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What Is The Average Global Temperature?

December 7, 2015

SHOW NOTES: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=17190

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular, Video | | Leave a comment

Iraq calls on NATO to pressure Turkey into withdrawing troops

Press TV – December 8, 2015

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has called on NATO to pressure Turkey into recalling its troops from the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh.

According to a statement released by the Iraqi government on Tuesday, Abadi made the request during a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“NATO must use its authority to urge Turkey to withdraw immediately from Iraqi territory,” read the statement issued after a 48-hour deadline for the troops’ removal expired.

Despite Iraq’s ultimatum, Ankara still has some 150 heavily-armed soldiers stationed on the outskirts of the city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province.

Turkey refuses to recall its troops claiming they are stationed there to train Iraqi forces battling the Daesh Takfiri militants.

During a press conference in the Ankara on Tuesday, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu announced that further troops deployment will be halted but those already stationed will not be withdrawn.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council is set to hold closed-door talks, called by Russia, on Ankara’s military activities in Iraq and Syria.

“We want the secretariat to tell us what is happening in the region,” said Russia’s representative to the council, Peter Iliichev. “We want the secretariat to tell us what is happening in the region.”

Ties between Moscow and Ankara have been strained after Turkish jets shot down a Russian fighter plane on November 24.

Moscow has imposed a number of economic sanctions against Ankara following the incident.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

UN Approves Russia-led Proposal To Limit Militarization of Space

By Matthew Bodner | Moscow Times | December 8, 2015

The United Nations General Assembly has approved a Russian-led resolution calling for nations to refrain from being the first to deploy weapons into outer space, in spite of U.S. resistance and European silence on the proposed measure, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The resolution was first drafted by Russia in 2014, but was rejected by the United States and other nations last year, and then again this year, when the draft resolution was considered by a GA committee focusing on issues of arms control.

On Tuesday, 129 nations represented in the General Assembly voted to adopt the measure, which was co-sponsored by 40 nations — including China and Syria — and is known as the “no first placement” initiative.

“It is noteworthy that the only government objecting to the substance of our initiative is the United States, which for many years has stood in almost complete isolation trying to block successive efforts of the international community to prevent an arms race in outer space,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The initiative calls on nations to refrain from being the first to place military weapons in outer space, thereby preventing a new and potentially devastating arms race between the world’s leading space-faring nations — Russia, China and the United States, who are all working on space weapons.

Europe, which has an effective multi-national space program of its own, has consistently abstained from ruling on the Russian proposal. The United States maintains that Russia’s resolution does not adequately define space weapons, and ignores an entire class of ground-launched space arms — such as anti-satellite missiles tested by China.

The resolution is nonbinding, but calls for negotiations held at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to put forth a legally binding international treaty preventing weapons from being deployed in space, and calls on all states to adopt national commitments to the resolution.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Oscar-nominated Ukraine documentary distorts story of Maidan

By Ivan Katchanovski | December 2, 2015 

The documentary film Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom has been shortlisted for Oscar in the documentary category. This film presents a typical version of the Maidan massacre and other cases of political violence during the ‘Euromaidan’ movement in Ukraine in late 2013, early 2014. All the cases of violence directed against Euromaidan are attributed to government forces and to agents provocateurs, while all revelations and videos of pro-Maidan snipers are ignored or edited out.

But this film also includes a previously undisclosed brief video in which a round of an automatic gunfire is heard on Maidan Square shortly before all police units fled the square on February 20, 2014 after suffering multiple casualties.

The film provides another illustration of international politics affecting representation and misrepresentation of foreign countries in Hollywood films. My study of all American, Canadian, and British movies depicting post-communist countries shows that Ukraine and Ukrainians were portrayed very negatively when Ukraine was not a U.S. ally. But the portrayal become relatively more positive after the pro-Western turn following the ‘Orange Revolution’ or 2004-05.

Similarly, when the Soviet Union was an ally of the U.S. during World War II, Mission to Moscow (1943) favorably presented Stalin and show trials during the Great Terror, and The North Star (1943) depicted in positive portrayals the anti-Nazi resistance by Ukrainian villagers and Soviet collectivization. These movies distorted the history of the Soviet mass terror and ignored the artificial famine in Ukraine, which followed the Soviet collectivization of agriculture and resulted in several million deaths in the Soviet Union.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Ignoring Canada’s real history in Uganda very poor scholarship

By Yves Engler | December 7, 2015

A recent Globe and Mail article (reprinted on Rabble.ca) by Gerald Caplan detailing Canadian relations with Uganda made me mad.

Why?

It was not so much for what’s in the article, but rather what it ignores, which is reality. Any progressive author writing about Canada’s foreign affairs betrays his readers if he ignores the bad this country has done and feeds the benevolent Canadian foreign-policy myth.

Canadians have had ties to Uganda for many decades”, writes Caplan, a self-described “Africa scholar” citing the establishment of diplomatic relations soon after independence. He also mentions many Canadians who “found their way to the country” amidst instability and the federal government taking in Asians expelled by Idi Amin. The former NDP strategist points to some private Canadian aid initiatives in the country and details a Canadian lawyer’s contribution to a suit over the Ugandan government’s failure to provide basic maternal health services, which may violate the Constitution.

But, Caplan completely ignores the unsavory – and much more consequential – role Canada has played in the East African country.

For example, he could have at least mentioned this country’s role during the “scramble for Africa” when Canadians actively participated in subjugating various peoples and stealing their land. This is necessary to acknowledge if we are ever to build a decent foreign policy.

In the late 1800s a number of Canadian military men helped survey possible rail routes from the East African Coast to Lake Victoria Nyanza on the border between modern Uganda and Kenya. The objective was to strengthen Britain’s grip over recalcitrant indigenous groups and to better integrate the area into the Empire’s North East Africa-India corridor.

Beginning in 1913 dozens of Canadian missionaries helped the colonial authority penetrate Ugandan societies and undermine indigenous customs. The preeminent figure was John Forbes who was a bishop and coadjutor vicar apostolic, making him second in charge of over 30 mission posts in Uganda. A 1929 biography describes his “good relations” with British colonial authorities and the “important services Forbes rendered the authorities of the Protectorate.”

In 1918 Forbes participated in a major conference in the colony, organized by Governor Robert Coryndon in the hopes of spurring indigenous wage work. The Vaudreuil, Québec, native wrote home that “it’s a big question. The European planters in our area, who cultivate coffee, cotton and rubber need workers for their exploitation. But the workforce is rare. Our Negroes are happy to eat bananas and with a few bits of cotton or bark for clothes, are not excited to put themselves at the service of the planters and work all day for a meager salary.”

British officials subsidized the White Fathers schools as part of a bid to expand the indigenous workforce.

Canadians were also part of the British colonial authority. Royal Military College of Canada graduate Godfrey Rhodes became chief engineer and general manager of Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours in 1928. The Victoria, BC, native was in Uganda for over a decade and was followed by Walter Bazley, a colonial administrator in Bunyoro from 1950 to 1963 (after Ugandan independence, Bazley joined the Canadian public service).

Throughout British rule Ottawa recognized London’s authority over Uganda. After fighting in the 1898 – 1902 Boer War Henry Rivington Poussette was appointed Canada’s first trade commissioner in Africa with “jurisdiction extending from the Cape to the Zambesi, including Uganda.”

Poussette and future trade representatives helped Canadian companies profit from European rule in Africa. By independence Toronto-based Bata shoes controlled most of the footwear market in Uganda while a decade before the end of British rule Falconbridge acquired a 70% stake in the Kilembe copper-cobalt mine in western Uganda. In a joint partnership with the London controlled Colonial Development Corporation, the Toronto company’s highly profitable mine produced more than $250 million ($1 billion today) worth of copper yet paid no income tax until its capital was fully recovered in 1965. In 1968, post-independence leader Milton Obote increased the country’s copper export tax and then moved to gain majority control of the mine. Falconbridge quickly stripped out $6 million in special dividend payments and threatened to withdraw its management from the country.

Falconbridge: Portrait of a Canadian Mining Multinational explains:

Although Kilembe Copper was both profitable and socially important in the Ugandan economy, this did not prevent the Falconbridge group from withdrawing capital as rapidly as possible just before president Obote forced it to sell Uganda a controlling interest in 1970. The implication was that its management team would be withdrawn entirely if the government did not restore Falconbridge’s majority ownership. Dislocation in the lives of Ugandan people was a price the company seemed willing to pay in this tug-of-war over the profits from Uganda’s resources.

The Kilembe mine also contaminated Elizabeth National Park and tailings seeped into Lake George, near Uganda’s western border with the Congo.

Upon taking office, General Idi Amin returned control of the Kilembe mine to Falconbridge. (This was maintained for several years, after which Amin returned the mine to his government.) He had managed to overthrow Obote’s government in January 1971 with the aid of Britain, Israel and the US. A British Foreign Office memo noted that Obote’s nationalizations, which also included Bata, had “serious implications for British business in Uganda and Africa generally… other countries will be tempted to try and get away with similar measures with more damaging consequences for British investment and trade.”

While this country’s “Africa scholars” have largely ignored Canada’s position towards Amin’s rise to power, the available documentation suggests Ottawa passively supported the putsch. On three occasions during the early days of the coup (between January 26 and February 3, 1971) the Pierre Trudeau government responded to inquiries from opposition MPs about developments in Uganda and whether Canada would grant diplomatic recognition to the new regime. Within a week of Obote’s ouster, both External Affairs Minister Mitchell Sharp and Prime Minister Trudeau passed up these opportunities to denounce Amin’s usurpation of power. They remained silent as Amin suspended various provisions of the Ugandan Constitution and declared himself President, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Army Chief of Staff and Chief of Air Staff. They failed to condemn a leader, now infamous, for plunging the nation into a torrent of violence.

In African Pearls and Poisons: Idi Amin’s Uganda; Kenya; Zaire’s Pygmies, Alberta bureaucrat Leo Louis Jacques describes a conversation he had with the CIDA liaison officer in Uganda who facilitated his 1971-73 appointment to the Uganda College of Commerce. Asked whether the change in government would affect his CIDA-funded position, the aid agency’s liaison officer in Uganda, Catrina Porter, answered Jacques thusly: “‘Yes, there was a coup on January 25th, 1971 and it was a move that promises to be an improvement. The new administration favours Democracy and Western Civilization’s Democracy, while the former one favoured the Communists.’ I [Jacques] said, ‘I understand the present government is being run by the Ugandan army under the control of a General named Idi Amin Dada. What is he like?’ Porter said ‘General Amin’s gone on record as saying he loves Canada and the Commonwealth. He also vowed that his country of Uganda would have democratic elections soon. The British and Americans have recognized him as the Ugandan government and so do we.’”

Two years after the coup the Canadian High Commissioner in Nairobi visited to ask Amin to reverse his plan to nationalize Bata shoes. After the meeting, the High Commissioner cabled Ottawa that he was largely successful with Bata and also mentioned that “KILEMBE MINES (70 PERCENT FALCONBRIDGE OWNED) IS DOING WELL.”

But, just in case you think it’s just our unsavoury history that Caplan ignores, there’s more. He also also ignores more recent developments such as SNC Lavalin’s alleged bribery in the country, Montréal-based Canarail’s contribution to a disastrous World Bank sponsored privatization of the Kenya and Uganda railway systems or Ottawa’s “logistical support and some funding for the Uganda led [military] force” dispatched to Somalia to do Washington’s dirty work.

Why did this article make me so mad? Because it’s part of a pattern of the social democratic Left ignoring how Canadian corporations and governments impoverish the Global South. Too often social democrat intellectuals dim, rather than enlighten, progressives’ understanding of Canada’s role in the world.

To preserve his position at the Globe and Mail and CBC Caplan may feel he needs to feed the benevolent Canadian foreign-policy myth. But, he should at least show some decency and spare Rabble.ca from this nonsense.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Medics: Bethlehem youth shot dead with illegal ammunition

Ma’an – December 8, 2015

357191CBETHLEHEM – Malik Akram Shahin, 19, who was shot dead by Israeli forces in Bethlehem overnight Monday, was killed by an explosive bullet fired at his head, medical sources at the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital told Ma’an.

Medics said the explosive bullet smashed Shahin’s skull, and exploded inside his head, with the bullet and skull fragments shattering into “hundreds of pieces.”

The sources said the positioning of the shot, as well as the type of bullet used, clearly indicates that Israeli forces shot at Shahin with every intention to kill.

The use of explosive bullets, also called expanding bullets or “dum dum” bullets, is illegal under international law, and considered a crime of war under the 1899 Hague Declaration and the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute, among others.

The bullets are banned due to the brutal damage inflicted on the victim, as the bullets are made to splinter apart and become lodged, instead of making a clean exit through the body.

Israel has repeatedly denied claims that its forces use such bullets, though Palestinian medical examiners have on occasion documented their use.

Locals told Ma’an that after Shahin was shot, he was “left bleeding for a long time before he was evacuated to the public hospital in Beit Jala, where medics pronounced him dead.”

An Israeli army spokesperson had no information of his death, but said that Israeli soldiers had opened fire after Palestinians threw “pipe bombs and Molotov cocktails” at them.

The left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine later said that Shahin had been one of its supporters. The group said in a statement that he fell “during fierce clashes with Israeli troops who raided the camp to detain young men affiliated to the PFLP.”

Following his death, a Bethlehem committee announced a halt to all business across the district and stores and government institutions were closed.

At least 114 Palestinians have now been killed in just over two months of unrest across the occupied Palestinian territory.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

In Gaza, another farmer shot by a sniper for working his land

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Mohamed Abu Taima, 29, had to undergo two surgeries
International Solidarity Movement | December 8, 2015

Khan Younis, Gaza strip, Occupied Palestine – A week ago Mohamed Abu Taima, 29 years-old and father of a small girl, was working his land 450m from the separation fence when an Israeli sniper shot him. At 4pm, he had arrived to his land in Al Faraheen, Khan Younees, South of the Gaza Strip. He was shot a few minutes after he started to work. The bullet passed through one of his legs and exploded inside the other one.

A few minutes after arriving in the hospital Mohamed underwent a first surgery, and days after a second one. Until now, the doctors don’t know if Mohamed will ever be able to walk properly again.

These kind of attacks have been frequent during the past two weeks. Several farmers were expelled from their lands by the Israeli snipers when they were working or intended to work their lands between 400 and 500m from the fence, meaning outside of the “buffer zone” imposed by the occupation.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

Back to Basics: Clearing the Fog of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

By Sami Al-Arian | CounterPunch | December 8, 2015

In his novel 1984 George Orwell introduced the lexicon of Big Brother’s Doublespeak in which “War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.” In today’s Western political circles and mainstream media coverage of Palestine/Israel and political Zionism, one may add a host of other phrases to this Orwellian Newspeak. Expressions that would fittingly describe this coverage might include “racism is democracy, resistance is terrorism, and occupation is bliss.”

If individuals were to rely solely on Western media outlets as their source of information regarding the increasingly volatile situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, especially Jerusalem, they would not only be perplexed by the portrayals of victims and oppressors, but also confused about the history and nature of the conflict itself. For instance, in the past few weeks, in their coverage of the latest Palestinian uprising, most Western mainstream media outlets, such as the New York Times, CNN, FOX, and BBC, virtually omit the words “Israeli occupation,” or “illegal Israeli settlements.” Seldom if ever do they mention the fact that Jerusalem has been under illegal Israeli control for the past 48 years, or that the latest confrontations were set off as a result of Israeli attempts to change the status quo and force a joint jurisdiction of the Islamic holy sites within the walls of old Jerusalem.

Oftentimes Israel and its enablers in the political and media arenas try to obfuscate basic facts about the nature and history of the conflict. Despite these attempts, however, the conflict is neither complicated nor has it existed for centuries. It is a century-old modern phenomenon that emerged as a direct result of political Zionism. This movement, founded by secular journalist Theodore Herzl in the late 19th century, has incessantly attempted to transform Judaism from one of the world’s great religious traditions into a nationalistic ethnic movement with the aim of transferring Jews around the world to Palestine, while ethnically cleansing the indigenous Palestinian population from the land of their ancestors. This is the essence of the conflict, and thus all of Israel’s policies and actions can only be understood by acknowledging this reality.

It might be understandable, if detestable, for Israel and its Zionist defenders to circulate false characterizations of history and events to advance their political agenda. But it is incomprehensible for those who claim to advocate the rule of law, believe in the principle of self-determination, and call for freedom and justice to fall for this propaganda or to become its willing accomplices. In following much of the media coverage or political analyses of the conflict, one is struck by the lack of historical context, the deliberate disregard of empirical facts, and the contempt for established legal constructs and precedents. Are the Palestinian territories disputed or occupied? Do Palestinians have a legal right, embedded in international law, to resist their occupiers, including the use of armed struggle, or is every means of resistance considered terrorism? Does Israel have any right to old Jerusalem and its historical and religious environs? Is the protraction of the so-called “cycle of violence” really coming proportionally from both sides of the conflict? Is Israel a true democracy? Should political Zionism be treated as a legitimate national liberation movement (from whom?) while ignoring its overwhelmingly racist manifestations? Is Israel genuine about seeking a peaceful resolution to the conflict? Can the U.S. really be an honest peace-broker between the two sides as it has persistently promoted itself in the region? The factual answers to these questions would undoubtedly clear the fog and lead objective observers not only to a full understanding of the conflict, but also to a deep appreciation of the policies and actions needed to bring it to an end.

Occupation, Self-Determination, and International Law

There should be no disputing that the territories seized by Israel in June 1967, including east Jerusalem, are occupied. Dozens of UN resolutions have passed since November 1967, including binding Security Council resolutions calling on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, which the Zionist State has stubbornly refused to comply with. In fact, if there were any “disputed” territories, they should be those Palestinian territories that Israel took in 1948, through a campaign of terror, massacres, and military conquests, which resulted in forcefully and illegally expelling over 800,000 Palestinians from their homes, villages, and towns, in order to make room for thousands of Jews coming from Europe and other parts of the world. Consequently, UN Resolution 194 mandated that these Palestinian “refugees wishing to return to their homes … should be permitted to do so.” This resolution has now remained unfulfilled for 67 years. There is also no dispute in international law that Israel has been a belligerent occupier triggering the application of all the relevant Geneva Conventions as the Palestinian people have been under occupation since their “territory is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.”

Furthermore, the right to self-determination for the Palestinian people and their right to resist their occupiers by all means are well established in international law. In 1960, UN resolution 1514 adopted the “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.” It stated that, “All peoples have the right to self-determination”, and that, “the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights and is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations.” Ten years later the UN adopted Resolution 2625 which called on its members to support colonized people or people under occupation against their colonizers and occupiers. In fact, UN Resolution 3246 reaffirmed in 1974 “the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation form colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle.” Four years later UN Resolution 33/24 also strongly confirmed “the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle,” and “strongly condemned all governments” that did not recognize “the right to self-determination to the Palestinian people.”

As for occupied Jerusalem, the UN Security Council adopted in 1980 two binding resolutions (476 and 478) by a vote of 14-0 (the US abstained and did not veto either resolution.) Both resolutions condemned Israel’s attempt to change “the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure, (and) the status of the Holy City of Jerusalem.” It also reaffirmed “the overriding necessity to end the prolonged occupation of Arab territories occupied by Israel since 1967, including Jerusalem,” and called out Israel as “the occupying power.” It further considered any changes to the city of Jerusalem as “a violation of international law.”

The Use of Violence, Resistance, and the Deceptive Peace Process

Living under brutal occupation for almost half a century without any prospect for its end, the Palestinian people, particularly in Jerusalem, have, since late September, embarked on new mass protests against the latest Israeli incursions on their holy sites and revolted once again against the ceaseless occupation. As a consequence, the Israeli army, aided by thousands of armed settlers roaming the West Bank, have intensified their use of violence, which resulted in over 100 deaths, 2,200 injuries, and 4,000 arrests in less than two months. The Israeli army and the settlements-based armed gangs, though forbidden under international law and the Geneva conventions, have regularly employed various violent means in order to force Palestinian exile or compel submission to the occupation. The Israeli harsh tactics include: settler violence and provocation under full army protection, targeting children, including kidnapping, killing, as well as arresting children as young as 5 , burning infants alive, the constant use of collective punishment and house demolitions, the use of excessive prison sentences for any act of defiance including throwing rocks, storming revered religious sites, and the deliberate targeting of journalists who dare to challenge Israeli hegemony.

The Palestinian people, whether under occupation or under siege, in exile and blocked by Israel from returning to their homes, or denied their right to self-determination, have the legitimate right to resist the military occupation and its manifestations such as the denial of their freedom and human rights, the confiscation of their lands, or the building and expansion of Israeli colonies on their lands. Although most Palestinians opt for the use of nonviolent resistance as a prudent tactic against the brutality of the occupation, international law does not, however, limit their resistance only to the use of peaceful means. In essence, the right to legitimate armed resistance, subject to international humanitarian law, is enshrined in international law and cannot be denied to any people including the Palestinians in their struggle to gain their freedom and exercise their right to self-determination. Furthermore, international law does not confer any right on the occupying power to use any force against their occupied subjects, in order to maintain and sustain their occupation, including in self-defense. In short, aggressors and land usurpers are by definition denied the use of force to subjugate their victims. Consequently, as a matter of principle embedded in international law and regardless of any political viability, strikes against military targets including soldiers, armed settlers, or other tools and institutions of the occupation are legitimate and any action against them, non-violent or otherwise, cannot be condemned or deemed terrorism.

Furthermore, the argument regarding the validity of using armed struggle against oppression and denial of political rights by tyrannical and colonial regimes is well established in its favor. Patriot Patrick Henry rallied his countrymen prior to the American Revolution in 1775 in his famous call “give liberty or give me death.” Civil rights icon Martin Luther King, Jr. even rejected pacifism in the face of aggression. He only questioned its tactical significance when he stated “I contended that the debate over the question of self-defense was unnecessary since few people suggested that Negroes should not defend themselves as individuals when attacked. The question was not whether one should use his gun when his home was attacked, but whether it was tactically wise to use a gun while participating in an organized demonstration.” Mahatma Gandhi saw active resistance as more honorable than pacifism when he said “I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defence her honour than that she would, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour.” Nelson Mandela reflected on this debate when he asserted that he resorted to armed struggle only when “all other forms of resistance were no longer open”, and demanded that the Apartheid regime “guarantee free political activity” to blacks before he would call on his compatriots to suspend armed struggle. Accordingly, the debate over whether the use of armed resistance against Israeli occupation advances the cause of justice for Palestinians is not a question of legitimacy, but rather of sound political strategy in light of the skewed balance of military power and massive public support from peoples around the globe for their just struggle.

Yet, the reality of the conflict actually reveals that the Palestinian people have overwhelmingly been at the receiving end of the use of ruthless Israeli violence and aggression since 1948. With the exception of the 1973 war (initiated by Egypt and Syria to regain the lands they lost in the 1967 war) every Arab-Israeli war in the past seven decades (‘48, ’56, ‘67, ’78, ’82, ’02, etc.) was initiated by Israel and resulted in more uprooting and misery to the Palestinians. Still, since 2008 Israel launched three brutal wars against Gaza with devastating consequences. In the 2008/2009 war, Israel killed 1,417 Palestinians and lost 13 people including 9 soldiers. In the 2012 war, Israel killed 167 Palestinians and lost 6 including 2 soldiers. And in the 2014 war, Israel killed 2104 Palestinians, including 539 children, with 475,000 people made homeless, 17,500 homes destroyed, while 244 schools and scores of hospitals and mosques damaged. In that war Israel lost 72 including 66 soldiers. In short, since late 2008 Israel killed 3,688 Palestinians in its three declared wars and lost 91 including 77 soldiers. Shamefully the deliberate targeting of Palestinian children has been amply documented as over two thousand have been killed by Israel since 2000. This massive Israeli intentional use of violence against the Palestinians, especially in Gaza (which has been under a crippling siege since 2007) was investigated, determined to constitute war crimes, and condemned by the UN in the Goldstone Report, as well as by other human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

The 1993 Oslo process gave rise to the promise of ending decades of Israeli occupation. But the process was rigged from the start as many of its participants have recently admitted. It was an Israeli ploy to halt the first Palestinian uprising and give Israel the breathing room it needed to aggressively and permanently colonize the West Bank including East Jerusalem. It was an accord with a lopsided balance of power, as one side held all the cards and gave no real concessions, and a much weaker side stripped of all its bargaining chips. During this period the number of settlements in the West Bank more than doubled and the number of settlers increased by more than seven fold to over 600 thousand including in East Jerusalem.

The world has none other than Benjamin Netanyahu to acknowledge that Israel has no intention of withdrawing or ending its occupation. After serving his first stint as a prime minister, Netanyahu (shown here in a leaked video) while visiting a settlement in 2001, admitted to his true intention of grabbing as much as 98 percent of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and halting the fraudulent Oslo process. Believing that the camera was off, he spoke candidly to a group of settlers about his strategic vision, plans, and tactics.

On his vision he assured them that “The settlements are here. They are everywhere.” He stated, “I halted the fulfillment of the Oslo agreements. It’s better to give two percent than 100 percent. You gave two percent but you stopped the withdrawal.” He later added, “I gave my own interpretation to the agreements in such a way that will allow me to stop the race back towards the 1967 borders.” As for the tactics, Netanyahu freely confessed his strategy of causing so much pain to the Palestinians that they would submit to the occupation rather than resist. He said, “The main thing is to strike them not once but several times so painfully that the price they pay will be unbearable causing them to fear that everything is about to collapse.” When he was challenged that such a strategy might cause the world to consider Israel as the aggressor, he dismissively said, “They can say whatever they want.” He also implied how he was not concerned about American pressure. To the contrary he asserted that he could easily manipulate Israel’s main benefactor when he stated “America is something you can easily maneuver and move in the right direction. I wasn’t afraid to confront Clinton. I wasn’t afraid to go against the UN.” Even though world leaders consider Netanyahu a “liar” and they “can’t stand him” as shown in this exchange between former French president Nicolas Sarkozy and Barak Obama, no Western leader has stood up to Israel, even though a British parliamentarian stated that 70 percent of Europeans consider it a “danger to world’s peace.” But the obstructionist posture and expansionist policies of Israeli leaders are not restricted to the Israeli right. Former Labor leader Ehud Barak was as much determined in 2000 at Camp David not to withdraw from the West Bank, Jerusalem, or dismantle the settlements.

For decades the world waited for Israel to decide its destiny by choosing two out of three defining elements: its Jewish character, its claim to democracy, and the lands of so-called “greater Israel.” If it chose to retain its Jewish majority and claim to be democratic, it had to withdraw from the lands it occupied in 1967. If it insists on incorporating the lands and have a democracy it would have to integrate its Arab populations while forsaking its Jewish exceptionalism in a secular state. Yet sadly but true to its Zionist nature, Israel chose to maintain its Jewish exclusiveness over all of historical Palestine to transform itself into a manifestly Apartheid state.

Political Zionism and the True Nature of the Israeli State

For over a century political Zionism has evoked intense passions and emotions on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: its ardent supporters as well as its critics and hapless victims. Zionists hail their enterprise as a national liberation movement for the Jewish people while its opponents condemn it as a racist ideology that practiced ethnic cleansing, instituted racial and religious discrimination, and committed war crimes to realize its goals.

On November 10, 1975 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 3379 that determined Zionism as a “form of racism and racial discrimination.” However, it was revoked 16 years later under tremendous pressure from the U.S. and other Western countries in the aftermath of the first Gulf war in 1991. Oftentimes, the public is denied unfiltered information about the true nature of political Zionism and its declared state. And unfortunately the media conglomerates rarely cover that aspect of the conflict, which contributes to the public’s confusion and exasperation.

Since its creation in 1948, Israel has passed laws and implemented policies that institutionalized discrimination against its Arab Palestinian minority. In the aftermath of its 1967 invasion, it instituted a military occupation regime that has denied basic human and civil rights to millions of Palestinians whose population now exceeds the number of Israeli Jews in the land within historical Palestine. In addition, in defiance of international law, Israel has obstinately refused to allow the descendants of the Palestinian people that it expelled in 1948 and 1967 to return to their homes, while allowing millions of people of other nationalities the right to become citizens of the Israeli state upon arrival simply because they are Jewish.

Zionist leaders from Ben-Gurion to Netanyahu have always claimed that Israel was a democracy similar to other Western liberal democracies. But perhaps the best way to examine this claim and illustrate the nature of the modern Zionist state is through a comparative analogy (a similar example could also be found in Israeli historian Shlomo Sand’s book).

What if a Western country claiming to be a democracy, such as the U.S. or the U.K., were officially to change its constitution and system to become the state of the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs)? Even though its African, Hispanic, Asian, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim citizens as well as other minorities would still have the right to vote, hold political offices, and enjoy some civil and social rights, they would have to submit to the new nature and exclusive character of the WASP state. Moreover, with the exception of the WASP class of citizens, no other citizen would be allowed to buy or sell any land, and there would be permanent constitutional laws that would forbid any WASP from selling any property to any members of other ethnicities or religions in the country. Its Congress or parliament would pass laws that would also forbid any WASP from marrying outside his or her social class, and if any such “illegal” marriage were to take place, it would not be recognized by the state. As for immigration, only WASPs from around the world would be welcome. In fact, there would be no restrictions on their category as any WASP worldwide could claim immediate citizenship upon arrival in the country with full economic and social benefits granted by the state, while all other ethnicities are denied. Furthermore, most of the existing minorities in the country would be subjected to certain “security” policies in order to allow room for the WASPs coming from outside. So in many parts of the country, there would be settlements and colonies constructed only for the new WASP settlers and consequently some of the non-WASP populations would have to be restricted or relocated. In these new settlements the state would designate WASP-only roads, WASP-only schools, WASP-only health clinics, WASP-only shopping malls, WASP-only parks or swimming pools. There would also be a two-tier health care system, educational system, criminal justice system, and social welfare system. In this dual system for example, if a WASP assaults or kills a non-WASP he would receive a small fine or a light sentence that would not exceed a few years, while if a non-WASP murders a WASP, even accidentally, he would receive a harsh or mandatory life sentence. In this system, where the police force is exclusively staffed by WASPs, the Supreme Court would routinely sanction the use of torture against any non-WASP, subject to the judgment of the security officers. Such a system would clearly be so manifestly racist, patently criminal, and globally abhorred that no one would stand by it or defend it. But could such a regime even exist or be accepted in today’s world? (I realize that some people may argue that many of these practices had actually occurred in the past against certain segments of the population in some Western societies. But no government today would dare to embrace this model or defend its policies.)

Yet, because of the Zionist nature of the Israeli state, this absurd example is actually a reality with varying degrees for the daily lives of the Palestinian people, whether they are nominal citizens of the state, live under occupation or under siege, or have been blocked for decades from returning back to their homes, towns, and villages. Such a system would not only be condemned but no decent human being or country that respects the rule of law would associate with it or tolerate it.

From its early days, prominent Jewish intellectuals have condemned the racist nature of the Zionist state. Albert Einstein and Hannah Arendt wrote in 1948 condemning Zionist leaders of Israel who “openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state.” Israeli scientist and thinker Israel Shahak considered Israel as “a racist state in the full meaning of this term, where the Palestinians are discriminated against, in the most permanent and legal way and in the most important areas of life, only because of their origin.” Renowned American intellectual Noam Chomsky considers Israel’s actions in Palestine as even “much worse than Apartheid” ever was in South Africa. Israeli historian Ilan Pappé argues that “The Zionist goal from the very beginning was to have as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians in it as possible,” while American historian Howard Zinn thought that “Zionism is a mistake.” American academic and author Norman Finkelstein has often spoken out against the racist nature of the Zionist state and condemned its manipulation of the Nazi Holocaust to justify its colonization of Palestine. British historian Tony Judt described Israel as “an anachronism” because of its exclusive nature in comparison to its “non-Jewish citizens.” Former UN Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine Professor Richard Falk called Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories “a crime against humanity” and compared Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians to the Nazi treatment of the Jews and has said, “I think the Palestinians stand out as the most victimized people in the world.” Very recently, prominent American Jewish academics posed the question: “Can we continue to embrace a state that permanently denies basic rights to another people?” Their answer was an emphatic call for a complete boycott against the Zionist state.

Furthermore, Israeli politicians and religious leaders regularly use racist rhetoric to appeal to their constituents and articulate their policies. In the last Israeli elections in March, Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted to the Israeli public, “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls.” Former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman advocated new ethnic cleansing through “the transfer” of Palestinian citizens from the state. One prominent Rabbi considered “killing Palestinians a religious duty,” while another declared that “It is not only desirable to do so, but it is a religious duty that you hold his head down to the ground and hit him until his last breath.” Former Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, one of the most senior religious leaders in Israel ruled that “there was absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians during a potential massive military offensive on Gaza.” Racism in Israel is so pervasive that a Jewish settler stabbed another Jew, and another settler killed a fellow Jewish settler not because the perpetrators were threatened, but because the victims looked Arab. Israeli racism is so widespread among its population that noted journalist Max Blumenthal, who investigated the Israeli society’s attitudes towards the Palestinians, was himself surprised to “the extent to which groups and figures, remarkably similar ideologically and psychologically to the radical right in the US and to neo-fascist movements across Europe, controlled the heart of Israeli society and the Israeli government.”

In short, the ideology of political Zionism, as it has amply been demonstrated within the state of Israel, with its exclusionary vision and persistent policies of occupying the land and subjugating its people, has proven without any doubt that it represents a relic of a bygone era that utterly lacks civilized behavior or claims to a democratic system. Therefore, any discussion, coverage, analysis, or debate of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that sidesteps the nature and ideology of the Israeli state is not only disingenuous and lacks credibility, but also contributes to the deepening of the conflict, the continuous suffering of its victims, and the illusion of finding a potential just and peaceful outcome.

Dr. Sami Al-Arian is a Palestinian academic and intellectual. He lived for four decades in the U.S. before relocating to Turkey in 2015. Because of his long activism for the Palestinian cause and defending human and civil rights, he was a political prisoner in the U.S. and spent over a decade in prison and under house arrest until the charges were dropped in 2014. He can be contacted at nolandsman1948@gmail.com.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clinton’s Weak Campaign Finance “Pillar”

By Rob Hager | CounterPunch | December 8, 2015

Hillary Clinton was widely quoted telling a handful of Iowans on April 14: “We need to fix our dysfunctional political system and get unaccountable money out of it once and for all — even if it takes a constitutional amendment.” The Washington Post identified this statement as “one of several pillars of her 2016 presidential campaign.” CBS based its headline for this Clinton story on the quote that this pillar represented one of “four big fights that I think we have to take on.” Her communications director, elaborating on the transcript of Clinton’s spare comments on the subject, added “It’s something she’s really concerned about.”

It is safe to assume that after months crafting the four policy pillars of her candidacy, and the way the message itself was tightly controlled from Iowa, that Clinton’s particular phrasing for her “unaccountable money” pillar was precisely as intended by her campaign team.

The Post’s headline writers and others converted Clinton’s hypothetical statement, “if it takes a constitutional amendment,” into a far more definite “support for a constitutional amendment,” as if Clinton is expected to propose or endorse a constitutional amendment during her campaign.

Slate‘s dog-whistle headline, relying on nothing more than the above quote in the Post, transformed her statement even further: “Hillary Clinton Hints at Support for Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United.” The Post, and presumably Clinton in Iowa, said nothing at all about Citizens United, let alone support for any “amendment to overturn” it. What Clinton did say is closer to the opposite of either of those two concepts.

Clinton’s statement “supports” not getting all or any part of interested money out of politics, which is what people advocating an “Amendment to Overturn Citizens United” think they are supporting. Clinton is speaking solely about “unaccountable money.” Such money can become fully “accountable” without being exluded from the pay to play system of US politics. Clinton is simply advocating its disclosure.

Under her proposal the embarrassing flood of money into US politics, anticipated to explode even further in her own campaign, will not be stanched. It would be accounted for by disclosing its provenance, which is now often left undisclosed by use of 527‘s and other IRS conduits. She considerately wants Americans to know who is buying the power to operate their erstwhile democracy against their every interest. There is no assurance that such disclosure would have any significant impact on the pervasive corruption of U.S. politics.

Under systemic corrupion, disclosure actually can help circumvent one of the few remaining inconveniences to plutocrats. Plutocrats who feel their “freedom of speech” constrained by new $5 million contribution limits per person per election cycle jointly endoresed by Congress and the Supreme Court can spend as much as they want on “independent” electioneering provided, so the cover story goes, they do not “coordinate” their expenditures with the campaigns. But to buy influence the candidate needs to know who is paying them off.   By bridging this inconvenient gap in the system, formal disclosure required for everyone by law is a perfect solution for legalized coordination. Accordingly, disclosure is the reform that Democrats and their allies are selling to their supporters, and the reform the plutocrat justices of the Roberts Court also promote with no fear of significantly upsetting the corrupt political system they maintain.

Where corruption is systemic, Clinton’s proposition that actual “accountability” is even possible, other than in the sense of mere disclosure, is itself highly dubious. When the system requires all competitors to be on the take, disclosure alone fails to create any effective new options for making politicians actually accountable to voters. In this system where the Supreme Court legalizes corruption and the mass media collects a toll to mediate their messages, only the proxies of plutocrats are on offer to voters.

As a lawyer, Clinton must already understand that no constitutional amendment is required to accommodate a legislative remedy for her “unaccountable money” pillar. Laws under the existing Constitution can require all the additional disclosure that she could possibly want. Disclosure requirements for campaign contributions have existed in federal law since the Progressive Era’s Publicity of Political Contributions Act of 1910, 36 Stat. 822. The constitutionality of such disclosure laws has never been doubted.

In Ex Parte Curtis (1882) (8-1) the Supreme Court ruled, without even bothering to argue the point, that the power of Congress to prohibit political corruption outweighs any asserted First Amendment interest in allowing political donations. If the First Amendment argument made by the petitioner in Curtis, and dismissed by the government’s brief as unworthy of serious attention, albeit accepted by a lone dissenter, could not legalize money in politics against a total ban, then certainly requirements that political investments merely be disclosed could have raised no conceivable objection before the Nixon Court reversed the Curtis rule without mentioning it nearly a century later.

The Supreme Court held disclosure laws to be constitutional in Burroughs v. United States (1934) (9-0) when it upheld the strengthened disclosure requirements of the 1925 Federal Corrupt Practices Act. As that Court explained, disclosure requirements are “calculated to discourage the making and use of contributions for purposes of corruption.” This most conservative of any Supreme Court majority prior to the current Roberts 5 resoundingly rejected the very idea that disclosure requirements might be constitutionally invalid, calling the “proposition so startling as to arrest attention.” Quoting from another deeply conservative Gilded Age Court lineup in Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651 (1884), the 1934 Court explained that “government … must have the power to protect the elections on which its existence depends from violence and corruption … the two great natural and historical enemies of all republics.”

Later in United States v. Harriss, 347 U.S. 612, 625 (1954) the Supreme Court again expressly approved mandatory disclosure of political investments connected with some actual speech in the context of lobbying. See also National Association of Manufacturers v Taylor (D.C. Cir. 2009) (upholding lobbying disclosure under Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007). Chief Justice Warren held in Harriss that,

the voice of the people may all too easily be drowned out by the voice of special interest groups seeking favored treatment while masquerading as proponents of the public weal. This is the evil which the Lobbying Act was designed to help prevent… Congress… is not constitutionally forbidden to require the disclosure of lobbying activities. To do so would be to deny Congress in large measure the power of self-protection.

Since the outset of the current era of systemic corruption of politics the Supreme Court responsible for making that corruption systemic has nevertheless, without reservation, reaffirmed the same principles. Disclosure was endorsed by Buckley v Valeo (1976), the judicial mother lode for legalizing systemic corruption, and again by Citizens United (2010), the bete noir of all professional activists working the campaign finance silo. When the Roberts Court overturned aggregate limits for political investors in McCutcheon (2014) , Justice Roberts lauded this “less restrictive alternative” which also “given the Internet, … offers much more robust protections against corruption” than ever.

Though the constitutionality of disclosure laws has for a century been of little or no demonstrable utility in preventing the current systemic levels of political corruption, it is nevertheless regularly trotted out in this manner as a cure-all by politicians and other operatives of this corrupt system. Clinton has built her “unaccountable money” pillar on this well-worn tradition, and nothing more. Current disclosure laws are certainly inadequate. But this is because Congress is now too mired in systemic corruption, and the FEC too deadlocked, to enact even tepid and marginal reforms necessary to make disclosure even potentially more effective.

Clinton surely knows the Supreme Court’s historic, consistent, and virtually unanimous, rulings make clear that there is no need for a constitutional amendment to require full disclosure of currently “unaccountable” or “dark” money. She must have spent some tiny fraction of what has been projected to be an over $2 billion campaign to do some elementary initial research and strategy development about one of her expensive campaign’s four basic policy pillars – which she offers as her reason for running. Her issues team must have advised her to use the hypothetical “if” when mentioning an amendment because they know that an amendment is not necessary to accomplish the limited Clinton disclosure agenda. Hypothetical mention of an amendment does help obfuscate the limited nature of her agenda. Besides, mentioning the Constitution makes her proposal sound more important. Amendment advocacy, however hypothetical in the case of the “unaccountable money” pillar, does help distract constituents’ political energies to futile pursuits, while also deflecting responsibility to others. This is the strategy that has worked for Democrats on the corruption issue.

The rush to enlist Clinton in their cause by the Democrats’ professional activist allies who have committed themselves to an amendment approach suggests that they either do not know, or do not care, that no amendment is necessary to achieve the mostly useless “accountability” for money in politics that Clinton supports. Clinging to their futile amendment approach such activists mistakenly insist there is “no question that an amendment will be needed.” They do not know or care that it would be a counter-productive waste of time to confirm, by constitutional amendment, the validity of general powers of Congress which have never been seriously questioned on constitutional grounds and only recently exalted by the defender of plutocracy himself, Chief Justice Roberts. Presumably at the behest of such mistaken activists, Bernie Sanders has proposed an amendment that does include such a provision that risks not just wasteful but also counterproductive results.

Given the uninformed quality of the constitutional amendments that have been proposed on this subject by Democrats and their professional activist allies, one can easily imagine that an amendment for this purpose, although unnecessary, could well do more harm than good. The close parsing by a hostile Roberts Court of any particular new constitutional text on this subject could be turned on its head to reduce Congress’ current unrestricted authority to mandate all the disclosure of money in politics they may desire.

Clinton’s mention of the amendment should be no surprise. The constitutional amendment idea has been used as a theatrical prop to give cover to Democrats who are mired in the corrupt system as deeply as Republicans. Republicans embrace plutocracy as some surreal 21st century manifestation of the founders concept of “freedom of speech,” a notion formed long before there was a mass broadcast media to be bought for the political propaganda of marketing specialists. Accepting the Republican’s game, Democrats misleadingly propagate the idea that a constitutional amendment is the sole means by which they could limit money in politics. The resulting stalemate from this diversion absolves Democrats’ failure to advance far more effective and available legislative measures. By such deceit about their support for a futile amendment, a majority of Senate Democrats in the 113th Congress were empowered to vote on behalf of Wall Street in December 2014 to increase, by an order of magnitude, the money that plutocrats can give to buy political parties. Democratic support for the “CRomnibus” Act betrayed the notion that Democrats’ professed commitment to “campaign finance reform” meant that they would seek laws mandating less, not considerably more, money in politics. But the betrayal met with little, if any, protest from their activist allies who keep their eyes safely diverted to the futile amendment approach that would not even have stopped Congress from increasing money in politics as they did in 2014 even if it had been adopted.

Amendment advocacy has served to divert attention from corrupt Democrats for five years. The eventual, and inevitable, collapse, on September 11, 2014, of the Democrats anti-”Citizens United” constitutional amendment theatrics caused those professional activists who got the memo to pivot to a new advertising slogan for 2015. Their new advertising campaign promotes disclosure of “Dark Money,” while attempting to make that slogan sound even worse than their “Citizens United” soundbite. This latest piecemeal fad by non-profit fundraisers for what is actually a much reduced new demand ignores Justice Elena Kagan’s koanic axiom: “Simple disclosure fails to prevent shady dealing…. So the State remains afflicted with corruption.” But it serves Clinton’s straddle between disclosure and amendment.

The recent solicitations from political non-profits have reduced expectations so far as to ask that you send them money to help eliminate Dark Money electioneering by government contractors. This is a reform Obama could accomplish on his own, as a matter of seeing that the law are executed, and should have long ago when the subject first arose in 2011. The activists scrambled on board after the New York Times recently approved this approach. This reform would, they say, “unmask major corporate political donors with a simple executive order.”  Of all the plutocrats and their corporate agents who make political investments, this reform would only reach the subset of government contractors. Instead of demanding mere disclosure of political investments from government contractors, activists should at the very least demand policies for this subset that would totally abolish political kickbacks from the procurement system. Their demand should be for strengthening and robust enforcement of — while disqualifying any federal contractor that “directly or indirectly … make[s] any contribution …to any person for any political purpose or use” in violation of — 2 U.S. Code § 441c (“Contributions by government contractors”). Demanding mere disclosure in this context, as it usually does, serves to divert attention from more meaningful reform.

Even this anti-corruption best-practice no-brainer for disclosure, let alone disqualifying firms with a history of conflict of interest electioneering expenditures, has been too much for a Democratic President. Obama uses highly contingent and distancing language whenever he mentions money in politics, such as his statement (emphasis added) about: the “need to seriously consider mobilizing a constitutional amendment process to overturn Citizens United (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t revisit it). Even if the amendment process falls short, it can shine a spotlight on the super-PAC phenomenon and help apply pressure for change.”

The multiple italicized contingencies Obama employed indicate that he understood an amendment to be little more than political theatrics. By mentioning Citizens United, not Buckley, and Super-PACs instead of the whole corrupt system, he slices and dices the problem into its manageable but piecemeal soundbites. As a former constitutional law lecturer and record-setting fundraiser, Obama must know that the independent corporate electioneering legalized by Citizens United had very little to do with Super-Pacs, which are overwhelmingly funded by a handful of rich individuals and their non-profit proxies, with very little (only 12%) coming from for-profit corporations. Moreover Super-Pacs already have adequate spotlights on them from a largely outraged public. If in any event the “amendment process” is expected by him to “fall short,” then exactly what is the “change” that Pres. Obama believes can be obtained by “pressure” that might arise from this failure?

Failure due to misdirection usually depletes energy, causes frustration, and alienates voters, which only relieves the “pressure” on politicians. But Obama presumably knows that. His latest tepid statement, sounding like a bystander to the process of policy making, was that he would “love to see some constitutional process that would allow us to actually regulate campaign spending the way we used to, and maybe even improve it.” This could mean almost anything while committing Obama to nothing. One suspects that Obama’s “love” will not give birth to any effective strategy; nor will Clinton.

By mentioning a constitutional amendment without endorsing anything specific Clinton is doing little more than what Obama and his party has done. In formulating her disclosure pillar, Clinton adopted similar language to, while cleverly promising considerably less than, the commitment made in the 2012 Democratic Party platform: “We support campaign finance reform, by constitutional amendment if necessary.” The rubric of “campaign finance reform” could include disclosure of “unaccountable” money as one tactic. But that would need to be accompanied by a more comprehensive legislative package to accomplish any actual “reform.”

By mentioning a constitutional amendment in this context, although the inadequacy of disclosure laws has nothing to do with the text of the Constitution, Clinton not only blows the dog-whistle for those diverted to that futile approach by professional activists for the past five years, but also prepares a convenient exit for herself from even the truncated “dark money” issue. As one commenter observed, she can “endorse the concept without too many expectations about personally making an amendment happen.” A president has no formal role in adopting an amendment so it serves to shift responsibility for the issue away from her, as it has done for Obama.

Clinton should be asked to disclose her legislative plan, since in fact no amendment is necessary, whether to force disclosures of money in politics, or to enact far more robust prohibitions than any amount of disclosure could possibly accomplish. It is those other, strategic legislative solutions for banning money from politics, such as strengthened conflict of interest recusal rules, and Exceptions Clause or Eleventh Amendment jurisdiction-stripping, that Clinton, along with the Democratic Party, can be safely expected to avoid at all costs.

Democrats using effective strategy to get money out of politics would be even less likely than landing a gyrocopter on the White House lawn by a “showman patriot” would dramatize the issue effectively in the complicit mass media. The Wall Street masters would not consent to any effective strategy to restrain their plutocracy.

Rob Hager is a public interest litigator who filed an amicus brief in the Montana sequel to Citizens United and has worked as an international consultant on anti-corruption policy and legislation.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment

UN passes Iranian-proposed nuclear disarmament resolution

Press TV – December 8, 2015

The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has passed a resolution proposed by Iran aimed at bringing about the disarmament of nuclear powers.

On Monday, the Assembly voted 121 against 48 in favor of the non-binding resolution, which had already been cleared by its First Committee, aka Disarmament and International Security Committee. The voting saw 12 abstentions.

The resolution demands practical action by all nuclear-armed countries toward disarmament and the promotion of international stability and security for all.

It also demands unilateral steps by such countries to scale down their nuclear arsenals as well as more transparency regarding their nuclear arms capabilities and implementation of international agreements.

The Islamic Republic had devised the resolution based on the ratifications of the Review Conferences of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995, 2000, and 2010.

The majority of the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement threw their support behind the resolution. The United States, Israel, Canada, Britain, Russia, France, and Germany were among those voting against it, while China, South Korea, Japan, India, and Italy, among others, abstained.

Speaking after the approval of the resolution, Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Gholam Hossein Dehqani (seen below) said, “It has been declared in Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that these countries are obliged to initiate negotiations for the disarmament and have been asked to put into force step-by-step measures for decommissioning nuclear weapons and then destroying them. Unfortunately, though, no effective or serious step has been taken in this direction.”

“The international community is insistent upon nuclear disarmament and the nuclear-armed countries’ implementation of their obligations. The current trend suggests that slowly, nuclear-armed countries and the Zionist regime (Israel), which possesses nuclear weapons, will move toward isolation in the General Assembly’s First Committee and other assemblies, and will certainly end up in worse circumstances every day,” the Iranian official added.

Israel is regarded as the only possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Is Islamic State now equipped with a NATO air force?

By John Wight – RT – December 8, 2015

Within the past two weeks Turkish F-16s have shot down a Russian SU-24 bomber and a US-led coalition airstrike has hit a military base controlled by the Syrian Arab Army. It begs the question: are these people actually insane?

ISIS could not have had a better two weeks than these past two if it had its own air force. But with the US and Turkey among its ‘enemies’ it appears they don’t need one, for those countries have been doing its job for them.

How else are we to explain the strikes carried out by both countries, not against ISIS but against Russia and Syria, who are fighting ISIS?

Never in the annals of military conflict has such a dangerous and absurd scenario been played out as the one being played out in Syria today. Two entirely separate multi-nation coalitions are engaged in combat operations against one enemy, thus dictating they coordinate and combine their efforts. Yet such is the lack of leadership and statesmanship within one of those coalitions – led by Washington – that the prospect remains a distant dream even after a recent spate of atrocities resulted in the mass murder of citizens and civilians belonging to both.

This at least is one narrative, which holds that incompetence, stupidity and hubris is the root of the problem, impairing the judgment and clarity of the West when it comes to Syria and the wider region, responsible for allowing a terrorist menace in the shape of ISIS and other extremist groups to grow and enjoy the kind of success they should never have enjoyed.

There is a second narrative to be explored, however, one far more insidious. It is that these attacks are evidence of the real objective of the West and its allies when it comes to Syria, despite the rise of ISIS, which remains regime change in Damascus.

Turkey’s president, Recip Erdogan, has long harbored this objective. In fact, more than harbor the man has been utterly obsessed with it. He has taken every opportunity to rail against Syria’s president, attributing the entire blame for the Syrian crisis and conflict to him, even though the majority of Syrians support their president and have done so throughout.

Never in the annals of military conflict has such a dangerous and absurd scenario been played out as the one being played out in Syria today.

With Russian airstrikes bearing down on the illicit oil trade between ISIS and Turkey, the strong suspicion is that Turkey’s desperate action in shooting down the Russian bomber was directly related to it being unmasked as a key actor in facilitating the terrorist group, rather than an ally in the struggle against it.

This has now been followed by Turkey’s military incursion into northern Iraq, where its troops have occupied territory around Mosul, slap bang in the middle of the oil smuggling route from the oilfields located there up into Turkey.

The Turks claim they are there to train Kurdish Peshmerga forces they are supporting, at the request of the Kurdistan Regional Government, led by Massoud Barzani, which administers a de facto independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq in defiance of central government authority in Baghdad. The equally independent oil trade controlled by he Barzani administration has come under attack from the PKK over the past few months, which has managed to destroy pipelines transporting oil from the Mosul region to Turkey.

By now the penny should be starting to drop.

Erdogan is a man who many consider to be engaged in a neo Ottoman policy of re-establishing Turkey’s hegemonic influence in the region, exploiting the chaos and turmoil across its southern border in both Iraq and Syria to establish Turkey as a regional power broker and architect of a Sunni state comprising eastern Syria across into northern Iraq.

The collapse of US leadership in the region, measured in the rise of ISIS, has left a vacuum that its regional allies – Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Israel – are exploiting with an aggressive pursuit of their own national and sectarian agendas. Those agendas are contrary to the interests of stability and security, and unless reined in can only lead to more chaos and conflict rather than less.

The point is that the aforementioned states are leading the wider Western strategy towards the region at this point, the primary aim of which, as mentioned, is the toppling of the Assad government in Syria and the weakening of Iranian influence in Iraq and Lebanon.

The US airstrike, despite Washington’s denial of responsibility for it, should be seen with the aforementioned in mind. It also helps explain the recent entry of British airstrikes into the Syrian conflict.

Less than the official justification of helping to crush ISIS, Britain is intent on establishing an overt military presence in Syria with its eyes not on the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa but on Damascus in advance of the upcoming peace talks in Vienna. We know this because no sooner had the British Government received the vote required to press ahead with airstrikes from the House of Commons than British foreign secretary Phillip Hammond was talking up the need for a transitional government in Damascus, making it clear that President Assad cannot remain in power.

Overall it is becoming increasingly apparent that for the West and its regional allies, such as Turkey, ISIS is but a sideshow and that the real priority is the removal of the Assad government. They want a pliant alternative in its place, one willing to be their place man in a region that has long been the focus of their geopolitical, strategic, and economic priorities.

In the process they are willing to court the risk of a major conflagration, evidence of their failure to learn the lessons of history and playing with fire as a consequence.

The First World War was the last major conflict into which the major powers sleepwalked. It resulted in a level of carnage that undermined the very foundations of civilization and led inexorably to the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. The response to the Western powers of the collapse of the latter in the Middle East, in moving in to carve up the spoils between them regardless of the wishes and interests of the people living there, has brought us a century of turmoil and conflict from then to now.

In a very real sense, the world of today is paying the price of the crimes of the past. As a consequence, committing more crimes is more than folly it is tantamount to dragging us back in time to a hell of our own creation.


Follow John Wight on Twitter @JohnWight1

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon Blames Russia for Its Airstrikes on Syria’s Military

By Stephen Lendman | December 8, 2015

A previous article explained Syria’s Foreign Ministry reported US-led warplanes bombed its army camp in Deir ez Zor province – killing three soldiers, injuring 13 others, as well as destroying three armored vehicles, four military vehicles, an arms and ammunition depot, along with 23mm and 14.5mm machine guns.

The Pentagon denied being caught red-handed in its latest attempt to push back on Russia’s effective intervention against ISIS and other terrorists groups in Syria.

It blamed Moscow for its provocative aggression. An unnamed Pentagon spokesman lied, claiming it’s “certain” a Russian warplane carried out the attack. “We’ve got a radar track showing a Backfire bomber flying directly over the town that the Syrians named a few minutes before the first claims that we killed some Syrian troops.”

Who knows what Washington has or doesn’t have. It’s “certain” it bore full responsibility for the incident. Russian airstrikes are directed solely against ISIS and other terrorist groups with pinpoint accuracy, shown by photographic evidence each time.

A US-led anti-Assad coalition statement claiming attacks were conducted “against oil well heads” about 35 miles from the Syrian base was a bald-faced lie – compounded by saying its warplanes struck no “personnel targets…We have no indication any Syrian soldiers were near our strikes.”

The dead, injured and destruction tell another tale. Even the pro-Western, London-based, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights surprisingly reported US-led airstrikes attacked a Syrian military post near Ayyash in western Deir al-Zour on Sunday.

It bears repeating, the Pentagon was caught red-handed. Russia so far hasn’t commented on the incident or false accusations claiming its warplanes were responsible.

US, UK, French and other coalition partners continue bombing Syrian infrastructure and government targets. Sunday’s attack was the first known attack directed at Assad’s military – suggesting more provocative actions to come.

So far, they’ve included a Turkish warplane downing a Russia Su-24 bomber in Syrian airspace – OK’d by Washington, Ankara obstructing Russian sea traffic through the Bosphorus Strait and Dardanelles in either direction, international waterways in northwest Turkey connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.

Erdogan is involved in stealing, smuggling, transporting, refining and black market selling industrial scale quantities of Iraqi and Syrian oil.

He’s illegally bombing Kurdish fighters in northern Syria and Iraq – on the phony pretext of combating ISIS. His troops operate illegally in northern Iraq, violating its sovereign territory – perhaps to keep oil smuggling routes open and aiming to expand Turkish borders, incorporating parts of northern Iraq and Syria.

Washington is sending more specials forces to Syria on top of thousands already there, along with additional numbers illegally to Syria, perhaps many more to follow.

Fars News reported “US experts” intend turning a “desolate airport… controlled by Kurdish forces in Syria’s Hasaka region… into a (US) military base.”

Runways are being constructed to accommodate US warplanes – the operation entirely illegal, uninvited on foreign soil.

Washington is upping the stakes, escalating things dangerously toward direct confrontation with Russia, a reckless act – complicit with Turkey, Britain and other coalition partners.

Obama earlier promising he’ll “not put American boots on the ground” proved false – one of his many Big Lies. Will full-scale US invasion follow – with thousands of US special forces and perhaps other combat troops, protected by US warplanes?

War winds are blowing dangerously toward gale force. Possible US instigated nuclear war is humanity’s greatest threat.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

December 8, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Progressive Hypocrite, War Crimes | , , , , | 3 Comments