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An unrelenting assault on the village of Deir Istiya’s farmland

International Solidarity Movement | November 28, 2013

Deir Istiya, Occupied Palestine – The village of Deir Istiya has encountered severe disruption to its agriculture and water supply since 1990 from the Israeli authorities and nearby illegal settlements. This has culminated in the Israeli army’s planned action to uproot nearly 2,500 olive trees in the very near future.

The army’s mandate to perform this action stems from a court ruling given in May 2013 that gave permission for them to cut down all olives trees in the Wadi Kana (a valley making up a large part of the village’s farmland) that are under two years old. However trees that were planted over five years ago have been included in the marking action over the last five months, a marking action typically precludes the actual uprooting process.

On the 26th of November, four men in civilian clothing marked 157 more trees across the village farmland. Before the army actually begins the action, under Israeli law, they have to inform lawyers representing the village of the date that this will commence. Although from past experience, villagers across the West Bank have not received such prior warning in similar cases. If the army succeeds with its plan, the destruction of more than 2,500 olive trees will decimate the village’s agriculture and economy, destroying the livelihoods of many of the 4,000 inhabitants of Deir Istiya.

This is the latest in a long line of aggressive acts that the Israeli government, army, courts and nearby illegal settlers have inflicted upon the people of this village. In 1990 nearby settlers deposited sewage from three separate illegal settlements into the 12 springs that provided water for the village. This water was crucial for the irrigation of the traditional crops of the village, lemon and orange trees. As water became scarce for the village, the farmers abandoned the orange and lemon crops, replacing them with olive trees due to the fact they require far less water. This is typical of the Israeli state to dramatically reduce the Palestinians methods for survival only to attempt to snatch away the small ray of hope that they have managed to build for themselves in the face of such adverse conditions.

Moreover, on the 23th of November, illegal settlers from a nearby settlement trespassed on Palestinian land in order to steal 100 meters of fencing material. The purpose of this fence was to protect a number of olive trees from pigs that have infested the area since Israeli settlers began releasing them for the exact purpose of disrupting Palestinian olive farming.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US, Israel to threaten Iran with war game

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Press TV – November 28, 2013

The US and Israel are planning to conduct a joint military drill in an effort to threaten Iran towards the end of the six-month period when an interim deal between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany expires.

The drill is aimed at sending a threatening message to Iran while US President Barack Obama says “we cannot commit ourselves to an endless cycle of conflict.”

Time magazine broke the story of the planned US-Israeli military exercise on Thursday, citing a top Israeli official who said, “The strategic decision is to continue to make noise.”

“In May there’s going to be a joint training exercise with the Americans,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It’s going to be big.”

The planned war game comes after the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 intensely angered Israelis.

As part of the interim deal, which was announced on November 24, Iran has agreed to limit certain aspects of its nuclear activities, and the United States and its allies have agreed to lift some of the economic sanctions and offer access to a portion of the revenue that Tehran has been denied through these sanctions. No additional sanctions will be imposed.

The deal infuriated Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who called it “a historic blunder.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the most powerful pro-advocacy group in the US, also called on US Congress to impose new sanctions on Iran.

Meanwhile, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll has shown that the American people support the deal over Iran’s nuclear energy program by a 2-to-1 margin.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pakistan blows cover of suspected CIA chief after drone strike

RT | November 27, 2013

One of Pakistan’s major political parties has published the name of what it believes to be the CIA’s chief operative in Islamabad after a US drone strike killed five people last week. The group demanded on Wednesday that the spy chief face murder charges.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), led by the country’s cricket star Imran Khan, dropped the name of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operative to police in a letter in which the party demanded that the agent face up to the “gross offence” of the drone strike.

The letter was released to the media. However, the name could not be independently verified.

“I would like to nominate the US clandestine agency CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) Station Chief in Islamabad … and CIA Director John O. Brennan for committing the gross offences of committing murder and waging war against Pakistan,” PTI information secretary Shireen Mazarisaid wrote in the letter.

“CIA station chief is not a diplomatic post, therefore he does not enjoy any diplomatic immunity and is within the bounds of domestic laws of Pakistan,” the letter added. The complaint was lodged with Tal police station in Hangu district, northwestern Pakistan.

Intelligence agencies in foreign countries make a habit of keeping the identities of their agents and operatives private. If the PTI has successfully named the right person then he may be forced to leave the country.

This would not be the first time that an American operative has been outed in the country. In 2010 a former station chief was forced to leave Pakistan after his name was also revealed during a drone strike which led to the deaths of civilians.

The drone strike on 21 November was extremely provocative as it was one of the first outside the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkwa province, and killed five militants – among them a senior commander of the Haqqani Network.

A separate strike at the beginning of November, which killed Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud, prompted Khan to react with similar fury over how continued strikes could scuttle peace talks.

“The Taliban held only one condition for the peace talks and that was that drone attacks must end,” he said at a press conference. “But just before the talks began we saw this sabotage.”

CIA spokesman Dean Boyd would not confirm the Islamabad station chief’s name to the AP and declined to comment on the matter immediately.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Honduran Election Results Contested by International Observers

By Kevin Edmonds | The Other Side of Paradise | November 28, 2013

Honduras’ elections on November 24 had the potential of reversing some of the worst pro-market, anti-people policies put forward by the government of Porfirio Lobo, who was the direct beneficiary of the 2009 coup that ousted the left-of-center Manuel Zelaya. Instead, the elections have been fraught with irregularities and violent intimidation, threatening to throw the embattled nation into further political disarray.

These elections were regarded as pivotal for Honduras, as the administration of the ruling National Party has done little to combat the country’s poverty rate which stands at over 60 percent. Instead the National Party has been focused on opening up the country to multinational corporations. This is best demonstrated by the National Party’s passage of a new mining law that would remove the moratorium on the granting of new mining concessions put in place by former president Zelaya in 2008. The new mining law, which was passed earlier this year, was drafted with the help of the Canadian International Development Agency. The law effectively allows for a return to destructive open-pit mining practices that have been linked to numerous human rights abuses and widespread environmental destruction.

In addition to revising the mining laws, as detailed last year by NACLA’s Keane Bhatt, the Lobo administration was also busy luring developers and investors to build highly problematic “charter cities.” Bhatt described these charter cities as “privately owned municipalities that would be managed autonomously, complete with their own police forces, tax codes, and legal systems. These cities would develop industries for export-oriented growth, like textile manufacturing; they would also sign onto international trade agreements independently, and manage their own immigration policies.”

Standing in opposition to these pro-multinational corporation policies, the LIBRE (Liberty and Refoundation) Party is led by Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of former president Manuel Zelaya—who, under the constitution, was barred from running for a second term. The LIBRE party emerged from the post-coup resistance movement and seeks to build a Honduras in which self-determination and social justice—not the rule of the oligarchs—prevail. Due to the strength and wealth of those they oppose, the LIBRE party has been systematically attacked by the military police and paramilitary forces associated with the various landowners and business figures.

Rights Action has extensively documented the violent intimidation of LIBRE party members and progressive journalists in the run-up to the November 24 elections. Rights Action recently released a report that revealed since May 2012, at least 18 LIBRE party activists have been killed, with 15 others falling victim to armed attacks.

Despite the presence of hundreds of international observers, the state-sanctioned violence and intimidation did not cease. As reported by members of the Canadian NGO Common Frontiers who were part of the official delegation, the day before the election armed groups entered hotels in Tegucigalpa in order to intimidate election observers. With the passage of time, it is becoming increasingly apparent that examples of armed intimidation were crucial to the victory of the National Party’s candidate Juan Orlando Hernández.

Soon after the contested results were announced, Canadian electoral observers released a statement on November 25, stating that “After careful consideration of our own observations of the electoral process in Honduras we find the presidential elections to be inconsistent with democratic principles and rife with fraudulent practices.”

Their statement concluded with their recommendations: “We urge the Canadian government not to recognize the results of the Honduran elections. There must be an opportunity to do a full, transparent, accurate count, and fully investigate the many reports of irregularities, intimidation and threats by authorities.” (The entire statement from the Canadian delegation can be read here).

Following the statement by the Canadian delegation, on November 26, the National Lawyers Guild published a press release which declared that “The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) delegation of 17 credentialed international observers seriously question the validity of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s (TSE) preliminary results of Sunday’s national elections in Honduras. The NLG takes issue with the United States government’s characterization of the electoral process as transparent, given the country’s recent and pervasive human rights violations… The NLG noted a strong will and enthusiasm among Hondurans to participate in the electoral process despite a pervasive climate of fear and intimidation surrounding opposition party members and observers. Over the weekend, two LIBRE party activists were murdered, while two other deaths and three injuries were reported near a voting center in the Moskitia region. In addition, international observers reported multiple incidents of intimidation by state actors in the days leading up to the elections.”

It is predictable that the United States and Canada will support the contested results of the election, as irregularities are only important when their favoured candidate does not win. One only has to look at their support for the electoral process in Haiti in 2010—a situation in which 14 political parties were banned and observers witnessed widespread fraud and irregularities. Both countries have a great deal invested in Honduras, financially and geopolitically. Indeed the entire process was summed up brilliantly by Canales Vásquez, a LIBRE activist, who remarked to Upside Down World’s Sandra Cuffe: “They don’t want an example to be set in Honduras where the people kick the oligarchy out at the ballot box and where the system changes in favor of the people. That’s what we’re struggling for in Honduras, and that’s the reason for this repression against the people and against the LIBRE party.”

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama’s Response To Too Much Secrecy About Surveillance… Is More Secrecy

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | November 27, 2013

Anita Kumar, a reporter at McClatchy, has a good article highlighting how, for all the talk by the Obama administration about how it needs to be more open and transparent about what the NSA is doing, in actuality, the administration has built up the walls even higher, increasing the levels of secrecy… including secrecy about how he’s responded to everything:

Obama has been gradually tweaking his vast government surveillance policies. But he is not disclosing those changes to the public. Has he stopped spying on friendly world leaders? He won’t say. Has he stopped eavesdropping on the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund? He won’t say.

Even the report by the group Obama created to review and recommend changes to his surveillance programs has been kept secret.

As is noted in the article, the administration, which likes to pretend it’s the most transparent in history, is actually one of the most secretive. Its attempts at transparency have almost exclusively been focused on where it can get the most political bang, not for what areas people expect the government to be transparent about — such as how it interprets the laws that allow the government to spy on everyone…

What’s incredible is that it appears that no one high up in the administration seems to recognize how this is a strategy that will almost certainly make things worse, not better. It may be how the administration is used to functioning, but it makes it much more difficult to believe anything that is said about a supposed “vigorous public debate” being held on the surveillance activities. It also means that as more leaks come out revealing more questionable practices, the constant backtracking and excuses will just destroy whatever credibility the administration has left on this issue. If, instead, it were to actually be transparent and simply reveal things like how it interprets the law, and allow for a real public discussion on these matters, that would actually result in some frank discussions that the administration seems terrified of actually having.

Extreme secrecy may seem like the easier short-term strategy, but it’s just digging an ever deeper hole that the administration is going to have to try to climb out of in the long-term. Hiding reality from a public that’s going to find out eventually is just making the problem worse.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | Leave a comment

Lies of the Israeli Peace Movement

By Richard Hugus | August 8, 2004

How clever the oppressor is, learning the language and ways of the oppressed and insinuating himself among them. “Yes, yes” he says, “I too am oppressed – can we sit side by side and declare our common cause?” The US “peace and justice” group, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, recently sent an announcement to a listing of peace events in Massachusetts for a meeting to do just this. In the announcement, the public is invited to hear from “bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families supporting peace, reconciliation and tolerance.”

By this means an ‘equals’ sign is put between Zionists and the people of the land they occupy, in the country which is the sole source of support for that occupation. This is propaganda of the most insidious kind. Now the Zionist must show “tolerance” for the Palestinian whose land he stole, whose homes he moved into, whose people he began attacking 56 years ago, and continues to attack. Now the Palestinian must accept, must renounce his right to resist this attack, his fight against occupation, his right to return, his rights as a human being – all because “both sides” have engaged in violence.

Imagine those who rule the US holding sessions with the Vietnamese on the harm the Vietnamese did to them in the Vietnam War. Imagine the white plantation owner having public meetings in which injustices done to him by his slaves could be fully and sensitively aired. Imagine the US majority – the colonial settlers of what the natives once called Turtle Island — sitting down with the Sioux or Apache or Ojibwa, saying it was time “both sides” admitted to wrongdoing.

Betrayals of history such as this are only organized by the victor when some members of its polity have a pang of conscience, or as a way to further the ongoing project of colonization. The “peace” being sought here is just another kind of war. On its web site, Brit Tzedek says unabashedly that it is “deeply committed to Israel’s well-being.” Thus, it wants an end to violence in Palestine, but it supports the source of that violence – namely, the state of Israel. It claims to be for justice, but in fact it isn’t. Justice would mean the right of Palestinians to return to the land stolen from them. It would mean restitution for past crimes. It would mean an end to the idea of a state for Jewish people only. Such things are not on Brit Tzedek’s agenda. The idea that “Israel” is an illegitimate state to be done away with, just as Apartheid South Africa was, is not on the agenda of the Israeli peace movement. In all cases the legitimacy of the current state is assumed, and its preservation sought.

Last November, Brit Tzedek held a conference at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston to which it invited Knesset Minister Avram Mitzna. As commander of the West Bank Israeli occupation forces in the late 80’s, this star of the so-called “Israeli peace camp” was directly responsible for implementing Yitzhak Rabin’s “breaking bones” policy during the first Intifada. He did so with his own “iron fist” policy. Breaking bones meant Israeli soldiers taking large rocks and butts of guns and shattering the hands and arms and legs of any Palestinian thought to be resisting. Mitzna was a featured speaker at the Brit Tzedek conference.

At this conference, one Brit Tzedek activist came out to speak to supporters of Palestine protesting outside. She broke into tears and asked for the sympathy of one protestor because, as she admitted, she had just come to the conclusion, after wrestling with the question for many years, that the Palestinian right of return was just not going to be possible. Other progressives, like Noam Chomsky, have said the same. They speak of what is “realistic, ” as if it’s “realistic” to remove an entire people from their country by massacre and attrition, to jail inside 24 foot high walls any who remain, to shoot children in the street, to destroy farm land and water supplies, to drive people to starvation, to wage war on rock-throwers with F-16’s, tanks, and attack helicopters, and to never acknowledge that “facts created” and gains made by Ariel Sharon and all his predecessors were atrocious crimes. To the double-talking liberal, it is not “realistic” to stop any of this, and give Palestinians back what was stolen. Genocide is realistic; justice is not. The progressive “realist” is finally no different than the right wing Zionist. Like the Democrats and Republicans in the US who both support the basic goals of US empire, both sides are the same.

Not surprisingly, Brit Tzedek is also for a “two-state solution”—a position no one can take seriously anymore, as the Wall guarantees that any “state” Palestinians might have at this point would actually be a collection of separate prisons.

It is necessary for people who actually are progressives today to beware the corruption of language and values which the oppressor spews out on a daily basis. He has air-conditioned offices with well-paid staff to do this work. He has well-meaning NGO workers fulfilling grants. He has intellectuals in the academy, the media, and government to do this work.

It is time to respond to the pacifist progressive in particular who collaborates with the oppressor by equating and condemning all violence. The language of resistance must be clearly spoken: It is right for Palestinians to resist the occupation, not just the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, but of all of Palestine, by whatever means possible. It is right for the Iraqi resistance to resist the similar vicious US occupation of Iraq. It was right for the Sioux to resist, it was right for the African slave to resist, it was right for the Vietnamese to resist. In no way can the minor losses of the oppressor be equated with or compensate for the original crime of his aggression. It is time for progressives in the US to openly and clearly support resistance to the monster that the US has become, and the entities it supports, like Israel, and increasingly this means rejecting the false language of the pacifist. The conflict in Palestine is not morally ambiguous. It is not a battle between two sides who are equally guilty. Zionists attacked, Palestinians defended. There is a right and a wrong.

Writings of Richard Hugus

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NSA spied on 2010 G8, G20 summits in Toronto with Canadian help

RT | November 28, 2013

The National Security Agency conducted widespread surveillance during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits with the blessing of host country Canada’s government.

Documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show the US converted its Ottawa embassy into a security command for six days in June 2010 as world leaders met in Toronto. The covert operation was known to Canadian authorities, CBC News reported.

The documents do not reveal targets of the espionage by the NSA – and possibly by its counterpart, the Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC). The NSA briefing notes say the operation was “closely co-ordinated with the Canadian partner.”

Ultimately, the documents obtained by the CBC do not give exact specifications of CSEC’s role, if any, in the Toronto spying. Former Guardian reporter and Snowden’s chosen journalist to receive the NSA documents, Glenn Greenwald, co-wrote the story for CBC.

But the documents do spell out that CSEC’s cooperation in the venture was crucial to ensuring access to telecommunications systems needed to spy on targets during the summits.

Both NSA and CSEC were implicated, along with British counterpart GCHQ, for monitoring phone calls and email of foreign leaders and diplomats at the 2009 G20 summit in London. In addition, it was recently reported that CSEC hacked into phones and computers at the Brazilian government’s department of mines. These revelations also came via documents from Snowden, who has received asylum in Russia.

The revelations also contradict a statement made by an NSA spokesman to The Washington Post on August 30, which said that the US Department of Defense – of which the NSA is is part of – “does not engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.”

The NSA briefing document says the operational plan at the 2010 summit included “providing support to policymakers.”

The Toronto summit was chock full of major economic issues following the 2008 recession. Measures like the eventually-nixed global bank tax were strongly opposed by the US and Canadian governments. Further banking reform, international development, countering trade protectionism and other issues were on the docket – and on NSA’s list of main agenda items in the aim of supporting “US policy goals.”

The partnerships by some Western spying arms at the Toronto and London summits, not to mention other stories that have come out based on the Snowden documents, call attention once again to the “Five Eyes” surveillance coalition among Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

November 28, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment