Aletho News


Oligarch Jeff Bezos

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | January 17, 2018

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has a net worth of $105 billion and is the richest man in the world. But he is not just the richest man at this moment in history. He is the richest person who has ever lived. As of 2017 he and seven other billionaires had a collective net worth equal to that of the poorest 3.6 billion people on earth.

These figures have been in the news of late but without much useful analysis. The corporate media refuse to state what is obvious. Namely that inequality is worse around the world precisely because these super rich people demand it.

While pundits and politicians go on breathlessly about oligarchs in Russia, they seldom take a look at the wealthiest in their own backyard and the control they exert over the lives of millions of people. When Amazon announced it would choose a site for its new headquarters, cities across the country began a furious race to the bottom. Amazon is not alone in the thievery department. Major corporations like Walmart always request and receive public property and public funds in order to do business.

Some 235 cities have put themselves in the running for this dubious venture. Chicago is willing to give Amazon $1.3 billion in payroll taxes that prospective employees would ordinarily pay that city. If Chicago wins this booby prize, Amazon employees would pay taxes to their employer and not to the government. This is truly cutting out the middle man and makes real the rule of, by, and for the wealthiest.

The potential for public outrage isn’t lost on unprincipled politicians. Some cities now refuse to reveal how much they plan to give away. But the news to date is disheartening with Boston offering $75 million while Houston is willing to part with $268 million. Amazon says it will hire 50,000 people but their business model already pays employees so little that many of them qualify for public assistance, despite being employed.

The United States is as much of an oligarchy as countries it usually disparages but it is far more dishonest about its true nature. All talk of democracy is a lie as the rich get richer, by an additional $1 trillion in 2017, and wield more and more power over the lives of everyone else.

The Bezos juggernaut is not restricted to theft of public money. He is also the sole owner of the Washington Post, one of the most influential newspapers in the country. Bezos owns a newspaper that is an organ of the ruling elite and he also has a $600 million contract to provide the Central Intelligence Agency with cloud computing services.

The Washington Post was the force behind Propaganda or Not, an effort to destroy left wing voices like those at Black Agenda Report. Under the guise of fighting Russia and so-called fake news, the Bezos owned Post began the censorship campaign that has put the left’s presence on the Internet in such jeopardy.

Politicians outdo one another giving away public resources to the richest man on the planet who also owns a major newspaper and services the surveillance state. If it can be said that any one person rules the world, Bezos would be obvious choice. No one in Chicago, Boston, Houston or any of the other cities giving away the store ever voted for Jeff Bezos. All talk of democracy is a sham as long as the richest people take from the rest of humanity.

The effort to make government an irrelevance is thoroughly bipartisan. Republicans and Democrats alike are willing to turn over government coffers to Bezos and his ilk and the rights of the people be damned.

Whoever wins this tarnished brass ring ought to be consigned to political defeat. The mayor, aldermen, city council members or whoever else brings disaster to their locality should be punished for aiding and abetting the theft. If these cities can give to the richest man who ever lived, they can surely use public money to help their residents right now. But they will never do that because they are all bought off and compromised. They are either cynical or afraid to go against the real rulers of the country.

Bezos may look like the villain in a James Bond movie but there is nothing funny about him. He is deadly serious and so are his intentions. In a Bezos run world, every worker will be impoverished, every level of government will subsidize corporations, and anyone who speaks out will be discredited and under surveillance.

The last thing any city needs is a new Amazon headquarters. We need an end to billionaire rule in this country and around the world. That will be the salvation of the people, not more sweatshops run by wealthy people who steal from everyone else.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , | 2 Comments

This Does Not Represent the Views of the University

By Maximilian Forte | Zero Anthropology | January 20, 2018

I know that I am not the first person to ask this, but when did universities start having “views”? When some professors indulge their rights to free speech or put academic freedom into practice, they can sometimes express views that some members of the public find controversial, distasteful, or reprehensible. In such cases, one frequently reads their university administrations publishing memos to the effect that, “Professor X’s views on Subject Y do not represent the views of the university”. What does that mean? Has “the university” studied the subject to the same degree as the professor, thus allowing it to conclude its views are the correct ones? Was the professor supposed to be instructed on the correct views to represent, since the job of professor apparently means not having an independent mind? Does it mean that Professor X does not represent the views of all professors and students at the university? How could anyone ever assume that one professor spoke for all others? Does it instead mean that the professor does not represent the views of those in the administration? The support staff? If so, who cares? And where exactly did the university administration publish its “party line”? When I was twice hired for tenure-track positions, the one thing I recall no Dean ever telling me was: “Here is a list of the views of the university. Only if you uphold these views can you consider working here. Should you ever express any differing views, you may be subjected to disciplinary action”. Nonetheless, the attitude of some university administrations in North America is that they have a right to publicly castigate faculty for not toeing the line. It is as if “the university” has been reduced to working as a mere cell of a ruling political party.

One could ask similar questions as above, only in reverse. What entitles administrators to speak for the university as a whole? How do they know that Professor X’s statements really do not reflect the views of the university? Did they ever consult faculty and students? Where is all the survey data that reveal the views of faculty on any subject? How is “the university” defined? Is it just the board of governors? Whose views does the university represent? Since I work in a public university—Canada only has public universities, with maybe one or two little exceptions—can we then assume that the “views of the university” neatly align with the broad majority of the public that we presumably are meant to serve? Is it the job of professors to simply reflect the views of others? Since when did it fall to professors to “represent” their universities—and will they get paid extra for doing PR work?

Three transformations have happened more or less simultaneously, and relatively recently, which may explain these bizarre communiqués from university administrators. One has to do with the politicization of university directorates, especially as even public universities have turned to support from private donors, most of whom have big axes to grind. Private donors are keen to buy support, and silence. Few are the donors who give generously just because they are thrilled by learning—that would be too countercultural in the North American context in which we lionize our meat packers and vilify intellectuals. From this first point, where private donors act as lobbyists for special interests, almost all else follows. To assure donors that universities are being run in a “smart” fashion, administrators have multiplied administrative positions and stacked them with persons from the private sector, who draft “strategic plans” and design what are essentially corporate business models. In other words, politicization stems from privatization and corporatization—this is the neoliberal transformation of the public university. To be clear, this transformation has its origins neither in university administrations nor the private sector, both of which lack the political power and authority necessary to effect such a transformation. Instead, governments are the ones that actively took the decision to cut back on funding for public universities, which is their responsibility, even as taxation levels either remained the same or continued to rise. They chose to redirect public funding away from universities, just as they did with education as a whole, as well as healthcare, social welfare, and so on. Governments pressed universities to raise funds from private sources, just as they pressed them to expand their governance by including more individuals from the private sector.

The second change has to do with universities seeking to raise their public profile, to gain visibility, and advance in the rankings through enhanced public recognition. To gain recognition, university websites have shed their traditional dull and dour functionality, and have become replicas of CNN. Even the university shields have been tossed, in favour of some terrible, and terribly expensive, brand logos produced by private consultants and graphic designers. Universities now also have “media relations” units, with expert staff that spend their days in Twitter and Facebook, and writing up newsy articles about what select faculty members and students are achieving (more on the political functions of “media relations” units, below). These same media units then do the rounds of the departments, advising faculty on how best to interact with journalists. To the laughter of everyone in my Department, one team showed us a video that advised us to dumb down our research so that “even your grandmother could understand it”. I still have no idea why they focused on grandmothers, not grandfathers, and why they assume that all grandmothers are ignorant rubes—perhaps theirs are? In addition, the media units encourage us to list ourselves as experts, for any journalists perusing the university website, by listing the presumably edgy and sexy topics we have mastered with our unrivalled expertise. Not enough, they then invite professors to do professional photo shoots in which they pose playfully for the camera, with a single short sentence in huge print next to them which somehow encapsulates their decades of research: “Do humans really like food?”

The third major change has to do with how university administrations understand academic freedom, and separately, freedom of speech. One might say they understand these concepts very poorly, or not at all, but I think that misses the above points. The desire by administrators to chill speech, to counter the embarrassingly contrary statements made by publicly outspoken professors, has to do with assuaging private donors as the public university is realigned with the political interests of the so-called top 1%. The immense irony of this is that it is university administrations themselves that actively pushed faculty into the public limelight in the first place, under the strategic rubrics of “knowledge mobilization” and “community outreach”. My university has posted banners around campus that urge us to “mix it up,” “get your hands dirty,” and “embrace the city, embrace the world”—vapid commercialist fluff. Even Hollywood took notice. Bleak Ben Stiller bleakly walked past some of these same bleak posters in his recent bleak film, “Brad’s Status,” which apparently was partly shot on the campus of Concordia University (not that the university is listed in the credits of the film—in fact, the movie credits claim the film was shot either in Hawaii or Boston, Montreal itself is not even mentioned):

Having urged us to “get out there,” university administrators then later express regret when they feel compelled to counter a given professor’s statements with press releases affirming that “this does not represent the views of the university”. This is an “own goal” on the part of university administrators. They have worked assiduously to make the university into a media organization, to turn professors into celebrity advocacy-journalists, and to make the institution responsive to market audiences to such an extent that the autonomy of the university becomes untenable.

Firings of tenured professors by university administrations, over a difference of opinion, are still relatively rare in Canada, when compared with the US or the UK. In fact, it is not an easy option: tenured professors have not only the protection of their tenure, but of their union, and a legally binding contract negotiated with the union on behalf of faculty which ensures academic freedom and due process. Faculty unions in turn belong to a national umbrella organization, CAUT, which boasts a multi-million dollar academic freedom fund and gets actively involved in supporting faculty. Canadian universities are also deeply fearful of lawsuits which could easily demolish their already frail budgets, most of which are running deficits already. Poor financial management and the backlash of legal damage often results in the top administrators being toppled. Rather than go the messy route which, heaven forbid, could also give rise to “bad press”—good lord, not “bad press,” that’s the other court which administrations fear—administrators have had to develop quieter, more insidious and subtle forms of suppression. The way to send “the right message” to the outside world, to properly convey the unspoken “views of the university,” is to publicly promote and praise certain select professors, the ones whose views and whose work best align with those of private individual and corporate donors, or with the ruling party, or the military. To take a recent example: as Donald Trump neared electoral victory, articles were published on the university website, in its magazine and elsewhere, that featured the expert analysis of select faculty—strangely enough, all of whom were clearly pro-Hillary Clinton, anti-Trump, a number of them American expatriates, and who evinced a certain Liberal Party affinity. Unlike in a real university, there was no debate among this small cluster of people bewailing the dawn of the “post-truth” world.

The paradox is that neoliberal university administrators have adopted a policy of containment, at the same time as they seek to publicly advertise themselves. Not wanting “the wrong views” to get notice, they engage in restricting speech by selecting that speech which suits their purposes. Speech is thus not just restricted, it is regulated, by promoting only those persons whose views are safe and deemed worthy of recognition. Speech is thus effectively restricted to those academics that the administrators judge to be “qualified” to speak, thereby limiting not only what is said, but who can say it. Media relations departments have the primary responsibility of inventing online rituals around speech, practicing containment through promotion. In some cases such departments actively tutor budding young “public intellectuals” through seminars and by shadowing them online, always ready for the opportune time for that strategic “retweet”. As weak, vain, and ineffective as these policies are, they serve as a useful reminder of how liberal authoritarianism works. In this case, liberal authoritarianism produces fictional representations of “the views of the university,” by thinning out the work actually done by faculty, spreading out the words of a few to represent the words of all.

Another method of indirect silencing is for the university to “celebrate” the media “accomplishments” of select faculty only, by listing stories of faculty who have appeared in the media… only in select media, depending on the “prestige” of the outlet. This is a way to ensure that professors whose views are worthy of being courted by the corporate, neoliberal imperialist media are the only ones featured. In other words, a professor mentioned in a story on CNN is deemed to be worthy of note; a professor who appears on RT, is ignored, as if the event never happened. Selective pride is a way of signalling selective shame. It has the effect of rendering silent the actual media accomplishments of faculty, in order to produce a false picture of where faculty stand, thus assuring the egos of financial donors and politicians. The policy is implemented with the naïve hope that misaligned professors will quietly yearn for that elusive little place on the university website, a place that amounts to nothing more than a few ephemeral pixels seen by few and forgotten by all.

On a range of other issues, near and dear to regime changers, liberal imperialists, and the pro-Israel lobby, one sees the pattern being reproduced, as I can affirm after close scrutiny that has endured for over a decade. If the topics are Iran, Libya, Syria, refugees, wars, nationalism, and so on, one sees the selectivity being actively enforced, even if it means publishing, praising and promoting the same two or three professors time after time. Rather than a university of hundreds of professors, added to tens of thousands students, we become a university of three individuals. Rarely, probably never, do we see university articles dealing with the working class, with poverty and inequality, critical of neoliberalism, globalization and imperialism. Thus the university presents its “views,” of such a one-sided nature and so bereft of any healthy dissent and disagreement as one would find on no university campus that ever took itself seriously.

Viewed from afar, there might even be something comical about a university administration busying itself with inventing a secret university, one that covertly lurks beneath the chosen public representation of the university. That is the point of creating “signature areas” that determine “strategic hiring”: lifting hiring decisions from the hands of Departments, now it is university executives who impose the parameters on what constitutes a desirable candidate, and decide which areas need to be filled. Slowly they thus invent for themselves the university they desire, as opposed to the real one that actually exists. Finally, they will have something they can sell with confidence. One has to almost feel sympathy for the administrators, who feel the keen pressure of public politics and special interest lobbies, into whose arms they have been driven by governments that renege on their obligation to support public universities.

The “views” of the university are a mercantile fiction, a falsehood designed to mislead the public and to caress donors and politicians, the kinds of individuals who are apparently empty and infantile enough to believe that the winning arguments are those that are advanced in the absence of criticism. What if we taught our students that the best way to learn is to ignore whatever they do not like to hear? That is indeed what is being pushed, ironically under the signs of “tolerance” and “inclusion,” the usual neoliberal claptrap. Thus we witness the university turned into a mere echo chamber for the comfortable, a safe space for moneyed elites to flatter themselves, creating a virtual world of unrivalled ideological purity, contrived harmony, and eternal hegemony.

Finally, messages from university administrators along the lines of “this does not represent the views of the university,” might serve an additional function, but I am just speculating. This might be a polite way of telling rabid members of the public to lay off. We heard you, yes it’s all quite disconcerting, and here is our little statement, now move along. Had universities with their bloated administrations and overt political leanings not wished to enhance their public profiles and represent themselves as quasi-media outlets, they would spare themselves such unnecessary exercises. In the end, pronouncements about “the views of the university” end up multiplying the damage to the university, both as a self-inflicted wounds within the university, and as a sign of intellectual cowardice in the face of bullies. A university administration that engages in such conduct has failed its first and most basic function: to administer university resources in order to facilitate teaching and learning.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , | Leave a comment

US caught in a cleft stick in northern Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | January 20, 2018

The Syrian war is taking a momentous turn with a full-fledged Turkish military operation on the northern Syrian town of Afrin having begun on Saturday. President Recep Erdogan announced today that a ground operation has also been launched alongside artillery bombardment and air strikes. He said an operation against the town of Manbij, some 140 miles to the east, will follow later. (See the Google map here.)

Afrin and Manbij are presently controlled by the Syrian Kurdish forces aligned with the US. The US, which has 5 bases in northern Syria in the territories controlled by the Kurdish militia, has directly helped the occupation of Manbij by the Kurdish militia in 2016. Thus, the Turkish operation signifies a strategic defiance of the US. Washington had repeatedly urged Ankara against making any military moves against the Kurdish militia.

But what finally proved decisive seems to be the US plan to create a 30,000-strong Kurdish force in northern Syria with the intention to use it as a proxy. Erdogan senses that the US is going ahead with the project to create a Kurdish enclave in northern Syria along the Turkish border as a strategic hub for its future interventions in Syria and Iraq. Of course, such a Kurdistan enclave will pose a long-term national security threat to Turkey by giving fillip to Kurdish separatists in Turkey. Erdogan kept pleading with Washington not to align with the Kurds but to no avail and has now decided to take matters into his own hands.

Today’s development may well lead to a confrontation between the US and Turkey. The White House spokesperson had explicitly called on Turkey on Thursday not to undertake any military operations. State Secretary Rex Tillerson telephoned his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Saturday no sooner than it appeared that operations were imminent.

The stance of Iran and Russia is going to be crucial. Iran shares Turkey’s concerns about the US’ alliance with Kurds (who also have links with Israel) and regarding any Kurdistan in the region. Therefore, while Iran may express reservations about the Turkish operation (which is a violation of Syria’s sovereignty notionally), it is unlikely to act against Turkey.

Iran’s focus is on the ongoing Syrian government operations in the northwestern province of Idlib, which is hugely strategic, given its coastline along the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia too is currently focusing on the operations in Idlib, which is adjacent to Latakia province (also along the Eastern Mediterranean) where the Russian naval base at Tartus and the air base at Hmeimim are situated.

Conceivably, there is a tacit understanding that Turkey may not object (except, of course, verbally) to the Syrian operations (supported by the Iran-backed militia and Russia) to crush the al-Qaeda affiliates present in Idlib and secure the big province. The Iranian media reported today that Syrian government forces have captured the strategic Abu al-Dhohour airbase in southeastern Idlib from the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda affiliate) on Saturday afternoon.

As for the Russian stance, significantly, Erdogan deputed the Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Hulusi Akar and the head of the National Intelligence Organization Hakan Fidan to fly to Moscow on Wednesday to meet the Russian Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov and the Russian intelligence. Clearly, a high degree of coordination between Moscow and Ankara went into Erdogan’s decision to order the Turkish military operation. Moscow has expressed concern about the Turkish operations and called for restraint but simultaneously also pulled back the Russian personnel in the vicinity of Afrin out of harm’s way.

There is no conceivable reason why Moscow should help the Americans — against the backdrop of the New Cold War. Interestingly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov hit hard at the US on Friday alleging that the US is balkanizing Syria. He said this at a press conference at the UN Headquarters in New York. To quote Lavrov, “US has been actually setting up alternative government bodies in large parts of Syria, which is contrary to the obligations in relation to Syria’s territorial integrity they have reaffirmed, committed to, particularly at the Security Council’s meetings. We are concerned about that.”

On January 15 at a news conference in Moscow, Lavrov did some plain-speaking:

We can see the aspirations not for settling the (Syrian) conflict as soon as possible, but for assisting those who would want to launch practical steps to change the regime… The actions, we can see now, demonstrate that the United States does not want to keep territorially integrated Syria. It was only yesterday that we heard a new initiative that the US wants to help the so called forces of democratic Syria to organize some border security zones. In fact, that means separation of a huge territory along the borders with Turkey and Iraq.

How does all this add up? To my mind, both Russia and Iran will simply sit back and watch as Erdogan goes about crushing the US’ main proxy (Kurdish militia) in northern Syria. Indeed, they have nothing to lose if a nasty showdown ensues between the US and Turkey, two big NATO powers. On the other hand, if Turkey succeeds in vanquishing the Kurdish militia, the US will have no option but to vacate northern Syria, which will also work to the advantage of Russia and Iran. Succinctly put, the Trump administration has bitten more than it could chew by its unwise decision to keep the US military presence in Syria indefinitely “to counter Assad, Iran.” Tehran knows fully well that if the US is forced to vacate Syria, the US-Israeli project against Iran will become a joke in the Middle East bazaar.

The coming weeks are going to be crucial. If the US appears helpless while Turkey crushes its allies in Syria, it will be a huge loss of face for the Trump administration regionally. Meanwhile, Turkey is actively cooperating with Russia in preparations for holding a Syrian National Dialogue (of government and opposition representatives) in Sochi on January 29-30. Russia now gets another opportunity to speed up the Syrian settlement.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , | 1 Comment

Germany stops arms sales to Saudi Arabia

Yemeni children walk outside a school that was damaged in a Saudi air strike in the southern Yemeni city of Ta’izz. (By AFP)
Press TV – January 20, 2018

Germany has stopped selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and almost all of its allies waging war on Yemen, in a decision likely to have both an impact on the Riyadh regime and a domino effect on other Western and non-Western countries exporting arms to Saudi Arabia.

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Friday that the Federal Security Council was no longer issuing export licenses that “are not in accordance with the conclusion of the exploratory talks,” Germany’s official DPA news agency reported.

The official was referring to ongoing negotiations among the German political factions of the Christian Democratic Union, the Christian Social Union, and Social Democrats on the formation of a new coalition government.

A draft paper on arms exports that came out of those talks said “the federal government, with immediate effect, will no longer export arms to countries as long as they are involved in the Yemeni war.”

Around 13,600 people have died since Saudi Arabia started leading a number of its vassal states in an invasion of Yemen in March 2015.

The war, which enlists the participation among others of the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Sudan, and Senegal, has been reinforced by weapon supplies and logistical support from the United States and the United Kingdom.

Washington signed a $110-billion arms deal with Riyadh last year.

By stopping its own arms sales to Saudi Arabia, European heavyweight Germany may become a model for other Western and non-Western powers already under pressure to end their arms sales to the Riyadh regime. Rights groups have long called for an arms embargo on Saudi Arabia over potential war crimes in Yemen.

A United Nations panel recently compiled a detailed report of civilian casualties caused by the Saudi military and its allies during the war, saying the Riyadh-led coalition has used precision-guided munitions in its raids on civilian targets.

“The attacks were carried out by precision-guided munitions, so it is likely these were the intended targets,” the panel’s report said, according to Al Jazeera.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE were among the top recipients of German-made weaponry in 2016.

The DPA report said, “The German public is traditionally wary of arms deals and [Chancellor Angela] Merkel has been pressured to end sales to countries with precarious human rights records.”

The only exception to the German freeze is Jordan, which will be receiving 130 million euros’ (158 million dollars’) worth of military equipment. Jordan hosts a squadron of German Tornado fighter planes and other hardware used by German Armed Forces.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Slapping an Israeli Soldier More Newsworthy Than Shooting a Palestinian Child in the Face

Coverage of Ahed Tamimi obscures Israeli violence and occupation

Gregory Shupak | FAIR | January 17, 2018

Israeli soldiers shot 14-year-old Palestinian Mohammad Tamimi point-blank in the face with a rubber-jacketed bullet on December 14, 2017, in Nabi Saleh, a small village in the occupied West Bank. The boy had to undergo six hours of surgery and was placed in a medically induced coma.

An hour later, Mohammad’s cousin, Ahed Tamimi, slapped and kicked at an armed Israeli soldier. Early the next week, after video of Ahed’s actions went viral, Israeli soldiers raided the Tamimi home at 3 a.m., arresting Ahed and confiscating the family’s phones, computers and laptops.

Ahed has been denied bail and could face years in prison. (Nour Tamimi, a 16-year-old cousin of Ahed’s who is also in the video, was also arrested and has been released on bail. Ahed’s mother Nariman was arrested later that day when she inquired about her daughter, and she remains in custody.)

Erasing the shooting

A January 1 Newsweek article described the incident as Ahed “assaulting Israeli soldiers,” “threatening two Israeli soldiers and then hitting them in the face,” “pushing the soldiers as well as kicking them, hitting them in the face and throwing stones at them.” The piece referred to Ahed’s actions as “assaults” and an “attack.” It failed to report that Israeli soldiers had just shot and severely injured her 14-year-old cousin.

CNN (1/8/18) also ran a piece that left out the most serious act of violence that day, as did Reuters (12/28/17, 1/1/18). An Associated Press report (12/28/17) had the same deficiency, leaving the false impression that the soldier was attacked without provocation.

The Newsweek piece also failed to note that the Israeli soldiers are members of a military force that has been occupying the West Bank for 50 years. Nor does CBS’s December 21 account mention the occupation, which structures every interaction between Palestinians and Israelis. (The fact that occupied people have a legal right to resist occupation is left out of all of the articles discussed in this piece.)

A report in the New York Times (12/22/17) does not mention that Mohammad Tamimi was shot in the face with a rubber bullet until the 13th paragraph, as though this fact is of minimal importance. The Times describes Nabi Saleh as having “long-running disputes with a nearby Israeli settlement, Halamish, that Nabi Saleh residents say has stolen their land and water.” The Times does not note that, as a colony on occupied territory, Halamish is illegal under international law.

Normalizing military tribunals

The Newsweek piece says Tamimi “has now been indicted on five counts of assaulting security forces,” and that she is “charged with interfering with the soldiers’ duties by preventing them from returning to their post.” It notes that “in May, she was charged with interfering with soldiers who were trying to arrest a protester throwing stones,” and refers to her indictment two other times, including in the headline. At no point does the article mention that the proceedings are taking place in a military court. Similarly, an Associated Press (1/9/18) report refers to “Israel’s hard-charging prosecution” and “the charges” against Tamimi, without mentioning that she is being tried by the same occupying military that shot her cousin.

Omitting that information makes it sound like Tamimi will receive a fair legal process, but the evidence suggests the opposite. According to the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are subjected to a military court system that “does not grant the right to due process and the rights derived from it,” whereas Israelis illegally colonizing the Occupied Territories have the rights and privileges of a civilian legal system.

In the military courts, the age of majority is 16, which means that Palestinian teenagers can be tried as adults, while 18 is the age of majority for Israelis. Defence for Children International Palestine (DCIP), a group that has consultative status with the UN, reports that Israeli military court judges, who are either active duty or reserve officers in the Israeli military, “rarely exclude evidence obtained by coercion or torture, including confessions drafted in Hebrew, a language most Palestinian children do not understand.” The Israeli military courts’ conviction rate of greater than 99 percent underscores how stacked they are against Palestinians.

Framing Resistance as PR Stunts

The New York Times’ framing of Tamimi’s story suggests that the case’s central issue is whether Palestinians or Israelis would have been better off if the soldier had reacted more violently to being slapped. The Times’ David Halbfinger says

that Israelis could not decide whether the soldiers were virtuous pillars of forbearance and strength . . . or an embarrassing advertisement of national paralysis and vulnerability.

Palestinians, meanwhile,

debated whether the video might have damaged their cause, by showing their oppressors behaving gently, or helped it, by showing that resistance can be effective even when one is unarmed.

The paper even implied that Palestinians may be happy that Tamimi was arrested, writing that “the scene of the young woman being hauled away may have given Palestinians the clear-cut propaganda coup they had been denied by the original confrontation.”

CNN similarly trivialized Tamimi’s arrest, noting that Israelis call her “Shirley Temper” because of “her long ginger curls” and because they accuse her of “starring in carefully choreographed ‘Pallywood’ videos, a dismissive characterization of protests considered staged for the camera.”

While the Times and CNN provide a forum for speculation about whether Palestinians want their own children to suffer because it makes for good public relations, there is much this framing overlooks. For example, none of the above-mentioned articles mention the risk of Tamimi being seriously harmed in Israeli jails. Yet UNICEF charges Israel with subjecting Palestinian youth to “practices that amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.” These include children “being aggressively awakened in the middle of the night by many armed soldiers and being forcibly brought to an interrogation center tied and blindfolded, sleep-deprived,” and “threatened with death, physical violence, solitary confinement and sexual assault, against themselves or a family member.”

Israel’s well-documented mistreatment of Palestinian youth is ignored in these reports, which suggests it is not Palestinian parents but Western reporters who are interested in crafting a public relations spectacle.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 3 Comments

US Attempts to Blame Syrian Gov’t for Chemical Attacks Unfounded – Russian MoD

Sputnik – 20.01.2018

The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the United States was ignoring the objective evidence of chemical weapons’ use by terrorists in Syria, targeted against the civilian population and the country’s government troops.

The ministry went on by saying that the US attempts to blame the Syrian government for the use of chemical weapons have never been grounded by any hard evidence.

“The US administration is at best not showing any interest and often ignores the objective factors of terrorists using poisonous substances while fighting against government forces and civilians,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to the Russian military, Washington has failed to fulfill their obligations on the destruction of chemical weapons, preserving at least 10% of their arsenal operational.

“Following our commitments under the Chemical Weapons Convention, Russia has eliminated its entire chemical warfare agents arsenal early, while the United States, using false pretexts, has at first halted and then completely stopped fulfilling its commitments due to a ‘lack of financing,’ still keeping around 10 percent of its arsenal in a combat ready condition,” the ministry added.

The statement was made after on Friday the US State Department said that Russia does everything to protect the government in Damascus despite the fact that the latter allegedly continues using chemical weapons.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | 3 Comments

The less-mentioned lives of Mrs. Krim

By Helena Cobban | Just World News | January 18, 2018

This week, US media have contained many glowing obituaries of a 91-year-old medical researcher called Mathilde Krim, who in the early 1980s played an apparently huge role in publicizing and destigmatizing the then-new disease of HIV/AIDS and in mobilizing funding for NGOs and research centers working to understand the disease and treat its many victims. Dr. Krim died on January 15.

The New York Times, for example, carried this obituary, covering more than half a page, that devoted nearly all its column inches to the many contributions Dr. Krim had made to AIDS research.

What that obit referred to only in passing was the role she had played in immediate post-1945 Europe as a gun-runner for the Irgun– described there only as part of the “Zionist underground” rather than (as would have been more accurate) an already well-known terror group.

Mathilde and JohnsonBut neither the NYT nor any other Western MSM outlet I have seen/heard has made any mention of the role Mrs. Krim played as a very close confidante to Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson during the crucial days leading up to and during Israel’s “Six Day War” of 1967 against its Arab neighbors.

In those days, Mrs. Krim’s husband (her second) was Arthur B. Krim, a prominent Hollywood lawyer who was Chair of the Democratic National Finance Committee. Conveniently, the Krims had a ranch in Texas right next to Pres. Johnson’s; and it was a barely hidden secret in leading government circles in Israel and the United States at the time that Mrs. Krim was extremely close to Lyndon Johnson.

In the days leading up to the war, the many forms of “signaling” conducted between Washington and Tel Aviv were extremely important. Israel’s Labor Party PM, Levi Eshkol, needed to win support from Washington for the strategy he pursued in the lead-up to this war, which he and his generals were planning in exquisite detail in those days. And he needed reassurances from Washington that Pres. Johnson would back him, before he and his generals finally launched the “blitz” against the Arab armies that destroyed nearly all their capabilities in the first hours of the war. Mrs. Krim was almost certainly one key channel for those messages. She and Johnson were at their ranches together in the days leading up to the war (with several in-person visits and phone calls recorded between them); and then she went to Washington DC when he did, once the war broke out.

Mrs. Johnson, meanwhile, was suffering from what was described as a massive headache, and stayed in Texas.

More details about Mathilde Krim’s relationship with Johnson in that crucial period can be found in Donald Neff’s 1985 book Warriors for Jerusalem: The Six Days that Changed the Middle East. I don’t have a copy to hand but shall look for one shortly.

The huge role that Mrs. Krim played in 1967 is well-known to everyone who has seriously studied US-Israeli relations at that time. After all, she was an integral part of a well-oiled pro-Israeli influence movement at the heart of the US political system, and the DC-Tel Aviv signaling process that she was part of worked strongly in Israel’s favor to transform not just the Middle East but the whole shape of global politics. (It also led to the misery of the people of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem; Gaza, and the Golan Heights: all of whom continue until today to live under the military occupation rule initiated by that war.)

So surely, that role Mrs. Krim played in the events of May-June 1967 should have received some mention in the news media this week? That it has not, thus far, probably tells us a lot about the extreme skittishness with which the Western MSM continues to address any topics related to the deep entanglement of so much of the US political elite– especially the Democratic Party– with their counterparts in Israel.

January 20, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 3 Comments