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Israeli Society in the 21st Century

Review by Jim Miles | Palestine Chronicle | February 12, 2016

(Israeli Society in the 21st Century – Immigration, Inequality, and Religious Conflict. Calvin Goldscheider. Brandeis University Press, Waltham , Massachusetts. 2015.)

This work intrigued me as it is obviously supportive of the Israeli position in the Middle East and at a quick glance would illuminate something new about the state of Israel and the State of Israel. Unfortunately it does neither.

Calvin Goldscheider is a professor of sociology at Brown University, and unfortunately sociology from my experience is probably the weakest of the social sciences, is not a science at all really, and ranks beneath both political ‘science’ and economics as fields of rational study. My definition of sociology is that it is the art of taking something that could be explained through common sense and common language and transforming it into something pseudo-scientifically profound. This is done through the use of a particular lexicon, and the lengthy creation of repetitious and supposedly neutral academic explanations that are not academically tested.

Having said that it can be assumed that I would be a ‘hostile’ reviewer, but rather I was simply bored – until I arrived at the end where Goldscheider concludes “our exploration of emerging Israeli society by unpacking the influence of external factors.”


The boredom derives directly from Goldscheider’s methodology. As he states himself in the preface “The evidence presented in this book is primarily based on the official statistics of Israel located in the Statistical Abstracts of Israel of 2013 and 2014.” In a brief Appendix he reiterates this, saying “I have relied on the excellent statistical materials presented in yearbooks of the Central Bureau of Statistics [named above].”

In essence, he did nothing scientific, no original research, and performed only two tasks: first, writing out longhand all the statistics that would have been way better presented in graphic form (graphs of some kind); and secondly, writing out very poor analysis in lengthy terms that could have all been done with more basic language annotations under each graph.

The statistical information is obviously very comprehensive and covers many if not most aspects of life in Israel. The sociological lexicon makes any explanation of those statistics repetitive and lacking in common sense. Part of the effect of the sociological lexicon is the sterilization of the information, making it dispassionate, and a facade of intellectual rigor making the ordinary complex.

For example, Goldscheider writes,

“Vulnerability among Arab Israelis stems from the fact that segregations intensifies and magnifies any economic setback and builds deprivations structurally into the socioeconomic environment. The costs of segregation are exacerbated by the economic dependency of Arab Israelis.”

A rather fancy set of terms that seems to say that Arab Israelis are subject to racism. The definition is reiterated on the next page,

“Residential segregation is a structural condition, making deprived communities more likely; combined with social class disadvantage, ethnic segregation concentrates income deprivation in small areas and generates structural discrimination.”

It doesn’t sound like racism, doesn’t look like racism, but if translated into common English, it is racism with all that implies for laws, policing, and opportunities.

Narratives, Lies, and Mythology…

Occasionally within the writing there are short moments of lies, sterilized commentary, and the traditional Israeli narrative. They are not truly surprising but do allow glimpses of how the Israeli narrative can be carried forward so easily in a pseudo-scientific manner:

(1)The Jewish migrants were “working in agriculture to develop barren wastelands.” Not true.

(2) In 1948, “there was an exodus of Arab residents…as territorial control was transferred ….” A good sterilized narrative.

(3) The Jewish migrant is a “fact that Jews returning to the state of Israel descended from ancestors who had not lived there for almost 2,000 years.” Essentially mythological without the scientific proof that a ‘science’ should demand.

(4) “…administered territories [do not imply] long term possession or control…since there was a clear recognition that control was “administrative,” not ideological.” This goes against all historical records in particular from Zionists wanting all of Eretz Israel for their homeland.

(5) Further, “The control is political and firmly anchored in history, religion, and legitimacy.” Yes, political, but mainly military, and also economic. Yes, anchored in history, the history of military wars against the Arab indigenous populations. Legitimacy is part of the religious narrative of which the author says the territory is “named by its Hebrew-Judaic origins is part of a gift of God to the Jewish people.” This could lead to many arguments about the biblical legitimacy, as it does internally within Israeli Jews, and externally.

But accepted that it is “god given” could it not also be “god taken?” Are the current possessors of the land living the will of a just and peaceful god or a god of retribution and violence?

(6) Finally – but not completely – the author mentions “forays from Israel to population centers in Gaza have become routine and costly in human lives, property, economic growth, and trust between neighbors.” Forays!! Umm, perhaps full out military invasions with aerial support from Apache helicopters and fighter jets. Costly – obviously – but trust? The latter is not even to be considered between Israel and Gaza as witnesses from the manner in which Gaza has been made into an open air prison/concentration camp.

Either way, not good.

Even if you are an ardent Jewish Zionist supporter, this is not a good read. It would be much better to go to the Israeli statistical records that are referenced and simply read them. It will save much time and agony from trying to read through a sociological lexicon that speaks volumes but says little.

Along with the poor writing, Israeli Society in the 21st Century provides poor analysis and sterilizes the Israeli narrative of occupation and settlement, not surprising considering its origins.

– Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles’ work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Book Review, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , | 2 Comments

Is Fukushima’s nuclear nightmare over? Don’t count on it

By Christopher Busby – RT – March 12, 2016

On the 5th Anniversary of the catastrophe, Prof Geraldine Thomas, the nuclear industry’s new public relations star, walked through the abandoned town of Ohkuma inside the Fukushima exclusion zone with BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

Thomas was described as “one of Britain’s leading experts on the health effects of radiation”. She is of the opinion that there is no danger and the Japanese refugees can come back and live there in the “zone”. Her main concern seemed to be how untidy it all was: “Left to rack and ruin,” she complained, sadly.

At one point, Rupert pulled out his Geiger counter and read the dose: 3 microSieverts per hour. “How much radiation would it give in a year to people who came back here,” he asked. Thomas replied: “About an extra milliSievert a year, which is not much considering you get 2mSv a year from natural background”.

“The long term impact on your health would be absolutely nothing.”

Now anyone with a calculator can easily multiply 3 microSieverts (3 x 10-6 Sv) by 24 hours and 365 days. The answer comes out to be 26 mSv (0.026Sv), not “about 1mSv” as the “leading expert on the health effects of radiation” reported.

I must personally ask if Gerry Thomas is a reliable expert; her CV shows she has published almost nothing in the way of original research, so we must ask how it is the BBC has taken her seriously.

This recalled the day the first reactor exploded in 2011. I was in London, and the BBC asked me to come into the studio and comment. Also present was a nuclear industry apologist, Dr Ian Fells. Like Geraldine Thomas he seemed unconcerned about the radiation: the main problem for him was that the lifts would not work. People would have to climb stairs, he complained.

I said then on that first day that this was a serious accident like Chernobyl, but he and everybody who followed him told the viewers that it was no problem, nothing like Chernobyl.

Some months later, looking back, it became clear I was correct on every point, but I never was invited back to the BBC. I visited Japan, took sophisticated measuring equipment, obtained vehicle air filters, spoke to the Japanese people and advised them to take Calcium tablets to block the Strontium-90.

My vehicle air filter measurements showed clearly that large areas of north east Japan were seriously contaminated – including Tokyo. This was too much for the nuclear industry: I was attacked in the Guardian newspaper by pro-nuclear George Monbiot in an attempt to destroy my credibility. One other attacker was Geraldine Thomas. What she said then was as madly incorrect then as what she is saying now. But the Guardian would not let me respond.

The important evidence for me in the recent BBC clip is the measurement of dose given by Rupert’s Geiger counter: 3microSieverts per hour (3Sv/h). Normal background in Japan (I know, I measured it there) is about 0.1Sv/h. So in terms of external radiation, Ruperts’s measurement gave 30 times normal background.

Is this a problem for human health? You bet it is. The question no-one asked is what is causing the excess dose? The answer is easy: radioactive contamination, principally of Caesium-137. On the basis of well-known physics relationships we can say that 3Sv/h at 1m above ground represents a surface contamination of about 900,000Bq per square metre of Cs-137. That is, 900,000 disintegrations per second in one square metre of surface: and note that they were standing on a tarmac road which appeared to be clean. And this is 5 years after the explosions. The material is everywhere, and it is in the form of dust particles which can be inhaled; invisible sparkling fairy-dust that kills hang in the air above such measurements.

The particles are not just of Caesium-137. They contain other long lived radioactivity, Strontium-90, Plutonium 239, Uranium-235, Uranium 238, Radium-226, Polonium-210, Lead-210, Tritium, isotopes of Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iodine, Cerium, Cobalt 60. The list is long.

The UN definition of ‘radioactively contaminated land’ is 37,000Bq/square meter, and so, on the basis of the measurement made by the BBC reporter, the town of Ohkuma in the Fukushima zone (and we assume everywhere else in the zone) is still, five years after the incident, more than 20 times the level where the UN would, and the Soviets did, step in and control the population.

But the Japanese government wants to send the people back there. It is bribing them with money and housing assistance. It is saying, like Gerry Thomas, there is no danger. And the BBC is giving this misdirection a credible platform. The argument is based on the current radiation risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection the ICRP.

Last month, my German colleagues and I published a scientific paper [2] in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Health and Toxicology. It uses real-world data from those exposed to the same substances that were released by Fukushima to show that the ICRP model is wrong by 1,000 times or more. This is a game-changing piece of research. But were we asked to appear on the BBC, or anywhere else? No. What do our findings and calculations suggest will have happened in the five years since the explosions and into the future? Let’s take a look at what has happened since 2011.

The reactors are still uncontrolled five years after the explosions and continue to release their radioactive contents to the environment despite all attempts to prevent this. Concerning the melted fuel, there is no way to assess the condition or specific whereabouts of the fuel though it is clearly out of the box and in the ground.

Meanwhile, robots fail at the extremely high radiation levels found; ground water flowing through the plant is becoming contaminated and is being pumped into storage tanks for treatment; high radiation levels and debris have delayed the removal of spent fuel from numbers 1, 2 and 3 reactor buildings. TEPCO plans to remove debris from reactor 3 and this work has begun. Then they are hoping to remove the fuel rods out of reactors 1 and 2 by 2020 and the work on removing debris from these 2 reactors has not begun yet.

Much of the radioactivity goes into the sea, where it travels several hundreds of km. up and down the coast, destroying sea life and contaminating intertidal sediment. The radionuclides bind to fine sediment and concentrate in river estuaries and tidal areas like Tokyo Bay. Here the particles are re-suspended and brought ashore to be inhaled by those living within 1km of the coast.

From work done by my group for the Irish government on the contaminated Irish Sea we know that this exposure will increase the rate of cancer in the coastal inhabitants by about 30 percent.

The releases have not been stopped despite huge amounts of work, thought and action. The treated water is still highly radioactive and cannot yet be released.

That is a real problem on site with three heavy spent fuel pools still full and largely inaccessible. Collapse of the buildings would lead to coolant loss and a fire or even an explosion releasing huge amounts of radioactivity. So this is one nightmare scenario: Son of Fukushima. A solid wall at the port side may have slowed the water down but diverting the water may cause problems with the ground water pressure on site and thus also threaten subsidence. Space for storing the radioactive water is running out and it seems likely that this will have to be eventually spilled into the Pacific.

Only 10 percent of the plant has been cleaned up although there are 8,000 workers on site at any one time, mostly dealing with the contaminated water. Run-off from storms brings more contamination down the rivers from the mountains.

There are millions of 1-ton container bags full of radioactive debris and other waste which has been collected in decontamination efforts outside the plant and many of these bags are only likely to last a handful of years before degrading and spilling their contents. Typhoons will spread this highly contaminated contents far and wide.

Let’s look at the only real health data which has emerged to see if it gives any support to my original estimate of 400,000 extra cancers in the 200km radius. Prof Tsuda has recently published a paper in the peer review literature identifying 116 thyroid cancers detected over 3 years by ultrasound scanning of 380,000 0-18 year olds.

The background rate is about 0.3 per 100,000 per year, so in three years we can expect 3.42 thyroid cancers. But 116 were found, an excess of about 112 cases. Geraldine says that these were all found because they looked: but Tsuda’s paper reports that an ultrasound study in Nagasaki (no exposures) found zero cases, and also an early ultrasound study also found zero cases. So she is wrong. The thyroid doses were reported to be about 10mSv. On the basis of the ICRP model, that gives an error of about 2000 times.

From the results of our new genetic paper we can safely predict a 100 percent increase in congenital malformations in the population up to 200km radius.

In an advanced technological country like Japan these will be picked up early by ultrasound and aborted, so we will not actually see them, even if there were data we could trust. What we will see is a fall in the birth rate and an increase in the death rate because we know what has been happening and what will happen; we have seen it before in Chernobyl. And just like Chernobyl, the (Western) authorities are influenced by or take their lead from the nuclear industry: the ICRP and the International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA) which since 1959 has taken over from the World Health Organization as the responsible authority for radiation and health (Yes!).

They keep the lid on the truth using ill-informed individuals like Geraldine Thomas and, by analogy with New Labour: New BBC. Increasingly I could say “New Britain” as opposed the Great Britain of my childhood, a country I was proud of where you could trust the BBC. I wonder how the reporters like Rupert can live with themselves presenting such misguided information.

Fukushima is far from being over, and the deaths have only just begun.



2. Genetic Radiation Risks-A Neglected Topic in the Low Dose …

Christopher Busby is an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation. He qualified in Chemical Physics at the Universities of London and Kent, and worked on the molecular physical chemistry of living cells for the Wellcome Foundation. Professor Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk based in Brussels and has edited many of its publications since its founding in 1998. He has held a number of honorary University positions, including Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health of the University of Ulster. Busby currently lives in Riga, Latvia. See also:, and

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Nuclear Power, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 2 Comments

Is the Media an Accomplice in Drone Murders?

By Emran Feroz – teleSUR – March 11, 2016

Since 2001, the United States has been killing people with weaponized drones, most times not knowing the identities of the victims.

The victims of drone strikes are nameless and invisible, despite the fact that most of them are civilians.

The Pentagon announced this week that more than 150 al-Shabab fighters have been killed by a U.S. drone strike in Somalia. The Pentagon spokesmen repeatedly talked about “fighters” and “terrorists” which “posed an imminent threat to the U.S.” But as usual, he offered no proof of his claims.

This kind of language has become normalized when it comes to the U.S. drone war, which is not just taking place in Somalia, but also in countries like Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. What is significant regarding the regular attacks in these countries is the media coverage. In fact, it practically does not exist. The many victims of drone strikes are nameless and invisible. And if they appear in any media reports, all of them are completely dehumanized and described as “terrorists,” “suspected militants” or any other similar euphemism.

This was also the case after the latest strike in Somalia, a country the U.S. is officially not at war with. Shortly after the Pentagon’s announcement, many news outlets adopted the U.S. government’s version of the incident. The New York Times, for example, wrote about the killing of “150 fighters who were assembled for what American officials believe was a graduation ceremony.” “Militants” was also the term the Washington Post used to describe all the victims. It is necessary to point out that many other well-known media outlets from all over the world did the very same thing. As usual, there was a huge lack of any critical scrutinizing. Instead, media once again became a mouthpiece of the U.S. government by quoting its military officials and spreading their one-sided views constantly.

Since 2001, the United States has been killing people with weaponized drones, most times not knowing the identity of the victims. As of today, at least 6,000 people have been killed by these drone strikes. According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, only 4 percent of drone victims in Pakistan were identified as a-Qaida members. But vastly more than 2,000 people have been killed there by drones during the last years.

Another country which is suffering heavily under drone strikes is Afghanistan, the most drone bombed country in the world. Between 2001 and 2013, 1,670 drone strikes took place in the country. It was in the city of Kandahar, the Taliban’s former stronghold, where the first strike by a weaponized drone took place in October 2001. The target, Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, was not killed on this day, but many other unknown people have been in the years since.

One of these people was Sadiq Rahim Jan, a 21-year-old food vendor from Paktia, eastern Afghanistan. He was murdered by a drone strike in July 2012. A few days later, media outlets in Kabul described him as a “Taliban commander.” The family members of Aisha Rashid have also been killed by a drone strike. The Afghan girl was four years old when a missile hit the pick-up of her family in Kunar, also in the east of the country. Fourteen passengers, including Aisha’s parents, were murdered. Only she survived – barely – with a ragged face. Initially, all the victims were described as “militants” by Afghan government officials and local media outlets.

Tariq Aziz, from North Waziristan shared a similar destiny. The 16-year-old anti-drone activist was killed by a drone strike in November 2011, together with his 12-year-old cousin Waheed. Unlike the case of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pashtun girl which was nearly killed by a member of the Pakistani Taliban and received a Nobel Peace Prize, Tariq’s case is widely unknown.

In all the mentioned cases, as well as many other, significant media coverage was nonexistent – or it described the victims as terrorists, extremists, militants, al-Qaida members, and so on. This is happening on a daily basis and there are also reasons why it is happening.

In the case of Sadiq, for example, his family became outraged after they noticed that local media outlets described their son and brother as a “Taliban commander.” On that day, the young Afghan was the only person who has been killed in the area. He never had any connection with any insurgent group, not to mention being a commander of them. One of the media outlets which spread these news was Radio Azadi, an Afghan branch of the US government’s external broadcast services. It should be more than obvious that the main aim of such a media platform is not spreading objective information.

Another example for this behaviour is Tolo TV, Afghanistan’s leading mainstream television channel. Last year, the channel’s news website reported that in July 2015 drone strikes in the eastern province of Nangarhar killed “nearly 250 Taliban and Daesh [Islamic State] insurgents.” The main source for this “reporting” was the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the Afghan intelligence service, which was built by the U.S. in the first days of the NATO invasion.

Tolo TV was created in 2004 by Saad Mohseni, an Afghan businessman who is being called an “Afghan Rupert Murdoch” and is considered one of the most powerful men in Afghanistan. The channel’s creation was mainly funded by the notorious United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is widely known as one of the most important foreign policy tools of the White House.

In general, one can assume that many media outlets in Afghanistan were not created to support journalism and press freedom but to install media institutions who can be useful to represent particular interests. This is also the case in other countries which suffer from drone strikes.

Noor Behram, an investigative journalist from Northern Waziristan, is known for taking pictures of the drone murder scenes and spreading the victims’ faces. After Behram talked with journalists from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital, he experienced that for them, a beard, long hair and a turban or a pakol, a traditional Afghan cap, is enough to describe male drone victims as “terrorists.” But nearly every man in this area looks like that. According to this logic, everyone, even myself when I am staying there, must be a terrorist.

Besides, Behram’s results fit into Washington’s practice that all military-aged males in a strike zone are considered as “militants.”

The U.S. and its allies needed propaganda organs to construct and justify their war on a medial level. Despite the question if this is moral or not, one should agree that it is also very logical because every war is based on propaganda – it was always like that and probably will never change.

But what remains is the question why so many people still believe such a biased media coverage and its constructed narrative of a good war which is only hitting the bad guys.

Emran Feroz is an Afghan-Austrian journalist, writer and activist currently based in Germany. He is the founder of Drone Memorial, a virtual memorial for civilian drone strike victims.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Who Owns American Skies: the People or the Skyjacking Airlines?

By Ralph Nader | March 11, 2016

That’s a question currently being asked by legislators in the halls of Congress. Without a muscular pushback from the public, the big airlines could claim the American airspace as their own to tax and regulate, without any significant compensation to the American taxpayer and no oversight from elected officials. Talk about getting skyjacked!

An amendment in the 273-page FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) reauthorization bill―  H.R. 4441 ―currently moving through Congress means to remove air traffic control from the authority of the FAA and hand it over to a private, not-for-profit corporation. This new corporate-controlled body would be responsible for the over 50,000 flights that take off each day without any input from Congress or the American people. The Washington Post reports: “The House bill to create the federally chartered corporation would transfer about 38,000 federal workers, including 14,000 controllers who now work for the Federal Aviation Administration.” This amounts to a staggering nearly 80 percent of the FAA’s workforce. It would also give away billions of dollars’ worth of air traffic controller equipment to this private body.

Spearheading the charge for air traffic control privatization is House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) who states that his bill, called the Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization [AIRR] Act, will lead to the “transformational improvements we need in order to modernize our nation’s aviation system.” Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Rep. Shuster is the top recipient in the House of Representatives of airline industry contributions, and has even admitted to being involved “personally” with a top lobbyist from Airlines for America, a trade association representing most of the major airlines, which is a leading advocate for air traffic control privatization.

This old song and dance routine might sound familiar to those who have paid attention over the years to the corporate-funded propaganda campaign that aims to convince the public that corporations can manage and deliver services more efficiently and at less cost than democratically-controlled governments.

One chief criticism against the current air traffic control system is a $40 billion FAA modernization program known as “NextGen” that is behind schedule. However, implementing a seismic shift in airspace authority is choosing to solve a problem that isn’t causing any major issues for travelers – the air transportation system – as it is not fundamentally broken, and the United States has the safest air travel in the world, which is remarkable when you consider that it is also the most active and most complex system in the world. Under this new plan, air traffic control navigation would shift from a ground-based radar system to a new, satellite-based method.

“Running a science experiment with the most complex airspace in the world comes with a lot of risk, including the uncertain futures of thousands of workers at FAA,” said Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) at a House Transportation Committee panel on Thursday. (The airline-industry dominated panel approved the bill on a 32-26 vote and it will move on to the House floor.)

Most of the major airlines are, not surprisingly, in support of this new measure with one notable holdout―Delta Airlines. Delta released a study that found that “Travelers could have to cover 20-29 percent higher costs if the U.S. moves to a private ATC [air traffic control] organization.” Advocates for privatization often cite the privatized air traffic control systems of Canada and the United Kingdom as models to aspire to. According to Delta’s study however, during the first six years of implementation of the private model, “Canada saw an additional 59 percent increase on ATC-related fees. In the United Kingdom, ATC fees rose 30 percent.”

With potential higher costs to travelers, not to mention the risk of transitioning to a new un-tried and untested satellite system, what exactly is the American flying public gaining from this deal?

In an op-ed in USA Today, Captain Steve Dickson, senior vice president of flight operations for Delta Airlines, writes: “It just doesn’t make sense to remove the system responsible for the safe operation of our skies from the safety oversight of the FAA. The FAA is the gold standard against which every other nation’s airspace is measured. Do we have more work to do to improve the efficiency of our nation’s airspace? Yes. Is privatizing the answer? No.”

With a March 31st deadline looming to reauthorize funding for the FAA, Congress must either pass a new bill or extend the current legislation. This must-act scenario is like blood in the water to the privatization sharks that see an opportunity to reap even greater profits out of America’s skies.

Call (202-224-3121) and write your member of Congress and let them know that corporatizing America’s air traffic control system is a bad deal for the flying public.

For more information see

Ralph Nader is a leading consumer advocate, the author of Unstoppable The Emerging Left Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State (2014), among many other books, and a four-time candidate for US President.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | Leave a comment

Russia says no to Syrian federalization as former NATO commander talks partition

RT | March 12, 2016

While media rumors claim that Moscow sees a post-crisis Syria as a federalized state, Russia denies holding such an opinion. At the same time, a ‘plan B’ mentioned by John Kerry to break up the Arab country has gained backing from an ex-NATO commander.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Russia was engaged in talks with other global powers on the possibility of turning Syria into a federal state.

“While insisting on retaining the territorial integrity of Syria, so continuing to keep it as a single country, of course there are all sorts of different models of a federal structure that would, in some models, have a very, very loose center and a lot of autonomy for different regions,” a diplomatic source at the UN Security Council told the agency.

However, the Kremlin responded by saying that no such talks were on the table – a message that was emphasized by Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Saturday.

“That is total nonsense. We are not voicing such ideas; they must come from the Syrians themselves – it is up to them to discuss and agree on such things,” deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov said, as cited by TASS.

Bogdanov added that, from Russia’s point of view, it is better to maintain Syria’s territorial integrity and keep its people intact.

Meanwhile, the discussion in the US has moved further than mere federalization.

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe James Stavridis wrote in his article for the journal Foreign Policy that dividing Syria into three parts – an Alawite state, a Sunni state, and a Kurdish state – is a viable idea.

“Despite the negatives, partitions can be used with good effect to move warring parties to opposite sides of the battle space. For a population that is already almost 50 percent displaced, frankly, there is not much to lose,” Stavridis wrote.

“A partition could provide a simple chance to leave a refugee camp or avoid a long and dangerous trek to an asylum state — in effect creating the elusive ‘safe zones’ that the international community has yet to put in place,” the retired US navy admiral added.

The expert echoed US State Secretary John Kerry, who said that Syria could be partitioned as a “Plan B” in the event that the ceasefire fails.

“It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer,” Kerry told the US Senate foreign relations committee on February 23.

Stavridis, however, says that because of the risk of Sunni extremists seizing large territories and Russia’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad, the most likely scenario includes a “combined campaign to defeat the Islamic State and a federal system allowing a high degree of local autonomy.”

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem rejected a peaceful solution based on the federalization of the country, Xinhua News reported on Saturday.

His comments came as a new round of UN-brokered talks between the Syrian government and opposition are to be launched in Geneva on Monday. The parties are set to discuss the creation of a new Syrian constitution and government, as well as parliamentary and presidential elections.

Moallem also said that the Syrian government would not discuss the possibility of Assad stepping down.

“We will not talk to anyone who talks about the position of the presidency,” Foreign Minister Walid Moualem said during a televised news conference in Damascus, Reuters reports. “I advise them that if this is their thinking, they shouldn’t come to the talks. They must abandon these delusions.”

The Syrian opposition accused Damascus of putting the talks in jeopardy by making such a statement.

“Moualem is stopping Geneva before it starts,” Monzer Makhous, a member of the opposition’s High Negotiations Committee, said.

On February 22, President Assad called for new parliamentary elections to be held on April, 13, 2016. This came just hours after Moscow and Washington announced that they had worked out a ceasefire plan for the Arab country, which was implemented four days later.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Cruz Thinks That Egypt’s President El-Sisi is Doing a Great Job

teleSUR | March 11, 2016

ausedcarIf we were unclear what kind president Ted Cruz would be if he won the race to the White House, his recent comments on who he considers a good role model leave little room for doubt.

The Texas Senator expressed his admiration for the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has imprisoned thousands of journalists and protesters and has unleashed a brutal police force, as an “example” of a Muslim ally.

“Let me give you an example of a Muslim, for example, we ought to be standing with,” Think Progress reports Cruz said at a campaign rally in Miami. “President el-Sisi of Egypt, a president of a Muslim country who is targeting radical Islamic terrorists,” he added.

But Cruz is no fair-weather friend to the blood-stained Egyptian president, he mentioned his admiration for el-Sisi last year.

“Why don’t we see the president of the United States demonstrating that same courage [as el-Sisi] just to speak the truth about the face of evil we’re facing right now?” Cruz asked during the first Republican presidential debate last year.

In February, charges were dropped against a four-year-old in Egypt. He had been sentenced to life for four counts of murder, eight counts of attempted murder, vandalizing state property during protests in January 2014, when the boy was 16-months-old.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

A Video That Every Potential Juror Should See

By Jay Stanley – ACLU – March 11, 2016

Last year I wrote about “acting and directing with police body cameras” — how police officers are likely to increasingly learn to manipulate the photographic record that their cameras create. A stark case study in that kind of manipulation can be found in video of a 2014 arrest in Florida that was released in January and recently came to my attention. It’s the kind of video that everyone should watch in order to become sophisticated and properly skeptical consumers of video evidence.

There are two videos of the arrest: footage from a nearby surveillance camera, and footage from a body camera worn by one of the officers. I could describe the video but it’s short, so I suggest you just watch it before reading further. A local NBC affiliate produced this 70-second produced package with explanatory voiceover, and the raw surveillance camera and bodycam footage is also online.

It’s hard to imagine what more a suspect could do to avoid being beaten by the police. Derrick Price not only puts his hands high in the air, he then proceeds to lie spread-eagle on the pavement before any of the Marion County sheriff’s deputies reach him. And yet the deputies beat him. What appears to be taking place in this video (as in many others, including the granddaddy of them all, the Rodney King video) is that police officers, angry at a suspect for fleeing (and perhaps disobeying previous orders to stop), have taken it upon themselves to punish the suspect for that disobedience. Punishment for crimes, including fleeing arrest and failure to obey a lawful order, is something we leave to the criminal justice system, which for all its problems has more due process procedures than the whims of angry policemen. The fact that five officers fell upon Price without hesitation or question suggests that such beatings may be routine. As I’ve written elsewhere, one of the things the video revolution in policing may be doing is exposing a disconnect between what a significant number police officers appear to view as standard, acceptable practice in dealing with suspects, and what the larger public views as proper and acceptable.

But the main reason I think this is a video everyone should watch is that the view provided by the surveillance camera is strikingly different from — and clearer than — the view provided by the body camera. The surveillance camera is higher up and, unlike the bodycam, captures the wide-angle of the scene. This is an important reminder of the limitations of cameras worn on the body of officers who are in the thick of the action.

But the difference between the two videos is also a result of intentional manipulation by the officers beating Price, who repeatedly yell “stop resisting!” as they kick and punch his unmoving body. And the body camera never properly captures the beating of Price, actually facing fully away from the action at some points. It is hard to tell how intentional this was on the part of the officer wearing the camera, but it’s easy to imagine that the officer knew that what his colleagues were doing was not acceptable, and intentionally sought to avoid videotaping them.

This tactic of yelling “stop resisting” when assaulting people who are not resisting appears repeatedly in videos from all across the country, which makes one suspect that the tactic is openly discussed and shared among police officers—and that this kind of abuse is disturbingly widespread.

Two other notes on the situation: first, while this video was finally released in compliance with Florida’s open-records law, it was kept secret for 16 months, an unjustifiably long time. Second, I would note that the camera was turned on very late into the incident, and turned off too early. Since this arrest followed a SWAT raid and a chase, under any good policy the officer’s camera should have been turned on long before the beating of Price began, and should have continued (as I discuss here and as we recommend) until “the encounter has fully concluded and the law enforcement officer leaves the scene.”

In our model policy we recommend strong action against officers who intentionally obstruct or interfere with their body cameras’ ability to accurately capture video, including a) appropriate departmental disciplinary action, b) a rebuttable evidentiary presumption in favor of defendants who reasonably claim that exculpatory evidence was destroyed or not captured, and c) a similar presumption in favor of plaintiffs suing over police misconduct.

Price was very lucky, and the officers unlucky, that the arrest took place in clear view of a surveillance camera. If the bodycam footage was the only evidence, the deputies’ subsequent lies about Price’s alleged violent resistance to his arrest would almost certainly have been believed.

At the same time, for those skeptical of body cameras it’s worth noting that he would likely have been no worse off with only the bodycamera video than he would have been with no video at all. Or, if every officer at the scene wore a camera, the situation would likely have also been clear — or, with the deputies knowing they were being recorded, wouldn’t have happened at all.

But it did, and the divergence between the two video streams that captured the arrest serves as an important lesson and reminder of the limits of video evidence, as well as the need for skepticism toward police accounts of what such videos portray.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

Elizabeth May’s distorted understanding of crisis in Syria

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By Eva Bartlett | American Herald Tribune | March 11, 2016

Canadian Green Party leader, Elizabeth May, puts forth such a distorted understanding of Syria that she has either fallen prey to the corporate media’s false rendition of Syria, or she is towing the line for political gain. In either case, the rhetoric she has employed over the past five years has gone from dismaying to appalling, considering that we are not in the early “confusing” months of the war on Syria, we are five years in, and the anti-Syria lexicon she repeats has long been discredited.

In June 2011, May’s Green Party described the situation in Syria as a “pro-democracy uprising,” and called for “more robust sanctions to include an international trade and energy embargo and not just sanctions against specific individuals and Syrian security organizations.”

Apparently the Iraq lesson—wherein 1.7 million Iraqis died as a “direct result of the genocidal sanctions” (source)—is not relevant to May. She would do well to read the Lancet’s report, “Syria: end sanctions and find a political solution to peace,” as of May 2015:

“The cost of basic food items has risen six-fold since 2010, although it varies regionally. With the exception of drugs for cancer and diabetes, Syria was 95 percent self-sufficient in terms of drug production before the war. This has virtually collapsed as have many hospitals and primary health-care centres.

Economic sanctions have not removed the President: … only civilians are in the line of fire, attested to by the dire state of household and macro-economies. Sanctions are among the biggest causes of suffering for the people of Syria.”

Perhaps May doesn’t care about the effects of sanctions on the Syrian people, but instead supports the US plan to destabilize Syria through various means, including sanctions, as noted even in 2005:

“As an alternative to direct military intervention to topple the Syrian government, the United States chose to pressure Damascus through sanctions and support for the internal Syrian opposition.”

As for the “pro-democracy uprising,” it has thoroughly been revealed to have been an armed insurrection from the very earliest protests, with sectarian chants and killings occurring by the so-called “democracy-loving” “unarmed” protesters from the very first months. The CIA has a long history of supporting such violence in Syria.  For more on this, and the mythology on Syria in general, see my extensively-linked earlier article, “Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria.”

Vilifying Assad and Russia; Silence on Turkey, Sauds

In October 2015, after Russia had been invited by the Syrian government to fight terrorists in Syria, May issued a statement condemning Russian airstrikes, stating bizarrely: “The bombing by Russian forces within Syria of rebel groups trained by the CIA under cover of a claim their target is ISIS brings into sharp relief the perils of air strikes against one rebel group in a civil war.”

She is upset that Russian strikes also target al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria, who she admits were CIA-trained? She continues with the “civil war” refrain?

Fellow Canadian and journalist Mark Taliano, in a January 2016 article noted:

“There are no “moderate” terrorists.  The mercenaries are all being paid and enabled by the West and its allies, including Turkey (a NATO member),Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan.”

Later in the article, Taliano pointed out:

“Assad – … is defending his country from foreign terrorists, not “killing his own people” – the Western invaders are killing Assad’s people.”

In a February 23, 2016 post, May again referred to Russia’s role in Syria, stating it is “legitimized by US and its allies own bombing campaigns”. Apparently May, a lawyer, misunderstood the legalities of both parties roles in Syria. The US-led coalition’s violations of Syrian airspace are in contradiction to international law. Russia’s presence, on the other hand, is not in violation of international law: Russia was invited by the Syrian government.

In the post, May on the one hand acknowledged that Western intervention in Iraq and Libya have been the cause of the subsequent chaos that continues to this day in those countries, while on the other hand still voiced lexicon and arguments which endorse intervention in Syria.

This is May’s (2016) nutshell interpretation of the war on Syria:

“Syria is a giant mess of competing nasty forces. The government (if one can still call it that) is run by a brutal dictator Bashar Al-Assad. Assad is supported by Iran and Hezbollah, while Al-Qaeda, al-Nusra, and ISIS want to over-turn Assad. Saudi Arabia is reported to be supporting ISIS. Russia supports Assad and is using its access to bombing, legitimized by US and its allies own bombing campaigns, to hit hard at Assad’s enemies – whether they are ISIS or not.”

Overlooking the childish terminology she employed, in the entire post, the only mention of the nefarious Saudi role in Syria is this one passing reference, of the Wahhabi kingdom being “reported to be supporting ISIS”. Why is May wilfully overlooking the deeply-entrenched role of the Saudis in funding, training, and brainwashing Wahhabi mercenaries to kill in Syria?

Regarding her, “Assad’s enemies—whether they are ISIS or not”— May seems to be attempting to convey that long-dead myth that there are “moderate” terrorist-rebels. The reality is that Russia and Syria are fighting Da’esh (ISIS), al-Nusra, FSA and any other terrorist factions warring against the Syrian state and people.

Further on in the post May disingenuously suggested, “We could do more to stop the flow of weapons and money to ISIS through its black market activities,” but again failed to mention Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, ‘Israel’ or the CIA ties to, and support of, ISIS and like terrorists.

By continuing (five years on) to claim the war on Syria is a “civil war” and its president a “brutal dictator”, May is feeding the line-of-logic that the only way to bring peace to Syria is the removal of its elected president and the supporting of Wahhabi-backed “opposition”—who themselves could not even come to an agreement to attend the last (Feb 2016) Geneva talks, which Syrian government representatives did, in contrast.

Following the collapse of those talks, Syria’s ambassador to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Ja’afari, clearly explained that fault lay with the Saudis and their “opposition” puppets, and with the UN itself.

In a February 16 briefing, he explained that de Mistura had told the Ambassador he had “decided to suspend the talks because he knew earlier that the Riyadh group decided to withdraw from Geneva before even engaging in the indirect talks.”

In contrast, according to al-Ja’afari, “the delegation of the Syrian Arab Republic was the only delegation to engage twice with the special envoy. … We didn’t know how many delegations there should be there. We didn’t know the names. In the last couple hours before we left Geneva, the deputy of Mr. de Mistura came to me at the hotel and gave me a partial list of names, not the full list of names….” Yet the media blamed Syria, unsurprisingly, and not the Wahhabi “opposition”.

Secular Syria; Women-Strong

Bizarrely, May’s February 2016 post acknowledged that that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was secular, its “cabinet included women and had no Islamist doctrine,” but failed to recognize that of secular Syria, whose leadership includes:

-Numerous women (including, but not all of): Vice President, Dr. Najah al-Attar, also Minister of Culture, a Sunni with a Western education and a PhD. Political and Media Advisor to the Syrian President, Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, also Sunni and holding a PhD, Western-educated; former Minister of Tourism, Lamia Assi (also former Minister of Economy and Trade); Minister of Social Affairs, Rima al-Qadiri;former Minister of Social Affairs, Dr. Kinda al-Shammat.

-Sunnis (including, but not all of): Prime Minister, Dr. Wael al-Halqi; Foreign Minister, Walid Muallem; Minister of Defense Fahd Jassem al-Freij, Parliament Member Mohammad Jihad al-Laham.

Further, as Professor Tim Anderson noted:

“President Bashar al Assad himself is married to a Sunni woman. The Grand Mufti of Syria, Sheikh Ahmad Hassoun, is a strong Sunni supporter of the secular state. Sheikh Mohamad Al Bouti, murdered along with 42 others by an FSA suicide bomber in March 2013, was a senior Sunni Koranic scholar who backed the secular state.

Syria’s secular tradition is nowhere stronger than in the Syrian Arab Army. Making up about 80% of Syria’s armed forces and with half a million members, half regulars and half conscripts, the army is drawn from all the country’s communities (Sunni, Alawi, Shiia, Christian, Druze, Kurd, Armenian, etc). However they identify as ‘Syrian’ and ‘Arab’ and confront a sectarian enemy that brands itself ‘real Sunnis’.”

On the issue of women in Syria, Anderson explained:

“The Syrian Arab Republic was the first country in the Middle East and North African region (MENA) to give women the vote (1949, 1953) and the second after Lebanon to allow women to stand for election (1953). Syria was the first to have a woman elected to parliament (1973). Syria has by far the highest level of paid maternity leave in the MENA region – a minimum of 17 weeks paid leave, 100% paid by employers. Although one of the poorer MENA countries, the Syrian Arab Republic has a maternal mortality rate (per 1000,000 live births) of 46 in 2008, well below the MENA average (91); that is linked to skilled assistance at birth much higher than average (93% Syria / 79% MENA). In Syria, …‘women’s health adjusted life expectancy’ is the best in the MENA region (Sources: UNDP 2014; UN Women 2011).”

Journalist Julie Lévesque wrote on the US history of meddling and destroying women’s rights in Afghanistan, and their attempts to do so now in Syria. She cited a (2013) US State Department conference in Qatar (of all places) promoting “women’s rights,” hosted by the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN), which Lévesque points out “is an initiative of the International Republican Institute, well-known for supporting dissidents in various countries defying US imperialism.”

On the US meddling in Syria, she wrote:

“…the US along with Qatar and Saudi Arabia is supporting Islamist extremist groups fighting against the secular Syrian government. Some so-called “liberated areas” in Syria are now run by religious extremists.

…Were a US proxy regime to be installed in Damascus, the rights and liberties of Syrian women might well be following the same “freedom-threatening path” as that of Afghan women under the US-backed Taliban regime and continuing under the US-NATO occupation.”

Doh, Canada! Supporting Terrorism in Syria

In March 2016, May at least issued a statement against Canada’s “military contributions against Daesh (ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.” She also said, “We need to work with our international partners to cut off Daesh’s funding.”

Yet no mention was made of the gigantic elephants in the room: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, ‘Israel’ and the CIA, among other US departments. Further, Da’esh are but one of numerous foreign terrorist factions warring on Syria.

Nor was any mention made of the fact that since the beginning of the war on Syria, Canada has been funding and abetting terrorists in Syria.

Ken Stone’s detailed November 2015 article explains the manifold ways Canada has aided terrorists in Syria, as well as the attempt at “regime change”, including:

  1. “organizing the covert mercenary war against Syria through the Group of Friends of the Syrian People (“Friends of Syria Group”);
  2. establishing a regime of economic sanctions against Syria and hosting, in Ottawa, the Friends of Syria Group’s International Working Group on Sanctions;
  3. funding and supporting the so-called “rebel” side;
  4. planning for an overt western military action against Syria;
  5. working with Syrian-Canadians antagonistic to the Assad government;
  6. contributing to the demonization of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and to the de-legitimation and isolation of his government.”

With regard to Canada-Saudi relations (which May never seems to address), journalist Stephen Gowans wrote:

“To claim that Canada’s intervention against the violent Sunni Muslim fundamentalists is motivated by opposition to the organization’s barbarity is a demagogic sham. ISIS is virtually indistinguishable in the cruelty of its methods and harshness of its ideology from Saudi Arabia, which Canada strongly supports. If Ottawa truly abhorred ISIS’s vicious anti-Shia sectarianism, cruel misogyny, benighted religious practices, and penchant for beheadings, CF-18s would be bombing Riyadh, in addition to ISIS positions. Instead, Saudi Arabia, a theocratic absolutist monarchy, one of the last on earth, continues to receive Canada’s undiminished support.”

Stop The NATO-Speak, Stop The War Propaganda

Although Elizabeth May purports an anti-war stance, her puerile NATO-esque rhetoric serves the war agenda. This rhetoric includes:

-Demonizing a government that the vast majority of the Syrian people support, with infantile and tired, incredibly loaded, rhetoric;

-Endorsing criminal sanctions which only hurt the Syrian people;

-Continued lack of any condemnation of the Gulf, Turkish and ‘Israeli’ roles in creating, supporting, funnelling, and treating terrorists and sending them back into Syria;

-Her refusal to acknowledge the will of the Syrian people—which is overwhelmingly that they want President al-Assad to remain, they want the NATO alliance to stop sending terrorists into Syria, they want their sovereignty and an end to the foreign war on Syria which May to this day insists on wrongly calling a ‘civil war’.

In employing the lexicon of the NATO axis’ propagandists, May is potentially more dangerous to Canadians than easily detestable politicians like Harper, Trudeau or Kinney, who are overtly supportive of the war on Syria. She is slyly misleading those Canadians less-versed on Syria into believing the same stereotypes and myths that confused many in the early months of 2011 but which have now been laid to rest. It’s time May lays her rhetoric to rest, and grows a political spine.

Eva Bartlett is a justice activist and independent journalist, with years of on the ground experience in the Middle East.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 2 Comments