Saturday, December 22, 2012

Nahr al Bared in Yamouk?

Will the Destruction of Nahr al Bared be Replicated in Yamouk?

by Franklin Lamb - CounterPunch

Yarmouk Camp, Damascus - Some Palestinian here in Damascus, from the Palestinian writers union with whom this observer has been meeting, including independent researcher Hamad Said Al-Mawed are saying so.

Admittedly there are some similarities between the two camps fate. Both among the ‘better’ of the 57 Palestinian refugee camps in the hosting countries, of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza Both, one in Lebanon, the other in Syria, were penetrated by salafist-jihadists from other countries. Jihadists from nine countries made incursions into Nahr al Bared, near Tripoli, Lebanon, and as many as 29 country’s salafists invaded Yarmouk in Damascus some discretely over the past several months and a massive attack starting on 12/16/12.

 Both invading groups were given weapons and largely funded by Gulf countries, primarily US ally Saudi Arabia, and both projects were acquiesced in by the American and Israeli governments. Both camps were quickly surrounded by government forces awaiting orders to expel or kill the infiltrators. Both camps were subject to aerial bombing. Today, many inhabitants of both camps harbor suspicions that hegemonic interests seek to destroy and empty the camps in order to force the removal of the maximum number of refugees from the Levant, part of a project to undermine the Palestinians’ inalienable Right of Return to their homes in Palestine.

Over the past ten weeks of intermittent shelling of the camp, more than 40 residents have been killed and each of the Yarmouks 28 schools, six hospitals and 15 mosques have been damaged. The Palestine Red Crescent Society has lost ten ambulances from various rockets and RPG’s.

The morning of 12/21/12 saw general calm in Yarmouk, following intense clashes, widespread destruction in some areas and two bombs dropped over the past week. Several hundred Palestinians, from among the more than 100,000 who fled this week risked their lives yesterday by crossing through Syrian army lines during last night to return to what was left of their homes, rather than remain on the cold, wet, windy streets, parking lots and parks. More are returning today.

Irrespective of what one might think of the role of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-GC (PFLP-GC) in igniting the fighting at Yarmouk, and the role of its leader, Ahmed Jebril’s, both have been working around the clock since last Sundays invasion to save the camp and restore calm and security.

This observer, while meeting with General Command politburo member, Anwar Raja, felt guilty taking the fellows time because his phones rang nearly nonstop as he tried to solve camp residents problems as best he could, shouting orders to some of the gunmen in his office and others on the phone, cursing some of his men who took what he claims is Gulf money bribes to go home or to switch sides.. All the while conferring with Jebril, Syrian officials, other Palestinian groups, and even some Al Nusra and other salafist groups trying to do a deal to save the camp.

Despite efforts of the General Command, Jabril and the organization is persona non grata in Yarmouk and its unclear if the PFLP-GC will be able to return anytime soon. Last Wednesday’s meeting at the Palestine Embassy blacklisted Jebril and his group. Feeling inside Yarmouk is very strong against him yet interviewing some officials of “al Islamiya” and others, it is not clear to this observer what his crimes were. It is true that Jebril hired a few hundred Palestinians in Yarmouk and formed “popular security committees” ostensibly to keep order and “neutrality” in the camp and a number of them are accused of using and dealing drugs and run a bit rough shod if challenged,, but it is not proved that the GC committed murders in the camp or engaged in burglaries and other serious criminal acts. In any case the popular committees Jabril set up have collapsed and dispersed.

Palestinian refugees returning to the camp have lost some of their fear and are angry to find some armed “outsiders” still inside. Remaining al Nusra elements–and there does not appear to be many nor do they appear to be any longer threatening the residents are scowled at as they smoke nargileh water pipes in the alleys and try to joke with kids and returning camp residents. A few of the al Qaeda types even wanted their picture taken with a visiting American, apparently never having actually met one but who they assumed would be hostile or look like Satan. During cups of tea, one joked that this observer should not worry because they will not kidnap him for ransom. I assured them that if they did my government would not pay one American penny for my release, despite the fact that I consider myself a patriot in the mold of Stephen Decatur: “My country right or wrong but when right to be kept right and when wrong to be put right.” They laughed when I added: “come to think of it my government might just pay you fellows a ransom to keep me!”

Reports of an openly sectarian conflict inside Yarmouk do not appear accurate. What one consistently hears from residents is that they want to stay out of the conflict and not take sides. They are acutely aware that various elements want to drag them into the Syrian civil war. There is a wide-spread perception that the past several months of violence against Yarmouk are messages not to support either the rebels or the government or Yarmouk could end up like Nahr al Bared camp in North Lebanon.


Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and can be reached c/o

Israel Sets New Record: Congratulations on 900 Children Kidnapped in 2012!


Israeli Soldiers Kidnapped 900 Children in 2012

by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

The Ministry said that following the latest aggression on Gaza, and the upgrade of Palestine’s status at the UN, Israeli soldiers stepped-up their assaults, especially against Palestinian youths and children.
The Palestinian Ministry Of Detainees reported that this year witnessed a sharp increase in Israeli violations against Palestinian children, and said that Israeli soldiers kidnapped this year 900 Palestinian children comparing to 700 kidnapped last year.File - Maan Images
It said that %95 of the kidnapped children were attacked, beaten and abused during their arrest, and added that most of the children were kidnapped from their homes between the hours of 2 and 4 at dawn, and that the army violently broke into their homes by smashing through the doors, and caused damage to the furniture and property during violent searches.

The children were cuffed and blindfolded, and the soldiers violently attacked and insulted their parents who attempted to defend them and prevent their arrest. The soldiers then kidnapped the children taking them to unknown destinations without any warrants.

“Most of the kidnapped children were tortured and abused during their arrest; soldiers would beat and kick them with their weapons and boots, and sometimes with batons, this is happening besides the insults and the curses, in many cases the soldiers fired rounds of live ammunition, gas bombs and concussion grenades”, the Ministry said.

The detained children were also beaten while being transported to detention and interrogation centers, the soldiers would punch and kick them, would also force them to sit on the floor of the military jeeps and would place their legs on their faces and heads.

In many cases, soldiers driving those jeeps and trucks would speed up and then step on the breaks, an issue that pushes the kidnapped children around those jeeps causing their bodies and heads to smash around.
When the kidnapped children are taken to interrogation centers, they are tortured and threatened to be continuously and endlessly tortured “unless they confess and provide some names of friends and relatives”.

In many cases, Israeli interrogators would subject the kidnapped children to rounds and rounds of interrogation while keeping them sitting on small chairs and their hands would be tied behind their backs and their legs would be shackled; the children would also be blindfolded, and would also be forced to stand against the wall for several hours, outside, under the rain and extreme summer sun.

The Ministry also reported that Israeli interrogators repeatedly used electric shocks while interrogating the detainees, and would force them to drink boiled water similar to what they did with Nassar Aref Jaradat, 16, from Sair town near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

Nassar was kidnapped on February 2, 2010, and was taken to the Etzion military camp where he was forced to stand under the cold and the rain for several hours, and was repeatedly beaten and punched, and when he was taken to the interrogation room, the interrogators shocked him with electric currents until he lost consciousness.

Most of the kidnapped children were taken to interrogation centers in illegal Israeli settlements such as Keryat Arba’, Maaleh Adumim, Dan Shomron, and several other settlements where the detainees were interrogated and tortured and the Red Cross was never informed about their whereabouts.

There are 140 Palestinian children who are currently under interrogation or awaiting trial, and a total of 200 who are held by Israel, including 32 who are under the age of 16.

Similar to detained adults, Palestinian children held by Israel are deprived from their basic and internationally guaranteed rights; their families and lawyers are not granted any information about the location where they are held and in most cases the reason behind their arrest.

Israel continuously violates all related international laws and treaties, especially regarding the protection of children, and continues to kidnap, torture and imprison Palestinian children, in addition to the fact that most of the casualties in Israel’s repeated wars on Gaza are civilians, mainly children and infants.

Israel also treats the kidnapped Palestinian children as “terrorist to be” and uses all illegal measures and sorts of torture and abuse against them, including sleep deprivation, extreme torture, depriving them from family and lawyer visits, food and water deprivation, sexual harassment and tries to recruit them to work for the Israeli security by telling them that the torture would stop once they start to cooperate.

It is worth mentioning that Israel also applied a military law known as Military Order #132 that allows the army to kidnap and interrogate Palestinian children who are 12 years old. 

Timid Ambitions: Newtown Reax


Timid Ambitions: Newtown Reax

by C. L. Cook

Last Friday, remembrance ceremonies were held for those killed at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Billed as an unofficial national day of mourning, a minute of silence was observed for the dead. A few days after the shooting, President Obama expressed his sadness and regret that 20 children, and six of their teachers, died in such a violent and seemingly senseless circumstance. Part of the president's speech touched on the existential mystery of all our lives, saying:

"You know, all the world’s religions, so many of them represented here today, start with a simple question. Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose? We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that, no matter how good our intentions, we’ll all stumble sometimes in some way."

President Obama used the occasion to also question the nation's political environment, apparently challenging a status quo unable to prevent the growing number of hyper-lethal gun attacks. Assuring America, he said:

"In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine." And questioning: "Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?"

But is the problem in America today really something law enforcement can address? Is it a matter of the failure of mental health professionals, or parents and educators?

Wayne LaPierre, the chief executive of the National Rifle Association, or NRA, too took finally to a podium in response to the mass killings in Newtown, and the hundreds of people holding candle lit vigils and calling for gun control outside his offices. LaPierre is calling for armed police to be stationed in every school in America. He charges, others attempt to exploit the tragedy for political ends. He blames them, and the media, and video game makers, and liberal politicians who pass laws creating "Gun-Free School Zones." These hateful gun-free zones, he believes, tell "every insane killer in America that schools are their safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk."

His logic follows conducively; the way to dissuade murder/suicide rampages in schools is to arm up. The same to presumably follow in shopping malls, libraries, corner stores and delicatessens across the land, all bejoining fortified airports, banks, and football stadia until there remains nary a place in America free of at least one person standing ready with a gun. LaPierre essentially concurs with the president in calling for an active national database of the mentally ill, but concedes it is just a prelude for addressing the "much larger and more lethal criminal class: Killers, robbers, rapists, and drug gang members who have spread like a cancer..."

Michael Moore, whose film 'Bowling for Columbine' questioned American values and its rioting gun culture following another mass shooting/homicide spree at Columbine High School in 1999 remained quiet after the Newtown shooting, refusing myriad interview requests. He tweeted he had "...said everything I had to say on the subject in 2002" - the year his Oscar-winning documentary was released. But, coincidentally, Moore was speaking at the Bring Leonard Peltier Home event just hours after news of the Newtown shooting came out. He addressed the crowd, saying he would like to amend the famous NRA meme, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" to better read, "Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people."  

Moore went on to catalogue America's violence in the world: the drones that kill civilians; the five wars ("that we know of") currently being conducted; and persistent death penalty legislation. Michael Moore also included other kinds of violence not generally regarded as such: Depriving millions of health care, (44,000 of those dying each year for no other reason than the lack of coverage); what he terms, "home invasions" - the dispossessing of hundreds of thousands of families through evictions; and corporate decisions made that result in the loss of jobs in their millions: Violent in effect and in fact.  

If Michael Moore offered a prescription, it wasn't included in the clip I saw. The NRA's Wayne LaPierre offers, violent video games and "slasher films" that "portray life as a joke, and murder as a way of life" are offensive to "every standard of civilized society," and is "the filthiest form of pornography" leading a race to a societal bottoming out.

And here I think he has something.

A simple trip downtown at Christmas provides numerous examples of a callous disregard for, if not the rights, then the well-being of others. Drivers running lights, or glued to telephones and text screens as they careen planet-killer four by fours along our crumbling thoroughfares. Pedestrians blithely pushing past elderly and infirm, mere impediments to their own more immediate and infinitely more important missions. Witness shoppers, bustling past the begging poor, without so much as a glance, inured to the commonplace suffering our new society normalizes. It is narcissism gone nuts - a toxic counter-socialism that in Newtown manifested in a crazed young man who believed twenty-seven lives meant nothing in the greater context of his suicide narrative. 

Mr. Obama's promise to do everything the power of his office allows rings hollow; as does Mr. LaPierre's promise of an armed guard in every avenue where another massacre might happen. Until we see the violence our way of life engenders, and make bold moves to address the core of the issue, there will be endless victims, and the spectre of the next Newtown will haunt every town.

From Bethlehem at Christmas: A Suffocated City Remembers Yuletide

The Burial of Bethlehem

by William A. Cook

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.    (Luke 2)

A few days ago I received this plea from Samuel Dowell, a cry from the heart in the season of joy and peace, as he witnesses the slow motion deathknell of the city of Bethlehem, the city of the Prince of Peace.

“Dr. Cook, Bethlehem. I don't know if any of this will be useful to you, but send it anyway.”

Bethlehem is a pretty graphic example of the ghettos the Israeli authorities are currently creating in the occupied Palestinian territories: latter-day bantustans. Now surrounded by an eight-meter-high concrete wall (dwarfing the former Berlin Wall), the victim of regular invasions (usually unreported in the Western media) by the Israeli military, Bethlehem is struggling for its very survival.
The illegal Israeli (read Jewish) 8 metre high apartheid barrier is designed not for security but the theft of 80% of Bethlehem's land to build a ring of illegal Jewish settlements. Why is the world so silent?   Samuel Dowell []

Dependent on tourism for much of its economy -- the city of Bethlehem is struggling against all odds. Israel has decided to close most of the city to even Holy Clergy who have churches within. Most businesses are closed down. Jesus' birthplace is a ghetto.

Here, the indigenous people of Jesus's birthplace, Bethlehem, Palestinian Christians are humiliated into waiting for Israeli soldiers to check them as they merely move from one town to another.

Waiting hours...

Today's Bethlehem is still the City of Jesus' birth, but wise men could NEVER reach it today, the cruel Israeli apartheid (or separation) wall reeks with discrimination against the Indigenous Christian people of Bethlehem. They are not Jewish, so they are treated with racism.

How magnificent yet how threatening this pall of black clouds that hangs over the city of peace, a veritable shroud of doom and despair as the threat of peace raises the specter of fear in the hearts of the secular Zionists whose purpose is to destroy the faith of brotherly love by denying the message of the Angels of God, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will to men.”

How diabolical the wall that rises over the Palestinian who walks beside this cement encasement of the people of Bethlehem, ostensibly a wall to secure the safety of the Jews in this Jewish state by keeping them isolated from the message of the Angels lest the inclusiveness of its brilliance makes the exclusivity of the Zionist Judaism a destructive force that threatens the attainment of peace for all humankind.

How inhuman to cement families behind such forms of fear, grotesque images of human failure where fear of fellow necessitates walling out all who are different, where security exists when one is isolated from his brother, a sister from her sister, when isolation breeds indifference, forgetfulness, an abiding hate of the unknown that blossoms inside the heart like some infectious disease and makes peace impossible.

How horrible that this fear in the deepest recesses of the Israeli state negates the teachings of the Prince of Peace, the baby born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago, denying to the citizens of Israel the riches he brought to the whole world: Instruct the ignorant; Counsel the doubtful; Comfort the sorrowful; Bear wrongs patiently; Forgive all injuries; Pray for the living and the dead.

How truly sad that the nation of Israel cannot see their brothers and sisters on the other side of that wall, that they do not wish to see them open their doors to all who wish to worship at the birthplace of the Prince of Peace, that they do not realize the depth of the internal fear roused in the hearts of all who come to that wall, humiliated that they cannot open their hearts to their God without displaying a passport to justify their purpose, knowing that those who “man” the towers and those who, weapons in hand, check them at military points, deny this God of Peace because he is a threat to the truth of their beliefs; perhaps that is the fear that resorts to military might to control, to the power of wealth to force the building of such a monstrous atrocity that symbolically denies humanity its very soul by caging humans in a tomb waiting till the lack of air suffocates the people of Bethlehem.

Watch Human Rights Watch – A Tribute to Prof Richard Falk

by Gilad Atzmon

This week we learned that Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expelled from its ranks top U.N. official Professor Richard Falk.

The juicy details have been kindly supplied by Israeli Hasbara outlet UN Watch blog.“We commend Human Rights Watch and its director Kenneth Roth for doing the right thing, and finally removing this enemy of human rights from their important organization,” said Hillel Neuer, a rabid Israeli supporter as well as Executive Director of UN Watch. “A man who supports the Hamas terrorist organization, and who was just condemned by the British Foreign Office for his cover endorsement of a virulently antisemitic book, has no place in an organization dedicated to human rights,”

Hasbara stooge that he is, Neuer using every Zionist trick in the book, misinforms and misleads his readers. First of all, Hamas is not a ‘terrorist organisation’, it is a democratically elected government and the book to which Neuer refers is obviously mine - ‘The Wandering Who’ – which, was endorsed by Richard Falk and some of the most important humanists and scholars of our time– a book which has been a best-seller for six months in both Britain and the USA, has been translated into 10 languages and is available in seven editions in countries that all strictly legislate against any form of racial incitement as well Holocaust denial. The fact is that the Zionists and their ‘Progressive’ twins will have to accept that The Wandering Who is, after all, strictly kosher.

So, Professor Falk did indeed endorse my book and, like all my other endorsers, did not cave in to pressure. This is should indeed concern all Zionist and their agents.

"A transformative story told with unflinching integrity that all (especially Jews) who care about real peace, as well as their own identity, should not only read, but reflect upon and discuss widely." Professor Richard Falk on The Wandering Who

But the problem is not the tribally oriented UN Watch and its Zionist Executive Director. After all, they only do what we expect Zionists to do - lie, harass, abuse, and, if necessary, fabricate evidence. No, far more interesting is the behaviour of the allegedly ‘progressive’ ‘Human Rights Watch’ and its director Kenneth Roth.

On the face of it, HRW is an independent, Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) ‘dedicated to defending and protecting human rights’. But it takes no more than a few seconds of research to find out that the primary donor of the HRW is liberal-Zionist George Soros and his Open Society Foundation - the same Soros and ‘Open’ society that supports most Palestinian NGOs including BDS which may perhaps explain why the BDS in Ramallah was so eager to compromise on that most precious Palestinian right i.e. The Right of Return. Nor will it surprise you to learn that the same Soros who funded HRW has been dedicated to the ‘exposing’ of Hamas’ failures on human rights issues? Is this not what you would expect from a liberal Zionist spinmeister?

In my new satirical work, A Glossary of Zionist Power which I am now completing, I include entries for Soros and his Open Society. In the book, Soros is a ‘Jew who supports a lot of good causes that are also very good for the Jews’ and The Open Society Foundation ‘is dedicated to the transformation of deprived people into Guardian readers’. Surely I will now have to add an entry for the HRW and Roth. Both are nothing short of ‘Zionist fig-leaves’ and, like all Jewish progressive outlets that are dedicated to Jewish tribal and ethnocentric campaigning, HRW is there to monitor, control and even stifle any criticism of Israel if it should ever get too close to the bone, i.e. touching on the Jewish character of the Jewish state,

Prof. Falk had little chance of surviving within such a tribal milieu and the reason is pretty simple. Unlike Zionist Neuer, Liberal Zionist Soros, and ‘Anti-Zionist Zionist’ Roth, Prof. Falk actually represents the ultimate success of the Zionist project. Early Zionism promised to transform the Jews into ‘people like all other people’. Zionism vowed to bring to life a Jew who transcends the tribal, a Jew who think universally and ethically. Early Zionists also believed that such a transformation could be achieved only in Palestine. Of course, they were wrong but no one can ignore the fact that the greatest and most prolific Jewish universalists are actually Israelis (Prof. Yishayahu Leibovitch, Prof. Israel Shahak, Nurit & Miko Peled, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, Uri Avneri, Ilan Pappe, Israel Shamir and many, many more). But Prof. Falk and a few others have managed to achieve a similar goal in the Diaspora. Those Jews whom we most admire and whose integrity we most trust such as Prof. Norton Mezvinsky, Prof. Norman Finkelstein, Prof. Falk - all have something in common - they do not operate within Jews-only political cells. Unlike JVP, IJAN, HRW and Mondweiss, all of whom are dedicated primarily to promoting Jewish interests, they are dedicated to universal values.

So I argue that Prof. Falk provides us with a glimpse into the possibility of true Jewish emancipation - the capacity to break out of the mental, intellectual and non-ethical ghetto. Moreover, this latest tale of HRW’s Herem (Kosher expulsion) of one of the greatest humanists of our generation is actually an educational event.

For many years, many of us saw Zionism and Israel as the mother and father of contemporary evil, but now, many of us have come to realise that Jewish progressive politics is every bit as sinister but, unlike Zionism that is only tainted with deception, the Jewish progressive discourse is inherently dishonest - it speaks universal but it thinks tribal.

While our disagreements with Israel and Zionism are clear, the Modus operandi adopted by AZZs and their relentless attempt to dominate the progressive discourse while, at the same time, stifling freedom of expression leave more and more humanists suspicious of any form of Jewish politics - be it right, left or centre.

I like to think that my Wandering Who was the first attempt to discuss these issues openly. I wrote it because I, too, am a wanderer who decided, instead of dwelling on someone else’s land, to leave my homeland. Perhaps Prof. Falk endorsed my work, because, like myself, he too is a wanderer. He self-reflects, examining his identity and his notion of justice from a transcendental point of view. Like myself, he is an artist, a poet, a man who searches, against all the odds, for beauty, peace and truth. On the other hand is George Soros’ Open Society Foundation which contributed $100 million to HRW just to silence ethically and aesthetically driven souls such as Prof. Falk and others.

The Wandering Who? A Study Of Jewish Identity Politics in general and Jewish progressive spin in particular or

BC First Nations and Enviros Marching to the Natural Gas Chambers: LNG, Fracking, ENGOs and All

LNG, Fracking, ENGOs and All

by Michael Major

[Article extracted from an ongoing listserve discussion, reprinted here with permission of the author. -ape]

Fracking, for the Haisla or at least for the person you are quoting, is done far away and in someone else's territory. Within Haisla territory, there is only a gas pipeline from nowhere carrying $100 million per day in raw material in which the Haisla have a compelling financial interest. But to put the fracked shale gas in the pipe, more water has to be inseparably polluted with noxious chemicals than is presently used daily in all of the other industrial and residential activities throughout the province. Pulp mill effluent is a lot less toxic than waste fracking water and relatively easy to treat.

Fracking water is not and cannot be treated for its pollution at a cost less than the value of the resulting produced fracked gas. Fracking water can only be diluted with vastly more clean water to render it briefly LD50 safe for fish. We subsidize fracking costs and profits by allowing vast amounts of water to be consumed and permanently polluted such that it can never be returned to the aquatic biosphere without severe biological consequences. When you choose fracking you are choosing to terminate the ecological conditions that sustain wild fish and healthy lakes, streams and rivers and even people.

Presumably, the precautionary outlook for the Haisla accepts that wild fish will not be on the 7th generation's menu. The Haisla gas pipeline and the LNG production compressor trains will require approximately doubling the amount of hydro power produced in BC. That power will be bought by BC Hydro above costs and sold below cost to more attractively further subsidize LNG production. The production of that power will involve the build-out of Peace River Site "C" and several hundred conventional dams and RoR diversion generators all of which will reduce oxygen, increase water temperature, increase turbidity, acid drainage and change the stream access and characteristics required by wild fish. Perhaps the Haisla agree with the Harper government that wild fish are in the way of economic progress and can be quickly replaced for the barbecue and table with atlantic engineered phish substitutes. Certainly in BC the subsidized production of atlantic pharm phish is intended to establish a financial basis for compensating industry caused wild fish bearing stream losses resulting from fracking progress and hinterland development.

The environmental consequences of wrecking even an unloaded bitumen or LNG supertanker in Douglas Channel will be an incomparable ecological disaster. Supertankers typically burn 1,500 gallons of bunker fuel per hour and carry at least enough for 20 days cruising so losing just half of the fuel in an inbound accident could put 360,000 gallons of heavy bunker in the salt chuck. There are probably only 5 or 6 weeks of weather at the mouth of Douglas Channel where a full 15% recovery of lost fuel might be achieved. The unrecoverable 85% will likely be broken-up and sunk with Corexit causing a less visible environmental crisis which cannot be further mitigated and the navigational complexity and increased vessel traffic guarantees that this will happen again and again.

The difference in consequences between a loaded or unloaded, LNG or crude oil supertanker accident are important but loaded or unloaded either is an ecological risk, serious threat and expanding catastrophe of enormous proportions. And, yes an LNG supertanker bleve and vapour cloud explosion (aka fuel air explosion) would closely approximate a nuclear weapon air blast with the blast wave front traveling out to become geomorphically concentrated at several thousand miles per hour --very large rocks miles away may remain undisturbed.

The tally of environmental consequences from fracking for LNG is huge, diffused and the economic benefits are financially concentrated only within the corporate elites and their henchflak and enablers. In comparison with fracking & LNG production, original old growth forest liquidation logging for cheap mass production of commodity lumber was positively environmental and quite socialist in its consequences. Any enviro convinced that Fracking & LNG production in BC is environmentally benign or climate friendly is either a fool or a corporate tool. Anyone buying the PR nonsense about LNG being a bridge to bio-gas & hydrogen is buying a Brooklyn Bridging fuel. It is truly unfortunate that in our co-opted corporate sustainabilism we can't hold a BCEN conference in which to inform ourselves of how to confront the fracking disaster and its hundred generation expanding environmental consequences.

If we can't get on the same page about the consequences of fracking and LNG there won't be anything else environmental left to worry about. Never before in the brief history of environmentalism has anything so completely un-evironmental been championed by so many so-called environmentalists. It is even worse that so many of the so-called enviro's think that by allowing production of LNG for shipping on "Green" supertankers somehow the "Brown" bitumen supertankers won't also arrive.

Gaza's PTSD Kids

Gaza's Children Haunted by Nightmare of War 


UNICEF report indicates vast majority of Gaza's children are struggling to cope with war trauma and PTSD

Watch full multipart The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza

UNICEF report indicates vast majority of Gaza's children are struggling to cope with war trauma and PTSD. This is the first of a two part series on the psychological toll the war and siege has taken on Gaza's most vulnerable population. TRNN explores the Oum el Qurra school in the Tar el Hawa neighborhood in Gaza city where many of the students were still being pulled out of class for counseling one month after Israel's eight day assault.
Mental health workers, psychologists and therapists are overwhelmed by lack of resources. The second part will explore what methods are being used to treat, rehabilitate and recover children and adults from war trauma.
Ahmed Deeb and Nosier Abdullah contributed to this report

The State of India's Police Democracy

Police State India

by Andre Vltchek

In the middle of December 2012, New Delhi was once again choking on a thick stratum of smog. Everyone around me was coughing, while I was supposed to be filming, for one of my documentaries. But in such conditions, filming became almost impossible, unless one was yearning for some peculiar special effects.

While I was modifying my script, the President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, was attending a meeting of a group of local industrialists, somewhere on the ground floor of the hotel where I was staying. Security that was always tight suddenly became impenetrable.

Between the smog and the overzealous security personnel, I felt that I had almost no breathing space left; I was choking.

Since my first visit to India more than a decade ago, I noticed that the country has been radiating some sort of militarized Djibouti-style vibes. Occasionally it felt as if some sadistic security freaks had been running the place, after a vigorous training on Mars or at West Point, or somewhere else – one would not want to ask where.

I was intending to film the Indian Parliament, as well as several other government buildings, from the 20th floor of my hotel. I needed ‘perspective’ from which to observe the local hubs of power.

I took the elevator to the top floor and entered the bar; and, from there, a Chinese restaurant. It was long before the opening hours and the staff were aimlessly hanging around and chatting.

I approached the window. It was dirty, but behind it, I spotted a narrow tiled terrace. I tried the door, but it was hopelessly locked. I pushed, but it did not give in.

“Could you let me out?” I asked the flock of waiters.

They exchanged sarcastic glances. I probably said something thoroughly idiotic.

“You can’t go out, sir,” I was told. Then I waited for more. In India, there was always ‘more’ coming, after the initial rejection. This was no exception. “For your own security, for the security of other guests, and for…”

“And for?” I insisted.

A young lady uttered something related to the country.

“On Independence Day and during all other important holidays, we have snipers on these terraces, and also on the roof”, explained her colleague. There was a clear flair of pathos in his words. His chest swelled with pride. As he uttered the word ‘snipers’, his voice shook with emotion; I had no clue why. It was obvious that snipers moved him, as others would be, by the verses of Neruda or Tagore.

“Look”, I tried to reason. “The window is filthy, there is smog outside, and I need to film… Just open the stuff for a few minutes would you?” I tried to make light of it; I added: “I will not jump. I promise.”

“It is forbidden, sir,” explained the waiter, stone-faced. “Please forgive me for hurting your feelings”.

I have never mastered those archaic expressions India was saturated with. Questions like, “Where do you belong?” translates as, “What is your nationality, or where do you come from?” a very rude opening question to start with, but the most common here. And now this: “hurting my feelings”. He was not hurting my feelings; he was simply getting on my nerves.

“Forbidden by who?” I wanted to know.

“Forbidden by the Government of India”. And again, came that swelling of the chest and breaking of the voice.

Of course one could not argue against the orders of such a supreme authority.

The government of India was an extremely busy entity. It was diligently forbidding people like me to film anything in this country: the military and naval bases, the Government buildings, the public and private offices, the bridges, posh restaurants, and the trains.

The Museums were out of reach, too. And many of the statues! Before travelling to Mumbai and New Delhi, I stopped off in Kolkata, to film the Victoria Monument and the statues of all those British bandits and mass murderers, who used to rule and plunder this country.

“They maintain their monuments”, Noam Chomsky, who came to give talks here some time earlier, told me. “Many Indian people actually still admire them.”

I located the statue of the arch thug, Robert Clive, as well as of the kings, queens and viceroys of the British Empire.

“No filming and no photographs inside the monument!” The guard that looked like a member of some Reagan-days Central American death squad, shouted at me. The Victoria Monument was full of them. I offered to film his mug; but he showed me his gun. I backed up, strategically, and filmed Clive – sir, from behind the corner.

The statue of Robert Clive was wrapped: it was resting inside some huge see-through plastic condom.

Local women found it amusing; they were giggling and making cheeky jokes. But one could not film it. I did of course, employing some very basic guerilla tactics of a seasoned war correspondent, although a museum appeared to be quite a bizarre place to put my experience from the trenches to practice.

Robert Clive and laughing Indian girls.

* * *

In India, wherever I went, it was always ‘no, no and no!’ There were some slight variations, like: “Definitely not, Sir”, “Please stop!” or “I will have to arrest you!” Sometimes “Sir” was uttered, sometimes not, and periodically my eyes would meet a neat, polished and round muzzle of a gun.

“Get a special permit” was the repeated advice that I was often offered.

Of course I knew what that meant. ‘Getting a special permit’ was synonymous to erect finger facing endless blue sky. And to endless hours burned in some shabby government office, while facing an incompetent and often semi-illiterate clerk, who would have not the slightest clue what I was asking for, while pretending that he was parked on top of the world. ‘Getting a permit’, meant losing hope in humanity. Doing it the ‘official way’ in India, one would need a few lifetimes, in order to complete one single feature-length documentary film.

* * *

The Indian state appears to be thoroughly paranoid, scared of anyone trying to document the reality.

It developed an allergy to writers, investigative journalists, filmmakers and photographers, especially those that happened to be ‘independent’, therefore ‘unpredictable’ and potentially capable of challenging the clichés fabricated in Washington, London and New Delhi, depicting the country as the ‘largest democracy on earth’.

To fight against such threatening elements, the Indian regime, consisting of the moneyed elites, feudal lords, religious fanatics and the military brass, became pathologically obsessed with security, with surveillance, with relentless checking on things, and people. I have never witnessed such security zeal, even in the countries that are under direct threat from the West: such as Cuba or China. In both those countries, I film everywhere and freely, including opera houses, museums, trains, and even some military ships if they are in open waters.

At the slums, film as much as you want.

* * *

Security in India is everywhere: you go through metal detectors when entering the metro (subway) in New Delhi, before arriving at the lobbies of hotels, office buildings, upmarket malls, even some outdoor monuments like The Gate to India in Mumbai, or India Gate in New Delhi.

At the New Delhi Metro, a guard with a rifle stands at every entrance. Below the surface, there are mountains of sand bags with machine gunners behind them, then an armed guard after you purchase a token, and then another. There are many unarmed and sometimes plain-clothed security personnel on the platforms. That entire charade is spiced up with metal detectors.

I suspect that the security apparatus in India must be employing tens of millions of people.

Police barricades are all over the capital, as well as in Mumbai and Kolkata; entire roads are periodically blocked. The Army is patrolling the highways; armed forces (so many different types, that one can hardly keep track of who is who) are operating on the streets, national roads, everywhere.

At the major train stations, not only are there ‘normal’ hordes of police and security personnel; there are entire units of the army, holed up behind sand bags, heavily armed and obviously ready to shoot at the slightest pretext.

And the security at Indian airports, even when one is about to take a domestic flight, would put to shame most of the ‘Homeland Security’ dudes in the US, and could only find a match with the airport security in Israel.

When you fly from Kolkata to Mumbai, you have to show your printed ‘E-ticket’. Arguing that the E-ticket is by definition electronic will get you nowhere. Forget about the word ‘logic’. And remember – an image of your ticket on your iPhone would not do. If you don’t have the printout; there is an office at the curb that will supply you with one, for a fee.

Then your luggage goes through an X-ray; pre-screening so to speak. Then you show your passport and the ticket again. A few steps later, you do it once more, so you might as well keep your ticket and the passport in your mouth if you have several pieces of luggage to carry.

Then you check in – passport required; and the chances are – it will be photocopied. Later you go through the real security, and that is heavy. Forget about just taking computer out of your bag: you will be put on a wooden pedestal and manually thoroughly checked. Then your boarding pass and your carry-on luggage tag will be stamped. You will be ordered (not asked, but ordered) to produce your ID again, and once more at the gate and once again right at the entrance to the aircraft.

I have worked in 145 countries, on all continents, but I never experienced the security-mania that would come close to that in India.

The police are watching you from everywhere you turn.

* * *

But where is the Indian security apparatus when it is desperately needed?

When women are harassed, even gang raped in public transportation or right in the middle of the street, they are nowhere to be found.

I once witnessed ‘the largest democracy’ at work, right after the massacres in Ahmedabad, Gujarat in 2002.

People spoke to me of religious-motivated slaughter, of the stomachs of pregnant woman being cut open, of brutal mass rapes. They were not protected. What were those tens of millions of parasitical armed forces doing during those massacres?

But during the Gandhi Nagar standoff, which came a short time later, when the attack was attributed to Muslims and some fingers began to point at Pakistan, hordes of the military personnel suddenly descended on Gujarat.

Grotesquely Fascist leaders of RSS and VHP, were all of a sudden opening their doors, inviting me to their long tea sessions, during which they explained and promoted their ‘programs’ of hate and bigotry: “You are white and Aryan, you should understand us…” I was part Asian and happy to be one, but I let them talk, asking questions and taking notes for posterity.

All that hate-speech! These Nazi organizations have been operating in the open, and fully accepted by the great majority of Indian people. The Security apparatus knows about them, and does absolutely nothing to put an end to their existence.

It was when I was working in Gujarat, during the Swaminarayan Temple complex massacre, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the maverick politician Sonia Gandhi, decided to visit, in order to boost their popularity. Enormous crowds of people came to welcome them, or maybe just to catch a glimpse of their famous faces. Before the motorcades reached the site, the police began ‘softening the crowd’ – basically beating up the citizens with sticks, and herding them behind the barriers. Security at work!

I also observed that fabled ‘Indian democracy’ at work in Dalit (Untouchable) villages outside Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, listening to the stories about how the elections were conducted there; how entire towns are bought; literally purchased, or simply scared into submission by those who are holding the reins of power. No security apparatus ever intervened, upholding free and fair elections for the poor.

And there were no soldiers and no police, when the owners of Indian companies kicked the poor farmers off their land. Or actually, I am wrong: they were there, but to protect the interests of the rich bandits, against the poor and vulnerable.

Where are the police when you need them?

* * *

Torture, rapes, disappearances and political killings mark India, and so is the total spite for the great majority of its population. In India the security forces perform most of those beastly crimes.

The situation is so bad that even some mass media outlets are beginning to take notice.

The Guardian ran Seema Sengupta’s story, “India’s human rights record makes a farce of its democracy” on 22 July 2011:

…The Asian Centre for Human Rights has documented a jump in cases of custodial deaths by 41.66% over the last decade, including 70.72% in prison and 12.60% in police custody. It is indeed a paradox that the largest democracy is defiled by frequent cases of illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial execution and forced disappearances. Moreover, nothing could be more disgraceful than the incarceration of thousands of people for political reasons in this multiparty democracy. Unfortunately, the state seems to be competing with the outlaws in trampling the basic rights of its citizens guaranteed by the Indian constitution. The common people, particularly minorities and the underprivileged, are enduring all forms of inhuman and degrading treatment at the hands of security personnel…

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are periodically reporting on the situation in Kashmir and elsewhere in India:

…Thousands of Kashmiris have reported to be killed by Indian security forces in custody, extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances and these human right violations are said to be carried out by Indian security forces under total impunity. Civilians including women and children have been killed in “reprisal” attacks by Indian security forces and as a “collective punishment” villages and neighborhoods have been burn down and women raped…

After reading such reports and after having been acquainted with India for so many years, one does not feel necessarily safe when being stopped at some roadblock by the police or the military, especially at night.

Frankly, I feel much safer in the middle of the toughest slums of Mumbai, than in the company of the Indian armed forces, although I acknowledge that this could be a matter of personal preferences.

* * *

In sharp contrast to most of other Asian countries, in India there is nothing like ‘free Internet’. You go to some café or to a hotel for lunch, and if you ask for the Internet password, you are told that there is no way to get on line.

It is, of course, for your own security, and for the security of the nation.

If you insist, some luxury hotels will ask for your passport, they will photocopy it, and then supply you with several pages of long forms that you will be encouraged to fill. Forms include all your personal data, phone numbers, home address, passport number, perhaps even the names of your spouse and parents. To fill them takes approximately 20 minutes. I tried, at the ITC Hotel in Kolkata.

Try to purchase a local SIM for your mobile phone, and the process will be even more traumatic. As one person posted on Whirlpool:

Getting a simcard in India is a bit of a nightmare, with all sorts of identification and personal information requirements. They need a photo ID document with your current INDIAN address. So my Australian drivers license/passport etc. won’t work, and I have no photo ID doc with Indian address.

* * *

“Taj”, I was told in a whisper. “Taj”, I was winked at. “It is because of Taj!” I was yelled at. Almost everyone I met and discussed the security situation in India with, was referring to the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks in which 166 people died.

The Mumbai assaults are supposed to offer a blanket explanation for all the extreme security measures. But I knew India before 2008, and it was not much different then, from what it is now. And after all, the last surviving participant in the Mumbai attacks –Kasab – had already been executed by hanging, on November 20, 2012.

I gather it is pointless to argue, that, even those Asian countries that are in the midst of a civil war – like the Philippines and Thailand – are much less obsessed with security than India.

* * *

After arriving in Mumbai, I ate at one of those tasteless and terribly over-decorated ‘6-star’ hotels. I could not avoid it; I was invited.

There, 4 pieces of paneer (Indian cottage cheese), and one local beer went for 1.900 Rp, which is approximately US$35. And that was just a tiny and not so tasty appetizer. All around me, the local elites were on a power trip, stuffing themselves on kebabs and washing them down with grotesquely overpriced Champagne. A dinner for two could easily cost US $2,000.

The staff of the restaurant, as well as the guests, were radiating unmatchable vulgarity and arrogance. Most of them looked frightening – both men and women. I would not want to meet most of the diners at night on an empty country road.

Naturally, security was extremely tight. To get to the hotel was not easy; one had to be a foreigner or ostensibly wealthy Indian.

The next day I filmed and photographed inside Dharavi Slums.

There was no security at Dharavi and the people were extremely civil and relaxed. They did not bother me. When they realized that I came for a purpose, and not to spy on their misery, they returned to their routine, and allowed me to work. Kids went back to playing cricket, housewives got busy washing laundry, and men got back to building things or to smoking, or chatting.

Here, I was told, US$35 could feed entire family for two weeks, and probably for much longer.

* * *

The restaurant where I had dinner in Mumbai is representing the reality of less than 1% of Indians, but that one percent is in full control; it is ruling the country, and plundering it mercilessly.

The great majority of Indian people lives in absolutely different realm, is still very poor and absolutely unprotected; it doesn’t drink champagne and does not travel in chauffeured Bentleys and SUV’s. And it is seen as a threat.

All that security apparatus is essential for maintaining status quo; all those soldiers, police, and guards are there to protect the upper class, upper casts, and upper rank, from the masses down below. It guarantees that life of V-VIPs and demi-Gods flows comfortably, far from maddening roar of the illiterate, sick and ragged majority.

Word ‘democracy’ comes from Greek language and it means ‘rule of the people’, not ‘a multi-party Western-style Parliamentary system’. ‘Democracy is a form of government in which all citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.’ India appears to represent exactly the opposite.

* * *

Interestingly, India of the rich is not ashamed of misery of the majority of its citizens. Here, one could film the misery day and night, with no interference.

But the regime strongly objects to any visualization of the power.

Film the beggars but not the flow of champagne bought with money stolen from the poor. Film the slums but not the military bases and police posts that are there to oppress the majority. Film the people that are rotting on the streets but not the office buildings with investment companies and major multi-nationals.

Film the people decomposing on the streets; film their gangrenes and sores, but not the private hospitals equipped with the latest operation theatres charging some of the highest prices on earth. Film illiterate slum dwellers, but not the arrogant faces of kids attending elite private schools.

And do not even think about filming statues and portraits of Robert Clive and the rest of the gang from the ‘good old days’ – as some viewers could draw certain uncomfortable parallels, between the past and the present rulers of India.


Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific – Oceania – is published by Lulu. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear” (Pluto). After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website.

All photos by Andre Vltchek.

And I Feel Fine: Mayan Calendar's Meaning

Evo Morales on the meaning of the Mayan calendar, December 21

"And I would like to say that according to the Mayan calendar the 21 of December is the end of the non-time and the beginning of time. It is the end of the Macha and the beginning of the Pacha, the end of  selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood, it is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism - 21 of December this year.

The scientists know very well that this marks the end of an anthropocentric life and the beginning of a bio-centric life. It is the end of hatred and the beginning of love, the end of lies and beginning of truth.

It is the end of sadness and the beginning of happiness, it is the end of division and the beginning of unity, and this is a theme to be developed. That is why we invite all of you, those of you who bet on mankind, we invite those who want to share their experiences for the benefit of mankind."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Black and Cuba

Black and Cuba a Robin J. Hayes Film

Industrializing British Columbia's Hinterland

New Suzuki Foundation Report Shows Staggering Longterm Industrialization Impacts on Peace Region

by Damien Gillis -

Roads, dams, logging, mines, fracking, seismic lines, pipelines, transmission lines. The Peace Valley region in northeast BC has seen its share of industrial development over the past half century.

Now, a new report from the David Suzuki Foundation vividly illustrates the toll these cumulative impacts have taken on the land.

The foundation commissioned scientists from Global Forest Watch Canada to survey 40 years worth of satellite images in order track the increasing industrialization of the land. They found that over that span, more than 65% of the region has been impacted by industry - often involving different activities layered on top of each other - leaving little intact wilderness.

“Our study found that there are 16,267 oil and gas wells, 28,587 kilometres of pipeline, 45,293 kilometres of roads, and 116,725 kilometres of seismic lines packed into the Peace Region. If laid end to end, the roads, pipelines and seismic lines would wrap around the planet an astonishing four and a half times,” said Peter Lee, who led the research study.

Far from being a thing of the past, this industrialization of the region continues marching forward, with the proposed Site C Dam, new coal mines, and continued logging, fracking and other impacts. All this occurs atop important habitat for threatened populations of grizzly and caribou and amid sensitive boreal forest critical to carbon absorption and sequestration.

The Suzuki Foundation is supporting the work by Treaty 8 First Nations, farmers and conservationists to oppose Site C Dam, which would be the third dam on the Peace River. Representatives of these groups recently came to Vancouver and shared their message with local media.

“Enough is enough,” West Moberly First Nations Chief Roland Willson told The Vancouver Sun. “We need to slow down. It’s more important to maintain the integrity of what’s there than put it under water...all to expand the industrial footprint.”

Said Dr. Faisial Moola of the Suzuki Foundation in a blog on the report's release, "If built, Site C would flood 3,173 ha of prime farmland and destroy sensitive wildlife habitat."

"That's why the David Suzuki Foundation is standing with local farmers and ranchers, as well as the Dunne Zaa/Dane zaa First Nations, to oppose further destruction of this productive, ecologically important and picturesque valley with the construction of the Site C Dam and reservoir."

Download the full report here.

Damien Gillis is co-directing a documentary, Fractured Land, which examines these issues in detail. Learn how you can support the film here.

King Maker Media: Rupert Murdoch's Bid for the White House

Why The Washington Post Killed The Story Of Murdoch’s Bid To Buy The US Presidency

by Jonathan Cook

Carl Bernstein, of All the President’s Men fame, has a revealing commentary in in the Guardian today, though revealing not entirely in a way he appears to understand. Bernstein highlights a story first disclosed earlier this month in the Washington Post by his former journalistic partner Bob Woodward that media mogul Rupert Murdoch tried to “buy the US presidency”.

A taped conversation shows that in early 2011 Murdoch sent Roger Ailes, the boss of his most important US media outlet, Fox News, to Afghanistan to persuade Gen David Petraeus, former commander of US forces, to run against Barack Obama as the Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Murdoch promised to bankroll Petraeus’ campaign and commit Fox News to provide the general with wall-to-wall support.

Murdoch’s efforts to put his own man in the White House failed because Petraeus decided he did not want to run for office. “Tell [Ailes] if I ever ran," Petraeus says in the recording, "but I won't … but if I ever ran, I'd take him up on his offer.”

Bernstein is rightly appalled not just by this full-frontal attack on democracy but also by the fact that the Washington Post failed to splash with their world exclusive. Instead they buried it inside the paper’s lifestyle section, presenting it as what the section editor called “a buzzy media story that … didn't have the broader import” that would justify a better showing in the paper.

In line with the Washington Post, most other major US news outlets either ignored the story or downplayed its significance.

We can probably assume that Bernstein wrote his piece at the bidding of Woodward, as a covert way for him to express his outrage at his newspaper’s wholesale failure to use the story to generate a much-deserved political scandal. The pair presumably expected the story to prompt congressional hearings into Murdoch’s misuse of power, parallel to investigations in the UK that have revealed Murdoch’s control of politicians and the police there.

As Bernstein observes: 
“The Murdoch story – his corruption of essential democratic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic – is one of the most important and far-reaching political/cultural stories of the past 30 years, an ongoing tale without equal.”

What Bernstein cannot understand is why his media masters don’t see things the way he does. He reserves his greatest dismay for “the ho-hum response to the story by the American press and the country's political establishment, whether out of fear of Murdoch, Ailes and Fox – or, perhaps, lack of surprise at Murdoch's, Ailes' and Fox's contempt for decent journalistic values or a transparent electoral process.”

But in truth neither of Bernstein’s explanations for this failure is convincing.

A far more likely reason for the US media’s aversion to the story is that it poses a danger to the Matrix-like wall of static interference generated by precisely the same media that successfully conceals the all-too-cosy relationship between the corporations (that own the media) and the country’s politicians.

The Petraeus story is disturbing to the media precisely because it tears away the façade of US democratic politics, an image carefully honed to persuade the American electorate that it chooses its presidents and ultimately decides the direction of the country’s political future.

Instead, the story reveals the charade of that electoral game, one in which powerful corporate elites manipulate the system through money and the media they own to restrict voters’ choice to two almost-identical candidates. Those candidates hold the same views on 80 per cent of the issues. Even where their policies differ, most of the differences are quickly ironed out behind the scenes by the power elites through the pressure they exert on the White House via lobby groups, the media and Wall Street.

The significance of Woodward’s story is not that it proves Rupert Murdoch is a danger to democracy but rather that it reveals the absolute domination of the US political system by the global corporations that control what we hear and see. Those corporations include, of course, the owners of the Washington Post.

The saddest irony is that the journalists who work within the corporate media are incapable of seeing outside the parameters set for them by their media masters. And that includes even the most accomplished practitioners of the trade: Woodward and Bernstein.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is

Apartheid South Africa, Apartheid Israel

As the ANC Votes to Support BDS, a New Film Compares Life in Palestine to Apartheid South Africa

by DemocracyNow!

As the African National Congress voted Thursday to support the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel known as BDS, declaring it was "unapologetic in its view that the Palestinians are the victims and the oppressed in the conflict with Israel," we look at a new film that examines the apartheid analogy commonly used to describe the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "Roadmap to Apartheid" is narrated by Pulitzer Prize-winning Alice Walker and puts archival footage and interviews with South Africans alongside similar material that shows what life is like for Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and inside Israel. The documentary has just been released to the public after a year-long film festival run, where it won numerous awards. We are joined by its co-directors, South African-born Ana Nogueira and Israeli-born Eron Davidson, both longtime journalists.

Guests: Ana Nogueira, co-director of the new documentary, Roadmap to Apartheid. She was born in South Africa and now lives in the United States. Ana is a longtime journalist and former Democracy Now! producer, and a founding member of the New York City Independent Media Center and its newspaper, The Indypendent.
Eron Davidson, co-director of the film, Roadmap to Apartheid, and a longtime media activist and filmmaker. He was born in Israel and now lives in the United States.

Arsonists and Firefighters: UN's Cholera Role in Haiti

UN Capitalizing on its imported cholera to privatize clean water in poverty-stricken Haiti

by Ezili Danto

With Paul Farmer – who has an ineffective cholera vaccines program in Haiti wasting millions – designated as their “Special Advisor,” on December 11, 2012 at a press conference, the UN announced a “new initiative to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.”

Secretary Ban Ki Moon launched the UN’s grand (10-year water/sanitation) money laundering, no, its fundraising scheme to harm, oops no, to “aid” Haitians. As evidenced in the HLLN letter copied below, this water project is just a re-hashed initiative launched nearly a year ago. ( See, denied June 22, 2012 [ezilidanto] Request to peruse and comment on proposed 10-year plan by PAHO/UN to eradicate cholera in Haiti to be unveiled June 29 at OAS… erzilidanto, 06/22/2012 ; and [ezilidanto] 10-year international plan to PRIVATIZE clean water (funding NGOs) in Haiti unveiled June 29 in Washington, erzilidanto, 06/30/2012.)

The $2.2 billion initiative is unfunded, the $215 million from bilateral and multilateral donors the UN claims is available as newly added money are mostly previously pledged monies from even before the cholera hit Haiti, monies pledged at the March 2010 donor meeting but not given. See the Al Jazeera video interview on UN repackaging its fictitious, non-existent cholera aid to Haiti. Also, the UN refuses to set up a claims commission under the Status of Force Agreement with Haiti. Still doesn’t accept responsibility for its cholera epidemic. Gives no verifiable legal assurances to the Haitian people that their raw sewage are not still being dumped in Haiti’s waterways.

But, capitalizing on its imported cholera plague to Haiti, deflecting liability and responsibility for the death of 8000 Haitians and sickness of 620,000 in two years, the UN appealed for help to raise $2.2 billion in more misery funds to fill their employee/ subcontractor pockets. It seems not to matter that no one’s been held accountable for the misused of the last $6 billions raised in the name of Haiti misery. The UN/US/PAHO/WHO and the NGOtocracy in Haiti continue to play arsonist and firemen.

Al Jazeera on UN repackaging non-existent cholera aid for Haiti


Paul Farmer is not a cholera expert, Dr. Piarroux is a cholera expert and says epidemic in Haiti can be eliminated in months if there was the international will to do so
Cholera editorial-Haiti: Ezili Dantò on Wash Post Cholera editorial
Paul Farmer, a total sell-out
Paul Farmer and World Bank president Jim Yong Kim exposed
Paul Farmer relieves himself on Haiti’s dying cholera victims
Paul Farmer is not a God but the face of the UN/USAID/World Bank
A messageto Paul Farmer, the Senate, Dobbins & Francois

The White Savior Industrial Complex

The new monies to be raised will go into the same hands, the same USAID/UN/NGO subcontractors with no public accountability to the Haitians, bolstering up an international system that has failed in Haiti for over 50-years. (US failed aid and false benevolence in Haiti and The White Savior Industrial Complex.)

The grand announcement is another theatrical press gambit and waste of monies on these drones’ travel, food and hotel expenses. It’s where the US/UN internationals act as if their meeting equates to “doing something” solid and urgent to address their filth – their imported disease to Haiti. But it’s about using the image of the UN as the arbiter of human rights and justice, a claim that cannot actually be born out, but its their image. It’s about using this unearned credibility to raise more funds for saving the poor Haitians, have more future occasions to give themselves more titles, awards, jobs, more luxury hotel stays. (Listen to BAI interview Berstein with Kevin Pina on Haiti, Dec. 14, 2012)

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated the “new initiative will invest in prevention, treatment, and education…The main focus is on the extension of clean drinking water and sanitation systems – but we are also determined to save lives now through the use of an oral cholera vaccine.”

Six month ago when the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) at the UN, not the Secretary-General, were unveiling this very same bogus 10-year UN plan to end UN cholera in Haiti, HLLN pointed out that world renowned cholera expert, Professor Renaud Piarroux maintains that the cholera epidemic in Haiti could be gone in months, that Paul Farmer’s cholera vaccines are ineffective and a waste of money. “If that is so,” we posted “this would cast great suspicion on the NGOtocracy’s settling in for this opportunistic 10-year, far future - 2022 - plan, as the PAHO/UN Millennium Development-type proposed declarations and its signers seem to be maintaining.” It’s brazen greed, outrageously dishonest and fraudulent.

The fake humanitarians create the problem, use the Shock Doctrine, Disaster Capitalism to occupy Haiti, disenfranchise the people, de-legitimized elections, then with the complicity of the mainstream media and white saviors both from the Left and Right duopoly, they put a black neocon Haiti suit (Laurent Lamothe) up front for publicity purposes to sell the world their 10-year “solution” to cholera as a legitimate Haiti-led initiative.

Then, when one-year later in December 2012, the UN “unveils” its repackaged request for more funds for itself and its subcontractors in Haiti and calls this “eradicating cholera,” this travesty is capped off for public consumption by having the fraudulent progressives and justice-seekers (the weapons of mass distraction) speaking on behalf of Haitians, declaring “SUCCESS.” Basically preparing to collect more funds, inducing more revenue into their coffers, writing articles, showing this UN warmed over six-months rehashed unveiling of a 10-year plan was a result of their advocacy, letters and petitions that were a SUCCESS!

See, for instance, Mark Weisbrot’s Op-Ed: More Pressure Necessary to Get Desperately Needed Clean Water to Haiti which trumpets the suspect UN cholera plan as at least “a beginning,” a showing of the capacity of the UN to what? judge itself fairly, provide what? money to private NGOs with no public accountability to Haitians?

Oh, this cholera eradication plan from the cholera importers in Haiti is “incremental justice to Haiti,” seriously opine the Leftist intellectuals from the West. No joke.
The aim, of course, of most foreign aid to Black countries is to keep them in perpetual poverty, ill health, chaos by design, dependency, and so disenfranchised and desperate to be compelled to do Western biddings. (Haiti’s Gold Rush – an Ecological Crime in the Making.)

Haitian with symptoms of cholera is transported in a wheelbarrow in the slums of Cite-Soleil in
Port-au-Prince the month after the outbreak began in 2010. Photograph: Eduardo Munoz/Reuters
Source: The Guardian, UN seeks $2bn for cholera epidemic ‘introduced by UN peacekeepers’

Nov, 29, 2012; Haiti’s case against the UN for importing cholera epidemic, Oct 2010

Ezili Dantò at the Haitian Lawyers Leadership Network (HLLN) repeatedly points out the false benevolence, the basic Haiti rights repealed, the harm, the glorification of disenfranchisement and sweatshops, the conflicts with the white industrial paternalistic, condescending “bridge character” folks in Haiti vis-a-vis Haitian best interests, justice and sovereignty.

No Caucasian typifies the white savior tool of imperialistic Black oppression and trajectory more than Paul Farmer and his cohorts.

Paul Farmer runs Partners in Health which distributes the UN supported oral cholera vaccines. His partner, Jim Yom Kim, now runs the World Bank. Farmer is the UN Special Deputy Envoy to Haiti, a long time board member of Brian Concannon’s Institute of Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) and now he’s also the special appointed advisor for the UN’s 10-year cholera eradication plan that dodges liability for UN bringing in cholera to Haiti, that denies justice to Haiti victims.

Yet, Brian Concannon’s IJDH with Paul Farmer on its board and obvious conflicting interests, claims to legally be representing the Haiti cholera victims, sending a demand last November 2011 that’s oftentimes, for fundraising purposes, billed as a law suit asking the UN to judge itself guilty and apologize to the victims!

This is an inside job. It’s definitely the fox guarding the chicken coop. These “bridge” characters crowd out most Haiti-led relief, use exploited Haiti fronts to legitimize their fundraising junkets, build bridges for white supremacy and cultural hegemony death crossings while watching each others backs from their various spheres and beltway platforms.

Commenting on the UN’s “new” water project for eradicating cholera in Haiti, here’s the Mark Weisbrot destructive distraction and spin:

“While we are still a long way from implementation, there are important lessons to be learned from this experience. Perhaps most importantly, it shows that organized political pressure can work.. the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti went to the U.N. to file for damages and reparations. Many other groups and individuals kept the issue in the news and wouldn’t let it go away… Newspaper editorial boards such as those of the New York Times and the Boston Globe called on the U.N. to take responsibility for the disaster that it caused. As a result of grassroots organizing, the majority of Democrats in the U.S House of Representatives signed a letter to the same effect...Bill Clinton, U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti, admitted that the U.N military mission was responsible for the deadly outbreak, but the organization maintains its denial. Tuesday’s announcement by the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, together with the U.N., of a 10-year plan to eradicate cholera from the island shared by the two nations is a step forward, and a result of all the pressure that has been brought to bear over the past two years. Better late than never, but it is still just the beginning…” — Mark Weisbrot, More Pressure Necessary to Get Desperately Needed Clean Water to Haiti

The rescuers have mostly been hard at work re-imaging the Haiti occupation, giving a civil face to the Duvalierists, opening Haiti up for business in the time of cholera, fragmenting Haiti’s voices, denying the horrible evil and international crime scene that Haiti is. Denying the masses’ struggle for fair elections since 2004, obfuscating the main issue which is that Haiti is illegally, unjustly occupied by the US and Paul Farmer’s NGOtocracy ; that Western aid is MEANT and STRUCTURED to fail; that the Haiti majority must take back their sovereignty, Haiti’s mineral and oil wealth must stop being denied and pillaged. The US corporatocracy and Ngotocracracy occupation behind UN proxy guns MUST end. Vicious US imperialism in Haiti, its outright aggressions and uses of the UN peacekeepers to cover this up, its uses of Americans like Bill Clinton at the UN and the Paul Farmer NGOtocracy as its tool of mayhem, of oppressive Haiti decision-making and rule cannot be discounted, ignored or denied.

The U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Susan E. Rice, has put the whole matter in context thus:

“The truth is: the UN Security Council can’t even issue a press release without America’s blessing. The UN depends entirely on its member states, not the other way around. When the UN stumbles, it’s usually because its members stumble—because big powers duck tough issues in the Security Council or spoilers grandstand in the General Assembly. As one of my predecessors, the late Richard Holbrooke, was fond of saying, ‘Blaming the UN when things go wrong is like blaming Madison Square Garden when the Knicks play badly.’”

The US is the respondeat superior for the UN crimes in Haiti. The US is calling the shots at the UN on Haiti (along, to a lesser extent, with France and Canada) as the original Haiti regime change initiators. Together, these member states at the UN are jointly and severally liable for the UN harm done to Haiti since February 29, 2004, including legally responsible and sharing liability for the UN bringing in cholera, for slaughtering innocent Haitians in the populous neighborhoods en mass, for the raging impunity of their re-imaged death-squads and neoDuvalierists civilian fronts and for the rotten child molesting and other crimes perpetrated against defenseless Haiti civilians. There can be no Haiti justice outside of this Haiti context and narrative. Period, no comma.

Denis Bernstein on Flashpoints interviews Kevin Pina on UN’s 10-yr talk to end cholera. Speaks on the UN/Clinton/ NGOtocracy re-branding of Haiti with Hollywood celebrities fronting non-profits, endorsing sweatshop as “building back better”, mere Madison Avenue logo repackaging. Nothing substantially for the cholera victim. It’s the use of Haiti imported misery to fund raise -same old thugs supported by the Internationals, same old “aid” business as usual.


The UN, its Haiti policy-making member states and its other neocolonial partners are attempting to collect $2.2 billion more misery funds on imported foreign misery to Haiti while planning to further privatize clean water to dodge public accountability. Yet, this blatant money laundering scheme is seen by the UN apologists as “some” justice, an authentic good for Haiti and the cholera victims? ([ezilidanto] USAID/Chemonics/UN/PAHO/NGOtocracy in Haiti continues to play arsonist and firemen; The U.N. has requested $2.2 billion to battle a cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed nearly 8,000 people since 2010.; and Unease over UN bid to eradicate Haiti cholera and Audit: USAID Haiti work ‘not on track’).

The whole colonial disaster capitalism model is so disturbingly, boringly predictable and horrid.

Below is the HLLN letter to UN/PAHO back six months ago when the UN had their first or was it their second such public “unveiling” on how to end cholera in Haiti? The UN keeps talking to raise funds for their peacekeeping presence in Haiti, keep cunningly and repeatedly “unveiling” their privatization plans for Haiti water and no justice for Haiti.

The mainstream media and humanitarian progressives willingly swallow the manipulative lies, ignore that foreign aid is about creating jobs for foreigners and selling foreign products and services abroad. Life worsens for Haitians in Haiti when the world’s public are made to foolishly believe these spinning of wheels and high-tech money laundering schemes are about “helping Haitians.” Justice deferred is justice denied.

Just days after the October 2010 UN cholera deaths began, Ezili’s HLLN pointed out, in an interview with broadcaster Yves Point Dujour, that “the accused UN cannot investigate itself…the genocide going on in Haiti is obvious … we’re looking at the evil but we don’t want to compute it.”

It’s not surprising to Haitians that the UN continues to deny liability for their gross and criminal negligence, for bringing death to Haiti.

We know about the Ottawa Initiative. We live the fear of the immigration deportations and unequal immigration policies. We deal each and every nightmarish day of this US hidden occupation with why there is a UN, Chapter 7 peace-enforcement mission in Haiti for 9 years. A country not at war, without a peace agreement to enforce and with less violence than most countries in the Western Hemisphere. Their imported disease provides the opportunity to accidentally kill 8000 Haitians, infect over 620,000, raise and launder more taxpayer and donor country monies, sell more Paul Farmer pharmaceuticals, write more Nicholas Kristof/Tracy Kidder white savior partisan pieces, experiment on the sick as guinea pigs with never-before-used-in-an-epidemic cholera vaccines, stay in Haiti for their 10-year plan to capitalize on cholera: playing arsonists and firemen.

As long as troubled bridges conveniently integrate with – flow or crumble into – the waters of injustice, the world will not change.

Ezili Dantò of HLLN
December 14, 2012 (revised)