajo promulgó un decreto que retiraba inmediatamente el reconocimiento a la GFIW y, en cambio, nombraba un comité de altos cargos en su mayoría procedentes de las filas saderistas para asumir el control de los fondos y oficinas de los sindicatos, y encargarse de las siguientes elecciones. [24] Y esto es dolorosamente sectario. En Basora, los siete altos cargos que pidieron las llaves de la oficina del sindicato local eran del partido saderista. El Informe Anual de 2011 sobre violaciones de los derechos de los sindicatos en Iraq mencionaba que “[…] En enero el personal del hotel más famoso de Bagdad fue a la huelga para exigir un plus de seguridad después de numerosos ataques con mortero y de la muerte de dos miembros del personal. También en enero encarcelaron al presidente del Sindicato de Profesores de Basora y el gobierno trató de interferir en las elecciones. La policía iraquí asaltó y clausuró las oficinas de los sindicatos de la Electricidad. En marzo, después de que los trabajadores del petróleo protestaran por los bajos salarios y por el estatuto ilegal de su sindicato, trasladaron a los dirigentes sindicales, mientras que en junio los estibadores que protestaban por la prohibición de los sindicatos en los puertos del sur de Basora fueron rodeados por los soldados y sus dirigentes trasladados. La ley restringe seriamente los derechos de los sindicatos”. [25]

El día siguiente, viernes 4 de marzo de 2011, fue el escenario de más protestas iraquíes en el denominado ‘Viernes del martirio’.

Un activista iraquí de derechos humanos residente en Amán, ofrece un relato de primera mano de aquél día:

Mi querido Dirk:

Llevas todo el día recibiendo los boletines que te envío y que, lo sé muy bien, te parecen bastante escuetos y sin sentimiento o emoción alguna; pues bien, te escribo ahora para contarte cómo fue realmente ver y escuchar a todos esos miles de hombres y mujeres tanto jóvenes como mayores manifestándose pacíficamente y perfectamente conscientes que los iban a atacar, a detener y probablemente en algunos casos a matar por la sola razón de desear libertad y dignidad.

También estuve escuchando su fervor y angustia que literalmente me hizo llorar y me rompió el corazón probablemente por millonésima vez desde la invasión y ocupación de Iraq, preguntándome todo el tiempo cómo puede el mundo estar tan ciego y sordo; y en las dos últimas semanas he tenido la sensación de que el mundo no solo está sordo y ciego sino que además está mudo, ¡con unas pocas excepciones, por supuesto!

Empezamos el ‘Viernes del martirio’, que así es como lo han llamado los jóvenes, con la ejecución de un joven casado, al que a plena luz del día apartó de su joven esposa y de sus hijos una fuerza llamada Batallón 24, el antes infame Batallón Muzanna comandado por el más infame Rahim Risen al-Bayzani, que comandaba este batallón en Abu Ghraib y que tuvo aterrorizada a los ciudadanos desde que asumió el cargo hace unos tres años; antes de él estuvo al mando de Hay al-Jamia que también los aterrorizó; de hecho, es famoso por horrorizar las zonas en las que asume mando. ¡He oído que dice a la gente que son sus esclavos!

Un poco después, se encontró ejecutado al joven Ahmed Inizie Al Hamdani, a solo 50 metros de su casa, en el pueblo de al-Hamdaniya, en Abu Ghraib.

Por supuesto, anoche se anunció que el llamado gobierno había impuesto un toque de queda desde las 12 de la noche, la pasada noche, hasta las 6.00 de la mañana del sábado por la mañana en todo Iraq. También habían impuesto un toque de queda para todos los vehículos de Bagdad y del resto de las ciudades iraquíes.

En la Plaza Tahrir golpearon a los manifestantes con porras y garrotes eléctricos, ¡ y en todas las calles, hoteles y edificios cercanos se produjeron acerías! Detuvieron a varios periodistas y trabajadores de los hoteles. ¡Perseguían a la gente con mangueras de agua y los vigilaban desde helicópteros! También los vigilaba un escuadrón de la muerte desde el nuevo restaurante turco construido en estas semanas; ¡las personas del escuadrón dieron las órdenes a las fuerzas de seguridad de disparar y de golpear!

En todas las ciudades iraquíes amenazaron a la gente con padecer dolores mortales y se dispararon a matar; los agentes de policía ordenaron a sus hombres que detuvieran las manifestaciones, sin embargo la gente siguió saliendo a la calle y manifestándose en la mayoría de las ciudades (las más importantes fueron: Bagdad, Mosul, Samarra, Basora, Nayaf, Diwaniya y Ziqar). Todos coreaban que Maliki es un mentiroso ?es asombrosa la poca dignidad que tiene este hombre; durante las dos últimas semanas cientos y miles de iraquíes han cantado una canción especial para él acerca de que es un ladrón y un mentiroso; cualquier otra persona habría dimitido y se hubiera ido, pero él no.

Hay toda una inmensa cantidad de canciones sobre él y su régimen de sinvergüenzas y saqueadores; te las mandaré en seguida.

Suleimaniya ?sí, nunca tengo que olvidarme de Suleimaniya? la valiente Suleimaniya que ha pagado tan caro por esta revuelta contra la corrupción y la opresión, y que empezó todo esto … Hace tres días entregó al más joven, un muchacho de 12 años.

Nosotros también pagamos, nosotros también hemos pagado; hoy un francotirador disparó a una chica en Samarra y todos los francotiradores son miembros del Ejército iraní Quds que estaban situados en lo alto de los edificios.

Hoy los valientes hombres de Mosul han decidido hacer una sentada que no abandonarán hasta que se satisfagan sus reivindicaciones ?la hacen en el Estadio. Las familias del vecindario han empezado a apoyarlos llevándoles comida y bebida.

Mosul ya ha pagado demasiadas vidas jóvenes; te mandaré una lista de los jóvenes a los que han matado las fuerzas de seguridad.

Como siempre, la prensa ha sufrido hoy; las fuerzas de seguridad en Basora atacaron con tanta fiereza a tres miembros de la prensa que acabaron en el hospital, y también a un cuarto; vimos cómo sangraban por la cabeza y la cara. Uno de ellos dijo que le habían dicho que era ¡un enemigo de la sociedad!

La prensa también sufrió en la Plaza Tahrir. Ayer un periodista dijo que estaban en contacto con el representante de Naciones Unidas en Bagdad y que le habían entregado un informe detallado. El concepto de Naciones Unidas me parece muy gracioso. Hay un viejo refrán árabe, Dirk, que dice, más o menos, que por mucha insistencia con que llames a una persona si está muerta antes te responderá una piedra a la que llamaras.

En ciudades como Tikrit se prohibió la presencia de la prensa y Hawiya estaba totalmente rodeada por el ejército y la policía.

Oí a un viejo imán de Kirkuk que pedía a todo el mundo que luchara contra la opresión de los ashawis en Kirkuk y contra un gigantesco ejército que ha ocupado Iraq; consiguió que los ojos se me llenaran de lágrimas y me rompió el corazón. Escuché a un veterano combatiente de la resistencia recordar a los nuevos Poncio Pilato y Judas Iscariote del siglo XXI, el Dr. Salman al-Jumaili y el Dr. Rafi al-Essawi que vendieron a su país, a su pueblo y a su religión por un puñado de plata y por un puesto; también animó a la gente a continuar su lucha y nos dijo que pronto nos liberaremos. Fue maravilloso, esos dos hombres eran maravillosos, todavía resuenan en mis oídos sus voces y palabras. También escuché a un joven dirigiéndose a Maliki y diciéndole que realmente es el más funesto de los cobardes; [a Maliki] le aterrorizaban de tal manera las personas que se manifestaban pacíficamente y le parecía que era esencial tomar esas medidas tan draconianas; y [el joven] se preguntó qué habría hecho [Maliki] si estas personas hubieran llevado armas, se paró un momento y entonces le dijo: ¡Pronto lo haremos!

Las mujeres, ¡oh, cuántas mujeres se manifestaron y cuántas hablaron y animaron a los jóvenes de Iraq a seguir con su valiente lucha! Una de ellas afirmó que había perdido tres hijos, que nadie debe tener miedo de Maliki y que sus días estaban contados; sí, fue un día muy emocionante, algo que no me gusta expresar salvo a las personas más cercanas, como bien sabes, las personas que están a nuestro lado y sufren con nosotros por nuestro sufrimiento debido al lento asesinato de Iraq.

Lo vuelvo a preguntar, ¿están ciegos el gobierno estadounidense y la Comunidad Europea? ¿Está ciego el mundo, está sordo?

Bueno, solo para ponerte al día, los sindicatos de Iraq se van a manifestar en la Plaza Tahrir mañana, y el lunes veremos manifestaciones de arrepentimiento (arrepentimiento por haber participado en las elecciones generales, y han pedido a la gente que acuda con el dedo pintado de rojo).

Sallams y paz

Unos testigos en Bagdad y otros tan lejos como Kirkuk en el norte, donde habían matado a siete manifestantes, describieron que habían visto cómo las fuerzas de seguridad, con uniformes negros, chándal y camisetas, bramaban desde los camiones y los jeeps, atacaban a los manifestantes, hacían redadas en los cafés y las casas, y se llevaban a la gente con los ojos vendados, a los centros de detención del ejército [26].

Según Human Rights Watch, el 6 de marzo 2011las fuerzas de seguridad bajo control del gobierno regional de Kurdistán (KRG, en sus siglas en inglés) se mantuvieron al margen y observaron cómo decenas de hombres enmascarados atacaban a los manifestantes en Suleimaniya. A los asaltantes se les permitió golpear y llevarse a los manifestantes, y prender fuego a sus tiendas, mientras otro grupo saqueaba la oficina de una radio independiente kurda. Las fuerzas de seguridad tienen la obligación de proteger el derecho a la libertad de expresión y de reunión pacífica, afirmó Human Rights Watch.

Dos partidos políticos que dirigieron las manifestaciones en Bagdad durante las dos últimas semanas han declarado que las fuerzas de seguridad controladas por el primer ministro Nuri Kamal al-Maliki habían ordenado cerrar sus oficinas. Altos cargos del Partido de la Nación Iraquí y del Partido Comunista Iraquí afirmaron en entrevistas que docenas de agentes de las fuerzas de seguridad habían irrumpido en sus oficinas el domingo, dos días después de que algunos cientos de manifestantes en Bagdad festejaran, el 7 de marzo, el primer aniversario de las elecciones nacionales de Iraq con el ‘Viernes del arrepentimiento’ [27], en la Plaza Tahrir donde algunos manifestantes llevaban el dedo índice pintado de rojo y lo mostraban, amargo eco de los dedos teñidos de color púrpura que habían esgrimido el día de las elecciones los sonrientes votantes que salían de los centros electorales. [28]Entre los manifestantes había un abanico de organizaciones civiles que en el aniversario de las elecciones de 2010 querían unirse a otros grupos para expresar su arrepentimiento. Entre los grupos participantes estaban la Asociación de Profesores, la Asociación de Mujeres Iraquíes y la Organización de Mujeres por la Paz. Al mismo tiempo, la Embajada de Estados Unidos en Bagdad emitió finalmente un comunicado sobre los ataques a los periodistas.

A lo largo de la semana al menos dos jeeps llevaron a una fuerza ataviada de forma similar hasta la oficina del Observatorio de las Libertades Periodísticas en Bagdad, que defiende la libertad de prensa. Los hombres saquearon la oficina y se llevaron ordenadores y archivos. En otro ataque, aproximadamente una docena de hombres armados asaltaron una radio independiente en el distrito de Kalar en Suleimaniya, destrozaron la oficina, rompieron la mayoría del material y mobiliario y confiscaron el resto. En otras ciudades iraquíes también se produjeron muchos hechos similares contra la prensa.

Según periodistas e informaciones de prensa, en las últimas semanas varios asaltantes han saqueado e incendiado las oficinas del Partido Goran de la oposición en las ciudades gobernadas por el KRG de Erbil, Dojuk y Soran.

De nuevo, el viernes 11 de marzo se produjeron grandes manifestaciones en muchas ciudades del norte al sur de Iraq.

Se dice que había casi medio de millón de personas en la Plaza Tahrir. Golpearon con porras a los asistentes, la prensa incluida, y también se produjeron secuestros y hubo desaparecidos. Ahmed al-Rikabi, miembro de la prensa, salió para informar de que matones de Maliki vestidos de civil estaban secuestrando a la gente, que los golpeaban y se los llevaban a un paradero desconocido, y también denunció que lo estaban siguiendo. Igualmente golpearon a la señora Sahar al-Moussawi, portavoz de los medios para los manifestantes. Un día antes se produjo una gran manifestación en la Universidad de Bagdad, donde el ejército rodeó la universidad y cerró sus puertas. No se permitió el acceso a la prensa y lo mismo sucedió en la Plaza Tahrir.

Desde que empezaron las protestas en Kut y Sulaymaniya y hasta el 11 de marzo se contabilizaron más de 45 muertos, pero las protestas siguieron.

El viernes 25 de marzo, una multitud se manifestó bajo la lluvia congregadas en la Plaza Tahrir del centro de Bagdad. También acudieron varias mujeres a la Plaza para pedir al gobierno iraquí que liberara a sus hijos y maridos que están en la cárcel en espera de juicio o de que se inicie la investigación. Algunas llevaban fotos de sus seres queridos [29].

El 13 de abril, las fuerzas de seguridad entraron en la oficinas adjuntas de la Federación de Consejos y Sindicatos de Trabajadores de Iraq (FWCUI, en sus siglas en inglés) y de la Organización de la Libertad de las Mujeres de (OWFI, en sus siglas en inglés), en las que el Grupo 25 de Febrero había celebrado reuniones en Bagdad. Las fuerzas de seguridad detuvieron a Firas Alí, uno de los miembros del grupo, que había participado pacíficamente en las manifestaciones de la Plaza Tahrir.

Un manifestante detenido a principios de abril por haber participado en las manifestaciones de la Plaza Tahrir señaló a Human Rights Watch cuando fue liberado que había visto a Ali en una cárcel en el aeropuerto Old Muzanna de Bagdad. El testigo afirmó que Alí estaba preso junto con más de dos docenas de manifestantes, 20 de los cuales habían sido detenidos en la manifestación del 15 de abril. Haydar Shihab Ahmad, también del Grupo 25 de Febrero, ha estado desaparecido desde el 1 de abril, justo después de haber participado en la manifestación de aquel día de la Plaza Tahrir [30].

El 15 de abril fue el ‘Viernes de la libertad’ y nuevamente se organizaron manifestaciones de masas. He aquí un extracto de lo que escribió la activista iraquí Asma al-Haidari:

[…] ¿Qué te voy a escribir del Día de la Libertad? Así es como lo han llamado nuestros jóvenes revolucionarios.

Hablaré de los hombres, mujeres, niños y jóvenes valientes de Iraq que llevan mucho tiempo sufriendo en Tahrir. […]

Un hombre de 50 años grita y dice: ‘Muerte a Irán, muerte a Estados Unidos, muerte a Maliki’, y es que el 80% del Parlamento y de las personas que gobiernan son iraníes. […]

Otro joven grita: ‘Abajo el sectarismo, abajo el sistema de cuotas, muerte a Irán […] Si Mohammed es sunní, entonces yo soy chií, todos somos uno, todos somos hermanos, todos tenemos la misma sangre.[…]

¿Dónde están las plumas libres occidentales? Las escenas de Tahrir fueron extraordinarias porque Maliki y sus esbirros ordenaron a la gente que se manifestara en dos campos de fútbol, de nuevo aplicando criterios sectarios, […] pero los iraquíes […] demostraron que están en un punto de no retorno en la rebelión y se reunieron en Tahrir, y dijeron a Maliki y a sus parlamentarios que se fueran ellos a jugar al fútbol a los estadios que les había asignado. […]

Por supuesto, todos los puentes y calles que llevaban a Tahrir estaban cortados pero la gente acudió de todos modos y ahí sigue […] Desafían a las fuerzas de seguridad. […]

En Mosul, donde en los últimos seis se han producido manifestaciones multitudinarias, hoy se han reunido unas 12.000 personas en la Plaza de los Libres, la plaza de la cárcel vieja. Acudieron todos los jeques tribales que no se han vendido a la ocupación desde Nasiriya y Basora, encabezados por el jeque Salim al- Zabbab, el Príncipe de Rabía Sheyban; también jeques y dirigentes de Kut, y Diyala.

Un líder del contingente de manifestantes kurdos de la Plaza Azadi en Suleymaniya se puso el iqal, el gorro tradicional de los hombres árabes, y dijo que todos somos iraquíes y se quedó de pie bajo una vieja bandera iraquí; vinieron de Haweeja y Tikreet y un jefe tribal de Tilkaif; vinieron los cristianos del norte así como los dirigentes tribales de al-Anbar, Kubaisa y Faluya.

Hemos acudido juntos de nuevo, esta vez públicamente, para que todo el mundo lo vea, pero lo que es más curioso es que hoy los helicópteros de la ocupación estadounidense irrumpieron en escena demostrando que el gobierno estadounidense realmente cree que la democracia que supuestamente ha traído a Iraq es, de hecho, una basura.

[…] Todo está grabado. Todos los días, desde que empezaron en Mosul las vigilias y las manifestaciones, los helicópteros estadounidenses se acercan a los manifestantes, y estos responden arrojándoles sus zapatos y sandalias como muestra de desprecio. Hoy los helicópteros han escenificado lo que ellos consideran su golpe de gracia: Han volado muy bajo y les han lanzado bolsas de basura. [31] Esta es la farsa estadounidense denominada ‘democracia’ y este es su intento de colonizar Iraq. De ahora en adelante deberían leer historia y antropología con un poco más de atención.

Cuando se preguntó a los manifestantes lo que pensaba de los hechos, contestaron “[…] Los estadounidenses nos arrojan basura todos los días desde el inicio de la ocupación: uranio enriquecido, fósforo blanco, drogas, enfermedad, tiranía, opresión, saqueo, robo, mentiras y analfabetismo entre muchas más cosas […]

¿Dónde está el mundo, dónde están los hombres y mujeres libres que se oponen a esta guerra? […]

Leyendo el NY Times uno creería que sus corresponsales viven en otro planeta ?es sorprendente que estén tan callados? toda la prensa dominante, de hecho está callada.

Hoy hubo grandes manifestaciones en Basora, por toda la provincia de al-Anbar y también en Babil. En Diwaniya las fuerzas de seguridad amenazaron con que iban a detener a los participantes. En Suleimaniya hubo decenas de miles de personas en la Plaza Azadi. También oí a un jefe tribal de Tal Afar decir que diez grandes vehículos iba camino de Mosul cuando el general Gannam los detuvo y les preguntó por qué querían ir a Mosul y les dijo: ‘[…] Allí todos son sunníes y terroristas, y vosotros sois chiíes” Y los obligó a volver’.”

El 19 de abril, tras 62 días de protestas continuas en Suleimaniya, de nuevo por la corrupción y por el control tribal en el Gobierno Regional de Kurdistán, se ha revocado el permiso legal para celebrar manifestaciones. Una fuente de las Fuerzas armadas Peshmerga afirmó que les habían ordenado disparar a matar contra cualquier manifestante. También se han producido intentos de asesinato contra dirigentes religiosos que defienden esta revolución no violenta.

El 21 de abril cientos de abogados de Faluya organizaron una sentada en la sede del Sindicato de Abogados para pedir la salida de las fuerzas estadounidenses de Iraq y por la liberación de los presos inocentes que permanecen en la cárcel donde han pasado varios años de sus vidas sin juicio.

El 10 de mayo, cientos de trabajadores del centro petrolero del sur de Iraq de Basora protestaron el lunes a las puertas de numerosas instalaciones y afirmaron que los altos cargos del Ministerio del Petróleo han ignorado la constante preocupación por el uso de los fondos, la igualdad en el salario y la asignación de viviendas.

El 27 de mayo cuatro jóvenes fueron detenidos en la Plaza Tahrir, donde se manifestaban junto con otras 250 personas en el “Viernes de la Decisión”[32], según informó un grupo activista.

El viernes 10 de junio miembros de la Organización Libertad de las Mujeres en Iraq (OWFI, en sus siglas en inglés) fueron atacadas y molestadas sexualmente cuando estaban reunidas allí. Desde febrero de este año, miembros de la OWFI han asistido a las manifestaciones que se celebran cada viernes en la Plaza Tahrir para exigir al primer ministro Nuri al-Maliki que cumpla sus promesas de cambio democrático y de dar servicios básicos [33]. Manifestantes pagados por el gobierno, algunos armados con porras, atacaron a los manifestantes en defensa de la democracia en la Plaza Tahrir y desfilaron con fotos de Iyad Allawi, el principal rival del primer ministro Nuri Maliki, con el rostro pintado con una X roja. Grupos de jóvenes alborotadores (algunos de los cuales habían sido transportados al lugar en autobuses por el partido islamista Dawa, según afirman fuentes occidentales) deambulaban por las calles armados con bastones y otras armas [34].

A diferencia de otros levantamientos, este movimiento, así como la despiadada represión contra los manifestantes han sido prácticamente ignorados por los medios de comunicación convencionales; un levantamiento que se produjo en Iraq, en un país que continúa ocupado por decenas de miles de soldados estadounidenses y cuyo gobierno títere está bajo el total dominio estadounidense. Un estudio sobre la cobertura que han hecho los medios de las protestas en Iraq concluyó que desde febrero la mayoría de los medios del mundo “[…] Se han olvidado del país. Hoy no aparece prácticamente nada en los medios acerca de las manifestaciones que continúan en Iraq.” [35].

A finales de 2011 se anunció la tan esperada retirada de las tropas estadounidenses. Ciñéndose al guión seguido por los medios de comunicación durante la mayor parte de la última década, estos anunciaron rápidamente el final de la guerra en Iraq, pero, ¿en qué consiste ‘el final’ en una guerra en la que luchan no solo los soldados alistados sino también corporaciones, mercenarios y drones? La retirada de las fuerzas estadounidenses representa una victoria para la resistencia del pueblo iraquí y para el trabajo de las personas amantes de la paz en todo el mundo. Es un hito significativo. Con todo, la retirada de los soldados de Iraq no significa el final de la ocupación. La huella estadounidense sigue siendo fuerte no solo en forma de los contratistas de las corporaciones que emplean esclavos ligados por contrato (bajo el eufemismo de ‘ciudadanos de terceros países’) y mercenarios sin supervisión, responsabilidad o transparencia. En consecuencia, el movimiento antiocupación iraquí se está preparando para lo que se denomina ‘la otra cara de la ocupación’. Esto implica una continua resistencia contra las estructuras impuestas por Estados Unidos, y no solo la infraestructura y la ideología de la intervención corporativa, sino también el gobierno sectario y su constitución que provoca división.

Conclusión: La resistencia iraquí continuará hasta que el país haya recuperado completamente su soberanía. El actual movimiento de protesta, que reúne a millones de personas en las calles iraquíes desde el 26 de diciembre de 2012, es una clara prueba de la voluntad, la tenacidad y el valor del pueblo iraquí.

Tribunal BRussells (www.brussellstribunal.org), 23 de marzo de 2013
IraqSolidaridad (
www.iraqsolidaridad.org), 29 de abril de 2013

Traducido del inglés para IraqSolidaridad y Tribunal BRussells por Beatriz Morales
Revisado y editado por Paloma Valverde

Notas del autor y de IraqSolidaridad

1. Nicolas J.S. Davies, “The Victory of Popular Resistance in Occupied IraqWar is a crime, 21 de octubre de 2011.
2. Benjamin Isakham, “The Streets of Iraq: Protests and Democracy after Saddam”, 25 de noviembre de 2011.
3Ibídem.
4“Iraq electricity minister resigns after deadly protests”, BBC, 20 de junio de 2010.
5Amnesty International And Human Rights Watch Document Government Crackdown On Protesters In Iraq”, Musings on Iraq, 28 de abril de 2011.
6. Ben Lando, Nunaf Ammar y Ali Nabhan, “Iraqis Protest Power Cuts, Corruption”The Wall Street Journal, 15 de febrero de 2011.
7. IU Iraq Updates “Iraq Man Dies of Self-immolation to Protest Rising Unemployment”, 14 de febrero de 2011.
8. Michael S. Schmidt y Duraid Adnan, “Protests Spread to More Iraqi Cities”The New York Times, 17 de febrero de 2011.
9. Mohammed Tawfeeq, 
“1 killed, 57 injured in Iraqi Kurdish protests”CNN, 17 de febrero de 2011.
10.
Thousands protest in northern Iraq over shooting”USA Today, 19 de febrero de 2011.
11. Namo Abdulla, 
Protests turn Iraqi Kurd city into military zoneReuters, 22 de febrero de 2011.
12
Iraq: 160 attacks against journalists, media institutions in 2 weeks – JFOUruknet, 9 de marzo de 2011.
13. Yochi J. Dreazen, 
For Iraq’s Journalists, Few Freedoms and Many fears”, The Atlantic, 3 de octubre de 2011. Véase tambien en IraqSolidaridad, Dirk Adriansens, “Los periodistas iraquíes acosados, detenidos ilegalmente y torturados por las fuerzas de seguridad de al-Maliki”, 26 de noviembre de 2012.
14. The Common Ills, “
Las protestas estallan en Iraq”, IraqSolidaridad, 9 de septiembre de 2011.
15
“Iraq Median age”Index mundi.
16
“Iraqi protest leaders detained”Johninit, sin fecha.
17. Duraid Adnan, 
“Caught in the Heat of Baghdad’s Protests”The New York Times, 26 de febrero de 2011.
18. “
Iraq: Open Immediate Inquiry Into Protester Deaths”, Human Rights Watch, 25 de febrero de 2011.
19. Stephanie McCrummen, 
“Iraq ‘Day of Rage’ protests followed by detentions, beatings”, The Washington Post, 26 de febrero de 2011.
20. Stephanie McCrummen, 
“23 killed in Iraq’s ‘Day of Rage’ protests”The Washington Post, 25 de febrero de 2011.
21. Brendan Barber, 
“Iraq’s union crackdown puts progress at risk”The Guardian, 10 de mayo de 2011.
22. Tom Mellen, 
“Mass protests at government corruption”Morning Star, 14 de febrero de 2011.
23. IndustriAll global union, 
“Trade Union Protests in Iraq Signal Continued Political Instability”, 28 de febrero de 2011.
24
“Iraq’s Arab Spring at risk from a political storm over union rights”Johninnit.
25
2011 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights – Iraq”UNHCR, 8 de junio de 2011.
26. Stephanie McCrummen, 
“Protesters say Maliki is using special security forces to shut down demonstrations in Iraq”, The Washington Post, 4 de marzo de 2011.
27. Véase el comunicado de los Jóvenes de la Revolución Iraqí “
Llamamiento a las manifestaciones del Día del Arrepentimiento”, IraqSolidaridad, 4 de marzo de 2011
28. Michael S. Schmidt y Jack Healy, 
“Iraq Shuts Office of Protest Organizers”The New York Times, 7 de marzo de 2011.
29. Mohammed Tawfeeq, 
“Iraqi protesters rally in the rain”CNN, 25 de marzo de 2011.
30
“Iraq: Widening Crackdown on Protests”Human Rights Watch, 21 de abril de 2011.
31. Dirk Adriaensens, “
Iraq, 15 de abril: El Viernes de la libertad”, IraqSolidaridad, 18 de abril de 2011.
32. Véase “
Cuatro detenidos en Bagdad en el Viernes de la Decisión”; IraqSolidaridad, 30 de mayo de 2011.
33. Marcia G. Yerman, 
“Iraq women attacked in push for human rights and freedom”,Women News Network, junio de 2011.
34. Ned Parker y Raheem Salman, 
“Pro-government demonstrators attack protesters in Baghdad”Los Angeles Times, 11 de junio de 2011.
35.Gene Clancy, “U.S., Iraqi govt’s kill, torture unarmed civilian protesters”Workers World, 15 de mayo de 2011..

Boston Marathon Bombing And Every Day Terror in America

April 30th, 2013 by Margaret Kimberley

Every year, 4,600 Americans are killed in work place related accidents. Every 28 hours a black person is killed by police, corrections officers, security guards or vigilantes. Every year more than 30,000 people are killed by gun violence in this country. The odds of being killed by a terrorist are only 1 in 20 million.

These statistics are rarely mentioned and never had a chance to be addressed after two bombs were exploded during the Boston marathon. Death under horrific but commonplace circumstances attracts scant media attention or political action. Acts labeled as terrorism, which are unlikely to kill anyone, bring an inordinate amount of hysteria among the populace and cynical attention from press and politicians.

Just two days after the Boston marathon a fertilizer plant in West, Texas exploded, killing 14 people, most of them the much worshipped “first responders.” The risk of dying in an industrial accident is far greater than the odds of being killed by a terrorist, but no matter. The people were whipped into a frenzy and told to cast their eyes in the place where they should pay less attention rather than more.

It is frightening that the risks which Americans are subjected to on a daily basis are ignored as if they are unwanted background noise. Some of the passivity is understandable. Black people in particular are able to function in large part because the ever present risk of stop and frisk, false arrest, and police brutality are difficult to bear. There is a thin line between being conscious and losing one’s mind.

All Americans’ behavior is understandable if one acknowledges that we are constantly subjected to propaganda of various kinds. We have been propagandized to believe that some lives, white Americans’, are more valuable than others, namely anyone not white nor from the United States. There is no other way to explain why the government’s killing of thousands of people abroad is met with a shrug, if it is acknowledged at all. Americans are like spoiled children, whining over their suffering, while showing no empathy for anyone else’s. They feel that only their victimization is worthy of note, and in fact many of them support their government’s acts of violence carried out around the world.

That feeling of entitlement is a direct result of centuries of white supremacy which has never been examined or challenged. It has been fed as corporate power has grown and corrupted the media who now aren’t even very good at the basics of their profession. CNN, NPR, the Associated Press and other supposedly reputable news organizations reported wrongly on basic facts of the case such as the number of suspects, whether arrests had been made or not, or who was or wasn’t a person of interest. A “dark skinned man” was said to be under arrest but actually wasn’t. An Indian student missing since March was named as a suspect on social media and his family were threatened as a result.

After the wave of manufactured hysteria an easily frightened people were then convinced to accept tanks in their streets and heed government calls to “shelter in place.” The nonsensical overreaction was superseded only by the use of Orwellian jargon used to create an even more compliant public.

The predictably maudlin moments of silence weren’t restricted to Boston. More than $20 million in monetary contributions were raised without the donors knowing who needed it or for what purpose. Tributes flowed along with money and no one ran a race anywhere on earth without mentioning the bravery of Bostonians. The president showed up and as always on such occasions uttered words seemingly written by his worst speechwriters. The full force of the government would catch the cowards and the people would not be frightened because they are the best and freest in the world and the prayers of the nation went out to them because of democracy and the whole world stood beside them. Amen.

There is another kind of terror that goes on continually. Most reported terror plots of recent years were created entirely by government agents. The FBI had some contact with Tamerlan Tsarnaev who was killed by police in the bombing after math. It is possible that the FBI moved from creating phony terror plots to actually carrying one out. The likelihood that there will ever be impartial fact finding on this and other questions are slim to none.

Dzokhar Tsarnaev now [April 24] lies in a hospital wounded by police gunfire and questioned without being read his rights. That treatment is a result of an Obama executive order which states that in cases of a “public safety exception” we have no such rights. Now that is everyday terror.

Margaret Kimberley‘s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

The relation between the suspected Boston Marathon bombers and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Massachusetts State Police (MSP) and the Boston Police (BP) is a point of contention and controversy.

The FBI, at first, claimed no knowledge of the bombing suspects but later was forced to admit having received at least two sets of intelligence reports, one from Russian officials and another from the CIA, identifying one of the suspected bombers, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as a potential security threat -linked to a Chechen terrorist organization.

Testimony from Tsarnaev’s mother and father indicates that the FBI was active in following, harassing and interrogating the suspect before the bombing.  Despite general directives from the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security mandating US security to aggressively pursue ‘Islamist terrorists’, the FBI claims to have made no effort to follow-up on the Russian and CIA security alerts, especially after Tamerlan Tsarnaev returned from Russian state of Dagestan last year where he allegedly met six times with a known Chechen terrorist, Gadzhimurad Dolgatov, in a fundamentalist Salafi mosque.

The official government and corporate media versions claim the FBI may have ‘over-looked’ the security risk posed by Tsarnaev.  Congressional critics argue that the FBI was ‘negligent’ in following up leads provided by the Russians and the CIA.  A more likely explanation is that the FBI was actively engaged with Tsarnaev and deliberately encouraged the conspiracy for self-serving purposes.

The most benign hypothesis is that the FBI was using Tsarnaev as a means of infiltrating and securing intelligence on other possible ‘terrorists’.  A more plausible hypothesis is that the Boston office of the FBI had set the pair of brothers up for a sting operation in order to enhance their anti-terrorist credentials – and that the ‘operation’ got out of hand – with Tamarlan having his own agenda.  The most likely hypothesis is that the FBI facilitated the bombing in order to revive the flagging fortunes of the ‘war on terror’ foisted on a war-weary and economically depressed American public.

The FBI in Boston has a long and notorious history of working with and protecting certain leaders of organized crime in return for information about targeted rivals:  The most notorious example is the FBI’s 20-year ‘partnership’ with one of Boston’s most feared gangland killers, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, where the mobster was provided with protection and collaboration in return for his information about a rival crime family and other competitors.  In 2012, Bulger was finally indicted for 19 murders mostly committed under FBI ‘protection’ – although one of his closest mob-partners claims he murdered 40 people in his lifetime.

The ‘Boston Bombings’ served as a detonator to mobilize the entire US security apparatus; it has led to the suspension of constitutional guaranties.  It has been accompanied by an intense mass media campaign glorifying police state operations and the imposition of virtual martial law in the Boston metropolitan area of over 4.5 million inhabitants.  The military police operation and media campaign aroused fear and terror among the public.  Instant psychodrama produced mass worship of the ‘heroic’ police:  they were portrayed as having saved the public from unknown numbers of armed terrorists lurking in their neighborhoods.

The police, the FBI and the entire Security Apparatus – were repeatedly ‘honored’ at public spectacles, sports and civic events, lauded as ‘guardians’ and ‘saviors’.   The sordid role of FBI in organizing entrapment operations was never mentioned.  The hundreds of billions wasted in futile overseas ‘wars against terror’ went down the memory hole.  The opposition to Washington’s cuts in social programs was diverted almost overnight to support new funding for US military intervention in Syria and North Korea, a greater arms build-up in Israel and domestic security.

The ‘Boston Bombings’ coincided with the White House dictating a new round of domestic police state measures and launching a series of aggressive military moves in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.  The Pentagon has organized its biggest and most threatening air, sea and land military exercises right on the borders of North Korea .  The White House has encouraged and promoted Japan ’s belligerent military posture toward China regarding disputed islands in the South China Sea .  Secretary of State Kerry has increased military aid to the Syrian terrorists by at least $130 million and dispatched hundreds of Special Forces to Jordan to train the jihadi-mercenaries against the Syrian government.  The White House concocted charges that Damascus deployed chemical weapons against the rebels to justify direct US military intervention in Syria .  Closer to home, the White House has given unconditional support to the violent Venezuelan opposition’s post-election campaign designed to provoke a civil war– while refusing to recognize the internationally certified election victory of President Maduro.

It is very clear the Obama regime wants to turn the clock back a decade to recreate the terrible political climate of 2001 – 02.  He seeks to fabricate a sense of an imminent terrorist threat based on the ‘Boston Bombings’ in order to re-launch another global military campaign.  Instead of Iraq – the ‘threat’ is now Syria , Iran and Lebanon . Today, the threat is North Korea – tomorrow it could be China .  Today, it is Venezuela – next it could be Argentina , Bolivia and Ecuador …and the entire edifice of Latin American regional integration.

The civilian casualties and deaths resulting from the ‘Boston Bombings’, linked to the US backing and sheltering of Chechen terrorists, are a small price for Washington to pay if it results in escalating global wars and greater impunity for the National Police State.

Re-launching a new and more virulent version of militarized global empire building is of the highest priority.  The targeted countries have global significance:  Venezuela and Iran are oil producing giants, the backbone of OPEC and adversaries of Israel .  China is the second biggest economy in the world and the principle challenger to US economic dominance.  Cowering and confusing millions of downwardly mobile Americans weakens the principle domestic obstacle to bigger and more comprehensive cuts in social programs in order to finance global wars.

Indeed, the ‘Boston Bombings’ have larger political and economic consequences; they set the stage for a new round of wars abroad and regressive (and repressive) changes at home.

A hidden epidemic is poisoning America.  The toxins are in the air we breathe and the water we drink, in the walls of our homes and the furniture within them.  We can’t escape it in our cars.  It’s in cities and suburbs.  It afflicts rich and poor, young and old.  And there’s a reason why you’ve never read about it in the newspaper or seen a report on the nightly news: it has no name — and no antidote.

The culprit behind this silent killer is lead.  And vinyl.  And formaldehyde.  And asbestos.  And Bisphenol A.  And polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).  And thousands more innovations brought to us by the industries that once promised “better living through chemistry,” but instead produced a toxic stew that has made every American a guinea pig and has turned the United States into one grand unnatural experiment.

Today, we are all unwitting subjects in the largest set of drug trials ever. Without our knowledge or consent, we are testing thousands of suspected toxic chemicals and compounds, as well as new substances whose safety is largely unproven and whose effects on human beings are all but unknown. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) itself has begun monitoring our bodies for 151 potentially dangerous chemicals, detailing the variety of pollutants we store in our bones, muscle, blood, and fat.  None of the companies introducing these new chemicals has even bothered to tell us we’re part of their experiment.  None of them has asked us to sign consent forms or explained that they have little idea what the long-term side effects of the chemicals they’ve put in our environment — and so our bodies — could be.  Nor do they have any clue as to what the synergistic effects of combining so many novel chemicals inside a human body in unknown quantities might produce.

How Industrial Toxins Entered the American Home

The story of how Americans became unwitting test subjects began more than a century ago.  The key figure was Alice Hamilton, the “mother” of American occupational medicine, who began documenting the way workers in lead paint pigment factories, battery plants, and lead mines were suffering terrible palsies, tremors, convulsions, and deaths after being exposed to lead dust that floated in the air, coating their workbenches and clothes.

Soon thereafter, children exposed to lead paint and lead dust in their homes were also identified as victims of this deadly neurotoxin.  Many went into convulsions and comas after crawling on floors where lead dust from paint had settled, or from touching lead-painted toys, or teething on lead-painted cribs, windowsills, furniture, and woodwork.

Instead of leveling with the public, the lead industry through its trade group, theLead Industries Association, began a six-decade-long campaign to cover-up its product’s dire effects.  It challenged doctors who reported lead-poisoned children to health departments, distracted the public through advertisements that claimed lead was “safe” to use, and fought regulation of the industry by local government, all in the service of profiting from putting a poison in paint, gasoline, plumbing fixtures, and even toys, baseballs, and fishing gear.

As Joe Camel would be for tobacco, so the little Dutch Boy of the National Lead Company became an iconic marketing tool for Dutch Boy Lead Paint, priming Americans to invite a dangerous product into their children’s playrooms, nurseries, and lives.  The company also launched a huge advertising campaign that linked lead to health, rather than danger. It even produced coloring books for children, encouraging them to paint their rooms and furniture using lead-based paint.

Only after thousands of children were poisoned and, in the 1960s, activist groups like the Young Lords and the Black Panthers began to use lead poisoning as a symbol of racial and class oppression did public health professionals and the federal government begin to rein in companies like the Sherwin-Williams paint company and the Ethyl Corporation, which produced tetraethyl lead, the lead-additive in gasoline. In 1971, Congress passed the Lead Paint Poisoning Prevention Actthat limited lead in paint used for public housing.  In 1978, the Consumer Products Safety Commission finally banned lead in all paints sold for consumer use.  During the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency issued rules that led to the elimination of leaded gasoline by 1995 (though it still remains in aviation fuel).

The CDC estimates that in at least 4 million households in the U.S. today children are still exposed to dangerous amounts of lead from old paint that produces dust every time a nail is driven into a wall to hang a picture, a new electric socket is installed, or a family renovates its kitchen. It estimates that more than 500,000children ages one to five have “elevated” levels of lead in their blood.  (No level is considered safe for children.)  Studies have linked lost IQ pointsattention deficit disordersbehavioral problems, dyslexia, and even possibly high incarceration ratesto tiny amounts of lead in children’s bodies.

Unfortunately, when it came to the creation of America’s chemical soup, the lead industry was hardly alone.  Asbestos is another classic example of an industrial toxin that found its way into people’s homes and bodies.  For decades, insulation workers, brake mechanics, construction workers, and a host of others in hundreds of trades fell victim to the disabling and deadly lung diseases of asbestosis or to lung cancer and the fatal cancer called mesothelioma when they breathed in dust produced during the installation of boilers, the insulation of pipes, the fixing of cars that used asbestos brake linings, or the spraying of asbestos on girders. Once again, the industry knew its product’s dangers early and worked assiduously to cover them up.

Despite growing medical knowledge about its effects (and increasing industry attempts to downplay or suppress that knowledge), asbestos was soon introduced to the American home and incorporated into products ranging from insulation for boilers and piping in basements to floor tiles and joint compounds.  It was used to make sheetrock walls, roof shingles, ironing boards, oven gloves, and hot plates. Soon an occupational hazard was transformed into a threat to all consumers.

Today, however, these devastating industrial-turned-domestic toxins, which destroyed the health and sometimes took the lives of hundreds of thousands, seem almost quaint when compared to the brew of potential or actual toxins we’re regularly ingesting in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

Of special concern are a variety of chlorinated hydrocarbons, including DDT and other pesticides that were once spread freely nationwide, and despite being banneddecades ago, have accumulated in the bones, brains, and fatty tissue of virtually all of us. Their close chemical carcinogenic cousins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), were found in innumerable household and consumer products  — like carbonless copy paper, adhesives, paints, and electrical equipment – from the 1950s through the 1970s.  We’re still paying the price for that industrial binge today, as these odorless, tasteless compounds have become permanent pollutants in the natural environment and, as a result, in all of us.

The Largest Uncontrolled Experiment in History

While old houses with lead paint and asbestos shingles pose risks, potentially more frightening chemicals are lurking in new construction going on in the latest mini-housing boom across America.  Our homes are now increasingly made out of lightweight fibers and reinforced synthetic materials whose effects on human health have never been adequately studied individually, let alone in the combinations we’re all subjected to today.

Formaldehyde, a colorless chemical used in mortuaries as a preservative, can also be found as a fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant in, for example, plywood, particle board, hardwood paneling, and the “medium density fiberboard” commonly used for the fronts of drawers and cabinets or the tops of furniture. As the material ages, it evaporates into the home as a known cancer-producing vapor, which slowly accumulates in our bodies. The National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health suggests that homeowners “purchasing pressed-wood products, including building material, cabinetry, and furniture… should ask about the formaldehyde content of these products.”

What’s inside your new walls might be even more dangerous.  While the flame retardants commonly used in sofas, chairs, carpets, love seats, curtains, baby products, and even TVs, sounded like a good idea when widely introduced in the 1970s, they turn out to pose hidden dangers that we’re only now beginning to grasp.  Researchers have, for instance, linked one of the most common flame retardants, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, to a wide variety of potentially undesirable health effects including thyroid disruptionmemory and learning problems, delayed mental and physical development, lower IQ, and the early onset of puberty.

Other flame retardants like Tris (1,3-dichloro-2-propyl) phosphate have been linked to cancer. As the CDC has documented in an ongoing study of the accumulation of hazardous materials in our bodies, flame retardants can now be found in the blood of “nearly all” of us.

Nor are these particular chemicals anomalies.  Lurking in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, for instance, are window cleaners and spot removers that contain known or suspected cancer-causing agents.  The same can be said of cosmetics in your makeup case or of your plastic water bottle or microwavable food containers.  Most recently, Bisphenol A (BPA), the synthetic chemical used in a variety of plastic consumer products, including some baby bottles, epoxy cements, the lining of tuna fish cans, and even credit card receipts, has been singled out as another everyday toxin increasingly found inside all of us.

Recent studies indicate that its effects are as varied as they are distressing.  AsSarah Vogel of the Environmental Defense Fund has written, “New research on very-low-dose exposure to BPA suggests an association with adverse health effects, including breast and prostate cancer, obesity, neurobehavioral problems, and reproductive abnormalities.”

Teflon, or perfluorooctanoic acid, the heat-resistant, non-stick coating that has been sold to us as indispensable for pots and pans, is yet another in the list of substances that may be poisoning us, almost unnoticed.  In addition to allowing fried eggs to slide right onto our plates, Teflon is in all of us, according to the Science Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency, and “likely to be carcinogenic in humans.”

These synthetic materials are just a few of the thousands now firmly embedded in our lives and our bodies.  Most have been deployed in our world and put in our air, water, homes, and fields without being studied at all for potential health risks, nor has much attention been given to how they interact in the environments in which we live, let alone our bodies. The groups that produce these miracle substances — like the petrochemical, plastics, and rubber industries, including major companies like ExxonDow, and Monsanto – argue that, until we can definitively prove the chemical products slowly leaching into our bodies are dangerous, we have no “right,” and they have no obligation, to remove them from our homes and workplaces. The idea that they should prove their products safe before exposing the entire population to them seems to be a foreign concept.

In the 1920s, the oil industry made the same argument about lead as an additive in gasoline, even though it was already known that it was a dangerous toxin for workers. Spokesman for companies like General Motors insisted that it was a “gift of God,” irreplaceable and essential for industrial progress and modern living, just as the lead industry argued for decades that lead was “essential” to produce good paint that would protect our homes.

Like the oil, lead, and tobacco industries of the twentieth century, the chemical industry, through the American Chemistry Council and public relations firms likeHill & Knowlton, is fighting tooth and nail to stop regulation and inhibit legislation that would force it to test chemicals before putting them in the environment.  In the meantime, Americans remain the human guinea pigs in advanced trials of hundreds if not thousands of commonly used, largely untested chemicals.  There can be no doubt that this is the largest uncontrolled experiment in history.

To begin to bring it under control would undoubtedly involve major grassroots efforts to push back against the offending corporations, courageous politicians, billions of dollars, and top-flight researchers.  But before any serious steps are likely to be taken, before we even name this epidemic, we need to wake up to its existence.

A toxic dump used to be a superfund site or a nuclear waste disposal site.  Increasingly, however, we – each and every one of us — are toxic dumps and for us there’s no superfund around, no disposal plan in sight.  In the meantime, we’re walking, talking biohazards and we don’t even know it.

David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz are co-authors and co-editors of seven books and 85 articles on a variety of industrial and occupational hazards, including Deceit and Denial: The Deadly Politics of Industrial Pollution and, most recently, Lead Wars: The Politics of Science and the Fate of America’s Children, (University of California Press/Milbank, 2013).  Rosner is a professor of history at Columbia University and co-director of the Center for the History of Public Health at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health. Markowitzis a professor of history at John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Syria: America’s Next War?

April 30th, 2013 by Global Research News

In Part I of this series, we examined breaking up the too-big-to-fail-or- jail banks, regulating them – especially their massive and risky derivatives trading – and more aggressively enforcing laws and regulations against security fraud.

In Part II, we examine how to remake the Federal Reserve into a transparent, democratic institution that serves the necessities of the people and the economy, not just the bankers; how to develop public banks in every state and many cities throughout the nation; and how people can opt out of Wall Street right now.

In other articles and on our web site, we examine the broader economy and how to remake it by putting in place economic democracy so that people have greater control over their economic lives and more influence over the direction of the economy.

It is worth restating that we do not see the proposals here as final, but more as an opportunity to continue the discussion so Americans can develop a finance system that serves and protects them.

Transform the Federal Reserve

A fundamental question for the new finance system is the role of the Federal Reserve and whether it should remain in private hands. The Federal Reserve is a privately owned US central bank that acts behind closed doors to create money and set interest rates, and it presently puts the interests of the big banks first. The Federal Reserve was originally created by Congress in 1913 and can be altered, nationalized or even dismantled by Congress.

The Fed is a private entity that is controlled by the banks. The 12 Regional Reserve Banks issue shares of stock to its member banks. The Fed is not operated for profit, and the stock may not be sold, traded or pledged as security for a loan. It does pay dividends that are, by law, 6 percent per year. But more importantly, the stock provides banks with votes to elect six of the nine members of the board of governors of the regional banks.

As Leo Panitch told The Real News Network, it is “not just that the banks are too powerful outside the Treasury and Fed. The Treasury and Fed are part of the Wall Street nexus, and they are organized in such a way, and the people who work in them are trained in such a way, as to be reproducing the current system.”

There is widespread agreement among economists that there is a need for a central bank to regulate the money supply by setting interest rates and to be a lender of last resort in a financial crisis. However, Bill Black argues that the Fed can be made very small and mechanical in its setting of interest rates, rather than maintaining the current approach, which depends on what members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors decide.

Further, the Fed needs to be made utterly transparent. “There is no reason for anything the Fed does to be opaque” says Black. In 2010, an “audit the Fed” bill passed in Congress despite aggressive opposition by the Fed. It was not the broad, open audit originally proposed by former Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida), but it did provide a snapshot audit of a limited time of Fed activity.

As a result of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) audit of the Fed, Senate sponsor Bernie Sanders of Vermont said, “We now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world.” Among the investigation’s key findings was that the Fed unilaterally provided trillions of dollars in financial assistance to foreign banks and corporations from South Korea to Scotland. These decisions were all made without the public, media or elected officials’ knowledge, and they would have remained secret without an audit.

In addition, the audit found conflicts of interest. For example, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase served on the New York Fed’s board of directors at the same time that his bank received more than $390 billion in financial assistance from the Fed. Sanders urged that “No one who works for a firm receiving direct financial assistance from the Fed should be allowed to sit on the Fed’s board of directors or be employed by the Fed.”

But the fundamental question is: who should control the money supply? The control of the money supply may be one of the most important functions of government, but currently it is controlled by the Federal Reserve. The Fed creates funds digitally and makes them available to private banks at a low interest rate, which the banks can then use as they like to invest, add to their personal reserves and/or make loans of up to ten times the amount of their holdings.

At present, the government can only issue bonds that are sold to the Fed, banks or investors with the funds raised by those bond issues used for federal spending. These bonds are loans that must be repaid with interest by the government. So in effect, the government places itself in a position of debt by borrowing money from the banks, and then taxpayer dollars are used to pay the debt with interest. If the government created its own (debt-free) money instead, taxpayers would get more value for their dollars and the system could be more democratic and transparent, and could function for the public good.

Henry Ford said, “It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning.” Why? Because, as Thomas Edison pointed out, “If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good, makes the bill good … It is absurd to say our country can issue $30 million in bonds and not $30 million in currency. Both are promises to pay, but one promise fattens the usurers and the other helps the people.”

As part of the economic track of the 2011 Democracy Convention, Greg Coleridge argued that the US Constitution gives the government the power to create money; Article I, Section 8 says: “The Congress shall have power … to coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin.” The creation of money is a public function, perhaps more important than any other part of the commons. As Coleridge points out, public money means we create our own money debt-free rather than borrowing from banks and building up debt.

The American Monetary Institute has put forward a thorough model of remaking the finance system to take power from the banks and give it to the people through the government. The institute point to a bill introduced by former Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), HR 2990, which dismantles the Federal Reserve and puts the necessary functions in the Department of Treasury, where a monetary authority is created to prevent inflationary and deflationary impacts. It would prevent banks from creating money through fractional reserve lending. Instead, money would be created by the government, which spends it into circulation for necessary programs – for example, infrastructure, education, health care.

Economist Jack Rasmus also urges that we “democratize” the Fed and require it to function as a national, Bank of North Dakota-like “public banking institution that would provide cost-only loans to the consumer sector (mortgage, auto, student, installment, etcetera), finance public investment corps for alternative energy, lend to community infrastructure projects, and totally remove the private banks from its board of governors and open market committee decision-making process.”

Moving the money creation function into the federal government would place it within the US constitutional system of checks and balances to work for the whole society, not only for the bankers and the privileged.Rather than the banker’s corporation, the Federal Reserve, creating money, the Fed would be replaced by a US Central Bank operating within the Department of the Treasury (as one option) which would create money. 

Further, Coleridge argues, that there is good reason for governments to control the money supply because there are times when more money is needed in the economy and times when the money supply needs be slowed. When money is created by government, it is an asset and not debt to banks. We should be funding necessary projects and paying our debts with debt-free money. Money should be made for the benefit of the entire economy, not for the benefit of bankers.

Under such a system, the creation of money would be used to serve the interests of society. The money would be created and spent into circulation by the federal government for infrastructure, including the human infrastructure of education and health care. For example, the American Society of Civil Engineers grades US infrastructure D+ and sees an urgent need for over $3.6 trillion in spending to bring existing infrastructure to safe levels by 2020. As the federal government spends money on infrastructure and other urgent needs and funds local and state governments, this money is paid out to contractors, who pay their suppliers and laborers, who pay for their living expenses, and, ultimately, that money gets deposited into banks, which are then in a position to make loans.

Some creative thinking is needed to develop a new central banking system. We should open our minds to a wide range of options. For example, in addition to the approach described here, the finance system could be a fourth branch of government, elected directly by the people; or with a combination of elected and appointed governors to represent different parts of society, for example: energy, housing, health care, workers, transportation. The current system is not working and needs rethinking so that it serves the needs of the people and the society, not only the desires of financiers.

Public Banking: A Public Bank in Every State

Ellen Brown, the president of the Public Banking Institute, argues that we need a public bank in every state and major city. The United States has one model for public banking: the bank of North Dakota. When North Dakota farmers were losing farms to Wall Street, they organized a populist movement, and in 1919, set up the bank of North Dakota. The publicly owned bank recycles state revenues into credit for the state. Thus, North Dakotans keep their money in their community.

The result has been an ongoing success. Even during the current economic collapse, North Dakota escaped the credit crisis and has maintained a budget surplus since 2008, low unemployment and no public debt.

Imagine how different California could be if it had public banks. Brown summarizes: “At the end of 2010, it had general obligation and revenue bond debt of $158 billion. Of this, $70 billion, or 44 percent, was owed for interest. If the state had incurred that debt to its own bank – which then returned the profits to the state – California could be $70 billion richer today. Instead of slashing services, selling off public assets, and laying off employees, it could be adding services and repairing its decaying infrastructure.”

How does public banking work? All of the revenues of the state go into the state’s public bank, which, like other banks, leverages those deposits into credit. The state bank partners with local banks to fund local projects. For example, when there is a flood or other disaster, the bank quickly helps provide funds to rebuild homes and infrastructure. It is a bank focused on serving the public interest and which returns the profits to the public.

According to Brown, there have been two recent studies that show public banks are less corrupt than private banks and that they are more efficient and more profitable. The North Dakota public bank has complete transparency and accountability – including routine audits by several agencies. It does not pay executives exorbitant salaries and bonuses. It does not reward people for churning out risky loans. And it does not engage in casino investing in risky derivatives. It has lower costs because no advertising is necessary; instead, the government guarantees the bank easy access to liquidity.

The most obvious reason for a public bank is to allow a state to use its resources to build the economy of the state by keeping resources in-state and not sending them to Wall Street, but there are other reasons. The events in Cyprus, where depositors were forced to bail out the banks through seizure of their savings, show there needs to be a banking system that protects people. Cyprus-like seizures of accounts can happen in the United States.

In fact, Ellen Brown reports that as part of the “living wills” banks are required to prepare under Dodd-Frank – which describe how they will survive an economic crisis – the banks include “bail-in” provisions. These plans require depositors (who are unsecured creditors, with fewer rights than derivative investors) to bail out the banks by turning their savings into bank stock, which could be worth only pennies on the dollar in a crash.

Marc Armstrong, executive director of the Public Banking Institute, asks of the states: “What is their plan to prevent city, county and state governments from becoming creditors for the too-big-to-fail banks, the next time these banks lose a multi-billion dollar bet? Because of their fiduciary responsibility to the public, we request that our public finance officials answer the question: what is the risk we have in doing business with too-big-to-fail banks that are apparently now able to seize deposits and convert them to capital?”

The living wills of the big banks make them too risky for city, county and state government money, as well as pension funds’ money.

Another concern is that at least 1,350 school districts and government agencies across the nation have turned to a controversial form of borrowing called capital appreciation bonds to finance major projects. These bonds allow the government to avoid paying anything now and pass the debt on to future generations, but at a much greater cost. For example, $22 million borrowed now with no payments due for 21 years would cost the taxpayers $154 million, seven times the amount borrowed, when it is repaid in 2049.

This practice raises questions. Armstrong summarizes: “Why are state and local governments, school districts and public hospitals paying Wall Street banks billions of dollars of interest on municipal bond and capital appreciation bond debt, when we could be paying that same interest to ourselves by issuing credit with a public bank?”

Michael Hudson, a former Wall Street economist, sees the private banking system as cannibalizing the economy and supports public banks to fund the needs of the nation. When the banks failed, the FDIC should have taken them over, essentially made them into public banks, says Hudson:

If the government would have taken over Citibank it would not have done the kind of things that Citibank did. The government would not have used depositors’ money and borrowed money to gamble. It wouldn’t have gone down the casino capitalism route. It wouldn’t have played the derivatives market. It wouldn’t have made corporate takeover loans. None of these are productive from the vantage point of economic growth and raising productive powers and living standards. They would not be the proper behavior of a public bank.

Hudson points to the differences between public and private banking. Private “[b]anks are supposed to make money. And unfortunately, they can make money most easily … by being parasitic, not by being productive.” On the other hand, a public bank “would make loans for long-term purposes to serve the economy and help the economy grow.”

With the risks of Wall Street banks increasing and dislike of their banking practices mounting, the public banking movement is growing. It is also being spurred by the US Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve’s refusal to assist states with their budget problems. Brown reports that 20 states are considering public banks, as are a growing number of cities. Brown says, “We need to get more information out there and develop a groundswell of popular support. Populist movements start with a lot of study, learning about the monetary system.” One place to do that is at the June 2-4 public banking conference in California.

Brown would like to see states remove the middleman, the private banks that profit from their deposits, by creating a public bank in every state so states could “bring their money back home and leverage it for their own purposes.” There is no good reason for states and cities not to develop public banks and many good reasons to do so.

Change Is Already Happening as People Opt Out of Wall Street

There are a variety of vehicles being developed to help people move their money out of Wall Street banks and the current finance system.

The Move Your Money Project encouraged people to move their money from the big banks to community banks and credit unions. The Occupy movement held a Bank Transfer Day on November 5, 2011, as part of this campaign. The campaign was assisted by banks whose corrupt practices became notorious and who had started adding fees, like ATM card fees. Three months after Bank Transfer Day, more than 5.6 million customers had moved their money. The campaign continues at Switch Your Banks, which has a consistently excellent blog on banking. Credit unions, a form of cooperative finance, now have assets of over $1 trillion and are becoming major financial players.

People have also been creating time dollars and time banks. This concept, originated by Edgar S. Cahn, allows people to give time to get time; that is, if someone takes an hour to teach someone to read, they can get an hour for a massage from someone else participating in the time bank, and the masseuse can get an hour from a local participating plumber. This work is conducted outside of the tax system and allows people who have skills, but perhaps are unemployed or underemployed, to use their skills in a dignified way to purchase the skills of other people. TimeBanks.org provides a directory of Time Banks in the United States. If you cannot find one in your community, you can create a time bank.

Another opt-out is local currency. Across the world, 1,900 local communities, including over a hundred in the United States, are now issuing their own currency. Some communities, such as Ithaca, New York, issue paper currency; others in Canada, Australia, the UK or France issue complementary electronic money.

The new Internet currency, Bitcoin, has become popular very quickly. Bitcoin is already bigger than many sovereign currencies and this month broke the $1 billion value mark. Bitcoin is not tied to any particular financial institution and is independent from world governments. Some view Bitcoin as a safe haven for people trying to protect their money from corrupt Wall Street banking, but large investors have begun buying up Bitcoin to avoid taxes. The outcome is uncertain at this time.

More and more questioning has arisen regarding the current debt-based finance system. Occupy Wall Street offshoot Strike Debt isbuilding popular resistance to all forms of debt imposed on us by the banks. They produced the Debt Resistor’s Operations Manual, which provides specific information and tactics for understanding and fighting against the debt system. It provides information on how to deal with personal debt, as well as how to work collectively to challenge the way debt undermines communities. Strike Debt also organized a Rolling Jubilee where participants buy debt at pennies on the dollar, as debt collectors do, but rather than collecting the debt, they forgive it. So far, they have raised over $578,000 to abolish over $11.5 million in debt.

People are also examining ways to invest locally rather than on Wall Street. Michael Shuman, in Local Dollars, Local Sense points out that Americans have $30 trillion invested in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, pension funds and life insurance funds, but not even 1 percent of these savings touch local small business. He shows how people can profit by putting money into building their local businesses and creating resilient local and regional economies. Shuman describes many ways to opt out of Wall Street and opt in to local investment, among them investment clubs and networks, local investment funds, community ownership, direct public offerings, local stock exchanges and crowd funding.

Tying It All Together

In his current book, What Then Must We Do?, political economist Gar Alperovitz argues that banking is one of two major areas where game-changing, systemic change might develop (the other is health care). As the Wall Street finance system fails us and places us at great financial risk, people are looking for alternatives and thinking about ways to create a finance system that will serve the people. A lot has been done in this area, and a cohesive set of principles is beginning to be developed. These include:

 

  • Investigation and enforcement of the finance system.
  • Breaking up the big banks and limiting their size so they are not a systemic risk.
  • Remaking the Fed into a small, transparent, mechanical controller of interest rates.
  • Transferring the power to create money to the government in a new central bank.
  • Creating public banks in cities and states throughout the country.
  • Creating systems outside of the finance system that allow for barter, time banks and other alternatives.
  • Encouraging community banks and credit unions.
  • Encouraging local investment in communities instead of Wall Street investment.

This article does not attempt to cover all aspects of finance. For example, the international systems dominated by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund require major transformation, but that topic would require an article of equal length. We also do not deal with the economy beyond finance, where we see worker-self-directed enterprises or worker cooperatives as the foundation of a new democratic economy that spreads wealth and power more equitably among the people and where a progressive tax system would fund the government.

Finance is the center of the US economy. The current system does not function for most people – or for small- and medium-sized businesses. It is a system that is addicted to casino-like investment, is corrupted by unprosecuted security fraud and funnels money to the wealthiest.

The 2008 collapse had devastating consequences, and since the system remains quite opaque, we do not know whether another collapse is near. It is time to develop an alternative system of finance designed to support the needs of the people and the country, not the needs of bankers. We hope this article adds to an ongoing conversation, and we look forward to your comments so the conversation can be advanced further.

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and are organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.  

This article was originally published by  Truthout

Threatening Syria: WMDs. America’s Big Lie … Again !

April 30th, 2013 by Global Research News

by Alexandre Toffy

Oblivion might be a blessing to ease the pain, or escape the past and its contents, which if stirred may leave the human spirit restless. But when used to escape moral responsibilities towards human civilization, oblivion becomes a stain that smears our humanity, as it falls on us to lift up humanity to higher levels in terms of reason and social responsibility.

Most of us believe that what George W. Bush claimed, and what was presented to the United Nations Security Council by the CIA, as footage of Saddam Hussein’s ‘nuclear arsenal’, was nothing short of falsification? Can we imagine that a 1.5 million Iraqi citizen paid for these fabrications with their lives?

George W. Bush and his administration claimed that Hussein’s regime possessed WMDs, they presented the UN Security Council with their ‘proof’, and war broke out… one that ended with the death of 1.5 million Iraqis, at least half of them are women and children.

An international investigating committee came into Iraq but found nothing. Nothing to prove the very claims this war was based upon.

So did George W. Bush admit, but too late came the truth…:  1.5 million Iraqis killed because of alleged WMDs that were to be found in Iraq, but truth as it turned out, that “evidence” and what the US administration had claimed was nothing but a BIG LIE.

This happened only few years ago, how did we come to forget it?

How did the US administration get away without being held accountable for its lie? A lie that killed 1.5 million Iraqis, not to mention thousands of American troops.

The answer is simple. A lie after another. That’s the US method of wiping the human memory clean, and clearing the slate for succeeding US administrations.

The US administration follows this single method to manage international crises, and this method is based upon war, a ‘war to lose’. After ten years in Afghanistan, did we witness the fall of Taliban, was Al-Qaeda erased, or did it expand?

This American ‘war’ on Al-Qaeda gave this organization some legitimacy in the hearts of some Muslims, who found themselves targeted by the USA, the American Administration has idiotically provided this terrorist organization with an International Muslim incubator, the feelings of millions of Muslims were agitated after the American war on Iraq, a war based on a lie, a lie that ended with a holocaust killing millions of people.

At this very moment, we find ourselves in a dire need of the truth. With utmost objectivity, we need to ask ourselves: “do we have to do it again? Do we have to fall for the same American Lie ?

Today, President Obama speaks –regrettably- using the Bush logic, but this time, it’s Syria.

The only state in the Middle East where Christians and Muslims are living in peace since decades.

The only state that enjoys a secular system, one which did not produce extreme Islamists into power.

Do we want such a state to be destroyed, and why?

Recently the US Administration started with this campaign: “Assad’s Regime Used Chemical Weapons Against His People”…

That is some headline! Intriguing, head turning, alarm raising, but is it TRUE???

In Khan El-Assal, an area close to Aleppo known for its support of the Syrian Regime, the armed Syrian opposition used a missile with a chemical warhead, leaving scores of victims among them were children, women, and soldiers of the Syrian Army, is it logical for Assad’s Regime to target his own? Did we hear what the people of Khan El-Assal had to say? Do we know that they actually accused Al-Qaeda affiliated militias to be responsible for this chemical attack?

If Assad’s government was the culprit, why was it that Syrian regime was the first to call for an international investigation about what happened in Khan El-Assal?

An investigation that the US wanted to use as a Trojan Horse, so her interference spreads over all the Syrian geography, not only the area of the incident. An action, which is, if passed, stands as an infringement on the sovereign nation, so it wouldn’t be unexpected for Damascus to refuse such an infringement.

The Syrian Regime demanded an investigation in Khan El-Assal, but the US want’s access to all the Syrian territory. Given the human crisis at hand, the US request still lacks justification, because the case here is an accusation of using prohibited weapons, which calls for strict investigation, yet still restricted to the location of the incident.

Any further investigation requires a separate, more precise, and different resolution, whereas what the Obama Administration is doing aims at bringing the international investigation into a halt.

George W. Bush claimed that Iraq possessed WMDs, war broke out, millions of victims died, and in the end the world has come to know that Iraq had no nuclear weapons. NOW, do we need to witness another American war and the death of 2 million Syrians, just to learn that Obama committed the same Bush mistake? Even worse, that we got fooled AGAIN ?

If the US Administration is so sure of their narrative of what happened in Khan El-Assal, have them support the Syrian Regime’s request for an international investigation, have them supervise and monitor it, let them make sure if it was the Syrian Regime who used the chemical weapons –as the US Administration claims- or was it armed terrorist militias loyal to Al-Qaeda, America’s sworn enemy?

Let the US Administration do that, before waging a war that will leave at least 2 million people dead, a war based on a lie, and of course the justification is ready, like last time: “there wasn’t enough info, the Intel. was insufficient, we trusted the opposition”, an ‘opposition’ in disguise, not so different from many predecessors, did nothing but destroy their own countries by pushing the West into wars and battles, where the West also loses men.

  • Obama’s words today, echo the words of his predecessor, and images of human tragedy in Iraq,
  • Let us not make the same mistake twice,
  • Let’s save the country that brought the world its first alphabet (Ras Shamra 1400 B.C), the country where Christians and Muslims have lived in peace and harmony, until extremism snuck through its borders just recently.
  • Let us all remember, George W. Bush got 2 million civilians killed in Iraq and found no trace of WMDs,

Do we have to watch 2 million Syrian civilians die for Obama to make sure that the Syrian Regime did not use Chemical Weapons ?

Alexandre Tossy
Areen info center
Translated from Arabic by : Mohssen Harfoush

A new push is being made by corporations and banks in Detroit to drive even more working class, poor and nationally oppressed people out of the city. This fact is being illustrated by recent developments in the downtown area and its environs where low-income people are being forced to move from several apartment buildings.

In the Cass Corridor, a heavily depressed area that has been neglected by the City government and the business magnates for years is now the apparent focus for the construction of a new sports stadium. The owners of the Detroit Red Wings may be attempting to take control of sections of the Corridor in order to either gentrify the district or engage in “developments” that will not benefit the interests of the current residents.

Residents in three apartment buildings on Henry Street between Cass and Second Avenues received a hand written notice on April 20 saying that they had to move out within thirty days. Another document which appeared to be a “Notice to Quit” was also handed over to the residents.

However, neither of these documents appeared to be validated by 36th District Court where Landlord-Tenant matters are handled. Since the tenants are mostly senior citizens, single parents, people living with disabilities and marginalized workers, the supposedly new owners, who have not come forward to publically claim responsibility for the illegal attempts to evict, feel that they can get away with these blatant acts of disregard for hundreds of people.

All together there are over 200 apartment units spread out between the three buildings. Some of the residents have lived in the buildings for over thirty years while others are newcomers.

One resident told this writer that he had just moved in one month ago. He said that he paid the first month’s rent and a security deposit in addition to purchasing furniture for the apartment.

This resident is now irate that he has been told to move by May 20. He wants to take some legal action to recover his money and obtain resources from the new owners to relocate.

This is the sentiment among other residents as well. A meeting was held on Sunday afternoon April 28 in a vacant lot across the street from the apartments.

The residents are angry and frustrated and are looking for assistance. Members from various organizations including the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs, attended the meeting.

However, since it is not clear who really owns the building now it will take some serious inquiry and political action to uncover those that are responsible. Residents of the apartments have also been told that their electricity, gas and water will be shut-off after May 20 creating even more uncertainty.

The situation in the Cass Corridor is being replicated throughout the central city area. Two other large apartments downtown are also being taken over by new ownership where the residents, who are Section 8 renters, are being ordered to move.

These developments are taking place at a time when the federal government and private industry are not building low-income housing. Detroit, which is now under emergency management at the aegis of the banks, is being exploited at an even deeper level than what has prevailed over the last decade.

The foreclosure and eviction crisis hit the city of Detroit with vengeance beginning in the mid-2000s. The U.S. Census report indicated that approximately 237,000 people left the city during 2000-2010, which is 25 percent of the population.

At present, the City government, although heavily dominated now by pro-corporate surrogates, virtually has no authority in light of the state-imposed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. As one resident said during the tenants meeting on April 28, “we are basically on our own now.”

Foreclosures Continue Throughout the State

Members of the Moratorium NOW! Coalition traveled to Coldwater, Michigan in the southwest region of the state on April 24 to support the Murray family who are facing foreclosure. The Murrays have been fighting to maintain their home for the last four years and are represented by anti-foreclosure Atty. Vanessa Fluker of Detroit.

The judge in the case ruled against them and ordered the family out of the home within ten days. The Murrays had placed over $40,000 in an escrow account while they exhausted all of their legal options in the case taking it all the way to the Michigan Supreme Court.

In Portage, Michigan, also in the southwest region, the Benthin/Mac family was facing imminent eviction during the week of April 22. As a result of an e-mail and phone campaign, they were able to win a temporary stay of eviction.

Noting the continued problems of home foreclosures, the Moratorium NOW! Coalition called for a demonstration outside the Detroit headquarters of Bank of America on Friday, April 26. Members of Detroit Eviction Defense, the UAW and other groups joined in the protest as well.

On May 20, UAW Local 600, the largest of its kind in the country, will be hosting a public hearing with officials of the banking arm of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Federal Finance Housing Administration. Homeowners are being encouraged to participate to expose the damage being done by the federal government which is the major player in the foreclosure process at present.

Although hundreds of billions of dollars have been allocated for federal housing programs through TARP and HAMP, most of the funds have not been spent because the banks are refusing to participate in efforts to keep people in their homes. Several agreements between the banks and the Justice Department related to fraud and discrimination have not resulted in a shift in federal housing policy.

Only a mass movement led by working class and nationally oppressed people can lead to the adoption of policies that recognize housing as a fundamental human right. The current phase of capitalist development is resulting in the further impoverishment and marginalization of tens of millions of people throughout the U.S.

Abayomi Azikiwe, Editor, Pan-African News Wire

 

A US government task force is seeking to force companies such as Google, Dropbox and Facebook to create backdoors for wiretapping user communications, according to a report published Monday in the Washington Post.

According to the Post, the efforts are being driven by the FBI, part of the Obama administration’s Justice Department, though the White House has not formally announced a position. However, the panel is preparing legislation that would vastly expand police spying powers.

The FBI claims that, under current laws, internet communications companies can effectively refuse to comply with a court-ordered wiretap by claiming that there is no practical way for them to allow the government to spy on their users’ communications. The proposed law would force companies to rebuild their services to allow the government to monitor communications.

The proposed measure, which FBI General Counsel Andrew Weissmann last month called a “top priority” for the agency, is being developed as an extension of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, known as CALEA, which granted the federal government sweeping powers to spy on US citizens.

Originally, the act applied only to digital telephone networks. However, it was extended in 2005 to include internet communications.

Internet service providers (ISPs), which control the connections between internet users, are currently forced to allow the government to spy on most users’ communications. However, the increasing adoption of SSL encryption, which both Facebook and Gmail implemented by default in 2010, limited the government’s power to collect personal data through the ISPs.

The FBI’s proposal would negate the privacy offered by encryption by forcing companies like Google and Facebook to allow direct access to the companies’ computer servers.

The creation of such backdoors would follow actions by Skype, the online chat and voice service, which last year voluntarily reengineered its architecture to allow the US and other governments to monitor chat communications following the company’s purchase by Microsoft.

The FBI argues that this vast expansion of spying powers would only be an extension of the existing law—which requires all phone and internet systems to allow wiretapping—to new technologies. But the proposal is much more than this, since services such as Dropbox and Facebook function more like data archives than traditional communications systems.

As a result, the efforts to monitor real-time communications could open up users’ entire messaging history and file systems for searches by the government.

Moreover, while the nominal reason for such a move is to force companies to comply with court orders, the reality is that once these systems are created, they can be easily exploited by a new warrantless wiretapping program, or even hackers working covertly for the government.

The panel’s proposal is part of a systematic attack on core constitutional rights and protections against government spying, first under Bush and then Obama.

In 2005 the New York Times reported that the Bush administration had for years been conducting an illegal wiretapping program outside of all court oversight. Additionally, the White House authorized the National Security Administration to catalog records of hundreds of billions of telephone calls.

In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama voted for a law, the FISA Amendments Act, that severely undermined restrictions on government spying, gave a legal fig-leaf to the illegal wiretapping conducted under the Bush administration, and shielded telecommunications companies that complied with the wiretapping program from lawsuits.

The 2008 act allowed the government, with the rubber stamp of the FISA court (originally set up in 1978), to carry out monitoring of every phone call, email and electronic communication between the US and overseas without probable cause. It opened the way for the expansion of spying directed at US citizens.

These operations clearly violate the spirit of the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which requires that the government obtain a warrant based on probable cause before conducting a search, and that all warrants specify the items and premises to be searched.

Last year, the American Civil Liberties Union concluded that the Department of Justice has increased the number of wiretaps by 60 percent since the end of the Bush Administration, with 37,616 phones monitored by the Department of Justice, which includes the FBI, in 2011 alone.

These wiretaps were conducted under the authorization of FISA courts, which function as secret tribunals that approve nearly all requests by intelligence agencies for wiretapping, giving a veneer of legality to unconstitutional government spying.

In March, Attorney General Eric Holder announced guidelines to permit intelligence officials to use the vast stores of data that have been accumulated by the government for up to five years after the data has been collected—increasing the limit from 180 days under Bush. The Electronic Privacy Information Center commented at the time, “The change represents a dramatic expansion of government surveillance and appears to violate the Privacy Act of 1974.”

The Obama administration is also reportedly constructing a new secret facility in Utah, due to become operational in September 2013, to store the data that are being accumulated.

The intensified drive to expand the government’s wiretapping comes in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, which are being used as the pretext for the implementation of police state measures, including the lockdown of Boston following the blasts.

The bombings have prompted calls for the expansion of government surveillance, including from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who said Sunday that “information sharing failed” in the US intelligence system, concluding that “We need to revisit our laws,” on domestic surveillance.

While enacted under the framework of the “war on terror,” the basic target of these actions is the American people and domestic opposition to the policies of the ruling class. It is part of a systematic dismantling of democratic principles, with the government asserting the right to imprison and even assassinate US citizens without due process.

Fearing the social upheavals that will inevitably come from the growth of social inequality, the ruling class is turning to increasingly repressive and dictatorial forms of rule.

Moments ago the market jeered the announcement   of DB’s 10% equity dilution, promptly followed by cheering its early earnings announcement ]which was a “beat” on the topline, despite some weakness in sales and trading and an increase in bad debt provisions (which at €354MM on total loans of €399.9 BN net of a tiny €4.863 BN in loan loss allowance will have to go higher. Much higher). Ironically both events are complete noise in the grand scheme of things. Because something far more interesting can be found on page 87 of the company’s 2012 financial report .

The thing in question is the company’s self-reported total gross notional derivative exposure.

And while the vast majority of readers may be left with the impression that JPMorgan’s mindboggling $69.5 trillion in gross notional derivative exposure as of Q4 2012 ]may be the largest in the world, they would be surprised to learn that that is not the case. In fact, the bank with the single largest derivative exposure is not located in the US at all, but in the heart of Europe, and its name, as some may have guessed by now, is Deutsche Bank.

The amount in question? €55,605,039,000,000Which, converted into USD at the current EURUSD exchange rate amounts to $72,842,601,090,000….  Or roughly $2 trillion more than JPMorgan’s.

The good news for Deutsche Bank’s accountants and shareholders, and for Germany’s spinmasters, is that through the magic of netting, this number collapses into €776.7 billion in positive market value exposure (assets), and €756.4 billion in negative market value exposure (liabilities), both of which are the single largest asset and liability line item in the firm’s €2 trillion balance sheet mind you, and subsequently collapses even further into a “tidy little package” number of just €20.3.

Of course, this works in theory, however in practice the theory falls apart the second there is discontinuity in the collateral chain as we have shown repeatedly in thh past, and not only does the €20.3 billion number promptly cease to represent anything real, but the netted derivative exposure even promptlier become the gross number, somewhere north of $70 trillion.

Which, of course, is the primary reason why Germany, theatrically kicking and screaming for the past four years, has done everything in its power, even “yielding” to the ECB, to make sure there is no domino-like collapse of European banks, which would most certainly precipitate just the kind of collateral chain breakage and net-to-gross conversion that is what causes Anshu Jain, and every other bank CEO, to wake up drenched in sweat every night.

Finally, just to keep it all in perspective, below is a chart showing Germany’s GDP compared to Deutsche Bank’s total derivative exposure. If nothing else, it should make clear, once and for all, just who is truly calling the Mutually Assured Destruction shots in Europe.

But don’t worry, this €56 trillion in exposure, should everything go really, really bad is backed by the more than equitable €575.2 billion in deposits , or just 100 times less. Of course, a slighly more aggresive than normal bail-in may be required in case DB itself has to following the footsteps of Cyprus…

Shrouded in Secrecy: Industry Buries Fracking’s True Dangers

April 30th, 2013 by Global Research News

by EcoWatch

Author and journalist Tom Wilber doesn’t take sides on whether the risks of fracking outweigh its rewards. But as a reporter, he does have strong feelings about the issue of transparency. “And often, this puts me on the same side of the fence as the anti-fracking activists,” Wilber said in an April 23 speech at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Wilber, author of the 2012 book Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale, said the natural gas industry is different than almost every other type of industry in terms of the exemptions and the nondisclosure agreements under which it operates. All of this secrecy, “doesn’t give people a true idea of what all of the risks are,” he explained. “And part of my job is to show what the industry is rather than just the glossy public relations image of itself.”

Methane migration is a particularly hot-button issue in the overall discussion on fracking. Wilber has written extensively on the topic and understands that methane does occur naturally in water wells. But as for Dimock, PA, one of the battleground towns where the industry and local residents have fought over the issue of methane migration, Wilber reminds his readers that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)—often perceived by anti-fracking activists as a friend of industry–concluded that the methane polluting the aquifer under the town was thermogenic, from deeper producing formations, rather than biogenic or naturally occurring gas that collects in shallow seeps.

Residents in Dimock and in towns across the country have found thermogenic gas in their water where drilling is taking place. The gas industry typically blames methane migration on naturally occurring circumstances and often ignores findings to the contrary. “It is an insidious thing about the approach the gas industry is taking to this, which is to try to muddle things, rather than to try to be accountable for things,” Wilber said at the event, sponsored by Green GW, a student environmental group. “There is this defensive, ‘We didn’t do it, it’s always been there,’ type of approach.”

For example, according to DEP records, Dimock resident Norma Fiorentino’s water well exploded in early 2009 as a result of production gas, not naturally occurring methane, leaking into an aquifer and moving into her well, Wilber told the audience. “So when the industry said, ‘This is just a problem that’s always been around,’ it’s really confusing the issue,” he said.

After years of in-depth of reporting on the topic for the Binghamton (N.Y.) Press & Sun Bulletin, Wilber negotiated a book deal with Cornell University Press. The hardback edition of Under the Surface was released about a year ago; the paperback edition is scheduled to be published soon. With an absorbing narrative and solid reporting, the book has been well-received by industry officials, residents and anti-fracking activists alike. It’s a finalist for The New York Public Library’s acclaimed Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism. The winner will be announced at a reception and award ceremony on May 22.

Wilber left the newspaper business to write the book but continues to cover the shale gas boom in articles posted on his blog and in reporting for other news outlets. As the gas industry continues to spread its wings, he is seeing more and more Americans waking up to the issue of shale gas drilling. “There are people who live directly over this resource who never knew they lived over a major natural gas resource or oil resource,” he said.

In the past, communities zoned off industrial activities that were considered dangerous. But the gas industry must impose itself on large areas of land to gain access to shale gas reserves, even areas close to farms, schools and hospitals. “Unlike a manufacturer that works in a zoned setting in an industrial park or on its own private property, it [a gas driller] works on other people’s property,” Wilber noted.

Wilber said his interest in the shale gas boom remains at the local level where residents are directly impacted by activities associated with fracking. “The grassroots level is critical for me. And this story has the grass roots element unlike any other story I’ve covered nationally,” he said. “The grass roots movement started in New York—long before Josh Fox—at the town board meeting. This is where people can really get involved in influencing outcomes of governance.”

While Pennsylvania rushed into fracking, New York has taken a cautious approach due in large part to the organizing efforts of anti-fracking activists. “New York is unique in that it is the only state with this type of resource underneath that has not gone ahead to allow it to be exploited,” Wilber said. “New York has become something of a showcase of the anti-fracking movement.”

The fact that part of the Marcellus Shale is located in the New York City watershed helped to invigorate the movement. “At the beginning, the awareness wasn’t there of the magnitude of all of this,” he said. “But once people started getting their mind around the fact that the New York City watershed was under a prime drilling zone, it raised a lot of opposition that we have to put the brakes on.”

Some cities that are out of reach of Marcellus Shale drilling have provided symbolic support to the anti-fracking movement. The Buffalo, N.Y., Common Council, for example, voted in 2012 to ban fracking in the city, even though most experts view the parts of the Utica and Marcellus shales extending under the city as not economically viable targets at today’s natural gas prices, according to Wilber.

“If you’re Gov. Cuomo and you have this critical mass of local and city elected officials saying, ‘We don’t want it,’ that’s going to send a message,” Wilber said.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

  Backing One Side Against the Other In Someone Else’s Religious War Is Dangerous

Preface:  Americans would be disgusted if the might of the U.S. military and the riches of the U.S. treasury were used to support one Christian faith (say Methodists) in a shooting war against another faith (say Luterhans).   We would be even more offended if the U.S. backed one Hindu sect in a war against a competing Hindu sect, or one school of Judaism against a competing school of Judaism in an armed battle.   But that’s exactly what we’ve been doing … backing one Islamic faith against another.

We are not siding with one sect or the other.  Nor are we claiming that all people of any particular sect are bad or violent people. 

What we’re saying is that the whole problem is that the U.S. is taking sides … in someone else’s religious war.

Many Americans assume either:

(1) The U.S. doesn’t take sides in religious wars

Or

(2) We are fighting a crusade against Muslims

Neither assumption is correct. In fact, we are fighting a religious war on the same side as the Muslim jihadis.  Unfortunately – as shown below – this is neither wild-eyed conspiracy theory or  breathless hyperbole.

 

Specifically, the U.S. has directly inserted itself into a sectarian war between the two main Islamic sects, backing the “Sunnis” and attacking the “Shiites” (also called “Shia”). See this, this and this.

For example, American political leaders have been very close to Saudi (i.e. Sunni) leaders for decades:

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/7992/thumbs/s-BUSHANDSAUDIS-large.jpg

 

http://foodforthethinkers.files.wordpress.com/2011/02/bush-saudi.jpg

 

http://my2bucks.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/bush-saudi-hand-holding-1.jpg

 

(Obama has been similarly close to the Saudis.)

Saudi Arabia is the center of the Sunni branch of Islam.  It is also the center of the most radical sect of Islam … the “Wahhabis” (also called “Salafis”), the most radical and terrorist-minded Sunni sect.   But the U.S. has long supported the Madrassa schools within Saudi Arabia which teach radical Wahabi beliefs.

The U.S. has also supported the most radical and dangerous Sunni elements around the world.

For example, the U.S. National Security Adviser admitted that the U.S. created, organized and armed the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.  The Mujahadeen are predominately Sunni.

The Mujahadeen eventually morphed into Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni organization.

During various times and places, the U.S. has also backed the Muslim Brotherhood … another Sunni group.

We supported Al Qaeda Sunni terrorists in Libya and Mali,

We’ve long supported Sunni terrorists in Chechnya.

We support MEK terrorists – who are Sunnis who target Shias – in Iran.

We support the brutal Sunni government in Bahrain as it crushes its majority Shia population whenever it pushes for democratic reform.

We supported Al Qaeda Sunnis in Bosnia.

The “rebels” in Syria who we’ve been supporting are Al Qaeda and Muslim Brotherhood.

As the New York Times reports this week:

In Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, rebels aligned with Al Qaeda control the power plant, run the bakeries and head a court that applies Islamic law. Elsewhere, they have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce.

Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.

Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.

Why should Americans care if our government is backing the Sunnis over the Shiites?

Because we are supporting the side which carries out most of the terrorism.  Indeed, Sunni Muslims commit most of the terrorist acts worldwide.

For example, the National Counterterrorism Center’s 2011 Report on Terrorism found that:

Sunni extremists accounted for the greatest number of terrorist attacks and fatalities for the third consecutive year.   More than 5,700 incidents were attributed to Sunni extremists, accounting for nearly 56 percent of all attacks and about 70 percent of all fatalities. Among this perpetrator group, al-Qa‘ida (AQ) and its affiliates were responsible for at least 688 attacks that resulted in almost 2,000 deaths, while the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan conducted over 800 attacks that resulted in nearly 1,900 deaths.  Secular, political, and anarchist groups were the next largest category of perpetrators, conducting 2,283 attacks with 1,926 fatalities, a drop of 5 percent and 9 percent, respectively, from 2010.

Could our support for Al Qaeda terrorists all over the world come back to bite us?

Our backing of Al Qaeda  in Afghanistan led to 9/11.*  Top American government officials have also implicated the Saudi government in the 9/11 attack.

Our backing of Sunni extremists in Chechnya led to the Boston bombings.

Our backing of Sunni extremists in Libya led to attacks on our embassies in Libya and Tunisia.

And McClatchy interviewed an Al Qaeda terrorist fighting against the Syrian government – with U.S. backing – as saying:

When we finish with Assad, we will fight the U.S.!

Postscript: Not only have we been backing the Sunnis against the Shias, we have also backed the Sunnis against secular leaders such as Saddam Hussein and Gaddaffi.

* The question of whether 9/11 or the Boston bombings were false flags is beyond the scope of this post.

Twenty-plus years on, the collapse of the USSR in 1991 threatened massive Western defense budgets, bereft of a major enemy like the “Evil Empire.”

Western militaries conveniently found a new global enemy a decade later following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, and since then, they have struggled in the light of invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan to adapt their strategies to cope with the new threat, making defending the “homeland” the highest priority.

While the U.S. created the “Department of Homeland Security,” Washington’s less prosperous European allies have been forced to seek solutions to indigenous defense largely by themselves beyond NATO.

Except that the NATO charter Chapter 5 stipulates that an attack upon a member state will be met by the entire coalition.

European democracies have scrambled to define both national and European Union security issues, particularly since the global economic downturn, which began in 2008, forcing hard choices amongst European defense ministries.

Furthermore, many European nations now have significant post-colonial immigration populations, ramping up security concerns, from both indigenous citizens and ongoing concerns of foreign aggression. Defending the United Kingdom’s territorial, maritime and aerial space is the primary mission of Britain’s Ministry of Defense.

A laudable objective, but, in a time of declining MOD revenues amid energy imports, perhaps, a wind farm too far?

Needless to say, security encompasses protecting the country access to energy, so anything that reduces the kingdom’s dependency on foreign energy imports must be a good thing, correct?

Apparently not.

The latest threat to Britain?

Wind power, apparently.

The MOD has come out against two proposed 115 foot wind power towers in Cornwall, which they assert are so big they could look like planes on monitoring equipment.

The MOD assert that the wind towers green energy devices could confuse computer systems designed to protect the UK and identify the turbines as a threat , triggering the MOD to send in fighter aircraft to investigate, and while the RAF was preoccupied, allowing real enemies to sneak into British airspace, and accordingly, are against their construction.

The unpatriotic British citizens attempting to undermine British aerial defense are Richard and Ian Lobb, who want to install the 50 kilowatt towers on their adjacent farms in St Ewe, Cornwall. The ever vigilant MOD which warned the installation would cause “unacceptable interference” to an air traffic control radar 30 miles away in Wembury, Devon.

According to the MOD, “Wind turbines have been shown to have detrimental effects on the performance of MoD ATC radars. These effects include the desensitisation of radar in the vicinity of the turbines, and the creation of ‘false’ aircraft returns which air traffic controllers must treat as real. The desensitisation of radar could result in aircraft not being detected by the radar and therefore not presented to air traffic controllers. The creation of ‘false’ aircraft display on the radar leads to increased workload for both controllers and aircrews and may have a significant operati onal impact. Furthermore, real aircraft returns can be obscured by the turbine’s radar returns, making the tracking of conflicting, unknown aircraft much more difficult.”

A tad of history and geography here.

Radar installations along the English Channel were crucial in Britain winning the crucial Battle of Britain in 1940 against Hitler’s Luftwaffe, so Britain’s RAF is hardly unfamiliar with the principles of radar, more than seventy years later.

Secondly, how does a stationary object generate a hostile radar signature, unlike an incoming aircraft moving at hundreds of miles per hour?

Thirdly, virtually all of the RAF’s interception missions during the Cold War and after were against Soviet, and now Russian military aircraft approaching from the northeast, across the Red Sea.

Cornwall, in Britain’s extreme southwest, is geographically rather distant from this area.

So, who’s to send the threats?

France?

Spain?

Argentina?

The people of Cornwall deserve their green energy, and the MOD officials should be chastised for their ramping up of a non-existent problem.

The Armada was over four centuries ago, World War Two over 70 years ago – the people of Cornwall deserve electricity from renewable energy sources, as it hardly seems to be a threat to national security beyond those MOD boffins who have apparently spent too much time at the pub over lunch hour.

 

Things appear heading closer toward full-scale US intervention. The fullness of time will have final say.

On April 28, The New York Times headlined “Lawmakers Call for Stronger US Action in Syria,” saying:

Republicans “took President Obama to task Sunday for what they characterized as dangerous inaction in Syria….”

Senators John McCain (R. AZ) and Lindsey Graham are Armed Services Committee members. They “warn(ed) that failure to intervene in Syria would embolden nations like Iran and North Korea.”

“If we keep this hands-off approach to Syria, this indecisive action toward Syria, kind of not knowing what we’re going to do next, we’re going to start a war with Iran because Iran’s going to take our inaction in Syria as meaning we’re not serious about their nuclear weapons program,” said Graham.

Michigan Republican Representative Mike Rogers claims Assad’s been using chemical weapons for the past two years. Obama’s “red line” can’t be a “dotted line,” he said.

On April 28, the Wall Street Journal headlined “US Weighs Syria Response,” saying:

“Lawmakers pressed the Obama administration to intervene in Syria’s civil war, citing the regime’s alleged chemical-weapons use….”

They urge intervention short of troops on the ground. The White House and Pentagon have concerns about Syrian air defenses.

Joint Chiefs chairman General Martin Dempsey calls them the single biggest obstacle to US intervention. Since 2007, Russia’s been involved in upgrading them.

US officials believe its technicians provide assistance on the ground. According to US intelligence, Russia began shipping SA-22 Pantsir-S1 units to Syria.

It’s a combination surface-to-air missile and 30 mm antiaircraft gun. It has a digital targeting system. It’s mounted on a combat vehicle. It’s mobile, easy to move and conceal.

In 2009, Moscow began upgrading Syria’s outdated analog SA-3 surface-to-air missile systems. SA-26 Pechora-2M systems replaced them. They have a 17-mile operational range.

Syria’s SA-5 also concerns Washington. Their operational range is 175 miles. They can take out US planes from Cyprus. It’s a NATO base used during Libyan bombings.

Despite no credible evidence, Washington, Britain and Israel claim Assad used chemical weapons at least twice.

Pressure mounts toward intervention. At issue is whether, Russia, Iran and/or Hezbollah will respond. Doing so would embroil the region. Possibly it could escalate to a global conflict.

According to Haaretz military correspondent Amos Harel, Washington’s in “no hurry to go after Assad’s chemical weapons.” A major operation means boots on the ground. Obama wants it avoided.

Last year, IDF chief Benny Gantz addressed two possible options. One involved a large-scale ground operation. The other was a targeted air assault. If Israel attacks Syria, he prefers the latter.

Obama administration officials believe controlling Syrian chemical weapons requires at least 75,000 US troops. Other countries would likely send more.

Washington claims knowledge of at least 18 sites. A military operation against them “would require precise intelligence at an extraordinary level,” said Harel.

Intelligence experts aren’t sure if Iran and/or Hezbollah “would help defend the Syrian chemical weapon sites in the event of a US-led military operation targeting them.”

Doing so “would just be the beginning of America’s headache.” Weapons would have to be discovered, collected, and perhaps taken outside Syria.

It’s a “task of rare proportions,” said Harel. Completing it would take many months. Faulty intelligence might miss other sites. Uncertainties provide “good reasons….to avoid action as much as possible.”

According to Arab media, US forces in Jordan have been training for intervention. Al-Monitor calls itself “the pulse of the Middle East.” On April 26, it said demonstrators gathered in downtown Amman.

They did so after Friday prayers. A pickup truck loudspeaker blared “No Americans in our country.” Demonstrators chanted “We reject the American army’s presence in Jordan!”

Two marches followed. One headed toward the Royal Court. Mostly young and older men participated. Some women joined them. One protester spoke for others, saying:

“We came out to affirm our rejection of foreign forces on Jordanian lands. We did not come down to defend any regime. King Abdullah cannot decide for the Jordanian people.”

Demonstrators burned US flags. The Muslim Brotherhood affiliated Islamic Action Front also denounced the presence of US forces in Jordan. Days earlier, they issued a statement calling on Jordan’s government to rethink its authorization.

On April 28, Al-Monitor headlined “Why Russia Does Not Believe Syria Used Chemical Weapons,” saying:

Moscow believes that “news about the alleged chemical weapons in Syria, relying on intelligence from Israel and the United States, is naturally perceived as a step to an inevitable escalation.”

Independently obtained credible evidence of potential chemical weapons use would clarify things. UN chemical inspectors lack legitimacy. Global Research explained. They take orders from Washington. It shouldn’t surprise. America dominates UN policy.

“Moscow does not believe that Assad” used chemical weapons, said Al-Monitor. He’s “not a madman….For now, this entire story rather resembles an informational attack.”

Accusations persist. On April 29, an unnamed Israeli official said intelligence sources have “concrete and unequivocal evidence” of Syrian chemical weapons use.

“There is substantial material about the use of chemical weapons by Assad’s army. It is known to all intelligence agencies. All intelligence elements have been updated. No one has any doubts on the matter.”

No one presented credible evidence for proof. Accusations don’t wash. They persist. Expect more. They’ll make headlines. Repeated enough gets most people to believe them.

According to the official,”one of the central dangers in Israel’s view is the transfer of Syrian weapons to Hezbollah and Lebanon, as well as to terrorist organizations trying to reach the border.”

“The possibility of them acquiring chemical or conventional weapons they never had before has implications for the State of Israel.”

Last weekend, Netanyahu told his ministers to remain silent on this issue. His diplomatic-security cabinet discussed it for hours. They focused on Israel’s likely response.

Environmental Protection Minister Amir Peretz spoke publicly before the meeting, saying:

“With or without chemical weapons, the world can’t remain silent in the face of what’s happening in Syria.”

“The international community should have actively intervened long ago, with military force if necessary.”

“Naturally, if there is evidence of the use of chemical weapons, we would expect those who have set red lines to also do what’s necessary – first and foremost the United States – and of course the entire international community.”

On April 27, London’s Guardian headlined “Syria nerve gas claims undermined by eyewitness accounts,” saying:

Contradictions and uncertainties abound. Eyewitness contradict official sources. The Guardian attributes it to “the confusion of battle.” It stopped short of affirming Western claims that don’t wash.

On April 29, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) headline “Lavrov: Pretext of Chemical Weapon Use Dangerous,” saying:

He warned about using this pretext to “fulfill geopolitical interests for foreign powers and states against Syria,” said SANA.

They’re considering all ways to topple Assad. Claiming “weapons of mass destruction (use) is very dangerous and unacceptable.”

With regards to Western investigation demands, Lavrov stressed “the supporting evidence of such allegations were not given to any side or by any side in whatever time before, but rather intelligence circles including ours talked about the non- existence of any facts that support these allegations.”

“No change has taken place in the Russian stance regarding the crisis in Syria.”

Separately, Syrian officials informed Moscow that “unidentified forces launched two ground-to-air missiles which exploded in the air very close to a civilian aircraft belonging to” Norwind Airlines.

It’s a Russian charter air carrier. The pilot maneuvered out of harm’s way. It was en route to Kazan, Tatarstan. It departed from Sharm el-sheikh, Egypt.

Expect similar incidents to follow. Washington seems heading toward full-scale intervention. The fullness of time will explain more.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/syria-upping-the-stakes/

By Bryan Dyne

A tank of sour water, a mixture of hydrogen sulfide and ammonia generated from refining crude oil, exploded at the Marathon Detroit Refinery in southwest Detroit during maintenance work Saturday evening. No injuries have been reported. It is unclear whether the maintenance check or some other factor sparked the explosion.

Marathon Oil’s Detroit refinery

 

In the immediate aftermath of the explosion, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for 3,000 residents of Melvindale, a suburb of Detroit, due to concerns of deteriorating air quality caused by the resulting fire. Residents were told to go to the city’s ice arena-civic center.

The evacuation order was canceled after an hour when Melvindale Police Sergeant Michael Welch announced the pollutants detected by Melvindale’s air monitoring equipment were within acceptable levels. However, residents reported that strong lingering odors from the fire lasted until 9 p.m. Detroit did not issue a similar evacuation order for its nearby residents.

 

Although officers evacuating residents wore respirators to shield against possible toxins, similar protection was not given to residents. It is not clear the scale of toxic chemicals, including carcinogens, released into the environment as a result of the fire.

 

Marathon cleanup workers by tank that exploded

The fire that erupted after the explosion just before 6 p.m. on Saturday was extinguished within two hours by a combined crew of Marathon, Detroit and Melvindale firefighters. Despite the relatively small scale of the fire, similar to the scale of a previous fire at the refinery in 2011, it raised the specter a much larger industrial catastrophe.

“In the worst case scenario,” a Detroit firefighter at the station that responded told the WSWS, “if the entire plant went up, it could mean that everything within 10 miles would be gone too. This was a near miss.”

The firefighter explained that the trained fire safety specialists at Marathon had retired and the company had only replaced them with first responders. The ability of Detroit firefighters to respond to potential disasters, he explained, had been deeply undermined by years of budget cuts, reductions in manpower and the permanent or rotating closure of stations. In addition, there is a dangerous shortage of equipment, including aerial ladders, because of the wear and tear and cuts in maintenance. The very day the WSWS spoke with the firefighters, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr was meeting with the union to outline the wage and benefit cuts he plans to impose on them.

 

Firefighters from Detroit station that responded to the explosion

“We don’t have the equipment we need to fight the fire as a result of the budget cuts. We don’t have foam to put out chemical fires so we had to use Marathon equipment to put out the fire. Without that equipment, we’d piece together what we could, but the dangers are that much higher.

“There haven’t been new firefighters hired since 2004 and a lot of guys that are near retirement are going to be pushed out. That experience is going to be lost. People are being demoted to cut costs and the equipment isn’t maintained. All these cuts, which don’t include whatever is coming from the emergency manager, mean that incidents like this can cause major problems. If there were another fire in Southwest Detroit while the fire at Marathon was happening, it would have swept through the area before other rigs from the city could come to fight it. The city is rolling dice with people’s lives.”

The Marathon Detroit Refinery, which is 83 years old and has 300 employees and an additional 300-400 contractors, is the largest crude oil refinery in the Midwest and the fourth-largest refiner in the country. In 2012, it completed a four-year $2.2 billion expansion to increase its production of refined oil from 106,000 to 120,000 barrels a day, mostly to process crude oil imported from Canada.

This will only exacerbate the poor environmental conditions in the area caused by the plant. Despite the fact it received an award from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration for “health excellence,” a study by University of Michigan environmental scientists showed that the Zip code where the Marathon refinery resides is the most polluted in Detroit. The city itself is the most polluted area in the state of Michigan and one of the most polluted cities nationwide.

The residents commonly have a variety of afflictions: asthma, leukemia, sarcoidosis and multiple types of cancers. In interviews with residents, the study found it is not uncommon for people to die of cancer in their mid-sixties. This was attributed to the high rates of cancer found in local residents, especially among those who get up to four different types of cancer either sequentially or simultaneously.

Metal dust has also been reported falling on the neighborhood. Also reported are a dark cloud that drifts overhead and constant foul odors and acrid smells. These effects are not just from Marathon, but the aggregate pollution from heavy industry in the area. The state budget for regulation went down 75 percent from 2002 to 2010.

 

Malik

 

Marathon has also been responsible for the buildup of petroleum coke (petcoke), a byproduct of oil refining, on the Detroit River. However, the petcoke was bought by Koch Minerals LLC and, as such, Marathon has denied any responsibility for any environmental effects the petcoke may cause.

“I was walking my pup near the plant when I got a metallic taste in my mouth so I went home,” said Malik, a resident who lives a few blocks from the refinery. Recalling Saturday’s event, he said, “I was sitting on my porch with my grandson when I heard and felt the explosion. I saw the plume of smoke go up.

“Those tanks are always looming over us and we have a real fear of living in the shadow of danger constantly. The industrialists don’t care though. They just want to be in the black and make profits, the people around them be damned.

“When the explosion happened, I was really worried. People around here already oppose Marathon because of the higher cancer rates. There was a meeting at the recreation center that Mayor Bing was present at where people spoke about their concerns over the health of the people living here.

“I’ve lived here since 1955 and I’ve seen the bad health of the area and the budget cuts for a long time. The recreation center was almost closed a few years ago and shutdown is still looming. That’s the heart of the area. The budget problems are probably because of the tax cuts to Marathon and the other plants in the area, even though Marathon likes to have their red security jeeps drive around all the time.”

 

Kevin

Kevin, a former steelworker and long-term resident of the area, said, “When the explosion happened, they didn’t bother to evacuate the area. Nobody cares about the area. There isn’t even fire service around here because no one has insurance, so the city doesn’t bother.

“This was like what happened near Monroe with the [Enrico] Fermi nuclear power plant. We almost lost Detroit.”

Referring to the fact that Marathon chiefly used Detroit firefighters to put out the fire, Kevin’s friend said, “They do all that and they don’t get an extra shilling. Instead they are getting their pay and benefits cut.”

Civil Rights and Human Liberties under Threat

April 30th, 2013 by Prof. Mickey Huff

Media Freedom Foundation

Eighteen college and universities worldwide have researched and validated 233 independent news stories for the annual Project Censored review cycle.  These independent news stories have seen little if any coverage by the corporate media. The Project Censored network is currently voting on the top 25 most important stories for inclusion in Censored 2014: Fearless Speech in Fateful Times, the latest edition of our annual yearbook, scheduled for release by Seven Stories Press in October 2013. 

Please help us maintain this annual process by becoming a subscriber ($5-$10 a month) or by making a one time tax deductible donation of support here. We thank you for your support and please review the latest Validated Independent News stories  on Civil Liberties and Human Rights being Under Threat below.

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Mickey Huff—Director of Project Censored

Andy Roth—Associate Director of Project Censored

Peter Phillips—President, Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored

Civil Liberties and Human Rights Under Threat

“Culture of Cruelty” Along US-Mexico Border  Migrants crossing the Mexico-US border face not only the dangers of dehydration, starvation, exhaustion, but also abuse at the hands of the US Border Patrol.  In “A Culture of Cruelty,” the organization No More Deaths reveals human rights violations by the US Border Patrol including limiting or denying migrants water and food, verbal and physical abuse, and failing to provide necessary medical attention. Erika Sánchez reports, “dehumanization of immigrants is actually part of the Border Patrol’s institutional culture.”

Nina Rosenwald: “Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate”  Since 2000, Nina Rosenwald and her sister Elizabeth Varet have donated more than $2.8 million to anti-Muslim groups and organizations, making her, in Max Blumenthal’s words, “the sugar mama of anti-Muslim hate.” In addition to donating millions of dollars to these organizations, Rosenwald serves on the board of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), America’s largest pro-Israel lobby, and she currently holds additional positions in other pro-Israel organizations.

Pennsylvania Law Gags Doctors to Protect Oil Company Profits  In communities affected by fracking, people understand the environment and their health is at risk.  In Pennsylvania, a new state law requires drilling companies to tell doctors what chemicals they are pumping into the ground in order to extract natural gas. Doctors need to identify the chemicals so they can diagnose and treat patients who have been exposed. However, because the companies deem the chemical ingredients they are injecting into people’s backyards “proprietary secrets,” the law imposes a gag on doctors, forbidding them from telling anyone, including their own patients or other health professionals, what chemicals are causing the sickness.

Double Standards Plague New York Police Civilian Complaint Review Board  New York City’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) has been operating under double standards.  Designed to operate as a fact-finding organization, the CCRB reviews complaints and is supposed to refer “substantiated” cases to the NYPD’s Advocate’s Office, which internally investigates officers accused of wrongdoing.  Officially any case that involved a “preponderance of evidence” ought to be forwarded to the Advocate’s Office for investigation, but in practice CCRB reviewers used a higher standard, closer to the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal courts.  As a result, fewer officers face official investigation for misconduct charges.

The Unfortunate Reality of Government Whistleblowing  A suit has been brought against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by fired whistleblowers that were concerned over harmful levels of radiation in medical imaging devices for colonoscopies and mammograms. These disapproving scientists were targeted and secretly surveilled as they reached out to journalists, members of Congress and President Obama about the danger. The whistleblowers are now suing the agency for violation of privacy and unjust termination.

Koch Brothers Stifle Workplace Political Speech  In These Times reports that, in early October 2012, Koch Industries sent a pro-Romney mailer to 45,000 of its Georgia Pacific employees, while at the same time imposing dramatic restrictions on those employees’ freedom of expression as individuals.  The new freedom of speech for corporations under the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, coupled with weak labor laws, leaves workers vulnerable to coercive tactics employed by corporations like Georgia Pacific.

US Readies Five Million Watt Cattle Prod for Crowd Control  Following Occupy demonstrations, weapon manufactures are jumping at the expanding government market for non-lethal crowd control tools. A five million watt tactical cattle prod has been developed just for that purpose.  Stunning Developments, Inc. showcased the new BattleProd as the world’s first weapon-mountable pain compliance-inducing stun baton, designed for “crowd control applications.” “This thing is just too much fun. I mean, what’s not to like?” a company spokesman told the audience at the 2012 Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, an event sponsored by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.

High School Students in Texas Forced to Wear Electronic ID Tags

In October 2012 Texas schools went live with a program to use radio frequency identification tracker chips to track students’ exact locations. Students refusing the chips were reportedly threatened with suspension, fines, or involuntary transfers to other schools.  Unlike chips used by retailers to track inventory, which activate when scanned by a reader, these chips contain batteries and actively broadcast a continuous signal, allowing anyone with a reader to track individual students and posing a threat to their rights to privacy.

1970 Kent State Shootings Investigation Remains Closed Despite New Evidence

Questions have once again been raised regarding the events of the infamous 1970 Kent State shootings upon a 2010 analysis of an audio recording taken during the shootings. At the request of Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, New Jersey-based audio experts Stuart Allen and Tom Owen enhanced and evaluated the tape made by Terry Strubbe, a Kent alumnus who recorded the events with a microphone from his dormitory window.  The recording suggests that someone may have ordered National Guardsmen to fire on the student protestors, though officers denied giving such a command.

Public Buses Adding Microphones to Record Passenger Conversations

Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record private conversations. San Francisco, Baltimore, and other cities are installing the listening devices with funding from the Department of Homeland Security.

The Miserable Plight of Immigrants in For-Profit Detention Centers

Big corporations are making billions by incarcerating illegal immigrants.  More than two-thirds of immigrants currently detained in the US are held in so-called contract facilities owned by private companies.

The right to vote? A candid history of voter suppression in the United States  Though voter suppression featured prominently in US news during the last election, the issue of who has the right to vote is “a long-running class battle between the wealthy elite and the workers,” reports Christina López.  “The biggest form of voter suppression,” she writes, “is that workers and the poor have nobody to vote for who represents their interests.”

US candidates silent on minimum wage  From presidential candidates to the local races, the critical issue of raising the minimum wage was a non-issue in the United States’ 2012 elections.  Yet a minimum-wage job means nothing if that wage cannot support a family of three. There are no states in the US where the minimum wage will pay for a two-bedroom apartment. Instead of focusing on these systemic issues, corporate media continue to castigate the Affordable Care Act for its claimed costs to small businesses, and coverage of the insufficient minimum wage tends to be left to the op-ed page, if it’s present at all.

Nonviolent Protester of Drone Wars Sentenced to Federal Prison  Catholic Worker Brian Terrell of Maloy, Iowa has been sentenced to serve six months in a federal prison for his witness against the use of drone warfare. Terrell was expressing his freedom of speech and was participating in a non-violent protest.

Digital records could expose details and personality traits of millions  Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that surprisingly accurate estimates of Facebook users’ race, age, IQ, sexuality, personality, substance use and political views can be inferred from automated analysis of only their Facebook Likes – information that is currently publicly available by default.

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The Fall of Libya: A Study in Hypocrisy

April 29th, 2013 by Max Ajl

Perhaps no war in recent memory has so thoroughly flummoxed the Euro-Atlantic left as the recent NATO war on Libya. Presaging what would occur as U.S. proxies carried out an assault on Syria, both a pro-war left and an anti-anti-war left started filling up socialist e-zines and broadsheets with endless explanations and tortuous justifications for why a small invasion, perhaps just a “no-fly-zone,” would be okay—so long as it didn’t grow into a larger intervention. They cracked open the door to imperialism, with the understanding that it would be watched very carefully so as to make sure that no more of it would be allowed in than was necessary to carry out its mission.

The absurdity of this posture became clear when NATO immediately expanded its mandate and bombed much of Libya to smithereens, with the help of on-the-ground militia, embraced as revolutionaries by those who should have known better—and according to Maximilian Forte, could have known better, had they only looked.

Forte is an anthropologist, and what he offers us in Slouching Towards Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa is an ethnography of U.S. culture and the way it enabled and contributed to the destruction of Libya. It is also a meticulously documented study in hypocrisy: that of the U.S. elite, of the Gulf ruling classes who have lately welded their agenda directly onto that of the United States, and of the liberal bombardiers who emerged in the crucible of the “humanitarian” wars of the 1990s only to reemerge as cheerleaders for the destruction of another Arab country in 2011.

Finally, it is a study of the breakdown of the anti-war principles of leftists in the United States and Europe, so many of whom, for so long, sustained an infatuation with confused rebels whose leadership early on had their hand out to the U.S. empire, prepared to pay any cost—including Libya itself—to take out a leader under whom they no longer were prepared to live.

Forte begins by describing Sirte, the emblem of the new state Qadhafi—and almost literally, Qadhafi—had constructed with the post–1973 torrent of petrodollars flowing into Libyan coffers in the wake of a series of price increases which Qadhafi’s aggressive resource nationalism had played a part in securing. Sirte was, in effect, a second capital, thick with new buildings and lavished with benefits from the money which had streamed into the new Libya. Qadhafi hosted numerous convocations there, including summits for the Organization for African Unity, a new pan-African network which he played a large part in developing. Sirte was also the place where Qadhafi had chosen to summon the ConocoPhillips CEO in 2008 to criticize the way he was dealing with the company’s oil contracts in Libya.

Forte turns the fate of Sirte into a parable of the fate of Libya, as it fell under, and with, Qadhafi. Indeed, Sirte was one of the places especially targeted by the rebellious forces of the National Transition Council: Forte quotes an AP report stating that “Residents now believe the Misrata fighters intentionally destroyed Sirte, beyond the collateral damage of fighting.”

It is to that destruction that Forte turns. Against too many accounts of the attack on Libya which make far too much of the partial rapprochement between Libya and the United States in the post-Global War on Terror interlude, Forte looks back at the historically belligerent face the United States had shown Libya, especially under Reagan: bombing it repeatedly, and taking down Libyan fighter jets defending Libyan land in the Gulf of Sirte, trying to get members of the Organization for African Unity to censure Libya, and then putting in place a series of sanctions against the Libyan government. Although many of the sanctions were eventually lifted, the close U.S. alliance with Saudi Arabia, sponsor of the mujahideen who had attempted to assassinate Qadhafi in 1996, continued, contributing to lasting friction between the government of Libya and the government of the United States.

Forte’s contribution here is to complicate the meaning of words like “rebellion” and “revolution” too often incanted to short circuit independent thought. His method is to look at the revolt which was happening in parts of Libya and then to zoom in on Sirte, the Qadhafi stronghold, to see if indeed the revolt was taking place there. To the contrary, Forte finds that the NATO/NTC (National Transitional Council) assault on Sirte continued for months before the rebels were finally able to take control of the city. Their assault consisted of indiscriminate bombing using heavy weaponry, a fact Forte is able to establish using mainstream media reporting of the civil war.

Furthermore, Forte is able to bring to bear evidence that NATO carried out extensive war crimes during its “liberation” of Sirte, and the evidence he brings to bear is impeccable: the statements of the NATO command and the various human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, finding evidence of massacres of captured pro-Qadhafi fighters and even of civilians. Even more damning is the quotation from Georg Charpentier, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Libya, who could speak in October 2011 of the “liberation of Bani Walid and Sirte in October,” and then in another note that “Public infrastructure, housing, education and health facilities need to be rehabilitated, reconstructed, and reactivated, intense and focused reconciliation efforts also need to be encouraged.”

This and dozens of quotations like it attest to NATO’s knowledge of what it was doing: intervening on one side of a civil war, for “reconciliation” is only necessary when you have two sides, and by elevating one side to angelic revolutionaries, one is laying the groundwork for legitimizing the wholesale destruction of the other.

Another strength of the book is Forte’s account of the double standards not just of the Western states and human rights organizations but also—perhaps especially—of Al Jazeera and its inflated, not to say fabricated, accounts of atrocities and particularly the way it incited racial hatred against darker Libyans.

Forte also clearly shows that Qadhafi had what is now spitefully referred to as a “social base”—as though the modern state is merely a crime syndicate rather than tightly integrated into social reproduction. The avoidance of these questions by dominant currents of the Euro-Atlantic socialist left led to a situation in which too many no longer seem able to distinguish between riots, revolts, and revolutions.

So how did NATO go about intervening? And how did it exploit the Libyan regime’s vulnerabilities? Here Forte seems to misstep a little. He writes of the very real improvements in social welfare, under a populist rentier social contract, and links those improvements to the government. But here some more delving into the academic literature, books such as Ruth First’s or Dirk Vandewalle’s, would have been helpful. While living standards were improving, and the oil wealth was going to the hands of the Libyan people—at least in part—the deliberate “statelessness” of the Qadhafi government had created a situation within which the state was materially embedded within the society, but links between the two were one of a social rather than a civic contract. Anomie and estrangement prevailed under the later Qadhafi, and the people living under his government increasingly felt that they were not the owners of their country. Legitimate discontent grew.

With the advent of the Arab Spring, that discontent found an outlet: revolt. Here Forte moves to surer ground. Disregarding narratives of a “peaceful revolt” militarized only in reluctant response to state savagery, he finds that the revolt was militarized practically from day one, with an attack on a Libyan military barracks. Forte documents that the right wing of the regime was clearly prepared to execute a coup d’état against Qadhafi, with the open assistance of France, the United States, and especially Qatar, which sent in special forces, airplanes, and gunships to ensure his rapid deposition.

Forte goes further than most other analysts of the Libyan coup d’état but at the same time not far enough. Al Jazeera, the television station owned by the Emir of Qatar and early on christened the voice of the Arab Spring, started reporting on “massacres” carried out by “black mercenaries” in Libya, starting February 17 and 18, 2011. The sourcing tended to be to anonymous activists in Benghazi or elsewhere—a script later replayed in Syria, where articles from Al Jazeera are so liberally brocaded with “activists say” to the point where little of what the article says is anything but what activists have said. Such subterfuges have escaped much of the left, and for that reason Forte’s account is laced with contempt for their gullibility with respect to opposition propaganda.

Furthermore, Forte does a very good job of pulling together the reasons the United States never liked Qadhafi—his prickliness with respect to U.S. investment, his leadership in Africa, his support of the African National Congress, and his resolute hostility to AFRICOM and U.S. bases on African soil. Far too much has been made of Qadhafi’s cozying up to the United States after 2004. What is forgotten is that the United States maintains hostility to any state-capitalist regime that is not fully integrated with and subservient to the U.S. global system, with respect both to the free flow of capital and foreign policy. On both counts, Qadhafi failed—the Heritage Foundation, which reports on what matters to the people who matter, found that Iran, Libya, and Syria have been the most “economically repressed” countries in the region—that is, the least open to U.S. investment, while far too often supporting Palestinian resistance movements, decrying normalization with Israel, giving aid to the left wing of Fateh, and other recalcitrant behavior which U.S. imperialists never forgot.

Libya offers a place to rethink dominant theories of imperialism, which have trouble accounting for the role of Western capitalist interests with respect to state-capitalist regimes, even ones implementing neoliberal economic programs or hollowing out their domestic industrial or agricultural sectors. What those theories miss is the resolute hostility of the U.S. state and ruling class to any foreign leadership which seems to be carrying out a national project.

A weakness of Forte’s book is that although he is a leftist, he is not a Marxist. So an occasion is lost to think about the ways in which the positive social transformations carried out under the Qadhafi junta also had the effect of contributing to the future downfall of Libya—for lacking a revolution within the Green Revolution, there was a counter-coup by the regime’s right wing against the populist coup d’état under which Qadhafi came to power. The left needs to understand both the benefits afforded by populist regimes and the limits they impose. The object is to understand what kind of opposition movements can arise which can both defend the gains of previous—and also deeply flawed—governments while simultaneously advancing on them, to further horizons. But these are theoretical and political problems that were with us before the destruction of Libya and will remain with us after. It is to the knowledge of this sordid event of the Euro-Atlantic left that Forte has made an important contribution, one which ought be on the bookshelf of anyone interested in and concerned about the destruction of Libya, and looking to understand more fully the next targets of empire.


SLOUCHING TOWARDS SIRTE: NATO’S WAR ON LIBYA AND AFRICA

Available to order from Global Research

Slouching Towards Sirte:
NATO’s War on Libya and Africa

by Maximilian Forte

ISBN: 978-1-926824-52-9
Year: 2012
Pages: 352 with 27 BW photos, 3 maps
Publisher: Baraka Books

Price: $24.95

CLICK TO ORDER FROM GLOBAL RESEARCH

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has visited the West African state of Mali where his troops have been fighting since January. France intervened in the central and northern regions of Mali in a purported campaign to remove the presence of several Islamic organizations which have been designated as terrorists by Paris and other imperialist states.

Recently the United Nations Security Council authorized the deployment of approximately 12, 500 peacekeeping troops which will establish bases at various points in these contested areas of Mali. This UN force is also structured to take the place of a 6,000-person regional African force which has been fighting alongside the French troops against three armed Islamist groups in the north.

Although Francois Hollande’s government said in January that the French operation in Mali would be short-lived, the plans have now been revised. France claims that it has drawn down some its troops leaving 4,000 in the country.

According to reports from the French defense ministry at least 1,000 troops will remain in Mali until the end of the year. 250 of these soldiers are specifically slated to be involved in a training mission with the Malian army, while the other 750 are to continue combat operations.

A major area of the fighting has been in Gao where the French Defense Minister Le Drian visited. The official announced that several hundred troops would be transferred from Timbuktu to Gao, leaving only 20 behind in the ancient city which centuries-ago was a center of Islamic scholarship and international trade.

In addition to the presence of French soldiers, a contingent of troops from neighboring Burkina Faso is operating in Timbuktu. These Burkinabe soldiers are part of the West African regional force mobilized by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

According to French Colonel Cyrille Zimmer, the Burkinabe troops are taking over control of military operations in Timbuktu. He said that “We are leaving a small detachment of 20 men who are going to operate with the Burkinabe battalion. This detachment is going to stay in Timbuktu while the Burkinabes are there.” (Associated Press, April 29)

There have also been efforts to draw more western states into the war in Mali. Germany has committed to supplying military trainers through the European Union.

The United States has been involved in Mali for many years with the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) supplying training, equipment and monetary resources. However, these efforts have only created instability inside the country.

When the junior military officers seized power in March 2012 from the elected President Amadou Toumani Toure, these soldiers were led by a U.S.-trained colonel, Amadou Sanogo, who had studied in several academies set up by the Pentagon. The Pentagon has been transporting French troops into the battle in Mali and has recently deployed 100 Special Forces in neighboring Niger in addition to establishing a drone station there.

There has also been a call made by Michael Byers, Chair of Global Politics and International Law at the University of British Columbia in Canada, to have Ottawa become more involved in the Malian crisis. Byers in an editorial published in the Globe and Mail, Canada’s leading newspaper, attempted to make an argument for the deployment of troops to Mali.

Byers wrote on April 29 that “Canadian soldiers would be highly valued as ‘force-multipliers’ who maximize the impact of other, less well-trained troops. For nearly half a century, Canada filled this niche in every UN peacekeeping mission.”

He continued saying “Although Canada has disengaged from peacekeeping in recent years, that shift was a political decision. When Canada’s military leaders sought to have General Andrew Leslie appointed commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Congo in 2010, it was the Harper government that intervened and claimed that Canada’s commitments to the NATO mission in Afghanistan precluded his taking part.”

Therefore, the priority of the Harper government was to engage in more direct occupation efforts in Afghanistan as opposed to what would be considered a neutral stance in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Nonetheless, the UN forces being placed in Mali could very well be subjected to hostile fire and other military actions by locals.

This peacekeeping mission will have three obvious challenges. It will be operating as a supposed neutral force while at the same time French and Malian troops are continuing their offensive operations against Ansar Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

Also there is a growing degree of alienation on the part of the Malian people in relationship to both French troops and Malian soldiers. These soldiers have been accused of committing atrocities against the population where deaths, injuries and illegal detentions have taken place.

Humanitarian Situation Worsens in Mali

As a result of the military coup and the subsequent civil war in the north between Tuareg separatists and later Islamic rebel groups fighting against the national Malian army, large-scale displacements have taken place. The economic impact of the conflict has been devastating to those that have forced to flee as well as people remaining in their towns and villages.

Food prices have skyrocketed which has impacted working people and the poor. In a recent article published in the Guardian newspaper in London, it examines the growing food shortages in Mali where French troops have been the most active against the targeted rebel organizations.

According to the Guardian, “On Thursday (April 25) four international agencies warned that northern Mali will descend to emergency levels of food insecurity in less than two months if conditions do not improve. Recent food crises in the region have left many people weakened and still in a period of recovery.” (April 29)

Even the Guardian acknowledges that the French intervention has worsened conditions for people living in the combat areas. In addition to cutting off supply lines it has created shortages and therefore precipitated hyperinflation.

This same article goes on to point out that “Food distribution has been disrupted by the closure of the Algerian border – an important route for supplies into northern Mali – and the departure of many traders. Aid agencies say herders have been unable to use traditional pastures and water points, while the falling value of livestock has made it harder to buy cereals.”

With the intervention of UN peacekeepers there is still no guarantee that the situation will normalize. If the experiences of other states are of any indication, such as the DRC, Somalia and Sudan, the deployment of UN forces may very well exacerbate tensions as oppose to lessen them.

The situation in Mali requires a political solution that can only be reached between the varying parties, governments and interest groups involved. This issue portends much for the future of Africa and must be seriously addressed by the African Union (AU) at their upcoming summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

With the increasing intervention of U.S., French and other NATO military forces in Africa, the social, political and economic situations in various African states will inevitably worsen. African states and regional organizations must devise a strategy to deal with this escalation of imperialist militarism which has implications for the continent as a whole.

Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire

 

Eleven miles by ferry from Perth is Western Australia’s “premier tourist destination”. This is Rottnest Island, whose scabrous wild beauty and isolation evoked, for me, Robben Island in South Africa. Empires are never short of devil’s islands; what makes Rottnest different – indeed, what makes Australia different – is silence and denial on an epic scale.

“Five awesome reasons to visit!” the brochure says. These range from “family fun” to “historical Rottnest”. The island is described as “a guiding light, a defender of the peace”. In eight pages of prescribed family fun, there is just one word of truth – prison.

More than any other colonial society, Australia consigns its dirtiest secrets, past and present, to wilful ignorance or indifference. When I was at school in Sydney, standard texts all but dismissed the most enduring human entity on earth, the indigenous first Australians. “It was quite useless to treat them fairly,” the historian Stephen Roberts wrote, “since they were completely amoral and incapable of sincere and prolonged gratitude.” His acclaimed colleague Russel Ward was succinct: “We are civilised today and they are not.”

That Australia has since changed is not disputed. To measure this change, a visit to Western Australia is essential. The vast state – our richest – is home to the world’s biggest resources boom: iron ore, gold, nickel, oil, petroleum, gas. Profits are in the multiple billions. When the former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd tried to impose a modest tax, he was overthrown by his own party following a A$22m (£14.6m) propaganda campaign by the mining companies, whose mates in the media uphold the world’s first Murdocracy. “Assisted by Rio Tinto” reads the last line of an unctuous newspaper article on the boom’s benefits to black Australians.

At airports passengers are greeted by banners with pictures of smiling Aboriginal faces in hard hats, promoting the plunderers of their land. “This is our story,” says the slogan. It isn’t.

Barely a fraction of mining, oil and gas revenue has benefited Aboriginal communities, whose poverty is an enduring shock. In Roebourne, in the mineral-rich Pilbara, 80% of the children suffer from an ear infection called otitis media, which can cause partial deafness. Or they go blind from preventable trachoma. Or they die from Dickensian infections. That is their story.

The Nyoongar people have lived around what is now Perth for many thousands of years. Incredibly, they survive. Noel Nannup, a Nyoongar elder, and Marianne McKay, a Nyoongar activist, accompanied me to Rottnest. Nannup’s protective presence was important to McKay. Unlike the jolly tourists heading for “Rotto”, they spent days “preparing for the pain”. “All our families remember what was done,” said Noel Nannup.

What was done was the starving, torture, humiliation and murder of the first Australians. Wrenched from their communities in an act of genocide that divided and emasculated the indigenous nations, shackled men and boys as young as eight endured the perilous nine-hour journey in an open longboat. Terrified prisoners were jammed into a windowless “holding cell”, like an oversized kennel. Today, a historical plaque refers to it as “the Boathouse”. The suppression is breathtaking.

In the prison known as the Quod as many as 167 Aboriginal prisoners were locked in 28 tiny cells. This lasted well into the 20th century. The prison is now called Rottnest Lodge. It has a spa, and there are double bunks for children: family fun. I booked a room. Noel Nannup stood in the centre of the room and described its echoes of terrible suffering. The window looked out on to where a gallows had stood, where tourists now sunbathed. None had a clue.

A “country club” overlooks a mass grave. One psychopath who ran the Quod was Henry Vincent. He liked to whip prisoners and murdered two of them, an inquiry was told. Today, Vincent is venerated as a “pioneer”, and tourists are encouraged to follow the “Vincent Way heritage trail”. In the Governor’s Bar, the annual Henry Vincent golf trophy is displayed. No one there had a clue.

Rotto is not the past. On 28 March Richard Harding, formerly inspector of custodial services, declared Western Australia a “state of imprisonment”. During the boom Aboriginal incarceration has more than doubled. Interned in rat-infested cells, almost 60% of the state’s young prisoners are Aboriginal – out of 2.5% of the population. They include children. A former prisons minister, Margaret Quirk, told me the state was now “racking and stacking” black Australians. Their rate of incarceration is five times that of black people in apartheid South Africa.

Black Australians are stereotyped as violent, yet the violence routinely meted out to them by authority is of little interest. An elder known as Mr Ward was arrested for driving under the influence on a bush road. In searing heat, he was driven more than 300 miles in the iron pod of a prison van run by the British security company GSL. Inside, the temperature reached 50C. Mr Ward cooked to death, his stomach burned raw where he had collapsed on the van’s scorching floor. The coroner called it a “disgrace”, yet the Department of Public Prosecutions refused to take action, saying there was “no evidence”. This is not unusual. The two security van drivers were eventually fined under Health and Safety rules.

Eco-tourism is also booming. The Kimberley region is popular with Europeans. Last year, 40 Aboriginal youngsters killed themselves there, a 100-fold increase. When I first reported on indigenous Australia a generation ago, black suicide was rare. Today, the despair is so profound that the second cause of Aboriginal death is suicide. It is booming.

John Pilger’s film on Australia, Utopia, is released in the autumn.   This article was first published in the Guardian. For more information, please visit www.johnpilger.com

Israel’s War against Palestine on Fishing Rights

April 29th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Israel persecutes Palestinians many ways.  Collective punishment is prohibited. Fourth Geneva’s Article 33 states:

“No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”

“Pillage is prohibited.”

“Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited.”

Restricted fishing impedes Palestinians’ ability to earn a livelihood. It deprives 1.7 million Gazans of enough fish. It reflects years of slow-motion genocide.

Israel reduced fishing rights from six to three miles offshore. It did so punitively.

Egypt’s brokered November ceasefire extended them to 11km. The Convention on the Law of the Sea affirms them up to 12 nautical miles (14 statute ones).

Oslo guaranteed 20 nautical miles. Israel broke earlier promises made. Doing so compromises an important national resource. More on this below.

It’s the occupation, stupid. It’s Gaza’s siege. It’s lawlessness with impunity. Six years ago this June it began. Harsh restrictions remain. Blockade created the world’s largest open-air prison.

Human rights are compromised. They include free movement, proper nutrition, healthcare, education, fuel and electricity, normal family life, and the ability to survive and live in peace.

Around 80% of Gazans need humanitarian aid. What’s gotten isn’t enough. Blockade lawlessness persists. Impunity permits it.

Israel maintains total control. Much of Gaza’s arable land is off limits. Farmers are shot in their fields. So are children. Israeli border guards use them for target practice. Investigations and prosecutions don’t follow.

Palestine includes Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They’re almost entirely separated. Travel restrictions prevent free movement.

Gazans can’t enter Israel. Family members can’t visit each other. Imports and exports are limited. Whatever Israel calls duel use is prohibited. Included are common items people take for granted.

Poverty and unemployment are extremely high. So is human misery. Nearly two-thirds of Gazans are refugees. Going abroad for medical treatment entails bureaucratic hurdles.

Long waits are commonplace. Many requests are denied. Needless deaths occur. Human rights are spurned. Israel considers Palestinian lives cheap.

Occupying powers are responsible for people they control. Article 43 of the Hague Regulations obligates them for health, education, quality of life, public works, other essential infrastructure, and overall material conditions.

Fourth Geneva Articles 55 and 56 require them to provide food and health care. Under Article 69 of Additional Protocol I, provision for clothing, bedding and shelter must be provided.

So must education, health systems, infrastructure, power,  telecommunications capability, and other vital services.

Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the right to work. It does so under just and favorable conditions.

Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) recognizes “the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.”

Israel spurns its obligations. It does so with impunity. It wages economic warfare. It says doing so is legitimate.

“(D)amaging the enemy’s economy is in and of itself a legitimate means in warfare and a relevant consideration even while deciding to allow the entry of relief consignments,” it claims.

It’s done for political, not security reasons. Israel admits it. Palestinians pose no threat. They’re punished for not being Jews.

Israel’s 2005 disengagement left Gaza occupied. Borders, air and offshore waters are controlled. Hamas won January 2006 elections. It defeated Fatah decisively. It’s Palestine’s legitimate government.

Washington calls it a terrorist organization. It did so at Israel’s request. It designated Hamas illegitimately. It recognizes Palestine’s coup d’etat government.

Abbas heads it. Israel rigged his 2005 election. His term expired in January 2009. He’s still there. He’s Israel’s enforcer. He’s no friend of Palestine.

Israel considers Gaza a “hostile entity.” It does so illegitimately. Collective punishment is imposed. Vital necessities are inadequate. Most factories and most businesses closed.

Siege remains policy. Israel promised easing. No meaningful change followed. Blockade’s ruthlessly enforced.

Air, ground and sea attacks occur often. So do targeted assassinations. State terror is policy. International laws are spurned.

Control is suffocating. Humanitarian needs go begging. World leaders turn a blind eye. They’ve done so for decades. They shame themselves in the process.

Newly imposed fishing restrictions reinstated pre-Operation Pillar of Cloud policy. Kerem Shalom crossing was closed. It operates at Israel’s discretion. It’s in southern Gaza. It’s for commercial use. It’s greatly restricted.

Doing so is illegal. So is Gaza’s siege. Fishing restrictions have no legitimacy. Palestinians have a right to eat. Coastal waters are sovereign territory. Israel pays them no heed.

Mahmoud Mohammed Jarboa risks his life to fish. He’s got no other choice. He has seven sons and three daughters. Fishing income supports 21 dependents.

Israeli restrictions gravely impact him. Collective punishment harms all Palestinian fishermen. Since 1999, their numbers dropped from 10,000 to less than 3,200 today.

Inability to fish well offshore greatly diminishes yields. Israel attacks fishermen within imposed limits. Exceeding them risks imprisonment or death.

From November 22, 2012 – February 28, 2013 alone, 41 shooting incidents occurred. Injuries followed. Dozens of fishermen were detained. At least eight vessels were damaged. Another eight were confiscated.

On February 21, 2013, Israel attacked Mahmoud’s son, Abdel Raziq. Four others were with him. They were within Israel’s three nautical mile limit.

Gunboats surrounded them. Shooting began. It happened without warning. Bullets struck the boat. Shrapnel hit Abdel. His right shin was wounded. His cousin Abdullah was hurt. “We were both in a lot of pain,” he said.

Abdel began fishing five months ago. He did so with family members. Up to now, he’s been lucky. He avoided Israeli  attacks. He knew it was too good to last. He wasn’t surprised to be accosted.

His father and brothers were attacked many times. They “were forced to jump naked into the sea in the middle of winter, when it was cold and raining. They have suffered a lot.”

Other fishermen did the same way. It’s commonplace Israeli practice. Fishermen are ordered to undress at gunpoint. They’re told to swim to a navy craft. Weather conditions don’t matter.

Boats are seized. Fishermen are blindfolded and handcuffed. They’re taken to Ashdod. They’re brutally interrogation. Some are tortured. They committed no crime.

In January 2009, Israeli forces killed Abdel’s older brother, Mohammed, at sea. He was aged 22. He was struck in his head and both legs.

He was hospitalized for eight days. He was too severely wounded to survive. Israel never admits responsibility. Apologies aren’t forthcoming.

Whether Israel’s limit is three or six miles doesn’t matter. Shallow waters have lots of sand. They’re overfished. Future reserves are endangered.

Big yields depend on deep water fishing. It requires operating 15 or 16 miles offshore.

Mahmoud remembers pre-blockade days. Fishermen could make a good living, he said. They even fished for fun. They ate some of their catch. Now it’s barely enough to sell.

It provides too little income. He can barely feed his family. “I can stand going without food, but the children cannot,” he says. He feels helpless to do better. Israel bears full responsibility.

Abdel hasn’t fished since attacked. His boat is badly damaged. It’s too costly to repair. He’s got no other work. He loves fishing.

Mahmoud’s afraid when his sons fish. He fears they won’t return. He asks little. He hopes only for a secure good life. All Palestinians deserve it, he says.

Israel denies it. Thousands of livelihoods are affected. So are fundamental human rights. Waging war on Palestine is longstanding Israeli policy. It persists with no end.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/israels-war-on-fishing-rights/

Has Syria crossed the “red line” that warrants a U.S. military invasion? Has it not? The political establishment in the United States seems at odds over itself. Obama’s government cannot speak with one voice on the issue, and the U.S. media is likewise spewing from both sides of its mouth in an attempt to reconcile U.S. foreign policy with that most stubborn of annoyances, truth.

The New York Times reports:

“The White House said on Thursday that American intelligence agencies now believed, with “varying degrees of confidence,” that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons…”

Immediately afterwards, Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, gave a blunt rebuke: “Suspicions are one thing; evidence is another.”

This disunity mirrored the recent disagreement that Chuck Hagel had with Obama’s Secretary of State, John Kerry, when both testified in front of Congress with nearly opposite versions of what was happening in Syria and how the U.S. should respond. Kerry was a cheerleader for intervention while Hagel — the military’s mouthpiece — advised caution.

The U.S. government’s internal squabbling over whether the Syrian government used chemical weapons is really an argument on whether the U.S. should invade Syria, since Obama claimed that any use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that, if crossed, would invoke an American military response. Never mind that Obama’s “red line” rhetoric was stolen from the mouth of Bush Jr., who enjoyed saying all kinds of similarly stupid things to sound tough.

But now Obama’s Bushism must be enforced, say the politicians, less the U.S. look weak by inaction. This seemingly childish argument is in fact very compelling among the U.S. political establishment, who view foreign policy only in terms of military power. If Syria is not frightened into submission by U.S. military threats, then Iran and other countries might follow suit and do as they please and U.S. “influence” would wane. Only a “firm response” can stop this domino effect from starting.This type of logic is the basis for the recent Syria chemical weapons accusations, which was conjured up by the U.S. “Intelligence” service (CIA) and its British and Israeli counterparts (the same people who “proved” that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction, which later proved to be a fabricated lie). All three of these countries’ intelligence agencies simply announced that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons, provided zero evidence, and then let their respective nations’ media run with the story, which referred to the baseless accusations as “mounting evidence.”

In the real world it appears that the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels are the ones responsible for having used chemical weapons against the Syrian government. It was the Syrian government who initially accused the U.S.-backed rebels of using chemical weapons, and asked the UN to investigate the attack. This triggered the Syrian rebels and later the Obama administration to accuse the Syrian government of the attack.

A very revealing New York Times article quoted U.S.-backed Syrian rebels admitting that the chemical weapons attack took place in a Syrian government controlled territory and that 16 Syrian government soldiers died as a result of the attack, along with 10 civilians plus a hundred more injured. But the rebels later made the absurd claim that the Syrian government accidentally bombed its own military with the chemical weapons.

Interestingly, the Russian government later accused the United States of trying to stall the UN investigation requested by the Syrian government, by insisting that the parameters of the investigation be expanded to such a degree that a never-ending discussion over jurisdiction and rules would eventually abort the investigation.

Complicating the U.S.’ stumbling march to war against Syria is the fact that the only effective U.S.-backed rebel forces are Islamist extremists, the best fighters of which have sworn allegiance to Al-Qaeda. The same week that the U.S. media was screaming about chemical weapons, The NewYork Times actually published a realistic picture of the U.S.-backed Syrian rebels, which warrants extended quotes:

“Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.”

“Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.”

“The Islamist character of the [rebel] opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion…The religious agenda of the combatants sets them apart from many civilian activists, protesters and aid workers who had hoped the uprising would create a civil, democratic Syria.”

Thus, yet another secular Middle Eastern government — after Iraq and Libya — is being pushed into the abyss of Islamist extremism, and the shoving is being done by the United States, which The NewYork Times discovered was funneling thousands of tons of weapons into Syria through U.S. allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We now know that these weapons were given to the Islamist extremists; directly or indirectly, it doesn’t matter.

Even after this U.S.-organized weapons trafficking was uncovered, the Obama administration still has the nerve to say that the U.S. is only supplying “non lethal” aid to the Syrian rebels. Never mind that many of the guns that the U.S. is transporting into Syria from its allies were sold to the allies by the United States, where the weapons were manufactured.Now, many politicians are demanding that Obama institute a “no fly zone” in Syria, a euphemism for military invasion — one country cannot enforce a no fly zone inside another country without first destroying the enemy Air Force, not to mention its surface to air missiles, etc. We saw in Libya that a no fly zone quickly evolved into a full scale invasion, which would happen again in Syria, with the difference being that Syria has a more powerful army with more sophisticated weaponry, not to mention powerful allies — Iran and Russia.

This is the real reason that the U.S. military is not aligned with the Obama administration over Syria. Such a war would be incredibly risky, and inevitably lead to a wider conflict that would engulf an already war-drenched region, creating yet more “terrorists” who would like to attack the United States.

The U.S. public has learned the lessons of Iraq’s WMD’s, and that lesson is not lost on U.S. soldiers, few of whom want to fight another war for oil against a country which is a zero-threat to the United States.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org)  He can be reached at [email protected]

Washington Post and Fox News Fiynd that – Even Right After the Boston Terror Attacks – Americans Are More Leery of Government  Tyranny than Terrorists

WND  reports today:

According to a pair of recent polls, for the first time since the 9/11 terrorist hijackings, Americans are more fearful their government will abuse constitutional liberties than fail to keep its citizens safe.

Even in the wake of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing – in which a pair of Islamic radicals are accused of planting explosives that took the lives of 3 and wounded over 280 – the polls suggest Americans are hesitant to give up any further freedoms in exchange for increased “security.”

A Fox News survey polling a random national sample of 619 registered voters the day after the bombing found despite the tragic event, those interviewed responded very differently than following 9/11.

For the first time since a similar question was asked in May 2001, more Americans answered “no” to the question, “Would you be willing to give up some of your personal freedom in order to reduce the threat of terrorism?”

Of those surveyed on April 16, 2013, 45 percent answered no to the question, compared to 43 percent answering yes.

In May 2001, before 9/11, the balance was similar, with 40 percent answering no to 33 percent answering yes.

But following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the numbers flipped dramatically, to 71 percent agreeing to sacrifice personal freedom to reduce the threat of terrorism.

Subsequent polls asking the same question in 2002, 2005 and 2006 found Americans consistently willing to give up freedom in exchange for security. Yet the numbers were declining from 71 percent following 9/11 to only 54 percent by May 2006.

Now, it would seem, the famous quote widely attributed to Benjamin Franklin – “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety” – is holding more sway with Americans than it has in over a dozen years.

A similar poll sampling 588 adults, conducted on April 17 and 18 for the Washington Post, also discovered the change in attitude.

“Which worries you more,” the Post asked, “that the government will not go far enough to investigate terrorism because of concerns about constitutional rights, or that it will go too far in compromising constitutional rights in order to investigate terrorism?”

The poll found 48 percent of respondents worry the government will go too far, compared to 41 percent who worry it won’t go far enough.

And similar to the Fox News poll, the Post found the worry to be a fresh development, as only 44 percent worried the government would go too far in January 2006 and only 27 percent worried the government would go too far in January 2010.

The Fox News poll found that a bare majority of Democrats (51%) would give up more personal freedom to reduce the threat of terror, while only 47% of Republicans – and a mere 29% of independents – would do so.

This is not entirely surprising.

 

As we noted in February:

For years, “conservative” pollsters have said that Americans are furious at the government:

Liberals may be tempted to think that this is a slanted perspective.   But non-partisan and liberal pollsters are saying the same thing:

The latest national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Jan. 9-13 among 1,502 adults, finds that 53% think that the federal government threatens their own personal rights and freedoms while 43% disagree.

In March 2010, opinions were divided over whether the government represented a threat to personal freedom; 47% said it did while 50% disagreed. In surveys between 1995 and 2003, majorities rejected the idea that the government threatened people’s rights and freedoms.

***

The survey finds continued widespread distrust in government. About a quarter of Americans (26%) trust the government in Washington to do the right thing just about always or most of the time; 73% say they can trust the government only some of the time or volunteer that they can never trust the government.

***

Majorities across all partisan and demographic groups express little or no trust in government.

Obviously, Democrats are currently more trusting in government than Republicans.  For example:

The Pew Research Center’s 2010 study of attitudes toward government found that, since the 1950s, the party in control of the White House has expressed more trust in government than the so-called “out party.”

But given that even a growing percentage of Dems believe that government is a threat to their freedom, things are indeed getting interesting …

Boston Bombing Suspects’ Ties to US Intelligence

April 29th, 2013 by Andrea Peters

Information continues to come to light raising questions about the relationship between American intelligence agencies and the Tsarnaev brothers, who are suspected of carrying out the April 15 bombing at the Boston marathon.

The brothers’ parents continue to insist that their sons are innocent, with the mother claiming they were set up by the American state and “controlled” by the FBI.

US authorities have acknowledged that the Tsarnaev brothers were investigated by the FBI and CIA. However, they claim that at most the intelligence and security agencies are guilty of a “failure to communicate” what they knew about the two.

This is an echo of the “failure to connect the dots” explanation that was given for the failure of the CIA and FBI to prevent the 9/11 attacks, even though many of the perpetrators were known to these agencies and were being tracked. Despite the staggering security lapses that were acknowledged in the aftermath of 9/11, no high-level officials were fired. Robert Mueller, who headed the FBI in 2001, remains the head of the top federal police agency.

Details continue to emerge over the close surveillance by state intelligence agencies of the Tsarnaevs and their associates. In March 2011, the Russian federal security services (FSB) intercepted a call between Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two brothers, and his mother, in which they “vaguely discussed jihad.”

In another wiretapped conversation, Tsarnaev’s mother spoke with someone in the Caucasus who is under FBI investigation, although the reasons for the investigation have not been revealed.

According to news reports, the recorded calls were one of the things that prompted the Kremlin to alert the FBI to the Tsarnaevs in 2011, and then contact the CIA about them later in the year, after the FBI dropped its investigation. The FBI claims that the Russian government did not say at the time why it was issuing these warnings and did not share the content of the wiretapped conversations.

The manner in which these issues are being handled testifies to the breakdown of democratic processes in the United States. None of these questions is being seriously investigated in the media or made the subject of public congressional hearings. Instead, the Boston bombings are being seized upon to argue for boosting the authority and power of the intelligence agencies.

As the events in Boston graphically demonstrated, this will only facilitate plans already well advanced for the imposition of dictatorial forms of rule. The Boston Marathon bombing was seized upon as the pretext for placing the entire city of Boston and a number of its suburbs under a police-military lockdown and carrying out house-to-house warrantless searches.

The American mass media have ignored an April 24 report in the Russian newspaper Izvestia that it is in possession of documents from the Georgian Interior Ministry revealing that Tamerlan Tsarnaev attended a workshop in Georgia in the summer of 2012 sponsored by an organization called the Caucasus Fund, whose purpose was to recruit operatives in the northern Caucasus.

Based on statements by Colonel Grigoriy Chanturiya, a Georgian counterintelligence specialist, Izvestia claims that the Caucasus Fund was founded in 2008, after the Russo-Georgian war, in order to develop intelligence assets in southern Russia. According to Chanturiya’s report, the Caucasus Fund had a monthly budget of about $22,000 and had spent approximately $2.7 million since it began operations.

In 2008, Russia and the US nearly went to war in the Caucasus, when the US-backed Georgian government attacked the Russian-controlled breakaway region of South Ossetia. Although the White House backed away from a full-scale military confrontation with the Kremlin, it had advance knowledge of the Georgian attack on Russian forces and did not stop it. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had visited the country one month prior to the attack.

According to Izvestia, the Caucasus Fund was shut down in late 2012 over concerns that it had attracted the attention of the Russian secret services. The former vice president of the organization told the newspaper that since January of this year it had ceased operating almost entirely. He did not say why.

The Caucasus Fund allegedly worked with the regime in Tbilisi and the Jamestown Foundation, a US think tank headed by a number of senior figures from the US political and military establishment, including former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The Georgian Interior Ministry has denied Izvestia ’s allegations, insisting that Tsarnaev never set foot in Georgia and that no one named Grigoriy Chanturiya works for the ministry.

However, the Caucasus Fund has acknowledged holding a joint conference with the Jamestown Foundation in 2011. It wrote in an April 24 statement that it aims to “establish and develop scientific, cultural, and humanitarian relations between the peoples of the South and North Caucasus.”

The northern Caucasus is a restive region in southern Russia, bordering the ex-Soviet republics of Georgia and Azerbaijan in the southern Caucasus. It includes the republic of Chechnya, where a separatist movement has been active since the collapse of the Soviet Union and against which Moscow has waged two bloody wars. Chechen separatism has become increasingly intertwined with a burgeoning Islamic extremist movement in the Muslim-majority region.

Powerful sections of the American ruling class have long given support to Chechen separatism. The American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus (ACPC), sponsored by the right-wing organization Freedom House, has led such efforts for many years. A 2004 article in the British Guardian newspaper entitled “The Chechens’ American Friends” noted that ACPC portrayed Chechen separatism as a “fashionable ‘Muslim’ cause,” deserving and requiring US support.

The director of programs in the Caucasus for the Jamestown Foundation formerly worked for Freedom House.

In the US media, the Izvestia report has been mentioned only by a few foreign policy publications, which have dismissed it as a “conspiracy theory.”

In fact, the close ties between the US foreign policy establishment and Chechen Islamist forces form a critical part of the background to the Boston bombings. By suppressing such information the media are denying to the public key information regarding not only the identity of possible forces involved in the bombing, but also the reactionary implications of Washington’s ongoing collaboration with Islamist terrorist forces in the Middle East.

The US is working in alliance with Muslim extremists in Syria, who function as Washington’s proxy force in the war to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In this war, Chechen Islamists play a major role. The Muhajireen Brigade of foreign Islamists fighting as part of the Syrian opposition is led by an ethnic Chechen, Abu Omar al-Shishani, and reportedly includes many other Chechens.

Before his death last October, the Chechen Abu Bara was a brigade commander in the Al-Nusra Front, the Al Qaeda-affiliated group that is playing the dominant military role in the US proxy war against Assad.

The US government has a long tradition of cultivating ties with such reactionary forces. It played a central role in fomenting radical Islamism in Afghanistan before and during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980s, in an effort to undermine Soviet influence in the region. The emergence of Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, which evolved out of the organization that oversaw logistical support to the Islamist anti-Soviet fighters, was the direct product of this war.

The US intelligence community is so familiar with the consequences of losing control of its former assets that it has coined a term for it: blowback. However, the media have avoided raising any possibility that the Boston bombings might be an example of blowback, or an operation carried out with the tacit support or assistance of forces within the state.

On April 24, Frank Barat, a Palestine solidarity activist and co-coordinator of last year’s Russell Tribunal on Palestine, was stopped at Ben Gurion International Airport by the Shabak, Israel’s internal security service, and subjected to four hours of interrogation and nearly a full day’s detention before being deported back Belgium. His “crime”? To have visited Israel while a supporter of Palestinian rights. Here, he describes what took place.

“WRITE YOUR e-mail addresses, your mobile phone number, your house phone, the name of your father and the name of your grandfather on this piece of paper” were the first words the Israeli security officer told me when I sat in front of him in his office.

As anyone involved in solidarity work with the Palestinian people will tell you, landing at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, and having-to-face questioning by the authorities is never an exciting prospect. In the last couple of months, a few activists have been turned back. Due to my work with the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, I knew even before I arrived in front of the immigration desk that I was a likely target for hard questioning from the Shabak, Israel’s internal security service.

I was coming to Palestine to visit old friends and also to take part in a conference on political prisoners organized in Ramallah as part of my role as coordinator for the Russell Tribunal. Due to the fact that Israel controls all the West Bank borders of Palestine, one has to go through Israeli officials in order to reach the occupied Palestinian territories. (Now, only Gaza–via the Rafah border crossing with Egypt–is accessible without too much Israeli interference.)

So I wrote the requested details on the piece of paper in front of me–except that I put an alternative e-mail address, being fully aware that what the officer in front of me wanted was information about other people involved with solidarity work in Palestine and abroad. Mapping networks has in recent years been vigorously pursued by Israel.

The line of questioning, at first, stuck to my travel plans. Six days in Tel Aviv without a travel guide was too much to bear for the man. He then quickly moved to my personal details and asked me to log on to my e-mail account, which is apparently less illegal (in Israel anyway) than I thought (see here and here).

He started to get upset when my inbox opened and there was no message in it. He told me repeatedly, “I know you have another e-mail address. Give it to me.” “I only have this one,” was the answer I stuck with throughout the whole process. I was taken to various offices throughout the whole interrogation process and spoke to a few people, who asked, again and again, the same questions.

Israeli security forces inside Ben Gurion AirportImage: Israeli security forces inside Ben Gurion Airport

I HAD to wait for long periods between each interrogation. Palestine and political activity only were raised after about three hours of questioning. I was sort of relieved to hear the word because I knew deep down that the Shabak agent had known about my work on the Palestine issue from minute one. He even asked me at one point, “What will Google tell me if I search for your name?”

The goal, however, was somewhere else. The goal was to exhaust me into giving information about workmates, colleagues and various people I knew in Israel/Palestine. The exhaustion part worked. I was clearly on my knees at 4 a.m., having had no sleep for 24 hours and faced with several unfriendly people questioning me. But they never got what they really wanted–my e-mail account and its content. After four hours of questioning, the verdict came (there were five people in the room, including me, at this time): “You lied to me. So you won’t get in. You will now be deported back. Your flight is in 23 hours.”

Still, right after telling me this, the officer tried one more time, telling me that he was my friend, here to help me and that if I collaborated he might change his decision. I was at this point taken to a room where I was body searched thoroughly (by a young man with an apologetic look on his face), and where my carry-on bag (the only piece of luggage I brought) was fully checked, in and out, approximately three times, including passing through X-rays.

At roughly 4.30 a.m., I was put in a van, alone, and driven to my next destination: the deportation center. Why we stopped, for about 10 minutes, in between airplanes on the tarmac is a question that remains unanswered. He told me before he dropped me off that I would be deported in 23 hours. “You’re lucky,” said the man. “Some people have to wait for a week here.”

The next 23 hours were the longest in my life. With no means to know what the time was, it took forever. My cellmate, a 21-year-old Ukrainian man who spoke no English at all and came to Israel in search of a better future, and I were allowed two 10-minute breaks outside, under surveillance of course, and managed to catch a glimpse of the palm trees and the sunshine that we were at this point longing for. We were then joined by two older Ukrainians as well as a Chinese man.

What I did not know at the time was that a friend in Israel, at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning, had contacted the office of Israeli lawyer Gabi Lasky to ask her to try to get more information regarding my whereabouts–did I enter? Was I being deported? Detained? They did not want to say anything. It took many hours for Gabi to get confirmation that I was in the detention center at the airport. Over the phone, Gabi later told me that the authorities are making life harder and harder for lawyers and that they are being more difficult every day.

I was put back on a plane, escorted by an immigration official, my bag full of security tags, paraded in front of the other passengers, at 1 a.m. the next day. The fact that the main air hostess was Arab and smiled at me when the immigration official handed her my passport felt, I have to say, very good at the time.

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - -

WHILE THIS was an extremely unpleasant experience, it is crucial to put things into a broader context. The pressure, fear and humiliation I often felt during this time–the scare tactics used by the Shabak (“Tell me the truth, or you’re going to jail right now”) and the short time spent in jail–are nothing compared to what the Palestinians are going through every day. Right now, more than 4,500 Palestinian political prisoners are rotting in Israeli jails. A few of them have started “hunger strikes” and are slowly dying, while the “international community” (understood as the Western states, the European Union and the United Nations) is doing nothing to come to their rescue.

It is crucial to keep highlighting this. The inconvenience felt by a privileged international citizen should not overshadow the reason at the core of his activism: To acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to resist their far more powerful occupier and to do so until the systematic and institutionalized apartheid system put in place by Israel ends; to expose the active role played by third parties (states, institutions and corporations) in supporting Israel’s occupation; and to highlight Israel’s impunity regarding countless resolutions passed by the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council that have been, so far, never followed by any concrete action.

It is our role as global actors involved in a global struggle for justice, freedom and dignity for all people, regardless of their ethnicity, political orientations, or countries of origin, to show solidarity with those people stripped of their rights. The breaking down of human civilization in sub-categories of human beings (privileges come depending on where you were born, while this act was simply an accident of nature), the slow crumbling of any “common decency,” solidarity and compassion showed by people towards others, can be reversed and is not ineluctable.

This can only happen if we all unite towards this goal.

Nearly half of US adults ages 19 to 64—an estimated 84 million people—did not have health insurance for all of 2012, or had coverage that did not adequately protect them from high health care costs.

A new report from the New York-based Commonwealth Fund documents the fact that growing numbers of workers and their family members are foregoing care because they cannot afford it, or are struggling under the weight of mounting medical bills.

This health care crisis will not be remedied by the full implementation of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act in January 2014. Many of the currently uninsured or underinsured will be shunted into inferior plans with large out-of-pocket costs, or will simply not be able to afford coverage offered by private health insurers on the so-called exchanges. Many low- and middle-income households will continue to lack adequate insurance and be forced to skip care or medications due to cost.

The only age group to show an improvement in health care coverage in the Commonwealth Fund report was young adults, ages 19 to 26, where the percentage of uninsured at any time during the prior year fell from 48 percent in 2010 to 41 percent in 2012. This is most likely due to a provision of the new health care bill already in effect that allows people in this age group to be covered under their parents’ insurance plans. Uninsured rates for all other age groups increased or remained the same.

Forty-six percent of all US adults did not have insurance for the full year, or had coverage that provided insufficient protection from health costs. Nearly a third—55 million—were uninsured at some time in 2012. Some 30 million people—an additional 16 percent—were insured, but had such high out-of-pocket costs that they could be considered underinsured, according to the report.

In the period from 2003 to 2012, the number of uninsured or underinsured people rose from 61 million (36 percent of adults) to 81 million (46 percent). Half of the uninsured/underinsured (40 million) in 2012 came from households with incomes under 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,856 for an individual or $30,657 for a family of four). Among adults earning between 133 percent and 249 percent of the federal poverty level, an estimated 21 million went for a period without coverage or were underinsured in 2012.

More than two of five adults—75 million people—reported problems with medical bills. Problems included an inability to their pay bills, being contacted by a collection agency, or being forced to change their way of life to meet medical costs. Of those reporting problems paying bills, 32 million said they had received a lower credit rating as a result, making it more difficult and expensive to obtain credit to purchase a home or car and threatening higher credit card interest rates and reductions in credit lines.

An estimated 28 million people reported using all of their savings to pay off medical bills. One-quarter of adults reported being unable to pay for basic necessities such as food, heat or rent due to medical costs, while 17 million delayed career or education plans. Four million people reported filing for bankruptcy; 5 million took out a second mortgage or other loan. Those unable to find a way to finance their medical care have been forced to go without.

In 2012, a staggering 80 million adults ages 19 to 64 (43 percent) reported problems getting needed health care due to cost, an increase of 17 million people since 2003. People in this group were far less likely to have a regular source of health care, or be up to date on recommended cholesterol, blood pressure, colon cancer and other screenings. Only 49 percent of women with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level had a mammogram in the recommended timeframe.

The Commonwealth Fund report shows people going without vitally needed care in record numbers in 2012, including:

* 53 million who had a medical problem, but did not visit a doctor or clinic;

* 50 million not filling a needed prescription;

* 49 million skipping tests, treatments and follow-ups recommended by a health care provider;

* 37 million not getting care from a specialist, despite being referred by their doctor.

An estimated 66 million people reported having hypertension, diabetes, asthma, emphysema, lung disease or heart disease. Twenty-eight percent of these chronically ill adults reported skipping doses or not filling prescriptions for their regular medications because they could not afford to pay for it, putting their health and lives at risk. Among those chronically ill who were uninsured at the time of the survey, 60 percent reported not being able to pay for their medications.

Growth in health care premiums is a major burden, particularly for lower income households. In 2012, the average annual premium for single coverage in employer-based plans climbed to $5,615 for an individual plan and $15,745 for family plans. Employers have also shifted the proportion of these premiums employees are required to cover, as well as increasing deductibles and co-payments.

The poor and those who must purchase their own insurance have been particularly hard hit by premium costs. More than one-third of those with incomes below 133 percent of the federal poverty level spent 10 percent or more of their income on premium costs. Among those who must purchase their own coverage, 31 percent reported spending 10 percent or more of their income on premiums.

Under the Obama health care overhaul, individuals and families will be required to obtain health care coverage or pay a penalty. Those who are not insured through their employer and are not eligible for government programs such as Medicaid will be required to purchase coverage on the insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act and may obtain subsidies to do so based on income.

But this will not provide relief to the vast majority of those who are currently uninsured and underinsured. An article to be published this week in the Journal of General Internal Medicine notes that most low-income households, despite receiving subsidies, will be able to afford only the lowest-tier of health care on the exchanges, the so-called Bronze plans.

While someone making up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level will be required to pay only 2 percent of his or her income to obtain Bronze coverage, these inferior plans will cover only 60 percent of costs, leaving the insured with the responsibility to pick up the remaining 40 percent. This will inevitably lead to “insured” families skipping care, treatments and medications.

Physicians for a National Health Program calculates that a 56-year-old making $45,900 will pay an estimated $4,361 in premiums for individual Bronze coverage, after subsidies, and up to $4,167 in additional deductibles and co-pays. This means that more than 18 percent of his or her income will go toward health care costs.

Obamacare, far from guaranteeing decent medical care for all, will institutionalize inferior and inadequate care for tens of millions of Americans and lead to a reduction in coverage or an increase in costs for millions more who are currently covered under employer-sponsored plans. It will at the same time guarantee increased profits for the insurance industry by supplying it with millions of additional paying customers.

 

NATO backed Wahhabi terrorists from Al-Qaeda Levant known as Al-Nusra Front working under the FSA umbrella responded to the Syrian call for dialogue and tolerance among Syrians by targeting the Syrian Prime Minister Wael Halaqi in upscale Mazzeh Western Villas neighborhood. Dr. Halaqi escaped the assassination attempt that left scores of casualties among civilians due to the dense civilian residential neighborhood in addition to a number of the prime minister’s escorts.

 

Wael Halaqi 1024x1013 Al Qaeda FSA Target Syrian Prime Minister in Damascus

Initial information mentioned the explosive device was detonated by a ‘non-lethal’ remote control provided by citizens of the United States as part of the $365 million plus $135 million cut from US citizens’ welfare and paid to Al-Qaeda directly in Syria.

8 killed, 16 injured in this explosion per initial reports and the number is expected to rise, Dr. Halaqi checked at a hospital for minor injuries and was discharged, he continued his daily work as usual. Note the school girls crossing by in the above video.

Halaqi Bombing 2 Al Qaeda FSA Target Syrian Prime Minister in Damascus

 It’s not the first time Syrian officials are targeted, in July 22, 2012 4 top officials including the minister of defense Daud Abdulla Rajha were killed in an explosion CIA style in Damascus, even top Muslim cleric Muhammad Saeed Ramadan Buti was killed by a suicide bomber who blew himself inside a mosque killing 52 worshipers with martyr Dr. Buti, 2 top bishops in Aleppo were kidnapped last week to promote ‘democracy’ and ‘free speech’ Taliban-Style while trying to negotiate the release of a number of kidnapped civilians in the city! Syria’s infrastructure is systematically targeted as well in an obvious plot to destroy another sovereign secular state and replace it with fanatic ‘anti-Islamic’ Islamist enclaves.

GICJ – Urgent Appeal on the massacre of Iraqi demonstrators in Al-Hawija

GICJ requests that an independent international investigation mission be dispatched to Iraq

In wake of the current attack and killing of demonstrators in Al-Hawija, GICJ has sent an urgent appeal to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly requesting that immediate action be taken with regards to these new grave human rights violations perpetrated by the government of Nouri Al-Maliki.

For the last four days, 4,000 peaceful demonstrators in Hawija have been surrounded by army troops, sent by Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who have prevented all access to food, water and medical aid. Access to all forms of media including journalists and news casters has also been prevented and anyone who was inside had their equipment confiscated.

GICJ has informed UN officials that the army and militias stormed the demonstration area at about 5 a.m. Iraqi time, Tuesday, 23 April 2013, attacking protestors who have been demanding that their basic rights be respected. This was a direct attack where forces went in and began to shoot heavily and indiscriminately using live ammunition, tanks and helicopters. Forces also brought in trucks with water hoses and hosed demonstrators down using extremely hot water, causing serious burns and deaths. According to our direct source in Hawija, at least 50 demonstrators have been killed, an additional 150 injured, and more than 400 have been arrested. Forces were also reported to have attacked the injured and set fire to civilian vehicles.

GICJ further informed that Iraqi officials have publicly admitted the death of 20 demonstrators, but our local sources confirmed that casualties numbered 50. As a matter of fact, the local hospital in Hawija was so overwhelmed with those injured that people had to be sent to the city of Karuk for medical care. Also, according to sources on the scene, after Iraqi forces took control of the area where protestors were gathered, they brought in military weapons and dispersed them around the vicinity in order to be able to accuse the protestors of being armed and violent. This claim of possessing weapons or inciting violence was vehemently denied by demonstration organizers who assured the peaceful nature of the protest.

Frustrated with living in fear and in constant violation of their rights, the people of Iraq took to the streets to demand that their basic human rights be respected. Their action took the form of peaceful demonstrations, which began on 25 December 2012 in Al-Anbar province. Since then, the demonstrations have grown in geography, expanding to cities throughout the country, and in number with hundreds of thousands of participants. The protests first called for the release of female detainees who are subjected to inhumane treatment, but now encompass a range of demands including the immediate release of fellow protestors; the abolition of anti-terrorist laws; the cessation of house raids without legal warrant and the end of financial, administrative and legal corruption.

The authorities led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki have responded to these peaceful demonstrations with the use of threats and violence on many occasions. This behavior is in direct violation of international law: Art. 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression, as does Human Rights Council Resolution 15/21, which reaffirms this right and recognizes further relevant rights.

In their attacks forces have injured, killed and arrested hundreds, violating the right to life and the right to be protected from arbitrary detention. This is not the first time that demonstrators have been subjected to threats, attacks and violence by Iraqi forces. This has been occurring since the onset of demonstrations in December. In January for example, Iraqi army forces opened fire and used batons on demonstrators in Mosul in attempts to disperse them. On 25 January, forces killed 7 demonstrators and injured an additional 60 in Fallujah. Only last week Iraqi forces prohibited all vehicle movement on Samarra’s streets and fired at any moving vehicles. Roads from Karma to Fallujah were blocked off, preventing the passage of citizens and arresting some. On Friday, 19 April, they blocked all roads leading to the protest square in Hawija and fired at protestors, near the Silo Checkpoint, killing one and injuring four. Medical treatment was withheld from those injured.

It was from this point on that the situation in Hawija escalated, terminating in the abovementioned massacre. The situation is especially worrying in light of the fact that at the very moment of writing this letter, Iraqi forces are expanding their operations and attacks on demonstrators to other Iraqi cities, putting thousands of innocent lives at risk.

Recently, General Ali Ghaidan Majid, Iraqi Land Forces Commander, openly threatened protestors around the country affirming that he is both authorized and determined to take serious actions against all demonstrators, calling them terrorists and Ba’athists. This is a commonly used excuse by Maliki and his forces to arrest, detain, torture and execute citizens.

GICJ considers that every aspect of what has occurred in Hawija is in direct violation of international law and human rights law. We urgently request that all appropriate action be taken to ensure that the Iraqi authorities and their forces cease all attacks, threats and intimidation of peaceful demonstrators and that those who are responsible for these violations be brought to justice.

GICJ also urgently requested that an independent international mission be immediately established to thoroughly investigate the current attack in Hawija and all previous attacks and that a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iraq be appointed.


Statements by other organisations condemning the massacre of Al-Hawija

Gun Shy? A Look at Public Opinion on Gun Control

April 29th, 2013 by Global Research News

Scientists and groups that express serious concerns about GM and nuclear energy technologies are frequently accused of possessing a culturally backward mindset and waging a reactionary war against science and progress. GM-industry man Shanthu Shatharam, writing in India’s Deccan Herald newspaper this week (1), forwarded such a notion and described opponents of nuclear power and GMOs as often possessing vague ideas about the safety and utility of modern technologies based on cuddly feelings for all things natural.

Admiral L Ramdas, former Chief of Naval Staff of the Indian navy, could not easily be described as someone possessing vague ideas or cuddly notions of ‘all things natural’. In his recent letter to PM Mohanman Singh, the retired admiral, a long standing opponent of nuclear energy in India, expressed deep concerns about the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tamil Nadu and spoke of the mounting evidence about safety and allegations of corruption.

He went on to say that nuclear power plants must have (currently lacking) multiple safeguards before commissioning. An accident at Koodankulam or any other nuclear plant site could be catastrophic. The growing allegations of graft and widespread involvement in the supply of sub standard materials by the Russian equipment suppliers does not augur well for building public confidence among the people who are likely to suffer most. The Peoples Movement against Nuclear Energy has consistently stressed this in countless submissions, documents and depositions.

Dr EAS Sarma, former Union Power Secretary for the Government of India, has written to the PM expressing similar concerns. He states that if there is an iota of doubt about the safety, a prudent option would be to close down the project, as the lives of the people are more valuable than the cost of closure. Dr A Gopalakrishnan, former Chairman of India’s Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, has also raised some urgent issues.

Prominent physicist Dr Helen Caldicott has over the years set out at length her well-reasoned opposition to nuclear power (2). Far from her demonstrating a ‘backward mindset’ or engaging in a ‘reactionary war’ against progress, she describes the US Nuclear Energy Institute as constituting the propaganda wing for a damaging, profit-driven, taxpayer-subsidised nuclear industry and as having spent millions of dollars annually to engineer public opinion. Whether it is Professor Seralini in France who has raised serious misgivings about the health impacts of GMOs, or whether it is people who are highly qualified to speak on nuclear energy matters, their views and the concerns of millions around the world are unworthy of cheap insults or smears.

As far as the biotech sector is concerned, it is already clear that agribusiness cannot provide real solutions to the agrarian problems it has created. According to writer Gautam Dheer (3), agriculture in Punjab (the ‘Green Revolution’s’ original poster boy) is facing an inevitable crisis, in terms of pesticide use causing cancer, falling crop yields and groundwater depletion. And now evidence is mounting that the Green Revolution’s second coming can’t provide genuine solutions to the problems it has created through its GMOs either.

A recent report in Business Standard (4) stated that Bt cotton yields have dropped to a five-year low. India approved Bt cotton in 2002 and within a few years yields increased dramatically. However, Glenn Davis Stone, Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, has noted (5) that most of the rise in productivity had nothing at all to do with Bt cotton. It was down to other factors.

What’s more, since Bt has taken over, yields have been steadily worsening. According to the article, bollworms are developing resistance. Stone says when Bt cotton arrived in India, farmers were told all they had to do was plant the seeds and water them regularly. They were told that, as the genetically modified seeds are insect resistant, there was no need to use huge amounts of pesticides. The opposite is true.

Stone says that yields started dropping after 2007/8. After 2006/7, the number of Bt hybrid seeds being offered to farmers jumped from 62 to 131 to 274; by 2009/10 there were 522. Despite this, farmers’ yields are steadily dropping. And the way forward – more of the same. The failing technology can always be replaced with more technology that tries to offer a short-term fix. It’s all good for profits though. And this against a backdrop of reports of widespread collapsed Bt-cotton yields in Maharashtra at the end of last year (6).

Given the bogus claims about GMOs, the health concerns concerning GM foods and that 8,456 legitimate protestors (by late January) have been charged with sedition in Koodankulam, it begs the question just who is really benefiting from these two so-called ‘frontier’ technologies? With the US having sanctioned the opening up of India’s nuclear energy sector and, in return, its agribusiness and retail giants having actively shaped the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, India is proving to be a financially lucrative proposition for international retail, agribusiness and nuclear technology companies.

Everybody is entitled their opinions, but not to their own facts. Scientific evidence must prevail. That much is true. Such a pity then that democratic debate is sidelined for brute force in Koodankulam; such a pity too that certain major biotech companies have a track record of releasing fake ‘scientific’ data, bribery, environmental pollution, devising retaliatory lists, smear campaigns and misinformation.

Those who claim to be ‘scientific’ and democratic in their approach but who then go on to smear their opponents as being backward, unscientific or as waging a war on science may wish to put their own houses in order first.

Public trust in private corporations, science and policy makers has to be earned. The hijacking of governmental bodies for commercial gain alongside mendacity should have no place in policy making or in attempting to shape scientific discourse. Neither should they have any place in pushing some profit-driven notion of ‘progress’ onto the public.

 Notes:

1) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/329096/whipping-up-hysteria-over-scientific.html 

2) http://www.helencaldicott.com/articles/

3) http://www.deccanherald.com/content/309654/punjab-transformation-food-bowl-cancer.html

4) http://www.business-standard.com/article/markets/bt-cotton-losing-steam-productivity-at-5-yr-low-113020601016_1.html

5) http://www.globalresearch.ca/harvest-of-hypocrisy-farmers-being-blamed-for-gmo-crop-failures/5322807

6) http://gmwatch.org/latest-listing/51-2012/14479%E2%80%93maharashtra-reports-massive-bt-cotton-failure

Seeds of Destruction

by J. D. Heyes

Apparently Americans who employ hydroponics are the newest targets in an insane “drug war” that has gone from bad to ludicrous since it was first “declared” in the early 1980s.

Consider this case in point: A couple of years ago, narcotics officers knocked on the door at the home of a man who had just purchased a seed starter kit from a local gardening shop. The police officers were demanding to know just what it was he was planning to grow.

“Tomatoes,” he told them, and the officers finally left – but only after they were convinced he was not growing marijuana.

Since that day the gardener, who asked the Kansas City Star not to identify him over fears he would once again be hassled by police, began parking a block away from that same garden center, in order to avoid police stakeouts.

The harassment of hydroponic gardeners has only gotten worse since them.

In fact, owners of garden centers are increasingly complaining that police surveillance and stakeouts are hurting their businesses – sometimes even driving smaller garden centers out of business. Few people, it seems, are comfortable shopping under the watchful eyes of the Police State.

A number of customers, the paper said, have reported being followed home by police after making their purchases, regardless of what they were growing.

‘You don’t hear about when there is no case’

As is always the case, cops are defending this horrendous abuse of the public trust by saying, you know, such surveillance is necessary and prudent because it is keeping marijuana off the streets. To even believe such nonsense makes you wonder if the narcotics officers making that claim are smoking dope themselves.

Police say that local narcotics officers have been watching hydroponics shops – which sell equipment for growing produce indoors – for years. They write down license plate numbers of customers and then follow up with search warrants after first looking through their garbage for any evidence of drug use. They say all of this is justified because marijuana growers shop at hydroponic shops too – in addition to the vast majority of customers who grow flowers and crops inside their homes.

Sometimes such arrests become high-profile events. Many times, however, there are no cases to make.

“[What y]ou don’t hear about are the cases where there is no case,” attorney Cheryl Pilate told the Star. She added that she wonders how often innocent people are questioned by police just for shopping at a hydroponics gardening store.

She knows of what she speaks. She is currently representing a Leawood, Kan., family that was the target of an April 20, 2012 drug raid in which officers turned up no evidence – zero – of illegal substances. That family, Robert and Adlynn Harte, were raising tomatoes and other veggies that grow under lights.

They were never even told why they were targeted, so they have filed a suit against the Johnson County, Kan., Sheriff’s Department “to gain access to records that would reveal why they were initially under suspicion,” the Star reported.

The couple, and their attorney, believe that they were suspected of growing illicit drugs in part because they shopped at Green Circle Hydroponics, one of three local stores that specialize in indoor gardening supplies.

The Police State is bad for business

That explanation would not surprise Jeffrey Hawkins, owner of a similar gardening center called Hooked On Ponics. His place, too, is under constant police surveillance; he knows this because his customers have told him of being questioned after they have shopped there, including one woman who grows orchids.

“What they do is target all the grow shops,” Hawkins, who said he closed his original store in Liberty, Kan., after business dropped off due to police scrutiny, told the paper. He said he now operates on weekends at a northeast Kansas City flea market.

“It’s a serious problem,” he said. “They profile people.”

The surveillance and harassment of customers “is getting more serious,” said Sam Williams, the owner of Grow Your Own Hydroponics in Independence, Mo.

“It’s not right. They’re driving business away from me,” he said.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.kansascity.com

http://www.naturalnews.com/hydroponics.html

Chipre: La troika provoca el primer corralito europeo

April 29th, 2013 by Jérôme Duval

El corralito hace referencia a la decisión tomada por el Gobierno argentino a principios de diciembre de 2001 para poner fin a las retiradas masivas de liquidez (22.000 millones de dólares en tres meses), a la fuga de capitales, la congelación de cuentas bancarias, la prohibición de enviar dinero al extranjero y limitar las retiradas de fondos a 250 pesos por semana.

En Chipre, como en España, el modelo de desarrollo con una tasa de crecimiento elevada en la década del 2000, en gran parte debida al sector de la construcción y al turismo, parece haber alcanzado sus límites. Chipre se ve sacudida por las políticas de austeridad en Grecia, los ataques especulativos y las presiones de los acreedores. Sin embargo, la deuda pública chipriota sólo supera el nivel requerido por Bruselas (60% del PIB) después del estallido de la crisis en Europa, y pasa del 48,9% en 2008 al 71,1% en 2011. En el tercer trimestre de 2012, según Eurostat |1|, sería del 84% del PIB, y podría superar el 109% del PIB este año.

Finalmente ya no son 18.000 millones los que necesita el Gobierno chipriota para el período 2012-2016, sino al menos 23.000 millones de euros. Aunque aún se suceden las negociaciones entre las autoridades chipriotas y rusas sobre la reestructuración del préstamo de 2.500 millones de euros concedido en 2011 a Chipre por la Federación de Rusia, la troika dio su veredicto antes de la aprobación de los Parlamentos nacionales |2|: la austeridad en Chipre, como era de esperar, será brutal, fatal y devastadora. A cambio de un préstamo de 10.000 millones de euros (9.000.000 millones de euros de la zona euro, a través del Mecanismo Europeo de Estabilidad – MEE -, y 1.000 millones del FMI) la troika impone sus recomendaciones habituales:
- ampliación de la vida laboral, retrasando la edad de jubilación dos años;
- reducción de 4.500 funcionarios hasta 2016;
- congelación de las pensiones de jubilación y salarios hasta 2016;
- aumento del 17 al 19% del IVA a razón de un punto por año en 2013 y 2014 (la tasa reducida del IVA aumentará de 8 a 9%);
- aumento del precio de los impuestos /tasas sobre el tabaco, alcohol, energía, transportes y combustibles;
- recortes importantes en educación y salud…

Chipre se une al club de los países bajo la administración de la troika. La población chipriota se suma al ‘apretarse el cinturón’ para salvar a los bancos privados, imprudentes e irresponsables, que han perdido miles de millones especulando con la deuda griega.

En efecto, de los 10.000 millones de “ayuda”, solamente 3.400 deben servir para cubrir las necesidades de financiación del Gobierno. 2.500 millones se destinan a recapitalizar al sector bancario (la suma total necesaria se estima en 10.400 millones de euros) y los 4.100 millones restantes se dirigirán inmediatamente al pago de la deuda en vencimiento de plazo. Hay que señalar que el importe prestado por la troika es más o menos equivalente a la fortuna de 11.500 millones de dólares del multimillonario chipriota John Fredriksen. Según Forbes, los tres mayores multimillonarios de Chipre suman 13.600 millones de dólares. |3|

Pero esto no es todo, para satisfacer a los acreedores, el país debe desembolsar 13.000 millones de euros, en lugar de los 7.000 millones previstos a finales de marzo. Estos 13.000 millones suplementarios (actualmente el 75% del PIB anual de la isla) serán responsabilidad de los chipriotas, que sufren una caída de su poder adquisitivo y cuya tasa de paro ha aumentado brutalmente del 3,7% en 2008 al 14% en febrero de 2013. |4|

Chipre, ese paraíso fiscal de menos de 1,5 millones de habitantes donde las empresas no pagan oficialmente más que el 10% de impuestos sobre sus beneficios, debería comprometerse a aumentar esta tasa al nivel de la de Irlanda, del 12,5%. Una escasa compensación debido a la fuerte caída de este impuesto en nueve puntos, ya que era del 19% en 2000. Por otra parte, el programa de privatización ha aumentado a 1.400 millones de euros y el banco central debe vender parte del oro que posee en reserva por 400 millones de euros.

La particularidad de esta crisis es que pone en duda la seguridad de los depósitos bancarios de la población, ya que afecta a la cartera de los ciudadanos. El proyecto inicial elaborado en marzo planteaba introducir un impuesto excepcional del 6,75% sobre los depósitos bancarios inferiores a 100.000 euros y del 9,9% a aquellos por encima de este umbral. Fue rechazado por el Parlamento el 19 de marzo de 2013. Después de haber impedido la violación de su propia ley protegiendo los activos bancarios de menos de 100.000 euros gracias a los diputados chipriotas, la UE propone ahora gravar los depósitos de más de 100.000 euros al 60%, según el FMI. A pesar de un supuesto control sobre los capitales y del cierre de los bancos durante 12 días en marzo, han tenido lugar enormes fugas bajo la mirada del BCE.

Esto recuerda mucho a la crisis argentina de 2001, cuando se decretó el corralito el 1 de diciembre de 2001 (se mantuvo hasta el 1 de diciembre de 2002) y motivó la caída del Gobierno de Fernando de la Rúa tres semanas después. Lo que ha sucedido en Chipre, aunque no representa más que el 0,2% de la economía de la Zona Euro (su PIB anual ronda los 17.800 millones de euros) supone un salto cualtitativo en Europa y entraña grandes posibilidades de extender la crisis en la Zona Euro y más allá. Pese a los recientes discursos del FMI llamando a reducir la austeridad, la Institución persiste y firma. Se trata de controlar la aplicación de las políticas de austeridad con el fin de perseguir los mismos objetivos de ajuste. La austeridad debe pasar cueste lo que cueste, más allá de la reprobación del Tribunal Constitucional como en Portugal, o del ’impasse’ en el Parlamento como en Grecia. |5|

El problema de los bancos chipriotas es la deuda griega, que los bancos del Centro les han colado

Los activos del sistema financiero chipriota, extremadamente expuesto a la deuda griega, suponen ocho veces el PIB del país. En 2009 y 2010, los bancos chipriotas privados –entre ellos los dos más importantes, el Banco Laiki y el Banco de Chipre– han invertido masivamente en bonos de deuda griega de alto riesgo en busca de rentabilidad en el mercado secundario (donde se intercambian los bonos de deuda ‘de ocasión’) y todo esto mientras los otros bancos europeos intentaban por todos los medios deshacerse de esos títulos.

El Deutsche Bank ha podido también deshacerse de estos bonos ‘de ocasión’ (de deuda griega de alto riesgo) para revenderlos a buen precio a los bancos de Chipre. Con la devaluación de los bonos de la deuda griega, negociada entre la troika y Grecia en diciembre de 2012 como condición para la liberación de un nuevo tramo nuevo tramo de endeudamiento, se ha aliviado a los tenedores de deuda griega y es todo el sistema bancario chipriota el que ha sufrido enormes pérdidas. El Banco Laiki y el Banco de Chipre se han hundido. Una vez más la población ha sido llamada a salvar al sector bancario privado que ha perdido miles de millones especulando de manera completamente aberrante.

Jérôme Duval

Traducido por Irene Arizmendi

Versión más extensa con notas añadidas del artículo publicado por Diagonal el 19/04/13. Ver :
https://www.diagonalperiodico.net/g…

 

Notas

|1| Eurostat, 23 de enero de 2013. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/ca…

|2| El 18 de abril de 2013, los diputados alemanes del Bundestag aprobaron el plan. De los 600 diputados presentes, 486 votaron a favor, 103 en contra y 11 se abstuvieron.

|3The World’s Billionaires, Forbes 2013,
http://www.forbes.com/billionaires/…

|4| Eurostat, http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/ca…

|5| Los dos primeros Memorándum de la Troika no fueron aprobados por el Parlamento griego, violando así la Constitución del país.

Paraguay: Towards a New Narco-State in Latin America

April 29th, 2013 by Tom Burghardt

Paraguay’s April 21 election of Horacio Cartes, a dodgy “tobacco magnate,” rancher and banker, whose Banco Amambay has been accused of laundering drug money, tax evasion and other crimes, raises the specter of “state capture” by powerful drug cartels linked to US intelligence agencies.

In the context of US efforts to manage not eliminate, the multibillion dollar global trade in illegal narcotics, Cartes electoral victory might very well be a shot in the arm for certain three-lettered US intelligence agencies, eager beavers always on the lookout for new allies–and an endless supply of black funds–to carry out hemisphere-wide dirty ops against leftist governments. The current US destabilization campaign targeting Venezuela’s newly elected president, Nicolás Maduro and the Bolivarian revolution, is instructive in this regard.

A key factor driving US regional operations is control over the narcotics market. As researchers Oliver Villar and Drew Cottle revealed in Cocaine, Death Squads and the war on Terror: “Paraguay was the first country in Latin America to be publicly exposed for its involvement in the drug trade. Paraguay in the early 1970s was a vital center for the Corsican mafia, leading to the development of a vast heroin-trafficking network supplied from Turkey, and based in Marseille, the infamous ‘French Connection.’ Corsicans coordinated the transport of heroin from Marseille to the United States via Paraguay. The CIA,” Villar and Cottle averred, “used such networks as transit stops in transporting Asian heroin to the United States with the help of corrupt high-ranking government and military officials.”

“Later,” journalist Vicky Pelaez disclosed in The Moscow News, “cocaine trafficking was added. It was transported through Chaco’s wild and rough terrain. Chaco is a vast, semi-arid and semi-humid region in western Paraguay, where there are at least 900 covert airplane runways and where between 60 and 70 tons of cocaine circulate annually, according to former Interior Minister Carlos Filizzola.”

“Curiously,” Pelaez averred, “there are two US bases in that region. One is located in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero, in the Amambay province, and is operated by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The other, run by the Pentagon, is part of the Mariscal Estigarribia airport, in the Boquerón province, and boasts a 3,800-meter long runway.”

When Fernando Lugo was removed from office last year after an expedited impeachment “trial” by Paraguay’s Senate, it was widely denounced across Latin American as a parliamentary coup d’état which had more than a passing resemblance to the 2009 ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

And like the Honduran coup against Zelaya, the World Socialist Web Site pointed out that “both countries have been the focus of attention of the US military and intelligence apparatus, which shares intimate connections with its local counterparts. Security forces in both countries have been trained and advised by the Pentagon and would not support the overthrow of an existing government without its approval.”

Elected in 2008, Lugo, a former Catholic bishop and proponent of Liberation Theology, promised to combat Paraguay’s endemic corruption and implement policies favoring a “preferential option for the poor.” Lugo however, was no Hugo Chávez, Evo Morales or Rafael Correa, populist leaders who defied the Global Godfather by charting an independent course.

Despite a mildly reformist agenda which increased access to healthcare and education for Paraguay’s working class majority, when it came to the key issue of land reform Lugo’s administration hit a brick wall.

Shortly after assuming office, Lugo became the target of that nation’s entrenched landed oligarchy, multinational agricultural corporations (including such paragons of virtue as Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta, Dupont, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Bunge) and the transnational drug cartels which continue to rule Paraguay with an iron fist much as they did under the 35-year dictatorship of Alfredo Stroessner.

Paraguay, a landlocked nation in which 2 percent of the population control more than 80 percent of the landed wealth, most of which had been expropriated by the kleptocratic Stroessner regime and handed out to favored cronies of his Colorado party, agrarian reform should have topped Lugo’s agenda.

As The Moscow News pointed out, “Monsanto was naturally involved in the conspiracy. The world’s largest producer of genetically modified crops disapproved of Lugo’s idea to abolish the per-ton royalty of $4 on soybeans, to be paid by growers using Roundup Ready RR1 and Intenta RR2 Pro seeds. Recall that on his fifth day in office, the new president, Federico Franco, offered new concessions to Monsanto concerning the distribution of its GM cotton, soybean and corn seeds in Paraguay.”

According to Pelaez, “Over the past ten months, unofficial employment has soared to 66% (this proportion is higher only in Peru (67%) and in Haiti (92%)). The bulk of the shadow labor market is formed by farmers pushed off the fields by such groups as Monsanto and Cargill, which use biotechnology to industrialize agricultural production and convert farmland into a contaminated ‘green desert,’ slowly but surely implanting a system of ‘farming without farmers’.”

Blocked at every step, and relying on the right’s largesse to remain in office, Lugo’s betrayal of the campesino base that put him in office and his retreat and capitulation to Paraguay’s elite doomed his administration.

In fact, as journalist and researcher Benjamin Dangl reported in UpSideDownWorld last year, “Lugo was no friend of the campesino sector that helped bring him into power. His administration regularly called for the severe repression and criminalization of the country’s campesino movements. He was therefore isolated from above at the political level, and lacked a strong political base below due to his stance toward social movements and the slow pace of land reform.”

Using a police provocation and subsequent massacre of 11 landless farmers who had occupied land belonging to ex-Colorado Senator Blas Riquelme, illegally seized by the Stroessner regime as a pretext, the Chamber of Deputies launched proceedings to remove Lugo from office. Scarcely 24 hours later, the Senate voted to impeach the president. Who was leading the charge for Lugo’s removal? Why none other than the Colorado Party’s declared candidate for the presidency, then-Senator Horacio Cartes.

But the final straw may have been the decision by Lugo’s administration three years earlier, to cut off access to the country by the US military. By 2007, the Pentagon had deployed some 400 Marines under the guise of “medical readiness training” exercises that were denounced by grassroots activists as a ploy to identify “dangerous” rural leaders of the landless movement. At the same time, the Pentagon was planning to expand US operations at the giant Mariscal Estigarribia air base, 120 miles from the Argentine and Bolivian borders.

Journalist Conn Hallinan reported back in 2005, “US Special Forces began arriving this past summer at Paraguay’s Mariscal Estigarribia air base, a sprawling complex built in 1982 during the reign of dictator Alfredo Stroessner. Argentinean journalists who got a peek at the place say the airfield can handle B-52 bombers and Galaxy C-5 cargo planes. It also has a huge radar system, vast hangers, and can house up to 16,000 troops. The air base is larger than the international airport at the capital city, Asunción.”

During a 2009 press conference, Lugo rejected further US troop deployments under the Bush-era “New Horizons” program. In a decision that greatly angered Washington, Lugo remarked, “we don’t see it as convenient that the Southern Command has a presence in Paraguay.”

Coming on the heels of Ecuador’s 2009 closure of the giant US airbase at Manta, of which Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa famously said: “We can negotiate with the US about a base in Manta, if they let us put a military base in Miami,” the Pentagon and CIA looked to Paraguay for a platform for what Southern Command described as “counternarcotics surveillance,” but which regional neighbors denounced as a threat to hemispheric security.

Ominously, the US ambassador in Asunción, Liliana Ayalde declared: “It’s a regrettable decision.”

Indeed it was, for Lugo and the Paraguayan people.

The (Narco) Ties that Bind

In their relentless drive to accumulate riches at the expense of their citizens, comprador elites, particularly those who mix land grabs, far-right politics with currying favor from their imperialist overlords, utilize state institutions as cash cows.

And when those elites are also plugged into the international narcotics trade and control the state’s machinery of repression, well, it’s a win-win all around!

Who would imagine that a central banker would have ties to criminals and narcotraffickers? Why, the US Embassy that’s who!

A 2007 Cable Gate file published by WikiLeaks noted that former Central Bank president Dr. Angel Gabriel González Cáceres, “a strong Colorado with close ties to [former] President Duarte, who appointed him Central Bank president in September 2003,” was named “Paraguay’s new director of SEPRELAD, the Secretariat for the Prevention of Money Laundering,” and that reviews of his previous performance were “quite mixed.”

Variously described by the Embassy as “a technician with a long trajectory at the Central Bank who has cooperated with the Embassy on money laundering and terrorist financing,” as Banking Superintendent however, González “opposed creation of SEPRELAD because he wanted the Central Bank to retain responsibility for fighting money laundering.”

But perhaps there were other factors, and interests, at work?

According to Asunción Deputy Chief of Mission Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Paraguay’s counternarcotics director Hugo Ibarra would have “nothing to do with” González. The counternarcotics chief then “volunteered that González had a direct personal role as Central Bank president in white-washing (‘blanquear’) funds for so-called pillar of the community Horacio Cartes and his Banco Amambay, noting that 80 percent of money laundering in Paraguay moves through that banking institution.”

“Ibarra indicated,” Embassy officials averred, “that González is still involved with Amambay, and questioned why a former Central Bank president would take a lower level position as SEPRELAD director–managing an office with less than a dozen employees–in the absence of some other financial incentive.”

Certainly a relevant question; however, no answers were forthcoming.

In 2008, another WikiLeaks file disclosed that shortly after assuming office, Lugo informed the US Embassy of his interest “in closer counternarcotics cooperation with the United States and requested U.S. assistance with microenterprise development during a Friday, August 29 dinner with the Ambassador.”

Significantly, “Lugo made clear that he does not trust some of his closest advisors or cabinet ministers. During dinner, which took place before the weekend rumors emerged regarding coup planning, Lugo told Ambassador about a tape recording of former President Duarte and General Lino Oviedo betting that Lugo will last only three to eight months in office.”

A 2009 secret WikiLeaks file, “Paraguayan Pols Plot Paraguayan Putsch,” noted that “discredited General and UNACE party leader Lino Oviedo and ex-president Nicanor Duarte Frutos are now working together to assume power via (mostly) legal means should President Lugo stumble in coming months.”

Oviedo, “serving time for involvement in the 1999 assassination of Vice President Luis Argana and the subsequent Marzo Paraguayo massacre of unarmed student protesters,” the Embassy noted it was Duarte “who used his control of the Supreme Court to free Oviedo from jail” in 2007.

A 2003 CIA report published by the Library of Congress informed us that “Brazilian and U.S. officials generally consider former General Lino César Oviedo to be head of the so-called Paraguay Cartel. He reportedly has amassed at least US$1 billion, including numerous properties in the TBA [Tri Border Area].”

The Argentine investigative news magazine Página/12 published a 2001 Argentine Chamber of Deputies report on money laundering which noted that according to Brazilian officials, the US Embassy and the DEA, Oviedo was involved with “drug trafficking (cocaine and marijuana), weapons, money laundering and the smuggling of various items.”

In 1994 for example, a “load of seven tons of cocaine, worth $70 million, which was seized with the participation of the CIA, and destined for the USA,” was linked to Oviedo and his employees. Later that year, according to DEA documents, another load of five tons of cocaine was seized from “Oviedo accomplices” attempting to smuggle it across the Paraguayan border.

The Chamber of Deputies report concluded: “Oviedo is accused of being the head of a drug trafficking, arms trafficking [cartel] and being involved in the murder of media entrepreneur Carlos Honorio Cubillas and Paraguayan Vice President Argana. The various charges against him made by the DEA were, by former U.S. Ambassador to Paraguay and the Brazilian CPI.”

As noted above, in 2007, Oviedo’s conviction for orchestrating an attempted military coup in 1996 was annulled by Paraguay’s Supreme Court. Again a candidate for the presidency in 2013, nominated by the ironically named National Union of Ethical Citizens (Unión Nacional de Ciudadanos Éticos, UNACE), Oviedo died in a “helicopter accident” after a campaign appearance in February, clearing the path to power for Horacio Cartes.

The Cartel: Back in Power

Last Sunday in an unusually critical article, The New York Times reported that during the campaign, Cartes “was pressed to explain why antinarcotics police officers apprehended a plane carrying cocaine and marijuana on his ranch in 2000; why he went to prison in 1989 on currency fraud charges; and why he had never even voted in past general elections.”

Good questions, all of which were dismissed by Cartes’ top aides as “conspiracy theories” and “slander.”

The most serious charges involve Cartes connection to drug trafficking, money laundering and the smuggling of contraband cigarettes.

Another WikiLeaks file, this one from 2010, informed us that a joint that a joint ATF-DEA-ICE-OFAC US anti-money laundering investigation dubbed “Heart of Stone,” revealed that Cartes is the head of a transnational criminal organization and the main target of the operation.

“OPERATION HEART OF STONE is a coordinated, transnational investigation focused on the disruption and dismantlement of a significant drug trafficking and money laundering enterprise operating within the Tri Border Area (TBA) of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil, and elsewhere throughout the world. This investigation has established links between and among drug trafficking, money laundering and other criminal organizations and, as such, was approved as a designated Consolidated Priority Organizational Target (CPOT) investigation during April 2009.”

The WikiLeaks file averred:

“The investigative team has implemented strategies and operations aimed at attacking the financial infrastructure of drug trafficking supply network (DTO’s) and other criminal enterprises operating within the TBA. Using a strategic approach to target the international command and control centers of these criminal organizations based in the TBA, agents have successfully focused investigative activity in an effort to develop this investigation with an aim toward a DEA UC introduction to CPOT designee Horacio CARTES. Through the utilization of a DEA BACO cooperating source and other DEA undercover personnel, agents have infiltrated CARTES’ money laundering enterprise, an organization believed to launder large quantities of United States currency generated through illegal means, including through the sale of narcotics, from the TBA to the United States.”

Despite the seriousness of the allegations, and others enumerated below, The Independent reported that Cartes “has publicly denied the allegations and says he has received assurances from the embassy that the US Drugs Enforcement Agency and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are conducting no investigations against him, something the cables allege.”

If true, this raises a disturbing question: did the DEA drop the ball or were they ordered to back away from the investigation by Obama’s State Department?

“‘When it comes to drug trafficking, Horacio has made it clear what his position is,’ says Julio Velazquez, a Colorado senator standing for re-election tomorrow.”

Ludicrously, Velazquez told The Independent: “‘There’s no concrete allegation against him. Horacio has investments in the US. Do you think the Americans would allow a narco to bring money into their country?’”

Memo to Senator Velazquez: Not only would the Yankees “allow a narco to bring money into their country,” they’d look the other way as US banksters laundered the funds and extracted hefty fees in the process!

Another front in the Cartes empire involved Banco Amambay and illegal tax evasion. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported earlier this month that “five directors of Banco Amambay created a secret bank in the Cook Islands with no building and no staff.”

Journalists Marina Walker Guevara and Mabel Rehnfeldt disclosed that “top officials of a Paraguayan bank owned by Horacio Manuel Cartes, the country’s leading candidate in this month’s presidential election, operated a secret financial institution in a tax haven in the South Pacific.”

According to the ICIJ’s investigation, “Cartes’ father, Ramón Telmo Cartes Lind, and four other executives of Paraguay’s Banco Amambay S.A. created Amambay Trust Bank Ltd. in 1995 in the Cook Islands, a tiny chain of atolls and volcanic outcroppings more than 6,000 miles away from the South American nation.”

“The Cook Islands bank, which was operational until 2000,” the same year the Cook Islands landed on of the OECD’s money laundering blacklist, “a dishonor roll for places the OECD considers havens for dirty money,” was de-registered a month prior to OECD sanctions.

Guevara and Rehnfeldt reported that the Cook Islands were condemned for “‘excessive secrecy provisions’” that “allowed owners of offshore companies and accounts to hide in the shadows. It noted the islands’ government had ‘no relevant information on approximately 1,200 international companies that it had registered’ and that the offshore banks located in the Cooks weren’t required to document the identity of their customers.”

“It was not the only time that Banco Amambay and its officials made headlines for alleged money laundering, but the accusations have never resulted in convictions.”

“Just last month,” the ICIJ averred, “the head of Paraguay’s anti-money laundering agency said that the bank was being investigated alongside other financial institutions for illegal money transfers abroad. The following day the official recanted his words and said he had misspoken. Amambay denied any involvement in criminal activities.”

With the election of another “teflon president” accused of operating a drug trafficking and money laundering enterprise, and with powerful connections to prominent right-wing politicians suspected of decades’ long ties to global narcotics rackets, the Pentagon and US secret state agencies must be salivating over the prospect of the cartel’s return to power.

After all, as State Department spokesperson Patrick Ventrell said during an April 22 press briefing when queried about Cartes dodgy record: “The United States values its relationship with Paraguay and looks forward to working with the President-elect, with President-elect Cartes, on many of our shared interests, such as defending and promoting democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and expanding trade and economic opportunities.”

When pressed about Cartes long history of criminal allegations, Ventrell didn’t bat an eyelash and averred: “I’m not aware of specific allegations one way or another, but we do congratulate him on his electoral victory. And I think I just was clear about working with him going forward.”

A visita da estrela estadunidense da música Beyoncé e de seu marido Jay-z à Havana voltou a levantar polêmica sobre a manutenção das sanções contra Cuba, em vigor há mais de meio século. Eis aqui alguns dados sobre o mais extenso estado de sítio econômico da história.

1) A administração republicada de Dwight D. Eisenhower impôs as primeiras sanções econômicas contra Cuba em 1960, oficialmente por causa do processo de nacionalizações que o governo revolucionário de Fidel Castro empreendeu.

2) Em1962, o governo democrata de John F. Kennedy aplicou sanções econômicas totais contra a ilha.

3) O impacto foi terrível. Os Estados Unidos sempre constituíram o mercado natural de Cuba. Em 1959, 73% das exportações eram feitas para o vizinho do norte e 70% das importações precediam deste território.

4) Agora, Cuba não pode exportar nem importar nada dos Estados Unidos. Desde 2000, depois das pressões do lobby agrícola estadunidense que buscava novos mercados para seus excedentes, a cidade de Havana está autorizada a importar algumas matérias-primas alimentícias, com condições draconianas.

5) A retórica diplomática para justificar o endurecimento deste estado de sítio econômico evoluiu com o tempo. Entre 1969 e 1990, os Estados Unidos evocaram o primeiro caso de expropriações de suas empresas para justificar sua política hostil contra Havana. Em seguida, Washington evocou sucessivamente a aliança com a União Soviética, o apoio às guerrilhas latino-americanas na luta contra as ditaduras militares e a intervenção cubana na África para ajudar as antigas colônias portuguesas a conseguir sua independência e a defendê-la.

6) Em 1991, depois do desmoronamento do bloco soviético, em vez de normalizar as relações com Cuba, os Estados Unidos decidiram reforçar as sanções invocando a necessidade de reestabelecer a democracia e o respeito aos direitos humanos.

7) Em 1992, sob a administração de Bush pai, o Congresso dos Estados Unidos adotou a lei Torricelli, que recrudesce as sanções contra a população cubana e lhes dá um caráter extraterritorial, isto é, contrário à legislação internacional.

8) O direito internacional proíbe toda lei nacional de ser extraterritorial, isto é, de ser aplicada além das fronteiras do país. Assim, a lei francesa não pode ser aplicada na Alemanha. A legislação brasileira não pode ser aplicada na Argentina. Não obstante, a lei Torricelli é aplicada em todos os países do mundo.

9) Assim, desde 1992, todo barco estrangeiro – qualquer que seja sua procedência – que entre em um porto cubano, se vê proibido de entrar nos Estados Unidos durante seis meses.

10) As empresas marítimas que operam na região privilegiam o comércio com os Estados Unidos, primeiro mercado mundial. Cuba, que depende essencialmente do transporte marítimo por sua insularidade, tem de pagar um preço muito superior ao do mercado para convencer as transportadoras internacionais a fornecer mercadoria à ilha.

WikiCommons – Fidel Castro durante Assembleia da ONU

 

11) A lei Torricelli prevê também sanções aos países que brindam assistência a Cuba. Assim, se a França ou o Brasil outorgarem uma ajuda de 100 milhões de dólares à ilha, os Estados Unidos cortam o mesmo montante de sua ajuda a essas nações.

12) Em 1996, a administração Clinton adotou a lei Helms-Burton que é ao mesmo tempo extraterritorial e retroativa, isto é, se aplica sobre feitos ocorridos antes da adoção da legislação, o que é contrário ao direito internacional.

13) O direito internacional proíbe toda legislação de ter caráter retroativo. Por exemplo, na França, desde 1º de janeiro de 2008, está proibido fumar nos restaurantes. Não obstante, um fumador que tivesse consumido um cigarro no dia 31 de dezembro de 2007 durante um jantar não pode ser multado por isso, já que a lei não pode ser retroativa.

14) A lei Helms-Burton sanciona toda empresa estrangeira que se instalou em propriedades nacionalizadas pertencentes a pessoas que, no momento da estatização, dispunham de nacionalidade cubana, violando o direito internacional.

15) A lei Helms-Burton viola também o direito estadunidense que estipula que as demandas judiciais nos tribunais somente são possíveis se a pessoa afetada por um processo de nacionalizações era um cidadão estadunidense quando ocorreu a expropriação e que esta tenha violado o direito internacional público. Veja só, nenhum destes requisitos são cumpridos.

16) A lei Helms-Burton tem como efeito dissuadir numerosos investidores de se instalarem em Cuba por temer represálias por parte da justiça estadunidense e é muito eficaz.

17) Em 2004, a administração de Bush filho criou a Comissão de Assistência a uma Cuba Livre, que impulsionou novas sanções contra Cuba.

18) Esta Comissão limitou muito as viagens. Todos os habitantes dos Estados Unidos podem viajar a seu país de origem quantas vezes quiserem – menos os cubanos. De fato, entre 2004 e 2009, os cubanos dos Estados Unidos só puderam viajar a ilha 14 dias a cada três anos, na melhor das hipóteses, desde que conseguissem uma autorização do Departamento do Tesouro.

19) Para poder viajar era necessário demonstrar que ao menos um membro da família vivia em Cuba. Não obstante, a administração Bush redefiniu o conceito de família, que se aplicou exclusivamente aos cubanos. Assim, os primos, sobrinhos, tios e outros parentes próximos já não formavam parte da família. Somente os avós, país, irmãos, filhos e cônjuges formavam parte da família, de acordo com a nova definição. Por exemplo, um cubano que residisse nos Estados Unidos não poderia visitar sua tia em Cuba, nem mandar uma ajuda econômica para seu primo.

20) Os cubanos que cumpriam todos os requisitos para viajar a seu país de origem, além de terem de limitar sua estadia a duas semanas, não podiam gastar ali mais de 50 dólares diários.

21) Todos os cidadãos ou residentes estadunidenses podiam mandar uma ajuda financeira a sua família, sem limite de valor, menos os cubanos, que não podiam mandar mais de 100 dólares ao mês entre 2004 e 2009.

22) Não obstante, era impossível a um cubano da Flórida mandar dinheiro à sua mãe que vivia em Havana – membro direto da sua família de acordo com a nova definição –, se a mãe militasse no Partido Comunista.

23) Em 2006, a Comissão de Assistência a uma Cuba Livre adotou outra norma que recrudesceu as restrições contra Cuba.

24) Com o objetivo de limitar a cooperação médica cubana com o resto do mundo, os Estados Unidos proibiram a exportação de equipamentos médicos a países terceiros “destinados a serem utilizados em programas de grande escala [com] pacientes estrangeiros” mesmo apesar de a maior parte da tecnologia médica mundial ser de origem estadunidense.

25) Por causa da aplicação extraterritorial das sanções econômicas, uma fabricante de carros japonesa, alemã, coreana, ou outra, que deseje comercializar seus produtos no mercado estadunidense, tem de demonstrar ao Departamento do Tesouro que seus carros não contêm nem um só grama de níquel cubano.

26) Do mesmo modo, um confeiteiro francês que deseje entrar no primeiro mercado do mundo tem de demonstrar à mesma entidade que sua produção não contém um só grama de açúcar cubano.

27) Assim, o caráter extraterritorial das sanções limita fortemente o comércio internacional de Cuba com o resto do mundo.

28) Às vezes, a aplicação destas sanções toma um rumo menos racional. Assim, todo turista estadunidense que consuma um cigarro cubano ou um copo de rum Havana Club durante uma viagem ao exterior, na França, no Brasil ou no Japão, se arrisca a pagar uma multa de um milhão de dólares e a ser condenado a dez anos de prisão.

29) Do mesmo modo, um cubano que resida na França, teoricamente não pode comer um sanduíche do McDonald’s.

30) O Departamento do Tesouro é taxativo a respeito: “Muitos se perguntam com frequência se os cidadãos estadunidenses podem adquirir legalmente produtos cubanos, inclusive tabaco ou bebidas alcóolicas, em um país terceiro para seu consumo pessoal fora dos Estados Unidos. A resposta é não”.
31) As sanções econômicas também têm um impacto dramático no campo da saúde.  Com efeito, cerca de 80% das patentes depositadas no setor médico provêm das multinacionais farmacêuticas estadunidenses e de suas subsidiárias e Cuba não pode ter acesso a elas. O Escritório do Alto Comissário das Nações Unidas para os Direitos Humanos sublinha que “as restrições impostas pelo embargo têm contribuído para privar Cuba de um acesso vital a medicamentos, novas tecnologias médicas e científicas”.
32) No dia 3 de fevereiro de 2006, uma delegação de dezesseis funcionários cubanos, reunida com um grupo de empresários estadunidenses, foi expulsa do Hotel Sheraton María Isabel da capital mexicana, violando a lei asteca que proíbe todo tipo de discriminação por raça ou origem.

33) Em 2006, a empresa japonesa Nikon se negou a entregar o primeiro prêmio – uma câmera – a Raysel Sosa Rojas, jovem cubano de 13 anos que sofre de uma hemofilia hereditária incurável, que ganhou o XV Concurso Internacional de Desenho Infantil do Programa das Nações Unidas para o Meio Ambiente (PNUMA). A multinacional nipônica explicou que a câmera digital não poderia ser entregue ao jovem cubano porque continha componentes estadunidenses.

34) Em abril de 2007, o banco Bawag, vendido ao fundo financeiro estadunidense, fechou as contas de uma centena de clientes de origem cubana que residiam na república alpina, aplicando assim, de modo extraterritorial, a legislação estadunidense em um país terceiro.

35) Em 2007, o banco Barclays ordenou às suas filiais de Londres que fechassem as contas de duas empresas cubanas: Havana International Bank e Cubanacán, depois de a Ofac (Office of Foreign Assets Control, ou Oficina de Controle de Bens Estrangeiros) do Departamento do Tesouro, efetuar prisões.

36) Em julho de 2007, a companhia aérea espanhola Hola Airlines, que tinha um contrato com o governo cubano para transportar pacientes que padeciam de doenças oculares no marco da Operação Milagre teve de por fim às suas relações com Cuba. Com efeito, quando solicitou ao fabricante estadunidense Boeing que realizasse consertos em um avião, este lhe exigiu como condição que rompesse seu contrato com a ilha caribenha e explicou que a ordem era procedente do governo dos Estados Unidos.

37) No dia 16 de dezembro de 2009, o banco Crédit Suisse recebeu uma multa de 536 milhões de dólares do Departamento do Tesouro por realizar transações financeiras em dólares com Cuba.

38) Em junho de 2012, o banco holandês ING recebeu a maior sanção jamais aplicada desde o início do estado de sítio económico contra Cuba em 1960. A Ofac, do Departamento do Tesouro, sancionou a instituição financeira com uma multa de 619 milhões de dólares por realizar, entre outras, transações em dólares com Cuba, através do sistema financeiro estadunidense.

39) Os turistas estadunidenses podem viajar para a China, principal rival econômica e política dos Estados Unidos, para o Vietnã, país contra o qual Washington esteve mais de quinze anos em guerra, ou para a Coréia do Norte, que possui armamento nuclear e ameaça usá-lo, mas não para Cuba, que, em sua história, jamais agrediu os Estados Unidos.

40) Todo cidadão estadunidense que viole esta proibição se arrisca a uma sanção que pode alcançar 10 anos de prisão e um milhão de dólares de multa.

41) Depois das solicitações de Max Baucus, senador do Estado de Montana, o Departamento do Tesouro admitiu ter realizado, desde 1990, apenas 93 investigações relacionadas ao terrorismo internacional. No mesmo período, efetuou outras 10.683 “para impedir que os estadunidenses exerçam seu direito de viajar a Cuba”.

42) Em um boletim, a Gao (United States Government Accountability Office, ou Oficina de Responsabilidade Governamental dos Estados Unidos) apontou que os serviços aduaneiros (Customs and Border Protection – CBP) de Miami realizaram inspeções “secundárias” sobre 20% dos passageiros procedentes de Cuba em 2007 com a finalidade de comprovar que não importavam tabaco, álcool ou produtos farmacêuticos da ilha. Por outro lado, a média de inspeções foi só de 3% para o restante dos viajantes. Segundo a GAO, este enfoque sobre Cuba “reduz a aptidão dos serviços aduaneiros para levar a cabo sua missão que consiste em impedir que os terroristas, criminosos e outros estrangeiros indesejáveis entrem no país”.

43) Os ex-presidentes James Carter e William Clinton expressaram várias vezes sua oposição à política de Washington. “Não deixei de pedir pública e privadamente a eliminação de todas as restrições financeiras, comerciais e de viagem”, declarou Carter depois de sua segunda estadia em Cuba em março de 2011. Para Clinton, a política de sanções “absurda” tem sido um “fracasso total”.

44) A Câmara de Comércio dos Estados Unidos, que representa o mundo dos negócios e as mais importantes multinacionais do país, também expressou sua oposição à manutenção das sanções econômicas.

45) O jornal The New York Times condenou “um anacronismo da Guerra Fria”.

46) O Washington Post, diário conservador, aparece como o mais virulento quando se trata da política cubana de Washington: “A política dos Estados Unidos em relação a Cuba é um fracasso […]. Nada mudou, exceto que o nosso embargo nos torna mais ridículos e impotentes que nunca”.

47) A maior parte da opinião pública estadunidense também está a favor de uma normatização das relações entre Washington e Havana. Segundo uma pesquisa realizada pela CNN no dia 10 de abril de 2009, 64% dos cidadãos estadunidenses se opõe às sanções econômicas contra Cuba.

48) De acordo com a empresa Orbitz Worldwide, uma das mais importantes agências de viagem da internet, 67% dos habitantes dos Estados Unidos desejam ir de férias para Cuba e 72% acreditam que “o turismo em Cuba teria um impacto positivo na vida cotidiana do povo cubano”.

49) Mais de 70% dos cubanos nasceram sob o estado de sítio econômico.

50) Em 2012, durante a reunião anual da Assembleia Geral das Nações Unidas, 188 países de 192 condenaram pela 21ª vez consecutiva as sanções econômicas contra Cuba.

Salim Lamrani

Para aprofundar-se sobre o tema:

- Salim Lamrani, État de siège. Les sanctions économiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba, Paris, Éditions Estrella, 2011.

-Salim Lamrani, The Economic War against Cuba, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013.Doutor em Estudos Ibéricos e Latino-americanos da Universidade de Paris Sorbonne-Paris IV, Salim Lamrani é professor-titular da Universidade de la Reunión e jornalista, especialista nas relações entre Cuba e Estados Unidos. Seu último livro se chama The Economic War Against Cuba. A Historical and Legal Perspective on the U.S. Blockade, New York, Monthly Review Press, 2013, com prólogo de Wayne S. Smith e prefácio Paul Estrade. 

Detención de la carretera israelí a las ilegales colonias en Jerusalén

April 29th, 2013 by Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem

Llamamiento urgente a la acción

Detención de la carretera israelí a las ilegales  colonias en Jerusalén

                                 6 de abril de 2013

Detención de la construcción de una nueva carretera israelí a las ilegales colonias sobre territorio palestino ocupado

Alto a la destrucción y desplazamiento forzado de la comunidad palestina de Beit Safafa en el ocupado Jerusalén Oriental

Llamamiento público de la Coalición Civil por los Derechos Palestinos en Jerusalén dirigido a:

Los jefes de las misiones diplomáticas en los Territorios Palestinos Ocupados

El Coordinador Especial de las Naciones Unidas para el Proceso de Paz en Medio Oriente (UNSCO, por sus siglas en inglés), Robert Serry

El Relator Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre la Situación de los Derechos Humanos en los Territorios Palestinos Ocupados, Richard Falk

La Relatora Especial de las Naciones Unidas sobre el Derecho a una Vivienda Adecuada, Raquel Rolnik

El ayuntamiento de Jerusalén y el ministerio de Transportes están realizando actualmente una obra a gran escala en Beit Safafa, ocupado Jerusalén Oriental, para terminar una carretera (“Carretera Begin”) que servirá para expandir las ilegales colonias israelíes dentro y alrededor de la parte sur del ocupado Jerusalén Oriental, y para acelerar la expansión de facto del bloque de colonias de Gush Etzion. La población ocupada de Beit Safafa no se beneficia de esta carretera. No se le ha consultado y se está destruyendo sus medios de vida y su comunidad. La Coalición Civil para los Derechos Palestinos de Jerusalén (una coalición de 25 organizaciones palestinas de derechos humanos y de desarrollo), junto con el pueblo de Beit Safafa, hacen un llamamiento a los Estados, a las Naciones Unidas y a la Unión Europea para que intervenga con toda urgencia para garantizar que:

·         Israel y las entidades ejecutivas responsables, en particular el ministerio de Transportes israelí, el ayuntamiento de Jerusalén y su Compañía de Desarrollo Moriah Jerusalén, cesan inmediatamente la construcción de la nueva carretera a las ilegales colonias en Beit Safafa e indemnizan totalmente por las pérdidas y daños ocasionados a la población palestina ocupada;

·         No se concede reconocimiento internacional a la ilegítima situación resultante de la actividad de las ilegales colonias israelíes de la que esta carretera es parte y que ningún fondo privado o público contribuye a la construcción de la carretera ilegal.

En vista de la persistencia de la expansión de las colonias israelíes, urgimos a la comunidad internacional, incluidas las autoridades locales y las empresas, a suspender la cooperación y los negocios con las autoridades israelíes y con las compañías responsables de la construcción de la carretera ilegal en el ocupado Beit Safafa. 

 

Coalición Civil por los Derechos Palestinos en Jerusalén, Dahiet al Barid, Abu Khalaf Bldg., Tel. 02-2343929, www.civiccoalition-jerusalem.org

Se deben implementar inmediatamente medidas prácticas y eficaces con relación a lo anterior para impedir que la ilegal actividad colonial israelí se afiance y expanda aún más, y se cause más daño a los derechos humanos y medios de vida del pueblo palestino ocupado, en particular a los habitantes de Beit Safafa. En vista de la fuerte preocupación y condena internacional de la ilegal actividad colonial israelí,[1]  y en base a las obligaciones legales de las terceras partes estipuladas en la Opinión Consultiva de la Corte Internacional de Justicia (CIJ) de 2004 y el reciente informe de la Misión de Investigación de las Naciones Unidas sobre las Colonias Israelíes, urgimos (y esperamos de ellos) a todos los Estados, a las Naciones Unidas y a la Unión Europa a que “asuman sus responsabilidades con relación a Israel como Estado que viola normas perentorias del derecho internacional”, [2]  y a que adopten las medidas necesarias para detener la construcción de la carretera de la ilegal colonia en Beit Safafa. También urgimos (y esperamos de ellas) a las compañías privadas que respeten el derecho internacional según los Principios Rectores sobre las Empresas y los Derechos Humanos [de las Naciones Unidas] y a que den “todos los pasos necesarios (incluido el acabar con sus intereses comerciales en las colonias) para garantizar que no tienen un impacto negativo en los derechos del pueblo palestino”. [3]

 

Hechos y antecedentes

Localización y especificaciones del proyecto de carretera israelí

El emplazamiento de los trabajos se extiende desde el estadio de fútbol (Teddy Kolleg) y el Centro Comercial (Malha) israelíes en la zona en la que estaba el pueblo palestino de Malha, Jerusalén Occidental, despoblado en 1948, hasta la colonia israelí de Gilo al sur del ocupado en 1967 Jerusalén Oriental. Se ha planificado que la carretera tenga 1.5 km de largo y transcurra casi totalmente por territorio palestino ocupado, específicamente en Beit Safafa, una comunidad palestina de aproximadamente 9.300 habitantes. En Beit Safafa la carretera se está construyendo con 5 carriles y en algunos lugares hasta con 10-11 carriles. La construcción empezó en septiembre de 2012 y está planificado terminarla en octubre de 2015.

Propósito y función de la carretera israelí a través del ocupado Beit Safafa

La carretera que se está construyendo actualmente en Beit Safafa es una ampliación de la ya existente “Carretera Begin” y el ayuntamiento Israelí de Jerusalén la ha denominado alternativamente Carretera nº 4 o Carretera nº 50. La Carretera Begin es una carretera de circunvalación de Jerusalén Occidental que hace más rápido el trayecto entre el sur y norte de la cuidad. Constituye un componente fundamental de la red de carreteras que sirve a la metrópolis de colonias del “Gran Jerusalén” en la ocupada Cisjordania y la une con el territorio israelí. La Carretera Begin, parcialmente construida en territorio palestino ocupado, se une en el norte con la Carretera 443 al bloque de colonias de Givat Ze’ev en la ocupada Cisjordania y a más adelante hacia Tel Aviv. Hacia el sur la Carretera Begin acaba actualmente en el barrio de Malha, Jerusalén Occidental. Todavía no tienen una conexión directa con la Carretera 60 (la  “Carretera del Túnel”) que facilita la movilidad israelí a y desde las colonias en el sur de Cisjordania.

La corta sección de la carretera que se está construyendo actualmente en Beit Safafa salvará la falta de conexión existente entre la Carretera Begin y la Carretera 60 (Carretera del Túnel). La construcción de esta parte de la carretera coincide con el aumento de la actividad de las colonias en la zona, incluida la expansión de las ya existentes colonias de Gilo y Har Homa, y el establecimiento de la nueva colonia de Givat Hamatos en el ocupado Jerusalén Oriental,[4] y la construcción en curso de la colonia de Har Gilo en la adyacente Cisjordania ocupada. Aunque las autoridades israelíes han calificado la carretera de “interna”, la carretera a través de Beit Safafa mejorará sustancialmente la red de carreteras de las colonias israelíes. Dará cabida al cada vez más intenso tráfico desde estas colonias y creará una carretera continua para el tráfico israelí desde el bloque de colonias de Gush Etzion en Cisjordania sur (Carretera 60), a través de Cisjordania y Jerusalén Oriental (Carretera Begin) hasta el bloque de colonias de Ma’ale Adumim y la zona E1 área al este (Carretera 1), y hacia el bloque de colonias de Givat Ze’ev cerca de Ramala y más adelante hacia Tel Aviv (Carretera 443).

El trayecto de la Carretera Begin a través de Beit Safafa él solo y combinado con similares proyectos israelíes de infraestructura de transportes en varias fases de planificación o de construcción (como el Tren Ligero de Jerusalén ,[5] la Carretera de Circunvalación Este[6] y el Tren A1,[7] fomentará la construcción de colonias israelíes en el “Gran Jerusalén”, consolidará la dominación israelí y acelerará la anexión de factode la zona central de la ocupada Cisjordania palestina.

 

http://www.poica.org/editor/case_studies/sfafa50e.jpg

Courtesy of ARIJ.

¿Quién está implicado en la construcción de la carretera a la colonia en Beit Safafa?

Los responsables de la implementación del proyecto de carretera son el ayuntamiento de Jerusalén y el ministerio de Transportes israelíes. Se encarga de su construcción lCompañía de Desarrollo Moriah Jerusalén, la sección ejecutiva del ayuntamiento para proyectos de infraestructura. El contratista que la está llevando a cabo es D.Y. Barazani Ltd., una constructora israelí que regularmente lleva a cabo trabajos de desarrollo y de mantenimiento de infraestructuras para el ayuntamiento de Jerusalén, incluido el ocupado Jerusalén Oriental (véase abajo la vaya publicitaria). En las obras se utiliza equipamiento para remover tierra de Volvo (Suecia), CAT (Estados Unidos), Hyundai (Corea del Sur) y JCB (Reino Unidos).

 

Impacto y consecuencias para la población palestina ocupada de Beit Safafa

La población palestina ocupada de Beit Safafa no se beneficia de esta carretera que se le impone en contra de su voluntad expresa. Aunque la carretera se está construyendo sobre tierra confiscada en el pasado a miembros de la comunidad y atraviesa el centro de esta, los residentes locales palestinos no dispondrán de una carretera de acceso a ella. Además, la carretera está causando graves pérdidas y daños a los individuos y comunidades de Beit Safafa.

Para los palestinos que poseen tierras y casas a lo largo del trayecto de la carretera a través de Beit Safafa, la construcción de la carretera está ocasionando graves violaciones de sus derechos a la propiedad y a la vivienda:

 

·         Pérdida del derecho a utilizar y desarrollar la propiedad: según la ley de planificación israelí, no se permite ninguna construcción dentro de 150 metros a ambos lados de carreteras del tipo de la que se está construyendo en Beit Safafa. Además, como la población local desconocía el plan israelí de construir la carretera y pudo obtener permisos para construir casas en el pasado, muchas casas están hoy situadas dentro de esta periferia de 300 metros, incluidas algunas extremadamente próximas a la nueva carretera. Según la ley israelí de planificación estas casas se han vuelto ilegales y no se les concederán permisos en el futuro para repararlas o ampliarlas.

·         Pérdida del valor de la propiedad: debido a ello así como a la extrema exposición al ruido, la contaminación y a los peligros asociados a las obras de construcción en curso y al tráfico futuro, las casas palestinas lindantes con la carretera han perdido aproximadamente un 37% de su valor de mercado [8].

Además, todos los habitantes de Beit Safafa se ven afectados por:

·         El riesgo para la salud y el adecuado nivel de vida debido a la degradación del medio ambiente;

·         Perdida de libertad de movimientos y de acceso a los servicios esenciales: desde el establecimiento de la colonia de Gilo en la década de 1970 Beit Safafa ha quedado bifurcada norte-sur por la carretera de 4-6 carriles (Carretera Dov Yosef) que une la colonia con Jerusalén Occidental. La ampliación de la Carretera Begin que se está construyendo actualmente dividirá la comunidad de oeste a este; atravesará la carretera de la colonia de Gilo debajo de un puente lo que dividirá Beit Safafa en cuatro partes sin conexión entre sí. La nueva carretera cortará carreteras internas locales y obstruirá el acceso a guarderías, escuelas, clínicas y lugares de trabajo y de oración. Muchos residentes ya no podrán llegar a pie a estos lugares, sino que tendrán que acceder a ellos en coche por las dos nuevas carreteras internas a través de puentes y concebidas para uso interno.

·         Grave violación del derecho colectivo a mantener y desarrollar la comunidad a consecuencia de la división del pueblo y de las pérdidas y daños causados a los habitantes palestinos.

A largo plazo, la mera existencia de la Carretera Begin junto con la actividad adicional de las colonias planificada en la zona tendrá como resultado ladestrucción de Beit Safafa como comunidad y el desplazamiento forzado de sus miembros o de parte de ellos.

 

 

Una imagen del vídeo promocional difundido en youtube por laCompañía de Desarrollo Moriah Jerusalén muestra cómo será la Carretera Begin en Beit Safafa cuando se termine. En la foto se ve cómo esta carretera se cruza con otra carretera a la colonia (Carretera Dov Yosef) por debajo de un puente y cómo la carretera se dirige a Jerusalén Occidental (en la parte superior). También muestra Beit Safafa dividido en cuatro partes y los dos puentes sobre la carretera concebidos para uso local.

El vídeo de promoción completo se puede ver en:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=042woKRZ0Iw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 

Historia anterior de desposesión forzada y desplazamiento forzado, un contexto de violaciones sistemáticas del derecho humanitario internacional y de las leyes internacionales referentes a los derechos humanos

Habría que evaluar la construcción por parte de Israel de la Carretera Begin y las consecuencias que esto tiene para la población palestina ocupada en el contexto de políticas y prácticas israelíes anteriores aplicadas a Beit Safafa (y a las comunidades palestinas vecinas). Hasta 1967 Beit Safafa estaba dividida por la línea de armisticio entre Israel y Jordania consecuencia de la guerra árabo-israelí de 1948. Aunque desde entonces el pueblo se ha vuelto a unir a consecuencia de la ocupación y anexión israelíes de Jerusalén Oriental, una gran parte de su población sigue estando desplazada por la fuerza. Esto incluye tanto a (los descendientes de) los refugiados palestinos que encontraron refugio en la parte de Beit Safafa controlada por Jordania después de su expulsión por Israel en 1948, como a (los descendientes de) los habitantes originales del pueblo desplazados durante las dos guerras árabo-israelíes y la actual ocupación israelí. Israel ha impedido el retorno de los desplazados y ha confiscado tanto su tierra como la tierra de los habitantes que quedaban en Beit Safafa por medio de leyes que discriminaban a los habitantes palestinos originarios, como la Ley de Propiedades de Ausentes (1950) y la Ordenanza de la Tierra (Adquisición para Fines Públicos) de 1943. Israel ha utilizado esta tierra para el desarrollo de los barrios judíos y de la infraestructura en Jerusalén Occidental y para las colonias judías, carreteras e instalaciones militares en Jerusalén Oriental.

“El que piense que los árabes tienen las cosas fáciles aquí está muy equivocado […].  Veamos el ejemplo de Beit Safafa. Parte de su tierra se ha tomado para Katamon, parte de su tierra se ha tomado para `Itri’, parte para Gilo, parte para la carretera que atraviesa ese barrio y para Patt… Lo mismo podría decirIe de cada pueblo”, Teddy Kollek, entonces alcalde de Jerusalén.[9]
La anexión ilegal por parte de Israel de Beit Safafa y la subsiguiente política sistemática y discriminatoria israelí de confiscación de tierra y planificación urbana han provocado una situación en la que los habitantes de Beit Safafa ya han perdido aproximadamente una tercera parte de sus tierras y el área disponible para el desarrollo de su comunidad ha disminuido de 3.057dunams* bajo el Mandato Británico en 1947 a 2.354 dunams bajo el actual control israelí [10]. Junto con las comunidades palestinas vecinas en los territorios palestinos ocupados, Beit Safafa se ha visto afectada, por ejemplo, por dos confiscaciones israelíes de tierra a gran escala emprendidas por supuestos “fines públicos” en 1970 [11] y en 1991[12]. Israel ha utilizado la tierra palestina expropiada para el desarrollo de las colonias israelíes de Gilo (1971) y Givat Hamatos (a punto de construirse). En el pasado también se confiscó 234 dunams de tierra a Beit Safafa para la construcción de la ampliación de la Carretera Begin. [13]

Impacto más amplio para los palestinos de la Carretera Begin en Beit Safafa

Dado que una vez que se termine la Carretera Begin a través de Beit Safafa contribuirá a la consolidación y anexión por parte de Israel del “Gran Jerusalén” en la parte central de la ocupada Cisjordania palestina, esta carretera minará ipso facto la capacidad del pueblo palestino para ejercer su derecho a la autodeterminación e independencia de los territorios palestinos ocupados, incluido Jerusalén Oriental. Además, la población palestina local no se beneficiará de esta carretera porque: a) el uso de la red de carreteras a las colonias israelíes está restringido para la mayoría de los palestinos de la ocupada Cisjordania que no tienen permiso israelí para viajar por territorio israelí y el ocupado Jerusalén Oriental y b) estas carreteras circunvalan las comunidades palestinas locales y no son de fácil acceso para los palestinos.

La exclusión de la población palestina del proceso de planificación israelí

A pesar del grave impacto de la Carretera Begin que se está construyendo actualmente, las autoridades israelíes responsables de ello nunca han consultado a la población palestina local, incluidas las personas residentes en Beit Safafa. Según la información suministrada por el abogado de los residentes y la ONG Ir Amim, el ayuntamiento de Jerusalén nunca ha sometido un plan detallado de la carretera a revisión y alegaciones públicas, a pesar de que la ley israelí lo exige y de que se hizo con otros segmentos de la Carretera Begin. [14]

Las personas residentes en Beit Safafa solo conocieron el proyecto de carretera una vez que empezaron las obras en septiembre de 2012. En un primer momento la preocupación y las protestas públicas se dirigieron a la oficina local de enlace del ayuntamiento de Jerusalén en Beit Safafa. Este último confirmó que se habían empezado las obras sin el permiso necesario y pidió a los habitantes de Beit Safafa que fueran pacientes hasta que se resolviera el problema. Cuando constataron que en diciembre las obras no habían parado un grupo de 20 residentes denunció el proyecto de carretera en el Tribunal del Distrito de Jerusalén. Pedían al Tribunal que emitiera una orden para que el ayuntamiento de Jerusalén detuviera las obras y presentara un plan detallado a revisión y alegación pública.

El ayuntamiento de Jerusalén argumentó ante el tribunal que había presentado el plan exigido y que los residentes en Beit Safafans habían perdido su derecho a compensaciones por no haberse opuesto a la carretera dentro de plazo. El ayuntamiento basaba su argumentación en un plan (plan preliminar local local número 2371) para Beit Safafa que se sometió a revisión pública y aprobó en 1991. De hecho,  este plan planifica una carreteras en el mismo emplazamiento en el que se está construyendo la actual. Sin embargo, no especifica ni el tipo ni el tamaño de carretera, ni muestra las conexiones con la Carretera Begin y la Carretera 60 (que todavía no existía en 1991 en su forma actual), y tampoco incluye a varias casas que se han construido desde entonces con autorización legal en la zona adyacente al trayecto de la carretera. En base a esto los residentes en Beit Safafa argumentaron que el antiguo plan estaba desfasado y que no era un documento de planificación válido para la construcción de la ampliación de la Carretera Begin. Sin embargo, el Tribunal del Distrito de Jerusalén dictaminó que el plan de 1990 era válido y que la construcción podía continuar.

C:\Users\user\Downloads\_____.PNG

Los residentes de Beit Safafa han presentado un recurso ante el Tribunal Supremo israelí en contra de la decisión del Tribunal del Distrito de Jerusalén. Junto con el recurso también solicitaron que se emitiera una orden de paralización inmediata de las obras hasta que se resolviera el recurso. El 20 de marzo de 2013 se rechazó esta solicitud. El Tribunal Supremo aceptó la postura del ayuntamiento de Jerusalén de que la solicitud llegaba “demasiado tarde” y que el daño causado al Estado de Israel por la detención de las obras equivaldría aproximadamente a 20 millones de shekels al mes y por consiguiente, esta cantidad sería superior al daño causado a la población de Beit Safafa por la construcción de la carretera en su comunidad. [15]

Por lo tanto, la destrucción de la Carretera Begin (y la destrucción de Beit Safafa) continúa adelante sin obstáculo alguno. La vista del recurso ante el Tribunal Supremo se ha programado provisionalmente para el 26 de junio y la ONG israelí Bimkom se ha unido al recurso con nueva información sobre las pérdidas y daños causados a la comunidad y a los habitantes de Beit Safafa. Profundamente preocupados por el rápido ritmo de la construcción y de la destrucción, los residentes en Beit Safafa mantienen actividades permanentes de protesta pública en su pueblo y piden una intervención y solidaridad internacionales efectivas.

El estatus de la Carretera Begin en Beit Safafa según el derecho internacional

La Carretera Begin que se está construyendo actualmente en Beit Safafa es ilegal según el derecho internacional. Entre otras, Israel viola sus obligaciones según la Cuarta Convención de Ginebra al construir una carretera en los territorios palestinos ocupados que sirve a la colonia permanente de ciudadanos israelíes sobre territorios palestinos ocupados y que no beneficia a la población palestina ocupada, sino a los intereses de los ciudadanos israelíes, incluidos aquellos que residen en las ilegales colonias. Además, dado que la parte de la carretera que se está construyendo en el ocupado Beit Safafa forma parte de la ilegal actividad de las colonias de Israel en los territorios palestinos ocupados, con la construcción de esta carretera Israel es responsable de las graves violaciones del derecho humanitario internacional y del derecho internacional referente a los derechos humanos ya analizadas en la Opinión Consultiva de la Corte Internacional de Justicia de 2004 sobre el Muro israelí en territorio palestino, incluidos la permanente apropiación de territorio por la fuerza, la  violación del derecho palestino a la autodeterminación, la transferencia forzada de población, la expropiación y destrucción ilegales de propiedades palestinas, y las graves y sistemáticas violaciones de los derechos humanos de la población palestina ocupada [16]. Por consiguiente, según la Opinión Consultiva de la Corte Internacional de Justicia y la reciente Misión de Investigación de las Naciones Unidas sobre las colonias israelíes, Israel con su ampliación de la Carretera Begin en Beit Safafa es responsable de graves violaciones de normas perentorias del derecho internacional que provocan la responsabilidad de todos los Estados y de crímenes de guerra que dan lugar a la responsabilidad individual [17].

Para más información, contactar con:

Zakaria Odeh, director ejecutivo

Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem [Coalición Civil por los Derechos Palestinos en Jerusalén]

O2 2343929 y 054 307 59 31

[email protected]

Texto en inglés :

http://stopthewall.org/2013/04/10/stop-israeli-illegal-settlement-highway-jerusalem

Traducido del inglés por Beatriz Morales Bastos 

Notas

[1] Véase, por ejemplo, las Resoluciones de las Naciones Unidas números 252 (1968), 298 (1971), 446 (1979) y 465 (1980). Véase también EU Council of Foreign Affairs. Conclusions of 14 May 2012:http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/israel/documents/press_corner/20120514_01_en.pdf

[2] Véase el párrafo 116 de Report of the Independent International Fact-finding Mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem[Informe de la Misión Internacional de Investigación para investigar las implicaciones de las colonias israelíes en los derechos civiles, políticos, sociales y culturales de pueblo palestino en todos los territorios palestinos ocupados, incluido Jerusalén Oriental] (A/HRC/22/63) adoptado por el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas el 19 de marzo de 2013 (A/HRC/22/L.45).

[3] Ibid, párrafo 117.

[4] Los planes de colonias israelíes en la zona se elaboraron por la vía rápida y se aprobaron en diciembre de 2012 e incluyen 1.000 viviendas adicionales en Gilo y 2.610 viviendas en Givat Hamatos (Fase A de un total de 4.000 proyectadas). http://peacenow.org/entries/972_settlement_round-up_thousands_new_homes_planned_for_east_jerusalem_west_bank#more

[5] Véase, http://www.civiccoalition-jerusalem.org/human-rights-resources/publications/reports/jerusalem-light-rail-train-consequences-and-effects

[6] Véase, http://adalah.org/eng/Articles/1829/Adalah-and-the-Civic-Coalition-Jerusalem:-New-for

[7] Véase, http://www.whoprofits.org/sites/default/files/Train%20A1.pdf

[8] Basado en la valoración preliminar de daños presentada por los residentes de Beit Safafa en su petición al Tribunal del Distrito de Jerusalén en diciembre de 2012. Fuente: Atty Kais Nasser, representante de los residentes en este caso.

[9] Actas de la reunión del Consejo Municipal de Jerusalén, 27 de diciembre de 1987, Informe 64, p. 18. en B’tselem, A Policy of Discrimination: Land Expropriation, Planning and Building in East Jerusalem, mayo de 1995.

[10] Fuente: Sociedad de Estudios Árabes/Mapa y Departamento SIG, basado en un informe del Mandato Británico (1947) y el plano preliminar israelí para Beit Safafa (2317) de 1991.

* El dunam es una unidad de superficie. Originariamente, en tiempos del Imperio Otomano, era la cantidad de tierra que se podía arar en un día, pero actualmente equivale a 1.000 metros cuadrados. (N. de la t.)

[11] 2.700 dunams confiscados para Gilo el 30 de agosto de 1970; Official Gazette (en hebreo) 1656 (1970), p. 2.808.

[12] 600 dunams confiscados para Givat Hamatos el 16 de mayo de 1991; Official Gazette (en hebreo) 3877 (1991), p. 2.479.

[13] Véase, hoja informativa de ARIJ en:http://www.poica.org/editor/case_studies/view.php?recordID=5783

[14] Véase también, Ir Amim, hoja informativa, “Tearing a neighbourhood into two. The Begin Highway in Beit Safafa”:

[15] Zafrir Rinat, “Israel’s High Court rejects Arab village’s bid to stop construction of highway. Justices say there is more proof that the state would suffer if construction were delayed”, en Ha’aretz, 20 de marzo de 2013:

[16] Véase, ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in Occupied Palestinian Territory [Opinión Consultiva de la Corte Internacional de Justicia sobre las Consecuencias Legales de la Construcción de un Muro en Territorio Palestino Ocupado], del 9 de julio de 2004: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=4&k=5a&case=131&code=mwp&p3=4 Véase en castellano:http://www.bdscatalunya.org/index.php/campanyes/item/178-opini%C3%B3n-co…

[17] Véase nota 1. Véase también, Al Haq, Legal Memorandum on State Responsibility relating to Israel’s Illegal Settlement Enterprise:

 

Gold: Back to Money World

April 28th, 2013 by Valentin Katasonov

There is a sign the world financial system is facing drastic changes, while numerous events related to gold are becoming part of contemporary life. There is a fundamental tendency taking shape against the diverse picture of events – gold gradually returns the status of currency metal. 

Gold as private money

The process of gold leaving the world of commodities to join the world of money is just starting; it’s barely distinguishable against the background of global events and the US dollar being deprived of any back up. Talking about the micro level of events, the main occurrence is the creation of monetary systems called «electronic gold»: (e-gold). It has the following key elements: a) the real material metal deposited in special organizations making up the foundation of electronic money; b) not real metal but electronic documents are used for settlements; c) the number of e-gold users is limited, though the money could be used for operations outside the country. Some entrepreneurs switch over to settlements in gold using coins, ingots and other acceptable diversifications.

It has been reported that the billionaire Donald Trump decided to receive the payments from equity holders in gold, not dollars. Gold payments are a dark segment of market relations, especially in the countries preserving taxes for gold and other precious metals operations. That’s why the fight for complete abrogation of such taxes has been waged since a long time. To great extent the value added tax has become a thing of the past in Western Europe when it comes to gold settlements.

Some private companies offer the «gold products» of their own. No matter gold is often called the «money of last resort»; many potential investors complain it’s too expensive. At the moment the cost is 1700 dollars per ounce, it’s not a vital instrument for exchange in case food supplies or ordinary retail trade stop. Absence of gold coin weighing an ounce (31.1 grams), or even one tenth of ounce, makes less expensive silver more acceptable in case one wants to buy a few loans of bread, medicine or clothes in emergency.

All these factors pushed Valcambi, a Swiss company, to introduce a 50 grams 999 fine gold «golden card» called Combibar Gold Card, which can easily be broken into one gram pieces to be used for minor everyday life payments. The value of a gram is approximately equal to an ounce of silver, or 34 dollars, making it a comfortable means of retail payment. According to Valcambi, the Combibar Gold Card will be launched on market in 2013.

Plans to legalize gold money at state level

Many statesmen do understand that the days, or perhaps, years, of the dollar based world financial system existence are counted. Once all national monetary systems are interconnectedwith the US currency, the time is ripe to prepare for future changes. For instance, different schemes of internal money circulation, based on gold standard, are being studied. In recent years, we constantly hear about the plans to establish a gold dinar (Muslim states), gold yuan (China), and gold frank (Switzerland). Some states leaders start to talk about returning gold into internal circulation. For instance, the idea has been supported in Sweden, Norway, South Africa, South Korea, Iran, Taiwan, Zimbabwe and some Latin American countries.

Switzerland is the country, which has approached closer than others the stage of gold money practical introduction. It was the last country in the world to break the interconnection between paper money and gold. It took place only in 2000, when the Swiss franc was declared not to be tied to gold anymore and became no different from other currencies, like the US dollar, British pound sterling, German marc, Japanese yen and others. Now the discussions are focused only on introduction of franc as a «parallel» currency to go around along with ordinary paper francs on the territories of Switzerland and Lichtenstein. At that, there will be an exchange rate between the gold and paper francs. According to the authors of the project, the gold franc will cost five current Swiss francs or 5.3 US dollars.

The gold currency will be issued by private banks under strict control exercised by government and national Central Bank. The licensed financial bodies will be authorized to print coins with franc’s formal logotype on one side and the recognizable Swiss gold franc logotype on the other. There will be no value added tax, or any other taxes related to the new franc’s circulation. The gold franc is not vintage money, and it’s not an ordinary investment commodity. The idea was put forward by Ulrich Schlüer, the member of the Swiss National Council (the lower chamber of parliament) representing the Swiss People’s Party. It’s part of «sound currency» of«healthy currency» campaign.

The gold price is around 45 thousand francs per kilogram. According to Schlüer, the introduction of gold franc will enhance the chances of the Swiss to protect them from currency devaluation. The price of one 0.1 gram gold franc may be just 4.5 francs, making the value of a one gram gold coin rise to around 45 francs. «I want Swiss people to have the freedom to choose a completely different currency», said Thomas Jacob, the man behind the gold franc concept. «Today’s monetary system is all backed by debt — all backed by nothing — and I want people to realize this», he adds. According to him, 

«The time is right; the issue simple. We are talking about freedom of choice in monetary matters, something that cannot be opposed in good faith. It is not primarily about attacking today’s monetary system, but giving people the freedom of choice. If today’s monetary system remains as good as today’s authorities claim it is, they shouldn’t worry – if it isn’t, we, the people, shouldn’t be forced to use it».

At the time the Swiss People’s Party is applying efforts to make the parliament ban the country’s Central Bank from selling away any of its gold reserves. The proposal, dubbed “Save our Swiss Gold”, would prohibit the Swiss National Bank (SNB) from offloading its gold reserves as well as force it to hold at least 20 percent of its assets in gold. Many Swiss politicians are trying to make precise how the country has lost a significant part of its gold reserves in recent years. When the franc’s connection to gold was cancelled, the Central Bank started to sell away the yellow metal reserves under the pretext that it became a useless asset. In 2000-2005 1300 tons of gold were sold at damping prices. The opponents of the measure say the total loss was 60 billion dollars. (True, the studies say the gold never left the country to be stored by national private banks). The substance of the proposal is building a rather strong customs and economic wall around the Swiss Confederacy, something contradicting the principles of European integration. The introduction of gold franc will require changes in the Swiss Constitution. If the amendments are not accepted, then the issue will be decided by popular vote (referendum).

Gold yuan is also a favorite son of media today. It does not exist yet. But there are multiple signs testifying to the fact that China is on the way to introduce it.

USA: 13 states vote for gold currency

There are no plans to issue gold currency at the federal level. There are separate calls for going back to gold standard, which had existed till Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office. For instance, Representative Ron Paul, the well-known critic of the Federal Reserve System, has come out in support of the idea a number of times. He wants to put a «gold bridle» on the printing press. In other words, Ron Paul proposes to link the dollar emission to certain percentage of US gold reserves (8.133.5 tons of metal for March 2013). He never made precise if the plans include free exchange of paper banknotes for the metal, like it used to be before 1933. In the USA the«monetary sovereignty parades» movement is in full swing at the states level.

The state of Utah is the leader. In 2011 it adopted and enforced the law to legalize gold and silver coins as money… The Utah Sound Money Act of 2011 recognized gold bullion and silver bullion as currency. It also exempts the sale of the coins from state capital gains and sales taxes. As the new law states, the coins called American Gold Eagle (weight from 0.1 ounce, denomination 5-50 dollars) and American Silver Eagle (1 ounce, denomination one dollar) are accepted to pay for any goods and services according to real price of precious metal. At the moment the law became effective, the correlation was 1.5 dollars for an ounce of gold, or 38 dollars for an ounce of silver. Utah also introduced another major innovation. Upon the law enforcement, the state built a gold and silver depository to allow people avoid using the coins first-hand (something that would otherwise cause a lot of discomfort). Gold and silver coins could be stored there; the owners can use a deposit card as if they had ordinary dollar accounts. The value of coin is calculated on the basis of metal prices in US dollars, according to daily London fixing.

Missouri and South Carolina in 2012 were the closest to enacting very similar legislation and creating a gold bullion and silver bullion depository, just like Utah. Both states echo the same sentiments as Utah and this is evident by the names chosen for the bills. For example, in Missouri, the legislation put forth is called the Missouri Sound Money Act of 2012.

Other states considering legislation to make gold bullion and silver bullion legal tender are Montana, Colorado, Idaho, Indiana, New Hampshire, Georgia, Washington, Minnesota, Tennessee, and Virginia. The majority of the states mentioned here foresee the use the coins printed by the US Mint, as well as any other ones coming from abroad. The states also have an intention to follow the Utah example and build depositories to measure exact percentage of precious metal contained in the coins and adjust the metal value to the world market rates.

Ron Paul, the founder of Tea Party, is promoting the Free Competition in Currency Act of 2011, allowing the states to introduce their own currencies and seeking to end all taxes charged by federal, state and local governments on coins and bullion. He also calls for creation of a commission to consider the ways to get back to gold standard.

(To be concluded)

According to the Washington Post,  the Carlyle Group met at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in NYC one day before 9/11. In attendance at this meeting were former president George H. W. Bush and  Shafiq bin Laden, the brother of Osama:

The Carlyle Group is a large private-equity investment firm, closely associated with officials of the Bush and Reagan administrations, and has considerable ties to Saudi oil money, including ties to the bin Laden family.

This morning [September 10, 2001] it is holding its annual investor conference at the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, DC. Among the guests of honor is investor Shafig bin Laden, brother of Osama bin Laden. [Observer, 6/16/2002; London Times, 5/8/2003] Former President George H. W. Bush, who makes speeches on behalf of the Carlyle Group and is also senior adviser to its Asian Partners fund [Wall Street Journal, 9/27/2001] , attended the conference the previous day, but is not there today (see (8:00 a.m.) September 11, 2001). [Washington Post, 3/16/2003]

 

This CBC documentary focusses on the relationship between former President George W. Bush and the bin Laden family.

 

Without hard evidence, American accusations of chemical weapons use in Syria fall short of UN proof standards, says a UN chemical inspector. And in the way proposed, a probe would only result in an Iraqi scenario, the Syrian information minister told RT. The anti-Assad lobby in the UN is using the chemical weapons scare as a new way to exert political and economic pressure on the Syrian government, the country’s information minister Omran Ahed al-Zouabi told RT.

“First of all, I want to confirm that statements by the US Secretary of State and British government are inconsistent with reality and a barefaced lie,” he told RT. “I want to stress one more time that Syria would never use it – not only because of its adherence to the international law and rules of leading war, but because of humanitarian and moral issues.”

Members of the Al-Ezz bin Abdul Salam brigade clean their weapons during a training session at an undisclosed location near the al-Turkman mountains, in Syria's northern Latakia province, on April 25, 2013. (AFP  Photo / Miguel Medina)

Syria itself made the official request to the UN to investigate the incident in Khan al-Assal, which is an “important and brave step,” al-Zouabi stressed.

“It proves once again that the whole policy of the Syrian government is targeted against use of any kind of weapons of mass destruction by anybody: terrorists, Israel or any other neighboring state,” he said.

The United States pretends that there are no terrorists acting on Syrian territory at the same time being a country “involved in the biggest terror acts in the world,” the minister claimed. “The US is concealing that Qatar is financing terrorists, supply weapons to them. Thus, the US is basically involved in what is happening in Syria.”

‘Iraqi scheme of inspections’

In all their “absurdity and deceitfulness,” al-Zouabi explained, such statements by some Western governments are made in pursuit of basic goals.

“Their aim is, first, to cover those who are really behind use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal, and secondly, to repeat Iraq’s scenario, to pave the way for other investigation inspections. To provide, based on their results, maps, photos of rockets and other fabricated materials to the UN, which as we know, opened the way to the occupation of Iraq.”

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zouabi. (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zouabi. (AFP Photo / Louai Beshara)

Russian foreign ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich meanwhile said that the UN Secretary-General’s initial positive reaction to Syria’s appeal for an investigation“underwent a drastic change under the influence of a number of states.”

“The management of the UN Secretariat demanded that Damascus agree to the establishment of a permanent mechanism for inspection throughout Syrian territory with unlimited access to everywhere,” Lukashevich explained.

“The proposed scheme of inspections is similar to those used at the end of the last century in Iraq, which, unlike Syria, was under UN sanctions.” After months of silence, the UN is now referring to information from France and Britain about other cases of alleged use of chemical weapons last year, which Lukashevich believes demonstrates a highly politicized approach.

“It’s difficult to understand why leaders of the UN Secretariat preferred to follow those who are concerned not about exact steps towards the suppression of use of chemical weapons in the Syrian crisis, but about changing the ruling regime of a sovereign state.”

Inspectors on standby

The United Nations again pushed on Thursday for unconditional and unfettered access for its team of investigators, which has been on standby in Cyprus since Syria refused it access nearly three weeks ago.

The head of the UN inspection mission, Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom. (AFP Photo / Erick Hillbom)

The head of the UN inspection mission, Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom. (AFP Photo / Erick Hillbom)

“We do not trust the American and British experts from a political point of view,” al-Zouab explained. “We also do not trust their qualifications. Their aim is to juggle with facts.”

“We won’t mind if Russians would be among the experts, quite the contrary, we only welcome this idea. We are quite sure in their high qualification and ability to clearly see into such matters.”

Experts from Russia and China however were not included in the team to ensure it wasn’t biased, according to the United Nations.

At the time Russian EU envoy Vitaly Churkin criticized “this kind of logic,” saying in that case he “would recommend excluding all NATO countries too.” Syrian officials maintain that they are ready to accept “a neutral and honest technical team to visit the village of Khan al-Assal” in the province of Aleppo.

The Syrian opposition meanwhile is also dead set against the inclusion of Russian and Chinese experts in the investigation team.

The Russian side has no status allowing it to conduct a fair and impartial criminal investigation,” the Syrian National Council said in a statement, because Russia “is a major supplier of conventional and strategic weapons to the Syrian regime, as well as the main political guarantor of it staying in power.”

The UN needs to immediately investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” an anonymous member of the council told AFP.  “Should it find the regime used such weapons, it must act immediately, at least by imposing a no-fly zone.

No samples whatsoever

Whether or not illegal chemical agents were used by either side during the Syrian conflict can only be determined by analyzing samples collected at the scenes of alleged attacks, said the Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which despite not being a United Nations body, collaborates with the UN on such inspections.

None of the governments and intelligence agencies accusing Damascus of using chemical weapons have presented any of the evidence that would be required for a clear analysis, such as soil, blood, urine or tissue samples, said Michael Luhan, a spokesman for OPCW.

In this image made available by the Syrian News Agency on March 19, 2013, medics and other masked people attend to a man at a hospital in Khan al-Assal in the northern Aleppo province, as Syria's government accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons for the first time. (AFP Photo / SANA)

In this image made available by the Syrian News Agency on March 19, 2013, medics and other masked people attend to a man at a hospital in Khan al-Assal in the northern Aleppo province, as Syria’s government accused rebel forces of using chemical weapons for the first time. (AFP Photo / SANA)

But even if samples were provided, the OPCW would never get involved in testing something that its own inspectors did not “gather in the field” because of the need to “maintain a chain of custody of samples from the field to the lab to ensure their integrity,” said Luhan.

“This is the only basis on which the OPCW would provide a formal assessment of whether chemical weapons have been used.”

Meanwhile, waiting for a green light to enter Syria, members of the UN team “have been collating and analyzing the evidence and information that is available to date from outside,” Martin Nesirky, a spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, said on Friday.

‘US retains the ability to act unilaterally’

With varying degrees of confidence” the American intelligence community has determined that “the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons,” US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced on Thursday.

Giving the statement added significance, early afternoon on Friday, White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that the Obama administration has a number of options in regards to handling such reports – including direct use of military force – and that United States retains the ability to ‘act unilaterally’ in choosing one.

Just hours later, President Obama himself said, “horrific as it is…to use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line with respect to international norms and international law.” His remarks came after a meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah in the Oval Office, amid mass demonstrations against deployment of US troops on Jordanian border with Syria.

US President Barack Obama meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington,DC on April 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm)

US President Barack Obama meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington,DC on April 26, 2013. (AFP Photo / Nicholas Kamm)

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”  – Benjamin Franklin, 1759

The mass casualty causing attack during the Boston Marathon, together with the high profile arrest of two men in Canada charged with plotting a terrorist attack on a commuter train have captivated the attention of regular citizens.

Fears have been ramped up to the point where Americans are tolerating if not welcoming martial law and erosions of civil liberties in the name of protection from the terrorist hordes.

Witness the high-profile man-hunt for bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev.

On April 19, the entire city of Boston was on lockdown. Residents told to lock themselves indoors while schools and businesses were closed while the entire transit system was shut down and SWAT teams took control of the streets.

The home of one of the most famous and iconic popular resistance actions in history, the Boston Tea Party, unquestioningly complied with authorities this time around – all in the name of capturing one wounded man.

Speaking of authorities, rigorous scrutiny of the authorities themselves may be in order.

Speaking to the Global Research News Hour in December, Andy Lee Roth, the Associate Director of Project Censored spoke of the fourth story in PC’s list of most censored stories of 2011-2012…

“…The FBI has a network of nearly 15,000 spies, moles and informants …whose job it is to infiltrate various communities within the United States, ostensibly to uncover terrorist plots …in many cases, those 15,000 spies, moles and informants are actually encouraging and then assisting the people in those communities in committing the very crimes that people are then busted for. So It’s a kind of set-up operation and it appears to be motivated by a desire on the FBI’s part to show that they are playing an effective role in the battle against terrorism on the home front.

He further pointed out…

This only works as a kind of PR strategy if the corporate media cooperate and basically take the government officials who speak on behalf of the program as the sole sources on the program’s efficacy.

What’s not covered in the corporate media but what can be documented in independent media coverage is that most of these cases when they go to court the judge throws them out for lack of merit.”

Without this context, the citizenry’s grasp of reality is imperiled. The common man and woman is left ripe for manipulation by powerful interests with another agenda entirely.

This, the twenty-fourth installment of the Global Research News Hour, sees independent broadcaster Stephen Lendman try to provide some of this context as the War On Terrorism gets its biggest PR boost in years and as tensions with Syria, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela are on the rise.

Stephen Lendman is the host of the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network, author of BANKER OCCUPATION: Waging Financial War on Humanity and a frequent contributor to globalresearch.ca.

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The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is now broadcast weekly by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

Reference

1) Global Research News Hour Episode 9;  http://www.globalresearch.ca/war-in-the-congo-project-censored-and-doomsday-2012/5315792


The Global Research News Hour, hosted by Michael Welch, airs on CKUW 95.9FM in Winnipeg Thursdays at 10am CDT. The programme is now broadcast weekly (Monday, 5-6pm ET) by the Progressive Radio Network in the US, and is available for download on the Global Research website.

Boston Terrorist Chase: Manhunt for the “Bad Guys”

April 28th, 2013 by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Our nation of sleuths—a watershed scaled in our hunt for bad guys.

I think it was the cheering on that Friday night which most disturbed me.

With thousands of police spreading through tranquil neighborhoods, FBI massive search engines working overtime, an army of tactic-geared men swarming through the city, military helicopters churning the night sky, SWAT teams moving from house to house, it would not be long before the wounded 19 year-old suspect was seized. So his eventual capture was, I felt, hardly anything to cheer about. I became disturbed by the feeling that that chorus of shouts was a self-congratulatory outburst.

Because that terrorist chase had become a nation-wide effort. Indeed, an obsession. The US public was brought into the manhunt on a scale never seen before. Executed as a singular mission, it unfolded with shared excitement and purpose. For millions of onlookers this hunt became a personal pursuit.

Whether we approve or not, we have to give US authorities credit for their superbly orchestrated outreach to the nation.

Their strategy seemed totally transparent. Homeland Security and the people merged into a single-minded patriotic force. Not only Bostonians were recruited.

With national media mobilized into the chase with their on-the-spot reportage and dynamic sketches, their seemingly spontaneous interviews with anyone remotely connected to the suspects, every onlooker was made to feel they had a stake in the event. Each detail seemed available for sharing—suspicions, personal testimonies, boxing matches, anything with the remotest association with the culprits. While talk is now focused on the brothers’ family history,  Chechnya, Miranda rights, self-radicalization and immigration policy, we need to realize that this case plugged into social networking on a new level and thereby transformed surveillance into a public duty.

What a coup for our police and intelligence forces! During the past two decades, well before 911, US citizens were encouraged to inform authorities about Muslim suspects.

Many of the anti-Muslim sting operations executed by US law enforcement agents build their cases on such tips. Our mosques have become no-pray zones for many simple Muslim adherents because FBI operatives are rumored to frequent Islamic centers trolling for suspected radicals or informants.

US students retreated from their Muslim Student Association gatherings after learning they too had been infiltrated. If that was the status quo before the Boston bombings, imagine where our newly endowed population of citizen sleuths might lead us. There are plenty of anti-Arab racists and islamophobes out there to take this challenge really seriously. Moreover if the exalted occupant of the US-vice presidency can call Muslim perpetrators “knock-off jihadists”, doesn’t this give license to others?

My fellow Muslims—we are in for another rough ride.

More than 300 people are dead, mainly garment workers, and many more are injured following the collapse of the eight-storey Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh this week. The tragedy is one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, but it will not be the last, as global corporations constantly drive for greater profits through the exploitation of sweatshop labour.

The Rana Plaza complex was typical of the multi-level buildings that have been thrown up by the massive expansion of Bangladesh’s clothing industry—now second only to China—with scant regard for the country’s limited safety and building codes. It housed five garment factories, employing thousands of workers, as well as a maze of shops. The owner, a local politician connected to the ruling Awami League, only had permission to erect a five-storey building, but was not stopped from adding three more floors.

There had been a temporary evacuation on Tuesday, when workers noticed large cracks in the building. But the owner, Sohel Rana, declared that the site was safe, despite warnings to the contrary. Factory managers, determined to meet production schedules, forced employees back to work. The building collapsed suddenly on Wednesday morning and, more than three days later, rescuers continue to extract bodies from the unstable tangle of debris.

As with previous disasters, the Bangladeshi government, business groups and global clothing corporations that profit from the country’s cheap labour quickly swung into operation to limit the political and economic fallout.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina put the rescue operation on a “war footing” and dispatched troops and police, including units of the notorious Rapid Action Battalion—in order to suppress the anger of workers. Hundreds of thousands of garment workers took to the streets of Dhaka and nearby industrial areas on Thursday and Friday.

The prime minister blamed the building owner for the collapse, declaring that he would be punished. At the same time, Hasina made clear that nothing would be done to prevent similar catastrophes. She acknowledged that 90 percent of the country’s buildings were not constructed to meet the official building code, but brushed the issue aside, declaring: “Shall we have to demolish all the buildings right now?”

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) cancelled the membership of the companies operating in Rana Plaza and called for those responsible for the collapse to be prosecuted. Like the government, however, employer groups know only too well that unsafe conditions are rampant throughout the industry.

Last November, 112 workers died in the country’s worst factory fire, at Tazreen garments in the Ashulia industrial zone. Supervisors ordered employees back to work after the fire alarm sounded, leaving workers trapped in the upper floors. Some 700 workers have been killed in factory fires in Bangladesh since 2005. Garment factory collapses in 2005 and 2010 claimed another 79 lives.

The overriding concern of the government and employers is to ensure that the country’s thousands of garment factories, which account for 80 percent of Bangladesh’s exports, continue operation as usual. They are acutely aware that any improvement in wages (on average $US37 a month), or to the appalling conditions confronting millions of garment workers, could undermine the country’s competitiveness.

The global retail giants have gone into well-practised damage control—a few crocodile tears, and, where possible, denials of any involvement, or current involvement, with the particular suppliers in the Rana Plaza complex, followed by empty promises to improve conditions in the future. Labels for the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart, the Spanish chain El Corte Ingles and PC Penney have been found in the rubble. Web sites for the factories in the building indicate that they also supplied Germany’s Kik, Belgium’s C&A, Benetton UK, Spain’s Mango, Canada’s Trimark and Premark in Ireland, to name a few.

These companies’ expressions of “shock” at the disaster are particularly cynical. All these corporations know very well the sweatshop conditions that are required to produce garments at the prices they demand. They operate through a complex system of middlemen and subcontractors to distance themselves from the actual production processes. Many have a system of factory audits, not to improve safety and conditions, but to provide a face-saving façade to protect their corporate images and brand names.

In the wake of the tragedy, governments, the media, trade unions and various NGOs declare, in one way or another, that something must be done and promote the illusion that the global corporations and Bangladeshi government can be pressured to improve safety and living standards for garment workers. The reality is the government will do nothing to jeopardise exports or profits. Amid the deepening breakdown of global capitalism, safety standards will worsen, not improve.

The same processes are taking place internationally. Last September, nearly 300 workers were killed in the world’s worst factory fire when Ali Enterprises in the Pakistani city of Karachi was engulfed in flames. In China, thousands of workers are killed every year in blasts and cave-ins in the country’s notoriously unsafe mines—late last month, two explosions in the Babao coal mine killed 34. Another 83 died in a landslide at a copper mine in Tibet.

The health, well-being and lives of workers are constantly sacrificed to the relentless drive for profit, not only in the sweatshops of Asia, Africa and Latin America, but in the advanced capitalist countries. Just last week, a fertiliser plant in Texas exploded, killing 14 people and injuring another 200. In April 2011, 11 workers died in an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in Gulf of Mexico that resulted in the largest environmental disaster in US history.

These tragedies are crimes that are ultimately rooted in the profit system itself. Globalised production, which has the potential to provide everyone on the planet with a decent standard of living, is leading under capitalism to enormous profits for the wealthy few and the deepening immiseration of working people around the world.

In an attempt to pave the way for a direct military intervention aimed at toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Washington, its NATO allies, Israel and Qatar have all in recent days broadcast trumped-up charges that Syria has used chemical weapons.

In the midst of a Middle East tour dedicated to arranging a $10 billion deal to provide Israel and the right-wing Arab monarchies with advanced weaponry directed against Iran, US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel denounced the chemical weapons use, saying it “violates every convention of warfare.” He went on to acknowledge, “We cannot confirm the origin of these weapons, but [they] …very likely have originated with the Assad regime.”

Similarly, British Prime Minister David Cameron charged Syria with a “war crime,” stating: “It’s limited evidence, but there’s growing evidence that we have seen too of the use of chemical weapons, probably by the regime.”

All of these convoluted statements—“with some degree of varying confidence,” “cannot confirm the origin of these weapons,” “limited evidence” and “probably by the regime”—underscore the fraudulent character of these accusations.

There is no proof whatsoever that the Assad regime used chemical weapons. The Syrian government has itself charged the US-backed rebels—dominated by Al Qaeda-linked elements who have boasted that they have obtained such arms and are prepared to use them—of carrying out a gas attack in the village of Khan al-Assal near Aleppo last March. According to the Syrian military, the weapon was a rocket carrying chlorine gas that was fired from a rebel-controlled area at a military checkpoint in an area controlled by the government. A number of soldiers were among its victims.

The Assad regime requested that the United Nations send an inspection team to investigate the incident, but the US, Britain and France demanded that any team be given unfettered access to the entire country and all Syrian facilities. This would have created the same kind of inspection regime used to prepare the US invasion of Iraq.

Knowing that they have no proof and what evidence there is points to the Al Qaeda-affiliated elements they have supported, the US and its allies are nonetheless determined to use the accusations over chemical weapons to sell another war to the public.

Powerful sections of the ruling strata in the United States are determined to provoke a direct US military intervention and are flogging the poison gas pretext for all it is worth. Much of the corporate media is demanding that the Obama administration make good on its threat to treat the use of chemical weapons in Syria as a “red line” and a “game changer.”

But what gives the US the moral authority to proclaim “red lines” on this issue? In its nearly nine-year war in Iraq, the US military used chemical weapons to devastating effect. In its barbaric siege of Fallujah, it employed white phosphorus shells and an advanced form of napalm, both banned by international conventions, to burn men, women and children alive.

The legacy of these weapons continues to plague the Iraqi people—with huge increases in child leukemia and cancer, and an epidemic of nightmarish birth defects in Fallujah, Basra and other cities subjected to US military siege.

It should also be recalled that it was the British who introduced chemical warfare to the Middle East, dropping mustard gas bombs on Iraqi tribes that resisted British colonial rule. Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for war and air, declared at the time: “I am strongly in favor of using poisoned gas against uncivilized tribes…[to] spread a lively terror.”

Washington continues to defend its own massive stockpiles of “weapons of mass destruction,” while reserving to itself the right to respond to any chemical attack with nuclear weapons.

Behind the sudden turn to promoting the chemical weapons pretext for direct military intervention is the growing frustration of the US and its European allies over the failure of their proxy forces in Syria to make any headway in overthrowing the Assad regime.

This is in large measure because the Syrian government retains a popular base and, even among those who detest the regime, many hate and fear even more the Islamist elements, from the Muslim Brotherhood to Al Qaeda, which are seeking to replace it.

The US and its allies are themselves increasingly wary about the potential “blowback” from the sectarian civil war that they have promoted. The governments in Britain and Germany as well as the European Union have all made statements in the last week warning of the dangers posed by hundreds of Islamists from their own countries going to Syria to join with Al Qaeda elements.

Behind the pretense that the cutthroats that rule the US and Europe are concerned about human rights and Syrian lives, the reality is that they are preparing bombings, the use of cruise missiles and Predator drones, as well as a potential ground invasion that will dramatically increase Syria’s death toll.

The motives underlying such a war have nothing to do with qualms about chemical weapons, but rather concern definite geostrategic interests.

“Syria and the changing Middle East energy map,” an article by Ruba Husari, a Middle East energy expert and editor of IraqOilForum.com, published earlier this year by the Carnegie Middle East Center, provides a glimpse into the real reasons for the mounting pressure for direct US-NATO intervention.

“Syria might not be a major oil or gas producer in the Middle East, but—depending on the outcome of the Syrian uprising—it may determine the shape of the future regional energy map,” she writes. “The country’s geographic location offers Mediterranean access to landlocked entities in search of markets for their hydrocarbons and to countries seeking access to Europe without having to go through Turkey. The opportunities presented to many in the region by the current Syrian regime could be lost in a post-crisis Syria. To others, new opportunities will emerge under a new Syrian regime.”

The principal losers in a successful war for regime change would be Iran, which recently signed a major pipeline deal—bitterly opposed by Washington—with Syria and Iraq that is ultimately aimed at bringing Iranian gas to the Mediterranean Sea, and Russia, which has sought to expand its own influence in energy development in the region.

The principal winners would be the US and its allies, together with the major US and Western European-based energy conglomerates.

Ultimately, the goal of US imperialism and its NATO allies in Syria is to isolate and prepare for a far larger war against Iran, with the aim of imposing neocolonial control over the vast energy-producing region stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Caspian Basin.

The real issue in this conflict is not the nature of the Syrian regime, but the nature of the regimes that rule the US, Britain, France and Germany, which are embarking on another predatory carve-up of the world like those that produced the First and Second World Wars.

In an astounding admission, the New York Times confirms that the so-called “Syrian opposition” is entirely run by Al Qaeda and literally states

 Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.

From the beginning, it was clear to geopolitical analysts that the conflict in Syria was not “pro-democracy” protesters rising up, but rather the fruition of a well-documented conspiracy between the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia to arm and direct sectarian extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda against the Syrian government.

Image: (Edlib News Network Enn, via Associated Press) Al Qaeda terrorists in Idlib, Syria. It is now admitted by the New York Times that the entire armed so-called “opposition” is comprised entirely of Al Qaeda, meaning the torrent of cash and weapons sent to the “opposition” by the West and its regional allies, were intentionally sent directly to listed terrorists guilty of a multitude of unprecedented atrocities.

This was documented as early as 2007 – a full 4 years before the 2011 “Arab Spring” would begin – by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his New Yorker article titled, “”The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” which stated specifically (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

For the past two years the US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey have sent billions of dollars and thousands of tons of weapons into Syria along side known-terrorists from Libya, Chechnya, neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq. In the Telegraph’s article titled, “US and Europe in ‘major airlift of arms to Syrian rebels through Zagreb’,” it is reported:

It claimed 3,000 tons of weapons dating back to the former Yugoslavia have been sent in 75 planeloads from Zagreb airport to the rebels, largely via Jordan since November
The story confirmed the origins of ex-Yugoslav weapons seen in growing numbers in rebel hands in online videos, as described last month by The Daily Telegraph and other newspapers, but suggests far bigger quantities than previously suspected.
The shipments were allegedly paid for by Saudi Arabia at the bidding of the United States, with assistance on supplying the weapons organised through Turkey and Jordan, Syria’s neighbours. But the report added that as well as from Croatia, weapons came “from several other European countries including Britain”, without specifying if they were British-supplied or British-procured arms.
British military advisers however are known to be operating in countries bordering Syria alongside French and Americans, offering training to rebel leaders and former Syrian army officers. The Americans are also believed to be providing training on securing chemical weapons sites inside Syria.

Additionally, The New York Times in its article, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With C.I.A. Aid,” admits that:

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

And more recently the US State Department had announced hundreds of millions of dollars more in aid, equipment and even armored vehicles to militants operating in Syria, along with demands of its allies to “match” the funding to reach a goal of over a billion dollars. The NYT would report in their article, “Kerry Says U.S. Will Double Aid to Rebels in Syria,” that:

With the pledge of fresh aid, the total amount of nonlethal assistance from the United States to the coalition and civic groups inside the country is $250 million. During the meeting here, Mr. Kerry urged other nations to step up their assistance, with the objective of providing $1 billion in international aid.

And as this astronomical torrent of cash, weapons, and equipment was overtly sent by the West into Syria, the US State Department since the very beginning of the violence has known that the most prominent fighting group operating inside Syria was Al Qaeda, more specifically, the al Nusra front. The US State Department’s official press statement titled, “Terrorist Designations of the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qa’ida in Iraq,” stated explicitly that:

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.

The State Department admits that from the very beginning, Al Qaeda has been carrying out hundreds of attacks in every major city in Syria. Clearly for those who read the 2007 Hersh piece in the New Yorker, and then witnessed the rise of Al Qaeda in Syria, the explanation is quite simple – the West intentionally and systematically funded and armed Al Qaeda to gain a foothold in Syria, then overthrow the Syrian government in an unprecedented sectarian bloodbath and subsequent humanitarian catastrophe, just as was planned years ago.

However, now, according to Western leaders, the public is expected to believe that despite the US, UK, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and Turkey flooding Syria with billion in cash, and thousands of tons of weapons, all sent exclusively to “secular moderates,” somehow, Al Qaeda has still managed to gain preeminence amongst the “opposition.”

How can this be? If a 7-nation axis is arraying the summation of its resources in the region behind “secular moderates,” who then is arraying even more resources behind Al Qaeda? The answer is simple. There never were any “secular moderates,” a fact the New York Times has now fully admitted.

In its article titled, “Islamist Rebels Create Dilemma on Syria Policy,” the New York Times admits:

Across Syria, rebel-held areas are dotted with Islamic courts staffed by lawyers and clerics, and by fighting brigades led by extremists. Even the Supreme Military Council, the umbrella rebel organization whose formation the West had hoped would sideline radical groups, is stocked with commanders who want to infuse Islamic law into a future Syrian government.
Nowhere in rebel-controlled Syria is there a secular fighting force to speak of.

However, in an explanation that defies reason, the article states:

The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion, which has been led since its start by Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, mostly in conservative, marginalized areas. The descent into brutal civil war has hardened sectarian differences, and the failure of more mainstream rebel groups to secure regular arms supplies has allowed Islamists to fill the void and win supporters.

To “secure regular arms supplies” from whom? According to the West, they have been supplying “mainstream rebel groups” with billions in cash, and thousands of tons of weaponry – and now according to the BBC, training as well.Where if not intentionally and directly into the hands of al-Nusra, did all of this cash, these weapons, and training go?

The NYT also admits (emphasis added):

Of most concern to the United States is the Nusra Front, whose leader recently confirmed that the group cooperated with Al Qaeda in Iraq and pledged fealty to Al Qaeda’s top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s longtime deputy. Nusra has claimed responsibility for a number of suicide bombings and is the group of choice for the foreign jihadis pouring into Syria. 

Not only is the Syrian government fighting now openly admitted Al Qaeda terrorists, but terrorists that are not even of Syrian origin.

More outrageous still, is that the New York Times fully admits that the very oil fields the European Union has lifted sanctions on and is now buying oil from in Syria (see BBC’s “EU eases Syria oil embargo to help opposition“), are completely controlled by Al Qaeda – meaning the European Union is now intentionally exchanging cash with known international terrorists guilty of horrific atrocities, in exchange for oil.  The NYT reports:

Elsewhere, they [al-Nusra] have seized government oil fields, put employees back to work and now profit from the crude they produce.

And:

In the oil-rich provinces of Deir al-Zour and Hasaka, Nusra fighters have seized government oil fields, putting some under the control of tribal militias and running others themselves.

The Times continues by admitting (emphasis added):

Nusra’s hand is felt most strongly in Aleppo, where the group has set up camp in a former children’s hospital and has worked with other rebel groups to establish a Shariah Commission in the eye hospital next door to govern the city’s rebel-held neighborhoods. The commission runs a police force and an Islamic court that hands down sentences that have included lashings, though not amputations or executions as some Shariah courts in other countries have done.
Nusra fighters also control the power plant and distribute flour to keep the city’s bakeries running.

This last point, “and distribute flour to keep the city’s bakeries running,” is of extreme importance, because that “flour” they are “distributing” comes admittedly, directly from the United State of America.

In the Washington Post’s article, “U.S. feeds Syrians, but secretly,” it is claimed that:

In the heart of rebel-held territory in Syria’s northern province of Aleppo, a small group of intrepid Westerners is undertaking a mission of great stealth. Living anonymously in a small rural community, they travel daily in unmarked cars, braving airstrikes, shelling and the threat of kidnapping to deliver food and other aid to needy Syrians — all of it paid for by the U.S. government.

The Washington Post then claims that most Syrians credit Al Qaeda’s al-Nusra with providing the aid:

“America has done nothing for us. Nothing at all,” said Mohammed Fouad Waisi, 50, spitting out the words for emphasis in his small Aleppo grocery store, which adjoins a bakery where he buys bread every day. The bakery is fully supplied with flour paid for by the United States. But Waisi credited Jabhat al-Nusra — a rebel group the United States has designated a terrorist organization because of its ties to al-Qaeda — with providing flour to the region, though he admitted he wasn’t sure where it comes from.

Clearly, the puzzle is now complete. Indeed Mr. Mohammed Fouad Waisi was correct, Jabhat al-Nusra, a listed terrorist organization by the US State Department, is supplying the people with flour, flour it receives by the ton directly and intentionally from the United States in direct contradiction to its own anti-terror laws, international laws, and the US State Department’s own frequent denials that it is bolstering terrorists inside of Syria.

Clearly the US and its allies are propping up terrorism, and more alarming is that the “aid” they have been providing the Syrian people, appears to have been used as a political weapon by Al Qaeda, allowing them to take, hold, and permanently subjugate territory inside Syria. It should be noted again, that the New York Times itself admits that the ranks of al-Nusra are filled with foreign, not Syrian, fighters.

Revealed is a conspiracy so insidious, so outrageous, and a web of lies so tangled, that Western governments perhaps count on their populations to disbelieve their tax money is being used to intentionally fund and arm savage terrorism while purposefully fueling a sectarian bloodbath whose death toll is sounded daily by the very people driving it up to astronomical heights. The cards are down – the US has been exposed as openly funding, arming, and supplying Al Qaeda in Syria for two years and in turn, is directly responsible for the death, atrocities, and humanitarian disasters within and along Syria’s borders that have resulted.

While the US attempts to sell military intervention on behalf of Al Qaeda in Syria, using the flimsy, yet familiar pretext of “chemical weapons,” it appears that before even one American boot officially touches Syrian soil, an already horrific crime against humanity of historic proportions has been committed by the US and its allies against the Syrian people.

Since the late 18th century various European powers and proponents of colonialism have advocated the establishment of a Jewish state in alliance with imperialism. Since 1948, when the State of Israel was formed and officially recognized by the United Nations, its legitimacy has been questioned by not only the people of Palestine but historians and political analysts from various nationalities, including many Jewish intellectuals, activists and religious figures themselves.

The advocacy of a Zionist state coincides with the development of slavery, colonialism and the mass removal and extermination of indigenous peoples throughout Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. With specific reference to the Atlantic Slave Trade which began in the 15th century, millions of Africans were removed from their homeland and subjected to super-exploitation for over 400 years as human chattel.

Even after the outlawing of the Atlantic Slave Trade by Britain in 1806, the system would continue well into the 19th century. Slavery was officially abolished in the British colonies in 1833 only to be replaced by a system of apprenticeship that closely resembled the involuntary servitude.

In regard to France, the colony of Haiti, its most prosperous, became an outpost for the exploitation of African labor. Prior to the refinement of the slave system in Haiti, the indigenous people, described as the “Carib Indians”, were largely exterminated to make way for European dominance.

Portuguese slavery and colonialism extended from the Far East regions of the Macau Peninsula, East Timor and Goa to the North Atlantic Azores and Cueta, Morocco, down through West and Southern Africa over to the South American nation of Brazil. Portugal was the first European empire after the so-called Middle Ages and was the last imperialist state to be forced out of slavery in 1888 in Brazil and colonial rule in Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola and East Timor by 1974-75.

With specific reference to the imperialist advocacy of a Jewish state as an outpost of Western hegemony, Abdel-Wahab M. El-Messiri says of the European military invader Napoleon Bonaparte that “On April 20, 1799, the French commander issued an appeal to all the Jews of Asia and Africa asking them to follow the French command so that their ‘lost glory’ and ‘usurped rights’ may be restored. Behind the appeal were Napoleon’s imperial dreams and desire to block Britain’s route to India.” (Israel: Base of Western Imperialism, May 1969)

El-Messiri also says that “The dream was later re-discovered by Colonel George Gawler, one-time Governor of South Australia. Throughout the 1840s he pressed the claims for Jewish resettlement in Palestine in order that the British might ensure her unbroken lines of communication.”

Later, he says, “In 1879, Sir Laurence Oliphant, a notorious anti-semite, was one of the most active British advocates of Jewish resettlement in Palestine. He visited Palestine, and discovered that the scheme of a Jewish state in this region would ensure ‘the political and economic penetration of Palestine by Britain.’”

Later Joseph Chamberlain, the Colonial Secretary of Britain, said in 1902 that he welcomed the proposals for a Jewish homeland put forward by Theodore Herzl, the founder of the World Zionist Congress. Chamberlain was seeking to gain control of areas near Palestine as a base for the securing and expansion of British interests in the region.

In early 1915 during the First World War, Herbert Samuel, a British cabinet member, submitted a memorandum entitled “The Future of Palestine” where he made a case for the establishment of a Jewish state that would be annexed to London. This document was clearly related to the declaration of war by Britain against the Ottoman Empire in 1914 which had controlled Palestine up until the War.

Although Samuel claims in his memorandum that the time was not right then for the formation of a Jewish state in Palestine due to the demographic factors in existence, that the immigration of Jewish people must be encouraged before such a reality could come into being. He notes that if this was done prematurely that the state would fail because of the contention it would attract from the overwhelming majority Arab population in Palestine.

Nonetheless, Samuel proposes that “under British rule facilities would be given to Jewish organizations to purchase land, to found colonies, to establish educational and religious institutions, and to spend usefully the funds that would be freely contributed for promoting the economic development of the country. It is hoped also that Jewish immigration, carefully regulated, would be given preference so that in course of time the Jewish people, grown into a majority and settled in the land, may be conceded such degree of self-government as the conditions of that day may justify.”

The following year in 1916, the so-called Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain secretly divided up the Middle East between these two colonial powers. This agreement when made public generated outrage among the Arab population groups throughout the region.

Within the negotiations between France and Britain that also involved Russia as a minor player, the Arab monarch Faisal of the House of Saud was also promised independence and authority over other countries in exchange for their involvement with Britain, France and Russia against the Ottoman Empire. However, in the aftermath of the war, France moved swiftly to take control of Syria and Britain in essence colonized Palestine under a so-called Mandate.

Rebellions erupted among the Arab peoples of the Peninsula and later in Egypt and Sudan in 1919 in which they declared independence. Later the revolt was crushed by France and Britain as a result there was continuing animosity between the European imperialists and the Arab and African peoples of the region.

The Sykes-Picot Agreement was negotiated and documented in secret. However, when the Bolsheviks took power in Russia in October 1917 they discovered the treaty in the state archives and revealed it to the international community. This exposure greatly embarrassed Britain and France but did not curtail their imperial ambitions.

Later the famous Balfour Declaration took the form of a letter written to Lord Rothschild, who was a de facto leader of the Jewish community in Britain. The Declaration read that “His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Zionist Collaboration With Settler Colonialism in Southern Africa

Since the Zionist movement sought the establishment of a Jewish state in alliance with imperialism as a means of spreading western values and civilization in the so-called backward regions of the world, it is not surprising that an alliance arose between the early leaders of the Zionist movement and the British and Afrikaner settlers in Southern Africa.

After the demise of Herzl, Chiam Weizmann became the leader in the Zionist movement. Jan Smuts, an advocate for Dutch-descendant dominance in South Africa, became close friends and a political collaborator with Smuts, who eventually became leader of the racist South African state after World War II under Afrikaner dominance. Weizmann during this same time period would become the first Prime Minister of Israel.

In 1910, the Union of South Africa was formed. This grew out of the Anglo-Boer war at the turn of the century, when the British and Dutch-descendants, known as Boers, fought over control of the land of the African people of the country.

In neighboring Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, the British under Cecil Rhodes had established a settler-colonial state where they engaged in genocidal practices against the Shona and Ndebele peoples during the late 19th century. Also, in South-West Africa, currently known as Namibia, the German imperialists during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, moved into this territory to seize control from the Herero, Nama, Ovambo and other peoples in the mineral rich but arid country.

All of these colonial projects were extremely violent and genocidal. In Zimbabwe, the Shona people rose up in 1896-97 under Nehanda’s leadership and sought to defeat the British. They did not prevail but the leadership of the Chimurenga were imprisoned and later executed.

In South Africa there was also mass extermination of the indigenous people during a series of wars between the 1820s and 1906. The land and cattle of the Africans were stolen by the Boers and the British, and in 1910, these two settler communities united in an unholy alliance forming the Union of South Africa.

In Namibia during 1904, the German colonialists under Von Trotha and Goering issued the infamous extermination order resulting in the genocide against the Namibian people when they revolted against German rule. By 1907, thousands of Hereros and Namas were herded into camps where they were forced to work for the Germans as slaves.

According to Richard P. Stevens in his book entitled “Weizmann & Smuts: A Study in Zionist-South African Cooperation, ”The importance of the Smuts-Weizmann friendship can be fully appreciated only when it is remembered that without Weizmann there would have been no Balfour Declaration and without Smuts the union brought forth in 1910 might well have foundered. Both men stood in much the same position towards their respective ‘constituencies’ and both represented in their ‘constituencies’ the imperial factor in its economic, political and strategic dimensions. On the personal level it must be noted that during the entire thirty-three years of this relationship, extending from 1917 to Smuts death in 1950, each man took for granted the moral legitimacy of the other’s position.” (p. x)

This same author goes on to point out that “Thus, not a word is to be found in Weizmann’s correspondence or writings questioning either the racial basis of the South African state on which Zionism was so dependent or Smuts’ role in upholding its racist system: the subordinate position of the African majority in South Africa posed no moral difficulty nor detracted from the respect felt by the ‘New Moses’, as Smuts called Weizmann, toward the South Africa leader. Similarly, Smuts assumed without question “the right” of Jewish settlers to occupy Palestine without regard to the rights of the indigenous Palestinian Arabs. In both cases, Smuts and Weizmann epitomized the capacity of western civilization to rationalize domination and exploitation, conquest and control, as a Christian civilizing mission or Judeo-Christian fulfillment.

A different image of General Smuts, which challenged his reputation as a founding father of a new international moral order and champion of civilized values, was scarcely noticed by the western press. This image, evoked by Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, father of the Pan-African movement, was presented in the Manifesto of the Fourth Pan-African Congress (1927, NYC): ‘What more paradoxical figure today confronts the world than the official head of a great South African state striving blindly to build peace and goodwill in Europe by standing on the necks and hearts of millions of Black Africans.’ (p. x)

During the course of white settler-colonial rule in South Africa, Namibia and Rhodesia, firm and fraternal relations were maintained with Zionism and the State of Israel. The Jewish population in South Africa which supported settler-colonialism and apartheid maintained a privileged position within the society. However, there were Jews such as Joe Slovo who allied themselves with the national liberation movement led by the African National Congress (ANC). These Jews were persecuted, imprisoned and even killed, such as Ruth First, who died from a letter bomb sent to her in Mozambique in 1982.

Consequently, an alliance between the ANC, the South-West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) and the Palestinian liberation movement existed through the armed struggle of the 1960s-1980s and still holds today.

World War II and the Politics of Jewish Immigration to Palestine

As noted above Jewish immigration to Palestine was well underway prior to the issuance of the Samuel memorandum, the Sykes-Picot Agreement and the Balfour Declaration. The terms under which the dominate imperialist powers established the post-war political and economic construct led to the impoverishment of Germany, the rise of fascism in Italy and later Germany, and the erupting of World War II.

However, the Zionist movement remained a small minority within the European Jewish community. During the rise of Hitler and World War II there arose an alliance between the Nazis and leading elements within the Zionist movement, particularly in Germany and Hungary.

Hannah Arendt in her book entitled “Eichmann In Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,” published in 1963, noted that “But quite apart from all slogans and ideological quarrels, it was in those years a fact of everyday life that only Zionists had any chance of negotiating with the German authorities, for the simple reason that their chief Jewish adversary, the Central Association of German Citizens of Jewish Faith, to which ninety-five percent of organized Jews in Germany then belonged, specified in its bylaws that its chief task was the ‘fight against anti-Semitism’; it had suddenly become by definition an organization ‘hostile to the State,’ and would indeed have been persecuted—which it was not—if it had ever dared to do what it was supposed to do.

During its first few years, Hitler’s rise to power appeared to the Zionists chiefly as ‘the decisive defeat of assimilationism.’ Hence, the Zionists could, for a time, at least, engage in a certain amount of non-criminal cooperation with the Nazi authorities; the Zionists too believed that ‘dissimilation’, combined with the emigration to Palestine of Jewish youngsters and, they hoped, Jewish capitalists, could be a ‘mutually fair solution.’ At the time, many German officials held this opinion, and this kind of talk seems to have been quite common up to the end. A letter from a survivor of Theresienstadt, a German Jew, relates that all leading positions in the Nazi-appointed Reichsvereinigung were held by Zionists (whereas the authentically Jewish Reichsvertretung had been composed of both Zionists and non-Zionists), because Zionists according to the Nazis, were ‘the decent Jews since they too thought in ‘national terms.’” (p. 60)

This same author goes on to point out that “There existed in those first years a mutually highly satisfactory agreement between the Nazi authorities and the Jewish Agency for Palestine—a Ha’avarah, or Transfer Agreement, which provided that an emigrant to Palestine could transfer his money there in German goods and exchange them for pounds upon arrival. It was soon the only legal way for a Jew to take his money with him (the alternative then being the establishment of a blocked account, which could be liquidated abroad only at a loss of between fifty and ninety-five percent). The result was that in the thirties, when American Jewry took great pains to organize a boycott of German merchandise, Palestine, of all places, was swamped with all kinds of goods ‘made in Germany.’” (p. 60)

Arendt cites the book entitled “The Secret Roads: The ‘Illegal’ Migration of a People, 1938-1948, saying that “these Jews from Palestine spoke a language not totally different from that of Eichmann. They had been sent to Europe by the communal settlements in Palestine, and they were not interested in rescue operations: ‘That was not their job.’ They wanted to select ‘suitable material,’ and their chief enemy, prior to the extermination program, was not those who made life impossible for Jews in the old countries, Germany or Austria, but those who barred access to the new homeland; that enemy was definitely Britain, not Germany. Indeed, they were in a position to deal with the Nazi authorities on a footing amounting to equality, which native Jews were not, since they enjoyed the protection of the mandatory power; they were probably among the first Jews to talk openly about mutual interests and were certainly the first to be given permission ‘to pick young Jewish pioneers’ from among the Jews in the concentration camps.

Of course, they were unaware of the sinister implications of this deal, which still lay in the future; but they too somehow believed that if it was a question of selecting Jews for survival, the Jews should do the selecting themselves. It was this fundamental error in judgment that eventually led to a situation in which the non-selected majority of Jews inevitably found themselves confronted with two enemies—the Nazi authorities and the Jewish authorities.” (p. 61)

During the war some of the most militant Zionist organizations sought to form a military alliance with the fascists in both Italy and Germany. In 1940 when the Lehi was formed as a split from the Irgun, they offered to send legions to fight with the fascists against Britain in exchange for massive Jewish immigration to Palestine.

The Lehi was also known as the Stern Gang, named after its leader, Avraham Stern. This group engaged in a campaign of terror against British colonial authorities in Palestine. They assassinated officials during the war and proclaimed that Britain was a greater enemy to the Zionists than the Germans.

After the war, they were credited with the assassination of the United Nations envoy to Palestine, Folke Bernadotte, in September 1948. In addition to the assassination of this UN mediator, both the Irgun and Lehi were responsible for the Deir Yassin massacre that killed well over a hundred Palestinian villagers.

The Role of Ralph Bunche in the Creation of Israel

Perhaps one of the most controversial figures in African American history was the academic and State Department functionary, Ralph Bunche. Bunche was a Harvard graduate and during the 1930s appeared to have had sympathies with the Left.

During World War II he was recruited into the Office of Strategic Studies (OSS), the predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the State Department, becoming a functionary of U.S. imperialism. Bunche was involved in deliberations around the formation of the United Nations in 1945 where he collaborated closely with Eleanor Roosevelt.

After the creation of the State of Israel, war erupted between several Arab states and Israel. The United Nations intervened in an attempt to mediate the conflict.

It was during this period that Bernadotte was assassinated by the Zionist Stern Gang. Bunche took over and mediated an armistice agreement between the Arab states and Israel in 1949. For this he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950, the first person of African descent to receive this honor.

The 1956 Suez Crisis

On July 26, 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal which had been completed in 1869 by France. This provided a rationale for the British, Israeli and French invasion of the country.

Israel invaded Egypt and Britain began to bomb Cairo. Later pressure from both the United States and the Soviet Union forced the British and French to withdraw.

Israel gained some strategic gains from the war due to its ability to conduct shipping through the Straits of Tiran. The war represented the new configuration of imperialism in the Middle East where the U.S. asserted its imperial dominance in the post-World War II period.

The Americans would not allow the former dominant powers, Britain and France, to reassert their hegemony in the Middle East. Consequently, the U.S. began to carry out more aggressive actions in the region.

In July 1958, in response to anti-western rebellions in Iraq and Lebanon, the U.S. sent troops to Beirut under Eisenhower. By 1967, the Palestinians sought to initiate a guerrilla campaign to reclaim their homeland from Zionist occupation.

During this period, the perception of the State of Israel began to shift tremendously within the African and African American communities. By the time of the June 1967 war many younger and more militant organizations within the African American community were publically supporting Egypt and the Palestinians against the State of Israel and the U.S.

Much of this can be attributed to at least three factors: the growing influence of anti-imperialist African states such as Algeria, Ghana, Guinea, Egypt, Tanzania and the alliance between the-then national liberation movements of Southern Africa and throughout the continent; the political actions and propaganda of organizations and leaders such as Malcolm X of the Nation of Islam and later the Organization of Afro-American Unity (OAAU), the later years of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Black Panther Party, the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, the African solidarity committees and other revolutionary and progressive organizations; and the hostility shown toward African American political aspirations by Zionist organizations in the U.S. after the advent of Malcolm X, SNCC, the urban rebellions, the campus revolts for Black Studies and affirmative action and the Pan-African solidarity movement.

The Six Day War of 1967

During the period surrounding the Egypt-Israeli war of June 1967, SNCC appeared to have come out in support of Egypt and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Malcolm X had met with representatives of the PLO right after their founding in 1964 during his trip to the region.

When SNCC issued a newsletter and position paper in support of the Palestinians, they were vilified by the corporate media and even some moderate civil rights organizations. This position was also echoed by the Black Power Convention in Newark in July 1967 as well as by the Black Congress held around the New Conference for a New Politics in Chicago in September of that same year.

In 1968, the former chairperson of SNCC and prime minister of the Black Panther Party, Stokely Carmichael addressed the Organization of Arab Students conference held at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Carmichael expressed his organizations’ solidarity with the peoples of North Africa, the Middle East and of course the Palestinian national liberation struggle.

The previous year Carmichael gave an interview with the National Guardian newspaper, based in New York which was published on September 16, 1967, where he stated that “We reason that the Jews have been mistreated for centuries and centuries… There is no need (however) for the Jews to turn around, because the white man persecuted them, and persecute the Africans and especially the Arabs. If the Jews want a state of their own it seems to me that what they should have done after the war when the white Western powers were dividing up Germany was to demand that they be given a part of Germany… But for the Jews to use the extermination of the Jews in Germany as an excuse to take land from the Arabs is clearly unjust.”

This position was in line with revolutionary anti-imperialist governments and regional organizations throughout the world. On June 7, 1967, the government in Cuba issued a statement in solidarity with Egypt and the Arab nations.

The Cuban statement read in part that “The Cuban Revolutionary Government, fully aware of the principles formulated in this declaration expresses solidarity with the Arab nations facing imperialist aggression today, and condemns this aggression.”

As early 1955 at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia, a resolution was passed by the Afro-Asian states saying that it “supports the rights of the Arab people of Palestine, and called for the implementation of the United Nations resolutions on Palestine and the achievement of peaceful settlement of the Palestine questions.”

These views were also expressed through the First Conference of Independent African States held in Accra, Ghana on April 15, 1958. At the Casablanca Conference in Morocco on January 3, 1961, solidarity with Palestine and the regional states were reaffirmed.

Both the Conference of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the States of the African Charter of Casablanca, held in Cairo in April 1961 and the First Conference of the Heads of State or Governments of Non-Aligned Countries held at Belgrade, Yugoslavia in September 1961, pledged support for Palestine and the Arab states.

In the U.S. even leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., although invited on numerous occasions to visit the State of Israel, declined to do so. Many Zionist leaders and organizations in the U.S. have attempted to claim that King supported Israel. However, the actual record cannot confirm this categorically.

The 1973 War and the Demise of Andrew Young in 1979

In October of 1973 Egypt attacked Israel in the Sinai in an effort to take back land seized during the 1967 war under Nasser. During this war international support was overwhelming among the oppressed nations for Egypt.

The so-called Arab oil embargo was instituted and most African states severed relations with Israel. This pattern continued even within the United Nations General Assembly which declared that Zionism is racism in 1974.

Andrew Young, who came to prominence as a leader of King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference in the 1950s and 1960s, was appointed as the first African American Ambassador to the United Nations in 1977 under the Carter administration. Young drew fire immediately by making statements that the Cuban internationalists were stabilizing the situation in Angola and that there were political prisoners inside the U.S.

Young was terminated by Carter in 1979 after it was revealed that he had contact with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization at the United Nations. These developments led to more moderate leaders such as Rev. Jesse Jackson to take a trip to Palestine and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Jackson would raise this issue during his 1984 and 1988 presidential campaigns. By the 1980s more African American, left and progressive organizations were in support of the Palestinian struggle for national independence.

The War on Gaza in 2008-2009

A three week campaign of terror was launched by the Israeli Defense Forces against the Palestinian people of Gaza at the end of 2008. This military assault took place between the administrations of George Bush and Barack Obama. Obama remained silent throughout the bombing of Gaza by the Israeli Air Force.

Since Obama came to office his administration has maintained the same pro-Zionist position on Palestine. The administration refused to participate in the World Conference Against Racism review in Geneva in 2009 claiming the gathering was anti-Israel because it upheld the right of Palestinians to self-determination and statehood.

Obama’s recent visit to Israel and the occupied territories provided no hope for the Palestinian people. The U.S. has continued to provide billions in direct aid to Israel, sophisticated weapons as well as political and diplomatic support.

The present war against Syria is being carried out in part as a means to support and strengthen the State of Israel. With more aggressive military intervention being threatened against Syria, Israel has expressed its support for the fabricated stories about the use of chemical weapons by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

The Need for Continued Solidarity With Palestine

National liberation movements, progressive governments, left parties, peace and anti-war organizations, solidarity coalitions and social justice groups must continue their support and alliances with the Palestinian people, the resistance forces and the progressive states throughout the Middle-East. This issue is becoming even more important in light of the escalating threats against Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

People must reject efforts for another war in the Middle East. The question of Syrian, Lebanese and Iranian sovereignty should be a cherished principle of all honest political forces inside the U.S. and Europe.

These wars of imperialist aggression and regime-change only worsen conditions for workers and the nationally oppressed inside North America and Europe. Consequently, support for the peoples of North Africa and the Middle East provide the conditions for greater cooperation between the workers and oppressed of this region and those within the industrialized states.

Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire \

This article was based on a lecture held on April 27, 2013 as part of a series on the history of Zionism and imperialism.

This was the second part of the class sponsored by Workers World in Detroit.

 

Obamacare: Unaffordable Coverage

April 28th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) co-founders Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein examined evidence on “skimpy health insurance among low-income, insured Americans.”

A PNHP press release said:

“(E)xtensive data (show) that tens of millions of insured Americans have grossly inadequate coverage.”

The underinsurance problem grows. The Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) approved publication of their analysis.

It’s titled “Life or Debt: Underinsurance in America.” It’ll appear next week. Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) increased the problem.

According to Himmelstein, it’s “lowering the bar for health insurance.”

“The new coverage sold through the insurance exchanges will leave many families paying 40 percent of their health costs out-of-pocket even after they’ve laid out thousands for premiums.”

“And the administration is allowing states to institute co-payments under Medicaid, even for the poorest of the poor.”

Under ACA, “a 56-year-old making $46,100 will pay a premium of $10,585 for coverage through the exchange and still face up to $6,250 in co-payments and deductibles.”

Woolhandler added:

“Over the past 25 years the financial protection offered by health insurance has steadily eroded. The consequences are grave, not only financially but also medically.”

“For instance, we know that heart attack patients who face high co-payments delay coming to the ER, threatening their lives.”

Underinsurance is the new normal. ACA “will reduce the number of uninsured from 50 million to 30 million, but the new coverage is full of holes.”

“Americans deserve the kind of first-dollar, comprehensive coverage that Canadians already have.”

“But that’s only affordable under a single-payer system that cuts out the private insurance middlemen.”

Growing millions of Americans face life or debt. A 56-year-old earning $45,900 (399% of poverty) qualifies for Bronze coverage. It costs an estimated $4,361.

Covered services require $4,167 more for deductibles and co-payments.

At 401% of poverty ($46,100), subsidies disappear. Himmelstein explained. Premium costs are $10,585. Deductibles and co-payments add another $6,250.

Growing millions can’t afford it. Ralph Nader called ACA “a pay-or-die” system. It underinsures. It leaves millions out. It’s unaffordable. It’s more deform than reform. It’s a scam.

It’s a healthcare rationing scheme. It’s a boon to predatory providers. It’s a plan to enrich insurers, drug companies, and large hospital chains.

It does nothing to control costs. They’re spiraling out of control.

Himmelstein and Woolhandler called cost-sharing “neither necessary nor particularly effective for cost control.” Clear evidence proves it.

America has high cost-sharing. Its costs are highest by far. In 1981, Canada outlawed co-payments and deductibles. It’s had “faster health improvement and slowed cost growth.”

Canadian provinces control costs. They do so by “tax-based funding, global hospital budgeting, binding, negotiated physician fee schedules, and a simple unified single-payer structure….”

Administrative burdens and costs are minimized. Scotland considers patients owners of their health care system, not customers. Its costs are half what Americans pay.

A stealth scheme plans to weaken Medicare. Doing so will force millions of low-income recipients into predatory private plans.

A JGIM companion article headlined “Prevalence and Predictors of Underinsurance Among Low-Income Adults.” Hema Magge was lead writer.

Under ACA, she said, millions of Americans “will gain Medicaid or private insurance in 2014.” Research shows that many middle-income adults are underinsured.

Less is known about underinsurance among low-income adults. More than one-third aren’t properly covered. Over one quarter of Medicaid recipients are underinsured.

Cost-related barriers among public and private care providers reflect a major growing problem.

On April 25, Charleston, W. VA Gazette editors headlined “Health: ‘Medicare for all.’ ”

PNHP’s Andrew Coates was quoted, saying:

Healthcare costs keep rising. ACA is an experiment doomed to fail. “At the root of this problem is the private health industry….” Large private insurers, drug giants, and hospital chains are beholden to Wall Street and shareholders.

Insurers profit by denying claims, raising premiums, and requiring higher co-payments and deductibles.

“They also drag down our health system with the costly paperwork and bureaucracy they inflict on doctors, hospitals and patients.”

“By replacing the private insurers with a streamlined single-payer system, we can save over $400 billion squandered annually on wasteful paperwork. That’s enough money to cover all of the uninsured and to eliminate all co-pays and deductibles.”

Gazette editors called his solution “exactly on target. It’s shameful that America is the only modern democracy without a national health system covering everyone.”

“(M)edical care should be a human right for all.”

Obamacare denies it. It requires virtually everyone to have health insurance. Millions unable to afford employer coverage will be ineligible for federal financial aid. On January 1, 2014, fully-certfied health insurance exchanges become operational.

Uninsured middle-income households eligible for subsidized private coverage may use them. Safety-net programs are for low-income households.

According to First Focus president Bruce Lesley, up to 500,000 children may remain uninsured. “The children’s community is disappointed by the administration’s decision to deny access to coverage for children based on a bogus definition of affordability,” he said.

ACA stipulates that coverage can’t cost more than 9.5% of family income. Recipients it considers able to buy insurance are ineligible for subsidies.

Affordability is based on individuals. Family coverage is nearly threefold higher. If employers don’t provide it, recipients are out of luck.

It bears repeating. ACA is a scam. Obama and Congress are beholden to Big Money interests. Washington is corporate occupied territory.

The business of America is business. Every agency is infested with industry officials and lobbyists. They control policy. What they want, they get. Ordinary people are betrayed.

ACA is one of many examples. It made America’s dysfunctional healthcare system worse. It enriches providers. It sacrifices health for greater profits.

It’s unaffordable. It doesn’t protect. It underinsures. It forces millions to choose between life or debt. It reflects irresponsible governance. Obama bears full responsibility.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/obamacare-unaffordable-coverage/

AP/James A. Finley

 Cancer, Parkinson’s and infertility—these are just some of the diseases and health problems that a new study says may be linked to the heavy use of Roundup weed killer, the world’s most popular herbicide that is sprayed on millions of acres of crops.

According to the report, residue of the chemical glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup, has been discovered in our food supply. That’s problematic because, according to the report, that residue may lead to diseases and other health issues.

The study’s findings directly contradict what Monsanto, the biotech corporation that developed Roundup, has been saying for years about glyphosate.

Reuters:

Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” the study says.

We “have hit upon something very important that needs to be taken seriously and further investigated,” Seneff said.

Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries have warned that heavy use of glyphosate is causing problems for plants, people and animals.

Read more

Statistics Show You Are NOT Going to Be Killed by Terrorism

We’ve previously noted – based upon older figures – that:

– You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

— You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane

— You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack

–You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack

— You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack

– You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack

–You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack

–You are 9 times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack

–You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

–You are 8 times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack

– You are 6 times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack

But we wanted to look at more recent statistics.

The U.S.  Department of State reports that only 17 U.S. citizens were killed worldwide as a result of terrorism. That figure includes deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and all other theaters of war.

In contrast, the American agency which tracks health-related issues – the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – rounds up the most prevalent causes of death in the United States:

 

 

Comparing the CDC numbers to terrorism deaths means:

– You are 35,079 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 33,842 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

(Keep in mind when reading this entire piece that we are consistently and substantially understating the risk of other causes of death as compared to terrorism, because we are comparing deaths from various causes within the United States against deaths from terrorism worldwide.)

Wikipedia notes that there were 32,367 automobile accidents in 2011, which means that you are 1,904 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack.

According to the CDC, your prescription medications are even more likely to kill you than a car crash.  Indeed, in the majority of states, your prescription meds are more likely to kill you than any other source of injury.

But not so fast. The CDC says that some 80,000 deaths each year are attributable to excessive alcohol use, making alcoholism 4,706 times more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

The annual number of deaths in the U.S. due to avoidable medical errors is as high as 100,000. Indeed, one of the world’s leading medical journals – Lancet – reported in 2011:

A November, 2010, document from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that, when in hospital, one in seven beneficiaries of Medicare (the government-sponsored health-care programme for those aged 65 years and older) have complications from medical errors, which contribute to about 180 000 deaths of patients per year.

That’s just Medicare beneficiaries, not the entire American public. Scientific American noted in 2009:

Preventable medical mistakes and infections are responsible for about 200,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, according to an investigation by the Hearst media corporation.

But let’s use the lower – 100,000 – figure.  That still means that you are 5,882 times more likely to die from medical error than terrorism.

Similarly – as Wikipedia notes – obesity is a a contributing factor in  100,000–400,000 deaths in the United States per year.  That makes obesity much more likely to kill you than a terrorist.

There were at least 155 Americans killed by police officers in the United States in 2011. That means that you were more than 9 times more likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer than by a terrorist.

The agency in charge of workplace safety – the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration – reports that 4,609 workers were killed on the job in 2011 within the U.S. homeland.  In other words, you are 271 times more likely to die from a workplace accident than terrorism.

Let’s switch to 2008, to take advantage of another treasure trove of data.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, 33 U.S. citizens were killed worldwide in 2008 from terrorism.  There were 301,579,895 Americans living on U.S. soil in 2008, so the risk of dying from terrorist attacks in 2008 was 1 in 9,138,785.

This graphic from the National Safety Council – based upon 2008 data – shows the relative risks of dying from various causes:

 

 

If the risk of being killed by a terrorist were added to the list, the dot would be so small that it would be hard to see. Specifically, the risk of being killed by terrorism in 2008 was 14 times smaller than being killed by fireworks.

Reason provides some more examples:

[The risk of being killed by terrorism] compares annual risk of dying in a car accident of 1 in 19,000; drowning in a bathtub at 1 in 800,000; dying in a building fire at 1 in 99,000; or being struck by lightning at 1 in 5,500,000. In other words, in the last five years you were four times more likely to be struck by lightning than killed by a terrorist.

The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) has just published, Background Report: 9/11, Ten Years Later [PDF]. The report notes, excluding the 9/11 atrocities, that fewer than 500 people died in the U.S. from terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2010.

Terrorism pushes our emotional buttons.  And politicians and the media tend to blow the risk of terrorism out of proportion.  But as the figures above show,  terrorism is a very unlikely cause of death.

How is President Obama NOT a terrorist, like President Bush and other presidents before him?

What does it mean to be a terrorist?  Isn’t someone who commits or colludes in a terrorist act quite simply a terrorist?

What is a terrorist act? 

Isn’t a terrorist act an act of violence designed to murder, main, and terrorize civilians?

 Is there a difference between a terrorist act and an act of war?  Not necessarily.  The bombing of London 1941 and Hiroshima 1945 were acts of war, and they were both terrorist acts.  The former failed, the latter succeeded, and the ripples of nuclear terror continue spreading almost 70 years later.

American drones, Reapers and Predators especially, are weapons of terror.  Sometimes they are aimed at specific targets, sometimes they hit those targets, and sometimes they kill indiscriminately.  People on the ground can hear or see the drones, but can’t know what the drones will do, and that uncertainty gives drones their power to terrorize.

Even unarmed surveillance drones terrorize populations below, who have no way of knowing if unarmed drones are armed or not.

What Terrorist Wouldn’t Love to Have a Drone Fleet? 

The drone is the American government’s terrorist weapon of choice in recent years.  Government officials have said they like it because they can target particular individuals who pose some real or imagined threat to the U.S.  They don’t say, although it appears to be true, that they also like killer drones because even when they miss their target and only achieve wanton killing, that “protects” Americans, too.

American government terrorists have used lethal drones to kill people abroad for a decade or more.  The government still keeps much of the drone program secret, especially the actual results of drone strikes.  It seems actual carnage, actual dead women and actual dead babies, might undercut widespread popular support for drone killings that are believed to be highly selective and accurate in taking out our legitimate enemies, and only our legitimate enemies.

Most of Congress has apparently felt that way and still does.  Until recently, no Senate or House committee had held a single public hearing to find out just what the program of presidential assassination-by-drone was, much less why it was right or even legal for the executive branch to execute people, based on secret “evidence,” without due process that included a trial or verdict.

Finally, on April 23, 2013, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, chaired by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, held a hearing entitled “Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.”  The hearing began at 4 p.m.

The Executive Branch Chose Not To Talk About its Acts of Terror 

Even though this was the first ever public Congressional hearing on “Drone Wars,” the Obama administration chose not to participate.  And the Senate chose not to issue any subpoenas to compel executive branch testimony.

The Senate did postpone the hearing once, to give the administration more time to prepare a witness.  In the end, all the White House contributed was an email from a National Security Council spokes woman that said in part that the White House would work:

“to ensure not only that our targeting, detention and prosecution of terrorists remains consistent with our laws and system of checks and balances, but that our efforts are even more transparent to the American people and the world.”

The hearing’s six witnesses included three retired military officers, two lawyers, one think tank director, and a Yemeni journalist who testified to how wonderfully his life was changed by a U.S. State Dept. exchange program that brought him from a remote mountain village to spend his senior year in high school in southern California.

How Does a Yemeni Feel When His Home Village is Bombed? 

The journalist is Farea al-Muslimi, who lives and works now in Sana’a, the Yemeni capitol, located about a nine hour drive north of his home village of Wessab.   In his testimony, he said,

“Just six days ago, my village was struck by an American drone in an attack that terrified the region’s poor farmers….

“I could never have imagined that the same hand that changed my life and took it from miserable to promising one would also drone my village. My understanding is that a man named Hammed al-Radmi was the target of a drone strike. Many people in Wessab know al-Radmi, and the Yemeni government could easily have found and arrested him. Al-Radmi was well known to government officials, and even to local government—and even local government could have captured him if the U.S. had told them to do so. 

“In the past, what Wessab’s villagers knew of the U.S. was based on my stories about my wonderful experiences here. The friendships and values I experienced and described to the villagers helped them understand the America that I know and that I love. Now, however, when they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time. What the violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant. There is now an intense anger against America in Wessab.”

Farea al-Muslimi first wrote about the attack on Wasseb, that killed five alleged militants, the following day in the new media website Al Monitor that centers on Middle East news. The video of al-Muslimi’s five and a half minutes of Senate testimony has gone viral on YouTube.

It’s Not That We Shouldn’t Dismember People, It’s That We Do It Properly 

Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks, who served as the Pentagon’s special coordinator for rule of law and humanitarian policy during Obama’s first administration, testified somewhat gingerly at the same hearing that:

“…  right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone anywhere on earth at any time for secret reasons based on secret evidence in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials. That frightens me. 

 “I don’t doubt their good faith, but that’s not the rule of law as we know it.” 

Why a former Obama administration official was talking about her own fear was not explored.  But something else al-Muslimi said helped put the lawyer’s fears in fuller perspective:

“The drone strikes are the face of America to many Yemenis. I have spoken to many victims of U.S. drone strikes, like a mother in Jaar who had to identify her innocent 18-year-old son’s body through a video in a stranger’s cellphone, or the father in Shaqra who held his four- and six-year-old children as they died in his arms.

“Recently in Aden, I spoke with one of the tribal leaders present in 2009 at the place where the U.S. cruise missiles targeted the village of al-Majalah in Lawdar, Abyan. More than 40 civilians were killed, including four pregnant women.

“The tribal leader and others tried to rescue the victims, but the bodies were so decimated that it was impossible to differentiate between those of children, women and their animals. Some of these innocent people were buried in the same grave as their animals.” 

Who Cares What Blows You Up, Once You’re Blown Up? 

But wait, some might say, cruise missiles are different from missiles from drones, and technically that’s correct.  It’s also morally meaningless.  The remote killing of civilians remains an act of terror, and a war crime, and it really doesn’t matter if drone missiles have less explosive power and therefore kill innocent people at a slower rate.

These days, in America, drone wars are not part of a moral debate.  Discussion of anonymous killing from the air has raised a debate about technicalities, sometimes important technicalities of ordnance, tactics, law, and constitutionality.

If the debate were about morality, we’d admit that our country commits terrorist acts with relative impunity – and then we’d consider whether that’s the country we want to go on being.

Terrorism is generally thought to be a weapon of the weak, but there’s no inherent reason it can’t work even more effectively for the strong, at least in the short term.    Especially when the strong have the media ability to redefine their terrorist acts as “targeted killings” or, better, “signature strikes.”

What’s good about the “war on terrorism” (for America) is that it’s a war we can’t lose.  Those foreign terrorists, no matter how you add them up, cannot become an existential threat to the United States.  They don’t have the numbers or the resources.

So why does the U.S. pursue fundamentally impotent enemies with such implacable ferocity?  Especially, why does the U.S. pursue terrorists in ways that create more terrorists than we kill?

Or is that the point?

What if the Point of the War on Terror is to Sustain the War on Terror? 

Since 9/11 our government, with the consent of all too many of the governed, has taken us down the road of permanent war against an abstraction – terrorism – rooted in a racist premise, that the terrorists are mostly Arabs or Muslims or some sort of poor, brown people.

They envy us our freedoms, as some like to say, with apparently unintended irony, since the course of permanent war abroad has been accompanied by a permanent state of security at home that looks more and more like the latest incarnation of a police state.

That enlarged authoritarian presence in our lives likely contributes to concern about the constitution and the rule of law – even when those concerned ignore the rule of lawlessness in places like Yemen.  Taking this situation as a whole, the constitution looks more and more like collateral damage.

On its face, American anti-terrorism terrorism is insanely stupid in its ineffectual circularity.   Or is it fiendishly clever, however planned or unplanned, in its seemingly infinite self-perpetuation?

When our President and our government commit terrorist acts, they do so partly in our name.  When our Congressmen and our Senators seek to justify the government’s terrorist acts, or to cover them over with a transparent film of legality, they do so partly in our name.  When our judges allow the terrorist acts of the American government to go unchallenged and unaccountable, they do so partly in our name.

These are the fundamental elements of our three-branch government conspiring to commit terrorist acts around the world, thereby making us all terrorists, except those who resist.

Human Rights: Canada in the dock

April 28th, 2013 by Global Research News

The world is taking note of the ruling Conservatives’ shameful betrayal of Canada’s once admirable reputation as a fair country, sincerely working on the world stage to improve the lot of the disadvantaged and suffering. In the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, Canada was criticized to such an extent that the Council decided to send the Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and representatives of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to investigate.

Minister of Foreign Affairs spokesman Joseph Lavoie dismissed complaints by

  • China of “widespread racial discrimination”,
  • Iran of “child sexual exploitation and trafficking, the right to food, discriminatory law and regulation against indigenous people and minority groups including Muslim, Arab and African communities”,
  • Pakistan of “increased poverty and unemployment rate among immigrant communities”,
    Egypt of “racial profiling in law-enforcement action”, and
  • Cuba of “racism and xenophobia” in Canada,

insisting that “Canada has a track record of being a human rights leader, at home and around the world.”

The visits come at an awkward moment for the Conservatives, as it makes a public display of victimizing Muslims as part of a campaign to ram through the “Combating Terrorism Act” (Bill S-7), which gives the state extraordinary powers to detain suspects without any charges and without any legal protections for up to a year.

This sorry state of Canadian political life is the fruit of the Conservatives’ slavish obedience to every US whim, and of its decision to abandon any pretense of an independent foreign policy, making all decisions in consultation with Israeli advisers under the public security cooperation “partnership” signed in 2008 by Canada and Israel to “protect their respective countries’ population, assets and interests from common threats”. Israel security agents now officially assist Canada’s security services, the RCMP and CSIS, in profiling Canadians citizens who are Muslims and monitoring individuals and/or organizations in Canada involved in supporting the rights of Palestinians and other such nefarious activities. Even the usually timid UN is appalled.

The past two weeks of public spectacle could be lifted from a perverse Alice-in-Wonderland scenario. The latest claim to have uncovered a dastardly scheme by Muslim furriners plotting to explode weapons of mass destruction came just a week after the now legendary Boston bombing. Both incidents were dramatically unfolded to a gullible public as classic ‘good vs evil’, though neither holds water.

Canadian authorities boasted Monday afternoon that, working in concert with the FBI and other US national security agencies, they had broken up a terrorist conspiracy involving an “Iranian-based al-Qaeda cell”. The announcement, made at an RCMP press conference, came out of the blue, just days after the Boston bombing, and a few days after the House of Commons agenda was changed to debate final reading of the draconian anti-terrorism legislation.

On cue, US ambassador to Canada David Jacobson hailed the action as “the result of extensive cross-border cooperation” showing “that we face serious and real threats.” The men were arrested in a Hollywoodesque fashion–Chiheb Esseghaier while eating at McDonald’s in Montreal’s main train station; Raed Jaser, by scores of police armed with rifles and accompanied by search-dogs at his workplace in the Toronto borough of North York. They were charged with conspiracy to bomb a New York-bound Via passenger train, though the RCMP conceded that there had never been an imminent threat of an attack or even a definite plan, that Esseghaier and Jaser have been under police radar since last August (based on a year-old tip from an imam), and that their alleged crimes date back to last year.

The reason for their delayed and then sudden arrest is beyond a doubt the notorious Bill S-7, a bill that was forced on Canada by Big Brother in post-911 2001, and which was not renewed in 2007 thanks to Liberal opposition (they originally passed it and then had enough sense to oppose it). The Conservative government suddenly changed the House of Commons agenda as US authorities placed Boston under martial law. The Canadian copycat arrests clearly are intended to add a Canadian pretext for proceeding with Bill S-7, while showing that “We are all Americans now.”

This episode calls to mind the terrorist scare in 2006, when the RCMP staged the dramatic arrest of 18 young Muslims, whom they accused of preparing extensive terrorist attacks, including blowing up the parliament buildings. During the trial, it emerged that the “Toronto 18” was riddled with police agents, one providing the arms instruction at a “terrorist training camp” while another providing harmless bomb-making ingredients. Nevertheless, eleven were convicted and most given lengthy prison terms.

When Esseghaier, a Tunisian-born Montreal PhD student in nanotechnology, told the judge, “These conclusions are being reached based on facts that are nothing but words and appearances,” he was told to shut up, and the hearing was shut down. Jaser’s lawyer John Norris said his client was “in a state of shock and disbelief” and “intends to defend himself vigorously”. Norris took exception to the police’s attempt to present his client as a non-Canadian, noting that the Palestinian refugee has lived with his family in Canada for the past twenty years.

Is it just possible that UN Human Rights Council members read the ‘news’, are appalled, and are genuinely concerned about what’s happening to human rights in Canada?

Canadians’ plight is bad enough, but this recent orchestration of Isamophobia has another angle, just as appalling. The RCMP assertion that these damn furriners acted under the “direction and guidance” of “al-Qaeda elements located in Iran” is a blatant falsehood, as Iran (like Iraq before the US invasion) is probably the most anti-al-Qaeda country in the world. The fundamentalist Sunni al-Qaeda delights in killing Shia, was (and is?) supported by the US and financed by Canada’s enlightened Saudi oil-millionaire allies. So it’s not just a question of stripping Canadians of their rights, but of adding toxic fuel to the US-Israeli fires intended to launch war against peaceful (pro-Palestinian) Iran.

The RCMP admitted that they had no evidence of Iranian government involvement, but still … (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). When Canada broke off diplomatic relations with Teheran last autumn, Foreign Minister John Baird labeled Iran “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today”. All Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast had to do was to point to the hypocrisy and cynicism of Canada’s government backing the campaign to overthrow the Syrian government—a campaign in which some of insurgents are openly aligned with al-Qaeda: “The same [al-Qaeda] current is killing people in Syria while enjoying Canada’s support.”

And what about the latest hit on the American 911 funny bone? Tamerlan Tsarnaev was under surveillance for four years by the FBI, who were asked by the Russian government to arrest him in 2010 (which they did not do). They do admit to interviewing him in 2011 and sifting through his computer files, but, remarkably for someone allegedly radicalized by the internet, they found nothing of concern. It’s not clear why Russia let him go to visit his parents in the center of terrorism (Dagestan) in Russia in 2012, where purportedly he received some form of terror training or further Islamist indoctrination. Nor how he managed to attend a workshop next door in hostile Georgia organized by the “Fund of the Caucasus” (which works with the US rightwing thinktank the Jamestown Foundation) focused on destablizing the Caucasus region.

Were both the FBI and the Russian FSB asleep? Was Tamerlan an FBI operative? Was he set up to do the bombing, or did he go AWOL on the FBI? Is this Chechen connection intended to frighten Russia into acquiescing to US-Israeli plans for Syria? “This [official] scenario is simply impossible in the real world,” writes former UK ambassador Craig Murray. In an interview with Russian Today, Tamerlan’s mother said, “‘They were set up, the FBI followed them for years.” Is this international intrigue—intended to scare both Russia and Iran into abandoning the beleaguered Syrian government—really what Canadian domestic human rights and foreign policy should be based on? Why should we trust Ambassador Jacobson’s blah-blah about “serious threats”?

Canadians are left with security forces eager to show they are doing something, a craven government intent on passing a draconian bill to take away freedoms, and a foreign policy based on a US-Israel obsession with finding some spark to ignite the latest war craze—attack Iran. The supposed pretext—Iran’s nuclear energy program—is after all wearing a tad thin. Peter Osborne in the Telegraph explained how the West has turned down one serious offer after another by Iran (two in 2005 alone), and argues that it is western rather than Iranian intransigence that prevents a deal being struck today. So if no one believes the cry of “Wolf!” on that boondoggle, then the next best thing is “al-Qaeda”. Hell, Bush got away with it against Iraq in 2003; maybe it will work again.

Iran poses only an ideological threat—telling the truth to the US-Israeli tyrant and inspiring Arab Springs. Concludes Osborne, “The US and its European clients are driven by a different compulsion: the humiliation and eventual destruction of Iran’s Islamic regime.”

As for being killing by a bona fide terrorist, the odds are 1 in 20 million, while every year, 4,600 Americans are killed in workplace-related accidents, and more than 30,000 are killed by gun violence. Every 28 hours a black person is killed by police, security guards or vigilantes. On Boston Marathon Day, six Pakistanis died in a drone strike, while scores were killed in car bombs in Iraq. I won’t even begin to recount the daily horrors inflicted by the US in Afghanistan.

Not that these latter crimes against humanity–committed by us–justify retributive violence in any religion, especially Islam. “You shall not be treacherous, you shall not deceive, you shall not mutilate, you shall not kill children.” But the fact that we in the West are unconcerned with preventing senseless deaths at home, and are unaware or don’t care about the murders committed daily in our name abroad, does not bode well for the future. Only when we stop perpetrating violence will violence against us end.

 

radiation4

Fukushima’s Catastrophic Aftermath: The Dangers of Worldwide Nuclear Radiation, Stephen Lendman, April 28, 2013

In her book titled “No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth,” nuclear power/environmental health expert Rosalie Bertell (1929 – 2012) said: “Should the public discover the true health cost(s) of nuclear pollution, a cry would rise from all parts…


 

drone

UK MoD confirms British Reaper drones in Afghanistan being controlled from RAF Waddington, Chris Cole, April 27, 2013

The UK MoD has today confirmed that British drones over Afghanistan are now being controlled from the UK. For the first time UK forces can remotely control armed drones over Afghanistan while sitting in air conditioned trailers at RAF Waddington in…


 

natoflagbuttons

NATO’s Worldwide Expansion in the Post-Cold World Era, Rick Rozoff, April 27, 2013

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization which no longer borders the Atlantic Ocean, is well advanced in its U.S.-crafted mission to expand into history’s largest and first international military bloc and an unprecedented threat to world peace.


 

POWELL2

Building a Pretext to Wage War on Syria, Replicating the Iraq WMD 2003 Scenario, Stephen Lendman, April 27, 2013

What’s ongoing now bears eerie resemblance to events preceding Bush’s Iraq war. Obama’s replicating a familiar scenario. Waging war requires a pretext to do so. When none exists, it’s invented. It’s easy. Lies substitute for truth. Claims about Syria using…


 

bostonmanhunt3

Did the Military and Police Go Too Far in Locking Down Boston and Conducting Door-to-Door Searches?, Washington’s Blog, April 27, 2013

Senator Rand Paul and other congressmen said they would have approved of armed drones going in as well to help take out the suspect. We have no idea yet whether or not the suspect is in fact guilty of terrorism…


 

Tsarneev

Boston Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Alive and Uninjured When Taken Into Custody. Now He is Dead, Global Research News, April 27, 2013

by Thehonestintelligence.blogspot.ca (Photo – WARNING – GRAPHIC)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Suffered a gunshot wound to the throat when he was arrested; how convenient that he can now, no longer speak. His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was arrested after being ordered to remove…


 

127685

Cut Through the Spin: It’s Time for Truth in Media, Global Research, April 27, 2013

Terrorism… Military invasions… Resources wars… We can call it what we want, but the bottom line is that there is no end to greed until we stand up and say “enough is enough”. In fact, it’s too much. The drums…


 

iranmap

New Sanctions Begin: South Korea’s Samsung announces its “Online Store” will not Operate in Iran, Timothy Alexander Guzman, April 26, 2013

Samsung, the South Korean multinational company headquartered in Seoul just announced that its online store will not operate in Iran as of May 22, 2013.  The Associated Press report titled ‘Samsung to block access to app store in Iran’ that…


 

palestine

Israel’s “Begin Highway” Serves the Expansion of Illegal Settlements in Occupied Palestine, Global Research News, April 26, 2013

The Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem and the Ministry of Transport are currently undertaking large-scale construction work in Beit Safafa, occupied East Jerusalem, in order to complete a highway (“Begin Highway”) that will serve the expansion of Israel’s the illegal settlements…


 

bostonmanhunt1

Boston and Venezuela: Terrorism There and Here, Prof. James Petras, April 26, 2013

Introduction Two major terrorists’ attacks took place almost simultaneously:  in Boston, two alleged Chechen terrorists set off bombs during the annual Boston Marathon killing three people and injuring 170; in Venezuela, terrorist-supporters of defeated presidential candidate, Henrique Capriles, assassinated 8…


 

Israel_army_flag

The Fueling of Unrest in Syria, Israel’s Territorial Ambitions, Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich, April 26, 2013

For some time now, the predominant narrative about Syria has been that the unrest has been fueled in order to weaken Iran.  This prevalent account is common to neoconservatives and liberals alike.  While The New York Times trumpeted Israeli-firsters Senators…


 

chechen cia

The Ties That Bind Washington to Chechen Terrorists, Wayne Madsen, April 26, 2013

To scan the list of major American supporters of the Chechen secessionist movement, which at some points can hardly be distinguished from Chechen terrorists financed by U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is to be reminded of some of the…


 

censure gros plan

Buying Up Newspapers: It’s the Media, Stupid!, Robert Parry, April 26, 2013

Rich right-wingers, including the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch, are eying the purchase of the Los Angeles Times and other major regional newspapers to create an even bigger platform for their propaganda, a media strategy that dates back several decades.…

natoflagbuttons

Global Warfare: NATO Has Become a Worldwide Military Expeditionary Force, Rick Rozoff, April 26, 2013

NATO buys the loyalty of sovereign states and in return demands fighting forces that have been engaged on three continents in the last decade, Rick Rozoff, from STOP NATO has told RT. Video at URL below: http://rt.com/ op-edge/nato- global-expeditio nary-force-…


 

fbi

Boston Bombing: FBI Responsibility for US Terror Plots?, Stephen Lendman, April 26, 2013

Boston’s marathon bombings leave disturbing questions unanswered. Official accounts lack credibility. Mounting evidence suggests FBI responsibility. Project Censored’s fourth top 2013 censored story headlined “FBI Agents Responsible for Majority of Terrorist Plots in the United States.” More on that below.…


 

Tsarneev

Boston Bombers’ Links to US Intelligence: Tamerlan was Well Known to Both the CIA and the FBI, Joseph Kishore, April 26, 2013

Information coming to light about the background of the Boston Marathon bombings raises many questions about the relationship of US intelligence agencies to the alleged bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. It is now clear that the older brother, Tamerlan, who…


 

EUflag

Europe’s Economic Crisis: Unemployment hits Record Highs in Spain, France, Alex Lantier, April 26, 2013

According to figures published yesterday, the number of unemployed workers in Spain and France has reached all-time highs, as Europe’s economic collapse accelerates under the impact of the global economic crisis and austerity measures imposed throughout the continent. In Spain,…


 

disinformation

The Boston Bombing Web of Lies, Julie Lévesque, April 26, 2013

The Boston Globe confirmed that suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was in custody, contradicting reports that he had been killed in crossfire. If he was in custody and is now dead, does that not suggest that he might have been the object of an extrajudicial assassination?


 

gold

Central Banking with “Other People’s Gold”: A Multi-billion Treasure Trove in Lower Manhattan, Prof Michel Chossudovsky, April 26, 2013

Germany is repatriating its gold reserves from the New York Federal Reserve. This decision has created a frenzy in the gold market. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the NY Fed, there are (2012) approximately…


 

Tsarneev

Boston Truth: Both FBI & CIA Watched Boston Bombing Suspects for Years, Tony Cartalucci, April 26, 2013

FBI & CIA now admit to putting Boston bombing suspect on 2 “watch lists,” directly contradicting previous public statements. CIA most likely sponsored suspect’s trips to meet US-backed terrorists in Chechnya, Russia. April 25, 2013 (LD) – It is now…


 

Margaret-Thatcher

Dance on Thatcher’s Grave, But Remember There Has Been a Coup in BritainJohn Pilger, April 25, 2013

In the wake of Thatcher’s departure, I remember her victims. Patrick Warby’s daughter, Marie, was one of them. Marie, aged five, suffered from a bowel deformity and needed a special diet. Without it, the pain was excruciating. Her father was…


 

obamadoublespeak (2)

Fabricated Intelligence and the WMD Pretext: Obama Heads Closer Closer to War on Syria, Stephen Lendman, April 25, 2013

A previous article discussed spurious allegations of Syrian chemical weapons use. Obama calls using them a “game changer.” He also said their use crosses a “red line.” Syrian officials categorically deny using them. According to Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi: “Even…


 

wealthy

Dramatic Growth in Social Inequality in America. Poverty Increases During an “Economic Recovery”, Ed Hightower, April 25, 2013

A study by the Pew Research Center reveals an enormous growth in social inequality in the United States between 2009 and 2011. The figures give expression to the impact of the Obama administration’s policy of bailing out the banks while…


 

osama

Everyone’s Talking about “False Flags … Isn’t that Another Bogus Historical Conspiracy Theory?, Washington’s Blog, April 25, 2013

Forget Boston, 9/11 and Oklahoma City … Is False Flag Terror Even a REAL Historical Concept? Forget Boston, 9/11 and Oklahoma City … Is False Flag Terrorism Even a REAL Concept? More people are using the term “false flag” than…


 

syriafree army

Building a Pretext to Wage War on Syria: As NATO Terror Front Collapses, US Drums Up Familiar WMD Lies, Tony Cartalucci, April 25, 2013

The last two weeks have seen a series of victories for the Syrian Army across Syria. It appears that 2 full companies of so-called “Free Syrian Army” fighters have been annihilated near Damascus, while government forces have restored order in…


 

bushosama

Is Kissing a “State Sponsor of Terrorism” a “Terrorist Act”?, Prof Michel Chossudovsky, April 25, 2013

There are now “‘good guy terrorists” and “bad guy terrorists”. John Kerry concurs: financial aid to Syria’s Al Nusra, an affiliate of Al Qaeda is part of NATO’s “Responsibility to Protect” mandate.


 

UK Media Lies:  'Shades Of Grey'. Rethinking The Houla Massacre

Boston Lockdown: The New York Times Endorses U.S. Police State, David Brown and Barry Grey, April 25, 2013

The New York Times published an editorial Monday that not only endorses last week’s police-military lockdown of Boston, but suggests that it was entirely consistent with democratic procedures. In “How to Handle a Terrorism Case,” the Times makes the absurd…


 

osamaobama1

Boston Truth: The Suspects – Who Is Behind Al Qaeda?, Bonnie Faulkner and Prof Michel Chossudovsky, April 25, 2013

The Boston Marathon bombings; the Chechen connection; media disinformation; US support of al Qaeda and the Chechen jihad; the consolidation of the American police state; the geopolitical implications of the bombings; home grown terrorism; two brothers accused of being the…


 

canadaUSflag

Canadian Government unveils “Terror Plot” as it Adopts Draconian New Law, Keith Jones, April 24, 2013

Canadian authorities boasted Monday afternoon that, working in concert with the FBI and other US national security agencies, they had broken up a terrorist conspiracy involving an Iranian-based al-Qaeda cell. The announcement, made at a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)…


 

nato us

US Ramps up Plans for Military Intervention in Syria, Joseph Kishore, April 24, 2013

The United States and the major European powers are escalating plans for a direct military intervention in Syria.The aim of US maneuvers, including a flurry of diplomatic visits this week, is to secure the downfall of Syrian President Bashar…


 

bp2

BP Spills Coffee, Global Research News, April 24, 2013

by UCB Comedy This is humor, but at the same time it tells us something important about corporate decision making and environmental degradation… A small spill on a very large table… Its encroaching on my map of Louisiana It will…


 

russia2

Was Boston Bomber “Radicalized” at a U.S. Sponsored Counterterrorism Workshop, Washington’s Blog, April 24, 2013

Who Radicalized the Boston Bomber? Just as the U.S. supported Bin Laden and the precursor of Al Qaeda in order to fight the Soviets, the U.S. has supported Chechen terrorists in order to fight Russia. Today, Russian newspaper Izvestia alleges… 


 

iranisrael

“Heading Towards a Collision Course”: Will Israel Attack Iran with America’s Blessing by the End of this Year?, Timothy Alexander Guzman, April 24, 2013

Hagel’s statement allows Israel to make the decision to attack Iran, if it feels threatened. New sanctions through draft Senate legislation is expected to pass both houses of congress by the end of this month.


 

ISRAELFenceMap

“Walls of Shame”: The World of Walls, Security Zones and Electrified Fences, Global Research News, April 24, 2013

Global Research Editor’s Note There are many walls and Apartheid security fences in different regions of the World.  This collection by Arthur Kalmeyer  which includes selected maps and photos  was originally published in Russian. Edited by Global Research    …


 

stealing_money_safe_lg_nwm

No Bank Deposits Will Be Spared from Confiscation, Matthias Chang, April 24, 2013

By law, in the insolvency of a bank, you as an unsecured creditor stand last in the queue of creditors to be paid out of any funds and or assets which the bank has to pay its creditors.


 

osama

Time to Renounce the “War on Terror”, Norman Solomon, April 24, 2013

As a perpetual emotion machine — producing and guzzling its own political fuel — the “war on terror” continues to normalize itself as a thoroughly American way of life and death. Ongoing warfare has become a matter of default routine,…


 

Élections Venezuela Maduro

Nicolas Maduro did not Steal the Venezuelan Elections, Greg Palast, April 24, 2013

The guy in the cheap brown windbreaker walking up the dirty tenement steps to my New York office looked like a bus driver. Nicolas Maduro, elected President of Venezuela last Sunday, did indeed drive a bus, then led the drivers’…


 

Nelson Jobim

Israeli Weapons Exports to Brazil, Soraya Misleh, April 24, 2013

Image: Brazilian soldier at the 2009 Latin American Aerospace and Defense (LAAD) fair “PASSPORT!” demanded the Israeli security guard in English as he approached demonstrators at the Latin American Aerospace and Defense (LAAD) fair, which took place April 9-12 at…


 

lendman

Building a Pretext for an All Out War against Syria? Allegations of Chemical Weapons Use, Stephen Lendman, April 24, 2013

New allegations claim Syrian chemical weapons use. We’ve heard similar ones before. Obama calls using them a “game changer.” He also said their use crosses a “red line.” Syrian officials are unequivocal. Weeks earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Miqdad spoke…


 

somalia

Oil Geopolitics in the Horn of Africa: Somaliland DNO Oil Deal Adds Fuel to the Conflict in North Somalia, Mahdi Ali, April 24, 2013

The secessionist state of Somaliland has signed a production sharing agreement with DNO, a Norwegian oil and gas company.

The president of the secessionist state of Somaliland Ahmed M. Mohamoud Silanyo and Executive Chairman, Bijan Mossavar-Rahmani attended the signing ceremony…


 

mccain

Political Opportunism. The Boston Marathon Tragedy Used as a Pretext To Extend the “Global War on Terrorism”, Colin Todhunter, April 24, 2013

In a 2011 interview for an Australian TV channel, US Republican Senator John McCain talked about Islamic extremism ‘spreading’ if left unchecked by military intervention in Afghanistan and elsewhere (1). In the same interview, he spoke of the US having…


 

Spying on Americans: The FBI's "Quantico Circuit" -- Still Spying, Still Lying

The Roots of Terror: FBI’s Fingerprints All Over the Boston Bombings, Bill Van Auken, April 24, 2013

Within days of the bombings in Boston, massive contradictions have opened up in the official accounts given by the Obama administration, the FBI and other state agencies as to how this terrorist attack transpired. As in so many previous cases,…


 

tax

High Tech Surveillance: U.S. Internal Revenue Snooping Social Media and Emails Without Warrant, Clarence Walker, April 24, 2013

Americans have a big problem with the IRS (Internal Revenue Service). If anyone discuss the filing of tax return in their emails the IRS may be monitoring what you say to see if you may be trying to cheat on…


 

justiceblind

The “Criminalisation” of International Criminal Justice, Alexander Mezyaev, April 23, 2013

On April 10 the United Nations General Assembly held its first ever and rather unique debate on the role of the international criminal justice system in fostering reconciliation. It summed up and assessed the twenty year experience of international criminal…


 

canada-haiti

Canadian “Aid” Designed to Maintain Western Capitalist Dominance of the Global South, Yves Engler, April 23, 2013

The Canadian International Development Agency is no longer. In its recent budget the Conservative government collapsed CIDA into Foreign Affairs, creating the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. While there was plenty of commentary on the Tories’ move, no…


 

VIDEO: Splitting the Sky vs Bush: Civil Resistance in the 21st Century (2009)

“Splitting the Sky” and Aboriginal Rights in Canada, Michael Welch and Anthony Hall, April 23, 2013

Hall explains that there has been a shift in conservative politics in Canada away from what he calls the indigenous conservatism of Canada toward a more US Republican-style neo-conservatism typified by an emphasis on low taxes, less government, increased military…


 

africom

Militarization of Africa: AFRICOM to Deploy “Rapid Reaction” Strike Force in Spain directed against West Africa, Timothy Alexander Guzman, April 23, 2013

In early April,  The United States and the Spanish government agreed to station AFRICOM’s “Rapid Reaction” strike force to Moron de la Frontera air base for one year.  It involves 500 marines and 8 aircraft that will be used to…


 

usacitiesmap

A Tale of Two Cities: Tragic Aftermath of the Explosion at Fertilizer Company in West, Texas, Barry Grey, April 23, 2013

The April 15 bombings in Boston continue to dominate the American media. The twin blasts near the finish line of the city’s annual marathon killed three people and wounded over 170 more, many seriously. But a more deadly and destructive…


 

Tsarneev

Boston Bombing: 19 Year Student Suspect Gets Death Penalty Charge, Bill Van Auken, April 23, 2013

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, was formally charged Monday with use of and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction resulting in death, a federal offense that carries the death penalty. The twin…


 

iraqichildren

“Boston on the Tigris”: Iraq’s Unreported Terror Event. Twenty-six Car Bombs…, Dirk Adriaensens, April 23, 2013

Iraq’s Black Monday While on 15 April the whole world was focused on the Boston marathon blasts, at least 79 people were killed, and over three hundred others injured – mostly civilians – in a series of bombings and armed…


 

lynnestewart

Campaign to Save the Life of Lynne Stewart, Global Research News, April 23, 2013

As the campaign builds, Lynne Stewart’s condition has taken a concerning turn for the worse. Her white blood cell count has dropped sharply. Lynne is in isolation currently and will be sent to a Fort Worth hospital for tests. This…


 

candusflag

The Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA): U.S. Dictating Canada’s Intellectual Property Laws, Dana Gabriel, April 23, 2013

In March, the Canadian government introduced a bill that would bring about sweeping changes to its copyright and trademark laws. This includes giving more power to customs and border protection agents without any judicial oversight. The move is intended to…


 

osamaobama

Terrorists “R” Us, Stephen Lendman, April 23, 2013

State-sponsored terrorism defines US policy. Doublespeak duplicity conceals it. Doublethink manipulates public opinion to ignore inconvenient truths. Howard Zinn once asked: “How can you make war on terrorism if war is terrorism?” Waging war on terrorism “gives government a perpetual…


 

drone

Mounting Opposition to Drone Warfare, Chris Cole, April 23, 2013

  US drones struck in Yemen and Pakistan this past week after something of a pause.  On Weds (17 April) US drones hit a house in North Waziristan killing five people including an alleged commander of the Pakistan Taliban,  On…


 

kissinger

Why Does America Media Continue to Honour Henry Kissinger?, Patrick Henningsen, April 23, 2013

It’s no surprise in 2013 to see the government media complex try it’s very best to preserve the delicate legacies of lauded members of the political establishment. Look how much effort was poured into the media eulogies for Margaret Thatcher…


 

OsamaTVSpeech

Who is Behind “Al Qaeda in Iran”?, Tony Cartalucci, April 23, 2013

As the FBI reels from what now appears to be revelations it was directly involved in the Boston Marathon bombings, a deluge of FBI “success” stories have been “serendipitously” splashed across Western headlines. Among them was an allegedly “foiled” terror…


 

AMERICA

Martial Law in Boston: American Democracy in Shambles, Barry Grey, April 23, 2013

With the imposition of a state of siege in Boston, a historical threshold has been crossed. For the first time ever, a major American city has been placed under the equivalent of martial law. The already frayed veneer of a…


 

bostonmanhunt3

Boston Terror Narrative Starts Falling Apart, Washington’s Blog, April 23, 2013

Chechen Brothers Did NOT Rob 7-11

We have no idea whether or not the Chechen brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were the Boston terrorists. But several parts of the official narrative are already falling apart. Initially, the claim that they…


 

EUflag

The European Homeland Security State. EU Anti-Terror Drills and Fear Campaigns, R. Teichmann, April 23, 2013

The events of 9/11 in the US not only led to the attack on several sovereign nations but the government under George W. Bush established the so called “Homeland Security” and proceeded to implement plans to curtail civil rights. First…


 

osama

The Global War on Terrorism? America’s Wars “in Support” of Al Qaeda, Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, April 23, 2013

The United States government has been at war for eleven years. The US military destroyed Iraq, leaving the country and millions of lives in ruins and releasing sectarian blood-letting that had been kept in check by the secular Saddam Hussein…


 

law

Guatemala: Historic Genocide Trial against Former Dictator. Court Procedures Disrupted, J. B. Gerald, April 23, 2013

Current Guatemalan president, Otto Pérez Molina, was formerly “Major Tito,” a field commander allegedly responsible for acts of genocide against Ixil Indians in 1982. Currently under “Presidential immunity”, a status not permitted by the Convention on Genocide, the Guatemalan President…


 

robot_19

The Robot Revolution, Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin, April 23, 2013

Just as we are seeing climate chaos change to climate catastrophe, we may also see job chaos change to job catastrophe. We are entering an era of technological change which has the potential to create havoc in an already seriously…


 

Tsarneev

The Boston Bombings and the FBI: “Official Tsarnaev Story Makes No Sense”, Craig Murray, April 22, 2013

According to Craig Murray (photo: below),  former US Ambassador, human rights activist  and whistle blower the FBI’s inflated profile of their prime suspect in the Boston Bombing ‘does not make sense”. Will Eric Holder and the US Department of Justice…


 

VIDEO: Bosnia to Libya: 20 Years of NATO 'Peacemaking'

The War on Libya: A Grand Display of NATO’s Lynch Mob Mentality, Dan Glazebrook, April 22, 2013

Review of Maximilian Forte’s powerful new book, “Slouching Toward Sirte: NATO’s War on Libya and Africa” (now available to order from Global Research). This book presents a withering indictment of liberal humanitarianism and its collusion in imperialist designs on Africa,…


 

bosotnmanhunt2

Unanswered Questions in Boston Bombings, Bill Van Auken, April 22, 2013

The Boston Marathon bombings last week, which killed three and wounded over 170, were seized on to implement a far-reaching attack on democratic rights, including a police lockdown of an entire city. As with previous incidents, much remains unknown, including…


 

imf

Global Financial Crisis: Tensions at G-20, IMF Meetings. No Economic Recovery in Sight, Nick Beams, April 22, 2013

  Last weekend’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the G-20 saw further calls for policies to stimulate global economic growth. There were no concrete measures advanced to implement such a program, however, amid deepening divisions among the major…


 

iraq

Iraq’s Black Monday, “Boston on the Tigris”: Unreported Mass Casualty Terror Event, More than 79 Killed, Dirk Adriaensens, April 22, 2013

While on 15 April the whole world was focused on the Boston marathon blasts, at least 79 people were killed, and over three hundred others injured – mostly civilians – in a series of bombings and armed attacks across Iraq.…


 

Tsarneev

Boston Bombing Suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev Reported Killed, Was Alive When Detained: Tamerlan’s Aunt, Tony Cartalucci, April 22, 2013

Independent investigative journalist Dan Dicks of Press For Truth produced a video detailing his interview with the Boston bombing suspects’ aunt where she identifies a naked, cuffed, clearly alive and well detainee seen in video aired by CNN, as her…


 

india

The Bastar Land Grab: The Expropriation of Farmers in India, Justin Podur, April 22, 2013

Sudha Bharadwaj is a lawyer and a member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (Mazdoor Karkyakarta Committee). CMM was founded in 1982 by legendary union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi (assassinated in 1991), to…


 

islam

In the Wake of the Boston Bombings: America’s War on Islam 2.0, Stephen Lendman, April 22, 2013

Waging war at home or abroad requires enemies. America creates them when none exist. Post-9/11, Muslims were targeted for political advantage. Post-Boston bombings, America’s war on Islam continues. Muslims are “war on terror” scapegoats. Washington’s Middle East, North Africa and…


 

bostonmanhunt4

Media Narrative: Witnessing Boston’s Mass Casualty Event, James F. Tracy, April 22, 2013

What exactly took place on April 15 at the Boston Marathon is unclear, yet what is now evident is a divergence between the description of excessive carnage meted out as a result of the explosive devices and at least a portion of the video and photographic documentation of the bombing.


 

chechnyarussiamap

Chechen Terrorists and the Neocons, Coleen Rowley, April 22, 2013

The revelation that the family of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings was from Chechnya prompted new speculation about the attack as Islamic terrorism. Less discussed was the history of U.S. neocons supporting Chechen terrorists as a strategy…


 

chechnyarussiamap

Boston Bombers: Role of CIA in Chechen Terror, Kurt Nimmo, April 22, 2013

The narrative now emerging in the Boston Marathon bombing is that the perpetrators are from Chechnya or a nearby region and the attacks are a product of Islamic terrorism. “The Chechen jihadi network is very extensive,” the neocon Walid Phares…


 

Independent Media Delivers Truth and Accountability

BOSTON TRUTH: The “Chechen Connection”, Al Qaeda and the Boston Marathon Bombings, Prof Michel Chossudovsky, April 22, 2013

A new legend is unfolding: “The Chechen Connection” is threatening America. Islamism homegrown in the Russian Federation is being “exported to America”. The Boston Marathon bombings are being compared to 9/11.


 

Nigella_sativa_main

Nestlé is Trying to Patent the Fennel Flower, Global Research News, April 21, 2013

Nigella sativa — more commonly known as fennel flower — has been used as a cure-all remedy for over a thousand years. It treats everything from vomiting to fevers to skin diseases, and has been widely available in impoverished communities…


 

Tsarneev

19 Year Old Student in Custody: President Obama has already delivered a Guilty Verdict to Suspected Boston Bomber, Patrick Henningsen, April 21, 2013

President delivers ‘executive verdict’ as Feds draft in Gitmo interrogators to handle 19 year old student held in custody Rule number one for any serious crime scene or investigation is to gather all the evidence and all the testimonies first,…


 

Tsarneev

Boston Bombings Suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev “Has No Rights” and Should be Categorized as an “Enemy Combatant”, Patrick Henningsen, April 21, 2013

The old wounds of 911 and the cryptic calls for legalised torture have once again taken center stage in the American political discourse this week… Seen by some as the poster children for new Senate ‘term limits’, Sens. Lindsey Graham…


 

boston marathon soldier

Boston Black Ops: Manufacturing Terror?, Stephen Lendman, April 21, 2013

What’s ongoing resembles post-9/11 events. Fear-mongering, lies and misinformation replace truth and full disclosure. Muslims became public enemy number one. Who’ll suffer most with them this time?

Vital information is suppressed. Fingers point the wrong way. Innocent victims are blamed…


In her book titled “No Immediate Danger: Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth,” nuclear power/environmental health expert Rosalie Bertell (1929 – 2012) said:

“Should the public discover the true health cost(s) of nuclear pollution, a cry would rise from all parts of the world and people would refuse to cooperate passively with their own death.”

In her article titled “Radioactivity: No Immediate Danger,” she coined a new word. “Omnicide” describes the ultimate human rejection of life. It’s “difficult to comprehend,” but it’s happening, she said.

She called industrial radioactive pollution “cumulatively greater than Chernobyl. We are now in a no-win situation with radioactive materials, where (it’s) acceptable to have cancer deaths, deformed children and miscarriages.”

Industry propaganda falsely claims nuclear power is clean and green. The nuclear fuel cycle discharges significant amounts of greenhouse gases.

It’s also responsible for hundreds of thousands of curies of deadly radioactive gases and elements in the environment annually.

“Claiming nuclear production of energy is ‘clean,’ ” said Bertell, “is like dieting but stuffing yourself with food between meals.”

Separately, she said:

“There is no such thing as a radiation exposure that will not do damage. There is a hundred per cent possibility that there will be damage to cells. The next question is: which damage do you care about?”

All toxic hazards are serious, she explained. Nuclear radiation is worst of all. It threatens all human life. “Our present path is headed toward species death – whether fast with nuclear war or technological disaster, or slow, by poison.”

Global suicide is certain. Continued nuclear proliferation and Fukushima accelerated it.

March 11 marked its second anniversary. It’s perhaps the worst ever environmental disaster. Reliable experts call large parts of Japan unsafe. They’re too hazardous to live in.

According to Professor Hiroaki Koide, Tokyo’s as contaminated as Fukushima. Thousands of city residents protested. They oppose nuclear power. They want safe energy sources replacing it.

Radiation contamination is widespread. East Asia, North America, Europe and other areas are affected.

Hazardous air, water and land readings across many areas globally are many multiples too high. Future epidemic cancer levels are certain. It occurs when body cells divide and spread uncontrollably. If untreated, it metastasizes and kills.

Michel Chossudovsky calls Fukushima “a nuclear war without a war.” It’s an “unspoken crisis of worldwide nuclear contamination.”

Tens of thousands of children have confirmed thyroid abnormalities. They reflect the tip of the iceberg. Children are especially vulnerable. No radiation dose is safe.

Karl Grossman wants planet earth made a “nuclear free zone.” We barely made it through the last century without a “major nuclear weapons exchange,” he said.

Nuclear energy in all forms is unsafe. Safe, clean, renewable solar, wind, geothermal, and other energy sources are readily available.

Admiral Hyman Rickover (1900 – 1986) was the father of America’s nuclear navy. In January 1982, he told a congressional committee that until a few billion years ago, “it was impossible to have any life on earth.”

“There was so much radiation on earth you couldn’t have any life, fish or anything.” Gradually the amount subsided. “Now, we are creating something which nature tried to destroy to make life possible.”

“Every time you produce radiation, (a) horrible force” is unleashed. “In some cases (it’s) for billions of years, and I think the human race is going to wreck itself.”

“I am talking about humanity. The most important thing we could do is start having an international meeting where we first outlaw nuclear weapons to start off with. Then we outlaw nuclear reactors, too.”

“The lesson for history is when a war starts, every nation will ultimately use whatever weapons are available. That is the lesson learned time and again.” ”

“Therefore, we must expect, if another war, a serious war breaks out, we will use nuclear energy in some form. We will probably destroy ourselves.” Widespread contamination acts in slow motion.

Disturbing reports explain. In early April, around 120 tons of contaminated water leaked from Fukushima’s No. 1′s underground storage tank. It contained an estimated 710 billion becquerels of radioactivity.

Water around the affected tank is highly radioactive. It’s about 800 meters from the Pacific. Government and Tokyo Electric (Tepco) claimed it won’t likely reach it. Numerous previous reports suggest otherwise.

Tepco general manager Masayuki Ono said “(w)e cannot deny the fact that our faith in the underwater tanks is being lost.”

In November 2012, Nature.com headlined “Ocean still suffering from Fukushima fallout,” saying:

“Radioactivity is persisting in the ocean waters close to Japan’s ruined nuclear power plant at Fukushima Daiichi.”

New data show high contamination levels. “The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen.”

Radiation levels aren’t dropping. “The implications are serious for the fishing industry.”

On December 26, CleanEnergy.org headlined “Japan Continues Struggle with Aftermath from the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster,” saying:

“….an estimated 160,000 (Japanese) citizens still have not returned home. Reports of illness in humans and livestock continue to underscore the far reaching and difficult to predict impacts that a nuclear accident can cause.”

In July 2012, 36% of Japanese children screened had abnormal thyroid growths. Months later an illness called the “Fukushima syndrome” was killing cattle throughout Fukushima Prefecture.

Mutations were found in butterflies and other insects. Their shorter life cycles allow genetic disruptions to show up sooner than in humans or other mammals.

On April 11, Bloomberg.com headlined “Tepco Faces Decision to Dump Radioactive Water in Pacific,” saying:

“Leaks were found in three of seven pits in the past week….” Options for moving contaminated water are limited.

“With Japan’s rainy season approaching, contaminated water levels are likely to increase…”

“Yesterday, Tepco reported another leak of radiated water, this time from a pipe.”

“Pacific bluefin tuna caught off San Diego in August 2011 was found to contain radioactive cesium 10 times higher than fish seized in previous years….” Perhaps its much higher now.

On April 15, Science Daily headlined “The Fukushima Dai-Ichi Power Plant Accident: Two Years On, the Fallout Continues,” saying:

“….(S)cientists are still trying to quantify the extent of the damage.” Most important is “determining just how much hazardous material escaped into the atmosphere….”

Japan Atomic Energy Agency researchers now say previously estimated “137C and 131l” release rates were too low.

On March 11, 2013, nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen said “(t)here’s definitely a large crack, perhaps five inches in diameter, in Fukushima reactor 2.”

Containment is sorely lacking. Pacific Ocean leakage continues.

On April 24, Natural News headlined “Massive, uncontained leak at Fukushima is pouring over 710 billion becquerels of radioactive materials into atmosphere,” saying:

It’s the largest ever plant leakage. Fukushima’s disaster never ends. It “keeps on giving.”

“(N)ew reports indicate that a wealth of new radioactive materials have been spewed into the atmosphere.”

It’s spreading globally. Nuclear radiation is forever. It doesn’t dissipate or disappear. No safe level exists. Every dose is an overdose. Bertell was right. “Omnicide” threatens everyone.

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

http://www.dailycensored.com/fukushimas-catastrophic-aftermath-continues/

The UK MoD has today confirmed that British drones over Afghanistan are now being controlled from the UK.For the first time UK forces can remotely control armed drones over Afghanistan while sitting in air conditioned trailers at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire.   The growing use of unmanned drones to simply and easily launch lethal attacks at great distances – over 3,000 miles in the case of Waddington and Afghanistan – with no risk or political consequences should be a cause of extreme concern.Many counter terrorism experts are clear that drone strikes far from the solution, as Kurt Volker, the former US Permanent Representative to NATO said recently:

“Drone strikes allows our opponents to cast our country as a distant, high-tech, amoral purveyor of death. It builds resentment, facilitates terrorist recruitment and alienates those we should seek to inspire. Drone strikes may decapitate terrorist organizations, but they do not solve our terrorist problem. In fact, drone use may prolong it. Even though there is no immediate retaliation, in the long run the contributions to radicalization through drone use may put more lives at risk.”

Volker is not alone. Many other  experts such as Professor Michael Boyle, former counter terrorism adviser to President Obama has recently outlined in the Chatham House journal how use of armed drones is directly conflicting with other long term counter-terrorism initiatives and doing real damage to global security.

This weekend join CND, Stop the War, War on Want and Drone Campaign Network to call for an end to the drone wars.

One of the most significant developments of the post-Cold War era, and certainly the most ominous, is the transformation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military bloc created by the United States during the genesis of the Cold War in 1949, into one that has grown to encompass the entirety of Europe, has expanded military partnerships throughout the world and has waged war on three continents.

In 2006 Kurt Volker, at the time with the State Department and two years afterwards U.S. ambassador to NATO, boasted that the year before NATO had been “engaged in eight simultaneous operations on four continents.”

Two years later the State Department’s Daniel Fried told the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs’ Subcommittee on Europe:

“When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, NATO was an Alliance of 16 members and no partners. Today, NATO has 26 members – with 2 new invitees, prospective membership for others, and over 20 partners in Europe and Eurasia, seven in the Mediterranean, four in the Persian Gulf, and others from around the world.”

Although then-Secretary of State James Baker had assured Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at the time of German reunification in 1990 that NATO would not be moved one inch eastward, the very act of merger occurring as it did led to the German Democratic Republic being absorbed not only into the Federal Republic but NATO and hence the latter immediately moving east to the borders of Poland and Czechoslovakia and closer to that of the Soviet Union.

The two invited nations Fried mentioned above are Albania and Croatia, which became full members of the military bloc in 2009, completing a decade of expansion that saw NATO membership grow by 75 percent from 16 to 28. NATO expansion to the east has provided the Pentagon and its Western allies with air bases and other military facilities in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Romania for wars to the east and south.

Macedonia, which would also have been absorbed in 2009 except for the name dispute with NATO member Greece, is now in a new category of nations being groomed for full NATO membership the alliance refers to as aspirant countries. The others currently are Bosnia, Georgia and Montenegro.

With the Partnership for Peace program that was used to promote twelve new Eastern European into NATO between 1999 and 2009 – every non-Soviet member of the Warsaw Pact and three former Soviet republics (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) – the Mediterranean Dialogue, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative and, as of last year, the newly formed Partners Across the Globe (whose initial members are Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan and South Korea), NATO members and partners number at least 70 nations, well over a third of those in the world.

In January of 2012 a meeting of NATO’s Military Committee Chiefs of Defense Staff was conducted with top military representatives of 67 nations.

The Partners Across the Globe and longer-standing military partnerships are slated to grow in all parts of the world. Among the more than 50 nations that have provided NATO with troop contingents for the war in South Asia are additional Asia-Pacific states not covered by other international NATO partnership formats like the Partnership for Peace (22 nations in Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia), the Mediterranean Dialogue (seven nations in North Africa and the Middle East, with Libya to be the eighth) and the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, which targets the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates).

Those Asian states – Malaysia, Singapore and Tonga – are likely the next candidates for the new global partnership, as are Latin American troop providers like El Salvador and Colombia. The inclusion of the last-named marks the expansion of NATO, through memberships and partnerships, to all six inhabited continents.

Iraq and Yemen are likely prospects for inclusion in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative. Mediterranean Dialogue members Jordan and Morocco applied for membership in the Gulf Cooperation Council (which is composed of the Arab world’s other six monarchies) during NATO’s war against Libya in 2011, for which Gulf Cooperation Council and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative members Qatar and the United Arab Emirates supplied dozens of warplanes.

If the West succeeds in effecting the overthrow of the Syrian government, Syria and Lebanon will be targeted for membership in NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. (As will Palestine if and when it is recognized by the United Nations.) With the new administration in Cyprus confirming its intention to immediately join the Partnership for Peace, every nation in the Mediterranean Sea Basin will be a NATO member and partner. The integration of Cyprus will also complete the process of recruiting every European nation (excluding mini-states Andorra, Lichtenstein, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican) into the NATO orbit.

In the past three years there also has been discussion about NATO establishing a collective partnership arrangement, which could include individual partnerships as well, with the ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which are, in addition to Malaysia and Singapore, mentioned above, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

Similar efforts have been made by NATO to forge a collective partnership with the 54-member African Union. All African nations are members of the African Union except for Morocco and the fledgling state of South Sudan. All African countries except Egypt are in the area of responsibility of U.S. Africa Command, which before achieving full operational capacity in 2008 was created and developed by U.S. European Command, whose top military commander is simultaneously that of NATO.

The current NATO secretary general has bruited the intention to cultivate formal relations with India and China, likely to be based on the bilateral NATO-Russia Council model.

There has been discussion in recent years, including an explicit call by a Portuguese foreign minister for precisely such an initiative, for NATO to expand into the South Atlantic as well by building military partnerships with countries like Brazil and South Africa. (Six warships with the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 held exercises with the South African navy in 2007 in the course of circumnavigating the African continent. Also in that year the same NATO naval force conducted operations in the Caribbean, the first time alliance warships entered that sea.)

In conjunction with the U.S., NATO is striving to assemble the remnants of defunct or dormant Cold War-era military blocs in the Asia-Pacific region, all modeled after NATO itself – the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Security Treaty between Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America (ANZUS) – to replicate in the east against China what NATO expansion has accomplished in Europe over the past 14 years in relation to Russia: its exclusion, isolation and encirclement by military bases, naval forces and interceptor missile installations.

As the Pentagon and NATO are implementing plans to deploy land-based interceptor missiles in Romania and Poland and sea-based equivalents on guided missile warships in, first, the Mediterranean and plausibly afterward in the Black, Baltic and Norwegian Seas, so the U.S. has recruited Japan, South Korea and Australia into its global sea- and land-based missile shield grid, with a recent report indicating the Pentagon plans to add the Philippines to the list with the deployment there of an Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance interceptor missile mobile system of the sort already stationed in Japan, Israel and Turkey.

Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and other NATO leaders routinely assert that the European Phased Adaptive Approach missile system is aimed not only against Iran but North Korea – and Syria. In April of this year Rasmussen became the first NATO secretary general to visit South Korea. Days earlier his second-in-command, Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, spoke of the possibility of invoking NATO’s Article 5 mutual military assistance clause against North Korea.

Since 1999 the North Atlantic bloc has waged air and ground wars in Europe (Yugoslavia) , Asia (Afghanistan and across the border in Pakistan) and Africa (Libya), as well as running comprehensive naval surveillance, interdiction, boarding and assault operations in the Mediterranean Sea (Active Endeavor) and in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean (Ocean Shield) and airlift operations for African troops into the Darfur region of western Sudan and into war-torn Somalia.

Post-Cold War NATO has repeatedly and without disguise identified its purview and its area of operations to be international in scope, and over the past 22 years its efforts to achieve that objective have steadily accelerated to the point where the military alliance is well poised to supplant the United Nations as the main, indeed the exclusive, arbiter of conflicts not only between but within nations throughout the world. A U.S.-dominated armed bloc which includes three nuclear powers and accounts for an estimated 70 percent of global military spending has expanded deployments, operations and partnerships around the planet.

Four years ago Hans von Sponeck, former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, wrote a scathing denunciation called The United Nations and NATO: Which security and for whom? for a Swiss journal in which, in a section called “21st century NATO incompatible with UN Charter,” he stated:

“In 1999, NATO acknowledged that it was seeking to orient itself according to a new fundamental strategic concept. From a narrow military defense alliance it was to become a broad-based alliance for the protection of the vital resources needs of its members. Besides the defense of member states’ borders, it set itself new purposes such as assured access to energy sources and the right to intervene in ‘movements of large numbers of persons’ and in conflicts far from the boarders of NATO countries. The readiness of the new alliance to include other countries, particularly those that had previously been part of the Soviet Union, shows how the character of this military alliance has altered.”

 “[T]he United Nations monopoly of the use of force, especially as specified in Article 51 of the Charter, was no longer accepted according to the 1999 NATO doctrine.

“NATO’s territorial scope, until then limited to the Euro-Atlantic region, was expanded by its member to encompass the whole world in keeping with a strategic context that was global in its sweep.”

For the past 18 years NATO has been attempting to supersede and ultimately replace the United Nations, as von Sponeck warned, initially by promoting itself as the military wing of the UN by leading multinational military forces under post-conflict mandates in Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia – 60,000 troops in the first and 50,000 in the second case at peak strength. (The first two missions followed, respectively, a NATO bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serb Republic and 78-day air war against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, to be sure.) A comparable situation existed in Iraq, with NATO supporting the foreign occupation of the nation from 2004-2011. In fact all the post-Cold War NATO inductees – Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia – were compelled to supply troops for Iraq as proof of their loyalty to NATO before and shortly after their accession.

And for Afghanistan. But unlike the NATO missions in the above former Yugoslav territories, that in Afghanistan was to an active war zone, constituting NATO’s first ground war and first war outside Europe.

After the military alliance took over the International Security Assistance Force, it came to command almost all of the 152,000 foreign troops in the nation and soldiers from over 50 Troop Contributing Nations (the official designation) . Armed forces from that many nations had never before fought in one war, much less under a single command and in one nation.

Those nations are:

All 28 current NATO members: The U.S., Albania, Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Turkey.

Partnership for Peace adjuncts: Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bosnia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Macedonia, Montenegro, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine.

 Others: Australia (Partners Across the Globe), Bahrain (Istanbul Cooperation Initiative), El Salvador, Jordan (Mediterranean Dialogue), Malaysia, Mongolia (Partners Across the Globe), New Zealand (Partners Across the Globe), Singapore, South Korea (Partners Across the Globe), Tonga and the United Arab Emirates (Istanbul Cooperation Initiative).

Several additional nations supplied military and security personnel to serve under NATO command in Afghanistan without being formal Troop Contributing Nations such as Colombia, Egypt (Mediterranean Dialogue), Japan (Partners Across the Globe), Moldova (Partnership for Peace) and no doubt others. Efforts were made by the U.S. and NATO to secure troop contributions from such nations as Bangladesh and Kazakhstan.

The governments and militaries of Afghanistan itself and neighboring Pakistan are linked to NATO under the Afghanistan- Pakistan- International Security Assistance Force Tripartite Commission.

NATO has air and other military bases in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Those three nations have also been used by NATO as part of the Northern Distribution Network and other transit routes that include as well Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Iraq, Latvia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Oman, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, etc.

The war in Afghanistan, the longest in the nation’s history as well as in that of the U.S., has supplied NATO with an almost 12-year opportunity to consolidate an international military network and to develop the operational and command integration of the armed forces of almost 60 nations. This is the global NATO that among others the Obama administration’s first ambassador to the alliance, Ivo Daalder, has openly touted under that exact name since the beginning of this century.

Many NATO members and partners, particularly former Soviet federal republics in the Baltic Sea region and in the South Caucasus, have used the Afghan war to gain combat experience for their armed forces to be used in conflicts in their own neighborhoods: Georgia, for example, in preparing for any resumption of armed conflict with South Ossetia and Russia such as occurred in August 2008.

Just as NATO has followed the U.S. into the Balkans and Afghanistan, into the global interceptor missile system and so-called energy security (in fact energy war) initiatives, so it has joined Washington in the new scramble in the Arctic Ocean, cyber warfare operations and the attempt to command the world’s strategic shipping lanes and choke points.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, its name now archaic as most of its members and all of its dozens of partners do not border the Atlantic Ocean, north or south, is well advanced in its U.S.-crafted mission to expand into history’s largest and first international military bloc and an unprecedented threat to world peace.

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What’s ongoing now bears eerie resemblance to events preceding Bush’s Iraq war. Obama’s replicating a familiar scenario.

Waging war requires a pretext to do so. When none exists, it’s invented. It’s easy. Lies substitute for truth. Claims about Syria using chemical weapons don’t wash. Repetition gets people to believe them. We’ve seen it all before.

Colin Power’s infamous February 5, 2003 Security Council speech led to war. It was shameless deception. Later he admitted WMD claims were false. It was too late to matter.

Plans were set. The die was cast. Weeks later, America bombed, invaded and occupied Iraq. The cradle of civilization was destroyed. No WMDs existed. It was well-known but ignored. More on that below.

Powell lied claiming them. US media scoundrels repeated what demanded renunciation. A New York Times editorial headlined “The Case Against Iraq,” saying:

“Secretary of State Colin Powell presented the United Nations and a global television audience yesterday with the most powerful case to date that Saddam Hussein stands in defiance of Security Council resolutions and has no intention of revealing or surrendering whatever unconventional weapons he may have.”

A (no longer available online) Washington Post editorial headlined “Irrefutable,” saying:

“….it is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.”

Months later, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report titled “WMD in Iraq: Evidence and Implications” said the Bush administration “systematically misrepresented the threat from Iraq’s WMD and ballistic missile programs.”

Asked about the report, Powell stood by his Security Council testimony, saying:

“I am confident of what I presented last year. The intelligence community is confident of the material they gave me. I was representing them.”

“It was information they presented to the Congress. It was information they had presented publicly and they stand behind it, and this game is still unfolding.”

Powell’s speech was bald-faced deception. He willfully lied, saying:

“The material I will present to you comes from a variety of sources. Some are US sources. And some are those of other countries.”

“Some of the sources are technical, such as intercepted telephone conversations and photos taken by satellites. Other sources are people who have risked their lives to let the world know what Saddam Hussein is really up to.”

“….Iraq’s behavior show(s) that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.”

“We also have satellite photos that indicate that banned materials have recently been moved from a number of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction facilities.”

“The Iraqis have never accounted for all of the biological weapons they admitted they had and we know they had. They have never accounted for all the organic material used to make them.”

“And they have not accounted for many of the weapons filled with these agents such as there are 400 bombs. This is evidence, not conjecture. This is true. This is all well-documented.”

He claimed Saddam stockpiled “between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agents.” He added that “(t)here can be no doubt that (he) has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more.”

In August 1995, Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, defected to the West. He headed Iraq’s weapons programs. US intelligence officials debriefed him. He said “All weapons – biological, chemical, missile and nuclear were destroyed….Nothing remained.”

The New York Times and other US media sources reported his comments.

CNN’s Brent Sadler asked him: “Can you state here and now – does Iraq still to this day hold weapons of mass destruction?”

He responded: “No. Iraq does not possess any weapons of mass destruction. I am being completely honest about this.”

In the run-up to March 2003, media misinformation replaced earlier headlines. It’s standard practice. It repeating again now. Obama appears heading for full-scale war on Syria.

Big lies launch wars. In “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu said “All war is based on deception.” Fear, misinformation and duplicity enlist public support. Naked aggression is called humanitarian intervention.

Libya 2.0 looms. Fabricating chemical weapons use looks like pretext for full-scale war. Secretary of State John Kerry claims Syria launched two chemical weapons attacks.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said using them “violates every convention of warfare.”

On April 25, the Los Angeles Times headlined “US lawmakers call for action on Syria’s chemical weapons,” saying:

They want quick action.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D. CA) warned that without decisive action, “President Assad may calculate he has nothing more to lose.” He might “further escalate this conflict.”

“It is clear that ‘red lines’ have been crossed and action must be taken to prevent larger scale use,” she added. “Syria has the ability to kill tens of thousands with its chemical weapons.”

Senator John McCain (R. AZ) said “(i)t’s pretty obvious the red line has been crossed.”

Rep. Adam Schiff (D. CA) believes Assad’s testing the international community. “The administration has said (chemical weapons use is) a game changer, but it’s not clear what that new game will look like.”

“I think it is incumbent on the international community to take strong action.”

A same day LA Times editorial headlined “A ‘red line’ on Syria,” saying:

“If the Assad regime has indeed used chemical weapons, the US must honor its commitment to act.”

“(U)se of chemical weapons would represent a reckless escalation of Assad’s war on his own people.”

“Yes, the president must be sure before he acts; but if it is proved that Assad has crossed the ‘red line,’ Obama must respond.”

Chicago Tribune editors headlined “The pink line,” asking: “If Assad used chemical weapons, what will Obama do?”

He “drew a clear red line last August….(He) ‘put together a range of contingency plans,’ but he didn’t spell them out.”

“Now there’s mounting, though not yet conclusive, evidence that if Assad hasn’t stormed across that red line, he may be tiptoeing on it.”

Tribune editors want more decisive action. “We’ve long argued that the US should directly arm the rebels.”

Operating covertly from southern Turkey, CIA operatives have been doing it all along. It’s handled through a network of intermediaries. Weapons are also entering from Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

Tribune editors urge more. Impose a no-fly zone “to ground Assad’s air force.” Doing so is an act of war.

“(B)omb access roads where chemical weapons are transported, to make moving (them) difficult if not impossible.”

Bombing anywhere assures doing it everywhere considered strategically important. Tribune editors urge war. They’re not alone.

On April 25, Wall Street Journal editors headlined “Chemical Weapons and Consequences: Syria calls President Obama’s bluff on WMD,” saying:

“As President of the United States, I don’t bluff,” said Obama.

He “famously said (it) in March 2012, warning Iranian leaders that he would not allow them to acquire nuclear weapons.”

Last month he said:

“I’ve made it clear to Bashar al-Assad and all who follow his orders: We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, or the transfer of those weapons to terrorists.”

“The world is watching; we will hold you accountable.”

“Or not,” said Journal editors. “Israel will have to consider its own military options to secure the stockpiles if the US won’t act….”

“Presidents who are exposed as bluffers tend to have their bluff called again and again, with ever more dangerous consequences.”

Official accusations are familiar. So is heated rhetoric that follows. Obama heads closer to full-scale intervention. Reports say around 20,000 US troops will be deployed in Jordan.

On April 26, Obama hosted Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Washington. Perhaps they discussed invasion plans.

A Final Comment

While meeting with King Abdullah, Obama stopped short of saying Assad crossed a “red line.” Earlier he warned doing so would unleash “unspecified consequences.” Likely he meant direct US intervention.

“Horrific as it is when mortars are being fired on civilians and people are being indiscriminately killed, to use potential weapons of mass destruction on civilian populations crosses another line with respect to international norms and international law,” he told reporters.

“That is going to be a game changer. We have to act prudently.”

“We have to make these assessments deliberately. But I think all of us….recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations.”

Sorting things out requires “increased urgency,” he stressed.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said “(h)e retains all options to respond.” Further reports will explain more.

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

http://static.infowars.com/2013/04/i/general/bostonmil5.jpgmartial law in boston 2

.http://files.abovetopsecret.com/files/img/rb517a12ff.jpgThe above are real pictures of military and police locking down Boston and searching door-to-door for the Boston bomber in Watertown, Massachusetts.

And here’s a video of the involuntary searches and evacuations:

Senator Rand Paul and other congressmen subsequently said they would have approved of armed drones going in as well to help take out the suspect.

We have no idea yet whether or not the suspect is in fact guilty of terrorism in Boston. But it is important to remember – as Glenn Greenwald points out – the FBI has been “positive” about the guilt of numerous people who were totally innocent:

As so many cases have proven – from accused (but exonerated) anthrax attacker Stephen Hatfill to accused (but exonerated) Atlanta Olympic bomber Richard Jewell to dozens if not hundreds of Guantanamo detainees accused of being the “worst of the worst” but who were guilty of nothing – people who appear to be guilty based on government accusations and trials-by-media are often completely innocent. Media-presented evidence is no substitute for due process and an adversarial trial.

The FBI also said it was positive that Bruce Ivins was the anthrax killer (after falsely accusing 2 other people of being the culprits). However, the National Academy of Science found that the FBI failed to prove its case.

Of course, it turns out that the bombing suspect didn’t have a single weapon when all of the troops were sent in and police shot hundreds of rounds at him. He also never robbed a 7-11, as was claimed at first.

Indeed, the high-tech manhunt for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has reminded a lot of people of Running Man … the distopian Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where – after Schwarzenegger is framed – high-tech assassins are sent out to get him.

Again, we are not saying that Tsarnaev is innocent.  We have no idea of his innocence or guilt.

But sending in overwhelming military and police force to get one 19-year old under ever-shifting explanations makes me a little nervous.

Many Americans assume that this was just a one-time emergency.  After all, a terrorist who had allegedly killed and wounded many innocents was on the run … and had supposedly thrown more pressure cooker bombs at police.

Many other Americans are saying that this was a very overt foreshadowing of martial law … of which many top government officials have warned.

But there are many other negative consequences which stem from over-reactions to terror.  For example – after 9/11 – many Americans were so scared that they supported a war in Iraq that will actually backfire and increase terrorism.  Indeed, if the Boston suspect did it, it was likely because we invaded Iraq and have launched wars throughout the Middle East.

And the Iraq war was so expensive (as much as $5 to 6 trillion dollars) that it helped make us broke … which further weakens national security.

As Andrew Napolitano writes in the conservative publication Reason … which was heartily supported by liberal site Reddit:

The American people made a pact with the devil in the weeks and months following 9/11 when they bought the Bush-era argument that by surrendering liberty they could buy safety. But that type of pact has never enhanced either liberty or safety, and its fruits are always bitter.

***

The pact with the devil occurred in the fall of 2001, when then President George W. Bush and Congress decided that they would use the machinery of the federal government to secure safety, rather than liberty. So, the Bush-inspired Patriot Act permits federal agents to write their own search warrants, and the Bush-inspired new FISA statutes permit search warrants of some Americans’ phone calls without a showing of probable cause as the Constitution requires, and the Bush-era intimidation of telephone service providers permitted our overseas spies to snoop on our domestic phone calls. None of this has enhanced safety, and all of it has diminished liberty.

***

In the Obama administration, the devil has demanded more. In the past five years, we have seen federal spies capturing the keystrokes on our computers, local police using federal dollars to install cameras and microphones on nearly every street corner, and, the latest lamentable phenomenon, the use of false emergencies to undermine freedom.

***

Think about this: The governor of Massachusetts, the superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police, the mayor of Boston, the Boston police commissioner, and the head of the Boston FBI office all proclaimed on Saturday morning that the danger had passed and Boston and its suburbs could return to normal. Yet the attorney general in Washington told his FBI agents in Boston to disregard those officials and instead pretend that the public safety was still jeopardized and then expand a 10-second window to 72 hours.

And see this.

In addition, disproportionate fear can be a corrosive force in our lives. Fear makes us unable to think straight.   As we noted in 2008, in a piece called Get a Grip, America:

Former deputy national intelligence officer for transnational threats, a 23-year senior CIA analyst, who “drafted or was involved in many of the government’s most senior assessments of the threats facing our country [and who] devoted years to understanding and combating the jihadist threat”, writes today in the Washington Post that the neocons have whipped us into an irrational fear of the terrorism. In reality, “Osama bin Laden and his disciples are small men and secondary threats whose shadows are made large by our fears” and our leaders.

This is no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention. The BBC produced a documentary called The Power of Nightmares in 2005 that showed that politicians were greatly exaggerating the terrorist threat for political ends.

***

Because so many Americans got their panties in a wad about the boogeyman, we have allowed our basic rights and liberties to be taken away, allowed the executive branch to seize dictatorial powers and ignore Congress and the courts, allowed an illegal war be launched which has destroyed our economy …  and has actually crippled our real national security (torture and imperial wars create real terrorists and push away our allies).

Of course, Obama – like Bush – claims that tyrannical measures are necessary to fight the war on terror.  But FBI agents and CIA intelligence officials, constitutional law expert professor Jonathan Turley, Time Magazine, Keith Olbermann and the Washington Post have all said that U.S. government officials “were trying to create an atmosphere of fear in which the American people would give them more power”, and even former Secretary of Homeland Security – Tom Ridge – admits that he was pressured to raise terror alerts for political purposes … to help Bush win reelection.

In fact, fear of terror makes people stupid … people are actually much more likely to be killed by much more boring and mundane causes than terrorism.

Ryan Sager points out:

The war is in our minds, between being scared of our shadows and keeping the true threat in perspective.

***

Fear is a powerful weapon — and there’s no reason the American president should act as a force multiplier for Al Qaeda.

And as professor Scott Atran notes:

To terrorize and destabilize, terrorists need publicity and our complicity. With publicity, even failed terrorist acts succeed in terrorizing; without publicity, terrorism would fade away … By amplifying and connecting relatively sporadic terrorist acts into a generalized “war,” the somewhat marginal phenomenon of terrorism has become a primary preoccupation of our government and people.

Our founding fathers advised us not to panic:

Those who would trade safety for freedom deserve neither.
– Thomas Jefferson

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.
- Benjamin Franklin

And Christians and Jews should remember that the Bible teaches us to be brave … and not to panic.

by Thehonestintelligence.blogspot.ca

(Photo – WARNING – GRAPHIC)

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Suffered a gunshot wound to the throat when he was arrested; how convenient that he can now, no longer speak.

His brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was arrested after being ordered to remove all his clothes, and He Was ALIVE, and NOT INJURED when he was taken into custody…

Now he is dead, and seriously mutilated; SINCE he went into full custody…Video of his arrest here:

So tell me, how did he die, WHILE in custody, and how did he become so badly injured during his death; again, WHILE in Custody! His death photo below: (WARNING – VERY GRAPHIC) You can click on the image to see it larger.

No Miranda Rights for either brother, No right to an attorney, No rights to even try to prove their innocence. This is a sham of our Judicial system, and becoming more and more of a blatant cover-up, right in front of us. Our government uses “Patsies,” like Oswald, and then they are suddenly dead, so the investigation is closed, and the government can get away with yet another crime against the citizens.

Below: Surgeon being silenced, or another crisis actor?

Samsung, the South Korean multinational company headquartered in Seoul just announced that its online store will not operate in Iran as of May 22, 2013.  The Associated Press report titled ‘Samsung to block access to app store in Iran’ that Iranian users of Samsung mobile applications said Thursday that the company had notified them that they will no longer have access to the company’s online store as of May 22.” 

Iranian citizens were informed earlier in the week about Samsung’ decision to block access to the app store. 

At a Tehran shopping mall, owners of mobile phones and tablets said Thursday that they had received the message via email from the company late the night before. Retailers said they had no power over the decision” the report said.  “The move is seen as part of international sanctions on the country over its disputed nuclear program.”

South Korea has numerous US bases in its territory since the Korean Peninsula had been divided since 1945.  South Korea became a republic in 1948 under Syngman Rhee, an anti-Communist/US ally.  It is one of Iran’s first sanctions imposed by the company since the talks in Kazakhstan failed earlier this month.  More sanctions are expected against Iran in the near future concerning its nuclear program.

The Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem and the Ministry of Transport are currently undertaking large-scale construction work in Beit Safafa, occupied East Jerusalem, in order to complete a highway (“Begin Highway”) that will serve the expansion of Israel’s the illegal settlements in and around the southern part of occupied East Jerusalem and expedite the annexation de facto of the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. The occupied Palestinian population of Beit Safafa does not benefit from this highway. They have not been consulted, and their livelihoods and community are being destroyed.  Together with the people of Beit Safafa, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, a coalition of 25 Palestinian human rights and development organizations, calls upon all States, the United Nations and the EU to intervene as a matter of urgency in order to ensure that:

  • Israel and the responsible executive entities, in particular the Israeli Ministry of Transport,  the Jerusalem Municipality and its Moriah Jerusalem Development Company, immediately cease construction of the new illegal settlement highway in Beit Safafa and make full reparation for losses and damages already caused to the occupied Palestinian population;
  • No international recognition is granted to the unlawful situation resulting from the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise of which this highway is part, and no public or private funds or business activities contribute to the construction of the illegal highway.

In light of the persistence of Israeli settlement expansion, we urge the international community, including local authorities and business companies, to suspend cooperation and business with the Israeli authorities and companies responsible for the construction of the illegal highway in occupied Beit Safafa.

Stop Israeli construction of a new illegal settlement highway in occupied Palestinian territory

Halt Israeli destruction and forcible displacement of the Palestinian community of Beit Safafa in occupied East Jerusalem

A public appeal by the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem submitted to the special attention of:

Heads of diplomatic missions in the OPT

UNESCO Special Coordinator, Robert Serry

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the OPT, Richard Falk

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik

 Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Dahiet al Barid, Abu Khalaf Bldg., www.civiccoalition-jerusalem.org


 Practical and effective measures for the above must be implemented immediately in order to prevent further entrenchment and expansion of the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise, and more damage to the human rights and livelihoods of the occupied Palestinian people, in particular the inhabitants of Beit Safafa.

In light of the strong international concern and condemnation of the illegal Israeli  settlement activity,[1] and based on the legal obligations of third parties affirmed by the ICJ Advisory Opinion of 2004 and the recent report of the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Israeli settlements, we urge and expect all States, the UN and the EU “to assume their responsibilities vis-à-vis Israel as a State breaching peremptory norms of international law”, [2] and to adopt the necessary measures, including sanctions, in order to halt the construction of the illegal settlement highway in Beit Safafa. We also urge and expect private companies to respect international law and the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and to take “all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure that they do not have an adverse impact on the human rights of the Palestinian people.”[3]

Facts and background

Location and specifications of the Israeli road project

The construction site extends from the Israeli (Teddy Kolleg) football stadium and (Malha) Mall in the area of the 1948 depopulated Palestinian village of al Malha, West Jerusalem, to the Israeli Gilo settlement in the south of 1967 occupied East Jerusalem. The projected road is approximately 1.5 km long and almost entirely located in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, specifically in Beit Safafa, a Palestinian community with approximately 9,300 in habitants. In Beit Safafa, the road is being constructed as a 6-lane highway, with as many as 10-11 lanes in some parts. Construction started in September 2012 and is scheduled to be completed in October 2015.

Purpose and function of the Israeli highway through occupied Beit Safafa

The highway currently under construction in Beit Safafa is an extension of the already existing “Begin Highway” and has been designated alternatingly as Road No. 4 or Road No. 50 by the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality. The Begin Highway is the western Jerusalem ring road that expedites travel between the south and the north of the city . It constitutes a core component of the road network that serves Israel’s “greater Jerusalem” settlement metropolis in the occupied West Bank and ties it into Israeli territory.  Partially constructed in occupied Palestinian territory, the Begin Highway links in the north into Road 443 to the settlement bloc of Givat Ze’ev in the occupied West Bank and onward to Tel Aviv. In the south, the Begin Highway currently ends in the Malha neighborhood, West Jerusalem; it does not yet have a direct connection with Road 60 (the “Tunnel Road”) which serves Israeli movement to and from the settlements in the southern West Bank.

The short section of highway currently under construction in Beit Safafa will close the gap between the Begin Highway and Road 60 (Tunnel Road). Construction of the highway section coincides with increased Israeli settlement activity in the area, including the expansion of the existing settlements of Gilo and Har Homa and the establishment of the new settlement of Givat Hamatos in occupied East Jerusalem,[4] and the ongoing construction of the settlement of Har Gilo in the adjacent occupied West Bank.  Although propagated as an “internal” Jerusalem road by the Israeli authorities, the highway through Beit Safafa will substantially upgrade the network of Israeli settlement roads. It will accommodate the increased Israeli traffic from these settlements, and it will create one continuous piece of highway for Israeli traffic from the Gush Etzion settlement bloc in the southern West Bank (Road 60), through West and East Jerusalem (Begin Highway), to the Ma’ale Adumim settlement bloc and the E1 area in the east (Road 1), and to the Givat Ze’ev settlement bloc near Ramallah and onward to Tel Aviv (Road 443).

Alone and in combination with similar Israeli transport infrastructure projects in various stages of planning or construction, such as the Jerusalem Light Rail,[5] the Eastern Ring Road[6] and the A1 Train,[7] the section of the Begin Highway through Beit Safafa will boost Israel’s “greater Jerusalem” settlement enterprise, consolidate Israeli domination, and expedite the annexation de facto of the central area of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

http://www.poica.org/editor/case_studies/sfafa50e.jpg

 Courtesy of ARIJ.

Who is involved in the construction of the settlement highway in Beit Safafa?

Responsible for the implementation of the road project are the Israeli Jerusalem Municipality and the Ministry of Transport. Construction is led by the Moriah Jerusalem Development Company, the executive arm of the Municipality for infrastructure projects. The implementing contractor is D.Y. Barazani Ltd., an Israeli construction company regularly performing development and infrastructure maintenance work for the Jerusalem Municipality, including in occupied East Jerusalem. (See billboard below.) Earth moving equipment of Volvo (Sweden), CAT (USA), Hyundai (South Korea) and JCB (U.K.) is being used for the construction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impacts and consequences for the occupied Palestinian population of Beit Safafa

The occupied Palestinian population of Beit Safafa does not benefit from this highway which is being imposed on them against their express will.  Although the highway is being built on land confiscated in the past from members of the community and passes through its center, no access road onto the highway will be available for the local Palestinian residents. Moreover, the highway is causing grave losses and damages to individuals and the community of Beit Safafa.

For Palestinian owners of land and homes along the route of the highway through Beit Safafa, construction of the highway is resulting in serious infringements against their property and housing rights::

·         Loss of the right to use and develop property: under Israeli planning law, no construction is permitted within 150m from both sides of highways of the type under construction in Beit Safafa. Moreover, as the local population was unaware of the Israeli road plan and able to obtain permits to build homes in the past, many homes are today located within this 300m periphery, including some in extreme vicinity to the new highway. These homes are now effectively rendered illegal under Israeli planning law, and no permits will be available in the future for their repair or extension.

·         Loss of value of property: due to the above, as well as the extreme exposure to noise, pollution and related hazards resulting from the ongoing construction work and future traffic, Palestinian homes in vicinity of the highway have lost approximately 37% of their market value.[8]

In addition, all inhabitants of Beit Safafa are affected by:

·         Risks to health and adequate standard of living due to the degradation of the environment;

·         Loss of freedom of movement and access to essential services: since the establishment of the Gilo settlement in the 1970s, Beit Safafa has been bifurcated north-south by the 4-6 lane road (Dov Yosef Road) connecting the settlement with West Jerusalem. The extension of the Begin Highway currently under construction will cut through the community from west to east; it will cross the Gilo settlement road underneath a bridge and result in the division of Beit Safafa into four disconnected parts. The new highway will cut off local internal roads and obstruct access to kindergartens, schools, the health clinic and places of work and worship. For many residents, these will no longer be accessible by foot but require travel by car on two new internal roads across bridges planned for local use.

·         Serious infringement against the collective right to maintain and develop the community: as a result of the fragmentation of the village and the losses and damages caused to the Palestinian inhabitants.

In the longer term, the Begin Highway alone and in combination with the additional Israeli settlement activities planned in the area will result in the destruction of Beit Safafa as a community and in the forced displacement of (part of) its members.

 

  A snap shot from a promotional video clip disseminated on youtube by the Moriah Jerusalem Development Company showing a model of the Begin Highway in Beit Safafa when completed. The picture shows the highway crossing the Gilo settlement road (Dov Yosef Road) underneath a bridge and leading into West Jerusalem (on the top). It also shows how Beit Safafa is sliced into four parts, and the two bridges across the highway planned for local use.

The full promotion clip can be viewed at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=042woKRZ0Iw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  Previous history of forced dispossession and forced displacement – a context of systematic Israeli violation of IHL and international human rights law

 Israel’s construction of the Begin Highway and the consequences for the occupied Palestinian population should be assessed in the context of previous Israeli policies and practices applied to Beit Safafa (and neighboring Palestinian communities). Until 1967, Beit Safafa was divided by the armistice line between Israel and Jordan that had resulted from the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Although the village has since been reunited as a result of the Israeli occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem, a substantial portion of its population continues to be forcibly displaced. This includes (descendants of) Palestinian refugees who had found shelter in the Jordanian-controlled part of Beit Safafa after their expulsion by Israel in 1948, as well as (descendants of) original villagers displaced during the two Arab-Israeli wars and in the ongoing Israeli occupation. Israel has prevented the return of the displaced and confiscated their land, as well as land  of the remaining inhabitants of Beit Safafa, by means of laws that discriminate against the indigenous Palestinian population, such as the Absentees’ Property Law (1950) and the Land Ordinance (Acquisition for Public Purposes) of 1943. Israel has used this land for the development of Jewish neighborhoods and infrastructure in West Jerusalem, and Jewish settlements, roads and military installations in occupied East Jerusalem.

 Israel’s illegal annexation of Beit Safafa and the subsequent systematic and discriminatory Israeli policy land confiscation and urban planning have resulted in a situation where Beit Safafans have already lost approximately one-third of their land, and the area available for the development of the community has shrunk from 3,057 dunams under the British Mandate in 1947 to 2,354 dunams under Israeli control today.[10] Together with neighboring Palestinian communities in the OPT, Beit Safafa is affected, for example, by two large-scale Israeli land confiscations undertaken for alleged “public purpose” in 1970[11] and 1991[12]. Israel has used the expropriated Palestinian land for the development of the Jewish settlements of Gilo (1971) and Givat Hamatos (about to be constructed). Also confiscated from Beit Safafans in the past were the 234 dunams of land for the construction of the Begin Highway extension.[13]

 Wider impact of the Begin Highway in Beit Safafa on Palestinians

 Since the Begin Highway through Beit Safafa will, once completed, contribute to the consolidation and annexation of Israeli “greater Jerusalem” in the central area of the occupied Palestinian West Bank, this highway will, ipso facto, undermine the ability of the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence in the OPT, including East Jerusalem. Moreover, the local Palestinian population will not benefit from this highway because, a) use of the Israeli settlement-highway network is restricted for most Palestinians from the occupied West Bank, who do not have Israeli permission for travel in Israeli territory and occupied East Jerusalem, and b) these highways by-pass local Palestinian communities and are not easily accessible for Palestinians.

The exclusion of the Palestinian population from the Israeli planning process

Despite the severe impacts of the Begin Highway currently under construction, the local Palestinian population, including the residents of Beit Safafa, has never been consulted by the responsible Israeli authorities. Based on information provided by the residents’ lawyer and the NGO Ir Amim, the Jerusalem Municipality has never submitted a detailed plan of the highway for public review and objections, although this is required by Israeli law and was done for other segments of Begin Highway.[14]

The people of Beit Safafa became aware of the highway project only when construction started in September 2012. Public concern and protest was initially directed to the local liaison office of the Jerusalem Municipality in Beit Safafa. The latter confirmed that construction work had been started without the required permit and requested that Beit Safafans be patient and wait until the problem is solved. When construction had not ceased by December, a group of 20 residents challenged the road project in the Jerusalem District Court. The petitioners requested the Court to issue an order for the Jerusalem Municipality to stop construction, and to present a detailed plan for public review and objection.

In court, the Jerusalem Municipality argued that it had presented the required plan, and that Beit Safafans have forfeited their right to compensation because they did not object to the highway in time. The Municipality based its argument on a plan (local outline plan no. 2371) for Beit Safafa which was submitted for public review and approved in 1991. This plan does, in fact, feature a road in the site where the highway is being constructed. However, it does not provide specifications regarding the type and size of the road, it does not show the connections with the Begin Highway and Road No. 60 (which did not yet exist in 1991 in their current form), and it doesn’t include a number of homes which have since been built, with official authorization, in the area adjacent to the route of the road. The people of Beit Safafa argued on this basis that the old plan was outdated and not a valid planning document for the construction of the extension of the Begin Highway. The Jerusalem District Court, however, ruled that the plan from 1990 was valid and that construction could proceed.

C:\Users\user\Downloads\_____.PNGThe residents of Beit Safafa have filed an appeal against the decision of the District Court with the Israeli High Court. With the appeal, the residents also submitted a request for an immediate stop-of-work order until their appeal would be heard. This request was rejected on 20 March 2013. The High Court accepted the position of the Jerusalem Municipality that the request came “too late”, and that the damage caused for the State of Israel by a halt of construction would amount to approximately NIS 20 million per month and would, thus, be larger than the damage caused to the people of Beit Safafa by the construction of the highway in their community.[15]

In the meantime, therefore, construction of the Begin Highway – and destruction of Beit Safafa – continues unabated. The hearing of the appeal in the Israeli High Court has been tentatively scheduled for 26 June, and the Israeli NGO Bimkom has joined the appeal with new information about losses and damages caused to the community and inhabitants of Beit Safafa. Deeply concerned about the rapid pace of construction/destruction, the people of Beit Safafa maintain permanent public protest activities in their village and are calling for effective international solidarity and intervention.

The status of the Begin Highway in Beit Safafa under international law

Under international law, the Begin Highway currently under construction in Beit Safafa is illegal. Among others, Israel violates its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention by constructing a highway in the OPT which serves the permanent settlement of Israeli citizens in the OPT, and which does not benefit the occupied Palestinian population but rather the interests of its own citizens, including those in the illegal settlements. Moreover, since the section of the highway under construction in occupied Beit Safafa is part and parcel of Israel’s illegal settlement activity in the OPT, Israel, with the construction of this highway, is responsible for the serious breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law already analyzed in the ICJ Advisory Opinion of 2004 on the Israeli Wall in occupied Palestinian territory, including the permanent acquisition of territory by force, violation of the Palestinian right to self-determination, forced population transfer, unlawful expropriation and destruction of Palestinian property and gross and systematic infringements against the human rights of the occupied Palestinian population.[16] Based on the  ICJ Advisory Opinion and the recent UN Fact Finding Mission on the Israeli settlements, therefore, Israel with its Begin Highway extension in Beit Safafa is responsible for serious breaches of peremptory norms of international law which trigger the responsibility of all States, and for war crimes which give rise to individual responsibility.[17]

6 April 2013

 For  further information, please contact:

 Zakaria Odeh, executive director

 Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem

 [email protected]

 

Notes

[1] See, for example, UN Security Council Resolutions 252 (1968(, 298 (1971), 446 (1979) and 465 (1980). See also , EU Council of Foreign Affairs. Conclusions of 14 May 2012: http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/israel/documents/press_corner/20120514_01_en.pdf

[2] See, para 116 of the Report of the Independent International Fact-finding Mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (A/HRC/22/63) adopted by the Human Rights Council on 19 March 2013 (A/HRC/22/L.45).

[3] Ibid, para 117.

[4] Israeli settlement plans in the area were fast-tracked and approved in December 2012 and include 1,000 additional housing units in Gilo and 2,610 units in Givat Hamatos (stage A of a total of 4,000 projected). http://peacenow.org/entries/972_settlement_round-up_thousands_new_homes_planned_for_east_jerusalem_west_bank#more

[8] Based on the preliminary assessment of damages presented by the residents of Beit Safafa in their petition to the Jerusalem District Court in December 2012. Source: Atty Kais Nasser, representing the residents in this case.

[9] Minutes of Jerusalem Municipal Council meeting, 27 December 1987, Report 64, p. 18. in B’tselem, A Policy of Discrimination: Land Expropriation, Planning and Building in East Jerusalem, May 1995.

[10] Source: Arab Studies Society/Map and GIS Department, based on British Mandate survey (1947) and the Israeli outline plan for Beit Safafa (2317) of 1991.

[11] 2,700 dunams confiscated for Gilo on 30 August 1970; Official Gazette (in Hebrew) 1656 (1970), p. 2808.

[12] 600 dunams confiscated for Givat Hamatos on 16 May 1991; Official Gazette (in Hebrew) 3877 (1991), p. 2479.

[14] See also, Ir Amim, Fact Sheet “Tearing a neighbourhood into two. The Begin Highway in Beit Safafa”:

www.ir-amim.org.il/sites/default/files/english%20for%20web.pdf

[15] Zafrir Rinat, “Israel’s High Court rejects Arab village’s bid to stop construction of highway. Justices say there is more proof that the state would suffer if construction were delayed”, in Ha’aretz, 20 March 2013:

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israel-s-high-court-rejects-arab-village-s-bid-to-stop-construction-of-highway.premium-1.510878

[16] See, ICJ Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in Occupied Palestinian Territory of 9 July 2004: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=4&k=5a&case=131&code=mwp&p3=4

[17] See footnote 1. See also, Al Haq, Legal Memorandum on State Responsibility relating to Israel’s Illegal Settlement Enterprise:

http://www.alhaq.org/advocacy/topics/settlements-and-settler-violence/603-legal-memorandum-on-state-responsibility-in-relation-to-israels-illegal-settlement-enterprise