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Democratically elected Government of Egypt submits complaint to the International Criminal Court

MEMO | January 6, 2014

Members of the democratically elected Government of Egypt have submitted a formal Complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Complaint is accompanied by a Rome Statute Article 12 (3) Declaration giving the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over the situation in Egypt.

The submission of the complaint and declaration by the Government of Egypt allows the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutors to investigate allegations of Crimes against Humanity perpetrated by the military regime following the July 2013 coup d’état.

In July 2013 the Egyptian military led a coup d’état against Egypt’s first democratically elected Government. The coup resulted in the detention of the President and members of the Government of Egypt. In the days after the coup the military regime used extreme force to remove civilians who gathered to protest against the coup. At least a thousand civilians lost their lives and many more were injured during this time. Since then the military regime has attempted to consolidate its position by repressing pro-democracy activists of all types who object to the coup, banning protests and designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation.

As a result of actions taken by the military regime Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and members of the Shura Council (the Upper House of the Egyptian Parliament) appointed an international legal team to advise on the unlawful detention of members of the Government and to investigate criminal acts that had been committed by the military regime.

The legal team is led by Tayab Ali, solicitor and partner of leading human rights law firm ITN Solicitors and includes some of the world’s most distinguished legal figures. It includes the former UK Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Ken Macdonald QC; South African International Lawyer and former UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Professor John Dugard SC; renowned human rights barrister, Michael Mansfield QC; war crimes and criminal law expert Stephen Kamlish QC and the distinguished International Criminal Court barrister, Rodney Dixon.

In November 2013 the legal team detailed evidence that had been gathered during their investigation which showed a prima facie case that the military, police and political members of the regime had committed crimes against humanity against Egyptian civilians protesting against the coup.

The Complaint, which was submitted to the ICC on 20 December 2013, includes detailed and compelling evidence that the criminal acts perpetrated by the military regime include murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, persecution against an identifiable group, enforced disappearance of persons and other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health. The evidence shows that the acts alleged were widespread and systematic.

At a press conference held in Cavendish Hotel, Mayfair, London on Monday members of the legal team detailed the work that had been undertaken to submit the complaint. International Criminal Court legal expert and barrister Rodney Dixon explained that the International Criminal Court should open an investigation into the very serious allegations of international crimes and should do so without delay. He stated: “The ICC has a unique opportunity to contribute to the prevention of widespread crimes being committed against civilians in Egypt. By launching an investigation now the ICC Prosecutor will send a clear signal that the killings and abuses will not go unpunished and must end.”

London solicitor Tayab Ali stated that he had received “overwhelming evidence” from witnesses giving firsthand accounts of what they had seen and experienced. According to Mr. Ali the testimony is supported by graphic images of violence carried out against unarmed civilian protestors. He said “In order for Egypt to return to the democratic process it is essential that the people responsible for the violence following the coup are held accountable for their crimes. There is no hope for democracy and the rule of law in Egypt unless international legal institutions do the job they have been created to do”.

Michael Mansfield QC said “A democratically elected government has been unlawfully overthrown by a military coup. This in itself contravenes the Rule of Law. There has been no accountability for this action which involved clearly documented crimes against humanity. In circumstances where domestic law has failed to provide an effective remedy, it behoves the institutions of international law to seek the application of that law”.

Senior barrister Stephen Kamlish QC outlined the strategy of using the principles of universal jurisdiction to prosecute members of the military regime wherever they should travel to. He explained the growing move by national courts to apply principles of universal jurisdiction and prosecute people suspected of international crimes regardless of where the crimes had been committed.

Former United Nations Special Rapporteur, Professor John Dugard said “The International Criminal Court was established to ensure that crimes against humanity do not go unpunished. It is therefore essential that the Court investigate and prosecute those responsible for the commission of such crimes in Egypt. It is hoped that the present initiative will achieve this purpose and at the same time deter the commission of further such crimes. The International Criminal Court, and indeed the international community, cannot allow an unconstitutional, unrecognised and illegal regime in Egypt to commit grave international crimes with impunity.”

Members of the legal team are expected to meet with the ICC prosecutor over the coming days and weeks in order to support the work the ICC must now undertake. Tayab Ali said “It is essential that the people of Egypt unite to rebuild democracy. This cannot happen until those who have committed crimes against humanity have been held to account”.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Boeing Union Workers Forced Into Massive Concessions

By Jack Rasmus | January 5, 2014

This past weekend, more than 30,000 union workers at Boeing Corp. in Seattle, were forced to accept deep concessions in their union contract, gutting their pensions, future healthcare benefits, wages, and other benefits. Their contract with Boeing had not even expired but they were forced into concessions nonetheless. Nor was the company, Boeing, in any financial distress. It had registered record profits in consecutive years, and had in November 2013 bought back $10 billion in stock from its shareholders and paid another $2 billion in dividends to the same. Nevertheless Boeing demanded concessions, having received communication from Union (IAM) International leadership beforehand of their willingness to grant the same. The combination of Union International leadership pressure, countless Democratic Party politicians, and the Company’s new offensive, proved too much for local workers to resist. The new concessions will effectively end workers’ defined benefit pensions, cutting retirement benefits to the bone, and allow the company to end its healthcare insurance benefits by 2018 in accordance with the Obama new health care plan. Wages for new hired workers are projected to decline to levels of minimum wage or less over the next 11 years of the new contract term.

This kind of attack on pensions and healthcare–or what this writer calls the ‘social wage’ was predicted in this writer’s article, ‘Concession Bargaining at the Crossroads’ two years ago in 2011. That article is reproduced here in its original draft form once again.

CONCESSION BARGAINING AT THE CROSSROADS

“The history of collective bargaining since the Second World War has consisted of several stages or phases. The first phase was roughly from 1947 to 1979. During it collective bargaining was expanded both in terms of its ‘scope’ and its ‘magnitude’. Scope refers to new areas of bargaining, such as cost of living adjustments, supplemental unemployment benefits, pensions and health care benefits, union and worker rights, etc. Magnitude refers to increasing the dollar value of wages and benefits. Up to 1979 both expanded.

In contrast, from the mid-1970s to 2007, concession bargaining became the growing practice. But it was concession bargaining focused on giving back ‘magnitude’ gains of the previous decades, not necessarily the scope of bargaining. Workers in the private sector gave ground on wages and benefits in a decades-long attempt to protect their jobs.

First Stages of Concession Bargaining

Among the first to feel the effects were workers in the construction sector, starting in the 1970s. Employers formed early in the decade the ‘Construction Industry Users Roundtable’. Its strategy was to undermine the then powerful building trades unions by a new tactic: the ‘double breasted operation’. This simply put was a way to undermine the construction unions by setting up parallel, non-union companies. The unions ignored the threat more or less, since the double breasted operations were set up in the suburbs and outlying regions. The urban bastion of unionization in construction wasn’t immediately impacted. Employers progressively then moved jobs and work to the non-union operations. The loss of jobs in the unionized operations eventually forced workers and unions to start granting concessions in an attempt to prevent their work shifting to the non-union companies. Concessions soon expanded. Saving jobs in exchange for givebacks on wages and benefits eventually became the norm.

In the late 1970s the strategy of forcing workers to give up wage and benefit gains to keep their jobs leap-frogged into the manufacturing sector. The pilot and defining event was the Chrysler bailout of 1979. It worked so well the model was planned for application to manufacturing in general. By then the Construction Industry Users Roundtable’ had expanded into what is now known as perhaps the most formidable and effective Big Business organization today—the Business Roundtable. Big manufacturing and service companies joined with the Construction employers. The construction industry union-busting model was transported to other sectors of the economy.

The tactic of double breasted operations took on a new form. Alternative union-free operations were set up. But not across town, as in construction. It was now across borders. The manufacturing analog of the double breasted operation was the runaway shop, as manufacturers moved operations offshore.

In these they were aided by the most pro-business President since Coolidge—Ronald Reagan and a compliant Congress. Manufacturers were provided generous economic incentives to set up offshore. Tax incentives were generously granted. Deregulation was introduced. Then in 1988 and 1993 ‘free trade’ agreements were established with Canada and Mexico to facilitate the movement of US capital to those countries to set up operations. Free ‘trade’ is not just about export-import of goods and services; it is even more about negotiating favorable conditions for US foreign direct investment in those countries. Tax [breaks] for investing offshore plus free trade plus deregulation devastated jobs in the US beginning in the early 1980s, and continuing ever since. Under pressure of losing jobs, workers in manufacturing began the long, dead-end road toward concession bargaining in an attempt to save their jobs. But it didn’t. More than 10 million jobs have been off-shored ever since.

The pressure to grant wage concessions intensified in the 1990s. In addition to the threat of job loss, now escalating double-digit annual increases in health care costs provided a second hammer. That ushered in what was called ‘maintenance of benefits bargaining’. Now desperate to maintain their health care coverage, workers gave up more wages in exchange for keeping health benefits. But that too did not last long.

Health care cost shifting accelerated by 2000 and into the next decade. To assist in paying for rising health care premiums and costs, the federal government permitted companies to drag surplus funds from workers’ defined benefit pension plans to cover rising health costs. Up to 20% of health cost increases were subsidized in this manner. But that represented giving up wages—i.e. concessions—in order to maintain benefits as well. Only this time it was workers’ ‘deferred wages’ that went into their pension funds instead of their immediate paychecks. But a wage is a wage, whether immediate or deferred. And concessions on nominal (immediate) and deferred wages became the increasing rule by the late 1990s.

This evolving concession bargaining since the late 1970s into the last decade represents the second phase of the history of collective bargaining in the US. The first, as noted above, was the phase during which collective bargaining expanded both in terms of ‘scope’ and ‘magnitude’—that is, in terms of new areas of bargaining added to negotiations as well as in terms of advances in wages and benefits. The second phase of bargaining in the US, from the late 1970s to around 2000, represents the first stage of concession bargaining.

Stage Two: From ‘Magnitude’ to ‘Scope’ Concession Bargaining

This first stage of concession bargaining (1975-2000) began to change for the worse in the past decade, shifting to a new stage during which workers and their unions have been forced to grant concessions not only in terms of magnitude or levels of wages and benefits, but now in terms of scope and entire areas of bargaining as well. Defined benefit pensions were abandoned for 401k personal pension plans at an accelerating rate. Not only were pensions increasingly privatized, but the de-collectivization of health insurance plans also accelerated under George W. Bush with the introduction of what were called ‘health savings accounts’—the analog on the health benefits side to 401ks on the pensions side.

Employer provided health insurance benefits were now dropped in growing numbers altogether. Or they were dumped onto the union, as in the Auto Industry, in the form of VEBAs (voluntary employment benefit agreements). Employers removed in effect any negotiating over companies paying for health care for workers from union collective bargaining agreements. In a similar fashion, once widespread Cost of Living clauses in collective bargaining agreements were stripped from union contracts. Ditto for supplemental unemployment benefits (SUBs). More and more companies simply discontinued unilaterally retirees health care coverage from bargaining, aided now by court decisions that ruled such were not bona fide subjects of bargaining any longer. Union rights were increasingly circumscribed in agreements, as management rights clauses were expanded. In other words, concession bargaining was no longer simply about ‘magnitudes’—i.e. how much wages or benefits would be reduced in order to keep jobs or the companies from moving offshore or from being outsourced and reduced to mere skeleton crews. Not entire key areas of union contracts were being ‘conceded’ and thus wiped out, removed from the very subject of bargaining altogether.

Stage Three: Concession Bargaining Extends to the Public Sector

In the past two years this second phase of concession bargaining—i.e. cutting levels of wages and benefits and giving up entire areas of bargaining—is now being applied to public sector workers as well, in a vicious attack now unfolding throughout the country. Politicians of both political parties, public sector employers, and wealthy billionaires and millionaires who pay for the elections of these same politicians, are in the process of imposing concession bargaining on public workers.

Furthermore, concession bargaining is occurring in an especially compressed form. Both magnitude and scope are occurring simultaneously and in a matter of just a few years instead of the few decades in which it was deepened in the private sector of the economy. The entire process is effectively ‘telescoped’ and thus taking place is a particularly intense form. All across the country today, in state after state, politicians are declaring bargaining over pensions and health care no longer will be the practice. They are unilaterally discontinuing defined benefit pensions and replacing them with 401k plans. They are moving to eliminate union and agency shop agreements with the open shop, placing ‘caps’ on wage negotiations, and in general attempting to return to the days of ‘civil service’ rules and regulations in lieu of bona fide collective bargaining.

Stage Four: Concession Bargaining’s New Target: ‘Social Wage’ Reduction

Concession bargaining is morphing still further, however. It is now moving from the level of taking back money wages and benefits at the ‘shop-floor level’—both in the private and public sectors—to the level of ‘social wage’ concession bargaining.

The ‘social wage’ is money wages that workers give up in exchange for pay they will receive at a later date. Social wages are thus deferred wages. Social wages are most notably Social Security and Medicare taxes that workers pay in the form of payroll taxes, in order to receive the wage paid upon retirement in the form of social security pension and medicare health care benefits. The focus since the 2010 midterm elections in the US is now on austerity—a codeword for cutting so-called ‘entitlements’ like social security and medicare. But social security and medicare represent wages paid by workers in the past for claims in the future. Not content with concessions from current wage and benefits, Corporate America—the rulers behind the throne of Congress and the Presidency and Courts—now want reductions in the ‘social wage’ as well. Why? So they can maintain their historic tax cuts enacted over the past three decades and not have to pay the costs of the bailouts and economic crisis [as well as the wars for Israel – Aletho News] that they themselves caused.

The dimensions of the Great American Tax Shift of the past three decades, still on-going and expanding under Obama and the Democrats (and about to expand further still) are the subject of another analysis. But briefly, a tip of the iceberg view is: In the 1960s corporations paid 30% of total federal tax revenues; today they contribute 6.6%. In the 1960s the top income brackets paid 45% of total federal tax revenues; today the effective top bracket tax paid by the wealthiest individuals is only 16%.

The latest phase of concession bargaining now emerging in the past year—concessions giving back the ‘social wage’—is historic. It represents concession bargaining over workers’ income that is shifting to the political level on a grand scale. It is ‘grande scale concession bargaining’. Not content with concessions in money and benefits at the shop level in the private sector, not even content with extending that in intensified form today to the public worker sector, corporate interests now demand concession bargaining over social wages at the political level.

What’s especially onerous about the new concession bargaining is that politicians are making the decisions. Workers don’t even have the option of voting on the concessions, or striking in opposition, as they might when undertaken in cases of earlier concession bargaining at the shop level. They now have virtually no say in the process short of taking to the streets to have their voices heard—which appears increasingly as the only alternative. Moreover, the dollar value of the concessions being, and about to be, offered are now also immensely greater. As the recent debt ceiling debate illustrates clearly, the coming attack on Medicare represents social wage concessions approaching half a trillion dollars. Concessions involving social security retirement that will soon follow in 2012 will amount to a like amount, at minimum, with even more Medicare cuts. In just a few short years, several times the value of total givebacks in concessions in wages and benefits at the shop level since 1979 may occur. It is a massive transfer and shift of income from working and middle class America to the wealthiest households and their corporations.

Behind the facade of Washington politics are the same corporate interests, however. Only now instead of directing their managers at the bargaining table, they now direct their political managers by means of their immense, and growing, campaign contributions and billion dollar lobbying efforts.

Occasionally an example slips through the veil of confusion about who’s behind it all. The veil drops revealing the ‘Wizards of Oz’ pulling the levers and the curtains. Witness the notorious relationship between Wisconsin governor, Walker, and the billionaire Koch brothers. But there are ‘Koch brothers’ lurking everywhere behind the veil, in Ohio, in New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Georgia, and even California. They are driving the fundamental strategy, directing the elected politicians in exchange for campaign contributions and day to day lobbying largesse.

The Empty Legacy of Concession Bargaining

What concession bargaining has proven over the past three decades—whether at the political level or the shop floor level—is that concessions only result in demands for more concessions.

Concessions in the private sector over the past three decades haven’t saved jobs. What they have achieved is a stagnation and decline in the income for 100 million families that is choking off consumer spending and economic growth and therefore economic recovery. The second phase, concession bargaining in the public sector, will now add to this consumption decline. And the now emerging third phase, expanding concession bargaining to the level of social wages, about to begin with the direct attack on social security and medicare will not ‘save’ those programs any more than concession bargaining in the past ‘saved jobs’.

Concession bargaining will only result in a deepening crisis in those programs and lead, inevitably in turn, to more demands by corporate interests for still further cuts (i.e. concessions) in those programs. Calls by politicians for ‘shared sacrifices’ are really concession bargaining by another name: to reduce the social wage represented by social security and medicare.

Nothing positive whatsoever has come from concession bargaining the past three decades in the private sector. Good jobs have continued to disappear by the tens of millions. Wages and earnings for the 100 million non-supervisory workers in the US have stagnated and fallen. Giving up wages to ‘maintain health and retirement benefits’ have fared no better. Pensions have nearly disappeared and employer provided health care coverage has declined by the millions of companies, and will not last out the current decade. Nor will anything beneficial come from the intensification of concession bargaining now penetrating the public sector. Union leaders will give up wages and benefits, but that will not stop the millions that are slated for layoffs in the public sector over the next few years—at minimum 500,000 in the year ahead alone! The extension of concession bargaining to the public sector, now accelerating at a pace far worse than that which previously occurred in the private sector, will produce the same results—only now telescoped into a much shorter time period. Not least, nothing positive will come from granting concessions over social wages—i.e. agreeing to reduce social security and medicare benefits. Those programs will not be ‘saved’ by concessions. They will be destroyed by them.

The only way to stop concession bargaining in any of its forms, including the most virulent now attacking the ‘social wage’, is to refuse any and all concessions. ‘No cuts and No Concessions’ is the only effective bargaining demand.

And just as, at the shop floor, when union leaders cave in to employer demands for concessions, they should be thrown out and replaced with leaders who will refuse to do so and stand firm—so too should any politician who agrees to concessions from social security and medicare be thrown out. Indeed, any politician who fails to actively resist such concessions should be thrown out. Not in the next election. But by immediate recall.

Finally, any political party that allows its elected to members to agree to concessions in social security and medicare, or whose elected members stand by silently while the fight to defend the social wage takes place, should be replaced by another political party whose members consider the social wage ‘non-negotiable’.

Unfortunately, it appears the political party—the Democrats—who introduced and once championed social security and medicare are now becoming participants in its destruction. Not only President Obama, but Senate leader Harry Reid and House leader Nancy Pelosi, have all publicly indicated this past summer they are prepared to concede and to cut medicare before year end 2011 in some form. Next it will be social security retirement. And medicare again.

But once starting down that road of initial concessions, it will only lead to further concessions—as the history of concession bargaining at the shop floor over the last three decades sadly shows.

If that happens, and the leadership of the Democratic Party abandon social security and medicare to concession bargaining, as it appears they will, the only answer to stopping concession bargaining is to create a new party of labor, every member of which must solemnly pledge to expand the social wage, to defend and expand social security and medicare, to stand firm on the question of concession bargaining. There can be no ‘Bi-Partisan’ compromise. It is time to raise the flag, with the motto boldly proclaiming across it: ‘No Concessions! No Retreat!.

Jack Rasmus, August 7, 2011

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NSA More Or Less Admits To Spying On Congress

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | January 6, 2014

On Friday, we noted that Senator Bernie Sanders had asked the NSA if it spied on members of Congress. He was very explicit in how he defined “spying” such that the NSA couldn’t legitimately deny it — since the definition included collecting metadata on their calls — something the NSA absolutely does. In response to press requests, it appears that the NSA has issued a statement to a variety of publications, basically admitting that of course it spies on Congress, because it collects everyone’s data.

NSA’s authorities to collect signals intelligence data include procedures that protect the privacy of US persons. Such protections are built into and cut across the entire process. Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons. NSA is fully committed to transparency with Congress. Our interaction with Congress has been extensive both before and since the media disclosures began last June.

We are reviewing Senator Sanders’s letter now, and we will continue to work to ensure that all members of Congress, including Senator Sanders, have information about NSA’s mission, authorities, and programs to fully inform the discharge of their duties.

The key line: “Members of Congress have the same privacy protections as all US persons.” Meaning, basically, that they have no privacy protections when it comes to the NSA collecting data.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

FBI Admits It’s Not Really About Law Enforcement Any More; Ignores Lots Of Crimes To Focus On Creating Fake Terror Plots

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | January 6, 2014

A couple years ago, it was revealed that the FBI noted in one of its “counterterrorism training manuals” that FBI agents could “bend or suspend the law and impinge upon the freedoms of others,” which seemed kind of odd for a government agency who claimed its “primary function” was “law enforcement.” You’d think that playing by the rules would be kind of important. However, as John Hudson at Foreign Policy has noted, at some point last summer, the FBI quietly changed its fact sheet, so that it no longer says that “law enforcement” is its primary function, replacing it with “national security.”

Of course, I thought we already had a “national security” agency — known as the “National Security Agency.” Of course, while this may seem like a minor change, as the article notes, it is the reality behind the scenes. The FBI massively beefed up resources focused on “counterterrorism” and… then let all sorts of other crimes slide. Including crimes much more likely to impact Americans, like financial/white collar fraud.

Between 2001 and 2009, the FBI doubled the amount of agents dedicated to counterterrorism, according to a 2010 Inspector’s General report. That period coincided with a steady decline in the overall number of criminal cases investigated nationally and a steep decline in the number of white-collar crime investigations.

“Violent crime, property crime and white-collar crime: All those things had reductions in the number of people available to investigate them,” former FBI agent Brad Garrett told Foreign Policy. “Are there cases they missed? Probably.”

The article correctly notes that this has had a big impact:

The reductions in white-collar crime investigations became obvious. Back in 2000, the FBI sent prosecutors 10,000 cases. That fell to a paltry 3,500 cases by 2005. “Had the FBI continued investigating financial crimes at the same rate as it had before the terror attacks, about 2,000 more white-collar criminals would be behind bars,” the report concluded. As a result, the agency fielded criticism for failing to crack down on financial crimes ahead of the Great Recession and losing sight of real-estate fraud ahead of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis.

… So… what has the FBI been doing? Well, every time we hear anything about the FBI and counterterrorism, it seems to be a case where the FBI has been spending a ton of resources to concoct completely made up terrorism plots, duping some hapless, totally unconnected person into taking part in this “plot” then arresting him with big bogus headlines about how they “stopped” a terrorist plot that wouldn’t have even existed if the FBI hadn’t set it up in the first place. And this is not something that the FBI has just done a couple times. It’s happened over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. And those are just the stories that we wrote about that I can find in a quick search. I’m pretty sure there are a bunch more stories that we wrote about, let alone that have happened.

All of these efforts to stop their own damn “plots” screams of an agency that feels it needs to “do something” when there’s really nothing to be done. Thousands of agents were reassigned from stopping real criminals to “counterterrorism” and when they found there were basically no terrorists around, they just started making their own in order to feel like they were doing something… and to have headlines to appease people upstairs. The government seems to have gone collectively insane when it comes to anything related to “terrorism.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , , | Leave a comment

The Left after the Failure of Obamacare

By Shamus Cooke | Worker’s Compass | January 4, 2014

It’s satisfying to watch rats flee a sinking ship. This is because onlookers knew the ship was doomed long ago, and swimming rats signify that the drawn-out tragedy is nearing an end. A collective sense of relief is a natural response.

The rats who propped up the broken boat of Obamacare are a collection of liberal and labor groups who frittered away their group’s resources—and integrity— to sell a crappy product to the American people.

Those in the deepest denial went “all in” for Obamacare— such as some unions and groups like Moveon.org— while the more conniving groups and individuals—like Michael Moore— playacted “critical” of Obamacare, while nevertheless declaring it “progressive”, in effect adding crucial political support to a project that deserved none.

But of course Obamacare was always more barrier than progress: we’ve wasted the last several years planning, debating, and reconstructing the national health care system, all the while going in the wrong direction— into the pockets of the insurance mega corporations. A couple progressive patches on the sails won’t keep her afloat. It’s shipbuilding time.

It was painful to watch otherwise intelligent people lend support to something that’s such an obviously bad idea. So it’s with immense relief that liberals like Michael Moore, labor groups, and others are finally distancing themselves from Obamacare’s Titanic failure. Now these individuals and groups can stop living in denial and the rest of us can proceed towards a rational discussion about a real health care solution.

The inevitable failure of Obamacare is not due to a bad website, but deeper issues. The hammering of the nails in the coffin has begun:  millions of young people are suddenly realizing that Obamacare does not offer affordable health care. It’s a lie, and they aren’t buying it, literally.

The system depends on sufficient young people to opt in and purchase plans, in order to offset the costs of the older, higher-needs population. Poor young people with zero disposable income are being asked to pay monthly premiums of $150 and more, and they’re opting out, inevitably sinking Obamacare in the process.

Those young people who actually do buy Obamacare plans—to avoid the “mandate” fine— will be further enraged when they attempt to actually use their “insurance”. Many of the cheapest plans—the obvious choice for most young people— have $5,000 deductibles before the insurance will pay for anything. For poor young people this is no insurance at all, but a form of extortion.

At the same time millions of union members are being punished under Obamacare: those with decent insurance plans will suffer the “Cadillac” tax, which will push up the cost of their healthcare plans, and employers are already demanding concessions from union members in the form of higher health care premiums, co-pays, deductibles, etc.

Lower paid union workers will suffer as well. Those who are part of the Taft Hartley insurance plans will be pressured to leave the plans and buy their own insurance, since they cannot keep their plans and get the subsidy that the lowest income workers get. This has the potential to bust the whole Taft Hartley health care system that millions of union members benefit from, which is one of the reasons that labor leaders suddenly became outraged at Obamacare, after having wasted millions of union member’s dollars propping it up.

Ultimately, the American working class will collectively cheer Obamacare’s demise. They just need labor and other lefties to cheer lead its destruction a little more fiercely.

Surprisingly, most of the rats are still clinging to Obama’s hopeless vessel, frantically bailing water. Sure they’ve put on their life preservers and are anxiously eyeing the lifeboats, but they’re also preaching about how to re-align the deckchairs.

For example, in his “critical” New York Times op-ed piece, Michael Moore called Obamacare “awful”, but also called it a “godsend”, singing his same tired tune. Part of Moore’s solution for Obamacare—which was cheered on in the Daily Kos— is equally ludicrous, and follows his consistently flawed logic that Obamacare is worth saving, since its “progress” that we can build on. Moore writes:

“Those who live in red [Republican dominated] states need the benefit of Medicaid expansion [a provision of Obamacare]…. In blue [Democrat dominated] states, let’s lobby for a public option on the insurance exchange — a health plan run by the state government, rather than a private insurer.”

This is Moore at his absolute worst. He’s neck deep in the flooded hull of the U.S.S Obamacare and giving us advice on how to tread water.

Of course Moore doesn’t criticize the heart of Obamacare, the individual mandate, the most hated component.

Moore also relies on the trump card argument of the pro-Obamacare liberals: there are progressive aspects to the scheme—such as the expansion of Medicaid— and therefore the whole system is worth saving.

Of course it’s untrue that we need Obamacare to expand Medicaid. In fact, the expansion of Medicaid acted more as a Trojan horse to introduce the pro-corporate heart of the system; a horse that Moore and other liberals nauseatingly continue to ride on.

But Moore’s sneakiest argument is his advice to blue states to  “…lobby for a public option on the insurance exchange…”

Again, Moore implies that it’s ok if we are “mandated” to buy health insurance, so long is there is a public option. But that aside, the deeper scheme here is that Moore wants us to further waste our energy “reforming” Obamacare, rather than driving it to the bottom of the sea.

Moore surely knows that very few people are going to march in the streets demanding a public option at this point; he therefore knows that even this tiny reform of the system is unachievable. He’s wasting our time. Real change only happens in politics when there is a surge of energy among large sections of the population, and it’s extremely unlikely that more than a handful of people are going to be active towards “fixing” Obamacare— they want to drown it.

Moore’s attempt to funnel people’s outrage at Obamacare towards a “public option” falls laughably short, and this is likely his intention, since his ongoing piecemeal “criticisms” of the system have only served to salvage a sunken ship.

Instead of wasting energy trying to pry Obamacare out of the grip of the corporations, Moore would be better served to focus exclusive energy towards expanding the movement for Medicare For All, which he claims that he also supports, while maintaining that somehow Obamacare will evolve into Single Payer system.

Most developed nations have achieved universal health care through a single payer system, which in the United States can be easily achieved by expanding Medicare to everybody. Once the realities of Obamacare directly affect the majority of the population and exacerbates the crisis of U.S. healthcare, people will inevitably choose to support the movement of Medicare for All, the only real option for a sane health care system.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Forty-Seven Treasonous Senators Take Israel’s Word Over U.S. Intel Community

Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | January 7, 2014

If Americans ever assert their real national security and geopolitical interests by “shaking off” the longstanding occupation of Washington — “Israel’s most important occupied territory” — in a long overdue “American Intifada,” those who have engaged “in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort” are helpfully leaving behind an extensive documentary record of their treason:

S. 1881

The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013

Below is a list of senators who have cosponsored or indicated their intention to cosponsor The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013.

47 Members Who Cosponsored

Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)
Mark Begich (D-AK)
Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Cory Booker (D-NJ)
John Boozman (R-AR)
Benjamin Cardin (D-MD)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Daniel Coats (R-IN)
Thomas Coburn (R-OK)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
Chris Coons (D-DE)
Bob Corker (R-TN)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Ted Cruz (R-TX)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Deb Fischer (R-NE)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Lindsey Graham (R-SC)
Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Jim Inhofe (R-OK)
Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Mike Johanns (R-NE)
Mark Kirk (R-IL)
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
Mike Lee (R-UT)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
John McCain (R-AZ)
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Jerry Moran (R=KS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Rob Portman (R-OH)
Mark Pryor (D-AR)
James Risch R-ID)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Charles Schumer (D-NY)
Tim Scott (R-SC)
John Thune (R-SC)
Pat Toomey (R-PA)
David Vitter (R-LA)
Mark Warner (D-VA)
Roger Wicker (R-MS)

Maidhc Ó Cathail is an investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. He is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the U.S.-Israeli relationship. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter @O_Cathail.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

France-UAE satellite deal shaky after US spy tech discovered onboard – report

RT | January 6, 2014

The sale of two intelligence satellites to the UAE by France for nearly a billion dollars could go south after they were found to contain American technology designed to intercept data transmitted to the ground station.

The equipment, costing 3.4 billion dirhams ($930 million), constitutes two high-resolution Pleiades-type Falcon Eye military intelligence satellites, which a top UAE defense source has said contain specific US-made components designed to intercept the satellites’ communications with their accompanying ground station, Defensenews.com said in a report.

“The discovery [of the US-made components] was reported to the deputy supreme commander [Sheikh Mohamm ed Bin Zayed] in September,” an unnamed defense source said. “We have requested the French to change these components and also consulted with the Russian and Chinese firms.”

“If this issue is not resolved, the UAE is willing to scrap the whole deal,” said the source, adding that the incident has seen an increase in talks with Moscow, which – along with Beijing – has also been a frequent defense tech supplier to the Gulf state.

However, it is not clear whether the US equipment can be taken off of the French satellites.

The satellites come courtesy of prime contractor Airbus Defence and Space and payload manufacturer Thales Alenia, neither of whom could be reached for comment.

The system, comprised of satellites and a ground station, will require 20 trained engineers to operate. Under the July 22 deal, signed by Sheikh Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, delivery of the satellites and the ground station was to be made sometime in 2018.

A total of 11 international bidders were competing in the Flacon Eye race for more than a decade to ship their technologies to the UAE, which in late 2012 announced that they had chosen to go with the French and the Americans.

According to the source, the French won because of the filters which their rival Americans imposed on the use of the equipment – a policy dubbed “shutter control.” The US government restricts sale of commercial high resolution satellite images from spacecraft it licenses, if they are deemed a threat to its national security.

One French defense specialist found it surprising that France had had US spy technology on board its equipment, especially when France’s use of the Pleiades surveillance system is considered to be of critical importance to its national security.

According to Defensenews, UAE threats to call off the deal are seen by some commentators as a way to secure a better bargain from the French, because “the satellites would be part of a big package deal… it’s not surprising the UAE drives a hard bargain. They’re using it as a layer of power.”

The unnamed defense specialist referred to the possibility that the Emirates may wish to drive the price down for other equipment, such as the Dessault Aviation Rafale fighter jet.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | Leave a comment

Peres praises the ‘Egyptian war’ against Hamas

MEMO | January 6, 2014

Israeli President Shimon Peres has praised what he describes as “the war” being waged by the Egyptian authorities against the Islamic resistance movement Hamas.

Peres also celebrated, in statements during a meeting held on 5 January with foreign ministry representatives, the incitement campaigns being waged by some of the Egyptian authorities against the Palestinian resistance factions, particularly Hamas.

In the same context, Peres noted, “We may be in isolation, but we are not alone”, adding that: “the Arabs wanted to uproot Israel during its establishment; however, they have become convinced that Israel is not the problem, and they are utterly aware that terrorism is their first enemy.”

Last week, Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohammad Ibrahim claimed that Hamas had provided military training in the Gaza Strip for members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which the Egyptian authorities have now designated a terrorist organisation.

Former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan also praised Egypt’s campaign against Hamas ever since the military coup that deposed the former Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi. He remarked that: “We don’t need to destroy Hamas, as Egypt is playing that role already.”

Attending the Majdi Forum in Kfar Saba, Dagan explained: “Israel has no interest in destroying Hamas, and the reason is the important efforts made by Egypt to dwarf Hamas’s power. And I also see a similar effort exerted by the Gulf countries. The State of Israel is not involved in these efforts.”

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Report: Israeli occupation authorities seized 14,204 dunums of Palestinian land in 2013

gc

Palestine Information Center – 06/01/2014

RAMALLAH — The land research center in Bethlehem said that the Israeli occupation authority (IOA) had seized 14,204 dunums of Palestinian lands in 2013 in the occupied territories of Jerusalem and the West Bank and registered them in the names of Jewish settlers, settlement groups and companies.

In a report, the research center stated that during last year the IOA had demolished 371 Palestinian-owned facilities and structures and issued demolition orders against 510 others in addition to the demolition of 246 homes accommodating 1,200 Palestinian citizens, including 650 children.

The center noted that the IOA issued demolition orders against 3,131 homes during the reporting year.

According to the report, the IOA and its settlers under military protection uprooted and destroyed 19,083 Palestinian-owned fruitful trees in different areas of the West Bank.

The IOA had also finished the building of 625 settlement units, approved the construction of 7,000 units and declared plans to build 25,000 others.

In a related context, Palestinian specialist in settlement affairs Khaled Ma’ali stated on Sunday that the Israeli commander of the central region Nitzan Alon had given orders to turn the illegal outpost of Brochan into an official settlement under the jurisdiction of the regional settlement council, pointing out that Alon had already declared the building of 550 new housing units in this colony.

Ma’ali added that Palestinian farmers and eyewitnesses reported that settlement construction is already in the works in this outpost.

He noted that the name of this settlement is derived from the Palestinian village Bruqin and the settlers made changes to the real name in order to delude themselves into believing that they have a historical claim on the area.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment

Saudi Arabia victim of US policies: Larijani

Press TV – January 6, 2014

An Iranian rights official says Saudi Arabia is a victim of US policies, urging Middle East countries not to support terrorists.

Speaking on the sidelines of a Monday conference in Tehran, Secretary-General of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights Mohammad-Javad Larijani said terrorist measures do not stem from the Middle East.

“Regional countries must know that by supporting terrorists they are only jeopardizing their own interests,” he added.

Regarding the recent bombings taking place in the region, Larijani said, “My position regarding these bombings is completely clear and I believe that the most part of their planning took place outside the region.”

He said Saudi Arabia is a victim of US policies and urged regional countries to stay away from American policies.

Larijani’s remarks come following a wave of terrorist bombings across the region, especially in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, widely attributed to al-Qaeda-linked groups that are believed to be funded and supplied by Saudi Arabia.

Regional reports suggest al-Qaeda-linked terrorist and leader of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades Majed al-Majed, who was arrested in connection with the twin bombings near the Iranian embassy in Beirut on November 19, 2013 and later pronounced dead in a Lebanese military hospital- was a high-ranking official of Saudi Arabia’s intelligence service.

Media reports said Riyadh had put pressure on Lebanon to extradite al-Majed before his death in detention.

The Saudi terrorist had extensive secret information as he had been active in various countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Pakistan and had direct cooperation or contact with mid- and high-ranking al-Qaeda leaders.

January 6, 2014 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment