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Bahrain crackdown on protests slammed

Press TV –  February 15, 2011

The United Nations human rights chief has slammed Bahrain’s use of “disproportionate force” against peaceful demonstrators, urging an immediate end to any violent crackdown.

“I urge the authorities to immediately cease the use of disproportionate force against peaceful protestors and to release all peaceful demonstrators who have been arrested,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a statement.

On Tuesday, large crowds of Bahraini protesters poured into the streets of the capital, demanding a regime change in the Persian Gulf kingdom. The call inspired by the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia came after two protesters were killed in clashes with police.

Fadel Salman Matrouk was gunned down in front of a hospital on Tuesday where mourners assembled for the funeral of the 20-year-old Ali Msheymah, who died of his wounds after police resorted to violence to disperse a protest in a village east of Manama the day before.

Pillay noted that both victims were killed by members of Bahrain’s security forces.

“Too many peaceful protestors have recently been killed across the Middle East and North Africa,” the UN rights chief regretted.

“Authorities everywhere must scrupulously avoid excessive use of force, which is strictly forbidden in international law,” said Pillay, calling for “prompt, impartial and transparent investigations where there have been breaches of this obligation.”


Bahrain Police Rampage

smohd92 | February 14, 2011

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | 3 Comments

Overcoming Israel’s attempts to discredit protest

Ismail Patel, The Electronic Intifada, 15 February 2011

In recent months, Israel’s tactics to discredit legitimate protestors have become increasingly Orwellian as it steps up its campaign against human rights activists within the country and abroad, especially in the United Kingdom.

Human rights groups in Israel will now face scrutiny following the formation of a government-approved parliamentary committee to investigate Israeli organizations which criticize Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Thus, instead of tackling legitimate human rights concerns, Israel seeks to delegitimize those leveling the charges, despite the masses of evidence to support their claims.

Israel is also promoting and consolidating the Zionist narrative in the UK, using intimidation and guilt against those challenging Israel’s occupation, human rights abuses and its expansionist aspirations.

Two leading Israeli organizations with close links to the government, the Reut Institute and the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs, both warned recently that London was becoming a center for anti-Israel activity culminating, they claim, in a rise of anti-Semitism because British Muslim-led organizations are being given free rein.

Reut boasts on its website that is seeks “to provide real-time, long-term strategic decision-support to Israeli leaders and decision-makers,” hardly making it an independent observer. It published a report on London in November titled “Building a Political Firewall against the Assault on Israel’s Legitimacy,” which claimed that London is the “Mecca of Delegitimization” and a key player in all major recent “delegitimization” campaigns concerning Israel (download the full report [PDF]).

“Delegitimization” is the term coined by the Reut Institute last year to describe a whole variety of activities by Palestinian and solidarity activists who call for Israel to end its occupation, abide by international law and respect the human rights of all Palestinians wherever they are.

Reut’s report on London was followed by another from the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs which spared virtually no organization in London connected to the anti-war movement from the accusation of being “delegitimizers.”

Common to both of these reports was the labeling of British Muslim organizations as “Islamist,” drawing on their ancestral and religious links to imply they had ties with Iran, Hizballah and Hamas, and thus present an existential threat to the democratic West. By drawing such spurious links, Israel and its apologists hope to demonize British citizens, shore up political support for Israel and score easy political gains by appealing to Islamophobia and fear.

This spin has been quickly picked up by Israel’s acolytes in the UK media. On 29 December 2010, The Times reported the ludicrous and baseless accusations by the Israeli defense ministry that the London-based Palestine Return Centre was involved in “terror-related activities” and served as a front for Hamas (James Hider, “City condemned as ‘hub of hubs’“).

Writing in The Sunday Telegraph a few days earlier,
Andrew Gilligan bemoaned that the Charity Commission, the UK’s charity watchdog, has lost its bite when it concluded that it “found no evidence of irregular or improper use of the Charity’s funds” in reference to separate accusations made in the Telegraph against another British Charity — Muslim Aid.

Thus, by failing to follow Israel’s lead and implicate innocent charities like Muslim Aid in supporting terrorist networks in Palestine, Gilligan, rather like Israel, chose to demonize those who fail to toe the line. We should take pride in the fact that the Charities Commission acts independently, rather than succumbing to political pressure to withdraw charitable status.

While the fear of “Islamism” is being pumped in the veins of one arm of the nation, the other arm is being injected with the false idea that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. That is a point contested by, among others, many British Jewish individuals and organizations who stand in solidarity with Palestinians in calling for an end to Israel’s occupation and other human rights abuses.

Resorting to accusing Israel’s critics of “anti-Semitism” is an old tactic that is being revived with new zeal in an attempt to intimidate into silence those calling for an end to Israel’s impunity and exceptionalism.

What Zionists fail to understand is that the Free Palestine movement has permeated across all sections of British society and religious affiliation is incidental. Israel’s divide-and-rule tactics have not succeeded in breaking the will of a brutalized Palestinian population, and they will not work against the solidarity movement in the UK either.

While continuing to build illegal colonies on Palestinian land; evicting Palestinians from Jerusalem; subjugating millions through routine, brutal violence and killing; and corraling Palestinians in elaborate systems of movement control, such as the illegal West Bank wall and the blockade of Gaza, Israel insists that it always be presented as peaceful, reasonable, humane, compassionate and magnanimous. These virtues are extolled and celebrated in Judaism, as in many other religions, but they are not ones that have ever been practiced by Israel toward Palestinians.

There is no doubt that at present Israel has the sympathy of the UK government. But the public is more and more aware of the realities and it is doubtful that the Zionist offensive can silence British people’s sense of justice and intimidate and blackmail us into thinking that by criticizing Israel’s practices and calling for justice for all, we are attacking Judaism.

The British sense of justice will overcome attempts by the Zionist lobby of equating anti-Semitism with illegal Zionist occupation and practices in West Bank and Gaza Strip. These tactics are intended to divide people from each other and to sow sectarianism and fear. We mustn’t allow them to succeed.

Ismail Patel is Chair of UK based NGO Friends of Al-Aqsa, and author of several books including Palestine: Beginner’s Guide and Medina to Jerusalem: Encounters with the Byzantine Empire.

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on Overcoming Israel’s attempts to discredit protest

Largest Brazilian Trade Union backs Boycott!

Community Voices | Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign | February 7, 2011

In an important gain for the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, Brazil’s largest Trade Union Confederation (CUT), voiced its support of the BDS call and called for the suspension of Israeli-Brazilian economic agreements and military ties on January 28.

In a statement signed by National President of CUT as well as its General Secretary and International Relations Secretary, the union stated:

“The advancement of the Israeli offensive, symbolized by the construction of the wall of apartheid and the constant bombing of Gaza requires solidarity with the Palestinian People from us all to carry out policies that go beyond humanitarian assistance and can contribute in a relevant way to build peace in Palestine. Thus we urge trade unions, social and popular movements to support the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions to policies of occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel.”

According to research done by Stop the Wall, Israeli companies began in 2000 to become a critical part of the Brazilian police and military forces, with Elbit Systems taking the lead. This was primarily in high-tech areas, but also extended to conventional arms. Currently, a number of major Israeli arms companies have their sights set on Brazil as the key market in South America. In its statement, CUT singled out the growing military trade and economic links being built between Brazil and Israel:

“We regret that Brazil is the third largest consumer of arms from Israel through the Plan of National Defense Strategy of the Ministry of Defense of Brazil, and that arms agreements contribute indirectly to the occupation of Palestinian territory. It is therefore necessary that the Brazilian government suspend current agreements and bilateral economic / military negotiations between Brazil and Israel. It is unacceptable that the Free Trade Agreement between MERCOSUR and Israel becomes a reality.”

The BDS movement is spreading rapidly in Latin America, as more trade unions and social movements take up the call. In December a campaign against the Israeli water carrier Mekerot was launched in Argentina while workers movements and community radios in the same country backed boycott, divestment and sanctions.

– – –

Full text of the CUT resolution

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

Obama Administration Says It Can Spy On Americans, But Can’t Tell You What Law Allows It

TechDirt | February 14, 2011

Remember how President Obama, while campaigning, promised to reject the questionable spying practices of the federal government of President Bush? Yeah, forget all that. Over the past two years, we’ve seen time and time again that he’s actually extended those abuses even further. The latest to come out is that the Justice Department is now claiming that the FBI has the right to get phone records on any call made from inside the US to an international number without any oversight. You may recall a few years back that there was a similar controversy, when it came out that the FBI would regularly just call up phone companies and ask for records — despite the fact that this violates certain laws designed to protect consumer privacy. Sometimes, they would just use post-it notes.

Apparently, a year ago, McClatchy newspapers put in a FOIA request, asking for the details of a particular Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) memo that was mentioned in the (previously released, but highly redacted) report that showed how frequently the FBI abused the law in this manner. The OLC took its sweet time responding, but finally responded, and in the cover letter admitted that the Obama administration believes it is perfectly legal for the FBI to route around the in-place oversight for getting access to such records and claimed that the law said so.

Which law says so? Oh, see, that they can’t say. Yes, the part of the letter that explains which law lets the FBI get these records without oversight was redacted.

It’s a secret law! And here I thought, in the US, if the government was going to base actions on a particular law, at the very least, they were supposed to tell you what law. Apparently, the Justice Department under the Obama administration does not believe that to be the case.

Basically, what this means is that the federal government believes that it’s free to request information without first getting court approval — and without telling the public what law says they’re allowed to get this information. That’s not what the laws on the books seem to say at all. But, of course, big telcos such as AT&T, who are so closely tied to the government, are going to roll over and give the government such info (or, perhaps, give them direct access to the info), even if it violates other laws. Why do you think President Obama voted to support giving telcos retroactive immunity on this issue, while he was running for President despite having earlier said he was against it? Now that he’s in power, he apparently is perfectly happy to let the FBI twist the clear intentions of the law to spy on Americans without oversight, and then to refuse to reveal what law he’s relying on to make such spying on Americans without oversight legal.

McClatchy quotes Michael German, a former FBI agent, who now works for the ACLU pointing out the obvious:

“It’s wrong that they’re withholding a legal rationale that has to do with the authorities of the FBI to collect information that affects the rights of American citizens here and abroad…. The law should never be secret. We should all understand what rules we’re operating under and particularly when it comes to an agency that has a long history of abuse in its collection activities.”

And so far, it doesn’t seem like most people care. About the only politician who really seems concerned about this is Senator Wyden, who says this level of secrecy “is a serious problem” and he’s “continuing to press the executive branch to disclose more information to the public about what their government thinks the law means.” Once again, kudos to Senator Wyden for being one of a very small number of politicians who seems to consistently be concerned about the rights of individuals. But it’s sad that the rest of our elected officials aren’t up in arms about this. The government shouldn’t be spying on Americans, and if it is, it should at least have to tell Americans what law it’s basing that decision on.

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | 4 Comments

‘Israeli filter’ colors U.S. response to Egyptian revolution

By Alex Kane | February 15, 2011

Hosni Mubarak’s former regime got many things wrong, but Egyptian officials sure knew how to accurately read at least some parts of U.S. foreign policy.  A State Department cable written in December 2007 recently released by WikiLeaks describes how the Egyptian government believed that “their discussions with the United States” passed “through a perceived ‘Israeli filter.’”  It’s fair to assume that Egypt was referring to how, as Helena Cobban writes in Salon, “pro-Israeli groups and individuals in Congress and the rest of the American political elite” have enormous influence on how Washington conducts foreign policy.

The pro-Israel apparatus’ influence, which has created a powerful “Israeli filter” that affects the conduct of U.S. foreign policy, was fully on display during the Obama administration’s noticeably confused and flat-footed response to the anti-Mubarak popular uprising.

Immediately after the beginning of the uprising, President “Obama began placing calls to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel,” according to the New York Times. Netanyahu “feared regional instability” and “urged the United States to stick with Mr. Mubarak.”

The administration itself was split over what do to about Mubarak.  The faction of the administration that favored having Omar Suleiman–the former Egyptian VP who was also Israel’s favorite– lead a “transition” included Dennis Ross, a core pillar of the Israel lobby inside the administration.  The Los Angeles Times explained:

The other camp includes Dennis Ross, a former Middle East peace negotiator for Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Ross, who has strong ties to Israel, is the author of a 2007 book that advised against treating the Muslim Brotherhood as a potential partner in Egypt’s political future, noting the group’s refusal to renounce violence “as a tool of other Islamists.”

Apart from managing the crisis, the White House is consulting with outside interest groups and foreign governments to ensure that its message is getting through.

National Security Council member Daniel Shapiro has sought to reassure pro-Israel groups that the inclusion of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt’s political negotiations would not undermine the country’s peace treaty with Israel, according to people who have talked with him. Shapiro, who led outreach to Jewish voters in Obama’s presidential campaign, has tended to the president’s relations with Israel and other regional partners, as well as with Jewish leaders in the U.S.

While the Egyptian protesters forced Mubarak out, as well as ending any possibility that Suleiman would be the new dictator, the U.S. remains deeply concerned with how the revolution will affect Israel and its peace treaty with Egypt.  Following Mubarak’s resignation, the White House insisted that “it’s important that the next government of Egypt recognize the accords that have been signed with Israel.”

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | Comments Off on ‘Israeli filter’ colors U.S. response to Egyptian revolution

A Warning for Egyptian Revolutionaries: Courtesy of People-Power in the Philippines

By Michael Barker | February 15, 2011

Much like Mubarak, the former democratic reformer turned long serving US dictator for the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos, demonstrates what can happen to even stalwart defenders of capitalism when they are opposed by their citizens en masse. Like Mubarak, Marcos previously provided a ray of hope for Western elites intent on quelling popular resistance within their own countries; after President Ronald Reagan launched his “worldwide campaign for democracy” before the British Parliament at Westminster in June 1982, he then decided to visit Marcos in the Philippines “where he announced in a public homage to the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, that ‘the Philippines has been moulded in the image of American democracy.’” This commitment to ‘democracy’ in the Philippines was not new; the previous year vice-president George Bush “raised a toast to Marcos during his visit to Manila, declaring ‘We love your adherence to democratic principle and to the democratic process.’”[1]

Little wonder that when the US government institutionalized their commitment to democracy, it took the form an Orwellian organization called the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — an organization that was set up by the US government to overtly carry out the ‘democracy promoting’ interventions that had formerly been undertaken covertly by the Central Intelligence Agency. Since then, the NED has assumed a pivotal position in defusing revolutionary movements all over the world, but their central role in the eventual ouster of Marcos is worth retelling, especially bearing in mind the similarity of his regime of oppression to Mubarak. Thankfully the history of the US government’s ‘democratic’ invention in the Philippines has already been analysed in William I. Robinson’s ground breaking book Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge University Press, 1996); consequently this article merely aims to encapsulate some of his key points.

To begin with, there should be no doubt that the ouster of President Marcos in 1986 was due to any long-range conspiracy hatched in the White House: his removal from power was entirely due to a popular uprising. On the other hand, the US government did belatedly succeed in undermining and co-opting the revolutionary ferment that was in the air. What is clear is that throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the poor and oppressed citizens of the Philippines had been gathering political strength. This emerging power was significantly bolstered by the August 1983 assassination of the most visible leader of the elite opposition, Benigno Aquino Jr. — a murder which had the effect of ensuring that the non-Marcos elite was finally “galvanized… into active opposition.” This galvanization had the effect of drawing the middle-classes into the already popular and vocal opposition movement, and with the potential for a broad-based increasingly radicalized opposition movement developing in the Philippines, the US government became more than a little interested in intervening in the region. Elite concern in the United States was further aggrieved when in late 1984, the wife of the assassinated Benigno, Cory Aquino — who was now a serious contender for power — worked with other opposition leaders to draw up plans that “spelled out a nationalist-orientated program of social reform and development and also called for the removal of US military bases from the Philippines.”[2]

The US had always been  interested in the Philippines because of the Subic Bay Naval Base and Clark Air Force Base: military bases which were key strategic sites from which every US invasion of Asia had gone through since 1898. Concern really heightened and got greater in about 1984, because of the people’s movement, including the New People’s Army (NPA), a fighting force of over 20,000 fighters and led by the Communist Party of the Philippines.

If it wasn’t obvious before, it now became evident to US planners that a “diverse and well organized” movement was gaining momentum in the Philippines, “ranging from the NPA insurgency, to the mass, left-of-center civic movement BAYAN (New Patriotic Federation, which went by its acronym in Tagalog), which brought together millions of Philippine citizens, to numerous parties and groups of the center, center-right and right.” Noting that “[p]erhaps the weakest among the opposition were the center and conservative sectors which, as in Nicaragua and other authoritarian Third World regimes, had vacillated during many years between support for, and opposition to, the dictatorship,” ‘democracy’ aid was quickly funnelled to these needy sectors of civil society.[3]

Between 1984 and 1990, Philippine organizations received at least $9 million from the NED and other US sources. These included: the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), which mobilized the business community against Marcos; the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP), a minority, conservative union federation affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and which competed with more radical and left-leaning labor organizations; Philippine “youth clubs” established under the guidance of US organizers to mobilize Philippine youth; the KABATID Philippine women’s organization (KABATID is the Tagalog acronym for Women’s Movement for the Nurturing of Democracy), also established under the guidance of US organizers; and the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL).[4]

Here one should note that Robinson’s figure of $9 million is based on publicly available NED annual reports, and as he observes, “the actual amount is probably much higher, since millions more were sent to the Philippines circuitously via such organizations as the AAFLI [Asian-American Free Labor Institute] and via the CIA and other ‘national security’ related spending, which is classified.”[5] To be sure the TUCP, which was the local affiliate of the AFL-CIO’s Asian-American Free Labor Institute, was a creation of the Marcos Dictatorship pure and simple, and its goal was to keep the labor sector under control. Indeed, after Aquino’s assassination, the US Government channelled millions of dollars to the TUCP through AAFLI as a way to help the TUCP — and the Marcos Dictatorship — survive. On the other hand, the most significant pro-worker, anti-management part of the labor movement in the Philippines was the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU-May First Movement) — which was a nationalist, militant labor center of unions built in the various regional political economies across the nation that united on a national level on May 1, 1980, in Manila. KMU specifically challenged the TUCP, and they were central to the nationalist challenge to the dictatorship.

Living in fear of the evolution of a “left-center popular alliance,” the US State Department dispatched their finest experts in conflict resolution to meet with Cory Aquino and the leader of the  right-wing opposition, Salvador “Doy” Laurel, to “convince them to run under a united ticket that would stress anti-communism and refrain from opposing US bases in the Philippines (Laurel subsequently became Aquino’s running-mate as candidate for vice-president).” Having laid the groundwork for a change of leadership, events then heated up when Marcos decided to ignore the results of the snap election held on February 7, 1986, in which  the people of the Philippines elected the Aquino/Laurel ticket to power. Contrary to US interests, Marcos’ adverse Dictatorial reaction further inflamed popular resistance, providing further fuel for the popular insurrection.[6]

The US wanted to do whatever it could to contain the growing insurrection, and an important part of the US’s ultimately successful intervention in the Philippines was to get the military onside and ready for the ‘democratic’ transition; and a key player in this regard was General Fidel Ramos, a long-time loyalist to Marcos who was acting as Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). It was in this way, with a ‘little’ prodding by the United States, that in mid-1985 General Ramos came to see the futility of supporting Marcos’s crumbling regime and joined with Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile in helping organize a reformer’s revolt which split the military shortly after the contested election.[7] Thus when the people subsequently rose up in defiance of Marcos to protect the military reformers and their forces in Manila, Marcos’ only choice at that time — if he had wanted to crush the military revolt — was to order the Army to slaughter the masses, and the US didn’t want that!

With few other options left on the table, the US turned all its resources to bring pressure to bear on Marcos , and they did this by dispatching “at-large ambassador Philip Habib to Manila to urge Aquino to keep her followers off the streets and to convince Marcos to step down.”[8] However, when Habib failed to make the US’s case firmly enough, Paul Laxalt, a right-wing US Senator from Nevada, called Marcos (on February 24) and told him to “cut and cut clean”; and within twenty-four hours Marcos was gone and Aquino had been sworn into office.[9] Taken together, these actions served to undermine the growing political power of the people’s power movement, as they circumscribed the need for the massive (potentially revolutionary) social protests that were in the pipeline — which were to include economic boycotts and a general strike.

Significantly, “[s]uch actions would have greatly enhanced the labor movement, with its militant base and left-wing tendencies, in both removing Marcos and in shaping the post-Marcos government and policies.” Yet one should note that there was never any question of Aquino — soon to be Time magazine women of the year — supporting labor, and particularly KMU, over the military. All the same, the big question for the US was could she re-establish social stability, and be won away from wanting to close the US military bases. Consequently after Aquino assumed power, there were several military coup efforts against her by the Marcos-inspired military,[10] in which her side eventually prevailed: Ramos and Enrile played key roles here, with Ramos becoming more important of the two over time. Both Enrile and Ramos were long time allies of the US — Ramos is a graduate of West Point — and they were able to convince her to keep the US bases. At the same time, the US government provided tons of money, and a direct address by Aquino to the US Congress to keep her on their side, which wasn’t hard: Aquino herself had gone to college in the US, and was very pro-American. She also agreed to pay debt incurred by the Dictatorship, seeing them as legitimate.

In the aftermath of the US’s ‘democratic’ intervention in the Philippines there has been a vigorous debate about the significance of the US’s role in the process. Yet as Robinson points out, “whether or not US intervention was itself the determining factor in the overthrow of Marcos obscured a much more significant issue: US intervention was decisive in shaping the contours of the anti-Marcos movement and in establishing the terms and conditions under which Philippine social and political struggles would unfold in the post-Marcos period.”[11] Moreover it is critical to observe that the post-Marcos era has not been a happy period for the majority of the Philippines’ citizens, In fact, Walden Bello and John Gershman described this new post-Marcos environment as “politically sanitized” to such an extent that “anti-elite candidates with radical political programs have been driven from the electoral arena by the threat of force — so that even intense electoral competition would not be too destabilizing.”[12] Likewise in a stark reminder of what might happen in Egypt, Philippines labor specialist Kim Scipes writes how…

… replacing Marcos with Aquino left a brutal state apparatus intact, which Aquino used to kill peasants, workers and the urban  poor. In fact, KMU leaders told me that the human rights abuses under  democrat Aquino were worse than under dictator Marcos: she couldn’t control her generals. However, whether she couldn’t control them or if she didn’t want to control them — Alfred W. McCoy in Policing America’s Empire (University of Wisconsin Press, 2009) claims the  latter — the fact is that unless the brutal state apparatus is dismantled, and especially the Police and the torture agencies, the repression could be re-instituted.[13]

The Egyptian people have struck a great blow for freedom from tyranny, and have complicated US and Israeli foreign policy in the region immensely, and such external forces will want to re-establish control at very first opportunity. However, not only foreigners but remnants of the Egyptian elite want to re-establish the control they’ve long had, and will do anything they can to do so. The Egyptian people need to learn from the Philippine experience, and do all they can to keep that from happening.

[1] William I. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge University Press, 1996), p.117, p.122.

[2] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.123, p.126.

[3] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.125. “In November 1984, a secret NSC Study Directive made the call for a concerted US intervention in the Philippines to facilitate a transition. ‘The United States has extremely important interests in the Philippines… Political and economic developments in the Philippines threaten these interests,’ stated the directive. ‘The US does not want to remove Marcos from power to destabilize the GOP [Government of the Philippines]. Rather, we are urging revitalization of democratic institutions, dismantling “crony” monopoly capitalism and allowing the economy to respond to free market forces, and restoring professional, apolitical leadership to the Philippine military to deal with the growing communist insurgency.’ ‘These efforts,’ it went on, ‘are meant to stabilize (the country] while strengthening institutions which will eventually provide for a peaceful transition.’” Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, pp.124-5.

[4] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, pp.125-6. The reactionary Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) received almost US$7 million from the National Endowment for Democracy between 1984 and 1991. (p.135) One of the reasons for such emphasis on Philippine labor was the challenge from the militant KMU and the importance of labor in national political struggles.” (p.136) For an excellent historical study of the KMU, see Kim Scipes, KMU: Building Genuine Trade Unionism in the Philippines, 1980-1994 (New Day Publishers, 1996). Scipes is also the author of AFL-CIO’s Secret War Against Developing Country Workers: Solidarity or Sabotage? (Lexington Books, 2010), which provides an excellent historical overview of the interaction between the US government and the National Endowment for Democracy and organized labor. Needless to say, this labor movement imperialism is not being done through labor movement procedures, but behind the backs of members.

[5] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.403.

[6] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.127.

[7] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.128.

[8] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.127.

[9] With the ouster of Marcos, Ramos was now rewarded for his assistance by the newly elected Aquino administration who appointed him Chief of Staff of the AFP, and later Secretary of Defense. In 1992 when Cory Aquino left office, Ramos was elected president of the Philippines, a position he held until 1998. After his presidency, Ramos became a committed ‘champion for democracy’ by taking up a position as the Asia advisory board Member for the  Carlyle Group, that is, until the board was disbanded in 2004. He is presently a trustee of the ‘democracy promoting’ International Crisis Group, and is a patron of the related Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect.

[10] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.141.

[11] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.129.

[12] Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy, p.141.

[13] Kim Scipes, Email to Author, February 12, 2011. For a must-read analysis of the post-Marcos developments in the Philippines, see Kim Scipes, “Review of the Month: Global Economic Crisis, Neoliberal Solutions, and the Philippines,”  Monthly Review, 51 (7), December 1999, pp. 1-14.

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 2 Comments

PLO to press on with settlement vote at UN

Ma’an – 15/02/2011

RAMALLAH — Palestinian representatives at the UN will push forward with a draft resolution calling on the Security Council to condemn settlement construction, PLO Executive Committee member Saleh Raafat said Tuesday.

A vote will be held on the resolution “[d]espite all of the pressure exerted on the Palestinians and the Arab-state supporters by the US,” Raafat said.

“While we call on the United States to withhold their veto on the resolution,” the official said, “Palestinian representatives at the UN are prepared to bypass the UNSC and use the ‘Uniting for Peace’ resolution to have the draft passed.”

“Uniting for Peace” gives powers to the UN General Assembly when the Security Council, “because of lack of unanimity of the permanent members, fails to exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.”

The resolution states that “in any case where there appears to be a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to Members for collective measures.”

The draft resolution on settlements would then be transferred to the UNGA, under a scheme the Palestinian officials said was “no less powerful than a UNSC resolution.”

If the US does use its veto, Raafat said, the PLO will no longer accept the country’s role as mediator in peace talks.

“The PLO has already called on the International Quartet to sponsor talks in the Middle East including political negotiations if they are to resume when Israeli settlement construction halts,” Raafat noted as a contingency plan.

In a separate statement, PLO member Hanan Ashrawi confirmed that a draft resolution condemning Israel’s illegal settlement activities and calling for all such activities to stop “has been officially presented and placed on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council.”

Palestinian negotiators made clear at the outset of the last round of peace talks that the process was contingent on a halt to Jewish-only settlement construction on lands the international community considers occupied. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, appropriating occupied lands is illegal.

“Israeli exceptionalism and impunity have been sanctioned by the United States at the expense of Palestinian rights and the achievement of a just peace. The draft resolution is consistent with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council and international law. A veto by the United States would be seen globally as a direct affront to the international community and the requirements of peace,” Ashrawi said.

Talks collapsed on 26 September, when a partial moratorium on settlement construction ended, and a blitz of new construction began.

Several new settlement housing projects have since been announced. The most recent came to light Monday, when Israel’s Jerusalem municipal council approved the construction of 120 new homes in the Jewish settlement neighborhood of Ramot in annexed East Jerusalem.

Ashrawi said the announced plans “further reinforce the urgency of this resolution.”

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | Comments Off on PLO to press on with settlement vote at UN

‘Saudi Arabia sending troops to Bahrain’

Press TV – February 15, 2011

Saudi Arabia is sending troops to Bahrain in a move to crack down on pro-democracy protesters who took to the streets in the capital Manama, a political analyst says.

The analyst told PressTV on Tuesday that Riyadh is sending its troops in an attempt to help King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa to crack down on the protesters.

Bahraini police have been using tear gas and batons to disperse the pro-democracy protesters in the Bahrain capital.

Three protesters have so far been killed due to police gunshot in the Shia village of Daih, in the suburb of Manama.

The last fatalities came as the protesters were participating in the funeral ceremony of another protester who lost his life earlier on Monday.

His death prompted the opposition to call for a vast participation at the funeral and to urge Bahrainis to escalate the pro-democracy protests.

Security forces have been deployed in force along the main routes into Manama in an effort to prevent a gathering that had been inspired by similar online initiatives around the Arab world.

February 15, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment