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Protestors take to streets of Kiev to denounce high utility bills

RT | July 19, 2015

Around 2,000 rallied in the center of the Ukrainian capital on Sunday to protest high housing and public utilities prices, which have skyrocketed 88 percent since last year.

A column of demonstrators marched from the Kiev’s main Khreshchatyk Street to the government headquarters on Grushevskogo Street.

The protest, which was monitored by around 100 police officers, proceeded without incident, Tass reported.

The participants carried Ukrainian flags and banners reading: “No to rising tariffs,” “Increase pensions,” “Where are the reforms?” and “We are dying of hunger.”

The rally’s organizers said they wanted to draw the authorities’ attention to the importance of preserving social guarantees for pensioners and public sector employees.

Utility rates, including water and heating prices, have grown three-fold in Ukraine due to a rise in the price of gas since April 1, 2015.

Electricity prices are being increased in accordance with a five-stage program, due to be completed by March 1, 2017.

In order to comply with the terms of an agreed upon $17.5 billion IMF bailout package, Ukraine has approved amendments to the 2015 budget that will result in drastic pension cuts and the tripling of energy bills.

Some political sentiments were also voiced at the rally, as several signs called for a “Ukrainian government for Ukraine” and urged Kiev’s authorities to “Remove foreigners from the government.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko assigned several foreign nationals to key government positions in late 2014, which include American Natalie Jaresko as finance minister, Aleksandr Kvitashvili of Georgia as health minister, and Lithuania’s Aivaras Abromavicius as economy minister.

Last May, former Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvili, who is wanted in his country for embezzlement, abuse of power, and politically-motivated attacks, became the governor of Ukraine’s Odessa region.

A similar rally in the city of Dnepropetrovsk in central Ukraine was dispersed by a group of masked thugs on Sunday.

Several dozen demonstrators, mainly people of older age, blocked one of the roads in the city.

They carried a big banner demanding the resignation of president Poroshenko and smaller signs, reading “Dnepropetrovsk for fair prices” and “Housing and utility tariffs equal genocide.”

A dashcam video caught the rally being attacked by a group of young men in balaclavas, who threw smoke bombs at the crowd and tore the banners apart.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | 1 Comment

Who Benefits from Iranian Business?

By Andrés Cala | Consortium News | July 19, 2015

The nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran will reset key economic and geopolitical relationships but perhaps not in the way many Western pundits expect. Iran, unshackled from international sanctions, is sure to reach out to U.S. and European companies for goods and technology but may favor Russia most of all because of a budding relationship built on mutual trust and mutual interests.

Iran’s difficult history with the United States – dating back to the CIA coup overthrowing Iran’s elected leader in 1953 through the tensions with Iran’s Islamic Republic and U.S.-instigated economic sanctions – makes Iranian leaders leery of again becoming dependent on Western banks and being vulnerable to U.S. geopolitical designs.

Iran has had troubled relations with Russia historically, too, but has come to see Russia under President Vladimir Putin as something of a regional partner, even if not exactly an ally. Russia pressed for a positive outcome in the nuclear negotiations and supports Iran’s regional resistance to Sunni terror groups, such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, especially in Syria. Russia also sees Sunni extremism as a serious threat to its own security.

That collaboration – when combined with worries about the possible renewal of Western sanctions sometime in the future – suggests that Iran will seek to consolidate its marriage of interests nurtured recently with Russia. Both countries have experienced the economic pain that comes from charting independent policies that conflict with U.S. and European demands.

So, with the United Nations Security Council soon expected to lift many international sanctions on Iran, Russian companies will work to not only maintain but to deepen their ties with Iran’s economy. Iran also might look to other BRICS countries, such as China, Brazil and South Africa, as natural allies in standing up against future U.S. pressure and displeasure.

Iran’s suspicions toward the United States and Europe will surely be slow to recede even as Western corporations make an aggressive bid to access Iran’s lucrative markets, from the energy industry to manufacturing to finances. Some $100 billion in investment is needed for Iran’s energy sector alone with other promising opportunities in consumer goods, banks, telecommunication, vehicle manufacturers and more.

The West possesses technology that Iran will need to rebuild its shattered economy, but there is a trust deficit. Iran is sure to remember the past when the West has frozen Iran’s assets, blocked access to spare parts, and confiscated Iranian property through one-sided legal proceedings, some of which even European courts have overturned.

Though Europe might be on somewhat friendlier terms with Iran than the United States, Europe’s close adherence to U.S. foreign policy means Europe can’t offer a long-term strategic relationship to Iran. So, the Islamic Republic likely will buy what it needs in business-to-business transactions with the West but will not forget the years of hostility.

It was Russia and China that worked to blunt Western hawkish demands, which included open threats to bomb Iran and force “regime change.” Russia and China also found ways to ease the sanctions, especially in regards to the arms embargo, while helping Iran fashion an agreement not to develop nuclear weapons.

Days before the final deal was signed, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met Putin in the sidelines of a BRICS meeting and praised Russia for its role in the negotiations. “I consider it my duty to thank Russia for the efforts it has made in resolving and negotiating the Iranian nuclear program, and for the personal efforts made by Mr. [Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov.”

Downsides to a Relationship

But there are economic downsides to this Russian-Iranian diplomatic collaboration. Some Russians note that the reintroduction of Iranian oil onto world markets will depress oil prices and thus hurt a key sector of Russia’s economy, which is already suffering amid a glut of Saudi oil. But that factor was already a given. Putin brushed it aside in seeking the nuclear deal and in recognizing how a resurgent Iran could fit within Russia’s broader strategic calculations.

Putin began turning to Asia after Moscow’s overtures to the West, in his view, were betrayed in Libya, Syria and especially Ukraine. Putin had sought to build a positive relationship with President Barack Obama by working closely on mutual concerns such as Islamic terrorism and Mideast unrest. However, that collaboration was shattered in February 2014 when the United States backed a “regime change” in Russia’s neighbor Ukraine and applied the lash of Western sanctions to Russia when it would not accept the new anti-Russian regime.

Faced with this U.S. and Western hostility, Putin rebalanced Russia’s strategic relationships toward the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Iran fits neatly into that equation as Putin’s best option to leverage Russia’s interest in the vital Middle East, where it has been losing influence since the end of the Cold War.

In line with Putin’s strategy, Iran and Russia have worked hard to overcome lingering suspicions based on centuries of border tensions, recognizing that they now have more interests pushing them together than pulling them apart.

While Russia generally can’t compete with Western technology, it has advantages in some other commercial and industrial sectors, including nuclear energy, foodstuffs and arms. Last year, the two countries agreed to a package worth billions of dollars in hard cash for Russia involving building up to eight nuclear reactors within five years for power generation purposes. The nuclear deal signed this month only paves the way for those deals to be developed further.

On the agricultural side, Iran is the third biggest buyer of Russian wheat and has sold Russia fruits and vegetables which helped Russia replace European imports that the Kremlin blocked in retaliation for Europe’s economic sanctions over the Ukraine conflict.

Because of the international sanctions against Iran, bilateral trade between Russia and Iran remains modest, only $1.5 billion, a fraction of Russian trade with Israel for example. But Russia and Iran seek a ten-fold increase in bilateral trade this decade and have talked of up to $70 billion in potential investments. Even half of that would be transforming for both countries.

There is also the all-important arms business. Iran needs to update its military, and Russia and China are set to sell more than any other countries. In April, Putin agreed to restart talks to deliver the S-300 anti-aircraft defense system as a prelude no doubt to everything else Iran needs, especially to update its air force which hasn’t been modernized since the revolution in 1979. Some estimates suggest a $15 billion market up for grabs.

And there is another Iranian top priority: security. Iran and Russia signed an intelligence-sharing agreement and their cooperation has intensified, especially in regards to Syria where the two can each fill a need, with Russia providing the military hardware and Iran having military advisers and other assets on the ground.

The nuclear deal also could pave the way for the West to join them in arranging serious negotiations between Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his more moderate opponents and possibly end or curtail Syria’s bloody civil war. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Russia and Iran together seeking more informal collaboration with the U.S. and Europe in Syria and Iraq against the Sunni radicals of the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda.

Iran’s influence among fellow Shiites and Shiite offshoots in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen could offer Russia more leverage in the Middle East, even if Moscow does not want to pick a fight with Arab countries outside Syria.

Putin also is gingerly approaching stresses in the bilateral relationship with Israel, with which Russia has important business, financial and cultural ties. Many Russian Jews have relocated to Israel, which views Iran as its greatest regional enemy.

Another ‘I’ in BRICS

But the prospect of Iran, in effect, becoming a second “I” in the BRICS acronym is not what many Western economic observers expected. They were looking at the potential boon for European and U.S. businesses and the prospect that Europe, in particular, could weaken Russian-Iranian ties by trading with Iran and by playing off Iran and Russia over energy.

And surely there will be some of both. European companies expect to be in the forefront of a business gold rush to Tehran – and Europe will buy Iran’s oil that, pre-sanctions, filled Europe’s energy needs by some 600,000 barrels a day, mostly to Italy, Greece and Spain.

Iran currently produces less than 3 million barrels of oil per day but could increase that to at least 4 million bpd. And Iran’s gas reserves, the second biggest in the world, could eventually make their way to Europe, reducing the Continent’s dependence on Russian natural gas. While there are many obstacles to an Iran-to-Europe pipeline, there are cheaper alternatives, like shipping liquefied natural gas.

But even if that were to happen, Russia is already looking toward Asia, not Europe, to increase energy exports. So, a gradual reorganization of the market – with Iran’s energy supplies coming back online – will likely have little long-term impact on Russia’s economy.

Whatever the case, Iran’s post-sanctions reality will develop gradually, not just because of the phasing-in of the nuclear deal itself, but because Iran needs to manage popular expectations to avoid potential social disruptions. However, regarding which countries can most gain from the opening of Iran, Russia has the early advantage, especially diplomatically, followed by China.

Europe and the U.S. have quality products to sell but also fences to mend and suspicions to dispel. And while it’s true there is mistrust to overcome between Moscow and Tehran, their current objectives are more in sync. They will not become allies overnight, but the relation will mature as long as both keep their ends of the deals, which in the past has proved difficult.

But there is a strong incentive for Iran and Russia to make their new relationship work. For Russia, it’s about strategic access to the Mediterranean (via Syria) and the ability to retain and even expand its influence in the vital Middle East (by expanding ties to Iran and its regional allies). For Iran, it’s about strengthening its regional position vis a vis its regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The West, too, will no doubt benefit from Iran’s economic renaissance. Western business interests, including Americans, lobbied hard in favor of lifting the sanctions. Corporate delegations from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and other Western nations have already flocked to Iran to prepare for reentering Iran’s markets as soon as sanctions are lifted.

There will be room for all to benefit, even Arab countries like the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman. But Russia is the best positioned to gain from Iran’s comeback.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

Vendor Tries To Save Red Light Cameras Despite Accident Rise

The Newspaper | July 14, 2015

Accidents are up at the intersections with red light cameras in Hollywood, Florida, but American Traffic Solutions (ATS) is desperate to keep the troubled system alive. City commissioners last week unanimously approved an ordinance to dump the controversial devices, only to back away from the resolution after ATS proposed a last-minute deal. The company will, in effect, pay the council to ignore the city police chief’s warning about the impact of automated ticketing since January 2011.

“Just so we’re clear, we looked at empirical data, we did a lot of thorough research on accidents and fatalities,” Chief Tomas Sanchez said on Wednesday. “We have also seen a dramatic increase in most intersections of twice as much rear end accidents occur after the red light camera implementation [compared] to before the red light camera implementation. As a whole, there have been more accidents at each intersection.”

The program has also failed to produce the promised amount of revenue to the city, largely due to state-mandated increases in yellow signal warning times that took effect on May 31, 2013. As most of the tickets were written for minor, split-second violations, the extra time has caused citation revenue to plunge. On top of this, a Florida Court of Appeals decision declared the process ATS used to review citations in Hollywood was illegal, so the city has been unable to collect fines since March. ATS will now forgive $100,000 in charges to the city in return for sixty days to find a way to work around the appellate court ruling and create a profitable ticketing program.

“We have some options that we’ve negotiated,” ATS salesman Orlando Torres told the council. “Programs are not shutting down all over the state. Some have, many continue on as they make changes to their process. So allow us to continue to do this. Either we bring something back to you, or we don’t, and at the end of the day you’ll make your decision.”

The proposal raised controversy with Commissioners Traci L. Callari and Peter D. Hernandez, who pointed out that the commission had already voted to dump ATS in a unanimous vote. Red light camera supporters, including Commissioner Patty Asseff, hoped the last-minute monetary offer would vindicate the photo ticketing program. Asseff insisted the cameras saved lives, but Chief Sanchez pointed out that this was not correct.

“So, for public safety and for the accidents, the data is not clear that — does not show… a reduction in accidents,” Chief Sanchez said. “It shows the contrary — an increase in some places, as much as a three- or four-fold increase in rear end accidents.”

The commission voted 4 to 3 to accept the deal under which ATS would not charge the contractual $48,000 monthly red light camera fee that the city would have to have been obligated to pay had it given the sixty-days notice that it intended to cancel the photo ticketing contract. The commission will vote again on a revised deal from ATS.

Related:

Louisiana Supreme Court Punts On Red Light Cameras

Another California Grand Jury Knocks Red Light Cameras

Illinois: Red Light Camera Bribery Trial Stays In Chicago

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | | Leave a comment

Filmmaker Laura Poitras Sues US Over ‘Kafkaesque’ Harassment

Lawsuit requests records from intelligence agencies that have unlawfully detained, searched, and interrogated filmmaker for six years

By Nadia Prupis | Common Dreams | July 14, 2015

Award-winning journalist and filmmaker Laura Poitras on Monday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. intelligence agencies for subjecting her to what she called “Kafkaesque” harassment at airports throughout the U.S. and the world on dozens of occasions.

Poitras, who won an Academy Award last year for Citizenfour, the documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, said she has been detained, searched without warrant, interrogated for hours, and had vital belongings confiscated more than 50 times over the course of six years—without ever being charged with a crime.

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit names the DOJ, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and demands the release of all records from those agencies on Poitras.

In a statement on Monday, the filmmaker, who is being represented by the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), made clear that her lawsuit stood for more than just her own experiences.

“I’m filing this lawsuit because the government uses the U.S. border to bypass the rule of law,” Poitras said. “This simply should not be tolerated in a democracy. I am also filing this suit in support of the countless other less high-profile people who have also been subjected to years of Kafkaesque harassment at the borders. We have a right to know how this system works and why we are targeted.”

Poitras has spoken openly about her harassment at U.S. borders, which included reportedly being placed on the government’s No Fly List after returning home from filming My Country, My Country, a 2006 documentary which profiled Iraqi critics of the U.S. occupation.

She has also had her laptop, camera, mobile phone, and reporter notebooks seized and their contents copied, according to the suit. On one occasion, Poitras was allegedly threatened with handcuffing for taking notes during her detention, as border agents said her pen could be used as a weapon.

This is not the first time that Poitras has filed FOIAs with intelligence agencies for their records on her detainment, but the departments have evaded her requests at every turn.

“The government used its power to detain people at airports, in the name of national security, to target a journalist whose work has focused on the effects of the U.S. war on terror,” said David Sobel, EFF senior counsel. “In refusing to respond to Poitras’ FOIA requests and wrongfully withholding the documents about her it has located, the government is flouting its responsibility to explain and defend why it subjected a law-abiding citizen—whose work has shone a light on post-9/11 military and intelligence activities—to interrogations and searches every time she entered her country.”

EFF attorney Jamie Lee Williams added: “We are suing the government to force it to disclose any records that would show why security officials targeted Poitras for six years, even though she had no criminal record and there was no indication that she posed any security risk. By spurning Poitras’ FOIA requests, the government leaves the impression that her detentions were a form of retaliation and harassment of a journalist whose work has focused on U.S. policy in the post-9/11 world.”

In addition to her documentary film work, Poitras is a recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant and has won the Pulitzer for her reporting on the NSA leaks. My Country, My Country and Citizenfour are part of a series of films exploring post-9/11 America, along with 2010’s The Oath, a documentary about Guantanamo Bay prison.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Syriza’s Two Mistakes and Two Lessons

By John Halle | Outrages and Interludes | July 16, 2015

That Syriza has made mistakes isn’t in dispute: they themselves have admitted to two main ones.

1) They failed to recognize, despite early warnings from party members such as Costas Lapavistas, that the EU was negotiating in bad faith.  The EU’s intention was never to reach an agreement but to destroy Syriza and with it the hope that the victims of the endless bleeding of austerity had any democratic recourse. Furthermore, the negotiations were themselves a tactic in that, as former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis now admits, they prevented him from focussing on the one thing which Syriza could have used in its negotiations: a viable plan to exit the Eurozone in a way which minimized disruption to the economy and maximize the chances that it would return to health in the shortest possible time.

2)  We now know from Varoufakis that Syriza  had “a small group . . .  within the ministry, of about five people” that were planning in secret for a Grexit. This was, as he concedes, not even close to what was required to effect a viable transition to a new currency. Of course, no serious person should have any illusions that a Grexit would be “easy”, even with a massive investment in staff and infrastructure, any more than recovering from a major earthquake, hurricane or bombing of a nation’s major cities by a foreign power. Rather, just as a government is expected to prepare for disasters whether these are acts of god or attacks from hostile foreign powers, Syriza was derelict in failing to plan for what Varoufakis now accepts was “a coup” albeit executed not by “tanks” but by “banks”.

1) The Bankruptcy of “Speaking Truth to Power” Liberalism

Despite Syriza’s self-definition as “the party of the radical left”, much of its leadership and many of its advisers would reject the designation, more accurately being categorized within our political lexicon as liberals. Among these is Varoufakis’s close friend and UT Austin colleague Jamie Galbraith who described himself as “a reasonable and hopeful observer” of  Syriza’s initial negotiations with the E.U.  Rather than dismiss German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a right wing ideologue Galbraith praised her for “having made some of the mildest comments of any German politician,” and for having “chosen with care” her words on the subject of debt relief which, according to him, she had not rejected.

Galbraith’s report of the negotiations gave further grounds for hope that “the German government, having taken a very tough line through the process, took a step back from that tough line in order to secure a basic framework agreement for going forward.”

As we now know, the softening on the German’s hard line was a liberal chimera. Galbraith now recognizes that “the negotiations were a bit of a farce all along” and has admitted that he should have recognized that Chancellor Merkel was always “completely unreceptive.”

Varoufakis, while famously defining his political orientation as “Marxist” (albeit “erratic”) evidently shared Galbraith’s liberal confidence in the good will of the Eurocrat negotiators. This is apparent in his surprise when his attempts to reason with them were unsatisfactory-to put it mildly. According to his recent interview in the New Statesmen,

“It’s not that (they) didn’t go down well – it’s that there was point blank refusal to engage in economic arguments. Point blank. … You put forward an argument that you’ve really worked on – to make sure it’s logically coherent – and you’re just faced with blank stares. It is as if you haven’t spoken. What you say is independent of what they say. You might as well have sung the Swedish national anthem – you’d have got the same reply. And that’s startling, for somebody who’s used to academic debate. … The other side always engages. Well there was no engagement at all. It was not even annoyance, it was as if one had not spoken.”

What is on display is the disenchantment of liberals who operated on a presumption of good intentions and underlying rationality of elite technocrats. Radicals such as Lapavistas do not. For them, providing “arguments” to the institutional representatives of capital makes no more sense than addressing a hyena with its fangs clamped on one’s jugular. The hyena is acting not according to reason but according to its fundamental nature and so are the capitalist hyenas who were Syriza’s negotiating partners.

It was foolish to negotiate with any other expectation, as both Varoufakis and Galbraith now have effectively conceded.

2) Goldman Sachs DOES care (if you raise chickens)

A second explanation for one of Syriza’s crucial mistakes involves assumptions made by segments of their left, as opposed to (neo-) liberal wing, which includes Varoufakis and others who he refers to as “committed Europeanists.” By that he means that they are committed to the longstanding principle of left internationalism and cosmopolitanism. They also tend to view favorably the comparative advantage accruing to globalized trading networks which provide the economies of scale making possible large efficiencies in production of basic goods and also in making available raw materials at low cost. While their position is reasonable, it also has a negative side in that internationalists tend to denigrate the potential of local, small scale experiments in alternative economic systems of the sort which have been championed by Richard Wolff and Gar Alperowitz among others under the heading of worker self directed enterprises and workplace democracy.

Why this matters is that it is apparent that some form of what Wolff and Alperowitz are proposing will be crucial in the event of a Grexit. Prior to a national currency being re-established, local networks of production and exchange of the sort which globalization has long since eradicated will need to be revived and again made viable. That includes, incidentally, various forms of local food production of the sort denigrated by the verticalist left under the widely circulated meme “Goldman Sachs doesn’t care if you raise chickens.”

In fact, whether Greece will collapse into chaos and starvation will have to do with whether they are able to reduce their reliance on imported goods ramping up local production in all spheres including most crucially in food production-not as a neo-Calvinist moral imperative but to maintain a minimal caloric intake. It is likely that many small scale initiatives will need to be launched and developed to accomplish that, some along the lines the WW II Victory Gardens whose production equalled that of all commercial sources of vegetables during the war years. Of course, Goldman Sachs would like nothing better than for Greek efforts at self-reliance to fail which is to say they hope the Greeks don’t raise chickens-and starve for not having done so: the exact opposite of facile, leftish conventional wisdom.

Conclusion: No War but the Class War

While small, the Victory Gardens were not an insignificant contribution to a nation in a state of war. And, to reiterate the point, the comparison of a state of war to what will be required under a Grexit is entirely appropriate.

For while some of us want to avert our eyes, the left always recognized that the war by the rich against the poor is a war just as much as any other. An economic war does not involve missiles, antipersonnel weapons and M-16s. Its weapons are state enforced privatization schemes, debt swaps and interest rate manipulation. Rather than puncture wounds, severed limbs and  the casualties take the form of thousands of unnecessary deaths due to inadequately staffed and supplied hospitals, bacterial infections due to inadequately maintained sewage treatment facilities and collapsing buildings, food poisoning epidemics due to the mass layoffs of inspectors in regulatory agencies. An almost endless list can be compiled itemizing the social collapse resulting from economic warfare carried about by fountain pens rather than guns. Varoufakis has now woken up to the reality that his country has been attacked by an axis of foreign powers, that they are bent on its destruction and have one goal in mind: claiming the spoils of victory, disbursing to their owners in the investor class. It is time the rest of the left joined him there and here-on our feet and ready to fight them, in whatever way we can.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wesley Clark on MSNBC: Western powers need internment camps for disloyal radicals

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | 5 Comments

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Twenty years of CPT Palestine in photos

CPTnet | July 18, 2015

This summer marks the twentieth year of Christian Peacemaker Team’s presence in Palestine.  While that does not seem to be a reason to celebrate, we do feel we should mark the occasion.

1995: Armed Settlers

Pictured here: An unchanged reality since 1995 that clearly shows the imbalance of force between Israeli settlers and Palestinians is the fact that only the settlers are allowed to carry guns, besides having protection from trained soldiers.
1996: Girls of Cordoba School

Pictured here: One of the first most symbolic acts of resistance against the Occupation in Hebron were student from Cordoba Girls School proudly lifting the Palestinian flag, something that enraged the settlers.

1997: Direct Action

Pictured here: A CPTer takes part in a rebuilding action at the Waheed Zalloum house, which is located between the settlements of Kiryat Arba and Harsina in Hebron.

1998: Nonviolence Training

Pictured here: A CPTer helps to demonstrate a technique used by the Israeli state to torture Palestinian prisoners, which was defined as “moderate physical pressure”.
1999: Settler Objection

Pictured here: In past and present settlers constantly protest the attempts to reopen shops on Shuhada Street .
2000: Collective Punishment

Pictured here: Palestinian were forbidden to use the gate at the Chicken Market, closing off Shuhada Street.

2001: Settler Violence

Pictured here: Palestinian shop in the Vegetable Market was burned by settlers during a curfew imposed by the Israeli Army on Palestinians.

2002: Home Demolition

Pictured here: Palestinian house destroyed by Israeli forces in the Abu Sneineh neighborhood in Hebron during the Intifada.
2003: Open Shuhada Street

Pictured here: International women demonstrating for the opening of Shuhada Street.
2004: It is about Security!

Pictured here: Israeli settler women making a walk in the Old City with a baby stroller and protected by soldiers even though Palestinians were prevented from opening their shops in that time.
2005: The Settler tour

Pictured here: A pattern that will repeat itself every Saturday for the following decade: settlers touring the Old City of Hebron surrounded by soldiers.
2006: Segregated paths

Pictured here: The segregation on Sahle street between Israeli settlers and Palestinians with either removable or concrete blocks would continue till 2013, when they were moved to a nearby area in the Worshipers Way.
2007: Roadblock Removal

Pictured here: Palestinian activists removing a road block. Many roadblocks like this still exist, part of more than 600 closures that restrict the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the West Bank.
2008: No One is Immune!

Pictured here: A sheep wounded by settlers is carried by the Israeli police for investigation.
2009: Road to Education

Pictured here: Palestinian children from the villages of Tuba and Maghayr Al-‘Abd are escorted to school in the village of Tuwani by Israeli soldiers on  a road between the settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on.
2010: Contradiction

Pictured here: Palestinian boys get detained by the same Israeli soldiers who supposed to protect them on their way to school in Tuwani.
2011: Despair

Pictured here: Elderly Palestinian man in the South Hebron Hills sits in front of an Israeli bulldozer destroying his land.
2012: Under Attack

Pictured here: Golani brigade in one its many arbitrary arrests and detention of Palestinians in H2 area of Hebron. A special report was issued by the international accompaniment groups in order to remove the brigade that was abusing the local population with incessant violations.
2013: Tear Gas!

Pictured here: Israeli soldiers after shooting tear gas towards Palestinian school children in front of Tariq Bin Zyad School, close to Salaymeh Checkpoint. 2013 witnessed a spike in the use of tear gas against children during school time.
2014: Brother’s Keeper

Pictured here: One of the levels of the Abu Eisha family house blown up by Israeli forces in Hebron. The destruction of the family homes of the two suspects of kidnapping three Israeli settlers culminated Operation Brother’s Keeper, which raided hundreds of Palestinian houses, and the subsequent escalation of the situation with Hamas in Gaza, which led to the Operation Protective Edge. This assault on Gaza Strip resulted in more than 2.200 Palestinian deaths (about 70% civilian), as well as the death of 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 Israeli civilians.
2015: Military Order

Pictured here: Palestinian woman holds the key up to the soldier welding her family house’s door shut. Israeli forces claimed without showing any evidence that Palestinians used the roof of the house to throw a Molotov cocktail towards the settlement. For that reason, the house where just an old lady used to live was sealed.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran and the United States after the Nuclear Deal: Hillary Mann Leverett, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, and Seyed Mohammad Marandi

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett | Going to Tehran | July 18, 2015

Now that the P5+1 and Iran have concluded their Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), it is important to look not just at how the parties will go about implementing the deal but also at the JCPOA’s strategic impact. Hillary, the University of Tehran’s Seyed Mohammad Marandi, and Princeton University’s Seyed Hossein Mousavian engaged in a good discussion of these issues on CCTV’s The Heat, see here or click on the video links below.

Mohammad underlines what—not just from an Iranian perspective but from any perspective that values the possibility of rules-based international order—is certainly a key aspect of the JCPOA’s long-term significance:

“For the first time, really, the United States has been forced to accept the Iranian peaceful nuclear program. I think that is the most significant thing to come out of this… Despite the United States forcing the UN Security Council, in previous years, to impose sanctions on the country, and despite the fact that the United States applied punitive sanctions itself, and threatened other countries with sanctions if they did business with Iran, despite all that, ultimately the United States had to accept Iran’s peaceful nuclear program. And we have to remember that, in the past, the United States was saying that Iran did not have the right to enrich uranium…

The fact that Iran has been able to retain its peaceful nuclear program shows Iran’s inherent strength as an independent country. And I think it also vindicates the fact that Iran continued to pursue its peaceful nuclear program over the past few years. This has given Iran the capability to have a strong hand at the negotiating table.”

As for the JCPOA’s impact on U.S.-Iranian relations, Hillary explains that this will depend very much on how Washington presents the JCPOA to its own public and the extent to which the agreement prompts a fundamental revision of U.S. strategy toward the Middle East:

“[The Obama administration] may try to sell it as a narrow arms control agreement. Well, there’s never going to be an agreement that’s good enough to contain what many in Washington see as this unreconstructed, ‘evil’ state, I think that’s going to fail. And I think that the attempt to say, ‘Well, the Iranians are going to abide by this, so you don’t have to worry,’ and, in the meantime, we’re going to continue to sell billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia and Israel—while Iran still has the arms embargo in place—could make for a more destabilized region, a more highly militarized region.”

Similarly, Mohammad points out that, if the United States were ready to “rethink” its policy toward the Middle East and toward Iran,

“if the United States changes its behavior toward the country, it would benefit a great deal. But we have to also keep in mind that the United States is still imposing a large number of sanctions against the country. U.S. policy in the region is still in conflict with that of Iran, because of U.S. support for Saudi Arabia and Turkey in their support for al-Qa’ida. So, Iranian-U.S. relations are pretty poor, and I don’t think they will change very quickly.”

As Hillary underscores, the only way to reap the full potential benefit of the JCPOA is for the United States to pursue real, “Nixon to China” rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. But, at the moment, there is no consensus in favor of that within the Obama administration.

The discussion is worth watching in its entirety.

http://cdnapi.kaltura.com/p/1679301/sp/167930100/embedIframeJs/uiconf_id/26345181/partner_id/1679301?iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player_80bb75d1ec59dd8474f886d8919a6c6d&entry_id=1_0yed0n9z&flashvarsstreamerType=auto

http://cdnapi.kaltura.com/p/1679301/sp/167930100/embedIframeJs/uiconf_id/26345181/partner_id/1679301?iframeembed=true&playerId=kaltura_player_58062caa3de5244961cfb6aa6e753c75&entry_id=1_jaw6tter&flashvarsstreamerType=auto

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Video | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bill Kristol on Iran Deal: ‘Its Munich!’

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By Daniel McAdams | Neocon Watch | July 18, 2015

Bill Kristol is the epitome of the neocon mindset: cultivating a staid and urbane image while writing the most unhinged and mendacious claptrap. In his utterly predictable denunciation of the successful Iran nuclear talks, Kristol frames the issue in the crudest terms: if the deal goes through on the US end it will mean the return of $150 billion that was seized from the Iranians by the United States — and that money will be used to commit terrorism against the United States!

Writes Kristol: “How can we debate [the deal] without attending to the $150 billion that is going to a regime with American blood on its hands?”

Kristol cites the National Review which makes the fatuous claim (first made by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, which is headed by a close advisor to Israeli prime minister Netanyahu) that Iran has killed 1,000 Americans since 9/11. It turns out any weapon used in Iraq or Afghanistan against an invading US military that might have Iranian manufacturing origins means that the Iranians are responsible for that kill.

Do they want to extrapolate that methodology to include every bullet sold by the US military-industrial complex to every despot overseas?

But you can see how this works: A Netanyahu think tank makes an outlandish claim, it is picked up by the National Review and thus laundered from its biased foreign origins, and then recycled and further laundered by Kristol in his publication. Cute trick.

And Kristol’s objection to foreigners with American blood on their hands is highly selective. The Marxist-jihadist death cult Mojahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) has plenty of American blood on its hands, but Kristol’s own magazine joined other neocon voices in urging the US to remove the terrorists from the US list of terror organizations. Why? Because they are Kristol’s kind of terrorists: they infiltrate Iran to assassinate civilians and foment unrest, while passing off laptops with Mossad-fabricated data made to look like Iranian nuclear weapons activity.

The other thing that has Kristol up in arms over the deal is what he calls the “notorious” Annex III.D.10 of the agreement, which he claims will “help the Iranian regime fight off attempts by others to slow its nuclear program, and more.”

But what does that annex really say?

10. Co-operation in the form of training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems;

10. Co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.

In other words, the parties to the agreement will help Iran protect against attempts to attack and sabotage Iran’s peaceful and legal nuclear program. Recall the Israeli/US cyberattack on Iranian nuclear facilities and simultaneous programs to assassinate Iranian scientists. Kristol is furious that anyone would find such illegal and murderous activity to be objectionable. After all, blood on one’s hands doesn’t count if it is Iranian or other Muslim blood.

Oh, and, writes Kristol: “Munich!!!” That is obligatory any time diplomacy supplants neocon lust for war.

That Kristol remains a favored foreign policy “expert” on stations like FoxNews and ABC says very little about the quality of his analysis and much more about his saying what the mainstream media want their audiences to hear.

Who can forget Bill Kristol’s greatest hits, such as this 2011 piece on the “liberation” of Libya titled “The Party of Freedom“? In it he writes:

And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him. … Our invasions have in fact been liberations… in our own national interest, of course, but also to protect Muslim peoples and help them free themselves. Libya will be America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation.

Ah yes, that glorious liberation of Libya!

Indeed the timeline of his faulty predictions would no-doubt span the equator. Imagine any other profession where one can be so consistently wrong and still be considered (and handsomely remunerated as) an expert. Imagine your doctor was wrong in his diagnosis 95 percent of the time. Imagine your financial advisor consistently lost 95 percent of anything you invest with him. Yet Kristol continues to drop his golden turds from the hallowed heights of the foreign policy firmament. What a country…

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cameron Demands Iran Change Policy on Syria, Yemen

Sputnik — 19.07.2015

MOSCOW – Western countries expect changes in Iran’s policy in the Middle East following a nuclear deal concluded between Tehran and the international negotiators, British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Iran and the P5+1 group, comprising China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and the United States, concluded a historic agreement to ensure the peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear program.

“I spoke to [Iranian] President Rouhani yesterday and I said that we want to see a change in an approach that Iran takes to issues like Syria and Yemen and to terrorism in the region and we want the change in [Iran’s] behavior,” Cameron said on NBC News’ Meet the Press.

The prime minister added that the nuclear deal with Iran could lead to this change and was “so much better than the alternative,” since without the deal Iran would obtain nuclear weapon and Western countries might have to begin military action in the region against Iran.

The P5+1 international negotiators have been attempting to reach a comprehensive agreement with Iran that would insure the peaceful nature of the country’s nuclear program since November 2013, when an interim was signed.

According to the final text of the nuclear agreement, Iran will under no circumstances seek to develop or acquire a nuclear weapon and, in exchange, will receive sanctions relief. The text details how the final treaty will positively contribute to regional Middle Eastern security.

On Saturday, the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran would not change its rigid stance on defense capability and regional policy in light of the agreement with the international negotiators.

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Zionist Columnist Calls for Economic Sabotage and Cyber Warfare Against Iran

By Brandon Martinez | Non-Aligned Media | July 19, 2015

In an insane Machiavellian screed, American-Jewish archaeologist and Zionist propagandist Alex Joffe has suggested that the nascent West-Iran rapprochement in the form of the nuclear deal be used as an opportunity for criminal subversion and sabotage now that Tehran will ostensibly open up its economy to Western business investment.

In a July 14, 2015, column for the Times of Israel titled “The Deal with Iran: How to Make Lemonade out of Lemons,” the Zionist extremist outlines a plethora of ways that Iran can be undermined and destabilized. Joffe called upon “those interested in the two goals of an Iran free of nuclear weapons and free of religious fascism” to heed his words, insisting that the West-Iran nuclear deal is perhaps “a moment of opportunity” to infiltrate and destroy the Persian nation from within.

Joffe explained that the P5+1-Iran nuclear accord recently signed in Vienna would result in Iran “undergo[ing] a kind of opening to the world. Taking advantage of that is now a vital goal for Western intelligence and public diplomacy. It is the art of the making lemonade out of lemons.”

Joffe’s “making lemonade out of lemons” scheme to overthrow the Iranian government entails using business investment prospects as a cover for “Western intelligence agencies to gather information and to subvert the Iranian regime.” He specifically encourages an intense campaign of cyber and psychological warfare:

“One simple method are thumb drives, containing viruses to disrupt computer networks, encryption tools to evade official Iranian surveillance and firewalls, and perhaps even Western music, literature, and movies to subvert repressive traditional values, and classics of Western political thought to inspire Iranian society toward a liberal democratic future. Jazz and rock, blue jeans and samizdat literature played roles in the collapse of communism; their 21st century analogs should be enlisted to help Iranian society reform itself.”

On top of those subterfuges Joffe champions the introduction of “cyberweapons such as Stuxnet into Iran’s strategic computer systems. Stuxnet and its variants were designed to slow and damage computer controlled systems in Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, apparently with success.” He goes on:

“New cyberweapons aimed at Iran’s nuclear program, along with missiles, military radars and aviation, regime communications and record-keeping, and much more, are all likely under development in the West — or should be. Certainly Iran is developing its own cyberweapons, and has virtually unlimited access points to introduce them. But its weapons are aimed Western banks and critical infrastructure, such as electric grids. It is in everyone’s interest that more targeted cyberattacks on the Iranian regime and its weapons systems succeed first.”

“Openness should have a high price for Iran, both real and imagined,” writes the deranged Zionist. He calls for Western (read: Zionist) spies to front as businessmen and stir unrest in the Islamic Republic. “Access to Iran’s people also raises the potential to eventually inspire them to overthrow the repressive theocratic fascist regime,” he ponders with glee. Additionally he advocates stoking up ethnic minorities in Iran such as the “Ahwaz Arab tribes in the southwest, ethnic Baluch and Pashtun in the east, and Azeris and Kurds in the northwest” to revolt against Tehran.

“But putting the regime under stress is an important means to bring about its transformation or demise,” Joffe proclaims, openly inciting for sabotage and crimes within a sovereign state. Increasing alienation between Iranian youth and the Islamic government should be a “paramount strategic goal” for the Zionist-led West, he concludes.

Joffe’s provocative screed seems to mimic a little-known 2009 strategy paper produced by the Brookings Institution (a US-based neocon, pro-Israel think tank) entitled “Which Path to Persia?” That paper, co-authored by former high-level American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) member Martin Indyk, likewise outlined duplicitous strategies for out-and-out regime change in Iran including cyber warfare, terrorism, inciting internal ethnic and religious strife, provoking rebellion among minority groups, a military coup, and overt military invasion. The Brookings neocons weighed the pros and cons of each “option” and even went so far as to call for “goading” Iran into retaliating to US covert operations as a pretext for war.

Copyright 2015 Non-Aligned Media

July 19, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments