Sep 082014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Internet Governance Forum - Gürkan Özturan, Pirate Party Movement Turkey

Internet Governance Forum – Gürkan Özturan, Pirate Party Movement Turkey

Interview by Per Strömbäck, Editor Netopia:

Netopia met Gürkan Özturan, the Spokesperson International Communications, Pirate Party Movement Turkey, at the Internet Governance Forum in Istambul. Interview:

Netopia: How do you find the Internet Governance Forum?

It is a wonderful opportunity to get to meet other people who want to contribute to internet, except not all of them care about internet freedoms. But it’s good to be able to talk about possible basic (and minimum) regulation of the internet. Wonderful opportunity to be part of it, but of course as the Pirates we have our concerns such as censorship and surveillance lobby and their control intentions in disguise of security, and we also have worries about the organisation. It is important for Turkish activists to have an international audience to be able to meet like-minded people and know the global debate here. Living in a country where such state-spying in disguise of security unravels itself and falls down on citizens’ liberties like a dark cloud, I believe we have much to say about the problems with limiting the free internet. There is an ironic situation though, regarding censorship. Actually, the building we’re in right now is free from censorship, what we get here is not the standard Turkish access, but unfiltered. (Editor’s note: This was part of the arrangement with the United Nations when Turkey agreed to organise the IGF.) All kinds of communication is being intercepted in Turkey, like cell phone calls.

N: What are your concerns with the IGF?

One of them is regarding the famous wording of the event: “multi-stakeholder”. Simply multiplication of the stakeholders with a similar point of view does not help bringing us any closer to a free and at the same time secure internet. Many stakeholders would be better. It’s a play on words perhaps, but wording is important. (Laughs). Unfortunately we have seen many people with decision-making power, focusing on the profit side of internet, we have heard many governmental representatives speaking of internet as a sector. Even if we were to perceive internet as a sector, more state interference is not the answer to the well-being of that sector, let alone for the rights and liberties! It would have been better to see more NGO, civil society and activist network representatives and digital rights activists. Currently there is too much of government, ministers, bureaucrats in comparison. I would have liked to see more civil society engagement and contribution to the decision-making processes. I like what Jan Kleijssen from the Council of Europe said: “It’s not the internet that has to be regulated, it’s the behaviour of the governments concerning freedoms and liberties”. I see it as less government, more liberty.

N: Turkey has received international criticism for its lack of human rights protection: how does that relate to hosting the Internet Governance Forum?

It’s ironic that this conference is being held in Turkey, but the history of IGF in places like Bali and Baku, and next year’s venue being Brazil perhaps gives an idea regarding the selection. Perhaps the intention is to find countries that do not really want to allow liberties prevail in their societies. Or in a more optimistic approach, perhaps we can cease this as an opening window. This gives the local digital rights defenders and liberals to interact with international audience and make us get heard. Even if this opportunity might not present itself in the IGF venue, then there emerges Ungovernance Forums. We can see this as an opportunity for the more positive aspect that government can start improving on its approach to human rights and freedoms. It gives me hope about some positive outcomes. However at this IGF there is a lack of panels on censorship and surveillance in Turkey, but government officials repeatedly number-bombarding and stressing that they did not interfere with decision-making on topics in any way is not very convincing. If every single violation of human rights and liberties were to be defended with reference to irrelevant numbers, we would have to re-invent both mathematics and human reasoning.

N: What is the Ungovernance Forum?

It’s a separate event, based on digital rights and liberties, discussions on surveillance, spreading of information and knowledge. It will not be solely based on profit-making and turning the internet into an economic sector. And I believe it is important to have this forum simultaneously with IGF. Moreover, it is impressive to see the support for ungovernance forum. However, the people who really should hear the panels there are absent. But on the other hand, the same people are absent from the IGF panels on youth participation and the future of internet. It is only when they can suggest restrictive, illiberal measures that earns some people a lot of money, they are present at the forefronts. I also would like to mention my favourite quote here from Ben Franklin “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

The interview of Gürkan Özturan is part of the series Voices from Istanbul published on Netopia Website. Read as well the interviews of Dr. Robert Pepper, Vice President Global Technology Policy, Cisco, speaking on behalf of ICC BASIS, and Sally Shipman Wentworth, Vice President Global Policy Development, Internet Society.

Sep 042014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* HOAXES, HYPE AND HYSTERIA

The War Party never takes a holiday

By Justin Raimondo, AntiWar

obama-wars-84653631956

While Americans were barbecuing over the Labor Day weekend, the Usual Suspects were busy cooking up new wars, from Iraq to Ukraine. While this is nothing new – after all, evil never sleeps – one thing I did notice: the stunning lack of imagination on their part. It was, in effect, the equivalent of a bunch of summer reruns: tired formulaic retreads that weren’t all that convincing in the first place.

imagesTake the latest war propaganda centered on the alleged “threat” to our precious bodily fluids supposedly posed by ISIS, the War Party’s latest bogeyman. As polls showed a stubborn reluctance on the part of the American people to re-invade Iraq, the neocons came up with a not-so-new one: they claim a laptop computer ostensibly captured from ISIS by the “good” jihadists – the so-called Free Syrian Army, which is armed and trained by the US – contains plans for constructing “weapons of mass destruction,” i.e. biological weapons. They’re even calling it the “laptop of death” – a phrase that ought to ring a bell for those who follow these sorts of things.

That’s the same phrase used to describe yet another purloined laptop, this one supplied by the Mujahedin-e-Khalq, an Iranian terrorist group that, for years, has been feeding the War Party bogus “intelligence” about Tehran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. That tall tale was debunked in 2011 – yet another case of MEK cobbling together old outdated data, adding a dash of forgery, and shaking well enough to fool the credulous. […]

READ @ http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2014/08/31/hoaxes-hype-and-hysteria/

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* RETURN OF THE EVIL EMPIRE

By Jason Hirthler, CounterPunch

EvilYanks

You have to hand it to them. The United States media machine is unequaled at producing and disseminating misinformation. It begins in the bowels of the State Department or White House or Pentagon and is filtered out through the government’s front organizations, otherwise known as Mainstream Media (MSM).

In 2014 the U.S. has succeeded in demonizing Vladimir Putin and Russia, precipitating a New Cold War that may yet become a hot one. The evil empire is back. The White House has made proficient use of mass media propaganda to get the job done. First, they’ve controlled the narrative. This is critical for two reasons: one, because it permits the White House to sweep the February coup in Kiev into the dustbin of American memory, never to be seen again. Second, it has allowed it to swiftly assert its claim that Russia is a dangerously expansionist power on the edges of a serene and peace-loving Europe. In other words, the omission of one fact and commission of another.

On the former front, by the State Department’s own concession, it spent some $5 billion in Ukraine, fomenting dissent under the standard guise of democracy promotion. The myriad NGOs beneath the nefarious cloud of the National Endowment for Democracy are little more than Trojan horses through which the State Department can launch subversive activities on foreign turf. We don’t know all the surely insidious details of the putsch, but there are suggestions that the violence was staged by and on behalf of the groups that now sit in power, including bickering neofascists that were foolishly handed the nation’s security portfolio. […]

READ @ http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/01/return-of-the-evil-empire/print

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* NAOMI WOLF SCHOOLS WAR PROPAGANDIST

Source: MOXNews

VIDEO @ http://youtu.be/DcxEwX2DW50

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* U.S. PENTAGON: ISRAEL SHELLED THIS GAZA TOWN EVERY 6 SECONDS FOR 7 HOURS IN ‘ABSOLUTELY DEADLY’ ATTACK

Source: Scriptonite

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A summary report by the US Pentagon has revealed the overwhelming and wholly disproportionate use of force applied by Israel against predominantly civilian populations and infrastructure in Gaza during the six weeks of Operation Protective Edge.

Fewer places was this more apparent than Shejaia, a town of some 150,000 people on the eastern edge of Gaza City.

Embarrassed by unexpectedly organized and effective Hamas fighters on the ground, Israel opted instead to obliterate whole neighbourhoods in retaliation, and to avoid taking the soldiers on in ground combat.

Israel sent in an avalanche of tanks, F-16s and Apache helicopters volleying high explosive shells and missiles into homes, schools, streets, farms and fleeing townspeople.

As AlJazeera reports of the Israeli massacre in Shejaia, on the eastern edge of Gaza City:

According to this senior U.S. officer, who had access to the July 21 Pentagon summary of the previous 24 hours of Israeli operations, the internal report showed that 11 Israeli artillery battalions — a minimum of 258 artillery pieces, according to the officer’s estimate — pumped at least 7,000 high explosive shells into the Gaza neighborhood, which included a barrage of some 4,800 shells during a seven-hour period at the height of the operation. Senior U.S. officers were stunned by the report.

This equates to one shell every 6 seconds, for seven hours – at the height of the massacre. […]

This is what it looked like on the ground:

This is all that remains of Shejaia:

READ / VIDEOS @ http://www.scriptonitedaily.com/2014/08/30/us-pentagon-israel-shelled-this-gaza-town-every-6-seconds-for-7-hours-in-absolutely-deadly-attack/

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* IDF FILM SNIPING CHILDREN PLAYING ON ROOFTOP IN GAZA

Source: youtube

Footage released on YouTube clearly shows Israeli soldiers firing live rounds at Palestinian children playing on a roof in Al Khalil, an area of Hebron in Occupied Palestine.  An important piece of evidence attesting to the brutality of Israeli occupation.

Four soldiers lay on their chests on a rooftop.  In the same shot, we see what appear to be two Palestinian children playing on a rooftop.  One of the soldiers takes aim and shoots one of the Palestinians on the roof, clearly hitting him in the thigh.

The soldiers then celebrate.  One imitates the flailing actions of the wounded Palestinian, while others shake the hand of the ‘successful’ sniper.

VIDEO @ http://youtu.be/IUibXSgILv0

Sep 022014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* HENRY KISSINGER ON THE ASSEMBLY OF A NEW WORLD ORDER

By Henry Kissinger, The Wall Street Journal

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Libya is in civil war, fundamentalist armies are building a self-declared caliphate across Syria and Iraq and Afghanistan’s young democracy is on the verge of paralysis. To these troubles are added a resurgence of tensions with Russia and a relationship with China divided between pledges of cooperation and public recrimination. The concept of order that has underpinned the modern era is in crisis.

The search for world order has long been defined almost exclusively by the concepts of Western societies. In the decades following World War II, the U.S.—strengthened in its economy and national confidence—began to take up the torch of international leadership and added a new dimension. A nation founded explicitly on an idea of free and representative governance, the U.S. identified its own rise with the spread of liberty and democracy and credited these forces with an ability to achieve just and lasting peace. The traditional European approach to order had viewed peoples and states as inherently competitive; to constrain the effects of their clashing ambitions, it relied on a balance of power and a concert of enlightened statesmen. The prevalent American view considered people inherently reasonable and inclined toward peaceful compromise and common sense; the spread of democracy was therefore the overarching goal for international order. Free markets would uplift individuals, enrich societies and substitute economic interdependence for traditional international rivalries.

This effort to establish world order has in many ways come to fruition. A plethora of independent sovereign states govern most of the world’s territory. The spread of democracy and participatory governance has become a shared aspiration if not a universal reality; global communications and financial networks operate in real time. […]

READ @ http://m.us.wsj.com/articles/henry-kissinger-on-the-assembly-of-a-new-world-order-1409328075?mobile=y

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* DOMINATION OF THE UNITED STATES ON THE WORLD BANK

By Eric Toussaint, CADTM

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The concept of the World as a huge bureaucracy, gradually freed from the influence of the US, is actually a far cry from reality. This mistaken conception is revealed in particular by the North American environmentalist Bruce Rich in his insightful book on the World Bank. |1| In real terms, the institution is firmly under the control of the US government which negotiates, with the governments of other major capitalist powers, the policies to be followed within the World Bank, and under its leadership. It has frequently failed to make the effort to reach a consensus with its principal partners (since the end of the 1950s, these are Japan, Germany, Great Britain and France) and it imposes its views directly on the Bank.

Relations have sometimes been tense between the US government and the Bank’s president and/or its management in the wider sense. One must also consider the intervention (more or less active depending on the period) of Congress. On several occasions, the US executive has had to make a deal with Congress concerning the attitude to be taken with reference to the Bank and its activities. |2|

Although the World Bank is systematically subject to US influence, it nevertheless enjoys a certain measure of autonomy. It possesses a certain logic of its own which sometimes comes into conflict with the immediate interests of the US government. The Bank’s autonomy is very limited and the US government imposes its will on all issues that it considers important. Also, one must take into consideration the close links between the US business world (big capital) and the Bank. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/Domination-of-the-United-States-on

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* THESE CLOWNS ARE DRAGGING US INTO WAR

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, TheAutomaticEarth

Jack Delano Workman at Chicago & North Western repair shops, Chicago, IL Dec 1942

Jack Delano Workman at Chicago & North Western repair shops, Chicago, IL Dec 1942

In 8 weeks, on October 26, there are – supposed to be – parliamentary elections in Ukraine. What’s that going to look like? Who’s going to vote? In the presidential elections a few months ago, most of east Ukraine did not vote. How many different ways are there to define democracy and still remain credible?

In an interview today on Russian Channel 1, Vladimir Putin commented on the upcoming elections: “All the participants in the electoral race will want to show how cool they are; Everyone will want to show they are strongmen or strongwomen, and as the political struggle sharpens it is hard to expect anyone to seek a peaceful resolution and not a military one.” That would seem to be an accurate prediction.

The EU yesterday (in yet another definition of democracy) picked its new president. They chose Polish PM Donald Tusk, which may seem a bit strange since Tusk doesn’t speak a word of either English or French, and he comes from a nation that is not even in the Eurozone, yet he will now now get to chair meetings that concern the euro. But Tusk is a hawk on Russia, and therefore suspiciously convenient to the inner core of Washington and Brussels’ control apparatus. He’s said more bad and ugly things about Russia and Putin than just about anyone recently, and that’s saying something.

The US and EU have worked for years to see their desire to take over Ukraine come to fruition. They’ve come a long way, but they wanted Crimea and the Donbass region most of all, and those they still don’t have. Still, they’ve so far shown themselves more than willing to assist first in killing thousands of eastern Ukrainians to get what they want, and now they are prepared to start a war over it. […]

READ @ http://www.theautomaticearth.com/these-clowns-are-dragging-us-into-war/

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* PROPAGANDA AND THE LACK THEREOF

Source: ClubOrlov

poison_propaganda

With regard to the goings-on in Ukraine, I have heard quite a few European and American voices piping in, saying that, yes, Washington and Kiev are fabricating an entirely fictional version of events for propaganda purposes, but then so are the Russians. They appear to assume that if their corporate media is infested with mendacious, incompetent buffoons who are only too happy to repeat the party line, then the Russians must be same or worse.

The reality is quite different. While there is a virtual news blackout with regard to Ukraine in the West, with little being shown beyond pictures of talking heads in Washington and Kiev, the media coverage in Russia is relentless, with daily bulletins describing troop movements, up-to-date maps of the conflict zones, and lots of eye-witness testimony, commentary and analysis. There is also a lively rumor mill on Russian and international social networks, which I tend to disregard because it’s mostly just that: rumor. In this environment, those who would attempt to fabricate a fictional narrative, as the officials in Washington and Kiev attempt to do, do not survive very long.

There is a great deal to say on the subject, but here I want to limit myself to rectifying some really, really basic misconceptions that Washington has attempted to impose on you via its various corporate media mouthpieces. […]

READ @ http://cluborlov.blogspot.com.es/2014/08/propaganda-and-lack-thereof.html

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* PRESS CONFERENCE – FORMATION OF A STATE

Source: youtube

In this “information war” the speed at which this crucial press conference was made available is a major victory against the Empire’s propaganda machine.

This is the first time that we hear what the new – post Strelkov – commanders have to say.  This is the first time that the Novorussians are going on the offensive. And this is the first time that we get to hear the views, values and ideas of the people fighting against the Nazi junta in Kiev. This is truly a watershed moment.

VIDEO @ http://youtu.be/yH35raTPVu8

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* THE WEST, THE GREATEST CAUSE OF WAR IN HUMAN HISTORY, STANDS STRIPPED OF ALL LEGITIMACY

By Paul Craig Roberts, informationclearinghouse

ukraineterrorists

Every time you come to Russia with a sword, from a sword you will perish.”

The former Russian provinces, which Soviet party leaders carelessly attached to Ukraine at a time when it seemed to make no difference as all were part of the Soviet Union, are now independent republics with their own governments. The West pretends that this isn’t so, because Washington and its puppet capitals don’t recognize the independence of formerly captive peoples. But the West’s opinion no longer counts.

In the last couple of days the newly formed military units of the Donetsk National Republic have defeated and surrounded large portions of the remaining Ukrainian military. Russian President Putin asked the Donetsk Republic to allow the defeated Ukrainians to return home to their wives and mothers. The Donetsk Republic agreed to Putin’s mercy request as long as the Ukrainians left their weapons behind. The Donetsk Republic is short on weapons as, contrary to Western lies, the Donetsk Republic is not supplied with weapons by Russia.

Washington’s puppet government in Kiev declined the mercy extended to its troops and said they had to fight to the death. Shades of Hitler at Stalingrad. Western Ukraine has remained the repository of Nazism since 1945, and it is Western Ukraine with which Washington is allied against freedom and democracy. […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39548.htm

Aug 312014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* THE LATIN AMERICANIZATION OF U.S. POLICE FORCES

By Cosme Caal, Counterpunch

Police_Converge_MassFrom Guatemala City I have been keeping up with the events in Ferguson, Missouri and my heart goes out to those United States citizens who are actively resisting a brutal local police state. I sit awake at night and contemplate how one of the greatest nations in the world has become militarized and despotic. Impunity is now normalized in most police departments across the United States and in the minds of many Americans. I did not know I would live to see this phenomenon, yet, the more I peruse online news feeds, the more evident it is to me that Americans, especially minorities, are in great danger of militarized suppression as a matter of state policy.

From our experience in half a century in Latin America I can tell you that, once the human rights of a minority are compromised, it is only a matter of time before they are compromised for an entire nation. From that same experience I can tell you it will take decades before they can be regained. Militarized police forces take on a life of their down, at the expense of the society’s well-being. The social contract that gives the state the duty to organize police forces itself becomes obsolete, almost a joke. Citizens begin to obey agents of the state not out of respect or cooperation, but out of fear of those sworn to protect them. Eventually, the militarized power of the police reaches such magnitude that political leaders lose all ability to rein them in. We experienced this USA-backed militarized transformation of the police in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Chile, and Colombia. What the U.S. helped do to Latin America, it is now doing to itself.

Even when there will officers who want to adhere to the law, militarized policing organizations become an unstoppable and despotic force. The very ideologies that give them life become obsolete, as do all existing laws that protect citizens. Central American dictatorships backed and armed by the United States government in the 1970’s built police forces, outfitted them with military gear, and allowed them to brutalize and kill with impunity. The murder or incarceration of progressive democratic leaders who resisted this transformation was sanctioned by United States intelligence agencies.

I call out to white United States citizens, and those police officers that believe in democracy and the rule of law, to unite with racial minorities who are now being suppressed, and to resist the catastrophic militarization of police forces across the United States. For white Americans to think that their race makes them immune to police brutality is a mistake that cannot be afforded. Central American urban mestizo masses ignored the genocide of hundreds of thousands of indigenous peoples. They saw these massacres as not their problem. Today we all suffer militarized suppression. Racial division was our greatest weakness. […]

READ @ http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/27/the-latin-americanization-of-u-s-police-forces/

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* ARRESTED LEGAL OBSERVER: FERGUSON A ‘PILOT PROGRAM’ FOR WHEN COMMUNITIES RESPOND TO POLICE BRUTALITY

By Kevin Gosztola, Firedoglake

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The National Lawyers Guild had legal observers on the ground in Ferguson to monitor protests against the killing of unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, by a Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. They were also present to help with jail support for community residents. But, while working, four of the NLG’s observers fell victim to the police occupation they were trying to help Ferguson fight and were arrested.

As Dennis Black, one of the legal observers arrested, commented, “Ferguson is a pilot program of what’s to come when communities respond to police brutality.” He and others had traveled from Detroit to see a preview of what police might do to squelch uprisings there.

Black and two other volunteers were arrested on August 21 about 10:30 pm. He explained that observers were concerned about police in body armor, who were stationed by a car wash on West Florissant Avenue across from what used to be a QuikTrip. They believed if anything was going to happen involving police it would happen here. They chose to record and document what police were doing.

Neither of the legal observers were permitted to stand in place for too long because of a rule imposed by the police. They kept walking back and forth with their cameras. About the third or fourth time they came back around, a female legal observer Black was with was arrested. […]

READ @ http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2014/08/30/arrested-legal-observer-ferguson-a-pilot-program-for-when-communities-respond-to-police-brutality/

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* FROM RAY RICE TO FERGUSON, VIDEO EVIDENCE MAKES THE PUBLIC TAKE ABUSE SERIOUSLY

By Dara Lind, Vox

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[…] This “seeing is believing” approach to incidents of abuse happens all the time. After a bystander with a cell phone recorded police choking New Yorker Eric Garner to death in July, it revived a conversation about police brutality. And one of the reasons that the conversation has gained steam over the last few weeks is because, after the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer, reporters and citizen journalists were on hand to record protests in Ferguson, Missouri, and the aggressive, militarized police response to the protesters.

Americans seem more likely to take abuse to heart, and get outraged about it, when there’s documentary evidence. Without documentation, the victim’s and aggressor’s accounts become a “he said, she said” — and we know from media studies that people are more likely to believe accounts that confirm their prejudices. If people tend to side with the person they already know, like or trust — the police officer or the star player — video evidence becomes one of the only things that can break that impasse.

There’s a long history of abusive cops being caught on video and provoking public backlash. Rodney King’s beating at the hands of police became a flashpoint in 1991 because it was caught on tape. When the officers who assaulted King were acquitted, people felt the court’s judgment just didn’t match the evidence they’d seen with their own eyes. (My colleague Tim Lee has compiled other examples of times that videotapes have helped to curb police abuse.) […]

READ @ http://www.vox.com/2014/8/29/6080141/ray-rice-ferguson-abuse-record-police-video-important

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* HOW THE SUPREME COURT PROTECTS BAD COPS

By Erwin Chemerinsky, NYTimes

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LAST week, a grand jury was convened in St. Louis County, Mo., to examine the evidence against the police officer who killed Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, and to determine if he should be indicted. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. even showed up to announce a separate federal investigation, and to promise that justice would be done. But if the conclusion is that the officer, Darren Wilson, acted improperly, the ability to hold him or Ferguson, Mo., accountable will be severely restricted by none other than the United States Supreme Court.

In recent years, the court has made it very difficult, and often impossible, to hold police officers and the governments that employ them accountable for civil rights violations. This undermines the ability to deter illegal police behavior and leaves victims without compensation. When the police kill or injure innocent people, the victims rarely have recourse.

The most recent court ruling that favored the police was Plumhoff v. Rickard, decided on May 27, which found that even egregious police conduct is not “excessive force” in violation of the Constitution. Police officers in West Memphis, Ark., pulled over a white Honda Accord because the car had only one operating headlight. Rather than comply with an officer’s request to get out of the car, the driver made the unfortunate decision to speed away. The police chased the car for more than five minutes, reaching speeds of over 100 miles per hour. Eventually, officers fired 15 shots into the car, killing both the driver and a passenger.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and ruled unanimously in favor of the police. Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. said that the driver’s conduct posed a “grave public safety risk” and that the police were justified in shooting at the car to stop it. The court said it “stands to reason that, if police officers are justified in firing at a suspect in order to end a severe threat to public safety, the officers need not stop shooting until the threat has ended.”

This is deeply disturbing. The Supreme Court now has said that whenever there is a high-speed chase that could injure others — and that would seem to be true of virtually all high-speed chases — the police can shoot at the vehicle and keep shooting until the chase ends. Obvious alternatives could include shooting out the car’s tires, or even taking the license plate number and tracking the driver down later. [...]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/27/opinion/how-the-supreme-court-protects-bad-cops.html?emc=eta1&_r=0

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* HALL OF SHAME – POLICE BRUTALITY COMPILATION

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NmVTVRWf7yA

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* THE COURAGE TO DISARM

By Robert C. Koehler, Buzzflash

picasso-peace1

The Ferguson tragedy, like all those that preceded it and all that will follow — involving the trivial and panicky use of lethal force, by the police or anyone else — stirs up questions the social status quo doesn’t dare face.

My sister, Sue Melcher, put it this way: “I find myself also nauseated that another issue never seems to enter the discussion: the issue that a highly trained officer could make such a mistake with a gun demonstrates that just having the weapon present increased the danger of the situation. Had the citizens been armed, how many more casualties could there have been? None of us is ‘healthy’ enough to be trusted to use lethal force wisely — and is that even possible?”

The “wise” use of lethal force . . .

We’ve wrapped our global civilization around the certainty that we understand and revere life in all its vastness and mystery so completely that we know when to cut it short, indeed, that we — those of us who are officially sanctioned good guys — have a right to cut it short in, it would seem, an ever-widening array of circumstances. In so doing, we allegedly make life better for the social whole. This is called militarism. To keep this profitable lie going, we refuse to look deeply at its consequences. […]

READ @ http://truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary/the-courage-to-disarm

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WHAT KIND OF SOCIETY DO WE WANT TO LIVE IN?

Aug 302014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

The Islamic militant group ISIS, formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and recently rebranded as the so called Islamic State, is the stuff of nightmares. They are ruthless, fanatical, killers, on a mission, and that mission is to wipe out anyone and everyone, from any religion or belief system and to impose Shari’ah law. The mass executions, beheadings and even crucifixions that they are committing as they work towards this goal are flaunted like badges of pride, video taped and uploaded for the whole world to see. This is the new face of evil.

Would it interest you to know who helped these psychopaths rise to power? Would it interest you to know who armed them, funded them and trained them? Would it interest you to know why?

This story makes more sense if we start in the middle, so we’ll begin with the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Libyan revolution was Obama’s first major foreign intervention. It was portrayed as an extension of the Arab Spring, and NATO involvement was framed in humanitarian terms.

The fact that the CIA was actively working to help the Libyan rebels topple Gaddafi was no secret, nor were the airstrikes that Obama ordered against the Libyan government. However, little was said about the identity or the ideological leanings of these Libyan rebels. Not surprising, considering the fact that the leader of the Libyan rebels later admitted that his fighters included Al-Qaeda linked jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq. [...]

READ / VIDEO @ http://scgnews.com/the-covert-origins-of-isis

Aug 242014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

The Obama Administration actively pressured Europe to impose harsh sanctions on Russia in order to defend the violent takeover (‘regime change’) in the Ukraine.  England, France, Germany and the rest of the European regimes gave in to Washington’s demands.  Russia responded by imposing reciprocal sanctions, especially on agriculture goods, and is establishing alternative trading partners and increasing trade with China, Iran, Latin America and Africa.

The sanctions policies occur at a time when Europe’s economies are in deep economic crisis, exacerbating long-term stagnation and chronic recession.  This paper will identify and analyze the crisis and how US-led sanctions policy is fracturing the European Union. Secondly, we will analyze how Washington’s militarist imperial policies undermine Europe economically and destabilize the rest of the world militarily.  Thirdly, we will discuss how the European leaders are prodded by Washington, to put it crudely, through an aggressive ‘buggering process’, to surrender their economic sovereignty and how capitulation to the US project in the Ukraine will lead to their long-term decline and decay.  Finally, we will discuss the long-term perspectives for a re-aligned world economy where military conflicts can result in large-scale changes.

From Stagnation to Recession from Sanctions to Depression

Across Europe, without exception, recession stalks the economies.  The dominant countries, Germany, France and Italy are mired in recession, acutely exacerbated by the sanctions against Russia dictated from Washington.  From Nordic Finland, passing through the Baltic States to Central and Southern Europe, the Eurozone ‘recovery’ is ‘kaput’!  The ‘triple whammy’ of capitalist disinvestment, economic sanctions and wars has provoked a deepening economic crisis.

Germany:  Regime ‘Lick-Spittle’ Scares Industry and Financial Sectors

The German financial market’s confidence is collapsing as a result of  Chancellor Merkel’s support for economic sanctions against Russia and President Putin’s reciprocal response. Several hundred thousand German industrial jobs are at risk; imports of Russian oil and gas are in danger; large-scale, long-term German investments and lucrative export markets are at stake.  These fears and uncertainties have led to declining investment and an unprecedented negative growth of 0.2% in the German economy in the second quarter of 2014.  The recession in Germany ripples throughout Europe – especially affecting Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Southern Europe.

Merkel’s servile capitulation to the US President’s command to sanction one of Germany’s major trade partners, Russia, may seriously harm its economic future.  Germany’s  industrial exports to Russia amount to 36 billion Euros; there are 20 billion Euros in annual investments; and over 400,000 German workers are employed in companies exporting to Russia . . . Joe Kaeser, CEO of Siemens, pointedly argued that “political tensions posed serious risks for Europe’s growth this year and next”.  Sales in some sectors are down 15% since June 2014.  Germany’s economy was already facing stagnation even before the coup in Kiev . . .but  machinery exporters are especially concerned about losing the Russian market because other markets have declined.  For example, German sales to Brazil are down nearly 20%.

In addition, German farmers suffer:  Export of German meat and meat products to Russia amount to 276 million Euros or 21% of their non-EU exports.  German dairy farmers earned $160 million Euros from trade with Russia, 14% of total exports to non-EU countries.

Merkel knowingly sacrificed German industry, agriculture and employment by submitting to Obama’s policy of ‘buggering his European allies’.  On the other hand, Obama’s sanctions against Russia have virtually no impact on US economic interests.  Only the Europeans will feel the pinch.  Merkel’s support for the US-NATO coup in Kiev and the ongoing military assault against the anti-coup democrats in Eastern Ukraine is leading to a revival of the Cold War confrontational policies toward Russia, and has alienated the majority of German producers and exporters as well as the German public.

Italy:  Capitalist Crises and Sanctions

Italy is stuck in a half decade of profound recession continuing throughout 2014.  Its GDP fell by 0.2% in the second quarter, bringing the GDP below the level in the year 2000!  The sanctions against Russia have cost Italy over $1 billion in lost exports, hitting Northern Italy most acutely and provoking the ire of the conservative Northern League.  Big Italian energy companies, with major investments in Russia, face even bigger losses.  Italian farmers, from Tuscany to Sicily, are experiencing major losses in agricultural exports.  In other words, with sanctions Italy’s chronic sick economy has lost any chance for recovery and will likely pass from recession into depression.

France:  From Zero Growth to Recession

France has entered a period of perpetual regression:  Unemployment exceeds 11%, underemployment and ‘make work’ exceeds 20% . . . GDP hovers at recession levels, between zero and 0.5% . . . Austerity, involving large-scale cuts in social programs and tax write-offs for business, has eroded consumer spending without increasing capitalist investment. And Obama’s sanctions against Russia will further damage French exporters, especially its agricultural sector and weapons manufacturers.  And ‘Hyper-Militarist-Socialist’ President Hollande has exacerbated France’s balance of payments and budget problems by sending the air force and ground troops to intervene on three continents.  This has caused over 82% of French voters to choose alternative parties, propelling the nationalist right party, National Front, to the lead.

The ‘Backside of Europe’:  Spain, Greece and Portugal

Deeply buried in a near decade-long depression with unemployment ranging from 26% in Greece and Spain to 16% in Portugal, Russia’s reciprocal sanctions against agricultural exports has hit their agro-export sectors most severely, causing mountains of grapes, tomatoes and other perishables to rot in the fields.  Tons of Southern Europe’s produce will end up as compost.  Tens of thousands of farmers face even greater problems and more will be forced into bankruptcy because of Washington’s dictates.

Spanish farmers stand to lose 158 million Euros from the sanctions against their fresh fruit and nuts, or 22% of their total exports to non-EU countries; Greek farmers will lose 107 million Euros, 41% of exports to non-EU countries.  Spanish meat exporters will lose 111 million Euros or 13% of their non-EU markets.

The European Union, for its part, offers meager relief – expecting thousands of hard-pressed farmers to submit to Obama’s demands. In the meantime, as Russia establishes alternative markets in Latin America, the EU has sent its emissaries overseas to beg the Latin American governments to reject multi-billion dollar agro-business deals with Russia and comply with the US-EU sanctions.  So far, every country in Latin America has rejected the EU’s ‘charm’ offensive.  Ecuadorean President Correa heaped scorn on the EU: “We do not have to ask anyone’s permission to export to friendly nations.  As far as I know, Latin America is not part of the European Union”.  Egypt and Turkey are stepping in to replace the farmers of Europe and the US by exporting their agricultural produce to Russia.

Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Denmark and the Netherlands

Hungary’s President Viktor Orban rages at the sanctions and threatens to break ranks, as Budapest tallies up its losses in exports, and the threat to its energy-dependent country.  Bulgaria’s compliant President caved into Brussels’ pressure and reneged on a $40 billion dollar pipeline deal signed between Russia and local Bulgarian business leaders precipitating a major banking crisis and the collapse of its second largest bank – Corbank.  The deposits of hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians were frozen or just disappeared.  When Brussels buggers the Bulgarians, they bankrupt their own banks.

Finland, once the poster-child of the ‘Third Way’ ideologues, is in a long-term depression.  Its economy has shrunk for the past 4 consecutive years and even regime optimists estimate that they will need 10 years to recover.  Finnish Prime Minister, Alex Stubbs, a free market ideologue, is a staunch supporter of sanctions against Russia although these will drastically cut into agricultural exports (dairy goods, meat, fish, etc.).  Stubbs defends his catastrophic capitulation to NATO’s power grab in the Kiev by proclaiming that “our principles (sic) are not for sale; we believe in international institutions; we believe in the rule of law”. Finland, under its ‘law-abiding’ President, will lose at least 253 million Euros this year or 68% of its exports to non-EU countries.  In other words this political marionette has sacrificed the welfare of hundreds of thousands of Finnish dairy farmers and growers to support a NATO-imposed regime in Kiev, which has been sending units of neo-Nazis to slaughter Ukrainian resistance fighters and civilians.

Poland’s billion dollar agricultural export trade with Russia has collapsed, causing Warsaw to beg Washington and Brussels for emergency subsidies and pleading with the apple-exporting Americans to ‘eat Polish apples’.  Polish fruit growers will lose 317 million Euros in sales or 61% of their exports to non-EU countries.  Their meat exporters will lose 162 million Euros, 20% of its trade with non-EU countries.  Dairy farmers will lose 142 million Euros, 32% of exports to non-EU countries.

The Poles, who at every turn have assumed the most reactionary Russophobic posture and were deeply implicated in organizing and training the neo-fascist gangs which overthrew the elected Ukraine government, are now pushing carts down the streets of Warsaw peddling apples and sausages, instead of stocking the supermarket shelves of Russia – and whining that New Yorkers should forsake Upstate apples to take up the slack!

Lithuania will lose 308 million Euros in fresh fruit exports to Russia or 81% of their exports to non-EU countries; dairy farmers will lose 161 million Euros in sales or 74% of non-EU exports.  Denmark and Holland will lose over 800 million Euros in agro-exports to Russia –deepening their recession.

Conclusion

While the ever-persuasive con-man in Washington, President Obama has buggered EU leaders into pushing their own economies even deeper into recession, so he can launch a new Cold War with Russia, the US plunges deeper into military confrontations in Iraq, Ukraine and Syria.  Obama appears to have lost control over military aid programs in the chaos:  Netanyahu’s Zionist allies in Congress managed to by-pass the White House and State Department and approve additional shipments of Pentagon arms to Israel, undercutting any administration leverage over the ongoing Israeli genocide in Gaza.

Japan joins the US-EU sanctions against Russia exacerbating its own economic crisis:  In 2014 Japan experienced its worst contraction since 2009, with a 7.1% drop in the second quarter.  The increasingly unpopular, Japanese Prime Minister Abe is committed to a military build-up.  More Japanese politicians visit Yasukuni Shrine, the militarist temple honoring its war criminals, re-awakening the horrific memories of Imperial Japan’s victims.  There are increasingly bellicose Japanese confrontations with China over disputed piles of rock in the South China Sea . . .  As Obama’s military pivot to Asia increases, so Japan’s economy sinks.

No European country can benefit from embracing the failed regime in Kiev. . . Ukraine’s currency is in free-fall – ranking below soiled toilet paper.  Its major industries, totally dependent on trade with Russia, are bankrupt or have been bombed by the NATO-putsch regime in Kiev.  Its agricultural exports are devastated.  Meanwhile Ukrainian families are advised to chop their own wood or dig their own coal in anticipation of a winter totally cut off from Russian gas because the oligarchs in Kiev have been unable or unwilling to pay the huge energy debt. For their staunch support of this bankrupt regime, ruled by a ‘Billionaire Oligarch’ in Kiev, for upholding the ‘principles’ so lauded by Finnish President Stubbs, one million European farmers will bury their own apples, pour their own milk in the streets and dump their grapes, oranges and tomatoes in rotting heaps. . . And this is so their leaders, Obama, Cameron, Merkel and Hollande can uphold their real ‘principles’ of territorial expansion, extend their military operations to the borders with Russia and posture as warriors while destroying their countries productive economies, bankrupting their farmers and manufacturers, driving millions more into unemployment and deepening the pains of recession.

Ukraine will join a growing list of countries, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, that Washington and NATO have “saved” (to paraphrase an American general)  . . . by being destroyed.

Once again the US military-driven empire-building policy trumps economic development: Destructive wars and sanctions destroy viable markets and impoverish entire sectors of the economy.  Imposing sanctions abroad invites retaliation – the boomerang effect cripples domestic producers. As world trade and investment shrink, internal stagnation becomes endemic, recessions deepen and recovery becomes a distant chimera.  The financial press, the Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times, which have become megaphones for the western warlords, no longer publish paeans to the free market but unleash vitriolic screeds crying for war and sanctions….. which close markets and destroy investor confidence.

Buggered by Obama, European bootlickers bankrupt their own economies and then pass around the begging cup.

Italy faces the reality of a decade of stagnation.

Portugal’s economy crashes and crawls.

Germany’s manufacturing machinery grinds to a halt.

Finland’s ‘principled’ brown-nosing boomerangs.

England is converted into a money-laundering bankers’ city-state where one-third of its children live in poverty.

Poland consumes itself, drunk with weapons and rotting apples.

In a word, by submitting to Washington’s doctrine of permanent wars, Europe eschews the only road out of permanent crisis: peaceful co-existence.  The mega-buggers in Washington and the bootlickers in Europe have chosen sanctions over trade and destruction over prosperity.  They are paying a price:  domestic unrest, displacement from markets by emerging economies and the ascendancy of chaos as a way of life in Western Europe.

russia-trade-ban-who-hurts

Aug 132014
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

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During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position where we had to defend the Soviet Union because the US government was using that country as a battering ram against us. Now we sometimes have to defend Russia because it may be the last best hope of stopping TETATW (The Empire That Ate The World). Yes, during Cold War One we knew enough about Stalin, the show trials, and the gulags. But we also knew about US foreign policy.

E-mail sent to the Washington Post July 23, 2014 about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:

Dear Editor,

Your July 22 editorial was headed: “Russia’s barbarism. The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state.”

Pretty strong language. Vicious, even. Not one word of hard evidence in the editorial to back it up. Then, the next day, the Associated Press reported:

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for ‘creating the conditions’ that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. … the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

Where were these words in the Post? You people are behaving like a rogue newspaper.

– William Blum

I don’t have to tell you whether the Post printed my letter. I’ve been reading the paper for 25 years – six years during Vietnam (1964-1970) and the last 19 years (1995-2014) – usually spending about three hours each day reading it very carefully. And I can say that when it comes to US foreign policy the newspaper is worse now than I can remember it ever was during those 25 years. It’s reached the point where, as one example, I don’t take at face value a word the Post has to say about Ukraine. Same with the State Department, which makes one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s wholly inconclusive and/or unsourced or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. 1 Do they have something to hide?

The State Department’s Public Affairs spokespersons making these presentations exhibit little regard or respect for the reporters asking challenging questions. It takes my thoughts back to the Vietnam era and Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the reporters exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government,” Sylvester replied: “That’s exactly what I expect,” adding: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.” 2

Such frankness might be welcomed today as a breath of fresh air compared to the painful-to-observe double-talk of a State Department spokesperson.

My personal breath of fresh air in recent years has been the television station RT (formerly Russia Today). On a daily basis many progressives from around the world (myself included occasionally) are interviewed and out of their mouths come facts and analyses that are rarely heard on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox News, BBC, etc. The words of these progressives heard on RT are typically labeled by the mainstream media as “Russian propaganda”, whereas I, after a long lifetime of American propaganda, can only think: “Of course. What else are they going to call it?”

As for Russia being responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Flight 17, we should keep in mind that the current series of events in Ukraine was sparked in February when a US-supported coup overthrew the democratically-elected government and replaced it with one that was more receptive to the market-fundamentalism dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union. Were it not for the coup there would have been no eastern rebellion to put down and no dangerous war zone for Flight 17 to be flying over in the first place.

The new regime has had another charming feature: a number of outspoken neo-Nazis in high and low positions, a circumstance embarrassing enough for the US government and mainstream media to turn it into a virtual non-event. US Senator John McCain met and posed for photos with the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok (photos easily found on the Internet). Ukraine – whose ties to Naziism go back to World War Two when their homegrown fascists supported Germany and opposed the Soviet Union – is on track to becoming the newest part of the US-NATO military encirclement of Russia and possibly the home of the region’s newest missile base, target Moscow.

It is indeed possible that Flight 17 was shot down by the pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine in the mistaken belief that it was the Ukrainian air force returning to carry out another attack. But other explanations are suggested in a series of questions posed by Russia to the the Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly, accompanied by radar information, satellite images, and other technical displays:

“Why was a military aircraft flying in a civil aviation airway at almost the same time and the same altitude as a civilian passenger aircraft? We would like to have this question answered.”

“Earlier, Ukrainian officials stated that on the day of the accident no Ukrainian military aircraft were flying in that area. As you can see, that is not true.”

“We also have a question for our American colleagues. According to a statement by American officials, the United States has satellite images which show that the missile aimed at the Malaysian aircraft was launched by the militants. But no one has seen these images.” 3

There is also this intriguing speculation, which ties in to the first Russian question above. A published analysis by a retired Lufthansa pilot points out that Flight 17 looked similar in its tricolor design to that of Russian President Putin’s plane, whose plane with him on board was at the same time “near” Flight 17. In aviation circles “near” would be considered to be anywhere between 150 to 200 miles. 4 Could Putin’s plane have been the real target?

There is as well other serious and plausible questioning of the official story of Russia and/or Ukrainian anti-Kiev militias being responsible for the shootdown. Is Flight 17 going to become the next JFK Assassination, PanAm 103, or 9-11 conspiracy theory that lingers forever? Will the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Syrian chemical weapons be joined by the Russian anti-aircraft missile? Stay tuned.

Will they EVER leave Cuba alone? No.

The latest exposed plot to overthrow the Cuban government … Oh, pardon me, I mean the latest exposed plot to bring democracy to Cuba …

Our dear friends at the Agency For International Development (USAID), having done so well with their covert sub-contractor Alan Gross, now in his fifth year in Cuban custody … and their “Cuban Twitter” project, known as ZunZuneo, exposed in 2012, aimed at increasing the flow of information amongst the supposedly information-starved Cubans, which drew in subscribers unaware that the service was paid for by the US government … and now, the latest exposure, a project which sent about a dozen Venezuelan, Costa Rican and Peruvian young people to Cuba in hopes of stirring up a rebellion; the travelers worked clandestinely, using the cover of health and civic programs, or posing as tourists, going around the island, on a mission to “identify potential social-change actors” to turn into political activists. Can you believe that? Can you believe the magnitude of naiveté? Was it a conviction that American exceptionalism would somehow work its magic? Do they think the Cuban people are a bunch of children just waiting for a wise adult to come along and show them what to think and how to behave?

One of these latest USAID contracts was signed only days after Gross was detained, thus indicating little concern for the safety of their employees/agents. As part of the preparation of these individuals, USAID informed them: “Although there is never total certainty, trust that the authorities will not try to harm you physically, only frighten you. Remember that the Cuban government prefers to avoid negative media reports abroad, so a beaten foreigner is not convenient for them.” 5

It’s most ironic. The US government could not say as much about most of their allies, who frequently make use of physical abuse. Indeed, the statement could not be made in regard to almost any American police force. But it’s this Cuba that doesn’t beat or torture detainees that is the enemy to be reformed and punished without mercy … 55 years and counting.

The United States and torture

Two of the things that governments tend to cover-up or lie about the most are assassinations and torture, both of which are widely looked upon as exceedingly immoral and unlawful, even uncivilized. Since the end of the Second World War the United States has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders and has led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance and encouragement by American instructors, particularly in Latin America.

Thus it is somewhat to the credit of President Obama that at his August 1 press conference he declared “We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we torturedsome folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.”

And he actually used the word “torture” at that moment, not “enhanced interrogation”, which has been the euphemism of preference the past decade, although two minutes later the president used “extraordinary interrogation techniques”. And “tortured some folks” makes me wince. The man is clearly uncomfortable with the subject.

But all this is minor. Much more important is the fact that for several years Mr. Obama’s supporters have credited him with having put an end to the practice of torture. And they simply have no right to make that claim.

Shortly after Obama’s first inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported at the time: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.” 6

The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is simply outsourcing torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, to name some of the known torture centers frequented by the United States. Kosovo and Diego Garcia – both of which house large and very secretive American military bases – if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business. The same for the Guantánamo Base in Cuba.

Moreover, the Executive Order referred to, number 13491, issued January 22, 2009, “Ensuring Lawful Interrogations”, leaves a major loophole. It states repeatedly that humane treatment, including the absence of torture, is applicable only to prisoners detained in an “armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside an environment of “armed conflict” is not explicitly prohibited. But what about torture within an environment of “counter-terrorism”?

The Executive Order required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and noise, and stress positions.

After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had “left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ – picking terrorism suspects off the street and sending them to a third country. But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions ‘that violate our human values’.” 7

The last sentence is of course childishly absurd. The countries chosen to receive rendition prisoners were chosen precisely because they were willing and able to torture them.

No official in the Bush and Obama administrations has been punished in any way for torture or other war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the other countries they waged illegal war against. And, it could be added, no American bankster has been punished for their indispensable role in the world-wide financial torture they inflicted upon us all beginning in 2008. What a marvelously forgiving land is America. This, however, does not apply to Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, or Chelsea Manning.

In the last days of the Bush White House, Michael Ratner, professor at Columbia Law School and former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, pointed out:

The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don’t see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable. 8

I’d like at this point to once again remind my dear readers of the words of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, which was drafted by the United Nations in 1984, came into force in 1987, and ratified by the United States in 1994. Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity.

The Convention Against Torture has been and remains the supreme law of the land. It is a cornerstone of international law and a principle on a par with the prohibition against slavery and genocide.

“Mr. Snowden will not be tortured. Torture is unlawful in the United States.” – United States Attorney General Eric Holder, July 26, 2013

John Brennan, appointed by President Obama in January 2013 to be Director of the CIA, has defended “rendition” as an “absolutely vital tool”; and stated that torture had produced “life saving” intelligence. 9

Obama had nominated Brennan for the CIA position in 2008, but there was such an outcry in the human-rights community over Brennan’s apparent acceptance of torture, that Brennan withdrew his nomination. Barack Obama evidently learned nothing from this and appointed the man again in 2013.

During Cold War One, a common theme in the rhetoric was that the Soviets tortured people and detained them without cause, extracted phony confessions, and did the unspeakable to detainees who were helpless against the full, heartless weight of the Communist state. As much as any other evil, torture differentiated the bad guys, the Commies, from the good guys, the American people and their government. However imperfect the US system might be – we were all taught – it had civilized standards that the enemy rejected.

Just because you have a right to do something does not make it right.

The city of Detroit in recent months has been shutting off the supply of water to city residents who have not paid their water bills. This action affects more than 40% of the customers of the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, bringing great inconvenience and threats to the health and sanitation of between 200 and 300 thousand residents. Protests have of course sprung up in the city, with “Water is a human right!” as a leading theme.

Who can argue with that? Well, neo-conservatives and other true believers in the capitalist system who maintain that if you receive the benefit of a product or service, you pay for it. What could be simpler? What are you, some kind of socialist?

For those of you who have difficulty believing that an American city could be so insensitive, allow me to remind you of some history.

On December 14, 1981 a resolution was proposed in the United Nations General Assembly which declared that “education, work, health care, proper nourishment, national development are human rights”. Notice the “proper nourishment”. The resolution was approved by a vote of 135-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.

A year later, December 18, 1982, an identical resolution was proposed in the General Assembly. It was approved by a vote of 131-1. The United States cast the only “No” vote.

The following year, December 16, 1983, the resolution was again put forth, a common practice at the United Nations. This time it was approved by a vote of 132-1. There’s no need to tell you who cast the sole “No” vote.

These votes took place under the Reagan administration.

Under the Clinton administration, in 1996, a United Nations-sponsored World Food Summit affirmed the “right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food”. The United States took issue with this, insisting that it does not recognize a “right to food”. Washington instead championed free trade as the key to ending the poverty at the root of hunger, and expressed fears that recognition of a “right to food” could lead to lawsuits from poor nations seeking aid and special trade provisions.

The situation of course did not improve under the administration of George W. Bush. In 2002, in Rome, world leaders at another UN-sponsored World Food Summit again approved a declaration that everyone had the right to “safe and nutritious food”. The United States continued to oppose the clause, again fearing it would leave them open to future legal claims by famine-stricken countries.

I’m waiting for a UN resolution affirming the right to oxygen.

Notes

  1. See various examples at RT.com, such as “Jen Psaki’s most embarrassing fails, most entertaining grillings”, or simply search the site for “Ukraine Jen Psaki”
  2. Congressional Record (House of Representatives), May 12, 1966, pp. 9977-78, reprint of an article by Morley Safer of CBS News
  3. “Letter dated 22 July 2014 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General”, released by the UN 24 July, Document No. A/68/954-S/2014/524
  4. “Pre-WWIII German Pilot Shocker, MH17 ‘Not Hit By Missile’”Before It’s News, July 31 2014
  5. Associated Press, August 4, 2014
  6. Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
  7. New York Times, February 6, 2009
  8. Associated Press, November 17, 2008
  9. Associated Press, November 26, 2008
  10. Washington Post, November 18, 1996
  11. Reuters news agency, June 10, 2002
Aug 112014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Outside of Israel and its organized supporters in the major Zionist organizations, world public opinion and most experts in international law see the Jewish State’s invasion of Gaza and its systematic attack on civilians and basic infrastructure as a crime against humanity.

The purpose of this essay is 4-fold:  1. To identify the nature of the crime – the genocidal character of the armed assault and the sequence leading up to it; 2. To identify the direct perpetrators of the war crimes and their domestic and international accomplices; 3. To explain the ties binding leaders, policymakers, propagandists, accomplices and followers, including their  ideologies, material interests and organizational structure which make these crimes not only possible, but met so far with impunity and 4. To identify the larger imperial interests with which Israel allies with the US, and in pursuit of which, the Gaza assault is a horrifying dress rehearsal.

The ‘Morality’ of Prison Guards in a Genocidal State

Policymakers in the genocidal state run a highly militarized society where citizens and soldiers, criminals and professionals, torturers and sociopaths can and do coexist within the same person.  Cold rationality is harnessed to mass murder, technology to massive devastation , language to euphemisms and executioners parade themselves as victims (and vice versa).  Moral precepts become debased and supplanted by the ethics of mass murder.  Moralists, rabbis and ethical philosophers all join to bless the bombs dropped on hospitals and schools and homes and all living things – even the dead and buried do not rest in peace when the cemeteries are bombed.

Rulers, imbued with a genocidal vision, see only military objectives – an oppressed people do not exist – all human existence and institutions in the target areas are to be demolished.   The destruction of human life, of Palestinian daily existence has become the ultimate goal of this obscene operation.

The practical decision to exterminate Palestinians was conscious, planned and pursued with implacable resolve at the very top and carried out with savage enthusiasm by Israel’s ‘citizen army’.

The unfolding of this deadly plan began with what appeared a ‘generous’ peace offer.  In 2004, Israel’s war criminal Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon ‘granted’ the Palestinians self-government in Gaza and in August 2005 withdrew a few thousand Jewish settlers and their Israeli ground troops.  The consequence of this benevolence:  Over 1.4 million Palestinians were to be locked and crowded into the most densely open air prison in the world:  the largest ghetto in history.  This was a sickening reminder of the Nazi roundup of Polish Jews herding them into the Warsaw ghetto . . . where they too were granted ‘self-government’.  Once the Jewish settlers were removed (and paid up to $300,000 per family ‘compensation’), Israel’s military closed all of Gaza’s entrances and exits.  Land, sea and airspace were blockaded and total control imposed on the entrance of food, medicine, school books and the exit of Palestinians for medical treatment, university studies, normal travel and commerce of any kind.  This mirrored the Nazi policy toward those trapped in the Warsaw ghetto.  Palestinian farmers were shot tending their fields, acts of brutality reminiscent of the Nazi starvation blockade of Leningrad…  And the world was appalled!

Gaza and the Ghetto were first set up to be open-air prison camps . . . temporary measures to mask the real plans.  Gaza’s young population had grown to over 1.8 million entrapped human beings by 2014.  Obviously, if the Gazans could not travel, farm, fish and trade by normal means, they would dig tunnels for supplies and fight against their relegation to the status of caged animals by the Israeli state.  The next steps after the successful enclosure would be systematic and pre-meditated: the Zionists, like the Nazis, launched total war against the inevitable acts of resistance by the oppressed.  They sent planes, tanks, missiles and bombs to level populated areas, especially neighborhoods where young fighters rose up to resist this unendurable cruelty.  The heroic young fighters of Gaza, like their Warsaw predecessors, resisted their totalitarian enemies time and again.  Meanwhile, the vast majority of Israeli Jews cheered the devastation while claiming to be the victims and young overseas Jews volunteered to join the IDF in its slaughter of the Palestinians, just as the German population celebrated, along with the overseas German Bund, their leaders’ totalitarian crimes.  Their responses were almost identical although in different times and places: Chosen People and Arians of the world have united against what they both termed ‘terrorists’ claiming their tunnels will become their graves!

In line with this super race mythology,  Israel’s killing machine is really most effective at murdering unarmed civilians– invalids who cannot run, doctors who stay to care for the wounded and mothers and children in their flimsy shelters– and rather pathetic when it confronts face to face  determined  armed resistance fighters.  As of 8/6/14 the Israeli Air Force, Navy and artillery slaughtered 1,594 Palestinian civilians –via long distance high tech warfare -compared to 3 civilians in Israel (one Bedouin, one Thai farm worker and an Israeli Jew), a mind-boggling ratio of over 1,500 Palestinian civilians to one of the ‘Chosen’.  But when it came to ‘ground fighting’, 64 Israeli soldiers were killed compared to 281 Palestinian partisans, a 4.4 to 1 ratio.  Despite all the Israeli air cover support and high tech protective gear, the Israelis took heavy military casualties when their invasion came down to a more level fighting field where poorly equipped partisans are willing to die for their homes and liberation.

The War Criminals:  Who are They and What are their Crimes

Clearly the commanding officers of the Israeli armed forces, the self-styled Israel Defense Forces, who are responsible for the systematic land, aerial and maritime attacks on civilians, hospitals, schools, refugee sanctuaries are first in line for the war crimes docket. They should be joined by Israeli military strategists and policy makers who systematically and criminally targeted homes, neighborhoods, water purification and sewage plants, electrical grids and power plants in a deliberate planned effort to destroy any possibility of normal daily existence for almost 2 million Palestinians: They have committed grave Crimes against Humanity, according to the Geneva Conventions and legal standards established at Nuremburg.  There is eye-witness testimony and documentation showing middle and lower rank soldiers engaged in wanton shootings of school children, shoppers and mothers with babies fleeing combat zones.  War crimes prosecutions cannot be confined merely to a few dozen senior officers – these crimes were committed at all level of the IDF.

Political leaders and policymakers, starting with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and his Cabinet, leading Party and Knesset members, who were the prime movers in launching the blitz against Gaza and justified the massive civilian killings, clearly should be at the center of any International War Crimes Tribunal.

But what about the Israeli public, the great mass of Israeli Jews, who view themselves as morally above world public opinion despite a near-universal revulsion over Israel’s crimes?  More than 90% of Israeli Jews gave unstinting support to the ongoing blood bath, knowing, indeed cheering daily from grandstands erected on hills overlooking Gaza, the criminal consequences of their support – they also are an essential part of this criminal enterprise.  They celebrated the carnage and they violently attacked the few Israelis who openly questioned this ‘war’.  Israelis have no claim to ‘innocent ignorance’; they cannot call this a “tragic conflict between two peoples”.  No Israeli can absolve himself by claiming ignorance of the nature of the crimes committed in their name – nor do they want to claim ignorance!  The majority of informed Israeli Jews demanded this war from the beginning, many joining racist marches with banners and chants demanding ‘Death to Arabs’!  They wear their endorsement of the Gaza holocaust as a badge of honor.  Ninety percent of the Jewish citizens in Israel rejected any humanitarian ceasefire: Newspaper columnists and the vast majority of letter writers in the daily press argued openly for extermination!  Self-declared war criminals are feted as Israeli heroes by their overseas brethren who hasten to endorse or even join the slaughter.  Gidon Levy, Haaretz’s lonely dissident journalist, is spat upon in all the fashionable cafes and has to take his coffee at home now.

What can be said about the ‘moralists’, the famous chief rabbis, who have no qualms in piously urging on the mass slaughter:  is there a High Court of Religious Authority to hold these “holy men” accountable for their incitement of war crimes?  What about the worldwide network of international Zionist organizations who secure billions of dollars of the murderous arms shipments from the corrupt and craven US Congress and Executive?  Are they not accomplices to genocide before and after the fact?

However, it is a blatant, conscious lie and fabrication to claim, like some phony critics on the ‘Left’, that ‘America shares responsibility’ for the Israel’s crimes against Gaza.  Who asked the American people to endorse this slaughter?  When did the American people organize a “lobby” to buy Congressional votes?  Did the American people organize multi-million dollar fundraisers at the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria where Republican and Democratic elected leaders pledged to give an additional $225 million dollars in missiles and tanks to Israel, to resupply its arsenal used up in razing thousands of homes and obliterating entire families in Gaza?  Any serious researcher, who has looked at American domestic politics, knows that the Presidents of the 52 Major American (sic) Jewish Organizations are complicit in Israel’s terror bombings of Gaza.  And polls show that a majority of young Americans sympathize with the rights of the Palestinians…

Is there any clause in the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal proceedings which can bring charges against the overseas accomplices to war crimes?  What about prominent leftist academics and ‘progressive’ journalists who cover-up for the overseas accomplices by falsely accusing “America” (and implying the American people) in this slaughter?

The Ties that Bind

We have identified a chain linking Israel’s political elite, military command and the mass of the Israeli public directly to war crimes and genocide with the active material complicity of overseas Zionist organizations.  They act as one cohesive force plunging forward into the blood and gore of total war against the Palestinians – the original inhabitants and rightful owners of what is now called ‘Israel’.

The question arises: What unites them in this horrible undertaking? What moral blindness so afflicts them that they ignore the bookshelves cluttered with the writings and humanist teachings of Spinoza, Kant, Babel, or Buber?  Are these tribal loyalties derived from Old Testament tales of vengeance and infanticide?  Are these expressions of an ethno-religious fanaticism linked to the quest for a regional empire and plunder?

Racist ideology and its virulent expression both from high office and the “Jewish Street” are wide-spread and open.  Degrading Palestinians, while claiming to be a superior race above the laws of the rest of the world, serves to justify all crimes against the people of Gaza.  Near and far, this expression of “collective Jewish identity and solidarity”, based on ethnic-religious superiority always threatened by hostile, inferior ‘native’ people, accounts for the unflinching support by top Hollywood moguls, Ivy League professors, French intellectuals, British peers and prominent investment Wall Street bankers.

Ideological affinities and ethno-religious loyalties aside, many Israeli Jews also have a major,  material stake in robbing and expelling the people of Palestine:   Seized Palestinian lands result in new cheap subsidized housing, swimming pools for Jews only, developments on lands where olive groves once flourished and extended families had lived and died.  Middle and working class Jews obtain free housing; real estate speculators seize choice ocean front properties for luxury condos and tourist destinations.  Building contractors secure lucrative construction contracts from the state.   Pillage forms  an important material basis for Israel’s high standard of living, many times higher than that of Palestinians, much higher that that of Israel’s non-Jewish population and higher even than the Americans who have been forced to subsidize the ‘Jewish State’ for almost 50 years.

Equally important, Israel’s assault on Gaza serves as a testing ground for its weapons of mass destruction and its anti-missile Dome.  In this regard, the slaughter in Gaza serves as a dress rehearsal (and a graphic warning) for new wars across the region in association with the US and its clients.  NSA analyst Edward Snowden’s latest documents reveal that Israel works in tandem with the US throughout North Africa, the Middle East, The Persian Gulf, South Asia and Islamic countries in choosing targets and making war plans…  Greater Israel is no longer the crackpot dream of Jewish visionaries: it is underway and its bloody beginnings in Gaza foreshadow bigger and bloodier wars against humanity in the future.

Conclusion

Israel’s total war against Gaza has provoked condemnation from millions of people around the world, greater outrage at their crimes against humanity, and calls for an international war crimes tribunal.  If such a tribunal were to be convoked, the question arises of how wide the net should be cast – where to draw the line between leaders, soldiers, masses and complicit overseas supporters, all implicated to one degree or another?  How many ‘willing accomplices’ to mass murder should be investigated and tried?

The rising horror and indignation has isolated Israel from the greater majority of mankind, including from thousands of Jews – but it has hardened its leaders and aroused its powerful core of influential supporters, especially in the US.

Bitter-enders, in their luxurious suites, are on the counter-offensive.  Leading Hollywood producers denounce the morally outraged actors who have dared to criticize Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, labeling them ‘anti-Semites’ and threatening them with a lifetime of blacklists from any further work in ‘film or on stage’.  Powerful Zionist organizations, not only secure US opposition to any UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli war crimes, but unanimous (100%) Congressional and White House approval and an ‘emergency allocation’ of over $250 million tax-payer dollars’ to re-supply Israel with the bombs and missiles it had dropped on the people of Gaza.  The hardliners, who speak for the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations, have not relented in their support for Israel’s carnage even in the face of hundreds of thousands of demonstrators marching around the world to support the rights of the people of Palestine.  The hardliners openly flaunt their blind support for Israel’s war crimes.  These fanatics are convinced that every critic of Israel’s war crimes, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew or atheist, is an anti-Semite, a pervert or terrorist to be censored or crushed!  Inside the Zionist bunker there is an iron-fisted reinforcement of loyalty to Israel, while outside, there is the smooth outpouring of propaganda which minimize Israel’s war crimes and vehement denials of overseas complicity with genocide.

Epilogue:  A Dialogue between Zionists

The Right Zionist says to the Left, “Crimes at the service of Greater Israel are virtues.”  The Left replies “There are crimes but America is ultimately responsible”.

A shrewd old Zionist observer comments with approval: “It’s our division of labor: the Right Zionists defend Israel and the Left Zionists confuse its critics.”