Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ivory Coast: Somethings not right it about democracy, or about oil, the IMF, and Western domination?

U.S. controlled IMF installs one of its own as leader of Ivory Coast
Posted by PC Latest news, World news Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Tensions in the African country Ivory Coast are escalating and many countries are advising their people to leave the country. The U.S. and Canadian media are blaming the tensions on the refusal of its leader, Laurent Gbagbo, to concede defeat in an election that was plagued with vote tampering and outright fraud. The U.S., Canada, the IMF, the UN and other states and international organization all recogize the UN declared winner Alassane Dramane Ouattara. Europe and the US is now working to strangle Laurent Gbagbo financially to force him to quit as Côte d’Ivoire’s president after an election they claim was won by his rival Alassane Ouattara. On December 2, 2010, after a series of delays, the Independent Electoral Commission of Côte d’Ivoire (CEI) declared Alassane Ouattara winner of the second round of the country’s presidential elections without presenting the results to the Constitutional Council for confirmation and validation. The CEI claimed without providing any proof that Alassane Ouattara was the new leader of Ivory Coast. Why call an election without providing proof of claim? It all has to do with who Alassane Ouattara is and who he works for and the U.S.’s insatiable need for oil. A major crude oil-induced border dispute has been going on for over a year now between Ivory Coast and its eastern neighbor Ghana. The election is being used to distract the World from what is really happening in Ivory Coast – another dispute over oil rights.

Who is Alassane Ouattara? To make a long story short Alassane Ouattara works for the IMF which works for the United States. Say what?

Ouattara was born on January 1, 1942, in Dimbokro, Ivory Coast. He received a bachelor’s of science degree in 1965 from the Drexel Institute of Technology, which is now called Drexel University, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.. Ouattara then obtained both his master’s degree in economics in 1967 and a doctorate in economics in 1972 from the University of Pennsylvania.

He was an economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, D.C. from 1968 to 1973, and afterwards he was the BCEAO’s (Central Bank of West African States) Chargé de Mission in Paris from 1973 to 1975. With the BCEAO, he was then Special Advisor to the Governor and Director of Research from February 1975 to December 1982 and Vice Governor from January 1983 to October 1984. From November 1984 to October 1988 he was Director of the African Department at the IMF, and in May 1987 he additionally became Counsellor to the Managing Director at the IMF. On October 28, 1988 he was appointed as Governor of the BCEAO (Central Bank of West African States), and he was sworn in on December 22, 1988.

In April 1990, Ivorian President Félix Houphouët-Boigny appointed Ouattara as Chairman of the Interministerial Committee for Coordination of the Stabilization and Economic Recovery Programme of Côte d’Ivoire; while holding that position, Ouattara also remained in his post as BCEAO Governor. He subsequently became Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire on November 7, 1990. While serving as Prime Minister, Ouattara also carried out presidential duties for a total of 18 months, including the period from March 1993 to December 1993, when Houphouët-Boigny was ill. Houphouët-Boigny died on December 7, 1993, and Ouattara announced his death to the nation, saying that “Côte d’Ivoire is orphaned”. A brief power struggle ensued between Ouattara and Henri Konan Bédié, the President of the National Assembly, over the presidential succession; Bédié prevailed and Ouattara resigned as Prime Minister on December 9. Ouattara then returned to the IMF as Deputy Managing Director, holding that post from July 1, 1994 to July 31, 1999.

Prior to the October 1995 presidential election, in a move that was viewed as being intended to prevent Ouattara’s potential presidential candidacy, the National Assembly of Côte d’Ivoire approved an electoral code which barred candidates if either of their parents were of a foreign nationality and if they had not lived in Côte d’Ivoire for the preceding five years. The Rally of the Republicans (RDR), an opposition party formed as a split from the ruling Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) in 1994, sought for Ouattara to be its presidential candidate contrary to electoral law. The government would not change the electoral code and Ouattara withdrew the nomination.

While serving as Deputy Managing Director at the IMF, in March 1998 Ouattara expressed his intention to return to Côte d’Ivoire and take part in politics again. After leaving the IMF in July 1999, he was elected President of the RDR on August 1, 1999 at an extraordinary congress of the party, as well as being chosen as its candidate for the next presidential election. Ouattara’s nationality certificate, issued in late September 1999, was annulled by a court on October 27. An arrest warrant for Ouattara was issued on November 29, although he was out of the country at the time. Ouattara wasn’t arrested because on December 24, the military seized power in a U.S. backed coup. Ouattara returned to Côte d’Ivoire after three months in France on December 29, hailing Bédié’s ouster as “not a coup d’état”, but “a revolution supported by all the Ivorian people”.

A new constitution, approved by referendum in July 2000, again barred presidential candidates unless both of their parents were Ivorian, disqulaifying Ouattara from the 2000 presidential election. The issues surrounding this electoral law were major factors in the Civil war in Côte d’Ivoire, which broke out in 2002.

On December 2, 2010, after a series of delays, the Independent Electoral Commission of Côte d’Ivoire (CEI) declared Alassane Ouattara the winner of the second round of the country’s presidential elections without presenting the results to the Constitutional Council for confirmation and validation. The head of the Constitutional Council (contradicted the CEI claim that Alassane Ouattara had won the election. Mr Gbagbo was sworn in at a midday ceremony by the President of the Constitutional Council (the highest constitutional authority in Ivory Coast whose duty is to ensure that the principles and rules of the constitution are upheld) on Saturday December 4, 2010. Hours later, IMF groomed Ouattara simply declared himself to be president of Ivory Coast. Since then foreign organizations have been meddling into and violating the sovereignty of Ivory Coast by rejecting Gbagbo’s presidency and endorsing one of their own as president. The African Union, the European Union, ECOWAS, the United Nations, the United States, and France are among the nations and international organizations that rejected Gbagbo’s presidency. The U.S. controlled International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated they would only work with a government recognized by the U.S. created and controlled United Nations which was assigned by the United States government the duty of certifying presidential results as part of a 2007 peace deal. On 8 December, the U.S. controlled United Nations Security Council formally recognized Ouattara as the winner, and, in a statement, asked “all stakeholders to respect the outcome of the election.”

Without ever seeing the election results and contrary to Ivory Coast election law that barred presidential candidates unless both of their parents were Ivorian (years earlier an investigation determined Ouattara’s nationality certificate as invalid and even issued an arrest warrant for Ouattara), a U.S. created and controlled organization declared an agent of the United States government as president of Ivory Coast. Why? Again it is all about oil.

In May of 2010 Global Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:GNR) announced another big oil discovery offshore Cote d’Ivoire in West Africa. In May of 2003 Tullow Oil plc announced an oil discovery on the Acajou prospect in Ivory Coast, confirming the hydrocarbon potential of the area, southeast of the Espoir field.

The well on licence CI-26 was drilled on the Acajou South prospect approximately 24 km off the coast of Côte d’Ivoire in a water depth of 3,050ft. The well is located some 9km from the Espoir facilities.

Well Acajou-1x was operated by Canadian Natural Resources (“CNR”) using the Sovereign Explorer rig. It reached a total depth of 8,027ft and encountered a gross oil column of over 250ft. A 45ft interval of sands at the top of the oil column was tested at an average rate of 3,500 bopd oil. The oil was of good quality 33° API, similar to that found in the Espoir field.

Brian O’Cathain, Managing Director of Tullow Oil International Ltd., commented, “We are pleased with the success of this exploration well, as it underlines the potential of the Acajou area. The test rate is encouraging for the economic development of the discovery. The well also encountered a significant sand section below the oil water contact, which holds potential in the northern part of the structure.

In September of 2010 Tullow made another discovery off the coast of Ivory Coast and Ghana. Tullow said it had found what could be among the largest recent oil discoveries in Africa off the coast of Ivory Coast and Ghana, with the field holding a potential 550 million barrels. The recent oil discovery has however sparked a row between Ivory Coast and Ghana over the maritime border. Last year, Ghana appealed to the United Nations to extend its maritime boundary by 200 nautical miles. Ivory Coast also has made a submission to the United Nations laying claim to portions of Ghana’s oil find that they say is in Ivory Coast waters. It is this conflict over oil that the United States controlled IMF installed one of their own to be president of Ivory Coast. 1.8 billion barrels of crude is at stake and the U.S. wants control of iallt . What could be the outcome? Just look at what happened in Afghanistan when the Taliban gave the Trans-Afghan natural gas and oil pipeline contract to a non-U.S. company.

Oil and control of oil rights always = war. Oil was the reason for the United States war of aggression against Iraq. Oil and natural gas was the reason for the United States war of aggression aginst Afghanistan. Oil is the reason why the United States is imposing unilateral sanctions against Iran in prparation for a war there. Oil was the spark that ignited the Nigerian Civil War. Oil is sparking an IMF sponsored civil war in Ivory Coast.

“The policies of the U.S. , since the end of the Cold War are complicated and vast. They involve an intent to dominate and the use of international organizations to advance U.S. economic and geopolitical interests. They also include the conversion of NATO into a surrogate military police force for globalization and U.S. world economic domination.” – Ramsey Clark, 66th United States Attorney-General (October 6, 2000) The UN, the IMF, NATO and the WHO are the international organizations that advance U.S. economic and geopolitical interests.

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Racism and Physical Attacks on Palestinians Run Rampant in the "Only Democracy in the Mideast."

Never again? Elderly Palestinian women called ‘whores’ on Yad Vashem tour, while racism explodes across Israel
Dec 30, 2010 05:52 am | Max Blumenthal

This week, a group of elderly Palestinian women were escorted to the Yad Vashem Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance musuem to learn about the Jewish genocide in Europe. At the entrance of the museum, they were surrounded by a group of Jewish Israeli youth who recognized them as Arabs. “Sharmouta!” the young Israelis shouted at them again and again, using the Arabic slang term for whores, or sluts.

The Palestinians had been invited to attend a tour arranged by the Israeli Bereaved Families Forum, an organization founded by an Israeli whose son was killed in combat by Palestinians. They were joined by a group of Jewish Israeli women who, like them, had lost family members to violence related to the conflict. Presumably, both parties went on the tour in good faith, hoping to gain insight into the suffering of women on the other side of the conflict.

Unfortunately, the Palestinian members (who unlike the Israelis live under occupation and almost certainly had to obtain special permits just to go to Yad Vashem) learned an unusual lesson of the Holocaust: A society that places the Holocaust at the center of its historical narrative — that stops traffic for two minutes each year on the national holiday known as Yom Ha’Shoah — could also raise up a generation of little fascists goose-stepping into the future full of irrational hatred.

“In Palestinian culture, older women are most honored and they could not believe their ears,” said Sami Abu Awwad, a Palestinian coordinator of the tour. “We never talk like this to older women. The Palestinians, who were all grandmothers, were very shocked and offended.”

The report on this outburst of Jewish Israeli racism comes from the Israeli news website Walla! For some reason, I could not find reporting on it anywhere in English.

Perhaps the story was lost in the flood of reports about the anti-Arab racism that poured through the streets of Israel this week. Besides the publication of a series of rabbinical letters forbidding renting to Arabs and condemning relationships between Jews and Arabs, a school principal in Jaffa prohibited Palestinian-Israeli students from speaking Arabic to one another. In Bat Yam, a mostly Russian suburb just south of Jaffa, Jewish residents demonstrated against the presence their Arab neighbors. “Any Jewish woman who goes with an Arab should be killed; any Jew who sells his home to an Arab should be killed,” one protester reportedly shouted. And in Tel Aviv, locals rallied for the expulsion of foreign workers.

The Jerusalem Post reported:

On Saturday, three teenage girls born to African migrant parents were attacked and severely beaten by a mob of teenagers while walking to their homes in the Hatikva neighborhood.

That same night, someone tried to torch an apartment in Ashdod housing seven Sudanese citizens. The assailants set a blazing tire outside the front door of the apartment, and five of the seven residents were lightly hurt by smoke inhalation before they managed to break the burglar bars and flee through a window.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, a gang of Jewish youths was arrested after staging several random attacks on young Palestinian men with weapons including tear gas, which would be hard to acquire from anywhere except the army. Ynet reported:

The gang of teens was allegedly headed by a 14-year-old boy, and used a girl their age to seduce Arab youths.

The girl would then lead the young men to a meeting point in the city’s Independence Park, where they were allegedly brutally attacked by the teens with stones, glass bottles and tear gas. Police suspect the girl took part in three of the assaults.

Daniel Bar-Tal, a renowned Israeli political psychologist who has conducted some of the most comprehensive surveys of Israeli attitudes since Operation Cast Lead, found that the racist, authoritarian trends that are increasingly pronounced in Israeli society are products of a “psycho-social infrastructure” dedicated to promoting “a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians and insensitivity to their suffering.”

This infrastructure is comprised of institutions like the Zionist education system, the Israeli Defense Forces, and even Yad Vashem, which explicitly links the Palestinian national struggle to Nazism.

Indeed, the only image of a Palestinian in all of Yad Vashem (at least that I am aware of) is of the Grand Mufti Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, who was forced by the British to flee to Germany, where he became a (not very successful) Nazi collaborator. In recent years, the Mufti has become a key fixture of Israeli propaganda efforts against the Palestinians. As such, a photo is featured prominently on a wall in Yad Vashem depicting him sig heiling a group of Nazi troops. However, there is no mention anywhere in Yad Vashem of the 9000 Palestinian Arabs the British recruited to fight the Nazis, or of the 233,000 North African volunteers who fought and died while battling the Nazis in the French Liberation Army (and whose heroic efforts were dramatized in the excellent film, “Days of Glory”).

According to Peter Novick, the author of “The Holocaust in American Life,” though the Mufti played no significant part in the Holocaust, he plays a “starring role” in Yad Vashem’s Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. “The article on the Mufti is more than twice as long as the articles on Goebbels and Goring, longer than the articles on Himmler and Heydrich combined, longer than the article on Eichmann — of all the biographical articles, it is exceeded in length, but only slightly, by the entry for Hitler.” [Novick, p. 158]

Not only has Yad Vashem attempted through propagandistic means to link the Palestinian struggle to Nazism, it has promoted an exclusivist view of the Holocaust. In April 2009, Yad Vashem fired a docent, Itamar Shapira, because he had discussed the massacre of Palestinians in Deir Yassin with a group of students from the settlement of Efrat. “All I was trying to say is that there were people who lived here before the Holocaust survivors arrived, that they suffered a terrible trauma too, and that we shouldn’t hide the facts,” Shapira told me a month after his firing. “Yad Vashem carefully selected what facts it wanted to present, but deliberately avoided things like Deir Yassin, even though its ruins were just a thousand meters from the museum.”

Iris Rosenberg, a Yad Vashem administrator who was involved in Shapira’s firing, said of the verbal assault against Palestinian women at the museum this week: “Despite the regrettable incident at the entrance to the museum, the team’s visit to the Holocaust History Museum was conducted in a dignified manner which was significant and important.”

Tamara Rabinovitch, the Israeli leader of the Bereaved Families tour, told Walla! that her Palestinian counterparts “were very excited by the visit. Some of them approached me and told me they heard details of the Holocaust but did not know how painful it was. In two weeks we plan to visit an abandoned Arab village so that the Palestinian narrative is represented.”

This post originally appeared on Max Blumenthal's website.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 in review: In haiku

2010: The Year In Review – In HAIKU
--r. cong

have any good haikus? send them in for posting

A bright shining lie
the audacity of hope
you tired of it yet?

Read the New York Times
all the news print that will fit
high class low rent drivel

Jerry Nadler's game
zion's liberal boot lick
rancid tub of lard

A soft summer day
green grass blue sky puffy clouds
unmanned drone kills kids

Jobless rate goes up
wall street bonuses up too
it is raining shit

Good ethnic cleansing:
Mexican immigrants chase
red necks from Arizona

worst math scores ever
USA is number one
we are special, right?

Mavi Marmara
braver than Israel's death squads
nine heroes, free Gaza

don't ask don't tell gone
gays now can commit war crimes
the world rejoices

FBI brings terror
with phony entrapment schemes
adios free speech

The Tragedy of the Two-State Solution

I can't believe I'm actually posting something from the Washingtion Times (of Moonie ownership). But this is really good and would never be in the NYT.

TIBI: The tragedy of a two-state solution
Settling for a single nation may soon prove the only road to peace
By Ahmad Tibi
-The Washington Times
6:55 p.m., Monday, December 27, 20

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is toying with the Obama administration, professing an interest in peace while doing his utmost to stymie a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is no way for Israel to treat its leading ally. Nearly two years into office, Mr. Netanyahu is running circles around President Obama and encircling Jerusalem with still more illegal settlements.
Palestinians are rapidly abandoning hope for a viable and independent state. Mr. Netanyahu's requirements are calculated to be impossible for Palestinian leaders to accept. The Israeli prime minister is always prepared to put in place another demand - such as the self-effacing requirement that the Palestine Liberation Organization recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Meanwhile, he uses delay to further colonize the West Bank and East Jerusalem, disregarding international concerns, the 2003 road map and the feeble requests of his American ally.
But American and Palestinian leaders have seen this game previously from Mr. Netanyahu. This time, they ought to call him on his antics. Instead, the U.S. seems prepared to make the same mistakes as President Clinton - with Dennis B. Ross playing the same central role as "Israel's lawyer" - and Palestinians in the occupied territories are terrified that if they don't play along with the charade they'll be unfairly blamed again for ruining negotiations (going nowhere).
But time is not on Israel's side. The two-state solution is the optimal solution proposed by the international community for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet each passing day of occupation and deepening settlement activity on the land intended for a Palestinian state makes it more difficult to implement the two-state vision. Instead, another possibility is emerging: one state adhering to the democratic principle of one person, one vote for all citizens between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel should decide either to end the occupation and accept an independent Palestinian state on the land it occupied in 1967 or face a movement backing one democratic state for all.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton implicitly acknowledged the emerging possibility of one state earlier this month at the Brookings Institution. "The long-term trends that result from the occupation are endangering the Zionist vision of a Jewish and democratic state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Israelis should not have to choose between preserving both elements of their dream. But that day is approaching."
Of course that day is approaching, and of course Israel will have to choose between limiting its territory and apartheid. But the matter is more difficult than Mrs. Clinton suggests because we Palestinian citizens of Israel - living in our historic homeland - will not accept a Jewish state that limits our rights. A democratic state, yes, but a Jewish state that is by definition discriminatory, no.
Democratically elected by half the population and led by politicians, many of whom are immigrants whose leading credential for office is that they are Jewish, the Israeli government does not represent a huge segment of the state. The 20 percent of Israelis who are Palestinians increasingly face racist legislation, while the millions of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation do so without equal rights, citizenship or the ability to choose those who make the decisions that ultimately control their lives.
For Palestinians and Israelis alike, it is time to change direction and stop focusing on extending a moribund and mislabeled 19-year-old "peace process" while Israel is relentlessly colonizing the land of the second state. Support for fundamental principles such as civil rights, equality and tolerance of all religions is the key to progress, not enormous American gift packages rewarding Israel for decades of law-breaking. So long as Israel advances laws that promote segregation - and at a record pace under Mr. Netanyahu's coalition government - it should be clear to American negotiators that the prime minister is not serious about peace.
Instead, American leaders must exert concerted pressure on Israel to embrace equality and be prepared to call out Israeli political leaders who thwart such sensible ideals.
This new path forward is one that shifts the dialogue away from unachievable negotiated solutions and focuses on reforming civil society - the revolutionary change of legalizing equality and civil rights. Nonviolent revolutions transformed the American South and apartheid South Africa and can do the same for Israelis and Palestinians.

Civil society reform - or a virtual revolution in the standing and rights of Palestinians - would mean ending the near-impunity for Israeli soldiers who use young Palestinian children as human shields because they see them as lesser beings, punishing landlords and the rabbis egging them on for discrimination in refusing to rent to Palestinians and ending practices denying building permits to Palestinians while accelerating those to Jews. In short, we are calling for equality. Israel should be defined as a state of all its nationalities instead of as a "Jewish state."
The Obama administration could help by changing its role from enabler and funder of Israeli segregation within the 1948 borders and Israeli apartheid in the occupied territories of 1967 to one of helping strengthen civil society by clearly backing a non-racial society based on equality and freedom. If not, our situation could still be transformed if European governments suddenly were seized by concern for the oppressed Palestinian minority in Israel and insisted on basic rights for Palestinians that have been suppressed for decades by Israel.
Efforts are shifting in this direction as the international community is beginning to question Israel's segregationist and apartheid policies. BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) gains momentum each day with the recognition that the "peace process" has been replaced by a discriminatory Israeli government intent on further expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Only by providing equal rights and freedom to all of its citizens and to all those under its rule will Israelis find long-sought security, peace and strength. When we invest in all our people - and not segregationist settlement housing and ever more arms - we will be on the right path forward rather than the current dangerous one that overlooks basic investments such as firefighting and thereby imperils Jews and Palestinians alike.
Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton should get on this path of equal rights and freedom, one that has worked wonders for the United States and South Africa, instead of investing more fruitless hours trying to protect an exclusivist state still determined to secure superior rights for Jews and inferior rights for Palestinians.
Ahmad Tibi is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and deputy speaker of the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Shamelessly Pirated from Phil Weiss' Blog

This is a good summary of the US doctrine of global hegemony & why mainstream media and liberal critiques of the US role in the world are nonsense. One reservation I have is that the concept of "National Interest" is fiction. There is no single national interest shared by all citizens of the USA. National Interest means the interests of a handful of people who own most of the nation (and some other nations as well).
R. Cong

In a big antiwar piece, Mearsheimer dares to say ‘why they hate us’
Dec 21, 2010 08:53 pm | Philip Weiss

The reason I like Realists is that they have made the most forceful, full-throated arguments against war. Period. I know, some lefties have done so too. But liberal interventionism and Israel lobbyism have traction even inside the Democratic center-left, and this has spavined the antiwar effort. Liberals have done nothing to make neoconservatism a dirty word, they seem far more concerned about Tea Partiers. Here is John Mearsheimer at the National Interest:

The results [of neoconservative worldview] have been disastrous. The United States has been at war for a startling two out of every three years since 1989, and there is no end in sight. As anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of world events knows, countries that continuously fight wars invariably build powerful national-security bureaucracies that undermine civil liberties and make it difficult to hold leaders accountable for their behavior; and they invariably end up adopting ruthless policies normally associated with brutal dictators. The Founding Fathers understood this problem, as is clear from James Madison’s observation that “no nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Washington’s pursuit of policies like assassination, rendition and torture over the past decade, not to mention the weakening of the rule of law at home, shows that their fears were justified.

To make matters worse, the United States is now engaged in protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that have so far cost well over a trillion dollars and resulted in around forty-seven thousand American casualties. The pain and suffering inflicted on Iraq has been enormous. Since the war began in March 2003, more than one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed, roughly 2 million Iraqis have left the country and 1.7 million more have been internally displaced. Moreover, the American military is not going to win either one of these conflicts, despite all the phony talk about how the “surge” has worked in Iraq and how a similar strategy can produce another miracle in Afghanistan. We may well be stuck in both quagmires for years to come, in fruitless pursuit of victory

The title of Mearsheimer's long essay is "Imperial by Design." And here's the design. Notice that leftwingers can sign on to Mearsheimer's anti-imperial thrust:

The root cause of America’s troubles is that it adopted a flawed grand strategy after the Cold War. From the Clinton administration on, the United States rejected all these other avenues, instead pursuing global dominance, or what might alternatively be called global hegemony, which was not just doomed to fail, but likely to backfire in dangerous ways if it relied too heavily on military force to achieve its ambitious agenda.

Again, some political values I share-- Mearsheimer dismisses the fear that underlies the GWOT:

Finally, the ability of terrorists to strike the American homeland has been blown out of all proportion. In the nine years since 9/11, government officials and terrorist experts have issued countless warnings that another major attack on American soil is probable—even imminent. But this is simply not the case. The only attempts we have seen are a few failed solo attacks by individuals with links to al-Qaeda like the “shoe bomber,” who attempted to blow up an American Airlines flight from Paris to Miami in December 2001, and the “underwear bomber,” who tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in December 2009. So, we do have a terrorism problem, but it is hardly an existential threat. In fact, it is a minor threat.

Midway through the piece, here comes my big enchilada. Again, how many Democratic congressmen say any of this?

TO DEAL effectively with terrorism, it is imperative to understand what motivates al-Qaeda to target the United States in the first place. One also wants to know why large numbers of people in the Arab and Muslim world are so angry with America that they support, or at least sympathize with, these types of terrorist groups. Simply put, why do they hate us?

And this clarity about chickens coming home to roost-- which Chris Hedges has praised in Jeremiah Wright. Two more lefties.

Anger and hatred toward the United States among Arabs and Muslims is largely driven by Washington’s policies, not by any deep-seated antipathy toward the West. The policies that have generated the most anti-Americanism include Washington’s support for Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians; the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 Gulf War; U.S. support for repressive regimes in countries like Egypt; American sanctions on Baghdad after the First Gulf War, which are estimated to have caused the deaths of about five hundred thousand Iraqi civilians; and the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Not surprisingly, President Bush and his advisers rejected this explanation of 9/11, because accepting it would effectively have been an admission that the United States bore considerable responsibility for the events of that tragic day. We would be acknowledging that it was our Middle East policies that were at the heart of it all.

Mearsheimer says that Obama has followed the Clinton path of liberal interventionism and is failing to see the virtues of-- his Realist Rx--offshore-balancing. Staying out of most foreign issues, concentrating on the American interest in the Gulf, Europe, and northeast Asia.

Next is to address the other causes, like Washington’s unyielding support for Israel’s policies in the occupied territories. Indeed, Bill Clinton recently speculated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is responsible for about half of the terrorism we face. Of course, this is why the Obama administration says it wants to achieve a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. But given the lack of progress in solving that problem, and the fact that it is going to take at least a few years to get all of the American troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq, we will be dealing with al-Qaeda for the foreseeable future....

Yes I know a lot of my leftwing friends don't like Realists, don't like talk of national interest, but how can you argue with this analysis of civil liberties and human rights?

Perhaps most importantly, moving toward a strategy of offshore balancing would help us tame our fearsome national-security state, which has grown alarmingly powerful since 9/11. Core civil liberties are now under threat on the home front and the United States routinely engages in unlawful behavior abroad.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Don't ask, don't tell abolished in the military, what about the other Don't ask, Don't tell?

R. Congress

The anti-gay "don't ask don't tell" policy in the U.S. military has been abolished leading to no restrictions against gays serving openly in the armed forces. Any extension of basic democratic and human rights in U.S. society is in general a good thing. No one should be forced to deny what he or she is in order to have a job or function legally in an organization or society.

Gender and sexual orientation discrimination needs to be outlawed the same as policies against black, latinos and women have been over the last decades (once discrimination is no longer legal it doesn't mean everything is suddenly great, real enforcement has to be struggled for).

But when it comes to the U.S. military I think there's some room for skepticism, or limits to any victory celebration.

There's another "Don't ask, don't tell" policy still in effect.

This is the one where the U.S. government doesn't ask the people of a given country, say, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen (or Vietnam, Grenada, Panama...etc) if they want to be invaded, bombed, killed, have their infrastructure destroyed, have the U.S. military govern them, or maybe use puppets that they choose, and when things settle down, have their natural resources and labor crudely exploited by U.S. corporations.

The "don't tell" part is when the U.S. and the servile "news" media don't tell the truth about why we invade, blockade, randomly bomb and loot other countries.

The claim is always that the military is responding to threat of terrorism and protecting national security. The reality is the U.S.A. is a predatory, imperialist empire that increasingly relies on massive violence and the establishment of military bases and military assets (as in Israel) around the world.

Is it really a great thing that gays can now fully participate in U.S. military campaigns of slaughter and domination of underdeveloped countries? Is it a good thing that anyone joins and or supports our imperial military?

I don't think all U.S. soldiers are heroes as portrayed by media and government propaganda. They are mostly cannon fodder whose lives are being cynically thrown away for the greater glory of the petrochemical, arms, financial industries and other parts of corporate America. Some others, as was super-schmuck John McCain, are consciously (and some unconsciously) racist and xenophobic.

A gay or lesbian soldier, the same as a black, latino, female, or ordinary white guy...all of them, as fellow citizens, should think about the institution of the U.S. military and how it's used around the world...all soldiers would be better off if the U.S. was no longer the imperial dominator of the world.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Powerful Interview with Israeli Historian Israel Shahak in 1994 is even more compelling today

It's well worth watching this video to gain insights into how history has been falsified to support the Zionist mythology of the past 3,000 years.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

FBI carries out Obama's plan to criminalize opposition to Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestinians

"Boy! Aren't we luck that Obama was elected! If the Republicans got in they would attack free speech and legal protest activities..."

Maybe Eric Holder is a secret agent working for the RNC and Obama can't stop him? Maybe the Mossad said they'd kill his dog if he didn't let the FBI loose on pro-Palestinian activists? Yeah! That it!

But wait! Maybe Obama & the Democrats in power aren't on our side? Maybe they are in bed with big money and want to protect the American Imperial Empire and don't care about free speech? Nah! That conclusion would be "out of the mainstream." --rc

check out this web site and see how you can help

* Reports

Tom Burke of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression

The first national meeting of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) was a great success. There was standing room only in the hall, with over 150 anti-war and international solidarity organizers. Here are the important points, followed by notes for people who are working to build the movement against FBI repression and Grand Jury intimidation. A. We are asking people to prepare to take action upon the coming re-activation of three subpoenas in Minneapolis. We are calling for emergency protests. Please see section 6.b. of the notes.

B. Join the nationwide Committee to Stop FBI Repression—we will be meeting on phone conferences every two weeks or as needed. We also want to encourage you to form a committee in your city or on your campus.

C. Continue with education and fund raising events. Please host one of the 14 subpoenaed activists to speak in your city at events. There is a new CSFR office in Minneapolis and a speakers’ bureau.

D. Please turn some efforts towards fund raising. When indictments are handed down, the legal costs will rise quickly. Please make checks to the CSFR at:

Committee to Stop FBI Repression
PO Box 14183
Minneapolis, MN 55414

For larger tax deductable donations going to the legal defense fund, please make them out to the “National Lawyers’ Guild” and write CSFR in the message line.

On behalf of the CSFR, Tom Burke, 773-844-3612
1. Introductions
a. Supporters were thanked for spectacular response and organizing in response to the FBI raids and 14 subpoenas.

b. Three key demands were reviewed: End the repression of anti-war and international solidarity activists, return all materials seized in the raids, and call off the Grand Jury

c. Meeting conduct: refrain from side conversations, keep comments brief, photograph front of the room only

2. FBI raids and grand jury repression
a. Jess Sundin, founding member of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee recounted the raid of her family's home, what was taken, and how the Anti-War Committee's office was raided as well. Eventually it was learned that 70 federal agents around the country were involved in the raids and subpoenas against the Midwest activists and the intimidation visits and phone calls across the country

b. Hatem Abudayyeh described the impact of the raids on families. He emphasized that while he was the only Palestinian and Arab-American target of the raids and subpoenas, he's not the first Arab-American or Palestinian visited or raided in the US. There have been systematic attacks on Palestine solidarity work in the US since the immigration from Palestine following the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but the attacks have been worse since 11 September 2001. He reminded the meeting of the case of the LA 8 -- seven Palestinians and a Kenyan immigrant faced deportation proceedings because they distributed written materials in support of Palestine liberation. It took twenty years to drop the case. The only crime was that they were Palestinians or supporters and they said that US policy is the main issue in regards to the Israeli repression of Palestinians. Hatem also mentioned how organizations such as Global Relief and the Holy Land Foundation have been shut down since 11 September. The Holy Land 5 were indicted and convicted for material support because of their humanitarian work. Muhammad Salah was acquitted of all RICO (conspiracy) charges and convicted only on an obstruction of justice charge. Salah's co-defendant Dr. Abdelhaleem al-Ashqar was sentenced to 11 years in prison because he refused to testify before a Grand Jury. Hatem said that the government is trying to criminalize our movement's work -- the work of everybody in the meeting room -- to support legitimate struggles for freedom across the world.

c. Attorney Bruce Nestor of the National Lawyers Guild explained that the NLG sees the material support laws that are the basis of the investigation against the 14 anti-war activists as an attempt to repress US activists' involvement and solidarity with liberation struggles. Bruce described the national coordination and high number of the raids as a development of the material support laws enacted since 1996, which were a bipartisan package signed by a Democrat President. These laws were broadened by the Patriot act under Bush, another bipartisan pact. The material support laws prohibit providing any resources to groups unilaterally declared a terrorist organization by the Secretary of State, a designation virtually impossible to challenge. Bruce explained that the Supreme Court decision this summer on Holder vs. Humanitarian was a test case in which the court said that providing any service to a group designated as a terrorist organization, including training on nonviolent methods of conflict resolution, frees up resources that could be spent by the organization on violent activity. The court carved out the disclaimer that international solidarity work cannot be "coordinated" with the views of the group designated a terrorist organization.

Regarding the Grand Jury proceedings, Bruce explained that the probable cause of investigation is international travel. Bruce explained that the U.S. government justifies the investigation by taking a first amendment activity such as travel and/or meeting with different groups, and then use it to prove intent in the criminal prosecution. He explained that the government has issued a strict ruling to the lower courts not to question the government's determination of what constitutes "probable cause" -- the language of the ruling is that "respect for government's opinion is appropriate." Bruce also explained that there is no effective legal restraint on the government to go after international solidarity work and the ONLY effective restraint is political restraint. He said that the raids and subpoenas are a test case for the government and warned that US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who is overseeing this investigation, asked for a longer sentence for Dr. Ashqar than the 11.5 year sentence he received.

Word is that the subpoenas for three of the activists in Minnesota are being reactivated. When we know the dates for the Grand Jury appearances, the CSFR will be calling for protests demanding an end to the Grand Jury witch hunt!

d. Comments and questions

i. One person asked about contact with elected officials and what concrete actions supporters can take?

Jess responded that in Minnesota, state legislators took up a "dear colleague" letter to President Obama, which was signed on to by one third of the legislators and forwarded on to Obama. Minnesota activists have also met with staff of both senators who have been asked to initiate a dear colleague letter to Obama and call for an investigation of the FBI for overreaching and intimidating domestic political movements, and for a re-examining of the material support laws. Jess reported that Representatives Keith Ellison (MN) and Luis Gutierrez (IL) have given lukewarm commitment to circulate a dear colleague letter in the House of Representatives that calls for the Grand Jury to be shut down.

ii. Lamees Deek mentioned that there have been recent arrests in Staten Island, New York and Kentucky that are part of the wave of repression against Arabs and Muslims in the US. She stressed that there has never been a committee convened to protect Palestinians in the US and that there is an urgent need for this.

iii. Susan from the NLG in New York City asked why these 14 individuals were targeted in these cities at this time?

Mick Kelly responded that while we can't read the government's minds, all of the targeted activists have been active in supporting the struggles for liberation and freedom, including Palestinian and Colombia and all of those resisting US imperialism around the world.

Bruce Nestor responded that the FBI attacks against Somali immigrants in Minnesota means that state has the second largest FBI office and the agency needs to keep its staff busy; the second factor is that the activists in Minnesota organized the huge demonstration against the Republican National Convention.
3. Fundraising
Sara Flounders emphasized the immediacy of the situation. She said the determined response by the targeted activists, in opposing the raids and subpoenas was inspiring, and we need to stand up and that this is our movement's only protection and defense. She explained that the pushback will need to raise funds and she encouraged the meeting audience to pledge funds. Individuals and groups from across the country pledged $5,000 during the meeting.
4. Activities and organizing
a. Tom Burke explained the highlights of the political pushback so far: more than 60 cities across the US protested in the first week after the raids; another major element is the Committee To Stop FBI Repression online petition hosted by the International Action Center; 120 solidarity statements are posted on; know-your-rights and other education events have been organized by the NLG, CCR, and ACLU; there is now a speakers bureau and the targeted activists are travelling to and speaking at cities around the US; Cherrene is heading up work in the labor sector, which is growing in significance; faith organizations issued a sign-on statement against the raids with many signers. There is a Committee To Stop FBI Repression office in Minneapolis with staff, and a CSFR bank account.

Jess Sundin added that there were two national call-in days to Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder's office because while it's not clear what agency or individuals are behind the raids and investigation, Obama and Holder have the power to stop it

b. Comments from Anti-war Leaders

i. One person from Canada emphasized reaching out internationally to put further pressure on the US government

ii. Charla from SDS in California says SDS is coordinating a sign on letter for professors, starting with reaching out to big-name professors, and expanding the effort for fundraising purposes too.
5. Solidarity with similar injustices
Noor Elashi explained that on 4 December 2001, more than 80 FBI agents raided the Holy Land Foundation, which was the largest Muslim organization in the US. Bush called it "the face of Hamas in the US." Two and a half years later, Elashi's father and four others from the Foundation were arrested. US government prosecutors said that the foundation's humanitarian aid donations to the Zakat or charitable committees in occupied Palestine constituted material support. After a three-month trial, which included government tactics to intimidate jurors, the government failed to get guilty verdicts and the jury was deadlocked. However the judged convened another jury that gave guilty verdicts and decades-long sentences were issued. The case is being appealed but Attorney General Holder last week gave the second highest national honor to the prosecution team. Elashi emphasized that with these material support laws, it is possible to prosecute anybody and everybody, and everybody is at risk, including former US President Jimmy Carter. Elashi also read an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, which recounts the FBI's arrest of her father.

6. National organization and next steps

a. Mick Kelly put forth a proposal for national organization (see appendix below) to set up a national coordination committee that will be both democratic and practical. This proposal was then passed. The national coordination committee will meet via telephone conference every two weeks or as needed. A person designated by those facing the Grand Jury will take responsibility for chairing the phone meetings, developing the agenda and sending out the notices for the meeting and other relevant tasks. The Coordinating Committee can establish smaller working groups that will be accountable for the Coordinating Committee. Any organization willing to do work on this effort can designate a representative to participate in the work of the Coordinating Committee. So can local groups and coalitions that are doing work around this effort. Groups that are active in this project can have more than one representative on the call. The Coordinating Committee can make recommendations and take action in the event that a/some participants on the call are acting in an unreasonable way. A national office of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression is being set up in the Twin Cities, and it will take some of the day-to-day work of organizing resistance to the Grand Jury and other efforts decided upon by the Coordinating Committee.

b. Steff Yorek reminded the large audience that we are being told that three activists in Minnesota will be called to appear in front of the Grand Jury.

**The activists at the meeting committed to holding emergency demonstrations the day after activists are called to appear before the Grand Jury.

**The CSFR will organize another call-in day to Obama and Holder's offices.

**The third action is that cities and campuses should organize demonstrations for the dates of the Grand Jury appearances.

**Lastly, activists should create and pass resolutions against the raids and grand jury proceedings in their various organizations.

c. Sara Flounders urged activists to continue to publicize the online petition at It has generated more than 200,000 letters to politicians and public figures.

d. It was also explained that there is now a DVD with a program on Minnesota public access TV that features interviews with the targeted activists. The Minnesota DVD can be shown to classrooms or other gatherings and aired on other public access stations. Activists are also being urged to educate anyone and everyone about the raids and grand jury proceedings, and to make relevant relationships with different constituencies, putting it in the historical context of the Palmera raids, McCarthyism, and COINTELPRO. It was pointed out how these material support laws would have essentially criminalized the anti-apartheid movement and the Irish republican movement.

Report from the First National Meeting of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression
Submitted by stopfbi on Sun, 2010-11-14 00:07

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ring a bell? Was it "out" or "raus?"

Students who are Palestinian citizens of Israel (within the pre '67 borders) are victims of a campaign to deny housing to them. In the city of Safed the chief rabbi (in Israel chief rabbis are paid government functionaries) has pronounced a ruling (a fatwa?) that no Jews can rent to non-Jews. This movement is spreading around Israel and is part of the general escalation of ethnic cleansing in Israel and the occupied territories. Will the Israeli authorities do anything about it? Don't hold your breath.

Safed student says 'Arabs out!' spray-painted on his car

12 Dec - Ali Mustafa, a student who rents an apartment in the north Israeli city of Safed, awoke on Friday to find his car vandalized. He reported to the police that unidentified perpetrators smashed his side mirror, scratched the vehicle and spray-painted the words "Arabs out!" on it ... Mahmoud Abu Salah, a representative of the student union at Safed College, said that the act was an example of the racist attitude prevalent in the city ... Police have charged a few Jews for some of the acts, and claim they continue to search.,7340,L-3997561,00.html

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Introducing Doc Jazz's Muiscal Intifada


Go to Doc Jazz's website to get great articles, music and videos

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brazil's recognition of a Palestinian state isn't primarily about Palestine

R. Congress

Brazil's recognition of a Palestinian state, followed by Argentina and Ecuador is obviously about siding with the Palestinian people against Israel's ethnic cleansing and lying posturing about security. Even the unjust ceding of a sliver of land for a nominal "state" for Palestinians is too much for Israel to stomach. They never negotiated in good faith and always had as their goal a single, racially pure Jewish state in which the Palestinians have the right to get out or drop dead.

So these three Latin American states are making a public gesture in protest of this. But what's more important (I think) is that these three countries are first of all saying:

"screw you USA! Tu madre! You don't own us anymore, Yankee pendejo. You are going down hill and we are going uphill. You can't dance us around like a puppet on a string as you did in the past with the phony OAS that you controlled. We aren't going to let you pillage our natural resources and get US backed military dictatorships in return (as did Brazil and Argentina among other South American nations). Your half-baked coup attempt in Venezuela ten years ago collapsed. Your Honduran coup by proxy won't last. And you can take the Cuban vote in Florida and shove it...Cuba's still there with no prospects of the former property owners returning to power."

Latin America is looking out for its own interests first, not for those of the IMF, Wall Street or the state department. The latest public recognition of a Palestinian state is more than a gesture of disapproval of Israel and of solidarity with the Palestinians. It's a declaration of independence from yankee imperialism.

Palestine the story in a nutshell

Blogspot censorship

The title I entered for this post was originally: "The whole story in a nutshell Palestine and Zionist expansionism."

A red line appeared over the title I had typed in and a message said: "these characters not permitted in a title post."

This is the first time anything I've posted was censored. What's with Blogspot?? Has AIPAC or the FBI or the State Department gotten on your case?

free speech means free speech... except when the true nature of Isarel's USA enabled criminal acts are revealed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Defend democratic right against FBI dirty tricks

The Violation of Human Rights: The “War on Terror” Continues at Home and Abroad
A Forum and Discussion
Friday, December 10 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Judson Memorial Church Assembly Hall
239 Thompson Street at Washington Square South

A, B, C, D, E, F, M train to W.4 St.; #1 to Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.; PATH to 9th St.; N, R to 8 St.-NYU; #6 to Astor Pl.; buses via Houston St., 6th Av., Broadway, 8th St., 9th St.

Join the NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia on Friday, December 10th, for an eye-opening panel presentation and open discussion about how fear and anti-Muslim bigotry is mobilized to enable political prosecution, entrapment, targeted assassinations, indefinite and abusive detentions, and unjust occupations of Muslim & Arab countries, while at home we face the rise in Islamophobia. Hear speakers who will present different perspectives, from attorneys to activists.

Pardiss Kebriaei, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, is challenging the Obama administration’s targeted assassination order on Anwar Al-Aulaqi, an American citizen residing in Yemen, in a lawsuit filed by CCR and the ACLU. Ms. Kebriaei will discuss this case, as well as the arguments presented by the Obama administration to prevent judicial review of the case.

Lamis J. Deek, is an attorney and human rights advocate specializing in defending Arab & Muslim community members, activists and organizers against governmental attack. Lamis is a long time member of Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, the Arab Muslim American Federation, and the National Lawyers Guild. She is co-founder of the US Palestine Community Network.

Lynne Jackson, is a volunteer, president and one of the founders of Project SALAM – a group that believes hundreds of innocent Muslims were targeted, prosecuted, and convicted in the hysteria following 9/11 using the FBI’s and the Justice Dept. new paradigm of prevention. Ms. Jackson will identify tactics used in preemptive prosecution, discuss cases prosecuted in the federal courts, and their effect and excessive sentences on families; also she will discuss recent trial & conviction of the Newburgh 4.

Nima Shirazi is a political commentator from New York City. He is a contributing columnist for Foreign Policy Journal and Palestine Think Tank. His analysis of United States policy and Middle East issues, particularly with reference to current events in Iran, Israel, and Palestine, can also be found in numerous other online and print publications, as well as his website,

Sponsored by: Al-Awda NY, Project Salam, UNAC, World Can't Wait, IJAN, ISO

NY Time's Tom (always wrong) Friedman laments America's White Man's Burden*

By R. Congress

Poor US of A! crack NYT pundit Tom (always wrong) Friedman was wailing in today's Sunday Times (12/5/10) over the mess that our great value-laden republic finds itself in over that wayward, incorrigible Middle East. They will never behave! Even among our allies we have corrupt government officials pocketing our money (Afghanistan, among others), double-dealing nations that want us to solve their problems and take the heat, or who aid fundamentalist America/Israel-hating Islamic groups (the Saudis) and the Taliban (Pakistan) Well, Pakistan and Afghanistan are not really the Mid East, but why quibble?.They are supposedly helping us to fight against the groups they are aiding on the sly. For Friedman the Wikileaks revelations just underscore how Uncle Sam, that naive,affable chump, is being taken for a ride by those crafty, swarthy A-rabs

But we brought it on ourselves, Friedman complains. The U.S. is addicted to oil and thus dependent upon the Saudi rulers and other oil producing states for this vital resource. So now we have no leverage to get those Mid Easterners to change their corrupt and devious ways so we can win our multiple wars for democracy and against terrorism and once and for all straighten out those people who are giving such a hard time to... us, the USA, the leader of the fee... I mean free world... you know, the West!, with its top drawer values of honesty and democracy.

Whining, round earth leftists question poor Uncle Sam's motives and try to drag in irrelevant items like the historically verifiable, indiscriminate mass murder Washington has visited upon, say, Vietnam, Palestine (by proxy) Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. (But it's only collateral, accidental, damage -- to get one really bad guy it's necessary to wipe out six or eight other people.) Anyway, we shouldn't listen to those wet blankets. They even say that the USA is full of corruption and fuels it abroad. Don't these miscreants know that, especially since the latest ruling by the Supremes, corruption in the USA is now perfectly legal!

Not only has the USA lost its leverage in the Mid East because of its oil consumption, but it has lost leverage in the whole world because of its massive borrowing and its debt to China. When the "indispensable nation" can't throw its weight around and make those countries populated by brown and yellow people jump, then civilization as we know it is in jeopardy.

Rodney King asked "why can't we all just get along?" Tom Friedman asks, "why can't we just go green and live within our means?" I mean, really, America, just shape up! Demand electric, solar and nuclear powered cars. Stop buying Chinese imports... or something like that, maybe. But free trade shouldn't be tampered with (says Friedman in his flat-earth books).

Well, whatever the solution is, this is serious!

* referencing, of course, that literary defender of 19th Century British colonialism, Rudyard Kipling. Someone might object that now we have a non-white president of the USA. My reply is "deeds, not words...or melanin."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

yet more vingettes from "tales of the only democracy in the Mideast"

From Mondoweiss:

U.S. State Department: Israel is not a tolerant society
Nov 30, 2010 12:16 pm | Adam Horowitz

The above headline is taken right from Haaretz. Akiva Eldar wrote in 2009 about a report from the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor which found:

The report says that the 1967 law on the protection of holy places refers to all religious groups in the country, including in Jerusalem, but "the government implements regulations only for Jewish sites. Non-Jewish holy sites do not enjoy legal protection under it because the government does not recognize them as official holy sites."

At the end of 2008, for example, all of the 137 officially recognized holy sites were Jewish. Moreover, Israel issued regulations for the identification, preservation and guarding of Jewish sites only. Many Christian and Muslim sites are said to be neglected, inaccessible or at risk of exploitation by real estate entrepreneurs and local authorities.

The report makes it clear that practices that have become routine in Israel are considered unacceptable in enlightened countries and should be corrected.

You can read the most recent State Department report here; it shows that many of these issues remain the same. To understand how and why this level of inequality continues it is useful to look at the Israel Democracy Institute's new Israeli Democracy Index for 2010 which was released today. It offers some very interesting data that sheds light on current Israeli (especially Jewish Israeli) views on democracy and the Jewish state. Here is a sampling of its findings:

86% of the Jewish public (76% of the total population) thinks that critical decisions for the state should be made by the Jewish majority.

53% of the Jewish public also believe that the State is entitled to encourage the emigration of Arabs.

81% of the population agrees with the assertion that “democracy is not a perfect regime, but it is better than any other form of government.” However, 55% of the public believes that Israel should put observing the law and public order before the ideals of democracy. Of the Jewish respondents, 60% of those on the political right supported this idea compared with 50% of those in the center and 49% of those on the left.

43% of the general population feels that it is equally important for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic country, while 31% regards the Jewish component as being more important, and only 20% defines the democratic element as being more important.

51% of the general public approves of equality of rights between Jews and Arabs. The more Orthodox the group, the greater the opposition to equal rights between Jews and Arabs: only 33.5% of secular Jews oppose this, compared with 51% of traditional Jews, 65% of Orthodox Jews and 72% of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

67% of the Jewish public believe that close relatives of Arabs should not be permitted to enter Israel under of the rubric of family unification.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of Jews believe that as long as Israel is in conflict with the Palestinians, the views of Arab citizens of Israel on foreign policy and security matters should not be taken into consideration.

55% of the general public thinks that more resources should be allocated to Jewish municipalities than to Arab municipalities, while a 42% minority disagrees with this statement.

Within the Jewish public, 71% of right-wing supporters agree that more resources should be allocated to Jewish municipalities than to Arab municipalities, as compared to 46% of centrists and 38% of leftists. When segmented by degree of religious observance, 51% of ultra-Orthodox Jews agree with the statement, while 45% of Orthodox Jews, 28% of traditional Jews, and 18% of secular Jews agree with it.

46% of the Jewish public admitted to being most bothered by Arabs, followed equally by people with cognitive disabilities living in the community. 39% were bothered by foreign workers, 25% would be bothered by same-sex couples, 23% by ultra-Orthodox Jews, 17% by Ethiopian immigrants, 10% by non-Sabbath observers, and 8% by immigrants from the Former Soviet Union.

The Arab public is less tolerant than Jews of neighbors who are “Other.” 70% thought the least desirable neighbors would be same-sex couples and 67% were opposed to having ultra-Orthodox Jews as neighbors, followed closely by 65% who would be opposed to former settlers. 48% answered that the most “tolerable” neighbors would be foreign workers.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

How much Lamer must a Lame Duck limp if a Lame Duck is as Lame a Duck as the Lame, Lame Duck Arlen Spector?

R. Congress

The U.S. Senate is lame enough without it's regular lame duck session. Now we are treated to new lameness from this "greatest deliberative body." The soon-to-be-gone pompous nobody from Pennsylvania, Arlen Spector, has proposed a bill that would give federal protection to Jewish student on college campuses from being "harassed."

Why is this needed? Because Jews are under attack at our universities!! How? By the existence of Palestinian students on those same campuses who have the audacity to actually be there and to even criticize the policies of Israel and the U.S. towards the Palestinians.

Since pro-Zionist and pro-ethnic cleansing Jewish student organizations don't seem to be able to tolerate any political criticism of Israel, then Arlen Spector will come to the rescue to criminalize speech and normal, legal activism on the part of Palestinian student and their allies.

How pathetic and lame can you get? I have a feeling it can and will get much lamer as more and more people see through the lies and phony arguments used to justify the unjustifiable.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

more tales from "the only democracy in the mideast"

By Tammy Obeidallah

Ever since becoming an activist on behalf of Palestine some ten years ago, I have found ironic humor in the label, 'The Middle East’s Only Democracy' used by American policymakers and media in describing the Jewish State. This statement is erroneous on two counts. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of a democracy knows that Israelis overwhelmingly shun the values associated with such a system; furthermore quite a few countries in the Middle East hold elections regularly. Most recently, Jordan elected a new parliament.

Of course there are those who argue that a democracy simply means “majority rule,” or that government leaders are elected, so technically Israel would qualify. “Democracy” is defined by, “government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.” So in the purely political sense, as Israeli leaders are elected, they have democracy. However, the fifth definition of democracy reads “the principles of social equality and respect for the individual within a community,” a concept diametrically opposed to Israel’s inherently racist establishment.

Not only is Israel content merely to expand settlements on stolen land and deny Arab citizens the basic rights of religious freedom, education, health care and mobility, any form of dissent is quashed. Arab Israeli Knesset member Haneen Zoabi was stripped of her parliamentary privileges for participating in the Gaza freedom flotilla. In addition to receiving numerous death threats, Zoabi was recently shot in the back and neck with rubber bullets during a protest against a march by militant settlers in the town of Umm al-Fahm. Under Zionism, there is no such thing as freedom of assembly or free speech.

Take for instance a recent haiku contest on Facebook sponsored by El Al Airlines. Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry requiring three non-rhyming lines: the first and third line consisting of five syllables, the second line containing seven. I swallowed my pride and became a fan of the page; the possible temporary damage to my reputation seemed well worth it when considering the unwitting audience I would have. However, shortly after I began posting the haiku, a chorus of “she has to be banned” ensued.

I found out that indeed, I had been blocked from posting comments on the site after an hour or so. The El Al fan page administrator deleted all my haiku. I should not have been surprised.

This is the modus operandi of the Zionist machine. Dissent is not tolerated and must be completely obliterated, as in the case of Congressmen and women who dare try and stand up to it: Paul Findley (re-districted out), Cynthia McKinney (trumped up charge assaulting a guard who was harassing her; victim of a smear campaign and voted out), Dennis Kucinich (marginalized and belittled), Jim Traficant (jailed). Prominent figures in the media are silenced, most recently the legendary Helen Thomas and Rick Sanchez, formerly of CNN. Numerous Israeli youth sit in jails for refusing to military duty in the West Bank. The most sinister, however is the way activists Rachel Corrie, Tom Hurndall, Furkan Dogan and 8 other flotilla participants were silenced, along with the untold thousands of Palestinians who have been murdered since 1948 for the “crime” of resisting occupation or while merely trying to live out their daily lives in their homeland.

Yet the legacies of these brave individuals continue, and to honor them, I put forth the haiku again in a place where the hasbara machine cannot penetrate.

Ignorant tourists
Celebrate sixty-plus years
Of ethnic cleansing.

Bustling Tel Aviv
Welcoming occupiers
Atop Lydda's graves.

Stealing Holy Land
As amid scorched olive trees
More settlements rise.

Arrogant squatters
Frolic on stolen beaches
Kids in Gaza die.

El Al transporting
Still more and more invaders
to dear Palestine.

Flight attendants' thobes
Food service is falafel
Theft of a culture.

Big jet engines scream
Not unlike those that have rained
Hell upon Gaza.

And then there was my daughter’s contribution:
El Al carrying
"Israeli" stowaways to
Steal from Palestine

El Al's jet engines
Cannot drown out the screams of
White phosphorus wounds.

Airline of the blind
You see touristy mudbaths
Not Gaza's bloodbath.

- Tammy Obeidallah contributed this article to

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Obama's Injustice Department's war on free speech


U.S. Justice Department prepares for the ominous expansion of law prohibiting ‘material support’ for terrorism
Nov 10, 2010 07:07 pm | Michael Deutsch

In late September the FBI carried out a series of raids of homes and anti-war offices of public activists in Minneapolis and Chicago. Following the raids the Obama Justice Department subpoenaed 14 activists to a grand jury in Chicago and also subpoenaed the files of several anti-war and community organizations. In carrying out these repressive actions, the Justice department was taking its lead from the Supreme Court’s 6-3 opinion last June in Holder v. the Humanitarian Law Project which decided that non-violent First Amendment speech and advocacy “coordinated with” or “under the direction of” a foreign group listed by the Secretary of State as “terrorist” was a crime.

The search warrants and grand jury subpoenas make it quite clear that the federal prosecutors are intent on accusing public non-violent political organizers, many affiliated with Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO), of providing “material support,” through their public advocacy, for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Secretary of State has determined that both the PLFP and the FARC “threaten US national security, foreign policy or economic interests,” a finding not reviewable by the Courts, and listed both groups as foreign terrorist organizations (FTO).

In 1996, Congress made it a crime then punishable by 10 years, later increased to 15 years, to anyone in the U.S. who provides “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization or attempts or conspires to do so.” The present statute defines “material support or resources” as:

any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or financial services, lodging training, expert advice or assistance, safe houses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel and transportation except medicine or religious materials.

In the Humanitarian Law Project case, human rights workers wanted to teach members of the Kurdistan PKK, which seeks an independent Kurdish state, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which sought an independent state in Sri Lanka, how to use humanitarian and international law to peacefully resolve disputes, and to obtain relief from the United Nations and other international bodies for human rights abuses by the governments of Turkey and Sri Lanka. Both organizations were designated as FTOs by the Secretary of State in a closed hearing, in which the evidence is heard secretly.

Despite the non-violent, peacemaking goal of this speech and training, the majority of the Supreme Court nonetheless interpreted the law to make such conduct a crime. Finding a whole new exception to the First Amendment, the Court decided that any support, even if it involves non-violent efforts towards peace, is illegal under the law since it “frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends,” and also helps lend “legitimacy” to foreign terrorist groups. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Roberts, despite the lack of any evidence, further opined that the FTO, could use the human rights law to “intimidate, harass or destruct” its adversaries, and that even peace talks themselves could be used as a cover to re-arm for further attacks. Thus, the Court’s opinion criminalizes efforts by independent groups to work for peace if they in anyway cooperate or coordinate with designated FTOs.

The Court distinguishes what it refers to “independent advocacy” which it finds is not prohibited by the statute, from “advocacy performed in coordination with, or at the direction of, a foreign terrorist organization, which is for the first time found to be a crime under the statute. The exact line as to where independent advocacy becomes impermissible coordination is left open and vague.

Seizing on this overbroad definition of “material support,” the U.S. government is now moving on political groups and activists who are clearly exercising fundamental First Amendment rights in vocally opposing the government’s branding of foreign liberation movements as terrorist and support their struggles against U.S. backed repressive regimes and illegal occupations.

Under the new definition of “material support,” the efforts of President Jimmy Carter to monitor the elections in Lebanon and coordinate with the political parties there including the designated FTO, Hezbollah, could well be prosecuted as a crime. Similarly, the publication of op-ed articles by FTO spokesmen from Hamas or other designated groups by the New York Times or Washington Post, or the filing by human rights attorneys of amicus briefs arguing against a group’s terrorist designation or the statute itself could also now be prosecuted. Of course, the first targets of this draconian expansion of the material support law will not be a former president or the establishment media, but members of a Marxist organization and vocal opponents of the governments of Israel and Colombia and the U.S. policies supporting these repressive governments.

President Obama in his foreword to the recent autobiography of Nelson Mandela, Conversations with Myself, wrote that “Mandela’s sacrifice was so great that it called upon people everywhere to do what they could on behalf of human progress. [and] . . . [t]he the first time I became politically active was during my college years, when I joined a campaign on behalf of divestment, and the effort to end apartheid in South Africa.” At the time of Mr. Obama’s First Amendment advocacy, Mr. Mandela and his organization the African National Congress (ANC) were denounced as terrorist by the U.S. government. The “material support” law, if in effect back then, would have opened Mr. Obama up to potential criminal prosecution. It is ironic, and the height of hypocrisy, that this same man who speaks with such reverence for Mr. Mandela and recalls his own support for the struggle against apartheid, now allows the Justice Department under his command to criminalize similar First Amendment advocacy against Israeli apartheid and repressive foreign governments.

To provide financial support for the legal expenses those under attack contact: tax deductible checks can be sent to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation. c/o National Lawyers Guild, 132 Nassau St. Room 922, New York, N.Y. 10038

Michael Deutsch is a lawyer with the People's Law Office in Chicago and has been representing political activists and victims of government repression for the past 40 years.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The midterm election results got you down? Don't worry. It's not important. We were all screwed decades ago


R. Congress

Fueled by unlimited corporate money and various pockets of "tea party" nitwits, the Repubs took back the house, some senate seats and a lot of governorships and state legislatures. Now they can re-gerrymander the congressional districts for 2012 and steal votes in the presidential election, what else is new?

Is this some new rightward plunge? Is tea bag tyranny on the march? Is it a Wall Street takeover?

Nope. Wall Street and corporate America took over long ago. Elections are commodities to be bought and sold. In 2008 the financial elite bought more into Obama. This year they purchased a different product.

Its important to look at the political and economic trajectory of the USA over the last 50 years (it's possible to go back farther,but does it matter?). Year after year income inequality has grown as industry was shut down and/or went overseas and high paying working class jobs disappeared, leading to the shrinkage of union membership from a high of 35% in the 1950s to something less than 12% (and most of that in government services). Even though only 35% of the workforce was organized during the peak years of the AFL-CIO, it forced many employers to offer higher wages and benefits just to keep the unions out.

The share of taxes paid by the rich and big business has gone down. Surveys show a decline in social mobility. All in all the standard of living is lower than decades ago and is getting lower and the amount of wealth concentrated in a few hands is staggering.

What social gains that were made from the FDR great depression era and LBJ's Great Society of the 1960s have been or are being dismantled, despite the alleged bold national health care plan which greatly benefits insurance companies, and include cuts in Medicare. The new legislation that attempts to reinstate some regulation of Wall Street is half-baked and easily evaded. But it does create the illusion that Obama and the Democrats are looking out for the little guy.

there's more: The infrastructure has been allowed to collapse. Privatizations schemes which rip off the public and give no benefit for their fake "services" are promoted: For profit prisons, youth detention camps, mercenaries disguised as "security firms" operate (as we know) in Iraq, Afghanistan, in this country, and who knows where else.

Now the threat of destroying public education for all and replacing it with for profit schools (both "charter" or otherwise) is taking real form and gaining ground. Arne Duncan, Obama's Secty. of Education is part of the privatization crowd. He and Obama have chimed in on the latest sport of blaming everything on the teacher's unions.

The huge enrichment and the extreme predatory nature of the banks was enabled by both Democratic and Republican administrations. The Clinton White House enacted neo-liberal domestic financial and international trade policies. These policies are exactly the same as the Republican policies of deregulation and anything goes capitalism. And why not? Since any strong organized labor movement has been wiped out, where else can Democrats raise money but from banks and corporations? George W, son of George H W, just expanded on what Clinton had begun. They are both complicit in the 2008 crash. Obama has staffed his administration with Clintonian free market idiots and he's going to find us a way forward?

The political spectrum has moved steadily rightward. Obama, a timid centrists and pro-business politician is branded as a flaming bolshevik. Anything resembling decent pro people policies has become marginal. The chances of a progressive electoral movement getting anywhere are less than nothing.

The whole system is rigged anyway. Democracy? It's getting marginalized. Our antiquated and openly corrupt electoral system bends everything rightward. States with a population of 432 people and 10,000 cattle have the same two votes in the senate as New York or California? When Eugene V. Debs ran as the Socialist candidate fro president in 1912 he called for the abolition of the US Senate for good reason (he got 6% of the popular vote). Popular sovereignty? Fuggedaboudit! We have the electoral college and gerrymandered electoral districts.

Both parties have initiated and carried out a regular chipping away of democratic rights in terms of government spying on citizens involved in legal political activities. The war on terror has accelerated this trend so that now habeus corpus is nearly dead, anyone can be designated an enemy combatant and jailed indefinitely on secret or no evidence. Obama has had the Atty. Gen.Holder uphold Bush's illegal Guantanamo prison, renditions, and other anti-democratic policies. The FBI is starting to intimidate and threaten people engaged in peaceful protest against our multiple wars (take your pick Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, etc). These are all Obama's policies now.

Of course since the end of WW II the USA has become a militarized national security state (see Gore Vidal as well as Noam Chomsky) with military bases around the world, a thriving arms industry and an intention to police the world or die trying (or have other people die). Learn anything from Vietnam? Yes. Abolish the draft to reduce the chance of protests. Repeat Vietnam? Certainly. Let's just use more technology, psy-ops, and propaganda.

Did you notice that the wars of the USA and it's continued backing of Israeli theft of Palestinian land and ethnic cleansing was not an issue in the Midterm elections? Some of us thought Obama was supposed to be against these wars, or so he said before the 2008 elections. Oops! guess he lied.

While all of the above has been happening there have been Republicans and Democrats in the White House, the House and Senate has been run in turn by both parties. Both of them are complicit in the transfer of wealth from the majority to a handful of stupendously rich individuals, banks and corporations. Both are complicit in the USA wars of imperial dominance (and "collateral damage" ie. mass murder in Vietnam, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc etc...did I forget the invasion of Panama by Geo. H. W. Bush. they only killed a thousand or so. for what reason no one can remember). Then there are killings and oppression by proxy, Nicaraguan contras, death squads in El Salvador and Guatemala, military and economic aid to Apartheid South Africa, and Apartheid Israel. and on and on.

What's my point? For the last 50 years everything has been going to hell. The rich get richer. Everyone else gets poorer, real democracy declines, corruption is now public policy, America is the world's warmonger state and low income youth are the cannon fodder. With no jobs, many "volunteer" because of lack of options. The Democrats are just as responsible for all of this as the Republicans,

There is no choice here. Why fool yourself? If you are in sympathy with the Palestinian's fight for basic human rights, or you want us to get out of Iraq, Afghanistan, et al. If you are worried about basic democratic rights, or oppose racism, then Obama is no more your friend than man-tan Boehner from Cincinnati.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Mid East's only democracy on the march

Israeli police shoot “hated” Arab legislator in back
Protest met with rubber bullets

By Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

29 October 2010

Jonathan Cook reports on the shooting in the back of Israeli Arab MP Haneen Zoubi by Israel police who used special paramilitary forces against an Arab demonstration provoked by ultra-right-wing Jewish extremists staging a march through an Arab town in northern Israel.

Israeli police on 27 October injured two Arab legislators in violent clashes provoked by Jewish right-wing extremists staging a march through the northern Arab town of Umm al-Fahm.

Haneen Zoubi, a parliament member who has become a national hate figure in Israel and received hundreds of death threats since her participation in an aid flotilla to Gaza in the summer, was among those hurt.

Ms Zoubi reported being hit in the back and neck by rubber bullets as she fled the area when police opened fire. In an interview, she said she believed she had been specifically targeted by police snipers after they identified her.

Police denied her claims, saying they had used only tear gas and stun grenades.

Some 1,500 police were reported to have faced off with hundreds of Arab and Jewish demonstrators in the town yesterday.

Shimon Koren, the northern police commander, admitted special paramilitary forces had been used against the Arab counter-demonstration, as well as an undercover unit more usually deployed at Palestinian protests in the West Bank.

An officer disguised as an Arab demonstrator, from the so-called mistarvim unit, was among the injured, apparently after police fired a stun grenade at him by mistake.

“The police proved that they are a far more dangerous threat to me and other Arab citizens than the fascist group that came to Umm al-Fahm.”

Haneen Zoubi, Israeli Arab MP

Ms Zoubi harshly criticized the police violence. “The police proved that they are a far more dangerous threat to me and other Arab citizens than the fascist group that came to Umm al-Fahm,” she said.

The march was organized by far-right settlers allied to Kach, a movement that demands the expulsion of Palestinians from both Israel and the occupied territories. The movement was formally outlawed in 1994, but has continued to flourish openly among some settler groups.

The organizers said they were demanding the banning of the Islamic Movement, which has its headquarters in Umm al-Fahm.

The Islamic Movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has angered Israeli officials by heading a campaign in Jerusalem’s Old City to highlight what he says is an attempted Israeli takeover of the Haram al-Sharif compound that includes the al-Aqsa mosque.

He was also on the Mavi Marmara aid ship to Gaza in May, and claimed at the time that Israeli commandos had tried to assassinate him. Nine passengers were killed, some of them by close-range shots to their heads.

The sheikh is currently serving a three-month jail sentence over clashes with the Israeli security forces close to the al-Aqsa mosque.

Michael Ben Ari, a former Kach member and now an MP with the rightwing National Union party, who attended the march, said Israel must not be a “stupid democracy and let people who want to destroy us have a voice”.

Baruch Marzel, one of the march organizers, told Israel Radio: “If the Kach Party was outlawed, then the Islamic Movement deserves to be outlawed 1,000 times over.”

On hearing of Ms Zoubi’s injuries, he added: “It was worth going to Umm el-Fahm. She is our enemy.”

Afu Aghbaria, an Arab MP with the joint Jewish-Arab Communist party, was also hurt. He said he had been hit in the leg.

“... the clash had been triggered by undercover police who began thowing stones from among the demonstrators – a tactic that the unit has been caught on film...”

Arab leaders said the clash had been triggered by undercover police who began thowing stones from among the demonstrators – a tactic that the unit has been caught on film using at protests in the West Bank.

Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Higher Follow-Up Committee, the main political body for Israel’s Arab citizens, who comprise a fifth of the total population, condemned the police actions.

“Racism is no longer found only in documents or on the margins, like with Marzel, but has become a phenomenon among decision-makers and carried out on the ground. What happened today in Umm al-Fahm is a menacing escalation.”

The committee demanded a state investigation into what it called “exaggerated violence” by the police.

Police said nine Arab demonstrators had been arrested for stone-throwing.

Four police officers were reported to be lightly injured. The far-right marchers were escorted away by police, unharmed.

Ms Zoubi, a first-term MP, shot to notoriety this summer after she was among the first passengers to be released following Israel’s violent takeover of the Mavi Marmara.

Ms Zoubi contradicted the Israeli account that the nine passengers had been killed by commandos defending themselves, accusing the navy of opening fire on the ship before any commandos had boarded. She also claimed several passengers had been allowed to bleed to death.

She was provided with a body guard for several weeks after receiving a spate of deaths threats and general vilification in the parliament.

The Israeli police have been criticized in the past for lying about the strong-arm methods used to quell protests by the country’s Arab citizens.

A state commission of inquiry found in 2003 that the police had used live ammunition and rubber bullets, in violation of its own regulations, to suppress solidarity demonstrations inside Israel at the start of the second intifada.

Thirteen Arab citizens were killed and hundreds injured in a few days of clashes in 2000. Police had falsely claimed that the deaths had been caused by “friendly fire” from among the demonstrators.

A recently parliamentary report revealed that there were only 382 Muslims in Israel’s 21,000-strong national police force – or less than 2 per cent.

The establishment of the undercover mistarvim unit against the country’s Arab population caused outrage among civil rights groups when it was first revealed last year.

The far-right march in Umm al-Fahm was timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary this week of the assassination of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who founded Kach. At a commemoration service in Jerusalem on 26 October, Rabbi Yisrael Ariel told hundreds who attended that the government was allowing the Palestinians to “establish an Ishmael state in Israel”.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saturday Oct. 30 Random Chance Records/Liftoff Records CD Release GIG at the Blue Note

MIDNIGHT SHOW SAT. OCT 30 $10 AT THE BLUE NOTE (3rd Street & 6th Avenue)



with Jason Lindner, Vin Scialla, Nick Gianni, and other great NY jazz musicians

Truth in Advertising

Sunday, October 17, 2010

New developments on FBI attack on democratic rights

From duruknet

Subpoenas rescinded for antiwar activists raided by FBI
By Tom Eley

WSWS, October 14, 2010

Federal investigators have rescinded grand jury subpoenas issued to the 14 antiwar activists whose homes and offices the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided on September 24 in Minneapolis and Chicago.

Whether or not the cancellation of the subpoenas signals that the government is dropping its case is not yet clear.

All of the activists―members of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO) and various antiwar and international solidarity groups―had earlier announced publicly their decision to refuse compliance with the grand jury subpoenas, most of which were issued for hearings on October 5 and October 12. This decision potentially put them in contempt of court and subject to possible arrest.

According to the Twin Cities newspaper City Pages, the raid victims also made clear to the Justice Department, through their attorneys, that even had they attended the grand jury they would have invoked their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent.

The dropping of the current subpoenas therefore might presage the government issuing grand jury immunity to the 14. If they are assigned immunity and again subpoenaed, their responses to the grand jury cannot be used against them. However, if they again refuse to testify, they can be held in contempt of court and imprisoned for the life of the grand jury, which could be many months.

Federal grand juries are notoriously anti-democratic. In the late 1960s and 1970s, for example, the FBI’s Cointelpro operation against radical groups such as the Black Panthers relied heavily on grand jury testimony.

The victims of the FBI raids in Minneapolis and Chicago said they feared that the proceedings would be used to gather information to use against other opponents of American imperialism both in the US and in other countries.

"I was given a subpoena to testify to a grand jury today, and that subpoena explicitly states that the prosecutor wants me to testify about the meetings I had with activists in Colombia and Palestine," raid victim and Minneapolis resident Meredith Aby told a protest in Minneapolis two weeks ago. "I don't know how, in good conscience, I can betray the trust that was shared with me on those human rights delegations."

The activists do not believe that the FBI has dropped its case. "No one knows what will happen. That's sort of the problem with all this," said Thistly Parker-Hartog, who did not attend her scheduled grand jury appearance last week. "The net is definitely getting wider. We are hearing from more of our brothers and sisters around the country that they, too, are being looked at."

"It's a waiting period," said raid victim Mick Kelly. "We're all waiting to see if the other shoe drops."

The September 24 raids were carried out in police-state fashion―simultaneously, in the early morning, and without warning. At least seven houses were raided―five in Minneapolis and two in Chicago. An antiwar office in the Twin Cities was also raided. Over the course of several hours, the FBI took thousands of documents―books, newspapers, financial records, personal memorabilia―as well as cell phones and computers.

No arrests were made, but grand jury subpoenas were issued. In other states the FBI reportedly approached antiwar activists for information, including Wisconsin, Michigan, California, and North Carolina.

The raids were carried out under the auspices of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, even though the FBI quickly declared they did not believe the victims to be dangerous. It claimed instead to be searching for evidence "concerning the material support of terrorism." The claim is based on a law known as the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, passed under the Clinton administration, which essentially proscribes political speech in support of organizations the US president defines as "terrorist."

The law, which prohibits "knowingly provid[ing] material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization," even if the "support" consists only of "expert advice or assistance" for "lawful, non-violent purposes," was upheld in June by the US Supreme Court in the case Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project.

What Washington defines as "terrorism," however, has everything to do with the interests of US imperialism. In the 1980s, for example, the African National Congress (ANC) was officially labeled a terrorist operation for its struggle against apartheid in South Africa. But the Contras in Nicaragua, who murdered and tortured tens of thousands of civilians in the dirty wars of the 1980s, were "freedom fighters" that received the support of the Reagan administration.

US Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, whose charge is the Northern District of Illinois, would prosecute any grand jury investigation. Fitzgerald is famous for investigating the Valerie Plame affair, which led to the indictment and conviction of Scooter Libby, former aid to Vice President Dick Cheney. He also oversaw the prosecutions of former Illinois governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan.

The Obama administration’s aim with the raids and possible grand jury hearings is to intimidate opponents of its policies and to test the waters for more widespread suppression.

They have doubtless been encouraged by the banishment of the story from most of the news media and the indifference of liberal and ex-radical groupings.

While numerous small protests have been held on behalf of the victims of the FBI raids, the clear threat posed to democratic rights was not mentioned by a single speaker at the "One Nation" rally held October 2, which was organized and endorsed by over 400 groups, including unions, liberal organizations, antiwar groups, and organizations calling themselves "socialist." Discussion of the raids would have clashed with the event’s purpose―drumming up support for Obama and the Democrats in the upcoming elections.