Aletho News


Oops, Our Bad!

By Jeff Huber | March 02, 2010

Among the worst Orwellian deceptions being exposed by the Pentagon’s Marjah offensive is the ludicrous notion that we’re fighting a war in Afghanistan in order to protect Afghan civilians. The recent U.S. Special Forces air strike in the Marjah area that killed 27 or more civilians, including four women and a child, is a prime example of a cognitive disconnect that has been endemic in U.S. military operations throughout our misnamed war on terrorism.

The Feb. 21 air strike occurred in an area under Dutch control. The Dutch are durn-burnit het up about that, because the day before, the Dutch government collapsed over an initiative to extend the deployment of the country’s 2,000 troops in Afghanistan. (We could learn something from the Dutch on how to throw a peace movement, couldn’t we?)

A Dutch Defense Ministry spokesmodel, who talked to the press at the Hague on what the New York Times described as “customary anonymity,” said it wasn’t any Dutch boy who called in that air strike. The Dutch Defense Dude wouldn’t say who did call in the air strike, and unidentified NATO officials didn’t say who ordered the strike in either. Sadly, it’s just possible that nobody knows who called in the air strike. If that’s the case, though, the operations types running the show over there are bigger screw-ups than I thought they were, and I already thought they were colossal screw-ups.

The NATO officials did, however, release a statement that said, “After the joint ground force arrived at the scene and found women and children, they transported the wounded to medical treatment facilities.” It’s a good thing the NATO guys made sure everybody knows they took care of the civilians they wounded; otherwise, the Afghans might have gotten mad about all the civilians they killed.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal, head hatter of the Marjah madness, expressed his “sorrow and regret” over the civilian deaths to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. This happened moments after McChrystal won two out of three falls from a crocodile in a crying contest. Dead civilians? Oops, my bad.

McChrystal’s been wearing a bleeding-heart mask ever since his confirmation hearing in June 2009 when he fed the Senate Armed Services Committee that line of coke about how “the measure of effectiveness will not be enemy killed. It will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence.” McChrystal then turned around and, in his first major action as commander in Afghanistan, launched an offensive in Kandahar province designed to kill the enemy.

The Pentagon (i.e., Gen. David Petraeus and his minions) sold McChrystal to the Senate as a counterinsurgency expert. McChrystal was and is nothing of the kind. From 2003 to 2008, he commanded the Joint Special Operations Command, the super secret outfit that reported directly to Dick Cheney and that specialized in targeting, tracking, and assassinating suspected terrorists in Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.

You can bet a shiny new Missouri quarter that for the five years Stan the Man and his Howling Commandos were running amok in the west end of Asia they whacked a whole lot of mommies and babies more or less by mistake. McChrystal has more blood on his hands than Lady Macbeth. His apology to Karzai for the recent collateral deaths, like his confirmation hearing statement about protecting Afghan civilians, was a talking point crafted for him by the likes of Rear Adm. Gregory “Word” Smith, a career bull-feather merchant who is now McChrystal’s propaganda czar.

Smith no doubt had a lot to do with fabricating the “tactical directive” McChrystal promulgated in June 2009 that ordered a “new operational standard” to “minimize the use of deadly force” as a measure to protect Afghan civilians. Smith briefed the press that not only would McChrystal cut back the air strikes, but ground troops would refrain from “firing on structures where insurgents may have taken refuge among civilians” unless, of course, “Western or allied troops are in imminent danger.”

The assertion made by Smith and other war merchants that we can separate the “enemy from the people” in a scenario like the one we have in Afghanistan is hallucinatory. The Taliban and other militant groups in Afghanistan didn’t invade the country. There may or may not be foreign fighters in theater looking for an opportunity to sock it to Uncle Sam’s infidels, but this insurgency, like pretty much all insurgencies, is a home-based enterprise. What’s more, just about everybody in Afghanistan and Pakistan is related to somebody who totes a gun for the guerillas, so separating the “civilians” from the insurgents would involve splitting genetic material. As one Pentagon planner has aptly noted, “It’s harder to separate the enemy from the people when they are the people.”

Hence, when you bump against insurgents, you bulldoze civilians, and if the insurgents are fighting you, you are bound by the U.S. Standing Rules of Engagement that command you to defend yourself and your unit. And if you’re in danger, which you are the moment you’re in a firefight you can’t withdraw from, you call in an air strike to bail you out of it.

So the June 2009 order to limit air strikes didn’t limit air strikes at all. In fact, at the time the directive was issued, one of McChrystal’s advisers said the order didn’t mean the use of air power would be reduced. It just meant, as the Los Angeles Times related, that the “emphasis” would be on “protecting civilians rather than killing insurgents.”

What kind of air strike emphasizes protecting civilians? The kind that drops leaflets that say “Have a Nice Day” in Pashto? And if the emphasis of an air strike isn’t to kill insurgents, why call it in to begin with?

McChrystal has now issued a new directive that will, as the Boston Globe puts it, “limit night raids on civilians.” What in the wide world of sports are they conducting night raids on civilians for? McChrystal says, “We didn’t understand what a cultural line it was” to burst into civilian Muslims’ homes. We’ve been busting into Muslims’ homes for nearly a decade now to disastrous results. How could McChrystal or anyone not understand what a cultural line it is to cross? How could anyone not understand what a line it is to cross in any culture? Does McChrystal think maybe the Jews in Berlin liked it when the Gestapo kicked their doors in? Will Americans like it when Chinese bill collectors come for their high-definition TVs and bargain barn furniture?

Like the directive on air strikes, the directive on night raids is classified so we can’t see what it actually says, but Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a NATO spokesmodel, tells us it “does not limit the ability of troops to operate.” It’s just that the emphasis of raiding civilian’s homes will now be to protect the civilians who live in them, not to kill insurgents.

It’s entirely possible that the personality disorders with life-support systems that run our military truly believe the lies they tell us, but that doesn’t excuse them. It merely makes them pathological liars, along with the other malignant things they are.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | 1 Comment

Clinton changes tune on timing of Iran sanctions

Press TV – March 2, 2010

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says it could take several months to impose new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. She made the remarks on Monday while speaking to reporters traveling with her on a tour of South America.

Pundits say she changed her position on sanctions because of reluctance among some other members of the UN Security Council.

Last week, Clinton told the US Senate that the UN Security Council would endorse sanctions in the next 30 to 60 days. But on Monday she stressed that Washington is working “expeditiously and thoroughly” to convince UN Security Council members to impose new sanctions on Iran.

“We are moving expeditiously and thoroughly in the Security Council. I can’t give you an exact date, but I would assume sometime in the next several months,” she said before landing in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

Clinton said she would probably discuss the Iranian issue during talks with the presidents of Argentina and Brazil.

Last week, Clinton acknowledged that some key countries like China are opposed to new Iran sanctions.

Both China and Russia are calling for further negotiations to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program, which Tehran says is being implemented to meet the country’s growing demand for energy.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Wars for Israel | Comments Off on Clinton changes tune on timing of Iran sanctions

‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ arrives, and so do attacks

By Alex Kane | March 1, 2010

The sixth annual “Israeli Apartheid Week” kicked off today, starting what will be two global weeks of action across the world meant to highlight Israel’s apartheid system and to build the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The global event has come under attack, of course, with the usual conflation of criticism of Israel and anti-Semitism.

In Canada, continuing to strengthen the nation’s standing as “the most pro-Israel country in the world” (as Yves Engler in the Electronic Intifada put it), Ontario’s legislature unanimously passed a resolution last week condemning “Israeli Apartheid Week.”

Canadian publication Shalom Life interviewed the author of the motion, Progressive Conservative Peter Shurman:

“If you’re going to label Israel as apartheid, then you are also calling Canada apartheid and you are attacking Canadian values,” said Shurman. “The use of the phrase ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ is about as close to hate speech as one can get without being arrested, and I’m not certain it doesn’t actually cross over that line.”, a progressive Canadian publication, reports that a separate, but similar resolution on the federal level is to be introduced this week.

The Jerusalem Post is also in on the action in a couple of articles.

The Electronic Intifada has a piece today by an “Israeli Apartheid Week” organizer in Toronto that puts the recent attacks in context, and also says that the campaigns against the event only show that the BDS movement is growing in strength:

Over the years, organizers have faced ongoing institutional harassment, including last-minute cancellation of room bookings and the banning of Apartheid Week materials. In fall 2008, for instance, room bookings for an IAW organizing conference in Toronto were cancelled on short notice by the university under pressure of local Zionist groups. Similarly, in March 2009, the University of Pisa, Italy, denied university venues to IAW organizers. In the same year, the poster for the 5th International Israeli Apartheid Week was banned at Carleton University in Ottawa and Trent University in Peterborough.

IAW has also been the object of investigation by the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA), a highly contentious initiative that has been defined by the Canadian Independent Jewish Voices as an “attempt to attack free speech and silence criticism of the Israeli government’s oppressive and illegal policies” and “to label criticism of Israel and its behavior, as well as organized efforts to change them, as anti-Semitic and to criminalize both.”

Attempts at shutting down IAW on campuses are in line with growing efforts of the Israeli government to crush the BDS movement. To the present time, this crackdown has primarily targeted Palestinian grassroots activists within the occupied West Bank, including Mohammad Othman Jamal Juma’ from the Stop the Wall Campaign, recently released from prison.

However, a recent report published by the Reut Institute, an Israeli think tank, and presented at the 10th Herzliya Conference in February 2010 identifies a global campaign of “delegitimization” of Israel — which includes the BDS movement and IAW — as one that “is effective, possesses strategic significance, and may develop into a comprehensive existential threat within a few years.” As such, it also underlines the need for Israel to engage in a substantial diplomatic counter-effort to sabotage the movement.

While this means that organizers will face increasing obstacles in the coming years, it also testifies to the growing strength of the BDS movement, which has reached fundamental targets in the last year.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | Comments Off on ‘Israeli Apartheid Week’ arrives, and so do attacks

Palestinians slam City of David as East Jerusalem parking lot caves in

By Nir Hasson – Haaretz – 01/03/2010

A section of an East Jerusalem mosque parking lot collapsed on Monday, in what local Palestinian residents are saying is proof that archeological digs in the area are putting residents’ homes at risk.

The 4-meter deep pit was created near a mosque in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, in a parking lot serving worshipers, located near a local kindergarten.

Two months ago, the Supreme Court rejected a petition against the dig directed by Elad, the nonprofit organization that runs the City of David in East Jerusalem and, submitted by Palestinian residents, saying the archeological digs did not jeopardize Silwan houses or local roads.

The City of David is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Israel, and Elad is in charge not only of operating the site, but also of conducting archaeological digs there.

Its leftist critics charge that it exploits archaeology in order to Judaize the neighborhood and embitter the lives of its Palestinian residents.

Elad counters that local Palestinians have also benefited from the City of David’s success as a tourist site.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on Palestinians slam City of David as East Jerusalem parking lot caves in

Further nuclear power subsidies are wrongheaded

By Mark Cooper | 2 December 2009

It is ironic that as the nation continues to suffer from the misallocation of risk by companies in the financial sector, some of the strongest supporters of free markets and critics of government action are urging a massive federal subsidy for nuclear power.

Most recently, the nuclear industry and its supporters want any climate bill that comes out of Congress to include more subsidies for the nuclear industry. Both the House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act and the Senate energy bill, the American Clean Energy Leadership Act PDF, would potentially allow for billions of dollars to be handed out for the development of new nuclear plants in the United States. The Senate bill would literally give the nuclear industry a limitless blank check. This is in addition to $18.5 billion in loan guarantees and a production tax credit of 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour that the federal government already has allocated for nuclear energy in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. PDF All the while, the projected cost of nuclear reactor construction has escalated dramatically (almost tripling in less than a decade), demand for electricity has declined, and the cost of natural gas has plummeted.

Considering these challenges, private capital markets, not surprisingly, have refused to extend loans to the nuclear industry. In fact, they have lowered the financial ratings of utilities that are pursuing nuclear projects, which is why the industry is seeking further government support. In particular, the industry would like new rules that allow it to gobble up funds earmarked for clean energy technologies; elimination of conditions that protect taxpayers in the event of loan defaults; dramatic increases in tax and insurance subsidies; and accelerated and assured recovery of construction costs from ratepayers authorized by state regulators.

These direct subsidies would total in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Yet believe it or not, the stakes for consumers would be still higher. Nuclear subsidies would induce utilities to choose high capital-cost nuclear reactors that expand their rate base and forego much lower-cost alternatives, such as greater energy efficiency and renewable energy, imposing excessive costs on consumers that eventually could run into the trillions of dollars. In an attempt to circumvent the sound judgment of capital markets, nuclear advocates erroneously claim that subsidies lower the financing costs for nuclear reactors and are good for consumers. (For a more lengthy analysis of these risks see my full report. PDF)

However, shifting risk does not eliminate it, and subsidies induce utilities and regulators to take greater risks that will cost taxpayers and ratepayers dearly. These risks include:

  • When utilities skip over the lower-cost option, such as greater efficiency, wind power, and/or natural gas, costs rise, dramatically in the case of nuclear reactors.
  • Subsidies encourage risky behaviors that would leave taxpayers and ratepayers to pay associated costs when and if those unwise projects go bad and are abandoned.
  • Pre-approval for loan guarantees and/or construction work in progress reduces scrutiny over cost escalation and overruns.
  • Large, high-risk projects, such as nuclear plants, can have adverse impacts on utility financial ratings, which result in high interest charges on utility debt and substantial increases in rates.

The recent efforts by the nuclear industry call to mind the previous U.S. nuclear construction boom that resulted in what Forbes called the “largest managerial failure in business history” in the mid-1980s. In that boom, one-half of all orders for nuclear plants were cancelled, reactors that were completed cost double their original estimates, four-fifths of utilities suffered large financial downgrades, and several firms went bankrupt.

Policy makers should refuse to hand out billions of dollars more to the nuclear power industry for widespread deployment of a costly technology and limit any such subsidies, if they are deemed necessary, for specific and narrow tasks of research, development, and demonstration. To prevent history from repeating itself they should subject any projects that are funded by subsidies to rigorous fiscal, technological, and administrative oversight and make sure that projects are structured with maximum taxpayer protections and transparency built into the conditions of the loan guarantees.

Furthermore, states should reject guarantees (and accelerated recovery) for nuclear construction costs, demand binding fixed-cost contracts before construction begins, and impose strong incentive and penalty mechanisms to control cost overruns.

The financial difficulties facing nuclear power projects are not a market failure, but are a market success–the capital markets correctly understand the grim economic realities of nuclear power. If policy makers override the judgment of the free market and force taxpayers and ratepayers to subsidize new reactors, consumers and the economy will pay a heavy price.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on Further nuclear power subsidies are wrongheaded

Next Generation Biofuels, from the makers of the A-bomb

Mr. DiFi Cashes in on Crisis


This past July, following the California State Legislature’s decision to strip $813 million from the University of California’s Fiscal Year 2009-10 budget, the UC’s 26-member Board of Regents voted to declare “a state of financial emergency.” Such a “state of emergency,” the university’s official by-laws state, should accompany an “imminent and substantial deficiency in available university financial resources.”

The Regents also voted to grant special “emergency powers” to UC President Mark G. Yudof. Yudof promptly marshaled his new and vaguely defined authority to lay off hundreds of workers, impose pay cuts and furloughs on remaining university staff, and propose a 32 percent increase in student fees which the Regents approved in November.

At the same meeting, Regents Chairman Russell Gould announced the formation of a new UC Commission on the Future. Its de facto function has been to further the privatization of the university. Notably, Gould is one of California’s most prominent financiers, a man who served as vice chairman of Wachovia Bank during its growth as one of the leading subprime mortgage lenders in the United States. He and Yudof serve as the commission’s co-chairmen. In Gould’s words, the commission’s task is “nothing short of re-imagining” the University of California.

The State of California’s political elites and business leaders routinely use the language of crisis now whenever discussing the University of California. In the past few decades, state funding of the university has suffered steady erosion. The UC now receives more funding than ever from private corporations and the federal government (the latter being in most instances pretty much the same as the former). Its various revenue streams range from student fees to several billion dollars in medical hospital revenue to private grants and donations, to its own hedge fund-like investments portfolio, to atomic bomb dollars from the Department of Energy.

Thus, despite the state budget cuts, the UC’s overall revenue reached an all-time high of $19.42 billion in the 2009-10 academic year, and the Regents’ claim that the UC faces an “imminent and substantial” funding deficit is inaccurate, to say the least. According to both the university’s own financial documents and Moody’s bond rating agency, the university had access to over $8.3 billion in unrestricted investment funds it was holding in reserve at the time.

The university has undergone a neo-liberal-style “structural adjustment” at the behest of the UC Regents, and this transformation has been accelerated during Yudof’s tenure as president. Under the leadership of California’s economic elite, the UC has become the leading prototype for a “disaster capitalist university.”

Since the mid-1990s, administrative salaries have absorbed a dramatically increasing share of the university’s overall budget. According to a study by UC Berkeley Professor Emeritus of Physics Charles Schwartz, the number of UC administrative positions increased by an almost unbelievable 118 percent from 1996 to 2006, as compared with a 34 percent increase in faculty positions and 33 percent increase in students over the same period. As a result, there are currently 3,600 UC employees who make more than $200,000 a year, many of them through administrative positions.

An even more damning revelation was made public this past October when UC Santa Cruz Professor Bob Meister published his scathing analysis of the UC administration’s use of student tuition dollars as collateral for construction bond debts. In addition to his PhD in economics, Meister serves as Chairman of the Council of University Faculties – essentially, a faculty union with representatives on all 10 of the university’s campuses. He knows what he’s talking about. According to the Regents’ own data and policy documents, the primary use of student fee revenue since 2004 has been as collateral for bonds to fund campus construction projects. In this “modified credit swap,” students are forced to take out “subprime” student loans, often charging six percent interest, so the university can borrow money at a reduced rate to construct new facilities like – to take one example — the Blum Center for Developing Economies at UC Berkeley, which UC Regent Richard C. Blum’s own construction company, URS Corporation, was contracted by the university to build.

And those subprime student loans? They’re often owned by big banks like Wachovia and other financial outfits that many of the UC Regents and their business partners are shareholders or executives of. So the whole cycle begins and ends with massive public and student debts, both of which increase as the Regents partake in further undermining the tax base while looting the public sector, again ratcheting up the crisis rhetoric.

UC Los Angeles instructor Bob Samuels has observed that “Moody’s even slipped into its bond rating for the UC system the need for the [UC] to restrain labor costs, increase student fees, diversify revenue streams, feed the money-making sectors, and resist the further unionization of its employees,” Samuels concludes that, “like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank, the bond raters tie access to credit to the dismantling of the public sector and the adoption of neo-liberal ideology.”

To understand fully why the University of California’s internal finances are being subjected to “economic shock therapy,” much like a Third World debtor nation under the thumb of the IMF, it’s necessary to know a bit about the history and function of the university’s power structure. Although it is nominally a public institution, the UC is not owned and governed by the State of California. Rather, it is the UC Regents who call all the shots. The Board of Regents is a corporate entity formed in 1879 for the explicit purpose of thwarting a populist social movement of small farmers who demanded that the the university become more responsive to their needs.

“During a tumultuous decade in California history,” historian John Aubrey Douglass has written, “many saw the new University of California as serving the interests of the upper classes, focusing on classical ‘gentlemanly training’ and replicating the Yankee private institutions of the East. The detractors of the university demanded that, as an instrument of social and economic development, the university primarily serve the training and research needs of agriculture and industry, the stated ‘leading objective’ of the institution under statutory law.”

During the California constitutional convention of that year, a clique of mostly San Francisco-based financiers and industrialists managed to defeat the democratic demands of farmers and small business owners. The crowning achievement of this elitist coup was the establishment of the UC Board of Regents, a corporate entity that owns and operates the university. To maintain their power against all opposition the Regents gave themselves twelve-year tenures that are explicitly meant to insulate them from any political pressures. The UC thus became what Douglass calls “a fourth branch of state government.”

Since then, the leading sectors of the California economy have self-appointed individuals who represent their economic interests on the Board. The Regents mold UC policies in broad ways that benefit capital’s leading monopoly sectors. The current going price for an appointment – probably the most prestigious one at the governor’s disposal, it should be noted – seems to be $50,000, bare minimum. Give the Gov. this sum, and you too could be a Regent.

Until relatively recently this meant that Regents would promote policies designed to build cutting edge economic sectors in and around the UC campuses, but they’d make sure to throw some of the university’s gravy to less sexy and profitable sectors of the economy. So for much of the Board’s history they’ve acted as Karl Marx’s idea of government: an executive board of the bourgeoisie, working if not for the interest of every industry, at least most of its monopoly sectors, and taking care not to destroy too many of the smaller fry. In recent years, the Board of Regents has become dominated by financiers, however. As with the economy at large, these wizards of hedge funds, credit markets, venture capital, real estate speculation, and all the other games played with billion dollar pots of money, have begun to run the university itself as a $19 billion dollar speculative bubble with ample opportunities for enormous growth through “volatility.” These new alpha Regents specialize in leveraged buyouts and privatization of publicly traded companies, and they have long practiced this same basic business philosophy on the university.

The most prominent among this cadre has been Richard Blum. As we detailed in our last CounterPunch article, Blum’s five-decade career as a finance capitalist has been distinguished by the levels of skill and panache he has applied to the time-honored task of siphoning off public money into one’s own corporate coffers, as well as those of one’s financial and political allies. Blum, who is married to US Senator Dianne Feinstein, is one of the leading power-brokers in the Democratic Party within both California and the United States.

Notably, it was Blum who virtually hand-picked President Yudof for UC President, having chaired the selection committee that oversaw Yudof’s appointment. At a March 2008 press conference heralding the Yudof hiring, the San Francisco Chronicle noted that Blum seemed “visibly ecstatic.” In April, the Chronicle quoted Blum again, saying of Yudof, “we disagree on almost nothing. If I were giving Mark a grade, I would give him an A-plus.”

Another prime example of the university’s “investors’ club” (the title of an upcoming series by investigative reporter Peter Byrne) is Gerald Parsky, a San Diego venture capitalist who reportedly commutes daily by jet to Los Angeles. As a Republican Party powerhouse, Parsky was so influential during his 1996-2008 tenure on the Regents that the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) dubbed a particularly influential faction of the Board “The Parsky Clique.” In addition to being president of Los Angeles-based Aurora Capital, recent additions to Parsky’s resume include acting as senior economic advisor to John McCain presidential campaign and as chairman of the Schwarzenegger administration’s Commission on the 21st Century Economy. Just as Parsky helped steer the UC toward ever-greater privatization throughout his tenure as a Regent, his commission issued a series of recommendations on reforming the state’s tax and revenue system in a manner more favorable to big business, even prompting some observers to label the Parsky Commission’s proposals “California’s Shock Doctrine.”

Current Regents Chairman Russell Gould is another financier and California Republican Party heavy. In addition to his role at Wachovia Bank, he served as California Director of Finance in the Pete Wilson administration in the 1990s. After that, he served a stint as assets managers of the $5.5 billion J. Paul Getty Trust Fund, a charitable organization founded with money from the Getty oil fortune. The Gettys are neighbors of one Richard Blum and Dianne Feinstein in San Francisco’s uber-bourgeoise Pacific Heights neighborhood, where Mr. and Mrs. DiFi purchased a $16.5 million palatial estate in 2005.

(As an aside, the Getty Trust was run in those years by one Barry Munitz, former chancellor of the California State University System. From 1984 to 1991, Munitz was vice president of Maxxam Corporation under Charles Hurwitz, as the company clear-cut the lands and livelihoods of California North Coast residents. Munitz has since been a leading force behind shaping the California Business Roundtable’s public education policy agenda, which strongly favors neo-liberal privatization.)

Another Regent, Paul Wachter, acts as Gov. Schwarzengger’s personal financial adviser. Regent George Marcus is a lead organizer of The Real Estate Roundtable, the main political voice of real estate capital in the United States. Regent Judith Hopkinson, whose tenure recently ended, is a retired executive of Ameriquest Capital Corporation, a big mortgage company that is partly responsible for precipitating the current economic crisis: Ameriquest lent billions in sub-prime loans to families across the US knowing full well they would have trouble making payments down the line as rates increased. And the list goes on.

One of the primary enterprises Richard Blum has presided over in recent years is the real estate corporation CB Richard Ellis. With projects in nearly 100 countries, CBRE is the largest brokerage firm on the planet. In a notable example of how Blum’s own particular business interests have become increasingly enmeshed with those of the university, during the course of his tenure as a Regent, CBRE has contracted with at least eight of the UC’s 10 campuses over the past decade. Most often, the company has consulted with these campuses to produce glossy reports highlighting the beneficial economic impacts on the immediate regions that host them, as well as that of California in general. The UC’s San Francisco, Davis, Berkeley, San Diego, and Riverside campuses have all paid CBRE to produce precisely these kinds of economic development treatises.

Each of these CBRE reports marshals a wide range of statistical data to promote a particular vision of the UC’s role in California’s larger economy and society. While paying occasional lip service to the UC’s contributions to “the richness of California culture,” the reports overwhelmingly emphasize the UC’s role in fostering high-tech business enterprise, premised on a decidedly Reagan-esque view of the inherent superiority of top-down economic spending. The core purpose of UC San Diego, according to one CBRE report, is to fuel “the expansion of the skilled labor pool for high-tech businesses and biotech businesses in San Diego.” UC Irvine is “an economic engine powering prosperity” owing to its various big business spin-offs and the high-tech start-up companies founded by its faculty.

The implicit conclusion is that the university’s complete subordination to capital is the primary reason for its existence, and that anything the UC could do for biotech, aerospace, real estate, and finance capital, it should do. In this way, the shift to privatization of the university’s finances, including student fees that are redirected to pay for campus construction projects, goes hand-in-hand with the efforts of state and business elites to render the university a wholesale servant of California’s neo-liberal economic machinery. Under this model, State funding is seen as akin to “local matching funds,” sweetening the overall pot for the real investors, the main purpose being not to make the university affordable for students, but rather to expand the university’s physical footprint and build fancy new research centers that will create all manner of techno-gadgetry to inflate the next bubble.

The UC Regents, in other words, have come to conceive of UC campuses almost entirely as incubators for a constellation of mini-Silicon Valleys: alliances of venture capitalists, real estate speculators, and high-tech entrepreneurs writ large upon large and overlapping swaths of California. It stands to reason that the UC’s leadership would be enamored of the region of the United States that is home to more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in the country, but which has also seen one of the sharpest declines in real wages among its working class. Silicon Valley also leads the way with the most temporary workers per capita, the highest level of economic inequity between genders, and the greatest concentration of toxic Superfund sites in the United States. Neo-liberalism in a nutshell.

Even so, the Regents and UC’s executives have long spoken in excited tones about spreading the model. The UC’s newest campus, UC Merced, was sold entirely on the premise that it would produce a critical mass of biotechnologists, nanotechnologists, engineers, and other wizards of the ruling high-tech religion that mythically creates economic booms that lift all boats. Currently, though, the Central Valley is experiencing some of the greatest levels of unemployment and highest home foreclosure rates in the country. UC Santa Cruz, traditionally the arts and humanities campus of the UC system, was transformed during this era into what some administrators happily called “Silicon Beach.” Much like with the global neo-liberal economy it has done so much to advance, the great majority who don’t already possess ample resources are left under this model to fend for themselves. […]

If the UC is prioritizing various toxic combinations of science and industry at the expense of most students, then what are those projects? Examples abound. In June 2006, the UC announced an agreement with the world’s second largest oil company, British Petroleum, whereby it will receive half a billion dollars per year over 10 years, principally for research into genetically modified elephant grass and other transgenic plants that are candidates to produce alcohol for non-fossil car fuel. The project is housed as a facility on campus called the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI). In keeping with the “public-private partnership” funding model that currently prevails, the State of California put up “matching funds” in the form of $73 million in construction bonds to help smooth the way for the EBI’s landing on the Berkeley campus.

This is one of UC Berkeley’s largest current applied research programs, and it naturally comes straight from the “crisis” playbook. The project is justified under the pretense of helping to solve two major crises – global climate change and its twin bogeyman, oil depletion. In reality, biofuel monoculture has become perhaps the leading cause of dispossession of small farmers in the Global South, as well as the destruction of important ecosystems such as the Amazon Basin rain forest.

Berkeley’s biofuels institute will only further enable multi-national corporations to penetrate, reorganize, poison and despoil the lands, livelihoods, and psyches of Amazon Basin and other cultures. The net impact of the EBI on the environment – that is, the actually existing ecosystems of South America, Indonesia, et al. – will be decidedly negative. On the day of the contract signing, then-UC President Robert Dynes heralded it as “a great day for Mother Earth.”

Both Dynes and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Director Stephen Chu, now duly installed as the Obama administration’s secretary of energy, referred to this project as a “new manhattan project.” It was a fitting designation, although the original Manhattan Project never quite ended, and it has only gained ground under a president who sold the world on “hope” and “change.” The UC continues to co-manage the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore nuclear weapons compounds, which have designed every nuclear weapon in the US arsenal dating from the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as part of for-profit partnerships with the world’s largest construction and engineering firm, Bechtel Corporation. The UC-Bechtel contracts are worth as much as $80 billion in revenue over the course of their 20 year lifespans, a hefty chunk of change when you’re concerned with your bond ratings.

On February 1, the Obama administration unveiled a budget in which both of the UC’s weapons labs would receive a massive funding “surge.” The proposed funding increase of 23 percent at Los Alamos would be the facility’s largest since 1944. Much of that funding is for a new factory to produce plutonium bomb cores, the explosive triggers of modern thermo-nuclear warheads, for the expressed purpose of outfitting the first new nukes to be developed since the end of the Cold War. The investments are sold as the need to “maintain the US nuclear deterrent” in a time of rapidly escalating threats, allegedly, from Iran, North Korea, and potentially even nuclear-armed terrorists.

Again, crisis begets opportunity if you’re properly positioned in the most privileged circles, so it’s fitting that one of the two junior partners in the UC-Bechtel management team should be Richard Blum’s now-former company, URS Corporation. At the time Blum became a Regent, URS already had a $125 million contract to perform construction and engineering at Los Alamos. It was a natural extension of his general business philosophy that Blum would have been eying wholesale ownership of the weapons lab at the time. That in mind, perhaps a little Q & A is in order. Which entities now run the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore weapons labs? The University of California, Bechtel, and URS Corporation, along with a couple of other junior partners. Which UC Regent had a lucrative financial partnership with the Bechtel family, via a $3.5 billion medical technology supplies company named Kinetic Concepts, that precedes the UC-Bechtel weapons lab partnership by eight years? Richard Blum. Who was URS Corporation’s primary financier and vice president for three decades? Richard Blum. Which UC Regent was among a select group of policy wonks who participated in a nuclear weapons policy conference in Oslo, Norway, in 2007, organized largely by a long-time Bechtel executive, George Shultz, who has been instrumental to securing the weapons labs’ recent funding increases? We won’t even bother answering that last question – this exercise has become entirely rhetorical. – Full article

Will Parrish is a writer and organizer living in Laytonville, CA.

Darwin Bond-Graham is a sociologist who splits his time between New Orleans, Albuquerque, and Navarro, CA.

Readers can contact Will Parrish at wparrish(a) and Darwin Bond-Graham at darwin(a) They originally prepared this series for the Anderson Valley Advertiser, one of the very few real newspapers in America and probably soon the last one left standing.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | Comments Off on Next Generation Biofuels, from the makers of the A-bomb

Russell Tribunal aims to hold the international community to account

Frank Barat, The Electronic Intifada, 1 March 2010

Today, the first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) will be held in Barcelona. The RTP is a peoples’ tribunal focusing not on Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) such as the Fourth Geneva Convention, but on the obligations of the international community of signatory states which sustain and enable Israel’s continuous violations of international law.

Israel has violated more than 60 UN resolutions and countless legal and diplomatic calls to abide by international law in relation to the expansion of illegal settlements, denial of the right of return and the continuing occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Syrian Golan Heights. Dozens of reports, investigations and inquiries have produced evidence of alleged Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity, including massacres, collective punishment, home demolitions and extrajudicial killings on a cyclical scale over the past 62 years.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued an advisory opinion finding Israel’s wall in the West Bank illegal and contrary to international law. The opinion was the key tenet of a 54-page document covering illegal settlements, the appropriation of natural resources and Israel’s violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention over the past 40 years, and reminded that IHL signatory states had an obligation “not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction” and “to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law as embodied in that Convention.”

The ruling sparked hopes in the Palestinian community and international solidarity movements that finally, not only had Israeli violations been legally judged but that the responsibilities of the states which enable Israeli impunity to continue would be put to the test. Six years and 500 kilometers of wall on, the continued construction of the wall casts a shadow over international law.

Or does it?

The RTP is an independent initiative which intends to generate a public literacy in international law and the possibilities for the rule of law if respected to dismantle and disempower the reproduction of the occupation as a military, cultural and economic movement.

Israel is an international entity, kept afloat not just financially and politically by international state partners and supporters, but “legally” by the continued legitimization of illegal acts and “facts on the ground” by these states. Israel’s most important market is not economic or military — it is the market of legitimacy, the permission it receives to normalize crimes against humanity to its own citizens and the international community. This can only happen with the complicity of non-IHL compliant states. The RTP is a way of publicly pointing the finger at these states and mobilizing public opinion towards holding them accountable for the ongoing human rights violations in Palestine.

The RTP is composed of four sessions. The first in Barcelona from 1-3 March, focuses on establishing whether the European Union as an entity has fulfilled its obligations under international law. At the end of 2010, a London session will scrutinize the complicity of corporations in normalizing and perpetuating Israel’s violations of international law as well as labor rights in Palestine/Israel. In mid-2011, a session in South Africa will examine the applicability of the crime of apartheid in the context of Israel. The final session will be held in the United States in late 2011 and will analyze the role of the US within the United Nations and decision-making processes on issues of violating international law.

The RTP is not a talking shop. For too long Israel has been the focus of international campaigning as if it alone is responsible for the oppression of the Palestinian people, and as if it has been acting alone. The RTP is about making the links between the crimes committed on the ground in Palestine and their international sponsors. If we want to popularize the notion of “normalization” of the occupation as a key obstacle to a just peace, then understanding how this “normalization” operates on an international legal level in the corridors of Washington, Brussels and London, as well as Tel Aviv, is a vital part of challenging it.

As Israeli think tanks and lobby groups bemoan the rise of “delegitimization” of Israel on a popular level within Europe, the actual, pragmatic delegitimization of Israeli criminal policies is still unrealized and unimplemented by countries that have not just the means but the obligations to do this. The RTP contributes to the growing movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions by popularizing the facts behind the arguments for why states have a responsibility to implement sanctions against Israel, and for companies to withdraw from illegal projects and for the public to boycott Israeli institutions, goods and the normalization of apartheid.

The Geneva Conventions were created and agreed upon by the countries of the world in 1949, under popular pressure, as the legal means to ensure that crimes against humanity committed around the world during the Second World War would never happen again. The principles and tenets of these laws are being violated by Israel continuously. These laws stem from liberation struggles and sacrifices of movements in the past, and are on our side, the side of the people. We can use these laws as guides to build the conditions for genuine justice and universal human rights, and a world based on solidarity and equality.

Frank Barat is coordinator of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine ( A live streaming of the session can be viewed here: and a list of jury members as well as experts and witnesses participating in the tribunal is available for download (PDF)

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | Comments Off on Russell Tribunal aims to hold the international community to account

The New York Times veers neocon

Robert Parry | | March 1, 2010

Many American progressives don’t want to recognize how bad the U.S. mainstream news media has become. It’s easier to praise a few exceptions to the rule and to hope that some pendulum will swing than to undertake the challenging task of building a new and honest media infrastructure.

But the hard reality is that the U.S. news media is getting worse, with now both premier national newspapers – the New York Times and the Washington Post – decidedly sliding into the neocon camp, where the likes of the Wall Street Journal have long resided.

For the Post, this may already be an old story, given its enthusiastic cheerleading for the Iraq War. The Times, however, was a somewhat different story. Yes, it did let Judith Miller and other staff writers promote the fictions about Iraq’s WMD, but it hadn’t sunk to the depths of the Post.

That is now changing as the Times – behind executive editor Bill Keller and editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal – tosses aside all pretense of objectivity in the cause of seeking “regime change” in Iran, today’s top priority for the neoconservatives.

At, we have noted this trend for some months, not only in the New York Times opinion section but in its news columns where Iran’s alleged interest in acquiring a nuclear weapon is trumpeted incessantly (despite its denial of such a desire), while rogue nuclear states in the region (such as Israel, Pakistan and India) are given a pass. [See, for example, “US Media Replays Iraq Fiasco in Iran.”]

This Sunday, the Times’ bias was on display again in the lead editorial entitled, “New Think and Old Weapons,” which purported to examine the state of nuclear weapons in the world.

Fitting with the Times’ deepening neocon tendencies, Iran’s nuclear weapons (even though they don’t exist) were a major topic, while the rogue nuclear states of Israel, Pakistan and India (which have refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) weren’t mentioned.

So, you had formulations like this: “Iran, North Korea and others have seemingly unquenchable nuclear appetites” and the need to “bolster American credibility … to rein in Iran, North Korea and other proliferators.” In all, there were four such references to North Korea and Iran, but no specific references to Israel, Pakistan and India.

The Times also observed that China was “the only major nuclear power adding to its arsenal [which] is estimated to have 100 to 200 warheads.” There was no mention of Israel, which is believed to possess one of the most sophisticated nuclear arsenals in the world, totaling some 200 or more devices.

Ironically, the Times editorial also cited problems of “hypocrisy and double standards” and noted that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was “battered.”

The Times did not seem at all embarrassed by its own hypocrisy and double standards. Nor did it bother to note that one of the key reasons this “bedrock” treaty is in trouble is that non-signatories – like Israel, Pakistan and India – have built nukes, often with a wink and a nod from Washington.

As neocon propagandists pursue their goal of riling up the American public against some new foreign threat, that effort requires highlighting certain facts (and even fictions). But the propagandists equally must make sure that many inconvenient truths are conveniently forgotten. Otherwise the alleged threat might not seem all that unusual or threatening.

So, in the world of neocon propaganda, Iran – a treaty signatory that has no nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes – must be endlessly badgered, but Israel – an undeclared rogue nuclear state with a vast arsenal – must be shielded from similar criticism and pressure.

That the New York Times has now embraced these neocon biases, almost with the ardor of the Washington Post, is a serious development for the U.S. news media and for the nation.

© 2010 Consortium News

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment

39 army raids, 28 arrests: Just another day in the West Bank

Amira Hass | Haaretz | March 1, 2010

“The year 2009 was the quietest for Israelis from the security point of view and the most violent for the Palestinians from the point of view of attacks by settlers in the West Bank.” Just as he was saying this – as an example of one of the absurdities that characterize the political situation – Palestinian Agriculture Minister Ismail Daiq received a phone call from the Jenin district to inform him that five artesian wells in the village of Daan had been destroyed that morning. One person was shot and wounded in the abdomen when he tried to lift the pump to save it from damage. This was not an attack by settlers but a raid by the army.

And that wasn’t the only routine event on Wednesday, February 24. The negotiations affairs department of the Palestine Liberation Organization collects information daily from all the districts of the occupied territories (Gaza and the West Bank, as well as Jerusalem) and publishes it in a daily situation report by the Palestinian Monitoring Group. For the sake of convenience, the report categorizes the events and then provides details for each district.

That Wednesday, a total of 212 occupation-related incidents were recorded. Examples include: four physical assaults (which took place in the West Bank, and included civilians being beaten in Nablus and Jerusalem); one injury (a civilian hurt in a clash in Daan); eight military shooting attacks (two of which took place in Gaza, two were in the midst of raids, and one came from a military outpost; 39 army raids (one in Gaza); 28 arrests; and 12 detentions at checkpoints and in residential areas. The items on the checklist include home demolition (none that day), the leveling of agricultural land (one, in Gaza), and construction of the separation wall (at 22 locations).

The report also includes categories for property destruction (seven cases, including the destruction of wells and crops); checkpoint closure (eight cases at five checkpoints, including instances of impeded access); mobile (“flying”) checkpoints (23); permanent closure of village access roads (seven); closure of main roads (40, (including four in Bethlehem and 14 in Hebron, and the village of Jaba east of Ramallah); closure of main crossing points (four, including the permanent blockade of Gaza); disruptions at school (three cases, including the throwing of two tear gas canisters); violence on the part of settlers (one, in Sheikh Jarrah); demonstrations (one, in Hebron). The checklist also includes Palestinian attacks (none on that day).

The philosophy behind the situation report is clear. An “event” is not just a fatality, assault, shooting or demolition. It is something that entails permanent damage, and stems from the policy of imposing closures, building the wall and maintaining the blockade of the Gaza Strip. But even without these occupation-related items, the vast majority of the incidents are not made known to the vast majority of Israelis.

No statistics can express the emotional and social distress that accompanies every event and non-event, such as the incarceration of 1.5 million people inside the Gaza Strip or the fact that tens of thousands still have not been able to reconstruct homes that were damaged during the Israel Defense Forces offensive in the winter of 2008-2009. Even without asking, it is possible to know that the reason for the destruction of the wells in the Jenin district is that they were dug “without a permit.” But the sovereign that destroys is also the one that controls the water resources and decides on an unequal division of water between Palestinians and Israelis. The statistics do not include the practical difficulties that stem from this discrimination or the permanent insult it creates.

In 2009, Israel destroyed 225 Palestinian homes in the West Bank and uprooted 515 Palestinians from their homes, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported. Thousands more in Area C and in Jerusalem live in constant fear that their homes will be destroyed and they will be uprooted from their places of residence.

How does one count fear? Like the fear that was felt in the homes of some 700 minors the IDF arrested in 2009. The Palestinian branch of Defence for Children International represented 218 of these minors. Forty were released, 28 on bail and 12 without conditions. Seven minors were kept in administrative detention – that is, they were detained without a trial. A total of 192 were brought to trial, of whom 23 were aged 12 or 13, and 46 were 14 or 15. The majority – 123 minors – were aged 16 or 17.

Sentences of less than six months were imposed on 121 of those arrested – 63 percent – while 31 of them received sentences of between six months and a year, and 32 were sentenced to between one and three years. Eight of the minors were jailed for more than three years.

The majority (117) were sentenced for throwing stones, 33 for possessing and throwing Molotov cocktails, 11 for being members of a banned organization, eight for conspiring to kill, seven for possessing and hiding explosives, and 16 for possessing and manufacturing weapons.

For the moment, let us not discuss the arrests and trials of the military system, which is said to be a way of maintaining law and order but actually maintains the occupation. Let us put aside, for now, the fact that in military tribunals it is often advisable to admit to offenses the defendant did not commit, since the detention time while the proceedings are underway might end up being longer than the actual sentence for the alleged offense.

But how is it possible to quantify the personal and collective rage expressed by the stones being thrown and created by Israel’s military tribunal system?

Any news item we report that deals with Israeli rule over the Palestinians is misleading. It creates the impression that whatever has been reported is all that has happened on the Palestinian side and that otherwise everything is normal, or even flourishing. Any news item that is published in Israeli papers is a sign of what is missing, what no one wants to know.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on 39 army raids, 28 arrests: Just another day in the West Bank

Israel effectively pressuring Palestinian Bedouin community to leave the Jordan Valley

B’TSELEM | February 2010

Al-Hadidiyeh – The Jordan Valley is classified as Area C and is, therefore, under complete Israeli control. Israel has imposed harsh restrictions on building and movement there that apply to Palestinians alone, effectively pushing them to leave area.

The Civil Administration does not allow Palestinians to build in Bedouin areas in the valley and systematically demolishes the temporary structures in which they live and raise their flocks. The army limits the movement of Palestinians between the valley and the rest of the West Bank, allowing only Palestinians registered as residents of the valley to enter it in private vehicles. Palestinians from elsewhere in the West Bank are allowed to enter only on foot or by public transportation. The separation of the Jordan Valley from the rest of the West Bank severely infringes the human rights of many Palestinians.

The Bedouin community of al-Hadidiyeh is situated in the north of the Jordan Valley. The settlements Ro’i and Beka’ot were built east of it, partially on its farmland. ‘Abd a-Rahim Bsharat, 60, who has lived in the community his whole life, estimates that there are ten families, a total of 91 persons, now living in it, in three small clusters. The residents, like those of many other small Bedouin communities in the Jordan Valley, gain their livelihood by raising sheep and goats and by working their land.

In the census taken by Israel in 1967, the authorities registered all persons living in the area as residents of the nearby towns of Tammun and Tubas. Therefore, there is no official information on the number of residents who lived in al-Hadidiyeh at the time. Bsharat estimates that before 1967, there were about 2,500 residents, some of whom fled to Jordan after the war.

Since the mid-1970s, Israel has pressured the residents to abandon their land, along with establishing settlements in the area. Bsharat describes how the army fined shepherds who grazed their flocks on land near the settlements, and how, in some instances, soldiers fired at the flocks, killing several sheep and confiscating animals. In recent months, B’Tselem has documented several cases in which residents of al-Hadidiyeh claimed that the security coordinators of Ro’i and Beka’ot assaulted or harassed them while they were grazing their flocks, in an attempt to distance them from the settlements. The testimonies paint a worrisome picture of army and police support for the security coordinators’ harassment of the shepherds.

Three years ago, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered that the residents of al-Hadidiyeh be removed from their homes, accepting the position of the Civil Administration that the residents were living on land classified as “agricultural” in plans drafted by the British Mandate in the 1940s. The High Court also accepted the state’s position that their living on the site posed a security threat because of its proximity to the Ro’i settlement.

In recent years, the Civil Administration demolished the shacks of the Bsharat family and others in the community four times. Currently, the Civil Administration threatens to demolish all the shacks in the community yet again.

Click here to enlarge map

Map: the small community of al-Hadidiyeh and the settlements built near it.

Map: the small community of al-Hadidiyeh and the settlements built near it.

The harsh restrictions Israel places on movement of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley make life very difficult for the residents of al-Hadidiyeh. In addition to the general restrictions, the army has blocked access from the community to the Alon Road (Route 578), by placing a dirt pile on a connecting dirt road that crosses fields cultivated by Ro’i settlers. To reach the Alon Road, residents of al-Hadidiyeh must cross through part of the Ro’i settlement itself, and when the gate to the settlement is closed, they have to travel a much longer route, which runs between Ro’i and Beka’ot.

Residents of al-Hadidiyeh receive all their services from the towns of Tammun and Tubas, which are situated in Area A. The shortest way to the two towns is along a dirt road leading to Tammun, a trip that takes 15 minutes. The army placed a gate on the road that it opens only twice a week, at set times in the morning and afternoon. Only persons registered with the army as residents of the area, including residents of al-Hadidiyeh, are allowed to pass. At other times, the residents must drive to the Hamra checkpoint, about 30 minutes’ travel south of al-Hadidiyeh, and from there north to Tammun or Tubas, a trip that takes another 30 minutes.

Persons requiring medical treatment also have to use this route. The army does not allow Palestinian ambulances to cross the Hamra checkpoint to go to Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley, even in emergency cases. The ambulances have to wait at the checkpoint for the patient to be brought to them.

The community has no school, and to get to their schools in Tammun, the children from al-Hadidiyeh have to travel the long way via the Hamra checkpoint. To enable them to attend school regularly, many of the children spend weekday nights with relatives in Tammun.
The residents of al-Hadidiyeh also have trouble marketing their produce throughout the West Bank since it is hard for West Bank merchants to reach al-Hadidiyeh and nearby communities.

Al-Hadidiyeh is not hooked up to the power grid and does not have running water. The nearby settlements, on the other hand, are hooked up to the Israeli power grid and are supplied water by the Beka’ot 1 Pumping Station, which was built by the Israel’s water company, Mekorot. Although the pumping station is adjacent to their land, residents of al-Hadidiyeh have no choice but to buy water from private contractors, who come to the area every few days and charge up to 200 shekels for 10 cubic meters of water, four times the price Mekorot charges in Israel and in the settlements.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | Comments Off on Israel effectively pressuring Palestinian Bedouin community to leave the Jordan Valley

Baby Survives 3 Days in Argentina with Bullet Wound in Chest

Latin America Herald Tribune | March 1, 2010

BUENOS AIRES – A 7-month-old baby survived alone for three days with a bullet wound in its chest beside the bodies of its parents and brother, who died in an apparent suicide pact brought on by the couple’s terror of global warming, the Argentine press said Saturday.

The incident, reported by the daily Clarin, occurred in a modest dwelling in the city of Goya in the northeastern province of Corrientes, where Francisco Lotero, 56, and Miriam Coletti, 22, lived with their two small children.

According to sources cited by the Buenos Aires morning paper, the couple’s neighbors smelled Thursday a strong odor coming from the Lotero’s house.

Police entered the home and found a Dantesque scene: the lifeless bodies of the couple, each shot in the chest, and their 2-year-old son, who had been shot in the back.

In another room police found a 7-month-old baby still alive but covered in blood from a bullet wound in the chest. It was taken to hospital immediately and its condition is improving hourly, according to doctors’ reports.

The cops found a letter on the table alluding to the couple’s worry about global warming and their anger at the government’s lack of interest in the matter.

March 1, 2010 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment