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Judge Chastises Obama Administration for Using “Secret Law” to Withhold Documents

By Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | December 20, 2013

The Obama White House has been ordered (pdf) by a federal judge to release a copy of an unclassified presidential directive after it tried to use “secret law” to keep it out of the hands of a government watchdog group.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle also admonished the administration for the “unbounded nature” of its claim and thinking it had a “limitless” view of its power to withhold presidential communications from the public.

“The government appears to adopt the cavalier attitude that the President should be permitted to convey orders throughout the Executive Branch without public oversight—to engage in what is in effect governance by ‘secret law,’” Huvelle wrote in her opinion.

The case began after the nonprofit Center for Effective Government filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of Presidential Policy Directive 6, which deals with U.S. foreign aid (pdf).

The group argued that “PPD-6 is not protected by the presidential communications privilege because it was not made in the course of making decisions, but instead is the final decision itself….”

Huvelle, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, made a point of personally examining the document rather than rely on the Obama administration’s characterization of it.  After doing that, she determined that it “is not ‘revelatory of the President’s deliberations’ such that its public disclosure would undermine future decision-making.”

The White House insisted it could withhold the document, even though it was “a widely-publicized, non-classified Presidential Policy Directive,” according to Huvelle.

She also noted: “Never before has a court had to consider whether the [presidential communications] privilege protects from disclosure under FOIA a final, non-classified, presidential directive.”

Julie Murray, an attorney with Public Citizen and counsel for the Center for Effective Government, applauded the decision.

“We are pleased to see that the court recognized the government’s position in this case for what it is: a remarkable and unlawful attempt to keep secret a broad federal policy,” she said in a prepared statement.

“The court’s decision is a resounding win for the principle of government openness and a reminder to the Obama administration that its commitment to transparency must come not just in words, but in deeds,” Murray added.

To Learn More:

Court Rebukes White House Over “Secret Law” (by Steven Aftergood, Secrecy News)

Judge Orders Release of Presidential Policy Directive (Center for Effective Government)

Memorandum Opinion: Center for Effective Government v. U.S. Department of State, et al. (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia) (pdf)

Obama Administration Hiding Details of Presidential Policy Directives (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)

11 Secret Documents Americans Deserve to See (by David Wallechinsky, AllGov)

Classified Documents on the Rise Despite Obama Talk of Transparency (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky)

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Tax loophole saved $100 billion for richest Americans

341196_Sheldon Adelson
Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson
Press TV – December 21, 2013

The wealthiest Americans are exploiting a tax loophole to avoid paying billions in estate or gift taxes, contributing to the soaring income inequality in the United States, according to a report.

The loophole has cost the US government more than $100 billion since 2000, the Bloomberg reported.

The popularity of the tax avoidance maneuver, known as the Walton grantor retained annuity trust, or GRAT, shows how easy it is for the wealthy to bypass estate and gift taxes, the report said.

Even Richard Covey, the lawyer who pioneered the tax maneuver, which involves rapidly churning assets into and out of trusts, says it makes a mockery of the US tax code.

“You can certainly say we can’t let this keep going if we’re going to have a sound system,” Covey said.

Covey’s technique is one of several common devices that together make the estate tax system essentially ineffective as a brake on soaring economic inequality, says Edward McCaffery, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Gould School of Law.

Zionist billionaire Sheldon Adelson has given at least $7.9 billion to his heirs while legally avoiding about $2.8 billion in US gift taxes since 2010, according to calculations based on data in Adelson’s US Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Shares of Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. are at a five-year high, making the gambling billionaire one of the world’s richest men in the world, worth more than $30 billion.

Since 2009, President Barack Obama and some Democratic lawmakers have made fruitless proposals to narrow the GRAT loophole.

Covey has suggested one reason for the lack of action is that wealthy campaign donors and politicians want to keep the loophole in place.

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pity JP Morgan/Chase

By CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI | CounterPunch | December 20, 2013

One has to feel sorry for JPMorgan Chase. Several months ago it thought it had not only paid a sufficient amount in fines to make up for its bad behavior but it had also engaged in a form of penance for some of the bad things it had done. Little did it know.

The penance was reformation of its practices with respect to payday loans. Before the reforms, JPMorgan Chase (and  many other institutions dealing with payday lenders) permitted payday lenders to automatically withdraw repayment amounts from the borrowers’ bank accounts and agreed to prevent borrowers from closing their accounts or issuing stop payment orders so long as the payday lender was not fully repaid. As a result a borrower who did not have enough money in the bank to repay the lender the amount due on a given date was charged an insufficient fund fee by the bank each time the lender submitted a request for payment in many cases generating hundreds of dollars in fees imposed on the borrowers. That practice came to an end in May 2013. The fines it paid, in addition to its act of penance were described by Kevin McCoy of USA Today.

Between June 2010 and November 2012 JPMorgan Chase paid more than $3 billion in fines and settlements that related to, among other things, overcharging active-duty service members on their mortgages, misleading investors about a collateralized debt obligation it marketed, rigging at least 93 municipal bond transactions in 31 states,  and countless other misdeeds. In August 2012  alone it paid a fine of $1.2 billion to resolve a lawsuit that alleged it and other institutions conspired to set the price of credit and debit card interchange fees. In January 2013 and February 2012 it paid $1.8 billion to settle claims that it and other financial institutions improperly carried out home foreclosures  after the housing crisis. Not only did it pay large fines. Jamie Dimon, its unfailingly cheerful, beautifully coiffed  CEO, took a pay cut which, including deferred compensation, reduced his daily salary from $63,013 to $31,506. Sadly, those events were not to be the end of its troubles. Indeed, as it turns out they were merely the tip of the iceberg.

In July 2013 it paid $410 million for alleged bidding manipulation of California and Midwest electricity markets. In September 2013 it paid $389 million for unfair billing practices, in September it paid $920 million for actions of the “London Whale” disaster, and in October 2013 another $100 million with respect to the same fiasco. Then came the really big news. On November  19, 2013 it was reported that JPMorgan Chase was going to pay $13 billion to settle what in non-legal terms would be described as a whole bunch of claims that had to do with the mortgage crisis of a few years back. Included in the $13 billion is $4 billion for consumer relief, $6 billion to pay to investors and the remaining $3 billion is a fine. December 13 it was announced that the bank was entering into a $2 billion  deferred prosecution agreement with the government because of its role in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. According to the settlement the bank ignored signs that suggested Bernie Madoff was conducting a Ponzi scheme and cheating his investors.

The payment of almost $20 billion in fines would be enough to spoil the holidays for almost anyone. Happily for the bank, there was a silver lining to its financial cloud.  Although $13 billion is a lot of money, Marianne Lake, the Chief Financial Officer of the bank explained that taxpayers will help the bank pay the fine. She explained that of the $13 billion, $7 billion is tax deductible. In addition to that bit of cheery news, no one has to plead guilty to anything bad in connection with the Madoff fine. Although the bank is agreeing to a deferred prosecution no one such as Jamie Dimon,  is going to jail. There will, of course, be some public shame for the bank, kind of like being placed in the stocks in a public square. The court filing in which the settlement is finalized will list in detail all the criminal acts committed by the bank for which it will not be punished.  There is not a criminal anywhere in the world who would not happily accept a public recital of the crimes committed instead of entering a formal plea of guilty with the attendant risk of going to jail. A bit of embarrassment beats a bit of time in jail every time. Just ask Jamie Dimon or other officers at JPMorgan Chase.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be e-mailed at brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu.

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Corruption | , , | Leave a comment

When Israel Was Apartheid’s Open Ally

By Lenni Brenner | Black Agenda Report | November 6, 2007

Jimmy Carter’s book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, has opened up much of the American public to serious discussion of Israel’s realities. He’s no expert on Zionist history, but the Anti-Defamation League and other pro-Israel propagandists must now work 25 hours a day, 366 days a year, trying to discredit equating Israel and apartheid South Africa.

Curiously, Carter only mentions South African apartheid 3 times. He relates how, on his 1973 visit to Israel,

“General Rabin described the close relationship that Israel had with South Africa in the diamond trade (he had returned from there a day or two early to greet us) but commented that the South African system of apartheid could not long survive.”

He also tells us that

“Israeli leaders have embarked on a series of unilateral decisions, bypassing both Washington and the Palestinians. Their presumption is that an encircling barrier will finally resolve the Palestinian problem. Utilizing their political and military dominance, they are imposing a system of partial withdrawal, encapsulation, and apartheid on the Muslim and Christian citizens of the occupied territories. The driving purpose for the forced separation of the two peoples is unlike that in South Africa — not racism, but the acquisition of land. There has been a determined and remarkably effective effort to isolate settlers from Palestinians, so that a Jewish family can commute from Jerusalem to their highly subsidized home deep in the West Bank on roads from which others are excluded, without ever coming in contact with any facet of Arab life.”

And he presents the 3 unattractive options in front of Israel’s public. One is

“A system of apartheid, with two peoples occupying the same land but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights. This is the policy now being followed, although many citizens of Israel deride the racist connotation of prescribing permanent second-class status for the Palestinians. As one prominent Israeli stated, ‘I am afraid that we are moving toward a government like that of South Africa, with dual society of Jewish rulers and Arab subjects with few rights of citizenship. The West Bank is not worth it.’”

Beyond that, his only citation re post-apartheid South Africa is listing Nelson Mandela as supporting the “Geneva Initiative” Israel/Palestine peace plan that Carter was involved in drawing up.

In reality, Israeli and American Zionist ties to racist Pretoria were so close that there can be no doubt that Zionism’s leaders were accomplices in apartheid’s crimes, including murderous invasions of Angola and Namibia.

Israel denounced apartheid until the 1973 Yom Kippur war as it sought to diplomatically outflank the Arabs in the UN by courting Black Africa. But most Black states broke ties after the war, in solidarity with Egypt, trying to drive non-African Israel out of the Sinai, part of Africa. Jerusalem then turned towards South Africa.

During WW ll, Britain had John Vorster interned as a Nazi sympathizer. But in 1976 Israel invited South Africa’s Prime Minister to Jerusalem. Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel’s PM, hailed “the ideals shared by Israel and South Africa: the hopes for justice and peaceful coexistence.” Both confronted “foreign-inspired instability and recklessness.” Israel, alone in the world, allowed Bophuthatswana, SA’s puppet ‘black homeland,’ to open an embassy.

In 1989, Ariel Sharon, with David Chanoff, wrote Warrior: An Autobiography. He told of his 1981 trip to Africa and the US as Israel’s Defense Minister:

“From Zaire we went to South Africa, where Lily and I were taken to see the Angola border. There South Africans were fighting a continuing war against Cuban-led guerrilla groups infiltrating from the north. To land there our plane came in very high as helicopters circled, searching the area. When the helicopters were satisfied, we corkscrewed down toward the field in a tight spiral to avoid the danger of ground-to-air missiles, the Russian-supplied SAM 7 Strellas that I had gotten to know at the Canal.

On the ground I saw familiar scenes. Soldiers and their families lived in this border zone at constant risk, their children driven to school in convoys protected by high-built armored cars, which were less vulnerable to mines.

I went from unit to unit, and in each place I was briefed and tried to get a feel for the situation. It is not in any way possible to compare Israel with South Africa, and I don’t believe that any Jew can support apartheid. But seeing these units trying to close their border against terrorist raids from Angola, you could not ignore their persistence and determination. So even though conditions in the two countries were so vastly different, in some ways life on the Angolan border looked not that much different from life on some of our own borders.”

Sharon went to Washington to deal with a range of Middle Eastern questions. He also

“took the opportunity to discuss with Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Secretary of Defense Casper Weinburger, and CIA Director William Casey other issues of mutual interest. I described what I had seen in Africa, including the problems facing the Central African Republic. I recommended to them that we should try to go into the vacuums that existed in the region and suggested that efforts of this sort would be ideally suited for American-Israeli cooperation.”

By 1989 it was certain that apartheid was about to close down, hence Sharon’s “I don’t believe that any Jew can support apartheid.” But a 12/14/81 NY Times article, “South Africa Needs More Arms, Israeli Says,” gave a vivid picture of Israel’s earlier zeal for its ally’s cause:

“The military relationship between South Africa and Israel, never fully acknowledged by either country, has assumed a new significance with the recent 10 day visit by Israel’s Defense Minister, Ariel Sharon, to South African forces in Namibia along the border with Angola.

In an interview during his recent visit to the United States, Mr. Sharon made several points concerning the South African position.

First, he said that South Africa is one of the few countries in Africa and southwestern Asia that is trying to resist Soviet military infiltration in the area.

He added that there had been a steady flow of increasingly sophisticated Soviet weapons to Angola and other African nations, and that as a result of this, and Moscow’s political and economic leverage, the Soviet Union was ‘gaining ground daily’ throughout the region.

Mr. Sharon, in company with many American and NATO military analysts, reported that South Africa needed more modern weapons if it is to fight successfully against Soviet-Supplied troops. The United Nations arms embargo, imposed in November 1977, cut off established weapons sources such as Britain, France and Israel, and forced South Africa into under-the-table deals….

Israel, which has a small but flourishing arms export industry, benefited from South African military trade before the 1977 embargo.

According to The Military Balance, the annual publication of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, the South African Navy includes seven Israeli-built fast attack craft armed with Israeli missiles. The publication noted that seven more such vessels are under order. Presumably the order was placed before the 1977 embargo was imposed….

Mr. Sharon said Moscow and its allies had made sizable gains in Central Africa and had established ‘corridors of power,’ such as one connecting Libya and Chad. He said that Mozambique was under Soviet control and that Soviet influence was growing in Zimbabwe.

The Israeli official… saw the placement of Soviet weapons, particularly tanks, throughout the area as another danger.

South Africa’s military policy of maintaining adequate reserves, Mr. Sharon said, will enable it to keep forces in the field in the foreseeable future but he warned that in time the country may be faced by more powerful weapons and better armed and trained soldiers.”

American Zionists were equally committed to apartheid. The 5/86 ADL Bulletin ran “The African National Congress: A Closer Look.” It revealed the organization’s hatred of the movement leading the liberation struggle in South Africa. The ADL sent its tirade to every member of the US Congress!

It formally bowed to political correctness: “Discussion of the political scene in South Africa properly begins with the self-evident stipulation that apartheid is racist and dehumanizing.” But

“… this is not to suggest closing our eyes to what may emerge once apartheid is gone…. We must distinguish between those who will work for a humane, democratic, pro-western South Africa and those who are totalitarian, anti-humane, anti-democratic, anti-Israeli and anti-American.

It is in this context that the African National Congress (ANC), so frequently discussed as an alternative to the Botha government, merits a close, unsentimental look…. The ANC, which seeks to overthrow the South African government, is a ‘national liberation movement’ that, plainly said, is under heavy Communist influence. The ANC has been allied with the South African Communist Party (SACP) for 50 years…. The fall of South Africa to such a Soviet oriented and Communist influenced force would be a severe setback to the United States, whose defense industry relies heavily on South Africa’s wealth of strategic minerals.”

ADL spying on America’s anti-apartheid movement, for BOSS, South Africa’s secret police, became public in 1993 when San Francisco papers revealed that Tom Gerard, a local cop and ex-CIA man, illegally gave police information to Roy Bullock, ADL’s man in SF.

Gerard pled no contest to illegal access to police computers. The ADL made a ‘we didn’t do it and won’t do it again’ deal with the DA. It agreed to an injunction not to use illegal methods in ‘monitoring’ the political universe. ADL National Director Abe Foxman said that, rather than go to trial, where — of course! — they would certainly have been found innocent, ADL settled because “continuing with an investigation over your head for months and years leads some to believe there is something wrong.”

Despite the slap-on-the-wrist deal, Bullock’s activities were documented. The ADL claimed that he was a free-lance informer whose activities for the apartheid regime were unknown to them. But (FBI) FD-302, a 1993 FBI report on an interview with Bullock, takes up a letter found in his computer files, “prepared for transmission to the South Africans.” It said that, “during an extended conversation with two FBI agents,” in 1990, they asked

“‘Why do you think South African agents are coming to the West Coast? Did I know any agents’ they finally asked?…. I replied that a meeting had been arranged, in confidence, by the ADL which wanted information on radical right activities in SA and their American connections. To that end I met an agent at Rockefeller Center cafeteria.”

The FBI said that “Bullock commented that the TRIP.DBX letter was a very ‘damning’ piece of evidence. He said he had forgotten it was in his computer.” Of course he hastened to tell the FBI that “his statements to the FBI that the ADL had set up his relationship with the South Africans were untrue.”

The ADL was so anti-ANC that only fools could think that they didn’t know that Bullock was working with the South Africans. Isn’t it more likely that he told the truth in 1990 and lied in 1993? The feds came on another matter in 1990, surprising him with questions re South Africans. They interviewed him in his lawyers’ office in 1993. Be certain that they told him what not to say. He also knew that if he wanted ADL help in his FBI troubles concerning South Africa, he had to claim that they had nothing to do with his BOSS connection. In any case, the ADL continued to work with Bullock. And NY’s 7/27/93 Village Voice reported that Irwin Suall, its Chief Fact-finder, i.e., head spy, told the FBI that “he didn’t think dealing with South African intelligence was different than dealing with any other police agency.”

Time hasn’t been kind to the ADL. The ANC runs its country and is a model of ethnic and religious tolerance. It never was anti-Semitic and there are Jewish ANCers in the Pretoria parliament. But Foxman always has a cleanup for Israeli and ADL infamies. On October 11th, 2007 he spoke at a NY Barnes & Noble bookstore on his latest book, “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control”. It has a chapter denouncing Carter. I was in his audience and challenged him:

“You brought up the fact that Jimmy Carter used the word apartheid in his title. But I would remind you that of course that Israel was allied to apartheid South Africa. I’m looking at the December 14, 1981 New York Times, “South Africa needs more arms, Israeli says,” Israeli meaning Ariel Sharon, the Minister of Defense, who was on a tour, as it were, with the South African army as it was invading Angola. And then, in May 1986…

Foxman: I get the point.

Brenner: Excuse me! The ADL sent this to every member of Congress, denouncing the African National Congress as pro-Soviet and wicked, yes, and anti-Semitic and so on and so forth.”

I sat several rows from him. Two words on my tape are indistinct and tentatively printed here in caps. But they don’t effect general understanding of his statement, even with its grammatical irregularities as he grappled with my surprise accusations:

“OK. The African National Congress during the fight for SUFFRAGE, the struggle for AFRICAN liberation, was anti-Semitic, it was pro-Communist, it was anti-Israel, it was, where ever it could, become friends and allies of Arab, Palestinian terrorism, etc.

I had the privilege, I had the privilege of flying to Geneva to meet President Mandela, before he was President, after he was freed and before he came to the United States on his 1st visit. I had the very, very special privilege of spending 5 hours with him and several American Jews who came to meet with him in advance of his visit, to better understand. And he said to us, ‘if,’ he said,

‘I understand why Israel made friends with apartheid South Africa. Because Israel was boycotted all over the world, Israel couldn’t have relations with other countries in the world, Israel wasn’t sold arms to defend itself, so I do not judge Israel, I understand why Israel, you need not to judge me, for the friends that I make. I make friends with the PLO, I make friends with those who supported our liberation movement, and if you don’t make it as a prerequisite that your enemies have to be my enemies, I will not make it a prerequisite for me.’

So Mandela, who was a heroic fighter in the struggle for, understood, very well, that just like he had to make deals with the devil, he made deals for support with people that he didn’t agree with, that he didn’t like. You certainly know from his record, he was not a Communist, yet he took the support of Communists, because they were the only ones, he understood, and respected, that Israel was dealing with South Africa.

South Africa was one of the few countries that sold it arms. Now these were the years that America wouldn’t sell Israel arms. Those were the years that Europe wouldn’t sell Israel arms. So he understood it. Was it pleasant for everybody? No. Did we send the stuff about the ANC then? Yes. And today things are changed, very dramatically changed.”

How accurately did he recall Mandela’s remarks? We know that the ANC made a deal with apartheid’s leaders. Blacks got their rights and hearings were to be held on what repressive crimes actually happened during the racist era. But white military and other officials retained their posts under the new Black-led government. So if Mandela said what Foxman claims he said, it was in that reconciling spirit: ‘You did what you thought you had to do, same with me, now lets move on.’

The ANC’s generous peace didn’t retrospectively make apartheid less criminal. If Mandela wanted relations between his new government and Israel to go to a friendlier level, that didn’t make Israeli and ADL collaboration with racism even a speck less felonious. And of course ANCers still denounce Israeli crimes against Palestinians. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, chair of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, was emphatic at a Boston “End the Occupation” rally in 2002:

“You know as well as I do that, somehow, the Israeli government is placed on a pedestal. To criticize it is to be immediately dubbed anti-Semitic…. People are scared to say wrong is wrong because the Jewish lobby is powerful — very powerful. Well, so what?

For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.”

Five years later, Israel is still very powerful. But in time it too shall be replaced by a democratic secular binational Palestinian/Israeli state. The model for that is today’s South African constitution. Most whites there say that they as well as blacks are the better for it. And when secular bi-nationalism finally wins, Israelis as well as Palestinians will likewise rejoice in their equality, peace and prosperity.

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

IAEA has no right, duty to visit military sites: Salehi

Press TV – December 21, 2013

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors have neither the right nor any duty to inspect Iran’s military and missile sites, a senior Iranian official says.

“The agency’s inspectors have no right and [no] responsibility to do it. There is no authority in the world [responsible] for inspecting such facilities, and there is no treaty in that regard, either,” Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said on Saturday.

“The IAEA is not in a position to conduct such inspections,” he underscored, dismissing certain media reports which quoted him as saying that the agency’s inspectors will visit Iran’s missile industries for more transparency.

In November, Iran and the IAEA agreed on a road map based on which Iran would, on a voluntary basis, allow IAEA inspectors to visit the Arak heavy water plant and the Gachin uranium mine in Bandar Abbas, in southern Iran, despite the fact that Tehran is under no such obligation to do so under the Safeguards Agreement.

The voluntary move is a goodwill gesture on the part of Iran to clear up ambiguities over the peaceful nature of its nuclear energy program.

Salehi further denied charges leveled by certain Western countries suggesting a diversion in Iran’s civilian atomic work.

“Such accusations are unfounded given the IAEA’s inspections and [Iran’s] broad transparency moves and cooperation,” the AEOI head said.

The United States, Israel, and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran rejects the allegations, arguing that as a committed signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

The IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities, but has never found any evidence showing that Iran’s civilian nuclear energy program has been diverted to nuclear weapons production.

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Murad Eshtewi, head of the Popular Committee of Kafr Qaddum, has been arrested

International Solidarity Movement | December 21, 2013

Kafr Qaddum, Occupied Palestine – Yesterday morning, Murad Eshtewi, the head of the Popular Committee of Kufr Qaddum and leader of the Friday demonstrations was arrested and is still being held by Israeli forces.

At around 3:00 on Friday morning, Israeli soldiers entered the village of Kafr Qaddum, in Qalqilya district, arresting two citizens on the accusation of having taken part in the regular Friday demonstrations held in the village. The men were released the following morning without charges.

The house of Murad Eshtewi, the head of the Popular Committee of Kafr Qaddum, was also raided during the night incursion and he was subjected to aggressive questioning.

Later, at approximately 10:00 on Friday morning, two hours before the demonstration was due to begin, Mr Eshtewi was walking on the outskirts of the village and was ambushed and arrested by soldiers. He did not resist this arrest and yet Israeli forces were extremely aggressive in their use of both pepper spray and stun grenades. He has not yet been released.

His attorney, Lymor Goldstein, stated that, “Contrary to the fundamental principles of due process we have not been presented with the accusations against Murad nor has he been interrogated since his arrest. “

In recent weeks there has been a steady escalation of night raids, increasingly violent repression of Friday demonstrations, flying checkpoints and seemingly arbitrary arrests. In the past month alone there have been more than twenty night raids on houses in the village.

Last month a new army commander responsible for the area gave a verbal warning to villagers stating that, unless they suspend their Friday demonstrations, the military harassment outlined above would be increased.

A typical night raid will involve up to around fifty soldiers surrounding and entering a particular house. Tear gas is often released and live ammunition may be fired into the air to intimidate residents. Israeli soldiers may break windows and doors in order to enter the houses.

Arrestees are blindfolded and handcuffed before being taken for questioning to another location. Interrogation may take place in the back of an army jeep, on the ground at the side of the road, or within the police station. Frequently they are subjected to verbal and physical abuse. When released, the detainees are often left in the road, kilometers from their homes.

The villagers of Kafr Qaddum are currently unable to access much of their land due to the closure by the Israeli army of the village’s main and only road leading to Nablus in 2003. The road was closed in three stages, ultimately restricting access for farmers to the 11,000 dunams of land that lie along either side to one or two times a year. Since the road closure, the people of Kafr Qaddum have been forced to rely on an animal trail to access this area; the road is narrow and, according to the locals, intended only for animals. In 2004 and 2006, three villagers died when they were unable to reach the hospital in time. The ambulances carrying them were prohibited from using the main road and were forced to take a 13 km detour. These deaths provoked even greater resentment in Kafr Qaddum and, on 1 July 2011, the villagers decided to unite in protest in order to re-open the road and protect the land in danger of settlement expansion along it.

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. Baird: Stop Slandering Richard Falk

By Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association | December 20, 2013

Open letter to John Baird, Canadian Foreign Minister

Mr. Baird:

Your latest call for the removal of Richard Falk, the U.N. Special Rapporteur for the Palestinian Territories, smacks of hypocrisy and racism; it also exposes your (and your government’s) blind support for Israeli war crimes and Apartheid.

While your government officially claims that “Canada does not recognize permanent Israeli control over territories occupied in 1967 (the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip)”, you are nonetheless supporting not only settlement building but also settlement products that are not exempt under the “Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement (CIFTA)”. You, your Prime Minister and your government also support unconditionally the discriminatory policies of the “Jewish National Fund” (JNF), which is financing illegal Israeli settlements and the infamous Canada Park that is built on the rubble of three Palestinian towns in the occupied West Bank. By doing so, you are violating the Fourth Geneva Conventions to which Canada is a signatory.

Your comments not only “undermine the fundamental values of the United Nations”, they also deny the terrible suffering and the slow genocide of the Palestinian people since the Zionist ethnic cleansing started in 1947/48. Recently, your spokesperson Rick Roth dismissed the new mini-genocide, the “Prawer Plan” which the Israeli government is planning for the Bedouin Israelis, as an “internal Israeli matter”.

You called for Prof. Falk to be fired “for his numerous outrageous and anti-Semitic statements”. However, it is your statement that is outrageous and libellous considering that he is a Jewish international law scholar that fought all his life for the truth, justice, equality and peace (contrary to what your government stands for). Once again it is you Mr. Baird that is promoting anti-Semitism by claiming that everything Israel does falls on the shoulders of all Jews. We asked you previously, clearly to no avail: “Mr. Baird: Don’t Equate Zionism with Judaism”‏.

Stop taking your marching orders from Tel Aviv and start, if you care for your dignity and humanity, listening to the vast majority of Canadians who yearn for peace and justice.

December 21, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments