Aletho News


Foreign Academic Detained in Ecuador Riot Faces Deportation

teleSUR | August 16, 2015

Ecuador’s Interior Ministry issued a press release Saturday denying allegations that police had attacked and illegally detained French-Brazilian academic Manuela Picq during violent anti-government protests last Thursday.

Picq was taken into custody at a location where anti-government protesters began throwing projectiles and fire bombs at police in an attempt to enter the site where thousands of government supporters had gathered. Shortly following her detention, right-wing lawmaker Andres Paez sent tweets indicating that police had entered the Eugenio Espejo Hospital – where Picq had been sent to – in order to take injured protesters away.

Photos showing Picq with a bruise around her eye also began making the rounds on social media, but allegations claiming the bruises were from the police were disproven shortly after. Tweet:

To all my followers. Manuela Picq had confirmed to me that this photo that I shared was not from today. Many apologies to all.

Hospital Director Dr. Lenin Mantilla denied police had entered the hospital and said Picq and other opposition leaders were released after they were given medical clearances.

The release also included a recorded testimony of Manuela Picq denying rumors that she had been the victim of mistreatment by authorities.

“I was treated kindly by the police authorities and the paramedics on the scene,” Picq said during her recorded testimony.

According to local police reports, the academic and writer had suffered bruises during Thursday’s protest due to an attack from “unknown assailants” and was approached by authorities who sought to administer first aid. Picq was subsequently asked to provide her documentation, where officials say they discovered she had been living in the country with an “irregular status.”

However, in an interview with El Comerico, Picq claims she was illegally detained by Ecuadorean police officials.

“Yesterday, I was not an illegal immigrant and they arrested me without any probable cause. They didn’t detain me with any motive,” Picq told the newspaper.

The media report also coincided with the release of a photograph, which began circulating across social media platforms that depicted Picq being carried away by Ecuadorean police.

Picq, who is the partner of radical opposition leader Carlos Perez, had been participating in roadblocks as part of the so-called ‘National Action’ by anti-government organizations.

The action, which was supported by most right-wing leaders including banker Guillermo Lasso and agro-businessman Alvaro Noboa, came on the heels of demonstrations against government proposals to increase inheritance and capital gains taxes for the country’s wealthiest sector.

The Ecuadorean Ministry of Interior confirmed that they will reach a decision by Monday regarding Picq’s potential deportation.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception | | Leave a comment

Opposition Demonstrators Shoot, Injure 11 Ecuadorean Officials

teleSUR | August 16, 2015

Ecuador’s Armed Forces revealed via a tweet that 11 soldiers and police officers were injured Saturday after being attacked with live ammunition as they attempted to clear an illegal roadblock in the Amazonian province of Morona Santiago.

The roadblock had been set up as part of opposition protests against the government of elected president Rafael Correa. Officials confirmed that six people had been arrested as a result.

On Saturday, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa criticized the organizers of the opposition demonstrations for their role in promoting violence, which resulted in more than 80 police and several journalists being injured.

Ecuador’s capital was rocked by violent protests Thursday which formed part of what a segment of the indigenous movement and opposition-aligned trade unions were calling an “uprising” and “work stoppage.”

Government supporters classified Thursday’s protests as an effort to destabilize the democratically-elected government.

Despite various opposition groups coming together, those opposed to the government failed in their objective to oust the government, which President Correa classified Aug. 13 as “historic” victory for the country’s democracy.

Correa expressed dismay at the violence exhibited by opposition demonstrators during his weekly television program broadcast from the province of Imbabura.

“I’ve never seen them so violent, so aggressive,” declared Correa, adding that “those who used violence will be punished with the full rigor of the law.”

The president reserved some of his harshest criticisms for leaders of opposition indigenous organizations, who despite previous assurances that the action would be peaceful and was not aimed at ousting the government, participated in inciting the violence.

Ecuarunari president Carlos Perez was caught on camera encouraging protesters to storm the plaza where government supporters had gathered. Responding to this call, opposition demonstrators — including the Governor of Zamora, Salvador Quishpe — violently attacked police, who endured attacks with sticks, poles, steel barricades, fireworks, and firebombs.

Quishpe, who was seen attacking police lines using the barricades, became covered in soot from the burning tires placed in front of police by demonstrators. The opposition politician subsequently claimed that he been beaten by police.

President Correa also heavily criticized the logic of the organizers of Thursday’s actions, saying the shutting down highways only harmed ordinary Ecuadoreans instead of causing harm to the government.

Correa blasted statements from protest organizers Jorge Herrera of the Conaie Indigenous group and Perez of Ecuarunari. Herrera called on the National Assembly to withdraw a series of proposed constitutional amendments currently under discussion, while Perez demanded Correa resign – despite the fact that Correa maintains high levels of popular support.

The leaders warned they would continue their protests and threatened to escalate their actions if their demands were not met.

“This president does not accept blackmail from anyone,” said Correa responded.

Correa criticized the hypocrisy of right-wing politicians, such as right-wing former banker Guillermo Lasso and Guayaquil mayor Jaime Nebot, who declared their support for the protests despite historically opposing the demands made by those who organized Thursday’s protests.

The president warned that these types of protests were likely to continue as part of a concerted effort to wear down the government.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Video | , | Leave a comment

Palestine before 1948

The video contains pictures of different Palestinian cities during the 1920’s and 1930’s, before the creation of the state of israel by the zionists in 1948.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , | 1 Comment

Rights group: 2,799 deaths by Egyptian authority in two years

MEMO | August 15, 2015

Some 2,799 Egyptians have been killed since the Egyptian authorities forcefully dispersed mass rallies in Cairo on August 14, 2013. The rallies were held as protest against the military coup which ousted the first every freely elected Egyptian president, an Egyptian rights group said on Friday.

Anadolu News Agency reported that the Egyptian Coordination of Rights and Freedoms stated that since June 30, 2013 until today, the Egyptian authorities’ varied methods of killing resulted in a large number of deaths.

According to the National Egyptian Council for Human Rights, on August 14, 2013, the Egyptian army and police dispersed the demonstrations against the military coup, killing 632 Egyptians. Meanwhile, national and international rights groups said the number of deaths was over 1,000.

Following the violent dispersal of the rallies, the Egyptian authorities adopted systematic killing, including torturing prisoners to death, liquidations and assassinations.

In June of this year, the Egyptian security forces assassinated nine unarmed Muslim Brotherhood leaders, claiming they were planning to make chaos in the country. The Muslim Brotherhood denied the accusations and stressed that the individuals were a team following up the families of Egyptians killed or wounded by the army and the police.

According to the report, which was divided into three stages, the first stage covered the period from June 30, 2013 until August 13, 2013, where 316 Egyptians were killed. The second stage covered August 14, 2013 until August 16, where 2007 Egyptians were killed. The third stage details the events from August 17, 2013 until August 12, 2015, where 476 Egyptians were killed.

Since the military coup against Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian authorities have been cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, accusing it of “inciting violence and terror” in the country.

In December 2013, an Egyptian court designated the group as a “terrorist organisation” and ordered all of its leaders and members to be arrested and their property confiscated.

Hundreds of its leaders and members have been sentenced to death or life in prison since the announcement of that ruling.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | Leave a comment

Settlements and the settler state of ‘Judea and Samaria’

Al-Araby Al-Jadid | August 13, 2015

There is a clear contradiction between Israel’s demolition of two houses built by Jewish settlers in Beit El settlement following a judgement by the Supreme Court that they were built on private property belonging to a Palestinian, and the approval of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government for the construction of 300 new homes in the same settlement, one of a number of building projects across the occupied West Bank.

Such a contradictory stance was reflected in the Israeli prime minister’s condemnation of the arson attack on the home of the Dawabsheh family by Jewish settlers, which killed a Palestinian baby and his father, given that the building programmes approved by the Netanyahu government and a climate of state-sanctioned impunity not only entices settlers to move in but also encourages them to carry out such attacks. We should not, therefore, be deceived by the apparent awakening of Netanyahu’s conscience towards the suffering of the Palestinians at the hands of settlers and settlements.

It is through the judgements passed by the Israeli courts that the legal system plays a role in expanding settlements and gives them the legitimacy that Israelis crave. If the courts call for what we know will only ever be a temporary removal of some violations (the two Beit El houses, for example) they are only trying to remind settlers that they need to follow official guidance on the best way to confiscate Palestinian land and uproot the Palestinian residents therefrom.

Netanyahu’s justice minister said that it is useful to destroy two houses to make it possible to establish dozens of others in the same place, albeit it is “regrettable” to have to demolish them in order to re-build them. The minister of education explained that the court can decide whatever it wants, for the judicial system has to issue judgements while the government gets to decide about ongoing construction. It is as if they are saying, “We will learn from our mistakes, and we will build settlements in accordance with the legal instructions booklet with which the government overrides some of its formal procedures, so that the courts’ task becomes to re-direct the government towards better methods and pretexts for the confiscation of land and expansion of settlements.”

The legal process for this is represented by the permissibility of confiscating land from its owners for security reasons, or to establish army bases; later, civilians — Jewish settlers only, of course — are allowed to live there, on the pretext that they are part of the security provision; then these bases are turned into settlements, which are gradually expanded, and they swallow the surrounding areas on the pretext that the settlers themselves need security. The Israeli courts can also provide Palestinian land for the settlers because their presence in the occupied Palestinian territory is a security necessity for the state.

A number of laws are available to the government which allow it to control Palestinian land as it wishes. The Closed Areas Law, for example, allows the military to close any area without giving any reason; the Law of Absentee Property, allows the confiscation of land that belongs to people who are not in residence, for whatever reason (they may just be travelling); and the Law of Fallow Land, which allows for the confiscation of land that has not been cultivated. The latter is one of the most unjust and ridiculous of laws, because the Israeli authorities declare certain areas to be closed and prevent the owners from reaching their land to cultivate it, and then the government confiscates the land on the basis that it is uncultivated.

The Oslo Accords did not address the issue of settlements and allocated more than 60 per cent of the West Bank to what is known as Area C, which is entirely under Israeli military administration. Settlements are the essence of Israel’s founding Zionist ideology, and they have expanded many times under peace negotiations; the Palestine Liberation Organisation has failed to extract any Israeli pledge to halt settlement activity or freeze it. The West Bank is filled with settlements housing more than 600,000 settlers — all illegal under international law — with 200,000 in Jerusalem alone. The settlement programme has dismembered the West Bank, making a two-state solution almost impossible to envisage and making it unlikely that Israel will ever withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territory under its control.

In the process, Jewish settler groups and political parties have grown in number and influence; it is impossible to form a government in Israel without their support. Militant extremists amongst the settlers are responsible for attacks against Palestinians and their homes and farms. An estimated 1,000 such attacks take place every year, and include murder, beatings, the burning of crops and trees, arson attacks on buildings and restricting free movement. The latest of these attacks was the arson attack targeting the Dawabsheh family. The incident cannot be separated from the context of all other settler violence. Needless to say, all settlers are heavily armed and are provided with back-up and protection by the Israeli army, and encouragement from the state.

It is no longer a secret that ardent Zionists are talking about the creation of a settler state in what they call “Judea and Samaria” in an effort to thwart any attempt by the government to withdraw from any occupied territory or close settlements as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. This has even been mentioned by Yuval Diskin, the former head of Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet. Such a move would subject the West Bank to the control of the settlers, under the pretext that there is a dispute between residents of the West Bank; any “solution” in the occupied territories must therefore take into account the diversity of the population, even if the settlers have imposed their presence on the Palestinians in their own land.

It is enough for us to get alarmed to know that the proportion of Jewish settlers relative to the Palestinians in the West Bank exceeds the proportion of Jews to Arabs in 1948 when Israel was created. The Jewish settlers have the ability and influence to enable them to declare their own state, leaving the Israeli government free to claim that it is not responsible for what is happening there. That would, of course, be a disingenuous argument, given that it has created the settlements and settler-only access roads, and provided security and infrastructure for the settlers in the first place.

The West Bank is thus undergoing a serious Judaisation process as I write, and a major disaster is about to hit the Palestinians amid the near-complete absence and deadly inaction of the so-called Palestinian Authority. Regional Arab states and the international community are silent about what is happening before their eyes, which leaves the Israeli occupation government free to do what it wishes, and settlers free to declare their own state in the West Bank, which they call Judea and Samaria. Is anyone going to respond, to stop the disaster before it takes place?

Translated by Moein Taher

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | Leave a comment

Monsanto Wants to Know Why People Doubt Science

By Colin Todhunter | CounterPunch | February 27, 2015

On Twitter recently, someone asked the question “Why do people doubt science?” Accompanying the tweet was a link to an article in National Geographic that implied people who are suspicious of vaccines, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), climate change, fluoridated water and various other phenomena are confused, adhere to conspiracy theories, are motivated by ideology or are misinformed as a result of access to the ‘University of Google.’ The remedy, according to what is said in the article, is for us all to rely on scientific evidence pertaining to these issues and adopt a ‘scientific method’ of thought and analysis and put irrational thought processes to one side.

Who tweeted the question and posted the link? None other than Robert T Fraley, Monsanto’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Before addressing that question, it is worth mentioning that science is not the giver of ‘absolute truth’. That in itself should allow us to develop a healthy sceptism towards the discipline. The ‘truth’ is a tricky thing to pin down. Scientific knowledge is built on shaky stilts that rest on shifting foundations. Science historian Thomas Kuhn wrote about the revolutionary paradigm shifts in scientific thought, whereby established theoretical perspectives can play the role of secular theology and serve as a barrier to the advancement of knowledge, until the weight of evidence and pressure from proponents of a new theoretical paradigm is overwhelming. Then, at least according to Kuhn, the old faith gives way and a new ‘truth’ changes.

Philosopher Paul Feyerabend argued that science is not an ‘exact science’. The manufacture of scientific knowledge involves a process driven by various sociological, methodological and epistemological conflicts and compromises, both inside the laboratory and beyond. Writers in the field of the sociology of science have written much on this.

But the answer to the question “Why do people doubt science” is not because they have read Kuhn, Feyerabend or some sociology journal. Neither is it because a bunch of ‘irrational’ activists have scared them witless about GM crops or some other issue. It is because they can see how science is used, corrupted and manipulated by powerful corporations to serve their own ends. It is because they regard these large corporations as largely unaccountable and their activities and products not properly regulated by governments.

That’s why so many doubt science – or more precisely the science corporations fund and promote to support their interests.

US sociologist Robert Merton highlighted the underlying norms of science as involving research that is not warped by vested interests, adheres to the common ownership of scientific discoveries (intellectual property) to promote collective collaboration and subjects findings to organised, rigorous critical scrutiny within the scientific community. The concept of originality was added by later writers in order to fully encapsulate the ethos of science: scientific claims must contribute something new to existing discourse. Based on this brief analysis, secrecy, dogma and vested interest have no place.

This is of course a highly idealised version of what science is or should be because in reality careers, reputations, commercial interests and funding issues all serve to undermine these norms.

But if we really want to look at the role of secrecy, dogma and vested interest in full flow, we could take a look at the sector to which Robert T Fraley belongs.

Last year, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for “sound science” to underpin food trade between the US and the EU. However, he seems very selective in applying “sound science” to certain issues. Consumer rights groups in the US are pushing for the labelling of GMO foods, but Vilsack said that putting a label on a foodstuff containing a GM product “risks sending a wrong impression that this was a safety issue.”

Despite what Vilsack would have us believe, many scientific studies show that GMOs are indeed a big safety issue and what’s more are also having grave environmental, social and economic consequences (for example, see this and this).

By not wanting to respond to widespread consumer demands to know what they are eating and risk “sending a wrong impression,” Vislack is trying to prevent proper debate about issues that his corporate backers would find unpalatable: profits would collapse if consumers had the choice to reject the GMOs being fed to them. And ‘corporate backers’ must not be taken as a throwaway term here. Big agritech concerns have captured or at the very least seriously compromised key policy and regulatory bodies in the US (see this), Europe (see this), India (see this) and in fact on a global level (see here regarding control of the WTO).

If Robert T Fraley wants to understand why people doubt science, he should consider what Andy Stirling, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at Sussex University, says:

“The main reason some multinationals prefer GM technologies over the many alternatives is that GM offers more lucrative ways to control intellectual property and global supply chains. To sideline open discussion of these issues, related interests are now trying to deny the many uncertainties and suppress scientific diversity. This undermines democratic debate – and science itself.” (see here)

Coming from the GMO biotech industry, or its political mouthpieces, the term “sound science” rings extremely hollow. The industry carries out inadequate, short-term studies and conceals the data produced by its research under the guise of ‘commercial confidentiality’ (see this), while independent research highlights the very serious dangers of its products [see this and this). It has in the past also engaged in fakery in India (see this), bribery in Indonesia (see this ) and smears and intimidation against those who challenge its interests [see this), as well as the distortion and the censorship of science (see this  and this).

With its aim to modify organisms to create patents that will secure ever greater control over seeds, markets and the food supply, the widely held suspicion is that the GMO agritech sector is only concerned with a certain type of science: that which supports these aims. Because if science is held in such high regard by these corporations, why isn’t Monsanto proud of its products? Why not label foods in the US that contain GMOs and throw open [Monsanto’s] science to public scrutiny, instead of veiling it with secrecy, restricting independent research on its products or resorting to unsavoury tactics?

If science is held in such high regard by the GMO agritech sector, why in the US did policy makers release GM food onto the commercial market without proper long-term tests? The argument used to justify this is GM food is ‘substantially equivalent’ to ordinary food. But this is not based on scientific reason. Foreign genes are being inserted into organisms that studies show make them substantially non-equivalent (see this). Substantial equivalence is a trade strategy on behalf of the GM sector that neatly serves to remove its GMOs from the type of scrutiny usually applied to potentially toxic or harmful substances. The attempt to replace processed-based regulation of GMOs in Europe with product-based regulation would result in serving a similar purpose (see this).

The reason why no labelling or testing has taken place in the US is not due to ‘sound science’ having been applied but comes down to the power and political influence of the GMO biotech sector and because a sound scientific approach has not been applied.

The sector cannot win the scientific debate (although its PR likes to tell the world it has) so it resorts to co-opting key public bodies or individuals to propagate various falsehoods and deceptions (see this). Part of the deception is based on emotional blackmail: the world needs GMOs to feed the hungry, both now and in the future. This myth has been blown apart (see thisthis and this). In fact, in the second of those three links, the organisation GRAIN highlights that GM crops that have been planted thus far have actually contributed to food insecurity.

This is a harsh truth that the industry does not like to face.

People’s faith in science is being shaken on many levels, not least because big corporations have secured access to policy makers and governments and are increasingly funding research and setting research agendas.

“As Andrew Neighbour, former administrator at Washington University in St. Louis, who managed the university’s multiyear and multimillion dollar relationship with Monsanto, admits, “There’s no question that industry money comes with strings. It limits what you can do, when you can do it, who it has to be approved by”…  This raises the question: if Agribusiness giant Monsanto [in India] is funding the research, will Indian agricultural researchers pursue such lines of scientific inquiry as “How will this new rice or wheat variety impact the Indian farmer, or health of Indian public?” The reality is, Monsanto is funding the research not for the benefit of either Indian farmer or public, but for its profit. It is paying researchers to ask questions that it is most interested in having answered.” – ‘Monsanto, a Contemporary East India Company, and Corporate Knowledge in India‘.

Ultimately, it is not science itself that people have doubts about but science that is pressed into the service of immensely powerful private corporations and regulatory bodies that are effectively co-opted and adopt a ‘don’t look, don’t find approach’ to studies and products (see thisthis  and this).

Or in the case of releasing GMOs onto the commercial market in the US, bypassing proper scientific procedures and engaging in doublespeak about ‘substantial equivalence’ then hypocritically calling for ‘sound science’ to inform debates.

The same corporate interests are moreover undermining the peer-review process itself and the ability of certain scientists to get published in journals – the benchmark of scientific credibility. In effect, powerful interests increasingly hold sway over funding, career progression as a scientist, journals and peer review (see this and this, which question the reliability of peer review in the area of GMOs).

Going back to the start of the piece, the question that should have been tweeted is: “Why do people doubt corporate-controlled or influenced science?” After that question, it would have been more revealing to have posted a link to this article here about the unscrupulous history of a certain company from St Louis. That history provides very good reason why so many doubt and challenge powerful corporations and the type of science they fund and promote (or attempt to suppress) and the type of world they seek to create (see this).

“Corporations as the dominant institution shaped by capitalist patriarchy thrive on eco-apartheid. They thrive on the Cartesian legacy of dualism which puts nature against humans. It defines nature as female and passively subjugated. Corporatocentrism is thus also androcentric – a patriarchal construction. The false universalism of man as conqueror and owner of the Earth has led to the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. It has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.” –Vandana Shiva

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 3 Comments

The U.S.-Israel Conflict Is Finally Visible for All to See

By Sheldon Richman | Free Association | August 14, 2015

Thanks to the Iran nuclear deal, something remarkable is happening in American politics: the irreconcilable conflict of interest between most Americans on one side and Israel and its American supporters on the other is on full display and impossible to ignore. In the past the conflict could be papered over with grand empty rhetoric about the two sides being in “lock-step” and the absence of “daylight” between them. But no more. The conflict is out in the open where everyone can see it. Iran should be thanked for this valuable service.

War with Iran would be a catastrophe not only for the Iranians, including thousands of Jewish Iranians who openly practice their religion in their ancient community, and other people in the Middle East; it would also be a catastrophe for Americans — hence the conflict of interest between most Americans and the war party. Those, like Tom Cotton, Norman Podhoretz, Bill Kristol, and John Bolton, who think an attack on Iran would be a cakewalk, are either liars or fools. These are the same people, of course, who said the Iraq war would be easy and would usher in a new liberal Middle East. The result has been unspeakable sectarian violence throughout the region, culminating in the Islamic State and a reinvigorated al-Qaeda.

Despite the predictable catastrophe a war with Iran would bring, Israel and its staunchest, most prominent American supporters are conducting a well-financed campaign against the Iran nuclear deal that would surely lead to that war if a Republican wins the presidency next year. In fact, they want war because only war (followed by regime change) would give Israel and its American supporters what they want: unrivaled dominance in the Middle East, which among other things would relieve the pressure to make a just peace with the Palestinians at least by leaving the occupied territories.

Let’s acknowledge that most Jewish Americans favor the nuclear deal and do not want war with Iran; in fact, many Jews feel little or no connection to Israel at all. But that must not obscure the fact that the Israeli government, which was recently returned to power by the Israeli people, and the richest, best-organized Jewish American groups — AIPAC and the rest of the Israel/Jewish Lobbylead the opposition to the deal and the neoconservative coalition in favor of war. (This is not to overlook the prominent non-Jewish members of the coalition.) They feign offense at being called warmongers, but they know that the kind of deal they favor would require Iran to fully capitulate to the United States and Israel, demands which go beyond nuclear questions, and surrender its sovereignty. Such a deal could never be reached, and the war hawks know it. They ought to be honest enough to admit that war is what they want. (Some neoconservatives, Jews and non-Jews, are honest enough, including Bolton, Podhoretz, Cotton, Kristol and Joshua Muravchik.)

What’s noteworthy is that both sides of the divide have taken the gloves off. We had Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom former Meet the Press host David Gregory once called “the leader of the Jewish people,” invited to speak before Congress for the sole purpose of undercutting President Obama’s efforts to engage in diplomacy with Iran. We had senators doing the bidding of Israel and the Lobby by writing to the leader of Iran to tell him no agreement would be long-lasting. And most recently we had Netanyahu, in an unprecedented display, openly urging Jewish Americans to oppose the deal with Iran: “The days when the Jewish people could not or would not speak up for themselves, those days are over,” he said in a webcast to 10,000 Jewish American activists arranged by the Jewish Federations throughout North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

Are Jewish Americans supposed to see Netanyahu as their leader? (Not that I think they should see Obama as their leader.) Netanyahu apparently thinks so, and prominent Jewish Americans seem to agree. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who is Jewish, has courageously condemned this “arrogant” pretense. (Recall that Netanyahu has told Western Jews that they are welcome to “return” to Israel — even those who have never been there — to escape the dangers in their countries. Thus he embraces the pernicious Zionist doctrine, shared by anti-Semites, that Jews ultimately are aliens everywhere except in Israel.)

Obama, on the other hand, has finally been willing to openly identify the source of hawkish anti-Iranian pressure: Israel and its American supporters, especially prominent and well-organized Jewish Americans and non-Jews who kowtow to win their political and financial support.

“Because this is such a strong deal,” Obama said, “every nation in the world that has commented publicly, with the exception of the Israeli government, has expressed support.” He also said, “Between now and the congressional vote in September, you’re going to hear a lot of arguments against this deal, backed by tens of millions of dollars in advertising. And if the rhetoric in these ads, and the accompanying commentary, sounds familiar, it should — for many of the same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal.”

Everyone knows, first, that the major push for the war against Iraq came from Israel and the Lobby, supported by the neocon devotees of Israel’s agenda, and, second, that the multimillion-dollar ad campaign against the Iran deal is run by an AIPAC-related group, Citizens for Nuclear Free Iran, and United Against Nuclear Iran, led by former Sen. Joe Lieberman and financed by wealthy casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who makes no secret of his Israel-first sentiment.

But we shouldn’t overstate Obama’s willingness to identify the malign influence on American foreign policy that emanates from Israel, its Lobby, and the neocons in general. He also said:

When the Israeli government is opposed to something, people in the United States take notice. And they should. No one can blame Israelis for having a deep skepticism about any dealings with a government like Iran’s — which includes leaders who have denied the Holocaust, embrace an ideology of anti-Semitism, facilitate the flow of rockets that are arrayed on Israel’s borders, are pointed at Tel Aviv. In such a dangerous neighborhood, Israel has to be vigilant, and it rightly insists that it cannot depend on any other country — even its great friend the United States — for its own security. So we have to take seriously concerns in Israel.

Note that he did not mention Israel’s large, invulnerable nuclear arsenal. Israel is the nuclear monopolist in the Middle East and has been since the 1960s, thanks to the connivance of its American supporters inside and outside of government. In the context of Iran’s potential for obtaining a nuclear weapon, wouldn’t you think that fact is relevant? Why do establishment politicians and the mainstream news media hardly ever mention it? Moreover, the rockets that threaten Israelis come from people whom Zionist militias drove off their land in 1948 in a far-reaching ethnic-cleansing campaign and who are now routinely threatened and oppressed: the Palestinians in the open-air prison known as the Gaza Strip, target of savage air wars and a years-long blockade, and the people of southern Lebanon, whom Israel has attacked repeatedly and occupied over the years.

Note also that Obama accepts the premise that Iran aspires to be a nuclear power, a proposition for which there is zero evidence and against which there is abundant evidence.

Nevertheless, to his credit, Obama did say,

As President of the United States, it would be an abrogation of my constitutional duty to act against my best judgment simply because it causes temporary friction with a dear friend and ally.

It’s not every day that an American president acknowledges that, whatever his job is, it is not to serve the interests of Israel’s racist ruling elite and population. That is indeed good to hear, but it would be news to the Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, among others.

Israel’s American partisans have predictably accused their opponents of anti-Semitism for focusing on Jewish attempts to kill the Iran agreement, hoping Americans will believe that criticism of Israel and the Lobby in itself constitutes bigotry, if not Nazi sympathies. (Mike Huckabee’s claim that Obama is leading the Israelis to the ovens is only the most obnoxious example.) But taking offense at the focus on Jewish efforts is a cynical ploy void of legitimacy. Israel bills itself The Jewish State, representing Jewish interests worldwide. The Lobby embraces that designation. (Not all Jews regard Israel as The Jewish State, however. Jewish anti-Zionism, which dates back to before Theodor Herzl’s time, thrives today.) AIPAC boasts of its political clout and its command of vast resources that can make or break political careers. An AIPAC official, asked if the Lobby had lost influence after a scandal, once famously boasted to a journalist over dinner, “You see this napkin? In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”

In light of all this, it’s a little absurd to object to the identification of Israel with Jews or to rail against those who point out the obvious: that Israel and its Jewish American partisans have been at the forefront of the campaign for war against Muslim nations. As Chemi Shalev, writing in the Israeli daily Haaretz, put it:

Netanyahu is allowed to address 10,000 American Jewish leaders and activists from Jerusalem, but mentioning their faith is forbidden; he is allowed to be the sole foreign leader to openly campaign against the deal, but singling him out is verboten; AIPAC can raise emergency funds, cancel all vacations and send its lobbyists to canvass on Capitol Hill, but say the words “lobby” or “money” and you are quickly branded a bigot; [Sen. Chuck] Schumer can famously boast that he sees himself as a Shomer [guardian of] Israel but you won’t dare say that when he seems to live up to his promise.

Moreover, how absurd is it for Israel’s partisans to accuse critics of raising the dual-loyalty issue, which these days sounds rather antiquated? Did anti-Semites put Netanyahu up to his machinations? Did they sponsor the trip to Israel for over 50 members of Congress just as debate over the Iran deal was starting?

Do not misunderstand: Israelis and Israel’s Jewish American partisans are not promoting war with Iran because they embrace Judaism, the Torah, and the Prophets. Many of Israel’s Jewish American supporters are secular and even atheist, and many observant Jews oppose war with Iran, support the nuclear deal, and hate Israel’s mistreatment of the Palestinians. What motivates many Israelis and Israel’s Jewish American partisans has little if anything to do with Judaism. Rather, they are motivated by an essentially secular ideology and parochial identity politics — Gilad Atzmon calls it “Jewishness” to distinguish it from Judaism — that prioritizes the interests of the tribe. These Jews judge issues by the standard “Is it good for the Jews?” (as they see the good). This chosen-people framework is anti-liberal and anti-universal, featuring ubiquitous enemies and impending doom. One might think this attitude is understandable in light of the history of persecution of Jews, culminating in the Nazi Judeocide. But since this ideology fuels the persecution, oppression, and slaughter of innocent others, rather than extra sensitivity to injustice no matter who the victim, we cannot be so forgiving. Nothing in Jewish history can justify how self-identified Jews have treated the Palestinians, or American Jewish support for, or acquiescence in, that treatment. Israel faces no “existential threat” from Iran or anyone else. If that treatment is an application of Jewish values, then Americans should take note. If it is not, then in what sense is Israel The Jewish State?

Whether this ideology has roots in Judaic doctrine and tradition or whether it is a modern secular phenomenon is a complicated question. But people ought to see it for what it is — before we are dragged into another catastrophic war.

Finally, Israel’s Jewish American partisans warn that criticizing the campaign against the Iran deal risks reinforcing stereotypes and inflaming anti-Semitism (even if in itself it does not constitute anti-Semitism). Almost anything anyone says about anyone else could be exploited by bigots, so that is no reason to withhold valid criticism. But if Israel’s partisans genuinely fear an anti-Semitic backlash — which all decent people would condemn as bigoted collectivism — perhaps they should reconsider their campaign to provoke an American/Israeli war of aggression against Iran.

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

Send ‘Em All Away! US Publication Blasts US-funded Russian NGOs

By Daniele Pozzati – Sputnik – 15.08.2015

News website Salon has taken on “the ongoing nonsense concerning foreign-funded NGOs operating in Russia” in a long article published online last week.

They are into coups. They use buzzwords like human rights and civil society as fig leaves to carry “unpublicized policy functions that Washington has decided to outsource.” Their “biggest prize”? In the words of Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), it was Ukraine. Any surprise, then, that Moscow asked NED to hit the road?

“Washington (…) never tires of criticizing Moscow, Putin in particular, for its (or his) treatment of foreign-funded NGOs,” writes Salon’s author Patrick L. Smith. “Since 2012, they have been required to register as foreign agents—exactly as the US requires.”

So are the two countries divided by a similar law on NGOs?

“The ‘foreign agents’ bit is put down as a Stalin-era cover to suppress well-meaning people trying to do honorable things,” points out Smith.

Except that the very definition of ‘foreign agents’ dates back to President Franklin Roosevelt’s times. The USA has had a similar law on the books since 1938.

Following the American example

In 2012, the Russian Duma passed a law demanding that NGOs financed from abroad register as foreign agents. More recently, another law targeting “undesirable” NGOs has been signed by President Vladimir Putin.

A taste of recent headlines proves the point made by Salon :

“Harassed and shunned, the Russians labeled foreign agents by Kremlin” ran in the Guardian on May 18, days before the Duma approved the new law. “Russia’s crackdown on civil society shows the regime’s weakness” printed the Washington Post on July 28. It added: “The [foreign agents] designation, from the Stalin era, implies espionage.”

Beyond the rhetoric, the figures are impressive. As of May 2015, there were 67 foreign-funded NGOs designated as foreign agents in Russia. According to an estimate by President Putin himself during an interview with German journalist and WDR Editor-in-Chief Jörg Schönenborn, these foreign-funded NGOs have a combined budget of roughly one billion dollars.

And it is exactly the activities of such a wide network of foreign organizations, and the provenance of their money, that Russian lawmakers have set out to monitor.

As Alexander Tarnavsky, co-author of the law on undesirable organizations, told Russia Direct on May 28, “foreign organizations – both commercial ones and non-commercial – could be recognized as undesirable for their activity on the territory of Russia.”

The West is against both designating foreign-funded NGOs in Russia as ‘foreign agents’ and the very idea of an NGO’s activities being seen as ‘undesirable’ by the state.

Yet could Russia maybe have a reason to be so suspicious? Salon’s article provides ample evidence of why Russian fears are justified. And it suggests that Russia should take a further step versus NGOs: send them all away.

So far only “12 NGOs and NGO-funders have been placed on a kind of watchlist last month,” points out Salon, yet in Western media parlance, as a recent report by the New York Times exemplifies, the ‘watchlist’ became ‘blacklist’ in a matter of a few paragraphs.

NGOs in their own words

The latest entry to this Watchlist is MacArthur which, Smith explains, “set up shop in Moscow during the Yeltsin years, when hyper-hubristic Americans thought they were going to remake all of Russia in their own image.”

“Others on it [the Watchlist] are George Soros’ Open Society Institute (which “… aims to shape public policy to promote democratic governance,” its website explains), Freedom House (a notoriously Russophobic Cold War subversion machine), and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which began humbly enough doing community work in Flint, Michigan, but is now up to its knees in “civic activism” and “civil society development” in Russia and the former Soviet satellites.

“A project Mott funded in June studies ‘citizen protests, demonstrations, and discontent’ in these nations,” Smith writes. “Just trying to do the right thing, per usual.”

These projects do ring a few bells, from Georgia to Ukraine to Macedonia.

Another familiar NGO is Freedom House, with its annual index of press freedom, so often uncritically quoted by Western media to bash Russian media.

This is Freedom House in its own words, as quoted by the Financial Times :

“Far more often than is generally understood the change agent is broad-based, non-violent civic resistance—which employs tactics such as boycotts, mass protests, blockades, strikes and civil disobedience to de-legitimate authoritarian rulers and erode their sources of support, including the loyalty of their armed defenders.”

Smith translates this into plain English: “We’re into coups.” The most recent one in particular: “Freedom House started sending AID funds to Ukrainian ‘civil society’ NGOs, which did years of advance work prior to last year’s coup, as early as 2004.”

The $5 billion Victoria Nuland boasted to have invested in the Ukrainian opposition come to mind.

The case for sending ’em all away

Smith suggests three reasons why foreign (read: American) NGOs should go home:

“One. These groups were as drunk on ideological righteousness during the 1990s as Yeltsin was on vodka. Two. To assume Russians need American help in achieving social justice, a free press and an orderly democratic process is simply the height of silliness. America is in crisis precisely because it has none of the above. Three. NGOland has long, long been too polluted with mal-intended missions for any foreign power reasonably to tolerate such agencies on their soil.”

Another case could be made to rebrand NGOs for what they really are: FGO, or foreign governments’ organizations. And that still would be kind towards them.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media | , , | 1 Comment

When the NSA tells journalists things, those things are not necessarily true

PrivacySOS | August 15, 2015

If you find yourself reading a story about US war or spying that contains a variation on the phrase “according to US officials” in the top paragraph, you are likely biting into a whopper of state propaganda and lies. Today’s NYT reporting on Snowden documents provides just the latest example.

Back in February 2014, the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal published big time stories under the bylines of two of those newspapers’ most respected ‘national security’ and surveillance journalists. The Post story started like this:

The National Security Agency is collecting less than 30 percent of all Americans’ call records because of an inability to keep pace with the explosion in cellphone use, according to current and former U.S. officials.

Here’s the first paragraph of the Wall Street Journal story, reporting the same official claims:

The National Security Agency’s collection of phone data, at the center of the controversy over U.S. surveillance operations, gathers information from about 20% or less of all U.S. calls—much less than previously thought, according to people familiar with the NSA program.

AP’s Phillip Bump ran a story based on the Post’s version. Troublingly, his first paragraph dispensed entirely with the origin of the information. In Bump’s retelling, the information appears to have come from God—or at least is as good as The Word.

The NSA’s vaunted cell phone metadata collection program, often defended on the grounds that its comprehensive sweep of information allows the government to uncover unseen connections, only collected about 30 percent of all such information as of last summer.

The problem with these stories? Actual NSA documents (read: not NSA employee claims to journalists) show they are false.

The New York Times reports on documents disclosed by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden:

In 2011, AT&T began handing over 1.1 billion domestic cellphone calling records a day to the N.S.A. after “a push to get this flow operational prior to the 10th anniversary of 9/11,” according to an internal agency newsletter. This revelation is striking because after Mr. Snowden disclosed the program of collecting the records of Americans’ phone calls, intelligence officials told reporters that, for technical reasons, it consisted mostly of landline phone records.

I must quibble a bit with the New York Times excellent reporting here, only to suggest that what’s “striking” about the discrepancy between what journalists reported and the truth isn’t the fact that the NSA would lie to journalists. What’s striking is that journalists continue to print official, often anonymous, claims about government surveillance programs without a shred of evidence that those claims are true.

In February 2014, the NSA must have decided—perhaps in consultation with other parts of the US security state establishment—to lie to a few key journalists in order to propagate the myth that the all powerful intelligence agency couldn’t figure out how to obtain cell phone call records. At the time, not everyone believed it (myself included). But two powerful US newspapers were credulous, and printed the NSA’s claims as if they were fact—in the apparent absence of any documentation or other confirmation.

Everyone, including media consumers, needs to remember a very simple thing about intelligence agencies: they are professionals in deceit and manipulation. A good spy must be able to lie and connive in order to achieve their goals.

You wouldn’t expect a car mechanic to be a good oral surgeon. You also shouldn’t expect spies to tell the truth. Remember that the next time you read a newspaper article based off of undocumented, unproven “official” claims.

August 16, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment