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The Rise of the European Right: Reaction to the Neoliberal Right

By James Petras | May 30, 2014

The European parliamentary elections witnessed a major breakthrough for the right-wing parties throughout the region. The rise of the Right runs from the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom, the Baltic and Low countries, France, Central and Eastern Europe to the Mediterranean.

Most, if not all, of these emerging right-wing parties mark a sharp break with the ruling neo-liberal, Christian and Social Democratic parties who have presided over a decade of crisis.

The ‘new Right’ cannot be understood simply by attaching negative labels (‘fascist’, ‘racist’ and ‘anti-Semitic’). The rise of the Right has to be placed in the context of the decay of political, social and economic institutions, the general and persistent decline of living standards and the disintegration of community bonds and class solidarity. The entire existing political edifice constructed by the neo-liberal parties bears deep responsibility for the systemic crisis and decay of everyday life. Moreover, this is how it is understood by a growing mass of working people who vote for the Right.

The so-called ‘radical Left’, usually defined as the political parties to the left of the governing Social Democratic parties, with the exception of SYRIZA in Greece, have failed to capitalize on the decline of the neo-liberal parties. There are several reasons that account for the lack of a right-left polarization. Most of the ‘radical Left’, in the final account, gave ‘critical support’ to one or another of the Labor or Social Democratic parties and reduced their ‘distance’ from the political-economic disasters that have followed. Secondly, the ‘radical Left’s’ positions on some issues were irrelevant or offensive to many workers: namely, gay marriage and identity politics. Thirdly, the radical Left recruited prominent personalities from the discredited Labor and Social Democratic parties and thus raised suspicion that they are a ‘new version’ of past deceptions. Fourthly, the radical Left is strong on public demonstrations demanding ‘structural changes’ but lacks the ‘grass roots’ clientelistic organizations of the Right, which provide ‘services’, such as soup kitchens and clinics dealing with day-to-day problems.

While the Right pretends to be ‘outside’ the neo-liberal establishment challenging the assumption of broad powers by the Brussels elite, the Left is ambiguous: Its support for a ‘social Europe’ implies a commitment to reform a discredited and moribund structure. The Right proposes ‘national capitalism’ outside of Brussels; the Left proposes ‘socialism within the European Union’. The Left parties, the older Communist parties and more recent groupings, like Syriza in Greece, have had mixed results. The former have generally stagnated or lost support despite the systemic crisis. The latter, like Syriza, have made impressive gains but failed to break the 30% barrier. Both lack electoral allies. As a result, the immediate challenge to the neo-liberal status quo comes from the electoral new Right parties and on the left from the extra-parliamentary social movements and trade unions. In the immediate period, the crisis of the European Union is being played out between the neo-liberal establishment and the ‘new Right’.

The Nature of the New Right

The ‘new Right’ has gained support largely because it has denounced the four pillars of the neo-liberal establishment: globalization, foreign financial control, executive rule by fiat (the Brussels troika) and the unregulated influx of cheap immigrant labor.

Nationalism, as embraced by the new Right, is tied to national capitalism: Local producers, retailers and farmers are counterpoised to free traders, mergers and acquisitions by international bankers and the giant multinationals. The ‘new Right’ has its audience among the provincial and small town business elite as well as workers devastated by plant closures and relocations.

The ‘new Right’s’ nationalism is ‘protectionist’ – seeking tariff barriers and state regulations to protect industries and workers from ‘unfair’ competition from overseas conglomerates and low-wage immigrant labor.

The problem is that protectionism limits the imports of cheap consumer goods sold in many small retail shops and affordable to workers and the lower middle class. The Right ‘dreams’ of a corporatist model where national workers and industries bond to oppose liberal competitive capitalism and class struggle trade unions. As the class struggle declines, the ‘tri partite’ politics of the neo-liberal right is reconfigured by the New Right to include ‘national’ capital and a ‘paternalistic state’.

In sum, the nationalism of the Right evokes a mythical past of harmony where national capital and labor unite under a common communal identity to confront big foreign capital and cheap immigrant labor.

Political Strategy: Electoral and Extra-Parliamentary Politics

Currently, the new Right is primarily oriented to electoral politics, especially as it gains mass support. They have increased their share of the electorate by combining mass mobilization and community organizing with electoral politics, especially in depressed areas. They have attracted middle class voters from the neo-liberal right and working class voters from the old Left. While some sectors of the Right, like the Golden Dawn in Greece, openly flaunt fascist symbols – flags and uniforms – as well as provoking street brawls, others pressure the governing neo-liberal right to adopt some of their demands especially regarding immigration and the ‘deportation of illegals’. For the present, most of the new Right’s focus is on advancing its agenda and gaining supporters through aggressive appeals within the constitutional order and by keeping the more violent sectors under control. Moreover, the current political climate is not conducive to open extra-parliamentary ‘street fighting’ where the new Right would be easily crushed. Most right-wing strategists believe the current context is conducive to the accumulation of forces via peaceful methods.

Conditions Facilitating the Growth of the Right

There are several structural factors contributing to the growth of the new Right in Europe:

First and foremost, there is a clear decline of democratic power and institutions resulting from the centralization of executive – legislative power in the hands of a self-appointed elite in Brussels. The new Right argues effectively that the European Union has become a profoundly authoritarian political institution disenfranchising voters and imposing harsh austerity programs without a popular mandate.

Secondly, national interests have been subordinated to benefit the financial elite identified as responsible for the harsh policies that have undermined living standards and devastated local industries. The new Right counterpoises ‘the nation’ to the Brussels ‘Troika’ – the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission.

Thirdly, ‘liberalization’ has eroded local industries and undermined communities and protective labor legislation. The Right denounces liberal immigration policies, which permit the large-scale inflow of cheap workers at a time of depression level unemployment. The crisis of capitalism combined with the large force of cheap immigrant labor forms the material basis for right-wing appeals to workers, especially those in precarious jobs or unemployed.

Right: Contradictions and the Double Discourse

The Right, while criticizing the neo-liberal state for unemployment, focuses mainly on the immigrants competing with nationals in the labor market rather than on the capitalists whose investment decisions determine levels of employment and unemployment.

The Right attacks the authoritarian nature of the European Union, but its own structures, ideology and history pre-figure a repressive state.

The Right rightly proposes to end foreign elite control of the economy, but its own vision of a ‘national state’, especially one linked to NATO, multi-national corporations and imperial wars, will provide no basis for ‘rebuilding the national economy’.

The Right speaks to the needs of the dispossessed and the need to ‘end austerity’ but it eschews the only effective mechanism for countering inequalities – class organization and class struggle. Its vision of the ‘collaboration between productive capital and labor’ is contradicted by the aggressive capitalist offensive to cut wages, social services, pensions and working conditions. The new Right targets immigrants as the cause of unemployment while obscuring the role of the capitalists who hire and fire, invest abroad, relocate firms and introduce technology to replace labor.

They focus the workers’ anger ‘downward’ against immigrants, instead of ‘upward’ toward the owners of the means of production, finance and distribution who ultimately manipulate the labor market.

In the meantime the radical Left’s mindless defense of unlimited immigration in the name of an abstract notion of ‘international workers solidarity’ exposes their arrogant liberal bias, as though they had never consulted real workers who have to compete with immigrants for scarce jobs under increasingly unfavorable conditions.

The radical Left, under the banner of ‘international solidarity’, has ignored the historical fact that ‘internationalism’ must be built on the strong national foundation of organized, employed workers.

The Left has allowed the new Right to exploit and manipulate powerful righteous nationalist causes. The radical Left has counterpoised ‘nationalism’ to socialism, rather than seeing them as intertwined, especially in the present context of an imperialist-dominated European Union.

The fight for national independence, the break-up of the European Union, is essential to the struggle for democracy and the deepening of the class struggle for jobs and social welfare. The class struggle is more powerful and effective on the familiar national terrain – rather than confronting distant overseers in Brussels.

The notion among many radical Left leaders to ‘remake’ the EU into a ‘Social Europe’, the idea that the EU could be converted into a ‘European Union of Socialist States’ simply prolongs the suffering of the workers and the subordination of nations to the non-elected bankers who run the EU. No one seriously believes that buying stocks in Deutsche Bank and joining its annual stockholders meetings would allow workers to ‘transform’ it into a ‘People’s Bank’. Yet the ‘Bank of the Banks’, the ‘Troika’, made up of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF, set all major policies for each member state of the European Union. Un-rectified and remaining captive of the ‘Euro-metaphysic’, the Left has abdicated its role in advancing the class struggle through the rebirth of the national struggle against the EU oligarchs.

Results and Perspectives

The Right is advancing rapidly, even if unevenly across Europe. Its support is not ephemeral but stable and cumulative at least in the medium run. The causes are ‘structural’ and result from the new Right’s ability to exploit the socio-economic crisis of the neo-liberal right governments and to denounce authoritarian and anti-national policies of the unelected EU oligarchy.

The new Right’s strength is in ‘opposition’. Their protests resonate while they are distant from the command centers of the capitalist economy and state.

Are they capable of moving from protest to power? Shared power with the neo-liberals will obviously dilute and disaggregate their current social base.

The contradictions will deepen as the new Right moves from positions of ‘opposition’ to sharing power with the neo-liberal Right. The massive roundups and deportation of immigrant workers is not going to change capitalist employment policies or restore social services or improve living standards. Promoting ‘national’ capital over foreign through some corporatist union of capital and labor will not reduce class conflict. It is totally unrealistic to imagine ‘national’ capital rejecting its foreign partners in the interest of labor.

The divisions within the ‘nationalist Right’, between the overtly fascist and electoral corporatist sectors, will intensify. The accommodation with ‘national’ capital, democratic procedures and social inequalities will likely open the door to a new wave of class conflict which will expose the sham radicalism of the ‘nationalist’ right. A committed Left, embedded in the national terrain, proud of its national and class traditions, and capable of unifying workers across ethnic and religious ‘identities’ can regain supporters and re-emerge as the real alternative to the two faces of the Right – the neo-liberal and the ‘nationalist’ new Right. The prolonged economic crisis, declining living standards, unemployment and personal insecurity propelling the rise of the nationalist Right can also lead to the emergence of a Left deeply linked to national, class and community realities. The neo-liberals have no solutions to offer for the disasters and problems of their own making; the nationalists of the new Right have the wrong -reactionary – answer. Does the Left have the solution? Only by overthrowing the despotic imperial rule of Brussels can they begin to address the national-class issues.

Post-script and final observations

In the absence of a Left alternative, the working class voters have opted for two alternatives: Massive voter abstention and strikes. In the recent EU election, 60% of the French electorate abstained, with abstention approaching 80% in working class neighborhoods. This pattern was repeated or even exceeded throughout the EU – hardly a mandate for the EU or for the ‘new Right’. In the weeks and days before the vote, workers took to the streets. There were massive strikes of civil servants and shipyard workers, as well as workers from other sectors and mass demonstrations by the unemployed and popular classes opposing EU-imposed ‘austerity’ cuts in social services, health, education, pensions, factory closures and mass lay-offs. Widespread voter abstention and street demonstrations point to a huge proportion of the population rejecting both the neo-Liberal Right of the ‘Troika’ as well as the ‘new Right’.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Solidarity and Activism | | Leave a comment

A VERY BRIEF HISTORY OF CHINESE RUSSIAN RELATIONS

Da Russophile |  May 30, 2014

The response of much western commentary to the Russia China agreements has been scepticism that they can ever burgeon into an outright partnership because of the supposedly long history of mutual suspicion and hostility between the two countries. The Economist for example refers to the two countries as “frenemies”.

To see whether these claims are actually justified I thought it might be useful to give a short if rather summary account of the history of the relationship between the two countries.

Official contacts between China and Russia began with border clashes in the 1680s which however were settled in 1689 by the Treaty of Nerchinsk, which delineated what was then the common border. At this time Beijing had no political or diplomatic links with any other European state save the Vatican, which was informally represented in Beijing by the Jesuit mission. The Treaty of Nerchinsk was the first formal treaty between China and any European power.

The Treaty of Nerchinsk was basically a pragmatic border arrangement. It was eventually succeeded by the Treaty of Kyakhta of 1727, negotiated on the initiative of the Kangxi Emperor and of Peter the Great, who launched the expedition that negotiated it shortly before before his death.

The Treaty of Kyakhta provided for a further delineation of the common border. It also authorised a small but thriving border trade. Most importantly, it also allowed for the establishment of what was in effect a Russian diplomatic presence in Beijing in the form of an ecclesiastical settlement there. Russia thereby became only the second European state after the Vatican to achieve a presence in Beijing. It did so moreover more than a century before any of the other European powers.

Russia was of course the only European power at this time to share a common border with China (a situation to which it has now reverted since the return to China of Hong Kong). It is also notable that the Treaty of Kyakhta happened on the initiative of Peter the Great. Peter the Great’s decision to launch the expedition that ultimately led to the Treaty of Kyakhta shows that even this supposedly most “westernising” of tsars had to take into account Russia’s reality as a Eurasian state.

For the rest of the Eighteenth Century and the first half of the Nineteenth Century relations between the Russian and Chinese courts remained friendly though hardly close. St. Petersburg was the only European capital during this period to host occasional visits by the Chinese Emperor’s representatives. During the British Macartney mission to Beijing of 1793 the senior Manchu official tasked with negotiating with Macartney had obtained his diplomatic experience in St. Petersburg. As a result of these contacts at the time of the Anglo French expedition to Beijing in 1860 Ignatiev, the Russian diplomat who acted as mediator between the Anglo French expedition and the Chinese court, could call on the services of skilled professional interpreters and was in possession of accurate maps of Beijing whilst the British and the French had access to neither. Russian diplomatic contacts with the court in Beijing during this period do not seem to have been afflicted with the protocol difficulties that so complicated China’s relations with the other European powers and which contributed to the failure of the Macartney mission. This serves as an indicator of the pragmatism with which these contacts were conducted.

This period of distant but generally friendly relations ended with the crisis of 1857 to 1860 when Russia used the Chinese court’s preoccupation with the Taiping rebellion and China’s difficult relations with the western Europeans culminating in the Anglo French expedition of 1860 to secure the annexation of the Amur region. The Chinese continue to see the third Convention of Beijing of 1860 which secured the Amur territory for Russia as an “unequal treaty”. They have however accepted its consequences and formally recognised the border (which was properly speaking part of Manchu rather than Chinese territory). At the time it must have been resented. However it is probably fair to say that Russia would have been seen in China as a marginally less dangerous aggressor during this period than the western powers Britain and France (especially Britain) if only because China’s relations with these two countries were much more important.

As the Nineteenth Century wore on relations between Russia and China seem to have improved, with Russia, undoubtedly for self-interested reasons, playing an important role in the Three Intervention that forced Japan to moderate its demands on China following China’s defeat in the Sino Japanese war of 1895. Russian policy of supporting China and the authority of the Chinese court against the Japanese however fell by the wayside when Russia forced the Chinese court in 1897 to grant Russia a lease of the Chinese naval base of Port Arthur. This was much resented in China and damaged Russia’s image there.

Russia also became drawn into the suppression of the anti-foreign 1900 Boxer Rising, an event which destabilised the Manchu dynasty and which led to a short lived Russian occupation of Manchuria to suppress the Boxers there. This is not the place to discuss the diplomacy or the reasons for the conflict which followed, which is known as the Russo-Japanese war of 1904 to 1905. Suffice to say that the ground war was fought entirely on Chinese territory and ended in stalemate (though with the balance starting to shift in favour of the Russians), that I know of, no good English account of the war or of the events that preceded it, that the war was precipitated entirely by a straightforward act of Japanese aggression and that the popular view that the war was preceded and/or provoked by Russian economic and political penetration of Korea or plans to annex Manchuria are now known to have no basis in fact.

A radical improvement in Russian-Chinese relations took place following the October 1917 revolution caused by the decision of the new Bolshevik government to renounce the extra territorial privileges Russia had obtained in China as a result of the unequal treaties. The USSR became the strongest supporter during this period of Sun Ya-tsen’s Chinese nationalist republican movement and of the Guomindang government in Nanjing that Sun Ya-tsen eventually set up. Sun Ya-tsen for his part was a staunch friend and supporter of the USSR. Though many are aware of the very close relationship between the USSR and China in the 1950s few in my experience know of the equally strong and arguably more genuine friendship between their two governments in the 1920s.

In the two decades that followed the USSR became China’s strongest international supporter in its war against Japanese aggression, a war which has defined modern China and of which the outside world knows lamentably little. During this period the USSR had to balance its support for China’s official Guomindang led government that was supposedly leading the struggle against the Japanese with its support for the Chinese Communist Party (originally the leftwing of the Guomindang movement) with which the Guomindang was often in armed conflict. The USSR also had to balance its support for China with its need to avoid a war in the east with Japan at a time when it was being threatened in the west by Nazi Germany and its allies. The skill with which the government of the USSR performed this difficult feat has gone almost wholly unrecognised.

Following the defeat of Japan in 1945 the USSR’s military support was (as is now known) crucial though obviously not decisive to the Chinese Communist Party’s victory in the civil war against the Guomindang, which led to the establishment in 1949 of the People’s Republic. A decade of extremely close political, military and economic relations followed during which the two countries were formally allies. As is now known this relationship in reality was always strained and eventually broke down in part because of mutual personal antagonism between the countries’ two leaders, Khrushchev and Mao Zedong, but mainly because of Chinese anger at the USSR’s failure to support a war to recover Taiwan and above all because of China’s refusal as the world’s most populous country and oldest civilisation to accept a subordinate position to the USSR in the international Communist movement. The rupture was made formal by Khrushchev’s decision in 1960 to withdraw from China the Soviet advisers and economic assistance that had been sent there. Supporters of sanctions may care to note that on the two occasions Russia has used sanctions (against Yugoslavia in 1948 and against China in 1960) they backfired spectacularly on Russia resulting in entirely negative consequences for Russia.

The Sino-Soviet rupture of 1960 resulted in a decade and a half of very strained relations. An attempt to restore relations to normal following Khrushchev’s fall in 1964 was wrecked, possibly intentionally, by the Soviet defence minister Marshal Malinovsky who encouraged members of the Chinese leadership to overthrow Mao Zedong through a coup similar to the one that had overthrown Khrushchev. Relations with the USSR during this period also increasingly became hostage to Chinese internal politics with Mao and his supporters during the period of political terror known as the Cultural Revolution routinely accusing their opponents of being Soviet agents. This period of difficult relations eventually culminated in serious border clashes in 1969, an event that panicked the leadership of both countries and which led each of them to explore alignments against each other with the Americans.

This period of very tense relations basically ended in 1976 with the death of Mao Zedong who shortly before his death is supposed to have issued an injunction to the Chinese Communist party instructing it to restore relations with the USSR. Once the post Mao succession disputes were resolved with the victory of Deng Xiaoping a process of outright rapprochement began the start of which was formally signaled in the USSR by Leonid Brezhnev in a speech in Tashkent in 1982 which he made shortly before his death. By 1989 the process of rapprochement was complete allowing Gorbachev to visit Beijing in the spring of that year when however his visit was overshadowed by the Tiananmen disturbances.

Since then there has been a steady strengthening of relations. Gorbachev refused to involve the USSR in the sanctions the western powers imposed on China following the Tiananmen disturbances. Yeltsin, despite the strong pro-western orientation of his government, remained a firm advocate of good relations with China and worked to build on the breakthrough achieved in the 1980s. In 1997, in a speech in Hong Kong, Jiang Zemin already spoke of Russia as China’s key strategic ally. In 1998 the two countries acted for the first time openly in concert on the Security Council to oppose the US bombing of Iraq (“Operation Desert Fox”). Subsequently both countries strongly opposed the US led attacks on Yugoslavia in 1999 and on Iraq in 2003.

Since then their cooperation in political, economic and security matters has intensified. Whilst their relations have had their moments of difficulty (eg. over Russian complaints of illicit Chinese copying of weapon systems) and the development of their economic relations has lagged well behind that of their political relations (inevitable given the disastrous state of the Russian economy in the 1990s) it is difficult to see on what basis they can be considered “frenemies”.

The reality is that Russia and China have for obvious reasons of history, culture and above all geography faced through most of their history in different directions: China towards Asia (where it is the supreme east Asian civilisation) and Russia towards Europe. That should not however disguise the fact that their interaction has been very prolonged (since the 1680s), – longer in fact than that of China with any of the major western powers – and generally peaceful and mostly friendly. Periods of outright hostility have been short lived and rare. Despite sharing the world’s longest border all-out war between the two countries has never happened. On the two occasions (in the 1680s and 1960s) when it briefly appeared that it might, both drew back and eventually sought and achieved a compromise. For China Russia’s presence on its northern border has in fact been an unqualified benefit, stabilising and securing the border from which the greatest threats to China’s independence and security have traditionally come.

Western perceptions of the China Russia relationship are in my opinion far too heavily influenced by the very brief period of the Sino Soviet conflict of the 1960s and 1970s. Across the 300 or so years of the history of their mutual interaction the 15 or so years of this conflict represent very much the anomaly not the rule. Given this conflict’s idiosyncratic origins in ideological and status issues that are (to put it mildly) extremely unlikely to recur again, to treat this conflict as representing the norm in China’s and Russia’s relations with each other seems to me frankly farfetched. The past is never a safe guide to the future. However on the basis of the actual history of their relations, to argue that China’s and Russia’s strategic partnership is bound to fail because of their supposed long history of suspicion and conflict towards each other is to argue from prejudice rather than fact.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Shells hit hospital as Ukrainian army resumes strike on Slavyansk

RT |May 30, 2014

Kiev’s troops renewed the shelling of Slavyansk on Friday morning, residents told RT. A local children’s hospital and a clinic came under fire. There are no reports of injuries.

“This morning they hit the children’s policlinic in the center of the city and the reception ward of the children’s hospital. It was at 5 am,” Vladimir, a Slavyansk resident, told RT.

“The hospital and the policlinic stand close to each other. The hospital was damaged worse than the policlinic,” another resident said. “There were no victims.”

There were some children staying in the hospital at the time of the attack. They were all taken to the building’s basement for cover after the shelling started, said Olga, a nurse working there.

“I’ve worked here for 30 years, and I never thought I would have to come to a ruin to do my job. That’s our government and our ‘valorous’ Ukrainian troops for you,” she said.

Kiev said it did not use artillery on Friday and claimed that it was the militia, who trained their own guns on the hospital to put the blame on the Ukrainian military.

Troops loyal to Kiev intensified the military crackdown on the militias of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in mid-April. They are using artillery, aviation and armor in a bid to take control of the restive region.

The military operation in eastern Ukraine will continue until the region“can live and function normally and the people are calm,” acting Defense Minister Mikhail Koval stated on Friday.

Slavyansk has been in the focus of the confrontation, which has claimed dozens of lives, both among the belligerents and local civilians.

The militias are holding off the attacks through a combination of guerrilla tactics and weapons seized from the Ukrainian troops. They scored a major success on Thursday, when they shot down a helicopter carrying one of Kiev’s generals.

Some people in Slavyansk believe that Kiev’s troops will now retaliate for the general’s death and devastate the city.

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | | Leave a comment

Has David Attenborough Become A BBC Propaganda Mouthpiece Promoting Climate Fear?

By Jim Steele* | Watts Up With That? | May 29, 2014

David Attenborough was my favorite wildlife cinematographer and each year I fed my students numerous clips to make biology and ecology come alive. Researching the plight of the polar bears, I began to worry that “my hero” had decided to use his spectacular wildlife videos to promote catastrophic climate change.

The first example that raised my suspicions was his portrayal of polar bears feeding on walruses, with a narration suggesting it was a new behavior desperately driven by climate change. But for us ecologists who know better: shame on you David Attenborough. He ignored documented wildlife history and cherry-picked a dramatic scene to promote climate fear.

First view this older BBC video pitting polar bears against walrus. Notice how many bears are converging on the walrus herd and that they are coming from the land. Then view Attenborough’s “new and improved video” that puts a very misleading slant on polar bears and walruses.

If you want to read historical facts about walruses and polar bears, I suggest reading Francis H. Fay’s 1982 “Ecology And Biology Of The Pacific Walrus, Odobenus rosmarus, Divergens Illiger.” In the 1950s, Fay was concerned that the walrus was headed for extinction due to over-hunting for ivory and blubber so Fay set out to document everything there was to know about walruses.

In his tome, Fay published early 1900 observations by Russian researchers who admired the polar bears’ varied and clever tactics for hunting walrus.

“The walruses on Peschan Island are frequently bothered by bears, which creep up to them under cover of uneven terrain and of driftwood, of which there usually is an abundance, along the shore. Sometimes the bears dig pits in the sand or make a pile in front of themselves in order to hide from the walruses. We saw a bear in a pit dug in the driftwood within 50 m of the herd, where it watched for a long time. Suddenly, it leaped from its concealment and plunged along the flat terrain toward the walruses. The animals, upon seeing the running bear, rushed into the water, and when the bear reached those on shore, only a few large males remained, and these gradually pivoted into the water, threatening with roars and swinging tusks. The bear in his misfortune was unable to decide whether or not to enter the water and only brandished his paws helplessly and growled in discontent. Not infrequently, in the confusion, the adult walruses crush some young; possibly, at the time of the attack, the bears hope to profit from such accidentally crushed or abandoned young.”

Anyone familiar with the scientific literature knows polar bears have been hunting walruses since recorded history and most certainly before that time. More recently researchers reporting to the Polar Bear Specialist Group meeting speculated that hunting walruses on land was likely to be a behavior that has allowed bears to survive the lack of sea ice that was far more common through out the Holocene Optimum.

For example, Wrangel Island is both home of one of the largest known polar bear denning areas in the Arctic as well as the location of several traditional walrus land haul-outs each summer. Because walruses often get trampled at these haul-outs, bears eagerly supplement their diet by feeding on the trodden carcasses. In addition, polar bears will wait at these haul outs anticipating the summer wave of walrus herds that typically come ashore and then dine on weak or young walruses. Seasoned bears know to avoid a healthy bull.

In 2007 the 2nd greatest decrease in Arctic sea ice was observed in the waters surrounding Wrangel Island. That summer researchers observed the greatest number of polar bears on the island. However, contrary to the less ice­­-means-starving-bear theory, there were no signs of increased nutritional stress. Quite the opposite.

Anticipating the seasonal haul-out of walruses, the bears concentrated along the beaches where they were easily observed by researchers who determined that less than 5% of the Wrangel Island bears were designated skinny or very skinny. That compared very favorably to the 7 to 15% of skinny bears observed in previous years with heavier ice. Furthermore researcher determined that not only did 29% of all bears look “normal”, the remaining 66% were fat or very fat. Those polar bear experts wrote, “Under certain circumstances, such as were observed on Wrangel Island in 2007, (Ovsyanikov and Menyushina 2008, Ovsyanikov et al., 2008), resources available in coastal ecosystems may be so abundant that polar bears are able to feed on them more successfully than while hunting on the sea ice.

With that scientific background, view Attenborough’s rendition and ask yourself if he is objectively narrating the video. He ignores the bears and walruses’ natural history to suggest polar bears have only recently attacked walruses out of desperation. Attenborough suggests the lone bear had been desperately swimming for days trying to reach the island. However, without a radio-collar on the bear, one must wonder if Attenborough is using creative license. And why is Attenborough “serendipitously“ set up in this location to film this event??? Is it a traditional walrus hunting spot and not the rare event his video suggests?

Researchers have documented instances of younger bears who have not mastered hunting walrus that resulted in injury, but it is a matter of a younger bears evolving experience. Attenborough marries an uncommon hunting failure to climate change. Playing sad music, he suggests that bears only attack walruses as an unnatural last resort; suggesting that, in essence, it is a climate change driven act that is suicidal and doomed to increase.

To my increasing dismay, my former wildlife hero seems to be plunging more deeply into climate propaganda. Attenborough has a new series on Discovery called Africa but it might as well be called “Let’s Push Climate Fear“.

Take for instance his video segment, shown below, on Green Turtles. He accurately tells us that unlike humans who determine gender via the X and Y chromosomes, Green Turtles (as well as several other reptiles) determine the next generation’s gender based on the temperature of the developing eggs. Researchers realized this when trying to save endangered sea turtles from depredation and dug up their eggs to “safely” incubate them. Fearing that buried eggs at the bottom of the pile had not benefited equally from the sun’s warmth, the eggs were laid out evenly on trays so all could incubate at the same temperature. The result was uni-sex baby turtles.

However, turtles have been around since the dinosaurs and their temperature-gender system has been completely successful throughout monumental periods of climate change, massive extinctions, and epochs with far warmer temperatures than today. Attenborough should tell his audience that micro-climates are far more critical to their success as well as informing the public that temperatures drop off dramatically with depth in the sand. Nonetheless he warns that due to global warming, female turtles will soon have great difficulty finding a male. Shameful propaganda Sir David!

Video: http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/africa/videos/sea-turtles-face-climate-change.htm

* Author Jim Steele is Director emeritus Sierra Nevada Field Campus, San Francisco State University.


Literature cited

Fay, F. (1982) Ecology and Biology of Odobenus rosmarus the Pacific Walrus, divergens. US. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, North American Fauna, No. 74.

Ovsyanikov N.G., and Menyushina I.E. (2008) Specifics of Polar Bears Surviving an Ice Free Season on Wrangel Island in 2007. Marine Mammals of the Holarctic. Odessa, pp. 407-412.

Segments of this essay are adapted from Jim Steele’s Landscapes & Cycles: An Environmentalist’s Journey to Climate Skepticism

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Historic Syrian Election Brings Multitudes of Voters

By Brenda Heard | Friends of Lebanon | May 29, 2014

On the 28th May 2014, expatriated Syrian nationals in numerous countries flocked to Syrian embassies to begin the voting process in a presidential election. With all its potential flaws, perhaps even inherent flaws, this quintessential element of democracy is still the most effective means of finding consensus. As the saying goes, you can’t please all the people all the time. Thus elections provide an opportunity for peaceful compromise. But to work, democracy requires participation.

President Bashar al Assad is being challenged by Maher Hajjar and Hassan Nouri, even if sneered at by those who label them as merely symbolic candidates. Yet instead of offering strong opponents to al Assad, those aligned with the opposition parties of the Syrian War have boycotted the election, calling it a mockery, a parody, a joke. Likewise, many expats have been unable to vote because their host countries have either closed their Syrian Embassies or have banned the election process. Notable examples are Australia, Belgium, Britain, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.

As thousands upon thousands of Syrians made their way to embassies around the world to vote, US President Obama addressed the West Point Military Academy and proclaimed that the US would “ramp up support for those in the Syrian opposition” and that the US would “coordinate with our friends and allies in Europe and the Arab World to push for a political resolution of this crisis.” Such a stance is nonsensical. Isn’t an election the essence of a political resolution? Instead, the US has led the Western world in denouncing the election as a farce, and in fomenting division.

The context of Syria’s war is long and complex. The bottom line, however, is that far too many people have suffered. Many Syrians oppose the al Assad government. Many Syrians support the al Assad government. Unless an agreement is reached between the two camps, they will both suffer a dismal war of attrition. This election could have been an opportunity to take a path of compromise and cooperation. Instead, it has been refused and ridiculed.

Typical of Western media coverage, the Washington Post reduces the election to a “forceful affirmation of [al Assad’s] tightening grip on power.” The Post bemoans that “Assad is expected to win easily because there are no serious challengers,” saying that the “constitution has been carefully crafted to exclude political opponents.”  Has it?  The constitution is here, with the relevant section beginning with Article 83. Perhaps the Post is reading between the lines of what appear to be standard criteria for candidacy, but even the alleged stumbling block of a candidate’s needing approval from 35 of the 250 members of a citizen-elected parliament is surmountable. The National Progressive Front (aligned with al Assad) gained 168 seats in the May 2012 election, which if assuming absolute party-alliance, still leaves 82 non-aligned potential votes for the would-be candidate.  That pool might have been more, but the opposition boycotted that election as well, thus forfeiting the chance to gain authority.

Again typical of Western media coverage, the Post attempts to explain away the vast numbers of expat voters in Lebanon by saying:

“The large turnout here was spurred in part by a widespread rumor that those who do not vote will not be allowed to return home, a question of growing concern for those among the 1 million Syrian refugees living in Lebanon who support the opposition but are losing hope that the rebels will prevail. Syrian authorities did not say this would be the case, but with all voters having to submit their identity papers to the embassy for registration, it is feasible that the government will know who voted and who did not.”

Well, yes, that is not only feasible, but quite normal. All governments check off the names of those voting in some fashion against a voter registration. Such an occurrence hardly validates this rumour. Even if a voter did cast his ballot for al Assad simply to ensure his future ability to return home, it would mean he felt that return preferable than the status quo. And even if this were the case with some expats, it does not explain away the obvious enthusiasm that is seen in the faces, statements and actions reported across the ideological spectrum.  As the Huffington Post’s World Post reports, support for President al-Assad “was splashed across everything from T-shirts to enormous signs that men carried” as “tens of thousands of Syrians living here [in Lebanon] cast their ballots.”

Of course there are ordinary Syrian citizens—“farmers or dentists,” as President Obama imagined the “ordinary Syrians”—who oppose the al Assad government. But as you can see and hear for yourself in the numerous reports of this election process, there are also many people who genuinely support his leadership, even after three years of bitter conflict.  While the election is surely a lost opportunity for working toward a common good, perhaps the passions exhibited act as a much needed reminder: Isn’t it time for compromise?

Reports for additional reading:

Al Jazeera: In Pictures: Syrians in Lebanon head to polls

Al Jazeera: Massive turnout for Syrian vote in Lebanon: Of the tens of thousands of expatriates flocking to their embassy to vote, a majority voiced support for Assad’s rule. (with video)

Guardian/Associated Press: Syrians in Lebanon battle crowds to vote for Bashar al-Assad: Massive turnout for ‘expatriate’ voting in embassies before Syria’s June election though many refugees boycott polls

BBC: Syria election: Refugees vote in Lebanon and Jordan

Washington Post: This is what the Syrian election looks like in Lebanon

International Business Times: Syria: Refugees Go to Polls in Lebanon to Vote for Bashar al-Assad

Huffington Post’s World Post: Syrians Flood Embassy In Lebanon To Cast Ballots In Presidential Election

Reuters: Tens of thousands of Syrians abroad vote in early poll

Lebanon Daily Star: Beirut roads paralyzed by Syrian voters headed to polls

Lebanon Al Akhbar: Syrian Expatriates Head to the Polls in Presidential Vote

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | | Leave a comment

National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee calls for release of Amer Jubran, detained in Jordan

NLG International | May 29, 2014

amer_jubran2The Palestine Subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild expresses its grave concern for Jordanian national, Palestinian Amer Jubran who was detained on May 5th, 2014 in Amman, Jordan.

It is our understanding that Jubran has not been charged with any crime and has had no access to a lawyer. Jubran is an internationally recognized and respected speaker, activist and writer on Palestinian human rights, and a critic of the U.S./Israeli occupation of the region. Having already been targeted by the US government for his political speech while a legal resident of the US in 2004, Jubran’s current detention raises concerns that this is a political arrest aimed at silencing dissent and suggests cooperation between Jordanian authorities, the United States and Israel in suppressing criticism of US and Israeli policies.

Jordan is a signatory party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 9 of the ICCPR prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention, and requires that deprivation of liberty, even if legally sanctioned, must be necessary and reasonable, predictable, and proportional to the reasons for arrest. Article 19 (2) of the ICCPR guarantees the right to freedom of expression, including “freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”

The United Nations Office of High Commissioner on Human Rights has advised that Jordan should end its current practice of administrative detention. Furthermore, Jordan’s penal code has still not been amended to comply with its 2011 guarantees to strengthen constitutional free speech. Jordan proclaims that it is undergoing democratic reforms and respecting civil liberties, claiming to have accepted a number of Amnesty International’s recommendations to limit the use and duration of administrative detention, and to ensure that all detainees are brought before an independent judicial authority promptly after arrest and charged, or else promptly released. However, Jordan’s use of arbitrary arrest and administration detention aimed to limit freedom of speech continues to be criticized in ongoing reports by international human rights organizations.

Friends and colleagues of Jubran have repeatedly contacted the Jordanian Embassy in the United States and the Ministry of the Interior in Jordan. They have been told that Jubran’s detention will be looked into, but no further information has been forthcoming.

The Palestine Subcommittee of the National Lawyers Guild urges compliance with internationally recognized standards of due process and the right to freedom of expression.

We expect

  • the prompt release of Jubran, if he is not to be charged;
  • access to an attorney of his choosing;
  • the prompt setting of a reasonable bail if he is charged;
  • visitation with his family;
  • consultation with health care professionals;
  • the immediate release of information regarding his whereabouts and condition;
  • and an immediate explanation of why he has been held since May 5, 2014.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , | 1 Comment

USA Freedom Act has Nothing to Do With Freedom

By Alfredo Lopez | This Can’t Be Happening! | May 28, 2014

It just wasn’t a very good week for phones or for freedom.

Last week’s obscene joke of a bill coughed up by a Congress [1] wheezing with immobilizing congestion morphed an already compromised law about data collection into a green light to spy on everyone.

The bill passed the House last Thursday and is now heading to the Senate where the chances of getting a better bill are pretty slim. The President has endorsed this House bill; after all, it endorses his policies.

Sponsored by Wisconsin Republican Jim Sensenbrenner (the author of the Patriot Act), the ironically named USA Freedom Act’s most salient feature is that, contrary to the bluffery about how it’s going to rein in the government on phone surveillance, it has now made massive phone data capture legal and public. The NSA and related agencies under this supposed “reform” bill would gain full authority to collect all information from phone companies and, what’s more, the bill mandates that the companies hold on to that information (apparently permanently).

The House obviously caved. Not that the first edition of this bill was very good to start with. The government obviously is not going to limit its own power. But the bill as passed by the House is much weaker and, in a “blink if you don’t believe it” moment, many Democratic Congressional leaders are actually congratulating themselves. Even John Conyers (D-Mich.), Detroit’s traditionally progressive Democrat, supported this bill: “We stand poised to end domestic bulk collection across the board,” he said not making clear where he was standing or when domestic bulk collection was going to end. It certainly didn’t end with this bill.

On the other hand, a few Congresspeople did express concern, including Sensenbrenner himself, who called the new law “an abuse” of the Patriot Act. One is left wondering what the Wisconsin lawmaker expected from the draconian nightmare he authored.

While that little humorless comedy was playing out, we got another glimpse of how phone surveillance is being used. Wikileaks revealed that the NSA has been collecting phone data on virtually all phones in Afghanistan. This comes on the heels of revelations a few days earlier about such mass phone call collection in the Bahamas, Mexico, Kenya and the Philippines. The punch-line to this gross violation of people’s rights is that the bill passed last week doesn’t even mention international phone call capture — that’s still left completely unregulated.

There’s a lot wrong with the bill passed through the House [2] and that’s obvious from the scenario of “permitted activity” that the bill is based on. Essentially, phone companies have to hold records for an unspecified period of time. The government can’t collect them indiscriminately as it had previously done. But that “reform” is meaningless because government agencies can acquire data from any phone company by using either a specific court order through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court (the NSA’s rubber stamp in robes) based on “selectors,” or on the basis of an emergency situation defined according to NSA criteria.

The problem lies in the definition of “selectors” — the filters used to determine whether or not specific information is captured or requested. Previously, the NSA would capture the phone data and then run it through its “selectors” to determine what gets pulled or retained. Now, they can either ask the telephone company to run the selectors or go in and run it themselves. Before doing that, the spy agency must present the selection set to the FISA court. Since the court is going to approve anything NSA requests (it has rejected less than one percent of all requests up to now), the definition of the selectors is important because they are the only element of restraint in the entire collection process.

The bill requires that a selector be “a discrete term, such as a term specifically identifying a person, entity, account, address, or device”. How much is included under that umbrella? It’s probably better to ask what isn’t included. With that list, under this law, the NSA is allowed to access the records of almost all Americans.

But we still won’t know how many records have been accessed because this version strikes provisions in the original draft that would have forced phone companies to tell us how many records they’ve had to release to the NSA. Under the just-passed version of the bill, if the company wants to tell us, it can’t until six months after it has received a request. If it’s a start-up, it can’t do a report for two years.

In short, the law puts an automatic gag order on phone companies in this country.

In the guise of protecting our privacy or limiting surveillance power, the bill also continues to allow “about searches” in which an international conversation is scanned for names of people who then become targets of investigation. That particularly nasty practice makes any provisions protecting Americans useless. If a person in another country mentions your name, you are a legitimate target. In the original bill, any “reverse targeting” of this type was outlawed, but that protective provision has been eliminated from the version the House just passed.

This type of “foreign connection” is looming more important with recent revelations about international phone capture. This week, several publications released the information [3] about the complete capture of phone data in several countries but refused to name one of them (for national security reasons). Wikileaks, in response to that weak-kneed journalism, then named it: Afghanistan. (Even Glenn Greenwald, who broke the international capture story based upon some of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s documents, honored a government request not to name Afghanistan.)

While fans of spy-craft will defend this practice of massive spying on international phones, under the curious but oft-repeated theory that our rights only pertain to people in this country, this sweeping capture program goes way beyond any traditional spying. In fact, phone data capture bears no resemblance to espionage or traditional spying (which is selective in its targeting) and is much closer to the activities of a police state. When done to another country, it’s a lot like trying to police the other country: a virtual act of virtual war.

It’s grotesque to consider that, after over 12 years of war waged on Afghanistan, our government is now waging a war of information capture against its people. But that revelation is proof of what many have been saying about this country’s intentions in that beleaguered and battered nation: we have absolutely no intention of pulling out of Afghanistan, no matter what President Obama says.

In fact, the phone data captured targets not only Afghans but phone calls from U.S. diplomatic and military personnel. In short, the NSA is spying on the military and the diplomatic core, including even the CIA. This is truly the stuff of a police state.

The entire phone capture controversy underscores another important political fact: the cell phone is now the most popular access to the Internet among people in developing countries and among young people and people of color in this country. These are also the people who are going to provide the sharpest and most aggressive challenges to the world’s governments in the coming years of deepening crisis. If our government wants to control anybody, it’s these people. The USA Freedom Act demonstrates one way they are planning to do that.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

Despite promise, US govt moves to classify justification for drone killing of American

RT | May 29, 2014

The Obama administration has launched a sudden effort to keep classified additional parts of a memo outlining the legal justification for the drone killing of an American a mere week after saying it would comply with a federal ruling to release the memo.

In January 2013, a Federal District Court judge decided that the US Justice Department could keep the document classified entirely. That ruling stood until April 2014, when a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York ordered the government to publicize key parts of the document that provided the legal rationale for the drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki.

Awlaki was born in New Mexico before moving to Yemen with his family as a child. He returned to the US again to attend college but eventually became a prominent Al-Qaeda propagandist who American intelligence officials have claimed helped plot terrorist attacks. He was killed by a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen that was authorized based on the 41-page memo, dated July 16, 2010.

President Barack Obama praised the strike at the time, telling reporters that Awlaki’s death was a “major blow to Al-Qaeda’s most active operational affiliate.”

The New York Times and American Civil Liberties Union have sought the release of the memo under the Freedom of Information Act.

It has been an issue of contention of late because David Barron, the former Justice Department attorney who wrote the memo, was confirmed by the US Senate by a narrow vote last week as a judge on a US appeals court. A number of senators said they would only vote to confirm Barron if the administration agreed not to appeal the April decision and release a redacted version of the document.

“I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the president has the power to kill an American citizen not involved in combat and without a trial,” Senator Rand Paul said last week. “It is hard to argue for the trials for traitors and people who would wish to harm our fellow Americans. But a mature freedom defends the defenseless, allows trials for the guilty, and protects even speech of the most despicable nature.”

In a new court filing obtained by The New York Times, however, assistant US attorney Sarah Normand now argues that some of the information the administration pledged to reveal should actually remain secret.

“Some of the information appears to have been ordered disclosed based on inadvertence or mistake, or is subject is distinct exemption claims or other legal protections that have never been judicially considered,” she wrote.

The Justice Department also asked that the court keep the request for parts of the memo to remain secret. That request was denied, with the judge ordering the government to unveil previously secret negotiations between the court and prosecutions deliberating which aspects of the Barron memo would remain in the dark.

“It’s deeply disappointing to see the latest effort by the government to delay even further the release of this memo to the public,” New York Times attorney David McCraw told Politico. “The government reviewed the Second Circuit’s opinion before it was released. The court made redactions in response to that review. The fact that the government then waited five weeks to file a motion – seeking yet another opportunity to review what it has already reviewed – says volumes about the administration’s position on transparency.”

Senator Mark Udall (D-Colorado) was one of the lawmakers who said he only voted to confirm Barron because of the administration’s promise that “redactions to the memo would focus on still-classified information – not the legal reasoning itself,” he told the Times.

“I intend to hold the White House to its word,” Udall added.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abbas: Security cooperation with Israel is ‘sacred’

Obama_Abbas_Netanyahu

MEMO | May 29, 2014

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said on Wednesday that security cooperation with Israel is “sacred” and will continue despite the political differences.

While speaking in Ramallah to about 200 Israeli activists, including academics and economists, Al-Arabi Al-Jadid news website quoted Abbas as saying: “The PA wants to return to negotiations, but based on conditions that have to be accepted by the Israeli government.”

These conditions, according to Abbas, are: the release of the fourth batch of veteran Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails; nine months negotiations with priority given to security and border issues; and discussing other issues, such as water, Jerusalem and the settlements.

Abbas insisted that he understands Israel’s security needs. “Security cooperation is sacred and it will continue despite the political differences,” he said.

Regarding the recent Palestinian developments, he stressed: “We will continue with the internal reconciliation, with our hand also extended to negotiations.” He called for everyone to follow the peaceful pathway of resistance.

“There is no other way to be taken,” he noted, “we do not have any pathway rather than peaceful negotiations that lead to peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

He explained further: “We are not hostile to Jews or Judaism. The one who thinks thus is an infidel according to our beliefs.”

Regarding the settlements, he pointed out that there are 12 international resolutions considering them illegal and called for a settlement freeze for three months until an agreement is reached between the PA and Israel.

Regarding the Israeli rejection of the rapprochement with Hamas, he said: “Reconciliation was done through the formation of an independent government, which will continue until the elections are held.” He expressed his hope that Israel will continue the talks “because stopping is a mistake”.

Abbas pointed out that although Israel boycotted the PA after the reconciliation was announced, it has nevertheless continued with the security cooperation.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment

Up to 80,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem without running water for three months

palestinian-children-water-bottles

MEMO | May 29, 2014

Israeli water utility company Hagihon has stopped the regular supply of running water to a number of Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem, according to a statement issued by Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem.

The affected neighbourhoods are the Shu’fat Refugee Camp, Ras Khamis, Ras Sh’hadeh and Dahiyat As-Salam. They have all been isolated from the rest of Jerusalem by the Separation Wall.

B’Tselem stated that: “Some homes in these neighbourhoods have been completely cut off from the water supply; others receive water intermittently; and as for the rest, the water pressure in the pipes is so low that the water does not reach the faucets.”

The result, B’Tselem said, is that “an estimated 60,000 to 80,000 Palestinians – mostly permanent residents of Israel – have been left without a regular water supply.”

Trying to solve their problem, the residents spent three weeks applying to Hagihon and to the Jerusalem Municipality, seeking to have running water restored.

However, B’Tselem pointed out that the applications of the affected residents were ignored. Therefore, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) petitioned the High Court of Justice on 25 March 2014 seeking to have the water supply renewed without delay.

“On 2 April 2014, the Court instructed the State of Israel to respond to ACRI’s petition within 60 days, setting the deadline for the first week of June,” B’Tselem said.

In the meantime, the residents of these neighbourhoods have had no regular running water. B’Tselem reported residents walking at least one kilometre to get the needed daily supplies of water from relatives’ houses, sometimes repeating this journey several times a day.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

The Status of Jerusalem

By Francis Boyle | Media With Conscience | May 28, 2014

Over the years, one of the most important issues I have dealt with repeatedly for the Palestinian people is Jerusalem. For example, my friend Michael Saba and I launched an initiative to prevent the United States Government from illegally moving the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

In order to forestall this abomination, I prepared Memoranda of Law on the U.S.-Israel Land- Lease and Purchase Agreement of 1989 that would enable the construction of this U.S. Jerusalem “Embassy,” which I sent to Congressman Lee Hamilton, who was then Chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives.

These Memoranda were published in American-Arab Affairs. The Israel Lobby and its supporters in Congress are still attempting to pressure the United States government to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Of course this would be a political, legal, and diplomatic disaster.

To be sure, there would certainly be no problem under international law and practice for the United States government to move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as part of a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement whereby this Embassy would be simultaneously accredited to Israel and Palestine, with Jerusalem being recognized as the shared Capital of both States. Why and how this can be done is fully explained elsewhere in this book. Years ago the PLO had already approved my proposal set forth herein for this “Final Status of Jerusalem.” But Israel wants Jerusalem for itself. And the United States has never been solomonic when it comes to Palestine and the Palestinian people.

Many categorical statements have emanated from the Israeli government about the yet-to-be-negotiated final status of Jerusalem. Indeed, Jerusalem was said to have been the stumbling block that led to the breakdown of the Camp David II negotiations in the summer of 2000, though the negotiating situation was far more complicated than that. A brief review of the historical record can shed some light upon Jerusalem’s legal status, and thus point the way towards an ultimate solution for this most Holy City in the estimation of the three monotheistic faiths: Islam, Judaism, Christianity.

The Legal Status of Jerusalem

On September 25, 1971, then-Ambassador George H.W. Bush, speaking as U.S. Representative to the United Nations, delivered a formal Statement on Jerusalem before the UN Security Council explaining the official position of the United States government with respect to the City of Jerusalem.1 Therein, Ambassador Bush expressly repeated and endorsed a December 1969 Statement by U.S. Secretary of State William Rogers: “We have made clear repeatedly in the past two and one-half years that we cannot accept unilateral actions by any party to decide the final status of the city.”

Ambassador Bush then specifically repeated and endorsed a 1969 statement made before the Security Council by his predecessor, Charles Yost, criticizing Israeli occupation policies in East Jerusalem in the following terms:

“The expropriation or confiscation of land, the construction of housing on such land, the demolition or confiscation of buildings, including those having historic or religious significance, and the application of Israeli law to occupied portions of the city are detrimental to our common interests in the city.” Ambassador Bush then reaffirmed Yost’s prior statement that the United States government considers East Jerusalem to be “occupied territory and hence subject to the provisions of international law governing the rights and obligations of an occupying Power.”

Succinctly put, these latter obligations can be found in the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, which expanded upon and improved—but did not displace— the 1907 Hague Regulations on Land Warfare. The United States government is a party to both the Fourth Geneva Convention and The Hague Regulations, and Israel is bound by the terms of both treaties as well.

Previously, Ambassador Yost had continued his 1969 statement in the following language: 2

… Among the provisions of international law which bind Israel, as they would bind any occupier, are the provisions that the occupier has no right to make changes in laws or in administration other than those which are temporarily necessitated by his security interests, and that an occupier may not confiscate or destroy private property. The pattern of behavior authorized under the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 and international law is clear: the occupier must maintain the occupied area as intact and unaltered as possible, without interfering with the customary life of the area, and any changes must be necessitated by the immediate needs of the occupation. I regret to say that the actions of Israel in the occupied portion of Jerusalem present a different picture, one which gives rise to understandable concern that the eventual disposition of East Jerusalem may be prejudiced and that the private rights and activities of the population are already being affected and altered.

My Government regrets and deplores this pattern of activity, and it has so informed the Government of Israel on numerous occasions since June 1967. We have consistently refused to recognize those measures as having anything but a provisional character and do not accept them as affecting the ultimate status of Jerusalem.

Then, Ambassador Bush continued his 1971 Statement as follows:

We regret Israel’s failure to acknowledge its obligations under the fourth Geneva Convention as well as its actions which are contrary to the letter and spirit of this Convention. We are distressed that the actions of Israel in the occupied portion of Jerusalem give rise to understandable concern that the eventual disposition of the occupied section of Jerusalem may be prejudiced. The Report of the Secretary General on the Work of the Organization, 1970-71, reflects the concern of many Governments over changes in the face of that City. We have on a number of occasions discussed this matter with the Government of Israel, stressing the need to take more fully into account the sensitivities and concerns of others. Unfortunately, the response of the Government of Israel has been disappointing.

All of us understand… that Jerusalem has a very special place in the Judaic tradition, one which has great meaning for Jews throughout the world. At the same time Jerusalem holds a special place in the hearts of many millions of Christians and Muslims throughout the world. In this regard, I want to state clearly that we believe Israel’s respect for the Holy Places has indeed been exemplary. But an Israeli occupation policy made up of unilaterally determined practices cannot help promote a just and lasting peace any more than that cause was served by the status quo in Jerusalem prior to June 1967 which, I want to make clear, we did not like and we do not advocate reestablishing.

Ambassador Bush then concluded his 1971 statement on Jerusalem by supporting what would later that day become Security Council Resolution 298 (1971), which provided in its most significant parts as follows:

1. Reaffirming the principle that acquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible,

2. Deplores the failure of Israel to respect the previous resolutions adopted by the United Nations concerning measures and actions by Israel purporting to affect the status of the City of Jerusalem;

3. Confirms in the clearest possible terms that all legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of the City of Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties, transfer of populations and legislation aimed at the incorporation of the occupied section, are totally invalid and cannot change that status;

4. Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all previous measures and actions and to take no further steps in the occupied section of Jerusalem which may purport to change the status of the City or which would prejudice the rights of the inhabitants and the interests of the international community, or a just and lasting peace;

Security Council Resolution 298 (1971) became yet another violated resolution in “a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations“by Israel that were never enforced by the Security Council.3

In any event, the Statements made by Bush and Yost have always represented the United States government’s official position on the numerous illegalities surrounding Israel’s conquest, occupation and illegal annexation of East Jerusalem since 1967. The comments on East Jerusalem that Bush made later in 1990 as U.S. President were to the same effect: 4

The President. Well, I’m not sure there was equivocation. My position is that the foreign policy of the United States says we do not believe there should be new settlements in the West Bank or in East Jerusalem. And I will conduct that policy as if its firm, which it is, and I will be shaped in whatever decisions we make to see whether people can comply with that policy. And that’s our strongly held view. We think it’s constructive to peace—the peace process—if Israel will follow that view. And so, there are divisions in Israel on this question, incidentally. Parties are divided on it. But this is the position of the United States and I’m not going to change that position.

Yost’s 1969 Statement, Bush’s 1971 Statement, and his 1990 comments are fully consistent with and indeed required by Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which requires the United States government not only to respect but also to ensure respect for the terms of this Convention by other parties such as Israel “in all circumstances”. As treaties, both the Fourth Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations are deemed to be the “supreme Law of the Land” by Article VI of the United States Constitution. Contrary to the public suggestions made in the United States by the Israel Lobby and its supporters, the United States government is under legal obligation to support the vigorous application of the international laws of belligerent occupation to produce the termination of all illegal Israeli practices in Jerusalem as well as in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, together with the Golan Heights—including and especially illegal Israeli settlers and settlements.

The Political Problem of Jerusalem

For similar reasons, the United States government has never recognized Israel’s conquest and annexation of West Jerusalem as valid or lawful, either. That is why the U.S. Embassy to Israel still remains in Tel Aviv, not Jerusalem.

Nevertheless, the pro-Israel lobby in the United States and its beneficiaries in the U.S. Congress have systematically attempted to pressure successive U.S. Presidents into recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, even though such an act would inflame public opinion throughout the Muslim world—over 57 states and 1 billion people, a sixth of all humanity—against the United States. Such an act of formal diplomatic recognition would be a legal, political and diplomatic disaster that would prevent a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine and thus preclude a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement between Israel and the surrounding Arab states. Perhaps that is the Israel Lobby’s intention.

Undaunted, the U.S. Israel Lobby has continued apace bribing, threatening, and intimidating members of the U.S. Congress and the President to move incrementally towards an awesome “clash of civilizations” between the United States and the Muslim world over Jerusalem as forecast by Harvard’s Samuel Huntington.5 No point would be served here by reviewing the sordid history of the U.S. Israel Lobby’s efforts to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem since that saga has recently been recounted elsewhere.6

Suffice it to say that the U.S. Israel Lobby procured passage by Congress of the so-called Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995.7 Among other outrages too numerous to analyze here, section 3 of this statute provided in relevant part as follows:

STATEMENT OF THE POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES

(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and

(3) The United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.

Article 1, Section 10, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution has historically been interpreted to mean that such acts of diplomatic recognition are to be performed by the President. In deference thereto, Congress employed the word “should” instead of “shall” in the statute.

Nevertheless, in section 3(b) thereof Congress did wield its well-recognized constitutional “power of the purse” to cut State Department funding for “Acquisition and Maintenance of Buildings Abroad” unless and until “the United States Embassy in Jerusalem has officially opened.” But section 7 of the Statute permits the President to waive this fiscal sanction every six months on the grounds that “such suspension is necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States.” So far that is what President Clinton and President Bush Jr. have consistently done.

Dissatisfied with Congressional support which, while submissive to Zionist demands, had not yielded changes in actual U.S. policy, the Israel lobby proceeded to procure the passage of an even more strictly tailored piece of legislation that in a nutshell requires the U.S. President to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on official U.S. government documents, once again upon pain of fiscal sanctions—so-called “paper recognition”.8 While President Bush Jr. stated that he will ignore this requirement on the grounds that it is unconstitutional—infringing upon the President’s constitutional power to perform such acts of diplomatic recognition—there was such an uproar throughout the Muslim world over this “paper recognition” of Jerusalem as being the capital of Israel by the United States Congress that the Arab TV Network Al Jazeera invited this author to appear live by satellite on their evening news program for Thursday, 17 October 2002 in order to critique this statute under U.S. constitutional law and under international law, as well as to explain how this statute fits within the overall conduct of U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East and the Muslim world. In further reinforcement of the deleterious effects that changes in U.S. policy on Jerusalem have on U.S. interests—as opposed to those of Israel—on 29 October 2002 CNN reported that a U.S. diplomat had been murdered the previous day in Amman, Jordan because of this statute’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Clearly, it is doubtful that the Israel Lobby will be satisfied with Bush Jr.’s statement that he will ignore Congress’s “paper recognition” of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But it is not clear that President Bush Jr. will really honor his pubic commitment to ignore this legislation. The battle for Jerusalem will continue in Washington, DC as well as in the streets of Palestine, Israel, and elsewhere.

A Solution for Jerusalem

The 1947 United Nations Partition Plan for the Mandate of Palestine called for the creation of an international trusteeship for the City of Jerusalem that would be administered as a corpus separatum apart from both the Jewish state and the Arab state contemplated therein. Today, however, it would not be necessary to go so far as to establish a separate United Nations trusteeship for the City of Jerusalem alone under Chapter XII of the UN Charter. Rather, all that would be necessary would be the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the City of Jerusalem, with a United Nations peacekeeping force to be substituted in its place. This UN force would maintain security within the City of Jerusalem while the provision of basic services to all the inhabitants could be enhanced, especially for the Palestinians.

The simple substitution of a UN peacekeeping force for the Israeli army would have the virtue of allowing both Israel and Palestine to continue making whatever claims to sovereignty they want with respect to the City of Jerusalem.

Thus, Israel could continue to maintain that Jerusalem is the sovereign territory of Israel, its united capital, and shall remain so, one and undivided, forever. The Israeli Knesset could remain where it is, in territory designated as a capital district, and the Israeli flag could be flown anywhere throughout the City of Jerusalem.

Likewise, the State of Palestine could maintain that Jerusalem is its sovereign territory and capital and shall remain so, one and undivided, forever. Palestine would be entitled to construct a parliament building and capital district within East Jerusalem. The Palestinian flag could also be flown anywhere within the territorial confines of the City of Jerusalem. Both Israel and Palestine would be entitled to maintain ceremonial honor guards, perhaps armed with revolvers, at their respective capital districts. But no armed troops from either Israel or Palestine would be permitted within Jerusalem.

The residents of Jerusalem would be citizens of either Israel, or Palestine, or both, depending upon the respective nationality laws of the two states involved. Residents of Jerusalem would be issued a United Nations identity card to that effect, which would give them and only them the right to reside within the City of Jerusalem. Nevertheless, all citizens of the State of Palestine would be entitled to enter Jerusalem through UN checkpoints at the eastern limits of the city. Likewise, all citizens of the State of Israel would be entitled to enter Jerusalem at UN checkpoints located at the western limits of the city. Yet, mutual rights of access for their respective citizens to the two States through Jerusalem would be subject to whatever arrangements could be negotiated between the government of Israel and the government of Palestine as part of an overall peace settlement. The myriad of other complex issues related to Jerusalem and its inhabitants would be progressively negotiated in good faith between the governments of Palestine and Israel under the auspices of the United Nations Organization.

In addition, both Israel and Palestine would have to provide assurances to the United Nations Security Council that religious pilgrims (Muslims, Christians, and Jews) would be allowed access through their respective territories in order to visit and worship at the holy sites in the City of Jerusalem. Some type of UN transit visa issued by the UN peacekeeping force should be deemed to be sufficient for this purpose by both governments. Of course this right of transit could not be exercised in a manner deleterious to the security interests of the two States.

Thus, Jerusalem would become a free, open, and undivided city for pilgrimage and worship by people of the three monotheistic faiths from around the world. Neither Israel nor Palestine would have to surrender whatever rights, claims, or titles they might assert to the city. Security would be maintained by the United Nations peacekeeping force. The city of Jerusalem would remain subject to this UN regime for the indefinite future.

If a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement were to be negotiated along these lines, then it would be perfectly appropriate under international law for the United States government to move its Israeli Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. There the U.S. Embassy could be simultaneously accredited to the State of Palestine as well as to the State of Israel. The same could be done by all other states in the international community. The presence of these embassies in Jerusalem under such circumstances would permit both Israel and Palestine to claim that the entire international community has now recognized Jerusalem as its capital.

Conclusion

There are many other historical precedents that could be drawn upon to produce a mutually acceptable arrangement for Jerusalem: e.g., the Free City of Danzig, the Vatican City State, the District of Columbia, United Nations Headquarters in New York City, etc. So determining the final status of the city of Jerusalem is not and has never been an insuperable obstacle to obtaining a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement—despite Israeli rhetoric and propaganda to the contrary. If the will for peace were there on the part of the Israeli government, then creative lawyers on each side can devise an artful arrangement for the city of Jerusalem that would allow both peoples to claim victory while achieving peace.

In fact, several years ago I drafted a formal proposal similar to the above-described solution for consideration by the PLO. A high-level PLO official informed me that this proposal was acceptable to the PLO. So far, it has proved to be unacceptable to Israel, which continues to stubbornly insist that Jerusalem shall remain its “sole”, “undivided” and “eternal” capital despite all the rules of international law to the contrary and the fact that in the Oslo Agreement of 13 September 1993, Israel expressly agreed in writing to negotiate over the final status of Jerusalem with the PLO. You do not expressly agree to negotiate with your adversary over “your”, “sole”, “undivided”, “eternal” “capital” if it is really yours ! The time has long past for Israel to put aside its relentless rhetoric and propaganda about Jerusalem, and negotiate in good faith with the Provisional Government of the state of Palestine over the ultimate disposition of Jerusalem. The Palestinians have repeatedly demonstrated their will for peace. So far, the Israeli government has only demonstrated its will to power. But when it comes to Jerusalem—Jews, Muslims, and Christians: “Can’t we all get along?” I sincerely believe we can.

ENDNOTES

  1. U.N. SCOR, 26th Sess., 1582nd mtg. at 33, U.N. Doc. S/Agenda/1582 (1971).
  2. U.N. SCOR 24th Sess., 1483nd mtg. at 11, U.N. Doc. S/Agenda/1783 (1969).
  3. For a list of Security Council Resolutions against Israel as of 1995, see Paul Findley, Deliberate Deceptions 187-94 (1995). See also Paul Findley, They Dare To Speak Out (1989).
  4. 26 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc. 357 (Mar. 3 1990).
  5. Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (1996).
  6. See Walid Khalidi, The Ownership of the U.S. Embassy Site in Jerusalem (2000).
  7. Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104-45, 109 Stat. 398 (1995).
  8. Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Pub.L. No. 107-228, §214, 116 Stat 1350 (2002).

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY’

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THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY is a history of neoconservatism and its influence on US Foreign Policy in the Middle East during the first decade of the twenty-first century.

Written after years of extensive research, THE NEW AMERICAN CENTURY contains over 550 pages, including more than 1200 footnotes and some 120 pages of bibliography. The book has been meticulously researched with every aspect of the history fully supported with primary evidence, much of it from the neoconservatives themselves.

The book is a must for all those interested in the history of neoconservatism, the recent history of Israel and conflict between the West and Islam in the Middle East during the first ten years of the NEW AMERICAN CENTURY.

Despite being originally written as a successful doctoral thesis, the book avoids academic jargon and uses plain easy to understand language

It details the rise of neoconservative influence within the US government particularly from the Reagan era through to the presidency of George W. Bush, when neoconservative power reached its zenith. It details the strong connections neoconservatives have with right-wing Israeli Zionism and the way in which neoconservatives were able to manipulate American power to benefit the Greater Israel cause. The book details how various interests including the Military Industrial Complex, the American religious right, US big business and US/Israeli Zionists converged into a coalition under George W. Bush and his administration that set out to determine the future history of the Middle East in such a way as to benefit Israel and the economic interests of the US.

Currently available in fully searchable PDF format for just AUD$12-00 via PayPal or direct through the author Damian Lataan.

At the moment the book is not available in hard copy though maybe in the future.

Email: lataan@adam.com.au

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | 1 Comment