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‘Amnesty Int’l whitewashing war for US’

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Press TV – May 8, 2013

London-based human rights group Amnesty International has got a bashing from anti-war initiative RootsAction that says Amnesty is applying double standards on human rights and war with a bias in favor of the US-led military interventions.

RootsAction has launched an online petition saying Amnesty is reporting a one-sided story from Syria, refusing to make any mention of the Syrian anti-government terrorists’ crimes apparently because they are backed by the US and its allies.

“We are concerned that you seem to have forgotten to oppose all violations of human rights — by all sides — in war,” the online petition read.

“You are highlighting war-making in Syria’s civil war by one side only. This one-sided treatment by a group avowedly dedicated to all human rights is fueling the fires of a wider war from which the people of Syria can only suffer,” it added.

The group called on Amnesty to report all instances of human rights violations in the conflicts and avoid whitewashing the situation in favor of the US.

“We urge you to assertively expose and condemn all wartime violations of human rights — without downplaying or ignoring the violations committed by the U.S. government and its allies,” it said.

Amnesty has a record of making things easier for the US.

It promoted the false reports that the Iraqi soldiers removed 312 babies from their incubators and left them to die on the fold hospital floors of Kuwait city before the Persian Gulf war in 1991.

Recently, it has been also campaigning to pretend the US-led invasion of Afghanistan had to do with upholding women’s rights.

The group has, however, refused to condemn the killing of civilians by the US and its allies in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya.

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Not Your Daddy’s COINTELPRO: Obama Brands Assata Shakur “Most Wanted Terrorist”

By Bruce A. Dixon | Black Agenda Report | May 8, 2013

Whoever imagines our first black president and his first black attorney general had little or nothing to do with naming Assata Shakur its “most wanted terrorist” list is deep in denial and delusion. “Terrorist,” as my colleague Glen Ford points out, has never been anything but a political label, applied by the authorities for their own political purposes. The international legal angle as well, with Assata Shakur receiving political asylum from the Cuban government the last 30 years, also makes her placement on that list something that Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama absolutely had to carefully consider and approve.

A lot has changed in the forty years since Assata Shakur was wounded and captured in New Jersey. The press conference announcing her capture was doubtless headed up by white police and district attorneys. Back then, black faces were pretty scarce in the top ranks of cops and prosecutors anywhere, and J. Edgar Hoover had only recently left the FBI. Last week’s announcement of the $2 million bounty on Assata’s head was anchored by a high ranking black cop, and of course, there are black faces in the offices of president and US Attorney General. People who call themselves progressives, do call that “progress,” don’t they?

The premiere federal initiative for political policing was something called COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO was a secret “counterintelligence,” as in “counter-intelligent” and/or evil multiplied by stupid federal program which for 25 years labeled thousands of civic organizations, churches, labor unions, and grassroots movements as threats to “national security.” Federal agents secretly coordinated local police and media assets in hundreds of campaigns to discredit and destroy those organizations, utilizing illegal surveillance, agents provocateur and media slander. Individual leaders and participants were harassed, falsely prosecuted and imprisoned, and sometimes murdered. COINTELPRO’s existence only came to light as a result of US Senate select committee chaired by Senator Frank Church hearings in 1975.

The good news about COINTELPRO was first, that the government of those days wasn’t bold enough, that it felt too hemmed in and prevented by the American people from openly targeting political dissidents for assassination and murder, and second, that it eventually did come to light. Government officials even had to pay token damages in a handful of cases, such as the murder of Illinois Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton, and publicly claim their official misconduct had ended.

Forty years later though, we live in the era of secret kidnappings, regular torture, ghost prisons and executive branch murder by drones or special ops teams. Today the federal Department of Homeland Security funds counter-terrorism fusion centers which openly disseminate the kind of inflammatory and fanciful disinformation to local police and security contractors about those the government wants targeted that J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI agents had to come around and whisper in their ears. Now that is progress.

Forty years and change ago, the whole constellation of African American leadership wrapped its arms around the segments of the black movement that came under vicious police assault. I was a member of the Black Panther Party in Chicago in 1969 and 70, and we never had as many friends as we did when our offices were riddled with gunfire or our members murdered by police. Back then, when everyone from the Urban League and the NAACP to Operation Breadbasket and the Afro-American Patrolman’s League stood up for us. Those who’ve viewed the recently released documentary Free Angela Davis & All Political Prisoners can see the same phenomenon of four decades ago, with Rev. Ralph David Abernathy wrapping his arms around “our sister Angela Davis” when she was accused of murder in the deaths of a judge and others in California.

It’s been a week now since the $2 million dollar bounty and “most wanted terrorist” announcement. In that time, not a single nationally noted African American “leader” has raised his or her voice. Not Ben Jealous. Not a single black mayor or member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Not Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, and certainly not the presidential lap dog Al Sharpton. Sharpton has worn wires for the FBI more than once, and is credibly accused of trying to get close to people who were rumored to be close to Assata Shakur in the 1980s. Those people wisely avoided Rev. Al.

Such is the pressure of subservient conformity among the black political class that not a single African American politician, religious leader, or personage of national note has opened his or her mouth in Assata Shakur’s defense, with the solitary exception of Angela Davis, once a political prisoner and fugitive in the days before the word “terrorist” had been coined. Lockstep conformity like this is hard to shake. In their 45 minutes in an otherwise excellent Democracy Now show mostly devoted to Assata Shakur’s case, neither Shakur’s attorney Lennox Hinds nor Angela Davis could bring themselves even to hint that the president and attorney general were responsible for branding her as the nation’s “most wanted terrorist.”

Four decades have seen the flowering of elite affirmative action in the military, corporate America and in American political life. Our black political class never tires of holding their own illustrious careers up as “the fulfillment of Dr. King’s dream.” But the fact is that US corporations couldn’t do business in Africa without black faces. The US couldn’t give military aid and training for a quarter century to 52 out of 54 African governments, arming all sides of every civil and international conflict in the most war torn regions of the planet, without black diplomats, black admirals and black generals. It couldn’t deploy the world’s most massive prison and police state without hundreds of thousands of black prison guards and police, some in the most senior positions and many more in line behind them.

All these are the fruits of what passes for social and racial “progress” in these United States.

This then, is the real function of corporate and elite affirmative action, and of the black political class itself. Whether it’s moving the corporate agenda of gentrification through the destruction of public housing, carrying out social security and Medicare cuts, or waging open war upon the unapproved segments of the African American movement for justice and liberation, black faces in high places have repeatedly proven themselves the more effective evil, able to blunt leftish opposition and carry out policies that white elites can only dream of without their help.

Assata Shakur is not a terrorist. She was shot with her hands in the air, and no residue from gunfire was detected on her hands or clothes or that would have been introduced as evidence at her trial. Her all white jury was instructed to convict her for simply being there, and they did just that. She was a political prisoner, and the only “crime” she can reasonably be accused of is escaping and living out her life the last three decades in Cuba. Government officials do admit that her “terrorist” activity consists of occasional writings and speeches which advocate radical change, and the example of her peaceful life and political asylum 90 miles from Florida.

If that’s all it takes to be a “terrorist,” many thousands of today’s yesterday’s and tomorrow’s black and non-black political activists inside the U.S. are “terrorists” as well. There’s a global war on terror, and now it openly includes the black liberation movement, basically everybody to the left of the established black political class. In the wake of this announcement, can there be any doubt that many more names are or will soon come up at the president’s “terror Tuesday” meetings, at which the White House boasts it considers who next to kidnap or murder? We’re all fair game now.

President Obama obviously hopes the label “terrorist” will scare present and future activists from learning what there is to know from the proud traditions of African American and other resistance to empire. He hopes to intimidate and frighten ordinary people, especially young people, into the same kind of conformity as their supposed “leaders.”

Back in 2007 and 2008, candidate Barack Obama confided to editorial boards and others a number of times that Ronald Reagan was his favorite president. We should have listened to him a lot more closely. It’s a safe guess now, that J. Edgar Hoover is his favorite cop.

Bruce A. Dixon can be reached at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Defend Assata, Defend Ourselves: The Black Is Black Coalition Rallies in Harlem

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | May 8, 2013

In doubling the bounty on former Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur’s head, the Obama administration is announcing that Black radicals are candidates for his Kill List. The message is as unmistakable and dramatic as the billboards that have been erected in Newark, New Jersey, and elsewhere screaming for the exiled freedom fighter’s blood.

One does not wind up on the FBI’s Most Wanted list based on the number of murders committed or millions of dollars stolen. The Most Wanted list is among the nation’s most political documents, in which individuals are meant to personify the scope and type of offenses that the U.S. government considers most in need of stamping out. The list is a kind of propaganda, a symbolic display of what the state considers dangerous behavior.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder, the two Black men who are most responsible for making Assata Shakur the face of domestic terror in the United States, are fully conversant in the language of symbolism. They are publicly defining the Black liberation movement – or what’s left of it, or those who might attempt to revive it – as a priority domestic target for repression. Shakur, a 65-year old grandmother who has not left Cuba for the past 29 years, poses no physical danger to the American state. She represents a political threat, through her “ideology,” as brazenly stated by the FBI. The Bureau has marked Shakur for priority assassination on the basis of, in the FBI’s words, her “anti-U.S. government speeches espousing the Black Liberation Army message.” “Terrorism” is somehow inherent in the message of Black liberation. Advocacy of Black liberation, is the threat. The reward of $2 million is meant to silence Assata Shakur’s political speech, and remove her as a symbol of resistance to the U.S government.

For the National Security State, “terror” is a powerful word, with vast legal ramifications. The Obama administration is informing Americans and Cubans that Assata is as much fair game for assassination by drone as the late Anwar al-Awlaki. Barack Obama and Eric Holder are serving notice that those who share Assata’s ideology – as understood by the FBI – are subject to eradication as well, because it is an ideology of terror. And they are telling those who give “substantial support” to Assata that they are subject to detention by the U.S. military without trial or charge, for the duration of the war against “terror.”

The Black Is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations will hold a demonstration on Thursday, May 9, from 5 to 7pm, in front of the Harlem State Office Building in New York City, to give substantial and unwavering support to the safety and freedom of Assata Shakur; Freedom for Sundiata Acoli and Sekou Odinga, Black Liberation Army members held in U.S. prisons; and Freedom for All Political Prisoners.

They tried to kill Assata in 1973, and their still trying. They tried to kill the Black liberation movement, but its not dead yet. Join the Black is Back Coalition and a host of other concerned organizations at the Harlem State Office Building, on 125th Street, at 5pm, on Thursday. Tell the real terrorists what you think about them, their austerity, their mass incarceration, and their wars.

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

For more information, go to Black Is Back Coalition event Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/425416530887768/

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wherefore by Their Friends ye Shall Know Them: Zionists vs UNSW BDS

By Vacy Vlazna | Palestine Chronicle | May 7, 2013

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In Australia there are 30 Max Brenner shops providing funds for the Strauss Group that filter towards the maintenance of the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine. Another Brenner outlet is ‘coming soon’ to the campus of The University of New South Wales (UNSW), the site of the present Boycott Divestment Sanctions (BDS) protest organised by Students for Justice in Palestine.

Spin-doctors against the BDS action, present the issue as an unjustified anti-Semitic attack against an innocuous chocolate shop, however the Max Brenner company and its supporters have direct and indirect vested interests in the Zionist enterprise that brutally, to this day, has destroyed the political and human rights of the indigenous people of Palestine.

Max Brenner is owned by the Strauss Group which, closely connected with the Israeli military and armament industry, provides care rations to the vicious Golani and Givati Brigades to ‘sweeten their special moments’. These units perpetrate, in their special moments, war crimes and crimes against humanity against Palestinians.

In the 1982 Lebanon War, Golani soldiers lit flares to assist the Phalangist death squads to massacre Palestinian men women and children in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps deemed an act of genocide by the UN. The Golani Brigade led a vicious offensive against the Jenin refugee camp in 2002 demolishing  hundreds of homes while burying some Palestinians alive and killing terrified residents.

In 2004 a Givati commander callously murdered 13 year old Iman Darweesh Al Hams by firing two bullets at her head from close range while she was lying wounded on the ground. To verify the kill, the commander emptied his entire magazine into her little body. He was charged, exonerated and promoted.

The Givati Brigade led the ground offensive against unarmed Gazan families  in the 2008-9  Operation Cast Lead for which the UN Goldstone Report accused Israel of war crimes.

Chairperson, Ofra Strauss also sits on the board of HESEG, which provides scholarships for ‘lone soldiers’, along with General (Res.) Yitzhak Eitan: Chief Commander of the Israeli military in Gaza and the West Bank, and Head (GOC) of the IDF Central Command during the years 2000-2003; Shabtai Shavit: Head of Mossad (the Israeli foreign intelligence) 1989-96 and the controversial Major General (Res.) Doron Almog who was Commander of the IDF’s Southern Command from 2000-2003. In 2005, he evaded a warrant issued in the UK for his arrest on suspicion of war crimes for ordering the demolition of 59 houses in Rafah, occupied Gaza; an act of illegal collective punishment under international law and on 22 July 2002, for ordering a one-ton bomb to be dropped on a home in Gaza to assassinate Salah Shehadeh killing 15 people, including 9 children.

Doron Almog is also Executive Chairman and Member of Investment Committee of Athlone Global Security Ltd. which he co-founded in 2007 providing specialised military and surveillance training equipment and services for the illegal Annexation wall and checkpoints. The Athlone team includes  Moshe Horev, who headed the Israel Ministry of Defense R&D Division, the Avionics and Armament Division and the Guided Weapon system program office of the Israeli Air force. He is a former CEO of Hewlett Packard and is currently the CEO of Oracle Systems Israel Ltd which has a longstanding strategic partnership with the IDF as one of the IDF’s main suppliers of computer solutions.

Ofra Stauss also sits on the executive of The Jewish Agency which was established by the World Zionist Organisation (WZO) in 1929 founded to take over the whole of Palestine. On behalf of the government, it assigns stolen lands to its 400,000 illegal Jewish colonists in Palestine. Chairperson of the JNF Board of Governors is American billionaire James S Tisch who is also president of the Jewish Communal Fund which channels donations to violent settler militias that oppose the return of land captured in 1967 and promote the “transfer” of all Palestinians to neighbouring countries.

Thus, associating Brenner chocolate with war crimes is a no-brainer, nevertheless  Australian apologists for Israeli war crimes roll over and go brain dead at the whiff of BDS. Politicians, journalists, commentators try to out-tourette each other’s idiotic assertions that BDS activists are anti-Semitic: Ex-PM-ex-FM-ex-rational Kevin Rudd pompously spluttered, ”As an individual citizen – that is me, K. Rudd – I am here because I object to the boycotting of Jewish businesses”; Gerard Henderson blurted,  “Then there are the historical parallels. In the mid-1930s, Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists used to go on rampages outside Jewish-owned shops in London’s East End – some were boycotted, others smashed up.”; Senator Stephen Conroy blabbered, “The Gillard Government remains concerned by any groups advocating a boycott of Israeli products or services or Jewish businesses and business people like Frank Lowy and Revlon’s chairman, Ronald Perlman, who is a trustee of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre,”

Ironically and gratefully, the sound bites of the anti-BDS spinners on mainstream media have boosted awareness of the BDS matter and given activists voice to justify their actions.

UNSW’s unconscionable support of the opening of the Max Brenner campus shop makes sense  considering chancellor David Gonski and vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer  have a tweedledum and tweedeldee  relationship: both are Jewish, both have sat on the boards of  Coca-Cola Amatil, Westfield Group, ( and John Fairfax Holdings). Consequently both have career long affiliations with Israel’s interests.

Coca-Cola Amatil is the Australian subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company. In 2002, the parent company announced the proposed building of a plant on stolen Palestinian land at Kiryat Gat, in return for millions in incentives from the Israeli government. The land, Kiryat (Qiryat) Gat, has an industrial park built on the lands of the villages of al-Faluja and Iraq Al Manshiya. which were ethnically cleansed and demolished in 1949 in hasty contravention of an agreement between Egypt and Israel and of International Law. Coca-Cola Israel also directly owns dairy farms in the illegal Israeli settlements of Shadmot Mechola in the Jordan Valley and a plant in the industrial zone of Katzerin in the occupied Golan Heights. Coca-Cola Israel also supports the Jewish National Fund.

In 2004, Coca-Cola merged with Neviot Water which takes its waters from the Ein Zahav springs in Kirat Shmona built on the village of al-Khalisa after its 1500 villagers were ethnically cleansed and from wells dug by Mekorot. Mekorot, the Israeli national water company has been  accused of crimes against humanity for its theft of Palestinian water and discriminatory water shortages for Palestinians while illegal Israeli settlements enjoy a constant supply of water.

In 2009 a Coca-Cola sponsored award went to Israel’s Lobby AIPAC for its successful lobbying of the Senate to reject of the UN call for “immediate ceasefire” and endorse the continuation of the Israel military assault on Gaza.

Gonski and Hilmer are ex directors of Westfield Holdings. Westfield owner, billionaire Frank Lowy, is a Czech Jew who served  as a commando in the Haganah and later in the Golani brigades during the Nakba; the ethnic-cleansing of Palestine. He spends 3 months of the year in Israel. Through tax evasion, Lowy cheated the Australian people of $68m. SMH reports that Lowy said ‘he had given the money to Israeli charities and insisted he had met all his tax obligations’. In 2003 he set up the Lowy Institute for International Affairs ‘which promotes Israel and US foreign policy’. In 2005, Lowy was implicated in the corruption charges against his longtime friend, Ehud Olmert in the Bank Leumi affair. Lowy also set up the Institute for National Security Studies, attached to the University of Tel Aviv. ‘ As its chairman, Lowy has gathered some of the most influential policymakers in Israel and wealthiest international benefactors to sit on its boards.’ (Koutsoukis SMH 2008)

Gonski is chairman of Investec Australia part of the Investec banking group, founded in South Africa, Gonski’s birthplace. Investec SA has strong Zionist affiliations. In February 2013, it hosted an event featuring avowed Zionist Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein, a zealous public defender of Israel’s policies.

In 2004, due to the economic downturn, Investec divested its Israel operations of which Maj. Gen. (Res) Danny Rothchild was a director. In the 80’s, he was Commander of IDF Units in Southern Lebanon and later became Israeli Defense Force Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and Deputy Director of Military Intelligence & Chief of Intelligence Research and Analysis  enforcing Israel’s illegal occupation. He now owns and runs an Israeli-based security company, Netacs (Security) Ltd.

Avron Kregel, legal advisor to Investec is Chairman of the South African Zionist Federation. He negotiated to bar Judge Goldstone  from attending his grandson’s  bar mitzvah. It was the UN Goldstone Report that accused Israel of war crimes in its 2008/9 war against unarmed Gazan families. Zionist pressure on Goldstone led to his unethical retraction, in 2011, of the claim that Israel intentionally targeted Palestinian civilians. His 3 co-authors rejected outright any nullification, “We consider that calls to reconsider or even retract the report, as well as attempts at misrepresenting its nature and purpose, disregard the right of victims, Palestinian and Israeli, to truth and justice.”

Investec CEO, Stephen Koseff, a recipient of Israel’s highest tribute- the Jubilee Award, is a trustee of the King David Schools Foundation. The schools’ Zionist vision states ‘We recognize that Aliya is the ultimate expression of Zionist and Jewish identity.  Our students are encouraged to develop a commitment to the centrality of Israel, an understanding of its history and present reality and identification with its future.’ Aliya is the right of Jews anywhere in the world to make their home in Israel while simultaneously Israel forbids all Palestinians their right of return under international law.

Gonski is a board member of Ingeus Ltd owned by Therese Rein, wife of the grand poobah of BDS opposition, Kevin Rudd. Ingeus also operates in Israel.

Gonski is also a recipient of the Richard Pratt Business Leadership Award. In the 90s, Fred Hilmer had a lucrative consultancy with Visy Industries, owned by the late Richard Pratt who paid a $38m fine for fixing prices. His Pratt Foundation (PF) still supports charitable programs in Israel some of which channel funds to the Jewish Agency. The PF funds The Park of the Australian Soldier in the Negev affiliated with the Jewish National Fund (JNF) notorious for its theft of ancestral lands of the impoverished Bedouins.

Hilmer, a rigid business automaton, apart from his directorships of  Coca-Cola Amatil and Westfield Holdings was made, in 1998, CEO of Fairfax media which is curious given his dismal record that “cost NSW taxpayers at least $48 million’ when he was chair of Pacific Power ‘when it entered into the series of flawed electricity supply contracts with a Victorian distributor Powercor.’ The 1997-98 financial report of Pacific Power, showed their profits dropped from $552 million in 1996/97 to $43.8 million in 1997/98. (Electricity Week,1999)

Hilmer’s tenure at Fairfax was similarly lacklustre particularly when he “decided not to invest in fledgling internet site  Seek.com.au. James Packer didn’t make the same mistake, turning a $33 million investment into a $400 profit (which much of that profit coming at the expense of Fairfax)… “With Fairfax sacking 2000 workers and radically reducing its commitment to journalism, the blame lies clearly at the feet of Fred Hilmer, David Kirk, Brian McCarthy, Ron Walker, Dean Wills, Roger Corbett and the slew of highly paid executives and directors who have mismanaged one of Australia’s great companies through not one, but a series of inexcusable blunders.’ (Schwab, Crikey 25-6-13)

Now, as vice-chancellor, Hilmer is hell bent on further corporatising UNSW by pushing for universities to set their own fees. According to Prof. Stuart Rees, ‘The characters setting the fees would presumably be the same invisible, unaccountable managerialists who have already contributed to the financial woes of Sydney University and UNSW, among others.’

Key stakeholders of UNSW, its staff and students, should well take heed of Kerry Packer who “once said of Fred Hilmer, the McKinsey consultant who went on to head Fairfax Media Ltd: “I wouldn’t hire him as a fxxx sweeper. For Fairfax to be run by a management consultant I think is just an act of stupidity. I think it’s ridiculous … He came from McKinsey and he has never run a business in his life.” (Knox, The Monthly, June 2010)

The drama of the UNSW Max Brenner protest, like Star Wars, is the archetypal clash between the Dark Side and the Light: the DeathVaders of government, business and mainstream media aligned to ruthless power versus The Force championed by the Students for Justice in Palestine defending the political and human rights of the Palestinian people as set out in the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions; legal obligations that the Empire has shamefully abrogated along with its humanity.

– Dr. Vacy Vlazna is Coordinator of Justice for Palestine Matters.

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Attempting to un-censor my letter to the editor, College of Charleston’s campus newspaper, “CisternYard”

Awhile ago the pro-Israel editor of the College of Charleston’s online campus newspaper published two articles containing offensive accusations against me — one even before I spoke on campus and one afterward.

The newspaper has now finally posted my response – but it isn’t listed in any of the website’s menus; standard practice would be to list it in the Opinion section.

In other words, editor Sarah Sheafer (who calls Israel her “second home”) has officially “published” my response, thus finally adhering to journalistic requirements, while keeping the op-ed virtually invisible to the vast majority of the newspaper’s readers.

My emails to Sheafer about this bizarre situation have brought no change, and now the staff is gone for a week. I plan to continue to request that the newspaper include my letter in the Opinion section, where letters to the editor and op-eds would normally be… but perhaps not if they expose uncomfortable facts about Israel and its partisans…

Letter to the Editor: Alison Weir Response

Setting the record straight

May 6, 2013

Op-ed for CisternYard

On April 19th I spoke at the College of Charleston at an event sponsored by the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and a local organization called Charleston Peace One Day.

The title of my lecture was “Israel-Palestine: What the Media Leave Out,” and in it I documented the extremely flawed nature of US news coverage of this conflict. This material was gleaned from 12 years of researching this subject, eight statistical media studies, independent reporting trips to the region, many dozens of articles on the topic, and an upcoming book.

Sadly, the two articles on my talk by the CofC student newspaper, one before my lecture and one after, exemplify the deeply faulty reporting frequently found in articles concerning Israel. In addition to numerous inaccuracies, they violated some of the basic principles of journalism.

Sarah Sheafer, the newspaper’s editor in chief, wrote both articles. Sheafer’s first article consisted of accusations by Israel-partisans claiming that I was “anti-Semitic” and labeling my talk – in advance – “hate speech.” Sheafer repeated inaccurate claims about me without investigating their veracity, and failed to include my very public rebuttals of these falsehoods. While Sheafer included interviews defending the event in the name of academic freedom and free speech, she did not include any defense of me or response to the terrible accusations about me.

Violating a fundamental principle of journalism

And in violation of the most basic tenet of fair reporting, she never attempted to contact me to respond to the claims. This ignored one of the most fundamental requirements of journalistic ethics: According to the Society of Newspaper Editors, “Persons publicly accused should be given the earliest opportunity to respond.”

Her piece similarly failed to quote anyone in favor of my my work, though I have been honored to receive plaudits from diverse sources and have been asked to speak at a multitude of universities and other venues both in the U.S. and abroad. Nor did her very long article contain any information about my multitude of articles describing Palestinian suffering under occupation or those on Israel’s lethal attack on a US Navy ship.

When I discovered Sheafer’s article and emailed and phoned her to discuss it, she did not return my call and did not respond to requests to print a rebuttal. (She did eventually email us back.)

Article #2

The second article followed my talk. This article again focused on defamatory claims (I am called anti-Semitic in the second paragraph), misquoted me at times, and incompletely depicted what took place, though it included some information from my presentation in the second part of the article (the part least likely to be ready by readers in a hurry).

While Sheafer stated that there was “incivility” during the event, the reality is that a large group of fanatic Israel partisans (perhaps in part stirred up by Sheafer’s first article) attended the event, shouted over my attempts to answer their questions fully and respectfully, and ultimately prevented CofC students from engaging in the kind of extended question-and-answer discussion that normally follows a presentation and that students have a right to expect. Particularly troubling is the fact that apparently some CofC faculty were involved in this behavior.

Several students wrote me after the event apologizing for this group. One said, “This conduct was deeply embarrassing to me as a student. I felt you were treated rudely and disrespected.” The person went on to write, “I respect how calmly you maintained your professional demeanor and continued to be courteous and respectful to the audience.”

Following my presentation, which included a video and numerous slides, Sheafer apologized for not contacting me for her previous story and finally interviewed me. However, she included none of the information I gave her in her second article. Nor did the newspaper print a formal correction or apology.

In the piece, she quoted many of the hostile questions addressed to me by a somewhat organized group that had clearly come to the event to do battle, and then either misquoted my answer, included only a small part of it, or, in most cases, completely left it out.

Perhaps this is because the questioners and allied mob largely shouted over all my answers to their questions; it’s possible that Sheafer often couldn’t hear my full responses. I certainly had trouble hearing myself.

More omissions

While Sheafer reported on my presentation and included much valuable information, she left out some of the most important points and watered down others.

She failed to report the fact that, in the current uprising, over 12 times more Palestinian children have been killed than Israeli children, and that 91 of them were killed before a single Israeli child was killed. She omitted the fact that US media consistently and erroneously term Israeli actions “retaliation,” and primetime news shows report on Israeli children’s deaths at rates up to 14 times greater than they report on Palestinian children’s deaths.

Sheafer similarly omitted the information I provided about a 2003 Capital Hill briefing in which a commission that included a four-star admiral, a rear admiral, and the highest-ranking recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor reported that Israeli forces had tried to sink a US Navy ship, had killed 34 American servicemen and injured over 170, and that rescue flights had been recalled because the President of the United States said he “didn’t want to embarrass an ally.”

These extremely grave statements on Capitol Hill by this extraordinarily high-ranking commission can be found in the Congressional Record.

Partisan bias

Perhaps Sheafer’s most significant violation of journalistic ethics was to assign herself to cover these events in the first place, rather than sending a neutral reporter.

The fact is, as Sheafer publicly admits, she has a strong emotional attachment to Israel, once writing: Israel is “the country I consider my second home.”

The particular article with this statement was written on Nov. 15th, 2012, the day a 10-month-old Gaza baby was killed by Israeli forces – the fourth Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces that week – though Sheafer mentions none of these deaths.

While Sheafer says that she condemns “some of [Israel’s] controversial decisions (i.e. illegal settlements),” her piece focuses on her intense anguish over Israeli difficulties, her deep empathy with Israelis (at one point she writes she wishes she were there), and, tellingly, her anger at those who criticize Israeli actions.

She wrote this column during an Israeli onslaught in which Israeli forces killed at least 169 Gazan men, women, and children, and Palestinians killed 6 Israelis, none of them children. (During the previous year, Israelis had killed 64 Palestinians in Gaza, while Gazans had killed no Israelis.)

None of these facts are in Sheafer’s column, “Israel At War.”

Destructive actions

While Sheafer and the group who disrupted this event consider themselves pro-Israel and brevity requires me to identify them as such, in reality I feel that their actions do not benefit Israelis.

Israel was created through violence and has been maintained through violence, a reality that is not only tragic for the Muslim and Christian victims of this violence, but is also tragic for Israelis themselves.

If Israelis are to live a normal existence free of war and conflict, it is essential that they change their policies and become a nation that treats all people with equality, an approach that many Israelis desire, and that they recognize the historic injustice at the core of the conflict.

Such a policy change, however, is unlikely to occur while American politicians continue to bankroll Israel to the tune of over $8 million per day and to provide diplomatic cover no matter what the Israeli state does. This blind support gives the Israeli government such power that its leaders feel free to ignore Palestinians, other world players, and dissenting Israelis alike.

Given this seemingly blank check of American financial and diplomatic support, Israeli leaders feel no need to negotiate honestly to reach a compromise in which Jews, Muslims, and Christians can share the land that is sacred to all three groups. This won’t change until Americans become sufficiently informed on this issue to demand changes to US policy.

It is essential that Americans learn the facts on this issue. I believe strongly that we have the power to bring peace to the core issue in the Middle East – a conflict that has spawned numerous wars, caused dangerous instability to the region and the world, and has placed Americans increasingly in danger.

It is sad that an event on this urgent issue was in many ways sabotaged. I hope that additional speakers providing factual information will be invited to lecture at the College of Charleston, and that they will not receive the treatment I experienced.

~

Alison Weir is the president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew. She is a former journalist and has a degree in journalism.

~

While this may seem like a relatively small matter, it is part of a significant and disturbing pattern. Please see a related article, How Israel partisans use the press to block facts from reaching Americans, and still another, The Coverage and Non-Coverage of Israel-Palestine, which specifically includes a small section on student journalists:

“…an article entitled “Jewish journalists grapple with ‘doing the write thing,’” in the Nov. 23, 2001 Jewish Bulletin of Northern California [interviewed Jewish] journalism students about how they would cover Israel. Its findings were inconclusive. Some students felt they would cover Israel impartially, some didn’t. The Bulletin described one of the latter, Uzi Safanov: “’I’m a Jew before being a journalist, before someone pays me to write,’ he said. ‘If I find a negative thing about Israel, I will not print it and I will sink into why did it happen and what can I do to change it.’ Safanov said that even if he eventually wrote about negative incidents that happen in Israel, he would try to find the way ‘to shift the blame.’”

Another also spoke of the need to protect Israel: “’On campus there is already so much anti-Israeli sentiment that we have to be careful about any additional criticism against Israel,’ said Marita Gringaus, who used to write for Arizona State University’s newspaper. ‘This is our responsibility as Jews, which obviously contradicts our responsibilities as journalists…’”

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stephen Hawking boycotts Israeli regime

Press TV – May 8, 2013

British theoretical physicist professor Stephen Hawking has joined an academic embargo on the Israeli regime by refusing to attend a conference hosted by the regime’s president Shimon Perez.

The prominent Cambridge professor was to take part in the Facing Tomorrow annual conference planned to be held in June but pulled out in protest at Tel Aviv’s treatment of Palestinians.

Hawking has not publicly announced his decision, but the British Committee for the Universities of Palestine said he has written a brief letter to Perez to inform him that he has sanctioned the conference.

“[Hawking has made] an independent decision to respect the boycott, based upon his knowledge of Palestine, and on the unanimous advice of his own academic contacts there,” the committee said.

Hawking’s move follows a boycott of the Israeli regime by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland and by the American members of the Association for Asian American Studies.

Back in 2009, Hawking had also condemned the regime’s three-week onslaught on Gaza, saying Tel Aviv’s response to firing of rockets from the coastal strip was “plain out of proportion … The situation is like that of [Apartheid] South Africa before 1990 and cannot continue”.

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Israeli Occupation Forces Kidnap The Grand Mufti Of Jerusalem

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By Saed Bannoura | IMEMC & Agencies | May 08, 2013

Israeli soldiers kidnapped the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, Sheikh Mohammad Hussein, after surrounding his home and breaking into it Wednesday.

Local sources reported that the army invaded As-Suwwana neighborhood, in Jabal Al-Mokabbir in occupied East Jerusalem, and broke into the home of the Mufti before kidnapping him.

Sheikh Hussein asked to follow the soldiers by car to the Al-Maskobiyya Police Station and interrogation facility in the city, but they refused and placed him in one of their vehicles.

In related news, the army kidnapped Engineer Mustafa Abu Zahra, head of a committee in charge of maintaining Islamic graveyards in Jerusalem.

Furthermore, Israeli police officers were heavily deployed at the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, interrogated dozens of worshipers while inspecting their ID Cards, withheld their ID cards and informed them that they will get their ID’s back once they leave the mosque area.

In addition, a number of settlers invaded the Al-Aqsa Mosque yard through the Al-Magharba Gate accompanied by dozens of soldiers and police officers.

On Tuesday evening, the Israeli Police handed orders to Palestinian shop owners in the Old City ordering them not to display their products in front of their shops on Wednesday evening in order to allow the settlers to march through the city and its markets while marking the so-called “Jerusalem Day”.

The “Jerusalem Day” is a an Israeli “national holiday” that started in June 1967 after the Israeli forces occupied East Jerusalem, and the rest of Palestine following the six-day war. In 1982, the Israeli Knesset passed a “legislation” considering Jerusalem “complete and united” as the eternal capital of Israel.

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Expanding Security State

By affinis – Corrente – 05/06/2013

A few days ago, I noticed this piece at FDL: “’Homeland Security’ Spending Overtakes New Deal
TomDispatch: this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on ‘homeland security’ since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.

Two indicators of the expanding security state that caught my attention in the last few days:

1. Glenn Greenwald: “Are all telephone calls recorded and accessible to the US government?

2. A massive lockdown in the Madison WI area (where I live).

A fugitive, Paris Poe, whom the FBI wanted for parole violation and questioning in a murder investigation, was spotted at a hotel in a Madison, WI suburb. Poe had previously been imprisoned for armed robbery. A large area encompassing much of Vernona, Fitchburg, and part of Madison, WI was then essentially locked down and swarmed with SWAT teams in a day-long manhunt.

Reverse 911 calls were made to all landlines (about 30,000 homes) asking residents to lock their doors and remain inside. Police asked all the businesses in their area to close and lock their doors. All six schools in the area were placed on lockdown and surrounded by police. In Verona, no-one could enter or exit the schools. In some classrooms, children were told to crouch under their desks for hours. In some schools, children were herded into the gym. Children were prohibited from using the bathroom, since that would involve leaving their rooms, and were told to urinate in buckets. Parents could not pick up their children since entry or exit was prohibited. Once the lockdown was ended, parents were required to present ID to take their children home. During the escalating panic, it was stated that Poe was on the FBI’s most wanted list, but he was not.

Late in the day, Poe was arrested far outside the locked down area. He was apparently unarmed, faces no charges in WI, and will be transported back to IL. News stories here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

The United States Is Fighting How Many Wars?

By Kevin Gosztola  | Fire Dog Lake | May 6, 2013

With neoconservatives and neoliberals amplifying calls for US military intervention in Syria, it is worthwhile to take a moment and consider all the places in the world, where the US currently has forces engaged in daily operations.

Secrecy, the reality that a substantial portion of US military or espionage operations with troops are likely happening covertly, may mean it is impossible to truly get a complete picture of where America is projecting power and targeting and killing people. But, Linda J. Bilmes and Michael D. Intriligator, ask in a recent paper, “How many wars is the US fighting today?”

Today US military operations are involved in scores of countries across all the five continents. The US military is the worlds largest landlord, with significant military facilities in nations around the world, and with a significant presence in Bahrain, Djibouti,Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Kyrgyzstan, in addition to long-established bases in Germany, Japan, South Korea, Italy, and the UK.1 Some of these are vast, such as the Al Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar, the forward headquarters of the United States Central Command, which has recently been expanded to accommodate up to 10,000 troops and 120 aircraft.

Citing a page at US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) website, they highlight the “areas of responsibility” publicly lists:

The US Central Command (CENTCOM) is active in 20 countries across the Middle Eastern region, and is actively ramping-up military training, counterterrorism programs, logistical support, and funding to the military in various nations. At this point, the US has some kind of military presence in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E., Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

US Africa Command (AFRICOM), according to the paper, “supports military-to-military relationships with 54 African nations.”

Altogether, that makes 74 nations where the US is fighting or “helping” some force in some proxy struggle that has been deemed beneficial by the nation’s masters of war.

Beyond that, there are Special Operations forces in countries. Jeremy Scahill in Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, writes, “By mid-2010, the Obama administration had increased the presence of Special Operations forces from sixty countries to seventy-five countries. SOCOM had about 4,000 people deployed around the world in countries besides Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The forces were deployed, as the Washington Post reported, to “go beyond unilateral strikes” and train “local counterterrorism forces” and engage in “joint operations with them.” Plans for both “preemptive” and “retaliator strikes” existed in “numerous places around the world, meant to be put into action when a plot” was identified or “after an attack linked to a specific group.”

Scahill also reports, based on his own “well-placed special operations sources”:

…[A]mong the countries where [Joint Special Operations Command] teams had been deployed under the Obama administration were: Iran, Georgia, Ukraine, Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Peru, Yemen, Pakistan (including in Baluchistan) and the Philippines. These teams also at times deployed in Turkey, Belgium, France and Spain. JSOC was also supporting US Drug Enforcement Agency operations in Colombia and Mexico…

Since President Barack Obama has been willing to give the go ahead to operations that President George W. Bush would not have approved, operations have been much more aggressive and, presumably, JSOC has been able to fan out and work in far more countries than ever expected.

Global assassinations have been embraced by the current administration, opening the door to night raids, drone strikes, missile attacks where cluster bombs are used, etc. Each of these operations, as witnessed or experienced by the civilian populations of countries, potentially inflame and increase the number of areas in the world where there are conflict zones.

A Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides an accounting of all the publicly acknowledged deployments of US military forces. It indicated that, as many Americans may not be aware, in February of this year, 100 military personnel were deployed to Niger to “provide support for intelligence collection” and to “facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region,” according to President Obama.

Also, according to the report, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel ordered American troops to be deployed to Jordan. Hagel told the Senate Armed Serivces in a statement on Syria that they would be there to “work alongside Jordanian forces to ‘improve readiness and prepare for a number of scenarios.’” Up to 200 troops would be deployed.

In 2012, Obama reported to Congress that “US combat-equipped military personnel” had been deployed to Uganda “to serve as advisors to regional forces” that were “working to apprehend or remove Joseph Kony and other senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) leaders from the battlefield and to protect local populations.” About 90 US military personnel were deployed and “elements” were sent to “forward locations in the LRA-affected areas of the Republic of South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic.” President Obama stated US forces were not to engage LRA forces “except in self-defense.”

Approximately 817 military personnel were contributed to the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), presumably to “stop the ‘movement, arming, and financing of certain international terrorist groups,’ as well as the “proliferation by sea of weapons of mass destruction and related materials.’” there were continued operations in Libya as well as operations in Yemen that were acknowledged. [By the way, it takes thirty-three pages for CRS to list all “notable deployments of military forces overseas” since 1798.]

Obama administration officials might argue that none of these operations in various different countries represent different conflicts or wars. All are connected to the “Global War on Terrorism” and the Authorized Use for Military Force (AUMF) after the 9/11 attacks give the president the executive authority to have forces in all parts of the world conducting whatever operations are deemed necessary to fight “terrorism.” Or, they might claim the US is technically not “involved” in wars if they are merely operating as advisors, who help facilitate military operations of other allied or proxy forces.

Any number of games with semantics or euphemism can be played by officials authorizing these operations. Undoubtedly, there are probably countries where the US has forces that have gone unmentioned in this post.

The reality is current US wars are not limited to the one winding down in Afghanistan and the other one that recently ended in Iraq. There are numerous wars going on unannounced, undeclared and in secret. The world is literally a battlefield with conflicts being waged by the US (or with the “help” of the US). And, no country is off-limits to US military forces.

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Automated License Plate Readers Threaten Our Privacy

By Jennifer Lynch and Peter Bibring | EFF | May 6, 2013

ALPR Camera on Top of Police CarLaw enforcement agencies are increasingly using sophisticated cameras, called “automated license plate readers” or ALPR, to scan and record the license plates of millions of cars across the country. These cameras, mounted on top of patrol cars and on city streets, can scan up to 1,800 license plate per minute, day or night, allowing one squad car to record more than 14,000 plates during the course of a single shift.

Photographing a single license plate one time on a public city street may not seem problematic, but when that data is put into a database, combined with other scans of that same plate on other city streets, and stored forever, it can become very revealing. Information about your location over time can show not only where you live and work, but your political and religious beliefs, your social and sexual habits, your visits to the doctor, and your associations with others. And, according to recent research reported in Nature, it’s possible to identify 95% of individuals with as few as four randomly selected geospatial datapoints (location + time), making location data the ultimate biometric identifier.

To better gauge the real threat to privacy posed by ALPR, EFF and the ACLU of Southern California asked LAPD and LASD for information on their systems, including their policies on retaining and sharing information and all the license plate data each department collected over the course of a single week in 2012. After both agencies refused to release most of the records we asked for, we sued. We hope to get access to this data, both to show just how much data the agencies are collecting and how revealing it can be.

ALPRs are often touted as an easy way to find stolen cars — the system checks a scanned plate against a database of stolen or wanted cars and can instantly identify a hit, allowing officers to set up a sting to recover the car and catch the thief.  But even when there’s no match in the database and no reason to think a car is stolen or involved in a crime, police keep the data. According to the LA Weekly, LAPD and LASD together already have collected more than 160 million “data points” (license plates plus time, date, and exact location) in the greater LA area—that’s more than 20 hits for each of the more than 7 million vehicles registered in L.A. County. That’s a ton of data, but it’s not all  — law enforcement officers also have access to private databases containing hundreds of millions of plates and their coordinates collected by “repo” men.

Law enforcement agencies claim that ALPR systems are no different from an officer recording license plate, time and location information by hand. They also argue the data doesn’t warrant any privacy protections because we drive our cars around in public. However, as five justices of the Supreme Court recognized last year in US v. Jones, a case involving GPS tracking, the ease of data collection and the low cost of data storage make technological surveillance solutions such as GPS or ALPR very different from techniques used in the past.

Police are open about their desire to record the movements of every car in case it might one day prove valuable.  In 2008, LAPD Police Chief Charlie Beck (then the agency’s chief of detectives) told GovTech Magazine that ALPRs have “unlimited potential” as an investigative tool.  “It’s always going to be great for the black-and-white to be driving down the street and find stolen cars rolling around . . . . But the real value comes from the long-term investigative uses of being able to track vehicles—where they’ve been and what they’ve been doing—and tie that to crimes that have occurred or that will occur.”  But amassing data on the movements of law-abiding residents poses a real threat to privacy, while the benefit to public safety is speculative, at best.

In light of privacy concerns, states including Maine, New Jersey, and Virginia have limited the use of ALPRs, and New Hampshire has banned them outright.  Even the International Association of Chiefs of Police has issued a report recognizing that “recording driving habits” could raise First Amendment concerns because cameras could record “vehicles parked at addiction-counseling meetings, doctors’ offices, health clinics, or even staging areas for political protests.”

But even if ALPRs are permitted, there are still common-sense limits that can allow the public safety benefits of ALPRs while preventing the wholesale tracking of every resident’s movements.  Police can and should treat location information from ALPRs like other sensitive information — they should retain it no longer than necessary to determine if it might be relevant to a crime, and should get a warrant to keep it any longer.  They should limit who can access it and who they can share it with.  And they should put oversight in place to ensure these limits are followed.

Unfortunately, efforts to impose reasonable limits on ALPR tracking in California have failed so far. Last year, legislation that would have limited private and law enforcement retention of ALPR data to 60 days—a limit currently in effect for the California Highway Patrol — and restricted sharing between law enforcement and private companies failed after vigorous opposition from law enforcement. In California, law enforcement agencies remain free to set their own policies on the use and retention of ALPR data, or to have no policy at all.

Some have asked why we would seek public disclosure of the actual license plate data collected by the police—location-based data that we think is private.  But we asked specifically for a narrow slice of data — just a week’s worth — to demonstrate how invasive the technology is.  Having the data will allow us to see how frequently some plates have been scanned; where and when, specifically, the cops are scanning plates; and just how many plates can be collected in a large metropolitan area over the course of a single week. Actual data will reveal whether ALPRs are deployed primarily in particular areas of Los Angeles and whether some communities might therefore be much more heavily tracked than others. If this data is too private to give a week’s worth to the public to help inform us how the technology is being used, then isn’t it too private to let the police amass years’ worth of data without a warrant?

After the Boston Marathon bombings, many have argued that the government should take advantage of surveillance technology to collect more data rather than less. But we should not so readily give up the very freedoms that terrorists seek to destroy. We should recognize just how revealing ALPR data is and not be afraid to push our police and legislators for sensible limits to protect our basic right to privacy.

Documents

EFF and ACLU-SC’s legal Complaint

LA Sheriff’s Department ALPR Powerpoint Presentation

LA Sheriff’s Department – Automated License Plate Reader System Information

LAPD – Automated License Plate Reader User Guide

LA Sheriff’s Department – Field Operations Directive

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment