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The CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Comments Off on The CIA and the National Endowment for Democracy

Pro-Israel Groups Support Malaysian Opposition

By Nile Bowie | September 24, 2012

As Malaysia approaches its highly anticipated 13th General Elections set to take place at some point before late June 2013, a tense political climate and a sense of unpredictability looms over the nation. The significance of these upcoming elections cannot be understated. During Malaysia’s 2008 General Elections, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which held power continuously since the nation’s independence, experienced its worst result in decades, while the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition won 82 parliamentary seats. For the first time, the ruling party was deprived of its two-thirds parliamentary majority, which is required to pass amendments to Malaysia’s Federal Constitution. As the United States continues to militarily increase its presence in the Pacific region inline with its strategic policy shift to East Asia, Washington’s leaders would like to see compliant heads of state who will act to further American interests in the ASEAN region.

The outcome of the approaching elections could have significant ramifications for Malaysia’s foreign policy, economy, and trade relations. While allegations of corruption and economic mismanagement hinder the credibility of ruling Prime Minister Najib Razak, foreign organizations affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and funded by the United States government, have contributed support toward bolstering the influence and status of the Malaysia’s opposition groups, in addition to the controversial Bersih coalition for electoral reform, led by Ambiga Sreenevasan. Opponents of this information may dismiss these claims as the “propaganda” of Barisan Nasional, however the validity of these accusations have been highly documented, and constitute an attempt by foreign governments to undermine Malaysia’s independent political process. On June 27th, 2011, Bersih coalition leader Ambiga Sreenevasan conceded that her organization received financial assistance from two private American organizations:

Ambiga admitted to Bersih receiving some money from two US organisations — the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and Open Society Institute (OSI) — for other projects, which she stressed were unrelated to the July 9 march. [1]

 However innocuous such contributions may seem, a more critical review of these organizations and their affiliations is necessary. Hungarian-American philanthropist and financier George Soros founded the Open Society Institute in 1993, whose principle aim sought to “strengthen open society principles and practices against authoritarian regimes and the negative consequences of globalization,” with an emphasis on countries in transition from communism after the fall of the Soviet Union. [2] Although OSI has emphasized its commitment to “human rights” and “transparency” by heavily sponsoring organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, Soros was convicted of insider trading in 2002 regarding French bank Société Générale and was ironically denied an appeal by the “European Court of Human Rights.” [3][4][5] Although Soros has appeared to be publicly critical of capitalism, he has disingenuously profited from predatory trading in many instances, most prominently in 1992 when he earned an estimated $1.1 billion by short selling sterling while the British government was reluctant to adjust its interest rates prior to devaluing the pound.

Former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright chairs the National Democratic Institute, an organization that supplies electoral observers and promotes governance reform, widely seen as an attempt to foster foreign political systems compatible with American interests by assisting civil society groups in mounting pressure on national governments. NDI President Kenneth Wollack served as the legislative director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, widely considered to be Israel’s most prominent lobbyist organization, one that influences American legislation to exert aggressive Israeli policy and viewpoints. [6] The National Democratic Institute is one of four organizations funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), in addition to the International Republican Institute (IRI), the Chamber of Commerce’s Center for Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the American Center for International Labor Solidarity.

Alan Weinstein, one of the founders of the National Endowment for Democracy was notably quoted in 1991 as saying, “A lot of what we (NED) do was done 25 years ago covertly by the CIA.” [7] The National Endowment for Democracy receives its funding entirely through an annual allocation of funds from the United States Congress within the budget of the development assistance agency USAID, a branch of the US State Department. [8] Although the NED receives public funding from the US taxpayer, the activities of its four satellite institutes are not reported to Congress, making funding trails and their final recipients difficult to identify. Although the organization boasts of “promoting democracy” and “fortifying civil society” around the world, history had proven that these tired euphemisms have been used in numerous countries to mask funding to various political forces opposed to their national governments and aligned with American interests. American historian and former employee of the US State Department William Blum writes:

NED’s Statement of Principles and Objectives, adopted in 1984, asserts that “No Endowment funds may be used to finance the campaigns of candidates for public office.” But the ways to circumvent the spirit of such a prohibition are not difficult to come up with; as with American elections, there’s “hard money” and there’s “soft money”. As described in the “Elections” and “Interventions” chapters, NED successfully manipulated elections in Nicaragua in 1990 and Mongolia in 1996; helped to overthrow democratically elected governments in Bulgaria in 1990 and Albania in 1991 and 1992; and worked to defeat the candidate for prime minister of Slovakia in 2002 who was out of favor in Washington. And from 1999 to 2004, NED heavily funded members of the opposition to President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to subvert his rule and to support a referendum to unseat him. [9]

NED President Carl Gershman was formerly a member of the Governing Council of the American Jewish Congress and Vice-Chairman of the Young People’s Socialist League, and in 1968, he was employed in the research department of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, considered the most prominent Jewish service organization in the world, committed to the security and continuity the State of Israel. [10] The Anti-Defamation League is a US-based human rights group committed to the “security of Israel and Jews worldwide,” and was implicated in 1993 by the District of Attorney of San Francisco for overseeing a vast surveillance operation monitoring American citizens who were opposed to Israel’s policies in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, prior to passing their personal information to the Israeli government in Tel Aviv. [11]

In addition to providing funding to the Bersih coalition through the National Democratic Institute, the National Endowment for Democracy’s Malaysian operation provides $100,000 (RM 317,260) for political news website Malaysiakini, considered to be the nation’s most pro-opposition news outlet. [12] Premesh Chandran, Malaysiakini CEO, is a grantee of George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and launched the news organization with a $100,000 grant from the Bangkok-based Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), a recipient of funds from the Open Society Institute, the NED, and Freedom House, an organization reliant on US federal government grants for a significant percentage of its funding. [13][14] NED also provides $90,000 (RM 285,516) to SUARAM, an organization promoting human rights. [15]

The most significant recipient of NED’s Malaysia programs is the International Republican Institute (IRI), who annually receives $802,122 (RM 2,544,670) and is tasked to “work with state leaders in Penang and Selangor to provide them with public opinion research, training and other resources to enable them to be more effective representatives of their constituents.” [16] IRI’s mention of these specific regions is unsurprising, as Penang is held by the Malaysian Democratic Action Party, while Selangor is held by Parti Keadilan Rakyat, two of the three organizations comprising the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat, led by Anwar Ibrahim. US Senator John McCain, an ardent supporter of American militarism who boasts of being “proudly pro-American and proudly pro-Israel”, chairs the International Republican Institute, whose mission statement in Malaysia reads:

Since Malaysia’s independence in 1957, the country has experienced a series of national elections, but never a change in national government.  The ruling coalition, known as Barisan Nasional (BN) since 1973, has held power continuously during Malaysia’s post-independence era. In the 2008 general elections, for the first time, the BN lost its two-thirds majority in parliament and control of five state assemblies to the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR). Subsequently, in April 2011 in Sarawak (the only state holding assembly elections before national elections occur) the BN retained control of the state assembly but suffered a reduction in its majority. It is in this context that IRI provides technical assistance, training, and consultation to political parties to build knowledge and impart skills that enable both ruling and opposition Malaysian political leaders to more effectively address citizen concerns. IRI’s current work in this area started in 2009 when the Institute began a groundbreaking series of training sessions designed to assist political parties in developing the in-house capacity to conduct and analyze focus group discussions. These sessions were followed by workshops which allowed focus group moderators to present their findings to their colleagues and craft messages that were used to recruit new political party members and retain existing ones. [17]

It comes as little surprise that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim talks boldly of a “Malaysian Spring,” as the same organizations bolstering the opposition in Kuala Lumpur have successfully fomented events that led to the series of uprisings across the Arab World in 2011. Such organizations rely on the passive impressionability of their followers, while inflaming the legitimate grievances of the subject population to pressure a change in government. This is accomplished by the formation and propagation of dissident news media organizations, and by leveraging police misconduct and human rights abuses to discredit targeted governments in the eyes of the international community. Such agitation is not intended to promote a genuine democratic framework; its purpose is the gradual installation of national governments friendly to American interests by coaxing popular uprising and social unrest. In an April 2011 article published by the New York Times titled, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” it was stated:

A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington. The Republican and Democratic institutes are loosely affiliated with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They were created by Congress and are financed through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was set up in 1983 to channel grants for promoting democracy in developing nations. The National Endowment receives about $100 million annually from Congress. Freedom House also gets the bulk of its money from the American government, mainly from the State Department. [18]

In the Egyptian context, these organizations have experienced “blowback” from their activities training and funding dissidents, and fomenting Egypt’s popular revolution. In a December 2011 article published by the Los Angeles Times, it was said:

Egyptian security forces on Thursday raided the offices of 17 nongovernmental organizations, including three U.S.-based agencies, as part of a crackdown on foreign assistance that has drawn criticism from the West and threatened human rights groups and pro-democracy movements. The move appeared to be part of a strategy to intimidate international organizations. The ruling military council has repeatedly blamed “foreign hands” for exploiting Egypt’s political and economic turmoil. But activists said the army was using the ruse of foreign intervention to stoke nationalism and deflect criticism of abuses. Egyptian soldiers and black-clad police officers swept into offices, interrogated workers and seized computers across the country. Those targeted included U.S. groups the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and Freedom House, which are funded by Congress to monitor elections and promote democracy overseas. [19]

While the Los Angeles Times frames its report to insinuate that Egypt’s security forces have intrusively aimed to “intimidate” international human rights groups, one must examine the case of Egypt’s newly drafted constitution. After the overthrow of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, democracy advocates called for the constitution to be rewritten from scratch. Reuters published reports citing a pro-opposition judiciary official, who said Egypt’s new constitution would be drafted by civil society groups, namely, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, a recipient of funds directly from George Soros’ Open Society Institute and the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, financed by the National Endowment for Democracy. [20][21][22] Undoubtedly, the conduct of foreign nations and their relationship with opposition organizations and civil society groups is incompatible within any authentic democratic framework.

In the Malaysian context, opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim maintains close ties with senior US officials and organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy. In July 2006, Ibrahim chaired the Washington-based Foundation for the Future, established and funded by the US Department of State at the behest of Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of then-Vice President Dick Cheney, who was recently convicted in absentia for war crimes for his issuance of torture during the Iraq war by Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission, chaired by former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed. [23] In 2007, Ibrahim was a panelist at the National Endowment for Democracy’s “Democracy Award” event held in Washington. [24] These questionable affiliations raise strong concerns over the legitimacy of the candidate and the administration he would lead if winning the 13th General Election.

It would be advisable for Malaysia to follow the example of Russia; President Vladimir Putin recently approved a new law that tightens controls on civil rights groups receiving funded from abroad, forcing non-governmental organizations (NGOs) engaging in “political activity” to register with the Russian Justice Ministry as “foreign agents,” requiring such organizations to file a report to officials every quarter. [25] While such a law would inevitably be criticized as a suppression of dissent, it must be understood that such legislation would not hamper legitimate activism. Malaysia, like Russia, must take the initiative to address the legitimate grievances of activists by bolstering its own indigenous institutions and civil society organizations. Foreign organizations with questionable affiliations attempting to tip the balance of power in their favor is the very antithesis of an authentic democracy. A quote from a recent Op-Ed penned by Russian journalist Veronika Krasheninnikova sends a strong message to the people of Malaysia:

Building a patriotic civil society cannot be outsourced. Democratic processes and national security cannot be outsourced – all the more so to openly hostile governments.[26]


[1] Bersih repudiates foreign Christian funding claim, The Malaysian Insider, July 27, 2011

[2] A Global Alliance for Open Society, Soros Foundation Network, 2001

[3] Report and financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2010, Amnesty International, March 31, 2010 (Page 10)

[4] Partners, Human Rights Watch, 2012

[5] Soros Loses Case Against French Insider-Trading Conviction, Bloomberg, October 6, 2011

[6] Kenneth Wollack, National Democratic Institute, 2011

[7] Democracy promotion: America’s new regime change formula, Russia Today, November 23, 2010

[8] History, National Endowment for Democracy, 2011

[9] Trojan Horse: The National Endowment for Democracy, The International Endowment for Democracy, 2003

[10] Who is Who, Annual Conference on World Affairs, 1971

[11] The ADL Spying Case Is Over, But The Struggle Continues, Counterpunch, February 25, 2002

[12] Malaysiakini Blog: Donors, 2011

[13] Southeast Asian Press Alliance, Southeast Asian Press Alliance, 2010

[14] 2007 Annual Report, Freedom House, 2007

[15] Malaysia | National Endowment for Democracy, National Endowment for Democracy, 2011

[16] Ibid

[17] Malaysia, International Republican Institute, 2011

[18] U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings, The New York Times, April 14, 2011

[19] Egypt raids foreign organizations’ offices in crackdown, The Los Angeles Times, December 29, 2011

[20] Rewrite Egypt constitution from scratch, say critics, Reuters, February 16, 2011

[21] Acknowledgements, Arabic Network For Human Rights Information, 2004

[22] Egypt | National Endowment For Democracy, National Endowment For Democracy, 2005

[23] Foundation for the Future Holds its First Board Meeting in Doha, Qatar, Foundation for the Future, July 15, 2006

[24] 2007 Democracy Award, National Endowment for Democracy, 2007

[25] Russia’s Putin signs NGO “foreign agents” law, The Star, July 21, 2012

[26] West’s battle for Russian ‘hearts and minds’: NGOs on steroids, Russia Today, July 13, 2012

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on Pro-Israel Groups Support Malaysian Opposition

Freedom House: The Language of Hubris

By Jeremy Bigwood | NACLA | September 20, 2012

The following article is from the Summer 2012 issue of the NACLA Report on the Americas, “Latin America and the Global Economy.” It was published alongside Jeremy Bigwood’s expose of Freedom House’s role in clandestinely nurturing and organizing the opposition to Venezuela’s president Hugo Chávez over the last eight years.

Freedom House offices in Washington (credit: Jeremy Bigwood)

Freedom House is the oldest Washington-based NGO working in the international arena. It was founded just before the beginning of the U.S. entry into World War II and blossomed during the Cold War. Freedom House today positions itself as a nuanced, liberal, or even left-of-center organization, obscuring its real agenda: to destabilize foreign governments whose policies challenge U.S. global hegemony. Since the 1980s Reagan revolution, its Board of Trustees has been largely composed of neoconservatives, including R. J. Woolsey, the former director of the CIA; Donald Rumsfeld; Paul Wolfowitz; Jeane Kirkpatrick; and Samuel P. Huntington.1 Although it likes to call itself “independent,” it receives about 80% of its funding from the U.S. government, either through the State Department, USAID, or the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).2 As such, it is clearly an instrument of the U.S. government.3 The rest of its funding is underwritten by foundations that pay for its annual Freedom in the World report, which ranks countries according to how free they are—as perceived through the eyes of Freedom House’s main office in Dupont Circle, Washington, D.C. This report is widely cited as gospel in the news media but has been heavily criticized by academics for its biased methodology.4

During the Cold War, Freedom House acted as the principal U.S.-based intellectual organ for attacking the ideologies and policies of Soviet and Chinese communism. But it almost always artfully avoided any discussion of the embarrassing inconsistencies between U.S. ideals and practices, such as the U.S. government’s Cold War activities in Latin America, Africa, and South East Asia, and its domestic racial policies. Even so, few NACLA readers would find fault with all of Freedom House’s work during the Cold War or after. As such, the organization belongs to a gray area of U.S. foreign policy.

Freedom House underwent a significant shift toward promoting neoliberal economic and political policies after the 1973 coup in Chile against the democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende.5 Since the end of the Cold War, Freedom House has adjusted to the new geopolitical environment by shifting its attention from attacking Communism to undermining what Washington considers to be “authoritarian” and “populist” countries. Freedom House now quietly funds projects in those countries that the United States considers to be economic or ideological threats, or more openly in allies that the United States wants to keep in line. Freedom House tends to stay away from U.S.-friendly totalitarian regimes and monarchies.

Freedom House arrogantly holds that it has the right to operate anywhere in the world with or without the permission of the local government. In response to queries about its activities in other countries, an online Freedom House fact sheet explains: “Language in the annual State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill states that U.S. democracy and human rights programming shall not be subject to the prior approval by the government of any foreign country.”6 In other words, Freedom House believes that, with the permission of the U.S. Congress, it has the right to decide when and where it can meddle in any other government on the planet. … Full article

1. Diego Giannone, “Political and Ideological Aspects in the Measurement of Democracy: the Freedom House Case,” Democratization 17, no. 1 (January–February 2010): 68–97, available at

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid., 75.

4. Gerardo l. Munck and Jay Verkuilen, “Conceptualizing and Measuring Democracy: Evaluating Alternative Indices,” University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Comparative Political Studies 35, no. 1 (February 2002): 5–34; Scott Mainwaring, with Daniel Brinks and Anibal Perez Liñán, “Political Regimes in Latin America, 1900–2007,” available at

5. David Harvey, “Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction,” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 610 (March 2007): 26, as quoted in Giannone, “Political and Ideological Aspects in the Measurement of Democracy.”

6. Sarah Trister, “Fact Sheet: Freedom House in Egypt,” January 2012, available at

See Jeremy Bigwood’s article in the Report, “Freedom House in Venezuela.”

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nicaragua approves LatAm oil refinery project

The first of three phases of a mega project to build Central America’s largest oil refinery is well underway in Nicaragua. The $6 billion plus initiative was given the rubber stamp last week when it was authorized by the National Assembly.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism, Video | , , , | Comments Off on Nicaragua approves LatAm oil refinery project

Study: Venezuela’s Chavez 4th Most Popular President in the Americas

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | September 24th 2012

Mérida – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the 4th most popular president in the Americas, according to a new study of presidential approval ratings in the region.

The study, by Mexican polling firm Consulta Mitofsky, gives President Chavez a “high” approval rating of 64%, gaining 6 percentage points since the firm’s last study and jumping up the table of presidential popularity levels.

The findings come less than two weeks before Chavez seeks re-election on October 7 against right-wing opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski.

According to the study, which measured the approval ratings of 20 leaders in the Americas by compiling public opinion polls from their respective countries, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa is the most popular president in the Americas with an “outstanding” approval rating of 80%.

“Rafael Correa repeats his first place with 80% (a point less than his previous evaluation), maintaining the approval with which his presidency began almost five years ago,” the ‘Approval of Leaders: America and the World’ report stated.

He is followed by Maurico Funes of El Salvador and Guatemalan president Otto Perez, on 72% and 69% respectively.

Chavez and Correa are joined at the top of the popularity table by other presidents considered left or centre left, with Brazil’s Dilma Roussef on 5th with 62% approval, and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega on 7th place with a popularity of 59%.

Meanwhile, two months ahead of his re-election bid against Republican rival Mitt Romney, US President Barack Obama placed 10th in the study, receiving a “medium” approval rating of 49%. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was classed on a “very low” popularity of 37%, putting him down on 16th place.

The study highlights a north-south divide, with South American presidents enjoying an average approval of 50%, against 44% for leaders from the North of the hemisphere.

Many rightist presidents have dropped in popularity since the earlier 2012 study by Consulta Mitofsky, and find themselves on the bottom half of the table. Colombian president Juan Manual Santos still figures on the top half of the table with 54% approval, yet has dropped 13 percentage points and has lost his “high” approval rating.

Furthermore, Mexico’s Felipe Calderon placed 11th (46%), while Paraguayan President Federico Franco and Chilean President Sebastian Piñera share 17th place on 36%. Franco was came to power through an “institutional coup” in June by the Paraguayan Senate, and is less popular than deposed leftist president Fernando Lugo, who had 44% popularity in August 2011.

However, the findings aren’t all good news for South America’s “pink tide” governments, with 12th, 13th, and 14th places going to Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez (43%), Bolivia’s Evo Morales (41%) and Peru’s Ollanta Humala (40%) respectively.

The last places in the poll are occupied by the presidents of Honduras and Costa Rica, on approval ratings of 14% and 13%. The full study in Spanish can be accessed here.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Study: Venezuela’s Chavez 4th Most Popular President in the Americas

Honduras: Lawyer for Aguán and “Model Cities” Struggles Is Murdered

Weekly News Update on the Americas | September 23, 2012

Activist Honduran attorney Antonio Trejo Cabrera was killed by unknown assailants the evening of Sept. 22 in Tegucigalpa’s América neighborhood near the Toncontín International Airport. Trejo, who was also a Protestant minister, received a call on his telephone while he was in a church attending a wedding; he stepped outside and was gunned down. He died an hour later in a teaching hospital. Trejo was active in two major political conflicts: a long-standing dispute over land in the Lower Aguán Valley in northern Honduras and a new struggle over the Special Development Regions (RED, also known as “Model Cities”), a neoliberal project for creating several privatized semi-autonomous zones near ports.

Trejo was the attorney for the Authentic Claimant Movement of Aguán Campesinos (MARCA), one of the main campesino collectives involved in the Aguán disputes; he was arrested along with 24 MARCA members at a demonstration outside the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) building in Tegucigalpa on Aug. 21 [see Update #1142]. Annie Bird, co-director of the Toronto-based solidarity organization Rights Action, wrote after Trejo’s death that his “dedicated efforts had regained legal ownership of four farms owned by [wealthy landowners] Miguel Facussé, René Morales and Reinaldo Canales…. Now MARCA will have a hard time continuing to defend their land from the judicial hitmen.” In a statement on Sept. 23, another campesino collective, the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), charged that Facussé, Morales and Canales were responsible for Trejo’s murder. (El Heraldo (Tegucigalpa) 9/23/12; Rights Action email 9/23/12; Notimex 9/23/12 via Univision)

Trejo was also one of several attorneys who filed a complaint with the Public Ministry charging the legislative deputies who voted in favor of the “model cities” project with “the crime of treason to the nation and abuse of authority.” A number of legal challenges have been filed against the project on the grounds that it cedes national sovereignty to private and foreign groups; the main investors appear to be Canadian and US firms [see Update #1144], although some deputies suggested that one US investor, Michael Strong, might be fronting for some Honduran business interests. The Public Ministry itself has found the project unconstitutional, according to Danelia Ferrera, the director of prosecutors at the ministry, although she said any legal action would be on hold until the CSJ makes a ruling. (El Heraldo 9/15/12, 9/19/12)

Opposition to the “model cities” isn’t limited to court challenges. A number of organizations have joined together in a National Campaign Against the Model Cities, which has called for “the most aggressive actions by all the organized sectors and by the citizenry in general, going beyond mere public pronouncements.” The campaign called for a demonstration on Sept. 19 outside the CSJ. (Adital (Brazil) 9/17/12)

Public school teachers included the “model cities” among the issues they protested with a one-day strike on Sept. 21 that shut down classes for two million students; the teachers also protested a change in the schedule for their pay day, which had previously been on the 20th of each month, and the cost of fuel. In Tegucigalpa the teachers gathered at 8 am outside the Francisco Morazán National Pedagogic University (UPNFM) and then spread out to different parts of the capital. One group of strikers blocked traffic on the Centroamérica Boulevard near the National Institute of Teachers’ Social Security (Inprema), which handles teachers’ pensions. In northern Honduras a number of teachers and students blocked Puerto Cortés, the country’s most important port, bringing economic activity to a halt. (A conservative parents’ group responded to the strike by calling for teachers to be subject to drug testing.) (El Heraldo 9/22/12)

Members of the Garífuna ethnic group have combined opposition to the “model cities” project with their continuing struggle to regain land they claim along the northern coast. One of the supposedly “uninhabited” regions being considered for the first “model city” is the area near Puerto Castilla in Colón department, territory that the Garífuna say their ancestors began settling in the early 19th century, more than a decade before 1821, when Honduras became an independent country. On Aug. 26 some 200 Garífuna families occupied the Vallecito area on the coast, with support from a leading Garífuna organization, the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH); apparently this was intended as a preemptive move to establish the Garífuna claim to the area.

The coastal region is near the Aguán Valley, the site of the land dispute between landowners and campesinos, and the Garífuna settlers say they have been harassed by paramilitaries who may be linked either to drug traffickers or to Aguán landowner and cooking oil magnate Miguel Facussé. (Desinformemos 9/17/12 via Lista Informativa Nicaragua y Más; Upside Down World 9/18/12)

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Honduras: Lawyer for Aguán and “Model Cities” Struggles Is Murdered

US drones “terrorize” communities: study

Al Akhbar | September 25, 2012

The US government’s drone program in Pakistan “terrorizes” local communities, kills large numbers of civilians and drives anti-American fervor in the country, a new study by the law schools of Stanford and New York University finds.

The study, titled “Living Under Drones,” finds that Pakistanis living in affected areas are afraid to attend public gatherings such as weddings and funerals as ground operators that guide the unmanned aircraft frequently mistake them as groups of al-Qaeda-linked fighters.

“Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities,” the study reads. “Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.”

It adds: “These fears have affected behavior. The US practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims.”

The study is based on interviews with victims, witnesses, humanitarian workers and medical professionals compiled over a nine-month period.

Drone attacks began being carried out in Pakistan under former US President George W. Bush, but the policy has been popularized under Barack Obama despite previous reports that they lead to a high number of civilian casualties.

There has been a dramatic increase in US drone strikes in Pakistan since May, when a NATO summit in Chicago failed to strike a deal to end a six-month blockade on convoys transporting supplies to coalition forces in Afghanistan.

This most recent study cites figures compiled by the Bureau for Investigative Journalism that finds between 2,562 and 3,325 people were killed in Pakistan between June 2004 and mid-September this year. Among them, between 474 and 881 were civilians, including 176 children.

In addition to the deaths, the bureau estimates that 1,300 people were injured in drone attacks in the same period.

It also refutes US claims that the drone program has made Americans safer through the targeted assassinations of dangerous militants.

“The dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the US safer by enabling ‘targeted killings’ of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts. This narrative is false,” the report states.

The study estimates that the number of “high-level” militants killed in drone attacks stands at just two percent, and that the strikes help facilitate recruitment to anti-US militant groups.

The UK-based Reprieve organization commissioned and helped write the report.

Clive Stafford Smith, director of the organization said: “An entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death from the skies. Their way of life is collapsing. Kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meetings, or anything that involves gathering in groups.”

He added: “George Bush wanted to create a global ‘war on terror’ without borders, but it has taken Obama’s drone war to achieve his dream.”

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | Comments Off on US drones “terrorize” communities: study

Nagasaki further voices protest against “new” type of nuclear test by U.S.

Xinhua | September 25, 2012

OSAKA — Japan’s southwestern city of Nagasaki expressed its outrage and protest against a new type of nuclear test conducted for the sixth time in August by the United States, local press reported on Tuesday.

The report said that the United States conducted the nuclear test, which simulated a nuclear blast using intense X-ray beams and checked how plutonium would react, at the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico on August 27.

The sixth test caused further condemnation by the city, following last week’s protest against the fifth new type of nuclear test which was reportedly carried out between April and June this year.

According to the report, Nagasaki Mayor Tomihisa Taue sent a letter of protest, dated September 24, to U.S. President Barack Obama, saying that the people of Nagasaki, who have been calling for the elimination of nuclear weapons, cannot restrain their resentment after encountering reports about a further test despite their protest.

“As a representative of an atomic-bombed city strongly protest again,” the mayor said.

The letter also urged that the United States make sincere efforts to stop any nuclear tests, adding that the country should fulfill its leadership role in achieving a world without nuclear weapons.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on Nagasaki further voices protest against “new” type of nuclear test by U.S.

Israel lobbyist hints that ‘Pearl Harbor’ may be needed to get US into war with Iran

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | September 25, 2012

Last Friday, during question time at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy policy forum luncheon on “How to Build US-Israeli Coordination on Preventing an Iranian Nuclear Breakout,” the director of research at the pro-Israel think tank hinted that a Pearl Harbor-type attack might be necessary to get the United States to go to war against the Islamic Republic.

“I frankly think that crisis initiation is really tough,” said Patrick Clawson, who also heads the Washington Institute’s Iran Security Initiative, in response to a question about what would happen if negotiations with Tehran fail. “And it’s very hard for me to see how the United States … uh … President can get us to war with Iran.”

As a consequence, Clawson said he was led to conclude that “the traditional way [that] America gets to war is what would be best for US interests.”

Intriguingly, he went on to recount a series of controversial incidents in American history — the attack on Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Lusitania, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, and the blowing up of the USS Maine — that US presidents “had to wait for” before taking America to war.

“And may I point out that Mr. Lincoln did not feel he could call out the federal army until Fort Sumter was attacked,” Clawson continued, “which is why he ordered the commander at Fort Sumter to do exactly that thing which the South Carolinians had said would cause an attack.”

“So, if in fact the Iranians aren’t going to compromise,” the Israel lobbyist concluded with a smirk on his face, “it would be best if somebody else started the war.”

Note: Clawson begins his answer around the 1 hour 15 minute mark.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Timeless or most popular, Video, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Abla Saadat: A Palestinian Stateswoman marked by “Terrorism”

By Christof Lehmann | No Spin News | September 24, 2012

Abla Sa’adat, the Chairwoman of the Palestinian Women Organizations and wife of the Secretary General of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) visited Denmark. I met Abla Sa’adat at a meeting where she told a group of mostly young Danes about Palestine. Had one expected an Abla Sa’adat who conforms with the dehumanizing stereotyping of Palestinians by Israeli and western politicians and main stream media, one would have been surprised by the depth and complexity of Abla Sa ‘adat, her perception of the Palestinian problems and possible solutions.

Behind the veil of the “terrorist” stereotype one discovers an Abla Sa’adat who is a true stateswoman, humanist, human rights advocate, an advocate for international law, justice and peace, the wife of a long term prisoner of war and political prisoner, as well as a mother and grandmother who puts the systematic dehumanization and stereotyping of Palestinians to shame.

In spite of the Hamas – Israeli negotiated prisoner exchange earlier this year, Abla Sa’adat states, more than 5.000 Palestinians remain in prison under administrative detention. She is active in organizations which advocate Palestinian prisoners rights. It is not for personal reasons, so she states, that she is using her husband, PFLP Secretary General Ahmad Sa’adat as an example for how Israel systematically terrorizes politically active Palestinians and their families, but because due to her own experience she knows his case best and because his case is representative of those of thousands of other prisoners and their families.

On the other hand, who would blame Abla Sa’adat for wanting to advocate for her illegally detained husband, the father of her children and grandfather to her grandchildren. At a recent appearance of Ahmad Sa’adat in an Israeli court he was denied physical contact with Abla and his newborn granddaughter Mayar. The destruction of politically active Palestinian families family ties and the destruction of Palestinians’ family systems is systemic and systematic.

After the PLO signed the Oslo Accords and the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories within the 1967 borders has not improved and the Israeli governments have systematically avoided adhering to the provisions of the Oslo Accords. Contrary to improvements, the reality of the matter is that: Israel has confiscated more land, increased its infringements on Palestinians’ water rights, built more settlements and settler only roads and railways, built the so called “security wall” which isolates Palestinian West Bank villages in micro enclaves, continued a policy that devastates Palestine’s economy; Israel continues to illegally arrest and detain Palestinians under illegal forms of imprisonment, the use of torture is endemic, the use of disproportionate military force is well documented, and these items only touch the surface of the daily violations of the Oslo Accords. According to the Oslo Accords Palestinian prisoners should have been released from prison. Israel did not adhere to this provision either.

What Palestinians gained by signing the Oslo Accords can be described with a few words. The right to establish a Palestinian Authority, which is utterly dependent on the goodwill of Israel. The political factions have gained the privilege to compete with each other for the Presidency over the self-administrated Zionist genocide on themselves while splitting the PLO, rendering it in a state of internal conflict rather than fighting for the liberation of Palestine. In other words, the PLO was entrapped in the glory of Presidency over its own destruction and the destruction of Palestine.

It is within this context one has to understand the arrest and detainment of Ahmad Sa’adat. Israel demanded that the Palestinian Authority arrest him for “terrorism,” and the Fatah led PA made sure that he was arrested and detained. The tragic irony of the situation is that the Oslo Accords resulted in the Palestinian Authority arresting and detaining the Secretary General of the PFLP Ahmad Sa’adat on behalf of Israel, and that Israeli pressure and US and British complicity since have resulted in Sa’adat being imprisoned in an Israeli prison and not, as initially, in a Palestinian prison with US and UK military guards. In fact each and every detail of Ahmed Sa’adat’s imprisonment is in violation of the Geneva Conventions, the Conventions against the use of Torture and other bodies of international law. Ahmed Sa’adat was sentenced to thirty years in prison for being the Secretary General of the PFLP, which is designated as a “terrorist organization” by the USA, Israel and the E.U. He has spent years on end in isolation.

Prior to his arrest Ahmed Sa’adat was elected to the Palestinian parliament. Abla Sa’adat explained that 22 members of parliament are currently imprisoned in Israeli prisons, many of them in isolation. The occupation is in fact preventing the functioning of Palestine’s democratic institutions.

Isolated prisoners are locked up for 23 hours a day. For one hour they can leave their cells and spend their time in an indoor yard, in shackles and hand-cuffs, without the possibility to exercise. There is absolutely no contact to other prisoners. Ahmed Sa’adat was isolated for three years before he was granted ” the privilege” to have his first visitor. Other families, Abla Sa’adat said, have been waiting ten years before they could see their imprisoned husband or father for the first time. Many can not even visit their relatives even if they are granted permission because road blocks and bureaucracy make it impossible to get to the prison and back.

Both Amnesty International, the Red Cross and lawyers complained that this form for imprisonment constitutes torture as well as a breach of the Geneva Conventions, but to no avail. Israel disregards these organizations and laws as well as it has disregarded almost any of the UN Resolutions pertaining Israel, Palestine or the Situation in the Middle East. Ironically, Israel is claiming the legitimacy of the state of Israel from the very organization whose resolutions it systematically disregards.

The impact of isolation and sensory deprivation on prisoners is well documented in numerous and comprehensive scientific studies. Even short term isolation for one to two weeks has a significant impact on a prisoners ability to concentrate, on memory, and general psychological well-being. Longer term and long term isolation for months to years on end have a devastating effect on the human being. Already after a few weeks most isolated prisoners experience several of the following symptoms.

  • Loss of the ability to concentrate

  • Loss of the ability to think coherent thoughts.

  • Loss of short and long-term memory.

  • Visual, auditory and tactile hallucinations, such as the sensation that the entire cell is driving like a train carriage or rotating.

  • Severe mood disorders.

  • Severe dissociative symptoms or dissociative disorders.

  • Suicidal ideas and increased prevalence of suicide attempts and death due to suicide compared to non-isolated prisoner populations.

  • Symptoms of learned helplessness.

  • Inability to participate as an active part of a legal defense.

  • And a cohort of other, severe symptoms.

It is for very good, science-based reasons that long term isolation is internationally recognized as torture. Israel is systematically using isolation to psychologically and physically destroy politically active Palestinian prisoners.

While the systematic and wide spread use of long-term isolation has a devastating effect on the prisoners themselves has a devastating effect on the isolated prisoners family systems as well. Spouses who have not seen one another for years on end risk growing strangers to one another. Children who are infants when a parent is imprisoned often see their father or mother for the first time when they are teens. It is impossible to remedy the lack of early attachment and the lack of a possibility to to know ones parents or ones children intimately or at least to such a degree as a normal imprisonment allows, which is devastating enough.

One of the long term prisoners, Nabeel Barghouti was imprisoned for 30 years. His wife who was pregnant when he was imprisoned gave birth to a son, Fahdi. At the age of 16 his son decided that the only way to see his father was to become a prisoner. After his arrest and imprisonment he fought for the right to be imprisoned under conditions that made it possible for him to see his father. Incidents like these are not extraordinary, although they are extraordinarily tragic.

At a visit, Ahmad Sa’adat would have been unable to recognize his own son on a photograph had it not been for the fact that the boy held a trumpet and that he knew that his son is playing the trumpet. Abla Sa’adat’s worst concern about her husband, she said, is not that he is breaking down mentally. Naturally the long term isolation has set its marks but he is determined in his struggle for liberation. What concerns her most is that she can see, that her husband is suffering the physical effects on the body which long term prisoners in Israel are suffering.

It took a months long hunger strike of Palestinian prisoners to finally end all long-term isolation of Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s prison industry; and it is a prison industry, in the literal sense of the word. E.U. Subsidies per prisoner exceed Israel’s costs per prisoner per day, and there are other methods such as fines which make it a lucrative business for Israel to hold as many prisoners as possible.

Years ago, Abla Sa’adat recalled, she was arrested while her husband already was imprisoned. Who would take care of the children? Israel is systematically using illegal forms of arrest and imprisonment to terrorize and destroy politically active families, and those who help targeted families in coping risk being targeted too.

The Stateswoman in Abla Sa’adat came out when she raised concerns about the targeting and imprisonment of Palestinian children. Stateswoman in the true sense of the word, as a politician, a revolutionary, as well as a mother for her own children, and a politician who has a motherly love for the plight of the children of Palestine and families with children.

Children are regularly arrested, beaten, shot at and killed for protesting the occupation. Many of them are provoked into conflicts with the occupation forces. Tanks rattling near school buildings for hours, stressing the children and making it impossible for them to follow a normal schedule are just one of hundreds of ways to provoke the throwing of a stone. The response can be everything from being beaten, arrested and imprisoned, injured or killed.

Abla Sa’adat draws attention to the fact that the international conventions and laws which regulate the rights of imprisoned children are also systematically circumvented or ignored by Israel. Besides that the child prisoners have become a lucrative form of income for Israel. The fines are high and children are often not released before the fine is paid.

Another way of destroying Palestinian family systems is the placement of children who are sentenced to house arrest with family members so far away from their parents that road blocks and daily chicane makes it impossible for the parents to maintain contact with the children.

Abla Sa’adat is drawing attention to the fact that the prevalence of psychological disorders among Palestinian children is extremely high. In fact, the prevalence of psychological disorders is extremely high in the general Palestinian population, regardless which age group one studies. Many of these psychological problems are caused by the occupation, and the prevalence of trauma-related problems is staggering.

A 1996 Study by Save the Child documented that most children internalize the conflict with the occupation. The violent problem-solving models are then transferred into the family system and into school teacher relations, leading to immense pedagogical problems. The violent problem solving models are also transferred to child on child relations. Children growing up under such conditions are, as adults, prone to use violent problem solving models. The effect is not only felt in the resistance against the occupation. In fact, the effect is more likely to manifest in spousal abuse, child abuse, proneness to the use of violence to settle family disputes, political disputes, financial disputes, and so forth. This internalization during childhood has an all pervasive and devastating effect on all levels, individual, family, community level, and in the halls of government.

The Oslo Accords, says Abla Sa’adat, have not brought any improvements for Palestinians and the debate among Palestinian factions to abandon the Oslo Accords and all subsequent agreements is finally being seriously debated among the factions.

Abla Sa’adat made a point of clarifying that she has nothing against Jews in Palestine or anywhere else. Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Secular people have been living in Palestine for centuries. The often used propaganda, that Palestinians want to drive the Jews back into the sea, she states, has nothing to do with reality. Her cause and the cause of the Palestinian liberation is not directed against Jews but against Zionism and Zionists. There is a difference, she states, between Jewish families who have been living in Palestine for centuries, and those who came and still are coming to Palestine to steal Palestinian land and evict or murder Palestinians.

A two State solution, says Abla Sa’adat, is the very minimum and it would be difficult to implement. She asks, if a Palestinian state should be established within the borders of 1967, what about those families who have been refugees since 1948? The most realistic solution would be, she said, to establish one secular state in all of Palestine. One secular, democratic state for Jews, Christians, Muslims and Secularists within all of the Palestinian territories. The greatest obstacle to the establishment of such a state is, that Zionists insist on a Jewish State, where Muslims, Christians and Secularists alike have no place, and if at all, then as second class citizens.

With a Middle East on fire, with a Libya that has fallen into the hands of Islamic extremism, and with Syria under attack from western sponsored extremists and Al Qaeda associated organizations from throughout the world, with Qatar, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., the USA, NATO member states and Israel sponsoring and backing the extremists’ subversion of Syria, Abla Sa’adat, who is widely decried as “terrorist,” sounds like one of the most reasonable Middle Eastern voices of moderation I have heard since the onset of the so-called Arab Spring. If Abla Sa’adat is marked by terrorism, it is because a lifetime of enduring the terror of the Zionist occupation is as imprinted in her as it is in every Palestinian.

* Dr. Christof Lehmann, a life time peace activist, psychologist, and advisor in behavior, finance, economics and politics.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment