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Saudis to Receive Combat Choppers After Removal From UN Child Killing List

Sputnik – 08.06.2016

Saudi Arabia is set to receive 24 Hellfire-armed AH-6i Little Bird helicopters from US aeronautics contractor Boeing, a sale that would have been banned had the UN not removed the Kingdom from their war crimes against children list.

On Wednesday, Boeing announced that they will begin delivering AH-6i Little Bird light attack and reconnaissance helicopters to Saudi Arabia by the end of the month, as the aircraft begin to come off the production line in Mesa, Arizona by the end of this week.

The contract faced uncertainty late last week when the United Nations included Saudi Arabia on a blacklist as part of their annual report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), for their role in indiscriminate bombings of schools and hospitals in Yemen.

Pursuant to the Leahy Law, the US Department of State and Department of Defense are prohibited from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights, precisely what the United Nations initially certified in their original report. This prohibition extends to approval of foreign arms sales by private US contractors, which would stop the lucrative sale of US weapons to Riyadh.

However, the United Nations announced on Monday, after feverish lobbying by the Saudi envoy to the UN, in conjunction with US and UK officials, to temporarily remove Saudi Arabia from the blacklist, pending further investigation of the statistics provided in the report.

Many interpret the purported temporary move to delete Saudi Arabia from the list of child-killers as a permanent step, including the Saudi delegation, which loudly announced that the decision was “final.”

With human rights atrocities ignored for the sake of political and economic expediency, the path is now paved for the light attack helicopter to make its debut in the skies above Yemen. The Saudi-led mission to combat the Houthi political opposition faction and prop up Saudi-freindly leadership in Yemen has the full support of the US and the UK, despite consistent reports of war crimes conducted by Kingdom forces.

The combat helicopter is said to have a maximum speed of 175 mph, with a range of 267 miles. The aircraft is typically armed with Hellfire missiles, Hydra 70 rockets, air-to-air Stingers, automatic grenade launchers, and five high-caliber machine guns.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Leaked Audios Reveal Plot to Oust Dilma Rousseff

By Aline C. Piva | Council on Hemispheric Affairs | June 6, 2016

The already fragile legitimacy of Michel Temer’s interim government in Brazil took a huge blow last week. Leaked audios involving Temer’s closest allies revealed a plot to oust democratically elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as part of a plan to put an end to Operation Carwash (Operação Lava Jato), the operation that is investigating the scheme involving bribery and kickbacks in Petrobras, the Brazil state-owned oil company. [1][2]

On May 23, the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo published the transcripts of a conversation between Romero Jucá, Planning Minister in Temer’s interim government, and Sergio Machado, former Senator and President of Transpetro, another Brazilian state-owned oil company. This conversation – and other records leaked since then – were recorded in March, before the first vote of the impeachment process that took place in the Chamber of Deputies.[3]

After discussing their own involvement in the Carwash investigation –both are being investigated for corruption-, Jucá states his solution for the “problem”: “We have to change the government to be able to stop this bleeding.” Machado followed by agreeing: “The easiest solution would be to put in Michel [Temer].”[4]

A “National Pact” to topple Dilma Rousseff

In this conversation, Jucá talked about a “national pact” to impeach Dilma and stop the investigations of the corruption scheme. This included justices of the Supreme Court, the compliance of the military forces and the pacts amongst the opposition forces in Congress. These clandestine arragements were formed in complete disregard for the political will expressed by the majority of Brazilians at the ballot box. According to Jucá, important members of Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira (the Brazilian Social Democratic Party; PSDB), the center-right party that lost the last four presidential elections in Brazil, were aware that Dilma’s removal was an imperative to stop the “bleeding” brought on by Lava Jato.[1]

When asked what he meant by “bleeding”, Jucá said that he was referring to the economic effects of Operation Carwash. Interestingly, he never mentioned the economic situation in Brazil in this conversation. In fact, the dialogue begins with Machado speaking about the risk that plea bargaining deals would become more frequent, which could implicate even more politicians and their close allies. Machado then asked to set up “a structure” to prevent this from happening, should he be prosecuted. In the context of preventing the Lava Jato’s prosecutors from getting Machado’s confession, Jucá suggested that they needed to “stop the bleeding.”[2]

In the audio, Jucá goes even further in demonstrating the possibility of foul play as he describes the role of the military and various members of the Brazilian Supreme Court. Jucá stated that the military supported the coup: “I’m talking to the generals, the military commanders. They are fine with this, they said they will guarantee it”. Temer’s short-lived Planning Minister also affirmed that the military is “monitoring the Landless Workers Movement”, one of the largest Brazilian popular movements that has been at the forefront of protests against the impeachment process. Jucá also has claimed that he had access to a “small number” of the Supreme Court Justices, and that he discussed the extent of the investigations with them. According to Jucá, the justices told him that the corruption investigation – and the popular and media pressure for it to continue – would not stop as long as Rousseff remained in power.[3]

Another two audio leaks, published by Folha, from Renan Calheiros and José Sarney – both had been speaking with Machado, who recorded the conversations – reveal that the plans to stop the investigations of Operation Carwash were in the works for a long time now.

José Sarney, former Brazilian President who now holds a seat in the Brazilian Senate, confided to Machado that key figures of the opposition were reluctant about the idea of a transition government headed by Michel Temer. He also indicated that Michel Temer was negotiating “certain conditions” (not spelled out in the audio) with those opposition representatives, in order to constitute his government. Sarney also made it clear that there was “no way out” for Dilma, except being impeached, and expressed the need to stop the plea-bargaining deals within Operation Carwash. [4]

Renan Calheiros, the President of the Brazilian Senate and former close ally of Dilma Rousseff’s government, also expressed his concerns on the plea-bargaining deals in Operation Carwash. In his conversation with Sergio Machado, Calheiros said that he supported changes in the laws that regulate plea bargaining deals in order to prevent someone who had already been incarcerated from becoming an informer, which is one of the main procedures used by Operation Carwash’s prosecutors for obtaining information on the corruption scheme. This change would benefit many politicians involved in the scandal.[5]

Calheiros also suggests that, in order to deal with this matter, they would have to “negotiate” with members of the Brazilian Supreme Court about the “transition” of Dilma’s government. Effectively, there are now eight different proposals being discussed in the Brazilian Congress on how to change the way plea-bargain deals are made. [6]

Most recently, Sergio Machado leaked his conversations with Fabiano Silveira, former counselor of the Conselho Nacional de Justiça (National Justice Council; CNJ), which is responsible for supervising the Judiciary, and newly appointed Minister of Transparency, Superintendence and Control in Temer’s government. In this audio, Silveira criticizes Operation Carwash and guides Renan Calheiros on how he should prepare his defense for the charges of corruption. The Minister of Transparency has supposedly also sought members of the Lava Jato task force to request information on the investigation involving Calheiros.[7]

These statements alone are serious indications that what is taking place in Brazil is a coup with the purpose of stopping the corruption investigations in the country. Also, one is witnessing a blatant attempt to implement a political project that has been repeatedly defeated in democratic elections since 2002 (recent polls also show high rejection rates for Temer’s government), and there are many other indications that the ouster of Dilma was, in fact, a political plot.[8]

O Estado de São Paulo reported that, during the past 12 months, over 80 members of both houses of the Brazilian Congress held regular meetings to discuss Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment. Among them were former senators José Serra, now Minister of Foreign Relations, and Mendonça Filho, now head of the Ministry of Education. Nelson Jobim, former president of the Brazilian Supreme Court also attended many of these meetings “to help deepen the technical and jurisdictional comprehension of the impeachment.”[9]

The Corruption Narrative

This report and the content of the leaked conversations show that Dilma’s impeachment is the result of a carefully planned and executed plot to benefit a small political group threatened by Operation Carwash. Temer and his closest allies played an important role in this scheme. Moreover, the nomination of his cabinet also reflects how the impeachment process was likely motivated in order to stop the anti-corruption investigations: a third of Temer’s ministers are either under investigation or being charged for corruption or bribery; the leader of Temer’s government in the lower house of Congress is under investigation for homicide; and Temer himself was found guilty last May of mismanagement of his campaign budget, and deemed ineligible to run for office for eight years.[10]

Evasion of corruption charges is not the only motivation behind the impeachment show put on by the various pacts besides the obvious involvement of many of Temer’s ministers in corruption schemes and other crimes. The choosing of those politicians makes it clear that their target is to impose a political agenda that has been repeatedly rejected by the Brazilian people on the ballot box. The leaked audios with compromised conversations signal a political motivation different from the allegedly legal argument presented to the Brazilian Congress for the impeachment. Together with a speedy process of reversing social, economic and cultural policies of the Dilma administration, these are clear signs that what took place in Brazil was an illegal alteration of the constitutional order – and not the result of a democratic process.

The audios are hard proof that the political elite behind Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment perceived that removing her from office was the only way to keep themselves from being held accountable for their illegal deeds, and to maintain their profitable scheme of corruption. They demonstrate what impeachment opponents have been saying from the beginning: rather than to “clean” the Brazilian government of corruption, the oust of Dilma was the only way to guarantee that those under investigation would be shielded.[11]

[1] “Por Que Foi Um Golpe – Crítica Constitucional.” Crítica Constitucional. Accessed May 27, 2016.

[2] “Folha De S.Paulo.” Jucá Não Falou Sobre Economia Ao Citar ‘sangria’; Ouça. Accessed June 01, 2016.

[3] “Folha De S.Paulo.” Em Diálogos Gravados, Jucá Fala Em Pacto Para Deter Avanço Da Lava Jato. Accessed May 27, 2016.

[4] “Folha De S.Paulo.” Leia a Transcrição Dos áudios De Sarney E Do Ex-presidente Da Transpetro. Accessed May 27, 2016.

[5] “Folha De S.Paulo.” Em Conversa Gravada, Renan Defende Mudar Lei Da Delação Premiada; Ouça. Accessed May 27, 2016.

[6] “[Lupa] Tramitam No Congresso Oito Projetos De Lei Para Alterar Uso De Delação Premiada.” Lupa Tramitam No Congresso Oito Projetos De Lei Para Alterar Uso De Delação Premiada. 2016. Accessed May 27, 2016.

[7] “Em Gravação, Ministro De Temer Critica Lava Jato E Aconselha Renan”. Accessed May 31, 2016.

[8] “O Que as últimas Pesquisas Revelam Sobre Apoio Ao Impeachment E a Temer?” BBC Brasil. Accessed May 27, 2016.

[9] “G-8 Do Impeachment Teve Reuniões Durante Um Ano – Política – Estadão.” Estadão. Accessed May 27, 2016.,g-8-do-impeachment-teve-reunioes-durante-um-ano,10000026435

[10] “Folha De S.Paulo.” Ministros Do Governo Temer São Alvo De Investigações Além Da Lava Jato. Accessed May 30, 2016.


“Temer é Ficha-suja E Está Inelegível, Diz Procuradoria Eleitoral.” Fausto Macedo Temer Ficha suja E Está Inelegível Diz Procuradoria Eleitoral. Accessed May 30, 2016.


“Folha De S.Paulo.” Líder Do Governo Temer é Alvo Da Lava Jato, Suspeito De Tentativa De Assassinato E Réu Em Três Ações No STF. Accessed May 30, 2016.


[11] The Intercept. “New Political Earthquake in Brazil: Is It Now Time for Media Outlets to Call This a “Coup”? Accessed June 02, 2016.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | Leave a comment

Muhammad Ali and the Hypocrites that Pretend They Respected His Political Views

By Solomon Comissiong | Black Agenda Report | June 8, 2016

On June 3rd, 2016, Muhammad Ali passed away in Scottsdale Arizona. And as many reflect upon the life and times of the late great Muhammad Ali, it is important to recognize the sheer irony riddled throughout the US corporate media. Virtually every channel has their own set of hypocrites speaking with forked tongues. Many of these frauds who are extolling Ali as a “great man” and how “outspoken” and “courageous” he was, are the same degenerates who would vilify and persecute him today if he was in his youth speaking out against the imperialist wars in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, and Syria. Rightfully so, Ali spoke out against the racist and imperialist war in Vietnam. He also refused to fight for the US in that same war of aggression.

At a critical point in his career Ali utilized his celebrity as the world’s greatest boxer to politically express his opposition to the racist and imperialist war the United States waged on Vietnam. He at one time said, “I Ain’t Got No Quarrel With The Vietcong… No Vietcong Ever Called Me Nigger.” He also said, “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go 10,000 miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs?”

Ali knew that the United States was nation flooded with institutional racism and white supremacy. He knew that it would make no sense to fight for a nation that continued to treat people of color worse than domesticated pets. And in 2016 the United States treats African/black people like second-class citizens. Rampant police brutality waged upon African/black people, a prison industrial complex that preys upon non-white people, and gentrification (ethnic cleaning) are but a few of the systematic forms of oppression thriving in today’s US society. You won’t find any of those so-called media personalities saying a damn word about the infestation of structural oppression throughout the United States. They could care less about the plight of the same African/black community Muhammad Ali routinely spoke out on behalf of. They are no friends of African/black people and this needs to be highlighted each and every time they open their mouths and pretend to appreciate an African/black historical figure that spoke out (or organized) against oppression, capitalism and/or imperialism.

Muhammad Ali lost his boxing title, and almost lost five years of his life to prison, for refusing to fight in the racist and imperialist war waged on Vietnam. However if one truly admires Ali for speaking out against the war on Vietnam, then, by principle, one should vehemently oppose today’s imperialist wars of aggression.

The wars of today are also racist and imperialist and are taking countless civilian lives from this planet. Some of the media talking heads that are praising Muhammad Ali today were alive in the 1960s and were castigating people like him for opposing the United States’ war in Vietnam. They called him a traitor then; yet now pretend as though they respected his political stances as courageous. They are frauds, plain and simple. Some of these frauds are individuals who not only have supported imperialist wars; they caused them. Former US president Bill Clinton is an excellent example.

While serving as the United States’ president, Bill Clinton bombed a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant, thus preventing many important medications from getting to those who needed them. He also ordered the large scale bombing of various parts of the former nation of Yugoslavia. Clinton is also responsible for a US military attack on Mogadishu, Somalia. Bill Clinton ordered a coup in the island nation of Haiti and deposed its democratically elected president, Jean Bertrand Aristide. It is beyond pathetic that Bill Clinton is an invited speaker at Muhammad Ali’s funeral. However as pathetic as it is, it should be of no surprise. Those of Clinton’s ilk can routinely be seen praising Martin Luther King, Jr. each January, knowing they would vilify him if he were still alive speaking out against the US imperialism, capitalism and structural racism.

These imperialists get away with their disingenuous words largely because most Americans are ahistorical. They simply have developed an awful habit of believing anything and everything that is told to them, without curiosity ever pushing them to conduct their own research. Americans continue to fall victim to widespread mental indoctrination, otherwise known as Americanism. This allows them to believe they appreciate people like Muhammad Ali and Martin Luther King, while at the same time wholeheartedly supporting “their” country’s imperialist war machine and not giving a damn about the innumerable civilian lives it eviscerates. This habit has to stop, sooner rather than later.

It is long overdue that those of us who know the truth share that information with others, especially with young people. Making this practice habit will enable others to naturally recognize the contradictions all around them. In essence, it will expose the bloodthirsty warmongers for what (and who) they really are. It will expose their rhetoric and it will enable more people to begin charting a new course towards the construction of a more humane and egalitarian society. It is not enough to be pro-peace; one must also be anti-imperialist and anti-wars of aggression.

We must teach the youth about the continuous array of lies the corporate media promulgates. Training youth how to deconstruct the cavalcade of lies the media and government deluge their minds with, will better prepare them to not only resist oppression and injustice, but also to build a better future without being distracted by those who maintain the unacceptable status quo. These are much better ways of honoring the legacy of those who sacrificed so much to speak out against war and oppression. We must be committed to consistent organization geared towards collectively constructing a society free of structural oppression, one community at a time.

Solomon Comissiong ( is an educator, activist, author, and Founder of the Your World News Media Collective ( Solomon is the author of A Hip Hop Activist Speaks Out on Social Issues. Solomon is also the writer and producer of the documentary, Hip Hop, White Supremacy & Capitalism: Why Corporations Infiltrated RAP Music. He can be reached at:

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

Which Jerusalem? Israel’s Little-Known Master Plans


Al-Shabaka | May 31, 2016

Jerusalem 2050: A largely-Jewish high-tech tourist destination with a minimal Palestinian presence. This is Israel’s vision of the city, and it is being implemented through three master plans – two of which are relatively unknown. Al-Shabaka Policy Fellow Nur Arafeh provides a succinct analysis of all three plans and the ways in which Palestinians can rebut them.

It is the year 2050 and Israel has fulfilled its vision for Jerusalem: Visitors will see a largely Jewish high-tech center amid a sea of tourists, with a minimal Palestinian presence. To achieve this vision, Israel is working on three master plans; one is well-known but two remain under the radar.

Edward Said had already warned in 1995 that “only by first projecting an idea of Jerusalem could Israel then proceed to the changes on the ground [which] would then correspond to the images and projections.” Israel’s “idea” of Jerusalem, as elaborated in its master plans, involves maximizing the number of Jews and reducing the number of Palestinians through a gradual process of colonization, displacement and dispossession (see Al-Shabaka policy brief on the methods used as well as this recent update).

The best known of the three Israeli master plans for the city is the Jerusalem 2020 Master Plan, which has not been deposited for public view even though it was first published in 2004. The least known are the Marom Plan, a government-commissioned plan for the development of Jerusalem, and the “Jerusalem 5800” Plan, also known as Jerusalem 2050, which is the outcome of a private sector initiative and is presented as a “transformational master plan for Jerusalem” (see below).

As Israel plans for 2050, the Palestinian Authority (PA) “idea” of Jerusalem dates back to 2010 when the Strategic Multi-Sector Development Plan for East Jerusalem (SMDP) 2011-2013 was published. And the PA’s current national development plan for 2014-2016 simply refers back to the 2010 plan. In addition, while the Palestinian leadership speaks of East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied and illegally annexed in 1967, as the capital of the State of Palestine and a priority development zone, only 0.44% of the PA’s 2015 budget was to be allocated to the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and to the Jerusalem Governorate.

In this policy brief Al-Shabaka Policy Fellow Nur Arafeh analyzes all three Israeli master plans for Jerusalem, explaining how they aim to shape the city into a tourism and high-tech center, and the ways in which they use urban planning to reshape the city’s demography. She spotlights the dangerous new laws Israel has reactivated or passed to advance its colonization of the city – the Absentee Property Law and the “third generation law”. She also addresses the role of the PA and the international community as well as of civil society organizations, and identifies achievable measures that can be implemented by those concerned with Jerusalem’s fate. 1

Before analyzing the ways in which the three plans reinforce each other, it should be noted that Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem is illegal under international law and is not recognized by the international community. In addition, Israel’s declaration that Jerusalem is its capital, both West and East, has no international legal standing, which is why there is no diplomatic representation in Jerusalem, not even by the United States.

  1. The “Jerusalem 2020 Master Plan” was prepared by a national planning committee and first published in August 2004. It is the first comprehensive and detailed spatial plan for both East and West Jerusalem since Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967. Although the plan has not been validated yet as it was not deposited for public review, Israeli authorities are implementing its vision. The plan addresses several development areas including urban planning, archeology, tourism, economy, education, transportation, environment, culture, and art. The plan is available online in Hebrew as well as in Arabic at the Civic Coalition for Defending the Palestinians’ Rights in Jerusalem; this policy brief draws on the “Local Outline Plan”- Report N.4.
  1. The Marom Plan is a government-commissioned plan for the development of Jerusalem that will be implemented by the Jerusalem Development Authority. The Authority’s goal is to promote Jerusalem “as an international city, a leader in commerce and the quality of life in the public domain.” It is a major planning body for the Jerusalem Municipality, the land Administration, and other organizations in the fields of housing, employment, etc.

The Jerusalem Institute of Israeli Studies is conducting the consultation, research, and monitoring for the Marom Plan. The Institute is a multidisciplinary research center that plays a leading role in the planning and development policies for Jerusalem in the fields of urban planning, demography, infrastructure, education, housing, industry, labor market, tourism, culture, etc.

  1. The “Jerusalem 5800” Master Plan, also known as “Jerusalem 2050,” is a private initiative founded by Kevin Bermeister, an Australian technology innovator and real estate investor. The plan provides a vision and project proposals for Jerusalem up to the year 2050, serving as a “transformational master plan for Jerusalem” that can be implemented together with other municipal and national government agencies. It is divided into various independent projects, each of which can be implemented on its own. The team for the implementation of the plan is said to include “the best Israeli tourism, transport, environment, heritage and security planners.”

A Jewish Destination for Tourism, Higher Education and High-Tech

The development of the tourism sector in Jerusalem is at the heart of the three development plans examined in this policy brief. For example, under the 2020 Plan, the Jerusalem Municipality seeks to promote the tourism sector and to especially enhance the cultural aspects of Jerusalem. It is planning a marketing campaign to increase the potential of real estate development, support international and urban tourism, and invest in tourism infrastructure to ensure the sector’s development.

The Marom Plan also aims to develop Jerusalem as a tourist city. In 2014 alone, the Jerusalem Institute of Israeli Studies conducted 14 of its 18 studies for that year on the tourism sector and submitted them to the Jerusalem Municipality, the Ministry of Jerusalem and Diaspora Affairs, and the Jerusalem Development Authority. Moreover, as part of the Marom Plan, the Israeli government earmarked around $42 million to boost Jerusalem as an international tourist destination, while the Ministry of Tourism was expected to allocate some $21.5 million for the construction of hotels in Jerusalem. The Authority also offers specific incentives to entrepreneurs and companies to establish or enlarge hotels in Jerusalem, and to organize cultural events to attract tourists such as the Jerusalem Opera Festival as well as events for the tourism industry, such as the Jerusalem Convention for International Tourism.

Promoting the tourism sector also lies at the core of the Jerusalem 5800 Master Plan, which envisages Jerusalem as a “Global City, an important tourist, ecological, spiritual, and cultural world hub” that attracts 12 million tourists (10 million foreign and 2 million domestic) and more than 4 million residents.

To make Jerusalem “the Middle East’s anchor tourist attraction and resource,” the Jerusalem 5800 plan aims to increase private investment and construction of hotels; build rooftop gardens and parks; and transform the areas surrounding the old city into hotels while prohibiting the use of vehicles. The plan also envisions the construction of high-quality transportation routes, including a “high-speed national rail line; an extensive network of buses and public transportation; the addition of numerous highways and the expansion of existing roads; and an express ‘super highway’ that transverses the country from north to south.” The plan also proposes the construction of an airport in the Horkania Valley between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea to serve 35 million passengers per year. The airport would be connected through access roads and rail to Jerusalem, Ben Gurion airport and other city centers.

Israeli Plans to Promote the Tourism Sector

$42 million: To boost Jerusalem as an international tourist destination (Marom Plan).

$21.5 million: For the construction of hotels in Jerusalem.

12 million tourists: Goal for annual visitors under the Jerusalem 5800 Master Plan

The Jerusalem 5800 plan attempts to present itself as an apolitical plan that promotes “peace through economic prosperity” but it has demographic goals that prove otherwise. In fact, it envisages that the $120 billion of total added value from the implementation of the plan, together with the 75,000 – 85,000 additional full time jobs in hotels plus 300,000 additional jobs in related industries would all reduce poverty – and would attract more Jews to Jerusalem, increasing the number of Jews living in Jerusalem and further tilting the Jewish-Palestinian demographic balance in their favor.

However, the tourism sector is not only seen as an engine of economic development to attract Jews into the city. Israel’s development of, and domination over, the tourism sector in Jerusalem, is a tool to control the narrative and ensure the projection of Jerusalem in the outside world as a “Jewish city” (see for example the official Ministry of Tourism map of the Old City.)  Israel has strict rules over who can serve as tour guides and the narrative and history that the tourists are told. Palestinian tour guides who do not abide by Israel’s false branding and who try to give an alternative and critical analysis of the situation can lose their licenses.

These plans to promote the Israeli tourism industry have gone hand in hand with Israeli-imposed restrictions on the development of the Palestinian tourism industry in East Jerusalem. Israeli hurdles include: the isolation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), especially after the construction of the Wall; shortage of land and the resulting high cost; weak physical infrastructure; high taxes; restrictions on the release of permits to build hotels or convert buildings to hotels; and difficult licensing procedures for Palestinian tourist businesses. These obstacles, even as millions of dollars are being poured into the Israeli tourism market, ensure that the Palestinian tourism industry has no hope of competing with Israel’s.

The Palestinian tourism sector is further hampered by the lack of a clear Palestinian vision and promotional strategy, severely impeding its ability to fuel the limited economic development possible under occupation. Moreover, although civil society organizations have stepped in to promote the sector, their efforts have been described as “fragmented and poorly coordinated” in an analysis in This Week in Palestine.

Another common goal of the three plans is to attract Jews from all over the world to Jerusalem by developing two advanced industries: Higher education and high tech.

To promote the higher education industry, the 2020 Master Plan aims to build an international university in the city center with English as the main language of instruction. As for the Marom Plan, it seeks to make Jerusalem a “leading academic city” that is attractive to both Jewish and international students, who will be encouraged to settle in Jerusalem once they have finished their studies. In the same vein, the Jerusalem 5800 plan sees an opportunity to create jobs and achieve economic growth through “extended-stay educational tourism.”

The development of the higher education industry is intrinsically linked to the development of a high-tech, bio-information, and biotechnology industry. The 2020 Master Plan calls for the establishment of a university for management and technology in the city center of Jerusalem, and for government assistance in Research and Development (R&D) in the fields of high-tech and biotechnology. Similarly, the Marom Plan aims at promoting Jerusalem as a center of R&D in the field of biotechnology.

It is within this context that the Jerusalem Development Authority established the BioJerusalem Center to foster clusters of bio-med companies in Jerusalem as a potential engine of economic development. To attract these companies to Jerusalem, the Authority is offering very generous benefits including: Tax breaks, grants for hiring new workers in Jerusalem, and special grants to companies involved in R&D or in building physical infrastructure. High-tech and healthcare industries are also expected to be major beneficiaries of the “Jerusalem 5800” Master Plan.

Evicting Palestinians Using Urban Planning and the “Law”

While Israel works on creating Jerusalem as a business hub that attracts Jews and offers them employment opportunities, the problems faced in East Jerusalem are legion. They include a squeezed Palestinian business and trade sector, a weakened education sector, and a debilitated infrastructure. The result of the suffocation of East Jerusalem’s potential can be seen in the high poverty rates, with 75% of all Palestinians in East Jerusalem – and as many as 84% of children – living below the poverty line in 2015. In addition, there is a growing identity crisis in East Jerusalem, particularly amongst the youth, due to its isolation from the rest of the OPT, the leadership and institutional vacuum, and the loss of hope in the possibility of positive change.

The Wall is one of the most important demographic measures Israel has put in place to ensure a Jewish majority in Jerusalem and enforce Israel’s de-facto political borders of Jerusalem, thus transforming it into the largest city in Israel. The Wall is built in such a way as to enable Israel to annex an additional 160 km2 of the OPT while physically separating more than 55,000 Jerusalemites from the city center. Planning and development in neighborhoods that are now beyond the Wall is extremely poor and governmental and municipal services are virtually absent, despite the fact that the Palestinians who live in these areas continue to pay the Arnona (property) tax.

Urban planning is another major geopolitical and strategic tool Israel has used since 1967 to tighten its grip over Jerusalem and constrain the urban expansion of Palestinians as part of its efforts to Judaize the city. Urban planning is at the heart of the 2020 Master Plan, which views Jerusalem as one urban unit, a metropolitan center, and the capital of Israel. One of the main goals of the plan is to “maintain a solid Jewish majority in the city” by encouraging Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and by reducing negative migration. Among other things, the plan aims to build affordable housing units in some existing Jewish neighborhoods as well as by building new neighborhoods. The plan also envisages connecting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, geographically, economically, and socially, to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Evicting Palestinians

2,300 dunums planned for Palestinian construction vs. 9,500 dunums for Israeli Jews. (Nasrallah, 2015)

55.7% of additional housing for Palestinians through building within existing urbanized areas; 62.4% of Israeli Jewish building to happen through expansion of urban areas (including settlements).

$30,000: Approximate cost of building permits in Jerusalem. (source: author’s interview)

The 2020 Master Plan recognizes the housing crisis suffered by Palestinians, the inadequate infrastructure in Palestinian neighborhoods, and the dearth of public services provided. It aims to enable the densification and thickening of rural villages and existing urban neighborhoods; restore the Shu’fat refugee camp, which lies within Jerusalem’s Israeli-defined municipal borders; and implement infrastructure projects.

However, while on the surface it appears that the Plan has an equal interest in Palestinian areas, it is actually discriminatory. It does not take into account the Palestinian growth rate in East Jerusalem and the accumulated scarcity of housing. 2 It allocates only 2,300 dunums (2.3 sq. km.) for Palestinian construction compared to 9,500 dunums for Israeli Jews. 3 Moreover, most of the new housing units proposed for Palestinians are located in the northern or southern areas of East Jerusalem, rather than in the Old City, where the housing crisis is the most acute and where the settlement activity is also the most intense.

In addition, (62.4%) of the increase in Israeli Jewish building will happen through expansion and building of new settlements, thus increasing Jewish territorial control. By contrast, more than half (55.7%) of the addition of housing for Palestinians will happen through densification, i.e. building within the existing urbanized areas, including through vertical expansion. Moreover, while Palestinians tend to have higher household densities and build at lower densities per dunum than the average, Israeli Jewish areas have lower household densities but build at larger densities than the average. 4

Furthermore, the plan’s proposals to address the housing crisis in East Jerusalem will most likely remain ink on paper due to serious barriers to their implementation. In fact, several preconditions must be met before the Israeli authorities issue building permits, including an adequate road system (building permits for six-story buildings is conditional on access to roads that are at least 12 meters wide); parking spaces; sanitation and sewage networks; and public buildings and institutions. Palestinians have no control over these requirements, which are the responsibility of the municipality; needless to say, this makes it extremely hard for Palestinians to build new houses. 5 The plan also neglects the shortage in classrooms, health facilities, commercial areas, and other public institutions necessary to meet the demand of the growing Palestinian population.

The Palestinian presence in Jerusalem and the development of Palestinian neighborhoods is also severely constrained by the plan’s commitment to “a strict enforcement of the laws of planning and building…to impede the phenomenon of illegal building.” However, only 7% of building permits in Jerusalem were issued to Palestinians in the past few years. Israel’s discrimination in issuing building permits to Palestinians, combined with the high cost of these permits (around $30,000, according to information shared with the author), has forced many Palestinians to build illegally.

Palestinians also face discrimination when it comes to enforcement of regulations. According to a report by the International Peace and Cooperation Center, 78.4% of building violations took place in West Jerusalem between 2004 and 2008, compared with 21.5% in East Jerusalem. Yet, only 27% of all violations in West Jerusalem were subject to judicial demolition orders, compared with 84% of violations in East Jerusalem.

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Furthermore, in addition to the emotional impact and instability caused by the demolition of their home, as well as the lost investment and belongings, Palestinians must also pay “illegal construction” fees to the Israeli municipality to cover the costs of house demolitions, generating a large income for the Israeli municipality. OCHA estimates that between 2001 and 2006, the municipality collected an annual amount of NIS 25.5 million (around $6.6 million) for ‘illegal construction.’

The 2020 Master Plan is thus a political plan that uses urban planning as a tool to ensure Jewish demographic and territorial control in the city. The plan also supports “spatial segregation of the various population groups in the city” and considers it a “real advantage.” It aims to divide Jerusalem into various planning districts based on ethnic affiliation in which no area would combine both Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

It is worth noting that state institutions are not the only ones involved in the Judaization of Jerusalem. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and religious organizations also take part in remaking urban space. The right-wing organization Elad, for example, has as its main goal settling Jews in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan and running tourist and archeological sites, especially in the Silwan neighborhood – which they call the “City of David” – Elad is seeking to re-create Jerusalem as a Jewish city with a predominantly Jewish history and heritage by erasing the Palestinians’ physical presence as well as their history. Elad employed 97 full-time workers in 2014 and, according to Haaretz, received donations of more than $115 million between 2006 and 2013, making it one of the wealthiest NGOs in Israel. Other organizations involved in changing the demographic composition of Jerusalem include Ateret Cohanim, which seeks to create a Jewish majority in the Old City and in Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem.

Israel has also been using law as a tactic to evict Palestinians and appropriate their land, so as to ensure its sovereignty and control over Jerusalem. As recently as 15 March 2015, the Israeli Supreme Court activated the Absentee Property law. This law was issued in 1950 with the aim of confiscating the property of Palestinians who were expelled during the 1948 Nakba. It was used as the “legal basis” to transfer the property of displaced Palestinians to the newly established State of Israel. After 1967, Israel applied the law to East Jerusalem, which allowed it to appropriate the property of Jerusalemites whose residence was found to be outside Palestine. The law newly activated in 2015 enables Israel to confiscate the property of East Jerusalem Palestinians currently living in the West Bank, and to consider their property in East Jerusalem as “absentee property.”

Furthermore, while Palestinians cannot claim the properties they lost in 1948 or in 1967 in what is now West Jerusalem, Israel’s Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Israeli settlers’ claims to win “back” homes that UNRWA had given to Palestinians who had fled West Jerusalem and Israel in 1948. In other words, the Supreme Court is being discriminatory since this law applies to Jews looking to return to property they had before 1948 but does not apply to Palestinians.

Another controversial and dangerous law is the third Generation law, which targets properties that were rented before 1968 and that are supposed to be protected by law. According to the new law, the protection period ends with the death of the third generation of Palestinian tenants after which the property goes back to its original owner, who are mainly Jews who owned the property before 1948. According to Khalil Tufakji, more than 300 Palestinians now face the threat of eviction from their home. In Silwan alone, 80 court orders threaten hundreds of Palestinians with eviction.

Saving Jerusalem

Since 2001, Israel has closed at least 31 Palestinian institutions, including the Orient House, the former headquarters of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Governorate of Jerusalem and the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs are also prohibited from working in Jerusalem, and are forced to operate out of a building in Al-Ram, which lies to the northeast of Jerusalem and is outside the Israeli-imposed municipal boundaries of the city.

Given the leadership and institutional vacuum Israel has created in East Jerusalem, it is especially challenging to find ways to rebut its colonization of the city and dispossession of its Palestinian population. In the course of the research for this policy brief, I had the opportunity to speak to representatives of several organizations, official bodies, and community groups. There was broad agreement that one of the most urgent steps that should be taken is to establish popular committees in each East Jerusalem neighborhood. Such committees could raise East Jerusalem residents’ awareness about their rights as residents and about Israel’s plans for the future; encourage voluntary work; monitor and prevent Palestinians from selling their land to Israeli Jews; represent the neighborhood at national forums; and cooperate with each other to reinforce their efforts to defend Palestinian land.

Indeed, once these committees have been established in all neighborhoods, they could form what Jerusalemite organizations believe is also urgently needed: A representative body for Jerusalem at the national level, an inclusive body that would include the Jerusalem Governorate, representatives of civil society organizations and the private sector as well as independents. This body would work as a channel between Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the PA as well as with the rest of the world. Such a representative body could work on three main fronts:

1. The PA/PLO. A representative body for Jerusalem could lobby the PA/PLO to propel Jerusalem to the forefront of the Palestinian government’s commitments and ensure that it receives the budget and other support it needs in order to counter Israeli Judaization policies.

2. The Arab and international community. In this sphere, a representative body for Jerusalem should take the lead in advocacy, lobbying and campaigning at the regional and international level, in coordination with the Palestinian Diaspora. For example, Jordan should be lobbied as Custodian of Holy places in Jerusalem to help maintain a secure environment for Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Other Arab countries, in particular Morocco and Saudi Arabia given their special relationships with Jerusalem, should also be mobilized.

More efforts should be made to reach out to countries that have already shown solidarity with Palestinians, such as Sweden, Latin American countries, and the BRICS among others, so that they might use their good offices directly and in collaboration with other countries to hold Israel accountable for its illegal annexation and colonization of East Jerusalem. The fact that East Jerusalem is part of the occupied West Bank is a point that is often neglected in the official discourse and that should be emphasized.

These countries should also use their good offices, working with the PLO/State of Palestine, at the UN at all levels, including the Security Council, the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council, and the UN’s programs and specialized agencies to expose Israeli policies in East Jerusalem, and call on member states to fulfill their legal obligations. In particular, member states should activate Security Council Resolution 478 of 1980, which declared “all legislative measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying power, which purport to alter the character and statues of the holy city of Jerusalem … are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.”

The European Union (EU) also has an obligation to ensure full compliance with the principle of non-recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over East Jerusalem. The EU should translate its rhetoric into effective measures by halting all direct and indirect economic, financial, banking, investment, academic, and business activities in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and throughout the rest of the OPT.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) could play a major role in safeguarding Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem, providing direct support as well as in lobbying the EU and the UN to provide support and to take measures to stop and reverse Israel’s violations. Such measures could include the establishment by the UN and/or the EU of a register of Israeli violations of human rights and the damage incurred by Palestinians as a result of Israeli Judaization policies and settlement expansion in East Jerusalem and in the rest of the OPT.

It is also vital to create a funding body or a development bank to overcome the lack of funding, which is one of the major issues faced by Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem. Such a development bank could have several functions, including: providing credit facilities since most loans are only available at very high interest rates; helping to finance the development of the housing sector; and providing incentives to encourage investment and assist in the revival of the trade sector. The Palestinian private sector and Palestinian banks within and outside Palestine should also embrace their responsibilities and be part of this development bank.

3. Palestinian communities in their homeland as well as in the Diaspora. These communities should help to develop and project a clear vision and operational strategy for Jerusalem. Practical measures should be identified to counter Israel’s Judaization policies; enhance the productive capacity of the Palestinian economy in East Jerusalem and strengthen its links with the economy of the West Bank and Arab world; promote the tourism sector to support the limited economic development possible under occupation; revive the cultural and economic status of the Old City; enhance the educational and health sector; and foster the integration of Palestinians in East Jerusalem into the rest of the OPT.

Furthermore, the existing legal bodies that offer legal assistance to Palestinians in East Jerusalem – e.g. regarding revocation of residency IDs, family unification, land appropriation, house demolitions, and zoning and planning – should coordinate their efforts.

Palestinian civil society, particularly the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement has a vital role to play in targeting Israeli plans for tourism and high tech in Jerusalem, through campaigns to boycott Israeli academic and cultural institutions as well as businesses that are involved in the Judaization of Jerusalem.

The development of a coordinated media strategy is urgently needed to raise Palestinian voices in a challenge to Israel’s discursive power and its de-historicized representation of Jerusalem. Academics and policy analysts also have a vital role to play: There is a dearth of research on the socio-economic development of East Jerusalem as well as Israel’s master plans for Jerusalem, with very few think tanks working in East Jerusalem. Future research should also move beyond diagnosis of problems to devise creative solutions, using a proactive approach rather than a reactive one. The gap between academics and policy makers needs to be bridged to ensure that all efforts are united towards the objective of achieving self-determination, dignity, freedom, and justice.


  1. The author thanks the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation’s Palestine/Jordan Office for their partnership and collaboration with Al-Shabaka in Palestine. The views expressed in this policy brief are those of the author and therefore do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Heinrich-Böll-Foundation. The author also thanks the Jerusalem Industrial Chamber of Commerce, the Civic Coalition for Human Rights, the Sinokrot Core Group, the Jerusalem Governorate, and PASSIA for their time and the information they shared.
  2. Ir Amim, 2009. “Too little too late. The Jerusalem Master Plan.”
  3. Rami Nasrallah, 2015. “Planning the Divide: Israel’s 2020 Master Plan and Its Impact on East Jerusalem,” In: Turner, M. and Shweiki, O. (ed.), Decolonizing Palestinian Political Economy: De-Development and Beyond.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
Nur Arafeh

Nur Arafeh is the Policy Fellow of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network.  She previously worked as a researcher at the Ibrahim Abu-Lughod Institute of International Studies at Birzeit University, as an Associate Researcher at the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute (MAS), and as a Lecturer of Economics at Al-Quds Bard Honors College, Al-Quds University. Nur has a dual BA degree in political science and economics from Sciences Po University (France) and Columbia University (USA), and holds an MPhil degree in Development Studies from the University of Cambridge (UK). Her main research interests include the political economy of development in the Middle East, sociology and politics of development, and economic forms of resistance.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel Covets Golan’s Water and Now Oil

By Jonathan Marshall | Consortium News | June 7, 2016

On June 1, Israeli police burst into the home of an Israeli journalist, confiscated his computer and camera, and arrested him for “incitement to violence and terrorism.” His employer, Iran’s government broadcasting company, said the Druze reporter had antagonized the Netanyahu government with his hard-hitting reports on Israel’s plans for “stealing” oil from the Golan Heights, a 460-square-mile region of Syria seized by Israel during the Six Day War in 1967.

Such reports come at a particularly sensitive time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other right-wing Israeli politicians, who are seeking to take advantage of the ongoing war in Syria to cement Israel’s control over the Golan. Their allies include such influential Americans as Rupert Murdoch, Dick Cheney, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, all of whom are backing an oil-drilling operation of doubtful legality in the occupied region.

Besides its strategic value and potential oil, the Golan Heights is a major source of Israel’s fresh water and agricultural products and a leading tourist destination. If exploratory drilling unlocks as much oil as some geologists predict, the occupied region could turn Israel into “an energy powerhouse.”

Ethnic Cleansing

Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981, in violation of the United Nations’ 1967 General Assembly Resolution 242, which called for the eventual withdrawal of Israeli forces from the occupied territories. Rejecting Israel’s claim, the U.N. Security Council immediately declared the attempted annexation “null and void and without international legal effect.” Within a few months, however, the controversy was overshadowed by the international crisis following Israel’s massive invasion of Lebanon.

As recently as January 2010, the U.N. General Assembly once again reaffirmed the illegality of Israel’s claim to the land and called on Israel to desist from “changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and, in particular, to desist from the establishment of settlements” in the area. But that demand came much too late to stop Israel’s systematic land grab.

The respected Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reported in 2010 that “Neglect and ruin are everywhere. . . . Apart from the four Druze villages at the foot of Mount Herman, [all Syrian villages] were all destroyed, in most cases down to their foundations. . . . Most were wiped off the face of the earth in a systematic process of destruction that began right after Israel’s occupation of the Golan.”

Challenging the myth that the local population simply fled during the 1967 war, the newspaper reported that the Israeli Defense Forces systematically expelled villagers and then began destroying their homes. An Israeli commander estimated that 20,000 civilians “were evacuated or left when they saw that the villages were starting to be destroyed by bulldozers and they had nowhere to return to.” Census figures indicate that more than 100,000 Syrians lost their homes and property.

Israel has no intention of ever letting them return, even if that means putting aside peace with Syria forever. Instead, Israel today has entrenched more than 20,000 of its own settlers in the Golan. Last year, the right-wing minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett announced a five-year goal of spending hundreds of millions of shekels to settle 100,000 more Israelis on the mountain.

Precious Water

This April, Prime Minister Netanyahu hosted a special cabinet meeting on the Heights, calling it “an integral part of the state of Israel in the new era.” He vowed that the region “will remain in the hands of Israel forever” rather than returning to “Syrian occupation.”

As usual, the U.N. Security Council rejected the Israeli claims, to no practical effect.

Israeli leaders acknowledge that a major reason they will never hand back the Golan Heights is economic: it provides precious fresh water to Israel.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs states flatly, “The region’s strategic importance derives from its location, overlooking the Israeli Galilee region, and from the fact that it supplies Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) – a major source of water for Israel – with one third of its water.”

But there is another economic motive driving Israeli policy, as the recently arrested Druze journalist had reported: the smell of oil.

Last fall, an Israeli geologist working for the American company Genie Oil and Gas reported evidence of a huge oil find in the Golan Heights — with the potential to supply billions of gallons of crude, enough to make Israel a net oil exporter. Rejecting complaints by environmental groups, Israeli authorities granted the company a two-year extension of its right to carry out test drilling on 150-square-miles of occupied Syrian land.

Genie Oil and the Israel Lobby

Genie Oil is no ordinary drilling company. Its American CEO, Howard Jonas, is a major campaign donor to Netanyahu. The chairman of its Israeli subsidiary, Brig. Gen. Efraim Eitam, is a former leader of the National Religious Party who called for expelling Palestinians from the occupied territories and murdering their leaders.

He said of the Palestinian people, “These are creatures who came out of the depths of darkness. It is not by chance that the State of Israel got the mission to pave the way for the rest of the world, to militarily get rid of these dark forces.”

The company’s shareholders include at least two billionaire supporters of Israel: multinational media magnate Rupert Murdoch and retired investment banker Lord Jacob Rothschild (whose family foundation donated the Knesset and Supreme Court buildings to Israel).

Murdoch and Rothschild also sit on Genie Oil’s well-connected “strategic advisory board.” Its chair, Michael Steinhardt, is a prominent Wall Street hedge fund manager and a major financial backer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish, neoconservative think tank noted for its fear-mongering against Palestinian leaders as well as Syria and Iran.

Other advisory board members include former Vice President Richard Cheney; James Woolsey, former CIA Director and chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies Leadership Council who has called for tougher U.S. military intervention against Syria; former Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, who sponsored the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation bill; former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson; and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.

Potential for Regional Conflict

Genie’s drilling in the Golan is part of an energy boom that is transforming the outlook for Israel’s economy. Israel has raised “consternation” in Jordan by claiming a major oil reservoir near the Dead Sea, potentially worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Israel has also discovered enormous reserves of natural gas off the coast of Israel and Gaza in the Mediterranean Sea, and is reportedly close to signing a huge gas export agreement with Turkey. The latter deal could undercut long-term plans by Iran and Syria to export gas to Europe.

A report by the U.S. Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, released in December 2014, noted that recent energy discoveries put Israel “ahead of all East Mediterranean countries in terms of gas reserves and resource prospectivity.”

It warned, however, that conflicts over disputed ownership of oil and gas fields could lead to a regional war between Israel, Lebanon, Syria and other countries. It cited Israel’s drilling in the Golan Heights, in particular, as creating the “potential for another armed conflict between the two parties should substantial hydrocarbon resources be discovered.”

The report added ominously, “U.S. security and military support for its main allies in the case of an eruption of natural resource conflict in the East Mediterranean may prove essential in managing possible future conflict.”

Owing to Israel’s expulsion of most Golan residents in 1967, that occupied land rarely makes the news. Ever since the Six Day War, however, Israel’s conquest mentality has subverted peace negotiations with Syria. If Israel now succeeds in tapping commercial oil reserves underneath the Golan, its illegal occupation may once again fan the flames of regional conflict.

If the United States does help “manage” that conflict by supporting its ally, no one should be surprised — but it will represent a terrible dereliction of America’s duty to uphold international law and to seek a just and peaceful solution in the Middle East.

Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic (Stanford University Press, 2012).

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gov. Cuomo’s Anti-BDS Bill is a First Amendment Nightmare

By Eoin Higgins | CounterPunch | June 8, 2016

On June 5 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law an executive order aimed at the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement. BDS is a non-violent economic and political protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.

In Cuomo’s order, which Salon reporter Ben Norton called “McCarthyite,” there is a provision that requires the state to create a list of companies that participate in the BDS movement. The list aims to publicly shame and financially harm those who exercise their First Amendment right of political protest.

And though Cuomo’s order will not stand up to a challenge in court, the list itself will cause extreme harm and damage- and that’s the plan.

Within the next 180 days, the Commissioner of General Services of the state of New York will deliver the initial list of BDS- participating companies to the governor. The list will be placed online for the public’s viewing. Companies are allowed to appeal their placement for 90 days in advance of their placement.

As Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman described it in The Intercept :

Cuomo’s Executive Order requires that one of his Commissioners compile “a list of institutions and companies” which – “either directly or through a parent or subsidiary” – support a boycott. That government list is then posted publicly, and the burden falls on them to prove to the state that they do not, in fact, support such a boycott.

Note- the language Greenwald and Fishman cite in the accompanying image to this paragraph appears to indicate companies have time to appeal their placement prior to public posting, not after

Once a company is on the list, they can appeal for removal from the list. The list will be updated every 180 days.

Draconian stuff.

Even if the legislation doesn’t survive the inevitable legal challenges on its merits, the creation of such a list will have irreversible consequences.

One of the lingering after-effects of the Hollywood blacklist in the McCarthy era of the 1950s was the difficulty of the wrongly accused to find work, decades after the list had been closed. Despite the efforts of the Hollywood Ten, the breaking of the list did not result in the immediate reinstatement to work of those on the list.

Some would go without work for years due to their association with the blacklist and, by proxy, Communism. Even after the country by and large had rejected the blacklist and McCarthyite scaremongering, the ostracization of those associated with the list remained in place.

It’s for this reason that Cuomo’s legislation is so dangerous.

First Amendment rights of association and political protest are designed specifically to combat government interference. Cuomo’s anti- BDS law is an obvious and blatant violation of those rights. It will be struck down in court.

But if it is not struck down in time, if the courts do not manage to issue a stay on its implementation, or if the NY state bureaucracy can tie up the legal system while putting the order into effect, the list will exist. And once it exists, the damage will have been done.

Even when the law is struck down, the stigma of being associated with this draconian law will linger. Just as those who were on the Hollywood blacklist in the 1950s found it hard to find work for years after the list was broken, so too will businesses that are tied to BDS in NY state find it difficult to survive in the American economy.

Which is exactly the point. Cuomo wants the fear of that stigma to do the work of the law, no matter the outcome in the courts.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 1 Comment

Alarmist climate science as a textbook example of groupthink

By Paul MacRae | May 1, 2012

A while ago, I received an email from a friend who asked:

How can many, many respected, competitive, independent science folks be so wrong about [global warming] (if your [skeptical] premise is correct). I don’t think it could be a conspiracy, or incompetence. …  Has there ever been another case when so many ‘leading’ scientific minds got it so wrong?

The answer to the second part of my friend’s question—“Has there ever been another case where so many ‘leading’ scientific minds got it so wrong?”—is easy. Yes, there are many such cases, both within and outside climate science. In fact, the graveyard of science is littered with the bones of theories that were once thought “certain” (e.g., that the continents can’t “drift,” that Newton’s laws were immutable, and hundreds if not thousands of others).

Science progresses by the overturning of theories once thought “certain.”

And so, Carl Sagan has written:

“Even a succession of professional scientists—including famous astronomers who had made other discoveries that are confirmed and now justly celebrated—can make serious, even profound errors in pattern recognition.”[1]

There is no reason to believe that climate scientists (alarmist or skeptic) are exempt from this possibility.

That leaves the first question, which is how so many “respected, competitive, independent science folks [could] be so wrong” about the causes and dangers of global warming, assuming they are wrong. And here, I confess that after five years of research into climate fears, this question still baffles me.

Climate certainty is baffling

It is not baffling that so many scientists believe humanity might be to blame for global warming. If carbon dioxide causes warming, additional CO2 should produce additional warming. But it’s baffling that alarmist climate scientists are so certain that additional carbon dioxide will produce a climate disaster, even though there is little empirical evidence to support this view, and much evidence against it, including a decade of non-warming. This dogmatism makes it clear, at least to those outside the alarmist climate paradigm, that something is very wrong with the state of “consensus” climate science.

There are many possible reasons for this scientific blindness, including sheer financial and career self-interest: scientists who don’t accept the alarmist paradigm will lose research grants and career doors will be closed to them. But one psychological diagnosis fits alarmist climate science like a glove: groupthink. With groupthink, we get the best explanation of “how can many, many respected, competitive, independent science folks be so wrong.”

Groupthink was extensively studied by Yale psychologist Irving L. Janis and described in his 1982 book Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes.

Janis was curious about how teams of highly intelligent and motivated people—the “best and the brightest” as David Halberstam called them in his 1972 book of the same name—could have come up with political policy disasters like the Vietnam War, Watergate, Pearl Harbor and the Bay of Pigs. Similarly, in 2008 and 2009, we saw the best and brightest in the world’s financial sphere crash thanks to some incredibly stupid decisions, such as allowing sub-prime mortgages to people on the verge of bankruptcy.

In other words, Janis studied why and how groups of highly intelligent professional bureaucrats and, yes, even scientists, screw up, sometimes disastrously and almost always unnecessarily. The reason, Janis believed, was “groupthink.” He quotes Nietzsche’s observation that “madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups,” and notes that groupthink occurs when “subtle constraints … prevent a [group] member from fully exercising his critical powers and from openly expressing doubts when most others in the group appear to have reached a consensus.”[2]

Janis found that even if the group leader expresses an openness to new ideas, group members value consensus more than critical thinking; groups are thus led astray by excessive “concurrence-seeking behavior.”[3] Therefore, Janis wrote, groupthink is “a model of thinking that people engage in when they are deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.”[4]

The groupthink syndrome

The result is what Janis calls “the groupthink syndrome.” This consists of three main categories of symptoms:

1. Overestimate of the group’s power and morality, including “an unquestioned belief in the group’s inherent morality, inclining the members to ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their actions.” [emphasis added]

2. Closed-mindedness, including a refusal to consider alternative explanations and stereotyped negative views of those who aren’t part of the group’s consensus. The group takes on a “win-lose fighting stance” toward alternative views.[5]

3. Pressure toward uniformity, including “a shared illusion of unanimity concerning judgments conforming to the majority view”; “direct pressure on any member who expresses strong arguments against any of the group’s stereotypes”; and “the emergence of self-appointed mind-guards … who protect the group from adverse information that might shatter their shared complacency about the effectiveness and morality of their decisions.”[6]

It’s obvious that alarmist climate science—as explicitly and extensively revealed in the Climatic Research Unit’s “Climategate” emails—shares all of these defects of groupthink, including a huge emphasis on maintaining consensus, a sense that because they are saving the world, alarmist climate scientists are beyond the normal moral constraints of scientific honesty (“overestimation of the group’s power and morality”), and vilification of those (“deniers”) who don’t share the consensus.

For example, regarding Symptom 1, overestimation of the group’s power and morality: leading consensus climate spokespeople like Al Gore, James Hansen, and Stephen Schneider have stated outright that they feel it’s acceptable and even moral to exaggerate global-warming claims to gain public support, even if they have to violate the broader scientific principle of adherence to truth at all costs ( has examples.) Consensus climate science also overestimates the power of humanity to override climate change, whether human-caused or natural, just as government planners overestimated the U.S.’s ability to win the Vietnam War.

Regarding Symptom 2, closed-mindedness, there are many cases of the alarmist climate paradigm ignoring or suppressing evidence that challenges the AGW hypothesis. The Climategate emails, for example, discuss refusing publication to known skeptics and even firing an editor favorable to skeptics.

Regarding Symptom 3, pressure toward uniformity: within alarmist climate science there is a “shared illusion of unanimity” (i.e., a belief in total consensus) about the majority view when this total or near-total consensus has no basis in reality. For example, the Oregon Petition against the anthropogenic warming theory has 31,000 signatories, over 9,000 of them with PhDs.

Climate scientists who dare to deviate from the consensus are censured as “deniers”—a choice of terminology that can only be described as odious. And the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explicitly aims for “consensus” in its reports—it does not publish minority reports, and yet it is impossible that its alleged more than “2,000 scientists” could completely agree on a subject as complicated as climate.

Group polarization

Janis notes one other form of dysfunctional group dynamic that arises out of groupthink and that, in turn, helps create even more groupthink:

The tendency for the collective judgments arising out of group discussions to become polarized, sometimes shifting toward extreme conservatism and sometimes toward riskier forms of action than the individual members would otherwise be prepared to take.[7]

This dynamic is commonly referred to as “group polarization.”

As a process, “when like-minded people find themselves speaking only with one another, they get into a cycle of ideological reinforcement where they end up endorsing positions far more extreme than the ones they started with.”[8] [emphasis added]

And because these positions are so extreme, they are held with extreme ferocity against all criticisms.

Examples of alarmist climate groupthink

Groupthink is common in academic disciplines. For example, philosopher Walter Kaufmann, a world-renowned editor of Nietzsche’s works, identifies groupthink in his discipline as follows:

There is a deep reluctance to stick out one’s neck: there is safety in numbers, in belonging to a group, in employing a common method, and in not developing a position of one’s own that would bring one into open conflict with more people than would be likely to be pleased.[9]

Similarly, in the 2009 Climategate emails, CRU director Phil Jones shows this “deep reluctance to stick out one’s neck” in writing (July 5, 2005):

“The scientific community would come down on me in no uncertain terms if I said the world had cooled from 1998.”

Keith Briffa laments (Sept. 22, 1999):

“I know there is pressure to present a nice tidy story as regards ‘apparent unprecedented warming in a thousand years or more in the temperature proxy data’ but in reality the situation is not quite so simple. … I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago.”

Elsewhere, Briffa notes (April 29, 2007):

“I tried hard to balance the needs of the science and the IPCC, which were not always the same. I worried that you might think I gave the impression of not supporting you well enough while trying to report on the issues and uncertainties.”

All of the above (there are many more examples in the Climategate emails) reveal scientific groupthink, which puts the needs and desires of a peer group—the desire for “consensus”—ahead of the scientific facts. We would, undoubtedly, find other examples of alarmist groupthink if we could examine the emails of other promoters of climate alarmism, like James Hansen’s Goddard Institute.

This groupthink isn’t at all surprising. After all, alarmist climate scientists attend several conferences a year with like-minded people (the views of outright “deniers” are not welcome, as the CRU emails clearly reveal). In the absence of real debate or dissent they easily persuade themselves that human beings are the main reason the planet is warming and it’s going to be a catastrophe. Why? Because everyone else seems to think so and, in groupthink, consensus is highly valued. The same principles operate strongly, of course, in religion.

The ‘hockey stick’ and groupthink

Climate alarmists will, of course, angrily dispute that climate science groupthink is as strong as claimed here. However, groupthink is clearly identified in the 2006 Wegman report into the Michael Mann hockey stick controversy.

The Wegman report was commissioned by the U.S. House Science Committee after Mann refused to release all the data leading to the hockey stick conclusions, conclusions that eliminated the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age in order to show today’s warming as unprecedented. In fact, as mathematician Steve McIntyre discovered after years of FOI requests, the calculations in Mann’s paper had not been checked by the paper’s peer reviewers and were, in fact, wrong.

The National Academy of Sciences committee, led by Dr. Edward Wegman, an expert on statistics, identified one of the reasons why Mann’s paper was so sloppily peer-reviewed as follows:

There is a tightly knit group of individuals who passionately believe in their thesis. However, our perception is that this group has a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism and, moreover, the work has been sufficiently politicized that they can hardly reassess their public positions without losing credibility.[10] [emphasis added]

Wegman noted that the Mann paper became prominent because it “fit some policy agendas.”[11]

The Wegman Report also observed:

As statisticians, we were struck by the isolation of communities such as the paleoclimate community that rely heavily on statistical methods, yet do not seem to be interacting with the mainstream statistical community. The public policy implications of this debate are financially staggering and yet apparently no independent statistical expertise was sought or used.[12] [emphasis added]

In other words, alarmist climate scientists are part of an exclusive group that talks mainly with itself and avoids groups that don’t share the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis and alarmist political agenda. Overall, Wegman is describing with great precision a science community whose conclusions have been distorted and polarized by groupthink.

Recognizing groupthink

After the Climategate emails, some consensus climate scientists began to recognize the dangers of groupthink within their discipline. So, Georgia Tech climatologist Judith Curry wrote in 2009:

In my opinion, there are two broader issues raised by these emails that are impeding the public credibility of climate research: lack of transparency in climate data, and “tribalism” in some segments of the climate research community that is impeding peer review and the assessment process.[13]

Similarly, IPCC contributor Mike Hulme wrote:

It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.[14] [emphasis added]

In short, it is clear that groupthink—a later, more scientific word for “tribalism”—is strongly at work within alarmist climate science, however much the affected scientists refuse to recognize it. As a result of tribalism (groupthink), alarmist climate science makes assertions that are often extreme (polarized), including the explicit or implicit endorsement of claims that global warming will lead to “oblivion,” “thermageddon,” mass extinctions, and the like. Indeed, one of the ironies of climate science is that extremist AGW believers like Gore, Hansen and Schneider have succeeded in persuading the media and public that those who don’t make grandiose claims, the skeptics, are the extremists.

Group polarization offers a rational explanation for extreme alarmist claims, given that the empirical scientific evidence is simply not strong enough to merit such confidence. It is likely that even intelligent, highly educated scientists have been caught in what has been called the “madness of crowds.” Indeed, writing in the Times Higher Education magazine, British philosopher Martin Cohen makes this connection explicit:

Is belief in global-warming science another example of the “madness of crowds”? That strange but powerful social phenomenon, first described by Charles Mackay in 1841, turns a widely shared prejudice into an irresistible “authority”. Could it [belief in human-caused, catastrophic global warming] indeed represent the final triumph of irrationality?[16]

There is strong psychological evidence that alarmist fears of climate change are far more the result of groupthink and the group polarization process than scientific evidence and, yes, this alarmist groupthink has indeed led to the triumph of irrationality over reason.

Paul MacRae is the author of False Alarm: Global Warming—Facts Versus Fears.

1. Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996, p. 49.
2. Irvin L. Janis, Groupthink: Psychological Studies of Policy Decisions and Fiascoes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1982, p. 3.
3. Janis, p. vii.
4. Janis, p. 9.
5. Janis, p. 247.
6. Janis, pp. 174-175.
7. Janis, p. 5.
8. Andrew Potter, “The newspaper is dying—hooray for democracy.” Maclean’s, April 7, 2008, p. 17.
9. Walter Kaufmann, Critique of Religion and Philosophy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 1990 (1958), p. 51.
10. Edward Wegman, et al., “Ad Hoc Committee Report on the ‘Hockey Stick’ Global Climate Reconstruction.” U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, 2006, p. 65.
11. Wegman, et al., p. 29.
12. Wegman, et al., p. 51.
13. Judith Curry, “On the credibility of climate research.” Climate Audit blog, Nov. 22, 2009.
14. Andrew Revkin, “A climate scientist who engages skeptics.” Dot.Earth, Nov. 27, 2009.
15. Steve Fuller, Kuhn vs. Popper: The Struggle for the Soul of Science. Cambridge: Icon Books, 2006 (2003), p. 105.
16. Martin Cohen, “Beyond debate?” Times Higher Education, Dec. 10, 2009.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | Leave a comment

Westinghouse to build 6 nuclear power plants in India spurring implementation of Paris climate pact

In US, Indian Premier Modi vows to improve ease of doing business

The BRICS Post | June 8, 2016

India and the US have signed an agreement to enhance cooperation on energy security, clean energy and climate change, and an MOU on cooperation in gas hydrates. In Washington on Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister held extensive talks with US President Barack Obama, including climate change and nuclear energy.

A Reuters report quoted a Westinghouse Electric spokesperson as saying “negotiations continue” on building 6 nuclear reactors in India. A joint statement, after Modi-Obama talks, said India and the US Export-Import Bank were working to complete a financing package for the project.

The Indian Prime Minister also pushed for enlisting US support to India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation bloc, APEC.

A New York Times editorial argued that India has yet merited a NSG berth.

India does not meet one of the major factors for membership of the NSG – being a party to Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Many countries including Ireland, Austria, New Zealand, among many others, are opposed to India’s NSG ascension.

Meanwhile, the US-India joint statement issued after Modi-Obama talks does not mention the much hyped South China Sea dispute. The document does refer to “settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means”.

“The leaders reiterated the importance they attach to ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight and exploitation of resources as per international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and settlement of territorial disputes by peaceful means,” said the Indo-US joint statement on Tuesday.

The US has not signed the UN treaty, the UNCLOS.

A trilateral Russia-India-China (RIC) statement earlier this year echoed Beijing’s position that the disputes must be resolved between “parties directly involved”.

“Russia, India and China are committed to maintaining a legal order for the seas and oceans based on the principles of international law, as reflected notably in the UN Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS). All related disputes should be addressed through negotiations and agreements between the parties concerned,” the joint statement after the Russian, Chinese and Indian Foreign Ministers meet said in April in Moscow.

At the Oval Office meeting between Obama and Modi on Tuesday, the two leaders also reiterated their commitment to pursue low greenhouse gas emission development strategies in the pre-2020 period and to develop long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.

New Delhi has vowed to join the Paris climate change deal this year, which would provide a “significant global momentum” towards implementation of the historic agreement, the White House said.

“We discussed how we can, as quickly as possible, bring the Paris Agreement into force,” Obama said.

Modi, who also addressed the US-India Business Council, stressed that the Indian government would “continue to make progress on improving the investment climate and ease of doing business”.

“We are encouraging foreign and domestic investors to set up high quality and efficient manufacturing facilities,” Modi told the audience.

On Tuesday, Amazon Inc AMZN.O Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said his company would invest an additional $3 billion in India.

Two major American business bodies earlier this year, however, voiced disappointment with what they called “the glacial pace” of market reforms in India.

In a submission to the US commerce secretary, the US National Association of Manufacturers urged Washington to press for change during Modi’s visit.

“Despite statements made by Prime Minister Modi and other senior Indian officials over the past two years, there has been limited progress in many key areas that make it challenging to do business in India,” the group wrote.

US exporters to India have frequently complained about protectionist restrictions and high tariffs. India and the US have also dragged several trade disputes to the WTO.

The United States won a ruling against India at the WTO in February after challenging the rules on the origin of solar cells and solar modules used in India’s national solar power program. In April, Indian Minister of State for power, coal, new and renewable energy Piyush Goyal said the government intends to file 16 cases against the US for allegedly violating WTO treaties.

Modi is set to address the US Congress on Wednesday.

US to build 6 nuclear power plants in India: WH

Press TV – June 8, 2016

The United States and India have agreed to move ahead with a plan to build six nuclear reactors in India, according to the White House.

The plan was finalized during a meeting between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House on Tuesday.

It will be the first such construction since the two countries signed a landmark nuclear accord in 2008.

The price for the project is still under discussion, but officials said more difficult issues like liability have been worked out.

India passed a law in 2010 that would make US companies constructing nuclear power plants in the country liable for accidents.

Under the new deal, India’s Nuclear Power Corporation and Westinghouse Electric Co. of the US will begin engineering work for the reactors, though the final contract is not expected to be completed until June 2017, White House officials said.

“Culminating a decade of partnership on civil nuclear issues, the leaders welcomed the start of preparatory work on-site in India for six AP 1000 reactors to be built by Westinghouse and noted the intention of India and the US Export-Import Bank to work together toward a competitive financing package for the project,” the White House said in a statement.

“Once completed, the project would be among the largest of its kind,” it added.

The deal is believed to be part of Washington’s drive to boost cooperation with India as a counterbalance to China.

Obama said at the meeting that the US and India intended to “cooperate more effectively in order to promote jobs, promote investment, promote trade and promote greater opportunities for our people.”

The meeting will be followed by a speech Wednesday by the Indian prime minister to a joint session of the US Congress, where he is expected to be greeted warmly by American lawmakers.

Modi also announced his intention to formally join the international climate-change agreement reached in Paris in December.

The inclusion of India is significant as it could guarantee that the Paris climate agreement will go into effect before the next US president takes office. India is the world’s third-largest emitter after China and the US.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for US president, has vowed to “cancel” the pact if elected.

It is Modi’s fourth visit to the US as New Delhi intends to forge closer ties with Washington before President Obama leaves office next year.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear Power, Progressive Hypocrite, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , | Leave a comment

The Iraq Inquiry: A Government U-Turn and an “Apology” from Tony Blair

By Felicity Arbuthnot | Dissident Voice | June 7, 2016

It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century. You don’t just invade another country on phony pretexts in order to assert your interests.

— John Kerry, Meet the Press, March 2nd, 2014

If “a week is a long time in politics”, a quote attributed to British Prime Minister Harold Wilson (1964-1970 and 1974-1976), under David Cameron’s tenure – a man who has been kicked into myriad U-turns over feckless, reckless decisions – a day is an age.

On June 3rd it was announced that a summary of the long awaited Iraq Inquiry (November  24th, 2009 to February 2nd, 2011) chaired by Sir John Chilcot is to be finally released on  July 6th and to be given free to the families of the Iraq invasion’s 179 British victims. The summary costs £30, the hard copy of the full 2.6 million word Report a staggering £767. The families would have to foot the bill for the latter themselves.

The Inquiry has cost the British taxpayers £10 million, with Sir John Chilcot during his various and complex work since, garnering £790 a day, also courtesy of the taxpayer.

As the Independent points out (June 3rd, 2016):

The process of drawing up the final Report has been beset by years of delays. The most recent substantial delay came during the so-called ‘Maxwellisation’ process where people criticised in the report are given an opportunity to respond.

A mind bending concession to alleged war criminals.

Whilst: ‘A spokesperson for the Inquiry said the free summary given to the families of the war’s British victims would be “substantial” ‘ (Independent, June 3rd) to those whose sons and daughters lives were sacrificed for a swathe of mistruths, mega-incompetence and alleged illegalities, only every word, line, chapter and verse of the Report will do.

Also, the summary would only go to immediate families, not relatives.

Yes, the Report will be on line, but for those wishing to study in depth, hard copies are vital. And what would it cost even in ink cartridges and paper to download twelve volumes?

The bereaved families responded with fury, demanding that Tony Blair pay for their copies. For a man who has made up to to an estimated £100 million, the gesture of a mere £137,293 – the cost of 179 copies – to those who have given their children for his assertions of Saddam Hussein’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction which could strike the West in forty five minutes etc., would be a minimal price to pay. It would be small change in Blair-land.

Perhaps he could sign each one, with a dedication. It would surely read something like:

Within these volumes you will find all my justifications for involving our great country in the invasion of Iraq. I took the view, which I still passionately believe, as I said at the time on national television ‘it was the right thing to do’, morally and legally. In making you this gift of the Report I would like to say that I am truly sorry for your loss.

Our great country is indebted through the sacrifice of your child who, by obeying orders and upholding my deeply held conviction that the Middle East would be a better place, which, of course, is the case. I also take the view that there was no need for any Inquiry or shameful pointing of fingers at myself or my government, intelligence agencies or military.

As my friend Madeleine Albright expressed so eloquently some years ago, there are times when the lives of the children of others are ‘a hard choice … but the price is worth it.’ As I said on television just prior to the invasion ‘I know I’m right.’ I still do. May my words be of some comfort to you in your grief.

However, back to reality. Rose Gentle, whose nineteen year old son Gordon was killed in Basra, said of the denial of the full Report:

It’s disgusting … Why should we have to pay – have we not paid enough times with the lives of our sons? The families should get a free copy of this, we have paid the cost with their deaths … (The Guardian,  June 2016)

Roger Bacon, whose son Major Matthew Bacon was killed in 2005, said: “ … we have already paid with our children’s lives.”

Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Defence Secretary, stated that it was “grotesque and offensive” that families should be asked to pay to read the findings. Indeed.

In respect of those who died in Iraq, they have suffered first the terrible loss of their loved ones, then the lengthy delay for an Inquiry to be launched, then the even lengthier delay for that report to be published. Do not now add insult to these already grievous injuries by making them pay to read that Report.

Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron, wrote to the MoD demanding they give free copies to bereaved families on request:

It is unbelievable that after all these years of waiting, of stalling and uncertainty, we now find out that the families will have to pay for a copy of the Report … Families who have waited years, mother and fathers who have fought to have this Report see the light of day, should not have to pay for this … The government now needs to provide some form of closure to the victims of this illegal war. (Emphasis added.)


By the end of the day on June 3rd, after the furore from cross party MPs, the families and the public, No 10 Downing Street put out a statement saying that there was: “ … no question of families of service personnel who died in Iraq having to pay for copies of the Chilcot Report”.

Better shamefully late, than never.

Yet in all this, no government, Ministry of Defence (MoD) or relevant official has mentioned the disabled, limbless, chronically ill, resultant from the invasion. They and their families are forgotten, invisible, not to even get the summary free. Reported casualties are 5,970, but the total figures have not been released by the MoD.

There are those who came back from this disaster built on a lie with no arms and no legs, brain damaged, others generally incapacitated by mega, but lesser limb loss and trauma.

“During the conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been reticent in publishing details of British casualties …” states Casualty Monitor, adding: “… there are still serious problems with the accuracy and incompleteness of the information they release.”

In other words the MoD, to use Sir Robert Armstrong’s memorable quote to an Australian Court in 1986, is “economical with the truth.”

Moreover, numbers of Field Hospital admissions and the very seriously injured requiring Aero-medical evacuations were simply not available from the MoD during 2003, 2004 and 2005. See last chart here.

In a further venture into fantasy land, the probably two million Iraqi families bereaved between the embargo and the invasion surely deserve a copy – courtesy of Mr “I know I’m right” Blair.

Meanwhile in Iraq, Bush and Blair’s body count continues thirteen years and five weeks after “Mission accomplished”, declared on USS Abraham Lincoln, May 1st, 2003, by George W. Bush. According to the United Nations at least 741 Iraqis, including more than 400 civilians, were killed and 1,374 wounded in April of this year alone, due to the ongoing violence – a monthly nightmare which in pre-invasion Iraq was unthinkable.

However, back to the Iraq Report.  As an astute Facebook friend commented:

To those looking forward to reading the Chilcot report, the one paid for by your taxes, I hope you have saved your pennies up. Classic British Government. You might have paid for it once but you have to pay for it a few more times before you can actually have it.

Another commented: “Only Tony Blair will be able to afford it.”

Further input redundant.

• With thanks to writer Lesley Docksey for inspired angle for Tony Blair’s “apology.”

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , | 1 Comment

UK training Saudi police in CSI techniques that risk torture


Reprieve – June 7, 2016

Britain’s College of Policing is teaching the Saudi Arabian interior ministry high-tech forensic skills that risk being “used to identify individuals who later go on to be tortured”, an internal police report obtained by human rights charity Reprieve reveals.

According to the document, released under Freedom of Information, the controversial training program began in 2009 and continued even after juvenile protesters were rounded up, tortured and sentenced to death following the Arab Spring uprisings.

British police now want to step up their training package to include advanced cyber-crime courses, which could be misused to target pro-democracy activists in Saudi Arabia.

Although the UK Foreign Office opposes the death penalty, the College of Policing wants to teach Saudi officers how to analyse mobile phone records, which could lead to activists being arrested and executed.

Ali al-Nimr was just 17 years old when he was sentenced to death for attending non-violent protests in 2012 and allegedly using his blackberry phone to invite friends to join demonstrations.  At trial the prosecution requested execution by “crucifixion”.

Many more juvenile protesters were swept up and tortured in the 2012 crackdown, including Dawood al Marhoon and Abdullah Hasan al-Zaher, who now face beheading at any time. Another teenage activist, Ali al Ribh, who was arrested at school, was among 47 people executed on a single day in January 2016.

That same month, the College of Policing proposed further courses for Saudi personnel despite noting that there was a risk “the skills being trained are used to identify individuals who later go on to be tortured or subjected to other human rights abuses”.

Other techniques on sale to Saudi detectives include decrypting hard drives, retrieving deleted files, voice recognition and trawling CCTV systems. The project is described as an “income generating business opportunity” for the College of Policing.

Some of the training has taken place at the College of Policing’s forensics centre outside Durham, and “over 120 fingerprint personnel are in the process of being trained”.

The document says that the Saudi officers are drawn from the gulf kingdom’s 300,000 strong interior ministry, which includes policemen, prison guards and national security staff.

The college claims to have developed a “trusted and professional partnership” with the ministry, which carries out beheadings, stoning and lashings. David Cameron faced outcry in Parliament last year over a Ministry of Justice project with Saudi prison guards.

Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of the death penalty team at Reprieve said: “It is scandalous that British police are training Saudi Arabian officers in techniques which they privately admit could lead to people being arrested, tortured and sentenced to death.”

“The training Britain delivered included hi-tech skills that could easily have been used to target pro-democracy activists in Saudi Arabia. Let’s not forget that while this was going on, teenage protestors like Ali al-Ribh, Abdullah al-Zaher, Ali al-Nimr, and Dawood al-Marhoon were rounded up and sentenced to death.”

“The FCO has to explain how on earth helping execute juvenile protesters makes anyone safer in Saudi Arabia or the UK.”

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture | , , | 1 Comment

US terror report on Iran a stupendous denial of Washington-Saudi terror reality

By Finian Cunningham  | RT | June 7, 2016

Since 1984, the US has been labeling Iran a leading state sponsor of terrorism, a charge that was reiterated last week. However, global events explode Washington’s credibility and denial of reality.

Russia’s Defense Ministry, for example, this week reported that some 270 civilians were killed within 24 hours from shelling of Syria’s second city, Aleppo, by Al-Qaeda-affiliated terror groups.

Moscow said the surge in violence by these groups followed from the curbing of Russian air strikes at the request of Washington – purportedly to spare “moderate rebels” located in the same areas as Al-Qaeda terror brigades.

The latter include Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), both of which are internationally proscribed by the United Nations Security Council.

As noted by former British ambassador to Syria, Peter Ford, the risible pretext of protecting “moderates” is a cynical cover for the unavoidable fact that the US is, in effect, siding with Al-Qaeda terrorism in Syria for the overthrow of the Assad government.

It has been reliably documented that the anti-government militia in Syria affiliated with Al-Qaeda, including Jaysh al-Islam and Ahrar al-Sham, are supported materially and politically by the governments of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and NATO-member Turkey – all close allies of Washington.

Also in the news, just as the latest US State Department report came out pillorying Iran over terrorism, the United Nations condemned the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen for inflicting 60 percent of child deaths over the past year in the war-torn country.

The Saudi-led coalition includes the US and Britain which supplies warplanes and logistics for air raids purportedly aimed at defeating Houthi rebels who ousted the US-Saudi-backed regime in early 2015. The latest UN report also condemned the Saudi coalition for destroying hospitals and schools across Yemen, which had already been designated as the Arab region’s poorest country even before the US-Saudi military intervention began in March 2015.

Disgracefully, within days of the report being published UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon buckled under political pressure and removed Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners from a global blacklist of rights violations against children.

Nevertheless, while in Syria the terrorist campaign is being waged by Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups funded and weaponized indirectly by foreign governments. In Yemen a major part of the violence is attributable directly to the military forces of the same foreign governments. By any definition this is terrorism, either state-sponsored or state-directed.

In presenting its latest global terror report, the US State Department devotes the vast majority of its concern to the threat posed by Islamic State (also referred to as ISIL) and related Al-Qaeda franchises, such as Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia.

“ISIL remain the greatest terrorism threat globally,” said the US State Department, adding: “ISIL-aligned groups have established branches in parts of the Middle East, North Africa, West Africa, the Russian North Caucasus , and South Asia.”

In the US press briefing at least 95 per cent of the content was connected to Al-Qaeda-linked terror groups. Only about five per cent dealt with Iran and its alleged sponsorship of terrorism.

After detailing ISIS terrorism, the State Department then makes the discrepant assertion: “The United States continues to work to disrupt Iran’s support for terrorism. Iran remains the leading state sponsor of terrorism globally.”

If Iran is the “leading terror sponsor globally”, as Washington claims, then why is its latest global terror report preponderantly taken up with Al-Qaeda and various tentacle organizations?

Moreover, in the fleeting details on Iran in its report, the US bases its claim on the rather hackneyed allegation that “Iran continues to provide support to Hizballah [sic], Palestinian terrorist groups in Gaza, and various groups in Iraq and throughout the Middle East” as well as its support for “the Syrian regime.”

Iran scoffed at the allegations, saying that its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine is a legitimate alliance with liberation movements against US-backed Israeli state oppression.

As for Washington’s claim that Iranian support for Syria constitutes terror sponsorship, if it were a credible assessment then the US should at least be consistent in its logic and thereby should have included Russia in its latest terror report, given that Moscow is supporting the Syrian government militarily.

The US global terror report does not stand up to scrutiny. Its flagrant disconnect with reality betrays the study as having a political, or more bluntly, propaganda purpose.

The fact is that terrorist activity around the world is, by far, greatly more ascribed to Al-Qaeda-type groups. The US State Department says so itself. These groups are funded ideologically and logistically by Washington’s allies, principally Saudi Arabia. That connection of Saudi sponsorship of terror organizations has even been acknowledged previously by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the US Treasury Department, among other senior establishment sources.

Hezbollah’s, and by extension Iran’s, alleged involvement in terrorism is an equally politicized subject fraught with murky claims and counter-claims. The US and Israel designate Hezbollah as “terrorist” but the European Union and several European governments do not. Russia officially views Hezbollah as a legitimate political party, which is a member of Lebanon’s coalition government.

Washington’s antagonism to Hezbollah arises from a litany of alleged terrorist actions, including the bombing of a US marines barracks in Beirut in 1983, which killed 241 American troops – the single greatest US military loss since the Second World War.

Several US courts have convicted Hezbollah and Iran of involvement in the Beirut bomb massacre, as well as other atrocities in Lebanon. Hezbollah and Tehran reject many of these accusations. But even if there were some truth to the American claims, it could be reasonably argued that the actions constitute military combat, not terrorism. The US-backed Israeli invasions of Lebanon in 1982 and again in 2006 were themselves arguably acts of aggression, or state-terrorism.

Another disconnect in the latest US terror report highlighting Iran is the flurry of European trade agreements signed with Tehran since the conclusion of the international nuclear accord last year. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s trip to Finland last week was but the latest in a host of renewed European relations.

If Iran were such a terrorist pariah, as Washington asserts, would European governments really be courting Tehran with evident diplomatic respect?

It is estimated the US owes Iran upwards of $100 billion in assets frozen since the Islamic revolution in 1979. The US is also accused of dragging its feet on implementing sanctions relief under the terms of the P5+1 nuclear accord that came into effect on January 16 this year.

It seems obvious that one way for Washington to procrastinate on implementing the nuclear accord and the financial rewards due to Iran from unfrozen assets and European trade deals would be for the US to maintain its narrative accusing Iran of “sponsoring terrorism”.

Despite Washington’s narrative sounding increasingly hollow and in denial of its own documented links to global terrorism.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments