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The Democrats’ New Fake Populism

By Shamus Cooke | Worker’s Action | May 30, 2014

It would have been hilarious were it not so nauseating. One could only watch the recent “New Populism” conference with pity-induced discomfort, as stale Democratic politicians did their awkward best to adjust themselves to the fad of “populism.”

A boring litany of Democratic politicians — or those closely associated — gave bland speeches that aroused little enthusiasm among a very friendly audience of Washington D.C. politicos. It felt like an amateur recital in front of family and friends, in the hopes that practicing populism with an audience would better prepare them for the real thing.

The organizers of the conference, The Campaign For America’s Future, ensured that real populism would be absent from the program. The group is a Democratic Party ally that essentially functions as a party think tank.

The two co-founders of Campaign for America’s Future are Robert Borosage — who works closely with the progressive caucus of the Democratic Party — and Robert Hickey, who works with Health Care for America Now, an organization that prioritized campaigning for Obamacare. On the Board of Directors is the notorious liberal Van Jones, no doubt carefully chosen for his non-threatening elitist politics.

The “new populism” seems to mistakenly believe that if Democrats merely advocate for a couple of “popular” ideas — as opposed to their usual unpopular policies that they actually implement — that they can suddenly transform themselves into “populists.”

The unofficial and uninspiring leader of this grouping, Senator Elizabeth Warren, summarized the “radical” populist platform of these reborn Democrat revolutionaries, doing her drab best to inject life into a zombie political party:

“We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.”

“We believe no one should work full-time and live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage — and we’re willing to fight for it.”

“We believe people should retire with dignity, and that means strengthening Social Security — and we’re willing to fight for it.”

“We believe that a kid should have a chance to go to college without getting crushed by debt — and we’re willing to fight for it.”

It’s true that 90 percent of Americans would agree with Warren, but the devil is in her lack of details. Warren’s popular platform falls incredibly flat because there are no concrete demands to inspire people, just generalizations. This important omission didn’t happen by mistake.

The Democrats simply do not want a new populist movement; rather, their opportunistic goal is to win elections by simply being more popular than the Republicans. Any of Warren’s above ideas — if they ever enter the halls of Congress as a bill — would be sufficiently watered down long before any elated response could be reached from the broader population.

How might Warren transform her ideas if she actually wanted a populist response? Some examples might be:

1) – Jail the bankers who crashed the economy. Tax Wall Street earnings at 90% and nationalize any bank that is “too big to fail” in order to bring them under control.

2) – Raise the national minimum wage to $15 an hour.

3) – Expand Social Security by lowering the retirement age to 60, to be paid for by expanding payroll taxes to higher earners — who currently pay no Medicare and Social Security taxes on income over $110,000.

4) – Free university education — to be paid for by taxing the rich and corporations. Eliminate crushing student debt.

Such demands would be much more likely to inspire people than what the “populist” Democrats are offering, and inspiration is the missing populist ingredient that the Democrats are organically incapable of provoking.

What’s preventing the Democrats from becoming inspirational? They know all too well that by venturing too far to the left they could easily instigate a real mass movement. And such a movement is not easily controlled and would inevitably demand much more than the corporate-minded Democrats are willing to concede, which, at this point, is virtually nothing aside from musty rhetoric.

Unlike the Republican’s populist turn to the right that created the now-defunct Tea Party, a true left turn would mean have the potential to rejuvenate the millions’ strong labor movement, while engaging tens of millions more into active political life, driving people to participate in mass marches, rallies, labor strikes and other forms of mass action.

This was what happened during the “old populism” in U.S. history, which the Democrats are taking their trendy namesake from. The populist movement of the late 1800’s was a genuine mass movement of workers and farmers, which briefly aligned in an independent political party, the People’s Party, also known as the populists.

The populist movement that included strike waves and local rural rebellions had nothing to do with the lifeless politics of the Democratic Party, and threatened the very foundation of America corporate power. The Democrats are keenly aware of this type of real populist “threat,” and they are willing to do anything to stop it.

For example, the Occupy movement proved that the Democrats fear real left populism much more than they fear far-right populism. We now know that the Obama administration worked with numerous Democratic Party mayors and governors across the nation to undermine and destroy the Occupy movement through mass arrests, police violence and surveillance. And because Occupy succeeded in changing the national conversation about income inequality, the Democrats were forced to engage with the rhetoric of the movement they dismembered, and now use the plagiarized language as proof of their “populism.”

Aside from Elizabeth Warren, the other rock star of the “new populism” conference was the nominally-independent “socialist” Bernie Sanders, who essentially functions in Congress as a Democrat. Sanders’ politics fits in perfectly with the rest of the progressive caucus Democrats, which is why he was invited to the conference. Sanders can perhaps outdo Warren when it comes to anti-corporate-speak; but like Warren he keeps his solutions vague and his movement building aspirations negligible.

If by chance Sanders chooses to run for president as an Independent — as many radicals are hoping — his fake populist politics and empty rhetoric are unlikely to drastically change, limiting any chance that a “movement” may emerge.

It’s doubtful that many people have been fooled by the “left turn” of the Democratic Party. But on a deeper level the politics of “lesser evilism” still haunts labor and community groups, and keeping these groups within the orbit of the Democratic Party is the ultimate purpose of this new, more radical speechifying. Until these groups organize themselves independently and create their own working class political party, the above politics of “populist” farce is guaranteed to continue.

 

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | | Leave a comment

EU vote: Freight train of opposition

By Brett Redmayne-Titley | Press TV | May 31, 2014

While EU leaders and their Washington sympathizers marginalize, rationalize, and excuse away Sunday’s historic European Union parliamentary election results, they deliberately avoid the greater point of concern. The people are coming.

French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, called the sudden increase in new opposition Members of the European Parliament ( MEP) an, “earthquake.” He, too, missed the correct metaphore. This staggering election result is a freight train. More passengers are climbing aboard daily. Destination: Capital City.

On Sunday, May 25, 2014, recently formed national opposition parties scared the status quo to the marrow. In Greece, the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland pro-nationalist parties gave, for the first time, a viable, potentially foundation changing political presence to their disenfranchised countrymen. Many of these opposition parties have sharply divergent philosophies. In values these parties are not a coherent group. Some have established track records in their governments and some are fringe parties, even devoutly neo-fascist.

Regardless of their philosophy these parties share a similar agenda. As Pepe Escobar wrote in a piece for Russia Today:

“What matters to the average citizen is… How to deal with immigration; how to fight the eradication of the welfare state; the implications of the free trade agreement with the US (TTIP); the value of the euro – and what the ECB Mafia is actually doing to fight unemployment.”

Fed up with being ignored by their governments and with the daily unhealthy reminders of the “benefits” of EU austerity measures, the public well knows the decisions made in Brussels benefit only the top 1%. Established EU voting power in the parliament will now face an opposition that is making its presence shown as they already have in their homelands.

Shocking the EU old-guard, the damage to established politics in Brussels summed up as; UK Independence party- UKIP (27.5%/ 19 seats); Front National/ France (25%/ 24 seats); Syriza Party/Greece (26.5%/ 8 seats); Alternative fur Deutschland/ Germany (7%/6 seats); . Danish People’s Party/ Denmark (26.7%/seats ).

The big surprises were, the Sweden Democrats (9.7%/ 1 seat); the Congress of the New Right/Poland (7.1%/4 seats); the Golden Dawn Party/ Greece (9.4%/ 5 seats) and Spain’s Podemos that formed just this past March 2014(8%/ 5 seats).

Far worse for EU national leaders, UKIP, Danish People’s Party, Front National, and the specifically anti-austerity Syriza Party all came in first place in their nations’ EU ballot boxes.

David Cameron, showing his keen grasp of the obvious, looked pale while muttering his blasé synopsis of Sunday’s disaster:

“People are deeply disillusioned with the European Union. The EU needs to change; it can’t be business as usual.”

Indeed.

Writing in, Open Europe, Mats Perrson had a more accurate take on Sunday’s election.

“The temptations in Brussels will be to view this as the peak of anti-EU sentiment. This would be a huge gamble. These elections are a clear warning: offer voters a polarized choice between more Europe and no Europe and sooner or later they will choose the latter.”

The “latter” is likely to be shown in several upcoming national elections. The existing EU leaders have never shown a foundation in populist thought, therefore commanding austerity for all. Except themselves. The chance that the EU will voluntarily shift from pure US backed capitalist thought and return to a preferred socialist model is zero. The will of the people is bad for “business as usual.”

Cameron had good reason to look pale. Despite his Conservative Party losing six seats and the lapdog, supposedly opposition Labor Party losing ten of their eleven seats, the new populist freight train is now bearing down on him from two more directions — Scotland and UKIP.

The Scottish independence referendum is set for September 18, 2014, and thanks to their party’s affable, answer-for-everything leader, Alex Salmond, chances of victory are getting closer to 50-50 everyday. This scares Westminster to the core of their elitist souls. Sunday’s vote will only embolden UK fence-sitters who have, thanks to the persistent Salmond, a lot of good reasons to rid themselves of the sinking UK ship.

Cameron’s nemesis is Nigel Farage and his brash take-no-prisoners UKIP party. The devastation of EU austerity policies is obvious in every corner of the UK except the power center of London. With a completely ethnocentric, UK first agenda UKIP has many reasons to be popular. Before the EU election UKIP was already surging in preparation for the upcoming national election.

“The most extraordinary political event in the past 100 years,” crowed Farage with that mocking grin that has so endeared him to his parliamentary adversaries. Well, maybe not. But UKIP was the first political party other than the Tories and Labor to win a national election in over one hundred years. With the UK national election of May 17, 2015 next in UKIP’s headlights, social conditions worsening, and privatization buying up the country, including the beloved Royal Mail, Sunday may be a timely precursor to a pending historic moment. For Mr. Salmond, the surging opposition support across the EU is very good press indeed.

Speaking in France, Francois Hollande looked to be in shock. Despite his approval ratings plummeting, austerity measures increasing, and growing unemployment, all thanks to a shrinking GDP, Hollande has strangely developed a penchant for multiple expensive wars in central Africa. Like his Washington war partners, his French public can be damned, but he always has more money for war.

All this from a socialist?

Hence, Marine Le Pen’s Front National scored a clear first place victory with almost 25% of the French vote. The Front National has a long history in France but has only come to prominence, by necessity, in recent years. Small wonder that Front National had rendered Hollande virtually speechless. The light bulb had suddenly gone on. He’s done.

Across Europe every one of these suddenly relevant political parties are the new subject of passionate conversation. The uninformed are asking, the informed are growing, and the accelerating freight train of opposition is stopping to add new cars for more passengers, more and more often. With the EU governments currently in denial, the repeatedly discredited press unable to spin this disaster into victory, and Ukraine reminding everyone daily of the horrors of EU democracy, conditions for these opposition leaders are very favorable.

Of course, across the pond Washington was also in denial. Writing for the “respected” Brookings Institute, Douglas J. Elliott, as a true American, was of course blind to the value of growing opposition via democracy. Offering of a synopsis he summed up, “Protest parties critical to the status quo did very well,… but not well enough to upset the fundamental balance of power in Brussels.” He added, “The French and UK governments were weakened a bit. Most other governments avoided serious new problems.”

Really? Likely Farage, Le Pen, and Salmond would enjoy a hearty laugh responding to Mr. Elliott. They will not have to. Their parties will in upcoming national elections.

Sweden is first up. With the Feminist Initiative and Sweden Democrats having taken their first ever European Parliament seats by offering very pro-Austria, nationalist opposition agendas, the National election of Sept, 14, 2014, will be a litmus test for the following May.

May 7, 2015, could see a truly historic change in UK politics. In the national election it will be UKIP versus those other two parties. Regardless of the outcome UKIP will pick up more Members of Parliament and at the very least be a very powerful force in the many coalitions the UK government functions as. Mr. Farage already has reason to grin from ear-to-ear. A year from now?

Greece has the potential to rock the world to the core on June 16, 2016. With Syriza serving notice on Sunday and even the vile agendas of Golden Dawn getting votes enough to be members of the European Parliament, two years hence they may take over power. Greece is the laboratory setting for exposing every possible horrifying social condition of EU austerity which continues to get worse. Both parties blame the EU and want to have Greece opt-out. In the summer of ’16 this is now a very distinct possibility. If Greece was to leave the EU it would set a disastrous precedent since already UKIP is calling for a national referendum on doing just that. If London leaves the EU the Euro is done.

The EU citizens are not so easily put down. Unlike the completely bought-and-paid-for US government and court system voter manipulation via money has not yet had the same controlling effect on voters and elections. As with America, it is the established political parties that are the bar to actual democracy. National opposition parties began to cure this on Sunday.

Democracy in the EU still has a chance. Sunday’s vote proves this. In America there is no viable third party for socially impoverished Americans to attach themselves to in order to get some, any, representation. The Golden Dawn party now sitting at the EU table, despite its similarities to the American tea party, would never be allowed a seat in the U.S. Congress.

Mr. Elliott, like the rest of the established elite, miss the greater point of the EU vote. While the freight train of opposition loads more passengers in preparation for huffing and puffing into Brussels, it will pick up even more passengers before making one more stop. Washington DC.

Previously across a disadvantaged developing world democracy is pro-American, or it is terrorist and therefore brutalized.

The “Empire”, i.e., America and its Zionist puppet masters must have EU support to survive. Too far afield to effectively conquer the world by itself, so far EU leaders have been the support troops for the American conquest of Ukraine. Come the next national elections throwing ever more precious national coffers at America’s feet will be a subject of great campaign controversy. This will slow the “empire” at the very least.

An impoverished Europe knows that there is no money left for war and that the wars are not in their countries’ true national interests. As these many opposition parties continue to gain national and EU power their aversions for war will be part of their very vocal opposition.

Syriza leader, Alexis Tsipras, regarding Ukraine and Russia said, “Our message is: No New Cold War in Europe!”

Nigel Farage caused an uproar when he said that the EU had,”blood on its hands over its imperialist expansionist policies towards Ukraine.”

These kinds of statements will become a European mantra. This is very bad for the success of the empire. America is stone broke. Except for multiple financial crimes against humanity it would have no money for war. These financial war crimes are rampant across the EU and within the EU parliament. Replenishing the coffers and troop build-ups of NATO will not likely continue. This will leave America only its own people to pillage for a few shekels more for war.

Let’s now strip the veneer of political correctness regarding the EU vote and translate it for all to hear far and wide. The people are “mad as hell.” They are not going to take it anymore. No more austerity. No more war!

Mr. Cameron. Mr. Holland. Mr. Kerry. You had better be listening. That sound you ignore coming from Brussels…. Its a train! …

Brett Redmayne-Titley spent his formative years with his family in Queensland, Australia, Ghana, West Africa, and the Bahamas. Visiting over fifty counties over four decades he has seen the world slowly destroyed by greed, capitalism and empire.

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

Did the Jews Lose Europe?

By Gilad Atzmon | May 30, 2014

Following the surge of right wing parties in Europe’s Parliamentary election, Forward, the once-progressive Jewish outlet asks, “Have the Jews Lost Europe?” The tone of this question implies that until just a few days ago, at least some Jews believed that Europe was, in part, a ‘Jewish property.’ Such views were not baseless; Jewish Lobbies have dominated British and French policies by means of aggressive  lobbying (CFI, LFI, CRIF etc’).

Following the European poll, Dave Rich, deputy director of the ultra Right Wing Jewish para-military Community Security Trust, is concerned. He detects a growing resentment of Jewish politics in Europe. His article in the Forward openly examines whether Jews have lost their grip on the European continent.  

Rich begins by quoting Israeli veteran concentration camp guard Jeffrey Goldberg. “At what point,” asks Goldberg, “do the Jews of America and the Jews of Israel tell the Jews of Europe that it might be time to get out?”Apparently, says Rich, “Goldberg is not the only one to have had this thought. In fact, according to a 2013 opinion poll … more than a quarter of Jews in the E.U. have considered emigrating at some point in the past five years, because in their own countries they do not feel safe as Jews.”

Rich is also upset by growing European opposition toward Jewish blood rituals such as shchita slaughter and Jewish orthodox circumcision, a horrid unhygienic religious ceremony in which a Rabbi sucks the blood from an infant’s wounded penis (Metzitzah B’Peh). Rich is worried that ‘neo Nazis’ within the European parliaments may scrutinize Jewish religious practices and culture.

Rich may be correct, this kind of barbaric tribal blood ritual should have been banned ages ago. For some reason, our ‘Left’ and ‘Humanists’ failed to examine these morbid practices while at the same time their enthusiasm for human rights led them to ban the veil.

Rich himself operates within a hard core right wing Jewish supremacist organisation that is committed to the security of one race that happens to be his own. One would expect racially driven Rich to bond with or at least respect European racists whom he dismisses as ‘neo Nazis.’ After all, Rich and his organisation advocate their own ethno centrism that is, at least categorically, no different than that of some of Europe’s most radical far right groups.

Rich quotes British commentator Paul Mason who contends that, “The Euro project was supposed to make sure the continent could never again go fascist. If European legislatures are now crawling with fascists, what was the point of that?” Leaving aside Mason’s apparent ignorance in matters to do with Fascism, Rich and Mason reveal that the political agenda involved in setting the ‘European project’ had aims beyond those expressed at its creation. In other words, those Europeans naïve enough to believe that the ‘Euro project’ was created to address their needs and wants can now learn from the Jewish press about the true agenda behind the creation of the EU.

However, Rich sees reason for optimism, “in several countries, the far right polled surprisingly poorly,” he states. “This is especially the case for those countries hit hardest by Europe’s economic problems of recent years; Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Cyprus.” But Rich fails to mention that in these few impoverished countries the Jewish population is tiny and Jewish political lobbying is marginal. If this explains the failure of the far right in those countries, it is possible that the rise of right wing parties in other parts of Europe is partially a reaction to aggressive Jewish lobbying and intervention. This is certainly the case in Britain, France, Hungary and Greece.

In a desperate attempt to divert attention away from Jewish politics, Rich argues that “West European far-right parties… do want to cut immigration (or stop it altogether) and roll back the cultural and religious diversity that has become part of the E.U.’s guiding philosophy.” Rich fails to mention that it was Jewish progressive groups and institutions that for decades have been at the forefront of the pro immigration campaign and the call for diversity. Rich also forgets to explain that this kind of Jewish support wasn’t driven by humanist or universal concerns. The Jewish Left obviously believed that immigration and diversity were very good for the Jews.


Rich concludes by arguing that European Right Wing politics “are not driven primarily by anti-Jewish sentiment … And Europe’s Jews do not need our American friends to remind us where that can lead.” Rich is correct here, the surge in political awareness of the European underclass and impoverished middle class is not driven ‘primarily’ by anti Jewish feelings, however, increasingly, political commentators identify European malaise with Jewish and Zionist politics. The European new Left was badly beaten in polls last week due, in large part, to its Jerusalemite nature and affiliation. The new left in Europe is driven by kosher ideology, it is dominated by Jewish lobbies such as LFI (Britain) and CRIF (France) and if this is not enough, the entire progressive dissent discourse is closely identified with Jewish interests and is largely funded, directly and indirectly, by liberal Zionists such as George Soros and his Open Society Institutes.

Bearing all that in mind, the political shift in Europe carries a clear message to Jewish institutions. Now’s the time for  immediate and deep reflection.

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SNAFUkushima: Updating Meltdowns, Still FUBAR and Deteriorating

By William Boardman | Reader Supported News | May 30, 2014

Fallout from Fukushima? A re-make of Godzilla! That’s the good news  

There’s not much new to say about Fukushima. It remains an out of control disaster with as yet unmeasurable dimensions that continue to expand. Or perhaps it’s more accurate to say that everything new about Fukushima is just the same-old same-old getting worse at an uneven and unpredictable rate. Either way, it’s not good and, while it’s worse in degree, it’s not yet apparently worse in kind, so that’s one reason you don’t hear that much about it in the news these days.

Whatever the full truth is about Fukushima, it’s probably unknowable at present. And it might remain unknowable even if there was total transparency, even if there were no corporate, institutional, governmental, and other layers of secrecy protecting such enemies of the common good as profit, capital investment, and weapons development.

Secrecy and false reassurance have always been an integral part of the nuclear industry in all its manifestations.  In January 2014, Tokyo Shimbun reported yet another example of nuclear opposition to honesty: the Fukushima prefecture government and the government-run Fukushima Medical University signed a secrecy agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a United Nations agency that “is committed to applying the highest ethical standards in carrying out its mandate,” or so it claims. The IAEA’s press release about the agreement is bland and inoffensive. According to Shimbun, each party to the agreement has the right to designate any information as confidential, specifically mentioning data about thyroid cancer in children or other facts that might “stir up anxiety of residents.”

Here are some other elements of SNAFUkushima that might stir up anxieties of residents and non-residents alike:

Radioactive Water is Beyond Control and Unmeasured

Clean groundwater has been flowing into the Fukushima nuclear plant complex since before the earthquake/tsunami of March 11, 2011, led to the meltdown of three of the four reactors at Fukushima Daiichi and the cold shutdown of the two reactors at Fukushima Daini at the same site. Once clean groundwater enters the site, some portion (or perhaps all) of it is contaminated by radioactivity, primarily from the three melted down reactors.

Additional clean water is pumped into the site to keep the melted down reactors from further melting down, as well as to keep the nuclear fuel stored in fuel pools from starting to melt down. All of this water is radioactively contaminated.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese government, essentially co-owners of the Fukushima complex, together with their subcontractors, have been collecting some of the radioactive water in steel tanks on site. Some, perhaps hundreds, of the 1,000-plus tanks have leaked.

Radioactive water has flowed from the Fukushima complex into the Pacific Ocean continuously since March 11, 2011. The flow rate varies, most likely, but no one knows what the rate is and there is no reliable system in place to measure the flow. There is also no reliable system in place to measure the intensity of the radiation, which also most likely varies.

TEPCO’s plan since 2013 has been to use an Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) to treat the water in the holding tanks before releasing it into the Pacific. The processing system reduces the water’s radioactivity, but does not remove it all. After treatment, 62 nuclides, including Strontium and Plutonium, are supposed to be removed, but the water retains high levels of Tritium. As of May 2014, the ALPS treatment plan has not been implemented, has suffered several breakdowns, and is now more than six months behind schedule.

Radioactive Water Dumping Began at Fukushima on May 21

TEPCO, in a press release, said “we have commenced operation of the groundwater bypass.” TEPCO said it was releasing 560 tons (more than 150,000 gallons) of groundwater that is within “safe” radiation levels directly into the Pacific. TEPCO hopes to divert and release 100 tons (26,900 gallons) of groundwater every day.  The Shanghai Daily reported that:

TEPCO said the levels of radioactivity of the groundwater being released were within legal radiation safety limits and will follow the World Health Organizations guidelines that groundwater for such releases should contain less than 1 becquerel per liter of cesium-134 and cesium-137, 5 becquerels of beta ray-emitting radioactive material.

Groundwater flowing into the disabled reactor buildings is estimated at 400 tons (over 107,000 gallons) per day.

TEPCO and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) consider this bypass release process less dangerous than collecting contaminated water in tanks that leak. Despite approving the start of TEPCO’s plan, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, Sunichi Tanaka, has reportedly slammed TEPCO for incorrectly measuring levels of radioactive materials in groundwater at its Daiichi facility. Tanaka has said that even though three years has passed since the reactor meltdowns at the plant, TEPCO is still “utterly inept” when it comes to taking accurate readings of radioactivity at and around its facilities and “lacks a basic understanding of measuring and handling radiation.”

The Unit 4 Spent Fuel Pool Still has Disaster Potential 

In March 2011, the unit 4 reactor didn’t melt down because all its nuclear fuel rod assemblies had been removed for re-fueling, so they were stored in the unit’s spent fuel pool. But the fuel pool was about 100 feet above the ground and the earthquake/tsunami and subsequent explosions at the Fukushima left the fuel pool’s 1535 fuel assemblies in a precarious situation in an unstable building. An accident as bad as a meltdown, or worse, hasn’t happened yet, but remains possible as long as the fuel pool holds a substantial number of fuel assemblies.

TEPCO started to remove fuel assemblies in late 2013, moving them to safer fuel pools on the ground. Removal is scheduled to be complete before the end of 2014. But TEPCO said it had removed only 9 percent of the spent fuel so far and the delicate, dangerous process continues.

[On May 20-21, the internet was rife with reports of an explosion and fire at unit 4 on May 20, a claim that was based on a less than persuasive video. As of this writing, there seems to be no credible confirmation of an explosion or fire at unit 4.]

Radioactive Contamination Spreads, But Threat Level Uncertain

Reports of radioactively contaminated fish have increased during the past two years, but there is as yet no systematic testing by any government or corporate or even non-profit program that comprehensively measures the threat in any reliable manner (hardly an easy task since the fish and the water in the Pacific are in motion all the time). Anecdotal reports of Fukushima fish and other anomalies include:

• ALBECORE TUNA caught off Oregon and Washington state from 2008 to 2012 suggested a tripling of tuna-borne radiation in post-Fukushima fish, according to an April 30, 2014, report. But one researcher said that even the elevated level was only one-tenth of one per cent of the level for concern set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

• CALIFORNIA COASTAL COMMISSION issued a report April 30 that both minimized the current threat of radiation from Fukushima and also called for further research into the effects of low level radiation on humans and for reliable radiation monitoring supported by government. The report noted that the release of radiation from Fukushima continues with no end in sight. The report also said, without apparent irony, that people on the west coast were still in less danger from Fukushima radiation than from the residual radiation from nuclear weapons testing in the Pacific 50 years and more ago.

• MUTATION AND PREMATURE DEATH in butterflies caused by Fukushima levels of residual radiation was demonstrated by Japanese researchers, in a report published by Nature, as reported May 15 by Smithsonian.com. The researchers wrote: “We conclude that the risk of ingesting a polluted diet is realistic, at least for this butterfly, and likely for certain other organisms living in the polluted area.” A field study around Fukushima has shown a decrease in the population of these butterflies and other insects.

• THYROID CANCER in children from Fukushima has reached a higher than normal level. A May 19 story reported that 50 newly documented thyroid cancer cases represented about a 50% increase since February.

* DENIAL IN JAPAN surfaced in the form criticism of “Gourmets,” a food-oriented comic that included a storyline in which characters, who are culinary writers, visited the Fukushima complex and then fell ill and developed nosebleeds. According to Art Review on May 19, the food comic editor said the story “was a well-meaning attempt to highlight the fact that parts of Fukushima were dangerous, and that people were reluctant to complain themselves.” Criticism of the story was based on the fear that it would damage the Fukushima region’s people and products, food products especially. The corporate publisher, Shogakukan Inc., has suspended the comic series indefinitely. Japan Times reports on a nuclear researcher:

Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, says that from a medical point of view the connection between nosebleeds and radiation exposure can’t be entirely ruled out…. He adds: “The government is not only indifferent to taking responsibility for the accident, but determined to erase it from people’s memory.” Such irresponsibility, he insists, is “almost criminal.”

Meanwhile, municipalities including Osaka and Fukushima prefectures and the town of Futaba have lodged complaints with the publisher.

• HONESTY IN JAPAN appeared in The Asahi Shimbun May 20, with a previously suppressed, 400-page report that some 650 workers at Fukushima Daiichi fled the complex in the midst of the crisis. These 650 workers represent about 90 per cent of the workforce. Prior to this revelation, the official story, promulgated by media worldwide, had created the impression that workers at Fukushima remained on site, showing great personal courage during the crisis. Even after the official story was exposed as 90% false, TEPCO refused to criticize any of its workers.

Commenting on this story May 21, a Shimbun columnist noted that: “If the facts are hidden and treated as if they never happened, the Fukushima crisis will never be understood in its entirety, and no real lessons can be learned from the disaster.” The same day, a Japanese court ruled against re-starting two nuclear reactors at Fukui in western Japan. The court ruled that the two reactors represented a serious risk to the public in the event of an earthquake. The power company said it would appeal the ruling. The prime minister said the ruling would not change his plans to re-start all of Japan’s nuclear reactors.

Who actually wants to learn any “real lessons” from Fukushima?

The struggle between lying and telling the truth about SNAFUkushima seems likely to continue for a long time, especially with the Japanese government pressing to re-start its nuclear reactors and with few countries or world organizations willing to close the curtain on the nuclear age.  But truth still has a constituency. In April, Katsutagka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba in Fukushima prefecture, spoke out against the government’s efforts to force former residents to return home despite radiation contamination:

Fukushima Prefecture has launched the Come Home campaign. … Air contamination decreased a little, but soil contamination remains the same. And there are still about two million people living in the prefecture, who have all sorts of medical issues. The authorities claim this has nothing to do with the fallout….

I remember feeling so deeply for the victims of the Chernobyl tragedy that I could barely hold back the tears whenever I heard any reports on it. And now that a similar tragedy happened in Fukushima, the biggest problem is that there is no one to help us. They say it’s safe to go back… while in reality the radiation is still there. This is killing children. They die of heart conditions, asthma, leukemia, thyroiditis… Lots of kids are extremely exhausted after school; others are simply unable to attend PE classes. But the authorities still hide the truth from us, and I don’t know why. Don’t they have children of their own?

Idogawa described his own symptoms, consistent with radiation poisoning, symptoms that persist even though he’s moved to another prefecture. He says he’s not getting treatment now and there’s no place to go for help: “The nearest hospital refused to treat me. So I’m trying to restore my health through nutrition.”

The Japanese government allowed Fukushima residents to start returning to their homes as of April 1, saying that it was safe.  It was not safe. The government lied. On April 16, Asahi Shimbun reported some of the government’s lies that put people at risk.

“The same thing happened with Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Idogawa said: “The authorities lied to everyone. They said it was safe. They hid the truth…. Japan has some dark history.” And so does the rest of the world.

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Feds Leave Radioactive Waste Stranded In Wildfire Danger Zone

DOE won’t meet deadline for removal of radioactive containers held above-ground at northern New Mexico nuclear weapons lab

By Sarah Lazare | Common Dreams | May 31, 2014

At least 3,706 cubic meters of radioactive waste are being stored at the Los Alamos National Laboratory complex after the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, an underground nuclear waste dump in southeastern New Mexico, was shut down indefinitely in February due to an airborne radiation leak.

Officials in New Mexico have warned that the waste at Los Alamos could be within the reach of wildfires and must be transferred elsewhere by the end of June. According to the Associated Press, “The agreement for removal of the waste by June 30 was reached after a massive wildfire lapped at the edge of lab property three years ago, raising concerns about the thousands of barrels of waste that were being stored outside.”

“The waste at Los Alamos is trapped with no place to go,” Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer and nuclear safety advocate at Fairewinds Associates, told Common Dreams.

The stranded waste is “transuranic” described by the DOE as “clothing, tools, rags, debris, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive material generated during decades of nuclear research and weapons development.”

Concerns have been raised about the safety of these barrels after it was discovered that changes in methods of packaging at Los Alamos, using organic cat litter to absorb moisture, may have been responsible for chemical reactions that set off the “heat event” behind the WIPP leak. According to New Mexico state regulators, more than 500 nuclear waste containers originating from Los Alamos were packed with this cat litter.

The DOE had been sending some Los Alamos radioactive waste to a Texas facility for temporary storage until WIPP is functional. Upon discovering that Los Alamos shipments may be dangerous, the DOE halted all shipments, citing public safety.

But Gundersen warns that these barrels of waste now pose a threat in Texas and Los Alamos, where they are being stored above-ground. “It is worse in the summer, because it is hotter in the summer, and the reactions become less stable,” he said.

In a statement (pdf) released Friday, the New Mexico Environment Department said it is “disappointed, but not surprised” that the DOE will not meet its deadline to remove the waste.

Meanwhile, it is still not clear when WIPP will reopen. The facility, which was never supposed to leak, is the bedrock of the U.S. government’s current approach to dispose of military-generated plutonium-contaminated transuranic waste from decades of nuclear bomb production and testing.

Critics have warned that WIPP’s failure raises serious questions about the overall federal strategy for disposing of nuclear waste.

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Nuclear Power, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Why are They Afraid of the Syrian Elections?

By Rick Sterling | CounterPunch | May 30, 2014

The Presidential Election in Syria takes place next Tuesday, June 3. With a revised 2012 Constitution, Syria is no longer a one party state and there are multiple candidates for office. Running against Bashar al Asad are former communist and legislator Maher al Hajjar and business person Hassan al Nouri.

The election has been vehemently opposed by the so called “Friends of Syria” (NATO members Turkey, Germany, France, UK, Italy, USA,  plus the Gulf monarchies UAE, Qatar, Saudi Arabia plus Jordan and Egypt). Since 2011 the “Friends” have met periodically to coordinate funding, arming and training the rebels plus trying to promote and consolidate a credible outside political leadership.  According to the pro opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights  the result of this externally supported uprising has been over 62,000 dead Syrian soldiers and militia, plus another 80,836 dead civilians.  Many of the civilians were killed by rebels.  Just looking at the number of dead Syrian soldiers and security forces, can you imagine what would happen if 10%  of that number (6,000 soldiers and security) were killed in the USA?

Given the extent  of the violence, the well publicized fanaticism of the most active rebels and evident difficulty to manage the political operatives who were supposed to be anointed “leaders”, one might wonder why the USA and others persist in trying to force regime change in Syria.

But instead of viewing the multi-candidate election in Syria as a step forward, they are viewing it as a mortal threat. “Assad’s staged elections are a farce,” Kerry said after the so-called Friends of Syria meeting in London on Thursday May 15.  “They’re an insult. They are a fraud on democracy, on the Syrian people and on the world,” he added.

France, Germany, Belgium and the Gulf States have all prohibited voting in the Syrian election. Syrian Embassies in the US and Canada have been forced to close, removing the chance for Syrians living in these countries to vote.

Why are Kerry and the “Friends” so upset and fearful of Syrian elections? If they are such a farce, then much of the public will not participate in them. If the vote is seen by the public as meaningless, then voter turnout will be very low such as in Egypt this week.

As to the issue of holding an election during a time of conflict, this was done right here in the USA. The 1864 election which re-elected Abraham Lincoln was held during the midst of the extremely bloody US civil war.

Another group afraid of the Syrian elections is the Syrian American Council (SAC). This well funded lobby group claims to represent Syrian Americans. They have launched a twitter and Facebook campaign decrying the ‘Blood Election’. They have professional marketing and public relations, paid staff and support from neo-con and Zionist interventionists in Congress. Still, their real support across the country seems thin. Last August and September 2013, they were promoting a US attack on Syria. They were not concerned with the massive bloodshed that would have resulted from that. Ironically they are decrying blood now when Syria holds a peaceful election.

In sharp contrast with SAC, alternative organizations such as Arab Americans for Syria (AA4Syria) and Syrian American Forum (SAF) are speaking with growing strength against our US tax dollars being used to destroy their homeland. As a measure of the depth of feelings, over 25 members of AA4Syria are flying to Beirut then traveling by land to Syria to vote in next Tuesday’s election. The same thing is happening in other countries which have prevented Syrians from casting a vote. Syrians who live in the Gulf are traveling all the way to Syria to vote as a sign of their commitment.

The reason is that many Syrians, both inside and outside the country, see voting in this election as a sign of support for their homeland at this difficult time.

Voting by Syrians living abroad has already begun, with voting yesterday, May 28, in Lebanon, Jordan and a few other countries. The turnout in Beirut was massive, with tens of thousands of people marching, chanting and singing through the avenue and along the highway to the Syrian Embassy compound east of the city center. Look at the video and judge for yourself whether these people are being “forced” to vote or cheer for Bashar al Asad.

The voting in Beirut has been extended due to the huge turnout. This is in ironic contrast with Egypt where the government is desperately extending the voting hours and days, trying to boost the voting  turnout.

If recent history is a guide, there may be some kind of spectacular media event or atrocity in the coming days. The Syrian opposition and their handlers have executed PR stunts at critical times. If it happens here, the purpose will be  to distract from the strong Syrian participation in the election and to attempt to renew the branding of Assad as “brutal dictator”.

But the branding is wearing thin, those who are most affected by the crisis  know the truth and even those who have been influenced by the immense propaganda may be starting to wonder: Was it ever a genuine “Syrian revolution”? What kind of “revolution” is financed by corrupt monarchies and former colonial powers? Is the “brutal dictator” really as bad as they say? The scenes of thousands of Syrians waving his poster, chanting his name and youth expressing love for him are not what they wish us to see.

Next week we can look at the videos, photos and stories from Syria. Hopefully there will be some reasonably unbiased reports.  John Kerry and other “Friends of Syria” did not want it to happen, and there may still be violence and bumps on the journey, but the election in Syria is going ahead. Let’s see what Kerry and company are afraid of.

Rick Sterling is a founding member of Syrian Solidarity Movement. In April he was in Damascus, Latakia and Homs with the International Peace Pilgrimage. 

 

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite | , , | 1 Comment

A Palestinian story of resistance: The Abu Haikal family

Christian Peacemakers Team | May 31, 2014

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – With only a sliver of their land left to protect, having their entire lot of land encircled by Israeli settlements, Faryel and Arwa Abu Haikal climbed over a pile of rubble and boulders and stopped the Israeli bulldozer from shearing further into their property, dumping their dignity into the back of a dump truck, and hauling away their rights. There they stood under the unrelenting sun, staring into the teeth of the approaching bucket excavator, protecting their land from the ever encroaching Israeli settlement enterprise, facing arrest and physical assault – a reality they have faced for decades. Their resilience and steadfastness held off the Israeli Antiquity Authority (I.A.A.) for at least a few hours.

The I.A.A. continues to deploy a variety of tactics to annex privately owned Palestinian land on the hill top of Hebron, including ignoring previous orders issued by the Israeli police to halt work. Under the directive of Emmanuel Eisenberg, the I.A.A. project coordinator, the excavator bucket began carving deeper into Faryel Abu Haikal’s land, breaking both Israeli and international law in the process.

“They don’t know where the land is,” said Eisenberg about the Abu Haikal’s resistance to the archeological dig. “We will keep working. We are like the wagon that goes by the barking dog: The wagon keeps going and the dog keeps barking.”

In many ways, it’s hard to disagree with Eisenberg on the trajectory of the illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank and the recent illegal activity in Hebron. More than 1,500 hundred shops or homesteads have either been squatted or blocked off, creating a Hebronite Diaspora of several tens of thousands of Palestinians. The Hebronite refugee population didn’t happen all at once, but rather has occurred and continues to occur in a system of apartheid which operates with immunity.

Since Rabbi Moshe Levinger first led his caravan to the Park Hotel in the heart of Hebron to establish the Kiryat Arba settlement in 1967, the Jewish settlers have slowly, inch by inch, piece by piece, constructed an elaborate security apparatus that only Israelis have the keys to. In Hebron, there are over 130 road blocks, dead end streets, check points, and military patrols that restrict Palestinian access to their city.

The Abu Haikal’s land and life is a microcosm of the principles of ethnic cleansing at work across Palestine today.

For the sake of expediency, this is just a short history of the aggression and assault that the Abu Haikal family has endured at the hands of the Jewish settlers and the Israeli security forces while trying to maintain a home to raise their family.

In 1984, Jewish settlers first arrived on Tel Rumeida, the historical hilltop neighborhood of Hebron, which, according to some religious texts, is where Abraham first laid claim to land. It is this historical interpretation that provides impetus for archeological digs to establish exclusive Jewish claims to the hilltop. The Tel Rumeida settlement stands today on concrete pylons built directly on a previous archeological dig. This marked the genesis of the heightened tensions that would continually boil over and spill onto the Abu Haikal’s land year after year.

The next year, the Abu Haikal family’s land was trespassed by settlers looking to establish religious significance on the land by praying on it, a tactical first step that often leads to the construction of a synagogue.

A few years later in 1991, the Israeli Army sent a formal letter to the family informing them that they were confiscating parts of their land (plot 54) for military purposes, which then was reconstructed into an army barracks. To this day, the Abu Haikal family has a military base in their backyard, a backyard that for generations has been cultivated by their family. Their field of family memories is now the staging grounds for night raids into Palestinian homes.

The following year, settlers brought a caravan to another corner of the Abu Haikal land (plot 53). Fortunately, they were able to halt the annexation of that plot – temporarily.

February 25, 1994, is a day that will live in infamy. The American-born, Jewish religious extremist Baruch Goldstein entered the Cave of the Patriarchs, killing 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers and wounding another 125. The following day, the Israeli military responded by taking over the Mosque of the 40 Companions which had been on the land of the Abu Haikals for centuries. Their place of religious sanctuary was stripped out from underneath of them, even though it had little connection to the incident.

As the construction continued on the illegal settlement near their house and the Jewish extremist population of Hebron started to swell, the attacks on their land and family continued in frequency and heightened in intensity.

On July 2, 1998, Jewish settlers cut down three trees on their property and brought a bulldozer to uproot more, but the family was able to utilize the law and nonviolently halt the destruction of their property.

A year later, in July, the internet icon of settler violence in Hebron, Anat Cohen along with her children and eight settlers, trespassed on their property (plot 54) using a footpath between the Abu Haikal houses to the settlement.  The Abu Haikal family objected and the settlers, as they had so many times before, resorted to violence. Escalations involving 40 settlers erupted, and a settler with a wooden stick bludgeoned  Arwa Abu Haikal, seriously injuring her. Despite the trespassing settlers and the initial aggressions, it was the Abu Haikal family that was issued fines, having to pay 1,500 shekels.

The settlement expansion continued under the guidance of a familiar face: Emmanuel Eisenberg. Eisenberg was responsible for the oversight of the archeological dig that led to the illegal settlement of Ramat Yishai in Tel Rumeida.

Despite the years of attacks and threats of land confiscation, on Jan 22, 2000, the Abu Haikals renewed the rental agreement with the Israeli Authorities and paid a year in advance, keeping the hope that justice would be realized. Signing the protection tenancy wasn’t about the land for them, it was a commitment to resist the illegal settlement expansion, knowing that years of harassment and violence awaited them.

Within three months, 70 settlers had occupied their land inside a structure. The Abu Haikals again called the police to evict the settlers from their land. The rule of law prevailed in that moment, but the leniency, which borders on absolute impunity, led to almost 100 settlers again attacking the Abu Haikal family on their land. Again, it was the Abu Haikals who had to pay 3,000 shekels in the aftermath.

When the Second Intifada broke out in September 2002, the pressure cooker which is Tel Rumeida, was quickly turned into a strategic Israeli military asset, and homes overlooking the city had their rooftops transformed into lookout towers and sniper positions. The Call to Prayer, the spiritual serenade from the mosques on the hill top, was replaced by the sounds of bullets cutting through the air and rocketing through their neighbors’ houses. For the next three years, curfews would further restrict the ability of the Abu Haikal family and others to even leave their house and provide for their family.

Shortly after the Second Intifada erupted, Wadea Abu Haikal (age 16) was attacked on the street in front of the house, and the stones hurled by the settlers broke his nose. The soldiers explained they could not protect the family, and prevented them from accessing their front path to the road in front of the settlement.

The Israeli authority then approached the Abu Haikals about putting a fence around their plots of land (53, 52) to help keep out the settlers. The key to the gate was never handed over the family.

One month later, the Israeli authorities refused to accept their rent, and plots 53 and 52 were declared a closed military zone. The fruit orchards would soon bear their last harvest.

The same year in September, despite being a closed military zone, Israeli settlers celebrated Sukkot on plot 52, building a wooden structure associated with the holiday on their land. A few weeks later, the booth was dismantled by the Israeli authorities. The settlers responded to Faryel Abu Haikal’s petition to remove the illegal booth by attacking her on the way home from school where she worked.

During the 2002-03 military campaign, it was normal for the military to show up during the month of Ramadan, a holy time for Muslims who fast during the day and then at sunset, break their fast in communion with their family. Routinely the military showed up and pulled the family out of the house to disrupt their religious practices. The Abu Haikals creatively resisted, preparing tea and taking nuts and seeds with them as the guards sat them on the ground. They refused give up their tradition, their religious rights.

October 22, 2003 was a day that changed Arwa Abu Haikal’s life. A Palestinian was shot. Knowing that soldiers would quickly mobilize to shut down roads and lock down access paths to her home and that her younger siblings would need to be attended to, she left her work at Bab Al Zaweyah, a 20-minute walk up hill to her house. As she walked down the road, a soldier stopped her and held a gun to her head, threatening her life if she continued her walk to her home. Frightened, but undeterred, she continued, forcing the soldier to make the decision between murder and humanity. Shortly after, the IDF brigade besieged the house, dragging the family out onto the street. Her parents were unable to preempt the lockdown and had to wait until 1:30 am before the streets were reopened. As the parents waited anxiously, not knowing if their children were safe, the children sat by themselves outside the home in the cold and the dark. The Israeli military proceeded to unload round after round from their machine guns into the walls, furniture, closets, and cherished belongings while the family sat helplessly outside. Some of the holes remain today.

Two days later, the soldiers returned and took the mother of the household, Faryel, into a separate room and questioned her for four hours as the rest of the family sat helplessly.

The following year, the settlement expansion continued and Jewish extremists took control of the elderly Al Bakri couple’s home nearby. They later build structures on the Al Bakri garden. The close proximity to the Abu Haikal’s house led an increase in frequency of attacks on their home, forcing them to put metal cages around their windows.

“Our windows have been broken several times over the years, until finally we were forced to put metal grates around them,” said Faryel Abu Haikal. The Abu Haikal had to replace the windows with their home money, a situation unique to the occupation: the oppressed have to pay for the aggression of the oppressor.

The settlers found other ways to cause damage to the family’s home in the hopes of driving them off the land.

Settlers systematically razed the olive trees and stole their harvest. When their grape vines had matured, those too were consumed by the indifference of extreme Jewish ideology. Fires to their dried up field continued over the next several years. By 2006, half of the trees on plot 52 had been cut down and destroyed by settlers, and what was left had been burnt by almost continuous arson.

Two years later in December of 2009, the military entered the Abu Haikal house, pointing their guns in the face of the males in the room. The women of the house stood between the guns and their men. The soldiers responded with extreme force and attacked the family, many of whom were badly beaten. The four who had resisted the assault were arrested and had to pay a 1,000-shekel fine a piece.

Over the next four years, settlers held women’s Torah groups on plot 52, right outside the family’s salon, singing, discussing the Jewish heritage of the land, and praying in the hopes of establishing a synagogue.

The repeated attempts by Jewish settlers to establish claims to the land continued, as they planted 200 vine plants and an irrigation system on plot 52, forcing the Abu Haikal family to seek legal remedy. Again, they had to take time off from work, renegotiate responsibilities away from the home, and convince the Israeli police to intervene. After six long weeks the army removed the vines.

A short time later, Israeli soldiers helped settler children build a tree house in the big ancient olive tree on the Abu Haikal land, next to the soldiers look-out structure. It took the police three hours to remove the children.

In April of 2012, the settlers cut more trees on plot 52, again with the protection of soldiers. The Abu Haikals continued to advocate and speak up in the hopes that one day the international community would respond.

On January 5th, 2014, Emmanuel Eisenberg returned to attend to unfinished businessSettler “archaeologists” from the Israel Antiquities Authority and Ariel University moved onto plot 52 with a bulldozer and two containers. The Abu Haikal family protested, and Sami Abu Haikal was detained. The settlers uprooted all the almond trees immediately and began with the illegal excavations.

There was a small victory in the small Palestinian neighborhood in Tel Rumeida. In 2014, Israeli High Court granted possession and the return of Al Bakri family land . . . but ordered the family to pay the police the costs for 50 police officers to remove the settlers. The court would attempt to recover the cost of eviction from the Jewish settlers. That has yet to happen.

One month later, plot 53 was consumed by the archeological dig that was never about archeology, but rather the establishment of a biblical museum. On February 5th, 2014, the I.A.A. moved onto plot 53 with a bulldozer and uprooted all the cherry trees. It also blocked a well-used right-of-way and replaced it with a longer, narrow footpath around the edge of the property that descends a steep, precarious slope.

Despite their land being confiscated, a week and a half later the Abu Haikals paid their rent up to 2015 in order to confirm their continued legal ownership of the land. The money was accepted by the Israeli institution, but excavations continued.

On February 19th, 2014, settler archaeologists uncovered a Muslim grave built of stone slabs directly on the bedrock and oriented to Mecca. Contrary to best archaeological practices and religious principles, they removed the grave.

Despite a police injunction to stop working, on March 26th, Emmanuel Eisenberg and David Ben Shlomo supervised the destruction of another section of the retaining wall, representing the border between plots 54 and 53. The Mayor of Hebron, Dr. Dawood Al Zatari, visited the area and stated that he was going to pursue legal remedy to the confiscation of land. His words have yet to lead to action.

Even after 20 years of extreme, systematic and planned abuse built by detailed policy after policy, the Abu Haikals continue to resist, even though so many times the expansion around their land has continued.

This week they were able to risk their lives in order reinforce a police order to stop working. The police orders should have stopped work, but as Eisenberg has said so many times, he doesn’t “give a shit,” and reminded everyone that at the end of the day, “We will keep working. We are like the wagon that goes by the barking dog: The wagon keeps going and the dog keeps barking.”

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

California student body decides to divest from companies linked to Israel’s occupation of Palestine

By Mohannad Al-Adam | MEMO | May 30, 2014

The Student Union Assembly at the University of California, Santa Cruz announced in a press statement on Wednesday that it had successfully passed “a resolution calling for divestment from companies that profit from Israeli human rights violations against Palestinians” as initially proposed by the university’s Committee for Justice in Palestine (CJP).

The Palestinian activist and field coordinator for the Israel boycott association in the US, Dr Sinan Shaqdeeh, said in an interview with Alquds.com that the student government announced its resolution to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation after student advocates of the Palestinian cause received the majority of votes in favour of divestment.

The university is located just to the south of San Francisco, California, and has a student body of approximately 17,000 students.

The CJP, a student organisation that acts within the university, succeeded, a few weeks ago, in convincing the university’s student government to vote on the divestment resolution. The vote began on Tuesday evening and was completed the following morning.

The University of California, Santa Cruz is the fifth California state university student government to successfully pass divestment resolutions.

Shaqdeeh explained that divestment resolutions would also be carried out in several other major American universities over the next few weeks, at a time when petitions are increasingly being signed by student and academic associations supporting the rights of Palestinians.

He also said that 10,000 American students have signed a petition at the University of South Florida to divest from companies linked to the Israeli occupation, but the 22 members of the university’s investment committee voted with an overwhelming majority against divestment.

In explaining their vote, the committee members stated that the university’s investment process should not be “politicised”, bypassing the ethical concerns of over 10,000 students who represent one quarter of the total number of students at the university.

The petition, one of the largest student petitions in history, called on the university administration to withdraw its investments in companies profiting from the Israeli occupation and to allow the students to have better access to the university’s investment data, estimated to be about $390 million, a third of which is believed to be invested in Israeli or American companies profiting from the occupation.

The student petition is mainly targeting companies like Caterpillar, which sells bulldozers to the Israeli army that are used to demolish the homes of Palestinians, as well as companies like G4S, a private security company that supplies Israel with the surveillance technology used in prisons and detention centres.

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s Role in the Creation of the State of Israel

Review of Alison Weir’s “Against Our Better Judgement: How the U.S. was used to create Israel”

By Karin Brothers | Global Research | May 29, 2014

Weir’s fascinating history focuses on how the State of Israel came into existence through a cynical using of the United States and how it was defended from American critics who saw the support for Israel as violating US principles and damaging US interests.

The significance of the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the British “gentleman’s agreement” between the British government and Lord Rothschild that pledged British support for a Jewish homeland, has not been understood by many for the quid pro quo that it represented. The agreement, which occurred when it appeared that Germany was winning WW I, was that Zionists would work to get the United States involved in the war if Britain would deliver Palestine as a Jewish homeland. The reason for the American involvement in the war and the American contribution to the arrangement have not been widely understood: the Balfour Declaration (as well as the later British Mandate) were drafted in both Britain and the US, including by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Germany had no inkling of this deal until the post-war 1919 Paris Peace Conference, which Zionists attended to ensure that Britain would come through with its part of the agreement.

Even before Britain washed its hands of Palestine, Zionists recognized that they needed the support of the United States for Israel to survive and thrive, so the U.S. became the focus of propaganda and political pressure. Harry Truman, the US President who recognized the State of Israel immediately after it declared itself a state, had received a then-staggering $2 million from a Zionist donor during what had appeared to be a losing presidential campaign. State Department leaders were against supporting Israel because it damaged U.S. relations with Arab countries and, more importantly, violated important American principles of self-determination and justice. Elected leaders, vulnerable to political pressure and access to campaign funding, were not able to maintain such America-first integrity.

Weir has documented various little-known Zionist efforts to support the creation of their state. The activities — basically bribes, lies, subterfuge, threats and violence– included:

  •  Zionist leaders’ “mixed reaction” to Nazism, with some seeing that the convergent goals would benefit a Jewish state that required a Jewish population;
  •  Secret American Zionist clubs (including the elite Parushim with Felix Frankfurter) which pledged to work for Israel behind the scenes;
  • Creating the myth that a refuge was needed for Jews (including falsifying anti-Semitism in Germany and Poland and, more importantly, sabotaging western countries’ efforts to open their doors to Jewish refugees after WW II in order to ensure that Jews had few choices of refuge outside of Israel); and
  •  Zionists’ role in the creation of Christian Zionism and the Scofield Reference Bible.

Weir ends her short history of Israel’s creation by documenting some key examples of how Israel-firsters were able to destroy the careers — if not the lives — of prominent Americans in government, journalism and academia who warned of the loss of American credibility in supporting a state that was based on religious discrimination.

Weir keeps her book focused on the early history of Israel, ignoring highly significant later events, particularly those concerning Senator William Fulbright: his uncovering of Jewish charity fraud that recycled charitable donations into U.S. propaganda, his attempts, with JFK, to force the main Zionist organization to register as an agent of a foreign government and the loss of Fulbright’s Senate seat to the then-unheard of Dale Bumpers.

The main messages from Weir’s history are that the Jewish community has not legitimately needed a homeland- refuge from anti-Semitism and that Americans must take back their country by insisting that their elected officials place the interests of the United States before those of Israel.

May 31, 2014 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment