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Russia’s Lukoil starts output from giant Iraq oil field

Press TV – March 29, 2014

Russia’s oil giant, Lukoil, has begun pumping crude oil from one of the world’s largest undeveloped oil fields in southern Iraq, as the Arab country works to bolster its oil exports.

During a Saturday ceremony to inaugurate the West Qurna-2 field in Iraq’s southern city of Basra, Iraqi Oil Minister Abdul Kareem Luaibi said crude production at the massive oil field is expected to reach some 400,000 barrels per day (bpd), from an initial 120,000 bpd.

The Iraqi minister further expressed hope that the country’s oil output could possibly reach four million bpd by the end of this year.

“This is a historic and great accomplishment that would enable the government to implement its development programs by increasing its revenues,” added Luaibi.

Lukoil Chief Executive Vagit Alekperov also hailed the launch of West Qurna-2 as “strategically important” for the Russian company, which is the principal firm developing the enormous West Qurna-2 field.

The inauguration of West Qurna-2 will allow Russia’s second oil producer to more than double its overseas crude output.

Earlier in the day, Dhiya Jaafar, the head of Iraq’s South Oil Company, said oil exports from southern Iraq have averaged 2.48 million bpd so far this month and would rise to 2.65 million following the inauguration of West Qurna-2.

West Qurna-2, with an estimated 14 million barrels of recoverable reserves, is the second biggest untapped oil field after Rumaila in southern Iraq.

Iraq is dependent on oil exports for government revenue and is working to boost its oil sales. The Arab country has proven reserves of 143.1 billion barrels of oil as well as 3.2 trillion cubic meters of gas.

Baghdad seeks to increase its crude production capacity to nine million bpd by 2017.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Why I Am a Conscientious Objector to the ACA

By Margaret Flowers | Dissident Voice | March 28, 2014

I have been an outspoken advocate for a Medicare for all health system. During the health reform process, I did all that I could to push for single payer, including being arrested three times for civil disobedience. I was one of fifty doctors who filed a brief in the Supreme Court which expressed opposition to forcing people to buy private health insurance, a defective product. It pains me to see that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) siphons billions of public dollars to create more bureaucracy and transfers hundreds of billions of public dollars directly to the private insurance industry when I know that those dollars should be paying for the health care that so many in our country desperately need.

I am currently uninsured, so I have to make a choice. I don’t qualify for Medicaid and I’m too young for Medicare. By law, I am required to buy private insurance or pay a penalty. But I find myself in the position of not being able to do either. I can’t in good conscience give money to the health insurance industry that I am fighting to eliminate. And I can’t in good conscience pay a tax penalty that will be given to that industry. So, I am going to be a Conscientious Objector to the ACA.

I suspect that there are others who feel as I do. If you are planning to object to purchasing insurance and you support Medicare for all, you might like to join me in sending a letter to President Obama. Click on this link to do so.

The Issue is Access to Care, Not the Number Who Buy Insurance

As the March 31 deadline to purchase health insurance or face a penalty approaches, the public debate is focused solely on enrollment numbers. Great efforts are being expended to compel people to buy insurance. The “Young Invincibles,” a term created to misrepresent uninsured young adults, are being marketed heavily. And Enroll America, a coalition of advocates and health industry executives, is working overtime to encourage volunteers to be creative in the ways they locate and convince people to purchase insurance.

The mass media and politicians are constantly talking about the health care marketplace. We are being indoctrinated with market rhetoric. Patients are called consumers and health insurance plans are called products. The problem with this is that health care doesn’t belong in the marketplace whose logic dictates that care should be denied if a profit cannot be made. Health care is a public good and something that everyone needs throughout their lifetime.

Focusing solely on the number of people who are insured is what the private health insurance industry wants the public to believe is most important. The industry spent tremendous amounts of money and time to get a law that would force people to buy insurance in order to protect and enhance their assets. They want everyone to buy their products and to make people feel reckless or irresponsible if they don’t. This is a massive campaign to distract people from asking the questions that really matter, such as whether people with insurance will be able to afford health care, whether bankruptcies from medical debt will continue and whether overall health outcomes will improve.

In the United States, having health insurance does not guarantee access to necessary health care. In fact, rather than creating health security, the ACA is degrading health care coverage in the US. It is also creating the largest transfer of public dollars to a private industry ever, as UNITE HERE reports “most of the ACA’s $965 billion in subsidies will go directly to commercial insurance companies.”

The Insurance Scam

As Kevin Zeese and I wrote last fall, the ACA is one of the biggest insurance scams in history. It has made the already complex American health system, which spends over a third of health care dollars on insurance-created bureaucracy rather than care, much more complicated. It is based on principles that are the opposite of what are proven to be effective. Instead of being universal, everybody automatically enrolled as we did for seniors when Medicare started in 1965 and as most other industrialized nations do, we created a conservative, means-tested system that depends on individual income.

And instead of creating a single standard of care, so that everyone has access to the health care they need, the ACA locked into law a tiered system of coverage based on different metals: platinum, gold, silver and bronze. Though they may sound good, it turns out that the upper tier plans are not any better than the lower tier plans in terms of what services are covered or where patients can go for care. The major difference is whether a person chooses to pay more up front in higher premiums and pay less when they need health care (upper tier plans) or chooses to gamble on staying healthy and pay less up front, risking higher out-of-pocket costs if they need care (lower tier plans). This is essentially a pay-now-or-pay-later scheme.

And it is a scheme, because there are no guarantees that people who have insurance will be protected from financial ruin if they have a serious health problem. It is essential to remember that nothing about the basic business model of insurance companies has changed. They exist to make a profit and they are very good at it. While they complain about the ACA, because its regulations require more work on their end to find ways around them, it has been very lucrative for them. Health insurance stock values have doubled since the law passed in 2010.

One of their major work-arounds is the use of narrow and ultra-narrow provider networks to discourage patients with pre-existing conditions from buying their plans and leave patients footing more of the bill. Narrow networks exclude at least 30% of local hospitals and ultra-narrow networks exclude at least 70%. This means that if the local cancer center isn’t included in a plan, then people with cancer are unlikely to buy that plan. To make it worse, it’s difficult for patients to determine what providers are included in different plans because the information on the insurance exchange websites has been found to be wrong half the time.

The reason for the narrow networks is that when patients don’t go to an approved health provider, they bear most or all of the costs. The limit on how much money people can be required to spend in addition to premiums doesn’t apply when patients go out of network (and the limit was removed for 2014 anyway). In practice, if someone develops a serious health condition and the hospital or health professional that treats the condition is not in their network, they will have to go without care or find a way to pay for it. And if a person has a serious accident and is taken to a hospital that is out of network, the patient will again bear the total cost. Buying insurance is a health care crap shoot.

The Race to the Bottom in Health Care Benefits

Medical bankruptcy and self-rationing, foregoing necessary care due to cost, are two products of our market-based health system and we can expect them to continue under the ACA, even as more people become insured. Supporters of the ACA often quote the slowed rise of health care spending that has been happening since the financial crash in 2008. They claim it is a sign of the law’s positive effect; however, the slowing is actually due to fewer people using health services. In 2012, 80 million people went without necessary care because of cost.

Self-rationing will continue because there has not been an economic recovery for most of us. More than 80% of people are buying lower tier health plans that require high up-front payments for care at a time when most families are living paycheck to paycheck. The number of people who are considered poor or low income is rising. And, as Paul Bucheit writes, if we updated our standards for measuring poverty to reflect the current economic realities (the costs of food, housing, health care, education, etc), the poverty threshold would be over three times higher than it is now. He adds that half of the US population owns zero wealth because of debt. It is a sad irony that people are being forced to pay monthly premiums for health insurance that will leave them without money for actual care.

And now that lower coverage plans are legal, they are accelerating the race to the bottom in employer health benefits. Employers are shifting more of the cost of health care onto employees, reducing coverage for dependents, moving employees into private insurance exchanges (which do not qualify for subsidies) and penalizing employees for poor health habits, which places the blame for health problems on the individual without acknowledging that many drivers of poor health are out of the individual’s control. While tying health care to employment is not ideal, in the US at least the employer-based plans used to provide better benefits than those on the individual market.

The Practical Solution

The solution to the ongoing health care crisis is obvious. We need to reverse direction completely and move to a national publicly-funded health insurance for everyone. Some call this a single payer or ‘Medicare for all’ plan. We are already spending enough on health care in the US to provide high quality care to everyone. It is just wrong from a standpoint of what works to continue shifting more of our health care dollars to bureaucracy instead of to care and to the private insurance industry which is designed to keep as much for itself as it can get away with. It is immoral to protect insurance company profits instead of protecting the health and wellbeing of our people.

Putting our money into the insurance industry is a step in the wrong direction. The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, HR 676, in Congress, would eliminate the insurance industry and create lifelong comprehensive coverage for everyone. No matter what you choose to do about insurance, tell your Congress member to support HR 676. And if you are one of the millions who do not plan to buy insurance, join me in telling Obama why. Click here to write President Obama.

Margaret Flowers is co-director of It’s Our Economy, co-host of Clearing the FOG Radio and an organizer of the occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. She is also with the Health Care is a Human Right campaign in Maryland.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How low will Israel stoop to win the propaganda war?

By Stuart Littlewood | September 15, 2009

“The Israel Project”, a US media advocacy group, has produced a revised training manual to help the worldwide Zionist movement win the propaganda war, keep their ill-gotten territorial gains and persuade international audiences to accept that their crimes are necessary and conform to “shared values” between Israel and the civilized West.

It’s a clever document.

The manual teaches how to justify the slaughter, the ethnic cleansing, the land-grabbing, the cruelty and the blatant disregard for international law and UN resolutions, and make it all smell sweeter with a liberal squirt of the aerosol of persuasive language. It is designed to hoodwink us ignorant and gullible Americans and Europeans into believing that we actually share values with the racist regime in Israel and that its abominable behaviour is therefore deserving of our support.

Israel is hoping for a public relations massacre. The other side – the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization – don’t take communications seriously and have neglected to correct Israeli distortion. They are happy, it seems, for Israel’s one-sided definitions to prevail, which of course makes the task for Israel so much easier. This latest propaganda offensive is potentially the “coup de grace” to finish off the tormented Palestinians. See it here.

And the manual will no doubt serve as a communications primer for the army of cyber-scribblers that Israel’s Ministry of Dirty Tricks is recruiting to spread Zionism’s poison across the internet.

This quote at the beginning sets the tone: “Remember, it’s not what you say that counts. It’s what people hear.”

Top priority: demonize Hamas

The manual’s numerous messages are aimed at the mass of “persuadables”, primarily in America but also in the UK. The strategy from the start is to isolate the democratically-elected Hamas and to rob the resistance movement and the Palestinian population of their human rights.

  • “Clearly differentiate between the Palestinian people and Hamas. There is an immediate and clear distinction between the empathy Americans feel for the Palestinians and the scorn they direct at Palestinian leadership. Hamas is a terrorist organization – Americans get that already. But if it sounds like you are attacking the Palestinian people (even though they elected Hamas) rather than their leadership, you will lose public support. Right now, many Americans sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians, and that sympathy will increase if you fail to differentiate the people from their leaders.”

The plight of the Palestinians under Israel’s heel was an international concern long before Hamas appeared on the scene.

But this is familiar ground. We scorned George Bush and Tony Blair and had to differentiate between them and their respective peoples. We now have to do the same with Barack Obama and Gordon Brown. We are tired of having to make that same differentiation between the Israeli people and the dreadful leaders they produce.

  • “ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO DEFENSIBLE BORDERS: With more than three years of violent history since Israel’s agreement to withdraw from Gaza and portions of the West Bank [sic], Americans have had time to take stock of the situation and form opinions. The big picture: they believe that Hamas’s leadership of Gaza has made Israel and the region less safe, while some are more receptive to what they perceive as a moderate approach in the West Bank by Mahmoud Abbas. Based on these experiences, they are willing to grant Israel more leeway in resisting calls to give more land for more peace.”

Here we clearly see the motive for demonizing Hamas – Israel wants more leeway to continue its land-grabs and other criminal activities.

  • “If… If… If… Then”: Put the burden on Hamas to make the first move for peace by using If’s (and don’t forget to finish with a hard then to show Israel is a willing peace partner). “If Hamas reforms… If Hamas recognize our right to exist… If Hamas renounces terrorism… If Hamas supports international peace agreements… then we are willing to make peace today.”

How one-sided and daft can you get? Substitute Israel for Hamas.

Words that work

The manual sets out numerous examples of “words that work” – supposedly.

  • “We know that the Palestinians deserve leaders who will care about the well being of their people, and who do not simply take hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance from America and Europe, put them in Swiss bank accounts, and use them to support terror instead of peace.”

No mention here of the billions of tax dollars Israel takes from the US and spends on munitions to obliterate and vaporize its neighbours.

  • “Peace can only be made with adversaries who want to make peace with you. Terrorist organizations like Iran-backed Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad are, by definition, opposed to peaceful co-existence, and determined to prevent reconciliation. I ask you, how do you negotiate with those who want you dead?”

Hamas and Hezbollah are only regarded as terrorists by the White House and Tel Aviv and by US-Israeli stooges and flag-wavers in Westminster and elsewhere.

In Executive Order 13224 – “BLOCKING PROPERTY AND PROHIBITING TRANSACTIONS WITH PERSONS WHO COMMIT, THREATEN TO COMMIT, OR SUPPORT TERRORISM” – Bush used this definition: “The term “terrorism” means an activity that –

(i) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life, property, or infrastructure; and
(ii) appears to be intended —
(A) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
(B) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
(C) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, kidnapping, or hostage-taking
.”

It describes the antics of the US and Israel perfectly.

  • “There is NEVER, EVER, any justification for the deliberate slaughter of innocent women and children. NEVER… there is one fundamental principle that all peoples from all parts of the globe will agree on: civilized people do not target innocent women and children for death.”

Quite so. Where does that leave Israel, which recently killed 320 children in Gaza and 773 civilians, including 109 women? From 2000 (the start of the second Intifada – the Palestinian urising against the Israeli occupation) up to the end of last year Israel had slaughtered 4,936 Palestinians in their homeland, including 952 children, according to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem. In the same period Palestinians killed 490 Israelis in Israel including only 84 children. So, Israel’s kill-rate is at least 10 to 1, and rising since the blitzkrieg on Gaza.

Iran-backed or US-backed – take your pick

  • “Use humility. ‘I know that in trying to defend its children and citizens from terrorists that Israel has accidentally hurt innocent people. I know it, and I’m sorry for it. But what can Israel do to defend itself? If America had given up land for peace – and that land had been used for launching rockets at America, what would America do? Israel was attacked with thousands of rockets from Iran-backed Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. What should Israel have done to protect her children?’”

Palestinians too have a right to defend themselves. Hamas was the popular choice of Palestinians at the last election and is entitled under international law to take up arms against an illegal occupier and invader. If it is supported by Iran, so what? Israel is extravagantly funded and supplied by the US. Here’s part of their begging-bowl “Military Aid Speech”:

  • “Israel makes the request for military assistance out of self-defense. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect our borders. As a democracy, they have the right and the responsibility to protect their citizens.
  • “Israel does not ask for US troops to protect itself. It does not ask for a single American soldier to protect its borders. It only asks for the funds for them to protect themselves. They need the equipment so that their own troops can ensure the safety of their civilian population through this gathering conflict with the enemies of democracy.
  • “They didn’t ask to have our nation built in range of Iranian missiles. They didn’t ask that their nation be a focal point for religious extremists who have declared war on the West and on democracy.
  • “But they are, and they need your help.”

And here’s the rationale behind it:

  • “Americans fundamentally believe that a democracy has a right to protect its people and its borders. And while Americans don’t want to increase foreign aid in a time of significant budgetary deficits and painful spending cuts, there is one and only one argument that will work for Israel (in four easy steps):

(1) As a democracy, Israel has the right and the responsibility to defend its borders and protect its people.

(2) Terrorist groups, including Iran-backed Hezbollah and Hamas, continue to pose a direct threat to Israeli security and have repeatedly taken innocent Israeli lives.

(3) Israel is America’s one and only true ally in the region. In these particularly unstable and dangerous times, Israel should not be forced to go it alone.

(4) With America’s financial assistance, Israel can defend its borders, protect its people, and provide invaluable assistance to the American effort against the war against terrorism.”

It’s evident that Americans don’t believe in democracy enough to allow Palestinian democracy to flourish.

  • “When the terror ends, Israel will no longer need to have challenging checkpoints to inspect goods and people. When the terror ends we will no longer need a security fence.”

There are no rockets coming out of the West Bank, so why is the security fence still there – and still being built? Why are the occupation troops still there? Why are hundreds of checkpoints still there? Why is Israel still stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes and building settlements there?

  • “Remind people – again and again – that Israel wants peace.

Reason One: If Americans see no hope for peace – if they only see a continuation of a 2,000-year-long episode of “Family Feud” – Americans will not want their government to spend tax dollars or their president’s clout on helping Israel.

Reason Two: The speaker that is perceived as being most for PEACE will win the debate. Every time someone makes the plea for peace, the reaction is positive. If you want to regain the public relations advantage, peace should be at the core of whatever message you wish to convey.”

Israel has never met its peace agreement obligations. It doesn’t want peace – every action is directed at keeping the conflict going until the Israelis have stolen enough land and established enough ‘facts on the ground’ – Jews-only settlements, highways, disconnected Palestinian bantustans – to enable them to redraw the map to suit their expansionist agenda and make the occupation PERMANENT.

Gaza in a vice

  • “Israel made painful sacrifices and took a risk to give peace a chance. They voluntarily removed over 9,000 settlers from Gaza and parts of the West Bank, abandoning homes, schools, businesses and places of worship in the hopes of renewing the peace process. Despite making an overture for peace by withdrawing from Gaza, Israel continues to face terrorist attacks, including rocket attacks and drive-by shootings of innocent Israelis. Israel knows that for a lasting peace, they must be free from terrorism and live with defensible borders.”

Israel never left. It still occupies Gazan airspace, coastal waters and airwaves, and controls all borders except Rafah where it nevertheless exerts a veto. Israel has Gaza in a vice, which is crushing the tiny enclave’s economy, starving its 1.5 million citizens and creating a huge humanitarian crisis in an attempt to bring the elected government to its knees.

  • “Draw direct parallels between Israel and America – including the need to defend against terrorism… The more you focus on the similarities between Israel and America, the more likely you are to win the support of those who are neutral. Indeed, Israel is an important American ally in the war against terrorism, and faces many of the same challenges as America in protecting their citizens.”

Note how Israel’s strategy is almost totally dependent on the false idea that they are victims of terror and Western nations need to huddle together with Israel for mutual protection. Fortunately, level-headed people are beginning to realize who the terrorists really are.

It must be blindingly obvious by now that allowing parallels to be drawn between Israel and America only serves to increase the world’s hatred of America. US citizens need to wake up to this, and British citizens should avoid falling into the same trap.

Inject with “core values” and repeat over and over again…

  • “The language of Israel is the language of America: ‘democracy’, ‘freedom’, ‘security’, and ‘peace’. These four words are at the core of the American political, economic, social and cultural systems, and they should be repeated as often as possible because they resonate with virtually every American.”

If so fluent in this language, why doesn’t Israel acknowledge its neighbours’ rights to democracy, freedom, security and peace and end their military oppression?

  • “A simple rule of thumb is that once you get to the point of repeating the same message over and over again so many times that you think you might get sick – that is just about the time the public will wake up and say ‘Hey – this person just might be saying something interesting to me!’ But don’t confuse messages with facts…”

Never let facts get in the way of a good message!

  • “How can the current Palestinian leadership honestly say it will pursue peace when previous leaders rejected an offer to create a Palestinian state just a few short years ago and now refuse to live up to their responsibilities as outlined in the Road Map?”

This must be a reference to Ehud Barak’s so-called “generous offer”, another of the myths Israelis love to peddle. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22 per cent of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22 per cent and to recognize Israel within “Green Line” borders (i.e. the 1949 armistice line established after the Arab-Israeli war). Conceding 78 per cent of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishing compromise on the part of the Palestinians.

But it wasn’t enough for greedy Barak. His “generous offer” required the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22 per cent remnant. It was plain to see on the map that these settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “temporary Israeli control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control indefinitely. The “generous offer” also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian state. What nation in the world would accept that? The unacceptable reality of Barak’s offer, contained in the map, was hidden by propaganda spin.

Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. Don’t take my word for it – the facts are well documented and explained by organizations such as Israel’s Gush Shalom.

  • “Why is the world so silent about the written, vocal, stated aims of Hamas?

And why is the world so silent about the written, stated aims of the racist regime and its political parties? Read their manifestos.

  • “Successful communications is not about being able to recite every fact from the long history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. It is about pointing out a few core principles of shared values – such as democracy and freedom – and repeating them over and over again… You need to start with empathy for both sides, remind your audience that Israel wants peace and then repeat the messages of democracy, freedom, and peace over and over again… we need to repeat the message, on average, 10 times to be effective.”

Is democracy a shared value? Israel is an ethnocracy not a democracy. Is freedom a shared value? The world is still waiting for Israel to allow the Palestinians their freedom.

  • “The situation in the Middle East may be complicated, but all parties should adopt a simple approach: peace first, political boundaries second.”

Renounce resistance while still under Israel’s jackboot? The correct approach is for the international community to insist first that Israel complies with international law and the many UN resolutions it has contemptuously ignored. The boundaries are already defined. Whatever issues remain to be decided, Palestinians should not have to negotiate under occupation or duress.

Rockets, bombs and atrocities: the language of peace

  • “Bottom line: What will happen if we fail to get the world to care about the fact that Israeli parents in southern Israel need to literally dodge rockets when they drive their children to kindergarten in the morning? What will happen if the world allows Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, to get nuclear weapons? What will Israel do if bad press causes American citizens to ask [their] government to turn its back on Israel? Why do I care so much about the success of your communications efforts? I care because I never want our children to live through what my family and yours lived through in the Holocaust.”

Only one in 500 makeshift Qassam rockets causes a fatality, small beer compared to the devastation and carnage resulting from Israel’s state-of-the-art rocketry targeted on Gaza. How does it look when Palestinians are forced to pay the price for the Holocaust? And how much does Israel care about the Palestinian holocaust it has caused?

The manual then gives a long glossary of terms. Here’s a sample:

  • “Deliberately firing rockets into civilian communities”: Combine terrorist motive with civilian visuals and you have the perfect illustration of what Israel faced in Gaza and Lebanon. Especially with regard to rocket attacks but useful for any kind of terrorist attack, deliberate is the right word to use to call out the intent behind the attacks. This is far more powerful than describing the attacks as “random”.

Israelis know all about bombarding civilian targets. And they are careful not to mention that Sderot, until recently the only Israeli township within range of Gazan rockets, is built on the ruins of an ethnically cleansed Palestinian village whose inhabitants were forced from their homes by Jewish terrorists.

  • “Economic Diplomacy”: This is a much more embracing and popular term than the current lexicon of “sanctions”. It has appeal across the political spectrum: the tough economic approach appeals to Republicans, and the diplomacy component satisfies Democrats.

We can all play this game. Israel is now beginning to suffer “economic diplomacy” in the form of worldwide boycotts.

  • “Economic Prosperity”: Whenever Israel talks about the “economic prosperity” of the Palestinians, it puts Israel in the most positive light possible. After all, who can disagree?

What sort of prosperity is it when nothing can be imported or exported without Israel’s approval and fisherman can’t even put to sea in their own waters without having their boats shot up by the Israeli navy?

  • “Human to Human”: “We know that the average Palestinian and the average Israeli want to come together and make peace. They want to live in peace. Israeli leaders have come together with Arab leaders to make peace in the past. But how do you make peace with Hamas and Hezbollah?”

Simple. You get off their land and stay off. There can be no peace under occupation. You have to be very stupid not to understand that.

  • Humanize Rockets”: Paint a vivid picture of what life is like in Israeli communities that are vulnerable to attack. Yes, cite the number of rocket attacks that have occurred. But immediately follow that up with what it is like to make the nightly trek to the bomb shelter.

Would Israel care to tell the world how many bombs, rockets and shells (including the illegal and prohibited variety) its US-supplied F-16s, tanks, armed drones and navy gunboats have poured into the densely-packed humanity that is Gaza?

Still more advice…

  • “Living together, side by side”. This is the best way to describe the ultimate vision of a two-state solution without using the phrase.

Sounds cute but is worn out. Who would want to live alongside bigots and extremists who have made your life a misery for 61 years?

  • “When talking about a Palestinian partner, it is essential to distinguish between Hamas and everyone else. Only the most anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian American expects Israel to negotiate with Hamas, so you have to be clear that you are seeking a ‘moderate Palestinian partner’.”

Where are the moderate Israeli partners?

  • “The fight is over IDEOLOGY – not land; terror, not territory. Thus, you must avoid using Israel’s religious claims to land as a reason why Israel should not give up land. Such claims only make Israel look extremist to people who are not religious Christians or Jews.”

If the fight isn’t about land, why did Israel steal it at gunpoint? And why won’t they give it back when told to by the UN?

  • “Think PRO-PALESTINIAN. While I have spoken about Israeli casualties, I want to recognize those Palestinians that have been killed or wounded, because they are suffering as well. I particularly want to reach out to Palestinian mothers who have lost their children. No parent should have to bury their child.”

Israel won’t even allow cement into Gaza to build the graves.

  • “And so I say to my Palestinian colleagues … you can stop the bloodshed. You can stop the suicide bombings and rocket attacks. If you really want to, you can put an end to this cycle of violence. If you won’t do it for our children, do it for your children.”

Effective Israeli sound bite. Speechless.

  • “I want to see a future where the Palestinians govern themselves. Israel does not want to govern a single Palestinian. Not one. We want them to govern themselves. We want them to have complete self-determination.”

Is that why Israel tried to snuff out Palestine’s democracy – and the people’s right to self-determination – immediately after the 2006 elections?

  • “The big picture approach is this: You must isolate Hamas as:

– A critical cause of the delay in achieving a two-state solution

– The biggest source of harm to the Palestinian people, and

– The reason why Israel must defend its people from living in terror.

Read from the Hamas Charter. Now, here’s how to attack Hamas: indict them with their own indoctrination materials. Yes, people know Hamas is a terrorist organization – but they don’t know just how terrifying Hamas can be. The absolute best way to heighten their awareness is to read from the Hamas Charter itself. Don’t just “quote” from it. Read it. Out loud. Again and again. Hand it out to everyone.”

At last Israel makes a good point. After three years of “government” Hamas must be mad to persist with its ill-advised charter. They have been severely tested. They have matured. They have earned credibility in many eyes. Israel’s behaviour makes Hamas look good. But all that will count for nothing if they don’t rewrite their charter as a matter of urgency.

Regev’s pearls of wisdom. But how safe is the region under the threat of Israel’s nukes?

  • “It’s not just Israel who refuses to speak to Hamas. It’s the whole international community… Most of the democratic world refuses to have a relationship with Hamas because Hamas has refused to meet the most minimal benchmarks of international behaviour.” Mark Regev

Isn’t that a little cheeky, Mr Regev, coming from a regime widely condemned for war crimes, piracy and mega-lawlessness?

  • “It was the former UN secretary-general, Kofi Anan, that put four benchmarks on the table. And he said, speaking for the international community…

That if Hamas reforms itself …

If Hamas recognizes my country’s right to live in freedom…

If Hamas renounces terrorism against innocent civilians…

If Hamas supports international agreements that are being signed and agreed to concerning the peace process… then the door is open. But unfortunately – tragically – Hamas has failed to meet even one of those four benchmarks. And that’s why today Hamas is isolated internationally. Even the United Nations refuses to speak to Hamas. – Mark Regev

Which of those benchmarks has Israel met, Mr Regev?

  • “Israel is very concerned about the Iranian nuclear programme. And for good reason. Iran’s president openly talks about wiping Israel off the map. We see them racing ahead on nuclear enrichment so they can have enough fissile material to build a bomb. We see them working on their ballistic missiles. We only saw, last week, shooting a rocket to launch a so-called satellite into outer space and so forth. The Iranian nuclear programme is a threat, not just to my country, but to the entire region. And it’s incumbent upon us all to do what needs to be done to keep from proliferating.” – Mark Regev

Why is Israel the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Mr Regev? Are we all supposed to believe that Israel’s 200 (or is it 400?) nuclear warheads pose no threat? Would you also like to comment on why Israel hasn’t signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, and why it has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, similarly the Chemical Weapons Convention? What proof do you have of Iran’s nuclear weapons plans?

And why do you persist in misquoting Mr Ahmadinejad?

The Holy City is not up for grabs

  • “The toughest issue to communicate will be the final resolution of Jerusalem. Americans overwhelmingly want Israel to be in charge of the religious holy sites and are frankly afraid of the consequences should Israel turn over control to the Palestinians. Consider:

– 71 per cent of Americans trust Israel most to protect the holy sites in Jerusalem, compared to 6.1 per cent who trust the Palestinian authority most. 8.5 per cent per cent trust neither.

– 54 per cent of Americans believe that ‘Jerusalem must remain united under Israeli sovereignty’ while just 23.9 per cent believe that ‘Jerusalem should be divided into Israeli controlled and Palestinian controlled areas’.

Given the choice between the two, Americans of all political and demographic stripes trust Israel to protect and have sovereignty over Jerusalem.”

Israel is in control right now and prevents Muslims and Christians from outside the city visiting the holy places. No way can Israel be trusted. The UN’s partition plan decreed that Jerusalem should become a ”corpus separatum” under international management. It is unlikely that the UN would wish to see its resolutions torn up or international law rewritten for Israel’s sole benefit, regardless of America’s misinformed opinion.

Get the name-calling right

I’ll close with the following extract:

  • Many on the left see an ‘Israel vs. Palestinian’ crisis where Israel is Goliath and the Palestinians are David. It is critical that they understand that this is an Arab-Israeli crisis and that the force undermining peace is Iran and their proxies Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. You must not call Hamas just Hamas. Call them what they are: Iran-backed Hamas. Indeed, when they know that Iran is behind Hamas and Hezbollah, they are much more supportive of Israel.”

By the same token we must call the racist regime what it is – US-backed Israel.

Iran’s support for Hamas is difficult to quantify and probably less than we think. More funding has probably come from Sunni Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In any case, it is peanuts compared to America’s support for Israel.

Hamas is an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and was founded in 1987 during the first Intifada. Hezbollah came into being in 1982 in response to US-backed Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. So, the territorial ambitions of US-backed Israel provoked the rise of both. Israel’s problem is entirely self-inflicted and shouldn’t concern the rest of us.

Hamas’s election manifesto in 2006 called for maintaining the armed struggle against US-backed Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, which seems a perfectly valid aim.

Our obligation to respect and promote human rights

The Israel Project’s training manual is an unpleasant piece of work. It runs to 116 pages and I have only scratched the surface. It recycles many of the discredited techniques used by the advertising industry before standards of honesty, decency and truthfulness were brought in to protect the public.

And it serves to undermine with clever words the inalienable rights pledged by the UN and the world’s civilized nations to all peoples, including the Palestinians.

When you have to stoop this low you simply don’t have a case.

The Palestinian side urgently needs to strip away the deception and re-frame the Holy Land situation in truthful language. And it needs to debunk this Zionist handbook. If the PA and the PLO won’t do it, who will?

Everyone should bear in mind the following, written nearly 61 years ago:

“Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.”

It would seem that Israel has not read or understood the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which all nations signed up to. Attempts to wipe out the rights of people who happen to be in the way of the Zionist vision of a “Greater Israel” deserve no support whatever.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Venezuela Slams US for Threatening Sanctions

By Ryan Mallett-Outtrim | Venezuelanalysis | March 28, 2014

Merida – The Venezuelan government has condemned the United States for threatening to impose sanctions, and accused Washington of encouraging “extremist sectors”.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Maduro government accused the US of “meddling in … internal affairs” and “ignoring our democratic process”.

Yesterday, US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson warned that sanctions against Venezuela could become an “important tool” to pressure President Nicolas Maduro to negotiate with opposition parties. However, Maduro has repeatedly called on opposition parties to join peace talks since last month.

Yesterday the head of the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) Ramon Guillermo Aveledo stated he would be prepared for “respectful dialogue”, despite previously boycotting talks. The MUD had issued a series of preconditions on talks, including reductions in crime and scarcity, an international arbiter to oversee negotiations, access to a presidential national broadcast and the release of all opposition supporters, including jailed far right leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Earlier today a Venezuelan court rejected an appeal for Lopez’s release. Lopez was arrested last month, and faces charges related to violent protests. The court stated the appeal for his release as “without merit”.

The opposition figure’s wife, Lilian Tintori described the court’s decision an “injustice”.

However, Maduro has accepted the precondition of an international arbiter, with a Vatican City representative being a possible candidate favoured by opposition groups.

“All the initiatives at dialogue that have emerged in recent months are the result of the will of the national government after conversing with all sectors of society to find solutions to the various problems we face today, while fully respecting our constitutional order,” the Foreign Ministry statement read.

“However, the statements of Ms. Jacobson constitute an incentive for the small extremist sectors, who for weeks have been sowing violence and terror throughout the population, to continue their practices in a way that completely violates the constitution and respect for the rights of all Venezuelans,” the statement read.

Amid recent peaceful opposition protests there has been a wave of anti-government vandalism and political violence, despite recent calls for peace from the government and some opposition parties.

37 people have been killed in relation to violent protests since February, Venezuela’s attorney general Luisa Ortega told state broadcaster VTV today. According to Ortega, eight of the casualties have been members of state security forces. 168 people are also being detained, mostly in relation to vandalism.

The attorney general also stated that 81 investigations into possible human rights abuses are currently being undertaken, including 75 cases of possible maltreatment by security forces.

“We’re going to punish … those who appear to be responsible for such incidents,” Ortega told VTV.

The Venezuelan government also accused the US of “hindering” bilateral relations. Diplomatic ties between the two countries have been frosty since the US backed a short lived coup against Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chavez in 2002. Ambassadors haven’t been exchanged since 2010.

The latest round of diplomatic tit-for-tats has included a decision from the US embassy in Caracas to cease issuing tourist visas to first time applicants.

“[W]e have reiterated on several occasions our desire to resume diplomatic dialogue with the U.S. on the basis of mutual respect, but the constant threat of sanctions, the manipulation of the facts and disrespect for our laws and democratic processes are merely hindering the understanding between the two governments,” the Venezuelan government stated.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Weighs New Aid for Gunmen in Syria, Sets Joint Military Plan with Saudis

Al-Manar | March 29, 2014

The United States is considering allowing shipments of portable air defense systems to Syrian opposition groups, a U.S. official said Friday, as President Barack Obama sought to reassure Saudi Arabia’s king that the U.S. is not taking too soft a stance in Syria and other Mideast conflicts.

A Washington Post report said Saturday that the U.S. is ready to step up covert aid to Syrian armed groups under a plan being discussed with regional allies including Saudi Arabia.

The plan includes CIA training of about 600 Syrian opposition forces per month in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Qatar, foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius wrote on Thursday. That would double the forces currently being trained in the region.

The Obama administration was debating whether to use U.S. Special Operation forces and other military personnel in the training, something Syrian mercenaries have argued would carry less political baggage than the CIA, according to the column.

The Obama administration has been criticized by some in Congress for failing to do more in Syria, where 140,000 people have been killed so far, millions have become refugees and thousands of foreign gunmen have been trained since 2011.

Washington was also considering whether to provide the armed opposition with anti-aircraft missile launchers, known as MANPADS, to stop President Assad’s air force, the column said. Saudi Arabia wanted U.S. permission before delivering them, it said.

The plan, which was still being formalized, also called for vetting of opposition forces for “extremist links” during and after training, according to Ignatius.

Qatar has offered to pay for the first year of the program, which could cost hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the column. The program would try to stabilize Syria by helping local councils and police in areas not under Assad’s control and seek to establish safe corridors for humanitarian aid, it said.

Saudi rulers are hoping for the United States to shift its position on support for Syrian armed opposition, whom Riyadh has backed in their battle to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

March 29, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment