Aletho News


Palestinian cabinet to be dissolved, formed in several days

Ma’an – June 16, 2015

RAMALLAH – An attendee of the 15th Fatah Revolutionary Council conference led by President Mahmoud Abbas told Ma’an Tuesday that the council will form an entirely new unity cabinet rather than pursuing efforts to reform the existing government.

Abbas announced that the government would resign within the next 24 hours, several senior Fatah officials attending the conference told AFP, with the new government formation expected to be carried out in a matter of several days.

The announcement comes as Palestinian leadership in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have struggled to maintain a unity government pieced together in June 2014.

The move materialized after the Fatah-led PLO and Hamas announced a national unity deal a few months prior intended to end seven years of political division between the largest two Palestinian parties.

The division between Fatah and Hamas began in 2006, when Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

While last year’s reconciliation aimed to pave the way for a general election by the end of 2014, an Israeli arrest campaign in the West Bank during early summer as well as a war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in July-August derailed the timeline.

Hamas has since blasted the Fatah-led PA in the West Bank for failing to follow through on promises to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Deputy head of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh said earlier this month that there had been no humanitarian or economic progress in the coastal enclave since the national consensus government was formed a year ago, referring to swathes of the strip that remain devastated from last summer’s war, as well the nearly one year that has passed since Gaza’s civil servants have received salaries.

Prime Minister Hamdallah pledged during a March visit to Gaza that Palestinian factions would “work fast” to find solutions to crises in Gaza, however the visit largely deteriorated into factional fighting.

The failure of the unity government to address the needs of Gazans was addressed by the Revolutionary Council’s secretary general who told AFP prior to Tuesday’s meeting that the government would step down within 24 hours over its inability to act in the Gaza Strip.

“The government will resign in the next 24 hours because this one is weak and there is no chance that Hamas will allow it to work in Gaza,” said secretary-general Amin Maqbul.

But Ihab Bseiso, spokesman for the consensus government, told AFP he was unaware of the matter.

“We had a meeting today and we didn’t discuss this issue,” he said

As elections haven’t been held in the Palestinian territories since 2006, Tuesday’s decision to dissolve and reform the government is the latest of Abbas’ attempts to create a functioning unity government, in light of a year of setbacks.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cycles of Oppression, Cycles of Liberation: The Nasa People of Colombia Are Dispossessed Once Again

By Natalia Fajardo | Toward Freedom | June 8, 2015

An intense struggle for dignity and the right to land is being waged right now in the green mountains of south western Colombia, and chances are, you haven´t heard of it. While the scant mainstream media coverage of the country focuses on soccer or peace talks between government and armed guerrilla groups, it ignores that same government’s attacks against communities defending their territory.

On May 28th, one thousand riot police officers entered a sugar cane plantation called La Emperatriz in the municipality of Caloto, in the state of Cauca, to evict nearly 300 members of the Nasa indigenous people. The indigenous community members had peacefully replaced the sugar monocrop for beans and corn, as part of the process they call the Liberation of Mother Earth. This follows other recent evictions in the nearby town of Corinto, which left many civilians wounded, and clashes since February that resulted in the killing of Nasa youth Guillermo Pavi.

These confrontations occur in the midst of the community’s historic effort to defend their right to a dignified life by recovering land stolen from them – land which has been falsely promised to be returned.

Why Liberation? Why These Lands?

The Nasa people inhabited a large portion of southwestern Colombia long before the Spanish invasion. However, over decades of deceit and violence, the most fertile areas were taken over by wealthy landowners and the Nasa were displaced to higher elevations. Seferino Zapata, an elder from Caloto, explains, “We were taken to the mountain, but we fought. I took part in the struggles in the 80s, when we had to pay to work the land for food. We recovered this very land where I now sit.”

But these land takeovers have cost lives. According to Arcadio Mestizo, a leader of the indigenous reserve Huellas Caloto, on a night in 1991 the police and paramilitaries carried out the massacre known as El Nilo, killing 20 adults and children. While the slaughter occurred about 4 kilometers from the plantation, it was planned the night before at La Emperatriz.

The largehacienda of La Emperatriz, once used to raise livestock and grow rice, now hosts the exclusive cultivation of sugarcane by the transnational company Incauca, owned by the millionaire emporium Ardila Lule and currently under investigation for price fixing. Cane production has significant environmental impacts, such as biodiversity loss and toxic residues. La Emperatriz is just a sample of the economic reality of a region which has been transformed into a ‘green desert’ where sugarcane grown to produce biofuels replaced subsistence crops that fed thousands.

Following a ruling in 2000 by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Colombian state accepted its responsibility in the 1991 El Nilo massacre and agreed to transfer 15,600 hectares of land, including La Emperatriz, to the Huellas Caloto indigenous community. Trusting the agreement, the Nasa people suspended land takeovers. But time went by and the land promised by the government did not come through.

The Huellas Caloto indigenous leader Arcadio Mestizo explained, “In 2005, we re-started this struggle, now calling it Liberation of Mother Earth, and we began with La Emperatriz.”

Although in 2010 the government completed the transfer of the number of hectares of land promised, they are not the lands agreed upon, and much of it is not suitable for agriculture. So the Nasa vowed to “liberate” La Emperatriz hacienda.

The latest wave of liberation began in March, with the Nasa occupation of land, cultivation of maize, beans and cassava, and the construction of basic structures.

However, community leader Emer Pinzón said that in the morning this past May 28, the owner of La Emperatriz ordered their removal: “Riot police came in with their full war machinery ” and encountered 300 Nasa members armed with courage, shovels and stones to defend their efforts and dreams.

“The police brought, tanks, tractors and tear gas, and in four hours destroyed over two months of work,” Pinzón added. In addition to the constant threats by paramilitary groups, Pinzón reported that, during the eviction, riot police warned through megaphones, “this one will be worse than El Nilo.”

Mestizo added, “There is the 1991 precedent, and now we see us going in circles, but today the oppression happens in broad daylight, and fully institutionalized. [A massacre] can certainly happen again.”

This violence against civilians comes amid peace negotiations between the government and the FARC guerrillas.

Constanza Cuetia, a member of the Nasa community´s communications team, reflected, “The war is very much present in our communities. Targeted assassinations and recruitment of civilians continued during the ceasefire. In addition, the peace talks do not get to the heart of the conflict. The government’s delegate to the talks said that the [neoliberal] economic model will not be challenged in the negotiations.” Indeed, the government has justified the violent evictions defending the right to private property of a few, while ignoring the right of many for a dignified life.

However, resistance is strong. “These lands, as taught by our grandparents, belonged to our ancestors,” Pinzón said. “We will take it back for our youth, at any cost.”

Liberation as a Cure

The spokespeople of this community make it clear that the main reason for the liberations is not unfulfilled land agreements; this is only one ingredient in the recipe of reasons for why the Nasa struggle. “We do this to reclaim our land, but also to defend our social rights,” Mestizo explained.

Abel Coicué, a community leader, added, “we liberate these lands, both of the mountains and the lowlands, because they are ancestral and we have a right to them.”

‘’Everything done on the land sickens the earth further, and this disease is treated [by] liberating Mother Earth,” Paulina, a Nasa leader from nearby Corinto, noted. “It is about sowing spaces of freedom and life that allow us to live in balance and harmony.”

This strategy of liberation becomes even more urgent in light of the many “diseases” these territories face. “We have a major threat coming: mining, for which we must prepare,” Mestizo said. “Mining creeps in more quietly than sugarcane, and sometimes the community does not see it, but we have learned that mining companies, such as [South African] Anglogold Ashanti, have requested mining permits over our land, regardless if it is on a protected area or an indigenous reserve.’’

The Nasa people invite us to understand that their struggle is everyone’s struggle, and to take our part in it. ‘’This is not an issue for indigenous people in Cauca, Colombia, but it is a fundamental issue for all of humanity, whose main battlefield is here,” Mestizo explained. “We must understand and own this struggle, putting pressure on the capitalist who dispossess and abuses, and on the government that supports it.”

Click here to view a slideshow of this community and its struggle

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , | 2 Comments

Turkey supplies Syria militants with Libya arms: Report

Press TV – June 15, 2015

Turkey has been involved in a covert arms trade between Libya and the Takfiri militant groups operating in Syria, a report has revealed.

Turkish Nokta weekly news magazine published its findings after examining the markings on the ammunition and casings in photos recently released by Turkish daily Cumhuriyet of intercepted Syria-bound Turkish trucks, English-language Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman reported on Monday.

The magazine discovered that the weapons and ammunition came originally from Libya and ended up in the hands of ISIL militants in Syria.

Last January, authorities stopped and searched a convoy of trucks belonging to Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, also known as the MIT, loaded with arms and ammunition near the Syrian border in the southern provinces of Hatay and Adana.

The Turkish government at the time claimed that the vehicles had been transporting humanitarian aid to Syria and denounced the interception as an act of “treason and espionage.”

However, the Cumhuriyet newspaper afterwards released photos and footage that showed steel containers filled with mortar shells and ammunition underneath boxes of medicine, saying they were transferred to Syria in trucks operated by the MIT.

The daily said the trucks had been carrying 1,000 artillery shells, 1,000 mortar shells, 50,000 machine gun bullets, and 30,000 heavy arms bullets.

After investigating the pictures, Nokta found out that in one photo, the words “Tripoli Socialist People”, which was written on one of the wooden boxes, should be read as “Tripoli Socialist People’s Libya.” It added that the word “Libya” could not be seen in the photo because it was on the wooden panel taken off by those examining its content.

The magazine also cited the sand in the boxes as another indication that they came from Libya.

Nokta further said that apparent mortar shells with blue tips and markings of “FULL CHARGE, UOF-412, 100mm G” were found among the items. This kind of mortar shells are used in the D-10 type Soviet-made tanks or similar models such as the T-54 and T-55 battle tanks.

Only the Syrian army and the ISIL terrorist group have tanks that are capable of using these mortars, the weekly said, noting that since ISIL has purportedly seized some Syrian army tanks in areas under their control, they would need ammunition to be able to use the tanks.

Nokta magazine stated that numerous videos and photos have emerged on social media platforms showing how ISIL, the al-Nusra Front and other extremist groups are using these kind of tanks and mortar shells.

The report also pointed to many pictures from ISIL terrorists with boxes of weapons and ammunition similar to those discovered in the intercepted trucks.

The militancy in Syria started in March 2011. The Western powers alongside their regional allies, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, have been supporting the militants financially and militarily.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Policing and Defending Then and Now

The military and police have become two sides of the same coin

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • June 16, 2015

Inevitably the debate over issues that relate to both national security and domestic law enforcement often become mired down in wrangling over legal or constitutional niceties, which the public has difficulty in following as it fixates instead on the latest twist in the Bruce Jenner saga. That means that the punditry and media concentrate on easily digestible issues like potential bureaucratic fixes, budgeting, equipment and training, which presumably are both simpler to understand and also more susceptible to possible remedies. But they ignore some basic questions regarding the nature and viability of the actual threat and the actual effectiveness of the response even as the dividing line between military and law enforcement functions becomes less and less evident.

There has been a fundamental transformation of the roles of both police and the armed services in the United States, a redirection that has become increasingly evident since the 1990s when the conjoined issues of national security and crime rates became political footballs. Response to terrorism and “tough on crime” attitudes frequently employ the same rhetoric, incorporating both political and social elements that place police forces and the military on the same side in what might plausibly be described as a version of the often cited clash of civilizations.

A nation’s army traditionally exists to use maximum force to find and destroy enemies that threaten the homeland. A police force instead serves to protect the community against criminal elements using the minimum force necessary to do the job. Those roles would appear to be distinct but one might reasonably argue that the armed forces and the police in today’s America have become the two major constituents of the same organism more-or-less connected by a revolving door, dedicated to combating a new type of insurgency that comprises both global and domestic battlefields and is no respecter of borders. This has meant at its most basic that there has been a major shift in perception on the part of the security community. Community policing and national defense have abandoned relatively reactive interactions with the community and world for more assertive preemptive roles that see their areas of operation as theaters of conflict analogous to war zones, suggesting to some law enforcement officers that Baltimore is at least occasionally somewhat like Fallujah.

That means that some police forces have allowed considerable space to develop between themselves and the communities they are supposed to guard. Many now see themselves less as crime solvers and protectors of the public, instead increasingly embracing their role as a first line of defense against terror and social unrest. As a consequence, police in today’s America are inevitably tasked with maintaining public order in a fashion that once upon a time would have likely been the responsibility of the military equipped and trained as well as far more numerous National Guard.

This tendency to expand and redirect the police role gained momentum in the early 1990s, when law enforcement began to focus on terrorism in the wake of Oklahoma City and the first World Trade Center bombing. After 9/11 it picked up speed when the Bush Administration rushed to adopt a preemptive foreign policy that fit in nicely with a more assertive role by police. Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams were symptomatic of the change. Originating in Los Angeles in the 1960s, SWAT units spread to nearly every major and many minor police departments whether there was or is any need for them or not. Police departments, embracing having an exciting new weapon and looking for excuses to use it, began to allocate tasks that normally had been the responsibility of beat or patrol officers, including serving warrants. SWAT delivery of what are described as “no-knock” warrants that are frequently issued without any real justification and sometimes based on faulty intelligence has consequently become a bete noire for critics of police overreach. The warrants are sometimes served in the middle of the night by heavily armed officers and might well be preceded by the use of battering rams and “flashbang” grenades, resulting in numerous tragedies for those on the receiving end. With SWAT teams attracting the elite police officers, community policing inevitably has suffered, frequently being assigned to new and less experienced officers.

Police and the military now share equipment, training and doctrine. The equipment, most of which is useful for fighting a war but of marginal utility for police work, is frequently highly visible and changes both how local law enforcement is perceived and how it operates. Arizona alone has received 29 armored personnel carriers, 9 military helicopters, 800 M-16 automatic rifles, 400 bayonets, and 700 pairs of night-vision goggles.

Morven, Georgia, population 600 and blessed by a low crime rate, has received over $4 million worth of military equipment. This led to the formation of a SWAT team supported by a Humvee and an armored personnel carrier. Boats and scuba gear came together to form a dive team, even though Morven city limits incorporate no body of water deep enough to exploit that capability. The Morven police chief boasts that the equipment would enable him to “shut this town down” and “completely control everything.”

The direct transfers of $5.4 billion worth of surplus equipment from the Pentagon through program 1033 and the purchase of additional hardware by way of grants from the Department of Homeland Security operate with almost no oversight over the actual need for the equipment and little accountability afterwards regarding where it winds up. It has spawned what some have described as a police-industrial complex, which is frequently justified by the alleged terrorist threat even though the equipment is in fact almost never used in response to terrorism related situations.

Today’s police approach every potential conflict situation with overwhelming force because that is what the military does, considering “force protection” as its number one priority. The army and law enforcement also share employees, guaranteeing that the mindsets within the two organization will be highly compatible. There are no national figures compiled on how many policeman have been in the military, but anecdotal evidence from various departments suggest that the percentage is somewhere between 20 and 60 per cent, many of whom also continue to serve in the Reserves or National Guard. A veterans’ placement service called Hire Heroes estimates that fully twenty per cent of all ex-soldiers seeking civilian employment look for work in law enforcement as a first choice.

The Federal government also encourages police departments to hire veterans through its Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), which has provided $114.6 million in incentive grants to 220 cities nationwide. There is frequently a comfortable fit psychologically. The transition from military to police is particularly smooth currently because their self-perceptions as “forces for peace and security” working in environments where they are not appreciated or even welcomed is nearly identical.

On the plus side when turning soldiers into cops, former military are accustomed to operating in a highly disciplined and rule-driven top-down organization, but on the negative side veterans who actually experienced significant combat are much more accustomed to rely on their weapons than are policemen in most working environments, a predilection that sometimes produces avoidable fatal consequences. The window of aggression acceptable to a soldier on a combat patrol is and should be radically different than that of a policeman in an American city.

Returning soldiers who experienced significant combat sometimes come home with mental health issues to include Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), with many veterans conceding that after discharge from the service there are sometimes numerous psychological issues that have to be worked through. Police departments do their best to manage that issue through psychiatric screening, but detection of problems is not always that easy, particularly if the job applicant wants the job and is not being particularly forthcoming. Many concede that for ex-soldiers thus afflicted leaving one environment full of “violence, tension, stress [and] anxiety” and landing into something similar would not exactly be therapeutic.

Law enforcement in the United States has also benefited not only from the surplus weapons it receives from the Pentagon but also from training grants and logistical support from the Department of Homeland Security. Many SWAT teams are trained by and often include former or current Special Forces soldiers. Some departments even use both public and private grant money to send officers to Israel to train with the Israeli National Police and that country’s Defense Force. The training inevitably focuses on counter-terrorism, anti-riot procedures, intelligence gathering and crowd control, reinforcing the impression that such activities that once upon a time might have been regarded as peripheral to police work are now the first priority. There are also reports that some American police forces are interested in buying an Israeli high tech export called “Skunk,” which is a liquid that can be sprayed from water cannons that allegedly smells like raw sewage and putrefying flesh. It has been used on Palestinian protesters.

But perhaps the biggest unanswered question is “Does terrorism in its many guises actually threaten the United States and will that threat be diminished by more equipment and training as well as a more militarized police force here at home?” Addressing the threat issue is critical as it presents a steady drumbeat for action “to defend the nation” and actually provides much of the popular support for an increasingly robust police response. To be sure, there undoubtedly exists a growing critical consensus that the terrorist threat is largely phony, having been inflated by both political parties for political reasons. Certainly the record of terrorism related arrests suggests that the danger is minimal and those detained in the process are often the product of what many would call law enforcement entrapment. There is actually no evidence that a more militarized police has thwarted terrorist attacks or led to any significant arrests, which rather suggests that the real motive for the increasingly assertive profile for law enforcement might just be to have the tools on hand to intimidate or even put down domestic dissent. If that is so, every American should be concerned about what might be coming down the road.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Human Experimentation: a CIA Habit

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | June 15, 2015

The Guardian on Monday made public a CIA document allowing the agency’s director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research.”

Human what?

At Guantanamo, the CIA gave huge doses of the terror-inducing drug mefloquine to prisoners without their consent, as well as the supposed truth serum scopolamine. Former Guantanamo guard Joseph Hickman has documented the CIA’s torturing people, sometimes to death, and can find no explanation other than research:

“[Why] were men of little or no value kept under these conditions, and even repeatedly interrogated, months or years after they’d been taken into custody? Even if they’d had any intelligence when they came in, what relevance would it have years later? . . . One answer seemed to lie in the description that Major Generals [Michael] Dunlavey and [Geoffrey] Miller both applied to Gitmo. They called it ‘America’s battle lab.’”

Non-consensual experimentation on institutionalized children and adults was common in the United States before, during, and even more so after the U.S. and its allies prosecuted Nazis for the practice in 1947, sentencing many to prison and seven to be hanged. The tribunal created the Nuremberg Code, standards for medical practice that were immediately ignored back home. Some American doctors considered it “a good code for barbarians.”

The code begins: “Required is the voluntary, well-informed, understanding consent of the human subject in a full legal capacity.” A similar requirement is included in the CIA’s rules, but has not been followed, even as doctors have assisted with such torture techniques as waterboarding.

Thus far, the United States has never really accepted the Nuremberg Code. While the code was being created, the U.S. was giving people syphilis in Guatemala. It did the same at Tuskegee. Also during the Nuremberg trial, children at the Pennhurst school in southeastern Pennsylvania were given hepatitis-laced feces to eat.

Other sites of experimentation scandals have included the Jewish Chronic Disease Hospital in Brooklyn, the Willowbrook State School on Staten Island, and Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia. And, of course, the CIA’s Project MKUltra (1953-1973) was a smorgasbord of human experimentation. Forced sterilizations of women in California prisons have not ended. Torture by Chicago police has for the first time just resulted in compensation for victims.

If we are, at long last, to put such contemptible behavior behind us, it will require breaking some bad habits.

Congress has busily re-banned torture a number of times in recent years. Now it must drop that charade and instead demand that the Attorney General enforce the anti-torture statute, which made torture a felony before George W. Bush ever became president.

It’s good of John Oliver to denounce torture. And he’s right to go after the lies told about torture in popular entertainment. But he’s also spreading the false idea that it’s legal. “We checked,” he says, reporting that his crack team of investigators discovered that the only ban on torture is found in an executive order written by President Obama. This is dangerous nonsense. The U.S. was a party to the Anti-Torture Convention and had made torture a felony under the anti-torture statute and the war-crimes statute before George W. Bush ever became president.

Since then, Congress has repeatedly “banned” torture. But, just as the U.N. Charter’s ban on war actually legalized certain wars, purporting to replace the total ban in the Kellogg-Briand Pact with a partial ban, these Congressional efforts (such as the Military Commissions Act of 2006) have actually legalized certain cases of torture, replacing (at least in everyone’s mind) the total ban already existing in the U.S. Code and in a treaty to which the U.S. is party.

The latest “ban” proposal from Senator McCain and friends, would create exceptions in the form of those in the Army Field Manual, and advocates maintain that step number two would be to reform that manual. But if you skip both steps and acknowledge the existence of the anti-torture statute in the U.S. Code, you’re done. The proper task is to press for its enforcement.

Oliver’s mistake, like virtually everyone else’s, is based on two myths. One, torture began with Bush. Two, torture ended with Bush. On the contrary, torture has been around in the United States and elsewhere for a very long time. So has the practice of banning it. Torture is prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In fact, under international law, torture can never be legalized and is always banned.

Myth number two is also wrong. Torture has not ended and won’t as long as it’s not punished.

An attorney general can be questioned and threatened with impeachment until our laws are enforced. A new website created Monday let’s you email Congress to demand that it do just that.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian Poverty, Israeli Affluence: Deciphering The NY Times

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | June 15, 2015

It takes some attention and a bit of math, but readers of The New York Times now have the means to discover just how great the chasm is between Israelis and Palestinians—not just in politics but in hard cash.

In an article and follow-up editorial concerning a report by the RAND Corporation, an establishment think tank, the Times informs us that if the adversaries negotiated a two-state peace deal, both Palestinians and Israelis would gain financially. Over 10 years, RAND says, Israel would gain $123 billion and Palestine $50 billion.

We learn that in terms of annual per capita income this breaks down to a 5 percent increase, or $2,200, for Israelis and a 36 percent increase, or $1,000, for Palestinians.

Readers are apt to take that in with little pause, but if we do the calculations, this tells us that current incomes average $44,000 for Israelis and $2,778 for Palestinians. This puts Israel far above the World Bank standard of $12,746 for high-income countries. It places Palestine barely over the low-income level.

This means Palestinians make less than their neighbors in Egypt, Jordan or Iraq. It places Palestine in the same World Bank grouping as Guatemala, South Sudan and others with per capita incomes from $1,046 to $4,125.

Israel rates with the economic stars, not only in the high-income category but in the elite of that group. On average, its citizens earn yearly incomes very near those in Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. [The World Bank lists Israel’s per capita income as $32,030, but this includes occupied Palestine, which is given no separate economic status. The RAND report distinguishes between Israel and Palestine.]

The Times would have done its readers a favor by untangling the data and revealing the stark difference between Israeli and Palestinian earnings, but the story and editorial give a sense that the two sides are on an even playing field. A two-state solution, the Times editorial states, “makes both sides winners.”

The article, by Jodi Rudoren, puts emphasis on how much the occupation costs Israel in support for settlements and security. It is seen, she writes, as a “self-imposed economic burden.” There is no mention of the burden on the Palestinian side.

The think tank, however, does better than the Times by stating outright that “A singular feature of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship is the power imbalance between the two parties: Israel dominates the region both militarily and economically.”

The report makes clear that Israeli policy has harmed Palestinian commerce with regulations favoring Israeli companies, restrictions on movement and the confiscation of water and land. It also points up the devastating impact of Israel’s policy of demolishing housing and infrastructure in Gaza and the West Bank.

None of this appears in the Times, which sticks to the dry numbers of the RAND report, but this data has provided clues to a reality the Times obscures—the scandalous inequality between Israelis and Palestinians.

This disparity should inform the paper’s reporting on relations between the two sides, yet we read of the peace talks as if they involve two equal parties, both asked to make concessions. Likewise, in reports on Gaza, we read of the threat of rockets but learn almost nothing about the overwhelming military might of Israel’s arsenal and army.

Readers should not have to take to their calculators to discover the huge imbalance that underlies every aspect of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Our newspaper of record should have revealed that reality long before now and not in hidden ciphers.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Male and killed in Gaza – you’re a combatant

By Jonathon Cook | The Blog From Nazareth | June 16, 2015

Experience should have proved that one has to be credulous in the extreme – or brainwashed by Zionism – to take seriously “rebuttals” by the Israeli army of evidence of its abuses and war crimes. But for any who still harbour suspicions that claims by the Israeli army aren’t simply self-serving deceptions, take a look at its latest report into last year’s attack on Gaza.

The number of Palestinian civilians killed during Operation Protective Edge, says the Israeli army, was 761 – or 36 per cent of the total of 2,125 fatalities it registered. The UN has recorded 95 more Palestinian deaths and has twice as many civilians killed by Israel: 1,483, or 67 per cent of the total. Both can’t be right.

Let’s break down the Israeli numbers. According to the army, of those killed, 369 were children under the age of 15 (Israel’s redefinition of childhood for Palestinians) and 284 were women. That’s a total of 653.

That means of the 1,364 boys and men aged between 15 and 100 who were killed according to Israel’s estimates, only 108 are accorded the status of “civilian”. In other words, only 8 per cent of all males over the age of 15 who were killed in Israeli attacks were not suspected by Israel of being actively engaged in combat at the time of their death.

Comfortingly for Israelis, that means that, if you were Palestinian and male and a missile or bomb hit you, or a targeted building collapsed on you, you were almost certainly a combatant.

And if you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Israel’s Race to Economic (and Moral) Bankruptcy

By Jonathan Cook | Dissident Voice | June 16, 2015

Two recent reports suggest that Israel could face catastrophic consequences if it fails to end the mistreatment of Palestinians under its rule, whether in the occupied territories or in Israel itself.

The Rand Corporation’s research shows that Israel could lose $250 billion over the next decade if it fails to make peace with the Palestinians and violence escalates. Ending the occupation, on the other hand, could bring a dividend of more than $120 billion to the nation’s coffers.

Meanwhile, the Israeli finance ministry predicts an even more dismal future unless Israel reinvents itself. It is likely to be bankrupt within a few decades, the finance ministry report says, because of the rapid growth of two groups who are not productive.

By 2059, half the population will be either ultra-Orthodox Jews, who prefer prayer to work, or members of Israel’s Palestinian minority, most of whom are failed by their separate education system and then excluded from much of the economy.

Both reports should be generating a tidal wave of concern in Israel but have caused barely a ripple. The status quo – of occupation and endemic racism – still seems preferable to most Israelis.

The explanation requires a much deeper analysis than either the Rand Corporation or Israel’s finance ministry appears capable of.

The finance ministry report points out that with a growing population not properly prepared for a modern, global economy, the tax burden is falling increasingly heavily on a shrinking middle class.

The fear is that this will rapidly create a vicious cycle. Wealthier Israelis tend to have second passports. Overwhelmed by the need to make up the revenue shortfall, they will leave, plunging Israel into irreversible debt.

Despite this doomsday scenario, Israel seems far from ready to undertake the urgent restructuring needed to salvage its economy. Zionism, Israel’s official ideology, is predicated on core principles of ethnic separation, Judaisation of territory and Hebrew labour. It has always depended on the marginalisation at best, exclusion at worst, of non-Jews.

Any effort to dismantle the scaffolding of a Jewish state would create a political crisis. Reforms may happen, but they are likely to take place too slowly and incrementally to make much difference.

The Rand report also raises the alarm. It notes that both peoples would benefit from peace, though the incentive is stronger for Palestinians. Integration into the Middle East would see average wages rise by only 5 per cent for Israelis, compared to 36 per cent for Palestinians.

But, while its economists may have found it easy to quantify the benefits of ending the occupation, it is much harder to assess the costs in shekels and dollars.

Over the past six decades, an economic elite has emerged in Israel whose prestige, power and wealth depends on the occupation. Career military officers earn large salaries and retire in their early forties on generous pensions. Nowadays many of these officers live in the settlements.

The army top brass are the ultimate pressure group and will not release their grip on the occupied territories without a fight, one they are well placed to win.

Backing them will be those in the hi-tech sector who have become the engine of the Israeli economy. Many are former soldiers who realised the occupied territories were the ideal laboratory for developing and testing military hardware and software.

Israel’s excellence in weaponry, surveillance systems, containment strategies, biometric data collection, crowd control, and psychological warfare are all marketable. Israeli know-how has become indispensable to the global appetite for “homeland security”.

That expertise was on show this month at a Tel Aviv armaments expo that attracted thousands of security officials from around the world, drawn by the selling point that the systems on offer were “combat proven”.

To end the occupation would be to sacrifice all this and revert to the status of a tiny anonymous state with no resources or notable exports.

And finally the settlers are among the most ideologically committed and entitled sector of Israel’s population. Were they moved out, they would bring their group cohesion and profound resentments back into Israel.

No Israeli leader wants to unleash a civil war that could rip apart the already-fragile sense of unity among the Jewish population.

The reality is that most Israelis’ perception of their national interests, both as a Jewish state and as military superpower, are intimately tied to a permanent occupation and the exclusion of Israel’s Palestinian minority from true citizenship.

If there is a conclusion to be drawn from these two reports it may be a pessimistic one.

Israel’s internal economy is likely to grow gradually weaker, as the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian labour forces are under-utilised. As a result, the focus of Israel’s economic interests and activity is likely to shift even more towards the occupied territories.

Far from Israelis rethinking their oppressive policies towards the Palestinians, the ideological blinkers imposed by Zionism could push them to pursue the benefits of the occupation even more aggressively.

If the watching world really wants peace, economic wishful thinking will not suffice. It is past the time simply for carrots. Sticks are needed too.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , | 1 Comment

Ukraine and the Apocalyptic Risk of Propagandized Ignorance

By David Swanson | War is a Crime | June 15, 2015

I’m not sure if there’s been a better written book published yet this year than Ukraine: Zbig’s Grand Chessboard and How the West Was Checkmated, but I’m confident there’s not been a more important one. With some 17,000 nuclear bombs in the world, the United States and Russia have about 16,000 of them. The United States is aggressively flirting with World War III, the people of the United States have not the foggiest notion of how or why, and authors Natylie Baldwin and Kermit Heartsong explain it all quite clearly. Go ahead and tell me there’s nothing you’re now spending your time on that’s less important than this.

This book may very well be the best written one I’ve read this year. It puts all the relevant facts — those I knew and many I didn’t — together concisely and with perfect organization. It does it with an informed worldview. It leaves me nothing to complain about at all, which is almost unheard of in my book reviews. I find it refreshing to encounter writers so well-informed who also grasp the significance of their information.

Nearly half the book is used to set the context for recent events in Ukraine. It’s useful to understand the end of the cold war, the irrational hatred of Russia that pervades elite U.S. thinking, and the patterns of behavior that are replaying themselves now at higher volume. Stirring up fanatical fighters in Afghanistan and Chechnya and Georgia, and targeting Ukraine for similar use: this is a context CNN won’t provide. The partnership of the neocons (in arming and provoking violence in Libya) with the humanitarian warriors (in riding to the rescue for regime change): this is a precedent and a model that NPR won’t mention. The U.S. promise not to expand NATO, the U.S. expansion of NATO to 12 new countries right up to the border of Russia, the U.S. withdrawal from the ABM Treaty and pursuit of “missile defense” — this is background that Fox News would never deem significant. U.S. support for the rule of criminal oligarchs willing to sell off Russian resources, and Russian resistance to those schemes — such accounts are almost incomprehensible if you’ve consumed too much U.S. “news,” but are explained and documented well by Baldwin and Heartsong.

This book includes excellent background on the use and abuse of Gene Sharp and the color revolutions instigated by the U.S. government. A silver lining may be found, I think, in the value of nonviolent action recognized by all involved — whether for good or ill. The same lesson can be found (for good this time) in the civilian resistance to Ukrainian troops in the spring of 2014, and the refusal of (some) troops to attack civilians.

The Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004, the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, and Ukraine II in 2013-2014 are recounted well, including detailed chronology. It’s truly remarkable how much has been publicly reported that remains buried. Western leaders met repeatedly in 2012 and 2013 to plot the fate of Ukraine. Neo-Nazis from Ukraine were sent to Poland to train for a coup. NGOs operating out of the U.S. Embassy in Kiev organized trainings for coup participants. On November 24, 2013, three days after Ukraine refused an IMF deal, including refusing to sever ties to Russia, protesters in Kiev began to clash with police. The protesters used violence, destroying buildings and monuments, and tossing Molotov cocktails, but President Obama warned the Ukrainian government not to respond with force. (Contrast that with the treatment of the Occupy movement, or the shooting on Capitol Hill of the woman who made an unacceptable U-turn in her car with her baby.)

U.S.-funded groups organized a Ukrainian opposition, funded a new TV channel, and promoted regime change. The U.S. State Department spent some $5 billion. The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State who handpicked the new leaders, openly brought cookies to protesters. When those protesters violently overthrew the government in February 2014, the United States immediately declared the coup government legitimate. That new government banned major political parties, and attacked, tortured, and murdered their members. The new government included neo-Nazis and would soon include officials imported from the United States. The new government banned the Russian language — the first language of many Ukrainian citizens. Russian war memorials were destroyed. Russian-speaking populations were attacked and murdered.

Crimea, an autonomous region of Ukraine, had its own parliament, had been part of Russia from 1783 until 1954, had publicly voted for close ties to Russia in 1991, 1994, and 2008, and its parliament had voted to rejoin Russia in 2008. On March 16, 2014, 82% of Crimeans took part in a referendum, and 96% of them voted to rejoin Russia. This nonviolent, bloodless, democratic, and legal action, in no violation of a Ukrainian constitution that had been shredded by a violent coup, was immediately denounced in the West as a Russian “invasion” of Crimea.

Novorossiyans, too, sought independence and were attacked by the new Ukrainian military the day after John Brennan visited Kiev and ordered that crime. I know that the Fairfax County Police who have kept me and my friends away from John Brennan’s house in Virginia have had no clue what hell he was unleashing on helpless people thousands of miles away. But that ignorance is at least as disturbing as informed malice would be. Civilians were attacked by jets and helicopters for months in the worst killing in Europe since World War II. Russian President Putin repeatedly pressed for peace, a ceasefire, negotiations. A ceasefire finally came on September 5, 2014.

Remarkably, contrary to what we’ve all been told, Russia didn’t invade Ukraine any of the numerous times we were told that it had just done so. We’ve graduated from mythical weapons of mass destruction, through mythical threats to Libyan civilians, and false accusation of chemical weapons use in Syria, to false accusations of launching invasions that were never launched. The “evidence” of the invasion(s) was carefully left devoid of location or any verifiable detail, but has all been decidedly debunked anyway.

The downing of the MH17 airplane was blamed on Russia with no evidence. The U.S. has information on what happened but won’t release it. Russia released what it had, and the evidence, in agreement with eye-witnesses on the ground, and in agreement with an air-traffic controller at the time, is that the plane was shot down by one or more other planes. “Evidence” that Russia shot the plane down with a missile has been exposed as sloppy forgeries. The vapor trail that a missile would have left was reported by not a single witness.

Baldwin and Heartsong close with the case that U.S. actions have backfired, that in fact whether the people of the United States have any idea what is going on or not, the power brokers in Washington have shot themselves in the foot. Sanctions against Russia have made Putin as popular at home as George W. Bush was after he’d managed to exist as president while planes were flown into the World Trade Center. The same sanctions have strengthened Russia by turning it toward its own production and toward alliances with non-Western nations. Ukraine has suffered, and Europe suffers from a cut-off of Russian gas, while Russia makes deals with Turkey, Iran, and China. Evicting a Russian base from Crimea seems more hopeless now than before this madness began. Russia is leading the way as more nations abandon the U.S. dollar. Retaliatory sanctions from Russia are hurting the West. Far from isolated, Russia is working with the BRICS nations, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and other alliances. Far from impoverished, Russia is buying up gold while the U.S. sinks into debt and is increasingly viewed by the world as a rogue player, and resented by Europe for depriving Europe of Russian trade.

This story begins in the irrationality of collective trauma coming out of the holocaust of World War II and of blind hatred for Russia. It must end with the same irrationality. If U.S. desperation leads to war with Russia in Ukraine or elsewhere along the Russian border where NATO is engaging in various war games and exercises, there may be no more human stories ever told or heard.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

US escalates Russia tension with pledges to put F-22 fighters in Europe

US cites fictional Russian threat

Sputnik | 16.06.2015

Washington is mulling the delivery of stealthy F-22 Raptor fighter jets to Europe in the face of a “resurgent Russia”, according to US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

The US Air Force plans to further increase the number of its rotational forces in Europe amid tensions with Russia and could deploy the F-22 fighter to Europe, US Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James was quoted by the Wall Street Journal as saying.

She made the statement during the Paris Airshow at Le Bourget earlier this week.

“That’s the beginning, there will be more. You’ll continue to see more and more rotational forces. The biggest threat on my mind is what’s happening with Russia and the activities of Russia. That’s a big part of why I’m here in Europe,” James said.

She added that she saw “no reason” why the fifth-generation F-22 fighter jets could not be stationed in Europe, but refused to elaborate.

The statement came shortly after the US military awarded defense contractor Lockheed Martin nearly 70 million dollars to add flying hours to the F-22 Raptor fighter jets.

Earlier, the US Air Force stepped up its number of air patrols in the Baltics as Britain received B-2 stealth bombers and B-52 bombers from the US.

On Monday, it was reported that the Pentagon is poised to send heavy military equipment to Eastern Europe and the Baltic nations, as part of its effort to strengthen US forces there. The move was harshly condemned by Russia, which said that this possible decision would undermine the 1997 Russia-NATO Founding Act.

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment