Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

‘Paz Colombia’: the Latest US Attempt to Control Colombia?

By Justin Podur – teleSUR – February 8, 2016

​The U.S. has announced funding for a new Plan Colombia as the country moves towards a resolution to its civil war. What is its real purpose?

Colombia’s peace process has entered its final phase. Agreements have been reached on land reform, political participation, and the rights of victims. The discussions are now focused on ending the conflict and implementation and verification of the accords. The deadline for a final agreement is March 23, and it might be met.

In this last phase of negotiations, Colombia’s president reached out to the US for aid. On February 4, a new initiative was unveiled in Washington by presidents Santos and Obama: the new version of Plan Colombia, which they called “Paz Colombia”. Obama began by commemorating the success of Plan Colombia, a plan that brought military helicopters and escalated aerial fumigation to the country. “We were proud to support Colombia and its people as you strengthened your security forces, as you reformed land laws, and bolstered democratic institutions,” he said. “And after 15 years of sacrifice and determination, a tipping point has been reached. The tide has turned.”

Santos elaborated on the successes since Plan Colombia was rolled out in 2000: “Today we can say without a doubt that the goals that we had in 2000 — such as fighting the drug war, strengthening institutions, and imposing the rule of law, and to take social programs to great parts of remote Colombian territory — those objectives have been met.”

The history of Plan Colombia is slightly different than that presented by Obama and Santos. As lawyer Dan Kovalik outlined in this article for teleSUR English, the problems the president’s claim Plan Colombia solved were mostly made worse by it.

Take Santos’s objectives, which Plan Colombia supposedly met: The drug war? There may be a peace agreement between the government and FARC, but the drug war promises to go on and on. The rule of law and the strengthening of institutions? These were certainly areas of struggle over the past 15 years, but any gains made there were fought for by the people, not flown in by the military helicopters of Plan Colombia. Social programs and protections? Many have been lost under neoliberalism – some have been preserved by struggle by Colombia’s movements.

What about Obama’s list? Security forces were strengthened, to be sure. New equipment was introduced and soldiers were trained in its use. But the Plan Colombia years were years of collaboration between the military and the paramilitaries, who were responsible for the most horrific violence. Reformed land laws? The 15 years of Plan Colombia were a time of losses of land and of rights to land. Colombia’s 1991 Constitution was one of the most progressive in Latin America when it came into force. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian territorial rights were enshrined. Paramilitary violence escalated after this constitution, as elites deployed their forces to create facts on the ground: specifically, to use terror and massacre to force people to flee the territories they had just won legal rights to. Millions of people were displaced from their lands in this way. Legal changes under the 15 years of Plan Colombia, the “reformed land laws”, attempted to retroactively legalize this loss of land. As for the bolstering of democratic institutions, it was in the Plan Colombia years that the “para-politica” or “para-Uribe” scandal occurred – evidence of signed contracts between politicians and paramilitaries to kill and displace local people.

There were other scandals too, in the Plan Colombia years. The Colombian security services wiretapping politicians involved in the peace process. The Colombian military entrapping and murdering completely innocent peasants, dressing them up as guerrillas, and using the deaths to inflate the numbers of casualties their units were inflicting (“false positives”).

At the announcement of the Paz Colombia plan, Obama said that the US would support the peace the same way it had supported the war. If this is the plan, it is frightening. When Plan Colombia started in 2000, there was actually a peace process underway between the FARC and the government. It had begun just a year before, in 1999. There is little question that Plan Colombia helped to derail it, steering the Colombian government towards a military solution.

At $450 million USD, the scale of Paz Colombia was reportedly disappointing to President Santos. The original Plan Colombia was announced at $1.3 billion USD, most of which paid for US-manufactured attack helicopters. Colombia paid several times that amount out of its own budget for Plan Colombia. Colombians paid for Plan Colombia, and they will be paying for Paz Colombia.

Those were not the only costs Colombians paid. The environmental and health costs of the spraying are difficult to calculate. In 2008, Ecuador took Colombia to court over the ecological and health damage caused by aerial fumigation on the Colombia-Ecuador border. In 2013, the lawsuit was settled for $15 million, which environmentalists argued was an extreme undervaluation of the damage. The true damages might be in the billions.

Many problems remain. Neither the peace accords nor Paz Colombia deal with the bigger cause of violence over the decades: the paramilitaries. Implementation will be fraught with difficulties. When previous guerrilla groups disarmed and joined politics (Union Patriotica and M-19), they were devastated by state-backed paramilitary assassination campaigns. Unarmed social movements have struggled during the talks, as they did during the war, to get their voices heard and their sacrifices recognized.

But a negotiated end to the armed conflict has long been a demand of these movements, and its realization is to be celebrated. The movements will be the ones fighting to prevent Colombia’s post-war reality from being “mired in structural poverty and violence and endemic corruption”, as Hector Perla wrote in teleSUR last week.

It is not accurate to say that the US is standing with Colombia in peace as it did in war. It might be more accurate to say that the US is trying to control the peace as it controlled the war. If the history of Plan Colombia is a guide, an independent path might yield a better peace.

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Indigenous Central Americans Seek Apology From Pope Francis for Genocide

Sputnik – 09.02.2016

Ahead of a February 12 visit by Pope Francis to Mexico, around 30 indigenous communities in Michoacan, Mexico, have released a statement demanding that he apologize for killings of some 24 million aboriginal inhabitants, committed with the complicity of the Catholic Church during the colonization of the Americas.

The Supreme Indigenous Council of Michoacan, Mexico, accused the Catholic Church of being involved in mass genocide, which started with the Spaniards’ arrival to the Central American region in the 16th century.

The statement noted that, by the beginning of the 17th century, there were less than 700,000 native inhabitants left alive, from an original population of about 25.2 million, which makes the Spanish intervention and invasion of the Americas one of the largest acts of genocide in history.

“For over 500 years, the original people of the Americas have been ransacked, robbed, murdered, exploited, discriminated and persecuted,” the statement reads. “Within this framework, the Catholic Church has historically been complicit and allies of those who invaded our land.”

The communities also emphasized that colonizers’ abuses included the forcing of European culture, language and Catholicism on the native peoples of Central America, and using the Bible as an “ideological weapon.”

“The arrival of the Europeans meant the interruption and destruction of various original civilizations, which had their unique ideas and concepts of the world, our own government, writings, languages, education, religion and philosophy,” they said.

Various Purepechas communities from Michoacan demanded that the Pope officially apologize for the church’s role in the genocide of some 95 percent of the indigenous population of Central America within about a century following the beginning of the “European invasion.”

During his visit to Mexico, Pope Francis will issue a decree authorizing the use of indigenous languages in mass celebrations. The controversial move is aimed at protecting the rights of native people in the country.

In 2015, the Pope apologized for “grave sins” committed against the native people of the Americas during an encounter in Bolivia with indigenous groups and in the presence of Bolivia’s first-ever indigenous president, Evo Morales.

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Occupation Captured

A week of occupation in photos

CPT | February 9, 2016

0343dc23-06f7-43bd-913b-448c043c8acf

Getting school supplies through

Pictured here: School books need to pass through the checkpoint in order to get to the Ibrahimi school. Team effort between CPT and one teacher holding the barbwire. (1 Feb 2016)

0838ccc8-2ebb-4515-a896-11ea59b13875

ID check

Pictured here: Regular ID check for a young Palestinian man; here at the military checkpoint set up in front of the house taken over by settlers two weeks ago. Palestinians are asked to stay at a distance and to throw their ID cards on the ground for inspection. (29 Jan 2016)

8c0d5976-aae1-46e6-93bc-612750d4225c

Going back to work

Pictured here: Fully geared up, three IDF soldiers crossed the checkpoint to throw a sound bomb and shoot a rubber bullet to disperse a group of kids. Job done, they’re heading back to their post. (04 Feb 2016)

f1bcf0ea-22a0-450f-b779-5ee3f4ae1bb1

Rooftop shadows

Pictured here: IDF soldiers on the roof of their building in the Old City at dusk, ready to intervene. (25 Jan 2016)

61f98e22-7521-486a-ac82-a60642fbbd5e

Do not move!

Pictured here: Very zealous IDF soldier, threatening a Palestinian man with his gun who refused to pull his pants down in the middle of the street. (05 Feb 2016)

a190bf5f-4ad3-4967-abd8-b4eca740883f

Full search

Pictured here: Frisks for Palestinians men are common at every checkpoints. (05 Feb 2016)

132b5543-b4dd-43a0-9c28-7aa54463a274

I love pictures

Pictured here: This young boy accompanies CPT every morning at Quitoun checkpoint and loves to pose for pictures, no matter what happens; it looks like it makes his day! (03 Feb 2016)

CPT mailing address: cptheb@cpt.org

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment

Falk reprimands Ban Ki-Moon over truth about Israel’s crimes

‘The politics of deflection’ (shoot the messenger, ignore the message) exposed

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | February 8, 2016

With obvious relish Richard Falk, former professor of international law at Princeton and UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in Occupied Palestine, has issued a well deserved slap on the wrist to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon for his naivety. It follows Israel’s furious reaction to Ban’s remark to the Security Council that “Palestinian frustration is growing under the weight of a half-century of occupation and the paralysis of the peace process”.

The usually timid Ban, suddenly emboldened, also called Israel’s illegal settlement building “an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community”. He added: “Security measures alone will not stop the violence. They cannot address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians – especially young people.” Whereupon Israel’s prime minister Netanyahu, fresh from approving another 150 squatter homes on stolen Palestinian land, accused the Secretary General of giving a “tailwind to terror”.

Falk penned an open letter to Ban reminding him of his earlier attempts to get Falk dismissed from his UN job for speaking the same truths. “Having read of the vicious attacks on you for venturing some moderate, incontestable criticisms of Israel’s behaviour, I understand well the discomfort you clearly feel. What intrigues and appals me is that while I was Special Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine during the period 2008-2014, you chose to attack me personally in public on several occasions, joining with US and Israel diplomats calling for my dismissal and doing the utmost to undermine my credibility while discharging this unpaid UN job under difficult conditions.

“At the time, I was doing my best to bear witness to some of the same truths about Israel’s unlawful and immoral behavior that recently got you in similar hot water. My UN mandate was to report upon the reality of Israeli violations of international law while sustaining their apartheid regime of oppressive control over the Palestinian people.”

Referring to Ban’s concern that we are reaching “a point of no return” for the two-state solution and his reminder to the Security Council that the UN will “continue to uphold the right of Palestinians to self-determination”, Falk warns that, given present realities, self-determination must be understood as something more than just “another delusionary embrace of a diplomatically negotiated two-state solution”.

He points out that Israel’s leaders want the idea of a Palestinian state abandoned altogether and that reliance on such a discredited diplomatic path [a two-state solution] has resulted over and over again in severe encroachments on occupied Palestine and intense suffering for its people. “Clinging to the two-state mantra is not neutral. Delay benefits Israel, harms Palestine. There is every reason to believe that this pattern will continue as long as Israel is not seriously challenged diplomatically and by the sorts of growing pressures mounted by the international solidarity movement and the BDS campaign.”

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gaza: Reconstruction of 12,000 displaced families’ homes yet to begin

MEMO | February 9, 2016

Around 90,000 Palestinians remain displaced in the Gaza Strip, almost 18 months after the ceasefire that ended Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ offensive in 2014. Furthermore, the reconstruction or repair of homes of 74 percent of displaced families is yet to even start.

According to UN OCHA, living conditions for the more than 16,000 displaced families are characterised by “overcrowding, limited access to basic services, lack of privacy, tensions with host communities, risks due to unexploded ordnance and exposure to adverse weather.”

By the end of January 2016, only 15 percent of displaced families had been able to return to repaired or reconstructed homes. The repair and reconstruction of an additional 2,000 homes is ongoing, with many of these homes nearing completion.

Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in July-August 2014 destroyed 11,000 homes and severely damaged or rendered uninhabitable an additional 6,800 homes.

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

Intimidating military patrol of Palestinian market

International Solidarity Movement | February 9, 2016

Hebron, Occupied Palestine – On Tuesday, February 9, Israeli forces patrolled the Palestinian market in occupied al-Khalil (Hebron), harassing and intimidating residents.

Israeli forces ontheir patrol through the Palestinian market

Israeli forces on their patrol through the Palestinian market

A group of soldiers marched through the souq, the main Palestinian market since the closure of Shuhada Street for Palestinians after the Ibrahimi mosque massacre in 1994. Any male adult or youth was stopped on their way to work and forced by the Israeli soldiers to lift up their shirts and trouser-pants, as well as throw their IDs on the ground. After throwing their IDs on the ground Israeli soldiers ordered the men to move back, so they could pick up the IDs from a ‘safe distance’. Most Palestinians were dismissed after this humiliating procedure, whereas some of them were detained for minutes or violently body-searched.

Violent body-search of Palestinian young man

Violent body-search of Palestinian young man

International human rights defenders documenting the Israeli forces violations of basic human rights of Palestinians, were intimidated and harassed by the Israeli soldiers in an attempt to prevent them from documenting. Soldiers took photos of the internationals with their private phones held right in the volunteers faces and as an intmidation tactic ID-checked them.

Israeli forces taking photos of human rights defenders with their private phones

Israeli forces taking photos of human rights defenders with their private phones

During the more than one hour patrol Israeli forces repeatedly pointed their assault rifles at the internationals as well as Palestinians.

Israeli soldier 'ordering' Palestinians to stop by pointing his gun

Israeli soldier ‘ordering’ Palestinians to stop by pointing his gun

Not only adults were surprised and shocked by the sudden presence of heavily-armed soldiers right outside their houses, but also children on their way to school and work. Some children, scared by the soldiers, turned around right away after spotting the soldiers and ran back home instead of continuing their way to school or kindergarten. International human rights defenders walked several scared children past the soldiers so they could safely reach their schools and kindergarten.

Two school girls passing the heavily-armed patrol

Two school girls passing the heavily-armed patrol

A mother waiting with children for the school-bus right opposite a group of soldiers

A mother waiting with children for the school-bus right opposite a group of soldiers

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s International Conspiracy

Nearly every western country has an Israel lobby

By Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • February 9, 2016

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom recently suggested an inquiry into a surge in Israel’s reported extra-judicial killing of Palestinian demonstrators after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a harsh response and told his police and soldiers that those opposed to the continued occupation of the West Bank were “terrorists.” Almost immediately, the Israeli government denounced Wallstrom as engaging in “political stupidity,” banning her from travel to Israel, while one newspaper close to the government suggested that she might be assassinated, as fellow Swede Count Folke Bernadotte was by Jewish militants in 1948, because anti-Semitism appears to be in the Swedish DNA.

All of that outrage and personal ridicule is pro forma for an Israeli government that reflexively smears and denigrates any and all critics, but the more interesting epilogue was the unanticipated discovery by the Swedish and international media that Wallstrom has not been paying the full rent on the subsidized government apartment that she occupies. The revelation follows a familiar pattern, where critics of Israel suddenly find themselves being discredited for something completely unrelated to the Middle East. President George H. W. Bush (the good Bush) suffered a similar come to Jesus moment in 1991 when he went on national television to denounce the pressure tactics of the Israel lobby. The Israeli government was demanding U.S. Treasury backed loans to construct illegal settlements. President Bush, who was running for reelection and far ahead in the opinion polls, suddenly was confronted by a well-funded and organized opposition raising doubts about him and his record. And President Bush was not reelected, presumably learning along the way that one does not trifle with the Israel Lobby, to be replaced by the enthusiastically Zionist Bill Clinton.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also wondering about Israel’s alleged commitment to peace. On Tuesday he said “it was human nature to react to occupation,” following up with a comment on Wednesday regarding Israel’s “stifling” occupation of Palestine. Netanyahu reacted with his usual over the top rhetoric, stating that Ban “was encouraging terror.” One might also anticipate, as in the case of Wallstrom, a well-orchestrated media blitz questioning Ban’s motives or explaining how he has always been a closet anti-Semite. It is par for the course and fully expected when one criticizes Israel.

Indeed, it is a global phenomenon. Wherever one goes – Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States – there is a well-organized and funded lobby ready, willing and able to go to war to protect Israel. Most of the organizations involved take at least some direction from officials in Tel Aviv. Many of them even cooperate fully with the Israeli government, its parastatal organizations and faux-NGOs like the lawfare center Shurat HaDin. Their goal is to spread propaganda and influence the public in their respective countries of residence to either hew to the line coming out of Tel Aviv or to confuse the narrative and stifle debate when potential Israeli crimes are being discussed.

Israel’s diaspora allies are backed up by a formidable government organized machine that spews out disinformation and muddies the waters whenever critics surface. The Israeli Foreign Ministry has a corps of paid “volunteers” who monitor websites worldwide and take remedial action and there is a similar group working out of the Prime Minister’s office. That is why any negative story appearing in the U.S. about Israel is immediately inundated with pro-Israel comments, many of which make exactly the same coordinated points while exhibiting the same somewhat less than perfect English. On sites like Yahoo they are actually able to suppress unwelcome comments by flooding the site with “Dislike” responses. If a comment receives a large number of dislikes, it is automatically blocked or removed.

The sayanim, local Jews in their countries of residence, are essential to this process, having been alerted by emails from the Israeli Foreign Ministry about what to do and say. The reality is that Israel has lost the war of public opinion based on its own actions, which are becoming more and more repressive and even inhumane and so are difficult to explain. That means that the narrative has to be shifted by Israel’s friends through subterfuge and the corruption of the information process in each country. In some places the key media and political players who are engaged in the process can simply be bought. In other places they can be intimidated or pressured into taking positions that are neither in their own countries’ interests nor morally acceptable. In large countries like the United States, Britain and France a combination of friendly suasion and coercive elements often come together.

In all cases, the objective is the same: to repress or misrepresent any criticism of Israel and to block any initiatives that might be taken that would do damage either to the Israeli economy or to the country’s perceived standing in the world. In some countries Israel’s advocates work right out in the open and are highly successful in implementing policies that often remain largely hidden but that can be discerned as long as one knows what to look for.

Recent Israel Lobby activity in the United States has included legislation at state levels to make illegal divestment from Israel or to promote boycott of Israeli products. A trade pact with Europe will reportedly include language requiring the United States to take retaliatory action if any European country tries to boycott Israel, to include the West Bank settlements, which the empowering legislation regards as part of Israel proper.

Israel is also working to create a mechanism for global censorship of the internet to ban “incitement,” which clearly is a euphemism for material that is critical of its policies. Recently Facebook has begun to delete from its site any “hate speech” and “terrorism” related material but what has not been widely noted is that the apparent restrictions also have involved sites critical of Israel including Christians United for Peace.

Many prominent critics of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) are unaware that AIPAC exists in various forms in a number of other countries. BICOM , the Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre, is located in London. The French equivalent is the Conseil Representatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF). In Canada there is a Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) , in Australia a Zionist Federation of Australia and in New Zealand a Zionist Federation of New Zealand .

While AIPAC is specifically focused on the U.S.-Israel relationship, its counterparts in Europe often deal with a whole range of issues that they define as Jewish, but protecting Israel is always part of their agenda, particularly for those groups that label themselves as Zionist. The political power and financial muscle of the groups gives them access to government far beyond the actual numbers of their supporters. In France this has led to the legislation of hate crimes that de facto exist to protect Jews that have also been interpreted as limitations on one’s ability to criticize Israel. In its most recent test, a French court declared that a peaceful protest promoting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) directed against Israel was illegal.

Many believe that France now has less free speech than any other European country. Recently, the alleged humor magazine Charlie Hebdo, ran a revolting cartoon showing the little Syrian boy Alan Kurdi who drowned in Turkey last summer as all grown up and sexually assaulting a woman in Germany. There was considerable outrage throughout the world but no sign that the French government will do anything to prosecute the magazines since it was Muslims who were being ridiculed. Charlie Hebdo frequently insults Muslims (and also Christians) but rarely lampoons Jews.

Shomrim-600x347In Britain, Jewish organizations uniquely are allowed to patrol heavily Jewish neighborhoods in police-like uniforms while driving police type vehicles and there have been reports of their threatening Muslims who enter the areas. Prime Minister David Cameron’s government, which is responsive to a Conservative Friends of Israel lobbying group, has also done its part to create official barriers to any spread of the BDS movement. It is proposing legislation that will enable it to overrule decisions by local government councils that seek to cut business or investment ties with Israel and, more particularly, Israeli settlements, under the pretext that such action interferes with the conduct of foreign affairs. The British government is also considering its own brand of hate speech legislation, banning from social media any commentary that is considered to be anti-Semitic, which will almost certainly extend to criticism of Israel.

Canada’s government has also threatened to use hate speech laws to block criticism of Israel and forbid BDS related activity. Australia meanwhile, has ceased referring to east Jerusalem as “occupied” and is apparently leaning towards similar “non-pejorative” language relating to the militarized occupation of the West Bank, preferring the neocon favored dodge “disputed.” New Zealand has proposed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that specifically demand that participants “refrain from referring a situation… to the International Criminal Court,” which would effectively decriminalize war crimes committed by both sides during the two recent invasions of Gaza. As a United Nations investigation determined that Israel was disproportionately responsible for what did occur, the proposal eliminates accountability and is effectively a get out of jail free card for some Israeli government officials.

And so it goes. Criticize Israel and there will be a comeuppance by virtue of a highly developed international system that relies on government direction as well as volunteer supporters who are able to shape both the media message and the political response. Accepting that as a given, I suppose one should be proud of being called an anti-Semite every time the label is misapplied to stifle dissent, but it all sadly reflects a lowering of the discussion to a dirt level. This might just be because there is no justification for Israeli behavior. The fact is that in terms of systematic human rights violations Israel is something beyond an apartheid state, frequently engaging in open racism and, in the opinion of many observers, crimes against humanity. It is furthermore a persistent source of instability in the Middle East and even beyond.

Israel is a liability to the United States and to the European nations that it has successfully manipulated into acquiescence regarding its bad behavior. When AIPAC and its overseas clones act for Israel the host nations in which these organizations exist should recognize exactly what is taking place.  … Full article

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Iowa Peace Activist Facing Felony Charges for Breaking Northrup Grumman Windows

tumblr_inline_o19v0wowQ61r8ik8k_500

By Fran Quigley | Dissident Voice | February 9, 2016

Jessica Reznicek, 34, an Iowa peace activist, was arraigned yesterday and charged with two felonies for breaking three windows with a sledgehammer at the Northrup Grumman facility outside the Omaha Nebraska Strategic Air Command at Offut Air Force base.  After her court appearance she was returned to the Sarpy County Jail where she has remained on $100,000 bond since her action on December 27.  Reznicek, who has no plans to post a cash bond, is facing up to twenty years in prison if convicted on both counts. Her trial is set for May 24.

Writing from her jail cell, Reznicek, who has lived and worked at the Des Moines Catholic Worker for years, said she broke the windows as an act of conscience “in an effort to expose the details of the defense contracts currently held by Northrup Grumman with U.S. Strategic Air Command (STRATCOM) at Offutt Air Force Base. Over the years, billions of taxpayer dollars are pouring into the hands of these money-hungry, bomb-building, and computer geek space war criminals.”

Her letter continued, “Yes, glass did shatter. It shattered like the illusion that Northrop Grumman holds human life in any way in its best interest. It shattered like the illusion Iraq ever possessed weapons of mass destruction. It shattered like the illusion Iraqis were involved in 9/11. It shattered like the lie that perpetual war will ever bring peace. Glass shattered in the name of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives taken when Northrop Grumman/STRATCOM’s direct bombs from space rained down upon them from space. I destroyed two windows and a door, yes! STRATCOM with its cooperate partner Northrop Grumman destroys life in the tens of thousands.”

“My intention was to be on the property and to do property destruction, that’s what I wanted to do,” Reznicek told a local television reporter via a jailhouse phone interview. “I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I didn’t want to scare anybody.”

Why Northrup Grumman? Northrup Grumman has been manufacturing weapons and weapon systems for profit for the US government for decades. Its primary customer is the US government which accounts for about 85 percent of its total sales every year. The massive corporation spends $10 to $20 million each year lobbying Congress according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In return it is one of the very top recipients of federal contracts year after year.

In October 2015 Northrup Grumman received the biggest prize of all, a $55 billion contract from the US to build 21 long range strike bombers. According to the Secretary of the Air Force, these bombers will “allow the Air Force to launch an airstrike from the continental US to anywhere in the world.”

USA Today included Northrup Grumman in its list of the ten companies profiting the most from war. The corporation recently reported it generated $2.6 billion in income and earned a profit of 12.9%. Its CEO makes more than $21 million a year. Board members are paid over $250,000 each per year and include several who passed through the revolving door of government like one high-ranking twenty year Democratic member of Congress, a General who was appointed by President Bush to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and an Admiral who was Chief of Naval Operations under President Bush.

Even in jail, Reznicek remains hopeful. “I want to say now that I truly believe that the American people are done with war – done funding, killing and dying in U.S.-led wars and terrorism – and are ready to pave a path to peace.”

“I acted in accordance with my conscience and my spirit and that my property destruction was a useful form of nonviolent direct action. I do not stand in judgment of folks who feel uncomfortable using such methods. Nonetheless, I want to stand beside them, asking them to develop and apply their own means to expose the lies of Northrop Grumman & STRATCOM be it through education, research, writing letters, public discussions, public vigils, rallies and marches and yes, even civil disobedience.

“We all have our part to play. Here in the heartland of America we who seek peace must make efforts to dismantle the U.S. military dominance of space from the top down, by publicly and nonviolently resisting the joint Northrup Grumman and STRATCOM missions.

“This is why I acted. You do not have to act as radically or dramatically as I did, but please make a statement in your own way against government funded companies which focus on war and destruction.

I’ll sit in jail for as long as I need to if it gets people talking.”

Fran Quigley is clinical professor and director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law.

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 2 Comments

UN initiative to protect schools in war zones vetoed by Britain

RT | February 9, 2016

Britain has refused to sign up to a UN agreement on protecting schools in wartime, which has been signed by 51 states, despite the fact it was drawn up by a former UK military officer.

The agreement was championed by the UN children’s fund UNICEF to protect schools from attack during conflicts. It aimed to set out a “safe schools declaration” and provide guidelines for military forces.

However, it was reported on Tuesday by the Telegraph newspaper that Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond had effectively vetoed the move after having opposed it as head of two government departments.

Already signed by 51 nations, the initiative was developed in response to deadly attacks on schools in Syria and Yemen.

In a statement on Monday, Amnesty International senior crisis advisor Lama Fakih reported how schools were being targeted with deadly effect in Yemen, where a Sunni/Shia proxy war is currently being fought with Saudi and Iranian backing.

“The Saudi Arabia-led coalition launched a series of unlawful airstrikes on schools being used for educational – not for military – purposes, a flagrant violation of the laws of war,” she wrote.

“Schools are central to civilian life, they are meant to offer a safe space for children. Yemen’s young school pupils are being forced to pay the price for these attacks,” she added.

It was hoped Britain would be a leading voice in the campaign to protect schoolchildren and schools after the high-profile campaign against sexual violence in warzones led by Phillip Hammond’s predecessor William Hague and movie star Angelina Jolie.

But Britain, like the other permanent members of the UN Security Council, did not sign up.

It is rumored that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Foreign Office have been put off by fears of litigation given the volume of cases brought against the military for alleged crimes in the Iraq and Afghan occupations.

Initially it appears that of the three government departments whose support was needed only the MoD – then under Hammond – was resisting, while the Department for International Development (DFID) and Hague’s Foreign Office were supportive.

Hammond’s subsequent shift from defense to the Foreign Office is felt to have poisoned both the military and diplomatic ministries against the initiative, despite the fact the agreement was drawn up by a former British naval officer.

Steven Haines, who drew up the British military rulebook for the 2003 Iraq invasion, is now a professor of international law at the University of Greenwich.

He told the Telegraph of his disappointment at the government’s response to his proposals.

“The stumbling block was Philip Hammond at Defence,” he said.

“It’s very frustrating.

“There’s no way that I was going to draft something that would embarrass the British government.”

The declaration, which was launched in Norway in 2015, commits governments to six guidelines including one which prevents military forces for using from using active schools as military bases.

It was thought that if Britain signed up then its role as a trainer of foreign troops would help to engender respect for schools and schoolchildren among military forces globally.

A Foreign Office spokesman defended the move, telling the paper that while they “support the spirit of the initiative, we have concerns that the Guidelines do not mirror the exact language and content of International Humanitarian Law.

“Therefore the UK, along with several other countries, was not able to sign the Safe Schools Declaration in Oslo in May 2015,” the spokesman said.

Britain’s concern about future legal cases may spring from its controversial military support for regional ally Saudi Arabia in the Gulf theocracy’s war in Yemen.

That support has included both material backing, in the form of weapons and munitions traded by UK arms firms subject to government license, and the presence of British military personnel as advisors to the Saudi military.

The UK government maintains the military advisors are present in Saudi headquarters to ensure international law is followed.

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

French Media Uses Russian Footage to Show ‘Success’ of US Strikes in Syria

Sputnik – February 9, 2016

TV Channel France 2 showed footage of Russian airstrikes in Syria as the work of the US-led international coalition in a fight against Daesh (Islamic State).

While covering news from Syria and reporting about airstrikes against Daesh militants, France 2 showed footage first released by the Russian Defense Ministry.

According to Russian blogger Timofei Vasiliev, the news story said that Russian airstrikes hit civilian targets, as the Russians allegedly don’t use precision bombs, instead indiscriminately bombing everything in the area. Unlike the Russians, the French Air Force, which works as part of the US-led coalition, “successfully” bombed Daesh targets, France 2 said.

The French TV channel, however, couldn’t find any footage to prove their point, so it just used footage of Russian airstrikes to demonstrate the precision of Western missiles. No big deal, right?

First, the channel claimed the Russians were off target, while the Western coalition bombed the terrorists; then France 2 showed footage filmed by the Russian Air Force as the work of the US-led coalition. Awkward.

The use of the Russian Defense Ministry’s videos wasn’t a mistake as one might think, but a deliberate lie — the Russian text underneath the footage was deleted, while the video itself is identical to that of Russian airstrikes. Below are original footage provided by the Russian Defense Ministry:

A similar thing happened on November 19, 2015, when PBS NewsHour, a daily US-television news program, used the footage of Russian airstrikes in Syria, passing them off as US airstrikes.

Unlike the US-led airstrikes campaign, which doesn’t provide footage from their operations, the Russian Defense Ministry is always prompt to release video evidence showing what exactly happened to terrorists and how their operations unfolded. Instead of accusing the Russian Air Force of not being “precise” enough and not bombing Daesh, the Western-coalition should simply shoot its own videos. It can’t be that hard.

See also: US Media Shows Footage of Russian Airstrikes Passed Off as American

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Merkel Wants to Deploy NATO Forces to Turkish Coast

Sputnik – February 9, 2016

German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to send NATO troops to the Turkish coast in order to support Turkey in the fight against illegal trafficking. However, it is unclear whether the increased military presence is connected to the escalation of conflict in Syria, German newspaper Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten (DWN) reported.

Germany and Turkey will seek NATO’s mobilization in the fight against illegal trafficking on the Aegean coast, the newspaper wrote.

At the meeting of NATO defense ministers this week, they are planning to discuss “the extent to which NATO can be helpful in monitoring the situation at the sea and support the work of Frontex and the Turkish Coast Guard,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday after consultations with her Turkish colleague Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara.

Merkel also announced plans to carry out joint operations of German and Turkish police against “illegal border crossing” in Turkey. The operations will among others be aimed at examining how the work of the Turkish Coast Guard and the EU border agency Frontex can be better coordinated.

According to the newspaper, the real purpose of the new initiative and NATO’s stronger presence in the region, however, remains unclear.

The newspaper noted that Merkel has lately criticized Russia’s operation in northern Syria and blamed it for the emergence of a new wave of refugees. German Chancellor condemned the attacks of the Russian Air Force and the Syrian army near the city of Aleppo in unusually sharp words: “In recent days, we are not only alarmed, but also appalled at the human suffering for tens of thousands of people caused by bombings, primarily from the Russian side,” Merkel stated on Monday in Ankara after meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

Since the Syrian air campaign began last September, Russia has carried out thousands of sorties against terrorist targets, crippling Daesh’s infrastructure and eliminating numerous terrorists. Some Western media outlets have criticized Russia’s operations in Syria, claiming that the Russian Air Force strikes have resulted in the death of hundreds of peaceful civilians. However, these reports have not been confirmed by any actual evidence.

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment