Saturday, April 06, 2013

Hedges Resigns from Writers Org.: New PEN Head Nossel Not Mightier Than, But in Favour of The Sword!

Chris Hedges: Why I Resigned from PEN


Chris Hedges: Suzanne Nossel, new head of PEN - which is supposed to defend human rights - supported war in Iraq and advocates use of military force in the name of democracy, lock step with Obama admin. wars in Afghanistan, drone attacks and more.

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction. 

Wikileaks Reveals US Office of Transition Initiatives' Plot Against Chávez and Venezuela

The US Plans to End Chávez’s Rule

by LatinAmerica Press

Documents released by WikiLeaks explain in detail former US ambassador’s strategy to undermine Chávez’s regime.

After the failed coup against President Hugo Chávez (1999-2013) in 2002, in the best tradition of the Cold War, the US Embassy in Venezuela launched a plan to put an end to Chavismo (the name given to Hugo Chávez’s left-wing political ideology), as revealed in secret documents released by WikiLeaks.

An investigation carried out and published on March 18 by Pública — the independent Brazilian Agency of Investigative Reporting and Journalism— exposed the five-point strategy implemented between 2004 and 2006 by the former US ambassador, William Brownfield.

former US Ambassador to Venezuela, Brownfield

The plan by Brownfield — the current Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs — included strengthening democratic institutions in Venezuela, infiltrating Chávez’s political basis, dividing Chavismo, protecting US businesses and isolating Chávez internationally.

The plan was implemented through the US Agency for International Development, or USAID, which gave about US$15 million for technical assistance and training to over 300 civil society organizations through its Office of Transition Initiatives, or OTI, created shortly after the failed coup d’état against Chávez.

According to research conducted by Pública on the basis of a cable released by WikiLeaks;

“[O]ne of the main objectives of USAID was to bring human rights cases to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in order to obtain convictions and undermine the international credibility of the Venezuelan government. According to the account of the former ambassador [Brownfield], that is what the Venezuelan Prison Observatory did — it achieved a ruling by the court requiring special measures to address the human rights violations in La Pica prison, in the east of the country.”

The 06CARACAS3356 cable, signed by Brownfield, is a brief description of the USAID/OTI activities during those two years. The document notes that the strengthening of democratic institutions was the strategic objective which “represents the majority of USAID/OTI work in Venezuela.”

OTI allocated $1.1 million for training and technical assistance to local human rights organizations through Freedom House — a non-governmental organization based in Washington that promotes democracy, political freedom and human rights — and through Development Alternatives Inc., or DAI, the company that administered the funds.

OTI’s work focused on counteracting Chávez’s alleged strategy of “divid[ing] and polariz[ing] Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence.” OTI funded over 50 social projects throughout the country with the aim of “fostering confusion within the Bolivarian ranks.”

“OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3,000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas [a common name for the supporters of Hugo Chávez’s political ideology], with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo,” the cable says.

In addition, DAI has brought professors, nongovernmental organizations’ members and political leaders — mainly from Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, United States, Guatemala, Mexico and Peru — to Venezuela to participate in workshops and seminars who would then return to their countries with “a better understanding of the Venezuelan reality and as stronger advocates for the Venezuelan opposition.”

Brownfield’s diplomatic work in Venezuela ended in mid-2007 and he soon took over as an ambassador to Colombia, where he remained until October 2010, when he was appointed to his current position in the State Department. Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.

— Latinamerica Press

All that Glitters: Fed Policy Undermining Gold, for Now

The Assault on Gold

by Paul Craig Roberts - CounterPunch

For Americans, financial and economic Armageddon might be close at hand. The evidence for this conclusion is the concerted effort by the Federal Reserve and its dependent financial institutions to scare people away from gold and silver by driving down their prices.

When gold prices hit $1,917.50 an ounce on August 23, 2011, a gain of more than $500 an ounce in less than 8 months, capping a rise over a decade from $272 at the end of December 2000, the Federal Reserve panicked. With the US dollar losing value so rapidly compared to the world standard for money, the Federal Reserve’s policy of printing $1 trillion annually in order to support the impaired balance sheets of banks and to finance the federal deficit was placed in danger. Who could believe the dollar’s exchange rate in relation to other currencies when the dollar was collapsing in value in relation to gold and silver.

The Federal Reserve realized that its massive purchase of bonds in order to keep their prices high (and thus interest rates low) was threatened by the dollar’s rapid loss of value in terms of gold and silver. The Federal Reserve was concerned that large holders of US dollars, such as the central banks of China and Japan and the OPEC sovereign investment funds, might join the flight of individual investors away from the US dollar, thus ending in the fall of the dollar’s foreign exchange value and thus collapse in US bond and stock prices.

Intelligent people could see that the US government could not afford the long and numerous wars that the neoconservatives were engineering or the loss of tax base and consumer income from offshoring millions of US middle class jobs for the sake of executive bonuses and shareholder capital gains. They could see what was in the cards, and began exiting the dollar for gold and silver.

Central banks are slower to act. Saudi Arabia and the oil emirates are dependent on US protection and do not want to anger their protector. Japan is a puppet state that is careful in its relationship with its master. China wanted to hold on to the American consumer market for as long as that market existed. It was individuals who began the exit from the US dollar.

When gold topped $1,900, Washington put out the story that gold was a bubble. The presstitute media fell in line with Washington’s propaganda. “Gold looking a bit bubbly” declared CNN Money on August 23, 2011.

The Federal Reserve used its dependent “banks too big to fail” to short the precious metals markets. By selling naked shorts in the paper bullion market against the rising demand for physical possession, the Federal Reserve was able to drive the price of gold down to $1,750 and keep it more or less capped there until recently, when a concerted effort on April 2-3, 2013, drove gold down to $1,557 and silver, which had approached $50 per ounce in 2011, down to $27.

The Federal Reserve began its April Fool’s assault on gold by sending the word to brokerage houses, which quickly went out to clients, that hedge funds and other large investors were going to unload their gold positions and that clients should get out of the precious metal market prior to these sales. As this inside information was the government’s own strategy, individuals cannot be prosecuted for acting on it. By this operation, the Federal Reserve, a totally corrupt entity, was able to combine individual flight with institutional flight. Bullion prices took a big hit, and bullishness departed from the gold and silver markets. The flow of dollars into bullion, which threatened to become a torrent, was stopped.

For now it seems that the Fed has succeeded in creating wariness among Americans about the virtues of gold and silver, and thus the Federal Reserve has extended the time that it can print money to keep the house of cards standing. This time could be short or it could last a couple of years.

However, for the Russians and Chinese, whose central banks have more dollars than they any longer want, and for the 1.3 billion Indians in India, the low dollar price for gold that the Federal Reserve has engineered is an opportunity. They see the opportunity that the Federal Reserve has given them to purchase gold at $350-$400 an ounce less than two years ago as a gift.

The Federal Reserve’s attack on bullion is an act of desperation that, when widely recognized, will doom its policy.

As I have explained previously, the orchestrated move against gold and silver is to protect the exchange value of the US dollar. If bullion were not a threat, the government would not be attacking it.

The Federal Reserve is creating $1 trillion new dollars per year, but the world is moving away from the use of the dollar for international payments and, thus, as reserve currency. The result is an increase in supply and a decrease in demand. This means a falling exchange value of the dollar, domestic inflation from rising import prices, and a rising interest rate and collapsing bond, stock and real estate markets.

The Federal Reserve’s orchestration against bullion cannot ultimately succeed. It is designed to gain time for the Federal Reserve to be able to continue financing the federal budget deficit by printing money and also to keep interest rates low and debt prices high in order to support the banks’ balance sheets.

When the Federal Reserve can no longer print due to dollar decline which printing would make worse, US bank deposits and pensions could be grabbed in order to finance the federal budget deficit for couple of more years. Anything to stave off the final catastrophe.

The manipulation of the bullion market is illegal, but as government is doing it the law will not be enforced.

By its obvious and concerted attack on gold and silver, the US government could not give any better warning that trouble is approaching. The values of the dollar and of financial assets denominated in dollars are in doubt.

Those who believe in government and those who believe in deregulation will be proved equally wrong. The United States of America is past its zenith. As I predicted early in the 21st century, in 20 years the US will be a third world country. We are halfway there.

Paul Craig Roberts
is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book The Failure of Laissez-Faire Capitalism.

April 11th Victoria Town Hall Meeting: No Pipelines, No Tankers, No Problem

Kinder Morgan Town Hall: No Pipelines, No Tankers, No Problem

by  Sierra Club BC with Wilderness Committee

Enbridge isn’t the only pipeline company in town. The US energy company Kinder Morgan plans to build a new pipeline to Burnaby, bring over 400 tankers a year carrying dirty oil past Victoria, and put the BC coast at risk of oil spills. It’s up to us to stop them.

Please join us for an evening of conversation on pipelines, tankers and climate change. Speakers will include Caitlyn Vernon (Coastal Campaigner and author of Nowhere Else on Earth); Ben West of ForestEthics Advocacy, Chief Andy Thomas of the Esquimalt First Nation, and Mayor Dean Fortin of Victoria.

Kinder Morgan Town Hall:
No Pipelines, No Tankers, No Problem
 Thursday, Apr. 11th, 7pm
Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas St., downtown Victoria
All are welcome! Presented by Sierra Club BC with support from Wilderness Committee

Also joining us, via video, will be Bill McKibben, one of the world’s foremost climate change activists and co-founder of And we will be showing, for the first time, a brand-new video focused on pipelines and climate change, featuring musician C.R. Avery.

This is sure to be an inspiring event. It’s free, and it begins at 7pm on Thursday, Apr. 11th at the Vic Theatre in downtown Victoria (808 Douglas St.).

Please RSVP on Facebook and invite your friends, or check out the event page on our website. Kinder Morgan’s pipeline is a threat to BC’s coast and the planet, and we must make our message clear: No Pipelines, No Tankers, No Problem!

WHAT: Kinder Morgan Town Hall: No Pipelines, No Tankers, No Problem

WHEN: Thursday, Apr. 11th, 7pm

WHERE: Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas St., downtown Victoria

WHO: All are welcome! Presented by Sierra Club BC with support from Wilderness Committee


QUESTIONS: Contact Galen Armstrong,, 250-386-5255 ext. 243

Facebook event:

Caitlyn Vernon
Sierra Club BC

#304 - 733 Johnson Street, Victoria, BC V8W 3C7
Tel: (250) 386-5255 x222 Fax: (250) 386-4453
Cell: (250) 896-3500

Friday, April 05, 2013

Getting Away with Murder: Israel's Turkish "Apology"

An Israeli Apology Means Little

by Ann Wright - CounterPunch

Representatives of IHH, the international humanitarian organization that organized the passengers on the Mavi Marmara in the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla, have told the author that families of the nine murdered by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) commandos on May 31, 2010, consider the “apology” of the Israeli government to the Turkish government as meaning very little until the Israeli government lifts the blockade on Gaza.

Their family members were killed on a non-violent mission to challenge the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza and the families do not consider either an Israeli government apology or the offer of compensation for the death of their loved one as any form of fulfillment of their mission—only the lifting of the blockade on Gaza will assuage their deaths.

The IHH representatives also said that a prosecutor’s indictment filed in the Istanbul High Criminal Court on May 29, 2012 against four senior Israeli government military and intelligence officials will continue. Witnesses have provided sworn testimony in court hearings in November, 2012 and February, 2013. A third hearing for testimony from remaining witnesses is scheduled for May, 2013.

The four defendants, the former Israeli Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli Naval Forces Commander, the Israeli Air Force Intelligence Director, the head of the IDF Military Intelligence Directorate, are charged with willful killing, attempted willful killing, intentional causing serious injury to body or health, plundering, hijacking or seizing maritime vessels, intentionally causing damage to property and instigating violent crime.

A political apology by the Israeli government to the Turkish government cannot stop a legal process underway in the Turkish courts, the IHH representatives said. The President of Turkey cannot order the Turkish courts to drop the case and to do so would be a violation of Turkish law, they said.

The first criminal complaint concerning the Israeli attack was filed on October 14, 2010 at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Eight Turkish citizens and one American citizen were murdered by Israeli commandos. While President Obama recently cajoled Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to apologize to the Turkish government for the deaths of their citizens, he apparently did not ask for a public apology for the death of the American citizen, 19 year old Furkan Dogan.

Nor did President Obama authorize a U.S. government investigation into the death of Furkan; instead, the Obama administration in 2010 said that it had confidence in the investigation conducted by the Israeli government, an investigation that almost three years later has now been revealed by the Israeli Prime Minister himself to have discovered “operational mistakes” in the conduct of the raid on the six ships of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla.

President Obama apparently knew full well that American citizen Furkan Dogan had been executed at close range by Israeli commandos when Turkish President Erdogan, shortly after the Israeli attack on the Gaza flotilla, showed him photos taken in the Istanbul morgue of Furkan’s body with fatal wounds to his head. Israeli commandos shot Furkan five times at close range. Obama reportedly quickly turned away from Furkan’s photo that showed the bullet wound to his face.

In the months following the attack in 2010, President Erdogan apparently showed the photos of some of the murdered passengers to several heads of state, including Italian President Berlusconi, to leave no doubt that Israeli commandos executed the passengers at close range.

Now, almost three years later, we know from U.S. government documents obtained by the Center for Constitutional Rights through a Freedom of Information Action (FOIA) request, that the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv were in frequent contact with the Israeli government concerning the flotilla before, during and after the Israeli attack on the ships of the flotilla.

“Upon learning that American citizens (“Amcits”) would participate in the May 2010 flotilla, several State Department officials expressed concerns that the Americans may be harmed or at least detained by Israeli forces. However, no records have been released reflecting any high level discussions that may have occurred on the need to protect the lives of participants or encouraging opening the flow of aid and commerce into Gaza . To the contrary, despite having been informed by organizers of the non-violent humanitarian purpose of their mission, released records point to a pattern of U.S. officials blaming flotilla participants for “putting themselves in danger” rather than working to reduce the risk of such danger from an Israeli attack.”

IHH representatives also mentioned that the Israeli offer of compensation is to the families of those killed, not to those who were wounded by Israeli commandos. One passenger has been in a coma for almost three years and many passengers who were also seriously wounded are still suffering from their bullet wounds. Some of those wounded are from countries other than Turkey and no Israeli apology has been made to them or their governments.

To some, an Israeli “apology” is remarkable as Israel has virtually never “apologized” for any of its actions. And they would say that an “apology” and an acknowledgement of “operational mistakes” are better than silence from the Israeli government.

However, passengers on the Gaza flotilla did not go on the voyage to Gaza for their own self-gratification. They went to bring attention to the plight of Palestinians. When Palestinians are routinely killed in the West Bank and Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), when Palestinians are subjected to inhumane checkpoints and apartheid walls, when the blockade of Gaza continues and when Israel attacks Gaza with impunity as it did in 2009 killing 1400 Palestinians and in 2012 killing over 300 Palestinians, then allowing Israel to escape criminal liability with an “apology” for the nine murders on the Mavi Marmara is essentially giving the Israeli government a “green light” to continue its policies of oppression, occupation, imprisonment, and blockade of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the murder of Palestinians.

If it were any other country in the world that had committed any of these acts, the United States would have withdrawn military and economic aid, but instead, almost three years later, the Israeli government walks away with a mere “apology.”

That’s not right, and virtually everyone in the world, except the United States government, knows it.

Hand in hand with Palestinians, international citizen activists will continue to challenge the inhuman Israeli actions toward Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The next challenge of the naval blockade of Gaza will be Gaza’s Ark which attempt to break the Israeli quarantine by carrying export products from Gaza out by boat (


Ann Wright spent 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel. She was a US diplomat for 16 years and resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war. She travelled to Gaza three times in 2009, helped organize the 2009 Gaza Freedom March and was a passenger on the 2010 and 2011 Gaza Freedom Flotillas. She was an organizer for the US Boat to Gaza, the Audacity of Hope and is an organizer for the US campaign for Gaza’s Ark. She was a witness in the November, 2012, Istanbul Criminal Court hearing, in which passengers provided sworn testimony describing the 2010 IDF attack on the Mavi Marmara and the Challenger 1.

British Columbians Going to Battle for the Peace

Historic Outpouring of Public Opposition to Site C Dam

by Damien Gillis - The

Yesterday, I joined several thousand British Columbians in submitting my comments to the environmental assessment process for the proposed Site C Dam in northeast BC.

While it will likely take a few days for the most recent submissions to be registered on the government website for the process, judging by early indications, this was one of the largest-ever responses by the BC public to an environmental assessment - a clear sign of how much this issue matters to British Columbians.

photo: Andrea Morison

The Sierra Club and civic engagement driver LeadNow teamed up to facilitate online submissions and are reporting over 3,400 comments filed by yesterday's deadline - none of which appear yet on the official review panel website. That's on top of the close to 1,000 comments already logged prior to that campaign, which kicked in during the final couple days of commenting. So we can expect to see a final tally of well over 4,000 submissions, comparable only to the highly contentious Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline proposal.

Herewith my own letter, addressed to Linda Jones, Panel Manager for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency: Dear Ms. Jones,

As someone whose family settled in the Peace Valley a century ago, before losing our home, Goldbar Ranch at 20 Mile, to the first big hydro project on the Peace, I take very seriously this latest threat to the valley - Site C Dam.

Peace country is home to some of the best agricultural land in the province and critical fish and wildlife habitat. The unique soil and topographical conditions of the valley yield one of the longest growing seasons in BC. My family grew all manner of fruits, vegetables and grains there decades ago - until that sustainable way of life was taken away from us. I never got the chance to work my family's land.

Today, we face a food security crisis in BC, producing just 40% of our total needs. We do not have an energy self-sufficiency crisis. I direct you to the work of my colleague, the independent economist Erik Andersen, who has clearly demonstrated that we have plenty of power for the foreseeable future...Unless, that is, we ramp up fracking operations, mines, and build 5-6 massively energy intensive Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) plants on BC's coast.

For evidence of this, you need look no further than our own premier's recent comments. Ms. Clark told Global TV last week, "You can't power up these huge [LNG] facilities without more power, so BC Hydro's going to have to build Site C - we're in favour of making that happen." Last year, she acknowledged to a crowd in Fort St. John that just one of these proposed plants - Shell's joint project with three Asian partners - would eat up the entire load of Site C, that being 1,100 megawatts.

Incidentally, how is the public supposed to take seriously this process when the outcome has clearly already been decided by our political leadership?

Despite the premier's Orwellian assurances to the contrary, fracked natural gas, converted to LNG, then shipped halfway around the world to be decompressed and burned is not in any way, shape or form "clean energy". Nor is a massively ecologically destructive mega-dam to power this gas development. In this era of climate change and drought conditions, I do not support using taxpayers' and ratepayers' dollars to subsidize the fossil fuel industry - nor to divert, contaminate and destroy billions of litres of precious fresh water, which is what these projects will do.

I respect Indigenous peoples' rights and voice, as I respect the farming families still tilling the yet unspoiled land of the valley. I take very seriously the unified, unambiguous opposition of the Treaty 8 First Nations and farmers in the region to this project.

Moreover, I take the forced removal of the BC Utilities Commission from its role as the public's watchdog in evaluating this project as patently undemocratic.

The lack of review of the project from a meaningful cumulative effects approach is also deeply troubling - especially in light of a recent report from the David Suzuki Foundation showing that over 65% of the region has already been marred by heavy industrial impacts - dams, roads, logging, mining, oil and gas.

This process, this project, and the draconian values that underpin them are deeply flawed.

I am steadfastly opposed to the $8 Billion-plus subsidy of the fossil fuel industry, the destruction of vital ecosystems and farmland, and the trampling on First Nations and citizens' democratic rights that the proposed Site C Dam represents.

I urge you to do the right thing and reject this project.


Damien Gillis

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Age of the Zombie Drones

Zombie Drones

by C. L. Cook - Victoria Street Newz

A coalition of peace groups in the United States has declared April be dedicated to a new, people's campaign against drones, (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, specifically). Dubbed ‘April Days of Action,’ the demonstrators, which include: the Granny Peace Brigade, Grandmothers Against the War, and Raging Grannies among others, say;

"Too many civilians have been killed by these drones, and that includes women and children." 

They also express concern that burgeoning domestic drone fleets being deployed by law enforcement are turning the US into a surveilled society. 

Barack Obama disagrees with the venerable grey ladies, saying the drone attacks are; "exceptionally surgical and precise," insisting they "do not put… innocent men, women and children in danger."

An article titled, 'US claims of ‘no civilian deaths’ are untrue,' the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) details its findings, taken from on-the-ground interviews conducted in Pakistan between September 2010 and June 2011. Examining the CIA's so-called targeted killings, they document ten cases of drone missile strikes producing civilian collateral damage, where at least 45 civilians perished. (Graphically rendered below).

Clearly, the Obama administration's claims of "zero civilian casualties caused by drones" is ridiculous, but it's the position the president's people stuck to, even in the face of the BIJ report. In June of 2011, John Brennan, then Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counter-terrorism, and now executive director of the CIA, made the astonishing pronouncement there had been not a single "collateral" death caused by CIA drone assassins. For the record, Brennan says;

"In fact I can say that the types of operations…the US has been involved in, in the counter-terrorism realm, that nearly for the past year there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop."

It was precision decidedly undeveloped in 2010, when the New America Foundation, a US-based policy think tank, released their report on civilian casualties caused by drones in Pakistan's restive Tribal Areas. The Foundation report, 'The Year of the Drone,' researched by Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann says 1 in 3 people killed by drones since 2004 is an innocent, either in too-near proximity to someone targeted, the victim of errant missiles, or tragically misidentified. They may too be someone grudged into the crosshairs by a long-tongued neighbour.

Bergen and Tiedemann looked at 114 drone attacks, where more than 1200 people were killed, of which they say "between 549 and 849 were reliably reported to be militant fighters." That would leave between 651 and 351 non-militant fighters. Or, put another way, it means; for every sortie flown, between 3 and 6 civilians died collaterally. 

Those 114 cases studied are of course just a drop in the bucket of total drone attacks. Known drone-targeted nations joining Pakistan are: Yemen, Afghanistan, and Somalia. (Drones are too a feature of life for Palestinians, the constant whine of their engines above being a daily irritant and tacit threat in both Gaza and the West Bank). Writing for ProPublica, Cora Currier outlines the anatomy of Obama's Kill List, and how the drone program finds its targets. Currier says;

"[R]eviews now happen at regular interagency meetings at the National Counterterrorism Center. Recommendations are sent to a panel of National Security Council officials. Final revisions go through White House counterterror adviser John Brennan to the president."

From here, word is sent to one of the many bases, both within and without the US, where specially trained pilots will, from air conditioned cyber-stations, comfortably carry out the mission.   

But is the focus on drones and drone warfare missing the mark?

Hayes Brown follows the recent release of a Gallop Poll study of American attitudes regarding the use of drones. His ThinkProgress article, 'Polls on Drones Ignore Larger Issue of Targeted Killing' reminds; though drones aren't the sole weapon used to carry out the necessitated kills, they have uniquely captured the popular imagination. When asked by Gallop how the government should and should not use drones, 65% were OK with their use to kill "suspected terrorists living in foreign countries," with 41% agreeing they should be used to kill "suspected American terrorists living in foreign countries."

The numbers change dramatically though when drone deployment at home is proposed. Only 25% believed Uncle Sam should terminally target with drones suspected terrorists within the United States; while a meagre 13% think it right for the president to order the remote assassination of suspected homegrown terrorists inside the country.

Brown observes; "Most of the focus in the debate about the Obama administration’s policies has been on the use of new technology in the form of drones, rather than on the killing program itself."

What this poll also reveals is, ("...with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.") more than one in ten American adults think it alright for the president to order executed one of their fellow citizens without the onerous entanglements of warrants, and arrests, and a judge and jury trial. One in four would do away with those quaint old judicial demands where foreigners are suspected. 

Grannies raging and otherwise aside, I would ask America; "Are you really prepared to junk eight hundred years of jurisprudence, making the power of life and death a matter of a Tuesday morning hob-nobbing of bureaucrats in the bowels of the National Counterterrorism Center?"

Zombies are everywhere you look these days; on teevee, video games, starring in bestselling books, and at the movies. According to TV.Com, the zombie series, Walking Dead is America's third most favoured program. The show is described thus:

"The series follows a police officer, Rick Grimes, who wakes up from a coma to find the world ravaged with zombies. Looking for his family, he and a group of survivors attempt to battle against the zombies in order to stay alive."

Luckily for Officer Grimes, society as he had known it is gone. There is no zombie president fingering the kill switch, no spotty contractor "manning" the drone console between trips to the fridge. (I understand, a special medal is being struck to honour their sacrifice). The drones don't fly over the Walking Dead. Drones need people, because like the zombie they're both mindless and soulless.

The zombie drones need soulful men like the president, and clever ones like the executive-director of the CIA to get off the ground. And they need the goodwill of the people who take the polls and pay the tolls to stay aloft. The people must back the program, whether those birds are at home, or abroad.

BUT, it's more than a Year of the Drone, or even years of them we're seeing unfolding, it's a dawning New Age of Drones, and those birds are already home and roosted. And, it's gonna take a lot of Grannies' rage, and many more days of action than April provides to stop their mindless, soulless propagation.         

Shifting Energy Paradigms in Middle East: Tamar Field Starts Flowing in "Israel's" Levant Basin

Gas Starts Flowing from Israel's Levant Basin, What Now?

by Jen Alic -

The first gas has started flowing from Israel's supergiant Tamar gasfield in the Levant Basin. Where it will go will redraw the Mediterranean energy map and the geopolitics that goes along with it.

The Tamar field stakeholders announced on 30 March that the gas had started flowing, raising the value of Texas-based Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE: NBL), which holds a 36% stake, and Israel's two Delek Group subsidiaries, which each hold a 15.6% stake.

F or now, the gas is being pumped to mainland Israel, where it will feed the domestic market, but exports should begin in 2-3 years. What Israel has in mind is the European market, via a hoped-for undersea Mediterranean pipeline to Turkey, which has the infrastructure to get it to Europe.

The competition for this prized market is stiff. In total, the Mediterranean's Levant Basin has an estimated total of 122 trillion cubic feet of gas and 1.7 billion barrels of oil. Lebanon and Cyprus are eyeing the same market for their own Levant Basin gas resources. Cyprus has found gas in its section of the basin, and Lebanon has announced a tender for exploration off its shoreline.

The Greek Cypriot government believes it is sitting on an amazing 60 trillion cubic feet of gas, but these are early days—these aren't proven reserves and commercial viability could be years away. In the best-case scenario, production could feasibly begin in five years. Exports are even further afield, with some analysts suggesting 2020 as a start date.

Israel has the upper hand right now in terms of development and production, but it lacks the infrastructure without Turkey.

Israel was originally hoping to lay a pipeline that would traverse both Cyprus and Turkey, but there are too many political pitfalls to this plan (which would essentially mean a final resolution to the Turkey-Cyprus spat). The ideal would have been a pipeline that connects all the Levant Basin resources—including Lebanon, Israel, Cyprus and Turkey—but this is the stuff of geopolitical dreams.

In the end, it is shaping up that an Israel-Turkey pipeline is not only possible, but coming to fruition. Earlier this month an official apology from the Israeli prime minister to his Turkish counterpart for some high-level grievances was engineered by US President Barack Obama. It was an unprecedented move by Israel and one that illustrates how important this pipeline is for Israel. An apology was really the only thing keeping Turkey from green-lighting this pipeline project without a backlash at home.

This Israel-Turkey pipeline makes Lebanon and Cyprus nervous. It essentially cuts them out of the equation. Politics for now will keep Lebanon from connecting up to any Israeli pipeline, and Turkey won't have a connector to Cyprus.

Russia's Gazprom, of course, is not keen to lose its stranglehold on the European market. To that end, it's jumped in on Tamar itself, obtaining exclusive rights from Israel to develop the field's liquefied natural gas (LNG). Here's the plan: Russia is hoping to divert Israeli gas exports to Europe by banking on these resources being turned into LNG for Russian export to Asian markets instead. Russia is willing to invest heavily in a $5 billion floating LNG facility to this end. In return it gets exclusive rights to purchase and export Tamar LNG. (Gazprom has signed the deal but it still awaits final approval from Israel).

For Israel, this is a windfall. There is an estimated 425 billion cubic meters (16 trillion cubic feet of gas in its Leviathan field, plus the 250 billion cubic meters in the Tamar field, which is now officially pumping. All this gas is worth about $240 billion on the European market, and Tamar gas alone could boost Israel's GDP by 1% annually. For now, the Tamar gas will result in a decline in the price of electricity for Israelis by way of reducing the production costs for the state utility.

For Europe, it will mean newfound power to deal with Russia differently like it did with the recent Cypriot bailout package that came along with a harsh lesson for Russian oligarchs who are seeing their Cypriot banks holdings sequestered.


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

'Bradley Manning Could've Saved Their Lives'

Bradley Manning & the Deepwater Horizon

by Greg Palast - Vice Magazine

Three years ago this month, on the 20th of April, 2010, the BP Deepwater Horizondrilling rig blew itself to kingdom come.

Soon thereafter, a message came in to our office's chief of investigations, Ms Badpenny, from a person I dare not name, who was floating somewhere in the Caspian Sea along the coast of Baku, Central Asia.

The source was in mortal fear he'd be identified – and with good reason. Once we agreed on a safe method of communication, he revealed this: 17 months before BP's Deepwater Horizon blew out and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig suffered an identical blow-out in the Caspian Sea.

Crucially, both the Gulf and Caspian Sea blow-outs had the same identical cause: the failure of the cement "plug".

To prevent blow-outs, drilled wells must be capped with cement. BP insisted on lacing its cement with nitrogen gas – the same stuff used in laughing gas – because it speeds up drying.

Time is money, and mixing some nitrogen gas into the cement saves a lot of money.

However, because BP's penny-pinching method is so damn dangerous, they are nearly alone in using it in deep, high-pressure offshore wells.

The reason: nitrogen gas can create gaps in the cement, allow methane gas to go up the borehole, fill the drilling platform with explosive gas – and boom, you're dead.

So, when its Caspian Sea rig blew out in 2008, rather than change its ways, BP simply covered it up.

Our investigators discovered that the company hid the information from its own shareholders, from British regulators and from the US Securities Exchange Commission. The Vice-President of BP USA, David Rainey, withheld the information from the US Senate in a testimony he gave six months before the Gulf deaths. (Rainey was later charged with obstruction of justice on a spill-related matter.)

Britain's Channel 4 agreed to send me to the benighted nation of Azerbaijan, whose waters the earlier BP blow-out occurred in, to locate witnesses who would be willing to talk to me without getting "disappeared". (They didn't talk, but they still disappeared.)

And I was arrested. Some rat had tipped off the Security Ministry (the official name of the Department of Torture here in this Islamic Republic of BP). I knew I'd get out quick, because throwing a reporter of Her Majesty's Empire into a dungeon would embarrass both BP and the Azeri oil-o-crats.

The gendarmes demanded our film, but I wasn't overly concerned: Before I left London, Badpenny handed me one of those Austin Powers camera-in-pens, on which I'd loaded all I needed. But I did fear for my witnesses left behind in Azerbaijan – and for my source in a tiger cage in the USA: Pvt Bradley Manning.

Manning could have saved their lives

Only after I dove into deep water in Baku did I discover, trolling through the so-called "WikiLeaks" documents, secret State Department cables released by Manning. The information was stunning: the US State Department knew about the BP blow-out in the Caspian and joined in the cover-up.

Apparently BP refused to tell its own partners, Chevron and Exxon, why the lucrative Caspian oil flow had stopped. Chevron bitched to the office of the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. (George Bush's cabinet member should not be confused with the 129,000-tonne oil tanker "Condoleezza Rice", which Chevron named after their former board member.)

The US Ambassador in Baku got Chevron the answer: a blow-out of the nitrogen-laced cement cap on a giant Caspian Sea platform. The information was marked "SECRET". Apparently loose lips about sinking ships would help neither Chevron nor the Azeri President Ilham Aliyev, the beneficiary of millions of dollars in payments of oil company baksheesh.

So what about Bradley Manning?

Manning has been charged with "aiding the enemy" – a crime punishable by death.

But Manning's sole and only purpose was to get out the truth. It wasn't Manning who wrote the cover-up memos, he merely wanted to get them to the victims: us.

And since when did the public become "the enemy"?

Had Manning's memos come out just a few months earlier, the truth about BP's deadly drilling methods would have been revealed, and there's little doubt BP would have had to change its ways. Those eleven men could well have been alive today.

Did Manning know about this particular hush-hush cable about BP's blow-out when he decided he had to become Paul Revere and warn the planet?

That's unlikely, in the thousands of cables he had. But he'd seen enough evidence of murder and mendacity in other cables, so, as Manning, under oath, told a court, he tried to give it all to the New York Times to have knowledgeable reporters review the cables confidentially for life-saving information.

The New York Times immediately seized on this extraordinary opportunity… to ignore Manning. The Times only ran it when the Guardian was going to scoop – and embarrass – the New York hacks.

Though there are limits. While reporter David Leigh put the story of BP's prior blow-out on page one of the Guardian, neither the New York Times or any other major US news outlet ran the story of the blow-out and oil industry cover-up. No surprise there, though – the most "prestigious" US news programme, PBS Newshour, was sponsored by… Chevron Corporation.

Hanging their source while taking his applause

As a working journalist, and one whose head is likely to be in the foggy gun-sights of some jet jockey or a dictator's goon squad, I have more than a little distaste for toffs like New York Times' former executive editor, columnist Bill Keller, who used Manning documents to cash in on a book deal and land star turns on television while simultaneously smearing his source Manning as, "troubled", "emotionally fractured", "vague", "inchoate" and – cover the children's ears – "gay".

Furthermore, while preening about their revelations from the Manning documents, the Times had no problem with imprisoning their source. I do acknowledge that the Times and Keller did editorialise that a sentence of life imprisonment without parole would be "overkill". How white of them.

When it was mentioned that Manning is no different from Daniel Ellsberg, the CIA operative who released the Pentagon Papers, Keller reassured that the Times also told Ellsberg he was "on his own" and did not object to their source being charged as a spy.

And the Times' much-lauded exposure of the My Lai massacre? My late good friend, the great investigative reporter Ron Ridenhour, who gave the story to Seymour Hersh, told me that he and Hersh had to effectively blackmail the Times into printing it.

Manning: aid to the enemy?

Times man Keller writes that Manning, by going to "anti-American" WikiLeaks, threatened the release of, "information that might get troops in the field or innocent informants killed".


This is the same Bill Keller who admits that he knew his paper's reports in 2003 that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction were completely false, but that he – as editor – covered up his paper's knowledge their WDM stories were simply bogus. Those stories validated the Bush propaganda and helped tip the political balance to invade Iraq. Four-thousand US soldiers died. I guess the idea is that releasing information that kills troops is criminal, but that dis-information that kills troops is quite acceptable.

Maybe I'm just cranky because I wouldn't have seen my own sources vanish and my film grabbed if the Times had only run the Manning facts about BP and Caspian when they had the chance.

Look, I' m only picking on the New York Times and PBS Newshour because they are the best in America, God help us.

What other lives could have been saved by the Manning revelations? Lots. Watch this space: I promise more aid to the enemies of the state – which is YOU.

Greg Palast investigated the BP Deepwater Horizon deaths for Channel 4 Television UK . Those dispatches are contained in his highly acclaimed book Vultures' Picnic, named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

On April 5, there will be a gathering in New York with Daniel Ellsberg and defenders of Bradley Manning. Go to Greg Palast's Facebook page for more info.

His other books are the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse.

Visit the Palast Investigative Fund's store or simply make a contribution to keep our work alive!

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Canada Rallies Against Monsanto GM Alfalfa

April 9 Rallies Across the Country to Stop Monsanto's GM Alfalfa

by Earth News 

Monsanto's GM alfalfa is poised to be released in Ontario. It will only be a matter of time before it is released across Canada. It must be stopped. The National Farmers Union-Ontario has called for consumers to support farmers in a Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa.

This Day of Action will be across the country on April 9 Ontario farmers have organized protest rallies in 12 communities, in Ontario including in Ottawa where a final rubber-stamp to release Roundup Ready alfalfa is expected any day.

There are also 11 rallies confirmed in support of Ontario farmers happening in towns in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan (at the office of the Minister of Agriculture), Quebec, and Nova Scotia.

Monsanto’s GM alfalfa could be registered for use in eastern Canada this April. GM roundup ready alfalfa varieties have just been cleared for the last step before they hit the market – all they need now is a final registration rubber-stamp by the Canadian food inspection agency. the Canadian seed trade association and its corporate members including Monsanto, pioneer and forage genetics international are also actively trying to get support for the release of GM alfalfa.

For more information on rally in VictoriA , please contact Joan Russow at

or for more information see Canadian Biotechnology Action Network Report


Tuesday April 2, 2013. Ottawa. Today, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network released a new report documenting the means by which genetically modified (GM) alfalfa will contaminate non-GM alfalfa and hay crops , if GM alfalfa is released

“We can clearly see how farmers will pay the heavy costs of this inevitable contamination,” said Ontario organic sheep and vegetable farmer Ann Slater, member of the National Farmers Union, “The only way to stop contamination from GM alfalfa is to keep it off the market.”

Alfalfa is an important crop for dairy farming in Ontario as well as for livestock farmers and vegetable and field crop producers. Some Ontario farmers also save alfalfa seed.

The report details the role of seeds, pollen, and volunteer/feral plants in the predicted contamination of non-GM alfalfa from GM alfalfa. If released, GM alfalfa would be the first GM perennial crop introduced in Canada.

“While the conditions for contamination in Eastern Canada differ from those in Western Canada where alfalfa seed is produced, contamination in Ontario is assured, as are the economic costs to farmers,” said Lucy Sharratt of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.
“Our report documents the many means by which farmers can expect to see contamination from GM alfalfa. Contamination is assured, the only question is how long it will take and which will be the first or primary means of gene escape,” said Taarini Chopra, also with the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network.

“This report puts an end to discussions about coexistence with GM alfalfa, its just not possible.” said Phillip Woodhouse, President of the Ontario Grey County NFU local 344 who also attended an October 2012 meeting of the Canadian Seed Trade Association where the industry attempted to construct a coexistence plan to pave the way for GM alfalfa. “Forage Genetics International appears willing to sacrifice the livelihoods of Ontario farmers to get their product on the market somewhere in Canada.”

“No farmer can shield themselves from this genetic pollution. Does anyone really believe that introducing GM alfalfa into Eastern Canada will protect Prairie farmers from this contamination?” added Woodhouse.

The National Farmers Union-Ontario has called for consumers to support farmers in a Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa on April 9. Ontario farmers have organized protest rallies in 12 communities, outside of constituency offices of federal Members of Parliament as well as outside the Variety Registration office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in Ottawa where a final rubber-stamp to release Roundup Ready alfalfa is expected any day. There are also 11 rallies confirmed in support of Ontario farmers happening in towns in BC, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan (at the office of the Minister of Agriculture), Quebec, and Nova Scotia.

For more information:Ann Slater, National Farmers Union, 519-349-2448; Lucy Sharratt, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network 613 241 2267 ext 25, Phillip Woodhouse, National Farmers Union, 519 599 5041.

Details on the April 9 Day of Action to Stop GM Alfalfa, including a list of actions, can be found at

The report "The Inevitability of Contamination from GM Alfalfa Release in Ontario" can be found at

Click here for the summary of the report.


Check back for additional action locations
or subscribe to the CBAN News and Action Listserve.

Closing Down Education in Chicago

Civil Disobedience Planned in Chicago to Oppose Unprecedented Mass School Closings 


Teachers, parents and activists to get arrested protesting the closing of 54 Chicago schools

Jaisal Noor is a New York City and Baltimore-based independent journalist. His print, radio and TV reports have appeared on The Real News, Free Speech Radio News and Democracy Now! He also teaches US history at schools and colleges across New York City

Christy Clark's 10 Billion Dollar Gift to Fracking (and Who's Going to Pay For It)

Site C Dam: A $10 Billion Taxpayer Subsidy for LNG, Fracking

by Damien Gillis - The

Premier Christy Clark wants BC citizens to subsidize the oil and gas industry with a $10 Billion taxpayer-funded dam. Though she won't put it quite like that, that's precisely the implication of the policies she's promoting in the run-up to May's provincial election.

Clark confirmed her vision for powering a new, much-ballyhooed Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Industry to Global TV last week (a must-watch). The premier has promised in recent months a $100 Billion windfall of provincial revenues from the yet-to-be-developed LNG industry, a boast which has drawn justified ridicule from pundits.

LNG requires enormous amounts of energy to super-cool gas in order to liquefy it and load it onto tankers. Numerous global energy companies - including Shell, Chevron, and a number of big Asian players - have lined up over the past year to build LNG plants in Kitimat and Prince Rupert, in order to access Asian markets which are currently paying significantly more for gas than the North American market.

Clark acknowledges the province doesn't have enough electricity to supply the demands of multiple proposed LNG facilities. Her solution? Flood an 80 km stretch of the fertile Peace Valley in northeast BC to build a new dam. Dubbed Site "C" because it would be the third dam on the Peace River, the project would flood some 20,000 acres of high quality agricultural land and wildlife habitat.

Clark was blunt with Global TV reporter Jas Johal: "You can't power up these huge [LNG] facilities without more power, so BC Hydro's going to have to build Site C - we're in favour of making that happen."

The statement came as the window for public comments to the environmental assessment process for Site C winds down, drawing to a close Thursday, April 4.

Last year, at a press conference in Fort St. John, near the location of the proposed dam, Premier Clark spoke to the need for Site C to power LNG. She acknowledged that just one of the 5 or 6 planned LNG terminals on BC's coast - a proposal by Shell and its Chinese, Korean and Japanese partners - would eat up the entire 1,100 megawatt output of Site C.

So even with this new dam - which won't be up and running until 2020 at the earliest - BC has nowhere near the energy required to power the energy-hungry LNG industry. To that end, Premier Clark created a loophole in the Clean Energy Act to allow gas companies to generate power for their plants by burning their own natural gas. Which begs the question: why the continued need for Site C?

Perhaps it's because the power from Site C would be offered to gas producers at a steep discount, which is the standard for large industrial users, who typically pay less than half what residential and small business customers pay for hydroelectricity in BC.

When pressed by Johal on the taxpayer subsidy issue, Clark brushed it off - "That's not part of what we're negotiating...We aren't going to ask residential taxpayers to subsidize this."

And yet, the dam itself, pegged at $8 Billion but sure to balloon beyond that (a study of 70 large dam projects funded by the World Bank found that the average overrun was a whopping 27%), will be on the shoulders of taxpayers and crown corporation BC Hydro - already drowing in massive debt. And unless the plan is to make the LNG industry pay top dollar for this new power (which defeats the purpose entirely), then residential hydro customers will bear the full burden through much steeper power bills.

While Site C is a looming taxpayer boondoggle, it will also destroy precious farmland at a time when we produce just 40% of our own food in BC. And as this recent report from the David Suzuki Foundation shows, it will compound the enormous industrial footprint that has marred over 65% of the Peace Valley over the past half century - making it easily one of the world's most heavily impacted regions already.

A major source of those impacts is the natural gas industry, which relies more and more on environmentally risky "fracking" to extract the gas that would flow to these LNG plants through multiple new pipelines.

So Site C and LNG mean a major ramping up of increasingly controversial fracking.

Clark's opposition in the upcoming provincial election on May 14, the BC NDP, are showing signs of backing away from Site C. The party's Energy Critic John Horgan told the Vancouver Sun in February, "I’m confident that in the first two years of an NDP government we won’t be building Site C." For more information on Site C and tools to help you submit your comments to the environmental assessment process by the April 4 deadline, click here.

Damien Gillis is a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues - especially relating to water, energy, and saving Canada's wild salmon.

Creating Christian Zionists: What Americans Should Know

The Role of the Israel Lobby in the Growth of “Christian Zionism”

by Alison Weir

While some individuals, both Jewish and Christian, have talked about a Jewish “return” to Palestine throughout past centuries, today’s version of Christian Zionism was largely invented in the 19th century; adherents of political Zionism, a movement to create a Jewish state, were a major factor in how and why it grew.

As I write in my article on the history of US-Israel Relations, the precursor to today’s pro-Israel lobbying groups, the “American Zionist Emergency Council” (AZEC), played a significant role in creating Christian support for Zionism. Below is an excerpt from my piece:

"Secret Zionist funds [by AZEC], eventually reaching $150,000 in 1946, were used to revive an elitist Protestant group, the American Palestine Committee. This group had originally been founded in 1932 by Emanuel Neumann, a member of the Executive of the Zionist Organization. The objective was to organize a group of prominent (mainly non-Jewish) Americans in moral and political support of Zionism.

"[AZEC head] Rabbi Abba Silver’s headquarters issued a directive saying, “In every community an American Christian Palestine Committee must be immediately organized.”

"The Christian committee’s operations were hardly autonomous. Zionist headquarters thought nothing of placing newspaper advertisements on the clergymen’s behalf without bothering to consult them in advance, until one of the committee’s leaders meekly asked at least for prior notice before public statements were made in their name.”

"AZEC formed another group among clergymen, the Christian Council on Palestine. An internal AZEC memo stated that the aim of both groups was to “crystallize the sympathy of Christian America for our cause.”
"By the end of World War II the Christian Council on Palestine had grown to 3,000 members and the American Palestine Committee boasted a membership of 6,500 public figures, including senators, congressmen, cabinet members, governors, state officers, mayors, jurists, clergymen, educators, writers, publishers, and civic and industrial leaders.

"[For citations, and additional information on the Scofield Annotated Bible – a significant source of Christian Zionist beliefs – see my article.)"

In the 1970s the Israeli government gave Jerry Falwell a jet plane, helping him to spread his version of theology.

Numerous Christians, including a great many evangelical pastors and theologians, have long opposed the Christian Zionist interpretation of the Bible.

Among this large and extremely diverse group have been Philip Mauro writing in the 1920s and Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick and Rev. Henry Sloane Coffin, two of the most celebrated pastors of their day (’20s through the ’50s); William Sloan Coffin in the 1970s; and today’s Gary Burge, Rev. Stephen Sizer, Carl Medearis, members of Sabeel, the organizers of Christ at the Checkpoint, and numerous others. The list could go on and on.

A number of people have made a wide range of documentaries on this topic. Some are specifically from a fundamentalist, evangelical perspective and are particularly intended to reach Christians who hold Christian Zionist beliefs; one, “Christian Zionism, the Tragedy and the Turning,” contains interesting information about the Scofield Bible; another, “With God On Our Side,” has been shown with considerable effect in many churches.

However, none of the above individuals have the jet planes and massive funding of a Jerry Falwell or John Hagee to deliver their views and information to American Christians.

Two final notes: many of the politicians who support Israel do so for the simple reason that the pro-Israel influence in Congress and the media is extremely significant to their chances for re-election rather than out of religious motivation.

North Carolina’s Jesse Helms was an example: he demanded that Palestinians receive a “just settlement of their grievances” until he learned that such a stance would hurt his coverage by the media, at which point he changed it.

It is also important to be aware that numerous members of the Israel Lobby are behind the efforts to create Islamophobia in the American public. Please see CNI’s large, detailed section on this.

While there is a growing focus on Christian Zionism, which leaves out virtually all of the information above, there is a simultaneous coverup on the nature of Jewish fundamentalism and its role in Israel. I discuss this a bit in my article “What Our Taxes to Israel are Funding.”

Israeli author Israel Shahak’s books are essential reading on this. Both are available online:

Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years

Jewish Fundamentalism In Israel, co-authored with Norton Mezvinsky.

Alison Weir is the founder of If Americans Knew, an organization that provides information on topics of importance that are substantially misreported or unreported in the US media; our primary focus is on Israel-Palestine. In particular, we analyze media coverage of this issue, and have conducted a number of statistical studies.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Clueless and Cloyingly Sanctimonious: Liberal Moral Bankruptcy on Iraq

The Treason of Intellectuals

by Chris Hedges - Truthdig

The rewriting of history by the power elite was painfully evident as the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Some claimed they had opposed the war when they had not. Others among “Bush’s useful idiots” argued that they had merely acted in good faith on the information available; if they had known then what they know now, they assured us, they would have acted differently. This, of course, is false.

The war boosters, especially the “liberal hawks”—who included Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken and John Kerry, along with academics, writers and journalists such as Bill Keller, Michael Ignatieff, Nicholas Kristof, David Remnick, Fareed Zakaria, Michael Walzer, Paul Berman, Thomas Friedman, George Packer, Anne-Marie Slaughter, Kanan Makiya and the late Christopher Hitchens—did what they always have done: engage in acts of self-preservation. To oppose the war would have been a career killer. And they knew it.

These apologists, however, acted not only as cheerleaders for war; in most cases they ridiculed and attempted to discredit anyone who questioned the call to invade Iraq. Kristof, in The New York Times, attacked the filmmaker Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist and wrote that anti-war voices were only polarizing what he termed “the political cesspool.” Hitchens said that those who opposed the attack on Iraq “do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all.” He called the typical anti-war protester a “blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist.” The halfhearted mea culpas by many of these courtiers a decade later always fail to mention the most pernicious and fundamental role they played in the buildup to the war—shutting down public debate. Those of us who spoke out against the war, faced with the onslaught of right-wing “patriots” and their liberal apologists, became pariahs. In my case it did not matter that I was an Arabic speaker. It did not matter that I had spent seven years in the Middle East, including months in Iraq, as a foreign correspondent. It did not matter that I knew the instrument of war. The critique that I and other opponents of war delivered, no matter how well grounded in fact and experience, turned us into objects of scorn by a liberal elite that cravenly wanted to demonstrate its own “patriotism” and “realism” about national security. The liberal class fueled a rabid, irrational hatred of all war critics. Many of us received death threats and lost our jobs, for me one at The New York Times. These liberal warmongers, 10 years later, remain both clueless about their moral bankruptcy and cloyingly sanctimonious. They have the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents on their hands.

The power elite, especially the liberal elite, has always been willing to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, awards, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees and social status. They know what they need to say. They know which ideology they have to serve. They know what lies must be told—the biggest being that they take moral stances on issues that aren’t safe and anodyne. They have been at this game a long time. And they will, should their careers require it, happily sell us out again.

Leslie Gelb, in the magazine Foreign Affairs, spelled it out after the invasion of Iraq.

“My initial support for the war was symptomatic of unfortunate tendencies within the foreign policy community, namely the disposition and incentives to support wars to retain political and professional credibility,” he wrote. “We ‘experts’ have a lot to fix about ourselves, even as we ‘perfect’ the media. We must redouble our commitment to independent thought, and embrace, rather than cast aside, opinions and facts that blow the common—often wrong—wisdom apart. Our democracy requires nothing less.”

The moral cowardice of the power elite is especially evident when it comes to the plight of the Palestinians. The liberal class, in fact, is used to marginalize and discredit those, such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, who have the honesty, integrity and courage to denounce Israeli war crimes. And the liberal class is compensated for its dirty role in squelching debate.

“Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position, which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take,” wrote the late Edward Said. “You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship.”

“For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence,” Said went on. “If anything can denature, neutralize, and finally kill a passionate intellectual life it is the internalization of such habits. Personally I have encountered them in one of the toughest of all contemporary issues, Palestine, where fear of speaking out about one of the greatest injustices in modern history has hobbled, blinkered, muzzled many who know the truth and are in a position to serve it. For despite the abuse and vilification that any outspoken supporter of Palestinian rights and self-determination earns for him or herself, the truth deserves to be spoken, represented by an unafraid and compassionate intellectual.”

Julien Benda argued in his 1927 book “The Treason of Intellectuals”—“La Trahison des Clercs”—that it is only when we are not in pursuit of practical aims or material advantages that we can serve as a conscience and a corrective. Those who transfer their allegiance to the practical aims of power and material advantage emasculate themselves intellectually and morally. Benda wrote that intellectuals were once supposed to be indifferent to popular passions. They “set an example of attachment to the purely disinterested activity of the mind and created a belief in the supreme value of this form of existence.” They looked “as moralists upon the conflict of human egotisms.” They “preached, in the name of humanity or justice, the adoption of an abstract principle superior to and directly opposed to these passions.” These intellectuals were not, Benda conceded, very often able to prevent the powerful from “filling all history with the noise of their hatred and their slaughters.” But they did, at least, “prevent the laymen from setting up their actions as a religion, they did prevent them from thinking themselves great men as they carried out these activities.” In short, Benda asserted, “humanity did evil for two thousand years, but honored good. This contradiction was an honor to the human species, and formed the rift whereby civilization slipped into the world.” But once the intellectuals began to “play the game of political passions,” those who had “acted as a check on the realism of the people began to act as its stimulators.” And this is why Michael Moore is correct when he blames The New York Times and the liberal establishment, even more than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, for the Iraq War.

“The desire to tell the truth,” wrote Paul Baran, the brilliant Marxist economist and author of “The Political Economy of Growth,” is “only one condition for being an intellectual. The other is courage, readiness to carry on rational inquiry to wherever it may lead … to withstand … comfortable and lucrative conformity.”

Those who doggedly challenge the orthodoxy of belief, who question the reigning political passions, who refuse to sacrifice their integrity to serve the cult of power, are pushed to the margins. They are denounced by the very people who, years later, will often claim these moral battles as their own. It is only the outcasts and the rebels who keep truth and intellectual inquiry alive. They alone name the crimes of the state. They alone give a voice to the victims of oppression. They alone ask the difficult questions. Most important, they expose the powerful, along with their liberal apologists, for what they are.

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.

Copyright © 2012 Truthdig

Goebellian Propaganda: BBC's "Hallucinatory" Reportage and Iraq's Genetically Damaged Child War Casualties

Depleted Uranium: BBC's John Simpson Does a Hatchet Job on Fallujah's Genetically Damaged Children

by William Bowles -

Under the title ‘Fallujah’s children’s ‘genetic damage’ that old war horse ‘literally’ of the BBC’s foreign propaganda service, John Simpson, manages not to mention the phrase ‘depleted uranium’ when allegedly reporting on the alarming rise in birth defects that include cancer, leukaemia and a horrific rise in child mortality since the US demolished the city of Fallujah in 2004.

And it’s not until right at the end of the piece that the US attack on Fallujah is even mentioned, let alone depleted uranium!

Simpson says:

“Even if it’s possible to produce watertight scientific proof that American weapons were responsible for the genetic damage it will be almost impossible for the people who suffered to get any redress. American legislation makes it extremely difficult to sue the US government over acts of war.”

Well that takes care of that little problem then, doesn’t it. I trust the US government will reward Simpson for his slavish support of its wars of conquest and destruction.

Indeed, just look at the title of the video, the phrase genetic damage is in single quotes, thus the damage to the children of Fallujah, which is clearly and obviously genetic in origin, is questioned by the BBC’s spin meister Simpson. Worse, the video shows doctors comparing the effects of depleted uranium on the children of Fallujah with that of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and point out that in fact, they’re much worse than the damage inflicted by the Empire’s atomic bombs.

Dan Hind, in his latest piece describes the BBC’s role as follows:

“[The BBC's] journalistic failings derive from its nature as a creature of parliamentary opinion. If the executive and most of Parliament are uninterested in seeing an issue debated then the BBC remains silent. Given the centrality of the BBC in our information system its dependence on cues from an out of control political class lends mainstream coverage of public affairs an increasingly hallucinatory quality. When Westminster wants something – from a war in the Middle East to the privatization of the NHS – the BBC falls into line.” – What If They Held A Constitutional Convention and Everybody Came?‘ By Dan Hind

I wanted to put the BBC video up here, but inconveniently, The BBC decided that us punters who pay for the BBC, are denied that right, so you’ll have to watch it here, but hurry up, who knows how long the BBC will allow us to view it? This in spite of the fact that it states on its website:

“BBC News makes some video content available for embedding on other websites and blogs. These videos can be embedded onto both personal and business websites, subject to our revised terms of use.“

Clearly this video is one that the BBC doesn’t want distributed too widely in spite of its disingenuous and downright misleading message (or perhaps because of it?).

Facts in the video about genetic damage (note not alleged genetic damage) to the children of Fallujah in the video that Simpson apparently didn’t notice include:

  • A twelve-fold increase in childhood cancers since 2004.
  • Child mortality in Falluja 80 per thousand but in neighbouring Jordan it’s only 17 per thousand.
  • The ratio of boys to girls born has dramatically altered. Normally it’s a little over a 1000 thousand boys to 1000 girls but in Fallujah it’s 860 boys to a 1000 girls, an effect seen after the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
  • Horrific birth defects (too horrible for the BBC to show).

And even after a specialist talks about “genetic damage” in Fallujah, Simpson tells us:

“Yet the way the survey was done, asking people to fill in forms, means that it still isn’t finally conclusive.”

I’m not sure what Simpson wants here (aside from “watertight scientific proof”), if the survey of 4800 people, conducted by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health doesn’t fit the bill, what does?

But to add insult to injury, Simpson ends the report by blaming the Iraqi government!

“But even the Iraqi government doesn’t seem interested in finding out the truth, perhaps because Fallujah is a predominately Sunni Muslim town and the government is overwhelmingly Shiite Muslim.”

So Simpson manages to make the alleged Sunni/Shiite divide as the reason why we can’t get at the truth of the situation in Fallujah! Once more, the victims get blamed.

This is outrageous stuff, truly Goebellian propaganda of the worst kind. Hopefully, if there’s any justice in this world, one day Simpson will be called to account for his crimes of misreporting.


Free Omar Khadr Now - Public talk with Dennis Edney

Free Omar Khadr Now - Public talk with Dennis Edney: Still in Jail After 11 Years; What´s Next?

by Lawyers Against the War

At 15, Omar Khadr was captured by US Special Forces in Afghanistan and charged several years later with the death of a U.S. soldier. For 11 years he has been imprisoned in Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay and now Canada. Kept in solitary confinement, tortured, deprived of medication for his wounds, Omar was eventually convicted by an illegal military process based on a confession extracted by torture.

Dennis Edney, Q.C.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 
7:00 - 9:00pm

SFU Harbour Centre, 515 West Hastings St.
(on unceded Coast Salish territory)

 Free Admission


No evidence of his guilt was ever produced.

The offences that he confessed to committing were not crimes in 2002 and therefore prosecution is universally barred.

A U.S. appeals court threw out similar charges against another Guantanamo prisoner

Canada was the lone Western country not to secure the release of its citizen from Guantanamo.

In 2012 Khadr was finally returned to Canada and is currently imprisoned at Millhaven maximum security prison, deprived of access to basic education and rehabilitation programmes.

A new group has formed in Vancouver to work locally and nationally to free Omar Khadr. Join us to help right this terrible injustice.

Dennis Edney, QC is Omar Khadr´s Canadian lawyer. He is the recipient of the 2009 Human Rights Medal awarded by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia for work that "has helped to promote and further  human rights". Edney has lectured extensively with emphasis on the Rule of Law, to organizations, universities and conferences throughout North America. He has been a keynote speaker on behalf of Amnesty International, speaking at Trinity College, Dublin, on the Rule of Law (2005); and in London, England, at the international conference on the "Global Struggle against Torture" (2005).

Organized by the Vancouver Free Omar Khadr Now Committee