Saturday, October 12, 2013

Whose Opposition? NDP's Hawkish Foreign Policy

The NDP’s Harper-like Foreign Policy

by Yves Engler - Canadian Dimension

Is the NDP the solution or part of the problem for those us who promote a Canadian foreign policy that favours ordinary people around the world?

While pushing arms control measures and oversight of Canadian mining companies, this ‘Left’ party generally backs the military and a Western pro-capitalist outlook to global affairs.

In 2011 the party supported two House of Commons votes endorsing the bombing of Libya. The party’s most recent election platform called for maintaining the highest level of military spending since World War II. In a more recent display of militarism NDP veterans affairs critic Peter Stoffer joined some veterans in criticizing an agreement between retailer Target and the Royal Canadian Legion allowing red poppies to be sold outside the company’s stores. “We agreed that outside the front doors would be ideal and obviously if the weather is inclement or they prefer they are welcome to stand inside the double doors as well,” said Target spokesperson Lisa Gibson at the end of last month.

But this wasn’t good enough for many red poppy sellers who want to set up inside. So Stoffer demanded that Target “let these veterans into their stores, set up their tables and sell the poppies” and called on the company “to allow them [red poppy sellers] to come into the store at all times.”

Remembrance Day Poppies commemorate Canadians who have died at war. Not being commemorated are the Afghans or Libyans killed by Canadians in recent years or the Iraqis killed two decades ago or the Koreans killed in the early-1950s or the Russians, South Africans, Sudanese and others killed before that. By focusing exclusively on ‘our’ side Remembrance Day poppies reinforce a sense that Canada’s cause is righteous, a sentiment often used to promote wars.

One wonders if the NDP is willing to call on Target to allow peace organizations to set up tables and sell anti-war white poppies?

The same day Stoffer criticized Target Michael, Byers, a former NDP candidate and Thomas Mulcair leadership campaigner, co-authored a National Post opinion piece titled “Putting Politics Before Soldiers.” Based on a report Byers co-authored for the Rideau Institute and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the article argued that Harper’s Conservatives are spending $2 billion to buy tanks that are no longer necessary since the US military has shifted its counterinsurgency tactics. The article glowingly cited the “Petraeus Doctrine,” which is named after General David Patraeus who was in charge of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. “The doctrine calls for soldiers to engage with and support local people so as to erode any incentive they might have to side with insurgents.”

The article said nothing about the thousands of Iraqis and Afghans killed by the US-led forces implementing the “Petraeus Doctrine.” Nor does Byers’ report call for a reduction in Canada’s high-level of military spending.

While promoting US counterinsurgency tactics and red poppy sellers, the NDP was quiet on the recent visit to Toronto by Africa’s most blood-stained leader, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. Nor have they said much about Ottawa’s support for the Egyptian military’s ongoing repression or foreign minister John Baird’s anti-Iran efforts with the Gulf Cooperation Council monarchies.

It wasn’t always this bad.

A new biography about one of the NDP’s more courageous MPs touches on the party’s tendency to support the foreign policy establishment. In a published excerpt of Svend Robinson: A Life in Politics (New Star Books, 2013), Vancouver NDP MP Libby Davies told the book’s author: “Some people are concerned that we’ll slide, especially on foreign affairs. He [Robinson] was an outstanding voice on foreign affairs when he was critic for so many years. He never shied away from things… People wanted it. They wanted a party that actually had a real, critical position on foreign affairs — that wasn’t the Time magazine version … and that’s, I fear, what we’ve come around more to now.”

Robinson was willing to aggressively and creatively challenge the foreign-policy establishment. He was a founder of the Canadian wing of Parliamentarians for East Timor and questioned Canada’s role in the 2004 overthrow of Haiti’s elected government. In a particularly principled action, Robinson responded to Israel’s effort to seal off Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat in Ramallah by trying to travel there in October 2002. This act of solidarity unleashed a media storm, prompting NDP leader Alexa McDonough to strip Robinson of his role as foreign affairs critic.

Robinson’s time as foreign critic represents a shining moment for the party’s international policy (It should be noted, however, that Robinson backed the 1999 bombing of the former Yugoslavia, only turning critical over a month after it began.). His term also highlights the tension within the party between those who support a critical approach and those basically willing to go along with the Canadian foreign policy establishment. Unfortunately, the latter group has generally determined the NDP’s international policy.

At its 1949 convention the CCF, the NDP’s predecessor, passed a resolution supporting the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Even worse, the party also expelled two elected legislators who were critical of NATO.

While officially the West’s response to an aggressive Soviet Union, NATO was in fact established to blunt the European Left and extend North American/European power in light of the de-colonization taking place in Asia and the Middle East. NATO planners feared a weakening of self-confidence among Western Europe’s elite and the widely held belief that communism was the wave of the future. External Minister Lester Pearson was fairly open about NATO’s purpose telling the House of Commons in March 1949: “The power of the communists, wherever that power flourishes, depends upon their ability to suppress and destroy the free institutions that stand against them. They pick them off one by one: the political parties, the trade unions, the churches, the schools, the universities, the trade associations, even the sporting clubs and the kindergartens. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is meant to be a declaration to the world that this kind of conquest from within will not in the future take place amongst us.” Tens of thousands of North American troops were stationed in Western Europe to deter any “conquest from within.”

The other major motivating factor for the North American elite was a desire to rule the world. For Canadian officials the North Atlantic pact justified European/North American dominance across the globe. As part of the parliamentary debate over NATO Pearson said: “There is no better way of ensuring the security of the Pacific Ocean at this particular moment than by working out, between the great democratic powers, a security arrangement the effects of which will be felt all over the world, including the Pacific area.”

In the eyes of Pearson and the US leadership NATO’s first major test took place far from the North Atlantic in Korea. After the Communists took control of China in 1949 the US tried to encircle the country. They supported Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan, built military bases in Japan, backed a right-wing dictator in Thailand and tried to establish a pro-Western state in Vietnam. The success of China’s nationalist revolution also spurred the 1950–1953 Korean War in which eight Canadian warships and 27,000 Canadian troops participated. The war left as many as four million dead.

The 1950 CCF convention endorsed Canada’s decision to join the US-led (though UN sanctioned) war in Korea. It wasn’t until huge numbers had died and China entered the war that the CCF started questioning Ottawa’s military posture.

In the early 1950s Iranians pushed to gain greater benefit from their huge oil reserves. But the British had different plans. As one of the earliest sources of Middle Eastern oil, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (British Petroleum’s predecessor) had generated immense wealth for British investors since 1915.

With Anglo-Iranian refusing to concede any of their immense profits, Iran moved to nationalize the country’s oil industry. It was a historic move that made Iran the first former colony to reclaim its oil.

Despite calling for the nationalization of numerous sectors of the Canadian economy, the leader of the CCF criticized Iran’s move. On October 22, 1951, M.J. Coldwell told the House of Commons: “What happened recently in Iran [the nationalization of oil] and is now taking place in Egypt [abrogation of a treaty that allowed British forces to occupy the Suez Canal region] is an attempt on the part of these reactionary interests to use theunderstandable desire of the great masses of the people for improvements intheir condition as an excuse to obtain control of the resources of these countries and to continue to exploit the common people in these regions.” The CCF leader then called on the federal government to “give every possible aid to the United Kingdom in the present crisis.”

Mohammad Mossadegh’s move to nationalize Iran’s oil would lead the US and UK to orchestrate his overthrow in 1953. The CCF failed (or at least it’s not recorded in the Hansard parliamentary debate) to criticize Ottawa for backing the overthrow of Iran’s first popularly elected Prime Minister.

No issue better reflects international policy tensions within the party than Israel/Zionism. Initially the CCF opposed the nationalism and imperialism associated with Zionism. In 1938, CCF leader J.S. Woodsworth, stated: “It was easy for Canadians, Americans and the British to agree to a Jewish colony, as long as it was somewhere else. Why ‘pick on the Arabs’ other than for ‘strategic’ and ‘imperialistic’ consideration.” At its 1942 convention the CCF condemned Nazi anti-Semitism but refused to endorse Zionism. “The Jewish problem can be solved only in a socialist and democratic society, which recognized no racial or class differences,” explained a party resolution.

But before Israel’s creation the CCF officially endorsed the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. In September 1945 new CCF leader M. J. Coldwell said the Zionist record in Palestine “in terms of both social and economic justice” spoke for itself. Three decades later, in 1975, NDP MP and former leader Tommy Douglas told Israel’s racist Histadrut labour federation, “The main enmity against Israel is that she has been an affront to those nations who do not treat their people and their workers as well as Israel has treated hers.” This speech was made eight years into Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Golan Heights and Gaza Strip and a quarter century after 800,000 Palestinians were ethnically cleansed during the 1948 war.

While better today, this extreme deference to Israel has yet to be expunged from the party. In May 2008 the soon-to-be NDP leader, Thomas Mulcair, was quoted in the Canadian Jewish News saying, “I am an ardent supporter of Israel in all situations and in all circumstances.”

The NDP ought to shake off its history of supporting the Canadian foreign policy establishment. Beyond the moral imperative, sticking to mild and safe criticisms may be a losing electoral strategy.

Forceful and creative criticism of the Conservatives’ foreign policy could be a way to pushback against Jason Kenney’s successful outreach with immigrant communities (more than 20% of Canadians are born outside the country). The Conservatives have played off the fact that immigrant communities are generally more socially conservative. While this may be true, individuals with a strong connection to another country would also tend to be less supportive of Western domination, which the Conservatives have strongly pushed.

Additionally, Harper’s foreign policy has been designed to please the most reactionary sectors of the party’s base — evangelical Christians, right-wing Jews, Islamophobes, the military-industrial-complex as well as mining and oil executives. To a certain extent the Conservatives view international policy as a relatively low political cost way to please the party’s right wing base (the clearest example of them taking a more extreme position on foreign policy is the Conservatives’ refusal to give Canadian aid to projects abroad that include abortions — even for rape victims — but Harper strongly opposes efforts to challenge abortion domestically).

Could this same thinking not work for the NDP? Is there not a counter block of individuals and organizations focused on issues ranging from international climate negotiations to Palestine, global peace to mining justice? Wouldn’t a forceful and principled NDP position on these issues help galvanize party activists?

With average Canadians more knowledgeable and interested in international affairs than ever before, it is likely. But party strategists fear that the dominant media will lambaste the NDP for expressing forthright criticism on many international issues. The media would. But the growth of online news and global television stations makes it easier than ever — if the party cared to try — to defend critical positions on issues such as the recent coup in Egypt or Canada’s indifference to Paul Kagame’s murderous escapades in the East of the Congo.

Ultimately, the options for the NDP is reasonably straightforward: work to create an electoral strategy that significantly improves Canadian foreign policy or continue to make opportunistic appeals to veterans, the military and those who believe a “Time Magazine version” of international affairs. The latter option is tantamount to being complicit with current policies and — if elected — becoming the agent of a pro-corporate/pro-empire Canadian foreign policy.

Yves Engler is co-author of the recently released New Commune-ist Manifesto — Workers of the World It Really is Time to Unite, a rewriting of the original designed to spark debate about a new direction for the Left and union movement. For more information go to

Pipeline Watch Along the Coquihalla Highway

Major Repairs on Spectra Gas Lines Along Coquihalla Highway

by David Ellis - Independent Pipeline Critic

Are the corrosive wet soils of the Coquihalla now taking the same toll on the Spectra Energy gas pipelines, as they are on the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline?

At 6:30 in the evening of Thursday October 10th, I came across this Spectra Energy crew working, apparently around the clock.

This was 1/4 mile north of the Juliet bridge, on the south side, very close to the highway, some 10 miles north of the Coquihalla summit.
"This is a cut out of the 36 inch Spectra gas line" noted a man, perhaps the foreman, who was observing from the road, as I was.
As can be seen from the pics, quite a long section of pipe was exposed. Like many of the Kinder Morgan repair sites, a lot of water had to be continually pumped, for the crews to work. Perhaps long years of sitting
in a swamp, has led to a thinning of this gas line.

Crews were bedding down one end of the exposed pipe with sand, which apparently had already been welded and repaired, even as the other end was just being dug up by a back hoe. This struck me as strange, or a "hurry-up" job. Also, as unsafe; "daylighting" a pipe with a backhoe is a dangerous time, and as you can see, four crew were down right beside the pipe.

The timing of these repairs also struck me as odd; the last days before a long weekend, are sometimes chosen by some, who want to avoid press. Also, working double overtime on the long weekend, means very high priority, as the payroll is of course much higher.

1/2 mile away on the other side of the Juliet Bridge, the pipe was also under repaired, but with no crew on site.

Later that evening, I noticed a backhoe working across the Coquihalla river near Hope, under strong lights, and I have a strong hunch that this was also a Spectra repair, as these are often done together, when the lines are shut down. But the gas lines were hissing, at the Spectra valves in Hope later that evening, so it appears that the line was not shut down, for these repairs.

The next morning a lady in Hope noted that her gas was "out", for unknown reasons, not a normal occurrence, "why don't they tell us, it is cold!" she noted. I wondered if one of the 24/7 backhoe operators had perhaps hit the pipe that night, causing a closure of the line.

I can see no mention of these repairs by Spectra, on the "Net" or in the press.

Anyone with notes on these repairs, or on the age and condition of this gas line, please do post here.

Immediately apparent to me, is the much greater depth that this line is buried, as compared to the Kinder Morgan line, and the massive size of the pipe, this is what the proposed "twinned" Kinder Morgan line, will look like if approved. Scary.

Remember; Kinder Morgan could opt to buy this gas line, and converter it to tar sands oil, as has been recently done by other pipeline companies wishing to fill large orders for tar sands oil of dilbit. Or Spectra Energy might opt to convert this gas line to dilbit.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Soldiers Admit and Recount Chemical Weapons Use

Chemistry Equation: The Pious Virtuosos of Violence

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

 [Here is my most recent column for the print version of CounterPunch, which was published last month.]

As we all know, the use of chemical weapons is the most heinous crime that can be committed by a brutal, aggressive government: a brazen act of state terror, an offense against all humanity. Those who perpetrate such actions put themselves beyond the pale; indeed, they rank themselves with Hitler himself, as a succession of America’s highest officials has pointed out in recent weeks.

And that’s why the details of the infamous chemical attack in the Middle East resonate with stark moral horror. Especially chilling are the reports of some of the soldiers who actually took part in the chemical attacks, coming forward to offer evidence after the regime they served denied its obvious crime. As one regime soldier noted, the chemical weapon involved in the attack “burns bodies; it melts the flesh all the way down to the bone. I saw the burned bodies of women and children. Anyone within a radius of 150 meters is done for.”

A document produced by the regime’s own military said the chemical weapon “proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions and as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents … We [were] using [chemical weapons] to flush them out and high explosives to take them out.” Another soldier involved in these chemical weapons attacks said: "There is no way you can use [it] without forming a deadly chemical cloud that kills everything within a tenth of a mile in all directions from where it hits. Obviously, the effect of such deadly clouds weren't just psychological in nature."

But of course, chemical weapons were only part of this attack on the rebel position – an attack absolutely replete with war crimes violations. Before assaulting the civilian quadrants with a barrage of chemical weapons, the regime cut off the city’s water and power supplies and food deliveries. One of the first moves in the attack was the destruction of medical centers; indeed, 20 doctors were killed, along with their patients – innocent women and children – in a savage blitz before the chemical weapons were unleashed. But why would even a regime full of rogue barbarians attack a hospital? It’s simple, one of the regime’s “information warfare specialists” told the New York Times: hospitals can be used as “propaganda centers” by rebels trying to stir up sympathy for their cause.

Meanwhile, the BBC managed to penetrate the rebel-held areas and report on the results of the combined attack of chemical and conventional weapons:

“There are more and more dead bodies on the street, and the stench is unbearable … There are dead women and children lying on the streets. People are getting weaker from hunger. Many are dying from their injuries because there is no medical help left in the city whatsoever. Some families have started burying their dead in their gardens.”

By the end of the attack, vast areas lay in ruins. More than 36,000 homes were destroyed, along with 60 schools and 65 mosques and religious centers. Medical workers estimated the civilian death count at between 4,000 and 6,000, which, the Guardian noted, was “a proportionally higher death rate than in Coventry and London during the Blitz.”

As both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have said so eloquently, those responsible for such a crime must be punished. To look away from such an atrocity, to fail to hold those responsible to account would be, as these eminent statesmen tell us, a crime in itself, tantamount to ignoring the Holocaust or the massacres in Rwanda …

But of course the crimes enumerated above did not take place in Syria in August of 2013. They were part of America’s Guernica-like destruction of the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004: one of the most egregious – and most sustained – war crimes since the Second World War. The widespread use of chemical weapons in the decimation of Fallujah – including the flesh-eating horror of white phosphorous, the future-maiming deployment of depleted uranium and other chemicals, which have led to an epidemic of birth defects in the region – is well-documented and, after years of outright lies and evasions, now cheerfully admitted by the United States government. Using these chemical weapons – along with good old-fashioned mass-murdering conventional munitions just like mother used to make – the United States government slaughtered thousands upon thousands of innocent people in its berserker outburst against Fallujah.

It goes without saying that the “international community” did not rise up in righteous indignation at this use of chemical weapons to slaughter far more civilians than even the Obama Administration’s wild exaggerations are claiming in Syria. It goes without saying that the drone-bombing Peace Laureate and his lantern-jawed patrician at Foggy Bottom have signally failed to criticize – much less prosecute! – the perpetrators of the Fallujah war crime, or make the slightest change in the system of military aggression that produced it. Instead they have expanded and entrenched this system at every turn, extending it far beyond the wildest dreams of Bush and Cheney.

Whatever his manifest crimes (and alleged exacerbations), Bashar Assad will remain a hapless piker next to these pious virtuosos of mass-murdering violence.

Take Back the Streets: Reporting on Global Repression of Political Protest

CCLA joins civil society across globe to release report, “Take back the streets”: Repression and criminalization of protest around the world

by Canadian Civil Liberties Association

October 10th, 2013

CCLA has joined with nine other domestic civil liberties and human rights organizations from around the world to release a report, “Take back the streets”: Repression and criminalization of protest around the world. Download the report here.

In June 2010, hundreds of thousands of Canadians took to the streets of Toronto to peacefully protest the G20 Summit, which was taking place behind a fortified fence that walled off much of the city’s downtown core. On the Saturday evening during the Summit weekend, a senior Toronto Police Commander sent out an order – “take back the streets.” Within a span of 36 hours, over 1000 people – peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights monitors and downtown residents – were arrested and placed in detention.

The title of this publication is taken from that initial police order. It is emblematic of a very concerning pattern of government conduct: the tendency to transform individuals exercising a fundamental democratic right – the right to protest – into a perceived threat that requires a forceful government response. The nine case studies detailed in this report, each written by a different domestic civil liberties and human rights organization, provide contemporary examples of different governments’ reactions to peaceful protests. They document instances of unnecessary legal restrictions, discriminatory responses, criminalization of leaders, and unjustifiable – at times deadly – force.

The ten organizations that have contributed to this publication work to defend basic democratic rights and freedoms in nine countries spread over four continents. Across the regions where our organizations operate, States are engaged in concerted efforts to roll back advances in the protection and promotion of human rights – and often, regressive measures impacting the right to protest follows in lockstep. And across the globe, social movements are pushing for change and resisting the advancement of authoritarian policies; dozens, hundreds, thousands or hundreds of thousands of individuals are marching in the roads and occupying the public space. In rural areas across the global south, there are a variety of demands, calling for access to land or resisting the exploitation of natural resources that threaten indigenous peoples’ or peasants’ territories. In urban settings, housing shortages or lack of basic services spark social protests and upheavals. Even in developed economies, there are disturbing tensions provoked by the contraction of the economy, globalization policies and the social and political exclusion of migrants. Students’ movements all over the globe are demanding the right to education.

History tells us that many of the fundamental rights we enjoy in our contemporary life were obtained after generations before us engaged in sustained protests in the streets: the prohibition against child labor, steps toward racial equality, women’s suffrage – to name just a few – were each accomplished with the help of public expression of these demands. If freedom of expression is the grievance system of democracies, the right to protest and peaceful assembly is democracy’s megaphone. It is the tool of the poor and the marginalized – those who do not have ready access to the levers of power and influence, those who need to take to the streets to make their voices heard.

Unfortunately, these are also rights that are frequently violated. Our organizations have witnessed numerous instances of direct state repression during protests: mass arrests, unlawful detentions, illegal use of force and the deployment of toxic chemicals against protesters and bystanders alike. At other times the state action is less visible: the increased criminalization of protest movements, the denial of march permits, imposition of administrative hurdles and the persecution and prosecution of social leaders and protesters.

This publication attempts to address some of the gaps in public debate about the state responsibility toward the protection of the right to protest and assembly. We relate nine case studies from the nine countries about how governments have responded to diverse kinds of protest and public assembly.

The cases, originating from Argentina, Canada, Egypt, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Kenya, Hungary, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States, each present a unique state reaction in a unique domestic context. They relate instances of excessive use of force resulting in injury and death, discriminatory treatment, criminalization of social leaders, and suppression of democratic rights through law, regulation and bureaucratic processes. And despite the fact that all the cases come from different countries, with different substantive debates and different social contexts, a number of common threads are identifiable.

A number of case studies document disproportionate and illegal use of force by police, resulting in hundreds of wounded and dead. The American Civil Liberties Union details the case of police brutality against protesters in Puerto Rico, recounting violent beatings and low-flying helicopters spraying toxic chemicals over hundreds of peaceful demonstrators. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights details six days in November 2011, when the police shot thousands of tear gas canisters directly into the crowds, resulting in numerous deaths due to asphyxiation, in addition to deaths caused by live fire and shotgun pellets. In one case, the police shot tear gas into a building and then sealed all the doors and windows, suffocating the people inside. In Kenya, police beatings and shootings around the 2013 election left several dead and dozens more injured. And in Argentina, the Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales tells of police indiscriminately firing live ammunition to disperse of some of the poorest families from Buenos Aires, who had descended from the overcrowded outskirts of the city to peacefully occupy an open piece of land.

These cases collectively illustrate the use of lethal and deadly force in response to largely peaceful gatherings seeking to express social and political viewpoints. The deaths and injuries are caused both by the use of firearms with live ammunition, and also through the use of so-called “nonlethal” weapons – a term that we intentionally reject. The numbers of dead and injured due to the inhalation of tear gas and other less-lethal weapons clearly demonstrates the urgent need to clarify and expand the norms that regulate the use of these law enforcement tools. It is also striking that these documented acts of violence and repression are frequently compounded by a lack of accountability. Justice systems in multiple countries appear unwilling or unable to undertake the serious investigations necessary to hold powerful state actors accountable for their actions.

Several other chapters document the persecution or criminalization of those social leaders and community members that organize demonstrations. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, for example, relates the struggles of community activist and West Bank resident Bassem Tamimi, who has spent over 13 months in jail for peaceful, expressive activities.

In Canada, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association sets out how a student leader was put on trial for contempt of court – and found guilty – after telling the media he thought it was legitimate for students to picket universities. And in Argentina, the social leaders who were essential to establishing dialogue with authorities during a critical point of social crisis were afterwards prosecuted. Their participation in official negotiations was used as evidence that they were capable of controlling others involved in the event, and that they had instigated others to commit crimes.

These cases demonstrate how the justice system not only frequently fails to provide accountability for the illegal acts committed by law enforcement, but can also at times act as a repressive force toward demonstrators and social organizations. Too often, those individuals who are courageous enough to lead peaceful opposition or voice dissent must also be brave enough to face subsequent prosecution and detention from government authorities. It is difficult to calculate the chilling impact such prosecutions have on current and future leaders of social movements.

The post-9/11 context has also made a mark on governments’ reactions to societal dissent. Many countries have introduced broad anti-terrorist laws, and as time passes there is an increasing risk that these tools of interrogation, arrest, search and detention will be redirected toward peaceful political activity and domestic dissent. The case study from Liberty provides one example of how the United Kingdom’s counterterrorism laws were applied to peaceful anti-arms protesters. It was only during Liberty’s case challenging the abuse of these search powers that the UK public discovered that the whole of Greater London had been subject to a multiyear, high-level terrorism designation giving police officers significantly enhanced powers of search and detention. The fact that this discretionary power was disproportionately and arbitrarily used against blacks, Asians, and individuals from other visible minority communities should not come as a surprise.

Finally, the case studies from the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union and South Africa’s Legal Resources Centre demonstrate how the very existence of laws regulating the exercise of the right to protest can facilitate the denial of rights and discrimination. In both countries, community groups had to go to the courts to force the government to facilitate their basic democratic rights. Laws that give authorities a measure of discretion can be applied or interpreted in a manner that restricts or limits the impact of the expression or actions of social groups – and in particular those groups that are vulnerable or likely to be subjected to discrimination. It is clear that, when faced with the potential disruption or inconvenience that is inevitably caused by protest, governments too often react by seeking to ban the demonstration, rather than accommodate it.

All the cases presented show the integral role played by civil society organizations in protecting these fundamental democratic rights. Each organization that has contributed to this publication recognizes that a democratic society must not only tolerate, but actively facilitate, social participation and protest. And each organization actively operates on the premise that, no matter the underlying cause or issue, individuals’ and groups’ right to protest must be protected. Dissenting voices must be heard. And they must be given the space – both legal and physical – to do so.

Report Recommendations

Recommendation 1: Increase regulation of less-lethal weapons

• Governments should establish and enhance domestic and international regulatory frameworks to control police use of less-lethal weapons, with particular attention to limits on deployment during protest

• Thorough, independent, scientific testing of less-lethal weapons should occur prior to deployment to establish lethality and health impacts

• Strict deployment guidelines and training must be implemented based on thorough, independent scientific studies, and reviewed regularly to ensure compliance and currency

Recommendation 2: Increase precision and clarity regarding the scope of human rights protection for protests

• States should explicitly affirm even protests that are strictly “unlawful” are equally protected by the right to freedom of peaceful assembly

• States should explicitly recognize that individuals who are exercising their peaceful assembly rights continue to receive protection, even when other individuals within a crowd commit acts of violence

• Government statements on the limits of peaceful assembly should be accompanied by an affirmation that other human rights norms, including limits on state use of force, remain relevant

Recommendation 3: Increase attention to, and vigilance of, legal and administrative limitations on the right to protest

• States should review domestic legislation to ensure that any administrative or legal regulations that could restrict protest are demonstrably necessary and proportionate

• All legislation that could restrict protest should explicitly state that the role of the state is to facilitate the right to protest

• Governments should carefully monitor the operation of these laws and policies to ensure they are not being implemented in a discriminatory or unnecessarily restrictive manner

About the Report

This document has been produced by a group of ten domestic human rights organizations which cooperate as the International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations (INCLO). Each organization is multi-issue, multiconstituency, domestic in focus, and independent of government. We advocate on behalf of all persons in our respective countries through a mix of litigation, legislative campaigning, public education and grass-roots advocacy.

The nine organizations that participated in the preparation of this report are the American Civil Liberties Union, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (Argentina), the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, the Kenyan Human Rights Commission, the Legal Resources Centre (South Africa), and Liberty (United Kingdom). The tenth member of INCLO, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, contributed editorially to the report.

The Capitalist War on Environment

Capitalism or the Environment: It's Time to Choose

by Gary Engler - Rabble

If all you care about is making more stuff, capitalism may be the best system ever. But if you want to save the planet from environmental catastrophe our current economic system is a dead end.

I remember in my socialist youth often being told: "Your ideas sound good but that’s just not how things work in real life."

In my socialist sixties these same words seem appropriate as an analysis of mainstream environmentalism today.

Here is the harsh reality:

The capitalist drive to maximize profits explains the externalizing of environmental costs. Capitalism allows small minorities to profit at the expense of others. Private ownership of what are social means of livelihood allows capitalists to make decisions that pass the real costs of industry to communities, workers, future generations and other species.

Worse, capitalism requires constant growth because it always needs more profit. Making ever more profit is what motivates people to make investments. But what happens when the environment needs a smaller human footprint? When, at least in wealthier countries, we must learn to live with much less stuff?

All the evidence shows capitalism is really lousy at dealing with declining markets. Every time the economy shrinks for a sustained period capitalism goes into a crisis. Banks crash, unemployment rises and wars are often necessary to get capitalism out of its crisis.

Supporters of capitalism claim the system is based on freedom and choice, but when it comes to the environment for many people this amounts to the freedom to choose between destroying the planet or having a job.

The promoters of tar sands, fracking, coal mining and pipelines are explicit about this and in fact go even further. The business pages are full of stories quoting the captains of the carbon-industrial complex as telling us what amounts to: "You must choose between economic prosperity and what is good for the environment, because you can’t have both."

If we continue with capitalism they are correct.

Yet some so-called environmentalists look to capitalism for solutions. That’s like asking the fox to fix the hen house. You can’t be a serious environmentalist and support capitalism. A sustainable economy is incompatible with a system that constantly demands more profit.

Now that the human population has passed seven billion, it should be obvious that we inhabit a planet of finite resources. But population growth is not the problem. Human energy remains our most precious and underutilized resource. Once basic material needs for food, clothing, housing and healthcare have been met, human well-being depends less on consumption than on opportunities for education, employment, social participation and social recognition.

Science leaves little reasonable doubt that the burning of currently known reserves of coal, oil and natural gas will push atmospheric carbon dioxide levels past a tipping point, after which rising global temperatures will irreversibly undermine the conditions on which human life as we know it depends.

Despite the weight of evidence and the urgency of the problem, capitalism rests on the expansion of fossil fuel production and use.

Around the planet trillions of dollars are being spent to develop massive deposits of shale oil and gas. In Canada capitalist investment is focused on expanding oil production from tar sands. The promoters claim that these developments will create jobs. But the funds required to develop and transport that fuel will create far fewer jobs than would be produced if equivalent amounts were spent on the development of solar, wind and geothermal power.

Far more jobs could be produced with investments in domestic employment for domestic markets, in the production and distribution of local agriculture, clothing, shoes and communications products. More jobs would be created by investments in childcare, elder care, social housing, public transit and other green infrastructure.

But capitalism prefers investments in fossil fuels because corporate profits now largely depend on cheap fuel. Equivalent profits cannot be made meeting actual human needs.

So, we have some important choices to make: Support capitalism or support the environment. Build a different sort of economic system that can prosper in harmony with the environment or fiddle with capitalism as our planet burns.

Gary Engler, a longtime Vancouver journalist and union activist, is a co-author of the New Commune-ist Manifesto -- Workers of the World It Really is Time to Unite.

More information at The Vancouver book launch will be Thursday November 7, 7 p.m. at the Public Library, main branch.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Failed Libya: No Country for Oil Men

Don’t Be Fooled by Libya—This is a Failed State

by James Stafford -

Gunmen today seized Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan from a hotel in central Tripoli, releasing him shortly afterwards, but making it clear that post-Gaddafi Libya is a failed state and that the government is incapable of taking full control over its oilfields and export terminals.

While the markets have been responding lately with unfounded optimism over Libya, anyone who has been privy to the intelligence briefings and executive reports from Oil & Energy Insider would know that announcements of progress emanating from the capital Tripoli are hot air. There are too many roving militias who want their piece of Libya’s fossil fuels largesse—and the government is impotent.

Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the seizure of Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on 10 October from the Corinthia hotel in central Tripoli.

More to the point, the prime minister was apparently seized by militias linked to Libya’s Interior and Defense Ministries, which makes one ask whether he was kidnapped or arrested, or indeed whether it is even worth getting into the semantics.

His arrest was not about oil, specifically, it was in retaliation for the US special forces capture of a Libyan al-Qaeda suspect in Tripoli over the weekend. Militant groups—many of whom control various branches of the impotent government—were angered at the US capture of Abu Anas al-Libi, wanted for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in which more than 220 people were killed.

Look no further than Libya’s National Congress, which was adamant that the US return the captor, which it labeled as a kidnapping and a violation of Libya’s national sovereignty.

Upon his release, Prime Minister Zeidan took to the international media, calling on Western powers to step in—again. In an interview with BBC Newsnight, Zeidan said the country was being used as a base to export weapons across the Sahel and that “the movement of these weapons endangers neighboring countries too, so there must be international cooperation to stop it.”

Regardless, the situation should be clear even for those Libyan enthusiasts who are under the impression that this is a functioning state. Ali Zeidan’s days are numbered without another direct Western intervention.

This is the same reason the oil cannot flow as planned.

At we noted in a September executive report on Libya in Oil & Energy Insider, the crisis began two years ago with the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi, but in August things took a definitive turn for the worse, with armed groups seizing major oil export terminals and demanding autonomy for the eastern region. Now the crisis has reached the west where other militant formations ominously charged with guarding the country’s pipelines and oil fields are seeking to profit on the momentum of the strikers and protesters in the east.

The interim government cannot manage this crisis. It’s already been forced to compromise, agreeing earlier in September to a 20% wage hike across the board for civil servants, and including oil security forces in this mix. At the same time, the government has issued warrants for the arrest of strike organizers in the east.

While the government will not be able to enforce these warrants, the blowback for this still will be severe and will result in a violent upheaval unlike anything else in the past two years. This will reverberate throughout the already volatile Sahel region, threatening security in Tunisia and Algeria most immediately. It is also leading to a tightening of world oil supplies.


Canada's Other Census Resistance Case Dismissed

Census Lockheed Martin: My Case is Dismissed without Costs

by Sandra Finley - The Battles

To avoid confusion: I was charged in relation to the “long form census” which NO LONGER EXISTS.

It has been replaced by the National Household SURVEY. Under the Statistics Act, surveys are not mandatory. Citizens do not have to supply personal information, see Are StatsCan “surveys” mandatory?

Hello everyone, the Tobias judgment is below. Regarding my own case, here it is; Peter writes:

I think your case was very worthwhile in spite of losing; it helped to make Canadians aware of Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the census, and to question it.

The situation legally is now this:


In Saskatchewan the Courts have ruled that we do NOT have a Charter Right to Privacy of personal information.


By the issue coming up through the Justice system in one of the other provinces. (The Courts of Appeal in the provinces CAN and sometimes DO, take different views. There may then be an appeal to the Supreme Court.)


Unfortunate. It is a very important question for Canadians, especially in the wake of the leaks by Edward Snowden, and in the context of the American military/surveillance intrusion into Canada. Can’t know whether the question will come to the SCC again in the future, through someone else in a different province.

So, we keep on, keepin’ on!


A few days ago I posted on many facebook groups:

If we want peace, we have to be knowledgeable, and use every opportunity to halt the WAR CORPORATIONS.

How do we combat the financial incentives to war? A large percentage of the American economy is dependent upon their War machinery. Canada is expanding its dependence. The War Corporations make money, always. They are considered to be a wise investment. To add insult to injury, tax payers provide huge funding to them. (F-35 contracts!)

And so it happens that I refused to participate in the Census – – Lockheed Martin Corporation has lucrative Government contracts related to Census and “Survey” data collection on citizens. They are the American war and surveillance industry. I ended up in Court. …

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


The Court decision in the Audrey Tobias case (Lockheed Martin / Census Click on the link to see a copy of the decision.

Apologies – yesterday I commented when only the news of the acquittal was out.

Had I waited, I would have seen that the reason for acquittal was not related to the Charter Right.

I don’t like to spread wrong information, sorry for that.

Thanks to Rod for explaining it:

Great for her (Audrey Tobias) but not for the charter issue!!!! They basically shuffled the cards and played a joker trump card and totally avoided the charter rights… which will not help your cause… my opinion. Highlighted in red…..your intent is obvious.

(“The judge rejected the charter arguments, but said that Tobias’s memory and some conflicting testimony left him with reasonable doubt as to her intent at the time of the refusal.

Audrey Tobias and her lawyer, Peter Rosenthal, were surprised by the judge’s decision. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

Judge Ramez Khawly noted that for a conviction both the act and intent of a crime must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, so he had to acquit Tobias.

“It was an unusual judgment in my view,” Rosenthal said outside court. “He described our charter arguments as Hail Mary passes and he didn’t catch it …They were novel arguments but he found a more novel argument it seems in analyzing the [intent].”)”

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

My many thanks to you all.

I am satisfied. The ball landed in my court in March 2008 – - the Summons to Court. With the help of many people, the sharing of information, we accomplished great things.


President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell speech Plus Words of Wisdom from Eisenhower.

I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.

I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than our governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it.

(note – - it’s worthwhile reading the rest of what Eisenhower said. It’s pretty amazing.)

Letters to the Colonel: Etiquette and the Finer Points of Surveillance

The Etiquette of War and Surveillance: Letters to Colonel Manners (Ret.)

by Tom Engelhardt  - TomDispatch

[Editor’s Note: In the sequester and government-shutdown era, the classic military newspaper Stars and Stripes is facing some of the problems of its civilian brethren and so downsizing its print edition. Among the features to go: Dear Abby. As it happens, TomDispatch is ready to step into the breach. We’ve called on an old and knowledgeable friend, Colonel Manners (ret.), whose experience in military and surveillance matters is evident from his impressive CV (unfortunately, a classified document). His assignment: to answer letters from Americans puzzled by the etiquette, manners, and language of the arcane national security world of Washington. Here is a first sampling from a column that, in syndication, could go global.]

Dear Col. Manners,

I’m an embattled newspaper editor. Recently, I read a New Yorker piece by Ken Auletta that included this disturbing passage about the New York Times: "In early August, the Times was working on a story about an intercepted terror threat when James R. Clapper, the administration’s director of intelligence, asked the paper’s Washington bureau to withhold certain details. Clapper warned that, if the full version were made public, the Times 'would have blood on our hands.'" The Times withheld those details. However, with so many classified documents pouring out of Washington and the possibility that some might come into the possession of my paper, I worry about finding blood on my hands, too. On a personal note, I’m extremely squeamish. In college, I had to leave my biology class when the professor showed a film on Harvey’s discovery of the circulatory system. While watching Grey’s Anatomy, I have to close my eyes whenever surgery comes on screen. I grow faint if I get a paper cut. Any suggestions?

Stressed and Bloody Anxious in Chicago

Dear Stressed and Bloody Anxious,

I see your problem. Fortunately, I can assure you that it’s all in your head. To understand why, you need to grasp a distinction that’s clear in Washington, but might be less so in Chicago. When a government official suggests that an outsider might have “blood” on his or her hands -- as happened repeatedly, for instance, during the Bradley Manning imbroglio -- they are talking about prospective blood, future blood. Negative reactions to blood, according to scientific studies, are due, in part, to its alarming red color. Future blood, being metaphorical, is not red. If it gets on your hands, you will not actually “see” it.

In Washington, this is similarly true of past blood. Take National Intelligence Director Clapper. From 2001-2006, he was the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, then undersecretary of defense for intelligence, before being nominated in the Obama years to head the office of national intelligence. In other words, he has served in Washington throughout the Iraq and Afghan Wars, as well as the Global War on Terror. Like many Washington officials, military and civilian, who supported the American global mission in those years, he might be said to have some responsibility for any number of deaths and so to have “blood on his hands.” Think of the almost 4,500 Americans who died in Iraq or the nearly 2,300 who have, thus far, died in Afghanistan, or the tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans who died in those years.

Now, here’s the point: Washington is not disturbed by such blood. The reason is simple. It, too, can’t be seen. I’ve met Clapper and I can assure you that, when he shakes your hand, there is not the slightest trace of a reddish tint anywhere on it. (He’s got an impressively firm grip, by the way!) This, I hope, will lighten your unnecessarily grim mood. Like so many other stalwarts in our national security universe, Clapper is a model. He is unfazed, and his “blood” is far more real than the highly speculative and metaphorical blood that might someday be on your hands for a killing related to the release of a classified document. Note that, despite the appearance of startling numbers of such documents in recent years, there is no record of prospective blood actually being spilled.

Yours truly,
Col. Manners (ret.)


Dear Col. Manners,

As the owner of a furniture store in Kalamazoo, Michigan, I’ve been worried about our competitors, especially IKEA, getting a step on us. So here’s what I want to know: recently, speaking of Iran, President Obama said that he was keeping “all options on the table,” adding that “we will do anything to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” I’ve noticed that this phrase has, since 9/11, grown ever more popular in Washington. I was wondering about that table everyone is talking about. Given that it seems to be reserved for major weapons systems of various sorts and nothing else (at least nothing else is ever mentioned), who manufactures such a table? Can I order it somewhere? Does it really exist or is it just an image meant to stand in for a future military assault on Iran (or wherever)? Would it be too big to fit in my store? I’m most appreciative for any information you could give me on the subject.

Tabled in Kalamazoo

Dear Tabled in Kalamazoo,

That table is quite real. I saw one once. I obviously can’t say where, though it held a set of bunker-busting missiles. I should add that it is not a table in the normal sense -- i.e., one of those four-legged, flat-topped structures we tend to place in our dining rooms or kitchens. Again, I can say no more. Rest assured, however, that when the president says “all options are on the table,” he means it. And you are quite accurate in pointing out that on such tables “all” the options are indeed military. Though always referred to in the singular, in reality, there are a number of such tables for each country mentioned; the Syrian ones, for example, hold Tomahawk missiles and B-2 bombers; the Iranian ones, those bunker-busters, among other major weapons systems.

I don't know if you noticed, but on the night before the recent government shutdown, the Pentagon went on a buying spree, dumping $5 billion into the accounts of major weapons makers (and others). According to someone I trust in Washington, the intelligence community similarly dipped into its black budget accounts and bought a number of things, including at least three back-up “option tables” at a cost of millions of dollars. (Again, I can’t tell you exactly how much.) Unfortunately, you cannot purchase such products for your store. The good news is that neither can IKEA.

Col. Manners (ret.)


Dear Col. Manners,

I have to ask for your discretion, for reasons that will quickly become apparent. There are 12 documented cases in which a National Security Agency employee used NSA surveillance programs to hack into a partner’s, lover’s, or romantic interest’s email or listen in on his or her phone calls. And this is generally considered just “the tip of the iceberg.” I am a civilian employee of the NSA. Consider me the unlucky thirteenth case. I know that such acts are sardonically known as LoveINT, but in my case that wasn’t it. As I’ve told my former partner, I just wanted to know if she and a friend of ours were planning a surprise birthday party for me. (I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to be caught off-guard.)

The Agency took no action against me, but my partner has never forgiven me. (She’s now living with our former mutual friend.) She still insists that I should apologize. I consider this irrational. I say that no harm was done. I’ve pointed out to her that the NSA hacked into the emails and phone calls of Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian president, and the president of the United States has refused to apologize. His only response was to launch a many months-long “broad review” of NSA practices. (Believe me, there’s nothing to investigate. We did it.) As far as I can see, there’s an equivalency in the two cases: like my partner, Rousseff responded in an overly emotional way, calling off a long planned trip to Washington and later denouncing the U.S. at the United Nations. Here’s my question: if the president doesn’t have to apologize, why should I? Who’s in the right here? Please settle this dispute for me.

Unlucky 13

Dear Unlucky 13,

I’m afraid that the rules of etiquette are different in the two cases you cite. While I regret to tell you this, you are in the wrong and should apologize. In our personal lives, it is important to say we’re sorry to those we treat badly, and hacking into your partner’s email is, by definition, bad manners.

Similarly, on a global scale, if, say, the Argentinean government had hacked into President Rousseff’s email, an apology would indeed be in order. It’s clearly not a good neighborly thing to do. But I hardly need to add the obvious: the United States is not a normal nation. It’s the planet's sole superpower. It goes by a different rulebook, which it writes itself, and that is as it should be. So if we Americans have been playing by house rules in the case of the NSA and Rousseff, then what is there to apologize for?

It’s common knowledge that an American president does not apologize for the acts of his hackers or his soldiers or his spies or his officials or his drones. In addition, it’s obvious that such an apology would be impractical and set this country on the road to hell. After all, once a president stopped playing by the superpower rulebook and started apologizing, just consider the Pandora’s box he would open (without a hint of hope at the bottom). If we were a normal nation, there would be a vast list of things he would have to apologize for, including, just in the last decade, kidnappings, torture, abuse, murder, imprisonment in black sites, assassination, and so on and so forth.

So, Unlucky 13, swallow your bad luck and say you’re sorry, but don’t ask the president to do the same.

Confidentially yours,
Col. Manners (ret.)


Dear Col. Manners,

I’m a housewife in Tulsa and I had a question for you about the president’s plan for a Syrian intervention. I know that, in the end, it didn’t happen, and I hope you won’t think it’s frivolous of me to bring it up a month later, but I simply couldn’t get it out of my mind. Here’s what I’ve been wondering about: Why is it called “humanitarian intervention” when the president’s (and Pentagon’s) plan, as best I understood it, was to loose Tomahawk missiles and bombers on Damascus? I don’t see anything “human” or "humanitarian" in that. And here’s another related question: why are such strikes always referred to as “surgical” and “precise” when, as far as I can tell, they invariably kill civilians?

Oklahoma Gal

Dear Oklahoma Gal,

Nothing frivolous about your thinking! Let me start with that “surgically precise.” The answer is: American weapons makers are the best in the world and so all of our latest weapons are indeed surgical and precise in their impact. Keep in mind, however, that, as studies have shown, “surgically precise” is a term with significant latitude. Consider, for instance, that, according to a report published in the Archives of Surgery, in a six-and-a-half-year period, Colorado doctors operated on the wrong patient at least 25 times, and another 107 times on the wrong body part. So, surgically precise -- yes, indeed!

As for that term “humanitarian intervention,” as you probably know, the Supreme Court long ago turned the corporation into a “person” for matters of law. The Pentagon has functionally done the same thing for weapons like the Tomahawk missile for matters of war. That transformation may not have the force of law, but it does have force, so to speak. Because the Tomahawk is an American missile (produced by the Raytheon corporation, a genuine American outfit), and because, by definition, what we Americans do always comes from the best of intentions and an essential goodness of heart, because, that is, we are as exceptional, as one of a kind, in war as in peace, a missile attack on Syria (or elsewhere) would, by definition, be both “human” and “humanitarian” -- and to complete the phrase in question, no one could deny that, had it happened, it would also have been an “intervention.” After all, Washington’s record on interventions speaks for itself. No country in memory has been as prolific an interventionist as the U.S.A. -- and it’s a record, like all records, worth taking some pride in.

Yours definitionally,
Col. Manners (ret.)

Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture (now also in a Kindle edition), runs the Nation Institute's His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 Tom Engelhardt

Death and Defiance: Two Giants Pass

‘Defined Voices’: Giap, Wallace, and the Never-Ending Battle for Freedom

by Ramzy Baroud  - Palastine Chronicle

Nothing is more precious than freedom,” is quoted as being attributed to Vo Nguyen Giap, a Vietnamese General that led his country through two liberation wars. The first was against French colonialists, the second against the Americans. And despite heavy and painful losses, Vietnam prevailed, defeating the first colonial quest at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (1954) and the second at Ho Chí Minh Campaign (1975).

General Giap, the son of a peasant scholar, stood tall in both wars, only bowing down to the resolve of his people. “Any forces that would impose their will on other nations will most certainly face defeat,” he once said. His words will always be true.

He died on Friday, October 4, at the age of 102.

On the same day, the former black panther Herman Wallace, who had spent 41-years of his life in solitary confinement in Louisiana State Penitentiary, died from incurable liver cancer at the age of 71. Just a few days before his death, Judge Brian Jackson had overturned a charge that robbed Herman of much of his life. According to Jackson, Herman’s 1974 conviction of killing a prison guard was ‘unconstitutional.’

Despite the lack of material evidence, ‘discredited’ witnesses and a sham trial, Wallace, who was a poet and lover of literature, and two other prisoners known as the Angola Three, were locked up to spend a life of untold hardship for a crime they didn’t commit.

Now that Wallace is dead, two remain. One, Robert King, 70, was freed in 2001, and the other, Albert Woodfox, 66, is still in solitary confinement and “undergoes daily cavity searches,” reported the UK Independent newspaper.

“When his conviction was overturned it cleared the slate - he could die a man not convicted of a crime he was innocent of,” King said of the release of Wallace, who died few days later.

One of the last photos released while on his hospital bed, showed Wallace raising his clinched right fist, perpetuating the legendary defiance of a whole generation of African Americans and civil rights leaders. While some fought for civil rights in the streets of American cities, Wallace fought for the rights of prisoners. The four decades of solitary confinement were meant to break him. Instead, it made it him stronger.

"If death is the realm of freedom, then through death I escape to freedom" Wallace quoted Frantz Fanon in the introduction to a poem he wrote from prison in 2012.

In "A Defined Voice", Wallace wrote, “They removed my whisper from general population, To maximum security, I gained a voice; They removed my voice from maximum security, To administrative segregation, My voice gave hope; They removed my voice from administrative segregation, To solitary confinement, My voice became vibration for unity ..”

“Literature can and must elevate a man's soul,” General Giap once said. The son of the ‘peasant scholar’ was right, as Wallace’s own words attest:

“The louder my voice the deeper they bury me,


There was so much in common between Giap and Wallace, and surely the two men knew it even though they had never met.

Giap fought colonial powers and died free. Wallace, known as the “Muhammad Ali of the Criminal Justice System”, spent most of his life a prisoner, but never lowered his clasped fist, not until he died. But then again, “If death is the realm of freedom, then through death I escape to freedom.”

The words of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish can always find space in any discussion concerning freedom:

“It is possible...

It is possible at least sometimes...

It is possible especially now

To ride a horse

Inside a prison cell

And run away...
“It is possible for prison walls

To disappear,

For the cell to become a distant land

Without frontiers ..”

Can death be that ‘distant land without frontiers’, where Fanon, Darwish and Wallace meet and exchange notes on freedom and resistance?

Of the thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, 1,200 suffer from various illnesses, and among them, according to UFree Network, 44 suffer from cancer. Among the nearly 5,000 prisoners, 320 are children. There is little doubt that each of these children sees Nelson Mandela as a hero. Herman Wallace is also a hero.

“Free all political prisoners, prisoners of war, prisoner of consciousness.” Wallace ended his poem. His words were not directed at himself and his prison mates. From Palestine, to Afghanistan, to Guantanamo, to Louisiana, his words are loaded with meaning, and relevance.
“When we started out we weren’t thinking about ourselves, we were dealing with the system. That goes on,” said Robert King. And it will go on, because, as Giap had said, there is nothing more precious than freedom.

And those who fight against the ‘system’, any ‘system’, need to understand that without unity no battle can be won, not those of liberation wars, as in Palestine, nor those fought from solitary confinements.

In an interview with CNN in 2004, Giap, speaking of the US war on Iraq said that a nation that stands up and knows how to unite will always defeat a foreign invader. “When people have the spirit to reach for independent sovereignty ... and show solidarity, it means the people can defeat the enemy,” the Vietnamese general said.

Like Wallace, Giap, 102, was expectedly very frail. Yet, along with Wallace, these ‘defined voices’ continue to define history.

- Ramzy Baroud ( is a media consultant, an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press).

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Tea Party Adopts CIA's Economic Warfare Model to Ruin American Economy

Making the Economy ‘Scream’

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

Americans who have studied CIA destabilization campaigns around the world may see some striking parallels to the strategy of Tea Party Republicans who have provoked a government shutdown and now are threatening a credit default. The idea is to make the country appear ungovernable and to make the economy “scream.”

This approach is similar to what CIA operatives do to get rid of disfavored political leaders in other countries, such as when President Richard Nixon ordered the spy agency to sabotage Chile’s economy and upset its political stability in the early 1970s.

The CIA’s thinking is that most people just want a chance to make a living. So, if an economic crisis can be ginned up – while propaganda outlets put the blame on the government leaders who are ostensibly in charge – then the people will ultimately turn against those leaders in an effort to restore normality.

In effect, the CIA takes the political process hostage by inflicting economic pain on the average citizen, sponsoring “populist” disorders, spreading confusion through propaganda outlets and then waiting for a weary population to give in. This technique has worked in many countries over the years – and surely the idea long predated the formation of the CIA in the late 1940s.

The Chilean Episode

But some of the best-studied examples of CIA operations have similar patterns to what the American Right is doing now to destabilize the U.S. economy and discredit President Barack Obama. For instance, in the early 1970s, Salvador Allende, a socialist politician, won the presidency through free and fair elections and began taking steps aimed at improving the conditions of the country’s poor.

To stop this perceived spread of “socialism,” President Nixon directed the CIA to engage in psychological warfare against Allende’s government and to make the Chilean economy “scream.” U.S. intelligence agencies secretly sponsored Chilean news outlets, like the influential newspaper El Mercurio, and supported “populist” uprisings of truckers and housewives. On the economic front, the CIA coordinated efforts to starve the Chilean government of funds and to drive unemployment higher.

Worsening joblessness was then spun by the CIA-financed news outlets as proof that Allende’s policies didn’t work and that the only choice for Chile was to scrap its social programs. When Allende compromised with the Right, that had the additional benefit of causing friction between him and some of his most ardent supporters who wanted even more radical change.

As Chile became increasingly ungovernable, the stage was set for the violent overthrow of Allende, the installation of a rightist dictatorship, and the imposition of “free-market” economics that directed more wealth and power to Chile’s rich and their American corporate backers.

There was other fallout from Allende’s ouster and death. Chile’s fascist Gen. Augusto Pinochet executed thousands of dissidents and sent assassins far and wide, including Washington, D.C., where former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and an American co-worker, Ronni Moffitt, were murdered in a car bombing along Massachusetts Avenue in 1976.

Though the Allende coup in Chile is perhaps the best known example of this intelligence strategy (because it was investigated by a Senate committee in the mid-1970s), the CIA has employed this approach frequently around the world. Sometimes the target government is removed without violence, although other times a bloody coup d’etat has been part of the mix.

In the case of Nicaragua in the 1980s, the leftist Sandinista government was presiding over a reasonably healthy economy when President Ronald Reagan ordered the CIA to achieve “regime change.” The Reagan administration went to work strangling the Nicaraguan economy, while the CIA trained a terrorist army known as the Contras.

Though the Sandinistas prevailed in an election in 1984, Reagan kept up the pressure, eventually breaking the back of the Nicaraguan economy, leaving children searching through garbage dumps for food while U.S.-financed media outlets blamed the Sandinistas and called for reconciliation on terms demanded by the U.S. government.

In 1990, amid threats of renewed Contra terrorism and an economic catastrophe, the coerced Nicaraguan people elected the U.S.-backed presidential candidate Violeta Chamorro. After Chamorro took office, much of the CIA-created pain subsided, but the conditions for many Nicaraguan peasants continued to deteriorate.

Home to Roost

So, it is perhaps fitting that a comparable approach to politics would eventually come home to roost in the United States, even to the point that some of the propaganda funding comes from outside sources (think of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Washington Times and Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.)

Obviously, given the wealth of the American elites, the relative proportion of the propaganda funding is derived more domestically in the United States than it would be in a place like Chile or Nicaragua or some other unfortunate Third World country that has gotten on Washington’s bad side.

But the concept remains the same: Control as much as possible what the population gets to see and hear; create chaos for your opponent’s government, economically and politically; blame it for the mess; and establish in the minds of the voters that their only way out is to submit, that the pain will stop once your side is back in power.

Today’s Republicans have fully embraced this concept of political warfare, whereas the Democrats generally have tried to play by the old rules, acquiescing when Republicans are elected to office with the goal of “making government work,” even if the Republicans are the ones setting the agenda.

Unlike the Democrats and the Left, the Republicans and the Right have prepared themselves for this battle, almost as if they are following a CIA training manual. They have invested tens of billions of dollars in a propaganda infrastructure that operates 24/7, year-round, to spot and exploit missteps by political enemies.

This vertically integrated media machine allows useful information to move quickly from a right-wing blog to talk radio to Fox News to the Wall Street Journal to conservative magazines and book publishing. Right-wing propagandists are well-trained and well-funded so they can be deployed to mainstream news outlets to hammer home the talking points, regardless of the truth.

Thus, you have embarrassments like CNN’s “Crossfire,” where it doesn’t matter that the Democrats are actually telling the truth when they cite evidence that the Tea Party, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, provoked the government shutdown after refusing to allow House-Senate budget negotiations for six months and even after the Senate agreed to accept the House budget figures.

You still have the Republican voices repeating their talking points, laying the blame for the fiscal crisis on President Obama and the Democrats for refusing to negotiate. The dialogue of pathetic shows like “Crossfire” can be summarized as “talking point, talking point, counter-talking point, cross-talk talking point, another talking point.”

But the GOP’s politics of disruption have not only been the rule during Obama’s presidency. Though the ugliness of the Clinton years has largely faded from memory, the blueprint for the current chaos was drafted then. Barack Obama, like Bill Clinton, was treated as an illegitimate interloper on the rightful Republican ownership of the White House.

The Clinton Case

After getting elected in 1992, Clinton complained that his “honeymoon” period – when presidents are generally afforded the benefit of the doubt and their policies get respectful attention in Congress – didn’t even last through the transition, the two-plus months before a new president takes office.

Clinton found himself facing especially harsh hazing from the Washington press corps, as the mainstream media – seeking to shed its “liberal” label and goaded by the right-wing media as “soft on Clinton” – tried to demonstrate that it would be tougher on a Democrat than any Republican.

The mainstream press hyped minor “scandals” about Clinton’s Whitewater real estate investment and Travel-gate, a flap about some routine firings at the White House travel office. Meanwhile, the Right’s news media spread false stories implicating Clinton in the death of White House aide Vince Foster and other “mysterious deaths.”

Republicans in Congress did all they could to feed this press hysteria, holding hearings and demanding that special prosecutors be appointed. When the Clinton administration relented, the choice of prosecutors was handed over to right-wing Republican Appeals Court Judge David Sentelle, who consciously picked political enemies of Clinton to oversee zealous investigations.

The use of scandal-mongering to destabilize the Clinton administration peaked in late 1998 and early 1999 when the Republican-controlled House voted impeachment because of Clinton’s extramarital affair with Monica Lewinsky and Clinton had to endure (but survive) a humiliating trial in the Senate.

The Republican strategy, however, continued into Campaign 2000 with Vice President Al Gore facing attacks on his character and integrity. Gore was falsely painted as a delusional braggart, as both right-wing and mainstream media outlets freely misquoted him and subjected him to ridicule (while simultaneously bowing and scraping before Republican candidate George W. Bush).

When Gore managed to win the national popular vote anyway – and would have carried the key state of Florida if all legally cast ballots were counted – the Republicans and the Right rose up in fury demanding that the Florida count be stopped before Bush’s tiny lead completely disappeared. Starting a riot at the vote-counting center in Miami, the Republicans showed how far they would go to claim the White House again.

Then, five Republican partisans on the U.S. Supreme Court – wanting to ensure that the new president would keep their side in control of the courts and recognizing that their party was prepared to spread disorder if Gore prevailed – stopped the counting of votes and made Bush the “winner.” [For details, see the book, Neck Deep.]

Democratic Timidity

Despite the partisan Supreme Court ruling putting Bush in the White House, Gore and the Democrats stepped back from a political confrontation. The right-wing press cheered and gloated, while the mainstream news media urged the people to accept Bush as “legitimate” for the good of the country.

For most of Bush’s disastrous presidency, this dynamic remained the same. Though barely able to complete a coherent sentence, Bush was treated with great deference, even when he failed to protect the country from the 9/11 attacks and led the nation into an unprovoked war with Iraq. There were no combative investigations of Bush like those that surrounded Clinton.

Even at the end of Bush’s presidency – when his policies of bank deregulation, tax cuts for the rich and massive budget deficits combined to create the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression – the prevailing message from the Establishment was that it was unfair to lay too much blame on Bush. Shortly after Barack Obama took office in 2009, a Republican/right-wing talking point was to complain when anyone took note of the mess that Bush had left behind: “There you go again, blaming Bush.”

The Republicans and the Right also set to work demonizing and undermining Obama’s presidency. For weeks, instead of letting the Democrats enact legislation to address the financial and economic crisis, Senate Republicans launched filibuster after filibuster.

When Obama and the Democrats did push through emergency legislation, such as the $787 billion stimulus package, they had to water it down to reach the 60-vote super-majority. The Republicans and the Right then quickly laid the blame for high unemployment on the “failed” stimulus.

There also were waves of propaganda pounding Obama’s legitimacy. The Right’s news media pressed bogus accusations that Obama had been born in Kenya and thus was not constitutionally eligible to be president. He was denounced as a socialist, a Muslim, a fascist, an enemy of Israel, and pretty much any other charge that might hit some American hot button.

When Obama welcomed American students back to school in 2009, the Right organized against his simple message – urging young people to work hard – as if it were some form of totalitarian mind control. His attempt to address the growing crisis in American health care was denounced as taking away freedoms and imposing “death panels.”

Soon, billionaires such as oil men David and Charles Koch and media mogul Murdoch, were promoting a “grassroots” rebellion against Obama called the Tea Party. Activists were showing up at presidential speeches with guns and brandishing weapons at rallies near Washington.

The high-decibel disruptions and the “screaming” economy created the impression of political chaos. Meanwhile, the mainstream press faulted Obama for failing to live up to his campaign promise to bring greater bipartisanship to Washington.

The Tea Party Victory

By November 2010, the stage was set for a big Republican comeback. The party swept to victory in the House and fell just short in the Senate. But Congress was not the Republicans’ ultimate goal. What they really wanted was the White House with all its executive powers. However, following Obama’s success in killing Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011, the Right’s best hope for regaining complete control of the U.S. government in 2012 was to sink the U.S. economy, which had just recently begun to right itself.

Despite worries about the fragile recovery – and a warning from Moody’s about a downgrade on U.S. debt if Congress delayed action on raising the debt limit – the Republicans pushed the debt-limit vote to the brink before extracting major reductions in government spending (the so-called “sequester”).

By paying the ransom and avoiding default in 2011, Obama kept the weak economic “recovery” moving forward, achieving sufficient job growth to win reelection in 2012. But the Tea Party Republicans were no more chastened by their political reversals than the Republican “revolutionaries” were in 1998. They simply ramped up the pain.

It was the Clinton impeachment then; it is the double-barreled fiscal crisis of shutting down the government and threatening to default on the debt now. In both cases, there was some method to the madness.

By inflicting maximum political damage on Clinton, the Republicans weakened Al Gore’s candidacy in 2000; by confronting Obama with a new economic crisis now, the Tea Partiers feel they can expect a win-win, either Obama succumbs to their demands or he oversees a new recession, possibly even a depression.

The economy will be screaming so much – with the Right’s media blaming the collapse on Obama’s “failed” policies – that many Americans may be desperate for a change, perhaps even the radical “free-market” prescriptions and “small government” nostrums of the Libertarians and the Tea Party.

Those tattered old ideas won’t help most Americans, who have seen the middle class shrink over the past several decades amid right-wing economics and deregulatory extremism. More of Ayn Rand’s winner-take-all capitalism will only concentrate more wealth at the top one percent while further hollowing out the 99 percent.

However, if Republicans are allowed to get their way and the Democrats, as usual, give way, the deliberate infliction of pain on the national political structure will likely end. Thus, the public screaming will be more muted, heard only in the desperation of individual Americans scrambling to make ends meet.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

R2P RIP: Gaza the Constant Exception

R2P Gaza

by Eva Bartlett  - In Gaza

It is important to recall, with the current lack of coverage, that the siege on Gaza continues full steam ahead, leaving Palestinians in Gaza (and analysts, human rights organizations, and the casual observer) to say that it is now as bad as it was in 2007.

As much potential, culture, and knowledge as Palestinians have, they are forever being forced backwards, grateful for whatever stop-gap for whatever crisis is at the time inflicted upon them. In these times of rolling power outages, fuel and cooking gas crises, medicines and equipment shortages (“zero stock”), inventions and innovations to get around the lack of fuel or deal with no electricity are prized. But shouldn’t Palestinians be allowed just a little more than the reward of figuring out the latest way to cook without gas, electricity or wood, or how to get to university and work without public transport?

Perhaps in addition to these small rewards they might also get a vestige of justice, equality, freedom of movement, and the ability to produce and export and provide for their families.

I spoke with three Palestinians in their early to mid twenties on what is life like now in Gaza.

On life under siege

Awni Farhat:

I am sick of the current situation in Gaza. It is suffocating me.

Living in Gaza under siege is unbearable .Palestinians have suffered for many years but no one listens: the continued closure of the Rafah border, the fuel crisis, the lack of basic human needs, the ongoing power cuts, the lack of clean water, the strict Israeli and Egyptian policies with Palestinian fishermen…

Thousands of university graduates don’t have jobs. Finding a job is something like a miracle here in Gaza. As a result, most youths are depressed, hopeless, desperate, lost …

We lose electricity eight hours per day. Sometimes we have no electricity for long as 12 hours a day. Patients suffer lack of medicine and equipment.Every single person who lives in the Gaza Strip is impacted by the closures.

Yousef al Jamal [website]:

Life is getting tougher everyday. We are back to fighting to get the most basic needs to survive such as fuel and electricity. There is a serious transportation crisis. Prices of goods doubled. Unemployment increased. 100s of stuck patients and students’ future is at risk.

Electricity goes off 12 hours a day. This paralyzes life in Gaza completely. Factories, bakeries and businesses stop.

In 2007, my eldest sister died because she was denied a permit to get medical care in Jerusalem. The Rafah crossing was shut down. The situation today is almost the same. Two people passed away so far because of the closure of the border.

[also: Yousef al Jammal's 'Waiting in Gaza, where nothing makes sense']

Omar Ghareib:

Gaza is small and generally (in good times) easy to get around. Taxis are cheap compared to other countries. But, with the constant lack of fuel, transportation is always dwindling. Sometimes, its almost impossible to find a taxi and if you do, it will cost you more than the usual cab fair, sometimes doubled, because the fuel is scarce and getting it is expensive.

I see great potential and beauty in this little bit of land, tarnished by Israeli attacks and the siege. However, living here is challenging. There are many bad aspects to living in Gaza but perhaps the most prominent are: power outages, lack of fuel and water, and the most of all is the freedom of movement or to be more accurate the lack of it. The Rafah border is Gaza’s only breather, but its always closed, and when/if its opened and you managed to cross it into Cairo by a miracle, it will be a hellish experience. But at least the Rafah crossing is a possibility. The Erez crossing (linking Gaza to the West Bank and controlled fully by Israel) is not on the table for the majority of Gaza’s citizens.

Perhaps the most affected by the siege are the patients who suffer from severe illnesses and need urgent medical care outside of Gaza, students with scholarships for higher education abroad, and basically everyone else who lives in Gaza and is inevitably affected by any of the previously mentioned difficult aspects.

Gaza is always, I mean ALWAYS, suffering from one or more things. Israeli attacks, the siege, Egypt’s siege (the closure of Rafah border), power outages, fuel shortages, water shortages, cooking gas shortages. But life goes on and we try to survive.

The closure of borders means the death of people and their dreams. If patients cant exit Gaza, and they remain trapped (as they usually do), they die. Many have already died here after being denied exit for urgent medical care.

With the closure of the Rafah tunnels, prices are slowly skyrocketing. I am also affected by the closure of Rafah border, I couldn’t attend a UN media seminar I was invited to. I can’t attend any other international conferences and training courses and I was offered a job in San Francisco and they waited for me for over three weeks but I couldn’t leave so they had to hire somebody else.

Education Impaired

Awni Farhat:

In 2007, after finishing high school, I got a full scholarship to study abroad. I was madly happy, and tried for more than 4 months to travel through the Rafah crossing. But I wasn’t able to leave the Gaza Strip; all my dreams vanished at the Rafah Crossing gate.

Now I have a bachelors degree in English language, and I am still dreaming of traveling outside of Gaza to pursue further studies in at a European university. But the closed Rafah crossing again threatens my dreams and plans, another nightmare for me.

Most students here in Gaza daily suffer from a transportation crisis, especially the ones who live in the south, in Khan Younis and Rafah. They wait for hours to find a car or a mini bus to take them to their universities, and often miss their morning lectures.

Hundreds of students have lost their scholarships and visas because of the ongoing closure of Rafah crossing.

Last Saturday, only about 130 travelers managed to pass through the Rafah crossing, 130 of thousands of Palestinians who were hoping to get out of this big prison

Yousef al Jamal:

I am MA student I am stuck in Gaza. I may lose my scholarship if I don’t travel soon.

[see Yousef al Jamal's “Don't Crush Our Dreams: a please from a student trapped in Gaza”]

Omar Ghareib:

The dreams of students are shattered everyday. Students around the world find the hard part to be obtaining scholarships, but Palestinians in Gaza earn scholarships yet are trapped and denied the opportunity of pursuing their dreams because they can’t exit. Palestine came number 1 in the countries that has the lowest illiteracy rates, and Gaza is has the lowest rate of illiteracy in Palestine.

Who is to blame?

Awni Farhat:

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly who is the responsible for this, but the blame is first on deaf Arab communities and then on the rest of the world, who are still silent till now.

I think Israeli, Egyptian, Palestinians and international decision-makers are trying to increase pressure on Hamas by increasing the strict strategies against Gaza, closing the borders with Gaza to make people rise up against Hamas.

The new regime in Egypt doesn’t stand with the Palestinian government in Gaza, Hamas, which stood with Morsi.

Yousef al Jamal:

Israel is responsible the most being the occupying power, then Egypt. Borders are used to collectively punish the people if Gaza to reach political compromises.

Omar Ghareib:

Israel and Egypt are behind the closure of borders. Israel, because it is the occupier. And Egypt because they want to blame whats happening in their country on Hamas and collectively punish Palestinians after seeing Israel doing it for years.

“Peace talks”

Awni Farhat:

Peace talks have never worked and never will. They will bring no justice whatsoever to Palestinians because there is no intention of trying to achieve a peace with the Palestinian people and there never has been … The mandate for Palestine was prepared long before WW2 with the intention of creating an Israel which includes all of Palestine and many neighboring countries.

Peace talks are a sham, only there to keep the west misinformed and disinterested. All the general public hears about Palestine is the same message repeated year after year in the news: Palestine-Israel peace talks….brainwashing them to stop listening.

It gives them also the opportunity to say that Palestine isn’t cooperating. There are no peace talks, there is simply a will by the powers that be to remove Palestine from the map and create greater Israel with as little interference as possible.

Even now, we often hear drones and sometimes Israeli F-16s. There’s no cease-fire! There are more than 230 Israeli cease-fire violations as “peace talks” go on.

Yousef al Jamal:

The best way to waste time is to get involved in this useless ‘process’ which gives Israel the umbrella to confiscate more Palestinian lands.

The buzz of Israeli drones over Gaza and the shootings from Israeli warships is very usual in Gaza. It’s a part and parcel of our daily struggle to survive.

Omar Ghareib:

The thought of Kerry having genuine concern for Palestinians is ridiculous. Of course he doesn’t.

I don’t support any so-called “Peace talks” between Israel and Palestine. What have those peace talks every achieve for Palestinians before? We only made compromises and lost more land. I don’t think we can afford to give up anything we have left, because what we have now is not much. Israel will never allow for the siege on Gaza to be broken or ended, specially now that its being highly supported by Egypt.

In the 2008-2009 Israeli attacks, I lost a few neighbors and a friend, which is nothing compared to other people who lost their families and houses. Some moved to other houses, some couldn’t afford moving or rebuilding so they lived in tents, some went to humanitarian organizations and some are still suffering losses till now. You can rebuild your houses but you can never bring back your family or relatives or friends from death. A friend of mine finished rebuilding his house just recently, he was a newlywed during the 2008-2009 attacks, he lived in his new house for two weeks before Israel bombed it, he paid everything he owned to build it. He moved in with his parents and is still waiting to furnish it and finish completing it.

Israel is constantly present in Gaza. If Israeli drones aren’t buzzing over our heads, then F-16s will definitely be roaring in the skies of Gaza. They shoot at and harass farmers and fishermen on a daily basis. Israel continually breaks ceasefires, no wonder the number of violations of the recent ceasefire is 235. And that wont be the last one for sure.

Why is there never an R2P for Palestine?

Awni Farhat:

It’s obvious that Israel and America are two faces of the same coin. US and western intervention in Syria is part of dividing the whole Arab region. What they want is to control the Arab region.

Yousef al Jamal:

Israel feels it is at risk, the interests of global powers in Syria is at risk, thus they intervene under the pretext of human rights, but in Gaza, their interests are not threatened, this they don’t care.

Omar Ghareib:

The US will never intervene in Palestine because they fully support Israel, even though Israel has chemical (and nuclear) weapons. But Syria is seen to be a threat by Israel, the US intervened in Iraq and is still there even though the weapons of mass destruction was a lie, so for sure now they want to eliminate Syria because Syria is strong and strategic. Israel used chemical weapons during its 2008-2009 war on Gaza and the US said nothing and did nothing but supports Israel. Why the double standards?

see also:

Gaza Students Stranded By Rafah Border Closure

One-day-old baby died at Egyptian side of Rafah crossing

Gaza to run out of drinking water by 2016!

Egypt attacks fishermen in Gaza’s waters

Crisis in Gaza following Rafah Tunnel Closures: Police Called in to Transport Public

Egyptian Navy Launches Assault on Gaza Fishermen

State of the Gaza Strip’s Border Crossings 01 – 30 June 2013

The humanitarian impact of reduced access between Gaza and Egypt

Gaza health ministry: One third of basic medicines no longer available

Israeli forces shot and injured a Palestinian farmer in the Gaza Strip

Gazans say Egypt is now turning the screw

Full List of 236 Documented Israeli Cease Fire Violations

Gaza Strip faces water crisis

Egypt military court gives five Palestinians one-year jail sentence