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What’s behind the global bankers’ austerity programs: Seizure of public property for corporations

By Wayne Madsen | June 15, 2011

What lies in store for Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy, and, in short order, the United States, is the wholesale sell-off of public property to private corporations at bargain basement prices. What the despots who gather in their secretive lairs at Davos, Cernobbio, Bilderberg, and G8/G20 are bringing about is a world where no property is owned by the state, which by default means the people. Total corporate control over every facet of life equals extreme fascism.

What is occurring in Greece is a bellwether for what will befall other nations in Europe, as well as the United States, if the bankers get their way. And in Greece, the people know how generations of investments by the taxpayers are being turned over to vampire capitalists who have the full backing of the International Monetary Fund, European Commission, and the European Central Bank.

The European and global bankers have demanded that the Greek government sell off entirely or assume a minority stake in a number of state enterprises and utilities.

For example, this year global capitalists are slated to acquire 84 percent of OTE, the Greek telecommunications provider. In addition, private bankers will assume 66 percent ownership of the Greek Postal Savings Bank; 51 percent of the National Lottery; 60 percent of the Salonika Water Authority; 68 percent of DEPA, the natural gas utility; and 25 percent ownership of the ports of Piraeus and Salonika.

Next year, the capitalist grab for public property increases in intensity with Athens International Airport coming under 79 percent private ownership. The global capitalists will also obtain 100 percent ownership of the Egniata toll motorway; 60 percent of Hellenic Post; 66 percent of OPAP, the state-run video-lotto and online sports betting firm; 73 percent of the Athens Water Authority; 83 percent of DEI, the Greek Electric Authority; and 51 percent of the Greek Regional Airports Authority.

The Greek Communist Party has vowed to fight against the acquisition of public property by the private sector. In fact, it is the Communist parties of Europe that have been the most vocal against the power grab by the bankers but their opposition to the privatization moves receives very little attention by the corporate-controlled media.

Massive sell-off lists of public property are now being drawn up by the governments of Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland. In the United States, there are calls for the privatization of the US Postal Service, Social Security, and Medicare.

One Libyan government official this reporter spoke to in Tripoli, during an intensive NATO bombing assault, opined that the same fate is in store for the Libyan Socialist Jamahiriyah. With the highest standard of living in Africa, Libyans could witness the U.S.- and NATO-backed rebel government begin to sell off Libyan government assets to global capitalists. The Libyan official said, “These people [global bankers] would sell the air if they could get away with it.”

Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.

Copyright © 2011 WayneMadenReport.com

Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required)

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Investment bankers salivate over North Africa

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | 5 Comments

Ex-Guantánamo Prisoner Adel Al-Gazzar Returns Home to Egypt and Is Arrested

By Andy Worthington | 14.6.11

Yesterday, former Guantánamo prisoner Adel al-Gazzar (aka Adel El-Gazzar), who had been living in Slovakia since being freed last January from America’s notorious prison on Cuban soil, returned, for the first time in ten years, to his home county, Egypt, where he was promptly arrested.

This was not because of anything he had done, but because, as a critic of the regime, he had left the country in 2001, and had been in Pakistan, undertaking humanitarian work in a refugee camp when he was caught in a US bombing raid (which, with subsequent medical neglect on the part of the US authorities, led to him losing a leg). As a result, following his departure from Egypt, he had been given a three-year sentence in absentia by the Egyptian State Security Court for his alleged part in a supposed plot that was known as al-Wa’ad.

This, as the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm explained, was “the first major terrorism case in Egypt” after the 9/11 attacks, in which the defendants — 94 in total — were charged with “attempting to overthrow former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime and infiltrate Palestinian territory.”

However, the case “was widely condemned as an attempt by Mubarak to suppress his Islamist opponents,” and this was an interpretation that carried considerable weight, as “[m]ore than half of the suspects were subsequently released.”

From America, Adel al-Gazzar’s attorney, Ahmed Ghappour, “call[ed] for the charges to be dropped.” By phone from New York, he told Al-Masry Al-Youm, “I think primarily they should be dismissed on humanitarian grounds because of what he suffered.” That was an assessment of al-Gazzar’s time in US custody, but reflecting on the Egyptian side of his story, and the trumped-up charges that led to his in absentia sentence, he added, “Such cases were often used as a tool by the Mubarak regime to silence dissent.”

Al-Gazzar’s story, in his own words, can be found in an extraordinary interview conducted in Slovakia last year by former Guantánamo prisoner Moazzam Begg, but to recap briefly, as Ahmed Ghappour explained in a press release yesterday:

Mr. al-Gazzar was handed over to the US while recovering in a Pakistani hospital from injuries sustained while volunteering with the International Committee of the Red Crescent on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. He was hit by a US air strike while helping refugees displaced by the onset of war.

In the midst of his recovery, he was transferred to a US prison in Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he was subject to severe beatings, exposure to freezing temperatures, sleep deprivation for days on end, and suspension by the wrists. He received no medical attention during his time in Kandahar, and as a result, his leg was infected with gangrene so severe that it had to be amputated.

Ahmed Ghappour stated, “Mr. al-Gazzar has literally lost life and limb as a result of his unlawful detention by the United States. The last thing he deserves is to return to prison for a sham prosecution that was initiated by the abusive Mubarak regime.”

Nevertheless, he told Al-Masry Al-Youm of his concerns that al-Gazzar would be convicted and imprisoned after another sham trial, even after the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s hated regime. “The Egyptians have a track record of abuse and one that we’ve seen continued in the post-Mubarak era,” Ghappour said, reflecting on the mixed record of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over the government after Mubarak’s resignation in February — on the one hand, the announcement of the trial, in August, of former President Mubarak, his two sons Gamal and Alaa and businessman Hussein Salem, who will face charges of “intentional murder, attempted murder of demonstrators, abuse of power to intentionally waste public funds and unlawfully profiting from public funds for them and for others,” but, on the other, the sentencing of at least 7,000 civilians in military courts since Hosni Mubarak was ousted, a much higher number than before the dictator’s fall.

“I think there is a bigger picture here, to be honest,” Ghappour added. “The question is: how will the transitional regime receive him, considering that the prosecution was based on a political crime of dissent? Does Mubarak’s departure mark a game change for the post-9/11 cases? Will he be treated differently because he was in Guantánamo Bay?”

That question has not yet been answered. As Al-Masry Al-Youm reported, “Following his arrest, the officers allowed [al-Gazzar’s] wife and four children to meet with him and check up on him at the airport after his lengthy absence from the country. The authorities then proceeded to begin the legal paperwork needed to send Gazzar to the prosecution so they could determine their position regarding his case.”

Abdul Ghappour also explained that he had spoken with al-Gazzar on Sunday, as he was preparing for his flight. “He seemed really hopeful to come back home,” he said, adding, “Mr. al-Gazzar, you’d call him a true patriot. He loves Egypt and he has been dying to go back home for 10 years to be reunited with his countrymen and his family.” As his London-based lawyers at Reprieve also explained:

He had not seen his family, including his wife and four children, for a decade. Efforts by his family to visit him in Slovakia were thwarted. And, recently, his mother suffered a cerebral haemorrhage which has left her paralysed and requiring full time care.

It is to be hoped that Adel al-Gazzar will be released soon, as he has already suffered more than enough. Held at Guantánamo for nine years despite being cleared for release back in 2004, he then found himself imprisoned again — in a detention center in Slovakia, described by local media as “a police detention facility for illegal migrants.” He and two other men released in Slovakia were held there while the government failed to sort out their status in the country, obliging al-Gazzar to embark on a hunger strike to raise awareness of their plight and secure them proper housing and residential status, but as another of his lawyers, Clive Stafford Smith of Reprieve, explained:

This is the third time Adel has been punished for completely unsubstantiated allegations. [His] persecution … makes a mockery of everything the revolution stands for. Where is the new dawn? Justice and the rule of law must return to Egypt. We hope the Egyptian military will put an end to Adel’s decade-long ordeal.

This is my hope too, as it would be deeply disturbing if, after all he has gone through, and everything that was done to avoid him being tortured in Egypt, he were to end up abused by the successors to Mubarak’s reign of terror.

Dark ironies nevertheless pepper this case. At the time of his release from Guantánamo, for example, when the US government complied with his request not to be repatriated to Egypt, as he feared torture at the hands of the Mubarak regime, everyone who supported his release — relieved that he had been freed after a six-year wait — politely refused to point out how grimly ironic it was that al-Gazzar — and another cleared Egyptian, Sharif al-Mishad, who was released in Albania in February 2010 — couldn’t be repatriated because of fears that they would be tortured by the same torturers who had been some of the Bush administration’s closest friends when it came to torturing other prisoners seized in the “War on Terror.”

Two of those unfortunate prisoners were Mamdouh Habib, the Australian citizen rendered by the CIA from Pakistan, whose torture was personally directed by Mubarak’s spy chief Omar Suleiman, and Mohammed Saad Iqbal Madni, a Pakistani religious scholar rendered to torture from Indonesia, where he had been sorting out his late father’s affairs, on nothing more than the vaguest of hunches that he was involved in some way with terrorism (which he wasn’t).

There were others, detailed in an account I compiled for the United Nations in 2010, and undoubtedly others whose stories have not yet surfaced, but the most celebrated prisoner sent by the US to be tortured in Egypt was Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the emir of a training camp in Afghanistan, who, after being picked up crossing into Pakistan form Afghanistan in December 2001, was sent to Egypt, where, under torture, he falsely confessed that two al-Qaeda operatives had been meeting with Saddam Hussein to discuss the use of chemical and biological weapons. Although he recanted his false confession, it was used to justify the illegal invasion of Iraq in March 2003. As for al-Libi, after his usefulness was finally exhausted, he was rendered back to Libya, where Colonel Gaddafi disposed of him in May 2009, telling the world that he had committed suicide in a prison cell.

On Tuesday, the next step took place in Adel al-Gazzar’s case, as reported in the Egyptian media. Via Mohamed Za’er, the director of the Egypt-based Human Rights Association for the Assistance of Prisoners, Daily News Egypt explained that, on Tuesday, military prosecutors had referred him to “an appeals prison not usually used for political prisoners.”

Daily News Egypt also reported that the verdict against al-Gazzar was “contested … before the military court” on Tuesday, noting also that the court “is expected to look into the case within 60 days.” Mohamed Za’er explained, “If approved, al-Gazzar will be granted a re-trial, though it is no longer a crime to be a member in an Islamist group following the January 25 Revolution. For example, the Muslim Brotherhood now has an official political party after being banned for years.”

That ought to be a good sign, but in Egypt, still caught between the end of Mubarak’s rule and a hoped-for transition to free and fair elections, nothing is certain.

~

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK)

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

UN report debunks Israel’s Naksa propaganda

By Alex Kane | June 15, 2011

Immediately after the Israeli military reportedly killed dozens of unarmed demonstrators in the occupied-Golan Heights on June 15, Israel’s propaganda machine went into high gear.  Newly-released details from a United Nations report authored by the Secretary General clearly show that the Israeli spin on the Naksa protests was just that:  spin.

The principle claim was that the Israel Defense Forces only shot at the bottom half of protesters’ bodies, and therefore did not kill them.  Instead, as a New York Times report put it, the Israeli military said that “10 protesters were killed after they threw makeshift firebombs and started a fire that set off land mines near the border town of Quneitra, on the Syrian side of the lines.”

It turns out that there was indeed a fire that killed demonstrators, according to the UN.  But according to published accounts of Ban Ki-Moon’s report on the demonstrations, it was Israeli weaponry that caused the fire which ultimately killed protesters.

From Ha’aretz:

A UN report on the Naksa day events said the IDF used tear gas, smoke grenades and live fire to prevent the demonstrators from crossing the ceasefire line.

It stated: “Several anti-tank mines exploded due to a brush fire apparently started by tear gas or smoke grenade canisters near UNDOF facilities at Charlie Gate, resulting in casualties among protesters.”

The brush fire was put out by Syrian and Israeli fire squads, and UNDOF, the report read.

Meanwhile, the Zionist blogosphere is all over this story by Michael Weiss of the Telegraph that purports to show Syrian state documents proving that “Assad orchestrated Nakba Day raids” on the Golan Heights.  Weiss, who works for a pro-Israel advocacy group, claimed that the document was authentic and originated from the “‘Office of the Mayor’ in Al-Qunaitera province.”  But blogger Richard Silverstein throws cold water on Weiss’ report, writing that it was Israeli intelligence–which has a history of pushing false stories in the media–who leaked the memo to him.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | Comments Off on UN report debunks Israel’s Naksa propaganda

Yemenis urge ousting US, Saudi envoys

Press TV – June 15, 2011

The deputy head of Yemen’s Democratic Party has called for the expulsion of American and Saudi Arabian ambassadors from his country.

In an interview with Al-Alam news channel on Tuesday, Abdul Salam Faqih warned that Washington and the members of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council ([P]GCC), including Saudi Arabia, want to hijack the Yemeni people’s uprising.

This will be done through the establishment of a proposed Transitional Council in Yemen, made up of officials loyal to President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime, Faqih said.

The revolutionary figure added that Saleh regime elements will not solve any of the problems facing Yemen, and urged Yemenis to stand up to such a proposition.

Yemeni youth must vouch for national figures that have no foreign links, in order to form the Transitional Council, Faqih stressed.

The remarks come amidst conflicting reports about Saleh’s fate following the attack on his presidential palace earlier this month.

Some media outlets quoting Israeli and European sources claim Saleh is dead.

However, a Saudi source says the long-time Yemeni leader is still alive, but is in bad shape and not fit to re-take the helm as president.

Yemen’s official news agency is meanwhile quoting Saleh as telling Saudi King Abdullah that his health is improving.

Saleh was flown to Saudi Arabia on June 4, a day after an explosion ripped through the Yemeni presidential compound in the capital, Sana’a. Since then Saleh has not been seen in public.

Opposition groups believe that with his departure, Saleh’s 33-year rule has come to an abrupt end.

The protesters are now demanding the formation of a transitional presidential council in the country.

On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Yemeni capital Sana’a once again.

The demonstrators massed outside the home of acting president Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, demanding the immediate formation of a transitional presidential council in the country. Otherwise they said they would act unilaterally.

The protesters also called for the total overhaul of Yemen’s political system as well as the trial of Saleh and his aides.

They hold Saleh responsible for the killing of hundreds of people since anti-government rallies began in late January.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment

The West’s Obscene Demonization of Gaddafi

By Glen Ford | BAR | June 15, 2011

The slander campaign against Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi has reached way beyond the realm of the ridiculous, and can only be described as obscene. We are now supposed to believe that Colonel Gaddafi, himself, ordered his soldiers to rape hundreds of women. There is not one bit of hard evidence that such mass rapes have occurred, but that does not seem to matter to a corporate media that are bent on glorifying the Benghazi-based rebels and demonizing Gaddafi and his soldiers. Amnesty International, an organization that is decidedly hostile to Gaddafi’s government, admits that it cannot find evidence of mass rapes by the Libyan armed forces. And the man in charge of the United Nations’ human rights investigation in Libya told journalists that “massive hysteria” was behind the rape charge. Nevertheless, the western media repeat the baseless allegations ad nauseam, like young boys telling dirty stories.

The International Criminal Court, which specializes in prosecuting Africans who get on the wrong side of the United States, speaks vaguely of being in possession of evidence, but it turns out that the allegations come from one Libyan woman, who claims that she sent out inquiries about sexual assaults to 70,000 women, that 60,000 of them responded, and 259 reported they had been abused. But when investigators asked this solitary source to show them the questionnaires, as investigative reporter Russ Baker tells us, she could not produce the evidence. And it is a mystery how she could have mailed out and gotten back tens of thousands of questionnaires, when Libya’s postal system had been shut down by the war.

This war was launched on the basis of an imaginary massacre of Libyan civilians by Gaddafi’s forces – which, of course, never happened – and is now fueled by a campaign of demonization and a depraved indifference to the truth.

Certainly since 2001, the world has been subjected to a massive U.S. psychological assault, a vast disinformation operation in which the corporate media act as megaphones for government liars.

The invasion of Iraq was launched by lies about weapons of mass destruction. When the lies fell apart, American politicians justified the war by saying it was worth it to get rid of the monster, Saddam Hussein. Saddam was so thoroughly demonized that any amount of maiming and death would be acceptable to erase him from the scene. If Saddam Hussein was the Devil, himself, then there could be no limits on military efforts to eliminate him. Now, the same kind of dehumanizing psychological offensive is directed at Moammar Gaddafi, who is depicted in comic-book style as a puppet master of mass rape, so that whatever death and destruction is rained down on Libya by NATO, it will have been “worth it.” This is a profoundly dangerous way for a superpower to behave. It fills the population with a bloodlust that cannot be easily controlled. The U.S. government, with plenty of help from the media, is telling Americans that those who oppose U.S. policies in the world are savages. That’s what the white settlers said about the Indians, and we know how that ended.

~

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 2 Comments

Napalm Death, please cancel your concert in Tel Aviv

By PSCABI and PYAIA – Gaza, June 14, 2011

Dear Mark ‘Barney’ Greenway, Shane Embury, Danny Herrera, & Mitch Harris of Napalm Death:

We are Palestinian students and youth based in Gaza, among 1.5 million in a tiny Strip of land the size of Britain’s Isle of white, surrounded and kept captive in a medieval siege by the Israeli Occupation Forces, the fourth most powerful army in the world. Over a million of us in Gaza are United Nations refugees, expelled by the Israeli army to make way for the Israeli state to be built over the ruins of our 531 villages and 10 urban neighborhoods destroyed and emptied, in a process that fits the definition of ethnic cleansing.

Over half of us are children.

We are asking you to understand the Israeli Apartheid Regime’s complete subjugation of our lives and adhere to the 2005 call from over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations in Palestine to not perform in Apartheid Israel in Tel Aviv this Friday June 17th. Just as you adhered to the wishes of the African National Congress (ANC) during Apartheid South Africa, we hope you will remember us too.

We love music, we have our own big range of music and dance that we love to play. But we have few instruments. Israel’s air, land and sea blockade of all our borders has meant for years musical instruments were banned from entry to Gaza as the Israeli Apartheid regime decided that we as Palestinians should also be deprived of coriander, nutmeg, ginger, dried fruit, fresh meat, lentils, pasta, chocolate, donkeys, cattle, fishing rods, toys, workbooks and newspapers. Music reminds us of better times when Israeli attacks are killing our loved ones every week. Yet what we have is often drowned out by Israeli-US made F16s, F15s, F35s, surveillance planes, drones, naval gunboats, Merkava tanks and border fire.

When asked in an interview in 2007 about the band name ‘Napalm Death’ Barney Greenway said “we are anti war, and the Napalm is used to make munitions and bombs, you know.”

During Israel’s attacks on Gaza over the winter of 2009 over 1400 people were killed, the vast majority of whom were civilians including hundreds of our children. The United Nations Goldstone report into the attacks declared that the Israeli armed forces had been “systematically reckless” in using the flesh-burning white phosphorous – a modern-day Napalm in built-up areas. Evidence of depleted uranium and other metal toxins were also found and have contributed to a 30% increase in cancers and birth defects in Gaza since the attacks. The already decimated agricultural industries now face enormous land contamination and over 90% of water is not fit to drink. … Full letter

-Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel (PSCABI)
-Palestinian Youth Against Israeli Apartheid (PYAIA).

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | 1 Comment

Righthaven Copyright Troll Lawsuit Dismissed as Sham

Court Finds Righthaven Had No Authority to Bring Claims Against Political Forum

Electronic Frontier Foundation | June 14, 2011

San Francisco – In a decision with likely wide-ranging impact, a judge in Las Vegas today dismissed as a sham an infringement case filed by copyright troll Righthaven LLC. The judge ruled that Righthaven did not have the legal authorization to bring a copyright lawsuit against the political forum Democratic Underground, because it had never owned the copyright in the first place. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Fenwick & West LLP, and Las Vegas attorney Chad Bowers are defending Democratic Underground.

“We are pleased that the Court saw through Righthaven’s sham assignment of the copyright and dismissed its improper claim,” said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. “Today’s decision shows that Righthaven’s copyright litigation business model is fatally flawed, and we expect the decision to have wide effect on the over 270 other cases Righthaven has brought.”

Righthaven sued Democratic Underground last fall over an excerpt of a Las Vegas Review Journal news story that a user posted on the forum, claiming that the newspaper had transferred copyright to Righthaven before it filed the suit. However, a document unearthed in this litigation showed that the copyright assignment was a sham and that Righthaven was merely agreeing to undertake the newspaper’s case at its own expense in exchange for a cut of the recovery.

“In dismissing Righthaven’s claim in its entirety, Chief Judge Hunt’s ruling decisively rejected the Righthaven business model of conveying rights to sue, alone, as a means to enforce copyrights,” said Laurence Pulgram, head of copyright litigation at Fenwick & West in San Francisco. “The ruling speaks for itself. The court rejected Righthaven’s claim that it owned sufficient rights in the copyright, stating that claim was ‘flagrantly false–to the point that the claim is disingenuous if not outright deceitful.'”

Judge Hunt also noted that “Righthaven has made multiple inaccurate and likely dishonest statements to the Court” and rejected Righthaven’s efforts to fix things after the fact with a May 9, 2011, amendment to the original assignment agreement. The judge expressed “doubt that these seemingly cosmetic adjustments change the nature and practical effect” of the invalid assignment.

As part of his ruling today, the judge ordered Righthaven to show why it should not be sanctioned for misrepresentations to the court. The Court permitted Democratic Underground’s counterclaim to continue against Stephens Media — the publisher of the Review Journal — allowing Democratic Underground to show that it did nothing wrong in allowing a user to post a five-sentence excerpt of a 50-sentence article.

“This kind of copyright trolling from Righthaven and Stephens Media has undermined free and open discussion on the Internet, scaring people out of sharing information and discussing the news of the day,” said Opsahl. “We hope this is the beginning of the end of this shameful litigation campaign.”

“To Righthaven and Stephens Media, the Court has issued a stinging rebuke,” added Pulgram. “For those desiring to resist the bullying of claims brought by pseudo-claimants of copyright interests, the ruling today represents a dramatic and far reaching victory.”

For the judge’s full order:
https://www.eff.org/files/filenode/righthaven_v_dem/order6-14-11.pdf

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment