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Who Are We at War With? That’s Classified

By Cora Currier | ProPublica | July 26, 2013

In a major national security speech this spring, President Obama said again and again that the U.S. is at war with “Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and their associated forces.”

So who exactly are those associated forces? It’s a secret.

At a hearing in May, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., asked the Defense Department to provide him with a current list of Al Qaeda affiliates.

The Pentagon responded – but Levin’s office told ProPublica they aren’t allowed to share it. Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for Levin, would say only that the department’s “answer included the information requested.”

A Pentagon spokesman told ProPublica that revealing such a list could cause “serious damage to national security.”

“Because elements that might be considered ‘associated forces’ can build credibility by being listed as such by the United States, we have classified the list,” said the spokesman, Lt. Col. Jim Gregory. “We cannot afford to inflate these organizations that rely on violent extremist ideology to strengthen their ranks.”

It’s not an abstract question: U.S. drone strikes and other actions frequently target “associated forces,” as has been the case with dozens of strikes against an Al Qaeda offshoot in Yemen.

During the May hearing, Michael Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict, said he was “not sure there is a list per se.” Describing terrorist groups as “murky” and “shifting,” he said, “it would be difficult for the Congress to get involved in trying to track the designation of which are the affiliate forces” of Al Qaeda.

Sheehan said that by the Pentagon’s standard, “sympathy is not enough…. it has to be an organized group and that group has to be in co-belligerent status with Al Qaeda operating against the United States.”

The White House tied Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and “elements” of Al Shabaab in Somalia to Al Qaeda in a recent report to Congress on military actions. But the report also included a classified annex.

Jack Goldsmith, a professor at Harvard Law who served as a legal counsel during the Bush administration and has written on this question at length, told ProPublica that the Pentagon’s reasoning for keeping the affiliates secret seems weak. “If the organizations are ‘inflated’ enough to be targeted with military force, why cannot they be mentioned publicly?” Goldsmith said. He added that there is “a countervailing very important interest in the public knowing who the government is fighting against in its name.”

The law underpinning the U.S. war against Al Qaeda is known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force, or AUMF, and it was passed one week after the 9/11 attacks. It doesn’t actually include the words “associated forces,” though courts and Congress have endorsed the phrase.

As we explained earlier this year, the emergence of new or more loosely-aligned terrorist groups has legal scholars wondering how effectively the U.S. will be able to “shoehorn” them into the AUMF. During the May hearing, many lawmakers expressed concern about the Pentagon’s capacious reading of the law. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., described it as a “carte blanche.”

Obama, in his May speech, said he looked forward “to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate.” But he didn’t give a time frame. On Wednesday, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., introduced an amendment that would sunset the law at the end of 2014, to coincide with the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. It was voted down the same day, 185 to 236.

The AUMF isn’t the only thing the government relies on to take military action. In speeches and interviews Obama administration officials also bring up the president’s constitutional power to defend the country, even without congressional authorization.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Comments Off on Who Are We at War With? That’s Classified

Another Journalist with Children in the Israeli Military

By ALISON WEIR | CounterPunch | July 26, 2013

The New York Times recently published a news brief, reporting that Israel is going to re-investigate an incident in which an American citizen, Tristan Anderson, was permanently maimed.

Anderson suffered extensive brain damage (part of his frontal lobe was destroyed) and paralysis, and was blinded in one eye, after Israeli soldiers shot him with a tear gas canister intended as a “barricade penetrator” from inappropriately close range. According to eyewitnesses, Anderson was shot as he was taking photographs in a Palestinian village after an unarmed protest against the illegal and extensive confiscation of village land.

Israeli forces have a history of shooting unarmed protesters with these canisters, which one expert likens to “a small missile.”

Yet the New York Times report, “Israel Reopens Inquiry Into Activist’s Injury” (July 11, 2013, P. 9) reveals few of these details.

The Times article states that Anderson was injured when he was hit in the head by a tear gas canister and is partly paralyzed and blind in one eye, but does not mention his extensive brain damage and that his paralysis is over half his body. It doesn’t reveal that the type of canister used is extraordinarily destructive or that it was fired at such close range.

The report also omits the fact that this incident is part of a pattern, even though Israeli forces have killed at least two Palestinians with these canisters, and shot out the eye of an American student with another. According to a report by an Israeli organization, Israeli forces “frequently fire tear-gas canisters directly at demonstrators.”

The Times report states that the protest was “against the extension of Israel’s separation barrier in the West Bank” without citing the villagers’ actual complaint — the confiscation of their land and, thus, livelihood by Israel. It similarly fails to mention that over previous decades Israel confiscated over 80 percent of the village land and now intends to take between a quarter and a third of what remains to build the “barrier.”

Finally, the Times report repeats, without attribution, the Israeli security forces’ claim that the shooting occurred “during a clash,” implying that it happened accidentally during a violent engagement, ignoring eyewitness testimony that the protest had dissipated and most people had gone home.

The byline on the Times report is Myra Noveck. Noveck has bylined a number of stories for both the New York Times and its European affiliate the International Herald Tribune, where ZoomInfo lists her as a contributor.

Noveck is frequently cited in New York Times news reports as a contributor to stories, and a prominent Israeli newspaper calls her the Times’ “deputy bureau chief” for the Times’ Jerusalem bureau, its bureau for covering Israel-Palestine.

From information she has posted online, it appears that Noveck is an American who moved to Israel after college. According to Torah in Motion, which promotes Jewish dialogue and speakers, two of her children were serving in the Israeli military as of 2012. It is unclear whether her children are currently still on active duty or whether they are now serving as Israeli reserve soldiers.

In either case, it appears that while Noveck has been writing and contributing to news reports about Israel and about the Israeli military, her children have been serving in it.

Such a situation appears to constitute a clear conflict of interest – even according to the Times’ own ethics standards – and should normally cause a journalist to be assigned to a different area of reporting.

When it came to light in 2010 that then chief of the Times’ Jerusalem bureau, Ethan Bronner, had a son in the Israeli military, even the Times’ own ombudsman concluded that Bronner should be reassigned.

In response to requests for information and interviews with Noveck and Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson, a Times spokesperson issued a written statement claiming that Noveck is “not a reporter,” but merely a “long-time news assistant in The Times’s bureau in Jerusalem.”

The statement went on to say:  “She works under the direction of our bureau chief primarily doing translation and research.  She is an Israeli citizen.  If she has children and they are also Israeli citizens, presumably they would be required to serve in the military*.  This situation would not constitute a ‘breach with impartiality.’”

I wrote back pointing out (1) that Times’ conflict of interest requirements include family members and (2) that Noveck’s byline appeared on a news report. The spokesperson then admitted that Noveck “on rare occasions received a byline” but still maintained that “she is not a reporter.”

However, the Times’ published ethics standards generally extend ethical requirements ”to all newsroom and editorial page employees, journalists and support staff alike.”

Reporters Frequently Have Ties to Israeli Military

This incident is part of a pattern of ethics violations concerning reporting on Israel.

Isabel Kershner, a senior Times reporter in the region, is an Israeli citizen whose husband, according to Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (Fair) works for an Israeli organization, the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), which has close ties to the Israeli military and is “tasked with shaping a positive image of Israel in the media.”

A FAIR study of articles that Kershner had written or contributed to since 2009 found they had overwhelmingly relied on the INSS for analysis about events in the region.

A multitude of journalists at the Times and elsewhere have had close personal and family ties to the Israeli military – almost none of them ever disclosed, including the previous Times bureau chief Ethan Bronner, as noted above.

Jonathan Cook, a British journalist based in Israel, quotes a Jerusalem bureau chief who stated: “… Bronner’s situation is ‘the rule, not the exception. I can think of a dozen foreign bureau chiefs, responsible for covering both Israel and the Palestinians, who have served in the Israeli army, and another dozen who like Bronner have kids in the Israeli army.”

Cook writes that the bureau chief explained: “It is common to hear Western reporters boasting to one another about their Zionist credentials, their service in the Israeli army or the loyal service of their children.”

For more information on journalists’ pro-Israel conflict of interest violations see ”US Media and Israeli Military: All in the Family,” “Jodi Rudoren, Another Member of the Family: Meet the New York Times’ New Israel-Palestine News Chief,” “Ethan Bronner’s Conflict With Impartiality,” and ”AP’s Matti Friedman: Israeli citizen and former Israeli soldier.”

It would appear from this pervasive pattern that many of the owners, editors, and journalists who determine U.S. reporting on Israel-Palestine believe that normal ethics requirements don’t apply in regard to Israel.

This situation holds serious consequences for the American public. American taxpayers give Israel over $8 million per day (more than to any other country) and, as a result, most of the world views Americans as responsible for Israeli actions, exposing us to escalating risks.

Osama Bin Laden and others have often cited U.S. support for Israeli crimes as a primary cause of hostility against us.

It is thus essential that Americans be accurately and fully informed. This is unlikely to happen while those reporting for American news media (whether “reporters” or “assistants”) have such close ties to Israel and its powerful military forces.

Witnesses Describe Soldiers Shooting Protesters with High-Speed Canisters

Anderson was shot in 2009 after a protest in the Palestinian village of Ni’lin in the West Bank. Since 2007 Ni’lin villagers and others have been demonstrating against the illegal Israeli confiscation of up to a third of the village’s land (following previous confiscations in which the majority of the village’s original land was taken by Israel).

Gabby Silverman, a witness to the shooting of Tristan Anderson, describes the incident: “Tristan had wandered off with his camera. I was looking at him. And out of nowhere, they opened fire on us. The first shot they fired, they got Tristan.”

Anderson is now in a wheelchair with permanent brain damage. He is hemiplegic (paralyzed on the left, formerly dominant, side of his body). He is blind in his right eye and part of his head and frontal lobe were destroyed.

The kind of canister Israeli forces shot at Anderson is particularly dangerous, according to their manufacturer itself. The shells have a range of several hundred meters, yet Israeli soldiers fired at Anderson from approximately 60 meters away.

The canisters’ manufacturer, Combined Systems, Inc. (CSI), classifies them as “barricade penetrators” and advises that they should not be fired at people. A spokesperson for an Israeli human rights organization says, “It’s like firing a small missile.” Because of an internal propulsion mechanism, they hurtle through the air at 122 meters per second.

CSI is reportedly the primary supplier of tear gas to Israel. A watchdog group reports that the company flew the Israeli flag at its Jamestown, Pennsylvania, headquarters until, in advance of a planned Martin Luther King Day demonstration, CSI took it down and replaced it with the Pennsylvania state flag.

According to an in-depth report on CSI by Pennsylvania professor Dr. Werner Lange, the company was founded by two Israelis, Jacob Kravel and Michael Brunn.

A month after Anderson was shot, a Palestinian nonviolence leader was killed by this same type of tear gas canister when an Israeli soldier shot it into the victim’s chest (the fifth Palestinian killed in Ni’lin by the Israeli military in a year and a half).

The next year Israeli forces fired a similar canister at a young American art student, Emily Henochowicz, destroying one eye. An eyewitness reported that an Israeli soldier intentionally aimed the canister at Henoschowitz while she was participating in a nonviolent demonstration.

In 2012 another Palestinian was killed when an Israeli soldier shot him in the face with what appears to have also been a long-range CSI canister.

The occupying Israeli forces have consistently suppressed the Ni’lin villagers’ unarmed protests against the stealing of their land. As of 2012, Israel had arrested more than 350 villagers, killed 5 – including a 10-year-old child – injured “multiple” protesters with live ammunition, and broken the bones of 15 people with tear gas projectiles, according to the villagers’ website, created to document the situation.

There are similar reports from other Palestinian villages, where several other protesters have died from tear gas fired by Israeli forces.

It is unfortunate that almost none of this was even hinted at in Myra Noveck’s New York Times report.

*While military service is required for both males and females in Israel, only about 50 percent actually serve; many Israelis have refused to serve in the Israeli military for reasons of conscience.

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. She can be reached through

For more information on Anderson, videos of the incident, and the latest updates go to

Ni’lin is also sometimes referred to as Nilin or Na’alin.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | Comments Off on Another Journalist with Children in the Israeli Military

What it means to be a union member in Colombia and Chicago

By Ruth Fast | CPTnet | July 26, 2013

Eleven years ago, company thugs attempted to kidnap William Mendoza’s four-year-old daughter. They were unable to take her because his wife simply refused to release her grip on the child. This incident caused William’s marriage to break up because of his wife’s fear of further violence. His story is one of thousands that, when combined, have for decades put Colombia at the top of the list of most dangerous nations to be a member of a trade union.

Mendoza is President of the local Coca Cola ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) in Barrancabermeja, Colombia. Because he was working for fair wages and decent working conditions for Coca Cola workers, paramilitary groups hired by the company to intimidate and threaten leaders of the union had targeted him. This U.S. company operating in Colombia is keeping wages and benefits low so they can extract more profits for the company and we can drink soft drinks at lower prices.

Paramilitaries have killed, disappeared, or threatened Mendoza’s colleagues because of their work. At present, William has a bodyguard supplied by the Colombian government because of threats on his life. His union office has bulletproof windows, and security cameras monitor the front of the building. Sometimes William wonders how useful the bodyguard would be in a real threat to his safety. However, dismissing the bodyguard would probably invite a lethal attack.

Mendoza is working to save his own life, but the fight to save the union and affirm the right of workers to organize is the passion that has driven him to this point. He clearly understands the contradictory predicament: that the harder he fights for workers’ rights and safety, the more he endangers his own life—yet he fights.

I thought about my own union membership and the Chicago Teachers’ Union struggle as it continues to work for just wages, fair working conditions and the living out of “Children First”: the motto of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS). This struggle continues in spite of the CPS administration making the lives of teachers and staff in the neighborhood increasingly difficult by creating larger classes, more crowded schools, more work for teachers at the same pay rate, well as disrupting communities by closing schools.

My union friends, union leaders, and I do not face death threats here in the U.S. However, we are fired, laid off, and told we are lying about workers’ hardships; our pension plan is not secure and we suffer financial hardship.

As a retired CPS school social worker, I sit in my comfortable home, insulated from the struggles my union leaders, the teachers, and school staff live daily. I could forget William and the agony he lives daily with continued threats on his life and the lives of his comrades in the union. But this experience in Colombia has strengthen my union commitment and gives me more energy to stand with my union for the benefit of Chicago students, their parents and for the rights of all children to a quality public education.

ILWU leaders and members understand that to fight for the rights of workers in Colombia is to fight for the rights of all workers internationally. I came back to the U.S. with my union commitment strengthened as I saw lives threatened in Colombia. I know that fighting for our union rights in the Chicago also strengthens the union movement internationally.

Ruth Fast was a member of the most recent Christian Peacemaker Team delegation to Colombia in May.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on What it means to be a union member in Colombia and Chicago

Live ammunition shot at Youth Against Settlement house in Hebron

International Solidarity Movement | July 26, 2013

Hebron, Occupied PalestineLast night at 10 pm, a live ammunition bullet was fired at the headquarters of the human rights organisation Youth Against Settlements (YAS) in Hebron.

The spokesperson for YAS, Damer Atash, explains that a group of activists were sitting in front of the house headquarters when the bullet was fired. The bullet was shot  from the nearby olive groves making it impossible to see the shooter, although two voices were heard. Luckily, the group of activists were not hurt, instead, the bullet bounced off the window right behind them. “At first we thought it was a stone but instead we found a bullet”, said one of the activists.

At 22:15 pm, the group called the Israeli police, who arrived some 40 minutes later at approximately 11 pm, after the police arrived the military joined them and stayed for about 20 minutes. However, none of them searched the premises for the bullet canister.

The shooter was not seen, but it is likely that it was an attack from one of the neighbouring settlers, as the bullet was bigger than those used by the army. Even though this is the first incident of shooting against YAS, this would not be the first time the house has been attacked by settlers. They have previously tried to burn the house, set the kitchen of the headquarters on fire and uprooted trees. In these incidents the Israeli army or police have not taken any action against the settlers.

Israeli army and police also participate in the harassment of YAS and its human rights organizers. On Wednesday alone, the army invaded the house three times during the evening and night for what it is believed to be a training exercise for the army.

The despair and fear this causes is not uncommon for the 35,000 Palestinians living under complete control of 1500 Israeli soldiers and police officers, and the constant harassment and violence from the 500 settlers illegally living in the Israeli controlled H2 area of Hebron.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Live ammunition shot at Youth Against Settlement house in Hebron

San Sebastián Bachajón: Following the Assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán, the Struggle for the Defense of the Land Continues

By Jessica Davies | Upside Down World | July 25, 2013

“The government does not like the people to organize and defend what is theirs; they repress us with state forces and order assassination to silence our movement”, declared the ejidatarios (communal landholders) of San Sebastián Bachajón recently. Despite the assassination of their much-loved community leader Juan Vázquez Guzmán, they insist: “we are here, we are staying here and we are not going to leave our land which is the birthplace of our mothers and fathers, our grandfathers and grandmothers, who also fought and gave their lives for the mother earth.”

Their struggle against luxury tourism in their territory

The indigenous Tzeltal ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón is situated in the jungle region of   the state of Chiapas in South-East Mexico. It is located in an area of great natural beauty, rich in flora and fauna. The common lands of the ejido straddle the access road to the spectacular series of turquoise waterfalls of Agua Azul, and are not far from the great Maya archaeological site of Palenque. For over 20 years, the Mexican government has planned, as part of the “Maya World” concept, a high class tourist mega-project in Chiapas to rival Cancun; Agua Azul is to be the “jewel in the crown” of this development, with a luxury “eco-lodge retreat” complete with arrival at the waterfalls by helicopter or seaplane. Unfortunately for the people who have lived on and cared for this land for centuries, for whom territory is the basis of a dignified life, they are now the only obstacle to what could become, for rich tourists, “one of the most special experiences in the Western hemisphere”, and, for the resort owners, a lucrative source of income. The realization of this project would inevitably involve dispossessing or co-opting the indigenous population, and taking over their ancestral lands and territory.

As a result, the ejidatarios of Bachajón have become the recipients of daily threats, aggressions, arbitrary detentions, forced disappearances, imprisonment, extensive use of torture, and attacks from paramilitary groups. The strategy of the three levels of government has been to develop alliances with, and give support to, local political party members so they will back the government plans, and to criminalise those who resist these plans, with the aim of generating conflict among the communities in the area.

Since 2006, Juan Vázquez Guzmán had been at the center of the struggle in defense of the common lands of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón. On 24 April, 2013, he was shot dead with six bullets in the doorway of his home. He was aged only 32, and the father of two small children aged four and seven. His community members were left devastated, and his assassins escaped into the impunity which reigns in Mexico. There has been no evidence of an investigation into the murder, and the material and intellectual authors of the crime have not been identified.

Focus of conflict: the ticket booth

In 2007, the ejidatarios of San Sebastián Bachajón “organized to defend our mother earth and natural resources”, and decided to become ‘Adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle’, a Zapatista initiative which seeks to bring together the struggles of all those ‘from below and to the left’. As part of their struggle, they decided to take back control of the booth where tourists buy tickets to view the waterfalls.

In a communiqué released on July 2, 2013, they describe what this booth represented to them: “Our toll booth is a symbol of our struggle and resistance…. It represents the exercise of our right to autonomy and self-determination, not for personal gain but for the collective benefit of our people; using the income from the booth, work and projects are carried out for the common good and the defense of our territory; it is a space of struggle.”

Government-backed forces have violently evicted the Bachajón ejidatarios from the booth on repeated occasions. One of the most serious attacks was on February 2, 2011, when federal and state authorities took possession of an area of the common lands, as well as the ticket booth, through the use of state forces together with armed civilians. This provoked a clash which resulted in the arbitrary detention of 117 people, “as a means of dissolving the indigenous organization in resistance and of pressurizing them into handing over their lands into the control of the Mexican state”, according to San Sebastián Bachajón’s legal representative, Ricardo A. Lagunes Gasca.

Following the events of February 2, 2011, the ejidatarios of Bachajón put out an urgent call for solidarity, which was answered by Movement for Justice in El Barrio from New York, who coordinated an international campaign which continued until the last four of the prisoners were set free on July 23, 2011. “Here in Chiapas law and justice do not exist, but rather the government imposes its mandate,” Juan Vázquez Guzmán explains in one of the videos released during the campaign. “We will never negotiate our lands. The only thing we are asking is that they respect our right to self-determination as indigenous people. We are demanding justice, control of our land and territory, and, above all, the right to care for ourselves and conserve the natural resources of the land.”

The Amparo

On March 2, 2011, one of the founders of the ejido of San Sebastián Bachajón filed a petition requesting amparo (an order for legal protection) against the arbitrary deprivation of their common lands, and protection of their territory and collective rights. The acts of February 2, 2011, the petition stated, constituted “a partial and definitive deprivation of the common use lands, without consultation, and without the full, prior and informed consent of the General Assembly.”

On January 30, 2013, the Seventh District Judge of Tuxtla Gutiérrez gave judgement on the amparo after almost two years, declaring the request inadmissible. A different court, on May 16, 2013, overturned this decision, and ordered the amparo to be reinstated, referring the claim to the General Assembly of the Ejidatarios. The matter remains unresolved; as the community’s lawyer has pointed out, this is just the beginning: the theft of the rest of their land is still to come.

At the end of May 2013, the ejidatarios sent a delegation to Mexico City to present a letter to the president of the Council of the Federal Judiciary, asking him to ensure impartiality and objectivity in the resolution of their amparo. They also visited the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, to demand the return of their territory, and asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Washington to issue measures to protect the autonomous authorities of the ejido and the family of Juan Vázquez Guzmán.

The struggle continues

At the end of May, 2013, a worldwide alliance of grassroots community organizations announced a new initiative in support of the adherents to the Sixth from San Sebastián Bachajón. The Week of Worldwide Action: “Juan Vázquez Guzmán lives! The Bachajón struggle continues!” took place from Tuesday, June 25(Juan’s birthday) to Tuesday, July 2, 2013.

Groups and individuals from all five continents took part, and acts of solidarity took place in countries including Mexico, the US, the UK, Germany, India, Austria, Peru, the Philippines, Argentina, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Italy, Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia. Messages of support were received from many parts of the world, from organizations such as the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity and the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre, and from well-known writers and thinkers Hugo Blanco, Sylvia Marcos, Gustavo Esteva, and Raúl Zibechi.

In his pronouncement, Gustavo Esteva concluded: “The struggle of Juan and the people of San Sebastian Bachajón is clearly in the forefront of the battle in which our destiny will be defined…..  Juan’s struggle is directly linked with that of all of those who are defending their lands and their waters, their territories and their common properties, and also with all of those who have taken to the streets in other struggles against corruption and for justice.”

“Juan’s total commitment”, wrote Sylvia Marcos, “to the struggle for a dignified and autonomous life for his people and for the safeguarding, protection and defense of their territory was the reason for his vicious murder”.

On July 2, 2013, hundreds of men and women from San Sebastián Bachajón, adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, carried out one of their traditional acts of protest, an “informative roadblock” of the Ocosingo-Palenque highway, near the entrance to the Agua Azul waterfall. They released a communiqué the same day which they read aloud during the roadblock: “The men, women and children of San Sebastian Bachajón are willing to give their lives for our mother earth and for our struggle, just as compañero Juan Vázquez Guzmán did, and as the native peoples of Mexico and the world have done for hundreds of years against oil, mining, wind, gas, dams and tourism projects, all of them bringing dispossession and death to our people, intending to destroy our way of life, our language and our culture.”

As they said in an earlier communiqué, on May 6, 2013: “The bad government wants to fill our lands with death and fear, so we get tired and no longer continue to defend our life, the people, our mother earth….but we are here and we are not going to leave, because even though they kill us and want to destroy us as indigenous peoples, the heart of the people is alive and will continue struggling whatever the cost.”

For further information in English:

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on San Sebastián Bachajón: Following the Assassination of Juan Vázquez Guzmán, the Struggle for the Defense of the Land Continues

Thousands of Syrian police who joined the rebels are on U.S. payroll

WorldTribune | July 25, 2013

WASHINGTON — The United States has been paying thousands of Syrian police officers who deserted the regime of President Bashar Assad.

Officials said the administration of President Barack Obama has approved tens of millions of dollars to pay the salaries of police officers who joined the rebels. They said the officers were working to maintain order in rebel-controlled territory, mostly in northern Syria.

“There are literally thousands of defected police inside of Syria,” Assistant Secretary of State Rick Barton said. “They are credible in their communities because they’ve defected.”

In an address to the Aspen Security Forum on July 19, Barton, responsible for State Department stabilization operations, did not say how many Syrian police deserters were on the U.S. payroll. He said the officers were receiving about $150 per month, a significant salary in Syria.

The address marked a rare disclosure of direct U.S. aid to Sunni rebels in Syria. Congress has approved more than $50 million for the Syrian opposition, much of which has not been spent.

Barton said the police officers remained in their communities despite their defection from the Assad regime. He said the U.S. stipend was meant to ensure that they stay on the job.

“We’d rather have a trained policeman who is trusted by the community than have to bring in a new crowd or bring in an international group that doesn’t know the place,” Barton said.

Barton said the rebel movement was awaiting a range of non-lethal U.S. equipment. He cited night vision systems and medical supplies.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Wars for Israel | , | 1 Comment

Venezuela: Supporting a Once and Future Revolution

By Roger D. Harris | Dissident Voice | July 25th, 2013

Venezuela is at a critical moment in its Bolivarian revolution, dealing with serious economic issues due to its transitional economy that is under siege by local oligarchs. At the same time, President Nicolás Maduro’s decision to welcome Edward Snowden, if he opts for political asylum in Venezuela, means that the Obama administration is escalating its hostility towards his government.

Venezuela faces a situation analogous to that of the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende from 1970 to 1973 when, as is well documented, the CIA and the local business class conspired to destabilize the economy, overthrow the democratically elected socialist government, and impose the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

It is in this context that we find it ill timed at best that Clif Ross has assailed the Venezuelan government with one-sided and flimsy arguments (e.g., criticizing Chávez for choosing to divert electrical power from basic industry to the populace when natural droughts curtailed hydroelectric production) in recent articles at Dissident Voice and CounterPunch Weekend Edition.

A former Chávista, Ross now takes what he describes as an “agnostic” view of the Bolivarian movement. His agnosticism extends to the US-backed opposition, which Ross argued in his talk in Berkeley could be even better for Venezuela if it were to come to power.

As solidarity activists, the Task Force on the Americas is not afflicted with agnostic angst; we support the social justice movements against imperialist intervention. Our responsibility is to allow the Venezuelans to resolve the contradictions within their movement without the interference of the US government.

A class analysis is needed of what is happening in Venezuela. The many problems with the Bolivarian revolution are inherent in trying to create socialism on the foundations of capitalism. Within Chávismo there is an acute awareness of problems, and President Maduro is working on them. We support the overall Bolivarian struggle against outside interference, because the alternative of the opposition in power would mean no opportunity for a people’s agenda.

Ross is concerned about the contagion of state power. None of the 21st century socialist governments in Latin America pass his muster. All are corrupt, authoritarian, and going in the wrong direction in his view.

But it was through state power that the Bolivarian movement in Venezuela distributed land to 300,000 families, halved the poverty rate, reduced extreme poverty by two-thirds, went from being among one of the most economically unequal nations in the Latin America to being the among the most equal, reduced child malnutrition by 40%, increased social expenditures by 60%, built 700,000 homes, and returned 1 million hectares to Indigenous communities.

This same government has promoted community councils and other instruments of participatory democracy. Not surprisingly, according to the annual World Happiness poll, Venezuela is the second happiest country in the world.

A mere decade and a half ago, most analysts would have ranked Venezuela as least likely to stand up on its own two feet to challenge the Empire, to be recognized as sovereign and equal. It was arguably the most sycophantically Americanized nation in South America. In a mere 14 years of the Bolivarian revolution, there has been a blossoming of home grown culture. A sense of national identity and pride has become universal, even among the Miami jet-setting opposition elements.

Today, 32-year old musical wunderkind and avowed Chavista Gustavo Dudamel is not only the music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica Simón Bolívar in Caracas but of the Philharmonic Orchestra in Los Angeles. Culture is still being imported, but the shipping lanes are going both ways now.

The Bolivarian revolution is considered a major threat by the US empire. The US has a stated policy of regime change for Venezuela, spending millions of dollars on “democracy promotion” to demonize and destabilize the Bolivarian movement. With the US as the sole super power having an uncontested military superiority, the Bolivarian revolution is all the more of a threat because it is a “threat of a good example.”

In 2008, when the US financial crisis precipitated a world recession, the capitalist solution was to impose austerity measures on working people with increased unemployment and economic insecurity. In contrast, the Venezuelan government reduced the gap between rich and poor by elevating the poor.

As James Petras has pointed out, US policy toward Venezuela has taken many tactical turns. But the enduring objective has been the same: oust the Chavistas, reverse the nationalization of big businesses, abolish the mass community and worker based councils, and revert the country into a client-state. These are the salient issues the solidarity movement needs to address.


Roger D. Harris is President of the Task Force on the Americas, a 29-year-old human rights organization based in Marin County, which works in solidarity with the social justice movements in Latin America and in opposition to US interference with their self-determination. Visit Roger’s website.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Netanyahu proposes new “Marshall Plan” for Egyptian economy to support coup

MEMO | July 26, 2013

Netanyahu hopes that his “Marshall Plan” would see the emergence of a new Arab middle class.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing for the West to adopt a new “Marshall Plan” for the Egyptian economy in order for the coup to succeed. He is being backed by US Republican Senator Rand Paul in his efforts. If successful, Netanyahu will regard the burying of the democratic process in the neighbouring country as the achievement of one of his most important strategic objectives.

The original Marshall Plan was America’s way of helping to rebuild Europe after the Second World War to stem the tide of revolutionary liberation. According to Maariv newspaper, Netanyahu’s plan proposes significant economic growth in the Arab world in order to prevent “radical” Islamic groups from rising to power.

The deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council, Eran Lerman, has been pushing the plan in recent meetings in Washington with Congress members. Netanyahu himself suggested such a plan during his own recent visit to the US; finance for the scheme would come from private sources, he claimed. The prime minister believes that Arab countries should be encouraged to have stable democracies free of Iranian influence and that the international community should work towards that objective. Maariv’s report claims that the Israeli officials are looking at possible funding for the project to come from Arab states such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Netanyahu hopes that his plan would see the emergence of a new Arab middle class, presumably more ready to do business with Israel. His thinking follows the logic behind US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal for massive financial investment in the occupied West Bank to boost the Palestinian Authority’s standing. “The capitalist West thinks that throwing ever more money at a problem will solve it,” said MEMO’s Senior Editor Ibrahim Hewitt. “The natural aspiration of a people to be free of economic, political and military occupation doesn’t register with Western governments for whom economic growth is the Holy Grail.”

The newspaper pointed out that the Israeli government is also preparing to ask the US Department of Defence for an increase in military aid on the pretext of potential threats from the popular uprisings in the Arab region.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Comments Off on Netanyahu proposes new “Marshall Plan” for Egyptian economy to support coup

Prosecutor orders ousted Egypt President Morsi’s arrest over Hamas links

RT | July 26, 2013

An arrest order has been issued for ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi over suspected links to Hamas. State media reports the Muslim Brotherhood leader has already been questioned and confronted with the evidence.

Morsi has been detained for 15 days and will be subjected to questioning over suspicions Hamas helped orchestrate his escape from prison in 2011, reported Reuters, citing Mena state media. Morsi has allegedly already been “confronted with the evidence.” During the uprisings that overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak two years ago there were a number of attacks on police stations that led to the escape of Islamists and political inmates.

The accusations set against Morsi also include killing officers and prisoners and kidnapping soldiers.

The ousted president has been held in an unknown location since he was removed from office on July 3 by the military.

The Muslim Brotherhood has condemned Morsi’s detention as “ridiculous” and a “return to the Mubarak regime.”

The UN has urged the Egyptian military to free Morsi along with other Brotherhood leaders “without delay.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls “on the interim authorities to ensure law and order along with guaranteeing the safety and security of all Egyptians.”

Egypt is preparing for another day of violent protests as Morsi’s followers and the military opposition have both planned mass rallies.

The two groups are at loggerheads over the future of the Arab world’s most populous country. A military official told Reuters that the army has given the Muslim Brotherhood until Saturday to join the so-called “road map” to new elections.

The Brotherhood fears a military led crackdown on the political party that won the Egyptian elections last summer.

“We are continuing our protests on the streets. In fact we believe that more people will realize what this regime really represents – a return of the old state of Mubarak, with brute force,” Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said.

In some of the worst violence since the unrest began in Egypt, 50 Morsi supporters were gunned down at a Cairo barracks on July 8 by security forces.

July 26, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , | 1 Comment