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President Hugo Chavez has Died

Venezuelanalysis | March 5th 2013

chavezMerida – After two years of battling cancer, President Hugo Chavez has died today at 4.25 pm.

Vice-president Nicolas Maduro made the announcement on public television shortly after, speaking from the Military Hospital in Caracas, where Chavez was being treated.

Military and Bolivarian police have been sent out into the street to protect the people and maintain the peace. For now, things are calm here, with some people celebrating by honking their car horns, and many others quietly mourning in their homes.

Maduro made the announcement just a few hours after addressing the nation for an hour, accusing the opposition of taking advantage of the current situation to cause destabilization.

“Those who die for life, can’t be called dead,” Maduro concluded.

In Caracas, thousands of people have gathered in Plaza Bolivar and are said to be heading to the Miraflores Palace. Those gathered are shouting that “Chavez lives, the struggle continues,” “the people united will never be defeated,” as well as swearing that the Venezuelan bourgeoisie “will never return” to the Miraflores Palace.

Chavez supporters are also gathering in central squares across the country to rally together and mourn the death of their president.

Describing the scene in Caracas, Andromaco Martinez, stated that he was on the metro when he found out about the president’s death, “people began running everywhere”.

In Plaza Bolivar, “no-one is crying or praying,” he said, emphasizing that the Venezuelan people would defiantly defend the revolution.

“The struggle has already been ignited,” he added.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Comments Off on President Hugo Chavez has Died

Afghanistan: Atrocity after atrocity, lie after lie

By Richard Becker | LiberationNews | March 4, 2013

On March 1, a U.S./NATO helicopter gunship killed two Afghan brothers, seven and eight years of age, as they tended cattle in Uruzgan province. According to reports from residents, the boys were listening to a radio, which the helicopter crew interpreted as “radio signals” from Afghan resistance fighters.

The latest killing comes amidst a series of atrocities against civilians that has further inflamed opposition to the ongoing occupation.

On. Feb. 24, Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-installed “president” of Afghanistan, announced that he was demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. Special Forces troops from Wardak province within two weeks. Wardak is a key strategic region and an area of active resistance to the U.S./NATO occupation.

Will NATO commanders pay any more attention to Karzai’s latest “order” than the many earlier ones that NATO forces ignored and Karzai quietly dropped? Not likely.

What prompted Karzai’s latest proclamation was explained in a statement from his office, which read in part: “After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force[s] stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.

“A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.”

While U.S. commanders predictably denied the accusations, the level of popular anger in Wardak was made clear by street protests and threats by civilian groups to join the armed resistance if U.S. forces were not withdrawn.

On Feb. 26, 500 people marched in protest of the killings. “If the situation remains like this, this province will collapse very soon,” protester Haji Abdul Qadim told the Reuters news service. “People will join the insurgency very soon because of the abuses of these forces.”

In another recent incident brought to international attention on Feb. 26, a Swedish organization that operates health clinics in Afghanistan said that U.S. military forces occupied and damaged one of their clinics in Wardak on Feb. 11.

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said in a statement: “Foreign soldiers entered the health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility.”

Andreas Stefansson, director of SCA, said that it was the second time one of SCA’s clinics had been occupied by NATO troops. The previous occupation lasted three days. Stefansson said that NATO has promised that such an occupation would not happen again.

“What we are seeking is that they actually live up to what they say,” Stefansson said. (Reuters, Feb. 26)

On Feb. 13, 10 people, including women and children, were killed in a NATO air strike in Kunar province. On June 6, 2012, 18 civilians were killed in a strike in Logar province. The grisly list of “accidental” killings stretches back a decade.

A ‘president’ in name only

These atrocities and the daily abuses that inevitably accompany imperialist occupation are the source of burning anger among the Afghan people. In the eyes of the population, Karzai shares blame with the occupiers for these outrages. Thus, Karzai’s repeated “orders” forbidding Afghan army units from calling in U.S./NATO air support and for U.S. troops to withdraw from Wardak and stop the hated “night raids” on people’s homes.

But his proclamations continue to be disregarded by the occupation forces, exposing the actual power relationship in the country. In reality, the lowest level U.S. commander has greater military authority than does the “president” of the country.

Further illuminating both this relationship and the U.S. intention to maintain a dominant role in Afghanistan was a Feb. 3 joint interview with then-Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Panetta and Dempsey reaffirmed that the United States would sustain a “strategic partnership” with Afghanistan, citing a decision by the NATO heads of state during a 2012 summit meeting in Chicago to maintain a long-term presence in the country despite a drawdown in the number of U.S. ground troops in the country.

“We’re committing to an enduring presence,” Mr. Panetta said on Feb. 3.

“Strategic partnership” and “enduring presence” are more Washington weasel words for continuing colonial domination over Afghanistan.

On Feb. 26, it was revealed that claims of resistance attacks inside the country declining by 7 percent in 2012 were just one more Pentagon lie. The 7 percent figure was posted on the International Security Assistance Force (the official name of the U.S./NATO force in Afghanistan) website in January, to bolster the administration’s “positive track” line about the war.

When the Associated Press made inquiries about the statistics, NATO officials in Kabul immediately backtracked, stated that they had “erred,” and admitted that in fact, there was no decline at all.

Costs of war

Eleven and a half years of U.S./NATO war and occupation have been a disaster for all but a tiny sliver of the Afghan population.

Despite tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-funded “reconstruction aid,” Afghanistan remains one of the very poorest countries on the face of the Earth. The total U.S. budget for the Afghanistan war is over $640 billion and counting. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

While U.S. and other NATO-country contractors, and elements of the Afghan elite, have become incredibly rich from this “aid,” the Afghan government presently spends a miniscule $46 per year on health care per person. (GlobalHealthFacts.org)

Afghanistan ranks as the worst country in the world for infant mortality, with a shocking 122 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. (CIA World Factbook 2013) By way of comparison, the infant mortality rate is 6 per 1,000 in the U.S. and 4.8 per 1,000 in Cuba. Life expectancy is just 49 years. Afghanistan is listed as 172nd out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, with the average adult having 3.3 years of schooling.

In addition to the tens of thousands killed and hundreds of thousands wounded in the war, more than 2.7 million Afghans remain external refugees, most in Pakistan and Iran, and 425,000 are internally displaced. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2012

No amount of lying Pentagon propaganda can hide the reality that the war has been an unmitigated disaster for the Afghan people and for the thousands of dead and tens of thousands of maimed troops sent to kill and die there in the interests of empire.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Comments Off on Afghanistan: Atrocity after atrocity, lie after lie

US Embassy Officials Expelled from Venezuela, Government Warns of “Conspiracy Plans”

By Tamara Pearson | Venezuelanalysis | March 5th 2013

Merida – Vice-president Nicolas Maduro today denounced destabilisation plans by the international and Venezuelan right wing, announcing the expulsion of two US officials for threatening military security. He also implied that Chavez’s cancer was “caused by enemies of Venezuela”.

Right-wing destabilisation plans

Maduro made the announcement today just after midday, following a meeting this morning with Venezuela’s political military leadership.

Maduro pronounced the expulsion of diplomat David del Monaco, and Air Attaché Deblin Costal of the US embassy in Caracas for being implicated in “conspiracy plans”.

“They have 24 hours to pack their bags and leave,” Maduro said.

He explained that Monaco had, for the last few weeks, been contacting members of the Venezuelan military in order to bring about a destabilisation plan in Venezuela.

“This official has been given the task of looking for active military members in Venezuela in order to propose destabilisation projects to the Armed Forces.”

“We want to denounce that we have certain clues of elements that make up this poisonous picture, which seek to disrupt the social life of our country and give it a beating,” he added.

“The enemies of the country, who aim to destroy democracy, have decided to go ahead with plans to destabilise Venezuela and damage the crux of a democracy…they have intensified the attacks against the economy and against goods and services,”  Maduro said, referring to the scarcity of certain food and hygiene products that the country is currently experiencing.

Maduro argued that the “national and international right wing” were taking advantage of the “difficult circumstances” Venezuela is going through as a result of the “delicate state of health of President Chavez”.

Doubt over the cause of Chavez’s cancer

Further, he said, “We don’t have any doubts that the historical enemies of the country have searched for a way to damage the health of President Chavez… that he was attacked with this illness,” alluding to the possibility of a “scientific attack”.

“Just like what happened to Yasser Arafat… Eventually there will be a scientific investigation into President Chavez’s illness,” he said.

There are different theories as to the cause of the former President of the Palestinian National Authority, Yasser Arafat’s death in 2004. Last July Al Jazeera reported that traces of polonium-210, a rare and highly radioactive element, were found on Arafat’s belongings.

Other experts however claimed that polonium’s half life means it would be impossible to discover it now if it had been used for poisoning eight years ago, and that it must have been planted later. In 2005 the Palestinian ambassador to Sri Lanka, Attalah Quiba also alleged that Arafat had been poisoned by “high technology” such as a “high-tech laser”.

Continue fighting and working

Maduro concluded his public announcement by saying, “Men and women loyal to Chavez, we’re going to continue with our duties, so that no single program for the people is held back”.

“Venezuela’s political and military leadership is united, we call on the people to close ranks, to unite forces, and to pray for our comandante,” he said.

Referring to mainstream media lies and distortions about Chavez’s health and the situation in Venezuela, Maduro also expressed his appreciation to Venezuela for its “strength that there has been to face the psychological and dirty war against our people”.

The vice-president called for “respect for Chavez, for his family in these difficult times, respect for the pain and worry of our people”.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on US Embassy Officials Expelled from Venezuela, Government Warns of “Conspiracy Plans”

Intelligence Committees Get Additional Targeted Killing Memos, But Not the Public

ACLU | March 5, 2013

WASHINGTON – In a win for congressional oversight over the government’s vast killing program, the Obama administration has shown an additional but undisclosed number of Office of Legal Counsel memos justifying the program to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, but has continued to withhold some of its legal opinions from the Intelligence Committees and has not provided any of the legal opinions to the rest of Congress or to the American public. The legal opinions focused on non-citizens continue to be hidden from the Intelligence Committees.

“This is an important first baby step towards restoring the checks and balances between Congress and the president, but it isn’t enough. Amazingly, the Obama administration continues to hide at least some of its legal opinions, even from the intelligence committees. The intelligence committees should have been given all of the legal opinions years ago, particularly when the Obama administration has claimed broad authority to kill people, including American citizens, far from any battlefield,” said Senior Legislative Counsel Christopher Anders. “The legal opinions also shouldn’t stay hidden with the few dozen members of the intelligence committees, but should be available to all members of Congress and minimally redacted copies should be made public. It makes a mockery of the rule of law when the government hides the rules, or makes them up as they go along. It is time to come clean with Congress and the American people.”

Previously, only four memos were briefly shown to the Senate and House Intelligence Committees, which prompted some Senate committee members to stall the confirmation of John Brennan—the architect of the targeted-killing program and President Obama’s choice to run the Central Intelligence Agency. In response, the government sent additional materials to the Intelligence Committees, but has not shown the committees all 11 legal opinions sought by several committee members, and also has not provided the legal opinions to other senators or made them public. This afternoon, the Senate Intelligence Committee will vote on whether to send John Brennan’s nomination to the full Senate.

More information on the ACLU’s work on targeted killing can be found here: www.aclu.org/national-security/targeted-killings

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Comments Off on Intelligence Committees Get Additional Targeted Killing Memos, But Not the Public

Oral Argument on DNA Searches Provides Scary Glimpse Into the Future of Privacy

By Hanni Fakhoury | EFF | March 4, 2013

The Supreme Court recently heard oral argument in Maryland v. King, a case considering the constitutionality of warrantless DNA collection from arrestees. We’ve long warned about the privacy problems with the rise of cheap, easy and fast blanket DNA collection, and filed an amicus brief with the Court urging it to hold the government can only obtain this sensitive genetic material with a search warrant. While it can be fruitless trying to read the tea leaves of oral argument, one specific idea — that technological advances making DNA analysis faster means warrantless collection may be OK — should leave you worried about the fate of privacy going forward in the digital age.

One of the main disagreements surrounding the issue of DNA collection is whether the state is collecting DNA from arrestees for immediate identification — to figure out if they’ve arrested the right person and learn who that person is for purposes of making a bail determination — or for past and future investigation — to solve cold cases and to store DNA for future searches. The state has long claimed they used DNA for both, while we’ve argued the government simply isn’t able to use DNA collection for immediate identification purposes since there’s currently a delay in analyzing DNA ranging from several days up to a few months. But with the rise of rapid DNA analyzers which can analyze DNA in 90 minutes, law enforcement is chomping at the bit to purchase and install these devices at police stations across the country. When the lawyer challenging the blanket DNA collection argued that law enforcement’s interest in using DNA for immediate identification was simply not possible because of the lengthy delays in DNA analysis, Chief Justice Roberts interrupted to note (PDF):

Now, your brief says, well, the only interest here is the law enforcement interest. And I found that persuasive because of the concern that it’s going to take months to get the DNA back anyway, so they are going to have to release him or not before they know it. But if we are in a position where it now takes 90 minutes or will soon take 90 minutes to get the information back, I think that’s entirely different…

Other members of the court echoed this idea, hinting that if DNA analysis was done faster, than there could be a legitimate identification — as opposed to investigative — need for the practice. And if that was the case, then DNA collection was no different than fingerprinting, and the police could swab and collect DNA without a search warrant. This would be a dangerous Fourth Amendment precedent.

The reasonableness of a search under the Fourth Amendment has always depended on whether the search is reasonably related in scope to the circumstances that justify the search in the first place. But that determination shouldn’t hinge on how long it takes to do the search, but rather what the search reveals. And with DNA searches, an enormous amount of sensitive information is being revealed to the government: a person’s entire genome. Ignoring the breadth of this intrusion by focusing on the ease of collection — implicitly believing the easier it is to intrude into a private place, the less protected it is — elevates form over substance to the detriment of the right of privacy enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.

This dangerous thinking extends beyond DNA collection. We’ve already warned about the problems with warrantless home video surveillance and stingrays, or fake cell phone towers which the government has been very secretive about. As technological advances like these allow the government to easily collect and catalog greater amounts of information, courts run the risk of allowing broader and more intrusive searches to pass Fourth Amendment scrutiny simply because of the possibility of exposure. Instead, courts should be focusing on the actual intrusion and people’s expectation that private information will not be exposed, regardless of how technological advances can make government access easier or faster.

The fact the government can do something now it couldn’t do before doesn’t make it constitutional. In fact, it should be the opposite. As it becomes easier for the government to seize and analyze, institutional checks — like a search warrant — on the government’s power is necessary to protect privacy before it becomes a casualty to technological advances.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on Oral Argument on DNA Searches Provides Scary Glimpse Into the Future of Privacy

UK inquiry into Iraqi prisoner deaths reveals evidence of ‘torture’

RT | March 5, 2013

A public inquiry into allegations that British soldiers in Iraq murdered 20 unarmed prisoners and tortured 5 others has begun in London, with further legal arguments expected to slow the inquiry in the deaths of the Iraqi men nine years ago.

The Al-Sweady inquiry will examine claims that Iraqi prisoners were tortured by British soldiers following the Battle of Danny Boy in Maysan province, southern Iraq in the summer of 2004.

Evidence has also come to light that several of the corpses suffered severe mutilation. Iraqi death certificates recorded that one man had allegedly had his penis removed while another two bodies were missing eyes.

Several of the corpses were also said to have signs of torture when they were handed back to their families by British personnel at Camp Abu Naji.

However, there is major dispute between the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the families of the dead Iraqi men over the way in which the deaths occurred.

“The Iraqi witnesses say that the evidence points to there having been a number of Iraqi men having been taken into camp Abu Naji alive by the British military on 14th May, and who were handed back to their families dead the next day,” said Jonathan Acton Davis QC, counsel to the inquiry.

“The military say the evidence points to 20 Iraqi dead having been recovered from the battle and handed back to their families the next day,” he added, continuing that the two sides couldn’t even agree about the number of those killed or captured, or their identities.

On May 14th 2004, the troops embroiled in the allegations were involved in a fierce battle known as Danny Boy, the name of a permanent vehicle check point, which was on route six in Iraq.

A group of insurgents launched an attack against vehicles of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. It soon developed into a fierce firefight, which also involved soldiers from the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment, with many Iraqis shot dead and two British soldiers being wounded.

The Iraqi dead would normally have been left on the battlefield but British soldiers were allegedly told to try and identify an insurgent thought to be involved in the murder of 6 British soldiers a year earlier in 2003.

One of the first jobs of the inquiry is to try and establish whether the 20 Iraqis were killed in battle as the MoD claims or if in fact they were captured alive and then unlawfully killed.

The inquiry will also try to determine if five men taken prisoner following the battle of Danny Boy were mistreated at a second British base in Shaibah, near Basara, between 14 May and 23 September 2004.

The al-Sweady inquiry as it is known is named after Hamid al-Sweady, a 19 year old alleged victim.

The inquiry was set up after former prisoners and relatives of the dead men took their case to the High Court in London in February 2008. They are entitled to an independent inquiry because the UK is a signatory of the European convention on human rights.

But even as the enquiry opened on Monday, there were signs of legal disagreements to come. Lawyers for the relatives of the dead Iraqis are saying that its terms of reference are too narrow, while the MoD is arguing that it should be limited to allegations of mistreatment that were already decided in previous High Court rulings.

This is potentially the most embarrassing inquiry since the killing of 26-year-old Iraqi citizen Baha Mousa while in British custody in Basara in 2003. He was severely beaten on suspicion of being an insurgent. The Ministry of Defense never accepted any liability for Mousa’s death.

According to Christpher Stanley of the UK-based Rights Watch group, “today [the MoD] is trying to manage it and put a cap on it. These are people getting away with grave human rights violations – including killing – without punishment or due process of law. “

So far the MoD has not come out well in the proceedings. The inquiry was ordered by then defense secretary Bob Ainsworth, after high court judges found that the MoD had made “serious breaches” of its duty.

Furthermore, British Foreign Minister William Hague has written a private memo to other ministers on March 1, urging them not to discuss Iraq and its legality in the run-up to the tenth anniversary of the NATO-led invasion.

Investigators have faced problems trying to access MoD documents concerning events covering the battle of Danny Boy and at Camp Abu Naj.

In 2010 investigators found in files of the Royal Military Police a number of relevant papers which had been entirely absent from evidence disclosed by the MoD in previous court proceedings. While another 9 files were handed over by the MoD in 2011, a six week search by investigators of MoD archives found 600 documents that were relevant to the case.

Last week the inquiry was still waiting to receive emails from the MoD about a visit to the Shaibah base by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The inquiry has already cost the taxpayer £15 million and that is expected to double. Up to 200 military witnesses will be called and 45 Iraqis will give evidence through a video link from Beirut.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Comments Off on UK inquiry into Iraqi prisoner deaths reveals evidence of ‘torture’

Purim and Genocidal Phantasies

By Ran HaCohen | March 5, 2013

Purim. One of the most popular Jewish holidays among Orthodox, traditional and so-called secular Jewish Israelis alike. The streets are packed with children and adults wearing costumes, make-up and all sorts of masquerading, on their way from one joyous Purim party to the next. Happy days. But behind the carnivalesque masks, ominous demons are lurking.

Tel Aviv, Sunday, February 24th

Hanan Usruf, a 40-year-old Arab sanitation worker for the city, was savagely beaten by some dozen Jewish men. The Jerusalem Post reported that Usruf’s injuries

include a fracture in his right eye socket and deep lacerations on his right ear and across almost his entire head. His vision is blurred in his left eye, but he can make out small numbers and letters, doctors said.

The Times of Israel added that the victim – an Israeli citizen, one should add – attacked by “drunken youth” required dozens of stitches and that doctors were doing their best to save his eye; under his horrendous photo in hospital, Usruf is quoted saying that

the youths kicked him and broke bottles on his head while shouting racial epithets at him. “They shouted things like ‘f**kin’ Arab’ and ‘get your own country.’

Jerusalem, Monday, February 25th

Hana Amtir, an Arab woman standing at the tram stop near the central bus station, was attacked by a group of young Jewish women. AFP quotes a (Jewish) eyewitness who took pictures of the attack and documented it on Facebook:

Suddenly shouts were heard, and a group of young religious Jewish women confronted the woman and suddenly a young Jewish woman punched her in the head, […] the rest then joined in, hitting and shoving the Arab woman. The woman tried to fight them off but they shouted at her not to dare touch Jews and they continued as a group to attack her and even forcibly pulled off her head covering, […] the incident was witnessed by a security guard from the rail company and a group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish students who stood by and did nothing.

Framing

Both events – the lynch in Tel Aviv and the attack in Jerusalem – were reported widely in the Israeli media (separately or even together [Hebrew]), justly framed as hate crimes, sometimes with reference to similar crimes in the recent past. Some public protest followed – a demonstration, petitions and op-eds. However, no report I’ve seen mentioned the fact that both crimes were committed on Purim (24.2), a one-day holiday that lasts a day longer in Jerusalem (24-25.2). At best, one could find the holiday mentioned in passing, for instance in the Times of Israel that also described the Tel Aviv victimizers as drunken: “Police had yet to make any arrests […] After detaining suspects, the police will determine whether the attack was racially motivated, or the action of out-of-hand Purim revelers,” as if racist motivation and Purim revelry were mutually exclusive. But as a rule, Purim was simply ignored as irrelevant.

Is the Jewish holiday really irrelevant? The notion that the attackers were drunken can be easily traced back to the religious duty to get drunk on Purim. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Purim has been identified with Jewish violence (and with accusations of violence against Jews, true or false) for centuries. Just think of the West Bank town of Hebron for example: it was Purim 1981 when Jewish settlers brought down the roof over an Arab upholstery in “Beit Hadassah”, expelling its owner and taking over the house, a crucial step in what has since developed into a full-fledged ethnic cleansing at the heart of the Palestinian town. The settlers’ Purim parades in that city have become a tradition of provocations, with Jewish violence escalating from year to year – culminating in Purim 1994, when a Jewish settler massacred 29 and injured 125 Muslim worshippers in the Cave of the Patriarchs. The butcher joined the settlers’ hall of fame: “Purim in Hebron after 1994 was like Purim in Hebron since 1981, only more so – with a new Jewish hero for Jewish children to dress up as,” writes Israeli historian Prof Elliott Horowitz in his excellent Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence (2006, p. 8), that documents the roots and history of Jewish Purim violence (alongside its anti-Semitic abuses by Christians) from ancient times to the present.

Why Purim?

Like any legacy stretching from the Ancient World through the Middle Ages to Modern Times, Judaism is a multifaceted culture: it can be universal as well as nationalist; egalitarian as well as racist; liberal, even revolutionary as well as ultra-conservative – all these messages can be found in it. Among other things, Purim, however, has always reflected deep genocidal phantasies of revenge. The Book of Esther, the textual basis for this holiday, tells the story of the miraculous saving of the Jews of Persia from their enemies, most notably the evil Haman. It ends with the hanging of Haman by the Persian King. Consequently, the Jews take revenge and kill Haman’s ten sons, murder several hundreds of non-Jews in the capital Susa, and then massacre seventy-five thousand non-Jews all over Persia. That’s how the Book of Esther ends. The (probably non-existent) historical foundations of these events are irrelevant: it’s the myth and the memory that matter.

The genocidal roots of Purim go even deeper: Haman, as the short Book of Esther repeatedly stresses, is an “Agagite”, that is, an offspring of Agag. Agag was the King of the ancient Amalekites, the archetypal enemy of the Jews, on which the Bible commands to inflict genocide: “you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; do not forget” (Deuteronomy 25,19). When King Saul sins by sparing King Agag’s life, God regrets He had made him king of Israel, and Prophet Samuel “hews Agag in pieces before the Lord” (I Samuel 15,33).

These are not just idle interpretations for the learned or deep secrets known to the few; it’s all anchored in the liturgical practice of Purim. While the public reading of the Book of Esther is at the heart of the holiday itself, the Torah-text on blotting out Amalek is read in synagogue on the “Sabbath of Remembrance”, the last Saturday before Purim. Once the Arabs are seen as Haman/Amalek, Purim turns into a carnival of incitement against them.

Educating Israeli Soldiers

The Chief Rabbinate of the Israeli army has recently produced a short video (in Hebrew) to “explain” Purim to Israeli soldiers. It opens by stating the obvious, namely that Persia is today’s Iran; among the images that flash every now and then when Haman is mentioned we see not only Ahmadinejad, but also Hezbollah’s leader Nasrallah, as well as (several times) Hitler, and, yes, Jesus Christ, who also makes a brief appearance. In a baseless rewriting of the legend, obviously aimed against present-day Palestinians, Haman and his sons are said to have resided in the Land of Israel, where they were inciting against the Jews and demanding to stop construction in Jerusalem (!) before moving to Persia, where the Book of Esther takes place.

In other words, the army “educational” video draws a line from Haman to Jesus, to Nazi Germany, to today’s Iran and Hezbollah, as well as to the present-day Palestinians. And Haman, as the video doesn’t even bother to remind its viewers, is Amalek, the eternal enemy of the Jews: “you shall blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven, do not forget.”

From Hebron to Tel Aviv

It’s truly amazing that the Israeli media ignored the Purim context of the violent events in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Jewish Israelis are witnessing a trend of “rediscovering of” and “reconnecting to” their “Jewish roots”. In such an atmosphere, one would expect those “rediscoverers” to be aware the Jewish context of the violence: after all, this is also part of the Jewish legacy they are allegedly so fond of. But no: instead of coming to terms with the lights and shadows of the rich Jewish tradition, non-Orthodox Israelis fall prey to ominous Jewish demons without even noticing them, demons that have enjoyed an uninterrupted existence among Orthodox Jews like the radical settlers of Hebron, but have now sneaked even into “secular” Tel Aviv.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on Purim and Genocidal Phantasies

DARPA scientists want to create database of all conversations

RT | March 4, 2013

Your digital footprint could be getting a whole lot bigger: Pentagon scientists are searching for a way to transcribe every real-world conversation that happens into computer-readable files.

Robert Beckhusen of Wired’s Danger Room says it wouldn’t be unlike a real-life Twitter feed or an “email archive for everyday speak.”

“Imagine living in a world where every errant utterance you make is preserved together,” Beckhusen writes in an article this week that explores a Defense Department project that’s been undertaken by its Darpa laboratories and is now in the hands of a University of Texas computer scientist named Matt Lease.

Least has received a few hundred thousand dollars from Darpa — the US military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — to help find a way to take cell phone conversations, board room meetings and every miniscule real world back-and-forth and have them digitized.

The project is being called “Blending Crowdsourcing with Automation for Fast, Cheap and Accurate Analysis of Spontaneous Speech,” and Lease will receive $300,000 in all from the government to work on it after winning a 2012 Young Faculty Award from Darpa last year.

Lease has previously worked with the Pentagon scientists on another project, Effective Affordable Reusable Speech-to-text, or EARS, which had him trying to find a better way to transcribe dialogue into text. Now after winning the respect of Darpa, he’s putting that research to work in hopes of finding a way to streamline all real world conversations into digital transcriptions. And by strategically crowd-sourcing the information, he thinks he might be able to do just that.

“Like other AI [artificial intelligence], it can only go so far, which is based on what the state-of-the-art methodology can do,” Lease tells Wired. “So what was exciting to me is thinking about going back to some of that work and now taking advantage of crowdsourcing and applying that into the mix.”

Lease says he saw both the “need and opportunity to really make conversational speech more accessible, more part of our permanent record instead of being so ephemeral, and really trying to imagine what this world would look like if we really could capture all these conversations and make use of them effectively going forward,” Lease adds.

Wired reports that the end result could mean that conversations and events could be transcribed and edited through crowdsourcing, then eventually and easily be shared with friends, family and colleagues. Once digitized, those dialogues could also be perused for general search purposes. By uploading everything, though, some concerns are quickly showing up. For one, there’s the matter of possible privacy violations brought on by the seemingly constant collection of data. Then, of course, there’s the matter of what is being done with it.

According to a 2003 memo from the Congressional Research Service, the EARS project that first got Lease involved in the Pentagon was being considered for a rather particular kind of use. That report said that dialogue could be inputted into the system by way of telephone conversations so that “the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities” could “extract clues about the identity of speakers.”

For now, Lease won’t even speculate as to why the Pentagon wants him to develop his crowdsourcing project. He agrees, however, that there is an issue with “respecting the privacy rights of multiple people involved.”

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on DARPA scientists want to create database of all conversations

Venezuelan Indigenous Yukpa Leader Sabino Romero Assassinated

By Ewan Robertson | Venezuelanalysis | March 4, 2013

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Mérida – Indigenous Yupka chief and land rights activist Sabino Romero has been assassinated in an act which has generated public repudiation from social movements and the Venezuelan government alike. A high profile investigation into the killing has been launched.

Romero was a chief of the indigenous Yupka people of the Sierra de Perijá in western Venezuela. He was assassinated on Sunday night as he made his way to vote in an indigenous election, in circumstances which are still unknown.

Romero was a leader in the struggle for ancestral Yupka lands in the Sierra de Perijá, lands held by cattle ranchers, but many of which have been formally granted to the Yupka by the Chavez government.

Last November, Romero travelled to Caracas with some 60 Yupka to demand that the government act against violence on the part of cattle ranchers who were refusing to give up their lands, as well as to protest against government inaction and public media silence over the conflict.

Several Yupka have already been killed in the land rights dispute, including Romero’s own father, and activists say that local judicial impunity has prevented the murderers from being brought to justice.

The Venezuelan government today condemned Romero’s assassination as a “terrible act”, and announced that a high-profile investigation into the killing had already been launched. The government, in a statement, said it suspects that the Yukpa chief was murdered for his role in the land rights conflict with cattle ranchers.

“We can’t get ahead of ourselves on a hypothesis about this act, which is condemnable and must be repudiated from all points of view, but in general the just struggle for the fair distribution of land is on the table [as a possible motive],” said communication minister Ernesto Villegas.

Indigenous groups and social movements held a protest today outside the Public Attorney’s office in Caracas to demand that those responsible for Romero’s assassination be brought to justice.

March 5, 2013 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture | , | Comments Off on Venezuelan Indigenous Yukpa Leader Sabino Romero Assassinated