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“Humanity Has Lost a Titan”: Interview with William I. Robinson on the Legacy of Hugo Chavez

Eleftherotypia | March 20, 2013

The progressive cause in Latin America but also worldwide has lost one of its most visible leaders.  How would you describe the political ideology professed by Hugo Chavez and his Venezuelan United Socialist Party?

Humanity has lost a titan with the passing of Hugo Chavez. Without doubt Chavez is the most important revolutionary leader to have emerged in Latin America – indeed, from the Global South – in at least a generation, if not in a century. When Chavez came to power in 1999 it was the heyday of neo-liberal hegemony in Latin America and around the world. Chavez’ election irked the Venezuelan bourgeoisie and raised eyebrows in the halls of power in Washington and elsewhere. But it was not until the April 2001 Summit of the Americas meeting in Quebec, Canada, that the direction Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution would take became clear. Chavez was the only head of state among the 24 hemispheric leaders present at that meeting who refused to sign on to the declaration approving the creation of a Free Trade Area of the Americas that, if approved, would have created by 2005 a giant free trade zone from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego. It was at that moment that neo-liberalism definitively lost its hegemony.

But Chavez not only rejected neo-liberalism. He put socialism back on the public agenda at a time when apologists for global capitalism were still claiming it was “the End of History” and when the defeatist left was insisting that we had to be “realistic” and “pragmatic,” to renounce anti-capitalism, and to limit ourselves to putting a “human face” on the capitalist system. Chavez called for a renewed democratic socialism – what he and the PUSV called “21st century socialism” – a socialism based on the protagonism and democratic control of the popular classes from below, as evinced in the 40,000 Communal Councils, the tens of thousands of worker cooperatives, and the thousands of public enterprises run by workers councils in Venezuela. It is apropos to recall these experiences in Venezuela take place at a time when the Greek and other European peoples are reeling under the austerity imposed by the brutal dictatorship of transnational finance capital.

In an era in which socialists in the west have embraced wholeheartedly the neoliberal project, on Chavez’s watch, the oil industry in Venezuela was nationalized, government spending increased substantially (up to 40% in 2012), and welfare projects were initiated on a massive scale. What challenges did Chavez have to overcome in order to accomplish these goals?

The anti-Chavista forces, Washington, and the international media are fond of saying that Chavez “polarized” Venezuela. But Venezuela was polarized long before Chavez came to power, with a tiny capitalist class and state elite and a sizable middle class on the one side – approximately some 30 percent of the Venezuelan population – and the impoverished majority on the other side. Above all Chavez reverted the country’s oil wealth to this majority. The re-nationalization of the oil industry allowed the Chavez government to redirect state resources towards this poor majority. The social achievements of the Bolivarian revolution are now well known: poverty was cut by more than half, from over 60 percent to some 25 percent of the population, and extreme poverty dropped from 25 percent to some seven percent; health and education became universally accessible; life expectancy rose from 74.5 to 79.5 years; unemployment dropped from 12 percent to 6 percent; hundreds of thousands of new homes have been constructed ; and so on.

But these achievements, and more generally, the effort to reorient the country’s resources to the poor majority, came at the cost of the enmity of the bourgeoisie and much of the middle classes, of Washington, and of the Latin American oligarchies and capitalist classes. The Chavista government faced ever more intense destabilization campaigns, including attempted coups, military and paramilitary plots, political conspiracies, disinformation and misinformation (of which much of the international press has been willing accomplices), employee strikes and economic sabotage, and so on. The country has faced a war of attrition that has taken a heavy toll.

Moreover, the drive to construct socialism has taken place within a capitalist global economy. Some 70 percent of the Venezuelan economy is still in private hands, including the financial system, and the country remains dependent on international oil companies and markets. The material power of national and transnational capital translates into continued political and ideological influence. The law of value and its logic is still very much operative in the economy.

The strategy has been to develop and state and cooperative sector to compete with private national and transnational capital; it has not been to replace the logic of accumulation with a social logic as much as it has been to develop a social logic in the state and cooperative sector alongside the logic of accumulation that remains operative for the economy as a whole. This has generated structural as well as political and ideological contradictions. With regard to the former, for instance, inflation has become a serious problem as has a black market in the currency. This is the challenge of 21st century socialism “in one country.”

Under Chavez, Venezuela had established very special relations with Cuba. Was the relationship mutually beneficial to both countries?

Chavez developed a close friendship with Fidel Castro and the two have worked closely together in confronting Washington’s political and economic domination in the region. Economic relations between the two countries on not based on the criteria of profitability and trade advantage but on solidarity and complementarity. Cuba receives Venezuelan oil in exchange for Cuba sending medical brigades and other forms of social assistance. Yet Chavez stated on numerous occasions that Venezuela is constructing its own model of socialism. Sure the relationship has been mutually beneficial, but more to the point, that relationship reflects the broader matter of international political and economic relations among socialist-oriented countries, or countries whose governments are seeking relations based on cooperation and solidarity rather than on competition.

Venezuela (together with Cuba) has played a leadership role in Latin America in forging a political union, economic integration, and an alternative regional cooperation and development model based on solidarity rather than profit and driven by member states rather than transnational corporations and such international financial agencies as the IMF and the World Bank. In 2004 Venezuela and Cuba set up the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA to promote integration and solidarity on the principle of solidarity not competition. Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and several other countries have joined ALBA. While Venezuela has provided oil on concessionary terms through ALBA, it has, more importantly, promoted projects such as a regional bank and currency, regional public agricultural and industrial enterprises, and joint infrastructural, social, and communications programs. In December 2011 the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, or CELAC, held its inaugural summit in Caracas. The CELAC brings together every country in the hemisphere excluding the United States and Canada and is a direct political challenge to Washington’s historic domination in the region.

Beyond Latin America, Venezuela has diversified its international economic relations – China is becoming the major trading and investment partner – and promoted South-South cooperation. Venezuela has come out strongly in support of the Palestinian struggle and other such causes, and against U.S. intervention around the world, even when it has cost the country political capital and economic support internationally. In sum, Venezuela has pursued not a self-interested and opportunistic foreign policy such as that of the former Soviet Union but one based on what would be true socialist principles of solidarity and cooperation.

Socialism in Latin America is on an upwards spiral since the late 2000s. What explains its rise at this particular historical juncture?

It is not difficult to understand the rise of socialism, or certainly, the spiral of anti-capitalism. In the wake of the 1970s crisis of world capitalism the bourgeoisie in the centers of the system, together with state elites and organic intellectuals who serve that bourgeoisie, launched capitalist globalization and undertook a vast new round of “primitive accumulation” around the world, destabilizing hundreds of millions of people. One of the key vehicles for this new round of capitalist expansion was neo-liberalism, a program which has facilitated the transfer of resources from the poor and working classes everywhere to a new transnational capitalist class, especially transnational finance capital, and to emerging middle and professional strata enjoying the fruits of the new global capitalism. Very simply, global capitalism has thrown countless millions into misery and uncertainty. The system has demonstrated that it is a failure for a majority of humanity.

It is in this context that starting in the late 1990s resistance forces around the world began to coalesce into a critical anti-capitalist mass and the banner of “another world is possible” was raised. But what kind of a new world? It is in this context that the Bolivarian revolution and its worldwide impact must be understood. And it is in this context that the extraordinary vision, charisma, and foresightedness of Hugo Chavez must be appreciated. Venezuela under Chavez, much more than resistance to global capitalism, is an example that a new world truly can – and must – be created, once based on the principles and practices of democratic socialism, if not on the label.

Venezuela will hold presidential elections on April 14. Will the United Socialist Party manage to sustain the momentum without Chavez, especially since it is a well known fact that his party is fractured by intra-party rivalries?

The greatest danger to the Bolivarian revolution, in my view, has always come from within, from the “endogenous right,” or the “Chavista right-wing,” that is, from portions of the Chavista movement that wish to see in Venezuela a more mild social democratic project and also from bureaucratic state and party elites who are more interested in acquiring their own power, privilege, and authority, often through corruption, than in helping to develop the self-empowerment of the working and popular classes. Yes, there are intra-party rivalries but I think that in the larger political analysis these must be seen in light of the struggle to avoid a bureaucratic top-down hijacking of power-from-below.

Nicolas Maduro has been a leader of the radical left for several decades and comes from a trade-union background. The Chavista movement has rallied around his leadership and his candidacy. He has proven, since Chavez moved into a terminal state in December, that he is a capable leader and the Chavista mass base understands that its struggle to defend and to deepen its revolution is now tied to electoral support for Maduro’s candidacy in the upcoming vote.

William I Robinson is Professor of Sociology, Global Studies, and Latin American Studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara, and author among other books of Latin America and Global Capitalism (2008).

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to Read Stories About Israel in the NY Times (Hint: Very Carefully)

By Peter Hart | FAIR | March 21, 2013

Some days the Newspaper of Record says a lot–not always in ways you might expect.

Today (3/21/13) a story by Mark Landler and Rick Gladstone about allegations of chemical weapons in Syria includes something you see often–anonymous government sources. That can often be a bad thing; but today it’s pretty useful:

Two senior Israeli officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak, said that Israel was sure that chemicals were used, but did not have details about what type of weapons were used, where they came from, when they were deployed, or by whom.

A third senior official, also refusing to be identified, said, “It is possible that chemical weapons were used, or some concoction of chemical substances,” but he said he had not “seen clear confirmation.”

Why is this helpful? Because other Israeli officials, speaking publicly and for attribution, pretended to be more certain. From the very same Times piece:

Two senior ministers in Israel’s new cabinet said publicly on Wednesday that chemical weapons had been used, and several government officials said in interviews that Israel had credible evidence of an attack. The ministers, Tzipi Livni and Yuval Steinetz, were among those who met with Mr. Obama here on the first day of his trip.

and:

Israeli officials provided no proof of their assertions but appeared more confident that chemical weapons had been used.

Ms. Livni, the new Israeli justice minister, said in an interview with CNN, “It’s clear for us here in Israel that it’s being used,” adding, “This, I believe, should be on the table in the discussions.”

Mr. Steinetz, the minister for strategic affairs, said on Israel’s Army Radio, “It’s apparently clear that chemical weapons have been used against civilians by the rebels or the government.”

So is the Times, in its own way, telling us not to trust the officials speaking on the record? That’s certainly one way to read the piece.

Elsewhere in the paper we learn that part of Barack Obama’s visit to Israel includes a look at the country’s “Iron Dome” missile defense system, which is funded by the U.S. government. In one story, by Mark Landler and Jodi Rudoren, we read this:

Mr. Obama was driven across the tarmac to inspect a battery of the Iron Dome air-defense system. The system, built by Israeli companies but financed by the United States, is credited with intercepting more than 400 rockets fired from Gaza at Israeli towns….

Israeli officials say that Iron Dome has been a huge success, intercepting 86 percent of the 521 incoming rockets it engaged in the Gaza conflict. Some American missile-defense experts have questioned that figure, putting the hit rate at closer to 10 percent.

So they either knock down almost every rocket, or almost none. That’s pretty unhelpful; but the Times has another piece that actually digs into the evidence (“Weapons Experts Raise Doubts About Israel’s Antimissile System”). According to this account, “a growing chorus of weapons experts in the United States and in Israel…suggest that Iron Dome destroyed no more than 40 percent of incoming warheads and perhaps far fewer.”

One former Pentagon official says there’s no system that is 90 percent effective. And the article, by William Broad, includes this:

Theodore A. Postol, a physicist at M.I.T. who helped reveal the Patriot antimissile failures of 1991, analyzed the new videos and found that Iron Dome repeatedly failed to hit its targets head-on. He concluded that the many dives, loops and curls of the interceptors resulted in diverse angles of attack that made it nearly impossible to destroy enemy warheads.

“It’s very hard to see how it could be more than 5 or 10 percent,” Dr. Postol said.

Mordechai Shefer, an Israeli rocket scientist formerly with Rafael, Iron Dome’s maker, studied nearly two dozen videos and, in a paper last month, concluded that the kill rate was zero.

Reading all of that, it’s hard to imagine anyone could really believe the Israeli claims about Iron Dome’s success rate.

So if you want to get a handle on Iron Dome, ignore the story on page 10 and pay attention to the story on page 11. And if you’re trying to figure out which Israeli officials to trust on the Syria chemical weapons story, the unnamed sources seem to be the ones who are more forthright about what they know.

That’s a lot to ask of readers, isn’t it?

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Looking Back at Iraq With… Michael Gordon?

By Peter Hart | FAIR | March 20, 2013

gordon

The performance of the corporate media is one of the principal failures of the Iraq War. There are almost too many examples to name; but most critics agree that one of the most instrumental single pieces that made the false case for war was the front-page New York Times story (9/8/02) hyping the idea that Iraq was trying to procure special aluminum tubes for its nuclear weapons program.

Last night in its 10-years-later segment,  the PBS NewsHour (3/19/13) made a rather stunning judgment: One of the two expert journalists was the guy who co-authored that piece.

New York Times reporter Michael Gordon was the lead author on that infamous tubes article, but his record goes deeper than that. A few days into the U.S. bombing (3/25/13), Gordon appeared on CNN to endorse the bombing of Iraqi TV’s offices, calling it “an appropriate target,” since “we’re trying to send the exact opposite message.”

When U.S. politicians began to seriously consider a withdrawal of U.S. troops, Gordon criticized that policy, especially in one article  (11/15/06) headlined, “Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say” (FAIR Media Advisory, 12/4/06). He went on the Charlie Rose show (1/18/07) to endorse a troop surge. (Even the Washington Post admits that the idea that the surge succeeded is a “myth”–3/15/13.) And in early 2007, Gordon wrote articles, relying heavily on anonymous U.S. sources, alleging that the Iranian government was sending weapons into Iraq (Action Alert, 2/16/07).

So why would Gordon be someone you’d want to listen to about the Iraq War? That’s hard to say, really. But Gordon had plenty to tell PBS viewers. He complained that the Obama White House wasn’t interested enough in Iraq–leading to “the decline of American influence.” As he put it:

I think they view Iraq as just another country. They don’t have the same emotional or psychological or even foreign policy stake in it that the previous administration had.

Gordon added that the U.S. military “see a lot of early mistakes in the first years” of the war, but that “I do think the surge, as a military operation and military strategy, was effective and was essential.”

When one of the hosts, Judy Woodruff, asked about the war’s legacy, he replied: “Well, I think the military learned how to do counterinsurgency. The public opinion may no longer support that, but forever is a long time. And I think you can’t say we won’t have to do that again at some point in the future.”

And if there is ever another moment that requires reporters to faithfully record the views of anonymous U.S. officials as they make their case for war, it’s a safe bet that Michael Gordon will be there to do that job.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Under CISPA, Who Can Get Your Data?

By Rainey Reitman | EFF | March 20, 2013

Under CISPA, companies can collect your information in order to “protect the rights and property” of the company, and then share that information with third parties, including the government, so long as it is for “cybersecurity purposes.” Companies aren’t required to strip out personally identifiable information from the data they give to the government, and the government can then use the information for purposes wholly unrelated to cybersecurity – such as “national security,” a term the bill leaves undefined.

One question we sometimes get is: Under CISPA, which government agencies can receive this data? For example, could the FBI, NSA, or Immigration and Customs Enforcement receive data if CISPA were to pass?

The answer is yes. Any government agency could receive data from companies if this were to pass, meaning identifiable data could be flowing to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the National Security Agency, or even the Food and Drug Administration.

Below is a list of agencies that could get your data under CISPA (Thanks, Wikipedia!). Note that this is just agencies we’ve identified; it’s possible there are even more we haven’t listed here.

Find this offensive and deeply concerning? Email Congress today to oppose CISPA.

Under CISPA, which government agencies can get your data?

Executive Office of the President

Agencies within the Executive Office of the President:

Council of Economic Advisers
Council on Environmental Quality
Domestic Policy Council
National Economic Council
National Security Council
Office of Administration
Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Office of Management and Budget
Office of National AIDS Policy
Office of National Drug Control Policy
Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement
Office of Science and Technology Policy
Office of the President
Office of the First Lady
Office of the First Children
Office of the Vice President
Office of the Second Lady
Office of the Second Children
President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board
President’s Intelligence Oversight Board
President’s Intelligence Advisory Board
United States Trade Representative
White House Office
White House Military Office

United States Department of Agriculture

Agencies within the Department of Agriculture:

Agricultural Marketing Service
Agricultural Research Service
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion
Economic Research Service
Farm Service Agency
Commodity Credit Corporation
Food and Nutrition Service
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Foreign Agricultural Service
Forest Service
Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration
Marketing and Regulatory Programs
National Agricultural Statistics Service
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
4-H
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Risk Management Agency
Federal Crop Insurance Corporation
Rural Business and Cooperative Programs
Office of Rural Development
Research, Education and Economics
Rural Housing Service
Rural Utilities Service

United States Department of Commerce

Agencies within the Department of Commerce:

Census Bureau
Bureau of Economic Analysis
Bureau of Industry and Security
Economic Development Administration
Economics and Statistics Administration
Export Enforcement
Import Administration
International Trade Administration
Office of Travel and Tourism Industries
Invest in America
Manufacturing and Services
Marine and Aviation Operations
Market Access and Compliance
Minority Business Development Agency
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
NOAA Commissioned Corps
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
National Marine Fisheries Service
National Oceanic Service
National Weather Service
National Telecommunications and Information Administration
Patent and Trademark Office
National Institute of Standards and Technology
National Technical Information Service
Trade Promotion and the U.S. And Foreign Commercial Service

United States Department of Defense

Agencies within the Department of Defense:

Department of the Army
United States Army
Army Intelligence and Security Command
Army Corps of Engineers
Department of the Navy
United States Navy
Office of Naval Intelligence
U.S. Naval Academy
Marine Corps
Marine Corps Intelligence Activity
Department of the Air Force
United States Air Force
Civil Air Patrol
Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency
Joint Chiefs of Staff
J-2 Intelligence
National Guard Bureau
Natural Disaster and Disaster Help Program
J-2 Intelligence Directorate
Air National Guard
Army National Guard
America Citizen Militia
America Citizen Militia Intelligence
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Defense Commissary Agency
Defense Contract Audit Agency
Defense Contract Management Agency
Defense Finance and Accounting Service
Defense Information Systems Agency
Defense Intelligence Agency
Defense Logistics Agency
Defense Security Cooperation Agency
Defense Security Service
Defense Technical Information Center
Defense Threat Reduction Agency
Missile Defense Agency
National Security Agency
Central Security Service
National Reconnaissance Office
National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
Naval Criminal Investigative Service
Pentagon Force Protection Agency
United States Pentagon Police
American Forces Information Service
Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office
Department of Defense Education Activity
Department of Defense Dependents Schools
Defense Human Resources Activity
Office of Economic Adjustment
TRICARE Management Activity
Washington Headquarters Services
West Point Military Academy

United States Department of Education

Agencies within the Department of Education:

Federal Student Aid
Institute of Education Sciences
National Center for Education Statistics
National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
Education Resources Information Center
National Center for Education Research
National Center for Special Education Research
National Assessment Governing Board
National Assessment of Educational Progress
Office for Civil Rights
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
Office of Safe and Healthy Students
Office of Postsecondary Education
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research
Office of Special Education Programs
Rehabilitation Services Administration
Special institutions
American Printing House for the Blind
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Gallaudet University
Office of Vocational and Adult Education

United States Department of Energy

List of agencies within the Department of Energy:

Energy Information Administration
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
National Laboratories & Technology Centers
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
National Nuclear Security Administration
Power Marketing Administrations:
Bonneville Power Administration
Southeastern Power Administration
Southwestern Power Administration
Western Area Power Administration

United States Department of Health and Human Services

Agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services:

Administration on Aging
Administration for Children and Families
Administration for Children, Youth and Families
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Epidemic Intelligence Service
National Center for Health Statistics
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Food and Drug Administration
Reagan-Udall Foundation
Health Resources and Services Administration
Patient Affordable Healthcare Care Act Program {to be implemented fully in 2014}
Independent Payment Advisory Board
Indian Health Service
National Institutes of Health
National Health Intelligence Service
Public Health Service
Federal Occupational Health
Office of the Surgeon General
United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

United States Department of Homeland Security

Agencies

Federal Emergency Management Agency
FEMA Corps
U.S. Fire Administration
National Flood Insurance Program
Federal Law Enforcement Training Center
Transportation Security Administration
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
United States Coast Guard (Transfers to Department of Defense during declared war or national emergency)
Coast Guard Intelligence
National Ice Center
United States Ice Patrol
United States Customs and Border Protection
Office of Air and Marine
Office of Border Patrol
U.S. Border Patrol
Border Patrol Intelligence
Office of Field Operations
United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
United States Secret Service
Secret Service Intelligence Service

Offices

Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
Office of Health Affairs
Office of Component Services
Office of International Affairs and Global Health Security
Office of Medical Readiness
Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Biodefense
Office of Intelligence and Analysis
Office of Operations Coordination
Office of Policy
Homeland Security Advisory Council
Office of International Affairs
Office of Immigration Statistics
Office of Policy Development
Office for State and Local Law Enforcement
Office of Strategic Plans
Private Sector Office

Management

Directorate for Management

National Protection and Programs

National Protection and Programs Directorate
Federal Protective Service
Office of Cybersecurity and Communications
National Communications System
National Cyber Security Division
United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team
Office of Emergency Communications
Office of Infrastructure Protection
Office of Risk Management and Analysis
United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology (US-VISIT)

Science and Technology

Science and Technology Directorate
Environmental Measurements Laboratory

Portfolios

Innovation/Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency
Office of Research
Office of National Laboratories
Office of University Programs
Program Executive Office, Counter Improvised Explosive Device
Office of Transition
Commercialization Office
Long Range Broad Agency Announcement Office
Product Transition Office
Safety Act Office
Technology Transfer Office

Divisions

Border and Maritime Security Division
Chemical and Biological Division
Command, Control and Interoperability Division
Explosives Division
Human Factors Division
Infrastructure/Geophysical Division

Offices and Institutes

Business Operations Division
Executive Secretariat Office
Human Capital Office
Key Security Office
Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Planning and Management
Corporate Communications Division
Interagency and First Responders Programs Division
International Cooperative Programs Office
Operations Analysis Division
Homeland Security Studies and Analysis Institute
Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute
Strategy, Policy and Budget Division
Special Programs Division
Test & Evaluation and Standards Division

United States Department of Housing and Urban Development

Agencies

Federal Housing Administration
Federal Housing Finance Agency

Offices

Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (HUD)
Departmental Enforcement Center
Office of Community Planning and Development
Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations
Office of Equal Employment Opportunity
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
Office of Field Policy and Management
Office of the General Counsel
Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control
Office of Hearings and Appeals
Office of Labor Relations
Office of Policy Development and Research
Office of Public Affairs
Office of Public and Indian Housing
Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities

Corporation

Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae)

United States Department of the Interior

Agencies:

Bureau of Indian Affairs
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
Fish and Wildlife Service
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (formerly Minerals Management Service)
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (formerly Minerals Management Service)
National Park Service
Office of Insular Affairs
Office of Surface Mining
National Mine Map Repository
United States Geological Survey

United States Department of Justice

Agencies:

Antitrust Division
Asset Forfeiture Program
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Civil Division
Civil Rights Division
Community Oriented Policing Services
Community Relations Service
Criminal Division
Diversion Control Program
Drug Enforcement Administration
Environment and Natural Resources Division
Executive Office for Immigration Review
Executive Office for Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces
Executive Office for United States Attorneys
Executive Office for United States Trustees
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Federal Bureau of Prisons
UNICOR
Foreign Claims Settlement Commission
INTERPOL – United States National Central Bureau
Justice Management Division
National Crime Information Center
National Drug Intelligence Center
National Institute of Corrections
National Security Division
Office of the Associate Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Office of Attorney Recruitment and Management
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Office of the Deputy Attorney General
Office of Dispute Resolution
Office of the Federal Detention Trustee
Office of Information Policy
Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison
Office of Intelligence and Analysis
Office of Justice Programs
Bureau of Justice Assistance
Bureau of Justice Statistics
Community Capacity Development Office
National Criminal Justice Reference Service
National Institute of Justice
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Office for Victims of Crime
Office of Legal Counsel
Office of Legal Policy
Office of Legislative Affairs
Office of the Pardon Attorney
Office of Privacy and Civil Liberties
Office of Professional Responsibility
Office of Public Affairs
Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking
Office of the Solicitor General
Office of Special Counsel
Office of Tribal Justice
Office on Violence Against Women
Professional Responsibility Advisory Office
Tax Division
United States Attorneys
United States Marshals
United States Parole Commission
United States Trustee Program

United States Department of Labor

Agencies and Bureaus

Bureau of International Labor Affairs
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (DOL)
Employee Benefits Security Administration
Employment and Training Administration
Job Corps
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Occupational Safety and Health Administration
Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation
Veterans’ Employment and Training Service
Wage and Hour Division
Women’s Bureau

Boards

Administrative Review Board
Benefits Review Board
Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board

Offices

Office of Administrative Law Judges
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy
Office of the Chief Financial Officer
Office of the Chief Information Officer
Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs
Office of Disability Employment Policy
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs
Office of Labor-Management Standards
Office of the Solicitor
Office of Worker’s Compensation Program
Ombudsman for the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program

United States Department of State

Agencies and Bureaus

National Council for the Traditional Arts

Reporting to the Secretary

Bureau of Intelligence and Research
Bureau of Legislative Affairs
Office of the Legal Adviser

Reporting to the Deputy Secretary for Management and Resources

Executive Secretariat
Office of the Chief of Protocol
Office for Civil Rights
Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Office of the United States Global AIDS Coordinator
Office of Global Criminal Justice
Policy Planning Staff

Reporting to the Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security

Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance

Reporting to the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs

Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons

Reporting to the Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs

Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs

Reporting to the Under Secretary for Management

Bureau of Administration
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Overseas Citizens Services
Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS)
Diplomatic Security Service (DSS)
Office of Foreign Missions (OFM)
Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
Bureau of Human Resources
Family Liaison Office
Bureau of Information Resource Management
Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations
Bureau of Resource Management
Foreign Service Institute
Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing and Innovation

Reporting to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs

Bureau of African Affairs
Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs
Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs
Bureau of International Organization Affairs
Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Reporting to the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
Bureau of International Information Programs
Bureau of Public Affairs
Office of the Historian
Office of Policy, Planning and Resources for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Permanent Diplomatic Missions

United States Mission to the African Union
United States Mission to ASEAN
United States mission to the Arab League
United States mission to the Council of Europe (and to all other European Agencies)
United States Mission to International Organizations in Vienna
United States Mission to the European Union
United States Mission to the International Civil Aviation Organization
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March 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Brian Haw and the Right to Protest

10 Years on

By Lesley Docksey | Dissident Voice |  March 21st, 2013

It is sad that well-known peace campaigners should drop below the radar, not just of the politicians who hate them, but of the so-called peace campaigners who idolised them when they were still there.  One such man, who dedicated the last 10 years of his life to confronting the UK Parliament with their outrageous decision to invade Iraq, was Brian Haw.

As a committed Christian and a father, and angered by the sanctions the West had imposed on Iraq that resulted in the tragic and avoidable deaths of too many Iraqi children, Brian left his home and arrived in London.  More particularly, he arrived in Parliament Square, where he camped at the side of the road facing the Houses of Parliament.  Always, for those of us who continued to protest about the invasion of Iraq and the awful damage our actions were doing to that nation, Brian was a figurehead, an inspiration.  Few of us could claim his courage, his determination and his perseverance.

For nearly ten years he stayed – night after night of sleeping on the pavement, in all weathers and with little protection.  Nothing the police or Parliament did could break him and make him move.  Brian’s protest caused them no end of problems as he and his anti-war placards and banners were a constant reminder of all the lies that were told in the run up to the attack on Iraq in 2003 and continued to be told to justify the invasion.  Members of Parliament had to pass his huge collection of displays and peace messages every time they went in and out of the Parliament.

In their haste to be rid of this ‘turbulent priest’ of a campaigner, who harangued MPs daily with his megaphone as they went into the august halls of Westminster, reminding them of their ghastly error in backing up Tony Blair and his eagerness to invade Iraq, the then Home Secretary David Blunkett introduced the bill SOCPA (Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005) which was aimed at removing Brian by banning protests within 1 km (about half a mile) of Parliament without police permission.  This came into effect on 1 August 2005.  But where else should we protest for peace if not outside the place that had rubber-stamped Blair’s desire to illegally attack Iraq?

Comedian Mark Thomas headed an action to keep protest going within the legal 1 km. He wanted to demonstrate how very ludicrous this ban was.  To quote Mark: “The point is simply that if one person with a banner can be deemed to be a protester by the police and they need to get a licence six days in advance to enter the designated zone, then we have reached a state of absurdity.” And it is true, if hardly believable, that one woman in Parliament Square was threatened with arrest for having an iced cake with ‘Peace’ written on it.  On certain days individual protestors, who had each registered their very individual protests with the police (including, for instance, the right to jump off Westminster Bridge) held their protests within the designated zone.  It made the new law look very stupid indeed.

But so hasty had Parliament’s action been in creating this law that when it was challenged, they discovered that the one person they had failed to ban was Haw himself!  So he stayed — and stayed.  For some time he was alone, although visited (and supported) by many well-wishers.  He became a tourist attraction.  MPs complained that they could not properly debate in the chamber because of the noise of his megaphone protest in the Square outside – presumably the constant traffic noise complete with police and ambulance sirens is conducive to a good debate!

In May 2006 his much-photographed display of placards and banners was reduced from 40 metres to just 3 metres by a night raid of some 78 police (which cost a staggering £27,000).  Not so oddly, this happened within hours of artist Mark Wallinger showing two curators from the Tate Gallery Brian’s display and announcing he wanted to recreate it for an exhibition.  Never the less, Mark had his way and the exhibition, State Britain, ran at the Tate from January to August 2007.

Brian continued to protest with his truncated display despite numerous arrests and assaults.  He was on crutches for his last years in the Square – the result of the not-so-gentle arrest techniques of the famed London Bobby.  He died of cancer in June 2011 and the world is a poorer place.

Brian was joined in December 2005 by Melbourne-born Barbara Tucker.  While Brian had some legal authority to stay there, Barbara didn’t, which has meant that she has been arrested an astonishing 47 times while in the square, usually on a charge of ‘unauthorized demonstration’.  When Brian died she nobly carried on.  She has served two short spells in Holloway prison as well as suffering constant harassment from police, heritage wardens and passing rowdies.

Until January 2012 she had a tent but that was confiscated under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (PRSA).  After that she sat in a chair on the pavement trying to sleep under a large green umbrella wrapped up in multiple layers of clothing.  She has slept in the open for over a year now without a tent and has been treated for exposure.  In the hope of getting her confiscated tent back, Barbara took the decision to go on hunger strike, starting on December 27th 2012.

While Brian managed to achieve some media recognition for his stance, Barbara has had little to none.  The latest reference I can find to her hunger strike dates from January 10th.  She and her colleague Neil Kerslake are no longer in the Square and have not been seen for some weeks – disappeared, tidied away perhaps, so as to make the 10th anniversary of the invasion a little less contentious.

One day maybe, when the world stops fighting needless, illegal and cruel wars, people will finally give these dedicated campaigners the recognition they deserve.  I’d like to see a statue of Brian in Parliament Square, confronting Westminster and challenging its dishonesty and hypocrisy as he did for so many cold hard years.  Until then, those of us who still call ourselves peace campaigners should at least make the effort to remember how much he once meant to us all.  Parliament may not like dissenters – I for one do.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Hope and Pain: Rachel Corrie’s Rafah Legacy

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | March 19, 2013

‘Hi Papa .. Don’t worry about me too much, right now I am most concerned that we are not being effective. I still don’t feel particularly at risk. Rafah has seemed calmer lately,’ Rachel Corrie wrote to her father, Craig, from Rafah, a town located at the southern end of the Gaza Strip.

‘Rachel’s last email’ was not dated on the Rachel Corrie Foundation website. It must have been written soon after her last email to her mother, Cindy, on Feb 28. She was killed by an Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003.

Immediately after her painful death, crushed beneath an Israeli army bulldozer, Rafah embraced her legacy as another ‘martyr’ for Palestine. It was a befitting tribute to Rachel, who was born to a progressive family in the town of Olympia, itself a hub for anti-war and social justice activism. But Olympia is also the capital of Washington State. Politicians here can be as callous, morally flexible and pro-Israel as any other seats of government in the US, where sharply dressed men and women jockey for power and influence. Ten years after Rachel’s death, the US government is yet to hold Israel to account. Neither is justice expected anytime soon.

Bordering Egyptian and Israeli fences, and ringed by some of the poorest refugee camps anywhere, Rafah has never ceased being a news topic in years. The town’s gallantry of the First Palestinian Uprising (Intifada) in 1987 was the stuff of legends among other resisting towns, villages and refugee camps in Gaza and the rest of Palestine. The Israeli army used Rafah as a testing ground for a lesson to be taught to the rest of Palestinians. Thus, its list of ‘martyrs’ is one of the longest, and it is unlikely to stop growing anytime soon. Many of Rafah’s finest perished digging tunnels into Egypt to break the Israeli economic blockade that followed Palestine’s democratic elections in 2006. Buried under heaps of mud, drowning in Egyptian sewage water, or pulverized by Israeli missiles, some of Rafah’s men are yet to be located for proper burial.

Rafah agonized for many years, not least because it was partially encircled by a cluster of illegal Jewish settlements – Slav, Atzmona, Pe’at Sadeh, Gan Or and others. The residents of Rafah were deprived of security, freedom, and even for extended periods of time, access to the adjacent sea, so that the illegal colonies could enjoy security, freedom and private beaches. Even when the settlements were dismantled in 2005, Rafah became largely entrapped between the Israeli military border, incursions, Egyptian restrictions and an unforgiving siege. True to form, Rafah continues to resist.

Rachel and her International Solidarity Movement (ISM) friends must have appreciated the challenge at hand and the brutality by which the Israeli army conducted its business. Reporting for the British Independent newspaper from Rafah, Justin Huggler wrote on Dec. 23, 2003: “Stories of civilians being killed pour out of Rafah, turning up on the news wires in Jerusalem almost every week. The latest, an 11-year-old girl shot as she walked home from school on Saturday.” His article was entitled: “In Rafah, the children have grown so used to the sound of gunfire they can’t sleep without it.” He too “fell asleep to the sound of the guns.”

Rafah was affiliated with other ominous realities, one being house demolitions. In its report, Razing Rafah, published Oct 18, 2004, Human Rights Watch mentioned some very disturbing numbers. Of the 2,500 houses demolished by Israel in Gaza between 2000-04, “nearly two-thirds of these homes were in Rafah… Sixteen thousand people, more than ten percent of Rafah’s population, have lost their homes, most of them refugees, many of whom were dispossessed for a second or third time.” Much of the destruction occurred so that alleyways could be widened to secure Israeli army operations. Israel’s weapon of choice was the Caterpillar D9 bulldozer, which often arrived late at night.

Rachel Corrie was also crushed by the same type of US manufactured and supplied bulldozer that terrorized Rafah for years. It is no wonder that Rachel’s photos and various graffiti paintings adorn many walls of Rafah streets. Commemorating Rachel’s death anniversary for the tenth time, activists in Rafah gathered on March 16. They spoke passionately of the American girl who challenged an Israeli bulldozer so that a Rafah home could remain standing. A 12-year-old girl thanked Rachel for her courage and asked the US government to stop supplying Israel with weapons that are often used against civilians.

While Rafah carried much of the occupation brunt and the vengeance of the Israeli army, its story and that of Rachel’s was merely symbolic of the greater tragedy which has been unfolding in Palestine for many years. Here is a quick summary of the house demolition practice of recent years, according to the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions, also published in Al Jazeera August 2012:

The Israeli government destroyed 22 homes in East Jerusalem and 222 homes in West Bank in 2011, leaving nearly 1,200 people homeless. During the war on Gaza (Dec 2008 – Jan 2009), it destroyed 4,455 homes, leaving 20,000 Palestinians displaced and unable to rebuild due to the restrictions imposed by the siege. (Other reports give much higher estimates.) Since 1967, the Israeli government destroyed 25,000 homes in the occupied territories, rendered 160,000 Palestinians homeless. Numbers can be even grimmer if one is to take into account those who were killed and wounded during clashes linked to the destruction of these homes.

So, when Rachel Corrie stood with a megaphone and an orange high-visibility jacket trying to dissuade an Israeli bulldozer driver from demolishing yet another Palestinian home, the stakes were already high. And despite the inhumane caricaturing of her act by pro-Israeli US and other western media, and the expected Israeli court ruling last August, Rachel’s brave act and her subsequent murder stand at the heart of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It highlighted the ruthlessness of the Israeli army, put to shame Tel Aviv’s judicial system, confronted the international community with its utter failure to provide protection for Palestinian civilians and raised the bar even higher for the international solidarity movement.

The Israel court verdict last August was particularly sobering and should bring to an end any wishful thinking that Israel’s self-tailored judicial system is capable of achieving justice, neither for a Palestinian, nor an American. “I reached the conclusion that there was no negligence on the part of the bulldozer driver,” Judge Oded Gershon said as he read out his verdict in a Haifa District Court in northern Israel. Rachel’s parents had filed a law suit, requesting a symbolic $1 in damages and legal expenses. Gershon rejected the suit, delineated that Rachel was not a ‘reasonable person’ and, once more blamed the victim, as has been the case with thousands of Palestinians for many years. “Her death is the result of an accident she brought upon herself,” he said. It all sounded as though demolishing homes as a form of collective punishment was just another ‘reasonable’ act, deserving of legal protection. In fact, per Israeli occupation rules, it is.

Rachel’s legacy will survive even Gershon’s charade court proceeding and much more. Her sacrifice is now etched into a much larger landscape of Palestinian heroism and pain.

“I think freedom for Palestine could be an incredible source of hope to people struggling all over the world,” she wrote to her mother nearly two weeks before her death. “I think it could also be an incredible inspiration to Arab people in the Middle East, who are struggling under undemocratic regimes which the US supports.”

Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Strike begins at Chinese uranium mine in Niger

Press TV – March 20, 2013

Workers at a China National Nuclear Corporation (SinoU) uranium mine in northern Niger have gone on a 72-hour strike, trade union officials say.

On Tuesday, Boubacar Mamane, a spokesman for the Syntramines labor union, said 680 workers at SinoU have gone on strike to demand better wages and bonus payments, Reuters reported.

“Management refused to pay our allowances and production bonus despite having promised to do so last year. If nothing is done, we will launch an unlimited strike,” Mamane said.

SinoU officials and the Nigerien government, which owns 33 percent of the mine, were not available to comment on the action.

SinoU and its partners have a majority stake in the 700 ton-per-year SOMINA mine, whose production kicked off in 2011 and is expected to increase its output to 2,500 tons annually in 2015.

In 2007, SOMINA was established 160 kilometers southwest of Arlit and 150 kilometers northwest of Agadez, in the Agadez region of northern Niger.

Niger is the top supplier of uranium to the nuclear power industry of France.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | Leave a comment

News Black-out and Political Farce over Jerusalem Clashes

By Daud Abdullah  | Dissident Voice | March 20th, 2013

Despite their ferocity, the March 9th 2013 clashes in the Noble Sanctuary of Al-Aqsa failed to make international headlines. The virtual news black-out was indicative of prevailing attitudes towards Jerusalem as a whole. Palestinian officials argue, and rightly so, that even the Arab media is complicit in this neglect. With every outrage committed in Al-Aqsa Mosque tensions rise to boiling point, evoking memories of September 2000 when Ariel Sharon ignited the second intifada with his provocative incursion into the Mosque compound.

Palestinians’ daily harassment at checkpoints, house demolitions and arbitrary arrests at the hands of Israelis are surely bad enough. However, the willful desecration of religious sites and Al-Aqsa Mosque in particular, is one indignity too many. In recent days Israel has taken its violations to new levels with a spate of incursions into the mosque, ending with the defiling of the Holy Qur’an.

Can things get worse? Many are expecting a dramatic turn of events. According to the Chief Imam of Al-Aqsa Mosque, Shaikh Ekrima Sabri, “The arrogance of the Israeli occupation and its on-going provocations will ignite the third uprising and no one will be able to stop it.”

For now, the Israelis are hoping that Mahmoud Abbas and his security forces will prevent this from happening. As a pre-emptive measure they have arrested scores of young men across the West Bank. Abbas vows that he will not allow another intifada. In this regard he is consistent, for he was staunchly opposed to the 2000 uprising. Besides, there is also the spectre of what happened to his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, who was blamed for instigating and encouraging the Aqsa Intifada.

There was, however, no justification for last week’s gratuitous violence. There were no attacks on Israelis or their property. The only Palestinian “crime” was that they protested against the defiling of the Qur’an by an Israeli soldier who was filmed kicking the Holy Book days earlier.

Friday’s attack on worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque left scores injured. Israeli soldiers and Special Forces fired tear gas and rubber-coated metal bullets at worshippers inside the mosque. The obvious conclusion from this is that Israel is determined to raise tensions in the run up to US President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.

The ugly scenes in Islam’s third most sacred mosque were preceded hours before by the desecration of the graves of revered Islamic scholars and sages in Ma’man Allah cemetery. Eighty-five per cent of the cemetery has been seized to build amusement parks, museums and even dog kennels. Two recent developments illustrated the shambolic approach of western politicians and governments to these manifestly criminal acts. The first was a threat from a gutless Canadian government to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority if it resorts to an international court to seek redress against the Israelis. Canada’s Foreign Minister [John Baird] made the announcement at the annual conference of the largest North American pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC. In Britain, meanwhile, opposition leader Ed Miliband declared himself to be a Zionist and warned in a speech to the Board of Deputies of British Jews — the nearest thing to AIPAC on this side of the Atlantic   that any thought of a boycott campaign against Israel is unacceptable. In both instances the message to the occupier was clear; carry on with more of the same illegal and unjust behaviour, we stand shoulder to shoulder with you.

UN Resolution 2787 called “upon all states dedicated to the ideals of freedom and peace to give all their political, moral and material assistance to peoples struggling for liberation, self-determination and independence against colonial and alien domination”; what happened to its lofty ideals? Countries like Canada and Britain appear to have abandoned them when the country being questioned is Israel.

On the ground, the coordination and division of roles between Israel’s army, Jewish settlers, the judiciary and the politicians continue unimpeded. The sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque compound has now, to all intents and purposes, been turned into an Israeli military outpost, contradicting the universal right to worship that all humanity is entitled to. Indeed, days after International Women’s Day, Palestinian women were prevented from attending classes in the mosques spread around Al-Aqsa’s courtyards. The silence of those critics of Islam who have a lot to say about Muslim women being oppressed is deafening in the face of the brutality of Israeli soldiers against Palestinian women.

In the absence of any meaningful political negotiations the politicians should tell us how to protect Palestinian rights. All they are doing at the moment is giving Israel time to realise its ambitions at the expense of Muslims.

These despicable acts of sacrilege will continue for as long as Israel enjoys the support of the US and its western allies. Every failure to act is an incentive which emboldens Israel to impose its administrative control over Al-Aqsa Mosque, to determine who enters the sacred site and when they can enter. These unjustified and deliberate attempts to insult and humiliate Muslims can only add to the dangerous climate of regional instability and move it inexorably towards the abyss of religious confrontation.

Dr. Daud Abdullah can be reached at: daud@memonitor.org.uk.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israeli forces surround new ‘village’

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Ma’an – 21/03/2013

BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces on Wednesday surrounded a new tent village erected by Palestinian activists in Eizariya east of Jerusalem.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said hundreds of Palestinians established “an illegal settlement” and that security forces were in the area “to maintain order.”

She said soldiers arrested the driver of a truck loaded with equipment including tents.

Mohammad Khatib, a spokesman for the activists, said soldiers handed protesters a document declaring the area a closed military zone.

“We are staying. We are Palestinians, and we will stay here. They will have to evacuate us. They will have to use their power to do it, but we will not do it by ourselves,” Khatib told Ma’an.

“We are staying here because this is Palestinian land. This is our land, and no one has a right to evacuate us.”

As US President Barack Obama arrived in Israel, activists set up 15 tents on a hillside near the site of the Bab al-Shams protest village that Israeli forces tore down in January.

They have named the new neighborhood Ahfad Younis, after the main character in the novel Bab al-Shams.

In a statement, the activists described the initiative as “first, to claim our right as Palestinians to return to our lands and villages, second, to claim our sovereignty over our lands without permission from anyone.”

The activists said it aimed to highlight their opposition to the Obama administration’s policies in the region, saying that it has been “complicit in Israeli occupation and colonialism.”

“An administration that used the veto 43 times … in support of Israel and against Palestinian rights, an administration that grants military aid to Israel of over three billion dollars annually, can’t have any positive contribution to achieve justice,” the statement said.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Illegal Anniversary

By Robert Jensen | Dissident Voice | March 20th, 2013

On the 10th anniversary of the United States’ illegal invasion of Iraq, we can expect the war’s supporters to argue that military action seemed necessary at that moment, while critics will remind us of the suffering that resulted from that tragic miscalculation.

But amid the rationalizations and critiques, we should linger on this uncomfortable term: “illegal invasion”.

No matter how much we all ignore it, here is the reality: The U.S. invasion of Iraq was unlawful. The leaders who planned and executed the war are criminals. U.S. citizens bear some responsibility for not holding those leaders accountable.

The charter of the United Nations is clear about when the use of force in international relations is legal. War must be authorized by the U.N. Security Council, and in this case the council rejected a resolution authorizing war. The only other condition under which a member state can go to war is in self-defense when attacked, a principle that is extended to the right to respond to an imminent attack, what is sometimes called “the customary right of anticipatory self-defense.”

The basic principles are uncontroversial and clearly articulated in articles 39 and 51 of the U.N. Charter, though there is debate among legal experts about interpreting terms such as “imminent” and “anticipatory.” But whatever one’s position in those debates, there is no way to stretch the facts of this invasion to justify a self-defense claim.

At this point, many people respond by dismissing international law as irrelevant. Because U.S. policymakers’ first job is to protect Americans, they argue, our leaders shouldn’t be constrained by international law—the Constitution trumps international law or treaties.

But a small problem arises: Article VI of the U.S. Constitution states that “all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States” are part of “the supreme Law of the Land.” Since the United States signed the U.N. Charter (and, in fact, wrote most of it), to reject international law in this matter is to express contempt for the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution. No patriot would dare.

So, back to those uncomfortable conclusions: A decade ago, U.S. leaders launched what under the principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal is called a “crime against peace.” Whether in the course of that crime, U.S. forces also committed war crimes can be debated. For example, should the deliberate bombing of the civilian infrastructure of a country be considered a war crime? What about the use of cluster munitions in ways that predictably kill civilians? I believe both are criminal, but let’s put those more complicated issues aside. The illegality of the invasion itself is not a tough question.

In my travels outside the United States, I have found that the vast majority of people agree that the U.S. invasion was unlawful. Within the United States, mentioning this worldwide consensus typically is considered idealistic and irrelevant. But while we can ignore evidence and logic, and even ignore the world, we can’t escape the implications of those choices.

The moral force of law, domestic or international, lies in the consistent application of clear standards. When laws are applied only to the poor and the rich act with impunity, for example, we understand that as a perversion of the law.

Over and over in the United States, we proclaim our commitment to the rule of law—we are a nation of laws not men. If that were the case, we would turn over to the International Court of Justice high-ranking figures from the Bush administration, which initiated the war; from the Obama administration, which continued the war; from Congress, which enabled the war; and from the military, which prosecuted the war. We would determine the amount of reparations we owe Iraq and begin to make payments. And we would apologize to the Iraqi people, and to the world.

Why is that unthinkable in our political culture? Perhaps it is because we worship power rather than respect law. Perhaps it is because we have no intention of acting on the moral principles we routinely impose on others.

Perhaps it is because we are not the people we tell ourselves we are.

~

Robert Jensen is a professor of journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and and board member of the Third Coast Activist Resource Center in Austin. His latest book is We Are All Apocalyptic Now: On the Responsibilities of Teaching, Preaching, Reporting, Writing, and Speaking Out (Monkey Wrench Books). Jensen is also co-producer of the documentary film Abe Osheroff: One Foot in the Grave, the Other Still Dancing (Media Education Foundation, 2009), which chronicles the life and philosophy of the longtime radical activist. An extended interview Jensen conducted with Osheroff is online. He can be reached at: rjensen@austin.utexas.edu. Twitter: @jensenrobertw.

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US, Israeli missile experts report Iron Dome’s success rate as low as zero

Press TV – March 21, 2013

As American President Barack Obama hailed the ‘resounding success’ of Israel’s Is US-financed Iron Dome antimissile system on the first of his tour there, missile experts have newly unveiled that Iron Dome’s success rate during the regime’s November war on Gaza was as low as zero.

While Obama used his Wednesday’s tour of an Iron Dome installation, “celebrating a technological wonder built with the help of American dollars” and seeking to showcase US support of the Zionist regime, there was no mention about the “intensifying debate” on whether the promotion of the system’s success rate was “more illusory than real,” says a The New York Times article on Thursday.

Contrary to Israeli claims that Iron Dome’s success rate in destroying incoming Palestinian rockets during the regime’s massive military strikes against the blockaded Gaza strip was 90 percent, studies by weapons experts in the US and Israel suggest that the anti-missile system “destroyed no more than 40 percent” of the rockets “and perhaps far fewer,” the report emphasizes.

Many rockets, they argue, were “merely crippled or deflected” but not destroyed as claimed, allowing intact or dying rockets to fall on populated areas.

Following the wildly exaggerated claims by the Israeli regime about Iron Dome’s success rate, the US Congress also described the system as “very effective,” pledging an additional USD680 million for deployments through 2015.

According to the report, Richard Lloyd, a weapons expert who has written a critique of Iron Dome for engineers and weapons designers, and Theodore Postol, a physicist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who helped reveal major Patriot antimissile failures in 1991, analyzed new videos on the performance of the Israeli anti-missile system and found that Iron Dome “repeatedly failed to hit its targets head-on.”

“It’s very hard to see how it could be more than 5 or 10 percent,” the report quotes Dr. Postol as saying.

Moreover, the daily adds, Mordechai Shefer, an Israeli rocket scientist formerly with Rafael, Iron Dome’s maker, studied about two dozen videos and, in a study published last month, “concluded that the kill rate was zero.”

Meanwhile, the paper underlines, Iron Dome’s performance is the key to a potential Israeli decision whether to take military action against the Islamic Republic as it has repeatedly threatened, hinging on its estimate of possible retaliatory costs, “including damage inflicted by rockets fired from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip,” not to mention Iran’s own long-range ballistic missiles.

Amid the growing anxiety over any Iranian retaliatory strikes on Israel in case of an American or an Israeli attack against the country, as often threatened by officials of both allies as a ploy aimed at pressuring Tehran into abandoning its right to explore peaceful nuclear technology, “the Israeli public saw Iron dome’s (reported) early successes” against rocket fire from Gaza “as proof” that it can tolerate retaliatory strikes, the report adds, citing Israeli antimissile program’s founder, Uzi Rubin.

Following the Gaza cease-fire last year, the report notes, Lloyd began scrutinizing “hundreds of online videos of Iron Dome in action,” looking for “unambiguous signs of success: pairs of fireballs (at night) or smoke clouds (during the day) that formed as speeding fragments blew up a warhead.”

However, “he found very few,” the daily adds, citing Lloyd.

Lloyds method of video analysis won scientific backing during the 1991 US-led Persian Gulf war against Iraq, as the American military boasted that its Patriot interceptors, built to protect Israel against potential missile attacks by Iraqi dictator at the time Saddam Hussein, had succeeded 96 percent of the time.

MIT scientist, however, “analyzed broadcast videos and found only misses,” according to the Time’s report.

In Israel, meanwhile, Lloyd won support from Reuven Pedatzur, a military analyst and former fighter pilot “long skeptical of his country’s antimissile claims,” who found an Israeli police report saying that 109 rockets launched from Gaza – roughly twice the military’s figure – hit urban areas.

Pedatzur further discovered “evidence of wide destruction” inflicted by rockets fired by Palestinian Hamas militants. A Finance Ministry report registered 3,165 claims of property damage, “including to cars and buildings in cities like Ashdod and Beersheba, both protected by Iron Dome battalions.”

March 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | 2 Comments