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Miko Peled – April 12, 2014

Miko Peled | April 12, 2014

Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF) Annual Gala

http://www.pcrf.net

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Los Van Van – Aquí el que Baila Gana (El Concierto)

Cuban musician Juan Formell, leader and founder of the internationally recognized Los Van Van musical group, passed away on Thursday in Havana.

Formell, 71, was awarded with a Latin Grammy for Excellence in 2013.

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video | , | Leave a comment

NYPD Spent Years Spying On Muslims, Generated Exactly Zero Leads

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | August 21, 2012

We just wrote about yet another (in a long line) of manufactured terrorist plots, in which the FBI creates its own terrorist plot to arrest anyone who can be coaxed into going along for the ride, even if they had no interest or ability to push the plot forward on their own. In that case, it was even more ridiculous, because they couldn’t even find anyone willing to go along with the plot — and the main “suspect” actually alerted the FBI to the informant who was trying to coax him into taking part in a plot (which didn’t stop him from being arrested, even if the case was eventually dropped).

Of course, the FBI is not alone in its incredibly ham-fisted anti-terrorism efforts in which the focus seems to be much more about someone’s religious leanings, rather than any actual interest in creating terror. The NY Police Department got plenty of attention for deciding to build their own local versions of the FBI and CIA to try to catch terrorists. That link describes the NYPD as a sort of new “elite” intelligence agency, hiring people out of other intelligence agencies and then placing agents around the globe to try to beat the FBI and CIA at their own game.

Back at home, apparently this included following on the FBI’s tactic of assuming that “brown skin = terrorist.” As such, they’ve spent the past few years spying on “Muslim neighborhoods” throughout New York (with help from the CIA), sending undercover agents and informants into Muslim groups and organizations:

The Demographics Unit is at the heart of a police spying program, built with help from the CIA, which assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed. Police infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and catalogued every Muslim in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.

Police hoped the Demographics Unit would serve as an early warning system for terrorism. And if police ever got a tip about, say, an Afghan terrorist in the city, they’d know where he was likely to rent a room, buy groceries and watch sports.

How useful has it been? Apparently not at all. Not a single lead has come out of the program. Not one.

I know this is a crazy thought, but perhaps violating the privacy of tons of people just because of the color of their skin or their religion, isn’t the best (or even “a”) way to stop terrorists.

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Islamophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Israeli forces ‘attack Palestinian woman, daughter’ in Silwan

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Umm Qalawoon al-Tawil lying unconscious outside her home after Israeli officers attacked her
Ma’an – 01/05/2014

JERUSALEM – Israeli forces attacked a Palestinian woman and her teenage daughter in the Wadi Hilweh quarter south of the Old City of Jerusalem on Thursday, Palestinians in Silwan neighborhood said.

Director of the Silwan-based Wadi Hilweh Information Center Jawad Siyam told Ma’an that Israeli officers broke into the home of Umm Kalawoon al-Tawil and “brutally” beat her and her 15-year-old daughter Layla.

Siyam highlighted that Israeli officers continued to beat al-Tawil while they dragged her out of her apartment to a playground in the neighborhood until she passed out.

Fistfights broke out between local residents and Israeli officers while an ambulance evacuated al-Tawil to al-Maqasid hospital in Jerusalem for treatment.

An Israeli police spokesman said he was unaware of any detentions in the area.

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Sweden’s elite more loyal to NATO, the US and EU than to its people

By Jan Oberg | Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research | May 2, 2014

Over the last 25-30 years Sweden’s military, security and foreign policy elite has changed Sweden’s policy 180 degrees.

 

These fundamental changes were initiated by the Social Democratic government under Goran Persson and foreign minister Anna Lindh and have been carried through virtually without public debate. 

 

The rapproachment with interventionism, militarism and US/NATO in all fields has been planned, incremental, furtive and dishonest; in short, unworthy of a democracy.

 

This elite is more loyal with Brussels and Washington than with the Swedes. 

 

If your image of Sweden is that it is a progressive, innovative and peace-promoting country with a global mind-set and advocate of international law, it is – sad to say – outdated.

 

How Sweden has changed

 

Sweden is no longer neutral and it is only formally non-aligned; there is no closer ally than US/NATO. It has stopped developing policies of its own and basically positions itself in the EU and NATO framework. It no longer produces important new thinking – the last was Olof Palme’s Commission on Common Security (1982). 

 

It has no disarmament ambassador and does not consider the UN important; it does not have a single Swede among the UN Blue Helmets. None of its top-level politicians make themselves available as mediators in international conflicts.

 

Nuclear abolition is far down the agenda, problematic as a NATO-aspiring country. But one thing has not changed: Sweden remains the world’s largest arms exporter per capita.

 

Sweden no longer contributes to the protection of smaller states through a a commitment to international law. Its elites wholeheartedly supported the bombing of Serbia/Kosovo. It thought – also under social democratic leadership – that the mass-killing sanctions on Iraq and the occupation were appropriate.

 

Since Sweden cannot legally export arms to a country in war but upholds a close military technological co-operation with the U.S., its parliament decided to make the US an exception.

 

Sweden supported the destruction of Libya – participating with its planes there, however only conducting reconnaissance, not bombing, missions.

 

Sweden did not support the planned war on Syria but also did not voice any audible criticism of the West’s support of only the militant opposition, including Al-Qaeda affiliates.

 

Carl Bildt

 

Sweden’s foreign minister Carl Bildt operates mainly as an eminently well-informed international affairs traveler and blogger who doesn’t seem to want to waste too much of his precious time on being a minister. And when he does, he isn’t known for consulting many people around him. 

 

That could be a reason that his comments on various events repeatedly attract laughable media attention. If you compare, as he has, Ukraine’s former President Yanokovich with Norway’s Quisling and thereby make Putin equivalent to Hitler and Russia to Nazi-Germany you no longer operate as a statesman but, rather, as an emotional hothead or a marketing consultant. (Add to that that Bildt recently refused in the Swedish Broadcasting’s ”Saturday Interview” to distance himself from neo-Nazi elements in Kiev). 

 

Bildt’s simplifying, twisted interpretation of Georgia 2008 is revealing of his biased emotionality where earlier – for instance during his position as High Rep in Bosnia – he deserved respect for operating in an intellectually sober manner.

 

If you don’t have your own thinking and policies, Russophobic platitudes is all you need. And it qualifies for CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

 

Sweden is heading for NATO membership

 

Here follow a few recent events/news  which emphasize further the deplorable path Sweden – its elites rather than its people – have decided to follow.

 

1. Sweden’s security political elite these years ”considers broader alliances with NATO and the EU” as Defence News recently informed us. 

 

How enigmatic! After having been neutral and non-aligned during tough confrontation and tension in the Cold War years, Sweden now needs to join NATO when there is no single analysis anywhere that makes it likely that Sweden, in the foreseeable future, will be faced with a threat.

 

While the intelligent security and defence discourse is now about human security, the environment and high-tech challenges, Sweden’s elites talk about defence as weapons only.

 

This is dangerous ”group think” steered by bureaucratic vested interests and paid for by tax payers who are de facto threatened more by these interests than by Putin. A reality check would lead to a reality chock.

 

Cruise missiles for “deterrence” 

 

2. Swedish planes shall now, in the light of a conveniently hysteric interpretation of the crisis in Ukraine, equip its planes with cruise missiles. (Defense News)

 

Incredibly, decisions like this are taken with the intellectually sloppy mantra that it adds to the country’s ‘deterrence’ capacity.

 

The security priesthood of the country consists of some researchers of military affairs at huge, well-financed state institutes in close contact with politicians and the military to whom military-loyal journalists have close bonds. Everybody, follow the party line! Saty in the box! Don’t challenge the domain assumptions!

 

Sweden now jumps on a sinking ship

 

The country that once did something for a better world, has joined the militarist world. In a time when both NATO and the US is getting weaker, Sweden’s elite foolishly plans to put all Sweden’s eggs there.

 

It has no policy vis-a-vis, say, the BRICS countries or any vision of the world in 20 years to navigate towards. It has no ideals, values or commitments, only a ”follow-the-US/NATO and EU” flock mentality.  

 

The US Ambassador is invited to blackmail

 

3. The US ambassador to Sweden, Mark Brzezinski, recently told Sweden to join NATO, otherwise it won’t get any help in the event of an attack – in short, Mafiosi blackmailing disguised as deep concern and generous offer to bring (conditional, however) help. This was revealed by the conservative Swedish daily, Svenska Dagbladet, Google translation here.

 

How many – and which – ambassador’s are given the opportunity to speak directly to all parties of the Swedish parliament?

 

The message is pure blackmail – and based on fearology – because everybody knows that should Russia attack anyone, Sweden would not be the first target and it would be in the interest of NATO to control Swedish territory before any spreading of Russian forces from somewhere else  to the Nordic area. 

 

In short, NATO’s interests in Sweden are much larger than Sweden’s in NATO. Whatever one may think of these fantasies, they are just that: No one has thought up a credible scenario for how Sweden would be invaded by Russia and remain defenceless. 

 

If one of largest militaries per capita can’t defend its people there is something wrong with it

 

But this is the military-fundamentalist propaganda the Swedes are the target of these years: We must join NATO because we have such a weak defence that we can’t defend ourselves!

 

The liberal party’s defence spokesman, Allan Widman, recently stated this in a manner indicative of the low intellectual level of defence discussions here: ”I can only state the fact that Russia is about 140 million people and Sweden is 9 million. We won’t be able to manage serious challenges from outside on our own…”

 

Now if the Swedish military can’t provide any protection of the 9 million Swedes with a budget of 8 billion dollars (among the 10% highest per capita in the world) at its disposal, it’s time to ask how inefficient and cost-maximising it can be without its leadership being fired. 

 

4. Just this week it was decided that AWACS planes can pass through Swedish airspace in connection with its Ukraine crisis missions. 

 

5. Sweden (and Finland) is discussing how to receive military aid, including troops, from NATO (see Dagens Nyheter April 27, 2014). This goes beyond what NATO members Denmark, Norway and Iceland have ever accepted. And Sweden is not a NATO member!  (You may see a petition against this here)

 

It’s time to begin to think

 

Take the money, prestige, privileges and funds from the Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complexes – MIMAC – of the world – and in Sweden too – and force them to think:
 

• Think for the common good and not for their vested interests.

 

• Think for the world and not for their parochial psycho-political nationalism.

 

​• Think of the people’s human security and make violence-prevention the top goal.

 

• Think first of non-violent policies and use militry as the last resort in accordance with the UN Charter. 

 

• Think as you should in a democracy, with the people, for the people and by the people.

 

As long as all you have on your shelves is fighter planes, the world’s problems will be seen as bombing missions.

 

And that’s when peace, co-operation and mutual understanding is dropped and cold – even warm – wars become ”realistic”. This must not be Sweden’s future. 

 

 

Contact:

Dr. Jan Oberg, TFF director

oberg@transnational.org

0046 738 525200       

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Stopping Cleveland’s Corporate Freeloaders

By Ralph Nader | May 1, 2014

On May 6th, Cleveland taxpayers will go to the polls to vote on Issue 7. A no vote will prevent an increase in taxpayer money to the already subsidized, big league sports arenas. A yes vote will reaffirm taxpayer servitude to arrogant corporatists and their cruel, twisted mistreatment of that struggling city.

When I was growing up, tax dollars for public works were used for serious public services. Taxpayers paid to build schools, highways, bridges, libraries, health clinics, public transit and other community needs. Tax dollars were not given over to the mega-rich’s profitable athletic playpens. To even suggest tax money for private major league baseball parks would get you laughed or ridiculed out of town.

Now, there are football, baseball and basketball facilities for the NFL, MLB and NBA leagues (plus other professional sports) that are built and renovated using taxpayer dollars often without majority public support. That is why the sports giants try to avoid referenda and, often with campaign contributions, focus instead on persuading Mayors and Governors.

When big league sports mavens cannot avoid a public vote, they mislead the public with claims that building sports venues is a cost-effective way to produce jobs, but most economists know that building sports facilities is definitely not a cost-effective way to create jobs. Visit League of Fans for more information. And, when empty promises fail, the sports kings threaten to move their teams to another town.

When all that fails, the sports barons go for sin taxes and other micro-targeted tabs (such as parking tax, admissions tax, bed tax, video game tax, rental car tax, and property tax exemption), in addition to keeping high prices for tickets, food and parking to begin with.

This is the situation in Cleveland – a deindustrialized, unfairly poor metropolis, with the largest employer now being the Cleveland Clinic. The more affluent people can go to see the Cleveland Browns, the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Cavaliers – whose facilities are named for companies instead of being called “Taxpayers Stadium, Arena and Field.”

The super-rich sports owners, or corporate welfare kings, know “sin taxes” help get more votes for their stadiums. Issue 7 is linked to a 20-year sin tax on alcohol and cigarettes which will be paid by Cuyahoga County residents, totaling between $250 to $350 million. The money will go to “constructing, renovating, improving, or repairing spectator sports facilities.” You can be sure the money will not be going to neighborhood sports programs or playgrounds, otherwise known as participatory sports.

The proposed taxes exclude adjoining counties where fifty percent or more of the paying fans live. Cuyahoga County, which includes the city of Cleveland, already has higher sales and school property taxes than the adjoining counties. Unemployment, prices of necessities and inequality have sky-rocketed in beleaguered Cuyahoga County according to Roldo Bartimole, arguably Cleveland’s greatest investigative reporter of the past half century (see the Cleveland Leader for more information). Any increased taxes – sin or otherwise – should be devoted to the necessities of the local community, not for entertainment.

Big-time sports bosses know that the trump card that enables them to continue with their freeloading ways as crony capitalists is to exploit the spectator joy that comes from being part of a local fan base. The subtext of these demands takes away that joy from those TV watching fans by relocating to another city willing to give away the store. It all reeks of greed, power and extortion.

Rest assured Clevelanders, the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers are going nowhere. They know how much of the “store” (over $1 billion since 1990) your politicians have already given them. The sports bosses like to call themselves capitalists. So let them behave like capitalists and invest their own money and no longer dare to turn your tax dollars into their profits.

The Coalition Against the Sin Tax (CAST) wants full disclosure of the secret “obligations” imposed on the public in these existing corporate welfare contracts so that residents can know what’s going on with their pocketbooks (see the Coalition Against the Sin Tax for more information).

“Who us worry?” non-Clevelanders might be saying. Better think again. The greedy sports billionaires are all over the country. They never stop expanding their mounting wealth at other people’s expense. Until you stop them.

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | | Leave a comment

Russian sanctions, NSA spying top the agenda at Merkel’s White House visit

RT | May 02, 2014

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel is in the White House for the first time since it was revealed the NSA monitored her personal communications. During bilateral talks with Barack Obama, Merkel is expected to broach sanctions on Russia and US spying.

Relations between Washington and Berlin are showing signs of tensions, as German companies call for a halt to sanctions on Russia. Furthermore, Germany is still reeling from the NSA spy revelations that affected millions of German citizens, as well as high-ranking businessmen and politicians.

Merkel reiterated earlier this week that Germany would support any further financial sanctions against Russia. However, growing calls from the German business sector may force her to change her policy in Friday’s meeting.

“The Germans are very clear they are not going to pursue factions that hurt German industry. That would be the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Michael Hudson professor of Economics at the University of Missouri to RT.

Indeed, some major corporate figures have already spoken out against a potential escalation of the sanctions, maintaining they will do more harm than good to the German economy.

“If there’s a single message we have as business leaders, then it’s this: sit down at the negotiating table and resolve these matters peacefully,” Eckhard Cordes told a recent conference in Berlin. Cordes is a former Daimler AG executive who now heads the Ostauschuss, German industry’s branch for Eastern Europe, reported the Wall Street Journal.

So far the US, EU, Canada and Japan have imposed sanction on Russia for its alleged role in the unrest in eastern Ukraine. Moscow has denied claims it is involved in the unrest and has pointed the finger at Washington for orchestrating the situation in Ukraine as part of its geopolitical strategy in the region.

NSA spying

The espionage antics of the US National Security Agency remain a bone of contention between Berlin and Washington. It emerged earlier in April that Merkel had been denied access to her NSA file, following reports the agency had monitored her personal communications. The revelations had a profound effect on German society, prompting calls for Washington to account for its actions.

“First the US denied spying on Merkel’s cell phone, then admitted it, now it just continues, because Obama says ‘we reserve the right to collect information.’ I just see Angela Merkel going to the US to pick up new instructions,” Ken Jebson, Redaktion radio host told RT’s Peter Oliver.

While WikiLeaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafsson, said the German government’s lack of resolve over the NSA spy scandal is indicative of European cowardice in the face of US dominance.

“I think the proof of the cowardice of governments and politicians and their unwillingness to tackle this in a meaningful way, despite what they say publicly, was when European countries closed their airspace and forced the presidential plane of Evo Morales to land in Austria, on a hunch that Edward Snowden was on board,” he told RT.

Earlier this year Washington pledged that it would no longer spy on world leaders, but stated it would still gather information on the intentions of foreign powers through its espionage programs.

May 2, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Video | , , , | Leave a comment