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Lies, Damned Lies, and Wikipedia

By Martin Iqbal | Empire Strikes Black | May 30, 2012

How many times have you used Wikipedia when trying to find out the basic facts surrounding an unfamiliar event or topic? How many times has Wikipedia been your first port of call? When one seeks information online relating to a divisive, confusing, or hotly debated topic, nine times out of ten the first port of call will be a search engine, most likely Google. As a result (as we will see), the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, now a household name, has become the chief first source of information for a huge majority of people.

Though Google and other search engines are very useful and powerful tools for finding information, one must employ extreme care. Due to the nature of search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, Internet users must be very wary of censorship by way of result ordering and filtering. Furthermore, the popularity of a website can result in it being listed higher than other sources even when they are more relevant and reliable.

The search engine specialist comScore’s January 2012 report spells out the search engine ‘market’ in the United States. In terms of the US online search market, the leaders are Google (with 66.2% share of search queries performed), Bing (with 15.2%), and Yahoo (with 14.1%). Ask and AOL are in distant fourth and fifth places with 3% and 1.6% respectively.

To illustrate a problem inherent with the way these search engines serve us information, let’s consider the example of the 2011 war on Libya, using the top three search engines – which cumulatively monopolise 95.5% of all search queries performed in the United States.

Visit Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and search for the term “2011 Libya war”, or “Libyan civil war.” Go on – try it now. What do you notice? At the time of writing, in all cases the first result is the Wikipedia article for the ‘Libyan civil war’ (read: the decimation of Libya by belligerent foreign powers). All of these search engines serve Wikipedia to us as the first source of information – thrust in our faces at the top of the results page.

Since Wikipedia can be edited by anybody (and anonymously at that), it is fundamentally flawed as a source of reliable information. Making matters worse, organised groups have mobilised in order to systematically manipulate the information published on Wikipedia. […]

The deception begins with the article’s title, which characterises the war as the ‘Libyan civil war (also referred to as the Libyan revolution.’ Readers are immediately misled as the war on Libya is framed as an indigenous ‘civil war’ between Libyan groups. In the opening paragraph, NATO powers are deceptively referred to as “those seeking to oust [Muammar Gaddafi’s] government.” This is pure fantasy meant to uphold the mythical ‘humanitarian intervention’ narrative. The supposedly indigenous ‘uprising’ was a foreign import in every respect. Libyan opposition groups wholly controlled by and headquartered in London and Washington, planned the February 17 ‘Day of Rage’ from their comfortable positions in exile long before the war on Libya. Though it can be argued that Muammar Gaddafi was somewhat unpopular in parts of the east of Libya, there was no broad popular movement to overthrow the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya – instead only small armed groups with arms coming from the Gulf dictatorships, with the support of NATO powers.

An armed insurrection began as these armed groups attacked policemen and soldiers, stormed arms caches, and sowed terror across Libya. This operation was mounted by NATO-aligned al-Qaeda mercenaries and NATO special forces contingents. The entire global mainstream media circulated unfounded atrocity propaganda and stories about the Feb17 ‘protests’ being attacked by the Libyan army, and global public indignation was channeled into justifying the war. In reality what was referred to as ‘protests‘ was actually this armed insurrection carried out by ‘rebel forces.’ And ‘Rebel forces’ here is Orwellian code language which euphemistically refers to a number of parties: al Qaeda affiliated elements, extremist terrorists, mercenaries bankrolled by NATO and using NATO weaponry, as well as NATO special forces themselves. Wikipedia puts forth a romantic narrative of the ‘rebels’ being the driving force behind the war:

The Gaddafi government then announced a ceasefire, but failed to uphold it,[47] though it then accused rebels of violating the ceasefire when they continued to fight as well.[48] Throughout the conflict, rebels rejected government offers of a ceasefire.

In August, rebel forces began a coastal offensive, taking back territory lost weeks before and ultimately capturing the capital city of Tripoli,[50] while Gaddafi evaded capture and loyalists engaged in a rearguard campaign.

Though popular wisdom indeed says that the ‘rebels’ were the chief actor in the so-called ‘revolution’, and that they single-handedly achieved all of their strategic and military objectives, truth holds that the ‘revolution’, the war, was a NATO operation at its very core. Months of relentless and deadly bombing (with over 26,500 air sorties flown) by NATO warplanes and gunships eliminated any ground opposition to the ‘rebels’, while special forces from the British SAS, the CIA, and even Qatari regulars fought the ground war, coordinating airstrikes from the ground. Even the taking of Tripoli in August – which Wikipedia touts as a ‘rebel’ gain – was a NATO operation at its very genesis – largely carried out by Qatari troops supported by NATO aircraft.

The ground aspect of the war was led by foreign troops present on the ground in Libya from the war’s very advent. SAS forces, CIA spies, and thousands of Qatari troops led the charge and coordinated the so-called rebels’ every move. The ‘rebels’ were nothing more than a media show, and the Wikipedia article seeks to paint a romantic picture:

The rebels are composed primarily of civilians, such as teachers, students, lawyers, and oil workers, and a contingent of professional soldiers that defected from the Libyan Army and joined the rebels.

This emotive hogwash constitutes one of the many myths of the Libya War. It will come as no surprise then, to learn that Wikipedia’s sole source for this information is an Israel-based journalist who started her career with the BBC World Service and Voice of America – the official propaganda arm of the U.S. Government. Her article referenced by Wikipedia constitutes an emotive plea for war, and was published mere days before NATO bombs began to fall. These are the types of pro-empire, pro-war, pro-Zionist sources that uphold the narrative published on Wikipedia, and it is surely no surprise whatsoever.

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article for the Libya War admits that the Libyan government was facing an armed insurrection:

Protests took place in Benghazi, Ajdabiya, Derna, Zintan, and Bayda. Libyan security forces fired live ammunition into the armed protests

The article uses deception and Orwellian language to refer to the insurrection, however, using the term, ‘armed protests.’ Identical language has characterised mainstream reporting on the Syria War – which operationally is a carbon copy of the Libya War: an example of fourth generation warfare carried out by belligerent foreign interests, coupled with a deceptive media war intended to paint the events as an indigenous, popular revolution.

Fantastical casualty figures were invented by the likes of the BBC who provided zero evidence, and only nameless ‘eyewitness accounts’ in sensational and dramatic language. Reminiscent of the utterly invented ‘incubator babies’ propaganda from the Iraq war, the Wikipedia article claims that Gaddafi’s troops ‘stormed hospitals,’ executed patients, and removed other patients from their drips and monitoring equipment. The sources for these grand claims? One is the BBC article which offers no evidence whatsoever, other than an account from an anonymous hospital worker, and the other is a News 24 article which cites Sliman Bouchuiguir, head of the Libyan branch of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) – based in Switzerland. Staying true to Wikipedia’s aversion to the facts, these sources are of the most spurious nature possible.

Sliman Bouchuiguir was exposed as a habitual liar by Julien Teil’s stellar documentary Humanitarian War. The must-see video reveals how NATO-appointed NTC officials and the FIDH invented dramatic stories of atrocities being committed by Gaddafi, and concocted casualty figures from thin air. When challenged to provide verification of the claims of massacres by Gaddafi’s forces, Bouchuiguir could not provide any proof. Another crucial point that is revealed in the documentary is the baseless nature of the ICC case against Gaddafi; the vast majority of the alleged evidence was redacted from the public report, and mainstream media reports constituted a great deal of the sources for the alleged atrocities.

Even more significantly, the FIDH is known to be tied to the Israel lobby in France, and is closely linked to the Zionist ‘democracy promotion’ group the National Endowment for Democracy. Furthermore, the FIDH is closely linked to UN Watch – the Zionist lobby group that played a central role in pushing for the war on Libya – whereby they wrote letters to the US, EU, and UN, repeating the massacre fantasies that they themselves had concocted. Needless to say, Sliman Bouchuiguir was the second signatory to these letters, amongst 90 other NGO/individual co-signers.

Wikipedia’s chronicle of events in Libya repeats these verified lies as fact, and unashamedly references the aforementioned liars as its sources.

Once the fraudulent humanitarian narrative had been established, the ensuing war and genocidal decimation of Libya began. It was carried out entirely by foreign powers who fought a deadly ground and air war using, as I have discussed, foreign special forces and soldiers, jet fighters, helicopter gunships, and naval craft. Tomahawk missiles, cluster bombs, and Brimstone missiles rained down on Libyan targets as depleted uranium was scattered all over the country, contaminating the environment and water supply. British SAS forces coordinated ‘rebel’ movements and called in airstrikes from the ground as the whole world bought the idea that the rag-tag ‘rebels’ were calling the shots, and the ‘revolution’ was a popular movement spearheaded by Libyans. The notoriously incompetent ‘rebels,’ being nothing more than a media spectacle for Western eyes and ears, were also commanded and supported on the ground by the CIA, as well as thousands of Qatari troops. On the 26th October 2011, Qatari chief of staff Major General Hamad bin Ali Al-Atiya arrogantly admitted the presence of his troops in Libya: “We were among them and the numbers of Qataris on the ground were hundreds in every region.”

The ‘Mercenaries’ Myth: a Catalyst for the Division of Arabs and Africans

Revolutionary Leader of the Great Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Muammar Gaddafi, was a champion of pan-African unity. Merely two months before his people were brutally attacked by international criminals masquerading as the “international community”, he had pledged $90 billion to the unification of Africa and its resistance to colonial infiltration and aggression (note: this information will not be found on Wikipedia).

The cruel, criminal, and genocidal attack on Libya is a not only an attempt to abort Arab-African unity (a central tenet of Israel’s ‘Yinon plan’), but it is a microcosm of what is designed for Africa and the Middle East as a whole. We are seeing this wider strategy play out all over Africa, from Libya to Sudan, and from Nigeria to Egypt. This strategy aims to force Christians and Muslims, black Africans and Arabs, to live in their own sectarian enclaves out of fear for their own lives. This strategy has cleansed Christians from Iraq – achieved by a sustained and devilish campaign of Mossad black ops and false flag bombings.

During the war on Libya, a seed was planted with the intention of furthering this nefarious agenda in Libya. As a result, innocent blacks were lynched, beaten, imprisoned, murdered and decapitated in hate-fuelled attacks all over the country. A principle cause of this venomous hatred towards Libya’s black African population (who before the war constituted a third of Libya’s total population) was the myth that Gaddafi had hired African mercenaries to put down ‘protests.’

The Wikipedia article devotes eight paragraphs to these spurious allegations, supported by reports from pro-war, pro-Zionist, state-organ media outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera, ABC, Time magazine, and the Washington Post. The sources used here, which form the backbone of Wikipedia’s ‘mercenaries’ claim, are of such laughably spurious nature that they deserve closer inspection.

One of these sources is a series of anonymous text messages purportedly sent by an unnamed ‘Libyan economist’! Another of Wikipedia’s sources herein is a report from ‘Save the Children,’ based on nothing but pure hearsay, claiming that Gaddafi’s forces had raped children as young as eight. Another source mentions admittedly “not yet confirmed” reports, and claims that mercenaries were offered $12,000 to $30,000 each. Amongst the sources used for this article are tweets from a US NGO named Democratic Underground. This source touts information from a spokesman of the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) – a propaganda mill established and run by the aforementioned compulsive liar Sliman Bouchuiguir. The LLHR is affiliated to the FIDH, which is intimately linked to the Zionist National Endowment for Democracy.

Upon the most cursory inspection Wikipedia’s sources, and therefore its narrative, disintegrates like a house of cards in a hurricane.

At this stage it is important to note that even Amnesty International – responsible for spreading much of the atrocity propaganda in the first place – has gone on record to say that there is no evidence for these allegations, nor is there any evidence for the claims that Gaddafi’s forces were using rape as a weapon of war. The Wikipedia article fleetingly acknowledges the fact that there is no evidence for the mercenaries claim, albeit after its eight-paragraph sales pitch:

In June 2011, Amnesty International said it found no evidence of foreign mercenaries being used, saying the black Africans claimed to be “mercenaries” were in fact “sub-Saharan migrants working in Libya,” and described the use of mercenaries as a “myth” that “inflamed public opinion” and led to lynchings and executions of black Africans by rebel forces.

Needless to say, the damage has already been done as Libyans of black African descent are fleeing their homeland in droves. This strategy of division is termed by Mahdi Nazemroaya as “an attempt to separate the merging point of an Arab and African identity“, and it is a strategy which is planned for the entire Arab and Muslim world. It is a strategy which Nicolas Sarkozy – key mover behind the Libya war – even offered his support to; it was reported in October 2011 that Patriarch Mar Beshara Boutros Al-Rahi – head of the Maronite Catholic Syriac Church of Antioch (the largest of the autonomous Eastern Catholic Churches) – met with Sarkozy in Paris. During this meeting Sarkozy told Sheikh Al-Rahi that the Syrian regime will collapse, and that the Christian communities of the Levant and Middle East can resettle in the European Union.

As imperialist powers supported by a network of so-called human rights groups deliberately create the conditions of danger, instability and fear for specific ethnic, religious, and racial groups in the Middle East and North Africa, they also are providing the means to move them out of their native homelands, effecting the segregation and division of such groups permanently. The vicious attack on Libya is merely a beginning to this renewed strategy to divide, pulverise and weaken Africa. The Israeli-prescribed division of Sudan is a case in point.

Instead of shedding light on this destructive and deadly strategy, Wikipedia, marching in lockstep with the controlled media, merely perpetuates the myths that enable it. More than ever, this underscores the desperate need for us to seek out information from other, more independent sources.

Conclusion: Wikipedia is Written by the Victor

Not only is Wikipedia merely a representation of the ‘official’ narrative for important events such as the War on Libya, but it is served to us as the first result by all major search engines (cumulatively having a 95.5% market share of search queries in the United States).

Even more worryingly, you will see the exact same behaviour if you enter other search terms such as “the Holocaust,” “9/11,” or “Syrian uprising.” Give it a try right now.

Being presented as the first search result for these important topics (and a myriad more – simply visit these search engines and try as many different topics as you like), Wikipedia demonstrably has a monopoly on information exposure, and has the chance to set its narrative in information-hungry minds. Millions of Internet users are literally being fed a pack of lies as soon as they initiate their search for information.

Deaths and casualties constitute without a doubt, the most important human aspect of any and all wars. With this in mind, let us type “libya war deaths,” or “estimates of libya war casualties” into any of the aforementioned search engines. Go ahead – do it now. Surprise, surprise, we are presented – in all cases – with the Wikipedia article for ‘Casualties of the Libyan civil war.’ What we see are gross underestimations of the deaths caused by a protracted, deadly, and sustained bombing campaign carried out by the world’s most powerful militaries. In addition to this, every single source used here – without exception – is globalist and pro-war in nature:

  • The NED-linked International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR);
  • The World Health Organisation;
  • The UN Human Rights Council;
  • Al Jazeera English (Qatari-owned and run cheerleader of the Libya war, co-created by Libyan NTC Quisling Mahmoud Jibril);
  • The National Transitional Council (NATO’s council of stooges);

How can we expect the masses to gain even a basic geopolitical understanding of anything when Wikipedia is thrust in our faces during practically every Internet search we do? Wikipedia verily is nothing more than a black and white representation of the ‘official narrative’ of the war on Libya, and the same can be said for other highly-propagandised events such as the so-called Syrian uprising, the false flag terror attacks of 9/11, and the ‘Holocaust.’

Wikipedia is the very manifestation of the old African adage ‘until the lion can write his own story, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’ The disinformation presented on Wikipedia is nothing short of criminal. We must always check the sources for the information we consume, and for all matters political, we must look upon Wikipedia with the same utter contempt that we do with all controlled media.

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Comments Off on Lies, Damned Lies, and Wikipedia

Obama At Large: Where Are The Lawyers?

By Ralph Nader | May 31, 2012

The rule of law is rapidly breaking down at the top levels of our government. As officers of the court, we have sworn to “support the Constitution,” which clearly implies an affirmative commitment on our part.

Take the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The conservative American Bar Association sent three white papers to President Bush describing his continual unconstitutional policies. Then and now civil liberties groups and a few law professors, such as the stalwart David Cole of Georgetown University and Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, have distinguished themselves in calling out both presidents for such violations and the necessity for enforcing the rule of law.

Sadly, the bulk of our profession, as individuals and through their bar associations, has remained quietly on the sidelines. They have turned away from their role as “first-responders” to protect the Constitution from its official violators.

As a youngster in Hawaii, basketball player Barack Obama was nicknamed by his schoolboy chums as “Barry O’Bomber,” according to the Washington Post. Tuesday’s (May 29) New York Times published a massive page-one feature article by Jo Becker and Scott Shane, that demonstrated just how inadvertently prescient was this moniker. This was not an adversarial, leaked newspaper scoop. The article had all the signs of cooperation by the three dozen, interviewed current and former advisers to President Obama and his administration. The reporters wrote that a weekly role of the president is to personally select and order a “kill list” of suspected terrorists or militants via drone strikes or other means. The reporters wrote that this personal role of Obama’s is “without precedent in presidential history.” Adversaries are pulling him into more and more countries – Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other territories.

The drones have killed civilians, families with small children, and even allied soldiers in this undeclared war based on secret “facts” and grudges (getting even). These attacks are justified by secret legal memos claiming that the president, without any Congressional authorization, can without any limitations other that his say-so, target far and wide assassinations of any “suspected terrorist,” including American citizens.

The bombings by Mr. Obama, as secret prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, trample proper constitutional authority, separation of powers, and checks and balances and constitute repeated impeachable offenses. That is, if a pathetic Congress ever decided to uphold its constitutional responsibility, including and beyond Article I, section 8’s war-declaring powers.

As if lawyers needed any reminding, the Constitution is the foundation of our legal system and is based on declared, open boundaries of permissible government actions. That is what a government of law, not of men, means. Further our system is clearly demarked by independent review of executive branch decisions – by our courts and Congress.

What happens if Congress becomes, in constitutional lawyer Bruce Fein’s words, “an ink blot,” and the courts beg off with their wholesale dismissals of Constitutional matters based on claims and issue involves a “political question” or that parties have “no-standing-to-sue.” What happens is what is happening. The situation worsens every year, deepening dictatorial secretive decisions by the White House, and not just regarding foreign and military policies.

The value of The New York Times article is that it added ascribed commentary on what was reported. Here is a sample:

– The U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, quoted by a colleague as complaining about the CIA’s strikes driving American policy commenting that he: “didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.” Imagine what the sidelined Foreign Service is thinking about greater longer-range risks to our national security.

– Dennis Blair, former Director of National Intelligence, calls the strike campaign “dangerously seductive.” He said that Obama’s obsession with targeted killings is “the politically advantageous thing to do — low cost, no US casualties, gives the appearance of toughness. It plays well domestically, and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.” Blair, a retired admiral, has often noted that intense focus on strikes sidelines any long-term strategy against al-Qaeda which spreads wider with each drone that vaporizes civilians.

– Former CIA director Michael Hayden decries the secrecy: “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president and that’s not sustainable,” he told the Times. “Democracies do not make war on the basis of legal memos locked in a D.O.J. [Department of Justice] safe.”

Consider this: an allegedly liberal former constitutional law lecturer is being cautioned about blowback, the erosion of democracy and the national security by former heads of super-secret spy agencies!

Secrecy-driven violence in government breeds fear and surrender of conscience. When Mr. Obama was campaigning for president in 2007, he was reviled by Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden Jr. and Mitt Romney – then presidential candidates – for declaring that even if Pakistan leaders objected, he would go after terrorist bases in Pakistan. Romney said he had “become Dr. Strangelove,” according to the Times. Today all three of candidate Obama’s critics have decided to go along with egregious violations of our Constitution.

The Times made the telling point that Obama’s orders now “can target suspects in Yemen whose names they do not know.” Such is the drift to one-man rule, consuming so much of his time in this way at the expense of addressing hundreds of thousands of preventable fatalities yearly here in the U.S. from occupational disease, environmental pollution, hospital infections and other documented dangerous conditions.

Based on deep reporting, Becker and Shane allowed that “both Pakistan and Yemen are arguably less stable and more hostile to the United States than when Obama became president.”

In a world of lawlessness, force will beget force, which is what the CIA means by “blowback.” Our country has the most to lose when we abandon the rule of law and embrace lawless violence that is banking future revenge throughout the world.

The people in the countries we target know what we must remember. We are their occupiers, their invaders, the powerful supporters for decades of their own brutal tyrants. We’re in their backyard.

So lawyers of America, apart from a few stalwarts among you, what is your breaking point? When will you uphold your oath of office and work to restore constitutional authorities and boundaries?

Someday, people will ask – where were the lawyers?

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on Obama At Large: Where Are The Lawyers?

Israeli police caught robbing Palestinian workers

Ma’an – May 31, 2012

Israeli police gather near Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. (MaanImages/Mimmi Nietula, File)

TEL AVIV, Israel — Three Israeli policemen were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of beating and stealing from Palestinian workers in Jerusalem, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported.

A police representative told an Israeli court on Thursday that Uziel Hanun, Osama al-Sahly and Reuven Dhokerker regularly used threats to escort Palestinian workers into alleys in the Old City.

“Those who didn’t have money were beaten and sent home, those who did were also beaten, and their money stolen,” the court was told.

Hanun, al-Sahly and Dhokerker were arrested Wednesday after being caught “in the act,” Haaretz reported.

Police officials believe the robberies were systematic, the report said.

The police officers allegedly attacked a worker from Ramallah and took his wages. He then had to ask for money to get home, the police representative told the court.

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Comments Off on Israeli police caught robbing Palestinian workers

Facebook Bans Israeli Graphic Artist for Biting Political Cartoons

By Richard Silverstein | Tikun Olam | May 30, 2012
mysh cartoon banned by facebook
‘A Problem of Self-Image,’ banned by Facebook

Looks like the folks at Facebook have more to worry about than their plummeting stock price (off 28% since the IPO last week).  In recent days, Facebook suspended the account of the Israeli graphic artist, Mysh, about whom I wrote a post a few days ago.  It seems that some of the brilliant political graphics I praised in that post must’ve offended the delicate sensibilities of the pro-Israel crowd.  I’m guessing there was a movement to complain about the images.  And Facebook’s nanny patrol took a look at them and agreed.  At least three images have been removed from Facebook and Mysh’s account was suspended for 24 hours as “punishment” for being such a bad boy and saying such mean things (and referencing the Holocuast) about the Israeli pogromists who assaulted African refugees in Tel Aviv a few days ago.

The problem is that Mysh did nothing wrong.  In fact, his graphic art is brilliant political satire.  It’s the hasbara crowd and their enablers at Facebook who should be ashamed of themselves.  I expect that sort of behavior from the Israeli right.  But I expect Facebook not to kowtow to such a censorious crowd.  Let’s ask a few questions of FB’s censors:

1. Does this mean that you can’t feature a cartoon about the Holocaust on Facebook?
2. Does this mean that cartoons combining Holocaust imagery and criticism of Israel are treif on Facebook?
3. Does this mean that the hasbara crowd gets to determine what can and can’t be seen on Facebook?
4. Does this mean that non-prurient nudity in a cartoon will get it banned?

I’ve looked everywhere for a way to complain to Facebook about this ridiculous decision, but they pretty much avoid telling you how to do so.  So I guess we have to make a big enough stink and get the media to call asking questions.  Maybe someone can post FB’s corporate headquarters info and phone number and people can call.  This is the customer service number I found online: 650-543-4800.

Psst, I’ll tell you a little secret: while Mysh can’t display this image on Facebook, guess who can?  You, of course.  It’s on my page.  If enough of us put it up on all our pages it will hopefully drive the Thought Police crazy and maybe they’ll give up on the censorship.  Post it to Twitter too and all the social media.  Let’s frustrate the hell out of the censor and make them realize their folly.

The other two censored images are The Green Sabra (a parody of The Hulk, in which the hero/monster is a Sabra) and The Real $uperpower, in which corporate CEO Lex Luther carves an “S” on a naked, cowed Superman (the 99%) in a biting affirmation of the message of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  I dare anyone to defend the censoring of these images.  Even the most pro-Israel among you.  Go ahead, I dare you to try.

Oh and about that falling stock price: Facebook, don’t you have enough troubles without adding this to the bunch?  But I guess the nannies are factoring in the possibility of kvetching and moaning from the pro-Israel side as well.  It’s a question of which will hurt them more.  So far, art, freedom and free expression are the losers.

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama and Drone Warfare

Will Americans Speak Out?

By Medea Benjamin | Dissident Voice | May 30th, 2012

On May 29, The New York Times published an extraordinarily in-depth look at the intimate role President Obama has played in authorizing US drone attacks overseas, particularly in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It is chilling to read the cold, macabre ease with which the President and his staff decide who will live or die. The fate of people living thousands of miles away is decided by a group of Americans, elected and unelected, who don’t speak their language, don’t know their culture, don’t understand their motives or values. While purporting to represent the world’s greatest democracy, US leaders are putting people on a hit list who are as young as 17, people who are given no chance to surrender, and certainly no chance to be tried in a court of law.

Who is furnishing the President and his aides with this list of terrorist suspects to choose from, like baseball cards? The kind of intelligence used to put people on drone hit lists is the same kind of intelligence that put people in Guantanamo. Remember how the American public was assured that the prisoners locked up in Guantanamo were the “worst of the worst,” only to find out that hundreds were innocent people who had been sold to the US military by bounty hunters?

Why should the public believe what the Obama administration says about the people being assassinated by drones? Especially since, as we learn in the New York Times, the administration came up with a semantic solution to keep the civilian death toll to a minimum: simply count all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants. The rationale, reminiscent of George Zimmerman’s justification for shooting Trayvon Martin, is that “people in an area of known terrorist activity, or found with a top Qaeda operative, are probably up to no good.” Talk about profiling! At least when George Bush threw suspected militants into Guantanamo their lives were spared.

Referring to the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, the article reveals that for Obama, even ordering an American citizen to be assassinated by drone was “easy.” Not so easy was twisting the Constitution to assert that while the Fifth Amendment’s guarantees American citizens due process, this can simply consist of “internal deliberations in the executive branch.” No need for the irksome interference of checks and balances.

Al-Awlaki might have been guilty of defecting to the enemy, but the Constitution requires that even traitors be convicted on the “testimony of two witnesses” or a “confession in open court,” not the say-so of the executive branch.

In addition to hit lists, Obama has granted the CIA the authority to kill with even greater ease using “signature strikes,” i.e. strikes based solely on suspicious behavior. The article reports State Department officials complained that the CIA’s criteria for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. “The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees ‘three guys doing jumping jacks,’ the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.”

Obama’s top legal adviser Harold Koh insists that this killing spree is legal under international law because the US has the inherent right to self-defense. It’s true that all nations possess the right to defend themselves, but the defense must be against an imminent attack that is overwhelming and leaves no moment of deliberation. When a nation is not in an armed conflict, the rules are even stricter. The killing must be necessary to protect life and there must be no other means, such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation, to prevent that threat to life. Outside of an active war zone, then, it is illegal to use weaponized drones, which are weapons of war incapable of taking a suspect alive.

Just think of the precedent the US is setting with its kill-don’t-capture doctrine. Were the US rationale to be applied by other countries, China might declare an ethnic Uighur activist living in New York City as an “enemy combatant” and send a missile into Manhattan; Russia could assert that it was legal to launch a drone attack against someone living in London whom they claim is linked to Chechen militants. Or consider the case of Luis Posada Carrilles, a Cuban-American living in Miami who is a known terrorist convicted of masterminding a 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people. Given the failure of the US legal system to bring Posada to justice, the Cuban government could claim that it has the right to send a drone into downtown Miami to kill an admitted terrorist and sworn enemy.

Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence, called the drone strike campaign “dangerously seductive” because it was low cost, entailed no casualties and gives the appearance of toughness. “It plays well domestically,” he said, “and it is unpopular only in other countries. Any damage it does to the national interest only shows up over the long term.”

But an article in the Washington Post the following day, May 30, entitled “Drone strikes spur backlash in Yemen”, shows that the damage is not just long term but immediate. After interviewing more than 20 tribal leaders, victims’ relatives, human rights activists and officials from southern Yemen, journalist Sudarsan Raghavan concluded that the escalating U.S. strikes are radicalizing the local population and stirring increasing sympathy for al-Qaeda-linked militants. “The drones are killing al-Qaeda leaders,” said legal coordinator of a local human rights group Mohammed al-Ahmadi, “but they are also turning them into heroes.”

Even the New York Times article acknowledges that Pakistan and Yemen are less stable and more hostile to the United States since Mr. Obama became president, that drones have become a provocative symbol of American power running roughshod over national sovereignty and killing innocents.

One frightening aspect of the Times piece is what it says about the American public. After all, this is an election-time piece about Obama’s leadership style, told from the point of view of mostly Obama insiders bragging about how the president is no shrinking violent when it comes to killing.  Implicit is the notion that Americans like tough leaders who don’t agonize over civilian deaths—over there, of course.

Shahzad Akbar, a Pakistani lawyer suing the CIA on behalf of drone victims, thinks its time for the American people to speak out. “Can you trust a program that has existed for eight years, picks its targets in secret, faces zero accountability and has killed almost 3,000 people in Pakistan alone whose identities are not known to their killers?,” he asks. “When women and children in Waziristan are killed with Hellfire missiles, Pakistanis believe this is what the American people want. I would like to ask Americans, ‘Do you?’”

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Iraq energy auction gets muted interest

Al Akhbar | May 31, 2012

Iraq on Thursday closed a landmark auction of energy exploration blocks with just three contracts awarded out of a potential 12, dampening hopes the sale would cement its role as a key global supplier.

The two-day sale, the first to invite international oil companies to explore Iraqi territory for energy deposits since the 2003 US-led invasion, concluded with eight blocks receiving no bids whatsoever, including two that were offered to foreign firms twice.

The bid round, the fourth public auction of Iraqi energy contracts since mid-2009, came amid progress in ramping up oil exports, which account for the vast majority of government income, and as Baghdad eyes higher gas production to increase woefully inadequate power supplies. […]

Thursday opened with a winning bid from Pakistan Petroleum for a 6,000 square kilometer (2,316 square mile) exploration block which is thought to contain gas covering Diyala and Wasit provinces in central Iraq, with the company agreeing to US$5.38 per barrel of oil-equivalent eventually extracted.

And shortly afterwards, a partnership between Russian energy giant Lukoil and Japan’s Inpex won a contract for a plot covering Muthanna and Dhi Qar provinces in the south, believed to hold oil, with an offer of US$5.99 per barrel of oil.

But six other blocks – including two that were initially offered a day earlier but received no bids – garnered no interest from foreign energy firms.

Of the three oil and three gas blocks offered on Wednesday, meanwhile, just two received bids, and only one – Block 9, an area near Iraq’s border with Iran that is thought to contain oil – was accepted by Baghdad.

A consortium led by Kuwait Energy that also includes Turkey’s TPAO and Dubai-based Dragon Oil won the 900 square kilometer (347 square mile) block in the southern province of Basra, for a service fee of US$6.24 per barrel of oil.

Another exploration block in south Iraq thought to contain oil received a single bid, but it did not meet the oil ministry’s asking price and so was not awarded.

As in previous auctions, Iraq required firms that agree to explore the blocks to work under fixed-price service contracts, rather than production-sharing agreements that are common elsewhere and more popular with major energy firms. … Full article

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , | Comments Off on Iraq energy auction gets muted interest

US ready to act on Syria outside UN?

RT | May 31, 2012

The US has hinted at taking actions against the Syrian regime bypassing the authority of the UN Security Council. This comes as pressure is piling up on Damascus following massacre in Houla that claimed over 100 lives.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has said that if the council does not take swift action to pressure Syrian authorities to end 14-month crackdown on the anti-government uprising, the Security Council members may have no choice but to consider acting outside the UN.

“Members of the international community are left with the option only of having to consider whether they are prepared to take actions outside of the Annan plan and the authority of this council,” Rice said on Wednesday after the 15-member council met in a closed door session to discuss last week’s massacre.

The United Nations is conducting its own investigation of who exactly is responsible for the bloodshed in the town of Houla. However the US and its allies seem to have come to their own conclusion, saying that the Assad government is solely responsible for the violence.

Rice did not specify what “actions” she meant. However the US and European countries had earlier imposed their own sanction on Syria outside the UN. So there are fears that her words could mean the threat of military action.

The US envoy said the worst but most probable scenario in Syria is a failure of Annan’s peace plan and a spreading conflict that could create a major crisis not only in Syria but also in the entire region.

“The Syrian government has made commitments. It has blatantly violated those commitments, and, I think it’s quite clear, as we have said for many weeks if they continue to do so there should be consequences,” Rice said.

Meanwhile, Syria’s Ambassador to the UN Bashar Jaafari has stated Wednesday that the massacre in the town of Houla was carried out by “professional terrorists” who were seeking to ignite a sectarian conflict in the country.

“Many Syrian innocents got killed because of this misbehavior of these outsiders. The Syrian people need one clear-cut message that the international community, if there is an international community, is there to help settling the conflict in Syria,” he said referring to last Friday’s violence.

Russia’s envoy tot the UN Vitaly Churkin stated that both the authorities and opposition leaders should understand that the current situation in Syria is unacceptable.

Kosovo pattern in Syria?

Susan Rice’s comment became a disturbing reminder of what happened in 1999 when the US and NATO intervened in the former Yugoslavia without a UN Security Council mandate.

“The precedent is already there – we’ve mentioned Kosovo. It’s exactly what happened – you had an allegation of a massacre, which was the village of Racak; you had a UN decree that was severely bullied by the US ambassador who was leading the observation mission on the ground; you had claims that it was brutal unprovoked massacre of innocent civilians by government troops. Serbia was blamed, presented with the ultimatum and then bombed,” historian and author Nebojsa Malic told RT.

“We have the same pattern repeating itself in Syria.”

Blogger Rick Rozoff believes that the US has warned Russia and China that it will push forward military action no matter what.

“Ambassador Rice is basically telling Russia and China and other members of the Security Council that if they do not go along with Western plans for more stringent sanctions and other actions against Syria, the US and its NATO allies reserve a right to act outside the Security Council as they did with Yugoslavia 13 years ago and launch military actions against Syria,” Rozoff told RT.

May 31, 2012 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on US ready to act on Syria outside UN?

‘UN Commissioner report on Houla? But they only talk to Syrian opposition – by phone’

RT | May 31, 2012

The Houla Massacre is to be brought before a rare gathering of the UN Human Rights Council. But what kind of findings will be presented? Anti-war campaigner Marinella Corregia worries the HR commissioner talks only to its sources: the opposition.

The meeting, set for Friday, has been called by 21 of the 47 council members. The request was officially submitted by Qatar, Turkey, the US, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Denmark and the EU.

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Hervé Ladsous said there are strong suspicions that pro-regime fighters are responsible for some of the 108 in Syria’s Houla massacre, and that heavy weapons were illegally fired by Syrian government forces. But he added “I cannot say we have absolute proof.” Ladsous also told reporters he sees no reason to believe that “third elements” — outside forces — were involved in what was one of the bloodiest single events in Syria’s 15-month-old uprising, though he did not rule this out.

It also appears that entire families were shot in their homes. Local residents have blamed the executions on Shabbiya, a paramilitary group that “essentially supports the government forces,” says Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN Commissioner for Human Rights.

UN Human Rights Council ‘own’ sources?

What worries Marinella Corregia, an activist from the “No War Network,” is the sources the UN Commissioner for Human Rights uses to draw their reports, as their opinions do not seem in accord with UN monitors’ prudence. General Robert Mood, who heads the observing mission, has not yet pointed to anyone for the killings.

Marinella Corregia called the spokesman for the UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert Colville, to get some answers. This is the conversation they had as reported by the peace activist:

Marinella Corregia: Who spoke with the local people you quote? The UN observers?
Rupert Colville: The UN observers are another body.

MC: So which witness sources do you have and how did you speak with them?
RC: Our local network, whom we spoke on the phone. I cannot say more; I have to protect them.

MC: How could they recognize that the killers were Shabbiya? Weren’t their faces covered?
RC: Our local contacts in Syria say they were Shabbiya. Try to be less cynical.

MC: But no doubt from your side? It seems that many of the children were from Alawite pro-government families…
RC: We are asking for an investigation. I don’t say we are certain. We have also been asking for international investigations for the past months in Syria; but it has never been done and that is why we rely on our sources.

MC:  So it is not the UN that says that pro-government groups killed the children, it is your sources saying that.
RC: Yes, many people, our sources point the finger at the Shabbiya [militia group].

More questions than answers as Houla investigation continues

But who are these contacts? Corregia says that so far the UN Council on Human Rights used reports made up by their own commission of three envoys, working independently from UN monitors. The commission has never set foot on Syrian soil; their sources, as listed by the anti-war campaigner, appear to be: “the opposition groups [the UN Human Rights Council] spoke to on the phone; the opposition they met in Turkey; and other ‘activists’ they met in Geneva.”

So the bottom line: no actual witnesses!” points out Marinella Corregia, who is sure the body treats the Houla incident “just the same way.”

Houla reports filed so far stand no criticism, continues the activist, – instead of giving answers, they just raise more questions:

“Who talked to the residents, since the UN Human Rights Council is in Geneva? Are they true residents or the ones like the face-covered lady interviewed by Al Jazeera? The ‘survivor’ in question says she was hiding as her children were being slaughtered – how is it possible that a mother hides at a moment like this?”

“How was it possible that immediately after “Shabbiya” and the “army’s artillery” accomplished the massacre people were not afraid to collect bodies, film them and then send the video to international media?”

“How could survivors identify Shabbiya militia if they say killers were masked? By ‘green military dress’?”

“Why does a video show that some dead children have their hands tied? Did the killers take time to tie the hands of the children before killing them? Or were the hands tied later by those who filmed the massacre in order to call for more blame if possible?”

“Why does the man in the video, while showing the children and screaming ‘Allah Akbar!’, treat them with no respect, like puppets?”

“Why in one of the videos, showing the ‘government’ shelling, are people escaping carrying Syria’s flag, not the opposition’s one?”

“Is it true, as some sources say, that the majority of the people who were killed came from Alawites pro-government families or neutral Sunnis and some others from the opposition? Is it also true that the people were shouting pro-Assad slogans?”

UN Human Rights Council’s rulings mostly adds political weight to the efforts taken by other UN’s bodies, notably the UN Security Council. The Security Council – and prior to it the UN monitors in Syria – is yet to deliberate a final opinion who is responsible for the Houla massacre. But some political leaders seem to know their answer: Syrian diplomats have already been expelled from the US, the UK, France, Germany and other countries across the world.

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on ‘UN Commissioner report on Houla? But they only talk to Syrian opposition – by phone’

International Bureau of Double Standards—The CNN/Iran File

May 30, 2012 by

This video looks at a CNN documentary (April, 2012 with repeats) about the Iran nuclear issue, and examines the role of the mainstream media in keeping the public uninformed about the real problem-nation in the Middle East: Nuclear-armed, Apartheid Israel.

The original CNN programme “A Nuclear Iran: The Expert Intel” was downloaded from the location given, below, but I cannot guarantee how long it will remain available:…

Interesting link: Iran finance minister: ‘Rest assured’ record oil prices over nuclear sanctions…

May 31, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , | 3 Comments

What’s an American Worker’s Life Worth?

About $5,900 for Each Worker Killed

By DAVID MACARAY | CounterPunch | May 30, 2012

Acknowledging the alarming polarization and gridlock of Congress, and the startling, rightward shift of the political spectrum, you regularly hear people declare that there is no way we could get something as ambitious as OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) passed today, not in this dreadful climate.

Despite being signed into law in 1970 by a Republican (Nixon) administration, a regulatory act as progressive and comprehensive as OSHA would, today, be considered too invasive and too “federal” to have any chance of passing.  And it wouldn’t just be those anti-government Republican advocates of “self-policing” leading the charge.  Indeed, legions of gutless, sharp-eyed Democrats would join them.

On the bright side, it can be argued that this polarization and gridlock are precisely what prevent OSHA from being repealed outright.  But the fact that it hasn’t been repealed doesn’t mean OSHA is doing the job it was intended to do.  Incredibly, in over 40 years there has been only one monetary increase in penalties, despite inflation.  Predictably, this has led unscrupulous employers to choose being hit with a miniscule fine rather than investing in a safer workplace.  The fallout of this arrangement is that each year more than 5,000 American workers are killed on the job.

Which is why a bill (HR 2067), known as PAWA (Protecting America’s Workers Act) has been introduced in Congress.  Its purpose is to basically modernize and upgrade OSHA—to equip it with the tools necessary to ensure safe work environments—by increasing fines and penalties, expanding jurisdiction, raising certain misdemeanors to felonies, extending reporting deadlines, punishing repeat offenders more severely, etc.

In his March 16, 2010, testimony before the Subcommittee on Workforce Protections, and the Committee on Education and Labor, David Michaels, Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health, made the case for passage of PAWA, arguing that OSHA was desperately in need of help.

According to Michaels, despite tales of crushing, debilitating fines, the average OSHA penalty is around $1,000. That’s it:  a thousand bucks.  More revealingly, he notes that “the median initial penalty proposed for all investigations in cases where a worker was killed (as of FY 2007) was just $5,900.”  Again, in more than 40 years, OSHA has had only one increase in monetary penalties.  And because the whole point of a monetary penalty is to serve as a deterrent, it’s no surprise that fatalities continue to occur.

Other regulatory agencies have far greater latitude than OSHA in assessing fines.  For instance, the Dept. of Agriculture can levy $130,000 on milk processors who willfully violate the Fluid Milk Promotion Act  The FCC can fine a TV or radio station as much as $325,000 for indecent broadcasts.  The EPA can hit companies with $270,000 for violations of the Clean Air Act, and penalize them $1 million “for attempting to tamper with the public water system.”

Yet, as Michaels points out, “the maximum civil penalty OSHA may impose when a hard-working man or woman is killed on the job—even when the death is caused by willful violation (my italics) of an OSHA requirement—is $70,000.”  That’s a mind-blowing statistic.  But if $70,000 is the maximum penalty, even for “willful and repeated violations,” what’s the minimum penalty for such violations?  Answer:  $5,000.

While the following is clearly an apples-and-oranges comparison, it’s worth noting.  Per the terms of the Montreal Convention of 1999 (formally known as the “Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air”) the family of a person killed in an airline crash gets about $175,000, with no quibbles.  That $175,000 happens to be the figure the carrier signatories were willing to pay.

But if you’re not lucky enough to die in a plane crash, if you die at work instead—say, if you slip and fall into a baling machine and are crushed to death—you’re worth only about $5,900.  The astounding part of this isn’t the paltry sum of $5,900.  The astounding part is that employers complain bitterly about the extent to which OSHA interferes with their businesses, as if American commerce were being systematically terrorized by this villainous safety agency.

Another astounding part of this is that the media continue to buy that story.  You never read mainstream accounts where a ridiculously lowball OSHA fine is the central story.  You never read about some guy who dies on the job, and OSHA fines the employer only $1,400, and that measly pay-out becomes the story’s angle.

Instead, the media do the exact opposite; they cherry-pick; they glorify; they use as an example of OSHA’s “dominion” the recent multi-million dollar fine of BP (British Petroleum), as if that anomalous levy were representative. But as Michaels notes in his testimony, since passage of OSHA in 1970, “fewer than 100 cases have been prosecuted [criminally] while more than 300,000 workers have died from on-the-job injuries.”

Although PAWA could go a long way toward rectifying these glaring inequities, it’s given little chance of passing.  In any event, workers shouldn’t look to Congress for protection.  In truth, the only realistic hope they have of working in a safe industrial environment is to join a union.  The statistics are overwhelming.  Union jobs are clearly safer than non-union jobs.  And given that a union’s sole concern is the welfare of its members, why wouldn’t they be?

DAVID MACARAY, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”), was a former union rep.   He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, published by AK Press. Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on What’s an American Worker’s Life Worth?

Russia: US anti-Iran sanctions against international law

Press TV – May 29, 2012

Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Alexander Lukashevich has criticized the US sanctions against Iran as violating international law, noting that Russia opposes such measures.

“Regarding the US unilateral sanctions against Iran, which have been enforced during the past 20 years over concerns about Tehran’s nuclear energy program, I should say that Russia does not agree with the transnational nature of these sanctions,” Lukashevich said on Tuesday.

“Moreover, we believe that these sanctions are in contradiction to international law,” he added.

On May 21, the US Senate unanimously approved a bill to extend sanctions against countries or companies that have dealings with the National Iranian Oil Company and the National Iranian Tanker Company, another attempt to restrict Iran from selling its crude oil abroad.

“The United States is abusing its position in the global financial structure and the status of dollar as the international currency, thus slapping economic and financial sanctions against Iran and forcing other countries to engage themselves in this regard,” the Russian foreign ministry spokesman pointed out.

Lukashevich further noted that Moscow has invariably expressed opposition to “excessive pressure” on Iran over its nuclear energy program.

“On all occasions and levels, we have proclaimed our opposition to [applying] excessive pressure on Iran and pointed out that such an approach will push Iran’s nuclear energy program toward a stalemate,” Lukashevich explained.

The United States and the European Union have imposed tough financial sanctions as well as oil embargoes against Iran since the beginning of 2012, claiming that the country’s nuclear energy program includes a military component.

Tehran refutes such allegations, noting that frequent inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency have never found any diversion in Iran’s nuclear energy program toward military purposes.

May 30, 2012 Posted by | Wars for Israel | , , | Comments Off on Russia: US anti-Iran sanctions against international law