From Project Censored:
1. US Congress Sells Out to Wall Street (For full story, click here)
Americans get the best democracy money can buy, money coming more than ever today from Wall Street. Since 2001, eight of the most troubled financial firms have donated $64.2 million to congressional candidates, presidential candidates and the Republican and Democratic parties. Is it surprising how much they control them? Influential House and Senate finance and banking committee members got $5.2 million from bailout recipients like Goldman Sachs, Citibank, AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and others. In the last election cycle, Obama received at least $4.3 million from the same institutions. From 1998 - 2007, financial and banking companies spent $1.7 billion on federal campaign contributions and another $3.4 billion on lobbyists. In 1999, the Glass-Steagall Act was gutted – the landmark 1933 law that prevented banks from getting into the insurance business. In January 2000, the Commodity Futures Modernization Act legitimized swap agreements and other hybrid instruments, at the core of today's problems, by preventing regulatory oversight of derivatives and leveraging, thus letting Wall Street legally pillage and speculate. The result was a financial coup d'etat cementing the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders who choose candidates, control elections, weaken financial regulations, and basically run the country for their own self-interest. As a result, Washington today has become largely a subsidiary of the Wall Street financial giants.
Sources: Truthout/McClatchy, Oct. 2, 2008, “Lax Oversight? Maybe $64 Million to DC Pols Explains It,” by Greg Gordon. Rolling Stone, Mar. 19, 2009, “The Big Takeover,” by Matt Taibbi. OpenSecrets.org, Feb. 10, 2009, “Congressmen Hear from TARP Recipients Who Funded Their Campaigns,” by Lindsay Renick Mayer.
2. US Schools Are More Segregated Today than in the 1950s (For full story, click here)
According to a UCLA Civil Rights report, "schools in the US are 44 percent non-white, and ... Latinos and blacks, the two largest minority groups, attend schools more segregated today than during the civil rights movement forty years ago." The result is: unequal education which denies disadvantaged youths access to college and better jobs; growing numbers of these youths becoming "virtually unemployable" for anything more than menial labor or the military; greater vulnerability to future poverty, poor health, gangs, crime, and prolonged incarceration in America's vast prison/industrial complex. The report stresses the need for "leaders who recognize that we have a common destiny in an America where our children grow up together, knowing and respecting each other, and are all given the educational tools that prepare them for success in our society." The UCLA Civil Rights Study shows that most severe segregation in public schools is in the Western states, including California – not in the South, as many people believe. Eighty-five percent of the nation's teachers are white, and little progress is being made toward diversifying the nation's teaching force.
Source : The Civil Rights Project, UCLA, January 2009, “Reviving the Goal of an Integrated Society: A 21st Century Challenge,” by Gary Orfield.
3. Toxic Waste Behind Somali Pirates (For full story, click here)
The international community has come out in force to condemn and declare war on the Somali fishermen pirates, while discreetly protecting the illegal, unreported and unregulated fleets from around the world that have been poaching and dumping toxic waste in Somali waters since the fall of the Somali government eighteen years ago. Foreign interests have been using hundreds of vessels to loot the country's food supply, according to the High Seas Task Force (HSTF), stealing "an estimated $450 million in seafood from Somali waters annually" and ruining the livelihoods of Somali fishermen. Somalia has also been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there. Instead of rectifying the problem, the UN passed "aggressive resolutions that entitle and encourage transgressors to wage war on Somali pirates." NATO, the EU, and other countries issued similar orders. Some say that the acts of piracy may actually be born of desperation. What is one man's pirate may be another man's Coast Guard.
Sources: UK's Independent, January 5, 2009, “You are being lied to about pirates,” by Johann Hari. Al Jazeera English, October 11, 2008, “Toxic waste behind Somali piracy,” by Najad Abdullahi. WardheerNews, January 8, 2009, “The Two Piracies in Somalia: Why the World Ignores the Other,” by Mohamed Abshir Waldo.
4. Nuclear Waste Pools in North Carolina (For full story, click here)
North Carolina's Shearon Harris nuclear plant contains the largest radioactive waste storage pools in the country. If the cooling system malfunctions, the resulting fire would be virtually unquenchable and could trigger a nuclear meltdown. Between 1999 and 2003, there were twelve major problems requiring the shutdown of the plant. In 2002, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) put the plant on notice for nine unresolved safety issues detected. When the NRC returned to the plant a few months later, it determined that the corrective actions were “not acceptable.” Between January and July of 2002, Harris plant managers were forced to manually shut down the reactors four times. Problems at Shearon Harris continue with chilling regularity. Yet the NRC ignores the potential risks. A recent study by Brookhaven Labs estimates that a pool fire could cause 140,000 cancers, contaminate thousands of square miles of land, and cause over $500 billion in off-site property damage. The plant is a nuclear time bomb, and millions in the region are at risk.
Source: CounterPunch, August 9, 2008, “Pools of Fire,” by Jeffrey St. Clair.
5. Europe Blocks US Toxic Products (For full story, click here)
Unlike in America, European countries are moving toward a model of insisting on environmental and consumer safety that requires assessing thousands of chemicals for their potential toxic effects. New regulations will mandate that companies seeking market access eliminate toxic substances and produce safer electronics, automobiles, toys and cosmetics. Without compliance henceforth, the products of hundreds of US companies may be excluded from European markets, and according to Mark Schapiro, author of Exposed: The Toxic Chemistry of Everyday Products, "only five percent of all chemicals in the US have undergone even minimal testing." Further, new EPA requirements consider the "costs to industry" in assessing threats to public health as a reason to side with industry and keep regulations minimal. The divergence between US and European regulation has made America the dumping ground for toxic toys, electronics and cosmetics. The US produces and consumes the toxic materials from which other countries around the world are protected.
Sources: Scientific American, Sep. 30, 2008, “European Chemical Clampdown Reaches Across Atlantic,” by David Biello. Environmental Defense Fund, Sep. 30, 2008, “How Europe's New Chemical Rules Affect US.”
6. Lobbyists Buy Congress (For full story, click here)
In 2008, The Center for Responsive Politics reported that "special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008," higher than any year on record and 13.7% more than 2007. That amounts to $17.4 million for each day Congress was in session, or $32,523 per legislator per day. Health interests spent the most for the third consecutive year, $478.5 million, followed by the FIRE sector (finance, insurance and real estate) at $453.5 million. It's a small investment yielding big returns for these and other industries, competing at the public trough for as much as they can get. The payoff is in the billions for some corporations, and for Wall Street trillions have been pledged, as well as interest free money from the banker-owned Federal Reserve.
Source: OpenSecrets.org, “Washington Lobbying Grew to $3.2 Billion Last Year, Despite Economy,” by Center for Responsive Politics.
7. Obama's Military Appointments Have Corrupted Pasts (For full story, click here)
After promising not to politicize intelligence and to keep lobbyists out of top government posts, Obama appointed many former lobbyists and board members of companies doing business directly with the Pentagon. He retained Robert Gates as Defense Secretary despite his history at CIA of having cooked the books for political reasons. According to Agency insiders who knew him, he "corrupted the intelligence product" to suit the White House and further his own self-interest. When Bush nominated him for CIA Director in 1991, a virtual insurrection among CIA analysts erupted over his penchant for having politicized intelligence. Independent counsel Lawrence Walsh states that, despite Gates' touted memory, he "denied recollection of facts thirty-three times." Obama's Deputy Defense Secretary, William Lynn, is just as tainted. The former Raytheon vice president and company lobbyist caused Republican Senator Charles Grassley to object to his "very questionable accounting practices" as Pentagon comptroller during the Clinton years. He and Obama's Undersecretary of Defense, Robert Hale, who served as Assistant Air Force Secretary Financial Comptroller under Clinton, are claimed to have lost enough taxpayer money to pay for Obama's stimulus plan four times over. They now again oversee DOD spending. The list goes on. Most of Obama's national security team is composed of recycled appointees committed to continued imperial wars and outlandish amounts of military spending for them.
Sources: The Hill, November 24, 2008, “Ties to Chevron, Boeing Raise Concern on Possible NSA Pick,” by Roxana Tiron. Truthout.org/Consortium News, November 13, 2008, “The Danger of Keeping Robert Gates,” by Robert Parry. Global Research, February 13, 2009, “Obama's Defense Department Appointees - The 3.4 Trillion Dollar Question,” by Andrew Hughes.
8. Bailed Out Banks Cheat IRS Out of Billions (For full story, click here)
It's an old story. "Only the little people pay taxes," according to former tax cheat Leona Hemsley (1920 - 2007), and rarely does anyone like her get caught. In 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that 83 of the top publicly held US companies have operations in tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands. 14 of these companies, including AIG, Bank of America, and Citigroup, received money from the government bailout. In addition, Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) helped wealthy clients cheat the IRS out of over $20 billion in recent years, according to the Department of Justice. Other notorious tax havens include Austria, Luxembourg, Singapore, Hong Kong, Monaco, Gibraltar, and the Bahamas. In 2008, havens like these saved Goldman Sachs billions of dollars through "changes in (its) geographic earnings mix." For many other companies, it's much the same through legal provisions in the tax code. According to some estimates, trillions of dollars in both corporate profits and personal wealth have migrated offshore, and the offshore banking world now harbors $11.5 trillion in individual wealth alone.
Sources: Bloomberg, December 16, 2008, “Goldman Sachs's Tax Rate Drops to 1% or $14 Million,” by Christine Harper. The Huffington Post, February 23, 2009, “Gimme Shelter: Tax Evasion and the Obama Administration,” by Thomas B. Edsall.
9. US Arms Used for War Crimes in Gaza (For full story, click here)
For decades, America has supplied Israel, population 7.5 million, with tens of billions in aid, interest-free loans, and the latest in new weapons and technology, including illegal white phosphorous shells used against Gazan civilians during Operation Cast Lead. In addition, Washington has supplied F-16 fighters, attack helicopters, tactical missiles, bunker-buster bombs, a wide variety of other munitions, and undisclosed new weapons for testing in real time combat situations against Palestinian or other Arab civilians. In Gaza, shell fragments revealed names of US defense contractors, including Raytheon. Another was marked the Pine Bluff Arsenal in Arkansas. In shocking support for Israel's questionable attacks, and in violation of international and US law, both Houses of Congress overwhelmingly endorsed the continued aggression. Obama stayed silent on the subject in the run-up to his January 20 inauguration.
Sources: Human Rights Watch, Mar. 25, 2009, “White Phosphorus Use Evidence of War Crimes Report,” Fred Abrahams. Guardian, Feb. 23, 2009, “Suspend Military Aid to Israel, Amnesty Urges Obama,” Rory McCarthy. Inter Press Service, Jan. 8, 2009, “US Weaponry Facilitates Killings in Gaza,” Thalif Deen. Consortium News, Jan. 18, 2009, “Is Israel's Gaza War a New War Crime?” by Dennis Bernstein. Foreign Policy Journal, Jan. 09, 2009, “US Senate Endorses Israel's War on Gaza,” by Jeremy R. Hammond.
10. Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate (Full story here)
In November 2008, Ecuador became the first country to undertake an examination of the legitimacy and structure of its foreign debt. In violation of Ecuadorian law, predatory international lenders were involved in hundreds of illegitimate irregularities. Billions in foreign debt at exorbitant interest rates resulted in debt service far exceeding the principal borrowed, and at a staggering human cost. In December, President Rafael Correa announced his country would default. In April 2009, he was re-elected overwhelmingly. Ecuador exposed the corrupted international finance system in a way that could set a precedent for the poorest of indebted countries. Correa asked other Latin American nations "to forge a united response, (and for) the United Nations to help develop international norms to regulate the foreign debt market." The April 2008 House passed Jubilee Act was a positive step forward. However, the Senate failed to pass its S. 2166 version, then cleared the legislation from its books. In June 2009, Ecuador agreed with 91% of its creditors to pay 35 cents on the dollar for its debt. Other countries may now follow suit, especially those most impacted by the global economic crisis.
Sources: Alternet, Nov. 26, 2008, “Ecuador Declares Foreign Debt Illegitimate and Illegal,” by Daniel Denvir. Utube, Fall 2008, “Invalid Loans to Ecuador: Who Owes Who,” by Committee for the Integral Audit of Public Credit. Institute for Policy Studies, Dec. 15, 2008, “Ecuador's Debt Default,” by Neil Watkins, Sarah Anders.
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Thursday, December 31, 2009
From Project Censored:
The immigration debate takes a technological turn with a new cell phone device that helps illegal immigrants crossing the desert into the U.S. find water. The Transborder Immigrant Tool was developed by UC San Diego prof and activist Ricardo Dominguez and UCSD lecturer Brett Stalbaum. Both believe it will save the lives of hundreds of people who die each year during their trek across "Devil's Highway."
Here's how the tool works. The phone, loaded with free GPS software, displays a digital compass that locates water stations installed by John Hunter, founder of the Water Stations project. Stations that are too far will not be displayed. The phone pinpoints "safety sites" -- such as Border Patrol station, a clinic or a church -- and includes poetry written by Amy Carroll to "welcome you to the U.S," said Dominguez. Encrypted to avoid detection by authorities, phones are $30 and should be available by summer.
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Dennis Brutus, an inspired proponent of human equality, died on December 26, 2009. The South African poet was an indelible figure in the fight against apartheid, particularly in the world of athletics.
As a young man, Brutus helped to found the South African Sports Association to protest against segregation in athletics. He was arrested for attending a sports meeting in 1963. While on bail, he fled the country to try to persuade the Olympic executive committee to suspend South Africa from the Games until apartheid ceased.
By the end of the year, Brutus was captured and jailed with Nelson Mandela on Robben Island. Though the South African government had banned the printing of his work, Brutus's poetry made its way outside the border, starting with his first collection, Sirens, Knuckles, and Boots.
In 1964, South Africa was expelled from the Olympic Games and Brutus was forced to leave the country shortly after. He emigrated to the US in 1971 and became a professor, teaching literature and African studies at Northwestern University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Over the course of his life, he published over 12 volumes of poetry, including A Simple Lust, Stubborn Hope and Salutes and Censures.
This interview was originally broadcast on April 22, 1986.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
They are old and balding now, the 15 defendants standing trial before a three-judge panel near the Argentine capital's bustling port. But prosecutors say they were once the feared henchmen of a brutal military dictatorship.
Argentina has tried military men before. But this trial, of officers and policemen who ran clandestine torture centers known as the Athletic Club, the Bank and Olimpo, is one of a string of new proceedings that by next year will close some of the most emblematic cases of alleged state terrorism under Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship.
With former generals and admirals well into their 70s and the courts emboldened to hand down severe penalties, Argentina is finally close to delivering justice for the estimated 30,000 people killed by state security services during the "Dirty War," including some who were thrown from airplanes after being tortured and sedated.
"I think and I hope this is the beginning of the end of a long process that began in 1983 with the return of democracy," said Gastón Chillier, director of the Center for Legal and Social Studies, a Buenos Aires rights group. "Next year will be especially critical."
The trials in Argentina come as other South American countries grapple with delivering justice for the victims of dictatorships and government-linked death squads.
In Brazil, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is proposing a commission to investigate allegations of torture by the military during that country's 1964-1985 dictatorship. In Peru, a former president, Alberto Fujimori, was convicted of murder in April for death-squad activities during his 10-year rule. And in Colombia, army generals and colonels accused of widespread human rights abuses are for the first time being investigated by civilian prosecutors.
Among the countries that have most aggressively sought to address past crimes is Chile, which has convicted 277 members of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's 16-year dictatorship of myriad rights abuses, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.
But no country has gone after former state agents as sweepingly as Argentina.
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U.S. intelligence has concluded that the document published recently by The Times of London, which purportedly describes an Iranian plan to do experiments on what the newspaper described as a “neutron initiator” for an atomic weapon, is a fabrication, according to a former Central Intelligence Agency official.
Philip Giraldi, who was a CIA counterterrorism official from 1976 to 1992, told IPS that intelligence sources say that the United States had nothing to do with forging the document, and that Israel is the primary suspect. The sources do not rule out a British role in the fabrication, however.
The Times of London story published Dec. 14 did not identify the source of the document. But it quoted “an Asian intelligence source” – a term some news media have used for Israeli intelligence officials – as confirming that his government believes Iran was working on a neutron initiator as recently as 2007.
The story of the purported Iranian document prompted a new round of expressions of U.S. and European support for tougher sanctions against Iran and reminders of Israel's threats to attack Iranian nuclear programme targets if diplomacy fails.
U.S. news media reporting has left the impression that U.S. intelligence analysts have not made up their mind about the document's authenticity, although it has been widely reported that they have now had a full year to assess the issue.
Giraldi's intelligence sources did not reveal all the reasons that led analysts to conclude that the purported Iran document had been fabricated by a foreign intelligence agency. But their suspicions of fraud were prompted in part by the source of the story, according to Giraldi.
“The Rupert Murdoch chain has been used extensively to publish false intelligence from the Israelis and occasionally from the British government,” Giraldi said.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009
A Climate Change Carol - Stooge was a tight-fisted hand at the grind-stone, a squeezing, clutching, covetous, front man for explotation of the earth and slavery of its people. What did Stooge care about the planet or the loss of its forests and ocean life, or the plight of its people, the glory of existence replaced with graft, progress, growth, profit by a few from the many ..
Radio Free Los Angeles was a radio show held by the band on January 20, 1997, the night of Bill Clinton's inauguration as President. The show comprised segments and interviews featuring Michael Moore, Emily Hodgson, Leonard Peltier, Chuck D, Mumia Abu-Jamal, UNITE, Noam Chomsky, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, and Subcomandante Marcos of the Zapatistas. These were intercut with musical performances by Morello, de la Rocha, Flea and Stephen Perkins playing different versions of Rage songs, and also Beck and Cypress Hill playing their own songs. The band organized and played the show in response to the re-election of Clinton:
"That election had resulted in one of the lowest voter turnouts in the history of the country, as more and more Americans came to realize that their government was not in their hands, but in the hands of big business. Radio Free L.A. provided a musical and political gathering point for the majority of Americans — and young people especially — who rightly felt left out of the 'democratic process.'"
— Tom Morello, Ratm.com
The two-hour show was syndicated by over 50 commercial U.S. radio stations and streamed live from the band's website. Transcripts of the interviews are freely available online.
On January 26, 2000, filming of the music video for "Sleep Now in the Fire", which was directed by Michael Moore, caused the doors of the New York Stock Exchange to be closed and the band to be escorted from the site by security, after band members attempted to gain entry into the Exchange.
Footage of enthusiastic Wall Street employees headbanging to Rage's music was used in the final video. "We decided to shoot this video in the belly of the beast", said Moore, who was arrested during the shooting of the video: despite having a federal permit for the location, they did not have a sound permit.
RATM played a free concert at the 2000 Democratic National Convention in protest of the two-party system. The band had been considering playing a protest concert there since April of that year. Although they were at first required by the City of Los Angeles to perform in a small venue at a considerable distance, early in August a United States district court judge ruled that the City's request was too restrictive and the City subsequently allowed the protests and concert to be held at a site across from the DNC. The Los Angeles Police Department response was to increase security measures, which included a 12 ft fence and patrolling by a minimum of 2,000 officers wearing riot gear, as well as additional horses, motorcycles, squad cars and police helicopters. A police spokesperson said they were "gravely concerned because of security reasons".
During the concert, de la Rocha said to the crowd, "brothers and sisters, our democracy has been hijacked," and later also shouted "we have a right to oppose these motherfuckers!" After the performance, a small group of attendees congregated at the point in the protest area closest to the DNC, facing the police officers. The police soon after declared the gathering an unlawful assembly, shut off the electrical supply, interrupting performing band Ozomatli, and informed the protestors that they had 15 minutes to disperse on pain of arrest. Some of the protestors remained, however, including two young men who climbed the fence and waved black flags, who were subsequently shot in the face with pepper spray. Police then forcibly dispersed the crowd, using tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets. At least six people were arrested in the incident.
The police faced severe and broad criticism for their reaction, with an American Civil Liberties Union spokesperson saying that it was "nothing less than an orchestrated police riot." Several primary witnesses reported unnecessarily violent actions and police abuses, including firing on reporters and people obeying police commands. Police responded that their response was "outstanding" and "clearly disciplined." De la Rocha said of the incident, "I don't care what fucking television stations said, [that] the violence was caused by the people at the concert; those motherfuckers unloaded on this crowd. And I think it's ridiculous considering, you know, none of us had rubber bullets, none of us had M16s, none of us had billy clubs, none of us had face shields." Footage of the protest and ensuing violence, along with an MTV News report on the incident, was included in the Live at the Grand Olympic Auditorium DVD.
Another opponent of Pacific Rim's El Dorado mine killed in El Salvador
2nd community activist murdered in less than a week as Canadian-U.S. gold mining company moves forward with legal case against Salvadoran government
On December 26, Dora “Alicia” Sorto Recinos, age 32, was murdered in El Salvador, the second anti-mining activist killed in less than a week in the small community of Trinidad in the department of Cabañas. Sorto Recinos was eight months pregnant and carrying her two-year old child when shot after doing laundry at a nearby river. She and her husband, José Santos Rodríguez, were outspoken opponents of the non-operational El Dorado gold mine, which Pacific Rim, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company, is desperate to open despite widespread community and governmental opposition.
José Santos Rodríguez is a board member of the Environmental Committee of Cabañas, an organization that formed to educate the public about the health and environmental risks of cyanide contamination from gold extraction. The Committee's vice-president, Ramiro Rivera, was gunned down on December 20 despite having been under 24-hour police protection since being shot eight times in August. Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes vowed to investigate that murder, stating, “I hope this case will not remain in impunity the way that so many others do.” These attacks follow the late June kidnapping, torture and assassination of anti-mining activist Marcelo Rivera (no relation), in the nearby municipality of San Isidro.
Earlier this year, Sorto Recinos reported that her husband had received death threats. Oscar Menjívar, the man awaiting trial for shooting Ramiro Rivera in August, had previously attacked José Santos Rodríguez with a small machete. Menjívar's neighbors report that he was one of Pacific Rim Mining's paid “promoters,” though Pacific Rim denies this claim.
The ongoing violence in Cabañas, including numerous assaults, attempted kidnappings and death threats, seems to be centered around the controversial presence of Pacific Rim Mining in the region, with prominent anti-mining leaders coming under attack. Pacific Rim ceased operations at El Dorado in 2008 after local protests gained support, and the Salvadoran government subsequently refused to grant extraction permits. President Funes stated his opposition to the project during his presidential campaign earlier this year, and University of Central America polling show that over 62% of Salvadorans oppose gold mining.
In response, Pacific Rim opened an investor-state arbitration case against the Salvadoran government in April under the U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), filing the suit through a subsidiary, Pac Rim Cayman, based in Reno, Nevada (Canadian companies are not eligible to file CAFTA suits, as Canada is not party to the agreement). According to Pacific Rim CEO Thomas Shrake, the company is seeking “hundreds of millions” of dollars in the arbitration, which is scheduled to begin in early 2010.
In November, Pacific Rim received notice from the New York Stock Exchange that it is in danger of being delisted after posting net losses for five straight years. The company then announced that it will seek to generate CDN $2.36 million by selling additional shares of stock to finance its legal case against the Salvadoran government. The company does not have any other mining projects in operation.
~ Source: CISPES ~
~ See also: Anti-Mining Activists Killed in El Salvador ~
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International has called on Saudi Arabia to stay a sentence of 40 lashes handed down against a 75-year-old woman for breaching the kingdom's sex segregation rules.
"The minister of the interior (Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz) is reported to have ordered the immediate detention and flogging of a 75-year-old woman, Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi, along with two Saudi Arabian men known only as Fahad and Hadyan," the London-based watchdog said.
"The Saudi Arabian authorities must not carry out the imminent flogging and imprisonment of an elderly woman and two younger men."
Amnesty said all avenues of appeal had been exhausted in Saudi courts against the trio's March conviction for being in the company of members of the opposite sex who were not close relatives.
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[ Hat tip to Miss Welby ]
On December 17th 2009, a group of Greenpeace activists grabs headline news around the globe by taking action during the Copenhagen climate summit. This is their story. So far.
From Plants as sensitive agents
A recent discussion with Michael Theroux has triggered an incredible series of experiments designed to prove that vital currents do indeed flow through natural environments. Mr. Theroux has conducted a series of plant sensitivity experiments which have sufficiently stimulated my interest to produce a series of reports on the subject. These, I hope will best serve the qualitative sciences in establishing a new and more complete experimental method. I extend my deepest thanks to Borderlands journal, which I believe to be the most serious forum available in the scientific community today.
Do plants engage in dynamic conscious dialogue with the ground and other beings? Empirical discoveries made throughout the century by notables such as Bose, Hieronymus, De LaWarr, Backster, Lawrence, and others give adequate proof of this dialogue. We learn that plant tissues can be used and relied upon for establishing “objective” qualitative criteria. The remarkable sensitivity of plants to external conscious and auric influences is providing us all with a revolutionary new means of experimentation. This “objectivized” qualitative sensitivity becomes extremely important for those who wish the maintenance of pure qualitative approaches to experimental research.
The use of plant tissues as objective-subjective sensors becomes exceedingly important in dispelling the acrid dialogue between ourselves and quantitative analysts. Sensitive plant response allows the experimenter to recognize the continuity which exists between plant response and those of our innermost experience. We are thus provided with a means for objectivizing our deepest impressions and reactions to forces which lie in the auric domain.
Plants evidence a state, a condition of consciousness, in which they engage in active dialogue with the world. You will discover what Dr. Bose first recognized, the complete correlation of plant responses with the permeating emotional and mental fluctuations which flood our world.
The equipment which is required for this sort of experimentation is simple, and readily available. Michael Theroux mentioned that he had secured several Biosensors from a local Radio Shack. He successfully employed these to monitor plant responses. The Biosensors sold at Radio Shack were obtained for an incredibly low price, and proved to be excellent monitors for use in plant studies of this kind. I was later informed that none other than Dr. Buryl Payne is the designer and patent holder for this wonderful circuit. Mr. Theroux mentioned that his experiments began when, with these devices as a “poor man’s polygraph”, he rediscovered the amazing sensitivity of plants to distant influences.
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From Sorry, vegans: Brussels sprouts like to live, too
In his new book, “Eating Animals,” the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer describes his gradual transformation from omnivorous, oblivious slacker who “waffled among any number of diets” to “committed vegetarian.” Last month, Gary Steiner, a philosopher at Bucknell University, argued on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times that people should strive to be “strict ethical vegans” like himself, avoiding all products derived from animals, including wool and silk. Killing animals for human food and finery is nothing less than “outright murder,” he said, Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “eternal Treblinka.”
But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze. It’s time for a green revolution, a reseeding of our stubborn animal minds.
When plant biologists speak of their subjects, they use active verbs and vivid images. Plants “forage” for resources like light and soil nutrients and “anticipate” rough spots and opportunities. By analyzing the ratio of red light and far red light falling on their leaves, for example, they can sense the presence of other chlorophyllated competitors nearby and try to grow the other way. Their roots ride the underground “rhizosphere” and engage in cross-cultural and microbial trade.
“Plants are not static or silly,” said Monika Hilker of the Institute of Biology at the Free University of Berlin. “They respond to tactile cues, they recognize different wavelengths of light, they listen to chemical signals, they can even talk” through chemical signals. Touch, sight, hearing, speech. “These are sensory modalities and abilities we normally think of as only being in animals,” Dr. Hilker said.
Plants can’t run away from a threat but they can stand their ground. “They are very good at avoiding getting eaten,” said Linda Walling of the University of California, Riverside. “It’s an unusual situation where insects can overcome those defenses.” At the smallest nip to its leaves, specialized cells on the plant’s surface release chemicals to irritate the predator or sticky goo to entrap it. Genes in the plant’s DNA are activated to wage systemwide chemical warfare, the plant’s version of an immune response. We need terpenes, alkaloids, phenolics — let’s move.
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“There is no proof. There are no authorities whatever. No president, Academy, Court of Law, Congress or Senate on this earth has the knowledge or power to decide what will be the knowledge of tomorrow. There is no use in trying to prove something that is unknown to somebody who is ignorant of the unknown, or fearful of its threatening power. Only the good old rules of learning will eventually bring about understanding of what has invaded our earthly existence.”
The invasion that Reich refers to in his introduction to CONTACT WITH SPACE is the invasion of earth by intelligences from outer space. Very few copies of this remarkable book were made available, and Reich’s extraordinary experiences during this turbulent period have been swept under the carpet by ‘orthodox’ orgonomy.
To speak openly of UFO experiences still invites ridicule or polite smiles of disbelief. Consider then the atmosphere of the mid 1950’s when Reich was not only claiming the existence of space visitors, but carefully documenting his battle with these ‘invaders’, while developing his now well-known cloudbusting techniques.
Reich termed the space craft Ea – ‘E’ standing for ‘Energy’, ‘a’ for alpha or primordial. Ea also represented ‘Enigma’…
“Ea is a new event without precedent in our lives,” he writes. “Humanity, with the exception of a few philosophers, had no idea of the possibility of visitors from outer space. Earthman had not developed any view, method or scientific tool to cope with the problem. In addition he has developed in his offspring a character structure and a kind of thinking which obstructs the approach to the new fact by way of ridicule, slander and outright threat to the existence of the pioneer of space engineering. Therefore our new approach must start from scratch, as if no science existed at all.”
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If there's a silver lining in the continued popularity of non-scientific healing techniques, it's the fact that the scientific community is at long last putting these so-called treatments and potions through vigorous testing. And one by one they fail to live up to their purported benefits.
Here are five alternative therapies that were debunked or denounced in 2009.
Reiki is a spiritual practice developed in Japan in the early 20th century that, in the hands of Westerners, has evolved into a new-age healing practice. Popular in Hawaii and California by the 1970s, reiki has since become a staple at health spas and in granola-loving cities across the United States.
Reiki involves a practitioner (that is, someone who has taken a couple days of training) who places her hands on or just above a patient's body to transmit healing energy — the "ki" or reiki, better known as qi in Chinese traditional medicine. Reiki has all the trappings of new-age healing: restoring balance and instilling life energy through mysticism and/or vibrational energy. Akin to a hands-off massage, reiki is said to relieve stress, fatigue and depression and promote self-healing for just about any disease, including cancer.
The two largest scientific reviews of reiki, published last year in International Journal of Clinical Practice and in November 2009 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, reveal that reiki is not an effective treatment for any condition. Also in 2009, the U.S. Catholic Church weighed in, stating at a March meeting of bishops that, "since Reiki therapy is not compatible with either Christian teaching or scientific evidence, it would be inappropriate for... Catholic health care facilities... to provide support for Reiki therapy."
Reiki is not an outright scam; the practitioners seem to believe in what they are doing. In the end the soft music and whispery speech of the practitioners during the reiki sessions merely helps one relax.
Reflexology or zone therapy
What's the connection between the center of the ball of the left foot and the heart? Apparently nothing, according to systematic reviews of reflexology, or zone therapy, the practice of massaging the feet and sometimes hands or ears to cure disease.
Maybe you've seen the charts. The toes are somehow connected to the head and sinuses. There's a spot in the middle of the foot that can help control diabetes, and next to that is the fresh-breath button. Foot massages sure do feel great. But "feel great" and "cure halitosis" are two different things.
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From The loneliness network by Drake Bennett
... Loneliness is bad for us. A substantial body of research links loneliness with everything from depression to high blood pressure and cholesterol to poor sleep, weight gain, diminished immunity, and Alzheimer’s disease.
And if a paper published this month is to be believed, loneliness isn’t just a health risk - it is, like the flu, a contagious one: Lonely people make the people around them lonely, too.
The finding grows out of a wave of research into social networks and the ways that emotions and behaviors can spread, epidemic-like, through them. It’s an idea popularized by Malcolm Gladwell’s blockbuster 2000 book, “The Tipping Point,” but one that social scientists have only recently started to find solid evidence for. Two of the most prominent researchers in the field are Nicholas Christakis, an internist and sociologist at Harvard University, and James Fowler, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego, and working together they have found that obesity, happiness, and smoking, among other things, are contagious.
Still, there’s something seemingly oxymoronic in the idea that loneliness can be catching. By definition, a lonely person would seem unlikely to spread anything, any more than a hermit could give someone chicken pox. But according to Christakis, Fowler, and John Cacioppo, a psychologist and leading loneliness researcher at the University of Chicago who collaborated with them, making sense of the contagiousness of loneliness demands that we rethink our idea of what loneliness is, and that we come to realize how being surrounded by people doesn’t necessarily protect us from it.
The new research also fleshes out the picture of the varying ways that social phenomena move through networks of family members, friends, and acquaintances. The spread of loneliness is shaped by gender and geography, by where a person finds himself in his web of relationships. Loneliness spreads in a different way from obesity, which spreads in a different way from happiness, and figuring out how exactly they differ may eventually help doctors, social scientists, politicians, planners, educators, and even architects figure out better ways to encourage the behaviors they think are good for us and limit the ones they don’t. With a sense of the larger picture in place, network researchers are turning their attention to figuring out in detail the different mechanisms at work, and figuring out how to use them.
“Not everything that spreads in networks spreads the same way,” says Christakis. “Germs spread differently than money, which spreads differently than ideas, which spread differently than behaviors, which spread differently than emotions.” ...
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"In India, Lord Krishna and his consort Radha are the gods of love, lust, and passion. Their sexual freedom and devotion has been an inspiration for generations, placing India at the forefront of sexual innovation and introducing the world to the wonders of the Kama Sutra. Fast forward to the present day, where director Q and his girlfriend are in the midst of a passionate romance, yet are in conflict with an Indian culture that has become sexually repressed. How did this happen? In this personal journey, Q travels across India to openly discuss love, sex and the evolution of attitudes towards them. His remarkable film exposes their many positive and hypocritical facets, from the Bollywood film industry and the worship of Radha as a powerful woman to arranged marriages, rampant domestic violence, and lack of sexual education. Q champions the freedom to express love and sexual desire as an intrinsic part of being Indian." - Karina Rotenstein, Hot Docs.
This film is airing as part of Doc-Debut, a series on Link TV highlighting unique and groundbreaking international documentary films. Each week features the U.S. television premiere of a new foreign doc, offering American audiences unprecedented perspectives on world events and culture, as seen through the eyes of individuals across the globe. The series also provides a unique outlet for films by independent directors and producers to reach a much wider international audience.
Watch trailer here.
By Cheng Guangjin, China Daily
Those who are keen to read the complete results of three years of joint research into the long-disputed issues in the history of China and Japan have to wait for another month, Chinese scholars who joined the research announced over the weekend.
Twenty-six research papers, half composed by Chinese scholars and half by their Japanese counterparts, will be published as early as next month. The first phase of the joint research concluded on Dec 24 after 10 Chinese and 10 Japanese scholars met for the fourth time in Tokyo.
Five Chinese scholars were present at a press conference held in Beijing on Saturday, headed by Bu Ping, Chinese chief commissioner of the joint research and director of the Institute of Modern History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
The scholars said the two sides postponed the release of details for fear of arousing nationalistic sentiments by simplifying the research conclusions without the full contents, which reflect the complexity of historical disputes in China-Japan relations. By next month the translation and compiling will be finished, they said.
But they highlighted the statements made by the Japanese scholars in their papers regarding the nature of the Sino-Japanese War of 1931-45, which they admitted to be Japan's invasion into China, according to Bu.
"They admitted the illegal acts committed by the Japanese army in the war had caused the huge sacrifice of Chinese civilians, which hampered the building of new relationship between the two countries after the war," Bu said.
Bu said the Japanese scholars also admitted in the papers that "the lawsuits in recent years over germ warfare, chemical weapons left in China, forced labor and violence on women all reflected the deep scar left by the war on the Chinese people."
However, "China is not seeking revenge but the aim of studying history is eyeing for the future", stressed Tao Wenzhao, one of the Chinese researchers on the project and a US studies expert at CASS.
"We both want to turn to a new page in our relationship, but the Japanese leaders should keep a consistent stance in respecting the history," said Tao.
When anti-Japan sentiments inside China reached a climax in 2005, the Japanese government proposed the joint research project to China and the two governments sponsored 20 scholars to start the project in December 2006, with a goal to improve bilateral ties, said Bu.
With current Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's pro-China policy and the reiterated appeal to create an East Asia Community (EAC), "China and Japan should solve their historical disputes or the EAC would only be a fantasy," said Bu.
On an earlier occasion, Feng Zhaokui, former deputy head of the institute of Japan Studies at CASS, compared the EAC with the European Union (EU), whose progress has owed much to the solving of historical conflicts between France and Germany left by World War II .
"China and Japan have much to learn from the example set by France and Germany," Bu agreed.
Whether to admit the Nanking Massacre in Japanese history text books has been a concern to Japan's right-wing forces, who seek to deny the historical fact and the number of casualties in the massacre, the scholars said.
The Nanking Trial in 1947 confirmed the death toll at over 300,000 and the Tokyo Trial in 1948 set it at over 200,000, said Bu. The mainstream Japanese people have already recognized this, the Chinese scholars said.
The scholars said it is a "comfort" that in the past three years the Chinese and Japanese scholars have been able to sit down together and discuss these historical issues calmly and rationally.
The history channel reveals the chemtrail and HAARP weapons.
By Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times
Timothy Grey and Breanne Russell's brisk, utterly compelling "Under the Eightball" is a documentary, as provocative and disturbing as imaginable, that plays like a top-notch biological thriller.
In July 2007, Grey's sister Lori Hall-Steele, a healthy 43-year-old writer living in idyllic Traverse City, Mich., starts experiencing difficulty walking and soon ends up in a wheelchair -- and worse. Grey and Russell chart every incident in Hall-Steele's rapidly deteriorating condition and failure to be properly diagnosed with Lyme disease.
Right off, there's the mystery of why it's so hard to find out what's wrong with her -- and suspense as to whether a cure will be found in time to save her life. "Under the Eightball" is at once far-reaching and intimate, rightly scary and urgent. Grey is a feisty, fearless interrogator and his confrontations with others are sometimes charged with dark humor.
Meanwhile, the filmmakers cast an ever-widening net, surveying Michigan's sorry history of industrial pollution while dealing with stonewalling bureaucrats who resist testing Hall-Steele's water supply and rigid medical specialists delivering incorrect diagnoses -- plus her looming insurance coverage crisis.
By now, "Under the Eightball" is becoming a real-life horror picture with Grey and Russell delving into biological warfare, especially the hideous experiments conducted by Japanese and German scientists, many of whom ended up in U.S. government labs.
One is Plum Island Animal Disease Center, where among many experiments, ticks were injected with terrible disease. Significantly, Plum Island is just off Long Island -- and very near the leafy Connecticut town of Lyme, which gave the name to the tick-borne disease decades ago.
One of the filmmakers' discoveries is that the admissible test for Lyme disease narrows the possibilities for diagnosing a highly variable malady.
Why is this so? The many experts they interview suggest that omnipotent pharmaceutical industries, with their economic power over government and academia, are more concerned with big profits from prescribed drug treatments than with actual cures.
The film's most unsettling documentation is that the government not only has a long history of secretly exposing the public to biological testing but also that it apparently continues.
By Shaheen Buneri, Central Asia Online
“The Imam has nothing but to instill fear in my heart,
The words of my sweetheart have become shallow and have lost the warmth of her heart,
The leader of the nation has sold his conscience for monetary gains,
The flowers of hope are burnt in the flames of fire,
The river of Swat is stained with human blood,
I have broken both my head and my glass full of wine at the doors of the tavern,
Now I am a lonely being, like Adam from my paradise
I am thrown on the surface of a cruel world—but I don't know about my sin.”
PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- “If there was a paradise on Earth, that was the beautiful valley of Swat. It had heritage, history and traditions based on love and peace”, said Abdurrahman Roghani.
Roghani 58, is an eminent Pashtun poet, writer and social activist who recently returned to his home in Swat valley of northwestern Pakistan, where the conflict between Taliban militants and Pakistan security forces has displaced millions of people since May 2009.
A resident of Matta town (Upper Swat), Roghani has experienced hard times. Roghani has a history of struggle against the forces of hatred, bigotry and extremism.
He is a poet with a rebellious soul and romantic imagination. During his 35-year literary career, he has always advocated that life can be beautified and made worth living by following the purity of nature.
“The world is a beautiful place; it has a beautiful arrangement to satisfy all aesthetic, emotional and psychological demands of a decent human existence. All religions are peace; this is personal greed and vested interests that fan war and violence in every part of the world”, he said. Roghani was the only powerful voice that rose against the Taliban for imposing their will on the people to promote their global jihadist agenda.
“You cannot subdue human souls by force. It is not possible to stop the ever-flowing stream of life forcefully. You can channelize it with craft and wisdom but you cannot stop it by erecting walls in its way”, he said, referring to the acts of militants who banned all artistic expression and bombed hundreds of music shops in the valley.
“(The) human heart can only be dominated by love and affection, not weapons and war”, he said.
The militants singled him out for his romantic verses, his progressive thoughts, and his role as the most popular social figure in the area. In July 2007, the Taliban established their headquarters in Matta and started torturing people who they considered opponents to their religious ideology.
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Leo Hickman reports for the Guardian
Lakeland sheep farmers, like the rare-breed Herdwicks many still rear today, are of hardy stock and refuse to be moved by a forecast of rain. It was no different during the first few days of May 1986, when an unseasonably intense downpour lashed down on the Cumbrian fells, topping its tarns and lakes, and driving walkers and day-trippers towards the sanctuary of the tea rooms.
David Ellwood – then a 30-year-old sheep farmer who had just taken on a National Trust tenant farm above the hamlet of Ulpha in the Duddon valley – remembers that week well. "It was lambing time," he recalls. "It was really, really wet. And then we got the message from the ministry. All the sheep farmers in the area were told there was to be a fortnight-long restriction on the sale and movement of our sheep."
A week earlier, on 26 April 1986, reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in what was then the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine exploded, sending a plume of radioactive particles – equivalent in toxicity to 400 Hiroshima bombs – more than seven kilometres up into the atmosphere and due east in the breeze. In the days that followed, as a fire raged unchecked inside the twisted, white-hot remains of the reactor, the wind direction reversed and the plume, now a kilometre tall, headed west towards north-western Europe. It wasn't until workers at a nuclear reactor in Finland detected abnormally high doses of radioactivity on their clothes - up to 100 times normal background levels – that anyone outside the Soviet Union realised the true severity of the accident.
On 2 May 1986, the plume finally passed over parts of the UK and, with fateful timing, so too did a column of cloud carrying heavy rain. The rain fell hardest where it always falls hardest – on the uplands. As the droplets of water fell from the sky, they carried with them the radionuclides – in particular, caesium-137, iodine-131 and strontium-90 – that had been dispersed from Chernobyl. It is estimated that 1% of the radiation released from the reactor fell on the UK. In an effort to prevent these radionuclides entering the food chain once they had settled on the upland soil, the ministry of agriculture, fisheries and food, as it was then known, ordered an immediate restriction on the movement and sale of sheep within the most affected areas – particularly north Wales, south-west Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Lake District, where the landscape is predominantly suited to grazing sheep. In total, almost 9,000 farms, and four million sheep, were placed under restriction.
"We couldn't believe it at first," says Ellwood today, leaning on his crook and looking up from his farmhouse towards the smooth dome of Hesk Fell – an ascent that Alfred Wainwright, the fellwalker's guidebook guru, said would lead nobody to "drop dead with excitement or suffer spasms of emotion" – where the majority of his 600 sheep still roam. "The radiation had come from 3,000 miles away and you couldn't see it. For many farmers around here, it brought back memories of the Windscale nuclear accident in 1957. My father, who was a sheep farmer at that time up near Eskdale, reassured me by saying he didn't have any problems with Windscale, but we didn't know anything about these sorts of things back then."
In fact, Ellwood still lives under the cloud of Chernobyl's legacy today. Baskell Farm, the 1,000-acre tenant farm he operates with his wife Heather, is one of the farms still under government restriction due to the risks of any remaining radionuclides passing into the human food chain via sheep meat. The vast majority of affected sheep farms – 355, to be precise – are located in and around Snowdonia in Wales, whereas nine, including Baskell Farm, are still being monitored in England and seven in Scotland. (All the farms in Northern Ireland were "derestricted" in 2000.)
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From Jewish Voice for Peace
Medea Benjamin | firstname.lastname@example.org | Egypt (18) 956-1919
Ann Wright | email@example.com Egypt (19) 508-1493 |
Ziyaad Lunat | Z.firstname.lastname@example.org Roaming +351938349206
(Sunday, December 27, noon) the Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 internationals in their hotel in el-Arish and another group of 8 at the bus station. They also broke up a memorial action commemorating the Cast Lead massacre at the Kasr al Nil Bridge.
[Tell Egypt to let the freedom marchers into Gaza: Tell Egypt you stand in solidarity with Gaza!]
At noon on 27 December, Egyptian security forces detained a group of 30 activists in their hotel in el-Arish as they prepared to leave for Gaza, placing them under house arrest. The delegates, all part of the Gaza Freedom March of 1,300 people, were Spanish, French, British, American, and Japanese. The Egyptian security forces eventually yielded, letting most of the marchers leave the hotel, but did not permit them to leave the town. When two younger delegates, a French and Japanese woman, attempted to leave el-Arish, the Egyptian authorities stopped their taxi and unloaded their luggage.
Another group of eight people, including citizens from American, British, Spanish, Japanese and Greece, were detained at the bus station of Al Arish in the afternoon of December 27. As of 3:30 PM, they were still being held.
Simultaneously, Egyptian security police broke up a commemoration of the Israeli invasion of Gaza organized by the Gaza Freedom March at Kasr al Nil Bridge, one of the main bridges connecting Zamalek Island, in the middle of the Nile, to Cairo. As a nonviolent way of commemorating the more than 1300 Palestinians killed in the Israeli assault on Gaza that began a year ago on December 27, 2008, Gaza Freedom Marchers tied hundreds of strings with notes, poems, art and the names of those killed to the bridge.
“We're saddened that the Egyptian authorities have blocked our participants' freedom of movement and interfered with a peaceful commemoration of the dead,” said Medea Benjamin of CODEPINK, one of the March's organizers.
Benjamin added that the Gaza Freedom March participants are continuing to urge the Egyptian government to allow them to proceed to Gaza. They visited the Arab League asking for support, various foreign embassies and the Presidential Palance to deliver an appeal to President Mubarak. They are calling their supporters around the world to contact Egyptian embassies and urge them to free the marchers and allow them to proceed to Gaza.
I can hardly believe this moment!! Israel Shamir has written about me and lifted my spirits when I was most down. Even from faraway Israel, he understood my plight and dared give voice to the truth. They say that sometimes distance gives clarity--and certainly in Israel's case, in observing my serial targeting, he saw what many inside the United States could not see. Despite his writings, I never met him until this moment, just a few minutes ago!! We are speaking together this afternoon in Ankara, Turkey. He has already sent his message out on his list and so I include it here for you. I will send my message to you later. I will bring these contacts from around the world that I have made on behalf of peace, home to the United States so that we can more easily achieve our objectives for justice and peace and dignity in the area of policy where we and the world need it the most. We are a part of something much bigger than us individually, and our moment is now. Here is Israel's presentation for this afternoon:
From Israel Shamir
best regards from Ankara, the capital of Turkey, where I am now at a conference on Palestine, together with wonderful Cynthia McKinney and other good and great persons. Turkey is changing its course, from very pro-American and pro-Israeli to more independent, and subsequently less zionized.
The Turks are proud of the brave stand of their prime minister for Palestine and against an Israeli leader at Davos last year, and they consider it a pivotal event.
Turkey is changing from violently secular, anti-religious, so 1940s Kemalist regime, but there are still a lot of vestiges, as huge portraits of the supreme leader are still hanging on the capital buildings while student girls in headscarfs are being frowned upon if not actually forbidden to enter university. Though kemalism was supposed to be the proponent of modernisation, it is so dated, so old-fashioned! There is nothing more dated than yesterday's modernism. In Russia, they took this sort of portraits down in 1955, and even Taiwan removed its Chiang Kai Shek portraits in 1980s.
Surely it is not only portraits that annoy. They have a Supreme Court which tried to outlaw the majority ruling party because its very soft Islamic leanings do not agree with strict kemalism. It seems that Turkey's parliament has still much work to do on the way to democracy - they should downgrade their unelected Supreme Court, bring army and intelligence generals into obedience, provide for religious freedom for majority Muslims. But first, they should remove American military bases and kick NATO out. In an interview to a Turkish newspaper I called Turkey "to make peace with its own past" - the splendid past of the Caliphate, the ruler of the East, the head of the Muslim believers and the protector of the Christians.
Here is the talk I give today with its advices
What to Do in and about Palestine
Israel Shamir's Talk at the Ankara Conference
Dear Turkish friends and fellow guests from abroad,
I am glad to speak again to you, the people of our great neighbour and former sovereign Turkey . Your latest developments inspire optimism. You are doing fine! Turkey is growing stronger and more independent; your leaders' obsession with joining the European Union has been exorcised. You have restored the power of the parliament, bridled military excesses, streamlined your economy and improved relations with Syria and Iran .
Turkey is no longer an American colony. You stopped joint air force exercises with Israel and the US . You expressed your clear anger over the horrors of Gaza . Now you pay more attention to the area where you live; you play an important role already and are destined to play an even greater role. So much depends on you! We feel it every day in Palestine .
I will not waste your time describing the horrors of Zionist rule in Palestine . You already know them, you've seen them on TV – dreadful pictures of burned schools and napalmed children, of the Gaza blockade, of check points, of night arrests. It is now exactly one year since the Jewish onslaught on Gaza , last year's Christmas war which Israel began while the world was holidaying.
Your president, Mr Gul, said a few days ago to our president, Mr Peres, that he will not visit Israel while the siege of Gaza continues, and that was a very good decision. Indeed, it is urgent to lift the Gaza siege, because no building materials are being allowed to enter Gaza for the repair of homes. Instead, the Israeli siege is being tightened with active help of Egypt .
However beyond Gaza problem we must look for a bigger picture.
We are being told that the Gaza problem is that of Hamas intransigence, that it is Gaza 's own fault. If only Gaza wouldn't embrace radical Islam , Israel would accommodate Gaza 's needs.
Let us have a look outside of Gaza , at the West Bank's jewel, el Bireh, the twin city of Ramallah , the seat of Israel-approved ruler Mahmud Abbas. This is a most prosperous city of wonderful villas with a lot of greenery and purring Mercedes cars, and a beautiful view. El Bireh decided to build a football stadium; they asked for money and they received funds from France , Germany and the World Football Association, FIFA. The football stadium was built within the city of el Bireh 's limits. Immediately, the Israeli court ruled: the stadium must be destroyed, because it is within the eyesight of a Jew.
Do you understand this? Mahmud Abbas is the most compliant Palestinian leader now or ever; he is doing everything that Israel asks. His police kindly retreat when Israeli security jeeps drive into his cities to arrest whomever they wish. He arrests every activist who speaks against Israeli excesses. He even fired the most senior Palestinian diplomat, Dr. Afif Safieh, the former ambassador to Washington , London , Vatican and Moscow because he spoke out against the Israeli war on Gaza .
Every Islamist, every supporter of Islam in the West Bank is (or was) in Abbas' jail.
Abbas is an implacable enemy of radical Islam. You can't be more conciliatory towards Israel than Mahmud Abbas. And still, he can't even build a stadium for kids to kick ball in his own city, because the Jews will not allow it.
So, although Gaza is in a dreadful situation, the problem is not only Gaza . Islam or not Islam is not even a question we should be pondering. It makes no difference. Islamists are in Abbas' jail, yet Abbas can't even build a stadium. Stadium, not medreseh ( =School in Arabic S1000+).
Fatah member Marwan Barghuti and leftist PFLP leader Ahmed Sadat are in Israeli jails together with Hamas MPs.
The problem is the Jewish state. Not only does it besiege Gaza and destroy a football stadium in el Bireh. These are local problems, painful but local. The Jewish state (It is not a Jewish state. It is a Zionist state. S1000+) focuses Jewish power all over the world into action. Without a Jewish state, this power would disperse; it would remain local, it would remain chaotic, probably it would be subdued by the forces of assimilation. Israel focuses these chaotic forces and concentrates them into action.
This action is against Islam. Not only against Islam, but Dar ul Islam (the Islamic world) is a prime target. In the US , the Jewish Neocons led their country into a crusade against Iraq and Afghanistan ; now they are spearheading the push against Iran.
They have formed a powerful front against President Obama and have turned him into a laughing stock after he uttered a few words of wisdom about Palestine .
In Europe , if you inspect the coffers of anti-Muslim neo-Nazi groups, you'll find that they thrive on Jewish support. In Russia , Jewish nationalists and Zionists try to rally the Russians against their Muslim brethren. Sometimes they do it under cover of the Russian Church , or of Russian nationalism. I wrote about this recently, as I had discovered that the most fervently anti-Muslim forces in Russia are organised by crypto-Zionists.
Even if a Palestinian state were to be established and recognised, it wouldn't stop Israeli attempts to undermine its neighbours, to bomb Iran , to sow the seeds of discord from Russia to France , from Turkey to India . Israel 's too powerful intelligence services would keep meddling. Neither would it neutralise the armed forces of Israel , and you know as well as anybody that the generals do not give up their toys, their privileges or their influence easily. The Israeli military machine is so powerful that it would seek to exercise its might.
Remember the Israel-Egypt peace treaty: when it was concluded, the first thing Israel did was invade Lebanon .
The bad influence of Zionism on Jews all over the world would not vanish in case of a “two states' solution.
In 1920, Winston Churchill published an article (Illustrated Sunday Herald, February 8, 1920, pg 5) titled: «Zionism or Bolshevism». (http://www.library.flawlesslogic.com/ish.htm). There he noted that many Jews tend to embrace the cause of social equality (for him it was “impossible equality”), and the best way to stop by far too dynamic and powerful Jews from promoting equality is to infect them with Zionism. His project was supported by the might of the British Empire and by money of wealthy anti-equality Jews.
Zionism won. Equality was defeated. If we defeat Zionism, equality will have another chance. And a two states' solution will not defeat Zionism.
In short, even if Mahmud Abbas's dream of limited independence were to be realised, it wouldn't be good enough for the region, and it wouldn't be good enough for the world: Israel in its form of Jewish-supremacist state can't become a peaceful neighbour.
Supremacism leads to wars. Only a democratic state, the successor of Israel and the PNA, would be able to live in peace. Compare it to South Africa : as long as it was a white-supremacist state, it was the source of warfare and trouble all over Africa . After its supremacism was exorcized, it became peaceful. In the same vein, independent Palestine would be just another Bantustan of the type rightly rejected by South Africans.
But I do not think that even this very limited cause of limited independence for Palestine is likely to be achieved.
We have been told – for sixteen years! – that there is a peace process that will lead to a “two states solution”. This is a fairy tale. If the Jews will not allow even the most loyal and obedient of el Bireh's kids to play football, do you think they will allow them to have an independent state? Why would they?
The Jews write frequently of how they envisage Palestinian independence. (I refer here to the most enlightened left-wing Jewish politicians! ) They speak of a Palestine broken into a few enclaves surrounded by a wall and barbed wire, its airspace and all of its borders controlled by Israel; its water to remain under Jewish control. And this is the best they can dream of.
If you want to have Two States, it can happen only if the Jews plead for it like they did in 1947. They did so then, and they will do so again only if they feel that the alternative, a single democratic state for all inhabitants of Palestine , is on the table. This is what they are afraid of: full democracy, full equality in the whole of the land. So even for practical reasons, we should call, not for independence of some partitioned bits and pieces, but for the whole lot: Let Palestine be united, let all of its inhabitants have equal rights, and afterwards they can discuss two states for ever and ever. The first thing is equality, the rest can wait.
Speaking frankly, this mythic Two State Solution can't even be envisaged. Jews and Palestinians live all over Palestine , and they can't be physically separated without a huge turmoil that would remind us of 1921 in Turkey and Greece , with Turks leaving Salonika and Greeks leaving Smyrna . This is not something one would like to see happen.
The West gave Nansen his Nobel Peace prize for the transfer of Greeks and Turks. In my view, this was a terrible calamity, never to be repeated. Partitions are awful; it is like sawing a living man into two parts. Nor is it necessary. Greeks and Turks could live together as they did for four hundred years; separation did nothing good for them. Separation of Israelis and Palestinians would be equally evil.
Now, Zionists often remind Turks of your so-called “Kurd problem”. This comparison is wrong, because every Kurd in Turkey has Turkish citizenship and has all the rights every Turkish citizen has; while Palestinians usually have no citizenship of the state of Israel and enjoy no rights. But in one sense this comparison is right: it is impossible to separate Kurds from Turkey , because people of Kurdish descent live everywhere from Diyarbakir to Istanbul . Likewise, it is impossible to separate Palestinians from the immigrant populations which are called “Jews”.
Indeed, the whole story of Palestine is a story of immigrants taking over a country. Such things happen: immigrants from Britain took over North America and Australia . This is a sad thing, but it happened. Now it is not realistic to hope that they will sail back to England – they won't. It is wrong to try and create an “independent state” for the native Americans – such independent states are called “reservations” . The right answer is equality for native and immigrant alike. Some Jews would complain that they want a state of their own. We shall answer them: you have built on sand, and a house built on sand can't stand forever. If you want a state of your own without anybody else, find yourself a lonely uninhabited island. Palestine was, and is, populated; the best you can wish is to be equal citizens in Palestine with everybody else.
I spoke about this solution in the year 2001, when our country was torn by intifada al Aksa. It was right then, and it is right now. At that time I said: there is no other solution but a one-state solution. People, and even good people, activists, friends of Palestine said: no, we are very close to the two states' solution. I did not believe it then, I do not believe it now. There is only one good way out, and that is the way of equality and democracy, of deconstructing the Jewish state by forcing it to give full rights to all Palestinians under its rule.
So this is the goal we should strive for: full equality and integration of Palestine and Israel , South African style. Nothing less.
This does not mean that there is nothing to be done until that moment. Turkey can do a lot even now, even today, beyond expressions of solidarity. The Jewish state is a horrible example of injustice gone unpunished. For instance, an Israeli officer Captain R murdered a 13-year old girl, Iman al Hams. He shot her within eyesight of his soldiers and said that even a three-year-old Palestinian should be killed if she comes close to Jewish positions. The Jewish court absolved Captain R of all guilt; the Israeli Army promoted him to major and another court awarded him damages for the mere discussion of his crime. Last week, yet another Jewish judge gave another huge compensation to the same murderer.
Turkey, as the former ruler of Palestine , could fill in the void of justice by bringing this Captain R to trial. Sooner or later he will leave the sanctuary of the Jewish state and travel somewhere for a holiday. A Turkish warrant for his arrest should await him wherever he goes. And not only him, but the Jewish 'judges' who covered up his crime and became accessories after the murder should be tried too. This is not a job for amateurs, but for a state with all its tools. If present Turkish law does not allow for this, let the law be updated by taking a leaf from the Israeli book. According to Israeli law, if a Turk does wrong to a Jew in Turkey , he may be snatched, arrested, tried and punished in Israel . Turkey should introduce a symmetrical law, covering offences against Palestinians who otherwise are not protected by law.
Turkey could also take the initiative to stop the still looming Israeli-American aggression against Iran . If they do take Iran , Turkey will be encircled and cut off. The fate of Palestine also depends on the fate of Tehran .
My New Year's wish to you: be yourself, be Turks, and live in harmony and friendship with your neighbours, with Russia , Iran , Syria , Greece and with all the successor states of the Ottoman Empire . You are needed for the world and for Palestine .
Silence is the deadliest weapon of mass destruction.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Soulstar feat. Rev. Billy
This unique "Feed the Machine' video discusses in a critical, though humoristic and original way, societys over-consumption. It is fully hand drawn, animated and it is written as well as produced by Soulstar.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
By Ray McGovern, Issues and Alibis
After the CIA-led fiasco at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961, President John Kennedy was quoted as saying he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds." I can understand his anger, but a thousand is probably too many.
Better is a Solomon solution; divide the CIA in two. That way we can throw out the bath water and keep the baby.
Covert action and analysis do not belong together in the same agency - never have, never will. That these two very different tasks were thrown together is an accident of history, one that it is high time to acknowledge and to fix.
The effects of this structural fault became clear to President Harry Truman as he watched the agency at work in its first decade and a half. He was aghast.
Like oil on water, covert action fouls the wellspring of objective analysis - the main task for which Truman and the Congress established the CIA in 1947. The operational tail started wagging the substantive tail almost right away. It has done so ever since - with very unfortunate consequences.
An accident of history? How so?
Covert action practitioners, many of whom showed great courage and imagination in the European and Far Eastern theaters of World War II arrived home wondering whether there was still a call for their expertise.
With the Soviet Union taking over large chunks of Europe and the KGB plying its covert-action wares worldwide, the question answered itself; a counter capability was needed.
The big mistake was shoehorning it into an agency being created to fulfill an entirely different mission. As former CIA analyst Mel Goodman points out in Failure of Intelligence, there was uncertainty and confusion over where to place responsibility for this capability.
No NIE on Af-Pak
The proof is in the pudding. Were not Panetta a self-described "creature of the Congress" (be wise, compromise), he would have long since ordered up a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on prospects for Afghanistan AND - far more important - Pakistan.
Would you believe that at this stage there is still no such NIE?
And the reason Panetta and his managers are keeping their heads way down is the same reason former CIA Director George Tenet for years shied away from doing an NIE on whether Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The findings would smell like skunks at a picnic.
It was only after Sen. Bob Graham, then-Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told the White House in September 2002, "No National Intelligence Estimate, no congressional vote on war with Iraq," that Tenet was ordered by the White House to commission an NIE with pre-ordained conclusions.
Tht NIE was to be completed in record time (less than three weeks), in order to emerge several weeks before the mid-term elections and it was to reflect the alarmist views expressed by Vice President Dick Cheney in a major speech on Aug. 26, 2002.
In Tenet's memoir he admits that Cheney "went well beyond what our analysis could support." But never mind; Tenet and his lieutenants had become quite accomplished in cooking intelligence to order. And so they did.
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