2013 page facts(hopefully) and
Obama and the Usual
American 'DAM' Exceptionalism Delusion, Arrogance
September 25, 2013 "Information Clearing House - President Barack Obama addressed the opening of the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations with his usual oratorical formula. Admittedly, the man is a good speaker with flawless technical delivery. But by now this has become a tiresome act of grandiloquence and lofty idealism with no substance. What makes the bottom fall out of the Obama act is the cloying disconnect in his words with harsh reality. It is like listening to a conman whose initially charming words begin to grate on your sense of reason, truth and forbearance as he fumbles in your pockets.
This is the Commander-in-Chief who has vowed to launch unilateral military strikes against Syria without a mandate from the UN Security Council, in contravention of the UN Charter and international law. In other words, he is willing and self-justified to commit the crime of aggression and possibly plunge a volatile region into a conflagration. And yet this reckless politician has the brass neck to stand in front of the worlds nations in New York to lecture on the founding principles of the UN.
Obama made the usual preposterous claims about the beneficence of American leadership in the world, denying that it had any imperialist ambitions. To listen to him, one would think that the US is the worlds largest charitable organization, bringing human rights, democracy and freedom to the oppressed. No wonder Americans can be so confused about the state of the real world when they espouse such arrant nonsense and vain notions of exceptionalism, as Russian President Vladimir Putin discreetly pointed out earlier this month in a column for the New York Times. Unbowed by that reality check, Obama persisted with the conceited American belief in its supposed virtuous exceptionalism as he addressed the UN General Assembly.
What amazes is that his performance received a resounding applause and not one delegate walked out of the assembly. Perhaps this was due to normal human politeness shared by most nations to listen to others even when they dont agree. American exceptionalism has in the past seen its own delegates storming out of the assembly whenever their ears cannot bear the sound of some other world leader who has a differing, critical point of view.
And there was plenty to find disagreeable about Obamas speech to the UN this week. With regard to US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he glibly claimed with a congratulatory tone those wars are at an end. It is a deeply troubling measure of arrogance that an American leader can stand in front of the world and talk tritely about wars coming to an end whenever over one million people have been killed in those American aggressions, which were based on flagrant lies and baseless pretexts.
Yet in Obamas view of the world, we can move swiftly on, and somehow believe that what America is proposing to do in Syria is a completely different prospect, where it has learnt from past mistakes. In Syria, Obama claimed, the US would be using its military might to protect citizens from a tyrant. He denied that US motives were about regime change and vowed that America sought to help the people of Syria choose their own government.
This is what Obama, and American presidents do best, excel in rhetoric over reality. Bereft from his speech was an acknowledgement of the fact that Washington has been harboring plans for regime change in Syria since at least 2001, as disclosed by former US General Wesley Clark. Bereft from Obamas fine words were details of American weapons and logistics being funneled into Syria for the past two years to drive a campaign of terrorism to destabilize a sovereign government.
Provocatively, the American president reiterated unfounded allegations that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was guilty of massacring its citizens and in particular in the use of chemical weapons on 21 August. Obama mendaciously claimed that the recent UN chemical weapons report, led by Ake Sellstrom, proved his allegations. The UN report does nothing of the sort, and a range of evidence elsewhere contends much more convincingly that the perpetrators of the chemical attacks were the Western-backed mercenaries.
Again this attitude of apparent certitude and sanctimony by the US president testifies to the arrogant belief of American exceptionalism. Evidently, American presidents presume to know everything and the rest of the world must accept their viewpoint, even though that viewpoint has on countless occasions been shown to be barefaced deception. Never chastened or shamed, American leaders feel entitled to just keep regurgitating the same self-important rhetoric.
On Iran, Obama, again glibly, acknowledged that the US had engaged in a coup against a democratically elected government (in 1953) and then quickly went on to say that since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979 that Iranians have viewed America as an enemy. The rhetorical inference was that Iranians have an attitude problem in their view of America, not a humble admission of guilt from criminal interference in the affairs of Iran by the US.
Obama did allude to a possible dialogue to resolve the nuclear issue, especially in the light of Irans election of President Hassan Rouhani. But he repeated the tired calumny of the US seeking to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons, even though all American intelligence agencies have consistently said that Iran does not have or is near obtaining such a weapon, and in spite of the fact that Iranian leaders most recently Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamanei have decreed such armaments to be immoral and unwanted.
There was not a word or hint from Obama that the decades-old economic sanctions that Washington and its Western allies have imposed on Iran were in any way immoral or illegal and must be rescinded. As usual, Obama assumed that such draconian impediments to a countrys humane development were Americas God-given right to impose. Indeed, as Obama lectured, it was up to Iran to show signs of sincerity and transparency if it wanted avail of a successful dialogue with the US.
On other matters, there was more cant rhetoric about how the US was supporting the creation of a Palestinian sovereign state predicated on a secure Israel. In other words, as long as the US-backed Israeli regime continues waging war on neighboring states and stealing other peoples land and thus always feeling insecure as a result of such criminality then the Palestinians can forget about their rights.
All in all, Obamas performance at the UN was another triumph of arrogance and delusion in the face of outrageous American lawlessness a lawlessness that has become chronic and incorrigible, infused with even more exceptionalism. The ultimate exception is that the US leaders obviously view their country as above and beyond the law
Obama had the cheek to call US predatory relations with other countries as engagement with the world and he warned that international relations would deteriorate if the US were to become less engaged.
It may come as something of a shock to such people, but somebody needs to tell Obama and the Washington elite that that is exactly what the world wants and needs for the sake of peace and balanced development for the US to disengage from imperialist warmongering. And instead to engage much more in its own internal affairs, like rolling back record levels of poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness and social decay. Now that would be a welcome American exception.
"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too" - Voltaire
"The important thing is not to stop questioning." - Albert Einstein
Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society
August 21, 2013 The
following is a transcript of the statement made by Pfc.
Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press
conference on Wednesday:
Brave New World News Item 3,180
Comment: Prometheus, of course, was the first human being, who with a little female help, stole fire from the gods for the benefit of all mankind. The gods were outraged and took revenge by sentencing him to eterrnal torment. Something familiar here? As BNWhas been saying for some time, if we allow the hidden state to secretly 'surveille' us, the time will very soon come that they will identify the sources of opposition to them and declare us enemies (as, of course, we are of their illegalities) and act accordingly. Solnit (below) says it clearly:
"They say you [Snowden], like Bradley Manning, gave secrets to their enemies. Its clear who those enemies are: you, me, us. It was clear on September 12, 2001, that the Bush administration feared the American people more than al-Qaeda. Not much has changed on that front since, and this almost infinitely broad information harvest criminalizes all of us. This metadata -- the patterns and connections of communications rather than their content -- is particularly useful, as my friend Chris Carlsson pointed out, at mapping the clusters of communications behind popular movements, uprisings, political organizing: in other words, those moments when civil society rises to shape history, to make a better future in the open world of the streets andsquares.
"The goal of gathering all this metadata, Chris speculates, "is to be able to identify where the hubs are, who the people are who sit at key points in networks, helping pass news and messages along, but especially, who the people are who spread ideas and information from one network of people to the next, who help connect small networks into larger ones, and thus facilitate the unpredictable and rapid spread of dissent when it appears.
We've been warned.
Prometheus Among the Cannibals
Billions of us, from prime ministers to hackers, are watching a live espionage movie in which you are the protagonist and perhaps the sacrifice. Your way forward is clear to no one, least of all, Im sure, you.
I fear for you; I think of you with
a heavy heart. I imagine hiding you like Anne Frank. I
I am moved by your choice of our future over yours, the world over yourself. You know what few do nowadays: that the self is not the same as self-interest. You are someone who is smart enough, idealistic enough, bold enough to know that living with yourself in a system of utter corruption would destroy that self as an ideal, as something worth being. Doing what youve done, on the other hand, would give you a self you could live with, even if it gave you nowhere to live or no life. Which is to say, you have become a hero.
Pity the country that requires a hero, Bertolt Brecht once remarked, but pity the heroes too. They are the other homeless, the people who dont fit in. They are the ones who see the hardest work and do it, and pay the price we charge those who do what we cant or wont. If the old stories were about heroes who saved us from others, modern heroes -- Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Rachel Carson, Ella Baker, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi -- endeavored to save us from ourselves, from our own governments and systems of power.
The rest of us so often sacrifice that self and those ideals to fit in, to be part of a cannibal system, a system that eats souls and defiles truths and serves only power. Or we negotiate quietly to maintain an uneasy distance from it and then go about our own business. Though in my world quite a few of us strike our small blows against empire, you, young man, you were situated where you could run a dagger through the dragons eye, and that dragon is writhing in agony now; in that agony it has lost its magic: an arrangement whereby it remains invisible while making the rest of us ever more naked to its glaring eye.
Private Eyes and Public Rights
Privacy is a kind of power as well
as a right, one that public librarians fought to
protect against the Bush administration and the PATRIOT
Act and that online companies violate in
every way thats profitable and expedient. Our lack
of privacy, their monstrous privacy -- even their
invasion of our privacy must, by law, remain classified
-- is what you made visible. The agony of a monster with
nowhere to stand -- you are accused of spying on the
spies, of invading the privacy of their invasion of
privacy -- is a truly curious thing. And it is changing
the world. Europe and
You yourself said it so well on July 12th:
A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone's communications at any time. That is the power to change people's fates. It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the U.S. Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice -- that it must be seen to be done.
They say you, like Bradley Manning, gave secrets to their en emies. Its clear who those enemies are: you, me, us. It was clear on September 12, 2001, that the Bush administration feared the American people more than al-Qaeda. Not much has changed on that front since, and this almost infinitely broad information harvest criminalizes all of us. This metadata -- the patterns and connections of communications rather than their content -- is particularly useful, as my friend Chris Carlsson pointed out, at mapping the clusters of communications behind popular movements, uprisings, political organizing: in other words, those moments when civil society rises to shape history, to make a better future in the open world of the streets and squares.
The goal of gathering all this metadata, Chris speculates, "is to be able to identify where the hubs are, who the people are who sit at key points in networks, helping pass news and messages along, but especially, who the people are who spread ideas and information from one network of people to the next, who help connect small networks into larger ones, and thus facilitate the unpredictable and rapid spread of dissent when it appears.
Metadata can map the circulatory system of civil society, toward what ends you can certainly imagine. When governments fear their people you can be sure they are not serving their people. This has always been the minefield of patriotism: loyalty to our government often means hostility to our country and vice-versa. Edward Snowden, loyalist to country, you have made this clear as day.
Those who demonize you show, as David Bromwich pointed out in a fine essay in the London Review of Books, their submission to the power you exposed. Who stood where, he writes,was an infallible marker of the anti-authoritarian instinct against the authoritarian. What was distressing and impossible to predict was the evidence of the way the last few years have worn deep channels of authoritarian acceptance in the mind of the liberal establishment. Every public figure who is psychologically identified with the ways of power in America has condemned Snowden as a traitor, or deplored his actions as merely those of a criminal, someone about whom the judgment he must be prosecuted obviates any further judgment and any need for thought.
You said, "I know the media likes to
personalize political debates, and I know the government
will demonize me." Who you are is fascinating, but
what youve exposed is what matters. It is upending
the world. It is damaging
What You Love
Whats striking about your words on video, Edward Snowden, the ones I hear as your young, pale, thoughtful face speaks with clarity and incisiveness in response to Glenn Greenwalds questions, is that youre not talking much about what you hate, though its clear that you hate the secret network you were part of. You hate it because it poisons what you love. You told us, "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions... [but] I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant." You love our world, our country -- not its government, clearly, but its old ideals and living idealists, its possibilities, its dreamers, and its dreams (not the stale, stuffed American dream of individual affluence, but the other dreams of a better world for all of us, a world of principle).
You told us where we now live and that you refuse to live there anymore:
"I don't want to live in a
world where everything that I say, everything I do,
everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or
love or friendship is recorded. And that's not something
I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to
build, and it's not something I'm willing to live under.
Which is to say you acted from love, from all the things the new surveillance state imperils: privacy, democracy, accountability, decency, honor. The rest of us, what would we do for love?
What is terrifying to the politicians at the top is that you may be our truest patriot at the moment. Which makes all of them, with their marble buildings and illustrious titles, their security details and all the pomp, the flags, the saluting soldiers, so many traitors. The government is the enemy of the people; the state is the enemy of the country. I love that country, too. I fear that state and this new information age as they spread and twine like a poison vine around everything and everyone. You held up a mirror and fools hate the mirror for it; they shoot the messenger, but the message has been delivered.
This country is worth dying
for, you said in explanation of your great risks.
You were trained as a soldier, but a soldiers
courage with a thinkers independence of mind is a
dangerous thing; a hero is a dangerous thing. Thats
When the United States forced the
airplane of Evo Morales, Bolivias democratically
elected head of state, to land in Austria, after
compliant France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy denied him
the right to travel through their airspace, all South
America took it as an insult and a violation of
Bolivias sovereignty and international law. The
allied president of
Building a Bridge to the Nineteenth Century
How did we get here? In 1996, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore pushed the dreadful slogan building a bridge to the twenty-first century. It was a celebration of Silicon Valley-style technological innovation and corporate globalization, among other things. At the time, I put building a bridge to the nineteenth century on my letterhead. It turned out that we were doing both at once: erecting a massive electronic infrastructure that outpaces our ability to democratically manage it and shifting our economy backward to recreate the chasms of class divide that marked the nineteenth century. The two goals intertwined like serpents making love.
The new technologies made a surveillance state that much more powerful and far-reaching; the new technologiesreplaced many jobs with few; the new technologies created new billionaires without principles; the new technologies made us all into commodities to be sold to advertisers; the new technologies turned our every move into something that could be tracked; the new technologies kept us distracted and busy. Meanwhile, almost everyone got poorer.
What the neoliberals amassing mountains of wealth for the already super-wealthy forgot, what the tax-cutters and child-starvers never learned in school, is that desperate people do not necessary simply lie down and obey. Often enough, they rebel. There is no one as dangerous as he or she who has nothing to lose. The twentieth centurys welfare states, their pumped-up, plumped-up middle classes, their relative egalitarianism and graduated tax plans pacified the once-insurrectionary classes by meeting, at least in part, their needs and demands. The comfortable dont revolt much. Out of sheer greed, however, the wealthiest and most powerful decided to make so many of the rest of us at least increasingly uncomfortable and often far worse.
Edward Snowden, you rebelled because you were outraged; so many others are rebelling because their lives are impossible now. These days when we revolt, the new technologies become our friends as well as our enemies. If you imagine those technologies as the fire Prometheus stole from the gods, then it works both ways, for us and for them, to create and to destroy.
Those new technologies are key to the latest rounds of global organizing, from the World Trade Organization actionsof 1999, put together by email and epochal in their impact, to the Arab Spring, which used email, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, and other means, to Occupy Wall Street. The technologies are double-edged: populist networks for creating global resistance are vulnerable to surveillance; classified reams of data are breachable by information saved to thumb drives or burned onto CDs by whistleblowers and hackers. They can spy in private; we can organize in public, and maybe the two actions are true opposites.
Meanwhile there is massive upheaval
Prometheus and Being Burned
I think of a man even younger than you, Edward Snowden, who unlike you acted without knowing what he did: 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi, whose December 2010 self-immolation to protest his humiliation and hopelessness triggered what became the still-blooming, still-burning Arab Spring. Sometimes one person changes the world. This should make most of us hopeful and some of them fearful, because what I am also saying is that we now live in a world of us and them, a binary world. Its not the old world of capitalism versus communism, but of the big versus the little, of oligarchy versus democracy, of hierarchies versus swarms, of corporations versus public interest and civil society.
It seems nearly worldwide now, which is why revolts all over the planet have so much in common these days, why Occupy activists last month held up signs in New Yorks Liberty Plaza in solidarity with the uprising in Taksim Square in Turkey; why Arab Spring activists phoned in pizza orders to the uprising in Wisconsin in early 2011; why Occupy spread around the world, and Greek insurrectionaries learned from the successes of Argentina in the face of austerity and economic collapse. We know our fate is common and that we live it out together and change it together, only together.
There were rumblings that you had
defected, or would defect, to
And you, Prometheus, you stole their fire, and you know it. You said, "Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, [Senator Dianne] Feinstein, and [Congressman Peter] King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school."
Someday you may be regarded as a Mandela of sorts for the information age, or perhaps a John Brown, someone who refused to fit in, to bow down, to make a system work that shouldnt work, that should explode. And perhaps were watching it explode.
The match is sacrificed to start the fire. So maybe, Edward Snowden, youre a sacrifice. In the process, youve lit a bonfire out of their secrecy and spying, a call to action.
I fear for you, but your gift gives us hope and your courage, an example. Our loyalty should be to our ideals, because they are a threat to the secret system youve exposed, because we have to choose between the two. Right now you embody that threat, just as you embody those ideals. For which I am grateful, for which everyone who is not embedded in that system should be grateful.
Like Edward Snowden, Rebecca Solnit has a GED, not a high-school diploma. She lives in Silicon Valleys shadow, in a city where billionaires race $10 million yachts and austerity is closing the community college. Her newest book isThe Faraway Nearby.
Copyright 2013 Rebecca Solnit
www.thenation.com www.smirkingchimp.comwww.internationalanswer.org www.veteransforcommonsense.org www.moveon.orgwww.talkingpointsmemo.com www.commondreams.orgwww.truthout.org www.ImpeachBlair.netwww.counterpunch.org/roberts09032005.html tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?emx=x&pid=19806 http://www.legitgov.org/ www.tompaine.com www.dissidentvoice.org www.antiwar.com http://tikkun.org www.joanmellen.net www.globalresearch.ca Voices for Creative Nonviolencevcnv.orgwww.uscpublicdiplomacy.org/index.php?/newsroom/johnbrown www.onlinejournal.com www.globalresearch.ca www.informationclearinghouse.info www.electronicintifada.net www.conflictsforum.comwww.thirdworldtraveler.com www.fpif.orghttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/shamireaders/messages www.crooksandliars.com www.huffingtonpost.com www.killinghope.org
Brave New World is a Chiang Mai-based, internationally-distributed e-news and opinion exchange initiative. Started in January 2003, when the US-led invasion of the Middle East was in the offing, its objectives have been to gather and disseminate print news that offers a more accurate picture of the new world situation than is available from any other daily news source, and also provide opportunity for comment on and reaction to the momentous and far-reaching changes taking place globally. BNW depends for its disseminated materials on items sent in by the individuals on its mailing list. 'Members' are encouraged to disseminate the news / opinions found here as widely as possible. Anyone wishing to be put on the mailing list ( bcc), or taken off it, should contact JC email@example.com . Originally a daily service, BNW now goes out whenever the news sent in warrants it.
history from an
It´s recent events here in Iceland which might give us a clue to why Israel is allowed to behave the way it does.
In 2003 the Icelandic government under Prime Minister David Oddson privatized the Icelandic Banks. He had been persuaded to do so by his advisers from the third largest banking corporation in the world the British bank HSBC (The HSBC by the way has the sordid history of having once been the bank which financed the Opium trade from India to China after the Chinese had lost the Opium war. The Chinese government had tried to stop the British East India Company to dump Opium into China. The Opium was destroying the Chinese middle class and the Brits received Chinese resources and goods from the addicts under value.)
The Icelandic government had been promised that by privatising their banking system, foreign investors would pour their money into the Iceland economy. This would help the country to better diversify it´s export industry so it would no longer be solely depended on the fluctuating export value of fish and fish-products on the international markets. These British and other foreign consultants also persuaded the Icelandic government not to put any limits on the private banks with any laws beyond the very liberal laws of the European Union. The Icelandic banks were then encouraged by their foreign consultants to expand without limits. Their strong business concepts were hailed endlessly and they were told that since they had such a diverse investment strategy that there would be no danger whatsoever for a possible bankruptcy.
It was the British banker Mark Sismey-Durrant, who had started his career at the HSBC, who became the managing director of Landsbanki´s British branch. Sismey-Durrant, who is a committee member of the Guild of International Bankers, rubbing shoulders with some of the most powerful bankers in Britain, started the Icesave saving accounts in Britain and then in other European countries.
At first foreign money did stream in and the economy
started to boom and the housing prices went through the
roof. The Icelandic central tried to keep the economy
from overheating by increasing the interest rates. But
the banks undercut all those efforts by offering
Icelanders loans in foreign currencies. And then in the
beginning of 2008 foreign hedge funds began betting
against the Icelandic currency and more and foreign
investors pulled out of the Icelandic banks. This let to
a cash shortage in the Icelandic banking system.The
Icelandic banks then had no choice than taking
short time loans from other banks and the Icelandic
central bank tried to get loans from other central banks
to back up the banks. But the European and American
central banks and other financial institutes which before
had enthusiastically encouraged the expansion of the
Icelandic banks now refused any loans whatsoever. With
the crash of Lehman Brothers all inter-bank loans dried
up and the Icelandic central bank only had enough foreign
money to save one bank.
However, when the government tried to save the
Icelandic economy from certain collapse, this was the
moment, when Iceland,together with Landsbanki and the
Icelandic central bank were set on the list of
terrorism supporting countries and terrorist
organisations by the British government.
Others on this list are Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.
The series of events, which led to Iceland having ended up on the supporters of terrorism list, makes it quite clear what terrorism and the war against terrorism is all about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with any acts of violence performed or supported by the countries or organisations on this list, instead those people and countries are considered terrorists or supporters of terrorism whose protective actions are considered to go against the interests of the largest western banking corporations and their main share-holders.
Many political writers have already come to the
conclusion that the war against terrorism is
in reality a war against the religion and the people of
Interest-free money is an idea that is shared by
Christian, humanist and environmental organisations in
the west as well. The idea of interest-free money has
been developed and promoted in western countries since
the 1920s. However, the organizations which support this
alternative money concept in the western world are small
and without much influence.
While we in the western world disagree with Islamic
culture on several issues, there is this one part in
which Islamic culture is far more progressive than our
western: the Islamic banking and financial system.
If the Islamic financial system would become a good example for developing countries and even western industrial countries, todays western financial elites would loose their power over the political system of the western world.
And this is exactly the reason why the Islamic peoples
of the world are portrayed as the enemy of the
west and why Israel is supported and encouraged in
it´s criminal behavior. The helpless anger Israel´s
neighbours feel about the injustice that is being done to
the Palestinian and to themselves is being used by
western intelligence agencies to create patsies for false
flag attacks on western targets.
Telling the truth about Israel´s crimes and the
boycott of Israel are the most important preventions
against a general war.
We have a long way ahead of us to set the record straight in the mind of the western public against all those deadly lies. But wise men have said, that every journey starts with the first step. And stopping Israel´s crimes against humanity now is the first step on the way to peace,the first step we have to take.
Cover Story: How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe
Spying on the European Union
An NSA table (see graphic), published for the first time here by SPIEGEL, documents the massive amount of information captured from the monitored data traffic. According to the graph, on an average day last December, the agency gathered metadata from some 15 million telephone connections and 10 million Internet datasets. On Dec. 24, it collected data on around 13 million phone calls and about half as many Internet connections.
On the busiest days, such as Jan. 7 of this year, the information gathered spiked to nearly 60 million communications processes under surveillance. The Americans are collecting metadata from up to half a billion communications a month in Germany -- making the country one of the biggest sources of streams of information flowing into the agency's gigantic sea of data.
Another look at the NSA's data hoard shows how much less information the NSA is taking from countries like France and Italy. In the same period, the agency recorded data from an average of around 2 million connections, and about 7 million on Christmas Eve. In Poland, which is also under surveillance, the numbers varied between 2 million and 4 million in the first three weeks of December.
But the NSA's work has little to do with classic eavesdropping. Instead, it's closer to a complete structural acquisition of data. Believing that less can be extrapolated from such metadata than from intercepted communication content would be a mistake, though. It's a gold mine for investigators, because it shows not only contact networks, but also enables the creation of movement profiles and even predictions about the possible behavior of the people participating in the communication under surveillance.
According to insiders familiar with the German portion of the NSA program, the main interest is in a number of large Internet hubs in western and southern Germany. The secret NSA documents show that Frankfurt plays an important role in the global network, and the city is named as a central base in the country. From there, the NSA has access to Internet connections that run not only to countries like Mali or Syria, but also to ones in Eastern Europe. Much suggests that the NSA gathers this data partly with and without Germany's knowledge, although the individual settings by which the data is filtered and sorted have apparently been discussed. By comparison, the "Garlick" system, with which the NSA monitored satellite communication out of the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling for years, seems modest. The NSA listening station at Bad Aibling was at the center of the German debate over America's controversial Echelon program and alleged industrial espionage during the 1990s.
"The US relationship with Germany has been about as close as you can get,"American journalist and NSA expert James Bamford recently told German weekly Die Zeit. "We probably put more listening posts in Germany than anyplace because of its proximity to the Soviet Union."
Such foreign partnerships, one document states, provide "unique target access."
'Privacy of Telecommunications' Is 'Inviolable'
But the US does not share the results of the surveillance with all of these foreign partners, the document continues. In many cases, equipment and technical support are offered in exchange for the signals accessed. Often the agency will offer equipment, training and technical support to gain access to its desired targets. These "arrangements" are typically bilateral and made outside of any military and civil relationships the US might have with these countries, one top secret document shows. This international division of labor seems to violate Article 10 of Germany's constitution, the Basic Law, which guarantees that "the privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications shall be inviolable" and can only be suspended in narrowly defined exceptions.
"Any analyst can target anyone anytime," Edward Snowden said in his video interview, and that includes a federal judge or the president, if an email address is available, he added.
Just how unscrupulously the US government allows its intelligence agencies to act is documented by a number of surveillance operations that targeted the European Union in Brussels and Washington, for which it has now become clear that the NSA was responsible.
A little over five years ago, security experts discovered that a number of odd, aborted phone calls had been made around a certain extension within the Justus Lipsius building, the headquarters of the European Council, the powerful body representing the leaders of the EU's 27 member states. The calls were all made to numbers close to the one used as the remote servicing line of the Siemens telephone system used in the building. Officials in Brussels asked the question: How likely is it that a technician or service computer would narrowly misdial the service extension a number of times? They traced the origin of the calls -- and were greatly surprised by what they found. It had come from a connection just a few kilometers away in the direction of the Brussels airport, in the suburb of Evere, where NATO headquarters is located.
The EU security experts managed to pinpoint the line's exact location -- a building complex separated from the rest of the headquarters. From the street, it looks like a flat-roofed building with a brick facade and a large antenna on top. The structure is separated from the street by a high fence and a privacy shield, with security cameras placed all around. NATO telecommunications experts -- and a whole troop of NSA agents -- work inside. Within the intelligence community, this place is known as a sort of European headquarters for the NSA.
A review of calls made to the remote servicing line showed that it was reached several times from exactly this NATO complex -- with potentially serious consequences. Every EU member state has rooms at the Justus Lipsius building for use by ministers, complete with telephone and Internet connections.
Unscrupulous in Washington
The NSA appears to be even more unscrupulous on its home turf. The EU's diplomatic delegation to the United States is located in an elegant office building on Washington's K Street. But the EU's diplomatic protection apparently doesn't apply in this case. As parts of one NSA document seen by SPIEGEL indicate, the NSA not only bugged the building, but also infiltrated its internal computer network. The same goes for the EU mission at the United Nations in New York. The Europeans are a "location target," a document from Sept. 2010 states. Requests to discuss these matters with both the NSA and the White House went unanswered.
Now a high-level commission of experts, agreed upon by European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and US Attorney General Eric Holder, is to determine the full scope of the routine data snooping and discuss the legal protection possibilities for EU citizens. A final report is expected to be released in October.
The extent of the NSA's systematic global surveillance network is highlighted in an overview from Fort Meade, the agency's headquarters. It describes a number of secret operations involving the surveillance of Internet and international data traffic. "In the Information Age, (the) NSA aggressively exploits foreign signals traveling complex global networks," an internal description states.
Details in a further, previously unpublished document reveal exactly what takes place there. It describes how the NSA received access to an entire bundle of fiber-optic cables, which have a data-transfer capacity of several gigabytes per second. It is one of the Internet's larger superhighways. The paper indicates that access to the cables is a relatively recent development and includes Internet backbone circuits, "including several that service the Russian market." Technicians in Fort Meade are able to access "thousands of trunk groups connected worldwide," according to the document. In a further operation, the intelligence organization is able to monitor a cable that collects data flows from the Middle East, Europe, South America and Asia (see graphic).
But it is not just intelligence agencies from allied nations that have willingly aided the NSA. Revelations related to the Prism program make it clear that agents likewise access vast quantity of data from US Internet companies.
The price of truth
by Thierry Meyssan
While the international press plays up the information leaked by Edward Snowden as a revelation concerning the PRISM surveillance program, feigning to have discovered what everyone should already have known for a long time, Thierry Meyssan is particularly curious about the meaning of this rebellion. From this perspective, he attaches more importance to the case of General Cartwright, who has also been indicted for espionage.
Former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, former Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former military adviser to President Obama, General James Cartwright is accused of spying: leaking to the New York Times information about the secret war against Iran in order to prevent an unnecessary war.
Are American public servants, civilian or military, who face a minimum of 30 years in prison for revealing U.S. state secrets to the press, "whistleblowers" exercising power in a democratic system or are they "resistors to oppression" at the hands of a military-police dictatorship? The answer to this question does not depend on our own political opinions, but on the nature of the U.S. government. The answer completely changes if we focus on the case of Bradley Manning, the young leftist Wikileaks soldier, or if we consider that of General Cartwright, military adviser to President Obama, indicted Thursday, 27 June 2013, for spying.
Here, a look back is needed to understand how one shifts from "espionage" in favor of a foreign power to "disloyalty" to a criminal organization that employs you.
Worse than censorship: the criminalization of sources
The President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Woodrow Wilson, tried to confer on the Executive branch the power to censor the press when "national security" or "the reputation of the government" are in play. In his speech on State of the Union (7th of December 1915), he said: "There are citizens of the United States ... who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life, who tried to drag the authority and reputation of our government in contempt ... to destroy our industries ... and degrade our policy in favor of foreign intrigue .... We are without adequate federal laws .... I urge you to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed."
However, Congress did not heed him immediately. After the U.S. entry into the war, it passed the Espionage Act, taking in most of the British Official Secrets Act. It was no longer a matter of censoring the press, but of cutting off access to information by muzzling the custodians of state secrets. This device allows the Anglo-Saxons to present themselves as "defenders of freedom of expression", though they are the worst violators of the democratic right to information, constitutionally defended by the Scandinavian countries.
Silence, not secrecy
Thus, the Anglo-Americans are less informed about what is happening at home than are foreigners. For example, during World War II, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada managed to keep under wraps something as big as the Manhattan Project, that created the first nuclear bomb, while it employed 130,000 people for 4 years and it was widely penetrated by foreign intelligence services. Why? Because Washington did not prepare the weapon for this war, but for the next, against the Soviet Union. As shown by Russian historians, the abdication of Japan was postponed until after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed as a warning to the USSR. If Americans had known that their country possessed such a weapon, their leaders would have had to use it to finish with Germany and not to threaten the Soviet ally at the expense of the Japanese. In reality, the Cold War began before the end of World War II .
In terms of secrecy, it should be noted that Stalin
and Hitler were informed of the Manhattan Project
from its inception. They indeed had inside agents.
Meanwhile Truman was informed in his capacity as vice
president, but only at the last moment, after the death
of President Roosevelt.
Under the administration of Barack Obama, the Espionage
Act has been invoked 8 times, a peacetime record.
Stephen Jin-Woo Kim confirmed to Fox News that North Korea was preparing a nuclear test regardless of U.S. threats; a confirmation that caused no harm to the USA other than pointing out their inability to be obeyed by North Korea. In another context, this information had already been released by Bob Woodward without provoking reactions.
Andrew Thomas Drake revealed the mismanagement of the Trailblazer program to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. He was alleged to have informed those congressmen tasked with keeping an eye on the intelligence agencies with regard to the billions that the NSA was secretly throwing out the window. Trailblazer sought to find a way to plant viruses on any computer or mobile phone. It has never worked.
In a similar vein, Edward Snowden, an employee of the Booz Allen Hamilton technology consulting firm, published various NSA documents attesting to U.S. spying in China as well as on the guests of the British G20. Above all, he has revealed the scope of the military phone tapping and internet spy system, which no one can escape, not even the President of the United States. U.S. politicians described Snowden as "a traitor to kill" only because his documents prevent the NSA from continuing to deny before Congress activities long known to all.
Bradley Manning, a simple soldier, sent to Wikileaks videos of two blunders by the army, 500,000 intelligence reports on military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 250,000 cables on the information gathered by U.S. diplomats in conversations with foreign politicians. None of this is of paramount importance, but the documentation projects a poor image of ??the gossip collected by the State Department to serve as the basis for its "diplomacy."
Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is a CIA employee who revealed "Operation Merlin" to the New York Times. More surprisingly, General James Cartwright was number two man in the military, in his capacity as Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and so close an advisor to the President as to be dubbed "Obamas general". He supposedly revealed "Operation Olympic Games" to the New York Times last year and has been placed under investigation, according to CNN.
Sterling and Cartwright dont buy into the Israeli myth of "the atomic bomb of the mullahs." So they tried to defuse the war into which Tel Aviv is trying to plunge their country. "Operation Merlin" consisted in sending to Iran false information about the manufacture of the bomb. In reality, it was supposed to push Iran to engage in a military nuclear program to justify a posteriori the Israeli accusation . As for "Operation Olympic Games," it was meant to implant the Stuxnet and Flame viruses in the Natanz plant, to disrupt its operation, notably that of its centrifuges . It was therefore intended to block Irans civilian nuclear program. None of these revelations damaged U.S. interests.
A salon opposition presents the men indicted under the Espionage Act as "whistleblowers", as if the United States today were a real democracy and they were alerting citizens to the need to correct some errors. In fact, what they show us is that in the United States, from a common soldier (Bradley Manning) to the second in command (General Cartwright), men are trying as best they can to fight against the dictatorial system in which they discover themselves. Faced with a monstrous system, they ought to be celebrated as major resistance figures such as Admiral Canaris or Count Stauffenberg.
members of my family have food stamps now because of their hideous job situations. they say the foods they are able to buy in this system are not nutritious. Outrageous! Anything that can be done in their favor and the survival of all the others is most welcome!
We have to do something as a people with heart. Noone
can afford to live when making minimum or inadequate wage
that is the jobs you can find in the paper. Housing is
ridiculously expensive along with food prices. I hear
alot of people talking about how its socialist to have
food stamps, do they even know how broken the social nets
are in this country? Its really broken and letting people
slip through the nets to become homeless, mentally ill go
without medication, kids to go hungry. If you don't know
this is going on then you are out of touch. Single moms
can't make it on their own, they can't make that much
money. Everything needs to become cheaper but prices are
constantly rising. I want corporate welfare to be in the
crosshairs not the poorest among us. Perhaps drop fewer
bombs on other countries poor people. You have to have
nothing to get aid. Not only that but the system is
designed to keep a person down, when you get a job you
lose your food budget, how can anyone get a hand up or
get ahead with this broken system. No matter which way we
turn the lower and middle class are screwed this system
is designed by and for the rich.
Good idea. Starve the li'l kiddies that are going to
be fighting Amerikkka's ongoing wars. Army eats. Haha,
maybe I won't say 'good', but it eats. Make 'em hungry
enough, and they will enlist just for the food they can't
afford now, and a cot to replace their bedroom in the
family home that some too-big-to-fail-or-apparently-jail
bank has foreclosed on.
OpEdNews Op Eds 5/26/2013 at 20:44:34
The Only Way To Bring Peace to Syria
After a 10-day (1-11 May, 2013) visit to Lebanon and Syria, leading a 16-person delegation from eight countries, invited by Mussalaha Reconciliation Movement, I have returned hopeful that peace is possible in Syria, if all outside interference is stopped and the Syrians are allowed to solve their own problems upholding their right to self-determination.
An appeal to end all violence and for Syrians to be left alone from outside interference was made by all those we met during our visit to Syria. We have tried to forward it to the International community in our Concluding Declaration.
During our visit we went to refugee camps, affected communities, and met religious leaders, combatants, government representatives, opposition delegations and many others, perpetrators and victims, in Lebanon and Syria.
1. Visits to refugee camps: In Lebanon we visited several refugee camps, hosted by Lebanese or Palestinian communities. One woman said: "before this conflict started we were happy and had a good life (there is free education, free healthcare, subsidies for fuel, in Syria,) and now we live in poverty." Her daughter and son-in-law (a pharmacist and engineer) standing on a cement floor in a Palestinian refugee camp, with not even a mattress, told us that this violence had erupted to everyone's surprise and spread so quickly they were all still in shock, but when well-armed, foreign fighters came to Homs, they took over their homes, raped their women, and killed young males who refused to join their ranks, so the people fled in terror. They said that these foreign fighters were from many countries -- Libyans, Saudis, Tunisians, Chechens, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Emiratis, Lebanese, Jordanians, Turkish, Europeans, Australian -- and these gangs are financed and trained by foreign governments. They attach suicide vests around peoples' bodies and threaten to explode them if they don't do what they are told. One refugee woman asked me "when can we go home?" (To my great delight a few days later in Damascus I met a woman working on a government program which is helping refugees to return to Syria and over 200 have returned to date).
Religious and government leaders have called upon people not to flee Syria and it is to be hoped many will heed this call, as after seeing so many Syrian refugees living in tents and being exploited in so many ways, including sexually, I believe the best solution is the stability of Syria so its people feel safe enough to stay in Syria. If refugees continue to flee Syria then surrounding countries could be destabilized, causing the domino effect and destabilizing the entire Middle East.
Many people have fled into camps in surrounding countries like Turkey, Jordan, or Lebanon, all of which are trying to manage the huge influx of Syrian refugees. Although the host countries are doing their best to cope they are overwhelmed by refugee numbers. (UNHCR's official figure of refugees is one million). Through our meetings we have been informed that Turkey invites Syrian refugees into the country and forbids them to go back home. It is documented that Syrian refugees in Turkey and Jordan are mistreated. Some young Syrian refugee girls are sold for forced marriage in Jordan. From OHCHR reports we know that more than 4 million Syrians are displaced inside their own country, living in great need.
A representative from Red Cross, told us that there is freedom to do their work throughout Syria for all NGO and the Syrian Red crescent in co-ordination with the Ministry of Social affairs and under such dire circumstances, they are doing their best, providing services to as many people as possible. However there is a great shortage of funds for them to cope with this humanitarian tragedy of refugees and internally displaced population. The economic sanctions, as in Iraq, are causing great hardship to many people and all those whom we met called for them to be lifted. Our delegation called for the lifting of these illegal US-led sanctions that target the Syrian Population for purely political reasons in order to achieve regime change.
2. Hospitals: We visited the hospitals and saw many people injured by shootings, bombings, and armed attacks. A moderate Sunni Imam told me how he was abducted by jihadists, who tortured him, cut off his ear, tried to cut his throat, sliced his legs, and left him for dead. He said when he goes back to his mosque they will slaughter him. He told us, "these men are foreign fighters, jihadists from foreign countries, well-armed, well trained, with money, they are in our country to destroy it. They are not true Muslims but are religious extremist/fundamentalists terrorizing, abducting, killing our people." The government spokesman also confirmed that they have in detention captured foreign fighters from 29 countries, including Chechens, Iraqis, and many others. The Ministry of Health showed us a documentary on the terrible killings by Jihadists and the terror caused by these foreigners with the killing of medics and destruction of medical infrastructure of the Syrian State which has made it difficult to answer the needs of the population.
3. Meeting with Opposition: Our delegation participated in an open forum with many representatives of internal opposition's parties. One political opponent who was in prison 24 years under the Assad regime, and has been out for 11 years, wants political change with more than 20 other internal opposition components, but without outside interference and the use of violence. We met with "armed' opposition people in a local community who said they had accepted the government's offer of amnesty and were working for a peaceful way forward. One man told me he had accepted money from Jihadists to fight, but had been shocked by their cruelty and the way they treated fellow Syrian Muslims considering them as not real Muslims. He said foreign Jihadists wanted to take over Syria, not save it.
On May 10, a part of our delegation headed to Homs, invited by the opposition community of Al Waar city where displaced families from Baba Amro, Khalidiyeh and other rebel's strongholds seek refuge. The Delegation saw all the conditions of this city and is studying a Pilot Project for Reconciliation and peaceful reintegration between this community and the surrounded non-rebel communities (Shia and Alaouites) with whom 15 days ago an agreement of non-belligerence has been signed through the auspices of Mussalaha.
4. Meeting with Officials: Our Delegation met, and spoke, at the Parliament, and also with the Governor, Prime Minister and seven other Ministries. We were given details of the new Constitution and political reforms being put in place, and plans for elections in 2014. Government Ministers admitted that they had made mistakes in being slow to respond to legitimate demands for change from civil community but these were now being implemented. They told us when the conflict started it was peaceful for change but quickly turned into bloodshed when armed men killed many soldiers.
In the first days soldiers were unarmed but when people started asking for protection the government and military responded to defend the people and in self-defence.
When we questioned the Prime Minister regarding the allegation that the Syrian Government had used Sarin gas, he told us that as soon as news came from Aleppo that allegedly gas had been used, his government invited immediately the UN to come in to investigate, but heard nothing from them. Most recently however, a UN investigator, High Commissioner Carla Del Ponte, has confirmed that it was rebels, not the Syrian government, who used Sarin gas.
During a meeting with the Justice Minister, we requested that a list of 72 non-violent political dissidents currently detained be released. The Justice Minister said after checking to see if those listed were indeed non-violent political dissidents, he would, in principal, agree to the release of these nonviolent detainees. He also informed us they do not implement the death penalty and it is hoped that when things settle in Syria they will move to have the death penalty abolished. We also asked the Justice Minister (an international lawyer) about the Syrian Government's Human rights abuses, namely the artillery shelling into no-go areas being held by jihadists and armed opposition. The Minister accepted those facts but alleged that the Government had a duty to clear these areas. We suggested there was a better way to deal with the problem than artillery shelling, but he insisted that the government had a responsibility to clear the areas of rebel forces and this was the way in which they were doing it.
The Ministers and Governor said that President Assad was their President and has their support. There were many people we spoke to who expressed such sentiments. However, some young people said they support the opposition but in order to protect the Unity of Syria from outside destruction, they will support the government and President Assad, until the election next year and then they will vote for the opposition. They said the Doha Coalition in Qatar does not represent them and that no one outside Syria has a right to remove President Assad but the Syrian people through the elections next year. The journalists in Syria are in great danger from the religious extremist/fundamentalists, and during my visit to a television station a young journalist told me how his mother was killed by jihadists and he showed me his arm where he had been shot and almost killed.
5. Meeting with religious leaders: We attended in the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus a prayer gathering led by the Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic, Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun and the Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham with the delegate of Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X Yazigi, and clerics of all traditions. The Assembly prayed for the peace and unity of Syria and the non-interference of outsiders in their country. They stressed the conflict in Syria is not a religious conflict, as Muslims and Christians have always lived together in Syria, and they are, (in spite of living with suffering and violence much of which is not of their own making), unified in their wish to be a light of peace and reconciliation to the world. The Patriarch said that from the Mosque and Christian churches goes out a great movement of peace and reconciliation and asked both those inside and outside Syria, to reject all violence and support the people of Syria in this work of dialogue, reconciliation and peacemaking.
The Muslim and Christian Spiritual Leaders are very conscious if the religious extremist/fundamentalists gain momentum and control Syria, the future of those who are not supportive of fundamentalists like moderate Muslims, Christians, minorities, and other Syrians is in great danger. Indeed the Middle East could lose its precious pluralistic social fabric with the Christians, like in Iraq, being the first to flee the country. This would be a tragedy for all concerned in this multi-religious, multi-cultural secular Syria, once a light of peaceful conviviality in the Arab world.
Following many authorized reports in the mainstream Media and our own evidence, I can stress that the Syrian State and its population are under a proxy war led by foreign countries and directly financed and backed mainly by Qatar which has imposed its views on the Arab League. Turkey, a part of the Lebanese opposition, and some of the Jordan authorities offer a safe haven to a diversity of jihadist groups, each with its own agenda, recruited from many countries. Bands of jihadists armed and financed from foreign countries invade Syria through Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, crossing porous frontiers in an effort to destabilize Syria. There are an estimated 50,000 foreign jihadist fighters terrorizing Syria. Those death squads are destroying systematically the Syrian State infrastructures (Electricity, Oil, Gas and water plants, High Tension Pylons, hospitals, schools, public buildings, cultural heritage sites and even religious sanctuaries).
Moreover, the country is submerged by snipers, bombers, agitators, bandits. They use aggression and Sharia rules to hijack the freedom and dignity of the Syrian population. They torture and kill those who refuse to join them. They have strange religious beliefs which make them feel comfortable even perpetrating the cruelest acts like killing and torturing their opponents. It is well documented that many of those terrorists are permanently under stimulants like Captagon. The general lack of security unleashes the terrible phenomenon of abduction for ransoms or for political pressure. Thousands of innocents are missing, among them the two Bishops, Youhanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, as well as many priests and Imams.
UN and EU economic sanctions, as well as a severe embargo, are pushing Syria to the edge of social collapse. Unfortunately the international media network is ignoring those realities and is bent on demonizing, lying, destabilizing the country and fueling more violence and contradiction.
In summary: the war in Syria is not a civil war as depicted but a proxy war with serious breaches of International laws and Humanitarian International laws. The protection of the foreign fighters by some foreign countries among the most powerful gives them a kind of an unaccountability that pushes them with impunity to all kind of cruel deeds against innocent civilians. Even war conventions are not respected, resulting in many war crimes and even crimes against Humanity.
During our visit to Syria, our delegation was met with great kindness by everyone and I offer to each one who facilitated or hosted our Delegation my most sincere feelings of gratitude. We witnessed that the Syrian people have suffered very deeply and continue to do so. The entire population of 23 million people are under tremendous threat of continued infiltration by foreign terrorists. Many are still stunned by the horrors and suddenness of all this violence and worried their country will be attacked and divided by outside forces, and are all too aware that geopolitical forces are at work to destabilize Syria for political control, oil and resources. One Druze leader said "if westerns want our Oil -- both Lebanon and Syria have oil reserves -- let us negotiate for it, but do not destroy our country to take it." In Syria memories of next door Iraq's destruction by US-UK-NATO forces are fresh in people's minds, including in the minds of the one and a half million Iraqis who fled Iraqi's conflict, including many Christians, and were given refuge in Syria by the Syrian Government.
The greatest hope we took was from Mussalaha, a non-political movement from all sections of Syrian society, which has working teams throughout Syria and is proceeding through dialogue to building peace and reconciliation. Mussalaha mediates between armed gunmen and security forces, helps get release of many people who have been abducted, and brings together all parties to the conflict for dialogue and practical solutions. It was this movement which hosted us, under the leadership of Mother Agnes-Mariam, Superior of Saint James' Monastery, supported by the Patriarch Gregory III Laham, head of the Catholic Hierarchy of Syria.
This great civil community movement building a peace process and National Reconciliation from the ground up, will, if given space, time, and non-interference from outside, help bring Peace to Syria. They recognize that there must be an unconditional, all inclusive political solution, with compromises and they are confident this is happening at many levels of society and is the only way forward for Syrian peace.
I support this National Reconciliation process which, many Syrian believe, is the only way to bring Peace to SYRIA and the entire Middle East. I am myself committed to this peaceful process and hope that the International Community, the Religious and Political Leaders, as well as any person of good will, will help Syria to bypass violence and prejudice and anchor in a new era of Social peace and prosperity.
This cradle of civilizations where Syria occupies the heart is an enormous spiritual heritage for humanity, let us strive to establish a non-war zone and proclaim it an OASIS of Peace for the Human Family.
Nobel Peace Laureate
Depleted Uranium effects. John Pilger
Must be Taken Before ICC for the War on Terror' - Noam
May 23, 2013
RT: As someone who was living in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, the chaos, what did you think of the police and media response to them?
Noam Chomsky: I hate to second guess police tactics, but my impression was that it was kind of overdone. There didnt have to be that degree of militarization of the area. Maybe there did, maybe not. It is kind of striking that the suspect they were looking for was found by a civilian after they lifted the curfew. They just noticed some blood on the street. But I have nothing to say about police tactics. As far as media was concerned, there was 24 hour coverage on television on all the channels.
RT: Also zeroing in on one tragedy while ignoring others, across the Muslim world, for example...
NC: Two days after the Boston bombing there was a drone strike in Yemen, one of many, but this one we happen to know about because the young man from the village that was hit testified before the Senate a couple of days later and described it. It was right at the same time. And what he said is interesting and relevant. He said that they were trying to kill someone in his village, he said that the man was perfectly well known and they could have apprehended him if they wanted.
A tribesman walks near a building damaged last year by a U.S. drone air strike targeting suspected al Qaeda militants in Azan of the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)
A drone strike was a terror weapon, we dont talk about it that way. It is, just imagine you are walking down the street and you dont know whether in 5 minutes there is going to be an explosion across the street from some place up in the sky that you cant see. Somebody will be killed, and whoever is around will be killed, maybe youll be injured if youre there. That is a terror weapon. It terrorizes villages, regions, huge areas. In fact its the most massive terror campaign going on by a longshot.
What happened in the village according to the Senate testimony, he said that the jihadists had been trying to turn over the villagers against the Americans and had not succeeded. He said in one drone strike theyve turned the entire village against the Americans. That is a couple of hundred new people who will be called terrorists if they take revenge. Its a terrorist operation and a terrorist generating machine. It goes on and on, its not just the drone strikes, also the Special Forces and so on. It was right at the time of the Boston marathon and it was one of innumerable cases.
It is more than that. The man who was targeted, for whatever reason they had to target him, thats just murder. There are principles going back 800 years to Magna Carta holding that people cannot be punished by the state without being sentenced by a trial of peers. Thats only 800 years old. There are various excuses, but I dont think they apply.
But beyond that there are other cases which come to mind right away, where a person is murdered, who could easily be apprehended, with severe consequences. And the most famous one is Bin Laden. There were eight years of special forces highly trained, navy seals, they invaded Pakistan , broke into his compound, killed a couple people. When they captured him he was defenseless, I think his wife was with him. Under instructions they murdered him and threw his body into the ocean without autopsy. Thats only the beginning.
RT: The apprehension of bin Laden and the assassination and dumping his body into the ocean, of course the narrative completely fell apart. Youve said that in the aftermath of 9-11 the Taliban said that we will give you Bin Laden if you present us with evidence, which we didnt do
NC: Their proposal was a little vague.
RT: But why are people so easy to accept conventional wisdom of government narratives, there is virtually no questioning
NC: Thats all they hear. They hear a drumbeat of conventional propaganda, in my view. And it takes a research project to find other things.
RT: And of course at the same time of the Boston bombings, Iraq saw almost the deadliest week in 5 years, it was the deadliest month in a long time. Atrocities going on every day, suicide bombings. At the same time our foreign policy is causing these effects in Iraq
NC: I did mention the Magna Carta, which is 800 years old, but there is also something else which is about 70 years. Its called the Nurnberg tribunal, which is part of foundation of modern international law. It defines aggression as the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes, and it encompasses all of the evil it follows. The US and British invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression, no questions about it. Which means that we were responsible for all the evil that follows like the bombings. Serious conflict arose, it spread all over the region. In fact the region is being torn to shreds by this conflict. Thats part of the evil that follows.
RT: The medias lack of coverage of
everything that you are speaking about, I know that
America runs on nationalism, but is Americas lack
of empathy unique? Or do we see that in every country? Or
as we grew up in America we are isolated with this
RT: Do you think that we will
ever see white war criminals from imperial nations stand
trial the way that Rios Montt did?
RT: Speaking of the drone wars I cant help but think of John Bellinger, the chief architect of the drone policy, speaking to a think-tank recently saying that Obama has ramped up the drone killings as something to avoid bad press of Gitmo, capturing the suspects alive and trying them at Gitmo. When you hear things like this what is your response to people saying that his hands are tied, he wants to do well?
NC: That was pointed out some time ago by a Wall Street journal military correspondent. What he pointed out is that Bushs technique was to capture people and torture them, Obama has improved you just kill them and anybody else who is around. Its not that his hands are tied. Its bad enough to capture them and torture them. But its just murder on executive whim, and as I say its not just murdering the suspects, its a terror weapon, it terrorizes everyone else. Its not that his hands are tied, its what he wants to do.
RT: I would rather be detained then blown up and my family with me NC: And that terrorizes everyone else. There are recent polls which show the Arab public opinion. The results are kind of interesting. Arabs dont particularly like Iran, but they dont regard it as a threat. Its rank is rather low. They do see threats in Egypt and Iraq and Yemen, the US is a major threat, Yemen is slightly above the US, but basically they regard the US as a major threat. Why is that? Why would Egyptians, Iraqi and Yemeni regard the US as the greatest threat they face? Its worth knowing.
RT: The controversial Obama policy, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which you are plaintiff on the case, youve also said that the humanitarian laws are actually worse, providing material support for terrorism. Do you think that all these policies are quantifying what has been in place for decades?
NC: The NDAA is pretty much quantifying practices that have been employed, it went a little bit beyond , and the court case is narrow, its about the part that went beyond - authorization to imprison American citizens indefinitely without trial. That is a radical violation of principles that go back as I said 800 years ago. I dont frankly see much difference between imprisoning American citizens and imprisoning anyone else. They are all persons.
But we make a distinction. And that distinction was extended by the NDAA. The humanitarian law project broke no ground. There was a concept of material support for terrorism, already sort of a dubious concept, because of how to decide what is terrorism?
Well thats an executive whim again. There is a terrorist list created by the executive branch without review, without having any right to test it. And if you look at that terrorist list it really tells you something.
So for example Nelson Mandela was on the terrorist list until three or four years ago. The reason was that in 1988 when the Regan administration was strongly supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa, in fact ruling congressional legislation in order to aid it, they declared that the African national Congress was one the most notorious terrorist groups of the world thats Mandela, thats 1988, barely before apartheid collapsed. He was on the terrorist list.
We can take another case: 1982 when Iraq invaded Iran, the US was supporting Iraq and wanted to aid the Iraqi invasion, so Saddam Hussein was taken off the terrorist list Its executive whim to begin with, we shouldnt take it seriously. Putting that aside, material assistance meant you give him a gun or something like that. Under the Obama administration its you give them advice.
RT: Lets talk about the linguistics and language of the war on terror. What did Obamas rebranding of Bushs policies to do consciousness?
NC: The policy of murdering people instead of capturing them and torturing them can be presented to the public in a way that makes it look clean. It is presented and I think many people see it like that as a kind of surgical strike which goes after the people who are planning to do us harm. And this is a very frightened country, terrified country, has been for a long time. So if anybody is going to do us harm it is fine for us to kill them.
How this is interpreted is quite interesting.
For example there was a case a year or two ago, when a drone attack in Yemen killed a couple little girls. There was a discussion with a well-known liberal columnist Joe Klein, he writes for the Time, he was asked what he thought about this and he said something like its better that four of them are killed than four little girls here.
The logic is mind-boggling. But if we have to kill people elsewhere who might conceivably have aimed to harm us and it happens that a couple little girls get killed too, thats fine. We are entitled to do that. Well, suppose that any country was doing it to us or to anyone we regard as human. Its incredible! This is very common.
I remember once right after the invasion of Iraq, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times, Middle East specialist, columnist, was interviewed on the Charlie Rose show, a sort of intellectuals show. Rose asked him what we ought to be doing in Iraq? You have to hear the actual words to grasp it, but basically what he said is something like this: American troops have to smash into houses in Iraq and make those people understand that we are not going to allow terrorism. Suck on this, we are not going to allow terrorism in our society! Youd better understand that.
So those terrorized women and children in Baghdad have to be humiliated, degraded and frightened so that Osama Bin Laden wont attack us. Its mind-boggling. That is the peak of liberal intellectual culture supposedly.
RT: Famous atheists like Richard Dawkins saying that Islam is one of the greatest threats facing humanity, that is a whole another form of propaganda
NC: Christianity right now is in much greater threat.
RT: The media is obviously
instrumental in manufacturing consent for these policies.
Your book Media control was written a decade
before 9-11 and it outlines exactly how sophisticated the
media propaganda model is. When you wrote that book did
you see how far it would come and where do you see it in
But its now over 50 years. I doubt that the phrase invasion of South Vietnam has ever appeared in the press. I think that a totalitarian state would barely be able or in fact wouldnt be able to achieve such conformity. And this is at the critical end. Im not talking about the ones who said there was a noble cause and we were stabbed in the back. Which generally Obama now says.
RT: Its become so sophisticated, but I dont know maybe be?ause I am younger and Ive seen it only in the last 10 years in the post 9-11 world. With the internet do you see the reversal of this trend when people are going to be making this form of media propaganda irrelevant? Or do you see a worsening?
NC: The internet gives options, which is good, but the print media gave plenty of options, you could read illicit journals if you wanted to. The internet gives you the opportunity to read them faster, thats good. But if you think back over the shift from say of the invention of the printing press there was a much greater step then the invention of the internet.
That was a huge change, the internet is another change, a smaller one. It has multiple characteristics. So on the one hand it does give access to a broader range of commentary, information if you know what to look for. You have to know what to look for, however. On the other hand it provides a lot of material, well lets put it politely, off the wall. And how a person without background, framework, understanding, isolated, alone supposed to decide?
RT: Another form of propaganda is education. Youve said that the more educated you are the more indoctrinated you are and that propaganda is largely directed towards the educated. How dangerous is it to have an elite ruling class with the illusion of knowledge advancing their own world view on humanity?
NC: Its old as the hills. Every form of society had some kind of privileged elite, who claimed to be the repositories of the understanding and knowledge and wanted control of what they called the rebel. To make sure that the people dont have thoughts like we want to be ruled by countrymen like ourselves, not by knights and gentlemen.
So therefore there are major propaganda systems. It is quite striking that propaganda is most developed and sophisticated in the more free societies. The public relations industry, which is the advertising industry is mostly propaganda, a lot of it is commercial propaganda but also thought control.
That developed in Britain and the US two of the freest societies. And for a good reason. It was understood roughly a century ago that people have won enough freedom so you just cant control them by force.
Therefore you have to control beliefs and attitudes, its the next best thing. It has always been done, but it took a leap forward about a century ago with the development of these huge industries devoted to, as their leaders put it, to the engineering of content. If you read the founding documents of the PR industry, they say: We have to make sure that the general public are incompetent, they are like children, if you let them run their own affairs they will get into all kind of trouble.
The world has to be run by the intelligent minority, and thats us, therefore we have to regiment their minds, the way the army regiments its soldiers, for their own good. Because you dont let a three-year-old run into the street, you cant let people run their own affairs. And thats a standard idea, it has taken one or another form over the centuries. And in the US it has institutionalized into major industries.
Monsanto's actions truly affect each of us. They put their profits over the need for healthy foods, diverse seed supplies and the stability of the agricultural economy. They employ a variety of tools to control access to seeds and aggressively push genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and toxic chemicals despite serious safety concerns about them. And they accomplish this with great help from the US government.
When President Obama appointed a Monsanto lobbyist, Michael Taylor, as the "food czar" (officially the deputy commissioner for foods) - avoiding the Senate confirmation process, which would have brought public attention to the appointment - it was one more example of how corrupted both parties have become by corporate influence.
A global grassroots movement is building to challenge Monsanto as more people realize that we are in a struggle for our survival. May 25 is a global day of action against Monsanto taking place in hundreds of cities and 41 countries. Monsanto must be stopped before its unfettered greed destroys our health and environment. We urge you to join the effort to stop Monsanto.
Monsanto began as a chemical company in 1901. In the 1930s, it was responsible for some of the most damaging chemicals in our history - polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCB's, and dioxin. According to a Food & Water Watch corporate profile, a single Monsanto plant in Sauget, Illinois, produced 99 percent of PCB's until they were banned in 1976. PCBs are carcinogenic and harmful to multiple organs and systems. They are still illegally dumped into waterways, where they accumulate in plants and food crops, as well as fish and other aquatic organisms, which enter the human food supply. The Sauget plant is now the home of two Superfund sites.
Dioxin is the defoliant used in Vietnam known as Agent Orange. It is one of the most dangerous chemicals known, a highly toxic carcinogen linked to 50 illnesses and 20 birth defects. Between 1962 and 1971, 19 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Vietnam. A class action lawsuit filed by Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange was settled for $180 million. And a Monsanto plant that made dioxin in Times Beach, Missouri, poisoned the area so greatly that the town has been wiped from the map. Thousands of people had to be relocated and it is now also a superfund site. Consistent with their method of operation, Monsanto has denied responsibility for the harm these chemicals have caused.
Their biggest selling chemical worldwide is the herbicide glyphosate, sold under the name RoundUp. Monsanto markets it as a safe herbicide and has made a fortune from it. Sales of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides accounted for 27 percent of Monsanto's total 2011 net sales. Monsanto engineers genetically modified seeds, branded as "Roundup Ready," to resist Roundup so that the herbicide is absolutely necessary for those who buy these seeds. Roundup Ready seeds have been Monsanto's most successful genetically modified product line and have made Roundup the most widely used herbicide in the history of the world.
Roundup is toxic, known to cause cancer, Parkinson's Disease, birth defects and infertility. A 2012 European Report found that the, "Industry has known from its own studies since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses" and that industry has known "since 1993 that these effects also occur at lower and mid doses." This information was not made public, and both Monsanto and the European government misled people by telling them glyphosate was safe - as did the US government.
In response to Monsanto's denial of this toxicity, Earth Open Source explicitly pointed to studies, including some funded by Monsanto, that showed "glyphosate causes birth defects in experimental animals" and also causes "cancer, genetic damage, endocrine disruption and other serious health effects. Many of these effects are found at very low, physiologically relevant doses."
In addition, farmers are discovering Roundup resistant "super weeds" that are not killed by the herbicide. AnArkansas farmer tells US News "This is not a science fiction thing, this is happening right now. We're creating super weeds." Indeed, there are now 24 Roundup resistant weeds that have been reported. In response to the appearance of these weeds, a report found: "farmers ... use progressively more glyphosate as well as mixtures of other even more toxic herbicides." In fact, farmers who grow genetically modified crops use about 25 percent more herbicides than farmers who use traditional seeds.
Monsanto produces a variety of pesticides that are less well known. Author Jill Richardson reports that these include "a number of chemicals named as Bad Actors by Pesticide Action Network." They include known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other toxins such as Alachlor, Acetochlor, Atrazine, Clopyralid, Dicamba and Thiodicarb.
Not only does Monsanto never take responsibility for the impact of its poisonous chemicals, but they do their best to prevent research showing toxic effects. For example, in 2011, Monsanto acquired Beeologics, a company dedicated to restoring the health of the bee population, amid scientific and media speculation that an overuse of pesticides was to blame for dwindling bee populations.
Monsanto also threatens
the sustainability of agriculture because its products
require the use of larger quantities of water and fossil
fuels in farming. While genetically engineered crops are
supposed to be more drought resistant, the opposite turns
out to be true. Don
science expert, notes "It takes twice as
much water to produce a pound of a Roundup-ready
crop soybean plant treated with glyphosate, as it does
with soybean plant that's not treated with glyphosate."
Jill Richardson describes how aggressively Monsanto uses their market power "to get seed dealers to not stock many of their competitors' products ... they restrict the seed companies' ability to combine Monsanto's traits with those of their competitors. And, famously, farmers who plant Monsanto's patented seeds sign contracts prohibiting them from saving and replanting their seeds." They promised rebates to farmers who ensured that Monsanto products made up at least 70 percent of their inventory to keep competitors out of the market. As a result of this, through either purchases or forcing competitors into bankruptcy, the number of independent seed producers has dropped from 300 to under 100 since the mid-90s. Monsanto also required that their Roundup Ready seeds be used only with Roundup, thereby keeping generic, less expensive competitors out of the market.
You would think this concentration of industry would lead to antitrust litigation. In fact, shortly after taking office, the Obama administration began an antitrust investigation, taking over from several states that were looking into the market practices of Monsanto. The investigation was announced with much fanfare, but last November,without even a press release, the Department of Justice closed the investigation, leaving us to conclude that it may have been a tactic to thwart state efforts.
At the beginning of the antitrust investigation, there was hope that a marketplace with more diverse seed sources and competition could exist in the future, but with the Obama administration's decision to drop the investigation, Monsanto domination of the market has been given the imprimatur of legality and the abusive practices Monsanto uses to buy or destroy competition have been ratified.At least seven Monsanto officialshave served in government positions. Michael Taylor left the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1984 to join King & Spalding, a law firm that lobbies for Monsanto. He returned to the FDA in 1991 and then left again to return to Monsanto in 1994 as their vice president for public policy, only to return to the FDA again as the current "food czar," where he has led major advances for genetically modified foods. Taylor played the lead role in introducing rBGH (bovine growth hormone), which was used to increase cows' milk production, into the US market in the early 90s along with two other Monsanto-FDA door revolvers, Dr. Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen, both from the Office of New Animal Drugs.
Read the French and Italian studies on GMOs.
j. saba·Comment on Information Clearing House site:
I am a Palestinian whose parents and elder siblings were forced out of their home in 1948. In my humble opinion this is by far the best possible article (above) I have ever read that sets forth the Palestinian problem simply, clearly concisely and most of all morally and truthfully. Unfortunately, in this corrupt world of ours complications are artificially produced to obscure and tragically, many Palestinian writers unwittingly took the bait and further complicated a very simple and tragic situation. God bless you Mr. Larudee. If this world had more people like you we wouldn't have any problems. I'm sure of that.
PROSE FROM POETRY MAGAZINE
A Post-Racial Anthology?
Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry
BY AMIRI BARAKA
Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of
Contemporary African American Poetry, ed.
by Charles Henry Rowell.?
The blurb from the publisher W.W. Norton says that the book
My God, what imbecilic garbage! You mean, forget the actual world, have nothing to do with the real world and real people????...????invent it all! You can see how that would be some far-right instruction for a marginalized community, especially one with the history of the Afro-American people: We dont want to hear all that stuff????...????make up a pleasanter group of beings with pleasanter, more literary lives than yourselves and then we will perhaps consider it art!
This embarrassing gobbledygook was probably a paraphrase of the editors personal gobble. But the copywriters might be given a temporary pass because they know nothing about Afro-American literature; ?it is the Norton suits that could be looked at askance because of their ignorant hiring practices.
To get a closer view of where Rowell comes in, look at the quote that he gives from the poet he constantly cites as poetic mentor and as an example of what great poetry should be. The quote is where Rowell got the title of the book, Angles of Ascent:
Rowell says this is an image for the poets struggle and transcendence. But Lord, I never did see myself or the poets I admired and learned from as awkward patsies! In 1985, Rowell had Larry Neal on the cover of his literary magazine Callaloo, after Larrys death from a heart attack at forty-three. You can look in the magazine and see that Larry Neal was no awkward patsy. Or that after leaping?/?falling we would not be glorified by some unidentified silken rustling in the air,?/?the angle of ascent?/?achieved. Actually it sounds like some kind of social climbing. Ascent to where, a tenured faculty position?
Rowells attempt to analyze and even compartmentalize Afro-American poetry is flawed from the jump. He has long lived as the continuing would-be yelp of a Robert Hayden canonization. Back in 1966 I was invited to Fisk University, where Hayden and Rowell taught. I had been invited by Nikki Giovanni, who was still a student at Fisk.Gwen Brooks was there. Hayden and I got into it when he said he was first an artist and then he was Black. I challenged that with the newly-emerging ideas that we had raised at the Black Arts Repertory Theatre School in Harlem in 1965, just after Malcolm Xs assassination. We said the art we wanted to create should be identifiably, culturally Black??like Duke Ellingtons or Billie Holidays. We wanted it to be a mass art, not hidden away on university campuses. We wanted an art that could function in the ghettos where we lived. And we wanted an art that would help liberate Black people. ?I remember that was really a hot debate, and probably helped put an ideological chip on Rowells shoulder.
I find the list of what Rowell calls Precursors quite flawed, but it predicts and even prefaces his explanations and choices. He lists Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, andMelvin B. Tolson. But how can one exclude Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, andMargaret Walker, who are the major poets of the period after the Harlem Renaissance? This kind of cherry-picking reveals all too clearly what Rowell means by literary poets.
Brookss most penetrating works illuminate Black life and the hood. Langston, most people know, is the major voice of that period and what we mean when we talk about Afro-American poetry. What is distinctive about Rowells introduction is that just about every page mentions the Black Arts Movement, the Black Aesthetic poets, the Black Power Movement??all like some menacing ?political institutions. But that poetry was created in a different time, place, and condition from the verse that Rowell presents here as new ?revelation.
Rowell goes on:
But this is simply a list of poets Rowell likes. I cannot see any stylistic tendency that would render them a movement or a coherent aesthetic. Perhaps their only commonality is their resistance to the Black Arts Movement. Komunyakaa says:
Are we being faulted for hating slavery, white supremacy, and racism? For trying to fight back, just as the Deacons for Defense and Justice did by routing the Klan in Komunyakaas own hometown of Bogalusa, Louisiana?
(Ironically, one of Komunyakaas early books was sent to me by a university publisher to ask my opinion if should it be published. My colored patriotism bade me recommend it, though in truth I found it dull and academic.)
But Rita Dove does go on to say something that seems true:
Dove spells out her separation from the Black Arts Movement very honestly, in revealing class terms:
But that is not the actual life of the Black majority, who have felt the direct torture and pain of national oppression, and that is what the Black Arts Movement was focusing on, transforming the lives of the Black majority! We wanted to aid in the liberation of the Afro-American people with our art, with our poetry. But the deeper we got into the reality of this task, the more overtly political we became.
The lynching of Emmett Till, Rosa Parkss resistance, Dr. King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (the peoples resistance), the bombing of ?Dr. Kings home in Montgomery. The sit-ins, sclc, the Civil Rights Movement. The emergence of Robert F. Williams and his direct attack on the Klan. The emergence of Malcolm X. I went to Cuba on the first anniversary of the Cuban revolution. The rise and murder of Patrice Lumumba, the African Liberation Movement. I met poets like Askia M. Touré and Larry Neal in front of the un screaming our condemnation of the us, the un, Belgium, Rockefeller for murdering Lumumba and our support for Maya Angelou, Louise Meriwether, Rosa Guy, Abbey Lincoln (all great artists), running up into the un to defy Ralph Bunche. The March on Washington, the bombing 0f 16th St. Baptist Church and the murder of four little girls. JFKs assassination, Watts, Malcolms assassination, Dr. Kings ?assassination, rebellions across America!
All those major events we lived through. If we responded to them as conscious Black intellectuals, we had to try to become soldiers ?ourselves. That is why we wrote the way we did, because we wanted to. We wanted to get away from the faux English academic straitjackets ?passed down to us by the Anglo-American literary world.
Rowell thinks the majority of Afro-American poets are
MFA recipients or professors. Wrong again! Obviously the
unity and struggle in the civil rights and Black
Liberation movements have resulted in a slight wiggle of
integration among the narrowest sector of the
Afro-American people. Rowell gives us a generous helping
of these ?university types, many co-sanctioned by the
Cave Canem group, which has energized us poetry by
claiming a space for Afro-American poetry, but at the
same time presents a group portrait of Afro-American
poets as mfa recipients.
It is this spirit that aligns both of ?them with the
Black Arts Movement. And certainly it is this same spirit
of self-conscious resistance to American racial or gender
craziness that puts Ntozake Shange in that number. The
Black Arts spirit is old, it is historical, psychological,
?intellectual, cultural. It is the same as Black
Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnets call in 1843 in
his Address to the Slaves of the United
States: resistance, resistance, resistance.
Gaston Neal, criminally underknown, was also director of the New School for Afro-American Thought in dc. His work has yet to be published in its collected version. If you dont know Sun Ras music, its doubtful you know his own powerful verse. Other missing significant: Arthur Pfister. Tom Mitchelson, Kalamu ya Salaam, Amina Baraka, Brian Gilmore, Mervyn Taylor, Lamont Steptoe, John Watusi Branch, Everett Hoagland, Devorah Major, Kenneth Carroll, DJ Renegade, Safiya Henderson-Holmes, Charlie Braxton. Where is Nikki Finney? Or the bard of ?Trenton, Doc Long?
Outside the Black Arts Movement (italics mine)? What the Black Arts Movement did was to set a paradigm for the Black artist to be an artist and a soldier. This is what I said at Louis Reyes Riveras funeral:
A sharp class distinction has arisen, producing a mini-class
of Blacks who benefited most by the civil rights and
Black Liberation movements, thinking and acting as if our
historic struggle has been won so that they can become as
arrogant and ignorant as the worst examples of white
Rowells icy epilogue is too comic to be tragic, though it is both. It is a cold class dismissal by would-be mainstream Negroes on the path to mediocrity:
This is poppycock at its poppiest and cockiest. You
mean the struggle for our humanity is a fetter (to
whom? Negroes seeking tenure in these white schools who
dare not mumble a cross word?). Why is the struggle for
equal rights and self-determination narrow? To whom?
Racists? You think Fred Douglass was not one of the
greatest artists of the nineteenth century because he
kept demanding an end to slavery? Bah, Humbug!
Originally Published: May 1, 2013
VideoGlenda Jackson and George Galloway on Thatcher -" tramp down the dirt."
"Glenda Jackson let rip with an attack on Thatcher and her "heinous" legacy that had the Tories gasping as if a drunk had gate-crashed their wake."
OPIUM FROM AFGHANISTAN
An analyst says the Taliban had eradicated poppy
fields prior to 2001 and now Washington plans permanent
occupation of Afghanistan to maintain control of its
UM Coach: Bomb Sniffing Dogs, Spotters on Roofs Before Boston Marathon Explosions
By Local 15
Mobiles Cross Country Coach, who was near the
finish line of the Boston Marathon when a series of
explosions went off, said he thought it was odd there
were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines.
Has the FBI ever presided
over "sting operations" that were actually
carried out? The answer is yes. The FBI in fact was
presiding over the terrorists who carried out the 1993
World Trade Center bombing. The role of the FBI leading
up to the deadly attack would most likely have gone
unreported had an FBI informant not taped his
conversations with FBI agents after growing suspicious
during the uncover operation. The New York Times in their
article, "Tapes Depict Proposal to
Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast," reported:
What takes shape is an
FBI at the center of perpetuating America's terror menace,
not at the forefront of fighting it.
Miracles of the Market: Social Insecurity
Threat of pre-emptive nuclear war directed against Iran
By Michel Chossudovsky
March 26, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"RT" - For more than a decade, Iran has been doggedly accused without evidence of developing nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic is relentlessly portrayed by Western media as a threat to the security of Israel and of the Western World.
In a bitter irony, the assessment of America's Intelligence Community concerning Iran's alleged nuclear weapons capabilities refutes the barrage of media disinformation as well as the bellicose statements emanating from the White House. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): "judges with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program. (2007 National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities; November 2007, See also Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI))
"We assess with
moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear
weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know
whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.
- We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.
- Tehrans decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously. (2007 National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities; November 2007)
In February 2011, The Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper - while presenting the 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - intimated - with some hesitation - that the Islamic Republic was not seeking to develop nuclear weapons capabilities:
we do not know
if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons. The
2011 NIE largely confirms the findings undertaken by the
US intelligence community in the 2007 NIE, which remains,
according to The New York Times, "the
consensus view of America's 16 intelligence agencies."
First formulated in the Bush administration's 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, the pre-emptive nuclear war doctrine - integrated into the Global War on Terrorism - started to take shape in the immediate wake of the war on Iraq. A pre-emptive defensive nuclear attack on Iran using tactical nuclear weapons was envisaged to annihilate the Islamic Republic's non-existent nuclear weapons program.
nukes were identified as the deal
weapon to conduct a pre-emptive nuclear
In 2003, the mini nukes, consisting of bunker-buster bombs with nuclear warheads, were re-categorized by the US Senate as bona fide conventional weapons. The new definition of a nuclear warhead has blurred the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons.
Senator Edward Kennedy, at the time, accused the Bush Administration for having developed a generation of more useable nuclear weapons.
Through a propaganda campaign which enlisted the support of authoritative nuclear scientists, the mini-nukes were upheld as an instrument of peace rather than war.
officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed
as a credible deterrent against rogue states [Iran, North
Korea]. Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are
too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear
war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not
consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible.
However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive,
thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more
effective as a deterrent. (Opponents
Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds, Defense
News November 29, 2004)
In an utterly twisted piece of logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing collateral damage. The Pentagon had intimated, in this regard, that the mini-nukes areharmless to civilians because the explosions take place underground. Each of these mini-nukes, nonetheless, constitutes in terms of explosion and potential radioactive fallout a significant fraction of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
Estimates of yield for Nagasaki and Hiroshima indicate that they were respectively of 21,000 and 15,000 tons. Mini-nukes have a yield (explosive capacity) between one third and six times a Hiroshima bomb.
Following the 2003 Senate Green Light, which upheld mini nukes as humanitarian bombs, a major shift in nuclear weapons doctrine has unfolded. The low-yield nukes had been cleared for battlefield use. In contrast to the warning on a packet of cigarettes (see the proposed Food and Drug Administration label below), the advisory on the dangers of nuclear weapons to human health is no longer included in military manuals. The latter have been revised. Thisnew generation of tactical nuclear weapons is considered safe. The dangers of nuclear radiation are no longer acknowledged. There are no impediments or political obstacles to the use of low yield thermonuclear bombs.
The international community has endorsed nuclear war in the name of World Peace.
While reports tend to depict the tactical B61 bombs as a relic of the Cold War era, the realities are otherwise: mini-nukes are the chosen weapons system under the doctrine of pre-emptive nuclear war, to be used in the conventional war theater against terrorists and state sponsors of terrorism, including the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Concrete plans to wage a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran have been on the Pentagon drawing board since 2004. A pre-emptive nuclear attack would consist in the deployment of B-61 tactical nuclear weapons directed against Iran. The attacks would be activated from military bases in Western Europe, Turkey and Israel.
In 2007, NATO confirmed its support for America's nuclear pre-emption doctrine in a report entitled Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership. The report (authored by former defense chiefs of staff of the US, UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands, and sponsored by the Dutch Noaber Foundation) calls for a pre-emptive first strike use of nuclear weapons, against non-nuclear states as "the ultimateinstrument of an asymmetric response and at the same time the ultimate tool of escalation. Yet they are also more than an instrument, since they transform the nature of any conflict and widen its scope from the regional to the global. Regrettably, nuclear weapons and with them the option of first use are indispensable, since there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world." (Ibid, p.96-97, emphasis added).
According to the authors,
Iran constitutes a major strategic threat not only
to Israel, "which it has threatened to
destroy, but also to the region as a whole." (Ibid,
p.45) What is required is for the Atlantic Alliance to restore
deterrence through [military] escalation.
In this context, the Report, endorsed both by NATO and the Pentagon, contemplates the notion ofescalation dominance, the use of a full bag of both carrots and sticksand indeed all instruments of soft and hard power, ranging from the diplomatic protest to nuclear weapons. (Report, p.96. emphasis added)
In December 2011, less than a year following the publication of the 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which underscored that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, a no options off the tableagenda directed against Iran was put forth by the Obama administration. What was envisaged was a planned and coordinated US-NATO Israel military posture with regard to Iran. It was understood, as intimated by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that Israel would not act unilaterally against Iran. In the case of an attack on Iran, the green light would be granted by Washington.
Any military operation against Iran by Israel must be coordinated with the United States and have its backing, said Panetta.
The various components of the military operation would be firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska.
Military actions by Israel would be carried out in close coordination with the Pentagon. The command structure of the operation is centralized and ultimately Washington decides if and when to launch the military operation.
In March 2013, the all options resolution in relation to Iran was on the agenda during the president's official visit to Israel. While an integrated US-NATO-Israel approach in response to the perils of a nuclear-armed Iran war was reasserted, the tone of the discussions was in the direction of military action against Iran.
Obama's visit to Israel was preceded by high-level bilateral consultations, including the visit of IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to Washington in February for discussions with the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey pertaining to Iran and Syria. Benny Gantz was accompanied by Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, director of IDF Military Intelligence, at the meeting with his US counterparts. The new head of the Pentagon Chuck Hagel will be visiting Israel in April in a follow-up meeting.
In the course of Obama's visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated the need for a clear and credible threat of military action [against Iran], while intimating that Israel could act unilaterally. In this regard, it is worth noting that in August 2012, a few months prior to the US presidential elections, a leaked IDF briefing document (translated from Hebrew) revealed the details of Netanyahu's proposed shock and awe attack on Iran.
The Israeli attack will open with a coordinated strike, including an unprecedented cyber-attack ... A barrage of tens of ballistic missiles would be launched from Israel toward Iran ... from Israeli submarines in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf. The missiles would be armed with ... high-explosive ordnance equipped with reinforced tips designed specially to penetrate hardened targets. ... A barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles will pound command and control systems, research and development facilities, ... among the targets approved for attack Shihab 3 and Sejil ballistic missile silos, storage tanks for chemical components of rocket fuel, industrial facilities for producing missile control systems, centrifuge production plants and more. (Quoted in Richard Silverstein, Netanyahus Secret War Plan: Leaked Document Outlines Israels Shock and Awe Plan to Attack Iran, Tikun Olam and Global Research, August 16, 2012).
The strike details mentioned in the leaked IDF briefing above pertain solely to the use of conventional weapons systems.
Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, professor of economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, founder and director of the Center for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and editor of the globalresearch.ca website.
Obama Unleashes Dogs
of War in Syria
By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR
March 26, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - The smoke screen given to the United States President Barack Obamas visit to Israel has lifted. But then, no one really bought the thesis that it was a mere kiss-and-make-up visit aimed at improving Obamas personal chemistry with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that prompted the US president to jet down to the Middle East in a rare overseas trip.
The expose came dramatically at the fag end of the visit just as Obama was about to get into the presidential jet at Tel Aviv airport on Friday. Right on the tarmac, from a makeshift trailer, he dialed up Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and after a brief exchange of pleasantries, he handed the phone to Netanyahu who thereupon went on to do what he had adamantly refused to do for the past two years render a formal apology to Turkey over the killing of nine of its nationals in 2010 who were travelling in a flotilla on a humanitarian mission to help the beleaguered Palestinians in the Gaza enclave.
The Gaza incident had ripped apart Turkish-Israeli relations and things deteriorated sharply when Tel Aviv point blank refused to render an apology and pay compensation, as Ankara demanded. This is probably the first time in its entire diplomatic history that Israel, which pays much attention to its «macho» image, went down on its knees to render a national apology to a foreign country for sins committed. But then, the breakdown in ties left Israel stranded and helpless in the region, reduced to the role of a mere spectator at a historic juncture when the region is going through an upheaval.
The alliance with Turkey is vital to Israel to safeguard its core interests. In his statement welcoming the Turkish-Israeli reconciliation, US secretary of state pointedly said that the development "will help Israel meet the many challenges it faces in the region" and a full normalization between the two counties will enable them to "work together to advance their common interests". The telephone conversation at Tel Aviv airport didnt happen all of a sudden. In a background story, senior Turkish editor Murat Yetkin who is a well-informed commentator in Ankara disclosed that according to "high-ranking sources", Washington had approached Ankara a few weeks ago with the demarche that Obama wished to work on a rapprochement between Erdogan and Netanyahu and hoped to utilize his Israeli visit as a mediatory mission.
The big question is why has Turkish-Israeli normalization become so terribly important for Obama who has his hands full with so many problem areas and, equally, for Erdogan and Netanyahu as well? The answer is to be found in the testimony given by the head of US European Command and NATOs top military commander Adm. James Stavridis before the US Senate Armed Services Committee last Monday on the eve of Obamas departure from Washington for Israel. Stavridis advised the US lawmakers that a more aggressive posture by the US and its allies could help break the stalemate in Syria. As he put it, "My personal opinion is that would be helpful in breaking the deadlock and bringing down the [Syrian] regime." The influential US senator John McCain pointedly queried Stavridis about the possible role of NATO in an intervention in Syria. Stavridis replied that the NATO is preparing for a range of contingencies. "We [NATO] are looking at a wide range of operations and we are prepared if called upon to be engaged we were in Libya," he said. Stavridis went on to explain that the NATO Patriot missiles now deployed in Turkey ostensibly for the sake of defending Turkish airspace has the capability also to attack Syrian air force in that countrys air space and that any such a NATO operation would be a "powerful disincentive" for the Syrian regime.
Equally significant is that the NATO warships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 [SNMGI], which arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean in late February, visited the Turkish naval base of Aksaz (where Turkeys Southern Task Group maintains special units such as «underwater attack») recently, en route to joining last week the US Strike Group consisting of the Aircraft Carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and escorts. The SNMGI forms part of the NATO Response Force, which is permanently activated and is held at high readiness in order to respond to security challenges.
The western powers would focus on eliminating President Bashar al-Assad rather than display shock and awe and physically occupy the country, as George W. Bush unwisely did in the Iraq war. However, after degrading the regime comprehensively, if ground forces need to be deployed inside Syria, Turkey can always undertake such a mission. In fact, Turkey is uniquely placed undertake that mission, being a Muslim country belonging to NATO. Turkey of course has strong motivations historical, political, military and economic to invade Syria with which it has ancient scores to settle. The Baathist regime in Damascus never accepted Turkish hegemony in the Levant and a strong and assertive Syria has been a thorn in the Turkish flesh. Besides, there are simmering territorial claims.
For Israel too, the comprehensive destruction of Syria as a major military power in the Middle East means that all three major Arab powers which could offer defiance to Israel in the past and have been the repositories of "Arabism" at one time or another Iraq, Egypt and Syria have been dispatched to the Stone Age.
But the revival of Turkish-Israeli strategic axis has other major implications as well for regional security. ......The point is, Erdogan is currently pushing for a negotiated deal with the Kurdish militants belonging to the PKK. Last week, it appeared that his efforts may have met with some success. The PKK leader who is incarcerated in Turkey, Abdullah Ocalan, has called for the vacation of the Kurdish militia from Turkish soil, which brings an end to the heavy bloodletting in Turkeys eastern provinces for the past year and more.
A curious detail that cannot be lost sight of is that Ocalan always kept contacts with the US operatives, while Israeli intelligence always kept a strong presence in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Quite obviously, there could be a back-to-back arrangement on the PKK problem between Washington, Ankara and Tel Aviv, which would work well for all three protagonists. .....
At a broader level, Turkish-Israeli reconciliation will help NATOs future role in the Middle East. The US hopes to introduce NATO on a long-term basis as the peacekeeper in the Levant massive energy reserves have been discovered in the Levant Basin in recent years and a prerequisite for this would be close coordination with Israel.
Equally, Turkish-Israeli collaboration at the security and military level has profound implications for the Iran question. Turkey sees Iran as a rival in the Middle East while Israel regards Iran as an existential threat. Both Turkey and Israel estimate that Irans surge as regional power poses challenge to their own long-term regional ambitions. Thus, there is a Turkish-Israeli congruence of interests at work with regard to containing Iran in the region. In the process, the Palestinian problem has been relegated to the backburner; Obama didnt even bother to hide that he feels no particular sense of urgency about the Middle East peace process. The resuscitation of the Turkish-Israeli strategic axis gives the unmistakable signal that the Obama administration is shifting gear for an outright intervention in Syria to force «regime change». Thereupon, the strong likelihood is that Iran will come in the US-Israeli-Turkish crosshairs...
Turbulent times indeed lie ahead for the Middle East and Obamas Israel visit will be looked upon in retrospect as a defining moment in his presidency when he cast aside conclusively and openly even his residual pretensions of being a pacifist. Indeed, he can be sure of a rare consensus in the Congress applauding his mission to Israel, which could have interesting fallouts for his domestic agenda as well. Netanyahu can help ensure that.
Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR, Former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. Devoted much of his 3-decade long career to the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran desks in the Ministry of External Affairs and in assignments on the territory of the former Soviet Union. After leaving the diplomatic service, took to writing and contribute to The Asia Times, The Hindu and Deccan Herald. Lives in New Delhi.
Legacy of Cancer
Two US-led wars in Iraq have left behind hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium munitions and other toxic wastes.
By Dahr Jamail
report contains photos of a graphic nature.
March 19, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"Al Jazeera" - Fallujah, Iraq - Contamination fromDepleted Uranium (DU) munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq.
Many prominent doctors and scientists contend that DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal, and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.
There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah.
Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.
As shocking as these statistics are, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research, and reporting of cases, the actual rate of cancer and other diseases is likely to be much higher than even these figures suggest.
"Cancer statistics are hard to come by, since only 50 per cent of the healthcare in Iraq is public," Dr Salah Haddad of the Iraqi Society for Health Administration and Promotion told Al Jazeera. "The other half of our healthcare is provided by the private sector, and that sector is deficient in their reporting of statistics. Hence, all of our statistics in Iraq must be multiplied by two. Any official numbers are likely only half of the real number."
Dr Haddad believes there is a direct correlation between increasing cancer rates and the amount of bombings carried out by US forces in particular areas.
"My colleagues and I have all noticed an increase in Fallujah of congenital malformations, sterility, and infertility," he said. "In Fallujah, we have the problem of toxics introduced by American bombardments and the weapons they used, like DU."
During 2004, the US military carried out two massive military sieges of the city of Fallujah, using large quantities of DU ammunition, as well as white phosphorous.
"We are concerned about the future of our children being exposed to radiation and other toxic materials the US military have introduced into our environment," Dr Haddad added.
A frequently cited epidemiological study titled Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009 involved a door-to-door survey of more than 700 Fallujah households.
The research team interviewed Fallujans about abnormally high rates of cancer and birth defects.
One of the authors of the study, Chemist Chris Busby, said that the Fallujah health crisis represented "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied".
Dr Mozghan Savabieasfahani is an environmental toxicologist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is the author of more than two dozen peer reviewed articles, most of which deal with the health impact of toxicants and war pollutants. Her research now focuses on war pollution and the rising epidemic of birth defects in Iraqi cities.
"After bombardment, the targeted population will often remain in the ruins of their contaminated homes, or in buildings where metal exposure will continue," Dr Savabieasfahani told Al Jazeera.
"Our research in Fallujah indicated that the majority of families returned to their bombarded homes and lived there, or otherwise rebuilt on top of the contaminated rubble of their old homes. When possible, they also used building materials that were salvaged from the bombarded sites. Such common practices will contribute to the public's continuous exposure to toxic metals years after the bombardment of their area has ended."
She pointed out how large quantities of DU bullets, as well as other munitions, were released into the Iraqi environment.
"Between 2002 and 2005, the US armed forces expended six billion bullets - according to the figures of the US General Accounting Office," she added.
According to Dr Savabieasfahani, metal contaminants in war zones originate from bombs and bullets, as well as from other explosive devices. Metals, most importantly lead, uranium, and mercury, are used in the manufacture of munitions, and all of these contribute to birth defects, immunological disorders, and other illnesses.
"Our study in two Iraqi cities, Fallujah and Basra, focused on congenital birth defects," she said.
Her research showed that both studies found increasing numbers of birth defects, especially neural tube defects and congenital heart defects. It also revealed public contamination with two major neurotoxic metals, lead and mercury.
"The Iraq birth defects epidemic is, however, surfacing in the context of many more public health problems in bombarded cities," she said. "Childhood leukemia, and other types of cancers, are increasing in Iraq."
Doctors in Fallujah are continuing to witness the aforementioned steep rise in severe congenital birth defects, including children being born with two heads, children born with only one eye, multiple tumours, disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems.
Fallujah are registering hundreds of babies with
severe birth defects, which they attribute to DU munitions
and other war toxins [Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera]
Today in Fallujah, residents are reporting to Al Jazeera that many families are too scared to have children, as an alarming number of women are experiencing consecutive miscarriages and deaths with critically deformed and ill newborns.
Dr Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has taken a personal interest in investigating an explosion of congenital abnormalities that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges since 2005.
"We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine," Alani told Al Jazeera at her office in the hospital last year, while showing countless photos of shocking birth defects.
Alani also co-authored a study in 2010 that showed the rate of heart defects in Fallujah to be 13 times the rate found in Europe. And, for birth defects involving the nervous system, the rate was calculated to be 33 times that found in Europe for the same number of births.
As of December 21, 2011, Alani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997, told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009. Just eight days later, when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.
Alani showed Al Jazeera hundreds of photos of babies born with cleft pallets, elongated heads, a baby born with one eye in the centre of its face, overgrown limbs, short limbs, and malformed ears, noses and spines.
defects, many as severe as this, have
become common with babies born in the aftermath of
US assaults on the city [Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera]
She told Al Jazeera of cases of "thanatophoric displacia", an abnormality in bones and the rib cage that "render the newborn incompatible with life".
"It's been found by a coroner's court that cancer was caused by an exposure to depleted uranium," Busby told Al Jazeera.
"In the last ten years, research has emerged that has made it quite clear that uranium is one of the most dangerous substances known to man, certainly in the form that it takes when used in these wars."
In July 2010, Busby released a study that showed a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in Fallujah since the 2004 attacks. The report also showed the sex ratio had become skewed to 86 boys born to every 100 girls, together with a spread of diseases indicative of genetic damage - similar to, but of far greater incidence than Hiroshima.
Dr Alani has visited Japan where she met with Japanese doctors who study birth defect rates they believe related to radiation from the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
She was told birth defect incidence rates there are between one and two per cent. Alani's log of cases of birth defects amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the effected areas of Japan.
In March 2013, Dr Alani informed Al Jazeera that the incident rates of congenital malformations remained around 14 percent.
As staggering as these statistics are, Dr Alani points to the same problem of under-reporting that Dr Haddad mentioned, and said that the crisis is even worse than these statistics indicate.
"We have no system to register all of them, so we have so many cases we are missing," she said. "I think I only know of 40-50 percent of the cases because so many families have their babies at home and we never know of these, and other clinics are not registering them either."
Additionally, Dr Alani remains the only person in Fallujah registering cases, and reported that she was still seeing the same severe defects.
"We have so many cases of babies with multiple system defects in one baby," she explained. "Multiple abnormalities in one baby. For example, we just had one baby with central nervous system problems, skeletal defects, and heart abnormalities. This is common in Fallujah today."
Disconcertingly, Dr Alani mentioned something that Dr Savabieasfahani's research warned of.
The hospital where Alani does her work was constructed in the Dhubadh district of Fallujah in 2008. According to Alani, the district was bombed heavily during the November 2004 siege.
Dr Savabieasfahani explained that her research proves areas of Fallujah, as well as Basra, "are contaminated with lead and mercury, two highly toxic heavy metals", from US bombings in 1991 and during the 2003 invasion. "Exposure to metals, as well as to ionizing radiation, can lead to cancer," she added.
She said that, when the DU munitions explode or strike their targets, they generate "fine metal-containing dust particles as well as DU-containing particles that persist in the environment. These particles can enter the food chain and enter the human body via contaminated food. Toxic particles can also become airborne with the wind and be inhaled by the public. Iraq is prone to frequent sand and dust storms. Continuous public inhalation of toxic materials can lead to cancer. Ingested or inhaled particles that emit alpha radiation can cause cancer."
Basra and Southern Iraq
In Babil Province in southern Iraq, cancer rates have been escalating at alarming rates since 2003. Dr Sharif al-Alwachi, the head of the Babil Cancer Centre, blames the use of depleted uranium weapons by US forces during and following the 2003 invasion.
"The environment could be contaminated by chemical weapons and depleted uranium from the aftermath of the war on Iraq," Dr Alwachi told Al Jazeera. "The air, soil and water are all polluted by these weapons, and as they come into contact with human beings they become poisonous. This is new to our region, and people are suffering here."
According to a study published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, a professional journal based in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, there was a sevenfold increase in the number of birth defects in Basra between 1994 and 2003.
According to the Heidelberg study, the concentration of lead in the milk teeth of sick children from Basra was almost three times as high as comparable values in areas where there was no fighting.
In addition, never before has such a high rate of neural tube defects ("open back") been recorded in babies as in Basra, and the rate continues to rise. According to the study, the number of hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") cases among new-borns is six times as high in Basra as it is in the United States.
Abdulhaq Al-Ani, author of Uranium in Iraq, has been researching the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqis since 1991. He told Al Jazeera he personally measured radiation levels in the city of Kerbala, as well as in Basra, and his geiger counter was "screaming" because "the indicator went beyond the range".
Dr Savabieasfahani pointed out that childhood leukemia rates in Basra more than doubled between 1993 and 2007.
"Multiple cancers in patients - patients with simultaneous tumours on both kidneys and in the stomach, for example - an extremely rare occurrence, have also been reported there," she said. "These observations collectively suggest an extraordinary public health emergency in Iraq. Such a crisis requires urgent multifaceted international action to prevent further damage to public health."
International law and the future
There are clear international laws addressing the use of munitions such as Depleted Uranium.
Article 35 of Protocol I, a 1977 amendment of the Geneva Conventions, prohibits any means or methods of warfare that cause superfluous injuries or unnecessary suffering. Article 35 also prohibits those nations from resorting to means of war that could inflict extensive and long-term damage on human health and the environment.
The observed impacts of DU in Iraq suggest that these weapons fall under Article 35 as being prohibited, by the very nature of their suspected long-lasting effects on human health and the environment.
Article 36 (of Protocol I) also obliges any state studying, developing, or acquiring a new weapon to hold a legal review of that weapon.
Thus far, Belgium (2007)
and Costa Rica (2011) have passed domestic laws
prohibiting uranium weapons within their territories. In
2008, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that
stated that "the use of DU in warfare
runs counter to the basic rules and principles enshrined in written and customary international, humanitarian and environmental law".
mutations caused by DU can, of course, be passed from
parent to child. Hence, DU contamination from the US-led
wars against Iraq in 1990 and 2003 appear to likely
continue to cause a persistent national health crisis for
future generations of Iraqis.
The remaining traces of DU in Iraq represent a formidable long-term environmental hazard, as they will remain radioactive for more than 4.5 billion years.
Dr Savabieasfahani feels that more research and studies need to be carried out in Iraq in order to obtain the full scope of damage caused by the weapons of war used in that country since 1990.
"We need large scale environmental testing to find out the extent of environmental contamination by metals and DU, and other weapons in Iraq," she concluded.
"There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we've never seen them until now," Dr Alani said. "So when I describe it, all I can do is describe the physical defects, but am unable to provide a medical term."
Dr Haddad shared his deep concern about the future of his own, and other, Iraqi children.
"I feel fear for them," he said, sadly. "They are encircled by so many problems like health issues, toxins, and we must work to spare them from disease, radiation, and chemical toxins. These are the silent killers, because you can't see them until the problem grows very large. Too many Iraqis have suffered from these, and I can't see how that suffering will not continue."
Dr Alani simply wanted people, especially those in the United States, to know of the crisis in Fallujah, and asked one thing from them.
"I ask them to ask their government not to hurt people outside of their country," she said. "Especially the people of Iraq."
Follow Dahr Jamail on Twitter: @DahrJamail
War with Iran?
March 15, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -"RT" - Will launching a catastrophic military offensive against the Islamic Republic of Iran be the defining moment of US President Obamas two-term presidency?Against all common sense and uncommon wisdom, it looks increasingly possible that Barack Obama, the Democratic leader who once-upon-a-campaign seduced the world by pledging to sit down and talk with Americas enemies, will resort to armed conflict to stamp out Tehrans nascent nuclear program.
Or were Obamas comments on Iran this week the latest bluff in the geopolitical poker game known as the Middle East?"I have been crystal clear about my position on Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. That is a red line for us. It is not only something that would be dangerous for Israel. It would be dangerous for the world,"Obama told Israeli Channel 2 ahead of a scheduled visit next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."Right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon,"Obama said, while not neglecting to add the all options remain on the table caveat.
For all the talk of a disconnect, Obama and Netanyahu are beginning to display some strong parallels in their position on Iran despite what the US intelligence community thinks on the subject.
Rewind to December 2007 when the United States released its National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies. That assessment unequivocally concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.
The estimate declared with high confidence that an Iranian program intended to transform raw material into a nuclear weapon has been dismantled since 2003, adding that the halt was directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure.The NIE estimate stated matter-of-factly that Irans enrichment program could still provide Tehran with enough raw materials to produce a nuclear weapon sometime by the middle of next decade a timetable that was essentially consistent with previous estimates.Rather than portraying Iran as a rogue country hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, the 2007 NIE estimate stated that Irans decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.That is certainly not the usual image of Iran that we have seen in the Western media.It needs to be remembered that this very un-apocalyptic version of Irans nuclear capacities was released in the hyper-hawkish Bush years, a period when the US war machine was in high gear in the War on Terror. In fact, the tepid conclusions of the Bush-era assessment eventually forced the Obama administration to tone down its missile defense plans in Western Europe, which had been devised specifically with roguish Iran in mind.
This week, US National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Tehran has made progress in its nuclear program, but "we assess Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU [weapons-grade uranium] before this activity is discovered.
Iran's nuclear sites are subject to monitoring from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as secret surveillance from US and other intelligence services.(it has also been conjectured recently that the IAEA inspector is a puppet of the USA. JB,editor)Meanwhile, Obamas threat of imposing a red line with regards to Irans nuclear program carried unmistakable echoes of Netanyahus UN speech in September where the Israeli PM, armed with a cartoon of a bomb complete with burning fuse, spoke of drawing a clear red line that Iran should not be permitted to pass in terms of producing weapons-grade uranium.
Netanyahu warned that Iran could acquire enough enriched uranium for its first bomb as early as the spring-summer 2013 a prediction that has not been revised despite recent UN reports that show Tehran has decreased its stockpiles of 20-percent fissile material.The fissile material in nuclear weapons usually contains at least 85 percent of weapons-grade Uranium-235, which is far beyond Irans present enrichment levels of 20 percent.Given the crippling effects of sanctions aimed at Iran, together with less diplomatic means of halting Tehrans nuclear ambitions, as witnessed by the Stuxnet computer virus that attacked a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, it seems that Netanyahu and Obamas prediction for a nuclear weapon falls far short of reality.In the meantime, the world is forced to contemplate whether Obama is simply playing up to the home crowd ahead of next weeks visit to Israel, or if the US leader is attempting to exert pressure on Tehran to give up on its nuclear research.
Finally, there is the possibility that Barack Obama really believes his own rhetoric and as was the case with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was accused in 2003 of harboring weapons of mass destruction and paid with his life for the erroneous intelligence the chances of a military misadventure in Iran seem to have increased dramatically.With a domestic economy in shambles, the budget strained and the nation cracked politically down the middle between the haves and have-nots, will Barack Obama be tempted to drag the United States into a war with Iran as a memorable final act of his sagging presidency?
Obama turns deaf ear to rights violations at Guantanamo Bay prison:
By Kamel Wazne
Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:55PM Interview with Kamel Wazne
Obviously, in the past 40 days it has been a headache because there is blatant violation of every international human rights aspect because these people whether they are detainees or prisoners or whatever you want to call them, they should have rights and they should have the right to a lawyer and to due process, a trial and to know their future and the amount of time that they should be serving if that is a prison."
An analyst says 14 Guantanamo inmates have passed day
40 of hunger strikes yet Obama is running away from this
issue, human rights and broken promises.
In the background of this a hunger strike among 14 inmates at Americas infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba has now entered its 41st day as the US continues to violate human rights and international law. Some of the detainees all held without due process are said to be in critical condition. One of the first promises President Obama made in his first term was to close Guantanamo, which became famous for its application of officially approved torture particularly water boarding. Not only has that promise been broken, but now the Obama administration is turning a deaf ear to the hunger strikers and corporate media has ensured the plight of the hunger strikes is not reaching the American public in any detail.
Press TV has interviewed Kamel Wazne, political analyst, Beirut about this issue. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: How much of a nightmare is this hunger strike turning into for the US government especially when it comes obviously to Obamas promise to close down Guantanamo?
Wazne: Obviously America is turning a deaf ear to this issue because it has been violating international law and international human rights when it comes to these prisoners.
The Obama administration on the first day of his first term he actually promised the American people and promised the world that he will close this Guantanamo Bay prison and he promised that he will deal with the detainees and he will give them due process. Obviously, in the past 40 days it has been a headache because there is blatant violation of every international human rights aspect because these people whether they are detainees or prisoners or whatever you want to call them, they should have rights and they should have the right to a lawyer and to due process, a trial and to know their future and the amount of time that they should be serving if that is a prison.
Ultimately what is happening here you find out that 80 of those detainees have been cleared to be released, but so far because the State Department closed that office that allows them to negotiate their release to a third country or to their home country.
And so far these detainees have been in limbo and thats not justice when it comes to these detainees regardless of what they were accused of.
By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt
This piece first appeared at Web of Debt.
Comedian Beppe Grillo was surprised himself when his Five Star Movement got 8.7 million votes in the Italian general election of February 24-25th. His movement is now the biggest single party in the chamber of deputies, says The Guardian, which makes him a kingmaker in a hung parliament.
Grillos is the party of no. In a candidacy based on satire, he organized an annual V Day Celebration, the V standing for vaffanculo (fk off). He rejects the status quoall the existing parties and their monopoly control of politics, jobs, and financingand seeks a referendum on all international treaties, including NATO membership, free trade agreements and the Euro.
If we get into parliament, says Grillo, we would bring the old system down, not because we would enjoy doing so but because the system is rotten. Critics fear, and supporters hope, that if his party succeeds, it could break the Euro system.
But being against everything, says Mike Whitney in Counterpunch, is not a platform:
To govern, one needs ideas and a strategy for implementing those ideas. Grillos team has neither. They are defined more in terms of the things they are against than things they are for. Its fine to want to throw the bums out, but that wont put people back to work or boost growth or end the slump. Without a coherent plan to govern, M5S could end up in the political trash heap, along with their right-wing predecessors, the Tea Party.
Steve Colatrella, who lives in Italy and also has an article in Counterpunch on the Grillo phenomenon, has a different take on the surprise win. He says Grillo does have a platform of positive proposals. Besides rejecting all the existing parties and treaties, Grillos program includes the following:
on the public debt;
nationalization of the banks; and
a guaranteed citizenship income of 1000 euros a month.
It is a platform that could actually work. Austerity has been tested for a decade in the Eurozone and has failed, while the proposals in Grillos plan have been tested in other countries and have succeeded.
Default: Lessons from Iceland and South America
Default on the public debt has been pulled off quite successfully in Iceland, Argentina, Ecuador, and Russia, among other countries. Whitney cites a clip from Grillos blog suggesting that this is also the way out for Italy:
The public debt has not been growing in recent years because of too much expenditure . . . Between 1980 and 2011, spending was lower than the tax revenue by 484 billion (thus we have been really virtuous) but the interest payments (on the debt of 2,141 billion) that we had to pay in that period have made us poor. In the last 20 years, GDP has been growing slowly, while the debt has exploded.
. . . [S]peculators . . . are contributing to price falls so as to bring about higher interest rates. Its the usurers technique. Thus the debt becomes an opportunity to maximize earnings in the market at the expense of the nation. . . . If financial powerbrokers use speculation to increase their earnings and force governments to pay the highest possible interest rates, the result is recession for the State thats in debt as well as their loss of sovereignty.
. . . There are alternatives. These are being put into effect by some countries in South America and by Iceland. . . . The risk is that we are going to reach default in any case with the devaluation of the debt, and the Nation impoverished and on its knees. [Beppe Grillo blog]
China actively countering Western
influence across Africa
Mon Mar 11, 2013 By Nile Bowie
During an AFRICOM in 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller cited AFRICOMs guiding principle of protecting the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market, before emphasizing how the increasing presence of China is a major challenge to US interests in the region. Washington recently announced that US Army teams will be deployed to as many as 35 African countries in early 2013 for training programs and other operations as part of an increased Pentagon role in Africa - primarily to countries with groups allegedly linked to al-Qaeda."
At a recently held meeting of the National
Peoples Congress in Beijing, Chinas leaders
unveiled a dramatic long-term plan to integrate some 400
million countryside dwellers into urban environments by
concentrating growth-promoting development in small and
medium sized cities.
In stark contrast to the neglected emphasis placed on infrastructure development in the United States and Europe, China spends around $500 billion annually on infrastructural projects, with $6.4 trillion set-aside for its 10-year mass urbanization scheme, making it the largest rural-to-urban migration project in human history. Chinas leaders have mega-development in focus, and realizing such epic undertakings not only requires the utilization of time-efficient high-volume production methods, but also resources - lots and lots of resources. It should come as no surprise that incoming Chinese president Xi Jinpings first trip as head of state will take him to Africa, to deepen the mutually beneficial trade and energy relationships maintained throughout the continent that have long irked policy makers in Washington.
The new guy in charge - who some analysts have suggested could be a populist reformer that empathizes with the poor - will visit several African nations with whom China has expressed a desire to expand ties with, the most prominent being South Africa. Since establishing relations in 1998, bilateral trade between the two jumped from $1.5 billion to 16 billion as of 2012.
Following a relationship that has consisted predominately of economic exchanges, China and South Africa have now announced plans to enhance military ties in a show of increasing political and security cooperation. During 2012s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation meeting, incumbent President Hu Jintao served up $20 billion in loans to African countries, which were designated for the construction of vital infrastructure such as new roads, railways and ports to enable higher volumes of trade and export. In his address to the forum, South African President Jacob Zuma spoke of the long-term unsustainability of the current model of Sino-African trade, whereby raw materials are sent out and manufactured commodities are sent in.
Zuma also stated, "Africa's past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies. We certainly are convinced that China's intention is different to that of Europe, which to date continues to attempt to influence African countries for their sole benefit." Xis visit highlights the importance China attaches to Sino-African ties, and during his stay, he will attend the fifth meeting of the BRICS, the first summit held on the African continent to accommodate leaders of the worlds most prominent emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The BRICS group, which accounts for around 43% of the world's population and 17% of global trade, is set to increase investments in Africas industrial sector threefold, from $150-billion in 2010 to $530- billion in 2015, under the theme "BRICS and Africa: partnership for development, integration, and industrialization".
With focus shifting toward building up the continents industrial sector, South Africa is no doubt seen as a springboard into Africa and a key development partner on the continent for other BRICS members. Analysts have likened the BRICS group to represent yet another significant step away from a unipolar global economic order, and it comes as no surprise. As Eurozone countries languish with austerity cuts, record unemployment and major demand contraction, the European Union in South Africa's total trade has declined from 36% in 2005 to 26.5% in 2011, while the BRIC countries total trade increased from 10% in 2005 to 18.6% in 2011. The value and significance of the BRICS platform comes in its ability to proliferate South-South political and economic ties, and one should expect the reduction of trade barriers and the gradual adoption of economic exchanges using local currencies. Chinas ICBC paid $5.5 billion for a 20% stake in Standard Bank of South Africa in 2007, and the move has played out well for Beijing - Standard has over 500 branches across 17 African countries which has drastically increased availability of the Chinese currency, offering yuan accounts to expatriate traders.
It looks like the love story that has become of China and Africa will gradually begin shifting its emphasis toward building up a viable large-scale industrial base. Surveys out of Beijing cite 1,600 companies tapping into the use of Africa as an industrial base with manufacturing's share of total Chinese investment (22%) fast gaining on that meted out to the mining sector (29%). Gavin du Venage, writing for the Asia Times Online, highlights how Beijings policy toward Africa aims to be mutually beneficial and growth-promoting, Chinese energy firm Sinopec teamed up with South African counterpart PetroSA to explore building a US$11 billion oil refinery on the country's west coast. Refineries are notoriously unprofitable, with razor-thin margins. Since South Africa has no significant oil or proven gas reserves itself, the proposed plant would depend on imports, and would have to serve the local market to be viable. The plant will therefore serve the South African market and not be used to process exports to China. This is only the latest of such investments that demonstrate a willingness by Chinese investors to put down roots and infrastructure in Africa. It also shows that China's dragon safari is about more than just sourcing commodities for export.
Indeed, and Beijings dragon safari is loaded with a packed itinerary, with Mao-bucks flying everywhere from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Nigeria and Angola. Xi Jinping will also grace the Angolan capital of Luanda, where China had provided the oil-rich nation with some $4.5 billion in loans since 2002. Following Angolas 27-year civil war that began in 1975, Beijing played a major role in Angola's reconstruction process, with 50 large-scale and state-owned companies and over 400 private companies operating in the country; it has since become China's largest trading partner in Africa with a bilateral trade volume at some $20 billion dollars annually. Chinese Ambassador Zhang Bolun was quoted as saying how he saw great potential in further developing Sino-Angolan relations and assisting the nation in reducing its dependence on oil revenues while giving priority to the development of farming, service industries, renewable energies, transport and other basic infrastructure.
Chinese commercial activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have significantly increased not only in the mining sector, but also considerably in the telecommunications field. In 2000, the Chinese ZTE Corporation finalized a $12.6 million deal with the Congolese government to establish the first Sino-Congolese telecommunications company, while the Kinshasa exported $1.4 billion worth of cobalt to Beijing between 2007 and 2008. The majority of Congolese raw materials like cobalt, copper ore and a variety of hard woods are exported to China for further processing and 90% of the processing plants in resource-rich southeastern Katanga province are owned by Chinese nationals. In 2008, a consortium of Chinese companies were granted the rights to mining operations in Katanga in exchange for $6 billion in infrastructure investments, including the construction of two hospitals, four universities and a hydroelectric power project, but the International Monetary Fund intervened and blocked the deal, arguing that the agreement between violated the foreign debt relief program for so-called HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) nations.
China has made significant investments in manufacturing zones in non-resource-rich economies such as Zambia and Tanzania and as Africas largest trading partner, China imports 1.5 million barrels of oil from Africa per day, approximately accounting for 30 percent of its total imports. In Ghana, China has invested in Ghanaian national airlines that serve primarily domestic routes, in addition to partnering with the Ghanaian government on a major infrastructural project to build the Bui Hydroelectric Dam. China-Africa trade rose from $10.6 billion in 2000 to $106.8 billion in 2008 with an annual growth rate of over 30 percent. By the end of 2009, China had canceled out more than 300 zero-interest loans owed by 35 heavily indebted needy countries and least developed countries in Africa. China is by far the largest financier on the entire continent, and Beijings economic influence in Africa is nowhere more apparent than the $200 million African Union headquarters situated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - which was funded solely by China.
Chinas deepening economic engagement in Africa and its crucial role in developing the mineral sector, telecommunications industry and much needed infrastructural projects is creating "deep nervousness" in the West, according to David Shinn, the former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. During a diplomatic tour of Africa in 2011, former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton insinuated Chinas guilt in perpetuating a creeping new colonialism. When it comes to Africa, the significant differences in these two powers' key economic, foreign policy strategies and worldviews are nowhere more apparent. Washington has evidently launched its efforts to counter China's influence throughout the African continent, and where Beijing focuses on economic development, the United States has sought to legitimize its presence through counterterrorism operations and the expansion of the United States Africa Command, better known as AFRICOM - a outpost of the US military designated solely for operations on the African continent.
During an AFRICOM in 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller cited AFRICOMs guiding principle of protecting the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market, before emphasizing how the increasing presence of China is a major challenge to US interests in the region. Washington recently announced that US Army teams will be deployed to as many as 35 African countries in early 2013 for training programs and other operations as part of an increased Pentagon role in Africa - primarily to countries with groups allegedly linked to al-Qaeda. Given Mr. Obamas proclivity toward the proliferation of UAV drone technology, one could imagine these moves as laying the groundwork for future US military interventions using such technology in Africa on a wider scale than that already seen in Somalia and Mali. Here lays the deep hypocrisy in accusations of Beijings purported new colonialism - China is focused on building industries, increasing development, and improving administrative and well as physical infrastructure - the propagation of force, which one would historically associate with a colonizer, is entirely absent from the Chinese approach.
Obviously, the same cannot be said of the United States, whose firepower-heavy tactics have in recent times have enabled militancy and lawlessness, as seen in the fallout of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 2011 bombing campaign in Libya with notable civilian causalities. As Xi Jingping positions himself in power over a nation undertaking some of the grandest development projects the world has ever known, Beijings relationship with the African continent will be a crucial one. While everything looks good on paper, Xis administration must earn the trust of their African constituents by keeping a closer eye on operations happening on the ground. The incoming administration must do more to scrutinize the conduct of Chinese conglomerates and business practices with a genuine focus on adhering to local environmental regulations, safety standards and sound construction methods. The current trajectory China has set itself upon will do much to enable mutually beneficial economic development, in addition to bolstering an independent Global South - a little less red then how Mao wanted it, but close enough.
Power to Assassinate a Compliant and Submissive People
(UPDATED: I will speak until I can no longer speak, Paul, who vehemently opposed Brennans nomination, said on the Senate floor shortly before noon Eastern time Wednesday as he began his old-school style talking filibuster. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.
By its end, nearly 13 hours later, Paul had indeed sounded the alarm bells over the administrations deeply troubling policy.
His talking filibuster was a rarity in the Senate, which nowadays allows its members to filibuster by refusing to end debate or proceed with a nomination unless a majority 60-vote threshold is met. The last time the kind of talking filibuster that Paul mounted happened was more than two years ago when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to stall a tax cut deal. By using the procedural tactic the way it was intended, Paul pressed his case against the administrations controversial drone strike policy, which potentially allows the government to target American citizens on U.S. soil in extraordinary circumstances.
This policy itself represents nothing short of an egregious violation of the U.S. Constitutions Fifth Amendment guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life ... without due process of law, and of American civil liberties in general. This is an issue that should unite both sides of the political spectrum. )
By Jacob G. Hornberger
February 27, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - (fff) - President Obamas nomination of John Brennan is being held up over Brennans refusal to state whether the presidents power to assassinate Americans (and others) extends to American soil. The controversy is summed up in a great article by Glenn Greenwald.
The fact that Brennan could not bring himself to immediately say that the president doesnt have the power to assassinate Americans (and others) right here within the United States is revealing. He undoubtedly knows that the president does claim to wield such power and that the president just doesnt want to alarm Americans by informing them that he now wields the power to assassinate anyone he wants, including Americans here in the United States.
I cant see how theres any room for doubt here. Ever since President Bush claimed extraordinary powers after the 9/11 attacks, we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation have been pointing out that the powers were not limited to foreigners or to foreign lands. When U.S. forces, both military and CIA, were kidnapping people, torturing them, and incarcerating them without trial, we kept emphasizing that such powers were not limited to foreigners. By following the logic employed by Bush and his associates, it was clear that those extraordinary powers extended to Americans as well, both abroad and here at home.
But all too many Americans comforted themselves by thinking that those extraordinary powers applied only to foreigners and that the powers were necessary to keep them safe. Therefore, they endorsed what was going on with much enthusiasm, simply blocking out of their minds that they were also endorsing the most revolutionary change in the relationship between the federal government and the American citizenry in U.S. history.
Then came the case of Jose Padilla. He was an American who was accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism. Rather than have him indicted and then prosecute him in federal court, the feds whisked him away to a military dungeon, where the Pentagon tortured him and threatened to keep him incarcerated for the rest of his life as an enemy combatant in the war on terrorism.
We took a leading role in opposing that extraordinary exercise of military supremacy over the American citizenry. We continually pointed out that what they did to Padilla, if upheld, they could then do to all other Americans. But because Padilla was not the most sympathetic character in the world, all too many Americans were happy over what the feds were doing to him, blocking out of their minds that the feds could now do the same thing to all other Americans.
And sure enough, the federal courts, in the fear-ridden environment of post-9/11, upheld what the president and the Pentagon did to Padilla, which means that they can now do the same to every American and some 12 years after the 9/11 attacks!
And now we have the presidents assassination program, in which the president, along with his military and CIA, now wield the power to assassinate anyone they want, no questions asked. Theyve already killed countless foreigners as well as at least three Americans, including a 16-year-old boy. They do it all in secret and are not required to answer any questions as to who they have assassinated or why. Their power to kill people is omnipotent.
Do they claim the power to assassinate Americans right here at home? How can there be any doubt about it? From the very beginning, they simply converted a standard federal crime terrorism into an act of war. They called it the war on terrorism, and said that this war was just like World Wars I and II. They said that in war, they have the right to take captives, torture them, and execute illegal enemy combatants, and also to assassinate the enemy.
They also said that this war would go on forever or for at least the lifetimes of everyone living today, given that there were so many terrorists in the world. As part of that war, the president, the military, and the CIA would have to assume extraordinary powers, they said, ones that were inherent to the most extreme dictatorships in history.
Significantly, they repeatedly emphasized that in this war, the battlefield wasnt limited to the Middle East or surrounding regions. Instead, in this war the entire world constituted the battlefield. That, of course, included the United States.
Thus, it didnt take a rocket scientist to draw the logical conclusion whatever extraordinary powers were being exercised against foreign enemy combatants in the war on terrorism could be applied against people right here on American soil, including Americans.
Of course, as we have also been pointing out since 9/11, the entire matter is just one great big sham and fraud. They took a federal criminal offense terrorism and used it a ruse to claim that America was now at war and then claimed extreme dictatorial powers in the process. It would be no different if the president used another federal war the war on drugs as a ruse to assume extraordinary dictatorial powers, such as the power to kidnap, torture, execute, and assassinate suspected drug users and dealers.
Our American ancestors tried their best to prevent this dictatorial nonsense. Thats why they used the Constitution to bring into existence a government of limited, enumerated powers. Notice that the dictatorial powers claimed by Bush and Obama are not among those enumerated powers. To make sure that federal officials got the point, our ancestors demanded the enactment of four separate amendments to the Constitution the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments. Those amendments stated that with respect to federal crimes, people would be guaranteed the protections of criminal indictments, due process of law, trial by jury, freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, and other protections.
And there is another important thing to note about those four amendments. Notice that the protections and guarantees apply to people in general, not just to Americans. Thats because our ancestors understood that justice requires that the rules apply to everyone equally, not one set of rules for foreigners and another set of rules for Americans. Thus, under our system of justice, President Obama has no right to be assassinating anyone or torturing anyone or incarcerating anyone without due process of law and trial by jury.
And it must be emphasized: terrorism is, in fact, a federal crime. Thats why they ultimately made Padilla a criminal defendant. Thats why terrorism is listed in the U.S. Code as a criminal offense. Thats why they have terrorism cases in federal court all the time. The truth is that there is no real war and there has never been one, any more than there has been a real war in the war on drugs. After all, how is the enemy supposed to surrender in this war? Where are the transport ships bringing invading troops to America? Where are the supply lines?
And lets not forget something else of equal importance the only reason that people are killing U.S. troops over there is because theyre over there interfering with the affairs of other countries. Thats what the killing is all about on both sides not because people are trying to conquer America and enslave Americans but simply because they want the U.S. government, especially the U.S. military and CIA, out of their countries. And the more the Pentagon and the CIA continue to kill people in the process, the more they generate an endless supply of terrorists, which they then use to perpetuate their dictatorial powers. As I have long pointed out, the U.S. government is the greatest terrorist-producing machine in history.
Its all been a sham, a fraud, and a ruse to enable the U.S. national-security state to adopt the same powers of dictatorship that it has long supported and trained, such as Pinochets dictatorship in Chile, the military dictatorships in Guatemala, the Shahs dictatorship in Iran, Mubaraks dictatorship in Egypt, and many more.
But Brennan shouldnt been concerned about alarming Americans about Obamas power to assassinate them on American soil. As we have learned since 9/11, the American people are among the most compliant, cooperative, and submissive people on the planet. All the feds have to do is say that they are doing it to keep them safe, and except for libertarians and (a few liberals and conservatives), unfortunately all too many Americans continue to fall for anything and agree to anything the government wants to do to them.
Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas.
An Argument in Defense of Haredi Jews and Against Secular Zionist Militarism
By James Petras
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 7:23 am
The majority of Haredim boycott elections, organize their
own schools (Yeshivas), encourage students to deepen
their religious studies, emphasize community and family
values (of a profoundly patriarchal sort) with numerous
children and strongly reject the Zionist states
efforts to conscript Haredi youth into their colonial
occupation army, the so-called Israeli Defense (sic)
Force (IDF). All major Zionist political parties
and the ruling colonial regime unite to demonize the
Haredim, claiming they are shirking their patriotic
military responsibilities. Via the mass media and public
pronouncements Zionist politicians and the state incite
Israeli hatred against the Haredim: A study in 2006
claimed that over a third of Israeli Jews identified the
Haredim as the most unpopular group in
The Haredim, on the other hand, have reason to fear and
loath the secular militarist Zionist state and
politicians: They claim that after World War II in
the Zionist-controlled relocation camps for refugee
Jewish children in Teheran, the Jewish Agency imposed
Zionist ideology and militarist anti-religious policies
in order to cut Haredim children off from their spiritual
roots. According to one Haredim report many
religious Jewish youth from
Haredim leaders have met with Palestinian and Iranian
officials and, in line with their religious doctrine,
have declared their support for peaceful resolution of
conflicts and denounced
Haredim are intensely religious and dedicate their time to discuss and debate the readings of their great religious scholars: Their message to the Zionists is to read Maimonides ethical treatises rather than listen to Netanyahus bellicose, blood curdling rants.
live and study largely within the confines of their close
communities. They insist on sending their sons to
the yeshivas to study religious doctrine rather than to
Haredim focus on building a better life within their
community; they reject the efforts of the Zionist state
to entice them into joining the violent self-styled
Jewish settlers engaged in brutal land grabs
Haredim believe, with exemplary evidence, that conscripting their youth into the Israeli colonial army would destroy their moral values, as their sons would be forced to grope and search Arab women at checkpoints, break the legs of stone-throwing Palestinian children, defend lawless self-styled Jewish settlers as they paint obscene graffiti in mosques and churches and attack Arab children on their way to school not to speak of the ill effects of what secular Israeli Jews call a modern education, full of historical fabrications about the origins of Israel, scientific readings on high tech war-making and advanced economic doctrines proclaiming the sacred role of the free market, and justifying the 60% poverty rate among Haredim as self-induced.
The Haredim demand that the Israeli Jewish elite stop trying to conscript their youth into the IDF and stop the job discrimination, which has trippled the unemployment rate among Haredim.
Coming Civil War:
The elected leader, Yair Lapid, of newly formed Yesh Atid
Party, dubbed a centrist by the New
York Times, and a moderate
by the leading ideologues of the US Zionist
lobby, ran on a platform of forcibly ending
the Haredi exemption from conscription into the colonial
military service. Yair Lapid, in the run-up to
joining a new Netanyahu coalition regime, has launched a
vicious attack on the Haredim. Lapid premises his
agreement to joining Netanyahus war machine on his
plans to forcibly confront the Haredi leadership.
Yair Lapid taps the class and secular resentments of
Israels upwardly mobile youth who bitterly complain
of having to serve in the army, thus delaying their money-making
opportunities, while the poor, semi-literate blacks
(a derogatory term referring to the clothing of Haredim)
engage in worthless studies of the Torah.
Lapid, using the same perverted logic as Netanyahu,
claims that Ten percent of the population cannot
threaten 90 percent with civil war, (Financial
Times, 2/14/13, p. 6.). Once again, the executioner
(Lapid) accuses the victim (Haredim) of the
violence he is about to commit. Lapids Yesh
Atid, the centrist (sic) party, has allied with Naftali
Bennetts neo-fascist Jewish Home Party
(pushing for the annexation of all of
Lines are being drawn far beyond a
Larger Meaning of the Haredim-Zionist Conflict
The Haredim hostility to the secular Zionist state is in
part based on its opposition to military conscription,
thus calling into question Israeli militarism, in general,
and specifically its policy of colonial occupation and
regional aggression. While some Haredim may oppose
conscription for religious reasons and seek exemption
solely for its own youth, objectively, the effect is to
The Haredim study the teaching of the profound Judaic philosopher Maimonides and abhor Zionist militaristic strategists like Walzer, Dershowitz, Kagan, Feith, Netanyahu, etc. who preach colonial just war doctrines. Representing 10% of the Israeli population and a far greater percentage of military age youth, the Haredim are in a position to sharply limit the scope of future Zionist wars. If they succeed in blocking conscription, they would provide a lasting contribution to making the world in general, and the Middle East in particular, a more secure and peaceful place to live.
Facing the prospect of a loss of future cannon fodder to
sustain its colonial ventures, and in their frenzied
attacks on the Haredim, the Israeli-Zionist elite have
incited the majority of Israeli Jews to demonize them as
backward, illiterate, freeloaders and to
blame the religious curriculum for their growing and
current 60% rate of poverty and high unemployment.
The Haredim share a common plight with
It is one of the great ironies of history that the
worlds modern secular anti-imperialist movements
should find their most consequential allies among
The human mind was not designed by evolutionary forces for finding truth. It was designed for finding advantage Albert Szent-Györgyi
A native American speaks out by XIOwntxNubIX 1 year ago http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=8smDxpQFJwI#!
A Colloquy with
COUN-HA-CHEE of the Miccosukee Tribe scroll down
An outstanding speech by Uruguay's president Mujica in Rio
Washington Speaks With Forked Tongue to Iran
By Finian Cunningham
Only days after American Vice President Joe Biden made a very public and tantalizing offer of bilateral talks between the US and Iran, there then follows another round of punitive trade sanctions imposed by Washington on Irans vital oil industry.
to make of this seemingly contradictory US position? Some
commentators say that the above anomalous attitude
reflects a carrot-and-stick policy in Washington, by
which incentives dangled in front of Iran are quickly
followed by a blow of hardship, with the objective of
forcing an end result.
The supposed end result in this case is that the Americans and their Western allies want Iran to demonstrate definitively to the rest of the world that it will never develop capability for nuclear weapons. This demonstration would be achieved, according to Washington, if Iran were to somehow give a cast-iron guarantee that it has circumscribed its nuclear technology and the crucial uranium-enrichment process.
So, this argument goes, if Iran were to comply with this desired objective by severely limiting its nuclear research and industry, then certain carrots will follow: a lifting of the crippling economic sanctions and a normalization of diplomatic relations.
That is the charitable view of the US position, a view that has been bolstered by the expectation that President Barack Obama in his second and final term in the White House is edging towards a more reasoned, less-hawkish and less Zionist-pandering foreign policy in the Middle East.
But there is another way of interpreting the US position towards Iran. Borrowing a phrase coined by the Native Americans who were continually deceived and dispossessed, it is more plausible that Washington is simply speaking with a forked tongue with regard to Iran. From this perspective, there are no intended concessions forthcoming from the US to Iran, in contradistinction to what Biden suggests, but rather all that will follow are unremitting hardships.
In this scenario of the US position, any concessions that might be made by Iran, in a reasonable expectation of reciprocation, will be cynically pocketed by Washington and its Western allies with nothing in return except more punitive demands.
How do we judge whether the US is adopting the more benign carrot-and-stick position or the pernicious forked-tongue approach to Iran?
History. Decades of American aggression and malfeasance towards Iran point to a beast that cannot simply change its predatory and nefarious habits over night. Last weekend, Iranian leaders responded to Bidens words with the magnanimous caution that actions must speak louder than rhetoric.
While Biden arrogantly demanded that Iran has to show good faith for any putative negotiations to take place, the reality is that the onus is preponderantly on the US to decommission its arsenal of policies and practices of aggression towards Iran in order for the latter to treat any offer from Washington as being remotely sincere and worthy of respect.
The precedents do not bode well. Recall that in his first inaugural address in January 2009, Obama made a big play of rhetorical reconciliation towards Iran, promising that America would extend a hand of friendship if others would unclench their fist. What followed in practice was hardly a series of goodwill gestures, when American death squads assassinated several Iranian nuclear scientists.
Under Obama moreover, the US has unleashed three rounds of savage economic sanctions on Iran - on top of the decades-long embargoes that were already in place. Washington has press-ganged Europe and the rest of the world to comply with its crippling sanctions that have placed millions of Iranian lives at risk from shortage of essential medicines and other basic goods.
Obama has also overseen the increased use of surveillance drones over Iranian territory and the deployment of cyber warfare on Iranian society. The Stuxnet and Flame virus attacks on Iran that Washington launched in collusion with Israel can be seen as merely the first shots in a bigger onslaught with the declaration last week that the Obama administration intends to wage cyber war preemptively.
history of overt and covert war of aggression on Iran by
Washington - all of which is criminal - is the context in
which the recent overtures for talks between the two
countries must be evaluated. How is one expected to talk
rationally with a demented, barbarous criminal who
insists on a self-righteous right to attack the other
party, including with the use of nuclear weapons?
To enter into such a framework of negotiations is delusional and indeed by doing so sets up a dangerous dynamic of one-sided concessions that will serve to embolden the aggressor.
The only proper framework for negotiations to take place between the US and Iran is for Washington to immediately halt all aggression towards the people of Iran. Primarily, this requires the reversal of all sanctions, American and European, imposed on Iran. Then, and only then, should Iran consider negotiations as being conducted with a modicum of good faith.
However, it is doubtful that such a reasonable criterion for talks will be met. This is because the problem that Washington and its Western allies have with Iran is not its alleged nuclear program. The real problem for these imperialist powers is Iran itself.
The Americans and their European puppets cannot abide the mere fact of an independent Iran - a country that believes in harnessing its resources for the development and benefit of the Iranian people, as opposed to the exploitation by Western capital and the Western-dominated global banking system; a country that is critical of Western militarism in the Middle East and Africa and other impoverished parts of the world; a country which defends the rights of Palestinian people who are being subjected to slow-motion genocide by the Western-backed Zionist regime.
These are some of the real issues why Washington is trying to defeat the Islamic Republic of Iran, the current leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). And Washington is using the spurious concern over Irans alleged nuclear ambitions as the pretext for what is, in plain truth, criminal imperialist aggression.
This is another reason why the carrot-and-stick characterization of US policy towards Iran is flawed. That concept is based on the false premise that Washingtons desired end result is the surrender of Irans right to nuclear technology. Not true. In reality, Washington wants the surrender of Iran as an independent country. Thats why America speaks to Iran with forked tongue.
Despite this seemingly bleak - albeit realistic - scenario in US-Iranian relations, there is nevertheless a positive note. Every effort to demonise Iran has backfired to elevate that country in the eyes of the world, while US standing has degenerated to gutter status. The unanimous support for Iran from more than 120 nations at the NAM summit in Tehran last August is symptomatic of the shift in international perceptions. Iran is building partnerships on every continent while the US is incinerating bridges.
Furthermore, as the surge in oil prices over the latest Washington sanctions on Iran portend, the American policy of aggression to vanquish Iran will more likely end up rebounding to wipe out whats left of the imploding American and European economies. Iran should therefore resist any supposed overtures from the US. The empire, with its venomous forked tongue, is destroying itself. Let it writhe and wriggle all it wants.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Masters graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime.
article was originally posted at Press TV
Officials Confess to Targeting Irans Civilian
By Franklin Lamb
February 10, 2013 Tehran -- Azadeh, a graduate law student from Tehran University, reminded her interlocutors, of the obvious damming admissions last week by two US politicians:
It would be a defense lawyers worst nightmare wouldnt it? I mean to have one's clients, in this case the Vice-President of the United States and the outgoing Secretary of state confess so publicly to serial international crimes against a civilian population?
The confessions and the crimes, she correctly enumerated to her audience, were those admitted to by US Vice-President Joe Biden and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this past week.Both of the US officials, in discussing US relations with the Islamic Republic, openly admitted that the US-led sanctions against Iran (and Syria) are politically motivated and constitute a "soft-war" against the nearly 80 million people of Iran (23 million people in Syria) in order to achieve regime change.
Mrs. Clinton, was the first of the dynamic duo to be heard from. She acknowledged that the harsh US sanctions were intended to target and send the people of Iran a message. So we hope that the Iranian people will make known their concerns so my message to Iranians is do something about this.Some listening concluded she meant food riots and inflation riots to overthrow the Iranian government. An Australian Broadcasting Company interviewer asked Clinton on January 31 of last year: If you have issues with the government of Iran, why destroy the Iranian people with the current sanctions in place? It's very difficult to find certain medicines in Iran. Where is your sense of humanity? What the Clinton interrogator had in mind, she explained later, were the US-led sanctions reducing Irans GDP growth (-1.1% GDP) resulting in an inflation of 21.0% that is being felt mostly by the civilian population. As well as periodic food shortages in the supermarkets of such staples such as rice, there are price rises on everything. For example, per page printing for students is up as much as 400% and the cost of a used car up 300%. In general, supermarket items have risen 100 to 300 percent or higher over the past twenty-four months and, devastating for many, certain lifesaving medicines are no longer available. Clinton: Well, first, let me say on the medicine and on food and other necessities, there are no sanctions. This statement is utter nonsense and Mrs. Clinton knows it.
The targeting process by the US Treasury Department is well entrenched in Washington. When dear reader is next in Washington, DC, perhaps on a tour bus riding down NW Pennsylvania Avenue following a visit to the US Capitol, consider getting off the bus at 15th and Pennsylvania at the US Department of the Treasury. Walk around the main building and you will see an Annex building. This building, as Clinton knows well, and like Biden, has visited more than once, houses the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC). The well-funded agencys work includes precisely targeting food and medicines and other necessities in order to force the civilian population of Iran to achieve regime change.
For more than two hundred years, since the War of 1812, when OFAC was founded to sanction the British, the office has become expert at imposing sanctions and it has done so more than 2000 times. OFAC currently uses a large team of specialists and computers to think-up, design, test, and send to AIPAC and certain pro-Zionist officials and members of congress their work-product topped off by recommendations.
OFAC and its Treasury Department associates have had a hand in virtually every US sanction applied to Iran since President Jimmy Carter issued Executive Order 12170 in November 1979 freezing about $12 billion in Iranian assets, including bank deposits, gold and other properties. From the State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act in 1979 to the Syria Accountability Act of 2004, more than a dozen Presidential Executive Orders including the 2011-2012 Executive orders which froze the US property of high-rankling Syrian and Iranian officials and more broadly E.O. 13582 which froze all governmental assets of the Syrian government and prohibited Americans from doing business with the Syrian government and banned all US import of Syrian petroleum products. What OFAC does with its data base is science not art. It can calculate quite precisely the economic effect on the civilian population of a single action designating one company, bank, government entity or infrastructure system of a country. OFAC, on behalf of its government, electronically wages a cold war against its civilian targets.
week OFAC and the Treasury Department blacklisted
Irans state broadcasting authority, Islamic
Republic of Iran Broadcasting, responsible for broadcast
policy in Iran and overseas production at Iranian
television and radio channels, potentially limiting
viewing and listening opportunities for Irans
civilian population. Its director, Ezzatollah Zarghami,
in the action. Additionally sanctioned are Irans Internet-policing agencies and a major electronics producer. David S. Cohen, the pro-Zionist Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who oversees the OFAC sanctions effort, reportedly following meetings with Israeli officials, said last week's actions were meant to tighten the screws and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime. In reality, the sanctions target the civilian population and the Iranian regime wont be much affected. The same applies to Syria. Despite the public relations language that food and medicine are exempted from the brutal US-led sanctions, as OFAC well knows, the reality is something else. They know well the chilling effects of the sanctions on international suppliers of medicines and food stuffs with respect to a targeted country. The US Treasury department has thousands of gigabytes of data confirming that the boards of directors of international business do not, and will not allow their companies to risk millions of dollars in profits by technically violating any of the thousands of details in the sanctions -- many of which are subject to interpretation -- for the sake of doing business with Iran or Syria. This is why there are severe shortages of medicines and certain foodstuffs in these sanctioned countries and to state otherwise is Orwellian News-Speak.
OFAC does not operate in a vacuum. It works closely with other US agencies including the 16 intelligence agencies that together make up the UN Intelligence Community. Together they have applied sanctions of great breadth and severity against the civilian populations of Syria and Iran. These sanctions have been bolstered on occasion by several direct and/or green-lighted Israeli assassinations and cyber-assaults, hoping to foment civil unrest to achieve regime change and other political goals.
A few days after Mrs. Clinton's somewhat inadvertent confession that the US government intentionally targets the civilian population of Iran, Vice President Joe Biden chimed in on the 4th of February that the US was ready to hold direct negotiations with Iran but added the caveat, "We have also made clear that Iran's leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation, acknowledging as did Hillary that the US sanctions are intended to target and harm the Iranian and Syrian people. A senior Obama administration official described the latest step as a significant turning of the screw, meaning that the people of Iran face a stark choice between bowing to US demands and reviving their oil revenue, the countrys economic lifeblood or more and more sanctions will follow until they do.This targeting of Irans and Syrias civilian population by US-led sanctions is a massive violation of the principles, standards and rules of international law and their most fundamental underpinnings which is the protection of civilians.
The 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibit any measure that has the effect of depriving a civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival. Article 70 of Protocol I mandates relief operations to aid a civilian population that is not adequately provided with supplies and Article 18 of Protocol II requires relief operations for a civilian population that suffers undue hardship owing to a lack of supplies essential for its survival, such as foodstuffs and medical supplies.
Prohibition on Starvation as a Method of Warfare
Under international humanitarian law, civilians enjoy a
right to humanitarian assistance during armed conflicts.
Art. 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention obligates states to facilitate the free passage and distribution of relief goods including medicines, foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under 15, expectant mothers, and maternity cases.
Art. 70 of Additional Protocol I prohibits interfering with delivery of relief goods to all members of the civilian population.
US-led sanctions are prohibited by the principle of proportionality found in Arts. 51 and 57 of Additional Protocol I.
Under the terms of Art. 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, humanitarian and relief actions must be taken. Pursuant to Art. 18(2) of Additional Protocol II, relief societies must be allowed to offer their services to provide humanitarian relief
The US-led sanctions violate the Rule of Distinction between civilians and combatants
The Right to life
The US-led sanctions violate the right to life incorporated in numerous international human rights instruments including Art. 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; Art. 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950; and Art. 4 of the African Charter of Human Rights, 1981.
The Rights of the Child
One of the groups most vulnerable to US-led sanctions in Syria and Iran are children. The rights of children are laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, which currently stands as the most widely ratified international agreement. Most relevant in the context of the US-led sanctions are Arts. 6 and 24 of the Convention, according to which every child has the inherent right to life and the right to the highest attainable standard of health and access to medical services.
If "terrorism" means, as the United States government defines it as the targeting of civilians in order to induce political change from their government, what is it called when the American government itself applies intense economic suffering on a civilian population, causing malnutrition, illnesses, starvation and death in order to induce regime change?
The US-led sanctions against Iran and Syria are illegal, inhumane, ineffective, immoral and outrageous. They must be resisted every day by every person of good will, everywhere, until they are withdrawn.
Lamb is doing research in the Islamic Republic of Iran
and is reachable c/o firstname.lastname@example.org
US Forked Tongue Always in
HRW: Hundreds of Afghan Children Killed in US Attacks
By Human Rights Watch
February 08, 2013 "RAWA" -- (Geneva) The United States government should promptly carry out the recommendations of a United Nations committee of experts to improve protection of children abroad from armed conflict. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report and recommendations to the US government on February 5, 2013.
The committee raised a number of concerns regarding US practices during armed conflict that were harmful to children, Human Rights Watch said. The committee said it was alarmed at reports of the deaths of hundreds of children from US attacks and air strikes in Afghanistan since the committee last reviewed US practices in 2008. It also expressed deep concern at the arrest and detention of children in Afghanistan, laws that exclude former child soldiers from securing asylum in the US, and presidential waivers to US laws that have allowed governments using child soldiers to receive US military assistance.
On January 16, the 18-member,
Geneva-based committee conducted a formal review of US
compliance with an international treaty, the Optional
Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on
the involvement of children in armed conflict. The
protocol was ratified by the US in 2002. It bars
governments from forcibly recruiting children under 18
and from using them in direct hostilities. It also
requires countries to take steps to prevent the use of
child soldiers and to rehabilitate and assist children
who have been involved in armed conflict. The
committees report and recommendations regarding US
compliance with the protocol were adopted on January 28.
Among its recommendations, the committee urged the US to:
· Take precautionary measures to prevent killing and maiming civilians, including children, and investigate and bring to justice members of the US armed forces responsible for violations against children;
· Detain children associated with armed groups only as a measure of last resort, provide all children under 18 with special care and education, and ensure they are not transferred to another governments custody if there is a risk of torture or ill-treatment;
· Apply a full prohibition on US arms exports and military assistance to countries where children are used as soldiers; and
· Improve access to asylum or refugee protection in the US for former child soldiers.
US forces have detained hundreds of children in Afghanistan, holding many of them for over a year with inadequate access to legal assistance, education, or rehabilitation services. Children under 18 have been detained with adults, contrary to international standards. Although most of these children have been transferred to Afghan custody, , Human Rights Watch expressed concern that such children may be subject to torture. UN reports have documented torture of numerous children by Afghan security forces.
The committee urged the US to separate detained children from adults, to grant the UN childrens fund, UNICEF, and other humanitarian agencies access to detained children, to provide detained children with legal assistance and juvenile justice procedures, to investigate cases of torture or ill-treatment, and to provide education and rehabilitation assistance for detained children.
In 2008, the US adopted a groundbreaking law, the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which prohibits several categories of US military assistance to governments using child soldiers. However, President Barack Obama has invoked the laws presidential waiver to allow continued military aid to governments using child soldiers including Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen. The committee urged a full prohibition on military assistance to such countries and encouraged the US to consider amending the Child Soldiers Prevention Act to remove the presidential waiver provision.
Former child soldiers, including those who have been forcibly recruited into armed groups, face hurdles to asylum or refugee protection in the US. The US considers nearly all non-state armed forces to be terrorist organizations for purposes of immigration law, and people who fought with such groups are considered ineligible for asylum. The committee urged the US to adopt a discretionary exemption from the terrorist activity bar to allow former child soldiers to be considered on a case-by-case basis for asylum or refugee protection.
The Child Soldiers
Prevention Act can put real pressure on governments to
stop using child soldiers, Becker said. Obama
needs to give fewer waivers to countries abusing their
children this way.
The Forked Tongue (Legal contrivance):
going to step up? President Obama Must be Impeached
By Dave Lindorff
February 08, 2013 "Information Clearing House" - If the Constitution is to have any relevance, and if America is to remain a free society, then there is really no alternative: there must be a bill of impeachment drawn up and submitted in the House, and there must at least be a hearing on that bill in the House Judiciary Committee.
The disclosure, by NBC, of a so-called white paper by the White House offering the legal justification for the executing of American citizens solely on the authority of the executive branch and the president exposes a White House so blatantly in violation of the Constitution that it simply demands such a hearing.
As Juan Cole explains clearly in an essay in Informed Comment, there are five ways that the white paper authorizing executive execution of Americans violates the Constitution. These, he explains, are:
There has to be an actual crime for there to be a punishment, and this paper authorizes execution without any crime.
If, as the letter suggests, the presidents authority to order executions without trial derives from the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by the Congress, that would constitute a so-called bill of attainder, which he explains is a declaration that a certain person or class of people (i.e. terrorists in this case) are prima facie guilty of a crime. But as he notes, the Constitution specifically outlaws bills of attainder, saying in Article 1, Section 9, No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed...
The letter violates the separation of powers, according the president the powers of executive, legislature and judiciary
The letter violates the Sixth Amendment in the Constitutions Bill of Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense. Needless to say, an execution ordered by the president skips all of this.
on the AUMF for presidential executions such as that of
American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son
means that President Obama, like President Bush before
him, is claiming that the whole world (including the US)
is a battlefield, and that he therefore has the absolute
Commander in Chief, to kill anyone , anywhere in the world, that he deems to be an enemy or a threat. But such a concept is a complete violation of international law and sovereignty as defined by the UN Charter, a solemn treaty to which the US is a signatory, making it a fundamental part of US law.
There is no way around it. This president is a grave violator of the law and of the US Constitution. Like George W. Bush before him, it is incumbent upon the Congress to establish whether his transgressions rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Word that the Senate has successfully pressured the president to let the secretive Senate Intelligence Committee see the actual document being used to "justify" his authority to kill anyone he wants is not enough. The Intelligence Committee has been complicit in and apologist for most of America's worst violations of law and international law, plus it keeps the crimes secret from the American public, making it a useless body as far as freedom and democracy go.
I know, as the author of the book The Case for Impeachment (St. Martins Press, 2006), that this is a stretch demand. President Bush and his consigliere Vice President Dick Cheney were both serially in violation of the law and the Constitution, and the Democrats who controlled both houses of Congress back then, despite the Quixotic efforts of myself and others like former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman and fellow journalist John Nichols, failed to challenge either of them. At the time, I wrote that failure to hold Bush and Cheney to account for their outrages would mean a subsequent president could commit the same crimes with impunity.
President Obama has proved me correct.
Even though the House is now under the control of the opposition party, there is not the slightest sign that any member of either the Republican or Democratic Party dares to put forward a bill of impeachment. Democrats are unwilling to challenge the head of their party, while Republicans, chastened by the disaster that their petty impeachment of President Bill Clinton caused them, are afraid to get burned again.
But make no mistake. The abuse of power -- and the assumption by a president of the absolute, unchallengeable right to execute an American citizen, or anyone, actually, citizen or not -- by a president is a big step towards tyranny which, if unchallenged, is hard to step back from.
President Clinton fatally undermined the ancient common law right of habeas corpus in 1995. Nobody challenged him because he said it was a matter of fighting terrorism. Bush and Cheney gave us war without end and a global battlefield to fight it in, again raising the boogeyman of terrorism. Nobody challenged them. Now Obama is executing American citizens on his own authority, and even claiming the right to delegate that authority to his subordinates in the Executive branch. Once again the excuse is terrorism.
If these keeps up, the idea of a free society will be gone entirely.
Terrorism is not the threat. Passivity in the face of encroaching tyranny is.
Remember, those ever-multiplying drones that are flying now all over Africa, Asia and the Middle East, spying on the activities of the peoples of manynations and blowing up men women and children by the hundreds, are already coming back here to America. Mark my words: just like the violations of our vaunted freedoms enumerated above, these drones, which will first be used to monitor and spy on our hitherto Constitutional protected activities, will eventually carry the same Hellfire missiles that have been blowing up men women and children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, and will begin blowing us up here in America too.
Its only a matter of time.
If you think that is hyperbole, just imagine back to the year 2000, and try to recall if you ever could have imagined the US as a nation where the president could just order the termination of an American citizen or a 16-year-old kid on his own whim, or maintain a lengthy kill list in the Oval Office.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has famously declared that the Constitution is not a living document, but rather a dead one. In saying that, he was trying in his inelegant way to suggest that it should not be interpreted in the light of current society but only can be what its authors intended. If President Obama is not challenged by an impeachment effort for his violations of the Constitution, that document may be far more dead than even Justice Scalia imagines.
Dave Lindorff graduated from Wesleyan University in 1972 with a BA in Chinese language. He then received an MS in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1975. A two-time Fulbright Scholar (Shanghai, 1991-2 and Taiwan, 2004), he was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University in 1978-79.
A former bureau chief covering Los Angeles County government for the Los Angeles Daily News, and a reporter-producer for PBS station KCET in Los Angeles, Lindorff was also a founder and editor of the weekly Los Angeles Vanguard newspaper, established in 1976, where he won the Grand Prize of the Los Angeles Press Club for his reporting. Lindorff also worked at the Minneapolis Tribune (now the Star Tribune), the Santa Monica Evening Outlook and the Middletown Press in Connecticut.
This article was originally posted at This Can't Be Happening
Copyright © 2013 This Can't Be Happening.
Antibiotic resistance marker gene used in genetically modified crops found in bacteria isolated from all China's rivers Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji
Please circulate widely and repost, but you must give the URL of the original and preserve all the links back to articles on our website. If you find this report useful, please support ISIS by subscribing to our magazine Science in Society, and encourage your friends to do so. Or have a look at the ISIS bookstore for other publications
A new study conducted in China finds 6 out of 6 major rivers tested positive for ampicillin antibiotic resistant bacteria . Sequencing of the gene responsible, the blá gene, shows it is a synthetic version derived from a lab and different from the wild type. This suggests to the researchers that synthetic plasmid vectors from genetic engineering applications may be the source of the ampicillin resistance, which is affecting the human population. The blá gene confers resistance to a wide range of therapeutic antibiotics and the widespread environment pollution with blá resistant bacteria is a major public health concern.
The development of antibiotic resistant pathogens, commonly dubbed superbugs, are increasingly common due to the overuse of antibiotics in medical and veterinary practices, and the ever-increasing application of genetic engineering to industrial processes including agriculture, biofuel fermentation and environmental remediation on top of laboratory research. Previously, genetic engineering experiments were confined to the laboratory, but with industrial and agricultural applications becoming more common over the last decade, the chances of uncontrolled discharge as well as deliberate release into the environment has widened. One prime example is the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops, many of which carry antibiotic resistant genes.
Genetic engineering uses plasmids - extra-chromosomal DNA molecules that naturally exist in bacteria and other unicellular species - for propagating and manipulating DNA sequences in research and in genetic modification of plants and animals. Plasmids often carry antibiotic resistance marker genes to allow selection with antibiotics for the modified DNA or cells carrying the gene of interest (see  (FAQ on Genetic Engineering, ISIS Tutorial). The presence of these antibiotic resistance genes and plasmids in the environment leaves open the possibility of the genes being taken up and transferred into the genetic material of unrelated species of bacteria, some of which may well be serious pathogens.
The transfer of genes directly into the genetic material of cells, bypassing normal reproduction, is referred to as horizontal gene transfer, to distinguish it from the usual vertical gene transfer that occurs in natural reproduction within the same species or in some cases between closely related species.
Scientists including those in ISIS have issued repeated warnings since the 1990s on the dangers of horizontal gene transfer associated with genetic engineering and GM plants and animals that are released into the open environment [3-6] (Gene Technology and Gene Ecology of Infectious Diseases, ISIS scientific publication; Horizontal Gene Transfer - The Hidden Hazards of Genetic Engineering, ISIS/TWN report; GM DNA Does Jump Species, SiS 47; Scientists Discover New Route for GM-gene 'Escape', SiS 50), only to be met with denial and dismissal from the proponents and from our regulators.
The new study led by Jun Wen Li at Sechuan University reveals widespread contamination of 6 out of 6 major urban rivers (the Sungari, Haihe, Yellow, Yangtze, Huangpu and Pearl Rivers) with bacteria carrying a synthetic version of the blá gene . The blá gene confers resistance to the most common class of antibiotics called ß-lactams, which includes besides ampicillin (a beta-lactam), the penicillin derivatives (penams), cephalosporins (cephems), monobactams, and carbapenems.
The researchers took samples from the rivers, extracted plasmids from bacteria present, and used PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and quantitative real-time PCR to assess the presence of blá DNA. The assay was specific for the blá gene that comprises most recombinant plasmid strains, such as pBR322 and pUC19, both widely used for research and genetic modification. The detection rate varied from 21.9 % (in the Hai He River samples) to 36.4 % (in the Yangtze River samples). The Pearl and Hai He rivers showed the widest range of cephalosporin resistance from the blá gene present in bacterial samples, extending to 3rd- and 4th-generation drugs like cefotaxime and cefoperazone, while the range was narrower (e.g., cefalotin, cephazolin, cefmetazole, and cefoxitin) in samples from the other rivers tested. Analysis confirmed that sequences neighbouring the blá sequences most frequently represented artificial or synthetic constructs, including cloning, expression, shuttle, gene-fusion, and gene trap vectors derived from recombinant laboratory plasmid vectors, identifying most strongly with pBR322; and confirming the artificial origin of the DNA that does not naturally exist in nature.
Metagenomic technology, which involves transforming environmental genomic DNA into a laboratory recipient strain, is a unique way to study complex genetic samples from ecosystems without purifying the strains. As this study concerned plasmids within environmental microbes, the procedure was modified so that the plasmids were extracted and electro-transformed directly into the laboratory strains. Antibiotics selection was used to identify clones expressing resistant plasmids, which were then isolated and analyzed. A plasmid metagenomic library of 205 environmental plasmid-carrying E. coli HB101 strains was constructed, which showed a positive bla´ rate of 27.3%. Furthermore, samples from all 6 rivers are also resistant to tetracycline. In addition, some transformants are resistant to other antibiotics such as gentamicin and sulfanilamides. With this technique focusing on plasmids, it is worth noting that plasmid sequences integrated into the bacterial genome were not investigated, and if measured, would likely increase the rate of antibiotic resistant gene contamination further.
The rivers sampled are in highly industrial areas, and the Pearl River in particular was previously reported the most polluted with antibiotics, though the study did not attempt to determine the source of the pollution. What is clear is that once recombinant (GM) plasmids or plasmid sequences are discharged into the environment, the DNA can spread to wild bacteria through the process of horizontal gene transfer. Thus, researchers suggest that horizontal gene transfer of genetically engineered plasmids to microbes in the soil or from lactic acid bacteria to human and animal gut microbes is a likely consequence of such pollution, and may well underlie the rise in antibiotic resistance in animals as well as humans.
But there is another likely major source of GM antibiotic resistance, and that is from GM crops planted in the fields.
The majority of GM crops already released commercially or field trialled in the open environment carry antibiotic resistant genes derived from the synthetic plasmids that were used for genetic modification. China both grows and imports GM foods and trees, many of which harbour the blá gene including: Syngentas Bt11 Yieldgard Maize and Bt176 NaturGard Knockout Maize, Monsantos Mon21 Roundup Ready Maize and Bayers ZM003 Liberty Link Maize. China has also been developing many GM crops, including rice . Bt Shanyou63, was already the subject of controversy since 2005; the unapproved variety (both in China and other countries) illegally sold and planted in Hubei province, contaminated Chinese rice products exported to Europe and Japan, and has been detected in China and various countries since then. Bt63 was developed in Huazhong Agriculture University in Wuhan, Hubei Province. As recently as July 2009, the European Union called on China to tighten export controls on rice products because shipments might contain traces of the Bt 63 strain, which is not authorized in the European Union . Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the Yangtze River, one of those tested in the study, runs through the Hubei province.
This study is the first to address the potential pollution of our environment with antibiotic resistant genes from genetic engineering experiments. It provides the first comprehensive and direct evidence of horizontal gene transfer from genetic engineering and genetic modification. It can be predicted that similar findings will emerge elsewhere, if the appropriate molecular probes are used with the most sensitive PCR assays, which hitherto has not been done.
1. Chen J, Jin M, Qiu ZG, Guo C, Chen ZL, Shen ZQ, Wang XW, Li JW. A Survey of Drug Resistance bla Genes Originating from Synthetic Plasmid Vectors in Six Chinese Rivers. Environmental Science & Technology 2012, 46, 13448-54.
2. Ho MW. FAQ on Genetic Engineering. ISIS Tutorial http://www.i-sis.org.uk/FAQ.php.
3. Ho MW, Traavik T, Olsvik R. Tappeser 0B, Howard V, von Weizsacker C and McGavin G. Gene Technology and Gene Ecology of Infectious Diseases.Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease1998, 10, 33.
4. Ho MW.Horizontal Gene Transfer. The Hidden Hazards of Genetic Engineering, TWN Biotechnology Series, Third World Network, 2001.
5. Ho MW. GM DNA does jump species. Antibiotic resistance not the only risk. Science in Society 47, 30-33, 2010
6. Ho MW. Scientists Discover New Route for GM-gene Escape.Science in Society 50, 14-16, 2011
7. International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. http://www.isaaa.org/. 22nd January 2013.
8. GM Rice in China Any Closer? http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/49-2010/11860-gm-rice-in-china-any-closer. 22nd January 2013
EDUCATION AND THE COMMON GOOD - NOAM CHOMSKY http://youtu.be/7TLZN92-dZo
A Colloquy with COUN-HA-CHEE of the Miccosukee Tribe
During both my childhood and adolescence I read countless bookssome historical, most fictionalon the struggle Red Man vs. White Man, always rooting for the designated loser, i.e., the Native American. Despite that, here in the US I never sought to meet with a Native American. It took the Editor-in-Chief of an Italian travel magazine to make me do just that. When I lived in Miami back in the Nineties, he asked me as a favor to write an article on the Miccosukee, of Creek descent, who dwell in South Floridas Everglades. I drove out to meet with their public relations manager, who in turn directed me to their village. There, he introduced me to various members of the tribe, including a meek and serene man, a promulgator of the Old Ways. As it turned out, he came from a family of healers, or medicine men, as he himself called them.
In the article I published in the magazine I did mention COUN-HA-CHEE but none of the things he revealed to me; it was just not the right readership for them. But I did tape our exchange, and transcribed every word of it.
During our colloquy COUN-HA-CHEE spoke very slowly, each word much apart from the other, sotto voce, sometimes down to a whisper. The reader, while reading my questions at a normal pace, should make an effort and read his words extremely slowly. Clearly, he spoke as a spokesperson with a voice not exclusively his. Ive added some endnotes. It is COUN-HA-CHEE himself who uses the word Indian. There follows the colloquy, transcribed word for word (my questions in italics).
The Miccosukee Indians and maybe all of the native Americans have always had stories about the white people. We were told that when these white people arrive they would signal the beginning of the end of the Earth. And for us, we were told to recognize these people. We have, in our vocabulary, an ancient word; and in our vocabulary we have two names that are both ancient and they refer to white people. The first word is AH-NAHT-KEE. AH-NAHT-KEE in the Miccosukee language refers to not humansan existence that resembles human but that is not human. The second word is YAHT-TAT-KEE. YAHT-TAT-KEE is a white human being.
So most whites are AH-NAHT-KEE?
When we see destruction being condoned, we refer to it as AH-NAHT-KEE. We refer to the condoning[i] of the killing of nature as the way of the AH-NAHT-KEE.
We see people who live an everyday way of life such as yourself. We see people approach us, and they talk and they ask questions about Old Ways; we refer to them as YAHT-TAT-KEE. YAHT-TAT-KEE is a white human being. We feel that Old Ways of Native Americans were also taught to all children around the world, and for some reason most of the people around the world forgot them. They laid them aside for the sake of progress. Maybe it was to gather more food, maybe their thoughts were on their food, but for some reason they laid down the teachings. And when they got to the pinnacle of what they were after, they forgot to bring the teachings with them. But we feel that all the people around the world have the same teachings as the American Indians; only, they have not decided to pick them back up.
Blinded by greed?
For us, we were introduced to money. Money never existed here in this Land.[GMdS1] We were introduced to it in the time that the Spaniards came. We fought with the Spaniards because they were killing our people. And they couldnt defeat us, and our Land, so they made peace with us. And they gave us money, guns, horses, cows, and traded for the natural products of this Land. For us, squash, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, cornall of the natural produce of this Land. It was food like the Spaniards never saw before. But they needed it to survive here. They did not recognize it as food, we introduced it to them. So they gave us money; we didnt know what to do with it; so we made jewelry out of money. It was not important, and for our people we still carry on this way of thinking, that money is very bad. But today not only the Indian people see it as being bad; we even hear the white people refer to it as root of all evil. So we assume that they also understand.
For us, we are told that if you take a persons existence and you follow his ways and at death you make him into a symbol or a part of life that the world cannot live without, then you are doing a very bad thing, you are creating a sickness. When human beings die you should not use that persons spirit in place of God. So most of the time that you see Miccosukee Indians you will find that they carry very little or no money at all. And the Miccosukee Indians will tell you that the reason for this is because the Americans at death of their people have taken their faces and put them on to this piece of paper; and the piece of paper which has taken the place of religion and way of life. A piece of paper with a picture that they will kill you for, they are all willing to die for.
So you will find the Miccosukee Indians carrying very little or no money at all, because we feel that it is carrying the ghost of a person, and an idol.
And where does the spirit go when a man dies?
For our people, we have been asked many times where the American Indian believes that the spirit of human beings travel to. When we tell them that we believe that there is such a place as heaven that they speak of, they will ask us, Where do you believe heaven is? We tell them that heaven is not beyond the blue sky as you look upward. Heaven is only as far away as the air that you breathe[ii]; that the air that makes life possible is the only thing that hides heaven from the eyes of human beings; that the air that we breathe, if it is to open, you will see heaven. It hides it from us. We are told that someday the existence of air, those particles that make up air will open, split apart. And when they open, you will see heaven, and you will be able to cross.
So for that reason the American Indians have always been very careful in what they say and what they do. The Old Ways that has taught to them to treat life as sacred is because they realize that God is not a billion light years away, but it is right here, and only the air is hiding it. So if you can touch the air, you are touching the very existence that hides God.
Is there any way by which you can reach this Otherness without leaving your body, without dying?
For our people, we are told that there is travel, but this gift they share with those who have already crossed over. If you die and you cross through the air that hides heaven you will find that the air itself is a darkness; you will have to go through this darkness. But in going through this darkness through the other side, if you choose when you are with God that you want to come back with your relations it is possible. Its a gift. So you can come back across and visit. But for our people, the American Indians, we find that this gift is not only recognized by American Indians, but by all people around the world. Only they dont see it as a gift; they see it as something unnatural. They speak a lot about ghosts, a ghost must be in the house, or, a ghost makes this noise, but they see it as something unnatural. We dont see it as something unnaturalwe see it as a gift.
And can anything of the sort happen, in your experience, while the person is still alive? To be able to reach this Otherness? To break through these air particles, and then come back? Something like an altered state? Hallucinogens, special drugs prepared by the medicine man?
For our people, not much of how you can see the other side is taught to us, but we are told that you can see those who left. And there is a way to see. But this way to see you will have to use an animal. But it is very bad to take such an existence just to benefit your own curiosity of what it looks like. But we are taught of how to do it, and we need an animal to do it, and we dont sacrifice the animalthe animal has to be alive. And we will take something from the animal while its living and we will use it, and that makes it possible to see.
Have you done it?
I will not go that way.
Is it something only for shamans or for anybody among you?
Anyone. Anyone can do it.
Dont you need a special training or a certain frame of mind?
For the Miccosukee Indians, we find that it is something that no-one will ever attempt.
How do you know its there?
The culture of our people is taught through personal experiences. For myself, I didnt need it.
In an accident in my past I was able to cross. For me, I found myself from an accident unable to talk, unable to get up off the ground. And I saw people coming around me trying to lift me up and in the beginning I could hear them talking, Are you OK? Can you stand up? By then I could no longer hear their voices, I could only see the movements of their mouths. As I fell back to the Earth, I lay as people stood around me. I looked up to a little small light that was flashing in the background, and this little pin light was flashing and I kept my eyes focused on it and it appeared to be growing. As I watched it, it grew and grew and pretty soon this little pin light grew to be as large as the sun. And I was thinking, There are two suns! And this other light, this sun got so large that I couldnt see the ends. From the light that covered the blue sky I looked to the left and I could not see the end of that light; I looked to the right, I could not see the end of that light. And as I looked directly into the light, it appeared that this gigantic light was going to crash into the earth and to destroy all that is living. The thought that I felt by looking into that was that of the impact with the Earth. I closed my eyes, and as I did I felt that light rush through my body. At the time that it rushed through my body, it pushed my hair into the ground, and I felt my hair waving through the air with force. It made my hair mingle with the Earth.
At that point I felt a calmness, and I opened my eyes. I found myself floating above my body as a crowd was gathered around it. I looked down on it and I was thinking to myself, There are two people like meI am up here in the air and theres another one of me in the ground At that point, my body spun around and I headed the way the sun goes down. As it traveled on through the darkness, this darkness finally broke to light.
As I got into the light, I found a place where the Earth was smooth but not flat, and covered with the light that we see here, but more beautiful. And everywhere that I looked I saw peoplesmiling and walking around. So those people looked up at me and they were pointing to me, and I was thinking to myself, I need to be down there where those people are, that is where I belong And I got the feeling that I was never going to be with them, that I was going to just hang in the air forever. Those on the ground kept pointing at me, looking at meand all of a sudden I felt myself being pulled backwards, feet first.
I went back through the darkness and I opened my eyes a second time: I was in an infirmary, covered with ice, and an attendant said: You came back! We thought we lost you![iii]
I that point I realized that there is more to this life than just walking this Earth, that there is a purpose for us here. These images Ill never forget, and when they speak of it, I remember every second. There is a way to cross over. And the Miccosukee Indians can see it, but not cross, but we can see it. (A long pause followed. These last words have been whispered, each one very spaced apart from the preceding and following one.)
Do you have any other questions? (By then my mind was not asking any other questions, nor was my mouth.)
I was wondering, going back to a more mundane level, about the beautiful tale that you told me, before I started taping, about the boy going out to huntone, two, three times, four times, and finally he is allowed to partake of the food, because by then hes learned that he is hunting for the clan, for the family, not for himself. So the fact that he too can eat of his own prey comes as a surprise. Thats one 4. Then there is the other 4the four elements you mentioned, the four logs in the fire, starting with Mother Earth, oriented towards sunup, and then, counterclockwise, the Plants, the Animals and finally us, human beings. And then there are the four colors, which are the four colors of the human races, unmixed, that is
The four sacred colors are also connected with the four directionsEast, North, West and South. These four colors play an importance at healing ceremonies. For our people, we find that these four colors that we have always been using throughout the history of our peoples existence. Today we realize that what we have always been told were the most sacred of colorsbecause they are to be used for healingare the colors of the human beings.
You must have wondered why it is that 4 is a magical number? [iv]
For us you find that the numbers which are most often used among the Miccosukee Indians are Two and Four. When we go hunting for food, we always go out in two; when you go into a dance for a religious ceremony, there are two dances; when you have the ceremonies for healing, you will find four elements being used. Four our people you will find that any healing rituals the time given is to follow a specific fasting periodit comes in four.
For us it has always been such a simple way of life, and to us it never seems mysterious. This way of life, we are told, must be followed; and if you do not follow it, we are told that your journey to the other side will be filled with punishment.
For us, we hear of outside people saying that there is a heaven and that there is a hell. And they tell you that the religion that came to this Land from across the ocean spoke of ten thousand years. We do not understand that teaching. But if it is a teaching where human beings believe in God, then we accept that teaching.
For our people, we believe that the teaching is a gift, that it must be treated as a giftyou must take care of it and cherish it as a gift. So for Miccosukee Indians, the religion of our people has kept intact; its cherished; its protected.
For our people, we know that there are ways in which man first exist and never go against. We understand that there is a delicate balance. That delicate balance is delicate only for man. And we understand that if we upset that delicate balance, we hurt ourselves and not hurt other life. And so we are taught that we must treat our life with great respect. When you take an animals life, you treat it with great respect. You honor the gift of life that was shared with you. And we are told that the animal gives itself to you. And the Miccosukee Indians when they go hunting they sing a song. They will speak the night before they go hunting of what animal they are going to look for. And when they go looking for that animal, if they come across another animal, they do not kill it, because the night before, that is not what they spoke of. They will continue on their journey in search of that animal that they spoke of. If that animal chooses to give itself to the Miccosukee Indians, it will appear. It will look at you. And it will prepare for its death. If the animal does not give itself to you, then on the way home another animal sees your flight and recognizes that you are here searching for food, and it dies give itself to you.
For our people, we have way in which we prepare the animal. Not all of the animal is allowed to be eaten by man, or a woman. Certain parts of the animal woman cannot eat. Only a Miccosukee man. Certain parts of the animal, man or woman, is not allowed to eat. We are taught to give it as an offer of thanks to God.
For us, we still follow these Old Ways.
You have come to a place where we still hide many things from the outside world. The outside world we feel is not ready to know about many things that we have. We can offer them as gifts to them, but they will offer these gifts for destruction. So the American Indians as a whole have in their possessions many things that will aid mankind. But this day, mankind is not ready for them. [v]
503 ago your ancestors came. They shot us, but they will not remember us. And today they still follow that way. The day that they show us that they are human beings, the American Indians will give all our secrets. Not today.
For our people, we are told stories that we see coming true, and we sit and watch prophecies as they unfold, and we wonder what can we say to the world that can awaken them. And we find ourselves sitting and watching prophecies come to pass without saying anything at all to the world. We find that prophecies have already been set and timetables to be up to us when the end should come. We know the beginning, we know the end. And we know that it is up to man.
The Mayan Calendar ends in year 2012; that would appear to be the end of this world. Some might be able to cross over into the other dimension, but most of us would be gone. Chronologically, you tell me: Do you think it is around that time?
We were told that in the end the people who have come to this Land will construct paths that mark this Land to resemble a spider web, and that all of these paths that they construct will be only used as for escapement, or that they only do it in preparation for what they know is the end. They say that when they make these paths on this Land, they will make a mark on each path to show you that they are ready for war, that they are ready for the end. And this path will be marked as a way to escape that. In 1994 the American Indians, the Miccosukee, travel this Land and we see just about every paved path that the Americans build marked with a blue sign that says Evacuation Path. We are told that the end would be near.
The sign you will look for beside that is that the Earth will start to heat up. As the Earth starts to heat up, life that you have never seen will start to appear. That life will have a rebirth. And life the way that God created it in the beginning. We will come back full circle.
For us, when we sit and listen to these stories, we wonder if the time isnt here. We see the roads of the American say Evacuation Routes. We hear the world speaking of pollution that they have caused to have built over a thin layer of protection from the suns radiationthe intense heat; they say that they have broken a hole through it which is allowing deadly heat to come in. They are saying to us that the Earth will become like a green house. We are hearing from the scientific community life that they are creating that never existed before, but they are creating it. We are hearing from the scientists they feel that they are able, with their technology of today, to bring back dinosaurs. And we sit here and we are reminded that life will end in the way that God created it.
When he first created life, Earth spoke; trees spoke; animals spoke. And today we are told that around the world people are finding ways to talk with animals and have animals talk back with them. And any day of the week we can turn on a television set and through animation we can see Earth talking; we can see trees talking; and we can see animals talking.
But the last sign, we havent seen yet. There is one more sign that will come and that will be the last. That one we rarely speak of. We feel that it is better that world does not hear.
I respect that.
We go to religious ceremonies, and the religious ceremony is very special to my people. In the religious ceremonies, we have medicine bundles. And these medicine bundles tell us of the future. In these medicine bundles we carry spirits that travel from place to place and return back to the bundle. And it is through their travel that we are told what is coming in the year. For our people, more and more we find that the bundles, when traveling, sometimes do not return. And for us that tells us that there is an imbalancethey have always returned. If you were to take a piece of the medicine bundle of the Miccosukee Indians and take it into a room and place it on a table and lock the door with no windows to the room, and you returned another day and opened that room, you would find the idol from the medicine bundle to have vanished, but if you open up the medicine bundle it will be there again. Sometimes they do not return and sometimes that makes us worry.
For the Miccosukee Indians, we are very religious people, we believe that the Earth talks; we believe that the trees talk; and we believe that the animals talk. And we believe that we are all thats left to exist, the ones that have the least to offerand we have no teaching. And for us we really believe that if we dont follow the Old Ways, we bring the timetable closer for the end of the Earth.
For the Miccosukee Indians you will find that the change you just spoke of (off tape, I had touched upon a burgeoning global environmental awareness) is not a rebirth, but is the shaking of a sick person. Something needs to be done to heal that person. We feel that as a human being we have been called upon as warriors. The American Indian is a warrior. And the warriors have always existed, since the creation of the Second Human Being. But warriors never fought among each other. The reason warriors were created was to continue a fight to keep religion alive. Warriors were not created to fight and kill.
We are warriors, but we are warriors to keep the words of God; we are not warriors to kill people. We are still here. The Miccosukee Indians are those warriors that are trying to keep religion alive.
The day that the human being forgets the Old Ways is the day that Earth will die. So every day we speak after the Old Ways so that the Earth will stay alive.
In the year 2012 my children will be here. And I will teach them that it is their responsibility to keep the Earth alive. As brothers to the animals, the treesand the Earth is our Mother. Well have to be prepared.
[i] I kept my interruptions down to a minimum, for his words were music to my ears. More detachedly, it should be pointed out that the killing of nature has not only been condoned by the White (or Western) man, but encouraged.
[ii] I am reminded of Terence McKennas the Otherness is with us, it runs a life parallel to ours. (Quoting from memory.)
[iii] I was really after was their way of reaching the Othernessthe one he alluded to and that entails using an animal. Perhaps it was too soon to press him for that.
[iv] This point would deserve a treatise. C.G. Jung, for example, wrote in great detail about the concept of quaternity, alchemical and otherwise. The 4 material elements appear in various traditions, and so do the 4 cardinal directions. Then there are the 4 goals of life, the 4 stages of life, and the 4 world ages in Hinduism; the 4 requirements for practicing Vedanta; the 4 refuges in Jainism; the 4 noble truths, the 4 levels of formless realization, and the 4 universal feelings, all according to Buddhism, as well as the 4 stages of Buddhist meditation; the 4 covenants in Judaism; the 4 last things in Christianity; the 4 steps to God in Sufism; the 4 levels of existence according to the Kabbalah; etc. That the Miccosukee myths and practices would hinge upon the numbers 2 and 4 does not surprise me. Not only because the 4 suns are a tradition of the Native Americans, but especially because Native Americans have never stopped living in tune with nature, and two and four are exceedingly natural numbers. The interplay of opposites is at the root of life as we know it, regardless of ones cultural canons.
[v] I am persuaded that they do hold many secrets. And it is most wise to keep them from us, for Western man can only magnify the unknown, can only take magic out of context and use it to his mundane ends.
[vi] Suddenly, COUN-HA-CHEE brought back the date I had mentioned much earlier. He too confirmed the date of the end of the spiral, the beginning of a new phase.
He trained as a classical guitarist and studied orchestration with the Swiss conductor Antoine-Pierre de Bavier, who had been Wilhelm Furtwänglers favorite pupil. The Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa, who wrote the soundtracks of Ben-Hur, El Cid, Double Indemnity, etc., and won three Academy Awards, used to spend his summers across from the Mina di Sospiros seaside home in Italy. Then in his seventies, he took young Guido under his wing and acquainted him with the University of Southern California, where he and Arnold Schönberg had taught composition.At twenty, after attending the University of Pavia and making a feature film that premiered at the National Cinémathčque in Milan, Mina di Sospiro left Italy to attend USC School of Cinema-Television. Among his mentors were Ernest Lehman, Hitchcocks favorite screenwriter and, later on, Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, the celebrated English editor and publisher, who launched among others William Boyd, Peter Ackroyd and Paul Theroux.Mina di Sospiros novel The Story of Yew (the memoirs of an age-old tree), published in the UK, is permanently featured on the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has been translated into many languages, as has From the River, the memoirs of a mighty river. Both books have met with critical acclaim.