Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

Adam Davidson’s Journalistic Corruption: NPR Host Boosts for Wall Street, While Taking Undisclosed Banking Money

By Yasha Levine and Mark Ames • S.H.A.M.E. • August 8, 2012

“I feel like the voice of business journalism is sort of, it’s an authoritative voice of God.”

—Adam Davidson

Adam Davidson is the co-creator and host of the popular economic news radio program Planet Money. On air, Davidson plays the role of an earnest, brainy reporter who’s doing his best to make sense of the complicated, jargon-filled world of finance to report business news in a way that NPR listeners can understand. However, behind the dweeby, faux-naive facade Adam Davidson presents to his listeners, is a shrewd propagandist with a long, consistent history of shilling for powerful and destructive interests—and failing to disclose his financial ties to the companies and industries he reports on.

Over the years, Davidson has boosted for the Iraq War and whitewashed the occupation of Iraq, praised sweatshop labor and “experimenting on the poor,” attacked the idea of regulating Wall Street, parroted libertarian propaganda about the government’s inability to directly create jobs, argued for “squeezing the middle class,” and shamelessly fawned over Wall Street for allegedly blessing Americans with “just about anything that makes you happy.” (Read Adam Davidson’s full S.H.A.M.E. profile.)

While Adam Davidson has recently come under increasing scrutiny for using his NPR platform to promote the narrow interests of the super-wealthy in this country, little attention has thus far been given to Davidson’s corruption—his numerous financial conflicts of interest that seriously undermine his claims to being a journalist, and instead reveal Davidson as a glorified product spokesman for his Wall Street sponsors.

Adam Davidson gained national media recognition as an on-air personality in 2008, after co-producing an episode for This American Life called “The Giant Pool of Money” about the implosion of subprime lending. Although Davidson’s segment was praised for making the murky world of finance easier to understand, his framing of the subprime housing debacle served another purpose: It let Wall Street off the hook for its role in rampant criminal mortgage fraud and predatory lending.

“This was a crisis that was caused by willing participation of every single person. Nobody was coerced,” said Davidson’s co-producer and partner in Planet MoneyAlex Blumberg. “And there was fraud. But that was not what caused the crisis. What caused the crisis was something bigger and more systemic that required the involvement of everybody at every step.”

This evasion-by-exaggerating-the-complexity strategy is one that Davidson and Planet Money have deployed often to whitewash and deflect the role of criminality in the housing crisis. Among the show’s fans was Treasury Secretary and former New York Federal Reserve Bank chief Timothy Geithner: “Yeah, they did a good job.”

As a piece of journalism, Davidson’s report on the subprime fraud was a failure bordering on journalistic malpractice. By absolving the role of rampant predatory criminality and spreading blame in a grand false equivalency, Davidson provided a narrative frame that comforted the American Establishment at a time when it badly needed comforting, and was duly rewarded for his services. The mainstream media joined Timothy Geithner in lavishing praise on Davidson’s subprime fraud whitewash, and awarded him and his partner with the prestigious “Peabody Award” while New York University’s Journalism Institute named the segment one of the “Top Ten Works of Journalism of the Decade.”

Thanks to this broad acceptance and praise of Davidson’s whitewash, he was given his own show, which launched just as the entire financial system began to meltdown.

The new show, called Planet Money, was a partnership between NPR and Chicago Public Media’s This American Life, and was molded on Davidson’s successful subprime episode. Not surprisingly, Planet Money was compromised almost from the very start.

In early 2009, just a few months after Planet Money was launched, NPR announced it had secured Ally Bank (formerly GMAC) as the show’s exclusive sponsor. It was an unusual setup for NPR, and unusual (and highly dubious) for anything that called itself journalism, because it meant  that a major, troubled financial institution was the only source of money for a news program about finance. At the time that the unusual agreement was signed, Planet Money was the only NPR program underwritten by a single exclusive sponsor. The arrangement raised eyebrows and would have been unthinkable before the crisis—but even by post-crisis funding arrangements, Planet Money’s deal with Ally Bank stood out as such an obvious violation of basic journalism standards that even Ad Age, the advertising industry’s trade publication, was taken aback by the “close alignment of message and news program.”

To understand why Davidson’s arrangement with Ally Bank is so odious, a little background is needed. Ally Bank is a subsidiary of Ally Financial, a giant financial services company formerly known as GMAC. There’s a good reason why GMAC would have wanted to change its name to “Ally Financial” after the financial collapse: The bank is one of the biggest mortgage servicers in the country, and has been one of the very worst offenders in foreclosure fraud and in the very same subprime fraud that Davidson whitewashed as a “blameless” phenomenon. GMAC deserves far more blame—and jail time—than any of the subprime borrowers it fleeced and ruined. Since GMAC collapsed in late 2008, it has received more than $17 billion of taxpayer bailout funds in a series of bailouts. As of August 1, 2012, 74% of Ally Financial was still owned by the U.S. Government. [ 1 ]

At the time Ally signed its sponsorship agreement with Planet Money, the bank was being investigated across the country for foreclosure fraud, robo-signing fraud, and student loan fraud. Even as bad bailed-out banks go, GMAC/Ally is considered one of the worst, most tainted of them all.

GMAC goes from thief to Ally…

Planet Money‘s relationship with Ally is a textbook example of “conflict of interest” of the sort every journalist is taught to shun. The bank had a clear and demonstrable interest in Planet Money‘s coverage of the financial industry, especially issues that affected the bank’s bottom line. As Planet Money‘s sole sponsor at a time when NPR funds were falling, Ally obviously wielded considerable power.

After Davidson sprang a vicious and bizarre smear-attack on Elizabeth Warren in 2009, some NPR listeners started to get wise to Planet Money‘s corruption problem, and made their concerns known. Following months of complaints from readers pointing to the conflict-of-interest and the way Planet Money‘s segments dovetailed with the banking lobby’s own propaganda—and with Ally’s interests—NPR’s Ombudsman was forced to issue a public statement on the Ally-Planet Money relationship. Perhaps not surprisingly, the NPR Ombudsman decided that listeners’ concerns over the conflict-of-interest were “cynical”—as if the problem lay in listeners’ psychology, rather than in Planet Money’s violation of basic journalism ethics. The NPR Ombudsman went further, arguing essentially that if listeners who complained about corruption weren’t cynical, then they were ignorant.

Despite Davidson’s long experience in sales and underwriting for public radio, he claimed he was out of the loop when it came to the deal his own show, Planet Money, cut with its sole sponsor, Ally Bank: “I have nothing to do with the underwriting stuff. We don’t pay any attention to the fact that they are a sponsor. We wouldn’t for a second give them any special treatment — positive or negative.”

And yet, the actual record proves that NPR readers were right to suspect and criticize the arrangement, and that Davidson was wrong in claiming that Planet Money has not consistently pushed a narrative so in synch with Ally Bank and the financial industry that it boggles the mind how he has gotten away with it. Planet Money coverage hasn’t just been friendly to banks and the finance industry in general—some of it has been suspiciously lined up and in synch with specific policy priorities of its exclusive sponsor, Ally Bank.

One example: In 2009, just as Planet Money inked its exclusive sponsorship deal with Ally Bank, Davidson began broadcasting a number of segments critical of the proposed Financial Consumer Protection Agency Act of 2009, questioning the need  to regulate consumer financial products like mortgages and credit cards in order to protect people against bank fraud. “Will it work at all?” Davidson asked in one of his fake “gee-whiz” questions. “Is this just one more layer of regulation in a regulatory system that fundamentally broke down?”

In May 2009, in the heat of the banking industry’s massive pushback, Davidson essentially mugged Elizabeth Warren, the chief architect of the financial consumer protection bill, in an interview that took a sharp and bizarre hostile turn early on. Davidson surprised Warren and his own listeners with uncharacteristic personal smears, trying to portray her as a clueless, power-hungry ideologue. Davidson’s attack on Warren was so out-of-line and uncharacteristically hostile that it sparked a torrent of criticism from NPR listeners who couldn’t understand why Davidson or NPR would do such a thing. Keep in mind, this was in the spring of 2009, when unemployment was still shooting through the roof, the future of the economy was in doubt, and talk of a 1930s style Great Depression-2 was still front-and-center.

It’s worth going back and listening to the interview to get a sense of just how malevolent Davidson really was, and is. Here’s an excerpt, courtesy of Corrente:

ADAM DAVIDSON: What it feels to me is what you are missing is that — I think we put aside your pet issues. We put them aside. We put them aside until this crisis is over.

ELIZABETH WARREN: The cr– What you’re saying makes no sense. Now come on. [interpolate Davidson sputtering and attempting to interrupt throughout.] It makes no sense. On an emergency basis, on one day, one week, one month, there’s no doubt in my mind we’ve got to step in, we’ve got to make sure we have a functioning banking system. I think I’ve said that like nine times now. Of course we’ve got to have a functioning banking system.

DAVIDSON: Wait a minute. I want to make you go farther. I want to make you madder before I —

ELIZABETH WARREN: No no no. [Davidson snickers] We’re now at what — we’re now seven, eight months into this. And it’s the second part of what you said. We can’t do anything about the American family until this crisis is over? This crisis will not be over until the American family begins to recover. [More Davidson sputtering.] This crisis does not exist independently —

DAVIDSON: That’s your crisis.

ELIZABETH WARREN: No it is not my crisis! That is America’s crisis! If people cannnot pay their credit card bills [Davidson tries to interrupt] if they cannot pay their mortgages —

DAVIDSON: But you are not in the mainstream of views on this issue. You are not —

ELIZABETH WARREN: What, if they can’t pay their credit card bills the banks are gonna do fine? Who are you looking at?

DAVIDSON: The [sputters]–

ELIZABETH WARREN: Who says a bank a bank is going to survive — Who is not worried about the fact that the Bank of America’s default rate has now bumped over 10%? That’s at least the latest data I saw. So the idea that we’re going to somehow fix the banks and then next year or next decade we’re going to start worrying about the American family just doesn’t [Davidson talking over] make any sense.

DAVIDSON: The American families are not — These issues of crucial, the essential need for credit intermediation are as close to accepted principles among every serious thinker on this topic. The view that the American family, that you hold very powerfully, is fully under assault and that there is — and we can get into that — that is not accepted broad wisdom. I talk to a lot a lot a lot of left, right, center, neutral economists [and] you are the only person I’ve talked to in a year of covering this crisis who has a view that we have two equally acute crises: a financial crisis and a household debt crisis that is equally acute in the same kind of way. I literally don’t know who else I can talk to support that view. I literally don’t know anyone other than you who has that view, and you are the person [snicker] who went to Congress to oversee it and you are presenting a very, very narrow view to the American people.

The Columbia Journalism Review described the Planet Money interview as a “disaster” and  “really cringeworthy stuff from Davidson,” who was so rude and unprofessional that NPR’s Ombudsman was forced to issue a public apology for his behavior. Davidson’s excuse: he had been traveling for a NPR fundraiser and was “very, very tired.”

What Adam Davidson did not disclose to the public was that at the same time he was smearing Elizabeth Warren and attacking legislation that would protect consumers against the sort of bank fraud that has devastated millions of Americans, Ally Bank, the sole sponsor underwriting Davidson’s Planet Money show and his salary, was simultaneously spending hundreds of thousands lobbying against the  Financial the Consumer Protection Agency Act of 2009.

Evidence: Here’s just one of GMAC’s lobbying disclosure forms mentioning the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009

Ally Bank is not the only financial company funding Adam Davidson’s career, and filling up his bank accounts.

On top of Ally Bank’s exclusive sponsorship of Planet Money, Davidson earns lucrative speaking fees from banks and financial companies, including J.P. Morgan, Well Fargo, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs—the same companies he covers as a journalist. Davidson is frequently the only journalist/reporter booked to speak at these events; other speakers usually work in finance.

Davidson has yet to disclose his corporate clients and how much they pay him, but here is a partial list of Davidson’s speaking gigs from the last two years compiled from various publicly available sources:

  • In April 2011, Davidson was the headlining speaker at the 9th Annual “Women’s World Banking” Microfinance and the Capital Markets Conference. The conference was hosted by J.P. Morgan, but the organization itself is funded by the world’s biggest banks and corporations, including BP, Morgan Stanley, Pfizer, Barclays Capital, VISA, ExxonMobil—just to name a few.
  • In 2011, Davidson spoke at another microfinance conference, this once was also funded by Morgan Stanley, Citi, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and CapitalOne.
  • In 2012, Davidson spoke at the 27th Annual Conference for the Treasury & Finance Professional. Sponsors of the event included Bank of America, BlackRock, BNY Mellon, Bloomberg, Citibank, Findelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Well Fargo and about a dozen of the most powerful financial the largest financial companies in the world.

These speaking fees are a huge unaddressed problem in news media and academia. As explained by Charles Ferguson, director of Inside Job and author of Predator Nation, the problem with speaking fees is that they are “sometimes used to launder or disguise payments . . . for lobbying and policy advocacy.” That is why, for example, Obama’s former economy czar Larry Summers was roundly criticized for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in speaking fees in 2008 from the same banks he was bailing out in 2009.

Chicago Public Media, which co-owns “Planet Money” through its ownership of “This American Life”, explicitly bars conflicts-of-interest: “WBEZ journalists must uphold the trust of the public by not overlapping individual interests with professional responsibilities. WBEZ journalists may not accept any form of compensation from the individuals, institutions or organizations they cover.”

Neither NPR nor This American Life would comment on S.H.A.M.E.’s investigation into Adam Davidson’s conflicts of interest. We will be seeking to get comment from Davidson’s other employer, The New York Times, about their policy on journalists having conflicts-of-interest.

Notes

See Naked Capitalism’s coverage of GMAC/Ally’s mortgage fraud.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nagasaki: The Worst War Crime Ever

Dock Billin | Multiply | August 8, 2011

It was just short of eleven in the morning of a mild late summer day. The streets of the city were teeming with people going to work, while children played in the parks and in the medical college, professors were lecturing to their students on medicine and surgery.

High over the city, above the layer of clouds in the sky, a silver aeroplane was flying along on four throbbing motors. The crew had already been in the air for many hours and was growing tense and weary. They had flown to another city, where they were to deliver their cargo, but that had been obscured by smog and cloud, so they had come to this, their secondary destination. Getting low on fuel and experiencing some engine trouble, they were looking for a break in the cloud cover so that they could see where to release their cargo, a gift for the two hundred thousand people below.

A sudden hole opened in the cloud cover, and the B-29 started its bombing run.

It was the ninth of August, 1945, and the city below was about to become a funeral pyre.

When the accounts are written of the atom bomb, one name, and one alone, stands out in the histories – Hiroshima. It’s as though the atomic age is symbolised by that city. Tagged on, sometimes, to the end of it, is another name – Nagasaki – as though it were no more than an afterthought, ignored by most people except as a footnote. But Nagasaki was a city in its own right, bombed separately from Hiroshima, and with its own personalised tragedy.

In order to understand the tragedy of Nagasaki, it’s necessary first to examine the decision to use the atom bomb and the reasoning behind the bombing of Hiroshima.

The prelude to the atom bombing:

I have written previously[1] and in detail about why I consider the bombing of Hiroshima to have been an inexcusable war crime, not only in hindsight, but even given the information available at the time to the people involved. I’ll repeat a point I made earlier:

Japan was finished, and was all ready to sue for peace; the only condition it made was that the position of the Emperor should be protected. The Japanese government under Kantaro Suzuki that took office in April 1945 did so with the one single objective of ending the war. All this was known to the Western Allies, since the Japanese codes had long since been broken.

By May 1945, the Japanese were suing for peace through Switzerland and Moscow – peace on any terms, just so long as the position of the Emperor was protected.

These are the terms the Japanese offered as early as 20 January 1945, and repeated through the USSR in July[1,3]:

* Complete surrender of all Japanese forces and arms, at home, on island possessions, and in occupied countries.
* Occupation of Japan and its possessions by Allied troops under American direction.
* Japanese relinquishment of all territory seized during the war, as well as Manchuria, Korea and Taiwan.
* Regulation of Japanese industry to halt production of any weapons and other tools of war.
* Release of all prisoners of war and internees.
* Surrender of designated war criminals.

These are the exact same terms that the Americans accepted at the official Japanese surrender in September 1945. The war could have been over as early as January 1945 – if the US government had wanted it so.

The justification for the bombing:

The rationale for the atom-bombing of Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) rests on these ideas:

First claim: that the atom bomb was necessary to end the war.

In reality[1,2,3], the Japanese were suing for peace long before the A Bombing. Also, the fact is that wars are fought by militaries, and in this case the actual military forces involved (who would have been in a position to decide if they needed the Bomb to end the war) were kept completely out of the picture. Even General Douglas MacArthur, the theatre commander in the Pacific, was told of the Bomb’s existence a mere five days before it was used on Hiroshima[2]. And European theatre commander General Dwight Eisenhower (later US President) was strongly opposed to its use, and was to comment in an interview to Newsweek in 1963, “We didn’t have to hit them with that awful thing.”

In 1945 the Japanese were in desperate circumstances. Japan

… already had been defeated militarily by June 1945. Almost nothing was left of the once mighty Imperial Navy, and Japan’s air force had been all but totally destroyed. Against only token opposition, American war planes ranged at will over the country, and US bombers rained down devastation on her cities, steadily reducing them to rubble.

What was left of Japan’s factories and workshops struggled fitfully to turn out weapons and other goods from inadequate raw materials. (Oil supplies had not been available since April.) By July about a quarter of all the houses in Japan had been destroyed, and her transportation system was near collapse. Food had become so scarce that most Japanese were subsisting on a sub-starvation diet .[3]

While it is true that for public consumption the Japanese government was calling on its people to resist to the end, as any adult knows, the public statements of governments are to be treated with circumspection. Starving Japanese civilians armed with bamboo spears[6] would have had little impact on the kind of invasion fleet the Allies could have summoned by 1 November 1945, the projected date for the invasion, if any invasion had actually been required. But

(t)he United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that,”… certainly prior to 31 December, 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November, 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.” [4]

It’s also true that the atom-bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were not the last major bombing raids on Japan during the Second World War. In a broadcast from Tokyo the day after the Nagasaki bombing, 10th August (and also two days after the USSR invaded Manchuria), the Japanese government announced its readiness to accept the joint American-British “unconditional surrender” declaration of Potsdam, “with the understanding that the said declaration does not compromise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler.”[3]

Yet, on the day and evening of the 14th August, while Japan was preparing for the announcement of the unconditional surrender, General Henry Harley “Hap” Arnold dispatched over a thousand planes to fire-bomb Tokyo. Not even one was lost, and the official Japanese surrender was announced before the last one landed back at its base[5]. If the A-Bombing had actually ended the war, what was the necessity for this act, unless one wants to call it deliberate terrorism?

At the same time, there’s the fact that, as I said, the USSR entered the war on 8th August, as it was treaty bound to do three months after the end of the war in Europe. In many ways, it was this decision that forced the Japanese surrender, not the A-Bombing[6]. They did not want the Communists to occupy parts of their homeland.

Also –

American leaders who were in a position to know the facts did not believe, either at the time or later, that the atomic bombings were needed to end the war…

Shortly after “V-J Day,” the end of the Pacific war, Brig. General Bonnie Fellers summed up in a memo for General MacArthur: “Neither the atomic bombing nor the entry of the Soviet Union into the war forced Japan’s unconditional surrender. She was defeated before either these events took place.”

Similarly, Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, later commented:

It is my opinion that the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan … The Japanese were already defeated and ready to surrender because of the effective sea blockade and the successful bombing with conventional weapons … My own feeling was that in being the first to use it, we had adopted an ethical standard common to the barbarians of the Dark Ages. I was not taught to make war in that fashion, and wars cannot be won by destroying women and children.

If the United States had been willing to wait, said Admiral Ernest King, US Chief of Naval Operations, “the effective naval blockade would, in the course of time, have starved the Japanese into submission through lack of oil, rice, medicines, and other essential materials.” [3]

Besides, unlike the standard version of the story, the Japanese leaders of the time weren’t particularly impressed by the A-Bomb. Nobody knew much about these weapons at the time, and the initial number of casualties was less than those inflicted during the fire-bombing of Tokyo on the night of 9th March 1945 when over a hundred thousand Japanese were burned alive and boiled to death in the city’s canals[3]. It was just another enemy weapon[3], and the murder of a few hundreds of thousand civilians was passé by that stage of the war, when 67 Japanese cities had been destroyed by fire-bombing[7].

Therefore, it’s certain that the claim that the A-Bombing was necessary to end the war was false, and was known to be false even when the decision was being made.

Second claim : That the atom bomb was required to save a million American lives.

This claim rides piggyback on the first, and is predicated on an invasion and prolonged fighting for the Japanese home islands. However, as we’ve seen, no invasion would have been necessary, and the people in power were well aware that no invasion would have been necessary. Even so, the figure of a million American dead is widely inflated.

(T)he worst-case scenario for a full-scale invasion of the Japanese home islands was forty-six thousand American lives lost.[7]

Even if it were true that a million American soldiers would have died in the invasion of the Japanese home islands, did that justify nuking over a quarter of a million civilians[7]? How is that different from torturing and massacring the inhabitants of a city to break the will of their fighting men to resist[8]? And in what way does that qualify as not terrorism, if we define “terrorism” as the use of applied fear to influence the actions of a target government or populace?

Third claim: That Hiroshima and Nagasaki were heavily-defended military bases and hence legitimate targets.

This is actually one of the more transparent myths of the entire episode. Hiroshima was chosen as a target of the atom-bombing because it had never been bombed[9]; and it had never been bombed because it was not militarily significant (about 95% of the casualties in the city were civilian). In fact,

… almost all of the victims were civilians, and the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (issued in 1946) stated in its official report: “Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as targets because of their concentration of activities and population.” [3] 

As we shall see, Nagasaki was a third-hand choice for the bomb; it was meant to be used elsewhere, because Nagasaki had already been bombed five times before and wasn’t thought to be a prime target.

Fourth claim: The Japanese somehow “deserved” Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) because of the attack on Pearl Harbour.

This is part of the justification put out by Truman himself, [4]

“Having found the bomb we have used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without warning at Pearl Harbor (sic), against those who have starved and beaten and executed American prisoners of war, and against those who have abandoned all pretense (sic) of obeying international law of warfare.”

The simple fact is that the Japanese people were not, at the time, ruled by anything resembling a democracy. They had no part in the decisions that were taken in their name, and are no more to blame, collectively, than the people of the United States are collectively to blame for the invasion of Iraq – less so, indeed, because the US is (on the surface of it) a democracy.

The attack on Pearl Harbour, in any case, was far from the simple story of an unexpected and illegal attack on the US as is usually claimed. In reality, the attack had been made inevitable by a game of political brinkmanship and pushing Japan to the point where it had no option but to strike back. It was a pre-emptive strike… a strike the US celebrates to this day. The purpose of this article is not to get diverted into a discussion of the attack on Pearl Harbour; but it will note that while the official story is of a vicious and unprovoked attack, there are excellent reasons to believe that it was not.[10]

But even if the attack on Pearl Harbour had been a vicious and unprovoked attack, it was a military attack on a military base, and any civilians killed were accidental casualties (“collateral damage” in the words of the same people who decry the attack while occupying Iraq and Afghanistan and bombing Pakistan and Libya). The attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were designed to kill civilians[3], and therefore were not a proportionate, legal or moral response to the attack on Pearl Harbour.

Therefore, none of these four justifications for the bombing stands up to examination.

Some words about the Atom Bomb:

This would probably be the right place to briefly discuss the atom bomb itself – as it was used in Hiroshima and then at Nagasaki. (You’ll see the point of this digression in a minute.)

With apologies to those to whom this is hardly news, there are two distinct types of nuclear bomb. Both depend on bringing together an unstable mass of radioactive metal, known as the critical mass, which then spontaneously undergoes change into a smaller mass of other materials with the missing mass converted into energy. This energy is gigantic compared to the amount of missing mass, because it follows Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2where E is the energy obtained from converting a mass m and c is the speed of light. Since the speed of light is 300,000 kilometres per second, the energy obtained by converting just one gram of material is huge indeed. That’s why nuclear bombs are so powerful; the Hiroshima bomb had a yield of 13.5 kilotons (the equivalent of 13,500 tons – not kilograms, tons – of TNT), and Nagasaki suffered 21 kilotons. And these were small bombs by today’s standards.

Now, there are two metals that can be used to construct an atom bomb. One is Uranium 235, and the other, Plutonium 239. In the case of Uranium 235, the technique used is relatively simple, and is called the gun type device. A “bullet” of the metal, weighing less than the critical mass, is fired by explosives into a sphere of the same metal, also weighing less than the critical mass, but the two together weigh more than the critical mass and “nuclear fission” occurs as the atoms split to release the above-mentioned energy. The gun-type device is simple and can be expected to work without testing, and this was the design of the (untested) bomb dropped over Hiroshima.

The plutonium bomb is a different matter. Because of certain inherent problems with the presence of Plutonium 240 as an impurity, the gun type device is unusable. Instead, the technique used is the implosion device, where explosives are used to compress a sphere of plutonium from all sides until it achieves a mass greater than the critical level, and explodes. This method happens to be both more efficient and safer than the gun-type device, and is used for most modern nuclear weapons.[11]

The thing about the implosion device is that it could not be reliably expected to work without testing, because its utility was still entirely theoretical at the time of construction and because of the fact that a highly complex triggering device has to be used to compress the sphere evenly and quickly into a supercritical mass. Therefore, it required a test – and this was the device that was tested at Alamogordo in New Mexico on 16th July 1945, which was called the “Trinity” test and was the world’s first nuclear explosion.

While the uranium bomb (“Little Boy”) was used on Hiroshima, the far more complex and expensive plutonium bomb (“Fat Man”) was used on Nagasaki.

Which leads us to one possible reason why the bomb was used…

The possible real reasons for the use of the atom bomb:

  1. The political reason: By 1945, the alliance between the USSR and the Western Allies was fast breaking down. It was little more than a formality which would obviously end once the war was over. Before the Germans were even defeated, American pilots flying close to the Eastern front with secret equipment in their aircraft were ordered by their superiors to bail out over German territory in case of emergency rather than land on the Soviet side of the lines (vide John Toland, The Last Hundred Days)[12]. The Western Allies were more concerned about their ally, the USSR, laying hands on their equipment than their enemies, the Germans, capturing it.

While at Yalta in February 1945, Stalin agreed to enter the war against Japan three months after the end of the war in Europe, which would mean the USSR’s declaring war on Japan on 8th August (since the European war ended on 8th May). The Americans and British were well aware of this, and Truman himself had written to his wife that the Soviet Union’s entry into the war would hasten Japan’s downfall[13]. Obviously, once the war ended, the two competing systems – communism and capitalism – would be scrambling for the prize of ruling the post-war world. The atom bombing was the first shot in the Cold War. [17]

Truman, in fact, postponed the July Potsdam conference with Stalin until he was certain that the Alamogordo test was successful, and his Secretary of State and advisor Byrnes’

… general viewpoint is consistent and clear. He saw the atomic bomb as a way to impress the Soviets. [14]

Also, as William Craig describes in The Fall Of Japan, by 25th August OSS (the organisation that is now the CIA) agents in China were openly threatening the Chinese Communists, still their official allies against the Japanese, with the use of the nuclear bomb unless they fell into line and stopped their “banditry”.[15]

The political factor behind the bombing is therefore pretty clear.

  1. The revenge factor: Throughout the war, the Western nations had categorised the Japanese as something less than human, and Western propaganda had consistently portrayed them as monstrous rats or monkeys. The use of the atom bomb on them was a nice, satisfying way of exacting revenge, as Truman himself said (see above).

  1. Scientific curiosity: Just because scientists are scientists we can’t expect them to be necessarily ethical or moral. The scientists wanted to know which bomb was more powerful, and one important reason for the atom-bombing of Nagasaki was merely to see if the implosion device would cause more devastation than the Hiroshima bomb.[16] The fact that the programme had cost two thousand million dollars (at the then value) was also a powerful incentive to use the bomb – to justify the money spent.

Hiroshima, in fact, was chosen as a target for two reasons: first, because it was a “virgin” city, never having been bombed[17], and therefore would provide an excellent test-bed for the Bomb; and also because of its topography (surrounded on three sides by hills) which would allow the blast to be focused back on the city and cause even greater destruction.

Could the Bomb have been used otherwise?

Let’s – for the sake of argument – assume that the atom bomb really ended the war. What were the alternatives to dropping the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Alternative No 1: Warning the Japanese through neutral nations of the existence of the bomb and the willingness to use it. Whether this would have been effective of not, it certainly wasn’t tried.

Alternative No 2: Making a “demonstration” – dropping the bomb over an isolated Japanese military base, over an unpopulated area, or over the sea within sight of the Japanese coast. This, too, was never tried, and never, apparently, contemplated.

The argument usually goes that the bomb actually had to be used for the Japanese to appreciate its true destructive power, and without that they wouldn’t have surrendered. The argument further goes that the use of only one bomb wouldn’t be effective, because the hardliners in the Japanese military and government wouldn’t believe that the US had more than one of the bombs.

Again, for the sake of argument, let’s assume that this line of thinking has merit – that the Japanese would have not surrendered unless the Bomb was actually used on one or more of their cities.

This raises some questions:
1. If the Hiroshima bomb was used on 6th August, why was the Nagasaki bomb used just three days later? It was an impossibly short time for the Japanese government to assimilate information about the bomb, given the utterly destroyed state of Japanese communications, and decide on surrender.  Besides, it was only at Nagasaki (vide Craig, The Fall Of Japan) that a message was dropped (taped to an instrument package parachuted to study the explosion) to a Japanese nuclear scientist – a Professor Sagane – who had earlier studied in the US, informing him of the nature of the atom bomb. So, the Japanese were not even given the time to know of their danger and think of surrender – before both bombs had been used.
2. Let’s for the sake of argument assume that Hiroshima had to be destroyed to force a Japanese surrender, and a second bomb had to be dropped to make the point that the US had more than one bomb. If that is so, why wasn’t the second bomb used as a demonstration, and dropped somewhere the Japanese could see its effect for themselves, and not on civilians? What possible justification can there have been for destroying a city?

And this is why I consider Nagasaki to have been an even worse war crime than Hiroshima – because, following the arguments of the pro-bomb lobby to their logical conclusion, the bombing of the latter city comes across as even more wanton and pointless, even more of a war crime and a terrorist act.

While I am on the subject, as I’ve written elsewhere [18]

I view the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a complete and despicable war crime. I view it as such because – like using Agent Orange in Vietnam or depleted uranium today everywhere from Kosovo to Libya – the effects extend to future generations, meaning people who are not only not guilty of any part  in the conflict, but weren’t even born when it took place. No amount of self-justification can excuse that.

Secondly, I view nuclear weapons as the closest thing we have to an absolute evil, because it gives its possessors the choice to wipe out virtually all life on earth in defence of a political or economic ideology; a way of wiping out everything in some kind of universal Gotterdammerung. Just as you wouldn’t let a petulant child get its hands on a firearm, you wouldn’t want a nation – any nation – to have the means to blow everything away in a fit of temper. Don’t think it can’t happen – it very nearly has.

It is true (as I shall discuss in a moment) that the bombing of Nagasaki killed far fewer people than the bombing of Hiroshima even though the bomb was far more powerful[19]; but that was more by accident than by intent, and surely in these situations intent is what matters. Is a man who kills a hundred people more of a criminal than one who kills merely fifty? And is the latter guiltier than one who has dispatched only five or so?

The targeting of Nagasaki:

Let’s say something here that a lot of people don’t know: Nagasaki was not a primary target for the Bomb. The list of potential Japanese targets had at first four names on it – Kyoto, the ancient Japanese capital; Kokura, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Kyoto was scratched early on because of its cultural and religious significance to the Japanese people, and Niigata substituted. That city was subsequently scratched because it was considered too far to be reliably attacked, what with having to fly there carrying the immense weight of the atom bomb, and the target list came down to three – Hiroshima and Kokura, with Nagasaki (which had already been bombed five times[20] and therefore wasn’t a “virgin” city like Hiroshima) as the alternate target.

When the B 29 bomber (Bockscar) carrying “Fat Man” took off from Tinian, it was supposed to bomb Kokura, but the target was covered by smog and cloud[20]. The crew were under strict orders not to bomb by radar, but only after visually identifying the aiming point. Despite three passes over the target, they were unable to do so, and by this time the Japanese below had opened up with some anti-aircraft fire (the only occasion during the two atom bombings that any opposition at all was encountered. That a tiny number of unescorted and unarmed bombers – three at Hiroshima, two at Kokura/Nagasaki – could fly over Japanese cities in broad daylight unmolested is clear proof of the utterly parlous nature of Japanese defences at the time). The plane then flew to Nagasaki, which was covered by cloud and smog as well. By then, fuel was getting low, and there was just enough for one pass over the target. There was only one hole in the cloud which afforded some view of the city, and “Fat Man” was dropped through that hole, with a racetrack as the makeshift aiming point.

The bombing of Nagasaki:

As Fat Man fell through the air over Nagasaki, arming wires were extracted, barometric switches were closed, and electrical switches were triggered at a pre-set altitude of 500 metres. The detonators arranged around the plutonium core exploded, driving the metal ball on itself until it reached a supercritical mass. A moment later, with an intense bluish-white light, the bomb exploded over the city. People below simply vanished, vaporised in an instant. Further from the blast site, they were blinded, their skin burned away, their bodies blasted with radiation, and all of them died. Many who were not killed by the blast or radiation were crushed under falling buildings, and yet others roasted alive by the mass fires that followed. Those further from the blast and fires soon began to suffer the effects of radiation sickness: diarrhea, weakness and fever, agonising pain, their urinary flow stopping as the inner lining of their bladders came away. Most of them soon died. Those who survived lost their hair and teeth, followed by a lifetime of health problems, frequently involving cancer and passing on mutations to their children.

Everything happened as it had happened at Hiroshima, in fact; but, as I’ve mentioned, the casualty toll was

As the  fireball from the explosion rose, it sucked up superheated air along with moisture, smoke and soot from the incinerated city, and condensed it all in a tower of cloud that spread out at the top – into the image of the mushroom cloud that is familiar to us all. And the moisture condensed and fell along with the soot and dirt as a black rain, just as it had done at Hiroshima.

The reason for the lower casualty toll is as follows: the implosion type plutonium device was far more powerful than the gun-type bomb used on Hiroshima. It was, however, dropped far off-centre (towards the north-west) and failed to hit the middle of the city as planned. Nagasaki is also, unlike Hiroshima, a hilly city broken up by stretches of water  Large portions of the city were protected from blast by the hilly terrain, and the mass fires that started could not cross open stretches of water to ignite a firestorm as in Hiroshima. That is why “only” some 87000 died[20] – as opposed to more than twice that number at Hiroshima. (It’s a different matter that an even higher proportion of them were civilians, including a number of Western prisoners of war whose presence was known to the US – but the bombing went ahead anyway.[21])

When you remember that the most notorious “terrorist” strike in history killed fewer than 3000 people, and that that strike became the reason for wars that have to date destroyed two nations and devastated several others, it brings the crimes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki even more into focus.

The whitewash:

It’s worth noting that by 1947, Harry Truman had apparently begun feeling a need to whitewash his own part in the decision to use the bomb. He had the first film on Hiroshima censored extensively, falsifying history and reinventing his and every other major participant’s role in it[22]. It’s difficult to see this effort as anything but an admission of guilt, yet it established the modern myth of how the Bomb had to be used, most reluctantly, to end the war. It wasn’t a very effective propaganda device, of course, but the people of the US were eager to believe that the bombing was not a crime – so they took the opportunity to believe it.

The modern government of Japan is hardly free of guilt either. It made no effort to help the hibakusha – the survivors of the atomic bombing – until the 1950s, and to this day said help is far from adequate[23]. Besides, Japan till today operates on a US-written constitution and has a government that cannot exert full sovereignty over its own territory – no government which cannot ask an allegedly allied nation to remove its troops from its own territory[24] can be said to be sovereign – and cannot be expected to annoy the Americans. Therefore, the whitewash tends to be bilateral.

Conclusion:
Obviously, I believe that the atom bombing of the two cities was a war crime, and that the people who ordered the bombings were war criminals. However, were the people who actually carried out the bombings – the pilots and crew of the two planes, and the pilots and crew of the observation planes that accompanied them – war criminals?

Under normal circumstances, one would have said they weren’t. In a war that had crossed all limits of savagery, I’d have said that they were soldiers carrying out their orders. But there’s what happened afterward.

In 1995, the Smithsonian Institution wanted to hold an exhibition showing the effect of the atom-bombing of Hiroshima. One of the most strident opponents of the exhibition (which ultimately was aborted) was an old man who claimed it was a “damned big insult”. This old man was someone who had – in 1975 – flown a recreation of the attack of Hiroshima at an air show, complete with mushroom cloud, and claimed he had not intended it to be offensive. Yet, obviously, he found showing the effects of the bomb itself offensive to himself.[7]

Who was he? His name was Paul Tibbets, and he was the man who had flown the B 29, Enola Gay, which had dropped the Hiroshima bomb. His bombardier, too, went to his grave declaring he would do it again if the opportunity arose.

Whether Tibbets was a war criminal or not, therefore, at least in retrospect, might be a matter of opinion. However, I’d like to point out one thing:

After returning from a mission where they had just barbecued over a hundred thousand human beings, the crew of the Enola Gay celebrated with a barbecue.[25]

So what can be done? I believe that  an apology is a good place to begin. It’s necessary because even though an apology won’t help the victims of the Bomb, it will acknowledge that bombing them was wrong; and only if one admits wrong will one begin to guard against the tendency to do it again. After the end of the Second World War, the USA has threatened the use of nuclear weapons many times – against Korea, China, Cuba and Vietnam, against Iraq, North Korea and now against Iran. If the only nation ever to use nuclear weapons and threaten their use apologised for doing so, it might guard against the tendency to use these weapons or threaten their use – and in the modern world, if one country can use them, another can; and once there’s a major exchange, no matter who is guilty of starting it, there can be no turning back from the road to utter global ruin.

Not that any apology will ever be forthcoming, of course, but there’s no harm dreaming.

Sources:

[1] http://subversify.com/2010/08/13/mushroom-cloud-over-hiroshima/

[2] http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig2/denson7.html

[3] http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html

[4] http://warisacrime.org/content/truman-lied-hundreds-thousands-died

[5] http://www.lewrockwell.com/vance/vance180.html

[6] http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2011/08/07/why_did_japan_surrender/?page=full

[7] http://lewrockwell.com/gregory/gregory232.html

[8] http://www.fff.org/freedom/0995g.asp

[9] http://www.hiroshima-spirit.jp/en/museum/morgue_e12.html

[10] http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig/stinnett1.html

[11] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat_Man

[12] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/081296859X/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=1278548962&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0553103490&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=06DE5EQSHBGTD5PB1TB7

[13] http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/06-3

[14] http://www.h-net.org/~hst203/readings/alperovitz.html

[15] http://www.amazon.com/Fall-Japan-Blazing-Weeks-World/dp/0941968081

[16] http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig5/kohls1.html

[17] http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/Brian_Mitchell/hiroshima_reason.htm

[18] http://bill-purkayastha.blogspot.com/2011/07/review-black-rain.html

[19] http://www.aasc.ucla.edu/cab/200708230009.html

[20] http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/bombing_of_nagasaki.htm

[21] http://www.thenation.com/blog/162596/hidden-history-american-pows-were-killed-hiroshima

[22] http://www.thenation.com/blog/162576/white-house-cover-when-harry-truman-censored-first-hollywood-movie-hiroshima

[23] http://books.google.co.in/books?id=lgYAAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA25&lpg=PA25&dq=Japanese+government+did+not+help+Hibakushas&source=bl&ots=Tmi9bZY4yK&sig=PSFXHJTq8zei-jdrj3dTBtToUDQ&hl=en&ei=kAlATuimHojqrQfutcnJBw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

[24] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/7795734/Japanese-PM-Yukio-Hatoyama-resigns-over-broken-Okinawa-base-promise.html

[25] http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/history.htm

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 9 Comments

9th Circuit Dismisses Al Haramain Case

By Cindy Cohn | Eff | August 7, 2012

Today the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the warrantless wiretapping case, Al Haramain Islamic Foundation v. Obama, on the technical legal basis known as sovereign immunity.

Essentially, on a complex statutory analysis, the court ruled that the only claim left in the case, for money damages under 50 U.S.C. section 1810, could not be brought against the government itself, and instead could only be brought against government officials in their individual capacity. The court then ruled that the specific claims made against an official in his individual capacity, FBI Director Mueller, were not sufficient and could not be amended.

While the analysis is complex, the upshot is clear and very troubling.

First, the Court ruled that Congress in passing this section of FISA created a cramped statute that, at least in section 1810, only allows a claim for redress if the government uses the information it illegally gathers, and creates no a remedy against the government for the unlawful collection of information. Apparently, when it came to granting a legal claim for damages, Congress intended to allow the government to do as much wiretapping in violation of the law as it wanted to, and only allow individuals to sue for use of the information illegally collected.  It seems unlikely that the American people believe that the line should be drawn in this strange way.

Additionally, the ruling certainly does not exonerate the government. To the contrary, the best that they could say is that they they got off on a pure technicality of Congressional drafting.  There is nothing in this opinion, or in the whole course of this litigation, that undermines the basic revelation: that President Bush authorized the warrantless illegal and unconstitutional wiretapping of the two attorneys helping this accused — and now defunct — charity in their lawful, privileged communications with their client.  No one should take this as a vindication of the Bush-era policies (or Obama’s continuation of them).

Finally, this ruling will have little, if any, affect on the EFF’s ongoing litigation Jewel v. NSA, where we seek to stop the ongoing surveillance of millions of innocent Americans, also without proper warrants or other judicial oversight.  Jewel has many causes of action, not just 50 U.S.C. section 1810, and it seeks an injunction to stop ongoing behavior, not just monetary damages for past acts.  So while we don’t agree with the Ninth Circuit’s ruling here, it will not prove a roadblock to our efforts to stop the spying. We’ve moved for a ruling in the Jewel case that FISA preempts the state secret privilege and hope to have that motion heard by the District Court in the fall.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | Comments Off on 9th Circuit Dismisses Al Haramain Case

Where Will the U.S. Strike Next in Africa?

 A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | August 8, 2012

Under the direction of the United States, the UN Security Council recently extended sanctions for another year against the northeast African nation of Eritrea. The country of 6 million people, nestled against the Red Sea, is on America’s hit list. In the imperial double-speak of Washington, Eritrea is described as a “destabilizing” force in the region – which simply means the government in Asmara has refused to buckle under to U.S. military domination of the Horn of Africa.

Back in 2009, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton threatened to “take action” – and, by that, she meant make war – against Eritrea if it did not stop supporting the Shabab resistance fighters in Somalia. There was no evidence that Eritrea was, in fact, arming the Shabab, and there is no evidence that Eritrea is doing so, now – as the UN Monitoring Group on Eritrea and Somalia admits.

The monitors, who are, in effect, tools of U.S. policy, reported that they found “no evidence” of Eritrean aid to Somali fighters over the past year, and concluded that, if such assistance exists at all, it is “negligible.” Yet, the UN Security Council, under U.S. pressure, extended the sanctions, anyway. Washington claims that Eritrea’s alleged support for the Shabab has only halted because of the sanctions, and it’s, therefore, too early to lift them – which amounts to punishing Eritrea for having the wrong intentions, whether it acts on them or not.

It is, of course, not little Eritrea that is destabilizing the Horn of Africa, but the United States, which has made the region a front line in its so-called War on Terror. Washington’s closest ally in the neighborhood is Ethiopia, from which Eritrea won its independence in 1993, after a 30-year war. The U.S. instigated, armed, financed and gave logistical support to Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia, in 2006, plunging that country into what United Nations observers called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.” Under American direction, Kenya also invaded Somalia, in the midst of a great famine, last year. The U.S. bankrolls, arms and trains the nominally African Union force that occupies Somalia’s capital, and has turned neighboring Djibouti into the main base for the U.S. Africa Command, AFRICOM.

And there sits Eritrea, surrounded by warring American puppets, interfering in no one’s affairs, yet determined to defend her sovereignty – accused by the world’s biggest and most aggressive power of destabilizing the region.

Eritrea’s real sin is to be one of the very few nations in Africa that do not have military relations with AFRICOM, the U.S. war machine. That puts a bulls-eye on her back, along with Zimbabwe and Sudan, which U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice demanded be blockaded and bombed back in the George Bush administration. Barack Obama’s Africa policy is an extension and expansion of Bush’s aim to militarize the continent, and the much older U.S. policy to create chaos and horrific human suffering in those regions it cannot directly control. In practice, Obama’s doctrine is the same as Bush’s: “You are either with us or against us.”

Eritrea rejects that doctrine; that’s why it is a target. For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

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

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

French racist couple found guilty of attacking young Muslims

Press TV – August 8, 2012

A court in France has convicted a couple of attacking a group of young French Muslims in the southern city of Aigues-Mortes.

The couple opened fire on a number of young Muslims who were holding Iftar dinner in a parking lot during the holy month of Ramadan.

The man was given a four-year sentence while his wife was sentenced to 2 years in prison for assisting him in reloading his weapon.

The prosecutor described the shooting rampage as “manhunt,” witnesses say the assailants have made racist comments as they launched the attack.

The development comes as a town council in southwestern France fired four Muslims hired to work in a summer sport camp for fasting during Ramadan.

The men employed by the town council of Genevilliers just outside Paris were dismissed on July 20, the first day of Ramadan, under the pretext of endangering the children’s safety by not drinking or eating from dawn to dusk.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Islamophobia | , , | Comments Off on French racist couple found guilty of attacking young Muslims

Detained Palestinian hunger strikers beaten: NGOs

Al Akhbar | August 8, 2012

Human rights groups in Israel released a statement on Wednesday condemning the “outrageous mistreatment” of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), including physical beatings.

“We are outraged by the mistreatment and violent attacks on Palestinian prisoners in general, and especially in the cases of these fragile hunger strikers,” said a joint press release from Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Al-Haq and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-IL).

“We urge the international community to intervene with Israel on behalf of these detainees before their conditions deteriorate even further.”

Doctors and lawyers from the groups who visited the prisoners in Ramleh prison medical center expressed particular concern for the lives two administrative detainees, Samer al-Barq and Hassan Safadi, who have been subject to consistent mistreatment by the IPS.

“There is reason to believe that in the future the health of the two strikers will deteriorate, and therefore their condition requires special attention and close monitoring,” said a doctor from PHR-IL following his visit to the prisoners.

The two detainees are now refusing vitamins and minerals in protest at “humiliating and violent treatment by IPS staff.” He called for the patients to be examined once a week by an impartial doctor without the need for a court order.

PHR-IL doctors also reported that the tiny 1.5 by 1.8 meter cell shared by the two prisoners has no space for the wheelchairs they require for every day activities such as going to the toilet and the shower.

According to the groups, Barq, who is currently on his 78th day of a renewed hunger strike, having already completed a 30-day hunger strike, was violently beaten during his transfer from Ramleh to Ofer military court on July 31.

IPS special forces are renowned for their particularly brutal treatment of prisoners during transfers.

Safadi, who is now on his 48th day of renewed hunger strike, following his previous 71-day hunger strike, recounted similar stories of abuse by IPS staff who regularly carry out violent searches of their cell.

In one such raid they insulted and beat him all over his body leaving him with an injured leg.

In June, Israel broke a deal reached with the Palestinian prisoners’ committee that ended a mass hunger strike by renewing the detention of Hassan Safadi for another six months.

Safadi has been held since 29 June 2011 and the renewal of his detention was a violation of the agreement between the prisoners’ hunger strike committee and Israeli officials.

The mass hunger strike of over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails earlier this year was a protest against Israel’s draconian administrative detention policy, as well as harsh conditions imposed on them during imprisonment.

The strike aimed to put pressure on Israel to drop administrative detention, but the Jewish state has resisted calls to change the policy.

The law dates back to the British mandate era of historic Palestine and allows Israel to detain Palestinians without charge for renewable six month periods.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously condemned the policy as a violation of international humanitarian law.

Two other Palestinian political prisoners are also currently on hunger strike: Ayman Sharawna and Samer Al-Issawi, on 38 and 7 days respectively. Both were released in last October’s prisoner exchange deal and subsequently rearrested.

Israel has been accused by activists of implementing apartheid policies towards indigenous Palestinians.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

South Korea resumes Iranian oil supplies

RT | August 8, 2012

South Korea, the fourth largest importer of Iranian crude, plans to resume purchases after a two-month pause due to a European Union embargo.

­South Korean refiners and the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) are negotiating the details of a deal, which would allow supplies to restart from September, Reuters reported citing government sources. Tehran offered to deliver crude in its own tankers and provide up to $1 billion shipment insurance cover.

SK Energy and Hyundai Oilbank – the only two South Korean refiners that import Iranian crude, have confirmed that they are involved in negotiations with NITC. Though it’s unclear whether Iran had offered South Korea a discount for crude.

South Korea, India, Japan and China are the biggest importers of Iranian crude, accounting for more than half of its oil exports. In May, Seoul announced it would halt crude import from the Islamic Republic, becoming the first major importer of Iranian oil to give up supplies due to the EU sanctions.

EU sanctions banning Iranian oil as well as insurance affect Asian customers as they rely on EU companies to insure their shipments. Nearly 90% of the world’s tanker fleets are covered by 13 international P&I clubs from the EU.

Meanwhile Japan approved providing $7.6 billion insurance coverage for Iranian tankers, while China offered to use its own vessels for delivery. India has given permission to its state-run refiners to import Iranian oil on condition Tehran arranges insurance.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on South Korea resumes Iranian oil supplies

“Murdered” Russian General dispels Syrian rebels’ claims of his death

PanARMENIAN.Net – August 8, 2012

Russia’s Defense Ministry dismissed as “complete lies,” Free Syrian Army claims on Wednesday, August 8 that it had killed a Russian general, RIA Novosti said.

“The goal of broadcasting such statements is not just to cause a sensation, but a clear attempt at a slur toward the Russian Army,” the Defense Ministry press service said in a statement.

Major General Vladimir Kuzheev, whom Syrian rebels earlier claimed to have killed, on Wednesday met with journalists at the Russian Defense Ministry and personally dismissed the reports about his death.

“I want to express thanks to the media for their attention to my person…I want to confirm that I am well and alive, live in Moscow…I realize that this information is a provocation not only against me but against my country,” Kuzheev said.

Al Arabiya broadcast a video earlier on Wednesday in which the Free Syrian Army claimed to have killed General Vladmir Kojaiv and his Syrian translator, and showed what the FSA claimed was his identity card with a photo.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Comments Off on “Murdered” Russian General dispels Syrian rebels’ claims of his death

My Beloved Olive: Palestinian Farmers On their Land

This film, produced by the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Palestine, explores the role of the olive in Palestinian farmers’ lives, and in the Palestinian economy, and the struggles of farmers to remain on their land and continue to harvest their olives in the face of the construction of the Apartheid wall, military occupation, settlement building, and land confiscation at the hands of the Israeli occupation. Includes numerous interviews with Palestinian farmers.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | Comments Off on My Beloved Olive: Palestinian Farmers On their Land

Color Revolutions –The Hue of Coup d’Etat

By Ariadna Theokopoulos | Deliberation | August 8th, 2012

In his article Western Leaders Slip into Their Childhood, Thierry Meyssan reviews the color revolutions, their genesis and their commonalities. He also reveals why Syria seems to be a harder nut to crack for such idealistic revolutionaries as Obama and Cameron: not enough young Syrians properly inspired.

“The slogan “Bashar must go!” was supposed to be chanted by crowds of protesters in Damascus and Aleppo. In the absence of such demonstrations, it has been taken over by Western leaders themselves even though it goes against all the conventional rules of diplomacy. Why?

In 1985, a social scientist, Gene Sharp, published a study commissioned by NATO on Making Europe Unconquerable. He pointed out that ultimately a government only exists because people agree to obey it. The USSR could never control Western Europe if people refused to obey Communist governments.

A few years later, in 1989, Sharp was tasked by the CIA with conducting the practical application of his theoretical research in China. The United States wanted to topple Deng Xiaoping in favor of Zhao Ziyang. The intention was to stage a coup with a veneer of legitimacy by organizing street protests, in much the same way as the CIA had given a popular facade to the overthrow of Mohammed Mossadegh by hiring Tehran demonstrators (Operation Ajax, 1953). The difference here is that Gene Sharp had to rely on a mix of pro-Zhao and pro-US youth to make the coup look like a revolution. But Deng had Sharp arrested in Tiananmen Square and expelled from the country. The coup failed, but not before the CIA spurred the youth groups into a vain attack to discredit Deng through the crackdown that followed. The failure of the operation was attributed to the difficulties of mobilizing young activists in the desired direction.

Ever since the work of French sociologist Gustave Le Bon in the late nineteenth century, we know that adults behave like children when they are in the throes of collective emotion. They become susceptible, even if for just a critical fleeting moment, to the suggestions of a leader-of-men who for them embodies a father figure. In 1990, Sharp got close to Colonel Reuven Gal, then chief psychologist of the Israeli Army (he later became deputy national security adviser to Ariel Sharon and now runs operations designed to manipulate young Israeli non-Jews). Combining the discoveries of Le Bon and Sigmund Freud, Gal reached the conclusion that it was also possible to exploit the “Oedipus complex” in adolescents and steer a crowd of young people to oppose a head of state, as a symbolic father figure.

On this basis, Sharp and Gal set up training programs for young activists with the objective of organizing coups. After a few successes in Russia and the Baltics, it was in 1998 that Gene Sharp perfected the method of “color revolutions” with the overthrow of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

After President Hugo Chavez foiled a coup in Venezuela on the basis of one of my investigations revealing the role and method of Gene Sharp, the latter suspended the activities of the Albert Einstein Institute which served as a cover and went on to create new structures (CANVAS in Belgrade, the Academy of Change in London, Vienna and Doha). We saw them at work the world over, especially in Lebanon (Cedar Revolution), Iran (Green Revolution), Tunisia (Jasmine Revolution) and Egypt (Lotus Revolution). The principle is simple: exacerbate all underlying frustrations, blame the political apparatus for all the problems, manipulate the youth according to the Freudian “patricidal” scenario, organize a coup, and then propagandize that the government was brought down by the “street.”

International public opinion easily swallowed these stage settings: first, because of a confusion between a crowd and the people. Thus, the “Lotus Revolution” actually boiled down to a show on Tahrir Square in Cairo, mobilizing a crowd of tens of thousands, while the near totality of the Egyptian people abstained from taking part in the event; and second, because there is a lack of clarity with regard to the word “revolution”. A genuine revolution entails an upheaval in social structures that takes place over several years, while a “color revolution” is a regime change that occurs within weeks. The other term for a forced change of leadership without social transformation is a “coup d’état”. In Egypt, for example, it is clearly not the people who pushed Hosni Mubarak to resign, but U.S. Ambassador Frank Wisner who gave him the order.

The slogan of the “color revolutions” harks back to an infantile perspective. What matters is to overthrow the head of state without consideration of the consequences—“Don’t worry about your future, Washington will take care of everything for you.” By the time people wake up, it’s too late; the government has been usurped by individuals not of their choosing. At the outset though, there are cries of “Down with Shevardnadze!” Or “Ben Ali, get out!” The latest version was launched at the third conference of “Friends” of Syria (Paris, July 6): “Bashar must go!“

A strange anomaly can be detected with regard to Syria. The CIA did not locate groups of young Syrians willing to chant this slogan in the streets of Damascus and Aleppo. So it is Barack Obama, François Hollande, David Cameron and Angela Merkel themselves who repeat the slogan in chorus from their respective foreign offices. Washington and its allies are trying out the methods of Gene Sharp on the “international community”. It is a risky bet to imagine that foreign ministries can be as easy to manipulate as youth groups! At the moment, the result is simply ridiculous: the leaders of the colonial powers have been stomping their feet like angry, frustrated children over a desired object that the Russian and Chinese adults won’t let them have while ceaselessly wailing “Bashar must go!“.

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Color Revolutions –The Hue of Coup d’Etat