Aletho News


Two international activists to be deported after their arrest is declared illegal

International Solidarity Movement | January 9, 2014

Occupied Palestine – Yesterday, Wednesday 8th January, at approximately 11am in Khalil (Hebron), Vincent Mainville and Fabio Theodule (Swiss and Italian citizens respectively), were arrested by Israeli border police officers.

The two international activists were first detained while trying to stop Israeli forces firing live ammunition and tear gas canisters towards a group of Palestinian youth and children throwing stones towards the soldiers.

Israeli forces accused the two activists of trying to assault a border police officer and obstruction of military action. Both activists are committed to non-violent solidarity work.

Vincent and Fabio were handcuffed and transferred to Jaabara police station, where they were left in the handcuffs for over three hours before finally being allowed to contact legal representation.

The two activists attended Hasharon court this morning in Jerusalem; they were escorted by Israeli border police and were handcuffed throughout the night. When they arrived in the courthouse they were escorted to several different rooms before being led outside the court without seeing their lawyer. Vincent and Fabio were then taken to the immigration center where deportation procedures were begun without a court hearing.

Although the judge later ruled that the activists had been illegally arrested, it was too late to prevent their transfer to immigration and therefore prevent their deportation.

The activists are now being held by Israeli forces and it is not known how long they will be held for before they are deported from the country.

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cabinet papers reveal truth about Thatcher’s war against the miners

By Ken Smith | The Socialist | January 8, 2014

After 30 years of gathering dust in the National Archives, the declassification of secret government files has revealed how far Margaret Thatcher and the Tory government went to ensure defeat of the 1984-85 miners‘ strike.

Among the chilling revelations are how they considered declaring a state of emergency and using troops to move coal, despite official government denials about their use, and material exposing the undeclared civil war the ruling class conducted against Thatcher’s ‘enemy within’.

Although much of the ‘new’ material has slowly leaked out in recent years, or was widely suspected in advance of its release, these papers significantly confirm how close Thatcher and the Tories came to defeat in July and October 1984.

Victory possible

It underlines that if the Labour and trade union leaders had given full support to the miners, then at least a partial victory would have been won that could have helped stem the tide of job losses and closures.

The Socialist Party’s 2004 book on the strike, A Civil War without Guns, details much of what has been confirmed in the Cabinet papers – particularly the wobbles that Thatcher had around the time of the proposed docks strike in July and the Nacods [the colliery deputies and under-officials’ union] ballot for action in October.

Yet, as Thatcher wobbled, the book also showed that it was the right-wing leaders of the trade union movement and Labour leader Neil Kinnock, who came to her aid and allowed her to gain ultimate victory.

These new documents further confirm how historically justified the miners’ struggle was to defend their communities.

Britain’s coal industry would have been slashed to half its former size, at a stroke in 1984, had they not conducted their strike.

Lies and conspiracies

The newly released papers conclusively confirm the existence of a conspiratorial plan to close 75 pits and axe more than 60,000 jobs in the industry, something vehemently denied at the time. The Tory government and National Coal Board (NCB) always claimed that only 20 or so collieries were to close – an argument desperately repeated by the media and right wing in the labour movement to undermine the miners’ struggle.

NUM leader Arthur Scargill, the majority of the miners, and their supporters, knew that the government and NCB were lying, that the ‘economic’ justification for pit closures was rigged, and that the real number of job losses and pit closures was going to be far higher if they didn’t fight in 1984.

Critics of Scargill and the miners, like multi-millionaire former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, also choose to forget that the spark that started the strike at Cortonwood, South Yorkshire, in March 1984 was because the NCB had blatantly flouted the nationally agreed pit closure procedure.

This was a clear signal that the NCB – on behalf of the government – would move to a rapid downsizing of the industry on a scale unseen before. It also showed that the traditional negotiation platforms open to the unions were going to be brutally shunted aside.

While it may not be such a great revelation that Thatcher lied over the closure plans and other matters, the extent of the conspiracies and ‘abuse’ of power conducted by the prime minister and her allies exposed in these official documents is breathtaking.

It confirms the malicious cruelty of the British ruling class, epitomised by the former Tory chancellor during the strike, Nigel Lawson.

He said that preparation for the strike – in effect to de-industrialise Britan, because of the fear of trade union militancy – was “just like rearming to face the threat of Hitler in the 1930s”.

It was always widely suspected that NCB chairman MacGregor and Thatcher were colluding with senior politicians from all sides, civil servants, right-wing union leaders and media bosses to demonise the miners and win the dispute.

Now it is there on record of how far they went – a black and white confirmation of the preparations today’s activists seriously need to make to win future workers’ struggles.

See also:

There’s more to climate fraud than just tax hikes

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Average Wait Time For A Response At Administration’s ‘We The People’ Petition Site At 298 Days

By Tim Cushing | Techdirt | January 9, 2014

The We the People site set up by the Obama administration gave American citizens a more direct way to petition their government. The ideal propelling it was noble, but it has failed spectacularly in execution. As we’ve noted before, various petitions have gone unanswered for months after hitting the signature threshold.

The threshold itself has been raised a handful of times as well (from 5,000 to 25,000 to 100,000 as the site increased in popularity), ostensibly to weed out petitions that weren’t truly representative of the population. This should have made the administration’s job easier. A higher threshold means fewer petitions requiring an answer, and those that surpass the threshold should (although it’s not always the case) be of higher quality.

Counterintuitively, as the threshold has increased, so has the response time.

Of the 30 unanswered petitions currently posted to We the People, 11 were posted after the threshold was raised to 100,000 signatures and 19 were posted before the threshold was raised to that level.

Unanswered petitions posted after the threshold hike have been waiting 103 days for a response on average.

Unanswered petitions posted before and after the threshold hike have been waiting 298 days, on average, for a response.

What the site was supposed to be (responsive) and what it’s turned out to be (a mostly empty gesture) tracks with the administration’s continual failure to uphold its own stated ideals. The “most transparent administration in history” has advanced and expanded Bush-era policies that added layers of opacity to the government’s inner workings in order to further subvert the notion that a government should be accountable to its constituents. The administration has also prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other administrations combined, further widening the gap between those who govern and those that are governed.

It appears that any petition not deemed a “softball” or that can’t be handled by a canned policy statement is backburnered. One of the first petitions to gather enough signatures (requiring labeling of genetically modified foods) has been waiting since September 2011 for an answer. More recent petitions appear to headed down that same road.

The unanswered petitions include one asking the president to fire the U.S. Attorney who led the prosecution of Internet activist Aaron Swartz and one to pardon the National Security Agency documents leaker Edward Snowden.

The Swartz petition will hit a year of being ignored within a month. The Snowden petition is headed into its seventh month without an answer.

It’s not as though it’s impossible for the administration to answer these in a timely fashion. While the answers given to each of these petitions would probably be unpopular, the point of the site is not for the administration to “look good” but rather to increase its direct communication with the public. The administration also needs to keep in mind that canned policy statements that ignore or only very indirectly address the petitions’ subject matter is not “communication.”

When petitioners are waiting nearly a year to have their issues addressed, the “offer” of a direct line to the government is effectively empty.

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | Comments Off on Average Wait Time For A Response At Administration’s ‘We The People’ Petition Site At 298 Days

ObamaCare in California

By JEFF SHER | CounterPunch | January 9, 2014

The morning of January 6th I received maybe my fourth warning email, all in the last week or so, from Covered California, the state agency that administers the exchange where individuals can now buy health plans under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

First they congratulated me for signing up for a new health insurance plan through Covered California. Then the punch line: “In order for your health care coverage to take effect, you need to pay your premium.”

This is a bit disconcerting, because at the same time that Covered California is filling up my inbox with warnings to PAY MY BILL, the insurance company I am supposed to pay hasn’t sent me a bill yet, and they won’t answer my phone calls due to unusually heavy call volume associated “to” the Affordable Care Act.

Meanwhile, my old insurance company, which cancelled my previous insurance plan effective January 1 precisely because Obamacare was scheduled to take effect on that date, is sending me bills for a much more expensive plan to replace the one they cancelled, only I never applied to them for a replacement plan.

Maybe I’m taking these pay-up warnings the wrong way, but the message seems to be that I’m the fly in the ointment, the monkey wrench in the finely oiled machine, the reprobate who is refusing to hold up his end of the deal and pay the nice insurance company for the excellent service they are providing to me.

I get it. It’s on me. If I get hit by a bus next week and don’t have health insurance, it’s going to be my fault, and the new insurance company I selected through the exchange, Anthem (the conglomerate that swallowed what used to be Blue Cross of California), will have valid reason not to pay my claims.

I understand. I’ve heard about “consumer driven health care,” a core principle of Obamacare. You know, it’s the idea that the reason health care costs are so high is because for too long health care consumers have had too big a share of their costs paid by their employers. Low co-pays and deductibles have led consumers to over-consume. If they have to spend more of their own money, they will make better health care decisions. Like they do when they shop for shoes, or flat screen TV’s. It’s just good solid free market logic.

Consumers are responsible for high-health care costs, not insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. That’s why Obamacare in a few years will impose harsh penalties for any insurance plans (provided by corporations or unions, for instance) that are too good, so called “cadillac health care plans”. You know, that’s the kind of plan that has low deductibles and co-pays, under which you can actually afford to go see your doctor and consult with him about how you should manage your health. How old school is that, what with all the info available on the internet, Web MD and all that. You can make your own health care decisions now.

So I’m pretty clear by now that if something goes wrong it’s going to be my fault and not the fault of my insurance company. So I’m getting a little nervous, despite the fact that I’ve been a health insurance consultant for over 20 years, and I’m supposed to know how to work this system.

You see, I’d like to pay Anthem for my first month’s (January) coverage. It’s not a lot of money, seeing as how it’s subsidized by the federal government in order to enable more people to afford the prohibitively expensive products on offer from the four-headed insurance/doctor/hospital/pharmaceutical Cerebrus that guards the gates to the Hades that our health insurance system has become. By the way, Cerebrus’s job was not to keep people out of Hades. It was to prevent those who had entered from escaping.

Problem is, I can’t pay my bill because Anthem hasn’t sent me a bill. January 6th was the original deadline for paying January bills for the exchange plans. Well, that deadline has been extended now by Anthem to January 15. Will Anthem send me a bill before then? Do I have health insurance now?

Covered California instructed me that if I hadn’t received a bill yet, I should contact the insurance company I selected. They provided a link to a special page that explained what my options were for contacting and paying each company.

For Anthem I can either pay by telephone – and they gave me a phone number to call – or I can pay by mail. How do you pay by mail? You put a check in an envelope and send it to a P.O. Box in Oxnard, CA. O, and make sure you attach the application number assigned to you by the exchange to your check, along with the primary subscriber’s name. That way Anthem will be sure to know exactly who you are and everything will be just fine. No forms, no plan name, no other identifiers. Just a check in an envelope.

Not being real confident with that approach, I called the Anthem phone number. I worked my way through the phone tree, until the moment I identified myself as an applicant, following which I was immediately informed that Anthem would not be able to take my call at this time because they were experiencing unusually high call volume associated “to” the Affordable Care Act. They told me to call back later.

Perhaps you are thinking I got myself into this fix because I was late in filing my application for Obamacare coverage. On the contrary, I signed up for Obamacare and selected my insurance plan and company way back in October.

That was after my friends at Blue Shield of California (not the same organization as Blue Cross in the State of California) informed me in September that the insurance plan I had at the time was going to be cancelled effective January 1, 2014. Of course they offered me alternatives, I could go to the exchange or I could sign up for a Blue Shield plan outside the exchange comparable to the one I already had – with one slight change. The premium for the new, almost the same, plan, would increase from $436 to a cool $709.87 per month.

Same plan more or less. Same person. Same health status. Same age, 63. The only difference: a new player had entered the market. So Blue Shield decided the appropriate price for my plan had increased by 62.8%. Who am I to ask questions? I couldn’t possibly understand. Just the mysterious ways of the free market as divined by the oracles in the Blue Shield underwriting department.

So I went to the exchange and ordered up my comparable and much less expensive plan and just sat back to enjoy the warm glow of knowing that I would have coverage come January 1, 2014.

Along about December I started to hear rumors that maybe the insurance companies were not going to be able to get the bills out on time to enable people to comply with the January 6 deadline for payment.

So I called Covered California again on December 17, and after waiting on hold for about 96 minutes, I spoke with an agent who assured me that yes, the exchange had sent my information to Anthem and I could be expecting a bill. Not to worry, I would be covered Jan. 1 as far as the exchange was concerned. But of course I would still have to pay my bill.

Yes, the agent said, he had heard about the billing problems. He explained that the insurance companies were dealing with a huge number of applications from the exchange. He wasn’t exactly sure when my application had been sent over to Anthem, because the exchange had held up a lot of the early applications until late November because they weren’t sure the insurance companies were ready to accept them before that.

I insisted that the agent provide documentation that our call had taken place and that he had assured me that I would have coverage and that all my information had been sent to Anthem sometime before Dec. 17. He gave me an incident number which he said would be added to my record with all the details of our call.

I thanked him and told him that with his help, if I got hit by a bus sometime after January 1 but before Anthem billed me and I could pay, I was confident I would be able to win the lawsuit that would ensue when Anthem tried to claim I did not have valid coverage at the time of my accident. Not that they would mind you. Insurance companies in this country are notoriously liberal in their efforts to go that extra mile to take into account all extenuating circumstances when paying claims. They really are not known for trying to evade responsibility on the basis of technicalities. I mean, except for that recisions thing a few years back.

For now, I’m trying to stay off the streets and out of harm’s way. I’ll hold out for a couple more days, hoping a bill arrives from Anthem, and then I’ll follow instructions and put a check in an envelope and hope it gets to the right place. Maybe I should send it registered mail.

Maybe I’m not confident because Anthem has had years to prepare for the coming of Obamacare but couldn’t quite get a handle on this highly complicated billing thing. You know, where one agency collects information and confirms applications and eligibility then sends that information to you, and you enter it into your database and generate a bill and send it out. This insurance stuff is really complicated.

Remember, Anthem and the other insurance companies are from the private sector, which is constantly harping at us about how government can’t do anything right and the private sector always does it better.

I find it hard to believe Anthem (and the other companies) didn’t expect an unusually large number of applications, or unusually high call volume for that matter. Remember, Obamacare mandates that millions of people who didn’t have health insurance before have to buy it now.

Perhaps a more reasonable explanation for this administrative mess is that the insurance companies weren’t really all that invested in delivering a successful launch to Obamacare. Which is surprising, since Obamacare is going to deliver them more customers and greater profits than ever before.

Or maybe the explanation runs a little deeper than that: it’s probably been 20 years since health insurance have really focused any energy on delivering good service to their customers. Why should they? There’s very little competition in the industry. The few companies that remain are going to get their share of customers, no matter how poorly they perform. And after all, they are for-profit companies and their primary responsibility is to deliver profits for their shareholders. It’s not really their business to guarantee that people get high quality health care or a system that functions smoothly.

Please don’t think I just have it in for Anthem. That’s just the carrier I chose for my coverage, so it’s the carrier whose system I have had to try to navigate.

My old friends from Blue Shield aren’t much different. They cancelled my old plan effective January 1. But they kept offering me their new, more expensive substitute plan, and even though I never responded to any of their offers, not long before January 1 they sent me a letter thanking me for my application and telling me how much I owed them for my new, more expensive plan.

In other words, they put the burden on me (the reprobate) to call them (only a 30-something minute wait on hold) to cancel a plan I never asked for in the first place.

I don’t see how that’s much different from Anthem putting the onus on me to pay a bill that they haven’t yet bothered to send me.

JEFF SHER can be reached

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Obama, the Great Dis-Equalizer

By Glen Ford | BAR | January 8, 2014

obama_toast_champagnePresident Obama, the Grand Facilitator of the greatest consolidation of financial wealth in human history, began his sixth year in office declaring that income inequality is “the defining challenge of our time.” The Grand Bargainer who saved George Bush’s bank bailout and presided over the (ongoing) infusion of tens of trillions of dollars into Wall Street accounts, and who bragged less than two years ago that, “Since I’ve been president, federal spending has actually risen at the lowest pace in nearly 60 years,” now calls for government action to reverse the momentum of his own policies. The Great Pretender, who in 2008 called for an increase in the federal minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2011, and then did absolutely nothing to effectuate it when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress, now proposes to raise the bar to $10 an hour in order to embarrass Republicans in an election year. The Daring Debt Buster who, on his own initiative, has frozen federal workers’ wages since 2010, and worked hand in glove with Republicans to gut social programs in the name of fiscal restraint, laments “growing inequality and lack of upward mobility” among the masses.

The chief executive who lifted not a finger to pass “card check,” the Employee Free Choice Act of 2009, that might have given organized labor a fighting chance to survive, now pretends to be a born again champion of collective bargaining and yearns for the days when “you knew that a blue-collar job would let you buy a home, and a car, maybe a vacation once in a while, health care, a reliable pension.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s Justice Department sided with the Republican-appointed Emergency Financial Manager of Detroit, who was seeking to impose bankruptcy on the mostly Black city and raid retiree’s pensions – revealing the administration’s true colors.

The nation’s First Black President admits that “African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans are far more likely to suffer from a lack of opportunity – higher unemployment, higher poverty rates,” and claims he’ll push for “targeted initiatives” to combat this “legacy of discrimination” (although all the proposed targeting is in the form of tax incentives for business). Yet, nearly five years ago, in a press conference marking his first hundred days in office, Obama categorically rejected targeted aid for Black communities, thus ensuring that the cascading effects of the Great Meltdown would plunge African Americans deeper into the abyss. Obama said:

“So my general approach is that if the economy is strong, that it will lift all boats as long as it is also supported by, for example, strategies around college affordability and job training, tax cuts for working families as opposed to the wealthiest that level the playing field and ensure bottom-up economic growth.

“And I’m confident that that will help the African-American community live out the American dream at the same time that it’s helping communities all across the country.”

By 2009, according to economist Pamela Brown, white household wealth was 19 times that of Black households, “and is probably even greater now” – compared to a ratio of 12 to 1 in 1984 and down to 7 to 1 in 1995. The collapse of Black economic fortunes has been catastrophic, yet Obama offers only tax cuts for corporations, streamlined business regulations, undoing of sequestration, more rhetoric about ending off-shoring of jobs, and stronger application of antidiscrimination laws.

The president wants us to forget that he was the one who proposed sequestration in the first place, in an effort to force a Grand Bargain with Republicans; that his economic advisors are secretly meeting with hundreds of corporate lobbyists to shape a jobs-destroying Trans Pacific Partnership that is “like NAFTA on steroids,” and then fast-track it through Congress; and that Obama has nominated two Republican prospective judges from Georgia to federal courts, one of whom fought to keep the Confederate banner in the state flag, while the other was the lead lawyer in defense of Georgia’s Voter ID law. The Obama administration has many priorities, but nondiscrimination is not one of them.

Whatever Obama means when he says “targeted assistance,” it seldom translates as actual money for non-corporate persons. Back in April of 2012, his administration was cited for failing to spend almost all of $7.6 billion that Congress set aside to help communities and homeowners hardest hit by the housing crisis – a cohort that is disproportionately Black and brown. Obama’s Treasury Department offered no explanation other than they had not put together a proper spending plan. However, it is obvious that Obama’s people wanted to avoid doing anything that might interfere with the banks’ foreclosure processes, so as not to disturb Wall Street’s manifold schemes to further rig the market.

The growing crisis of income and wealth inequality is a result of the internal logic of capitalism under the hegemony of Wall Street. Obama’s fix for the vast social carnage the banksters leave in their wake, is to forge a State that is even more dutiful in propping up “the markets” and stripping down the public sector. There is no room in that presidential mission for even modest amelioration of the public’s pain. The president’s rhetoric is nothing more than noise, totally disconnected from actual policy. The Lords of Capital – for whom Obama is a servant – have nothing to offer but more austerity and war.

They must be disempowered, root and branch, and society “reformed” in their absence.

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Comments Off on Obama, the Great Dis-Equalizer

Chilean football club sparks Israeli outrage with pro-Palestinian uniform


Al-Akhbar | January 9, 2014

A Chilean football club has sparked debate over its new jerseys, in which the number “1” is replaced by an outline of pre-1948 Palestine, angering Israel which demanded the uniform’s removal, local media reported.

Club Deportivo Palestino, a first division football club created in 1920 by Palestinian immigrants, revealed on Saturday its 2014 uniform, on which the geographical outline of Palestine can be seen.

Chilean newspaper La Nacion reported on Tuesday that the Israeli foreign ministry had contacted the Chilean embassy to express its discontent over the football club’s move.

According to a statement by the Israeli embassy in Chile, the Foreign Ministry’s Deputy Director General for Latin America Itzhak Shoham called the map a “provocation.”

The statement relayed Shoham’s “hope to avoid anti-Israeli provocations such as presenting a map in which the state of Israel appears as part of Palestinian territories, with the evident intention of denying the existence of Israel.”

Shoham added that “while Israel is determined to generate a positive step towards a two-state solution, it seems inappropriate to use sport for political ends.”

The former president of the Jewish Community of Chile (CJCh) Gabriel Zaliasnik reacted to the news on Twitter and accused CD Palestino of “importing” the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, saying the uniform controversy was a sign of “hate and fanaticism.”

On Monday, CJCh Executive Director Marcelo Isaacson demanded a public apology from CD Palestino, removal of the jerseys and sanctions from the Chilean National Association of Professional Football (ANFP) and the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).

Isaacson argued that the jerseys were an “act that affects the dignity of spectators at a sporting event and a use of the sport as a platform of political demands,” Chilean newspaper La Nacion reported.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Federation of Chile expressed its support of the football club in a statement released on Tuesday.

“We deplore the hypocrisy of those who express outrage at the presence of this map, as they talk about the occupied territories,” the statement read. “We deeply regret that Chilean Zionists seek to import the Middle East conflict to our country” by “tarnishing the history and the fundamental contribution that CD Palestino has made to the development of this sport in our country.”

The federation also expressed its thanks to Chilean nationals, “and especially the Jews of our country,” who have spoken out in solidarity with the football team.

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , | 3 Comments

BBC News Night on Dieudonné & The Quenelle

Gilad Atzmon:

If the quenelle is loosely defined as an anti establishment salute, one may wonder why Jews are offended by it and regard it as an ‘anti-Semitic’ gesture? Is it because many Jews actually identify with ‘the establishment’? And how do we explain the fact that the French government is happy to compromise the most elementary liberties just to appease the French Jewish Lobby (Crif)?

The truth is devastating – Palestine is here and the French people are the Palestinians Du Jour…

The French Palestinian Solidarity Deserves a Quenelle

Ariadna Theokopoulos | Bold Face News

France is the middle of a sweeping popular movement sparked by Dieudonné and symbolized by la Quennelle, a movement that has united young and old, white and black, men and women, the middle class and the unemployed, extreme Left, center and Right, many Muslims, Christians and even a couple of Jews.

It is an anti-establishment revolt but also one specifically directed at the Jewish power that rules the French establishment and has destroyed individual freedoms long cherished by the French, like freedom of speech. The French appear to have had enough of forced indoctrination into the worship of the Holocaust (a topic Dieudonné has dared to ridicule in his comedy sketches), of laws throwing historians in prison for daring to question the official Holocaust narrative, of the foreign policy of France being conducted according to the dictates of CRIF (the French equivalent of AIPAC).

It is a peaceful revolt, employing a gesture, not words, in a state muzzled by anti-free speech laws, one that mocks Power and says, “We are no longer afraid of you.” It is precisely that message that has sent the French Israeli Firsters into a hysterical panic: that “they” are no longer afraid and that a single spark was sufficient to unite all segments of society that JP had worked for so long to atomize and set against each other.

The measure of their panic is given by the preposterous, Orwellian ways in which they propose to silence and punish Dieudonné. The French Interior Minister, Mon. Valls (the same one who declared that through his wife he is eternally tied to Israel) has instructed (he prefers the word “advised”) the mayors of all French towns to forbid any performances of Dieudonné anywhere, in any venue. “You will never work in this country again!” Another contemplated measure is to form a joint commission of no less than three ministeries: Interior, Justice and Economy, to find modalities of punishing Dieudonné in all possible ways: depriving him of liberty, ruining him finnacially. He already owes close to 100,00 Euros in fines for offending speech.

Now in the middle of all this popular revolt, a progressive voice that despite its French accent sounds so very familiar, speaks out… against Dieudonné! It is Jean-Claude LeFort, President of the Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS):

“Pour qui­conque suit objec­ti­vement les faits, les gestes et les propos de Dieu­donné, la chose ne peut prêter à aucun doute pos­sible : son anti­sé­mi­tisme est patent. Il n’est pas accep­table. Le racisme, redisons-​​le avec force, n’est pas une opinion mais un délit. Nous le condamnons par principe, absolu et non dis­cu­table, mais aussi par nécessité poli­tique : il nuit ter­ri­blement à la cause du peuple pales­tinien dont Dieu­donné fait mine de se réclamer.

Ses propos ont été condamnés par la justice à de nom­breuses reprises. Et la loi doit s’appliquer sans la moindre mansuétude.”

French is a beautiful language but abject groveling sounds as foul as it does in English.

In free translation, with emphasis added:

“To those who follow events objectively, the gestures and statements of Dieudonné leave no doubt: they are patently anti-semitic. It is unacceptable. Racism, let is restate it strongly, is not an opinion but a felony. We condemn it by principle, absolute and undebatable, but also by political necessity: it harms terribly the cause of the Palestinian people which Dieudonné claims to support.”
His statements have been condemned by judicial authorities many times. And the law must be applied in full force.”

Not making the “fight against anti-semitism” a priority of the Palestinian solidarity, I am sure, would “harm terribly the cause” of AFPS’ funding. Who’s your daddy, Jean-Claude?
AFPS, like their English-speaking brethren, “give no quarter” to “anti-semites,”  and they support punishing them “sans la moindre mansuétude!”

AFPS, this quennelle is for you:

Dieudonné répond à Yann Barthès

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Economist Devastates “War for Oil” Dogma

Aletho News

Professor Cyrus Bina relates the facts that the oil industry and markets have been globalized. The various theories that have been put forward from both the left and the right regarding war rationales that rely on demonisation of OPEC are essentially nothing more than outdated fear mongering. Cyrus Bina has been vindicated by more recent events.

Cyrus Bina:

The history of Middle Eastern oil, including its subsequent development into a modern industry, can be divided into three distinct stages: (1) the era of international cartels, 1901-1950; (2) the era of transition, 1950-1972; and (3) the era of globalization since the mid-1970s. A slightly different historical periodization can be provided for the U.S. domestic oil industry: (1) the era of classical cartelization and early oil trusts of 1870-1910; (2) the era of regulated neo-cartelization of 1911-1972; and (3) the era of globalization since the mid-1970s. A close examination of the entire 1870-1970 period would reveal that administrative pricing under the International Oil Cartel (known as Seven Sisters) were predominantly the rule in the oil business. The cartel, however, began to lose its grip during the 1950s and 1960s. Proliferating market forces, in con-junction with the development of capitalist social relations in the colonial and semi-colonial oil regions, had overcome the colonial concessions and worldwide administrative control of oil under the international oil cartel. The oil crisis of 1973-1974 was but the symptom of this transformation toward globalization. Moreover, the so-called “OPEC offensive”—which was misperceived by both the right and the left as the cause for re-control of oil market/prices —was but the catalyst of this de-cartelization and globalization of oil.

The war-for-oil scenario, as a popular myth, ignores the deeper understanding of the complex web of contradictions and regulating dynamics of today’s economy and polity. Yet, the very anachronism of this scenario is understandable in the view of the anachronistic U.S. behavior that is so dreadfully attempting to reverse the loss of American hegemony against the time and, more importantly, history. Therefore, parallel with the anachronistic reality of U.S. colonial conduct in Iraq, the anachronism of the “oil grab” becomes “reality” in the minds of those who chant “No Blood for Oil.” Yet, holding a parallel between the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the control of oil is a far fetched proposition, if not an outright illusion. For, since the mid 1970s, the material bases and dynamics of post-cartelization and globalization of oil render the physical access, prearranged inter-company allocation, and indeed administrative control and pricing of oil redundant. This rather counter intuitive reality also renders any connection between the war and oil—other than given disbursement to finance matters such as the establishment of a puppet government—superfluous.

Nevertheless, in an interview, James Schlesinger remarked: “The United States [Bush, 41st] has gone to war now, and the American people presume this will lead to a secure oil supply. As a society we have made a choice to secure access to oil by military means. The alternative is to become independent to a large degree of that secure access.” It is indeed surprising that a market worshipping Chicago School economist fails to see the formation of (spot) oil prices within interconnected and unified markets since the post-cartelization of oil in the 1970s. Schlesinger, on the one hand, stresses the phrase “secure access” and, on the other hand, underscores the alternative of “independence,” as if one can insulate the U.S. oil industry from the rest of transnational oil. This thesis provides a convenient cover for two separate strategic projects: justifying the war without exposing its real cause, and creating panic by playing the familiar scarcity card to extend the exploration of oil in the pristine U.S. regions of wildlife such as ANWAR. In this context this was also what the Bush administration and Cheney’s “Task Force on Energy” probably had in mind when they were referring to “secure oil.”

In a nutshell, the above thesis ignores (1) the mutuality of oil producers and oil consumer, the need of both sides in selling and purchasing in the competitive global oil market, (2) the interdependence of oil regions in the present interdependent world, (3) the formation of global prices based on the cost of highest cost (U.S.) producer, not the cost of individual oil regions, and (4) the formation of differential oil rents, given the existing differential (regional) costs, through competition. Here, the dramatized “oil dependency” is but an empty phrase in the view of the trans nationalization of oil since the 1970s.

On the opposite side, hardly anyone on the left fully recognized the implication of uncritical acceptance of the above tautological thesis. Thus, the left-wing liberals and the radical left adopted this theory and dressed it up in leftist garb before applying it to either the question of war or the problem of environment. Michael Klare is one of the remarkable defenders of this thesis on the left. He declares: “Two key concerns underlie the Administration’s [Bush, 43rd] thinking: First,the United States is becoming dangerously dependent on imported petroleum to meet its daily energy requirements, and second, Iraq possesses the world’s largest reserves of untapped petroleum after Saudi Arabia.” Klare, however, takes this thesis one step further to an improvised level of neo-Malthusian scarcity:

“Global demand for many key materials is growing at an unsustainable rate. As the human population grows, societies require more of everything (food, water, energy, timber, minerals, fibers, and so on) to satisfy the basic material requirements of their individual members…. Because the production and utilization of these products entails [sic.] the consumption of vast amount of energy, minerals, and other materials, the global requirement for many basic commodities has consistently exceeded the rate of population growth.”

This worn-out neo-Malthusian message has again been reiterated in Blood and Oil. Yet, Klare, who is perplexed by the gravity of U.S. involvement in Iraq is “compelled … to conclude that petroleum is unique among the world’s resources that it has more potential than any of the others to provoke major crises and conflicts in the years ahead.” Again for Klare (and for many on the left) the specificity of the cause-and-effect seems to have no bearing on this historically unique epochal conflict and his fascination with oil is so intensive that he fails to realize a need for a specific and independent analytical proof.

I contend that, at best, the war-for-oil scenario is a text with out a context. On a logical level, the oil scenario is a remarkable example of a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy, misplacing the real cause of U.S. military intervention. Moreover, by neglecting the depth of the last two decades of global transformation, the protagonists on the left and the right both have adopted a very voluntaristic-functionalist view of the U.S. global role. The left tends to capitalize on a voluntaristic interpretation of the concept of hegemony and the functionalist pivot of U.S. military might. For Klare, though, the global conflict “is entirely the product of geology.” The right, on the other hand, tends to rely on the notion of a “unipolar” world and wishful arguments of the “bound to lead” variety, without adequate attention to the emerging new polarities associated with the loss of American hegemony and the forces of globalization.

Others on the left, who are obsessively fond of the war-for-oil scenario, argue that this war may not have been for oil in the interest of U.S. capitalism as a whole, but rather in the interest of “U.S. oil corporations.” Hence, they propose that the cost of war amounts to a huge subsidy by the entire society given to the oil industry. This is a fictitious argument derived from the blind assumption of “direct access” and physical control of oil, and absolute denial of the reality of global transformation of the oil industry in the early 1970s. It is also crude and arbitrary, given the reduction of the material interests of the entire (U.S.) capitalist class to the alleged interests of its tiny fraction. And, appealing to casual observation, such as watching news from the Iraqi oil fields and the arrival of oil service contractors for “rebuilding” Iraq, is not sufficient to turn away from serious analysis. The truth is that this adventurous undertaking is in the interest of neither.

Finally, attaching significance to the switching of the currency, from dollar to euro, by OPEC oil producers is unjustified. As Paul Krugman pointed out in a short note, any possible shift from the dollar to the euro on the part of OPEC will result in a “small change,” for the U.S. economy, much smaller than the switching made already by the “Russian Mafia.” However, many on the left are not losing any opportunity to grasp this straw.

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Exposing the complex system of Israel’s domination over Palestinians and Palestine

By Georgina Reeves | January 8, 2014

Unfree in Palestine: Registration, Documentation and Movement Restriction – Nadia Abu-Zahra Adah Kay, Pluto Press, 2013

The opening lines of Mahmoud Darwish’s poem Bitaqat Hawiyyah (identity card) are a poignant reminder of reality for Palestinians throughout the world:

“Register me!
I am an Arab
And my identity card number is fifty thousand”

And it is most fitting that Nadia Abu-Zahra and Adah Kay quote these powerful words within the first few pages of their book, Unfree in Palestine: Registration, Documentation and Movement Restriction.

Over the past few years’ there’s been a general increase in awareness of what’s happening in Palestine and Israel. The daily challenges of living under illegal occupation–the roadblocks and checkpoints, the ‘separation’ barrier, the illegal colonies, and the constant threat of violence, detention, abuse and attack from both the Israeli army and settlers–are far more visible and understood than ever before.

Activists and solidarity groups regularly visit, witnessing and experiencing the effects of the occupation. They return home to share what they’ve seen with others, helping to raise consciousness and understanding. But there is a hidden oppression, one only experienced by Palestinians, one that is rarely discussed but which has the most profound impact on them and them alone.

Whether they live inside Israel, within the West Bank and Gaza, or for the many millions more living in the Diaspora, Palestinians are at the mercy of complex systems that underpin their control and dispossession, and have done so since the 1930s. Unfree in Palestine meticulously exposes these systems to the reader, providing a detailed chronology of development, and the impact of the various methods used to control and strip Palestinians of any rights whatsoever. That this is all done in contravention of international law and United Nations resolutions that should provide protection to the Palestinian people is a potent reminder of the international community’s ongoing complicity in these crimes.

Unfree in Palestine may only be 183 pages long, but it packs quite a punch with its in-depth analysis and the unraveling of the many complex tactics and strategies used by Israel to dominate, dispossess, control and denationalize Palestinians. The authors have gone to great lengths to ensure their narrative provides a detailed explanation of not only of how the tactics are used against Palestinians, but also the irrevocable impact these tactics have. Included in the book are some harrowing testimonies of Palestinians who are constantly subject to harassment, violence, humiliation and detention, purely because of the system that is used to control them.

Despite such a complex subject, with many strands and layers, the authors have categorized the different aspects and impacts with great care. The book, naturally, starts with registration and denationalization: a process which began in the 1930s under the British Mandate but was subsequently used with deliberant intent from 1948 following the establishment of Israel as a state for Jews and not for its indigenous Arab population.

The book then concentrates on blacklisting, coercion and collaboration–all of which are used to devastating effect in Palestine. The impact of such tactics which, as well as serving an intelligence purpose for Israel’s security forces, also encourages mistrust and suspicion within Palestinian communities, causes great harm to individuals, and successfully prevents the natural development and progression of society as a whole.

The next chapter looks at movement restrictions and induced transfer from the post-1948 period, the efforts to control Palestinians within Israel, and the efforts to keep displaced Palestinians out. Palestinians who’d remained in what had become Israel were subject to martial law (until 1966) and extreme measures, such as curfews and military-issued permits to travel between one village and the next, were used to restrict and impede everyday existence. This system provided the blueprint for what was to come when Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967, following the Six-Day War.

The authors then bring us to the early 2000s, focusing on the direct social impacts of Israel’s mechanisms of control on healthcare and education in the occupied territories. These chapters in particular highlight the reality of day-to-day life under a military occupation. Health and education systems are on the verge of collapse, and access to services and centers delivery is severely obstructed. And there is the ever-present threat of personal danger in trying to access services. This has also created an environment in which there can be no effective development of the infrastructure or institutions to support health and education services serving Palestinians.

One of the most heartbreaking and distressing testimonies in the book concerns access to healthcare. Rula Ashtiya was in labor but soldiers refused her passage through Beit Furik checkpoint. She was forced to deliver in the dirt by the side of the road, with her husband helpless by her side, pleading with the soldiers in Hebrew: their baby died. This is not an isolated incident but the terrible reality that Palestinians have to face, alone.

The book is far from a cheery read, but the authors’ conclusions provide some hope for the future. Despite all the restrictions and control over their lives, Palestinians, inside and out, and with international support, continue to resist. They remind us that, while disempowered and denationalized, Palestinians are not immobilized. The fact that more people today than ever before know about the occupation of Palestine and are sympathetic to their plight tells us we must continue the struggle for justice and equality.

Through the belligerent and expansionist project of Zionism, which expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes, a highly complex, bureaucratic and racist system has been established. It has one goal: to deny Palestinians any and all of their rights. There are those who say that much of what happened in 1948 (and subsequently) was not part of a determined Zionist intention to expel Palestinians, that in times of war or conflict bad things happen that are beyond anyone’s control. Unfree in Palestine exposes this for the myth that it is: if there was never a premeditated or orchestrated plan to dispossess Palestine of its indigenous inhabitants, then why was so much energy expended by the Zionists, even in the 1930s, to catalogue and record with meticulous precision personal details of the Arab population? And why was the subsequent population register used explicitly to force Palestinians from their homes and to prevent others from returning?

The aims of Zionism have always been to take as much land and expel as many Palestinians as possible to create a state based on ethnic and religious exclusivity. Of all the tools, tactics and efforts used by Israel to achieve this, the use of registration, documentation and the restriction of movement have proved to be the most effective. Almost six million Palestinians live as refugees in the Diaspora. In Israel there are more than 1.6 million, and almost 4.5 million live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. All of them have more than a national identity in common: they have all been systematically stripped of their rights.

Unfree in Palestine is required reading for anyone who is genuinely interested in the struggle for Palestine and what it means to be Palestinian. It goes beyond the headlines, beyond the solidarity and beyond the activism. It shines an uncomfortable light onto the world in which Palestinians have been forced to exist: one in which they have no control, no rights and no redress.

It is perhaps hard for some of us–who through virtue of our place of birth have the right of access to a passport, a nationality and relative freedom–to realise what being Palestinian actually means. Personally I feel no particular national allegiance to the country in which I was born, but I do understand and appreciate the privilege I have that grants me freedom of movement and the protection of my rights. Palestinians are not so ‘lucky’. Once you’ve read this book you’ll better understand why you will never experience the occupation in the way a Palestinian does.

Georgina Reeves splits her time between Bethlehem and London, and is a co-founding trustee of Ahdaf, a British organization working with Palestinian students to support youth empowerment and community development. Visit:

January 9, 2014 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment