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Picking olives in a cage

International Solidarity Movement, West Bank | October 25, 2012

I spent Tuesday inside a cage. Not my usual way to spend a sunny Tuesday – but for the Palestinian farmers I was with, this is routine.

This is because their land happens to be near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel – in fact, it is in the Israeli imposed ‘buffer zone’ between the largest settlement in the West Bank and the surrounding Palestinian villages – of course, the buffer zone is created out of land outside of the settlement, effectively grabbing yet more land from the Palestinians.

Many olive trees are trapped in this ‘buffer zone’ between a fence on one side and Ariel on the other. So, during the Palestinian olive harvest, the villagers who own the land must ask for Israeli permission to access their own trees – as is typical across the West Bank. However, they have a second hurdle to cross, as their trees are behind this fence, the soldiers need to let them in and out every morning and evening.

The gate is meant to be opened at six every morning, during the 20 days that villagers have permission to pick olives inside the cage – some farmers have to set off from home before 5am to get there on time to be allowed in. Five soldiers deigned to grace us with their presence at around 6.15, zooming down their patrol road in a military jeep. They opened the first gate onto the road, then past the rolls and rolls of barbed wire separating this from the next gate, eventually coming down to permit access to the sixty Palestinians, who were waiting patiently outside, as the sun rose over the hill.

The soldiers took the ID card of every person who passed, impatiently gesturing at people to hurry up with their guns. When we had all crossed the patrol road and into the third gate into the cage-proper, the door slammed shut behind us. We were locked inside until 4pm, when the soldiers would come and release us.

This length of time has severe implications for the farmers picking inside the cage – if anyone is ill or gets injured over the course of the day, there is no guarantee that medical help would be able to reach them. Children can’t join their families picking olives after school. If families don’t pick their olives within the permission time, they will lose them. Multiple trips can’t be made during the day – any olives that need to be removed have to be taken in one go at the end of the day – and this can be a lot. More than anything, the loss of autonomy and control over your own life and livelihood is devastating.

The family that I was picking with didn’t actually own the land – they rented it from another family who live in a village very near to the land. However, because of the cage, it would take them around three hours to reach their trees. So although the majority of Palestinian families have a deep connection to their trees and their land, this family needed to sacrifice this for the practicality of allowing someone who lives closer to farm their land.

Actually picking the olives was trouble free. We saw one settler, jogging past on the other side of the fence – apparently there are sports fields there. At the end of the day, we walked the forty minutes back to the gate and waited for the soldiers to let us back out. This time, they called people one by one, handing them back their ID cards. This took rather a long time. At the end, there was one woman left – for several tense minutes, the soldiers couldn’t find her ID card and held her back. Her relief was tangible when it was found, and she was allowed to follow the rest of her family out of the cage. Palestinians need their ID cards for all aspects of their daily life, to have it go missing would be a big problem.

Israel aims to humiliate and control the Palestinian farmers – with great dignity, patience and steadfastness, the Palestinians gather their olives year after year, waiting until the moment when they will break free from the cages.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Picking olives in a cage

Whistleblower who revealed CIA torture sentenced to prison

RT | October 23, 2012

Former CIA agent John Kiriakou pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to crimes related to blowing the whistle on the US government’s torture of suspected terrorists and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Kiriakou, 48, agreed to admit to one count of disclosing information identifying a covert agent early Tuesday, just hours after his attorney entered a change of plea in an Alexandria, Virginia courtroom outside of Washington, DC.

Kiriakou was originally charged under the Espionage Act of 1917 after he went public with the Central Intelligence Agency’s use of waterboarding on captured insurgents in the wake of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack. On Monday morning, though, legal counsel for the accused former CIA agent informed the court that Kiriakou was willing to plead guilty to a lesser crime.

Initially, Kiriakou pleaded not guilty to the charge that he had outted two intelligence agents directly tied to the drowning-simulation method by going to the press with their identities.

As RT reported last week, defense attorneys had hoped that the government would be tasked with having to prove that Kiriakou had intent to harm America when he went to the media. Instead, however, prosecutors were told they’d only need to prove that the former government employee was aware that his consequences had the potential to put the country in danger.

Had Kiriakou been convicted under the initial charges filed in court, he could have been sentenced to upwards of five decades behind bars.

“Let’s be clear, there is one reason, and one reason only, that John Kiriakou is taking this plea: for the certainty that he’ll be out of jail in 2 1/2 years to see his five children grow up,” Jesselyn Raddack, a former Justice Department official who blew the whistle on Bush administration’s mishandling in the case of “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, wrote Tuesday.

Kiriakou, Raddack wrote, was all but certain to enter the Alexandria courthouse on Tuesday and plead guilty to the lesser charge of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA), explaining, “there are no reported cases interpreting it because it’s nearly impossible to prove–for “outing” a torturer.”

“’Outing’ is in quotes because the charge is not that Kiriakou’s actions resulted in a public disclosure of the name, but that through a Kevin Bacon-style chain of causation, GITMO torture victims learned the name of one of their possible torturers,” Raddack wrote. “Regardless, how does outing a torturer hurt the national security of the U.S.? It’s like arguing that outing a Nazi guarding a concentration camp would hurt the national security of Germany.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a former government official told Firedoglake recently that the CIA was “totally ticked at Kiriakou for acknowledging the use of torture as state policy” and allegedly outing the identity of a covert CIA official “responsible for ensuring the execution” of the water-boarding program.

Kiriakou “outted” to the reporters the identities of the CIA’s “prime torturer” under its Bush-era interrogations, Firedoglake wrote. “For that, the CIA is counting on the Justice Department to, at minimum, convict Kiriakou on the charge of leaking an agent’s identity to not only send a message to other agents but also to continue to protect one of their own.”

Former National Security Agency staffer Thomas Drake suffered a similar fate in recent years after the government went after him for blowing the whistle on the NSA’s poorly handled collection of public intelligence. A grand jury indicted Drake on five counts tied to 1917’s Espionage Act as well as other crimes, but prosecutors eventually agreed to let him off with a misdemeanor computer violation that warranted zero jail time.

Together, Drake and Kirakou are two of six persons charged under the Espionage Act during the administration of US President Barack Obama. The current White House has indicted more people under the antiquated World War 1-era legislation than all previous presidents combined.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, False Flag Terrorism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Israeli attack is risky–and it might not even eliminate Iran’s nuclear facilities

By Philip Giraldi • The American Conservative • October 25, 2012

During the Napoleonic Wars, when it was reported that the French were preparing to invade England, Admiral John Jervis said “I do not say they the French cannot come–I only say they cannot come by sea.” Barring the movement of a regiment of sans culottes across the English Channel by a fleet of Montgolfier balloons, the Jervis comment pretty much summed up the limits to French ambitions as long as Britannia ruled the waves.

A similar bit of military overreach appears to be surrounding the alleged planning by the Israelis to stage an air assault on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The US media and even some Pentagon spokesmen have suggested that Israel cannot do the job alone, but the problem is much larger than that, leading to the question whether Israel can do it at all. Israel has over 400 fighters, but many of them are configured to establish air superiority over an opponent by shooting down opposing aircraft and disabling air defense facilities on the ground. They are fighters supporting ground operations first with a limited secondary capability as bombers.

Israel has no dedicated bomber force but it does have an estimated 125 advanced F-15I and F-16I’s, which have been further enhanced through special avionics installed by the Israel Aircraft Industry to improve performance over the types of terrain and weather conditions prevailing in the Middle East. The planes are able to fly long range missions and very capable in a bombing role but they do have their limitations.

It is generally agreed that any attempt to destroy the hardened and well-defended Iranian nuclear sites would require use of the United States-provided GBU-28, a five thousand-pound laser-guided smart bomb that can be directed to the target. The GBU-28 is regarded as accurate and able to penetrate deep into a target, which is why it has been described as the “bunker buster.” Exact performance specifications of the weapon are classified, but it is believed to be able to penetrate twenty feet of reinforced concrete. Whether that would be enough to take out the expected Iranian targets at the research centers in Natanz and Fordow, the heavy water facility at Arak, and the operating reactor at Bushehr is unknown and some analysts have opined that it might require multiple hits on the same spot to do the job. As Bushehr, the most accessible target of the three, is an active reactor, an attack would release considerable contamination.

Assuming that the US has supplied Israel with a sufficient supply of GBU-28s to go around to all the available aircraft, there remain two additional problems with the weapon that impact Israeli ability to stage an attack. First, it is so heavy that only Israel’s twenty-five F15Is are able to carry it, one bomb for each plane. For optimum use against a target, the GBU-28 also requires a clear line of sight, which means that the plane has to be flying low and relatively slowly, making the fighters more vulnerable to ground defenses, particularly with their maneuverability limited due to the bomb load. This first problem creates the second problem, which is that an attack will require a separate fleet of F-16 fighters unencumbered by GBU-28s to go in first and suppress the defensive fire, further complicating the mission.

Assuming that all the Israeli fighters capable of carrying the GBU-28 are available, which would not normally be the case, twenty-five bombs might not be enough to do critical damage to the targets. Perfect intelligence is required to place the bombs where they will do the most harm, an element that will likely be lacking with the underground targets. Some bombs will miss while others might not function perfectly and will detonate before penetration. And before the bombs are dropped the planes have to arrive over Iran.

Let’s assume that the Israelis opt for an attacking force of 50 fighters, one third of which would be designated for suppression of ground fire. The planes would be equipped with conformal fuel tanks built into the fuselages for extended range. They would also have auxiliary tanks that could be jettisoned when empty. Nevertheless, the attacking force would have to take off from Israeli airfields and then almost immediately refuel either over Israel or above the Mediterranean because fighters burn considerable fuel in getting off the ground. Refueling from Israel’s twelve modified Boeing 707 and C-130 tankers would take some time even though a plane using a flying boom for refueling can top up in thirty seconds. It is the maneuvering and connecting to enable the refueling that takes considerably longer. Refueling all 50 planes will be a major task essential to the success of the mission and while the planes are in the air and forming up they will be detected by radar in Egypt and Lebanon, information that one must assume is likely to be shared with Iran.

The objectives in Iran are more than 1,000 miles from Israel and the planes must be able to spend some time over their targets, which is why the refueling is necessary. But even then there would be problems if the Israeli jets have to engage any enemy planes either en route or over Iran. They would have to drop their auxiliary tanks to take defensive action and would probably have to return immediately to Israel.

There are three possible routes to Iran. One route to the south violates Saudi airspace and it is by no means certain that the very capable 80 plus F-15s of the Saudi Air Force would not scramble to intercept. The other is to the north over Syria, skirting the Turkish border. Syria is unlikely to be able to interfere much given its current troubles though it does possess some capable Russian made anti-aircraft missiles, but a Turkish response to possible airspace violations cannot be ruled out. The third and most likely option is to fly along Syria’s southern border, avoiding Jordan, and then through Iraq, which has only limited air defense capabilities since the US military’s departure at the end of 2011.

Israel’s previous attacks on nuclear facilities in Iraq and Syria hit targets that were above ground while relying on the element of complete surprise. Upon arrival over Iran, the Israelis would be confronted by something quite different, targets that are deep underground or hardened with reinforced concrete and further protected by layers of ground defenses that will be alert and waiting. Iran is known to have batteries of Russian supplied SA-5s for high altitude targets and SA-15s for lower level attackers. Both systems are regarded as very effective. It has also been alleged that Tehran has been able to acquire advanced Russian S-300 long range missiles, which, if true, would pose a serious problem for the Israeli fighters. The Israelis would have to be very lucky to avoid losses.

Assuming that the Israeli Air Force is able to carry out the refueling, fly successfully to Iran, suppress ground defenses, and carry out its bombing, it still has to return home, again flying over Iraq with every air force and air defense battery in the region on full alert. Depending on how much maneuvering was required while over Iran, some planes might well need to be refueled again which would mean deploying highly vulnerable tankers over Iraq or Jordan.

Back at home the Israelis would have to expect volleys of missiles of all kinds and varieties launched by Hezbollah in Lebanon to retaliate for the attack. The US-funded Iron Dome defense missile system would intercept many of the incoming missiles, but some would certainly get through and Israeli civilian casualties could be high.

It is clear that staging the attack on Iran would be fraught with difficulties and intelligence estimates suggest that at best the bombing would set back the Iranian ability to construct a weapon by only a year or two. Plus the attack would make certain that Iran would pursue a weapon, if only for self-defense, an essentially political decision that has not yet been made by the country’s leadership.

Israel has other military assets–including ballistic missiles and submarine-launched cruise missiles–that could be used to attack Iran, that would invite retaliation from Iran’s own ballistic and cruise missiles, considerably complicating post-attack developments. There is also the Israeli nuclear weapons capability, use of which would invite worldwide condemnation and instantly escalate the fighting into a regional or even broader conflict.

On balance, all of the above suggests that the frequently repeated threat by the Israeli leadership to attack Iran is not a serious plan to take out Iran’s nuclear sites. It is more likely a long running disinformation operation to somehow convince the United States to do the job or a deliberate conditioning of the Israeli and US publics to be supportive if some incident can be arranged to trigger an armed conflict. If one believes the two presidential candidates based on what they said in Monday’s debate, both have more-or-less conceded the point, agreeing that they would support militarily any Israeli attack on Iran. Whether Romney or Obama is actually willing to start a major new war in the Middle East is, of course, impossible to discern.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the Council for the National Interest.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

‘Death and destruction in Bani Walid’ as media silent

RT | October 26, 2012

The Libyan city of Bani Walid is reported to be under heavy attack from pro-government forces and militias. Witnesses say that more civilians are being killed by shelling, while houses are engulfed in flames.

­Earlier reports suggested that the city had fallen, but continuing reports of wide-scale killing and armed gangs and militias patrolling the streets and looting people’s homes indicate that those reports are not true.

An individual in Italy who claims to have relatives in Bani Walid told RT earlier that over 600 people have so far been killed while the number of people in hospitals is over 1,000.

A local told RT that the troops patrolling the streets were bulldozing homes and setting them on fire.

“Bani Walid was invaded by militias from Misrata,” a local woman said. “They destroyed everything; brought chaos, death and destruction with them. When families wanted to return to their homes these militias directed their guns towards them, shot at them, and they were all forced to flee.”

She also confirmed that the local hospital is incapable of treating the number of wounded.

“We are unable to move the injured to other places for treatment because Misrata militias and their allies threaten to kill everybody who does so,” she said.

A local journalist reporting from the town’s outskirts amidst a media blackout in the city proper told RT that thousands of people are stranded on the desert highway just outside of Bani Walid. Those stranded had attempted to return to Bani Walid amidst confusion over whether or not the city had actually fallen.

Refugees are being prevented from going back into the city by army roadblocks.

While the army claims that it is targeting the city in order to rid it of pro-Gaddafi forces, many who have been injured or killed are children, women and the elderly. Meanwhile, reports continue to emerge about troops using unconventional weapons in the city. A local activist told RT that the army is preventing media from entering Bani Walid simply because they fear the press might report their “crimes and terrible deeds.”

“I can confirm that pro-government militias used internationally prohibited weapons. They used phosphorus bombs and nerve gas,” Afaf Yusef, an activist from Bani Walid, told RT. “We have documented all this in videos – we recorded the missiles they used and the white phosphorus raining down from these missiles.”

Many people died without being wounded or shot but as a result of gases, he said.

“The whole world needs to see who they are targeting,” he added. “Are they really Gaddafi’s men? Are the children, women and old men killed, Gaddafi’s men?”

Those trapped in Bani Walid have been crying out to the United Nations for help, but they are not being heard, with the UN Mission in Libya saying it has no men in the city and cannot provide any additional information on what is happening on the ground. The director of the UN mission refused to comment on why they were not inside the city.

Meanwhile, when asked why the West is ignoring the massacres in Bani Walid, US Department of State Spokesperson Victoria Nuland told RT that Washington is “watching the situation very closely” while its position on the matter remains “absolutely clear.”

“We support the efforts of the Libyan government to get control of militias and to provide security throughout the country, including in Bani Walid, and to do so in a way that is respectful of the human rights of all citizens and allows humanitarian organizations to get in,” Nuland said.

Despite the claims that it is following the situation closely, the last time Bani Walid was mentioned on the US State Department’s website was at the beginning of this year.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he is not concerned by the fact that the Libyan Army is deployed inside the city, but rather worried about the authorities and human rights violations that are reportedly taking place. He also urged the United Nations to provide information on what is really going on the ground.

As the United States and other powers have remained silent on reports of excessive force and other human rights abuses in the city, Washington blocked a draft statement proposed by Russia on the resolution calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Bani Walid earlier this week.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , , | 3 Comments

Sudan vows no retreat from supporting Hamas in aftermath of Israeli “aggression”

Sudan Tribune | October 25, 2012

KHARTOUM – The speaker of the Sudanese parliament, Ahmad Ibrahim Al-Tahir, declared on Thursday that the Israeli attack on Al-Yarmook arms factory will not deter his country from continuing its support to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

During an emergency meeting of the parliament’s affairs committee in the capital Khartoum, Al-Tahir stressed that the “Israeli aggression” will not prevent Sudan from fulfilling its duties towards the causes of the Arab and African people.

“If Israel is targeting Sudan because of its stand on the side of the Palestinian resistance, then Sudan will continue down that road as dictated by the religion, history and fate it shares with the Palestinian people” he added.

Israel neither denied nor confirmed responsibility for the airstrike that Sudan says caused the destruction of AL-Yarmook military factory in the capital Khartoum on midnight of Tuesday, 23 October. But it is known that the Jewish state sees the Muslim east African country as an ally of its arch enemy Iran as well as a conduit for arms smuggling activities toward the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Al-Tahir warned that by this attack Israel has rendered itself in “a state of war” with Sudan and that the latter will respond in kind. The parliament later issued a statement condemning Israel for “using high-tech to execute a criminal deed that violated all laws”

For its part, Hamas issued a statement on Thursday condemning the alleged Israeli attack saying it proves that Tel Aviv “continues to violate international laws and international norms, and to exercise state terrorism not only against Palestinian people.” The statement reiterated Hamas’s support to the people and government of Sudan, and praised their backing of Palestinian people and their rights.

In a related development, Sudanese authorities alleged on Thursday that the attack, which Khartoum says was executed by four fighter jets that used high-technology to jam the country’s radars and violated its airspace, could have had worse effects if it was not for their quick response.

The commissioner of Khartoum State, Omer Nimir, said that the competent authorities managed to contain the damage inflicted on the factory and defuse many bombs before they explode.

Meanwhile, Sudanese officials continue to fulminate against the attack which Khartoum also alleges killed two people.

Sudan President Omer Al-Bashir, in a speech before the emergency meeting of the cabinet on Wednesday, accused Israel of targeting Sudan because of its position against the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

He also said that the attack’s aim was to weaken Sudan’s defense capabilities and stop its progress in the field of military production.

Sudan claims the factory was only used for the production of light weapons. The country’s media minister Ahmad Bilal Osman said on Wednesday that Israel attacked the factory based upon false intelligence that it was being used for the production of nuclear arms.

A Sudanese opposition daily was shut down in 2010 after it published a report alleging that a military factory in Khartoum was being used to manufacture and supply arms to Hamas, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Al-Shabab in Somalia. Sudan and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement in 2008.

Al-Yarmook is affiliated to Sudan’s Military Industry Corporation (MIC) whose website says it also runs two other military factories, both located in Khartoum. MIC claims its products conform to the international civil and military standards.

The Sudanese president acknowledged that Sudan will not be able to import defense systems to prevent jamming of its radars or counter the high technology with which the attack was carried out. He however said that the only hope is to continue their reliance on “local minds” and support of scientific research in order to reach high military technology.

Al-Bashir promised that the authorities will compensate the citizens who lost properties as a result of the attack, and lauded the joint stand of Sudanese people against the attack that targeted their gains and those of the country as a whole.

Vice-President Ali Osman Mohammed Taha told a gathering of supporters in front of the cabinet building in Khartoum following Wednesday’s meeting that “it’s time for this state [Israel] be put in her place”

The leadership bureau of Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) also held an emergency meeting that lasted until the early hours of Thursday under the chairmanship of President Omer Al-Bashir.

Following the meeting, the NCP issued a statement urging world powers and friendly states to condemn the attack in the strongest terms and apply international law against the perpetrators.

The statement maintained that Sudan reserves the right to respond to the attack and called on the government to wage an international outreach campaign to condemn it.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Israel Lobby’s War on America’s Middle East Oil Dependence

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | October 26, 2012

A couple of days ago, I wrote about an article in The National Interest magazine by a visiting fellow at a pro-Israel think tank that argued that the United Arab Emirates may be violating the Foreign Agent Registration Act by its funding of ostensibly environmental anti-drilling films. As might be expected, Susan Schmidt’s piece entitled “Lobbying through the Silver Screen” appears to be part of a broader campaign by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies to end America’s energy dependence on Israel’s recalcitrant neighbors.

On October 15, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) website published an op-ed piece by FDD senior fellow John Hannah tellingly entitled “How Oil Dependence Undermines America’s Effort to Stop the Iranian Bomb.” Citing the neocon-mentored Mitt Romney campaign promise of achieving “North American energy independence,” Hannah goes on to argue that dependence on Middle East oil not only endangers U.S. economic security but also serves as a constraint on its strategic freedom of movement in the region. “Concerns about oil prices,” claims Hannah, “have often badly distorted U.S. policy toward the Middle East.” As the title of his piece suggests, however, the “distortion” that most troubles the FDD is how this energy dependence makes Washington think twice before doing Israel’s bidding in the region:

The most acute example is the effort to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions. U.S. policymakers have long known that the most effective step we could take against the mullahs is to cut off Iran’s oil sales and starve them of the enormous revenues they need to keep their repressive regime afloat. Yet for years, first President Bush and then President Obama fiercely resisted sanctioning the Islamic Republic’s petroleum sector. The reason? Because they quite legitimately feared that removing Iranian crude from the market would disrupt global supplies and trigger a devastating price shock. Only in late 2011, with Iran rapidly approaching the nuclear threshold, did Congress finally steamroll the administration by forcing through legislation that targeted Iranian oil.

Even then, implementation of the sanctions was watered down. The administration was given a six-month grace period to assess the possible impact that sanctions would have on the global oil market. And rather than demanding that customers of Iranian oil end their purchases entirely, countries were granted waivers from U.S. sanctions if they only “significantly reduced” their buy — which in practice required them to cut back between 15 and 20 percent. While the U.S. effort, together with complimentary EU sanctions, have no doubt had a major effect on Iran’s economy — reducing its oil exports by as much as 50 percent — a full embargo would have been far more impactful and the obvious course of action for Washington to pursue if not for the countervailing concern about oil markets. In the meantime, the Iranian regime continues to pocket perhaps $3 billion per month from the million or so barrels of oil that it still exports daily, all the while pressing ahead with its nuclear program.

America doesn’t have a higher national security priority than stopping the world’s most dangerous regime from going nuclear. And yet the sad reality is that our dependence on oil has for years, and to our great peril, systematically deterred us from fully deploying the most powerful tool in our arsenal — all-out sanctions on Iran’s petroleum sector — for resolving the crisis peacefully. Not surprisingly, that underlying logic applies in spades when it comes to any discussion about the possible use of force against Iran, where predictions of oil spiking to an economy-crippling $200 per barrel are commonplace.

The fact that our oil vulnerability has put such severe constraints on our freedom-of-maneuver to address the most pressing national security threat we face is deeply troubling.

Fortunately, there is a solution to the think tank’s concerns about U.S. “freedom” to address what it and other pro-Israel groups have worked so hard to convince Americans is their latest “most pressing national security threat.” As Hannah points out, “the United States is experiencing an oil and gas boom that promises to transform our energy landscape in very fundamental ways”:

Thanks to American ingenuity and technology, U.S. production is poised to increase dramatically over the next decade, after years of steep decline. As Governor Romney has correctly emphasized, through close cooperation with democratic allies in Canada and Mexico, the goal of energy self-sufficiency for North America may well be within reach — an unthinkable prospect just a few years ago, and one whose benefits in terms of job creation and economic growth could be quite profound.

Presumably more important — at least from a pro-Israel perspective — than the “potential economic windfall” for Americans is, as Hannah puts it, “how we can best exploit the coming energy boom to really enhance U.S. national security.” For him, enhancing U.S. security seems to be synonymous with going to war with Iran — notwithstanding the view of more objective analysts that this would seriously, if not fatally, exacerbate American insecurity. Nevertheless, according to the FDD fellow, the major obstacle to this supposedly security-enhancing military action are fears that it would lead to rocketing oil prices. To remove this problematic impediment in the way of another war for Israel, Hannah proposes:

It seems that what really needs to be part of the mix is a viable, bipartisan, market-driven strategy for reducing the monopoly that oil has over our transportation sector. If a sensible way could be found to begin moving some significant portion of U.S. cars and trucks to run on cheaper, domestically produced alternative fuels — natural gas, methanol, electric — it would largely eliminate the sword of Damocles that Middle Eastern tyrannies like Iran now hold over the West’s economic wellbeing and its strategic decision-making. That would put us on the path toward true energy independence, and restore to the United States a degree of flexibility, leverage, and strength to pursue its interests and values abroad, especially in the Middle East, that we have not known for at least a generation.

While acknowledging the difficulty of the task ahead, Hannah is cautiously optimistic:

Perhaps once the upcoming election is over, a new administration will be prepared to look seriously at developing a bipartisan, comprehensive energy strategy that both fully exploits America’s new oil and gas bonanza while taking meaningful steps to reduce our vulnerability to extortion by hostile, repressive dictatorships in unstable parts of the world.

And as luck would have it, there is already “one place that a new president should definitely look to mobilize ideas as well as political support.” Explains the FDD fellow:

Securing America’s Future Energy (an organization that I’m proud to advise), […] has brought together an extraordinary group of American business and military leaders to highlight both the economic as well as national security dangers posed by our dependence on oil, and to recommend possible solutions. Co-chaired by Fred Smith, CEO of FedEx and General P.X. Kelley, former commandant of the Marine Corps, the group includes such luminaries as General Jack Keane, former vice chief of the Army; Admiral Dennis Blair, former director of national intelligence; David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management; Herb Kelleher, founder of Southwest Airlines; and John Lehman, former undersecretary of the Navy.

So there you have it. America’s energy dependence on the Jewish state’s regional rivals may soon by a thing of the past thanks to the ingenuity of the new environmentally-friendly Israel lobby.

October 26, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A letter to David Cameron

A letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron, following his speech at the Annual dinner of United Jewish Israel Appeal

By Anne Candlin | Uprooted Palestinians | October 26, 2012

Dear Mr Cameron, How self-interested and partisan was your speech last week to the Jewish Israel Appeal. Carefully pre-scripted, it said everything the Jewish Zionists in your audience wished to hear. Your final quips about settlement- building and house- demolitions were moral soundbites for the Media, to give the appearance of being fair minded and caring about the Law. Your audience knew full well, as indeed you do, that the government has not the slightest intention of lifting a finger to help the displaced victims of settlement-building and house demolitions. I happened to be in E.Jerusalem when the Al Khurd family were dragged out of their home by Jewish settlers and thrown, with all their belongings and children, onto the streets. The father of the family, who was disabled and in a wheelchair, died soon after this event. The family were left to live in a tent on a patch of land in front of their former home, able to see the comings and goings of the two young Jewish families who now inhabited their home. I’m puzzled by your allusion to a Jewish philanthropic spirit when I see such things. I was shocked to see the Israeli soldiers, “the most moral army in the world,” beating up a young Palestinian Christian farmer in Al Khadre near Bethlehem, whose land had been illegally annexed for the building of a military terminal. Shocked to see them breaking his arm by stamping on it and then trying to prevent the ambulance from taking him to hospital. Shocked to see them beating up courageous Israeli Jewish activists who had come to support the farmer. Shocked to learn that Palestinian women gave birth at checkpoints and sometimes lost their babies because the Jewish soldiers would not let them go through to reach the Maternity Hospital. Your audience must be flattered and bemused by the rosy view you have of such people. We, each of us, must individually choose to embrace a humane way of living and stand or fall by our own actions. It is not enough to lazily shelter under the supposed morality of any given inherited tradition.

May I remind you that you have Muslim and Christian citizens in this country. There are Moslems, Christians, Jews and Secular people both here and in Palestine who do not necessarily share your rosy view of Israel or of it’s Jewish or non-Jewish supporters. Many of us remember that when the UK helped bring Iraq to it’s knees through sanctions, a million innocent little children died as a result. Was the celebrated Jewish sense of justice offended by that? clearly your own conscience was not moved. Sanctions produced nothing good for the Iraqi people and did not prevent war. Quite the contrary: sanctions were, and continue to be, a hypocritical and cruel devise used by western powers to conceal their already well-laid plans for the invasion, destruction and de-development of Muslim, oil-rich countries.

Not satisfied with so many deaths in Iraq, Israel and it’s economic cohorts eagerly await the death of thousands more innocent people in Iran, another oil-rich Muslim country. Sanctions first to soften the people through impoverishment and death, to alienate their leaders, then, on the eve of invasion you will wring your hands in front of the world’s media and say “look, we tried peaceful measures first, didn’t we…” But starving a population, reducing them to poverty, is as violent and genocidal as other acts of war. It is particularly deplorable that you reveled in the implementation of plans to starve thousands of others while you were feasting and dining to your heart’s content in London. One is reminded of the rich man who, while feasting at his own table, refused Lazarus a crumb of bread.

Who has been the prime aggressor in the Middle East, invading Lebanon, Syria, Sinai, Gaza? Who has defied more UN Resolutions than any other country in the world? Who threatens daily the existence of Palestinians? who assassinates Palestine’s spiritual and political leaders? Who has imprisoned the Palestinian population behind walls? Who illegally imprisons and frequently tortures 7,000 Palestinian children annually? Who has made a Palestinian state impossible through it’s theft of land and refusal to acknowledge the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their legal lands? Who has dozens of discriminatory laws against it’s minority Arab population? You know the answer yet you are proud to have such friends.

You threaten invasion against a country for even thinking about developing a nuclear weapon, but befriend Israel which has more nuclear weapons than France and the UK together. What possible rationale can you have for such uneven-handedness apart from self-interested economic and financial advantage? Will you ever publicly or privately ask the Jewish community to face Israel’s iniquities? So you believe that the interests of thieves, child-abductors, torturers, criminals, racists and warmongers are written into the DNA of the Conservative Party. What a disquieting boast. But please do not presume to confer on all the British people such a questionable genetic makeup. I am British, Caucasian, educated, middle class, a pensioner. Boringly, boringly mainstream. Hardly a candidate for Muslim extremist. I neither share Israel’s “cultural DNA” nor embrace such an unscientific and foolish notion.

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Obama Justice Department Set to Overrule any State that Legalizes Marijuana

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | October 24, 2012

Depending on the outcome of initiatives in three states, a confrontation awaits between the U.S. Department of Justice and advocates for legalizing marijuana.

On November 6, voters in Colorado, Washington and Oregon will decide whether to legalize and tax marijuana sales. If one or more of the measures passes, and President Barack Obama is reelected, expect the Justice Department to take action to stop any state from decriminalizing the popular herb.

In an outtake in a recent interview with “60 Minutes,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole proclaimed that the federal government is prepared to stop any “dangers” associated with state-sanctioned recreational pot.

“We’re going to take a look at whether or not there are dangers to the community from the sale of marijuana and we’re going to go after those dangers,” Cole told the television news magazine.

A crackdown on drug legalization would follow other efforts by the Obama administration to shutdown medical marijuana dispensaries operating within state law in California and elsewhere.

If Mitt Romney wins the presidential election, he would probably take the same position as Obama, having stated that marijuana is a “gateway drug” and that he would fight legalization “tooth and nail.”

To Learn More:

Justice Department Official: State Votes on Legalizing Marijuana Has No Effect on Federal Enforcement Plans (by Alex Dobuzinskis, Reuters)

Oakland Sues Obama Administration over Loss of Tax Revenue Due to Medical Marijuana Crackdown(by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Obama Administration Steps Up Attack on Legal Marijuana with Threat to Growers (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on Obama Justice Department Set to Overrule any State that Legalizes Marijuana

Tanzanian Villagers Pay for Biofuel Investment Disaster

 Oakland Institute | September 25, 2012

Oakland, CA — A new brief from the Oakland Institute examining the case of now defunct UK-based Sun Biofuels project in Tanzania shows how the “development” dream can quickly turn into a nightmare when a country hands over its future welfare and development to foreign investors, unaccountable to anyone.

Sun Biofuels secured a concession for 8,211 hectares and started operations in 2009 in the Kisarawe District.The land acquired by the company was collectively held forest and bush land that belonged to 11 villages and was essential to the livelihoods of thousands of rural Tanzanians. Two years into the project, the company declared bankruptcy and dismissed the 600 employees it had hired locally. Sun Biofuels had promised employment for 1,500 people, infrastructure development, hospitals, roads, and more in exchange for the land it needed to grow jatropha.

Based on field work conducted by Oakland Institute Fellow Mikael Bergius in early 2012, the brief shows the dire situation people are in because of the bankruptcy. People have lost their land and their supply of fresh water as well as access to essential natural resources, while the promises of development and better life never materialized. In 2011, what was left of Sun Biofuels was acquired by 30 Degrees East, an investment company registered in the tax haven of Mauritius. At the time of our field research, the project had not resumed. The new company only employed 35 staff, mostly security guards, who ban villagers from accessing their land and natural resources.

Detailing the detrimental impact of the project, both prior to and after the bankruptcy, the brief dispels myths of how foreign investment in agriculture will bring development and food security.

The Sun Biofuels case is a powerful cautionary tale for the four million peasant families in Tanzania whose livelihoods rely on small-scale farming, and who stand threatened by plans to develop large-scale commercial agriculture under the “kilimo kwanza” initiative (agriculture first), which has been touted as the way forward to promote food security and economic growth by the current government.

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Economics | , , | 1 Comment

US extends $4bn Israel loan program

Al Akhbar | October 25, 2012

The United States agreed on Wednesday to extend its $4 billion loan guarantee program to Israel until 2016, a gesture that shows continued commitment to the Jewish state less than two weeks before the American presidential elections.

The move allows the United States to provide up to $3.8 billion in future loan guarantees, as part of a $9 billion commitment made by the US in 2003.

The program was meant to expire this year.

The American Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner and Doron Cohen, the director general of the Israeli finance ministry, signed the agreement during a US-Israel Joint Economic Development Group meeting in Washington, according to Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

“The loan guarantees agreement attests to the special economic relationship between Israel and US,” said Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s finance minister.

“I welcome the growing cooperation between the two countries, especially their treasuries,” Steinitz added while thanking Geithner.

The loan guarantees are independent of $10 billion in annual US military assistance to Israel and joint US-Israel missile defense projects. In 2007, US President George W. Bush agreed to a 10-year military aid package costing $30 billion.

According to a March 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service, Israel is “the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II.” The report alleges that Israel had received $115 billion from the United States to date, most of it in the form of military assistance.

The report also stated that US financial assistance to Israel is typically delivered within the first 30 days of the fiscal year, whereas most other recipients receive aid in installments.

Scandal surfaced in Washington earlier this month after 15 church leaders sent a letter to Congress asking for an investigation to ensure American military aid to Israel was not used to commit human rights violations against Palestinians.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs responded by canceling a long-planned interfaith meeting and by issuing an outraged public statement, in which JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow accused the enquiry of being part of “relentless attacks on the Jewish state” and a sign of “vicious anti-Zionism that has gone virtually unchecked in several of these denominations.”

Presidential incumbent Obama and his contender Mitt Romney have competed in displays of loyalty to the Jewish state over the course of the election campaigns, mentioning Israel dozens of times during the last presidential debate on Monday, which centered on foreign policy. The debate was devoid of criticism of Israel’s repeated human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Obama has hailed Israel as “a true friend and our greatest ally in the region,” later adding that he “will stand with Israel if they are attacked.” Meanwhile, Romney has expressed similar sentiments, his website going so far as to call Israel “a beacon of democracy and freedom in the [Middle East].”

October 25, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Obama’s Endless Kill List

Codifying Murder

By BEN SCHREINER | October 24, 2012

Of the three presidential debates, Monday’s saw the only mention of U.S. drone warfare.  But after the challenger Romney quickly affirmed his support of President Obama’s drone program, stating that it is “absolutely the right thing to do,” the issue was summarily dropped by moderator Bob Schieffer.  The president thus skirted having to account for the most controversial facet of his foreign policy.

Of course, the clear bipartisan support for the administration’s ongoing campaign of assassinations can only portend a future of expanded drone warfare and U.S. administered terror the world over—no matter the outcome of the presidential election.

Indeed, a Tuesday report in the Washington Post laid bare the Obama administration’s plans to ensure that any future administration seamlessly continues its drone program.  As the Post reports, “Targeted killing is now so routine that the Obama administration has spent much of the past year codifying and streamlining the processes that sustain it.”

The process of streamlining the administration’s program of “targeted” killings has reportedly led to the creation of a “disposition matrix,” comprised of both the names of suspected terrorists and the resources expended on their targeting.  This matrix, the Post reports, “is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.”

Such efforts to expedite the worldwide campaign of terror have reportedly left the administration buoyant on the prospects of the program’s indefinite continuation.  Officials, the Post reports, “seem confident that they have devised an approach that is so bureaucratically, legally and morally sound that future administrations will follow suit.”

“The United States’ conventional wars are winding down,” the Post thus concludes, “but the government expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years.”

Sure enough, as the Post revealed in a separate report published last week, the C.I.A. has sent a formal request to the White House appealing for an additional ten drones to supplement its current fleet of over 30.  If approved, the paper reported, the request would “extend the spy service’s decade-long transformation into a paramilitary force.”

Yet, as the Obama administration works to extent the reach of its aerial assassins into every last crevice of the world, its claims regarding to the drone program’s effectiveness and “targeted” nature remain in doubt.

According to a September report on U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, conducted by researchers at the N.Y.U. School of Law and Stanford University Law School, evidence that the program has made the U.S. safer is “ambiguous at best.”  Moreover, despite administration claims of that there have been “no” civilian causalities, the report marshals substantial evidence to the contrary.

Assessments from U.S. officials regarding the “collateral damage” from drones, though, are heavily skewed by the administration’s definition of combatants.

Remarkably, as the New York Times piece first revealing the existence of an administration “kill list” noted, the U.S. “counts all military age males in a strike zone as combatants … unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”

Kill first, we see, then ask questions.

Needless to say, all such reports ought to serve—at the very minimum—as an impetus for an independent review of the the drone program.  But as the Post reports: “Internal doubts about the effectiveness of the drone campaign are almost nonexistent.”

The callous absence of doubt is evidently just as prevalent amongst the elite U.S. media.  For instance, in an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe Tuesday, Time columnist Joe Klein chillingly sought to justify the gravest horrors of the Obama drone program.

In a debate over drones with right-wing host Joe Scarborough, Klein went on to aver, “The bottom line, in the end, is: Whose four-year-old gets killed? What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that four-year-olds here are going to get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”

The very fact that rationalizing the killing of children can freely emanate from amongst “respectable” circles in Washington is indicative of the severe moral deterioration from which the Obama administration’s drone program was born.

Of course, the very fact that the defining program of Obama’s foreign policy was discussed in far greater detail on a cable talk show sponsored by Starbucks than it was in all three presidential debates is quite revealing of the decay afflicting the nation’s political system.  It’s such a rotted system, though, that perpetuates our present class of amoral and unaccountable elites who so readily wage a global campaign of terror.

The twilight of the American Empire, it thus appears, will be remembered for its endless kill lists and its codification of murder.

Source

October 24, 2012 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

No proof of Iran decision to build nuclear weapons: Russia

Press TV – October 24, 2012

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says there is no evidence suggesting that Iran has made any decision to militarize its nuclear energy program.

In an interview with the Russian daily Rossiyskaya Gazeta on Tuesday, Lavrov said Iran’s nuclear energy program is under the full supervision of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the country is enriching 4.5-percent uranium to meet its fuel needs, Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) reported.

Lavrov emphasized that the production of nuclear fuel is not a violation of Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and confirmed the legitimacy of Iran’s bid to produce 20-percent enriched uranium to provide fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR).

Iran decided to enrich uranium to 20-percent level to provide fuel for TRR, which produces medical isotopes for cancer patients, after potential suppliers failed to provide the Islamic Republic with the required nuclear fuel.

On September 17, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Fereydoun Abbasi, said Iran has no intention of enriching uranium above the 20-percent level.

Abbasi added that Iran started producing 20-percent enriched uranium when it could not obtain fuel for TRR from international market due to sanctions imposed against the country.

The Iranian official added that the main objective of 20-percent enrichment is to produce radiopharmaceuticals, but certain parties are trying to connect Iran’s nuclear activities to non-civilian purposes.

The United States, Israel, and some of their allies accuse Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program, but Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the NPT and a member of the IAEA, it is entitled to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s nuclear energy program has been diverted toward military objectives.

October 24, 2012 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment