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‘Dirty Record’: Brazil’s Coup Leader Temer Banned from Politics for 8 Years

Sputnik – 03.06.2016

In the first two weeks of temporary leadership, leaked recordings have traced the interim government to a coup conspiracy against Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and now the country’s interim leader is barred from running for office for nearly a decade.

On Thursday, a regional election court in Sao Paolo issued a guilty verdict against interim Brazilian President Michel Temer on election law violation charges, and declared the politician ineligible to run for political office for eight years as a result of having a “dirty record.”

The court determined that Temer, the subject of several other corruption investigations, spent personal funds on his election campaign in excess of campaign finance limits. The interim leader is now barred from running for the office he currently occupies, underscoring the illegitimacy of his administration.

From the beginning, Temer’s installation into power by means of the impeachment proceedings against Dilma Rousseff was considered by Brazilians to be a coup by corrupt politicians seeking to oust a leader who intended to hold them to justice.

That truth was revealed shortly after Rousseff was suspended from office, when newspaper Folha da Sao Paolo released audio recordings implicating top cabinet officials and allies of the Temer administration plotting the ouster of the democratically-elected leader, in order to avoid criminal charges connected to the “Car Wash” investigation into illegal kickbacks traced to state-owned oil giant Petrobras.

The first series of tapes featured Romero Juca, the country’s planning minister and the head of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB), speaking with oil executive Sergio Machado about “putting Michel into power” in order to “stop the bleeding” associated with the investigation.

The influential minister immediately offered his resignation once the recordings were released, but the damage had already been done to Temer’s attempts to cast the impeachment proceedings as anything other than a coup. Notably, Temer, along with the two key actors in the impeachment process – former lower house leader Eduardo Cunha and senate leader Renan Calheiros – all belong to the PMDB party.

One week later, the newspaper released a new round of recordings featuring Temer’s transparency minister, Fabiano Silveira, advising senate leader Renan Calheiros on how to obstruct the Car Wash investigation. Brazil’s transparency minister holds responsibility for all government anti-corruption efforts, illustrating that the interim administration is akin to a fox guarding a hen house.

Despite growing chants by Brazilians for “Fora Temer” (out with Temer) and “Golpista” (leader of the coup), the interim government has speedily started to undo a decade and a half of democratically-supported social reforms.

On day one, Temer announced a new austerity regime, featuring large cuts to social services for poor Brazilians. Not long after, newly-minted Foreign Minister Jose Serra declared the country would transition away from regional economic collaboration and partnerships, toward an open-market US-centric deregulated-trade policy that has led working class Brazilians to fear economic exploitation.

In a final measure against supporting a social safety net, Temer declared the elimination of the country’s entire cultural ministry, citing costs related to bridging gaps among Brazil’s diverse diaspora.

The fate of Brazil now rests in the hands of the country’s sporadically violent senate, which will vote in six months following the completion of the upcoming impeachment trial on whether to oust Rousseff from office permanently. Rousseff’s opponents will need a 2/3 vote (54 of 81 members) to complete their coup, with the results of those proceedings expected to be decided by a razor thin margin.

In May, Brazilian senators voted 55 to 22 to advance impeachment proceedings against President Rousseff. The vote was taken under a circus-like atmosphere, with senators using their speaking time not to discuss impeachment proceedings, but rather to beg Brazilians to support reelection bids. In an absurd debate that featured fistfights, references to God, the Devil and gangrene, a highlight of the proceedings was Renan Calheiros’s tooth falling out of his mouth on live television.

The senate vote was nearly canceled after former lower house leader Eduardo Cunha, recognized as the chief architect of the impeachment effort, was ousted by the Brazilian Supreme Court on corruption charges. His successor, Waldir Maranhao, called for an annulment of the lower house vote during his first day in office, citing procedural irregularities, although many believe his opposition was traced to rumors that Cunha bribed legislators to support the impeachment vote.

The acting lower house leader quickly rescinded his calls for annulment after threats that he would be deposed from office and a direct challenge by senate leader Renan Calheiros who said the vote would proceed regardless of Maranhao’s objections. A constitutional crisis loomed in the South American nation.

A regime in which over 2/3 of its members face corruption charges, outed as participants in a coup, impeached their leader, Rousseff, who faces no corruption charges, but, with the audacity of the Temer administration’s crimes against Brazil reaching a fever pitch, it may only be days or weeks until the interim government collapses.

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Corruption | , , | 2 Comments

European Commission’s Hate Speech Deal With Companies Will Chill Speech

By Jillian York | EFF | June 3, 2016

A new agreement between the European Commission and four major U.S. companies—Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft—went into effect yesterday. The agreement will require companies to “review the majority of valid notifications for removal of hate speech in less than 24 hours and remove or disable access to such content,” as well as “educate and raise awareness” with their users about the companies’ guidelines.

The deal was made under the Commission’s “EU Internet Forum,” launched last year as a means to counter what EDRi calls “vaguely-defined ‘terrorist activity and hate speech online.’” While some members of civil society were able to participate in discussions, they were excluded from the negotiations that led to the agreement, says EDRi.

The agreement has been met with opposition by a number of groups, including EDRi (of which we’re a member), Access Now, and Index on Censorship, all of which have expressed concerns that the deal with stifle freedom of expression. The decision has also sparked debate on social media, with a wide variety of individuals and groups opposing the decision under the hashtag #IStandWithHateSpeech.

But you don’t have to stand with hate speech to stand against this decision. There are several reasons to oppose this Orwellian agreement. First, while Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights allows states to limit freedom of expression under select circumstances, such limitations are intended to be the exception, and are permitted only to protect the following:

  1. The rights or reputations of others,

  2. national security,

  3. public order,

  4. public health, or

  5. morals.

These limits must also meet a three-part test as defined by the ICCPR: be defined by law; have legitimate aim; and be truly necessary. While some of the speech that concerns the Commission may very well qualify as illegal under some countries’ laws, the method by which they’ve sought to limit it will surely have a chilling effect on free speech.

In addition, as EDRi points out, despite a lengthy negotiation between companies and the Commission, “hate speech” remains vaguely-defined. Companies have been tasked with taking the lead on determining what constitutes hate speech, with potentially disastrous results.

In fact, social media companies have an abysmal track record when it comes to regulating any kind of speech. As’s research shows, speech that is permitted by companies’ terms of service is often removed, with users given few paths to recourse. Users report experiencing bans from Facebook for 24 hours to up to 30 days if the company determines they’ve violated the Community Standards—which, in many cases, the user has not. Requiring companies to review complaints within 24 hours will almost surely result in the removal of speech that would be legal in Europe.

By taking decision-making outside of the democratic system and into backrooms, and granting corporations even greater control, the European Commission is ensuring a chill on online speech.

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Lazy Pundit’s Guide to Which Candidate’s Lies You Shouldn’t Care About

By Jim Naureckas | FAIR | June 1, 2016

Thomas Friedman kicks off the summer punditry season with a column (New York Times, 6/1/16) explaining that while “lying is serious business,” some candidates’ lies are more serious than others. For example, “Hillary’s fibs or lack of candor are all about bad judgments she made on issues that will not impact the future of either my family or my country,” whereas “Trump and Bernie Sanders have been getting away with some full Burger King Double Whoppers that will come crashing down on the whole country if either gets the chance to do what he says.”

The Donald Trump portion of the column mainly illustrates the laziness of a wealthy pundit looking forward to beach season. Friedman explains to Trump why “we can’t carpet-bomb the terrorists without killing all the civilians around them”—forgetting, or not caring, that carpet-bombing terrorists was Ted Cruz’s line, not Trump’s.

He demands an explanation from Trump: “On Mexico, please tell me why it would pay for a multibillion-dollar wall on our border and how we would compel our neighbor to do so.” Trump has been claiming since last year, at least, that he could force Mexico to pay for the wall by blocking immigrant workers from sending home money—but Friedman seems not to have heard about it.

His attack on Sanders doesn’t display much more enterprise:

He is promising to break up the big banks. Under what legal authority? What would be the economic fallout? And how would this raise stagnant incomes for middle-class Americans? Bernie mumbles on these questions.

Here Friedman picks the most obvious target, the issue that corporate media—following the lead of the Clinton campaign—most concertedly beat up Sanders over. The problem is that many of those same outlets, when they filed follow-up stories about the controversy (e.g. New York Times, 4/6/16; Washington Post, 4/7/16; Politico, 4/14/16), walked back the criticism, acknowledging that, as the Times’ Peter Eavis put it, “Bernie Sanders probably knows more about breaking up banks than his critics give him credit for.”

Friedman also cites the Tax Policy Center’s figures for increased federal spending under Sanders’ proposals—which mostly come from the Urban Institute’s estimates for the cost of his single-payer plan, which have come under heavy criticism from experts on single-payer financing. Without rehashing the entire argument, it’s worth noting, as the Urban Institute does in its defense of its report, that the bulk of the huge numbers thrown about do not reflect new spending:

Of the $32.0 trillion in additional federal costs, only $6.6 trillion reflects new health spending in the system; the remaining $25.4 trillion is produced by shifting existing state and local government spending and private spending to the federal government.

As for why every other wealthy country can provide healthcare to all citizens and pay considerably less per capita to do so, but single-payer would supposedly raise and not lower costs in the US, the Urban Institute report offers this: “Political compromises with the entire panoply of health care stakeholders would be necessary to make the plan acceptable.” In other words, it’s impossible to do anything that would significantly change the distribution of income in the United States (other than to make it more unequal, as we have already done)—an assumption that not only the Sanders campaign but millions of Americans would certainly reject.

So those are the lies being told by Sanders and Trump, according to Thomas Friedman. What about Hillary Clinton’s “struggles with the whole truth on certain issues”? Not important. “Private email servers? Cattle futures? Goldman Sachs lectures? All really stupid, but my kids will not be harmed by those poor calls.”

Let’s put aside the issue that Goldman Sachs, the benefactor that Clinton won’t come clean about, was intimately involved in the economic crisis that certainly harmed millions of kids,  though maybe not Friedman’s. Isn’t there anything else—something that even a low-information pundit like Thomas Friedman might have heard of?

Well, yeah. There is that. “Debate where she came out on Iraq and Libya, if you will, but those were considered judgment calls, and if you disagree don’t vote for her.”

Judgment calls? “I believe the facts that have brought us to this fateful vote are not in doubt,” Clinton said in her October 10, 2002, speech on the Senate floor explaining her vote for war:

In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program…. If left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons…. Now this much is undisputed.

Not only were those facts very much disputed and in doubt, they were flat-out wrong. It’s not clear why questioning cost estimates for your programs qualifies as “lying,” but maintaining that there was no debate about issues that were in fact intensely debated is merely a “judgment call.” But there’s another part of her speech that deals with events that she must have witnessed first hand—and she misrepresents those events:

When Saddam blocked the inspection process, the inspectors left. As a result, President Clinton, with the British and others, ordered an intensive four-day air assault, Operation Desert Fox, on known and suspected weapons of mass destruction sites and other military targets.

This sequence is precisely backwards: President Clinton decided to bomb Iraq, the inspectors left to facilitate that bombing, and subsequently Saddam Hussein refused to allow back in the inspectors who had been used as a pretext for bombing.
These events were reported accurately at the time; presumably Hillary Clinton observed them at close range. Her willingness to reinvent them for political purposes just four years later is a graphic example of how lies can “come crashing down on the whole country”—and why lying is, indeed, serious business.

Jim Naureckas can be followed on Twitter: @JNaureckas.

You can send a message to the New York Times at (Twitter:@NYTimes). Please remember that respectful communication is the most effective.

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Skynet: UK to upgrade war satellites to expand global drone kill operations

RT | June 3, 2016

Britain’s military plans to replace its ageing Skynet war satellites to meet the bandwidth demands of its expanding Special Forces and drone operations.

It is the first sign of the UK’s ambitions to create the next generation of military space satellites to replace the Skynet A5, the original version of which came into service in the 1960s.

It is now considering how to proceed with its Future Beyond Line of Sight (FBLOS) program.

Given the shadowy nature of the project, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been vague about the specifics, telling Defence News : “We continue to consider a range of options for the FBLOS project and aim to submit the initial business case this summer.”

The existing system was produced by arms giant Airbus. Upgrades are required to increase bandwidth to support the UK’s increasingly clandestine operations using special forces, the forthcoming F-35 combat aircraft and, perhaps most significantly, its expanding drone fleet.

The forthcoming assessment of military requirements will be carried out from the early 2020s to the end of that decade.

The upgrade is indicative of emerging trends in warfare, at a time when public resistance to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars has made large-scale troop deployments politically untenable.

Chris Cole, of the NGO Drone Wars, wrote on the possibility of a connection between Skynet and British military drones as long ago as 2010.

However, in a blog on the topic he pointed out: “Skynet 5 however is not owned by the Ministry of Defence, but by a private company called Paradigm Secure Communication.”

This would render Skynet virtually impervious to freedom of information (FoI) requests regarding its links with drone warfare, which can only be put to public bodies.

Speaking to RT on Friday, Cole said that as well as “doubling the UK’s current armed drone fleet and investing heavily in the development of future drones” the UK is working quietly to install “secret communication systems to enable the UK to use its armed drones right around the globe.”

He warned: “The continuing development of Skynet is an integral part of the government’s strategy to follow the US down the path of being able to target those it considers to be a threat, anywhere in the world.”

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | | Leave a comment

The Bigger Nuclear Risk: Trump or Clinton?


A U.S. government photograph of Operation Redwing’s Apache nuclear explosion on July 9, 1956.
By Robert Parry | Consortium News | June 2, 2016

Hillary Clinton made a strong case for why handing the nuclear codes over to a President Donald Trump would be a scary idea, but there may be equal or even greater reason to fear turning them over to her. In perhaps the most likely area where nuclear war could break out – along Russia’s borders – Clinton comes across as the more belligerent of the two.

In Clinton’s world view, President Vladimir Putin, who has been elected multiple times and has approval ratings around 80 percent, is nothing more than a “dictator” who is engaged in “aggression” that threatens NATO following the U.S.-backed “regime change” in Ukraine.

“Moscow has taken aggressive military action in Ukraine, right on NATO’s doorstep,” she declared. But stop for a second and think about what Clinton said: she sees Russia responding to an unconstitutional coup in Ukraine – which installed a virulently anti-Russian regime on Russia’s border – as Moscow acting aggressively “on NATO’s doorstep.”

That’s the same NATO, whose job it was to protect Western Europe from the Soviet Union, that — following the Soviet Union’s collapse — added country after country right up to Russia’s border. In other words, NATO muscled its way into Russia’s face and has announced plans to incorporate Ukraine as well, but when Russia reacts, it’s the one doing the provoking.

Clinton’s neoconservative interpretation of what’s happening in Eastern Europe is so upside-down and inside-out that it could ultimately become the flashpoint for a nuclear war between Russia and the West.

While she sees Russia as the “aggressor” against NATO, the Russians see NATO moving troops up to its borders and watch the deployment of anti-ballistic-missile systems in Romania and Poland, thus making a first-strike nuclear attack against Russia more feasible. Russia has made clear that it views these military deployments, just kilometers from major Russian cities, as an existential threat.

In response, Russia is raising its alert levels and upgrading its strategic forces. Yet, Hillary Clinton believes the Russians have no reason to fear NATO’s military encirclement and no right to resist U.S.-supported coups in countries on Russia’s periphery. It is just such a contradiction of viewpoints that can turn a spark into an uncontrollable inferno.

What might happen, for instance, if Ukraine’s nationalist — and even neo-Nazi — militias, which wield increasing power over the corrupt and indecisive regime in Kiev, received modern weaponry from a tough-talking Clinton-45 administration and launched an offensive to exterminate ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine and to reclaim Crimea, where 96 percent of the voters opted to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia?

A President Hillary Clinton would have talked herself into a position of supporting this “liberation” of “Russian-occupied territory” and her clever propagandists would surely present this “heroic struggle” as a war of good against evil, much as they justified bloody U.S. invasions of Iraq and Libya which Clinton supported as U.S. senator and Secretary of State, respectively.

What if the Ukrainian forces then fired missiles striking Russia’s naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, killing some of the 20,000 Russian troops stationed there and inflicting damage on Russia’s Black Sea fleet? What if Kremlin hardliners finally got their way and unleashed the Russian army to launch a real invasion of Ukraine, crushing its military, rumbling through to Kiev and accomplishing their own “regime change”?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

 (Photo credit: AIPAC)

How would President Hillary Clinton respond? Would she put herself in the shoes of Russia’s leaders and search for some way to de-escalate or would she get high-and-mighty and escalate the crisis by activating NATO military forces to counter this “Russian aggression”?

Given what we know about Clinton’s tough-talking persona, the odds are good that she would opt for an escalation – and that could set the stage for nuclear war, possibly starting because the Russians would fear the imminence of a NATO first strike, made more possible by those ABM bases in Romania and Poland.

Clinton’s Non-Nuclear Wars

There are other areas in the world where a President Hillary Clinton would likely go to war albeit at a sub-nuclear level. During the campaign, she has made clear that she intends to invade Syria once she takes office, although she frames her invasions as humanitarian gestures, such as creating “safe zones” and “no-fly zones.”

In other words, although she condemns Russian “aggression,” she advocates aggressive war herself, seemingly incapable of recognizing her hypocrisies and only grudgingly acknowledging her “mistakes,” such as her support for the invasion of Iraq.

So, on Thursday, even as she made strong points about Trump’s mismatched temperament for becoming Commander-in-Chief, she flashed a harsh temperament of her own that also was unsettling, although in a different way.

Trump shoots from the lip and has a thin skin, while Clinton is tightly wound and also has a thin skin. Trump lets his emotions run wild while Clinton is excessively controlled. Trump engages in raucous give-and-take with his critics; Clinton tries to hide her decision-making (and emails) from her critics.

It’s hard to say which set of behaviors is more dangerous. One can imagine Trump having free-form or chaotic diplomatic encounters with allies and adversaries alike, while Clinton would plot and scheme, insisting on cooperation from allies and demanding capitulation from adversaries.

Clinton sprinkled her speech denouncing Trump with gratuitous insults aimed at Putin and undiplomatic slaps at Russia, such as, “If Donald gets his way, they’ll be celebrating in the Kremlin. We cannot let that happen.”

In short, there is reason to fear the election of either of these candidates, one because of his unpredictability and the other because of her rigidity. How, one might wonder, did the two major political parties reach this juncture, putting two arguably unfit personalities within reach of the nuclear codes?

[For more on this topic, see’sYes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon” and “Would a Clinton Win Mean More Wars?’]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Dismantling Civil Society in Bahrain

By Rannie Amiri | CounterPunch | June 3, 2016

Like a vise which first grips its object and then slowly, deliberately and inexorably crushes it, the al-Khalifa regime has done similarly to civil society in Bahrain. It did not stop when peaceful, pro-democracy, reform protests erupted in 2011 and were violently put down by government forces aided by an invasion of Saudi troops in March of that year. Indeed, the vise continues to close and relentlessly so.

Nationalities have been revoked, mosques razed, citizens deported, human rights activists imprisoned on flimsy charges of insulting the monarchy at the least or plotting its overthrow at worst, and the most perfunctory of dialogues with the opposition abandoned. By smothering the figures and institutions who dare challenge the authority of the ruling dynasty in the most benign of fashions – a tweet, waving the country’s flag, tearing up a photo or merely questioning the tenure of the world’s longest serving prime minister – the Bahraini regime and its Gulf allies would like to believe monarchal rule has been preserved. Such desperate measures however, only speak to its precarity.

The stalwart activist Zainab al-Khawaja was given a sentence of three years and one month in Dec. 2014 for (again) tearing up a picture of King Hamad. She refused to be separated from her infant son whom she took with her to prison. Al-Khawaja has just been released on “humanitarian” grounds after serving 15 months in jail.

Her father though, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, remains imprisoned serving a life sentence on trumped-up charges of attempting to topple the government. While authorities may have set Zainab al-Khawaja free, they simultaneously doubled the sentence of Sheikh Ali Salman, head of al-Wefaq, an opposition political party. Initially given a term of four years incarceration for alleged incitement against the regime, it was increased to nine years on appeal. The unflinching President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) and founding Director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights Nabeel Rajab, remains banned from leaving the country despite the need to secure medical treatment for his wife.

Busy highlighting the nation’s cordial relations with the United Kingdom and United States, the latter of which headquarters its Navy’s Fifth Fleet in the capital Manama, the Western media has largely ignored the plight of Bahrain’s ordinary citizens. The arrest and torture of disabled youth has now been documented by the BCHR. Indeed, for more than a decade, the Center has meticulously chronicled the dismantling of Bahrain’s civil society in all its forms by the al-Khalifa regime.

Most recently, with the passage of a law preventing any religious figure from joining political societies or engaging in political activities, the BCHR issued a statement condemning, “… the Bahraini parliament and Shura Council’s passage of amendments to the Political Societies Law, which places a ban on participation in political decision-making based on discriminatory religious grounds. In defense of this draft amendment, lawmakers supporting this motion argued it would prevent religious acts from being politicized. This decision restricts people’s ability to freely engage in religious practices, as those members willing to join political activities pertinent to the legislative process in Bahrain would now need to refrain from any activities carrying religious connotations.”

In the face of widespread and open abuses in civil society, lack of proportional parliamentary representation, curfews, detentions, and imprisonment and torture of those who dissent, these practices have nonetheless failed to adversely impact the ties enjoyed between Bahrain and the United States. But when a regime becomes alienated from those whom it rules and for example, gives lengthy jail sentences for tweets it finds offensive, it speaks to a tenuous reign.

The pillars of civil advocacy in Bahrain – Nabeel Rajab, Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, Maryam and Zainab al-Khawaja, Abduljalil al-Singace (sentenced to life in prison for participating in pro-democracy protests), Naji Fateel, Hussain Jawad and countless others both named and unnamed – have consistently engaged in purely secular, non-sectarian activism. Unlike the practice of the regime, the designations Sunni and Shia need not be applied when discussing the ongoing struggle for legal, political and socioeconomic rights in Bahrain. The people have waited too long for the West to recognize their demands are not based on sect, but on equity.

Despite an oppressive regime and the long shadow cast by the U.S. Fifth Fleet, resilient Bahrainis remain unintimidated.

Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on Middle East affairs.

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dreams of Control: Israel, Global Censorship and the Internet

By Binoy Kampmark | CounterPunch | June 3, 2016

“Under the cover of darkness, there is no limit to the expansion of Big Brother.”

Ilan Gilon, Meretz Party (Israel), Times of Israel, Feb 4, 2016

While Israel’s central justification for its often reactionary policies is couched in hyper-exceptionalist rhetoric, nourished by the ashes of Holocaust remembrance, current interest in censoring the Internet is far from exceptional.

Like a machine of justification against its critics and its enemies, Israel enlists various projects under the banner of the remarkable and precious, when it is simply accomplishing what other states have done before or since: the banal and ordinary. All states want to limit expression, control criticism and marginalise the sceptics. Some do it more savagely, and roughly, than others.

Israel’s military censor, Col. Ariella Ben Avraham, who is part of the IDF’s Directorate of Military Intelligence, gave a good example of this in February by insisting that social media activists and bloggers submit material relevant to security matters for approval prior to posting. The move also revealed an increasing interest to police the digital realm, previously considered an anarchic jungle incapable of effective policing.

Up to 32 Israeli bloggers and social media activists were informed about the directive, one of the first being Yossi Gurvitz, a left-wing activist running the “Friends of George” Facebook page. In rather unceremonious fashion, he was informed via Ben Avraham’s private Facebook account that he was obligated to run future submissions by her office. To his credit, he promises to defy the order.

Internal censorship is but one aspect of this policy. Israel Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has dipped into the discourse of censorship to convince others that limiting various social media platforms on a global scale is the way to go. In January, he revealed the inner ambition of Israel’s security establishment to internationalise the censorship effort.

To achieve that goal, Erdan speaks of an “international coalition” that would make limiting criticism of Israel its primary objective. The central aim is hardly imaginative: making such providers as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook face up to responsibility as to what they host on their sites.

The Erdan plan suggests that various countries would form a “loose coalition that would keep an eye on content and where it is being posted, and members of the coalition would work to demand that the platforms remove the content that was posted in any of their countries at the request of members.” The simple idea behind this collusion is extra-territorial cooperation, effectively circumventing the global nature of such platforms.

As for the scurrilous subject matter itself, the issues are universal fare for states keen to control matters that supposedly stimulate the darker side of human nature. (Read: contrary to state interests.) Erdan’s office gives the example of material from a Palestinian (of course) disclosing the best locations on the body to inflict fatal stab wounds.

This begs that grand question about how far such an effort goes: control the more sordidly violent sides of the Old Testament because it encourages various unsavoury practices? Limit suggestive literature being discussed in the whirl of social media, buzzing away with malicious promise? The mind is an untidy place filled with remarkable things, and not all of them necessarily make it to actual perpetration. This is a point that continues to elude the mighty warriors of the security state.

Another justification is being thrown in: they, the social media giants, rake in the proceeds, and should therefore man the barricades. “We are planning to put a stop to this irresponsibility,” claimed Erdan’s office, “and we are going to do it as part of an international coalition that has had enough of this behaviour as well.”

Other governments have also done their bit to limit the internet and content available to their citizens. Most famously, Beijing runs its own “Great Firewall of China”, overseen by the Ministry of Information Industry (MII), while the State Council Information Office and the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department examine content.

In recent times, countries of a supposedly democratic character have taken to the blinds and endeavoured to do what Erdan dreams about. Dangerous thoughts are seen as the reason for dangerous actions. To that end, the country that gave Europe the Enlightenment has been busy forging its own vision of global internet censorship, using a mixture of security and privacy concerns.

The latter has proven to have potentially pernicious consequences, framed largely as an effort to protect the privacy of the French citizen. From that vantage point, a vision of global control has been built on a premise forged in European law: the right to be forgotten. The Court of Justice of the European ruling of May 13, 2014 (Google Spain v Agencia Española de Protección de Datos, Mario Costeja González) has supplied the subject matter for the latest enlargement of censorship powers.

The French response has been intrusively enthusiastic, with the privacy regulator, CNIL, fining Google 100,000 Euros in March for not applying the right to be forgotten across the global network. In the chilling words of the regulator, “For people residing in France to effectively exercise their right to be delisted, it must be applied to the entire processing operation.” Erdan may well be irritated he did not come up with that one.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email:

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel deports 6 Palestinians to the U.S.

Palestinian Information Center – June 3, 2016

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM – The Israeli Interior Ministry and the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) at dawn on Friday deported six Palestinian citizens from Occupied Jerusalem to the U.S.

33-year-old Kareem Faysal Abu Khdheir, who was banned from Occupied Jerusalem and deported to the U.S., said as he spoke by phone from the Lod Airport: “I was transferred from the Negev jail to the airport on Thursday morning. The Israeli occupation authorities claimed the flight was scheduled for five p.m. on Thursday before they updated me that it was delayed for six a.m. on Friday.”

“I was locked up in the airport detention center with five other detainees. Each one of us was allowed to make one phone call only to update his family on the deportation order,” he added.

Kareem, from the Shu’fat refugee camp, was arrested by the Israeli occupation forces on September 5, 2015 following clashes with occupation troops. Right before the detention, Kareem was subjected to heavy beating by the Israeli Occupation Forces and sustained critical bruises in his chest, face, and teeth.

The IOA extended his remand several times despite his deteriorated health status.

Deliberations and hearings held by the Israeli Magistrate’s court over the past four months culminated in a verdict that condemned Abu Khdheir, a holder of American citizenship, for involvement in Jerusalem demonstrations and sentenced him to nine months and a fine of 8,000 shekels.

Born and raised in the U.S. since October 2, 1983, Kareem Abu Khdheir popped into the occupied Palestinian territories on August 28, 2015 for the first time to get married.

He had been held for nine months in the Negev jail on allegations of resisting arrest, attacking an Israeli border guard, and joining anti-occupation demos.

“Someday I shall return to my motherland, from which I was banned because I attended my friend’s funeral,” said Abu Khdheir. “Someday I shall come back and live on Palestine’s soil for eternity,” Abu Khdheir added as he bid farewell to his family.

June 3, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment