Saturday, December 14, 2013

Drowning Gaza: Heavy Rains and Dam Releases Flood Gaza Strip

Gaza drowning …and under power and media blackout

by Eva Bartlett - In Gaza

For over a month Palestinians in Gaza have endured 18 or more hours/day power outages. Now, with unusually heavy rains, cold temperatures, Israeli-released torrents of water (suddenly opening of dams along the border with Gaza), and even snow, Gaza is under water, under siege, and people are suffering freezing conditions.

According on one international in Gaza, a baby has frozen to death in one of Gaza’s refugee camps.

Photos and updates from Gaza paint one of the most dire scenarios the Palestinians locked in the Strip have faced, Israeli bombing campaigns aside.

Omar Ghraieb, from Gaza, writes:

“44 days without electricity! New emergency schedule started yesterday, electricity hours r downsized to 3 instead of 6, per day! Leaving Palestinians in Gaza with a 21+ hours of power outage a day. Add to this the horrible weather, constant rain, floods, wind, thunder & lightening!”

photo: Omar Ghraieb


Israel ‘opens dams’ flooding Gaza Strip near Deir al Balah

Dec 13, 2013

“The Gaza Government’s Disaster Response Committee announced late Friday that Israeli authorities had opened up dams just east of the Gaza Strip, flooding numerous residential areas in nearby villages within the coastal territory.

The Gaza Strip is currently under a state of emergency due to severe weather conditions caused by a historic storm front moving south across the Levant.

Fuel shortages have caused daily life in the Gaza Strip to grind slowly to a halt since early November, as power plants and water pumps are forced to shut down, cutting off access to basic necessities for Gaza residents.

Lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.”

This Is Gaza: “Despite of their slim and few equipments , Civil defense members are still working dramatically in order to secure citizens’ homes and save the stricken homes from cold weather in Rafah and Khan Yonis in the Gaza strip. There is no doubt that siege impacts on their work dramatically where they face mobility problems with their vehicles due to lack of fuel , and power outages for long hours. However, they confirm that they will continue their work although the lack of resources , and the difficulty of circumstances.”

This Is Gaza: “Many Gaza houses were totally submerged with the heavy rains! Hundreds of people became homeless and were evacuated to temporary shelters in local schools. Gaza needs your help URGENTLY!”


Widespread flooding in Gaza forces thousands to flee homes

Dec 13, 2013

“The Gaza Strip was pounded by fierce winds and rain again on Friday as flooding reached dangerous levels in many areas, forcing thousands to flee their homes amid widespread power outages as temperatures plunged into the single digits.

The flooding was worst in the northern Gaza Strip, where hundreds fled their homes and water levels reached 40-50 cm in some parts, forcing residents to use boats to navigate their neighborhoods.

The Gaza government said in a statement on Friday that so far 2,825 people have been evacuated from their homes, reaching a total of 458 families.

UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness:

“After so many years of the Israeli blockade, the public health system in Gaza was already acutely and chronically damaged, so the man-made problems inflicted on Gaza are compounded by the extreme weather conditions.”

[Ezz al Zanoon, a photographer based in central Gaza] stressed that the storm had compounded the already dangerous conditions Gaza residents were living under as a result of severe fuel shortages over the last few months.

“Electricity is only on for one or two hours a day,” he said, pointing out that in the days before the storm’s arrival daily electricity availability had dropped drastically from previous levels of six to 12 hours.

“People are suffering as they wait up all night for the electricity and water to come on,” he added, pointing out that water availability was dependent on the availability of electricity with which to pump it.

“There is no movement, no one goes out. Even those who work can’t go out.”

“The people hold Hamas and Fatah responsibly, both Haniyeh and Abbas,” he added.

“How could they let the situation of the children in this country become like this?”

“We know there is a siege (on Gaza), but there has to be a solution. Abbas is the most responsible, why doesn’t he do anything?”

The Gaza Strip has been without a functioning power plant since the beginning of the month, when the plant ran out of diesel fuel as a result of the tightening of a seven-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

The plant itself was only reopened last year after it was targeted by an Israeli airstrike in the 2006 assault on the Strip. The power plant generates around 30 percent of the Gaza Strip’s electricity supply, while the rest comes from Israel and Egypt.

Until July of this year, the tunnels to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution.

Gaza Strip energy officials have blamed Egypt for destroying numerous tunnels linking the Gaza Strip and Egypt in recent months. They also blamed the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority for charging taxes on fuel too high for Gaza Strip authorities to afford.”


State of Emergency in Gaza

By Mohammed Omer, Dec 2013

“It is cold, there is no power, and I am charging my computer using a car battery in order to get this message out. It is so cold in Gaza that everyone has cold feet and a cold nose. A new storm is hitting this besieged enclave. There is no electricity, and shortages of water, fuel, and vital services mean people just sit and wait for the unknown.

Tens of houses east of Gaza City, in the northern Gaza Strip, in Khan Younes and Rafah are flooded with rain today. The sewage system cannot function and Gaza municipalities announced a state of emergency. Schools and most shops are shut, there is no traffic and few people are walking in the street.

Gaza City’s garbage trucks have been at a standstill due to the ongoing fuel shortage. I’d gotten used to the bright orange truck that usually passes by, sounding its horn, a sign for all my neighbors to bring out their garbage for collection.

Now the donkey is our only remaining hope. Since last week—when fuel supplies ran dry—the only sound one hears now is the click-click of their hooves as they pull their carts along the road at 4 a.m. By noon, they have collected all they can on their busy route. In Gaza’s Barcelona neighborhood, garbage containers are overflowing—a normal occurrence since fuel ran out.

We had no running water for the past two days—when there is no fuel, water is not pumped regularly into houses. The tank on our rooftop is empty. So we can’t even flush our toilet.

Fuel cannot enter Gaza through the supply tunnels recently shut down by Egypt’s new government. As a result Gaza’s water-treatment plant is at standstill, with raw sewage waist-deep in some streets and flooding into Gazan homes, bringing with it rats and disease.

Tonight, the smell of rotten sewage floods into my nose. I inhale and exhale the stink of rotten garbage. The night air is filled with this suffocating smell, and in the morning I can only hope that Abu Ghaleb will be around with his donkey and cart to try to clear away as much as he can.

It makes me wonder if U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is aware of Gaza’s situation. Would he find it acceptable if Israeli citizens lived in the same conditions as Gazans? Or don’t we in Gaza count as humans?”


Freezing and canoeing in Gaza

Fidaa Abuassi on December 13, 2013

“I haven’t heard from my family for 3 days, haven’t seen any of my siblings online anywhere, so I called (internationally since I could neither Skype or Viber). My mom said “habibti we are doing well Alhamdulliah. Don’t worry. We just didn’t have power for three days in a row, no internet, no water, nothing. It’s extremely cold and we are freezing. But we are better than others whose houses are drowning.” She then handed the phone to my dad. His voice sounded so desperate! He was repetitively saying “what could we do, dear!” Never “seen” him this depressed before!

Gaza is drowning today. You will see people kayaking and canoeing not the type of fun activities the world knows. Houses are flooded by water. People are freezing there. No power. No water. No heat. No fuel. This is a catastrophe. A CATASTROPHE. I need to do something to help. I felt so helpless that I wanted to call 911, Red Cross or Amnesty International. Anyone! I want to tell the world that Gaza is living an unspeakable disaster and in a bad need for your help. I cannot be silent. You cannot be silent.”

Northern Gaza

Published on Dec 12, 2013, the IMEU:
“Unlike Manhattanites, though — or, more to the point, unlike their neighbors in Sderot — Gaza’s refugees have nowhere to flee when heavy rains, as in this video, flood their 25-mile occupied territory, blockaded by land, air, and sea.”

Photos of Gaza submerged:

The Mandiba Doll: Foxy Media Make-Over Makes Barbie Out of Mandela

The Mandela Barbie

by Greg Palast - Truthout

I can't take it anymore. All week, I've watched Nelson Mandela reduced to a Barbie doll. From Fox News to the Bush family, the politicians and media mavens who body-blocked the anti-Apartheid Movement and were happy to keep Mandela behind bars, now get to dress his image up in any silly outfit they choose.

Poor Mandela. When he's not a doll, he's a statue. He joins Martin Luther King as another bronzed monument whose use is to tell us that apartheid is now "defeated" - to quote the ridiculous headline in the Times.

It's more nauseating than hypocrisy and ignorance. The Mandela Barbie is dressed to serve a new version of racism, Apartheid 2.0, worsening both in South Africa - and in the USA.

The ruling class creates commemorative dolls and statues of revolutionary leaders as a way to tell us their cause is won, so go home. For example, just months ago, the US Supreme Court overturned the Voting Rights Act, Dr. King's greatest accomplishment, on the specious claim that, "Blatantly discriminatory evasions are rare," and Jim Crow voting practices are now "eradicated."

"Eradicated?" On what planet? The latest move by Florida Republicans to purge 181,000 voters of color - like the stench from the shantytowns of Cape Town - makes clear that neither Jim Crow nor Apartheid has been defeated. They're just in temporary retreat.

Nevertheless, our betters in the USA and Europe have declared that King slew segregation, Mandela defeated apartheid; and therefore, the new victims of racial injustice should just shut the f$#! up and stop whining.

The Man Who Walked Beside Mandela


To replace the plastic and metal Mandelas with flesh and blood, I spoke to Danny Schechter. Schechter knew Mandela personally, and more deeply, than any other American journalist. "One of the great reporters of our generation, Schechter produced South Africa Now, a weekly program for PBS Television stations, from 1988-91, bringing Mandela's case to Americans dumbed and numbed on by Ronald Reagan's red-baiting.

Schechter has just completed the difficult job of making the official documentary companion to the Hollywood version of Mandela's life, Long Walk to Freedom.

The fictional movie is about triumph and forgiveness. Schechter's documentary, Inside Mandela, has this aplenty, but knowing Mandela, Schechter includes Mandela's anger, despair and his pained legacy: a corroded South Africa still ruled by a brutal economic apartheid. Today, the average white family has five times the income of a black family. Welcome to "freedom."

The US and European press have focused on Mandela's saintly ability to abjure bitterness and all desire for revenge, and for his Christ-like forgiveness of his captors. This is to reassure us all that "good" revolutionaries are ones who don't hold anyone to account for murder, plunder and blood-drenched horror - or demand compensation. That's Mandela in his Mahatma Gandhi doll outfit - turning the other cheek, kissing his prison wardens.

Schechter doesn't play with dolls. He knew Mandela the man - and Mandela as one among a group of revolutionary leaders.

Mandela's circle knew this: You can't forgive those you defeat until you defeat them.

And, despite the hoo-hah, Mandela didn't defeat apartheid with "nice" alone. In the 1980s, says Schechter, South African whites faced this reality: The Cubans who defeated South African troops in neighboring Angola were ready to move into South Africa. The Vietnamese who had defeated the mighty USA were advising Mandela's military force.

And so, while Mandela held out a hand in forgiveness - in his other hand he held Umkhonto we Sizwe, a spear to apartheid's heart. And Mandela's comrades tied a noose: an international embargo, leaky though it was, that lay siege to South Africa's economy.

Seeing the writing on the wall (and envisioning their blood on the floor), the white-owned gold and diamond cartels, Anglo-American and DeBeers, backed by the World Bank, came to Mandela with a bargain: black Africans could have voting power . . . but not economic power.

Mandela chose to shake hands with this devil and accept the continuation of economic apartheid. In return for safeguarding the diamond and gold interests and protecting white ownership of land, mines and businesses, he was allowed the presidency, or at least the office and title.

It is a bargain that ate at Mandela's heart. He was faced with the direct threat of an embargo of capital, and taking note of the beating endured by his Cuban allies over resource nationalization, Mandela swallowed the poison with a forced grin. Yes, a new South African black middle class has been handed a slice of the mineral pie, but that just changes the color of the hand holding the whip.

The 1% Rainbow


In the end, all revolutions are about one thing: the 99% versus the 1%. Time and history can change the hue of the aristocrat, but not their greed, against which Mandela appeared nearly powerless.

So was Mandela's life a waste, his bio-pic a fraud? Not at all. No man is a revolution.

We have much to learn from Mandela's long view of history, his much-lauded pacific warm-heartedness as well as his much-concealed cold and cruel resolve. The crack in the prison wall of apartheid, the end of racial warfare, if not yet racial peace, is a real accomplishment of Mandela - and his comrade revolutionaries - most of whose names will never be cast in bronze.

Reading Schechter's new book Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (as Mandela is known to Black South Africans) and seeing Schechter's un-Hollywood film, you can take away one strong impression: From Moses to Martin to Mandela, our prophets never reach the Promised Land.

That is for us still to accomplish. The journey is long. Start walking.

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits,The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Vultures and Vote Rustlers: A Post-America American Christmas

Roast Goldman Sachs' Chestnuts on an Open Fire

by Greg Palast

Call me crazy, but I couldn’t stop myself: I’ve made a film about the scoundrels, scalawags, scumbags and bankers just in time to roast their chestnuts on an open fire.

Vultures and Vote Rustlers combines my favorite eight investigations for BBC-TV and Democracy Now into a one hour film that will make you howl with laughter — and with anger—or your money back.

Hey, I made Amy Goodman laugh. I also made a bunch of billionaire speculators, oil company CEOs and Larry Summers scream, cry and threaten law suits.

Get a copy of the DVD right now by making a tax-deductible donation of at least $40 to the Palast Investigative Fund — and I’ll sign it personally to you with my thanks.

Donate now (or no later than Monday) and you’ll have it in your hands by December 20.

I’m donating all the film and 100% of the proceeds to the Palast Investigative Fund. Help me feed our team of incomparable investigators, researchers and filmmakers so they don’t pass out from hunger during our grueling schedule of investigations set for the coming year. I’ve already stuffed into my files and hidden recorders info on the Theft of the 2014 elections, the XL Pipeline and the billionaire bad-boys funding these games…but I can’t write it up, film it, or get it out without your help.

Make your donation at least $65 and get 2 DVDs: Vultures and Vote Rustlers and Palast Investigates.

Make it $80 or more and I’ll send you both my book Vultures' Picnic and Vultures and Vote Rustlers.

Here’s just some of what you’ll get in Vultures and Vote Rustlers, filmed on four continents…

- Me and my crew under arrest in Azerbaijan while investigating the Deepwater Horizon explosion. (The film will explain this weird turn of events.)

- The billionaires behind Governor Chris Christie’s rise and how they enriched their previous puppet, Mitt Romney, with a $115 million payoff.

- The discovery of Karl Rove’s latest scam for swiping votes from Black folk.

- The stake-outs in the snow and the hunt in the heat in the Congo to catch the vulture financiers who would choose your next president.

… And "Goldman Sachs attacks!" — with painfully live footage of our cameraman Zach getting clonked on the noggin by cops at Occupy Wall Street. (And thanks to our donors who replaced the camera.)

It’s all here: Stake-outs at dawn, nudnicks at noon, night in the Congo…old-fashioned investigative reporting like you don’t see on US TV.

This is my best stuff, both fun and unbelievably important to understanding the games the 1% play.

The DVD also includes an hour and a half of extras including my take-downs on the stories in interviews with Amy Goodman, Abbie Martin and Max Keiser … plus an Eskimo chief telling me to f— myself after eating whale meat. (You have to see it to believe it.)

Or download the one-hour film right now. (Minimum donation $20—tax deductible and much needed.)

Filmed by cameraman extraordinaire Rick Rowley (Dirty Wars) and a team of out-of-control filmmakers (and my cool little Austin Powers camera-in-a-pen).

Get this film, get a laugh, get an education — get a tax-deduction and help get our team back on the trail.

(And if you’ve got a grand, we’ll list you as a producer on our next film, Billionaires and Ballot Bandits.)

Want to send your loved ones the gift of truth? Just tell me who to sign it for after you make your donation.

Or consider the Palast Investigate Fund for your list of End-of-Year tax-deductible, charitable contributions.

I can’t thank you enough for all your support for the past ten years of investigations that make front-page revelations — and more important, have changed laws, changed lives and made a difference.

And even though Bill O’Reilly will hate me for saying it: Happy Holidays,

Greg Palast

* * * * * *

Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits,The Best Democracy Money Can Buy, Armed Madhouse and the highly acclaimed Vultures' Picnic.

HELP US FOLLOW THE MONEY. Visit the Palast Investigative Fund's store or simply make a tax-deductible contribution to keep our work alive!

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by Richard Boyce

A first hand look at Wright Sound, the epicenter for navigational routes proposed by the oil industry and governments that currently support plans for the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. This tiny body of water is where 5 major channels of BC’s Inside Passage flow together and would be the intersection where the routes of all International Super Tankers would meet all local Marine Traffic.

 12 minute VIDEO READY for you to View: 

Check it out at:

Project OverView

I’m in the process of making another feature length documentary film and I’m releasing it with a unique twist – as a series of 10-minute mini-docs on the internet so I could really use your help forwarding the link to people across Canada. Each Mini-Doc will be posted as I produce them so you and your friends can view one or all these videos anytime.

This innovative media project takes a first hand look at British Columbia’s central coast, its natural features, the weather, the currents, the wildlife, and the people who live there. My personal journeys into this remote wilderness focus on the coastal areas where the Enbridge Corporation is proposing to navigate hundreds of supertankers loaded with millions of barrels of Diluted Bitumen (DilBit) from Alberta’s Tarsands to China via Kitimat, British Columbia, Canada.

I recently completed a kayak trip through the waters where these massive ships will make three hairpin turns of more than 90 degrees, while loaded with 2 million barrels of DilBit from Alberta’s Tarsands. I had to see the coast for myself because the misinformation about the tanker routes is overwhelming. I’m certain people will appreciate my first-hand video approach. We encountered whales and lots of marine traffic along the rugged coast. What an amazing place, when the rain stopped and the fog lifted we encountered our first Humpback Whale sleeping in the middle of a narrow channel. Drifting with the current, it stayed there most of the day, blowing periodically. A few days later while paddling across the same narrow channel, a massive Cruise Ship slowed down to allow us, in a tiny little kayak, to clear the area. I can’t imagine what would happen if we were a 330 meter long supertanker with 2 tugboats swinging it around a hairpin turn with over a 500 meters of steel cable. What a nightmare!


Everyone Loves a Dead Saint: Media Hypocrisy on Mandela Farewell

The Media's Hypocritical Oath - Mandela And Economic Apartheid

by David Edwards  - Media Lens

What does it mean when a notoriously profit-driven, warmongering, climate-killing media system mourns, with one impassioned voice, the death of a principled freedom fighter like Nelson Mandela?

Does it mean that the corporate system has a heart, that it cares? Or does it mean that Mandela's politics, and the mythology surrounding them, are somehow serviceable to power?

Consider, first, that this is what is supposed to be true of professional journalism:

'Gavin Hewitt, John Simpson, Andrew Marr and the rest are employed to be studiously neutral, expressing little emotion and certainly no opinion; millions of people would say that news is the conveying of fact, and nothing more.' (Andrew Marr, My Trade - A Short History of British Journalism, Macmillan, 2004, p.279)

Thus, Andrew Marr, then BBC political editor, offering professional journalism's version of the medical maxim, 'First, do no harm'. First, do no bias.

The reality is indicated by Peter Oborne's comment in the Telegraph:

'There are very few human beings who can be compared to Jesus Christ. Nelson Mandela is one... It is hard to envisage a wiser ruler.'

Responding to 850 viewers who had complained that the BBC 'had devoted too much airtime' to Mandela's death, James Harding, the BBC's director of news, also expressed little emotion and certainly no opinion when he declared Mandela 'the most significant statesman of the last 100 years, a man who defined freedom, justice, reconciliation, forgiveness'.

In other words, the corporate media had once again abandoned its famed Hypocritical Oath in affirming a trans-spectrum consensus. As ever, a proposition is advanced as indisputably true, the evidence so overwhelming that journalists simply have to ditch 'balance' to declare the obvious.

The motive is always said to be some pressing moral cause: national solidarity and security at home, opposition to tyranny and genocide abroad. In these moments, the state-corporate system persuades the public of its fundamental humanity, rationality and compassion. But in fact this 'compassion' is always driven by realpolitik and groupthink.

'Emotionally Potent Over-Simplifications' 


Because it is an integral part of a system whose actual goals and methods would not be acceptable to the public, the corporate media cannot make sense of the world; it must deal in what US foreign affairs advisor Reinhold Niebuhr called 'emotionally potent over-simplifications'.

Thus we find the endlessly recurring theme of the archetypal Bad Guy. When bin Laden is executed, Saddam Hussein lynched and Gaddafi bombed, beaten and shot, it is the same Enemy regenerating year after year, Doctor Who-like, to be 'taken down' by the same Good Guy archetype. This is the benevolent father figure who forever sets corporate hearts aflutter with hope and devotion.

In 1997, the Guardian declared the election of Tony Blair 'one of the great turning-points of British political history... the moment when Britain at last gave itself the chance to construct a modern liberal socialist order'. (Leader, 'A political earthquake,' The Guardian, May 2, 1997)

The editors cited historian AJP Taylor's stirring words: 'Few now sang England Arise, but England had risen all the same.'

In October 2002, the Guardian's editors were ravished by a speech by former president Bill Clinton:

'If one were reviewing it, five stars would not be enough... What a speech. What a pro. And what a loss to the leadership of America and the world.' (Leader, 'What a pro - Clinton shows what a loss he is to the US,' The Guardian, October 3, 2002)

Of Barack Obama's first great triumph, the same editors gushed:

'They did it. They really did it... Today is for celebration, for happiness and for reflected human glory. Savour those words: President Barack Obama, America's hope and, in no small way, ours too.'

Impartiality? Nowhere in sight. Why? Because these are obviously good men, benign causes of great hope. The media are so passionate because they are good men. From this we know who to support and we know that these media are fundamentally virtuous.

In identical fashion, the media have covered themselves in reflected moral glory by hailing Nelson Mandela as a political saint. The Daily Mirror declared: 'He was the greatest of all leaders,' (Daily Mirror, December 7, 2013). He 'showed a forgiveness and generosity of spirit that made him a guiding star for humanity', an 'icon', 'a colossus'.

Forgiveness was not a major theme in the title of the Mirror's October 21, 2011 editorial, following the torture and murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi: 'Mad Dog's Not A Loss.' The editors commented: 'Libya is undoubtedly better off without Mad Dog on the loose.'

Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel 4 News agreed that Mandela was a 'colussus [sic], hero and rare soul'. (Snowmail, December 6, 2013)

For the Telegraph, Mandela was 'regal'. Indeed, 'his life had a Churchillian aura of destiny'. He was 'the kind of man who comes upon this earth but rarely.'

For the equally impartial Guardian, Mandela was, 'A leader above all others... The secret of [his] leadership lay in the almost unique mixture of wisdom and innocence'.

The paper managed to hint at a darker truth to which we will return; as president, Mandela had 'discarded his once radical views on the economy'.

For the Gandhians at The Times, Mandela was a near-mythological figure: 'a man of unyielding courage and breathtaking magnanimity, who defied the armed enforcers of a white supremacist state, made friends of his jailers and could wear a mask of calm on a plane that seemed about to crash'. (Leading article, 'True Valour,' The Times, December 6, 2013)

Although: 'Critics point to his consistent support for Fidel Castro and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi as proof that his judgment was not infallible.'

Indeed, it ought to be surprising that the media would so readily forgive a man who had supported armed violence, and who was close to some of the West's foremost enemies. In March 1998, as South African president, with US president Bill Clinton at his side, Mandela said:

'I have also invited Brother Leader Gaddafi to this country [South Africa]. And I do that because our moral authority dictates that we should not abandon those who helped us in the darkest hour in the history of this country. Not only did they [Libya] support us in return, they gave us the resources for us to conduct our struggle, and to win. And those South Africans who have berated me, for being loyal to our friends, literally they can go and throw themselves into a pool.'

The capitalist, Russian oligarch-owned Independent on Sunday helped explain media enthusiasm for Mandela when it hailed his views on big business:

'For all his left-wing rhetoric, he recognised that capitalism is the most important anti-poverty policy.'

As for Africa's environmental problems, 'Ultimately, as with human poverty, economic growth is the solution.'

It is of course profoundly impressive that Mandela could emerge from 27 years of imprisonment with apparently no desire for revenge. And as Peter Oborne commented:

'It took just two or three years to sweep away white rule and install a new kind of government. Most revolutions of this sort are unbelievably violent and horrible. They feature mass executions, torture, expropriation and massacres... let's imagine that Nelson Mandela had been a different sort of man. Let's imagine that he emerged from his 27 years of incarceration bent on revenge against the white fascists and thugs who had locked him up for so long.'

Oborne compared the results of Mandela's strategy with those of the West's Official Enemies: 'Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein. The list goes on and on.' Although not so far as to include Western leaders, by doctrinal fiat.

Oborne noted that Mandela and Gandhi 'embraced humanity, rather than excluded it. They sought moral rather than physical power'.

Unlike Oborne's own newspaper, which wrote of Nato's devastating and illegal assault on Libya in 2011:

'As the net tightens round Muammar Gaddafi and his family, Nato deserves congratulations on having provided the platform for rebel success.'

In March 2003, the same paper declared:

'Any fair-minded person who listened to yesterday's [parliamentary] debate, having been genuinely unable to make up his mind about military action against Saddam Hussein, must surely have concluded that Mr Blair was right, and his opponents were wrong.'

Economic Apartheid

As discussed, many journalists have rightly praised Mandela's forgiveness. But the state-corporate system also has a generous capacity for excusing torturers, dictators, terrorists, and even former enemies like Mandela - anyone who serves the deep interests of power and profit in some way.

John Pilger noted of Mandela:

'The sheer grace and charm of the man made you feel good. He chuckled about his elevation to sainthood. "That's not the job I applied for," he said dryly.'

But Mandela 'was well used to deferential interviews and I was ticked off several times - "you completely forgot what I said" and "I have already explained that matter to you". In brooking no criticism of the African National Congress (ANC), he revealed something of why millions of South Africans will mourn his passing but not his "legacy".'

Once in power, Pilger explained, the ANC's official policy to end the impoverishment of most South Africans was abandoned, with one of his ministers boasting that the ANC's politics were Thatcherite:

'Few ordinary South Africans were aware that this "process" had begun in high secrecy more than two years before Mandela's release when the ANC in exile had, in effect, done a deal with prominent members of the Afrikaaner elite at meetings in a stately home, Mells Park House, near Bath. The prime movers were the corporations that had underpinned apartheid...

'With democratic elections in 1994, racial apartheid was ended, and economic apartheid had a new face.' (See Pilger's 1998 film, Apartheid Did Not Die, for further analysis)

In 2001, George Soros told the Davos Economic Forum: 'South Africa is in the hands of international capital.'

Patrick Bond, director of the centre for civil society and a professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, commented:

'I happened to work in his office twice, '94 and '96, and saw these policies being pushed on Mandela by international finance and domestic business and a neoliberal conservative faction within his own party.'

Bond paraphrased the view of former minister of intelligence and minister of water Ronnie Kasrils, 'probably the country's greatest white revolutionary ever', who described how 'as a ruler Mandela gave in way too much to rich people. So he replaced racial apartheid with class apartheid'.

Bond argues that 'big business basically said, we will get out of our relationship with the Afrikaner rulers if you let us keep, basically, our wealth intact and indeed to take the wealth abroad'.

In the Independent, Andrew Buncombe reported that 'for many in Alexandra, and in countless similar places across the country, the situation in some respects is today little different' from before Mandela began his liberation struggle:

'Figures released last year following a census showed that while the incomes of black households had increased by an average of 169 per cent over the past ten years, they still represented a sixth of those of white households.'

Former Guardian journalist Jonathan Cook also recognised Mandela's 'huge achievement in helping to bring down South African apartheid'. But:

'Mandela was rehabilitated into an "elder statesman" in return for South Africa being rapidly transformed into an outpost of neoliberalism, prioritising the kind of economic apartheid most of us in the west are getting a strong dose of now.'

And Mandela was used:

'After finally being allowed to join the western "club", he could be regularly paraded as proof of the club's democratic credentials and its ethical sensibility... He was forced to become a kind of Princess Diana, someone we could be allowed to love because he rarely said anything too threatening to the interests of the corporate elite who run the planet.'

This helps explain why Mandela is feted as a political saint, while late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, who profoundly challenged economic apartheid in Latin America, was a 'controversial', 'anti-American bogeymen', a 'people's hero and villain' who had 'pissed away' his country's wealth, for the BBC. Chavez was a peddler of 'strutting and narcissistic populism' for the Guardian. Rory Carroll, the paper's lead reporter on Venezuela between 2006-2012, commented:

'To the millions who detested him as a thug and charlatan, it will be occasion to bid, vocally or discreetly, good riddance.'

For the Independent, Chavez was 'egotistical, bombastic and polarising', 'no run-of-the-mill dictator'. He was 'divisive' for the Guardian, Independent and Telegraph, and 'reckless' for the Economist.

Chavez's real crime was that he presented a serious threat to the state-corporate system of which these media are an integral part.

The point is a simple one. State-corporate expressions of moral outrage and approval are never - not ever - to be taken at face value. While of course there may be some truth in what is being said, the systemic motivation will always be found in the self-interested head rather than the altruistic heart.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Just Saying No to Death Squads...and the Panopticon

America: Addicted to Surveillance…and Death Squads 

by Peter Lee - China Matters

What rights do humans have? On a global scale, zip, actually.

One of the by-products of an increasingly interconnected and interpenetrated world is that the difference between the way nations treat their citizens and the way they treat the rest of the world is becoming more apparent.

The issue has been brought into sharp relief by the NSA’s global data collection and surveillance campaign.

A cursory look at Article 12 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights…

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

…in the post-Snowden era might bring a non-US reader up short with the brainwave Hey! Intrusive NSA surveillance is violating my human rights!

Not so fast, buster. The UN is only busybodying with the activities of your own government.

Back in 1948, when the UNUDHR first appeared, nobody worried that the United States government might be robbing the mail bags on the stagecoach between London and Paris, or whatever the hell people used to communicate back in the pre-Internet era.

From a 21st-century perspective, things get darker when you look at:

Article 3
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 5
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 9
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

As pointed out above, these restraints are meant to apply to a government in the treatment of its own citizens and are “universal” in that every government is supposed to respect them…but only for their own citizens.

Somebody else’s citizens, well that’s a different ball game.

The United States explicitly asserts and exercises the right to arbitrarily arrest and detain foreigners; and incarceration at Guantanamo looks a lot like exile. The US does subscribe to the Convention Against Torture, which is supposed to protect everybody against torture; it does so by classifying the coercive measures it applies to foreign detainees as “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment”, something that CAT doesn’t ban and the UNUDHR only forbids when inflicted by a nation on its own citizens; and the “right to life, liberty and security of person” for foreign nationals is clearly not being honored in the case of a drone strike.

Long story short, the UNUDHR actually assists the U.S. by closing one of the few doors to prosecution for the various abuses it inflicts on foreign nationals.

Conversely, the United States can affirm the legality of what it’s doing overseas by emphasizing its adherence to the UNUDHR for its own citizens.

The NSA appears reasonably sedulous, at least on the theoretical level, in observing the constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure for US citizens. For everybody else, it’s fair game.

So the NSA can point to its respect for the constitutional rights of citizens of the United States in order to assert that its wholesale sweep of global data is a defendable exercise of its considerable capabilities, and not evidence of a secretive, unaccountable bureaucracy run hog wild.

The same is true of the U.S. targeted killing program (with the exception of the targeted killing of US citizen Anwar al Awlaki, which perhaps can be treated as an extra-legal one-off relating to his disquieting success as an al Qaeda recruiter and spokesperson in the U.S. and other Anglophone countries, his perceived role in inciting the Fort Hood mass shooting, and the government's desire to demonstrate that a) vengeance is mine and b) US citizenship will not protect high profile Islamist extremists).

Extralegal assassination is not just a matter of the well-publicized drone strikes carried out by the U.S. government. To a certain extent, the United States is addicted to death squads as an instrument of security and counter-insurgency policy carried out by foreign proxies against their own citizens or, when circumstances permit or demand, by US special forces under JSOC—the Joint Special Operations Command.

In researching my article on Colombia and its AUC death squads, which is in the current edition of the subscription-only CounterPunch Monthly—subscribe!—I was struck by the fact that for the US and Colombian governments, it seemed the only way out of the insurgency dilemma was to kill people, lots and lots of people, extrajudicially.

In the 1990s, the Colombian government—including its police and judicial system-- was thoroughly corrupted and intimidated and completely overmatched in its losing fight against narcos and FARC leftist insurgents. There was no security or institutional space available to practice the kid-glove “hearts and minds” counterinsurgency officially promoted by the United States as a demonstration of the irresistible superiority of US democracy, law, and free market concepts.

The United States was there to help—the last thing the US wanted was for Colombia to follow Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela in the Communist domino category—and, as far as I can tell, bought into the whole targeted killing/death squad formula as the only way to improve security and get rid of the bad guys.

Mark Bowden’s book about the U.S. role in the campaign to do away with Pablo Escobar in the early 1990s, Killing Pablo, shows the U.S. apparently more than just turning a blind eye to the wave of extrajudicial killings, both by Colombian security forces and a government-tolerated death squad, “Los Pepes”, carried out to isolate and ultimately trap Escobar. U.S. signals intelligence was apparently key to development of the death lists, and it appears likely that, as the bodies of people on the lists piled up, the U.S. government at the operating level knew of, approved, and abetted the campaign of extrajudicial killings.

When Escobar was finally caught, the Colombian security forces predictably did not give him a chance to surrender (in a previous surrender, Escobar had leveraged his vast wealth and intimidating power to arrange his “incarceration” in a luxury prison he designed himself and subsequently escaped). What is a little less predictable is the allegation that a moonlighting Delta Force sniper (Delta Force was in Colombia but officially only allowed to conduct training) actually carried out the extrajudicial execution as Escobar frantically scrabbled over a rooftop away from his hideaway.

JSOC was in Colombia, according to Bowden. Indeed, so was Jerry Boykin, the notorious “my God is bigger than your god” religious megalomaniac, as a leader of the first Delta Force team.

Death squads subsequently became the solution that the United States was unable to repudiate, and Los Pepes morphed into the notorious Colombian self-defense forces, the AUC, which engaged in a five year campaign of massacre of thousands of villagers and townsfolk in order to deny FARC havens in the villages of Colombia’s heartlands with little more than ostentatious handwringing from the United States.

JSOC went on to impose the death squad solution as it hunted down and killed al Qaeda operatives with the assistance of the local sheikhs in Iraq’s “Anbar Awakening”, inspiring George W. Bush’s thumbs-up “JSOC is awesome”. And I have argued frequently and I think persuasively, the United States is looking for the right opportunity and suitable local partner in order to solve its increasingly intractable anti-American jihadi problem in Syria. Jeremy Scahill’s Dirty Wars reportedly (haven’t seen it yet) provides an unnerving picture of JSOC’s metastasizing global presence.

Going back in history, Douglas Valentine could tell the story of the Phoenix Program, America’s attempt to kill its way out of its Vietcong problem in Vietnam; and the question of the doctrinal efficacy of death squads could be explored through review of the curriculum of the School of the Americas and the wave of anti-Communist/anti-leftist extrajudicial murder that swept through U.S. allies Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Colombia in the post World War II era.

“Addicted to death squads” is not an unfair characterization of U.S. counterinsurgency in practice, if not in doctrine.

Nowadays, America’s unilateral reach in overseas extrajudicial killings has, if anything, increased, thanks to the layering of pervasive global data surveillance and drone assassination technologies over the traditional U.S. tendency to inflict mayhem with impunity in foreign jurisdictions.

And, as other countries become more independent and ornery and U.S. economic clout dwindles America’s traditional options—Send in the troops! Here’s some aid! Let’s do some nation-building!—become less effective.

So, as the list of Things That Work becomes shorter, the alternatives to extrajudicial killings as a way to secure gains for America overseas become fewer.

There oughta be a law…or a bill of human rights.

I don’t think there will be.

Taking the Hammer to Japan's Southern Whaling Fleet - Again!

Hurrah for the Hammer!

by Paul Watson - SSCS

Three Sea Shepherd ships will soon be heading southward to once again intercept the illegal whaling operations of the notorious Japanese whaling fleet.

And for the first time I will not be on board.

I am today in the State of Utah of all places, driving to Boulder, Colorado, no longer an exile at sea although I remain exiled in America and unable to travel abroad.

I would feel apprehensive about the ships departing without me but instead I am confident that the vessels are in good hands, under the direction of Sea Shepherd Australia and the command of Captains Sid Chakavarty and Peter Hammarstedt.

Last season they demonstrated both their courage and their passion and along with their crews they shut down the Cetacean serial-killers of the Southern Ocean.

I don’t think there is any doubt that the action that forced the Japanese to retreat was the blocking of the Nisshin Maru from fuelling with the Sun Laurel.

The Bob Barker under the command of Captain Peter Hammarstedt held their ground and they did not move despite a battering by the immensely larger Japanese mother ship.

As the masts toppled, the helicopter deck buckled and the radar was crushed, Peter Hammarstedt defiantly informed the whalers that he would not budge and that they would have to sink the Bob Barker before he would be removed.

His crew stood beside him unflinching in the face of an imminent threat to their lives.

It is appropriate that this young Swede is named Peter. In Aramaic, Peter means “the Rock” and that is what Peter became in the Southern Ocean – the rock that stood between the killers and their fuel.

Peter “the Rock” Hammarstedt has been with Sea Shepherd since he was 18 and has rose from deckhand to captain during the last decade.

We witnessed his resolve when the Mounties failed to get a single word out of him under interrogation. We dramatically observed his courage in the face of an all out assault by the Nisshin Maru.

His loyalty over the years to Sea Shepherd, to the captains he served under, to myself and most importantly to our clients in the sea has been inspirational.

Passion, courage, imagination, loyalty, resolve, endurance, commitment. These are all words that I associate with Peter, the hammer and the anvil of the Sea Shepherd movement.

Peter has all the talents needed to be a great Sea Shepherd leader. In addition to his nautical skills, he is a great public speaker and a roaming ambassador for our oceans. He understands strategy and most importantly he understands media strategy.

I have heard people say that Peter is the new Paul Watson.

No he is not.

Peter is Peter and his leadership skills are his own, molded by his own passion and guided by his own intuition.

What he does share with me is the satisfaction of having discovered his life’s work at an early age. He knows what he wants to do and has never had any fear or hesitation about the role he has chosen.

He is a warrior for the oceans, a champion of life, an advocate for nature and a Sea Shepherd captain and I know that in thirty-five years when he is my age he will still be on the front lines for there is no retreat from planetary duty.

He was born a warrior and he will die a warrior and I’m confident that his life will inspire others and they will in turn inspire many others to pick up the banner of marine conservation.

At an early age, not yet thirty, he has already become an icon of the Sea Shepherd movement and the future will see him become a legend.

We are all seeds in a movement for the defence of nature, beauty, diversity and life.

Ten years ago Peter was an acorn and today he is an oak, still young but strongly rooted in his resolve to be an instrument of sanity in opposition to the ecological insanity of humanity.

Ukraine's U-Turn on Russian Energy Deal

Ukraine's Two New Energy Deals

by Scott Belinksi -

If one was to believe the picture that most Western media outlets are painting, Ukraine has been lost to Russia. Though the country fought valiantly to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union in Vilnius, Lithuania last month, President Viktor Yanukovych suspended negotiations with the EU at the last possible moment, betraying Ukrainians everywhere. Two recent energy deals that Ukraine has reportedly made, one with Russia and the other with Slovakia, however, show that the reality of the situation is slightly more complex.

Claiming that Yanukovych had always wanted negotiations with the EU to fail would arguably be giving him and his advisors too little credit as political strategists. In terms of public opinion, signing the Association Agreement would have all but secured Yanukovych's re-election in 2015, whereas his step down from the deal has visibly shaken his legitimacy as President to its core. Rather, too little attention is given to the very real economic pressure Russia has placed on Ukraine and the EU's reluctance or inability to offset Putin's ‘trade war'. Furthermore, while Yanukovych did not sign the Association Agreement in Vilnius, he did not commit his country to Putin's rival ‘Eurasian Union' either.

Prior to the Vilnius Summit in November, the Ukrainian government found itself between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, Russia was imposing exorbitant gas prices and devastating economic sanctions on Ukraine's already fragile economy. By October 10th, 2013, trade between the two countries had fallen by 25% and prices for Russian gas, on which Ukraine remains dependent, stood at $420/1000 m3, $50 more than the European average. On the other hand, EU leaders refused to hold tripartite negotiations with Russia and Ukraine, instead using all their leverage to insist that jailed former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, convicted of abuse of office and embezzlement in 2011, be freed.

All of this comes on top of Ukraine's dire situation. The country faces $10 billion in principal and interest payments next year and has the third-highest default probability in the world . In an address following his decision to suspend negotiations with the EU, Yanukovych stated, "I would have been wrong if I hadn't done everything necessary for people not to lose their jobs, receive salaries, pensions and scholarships.” While many Ukrainians and outside observers may not take the President's words at face value, it is no lie that, had Ukraine signed the agreement, economic disaster would have been imminent.

Two energy deals

As there was little the EU could/would offer to offset the immediate Russian reprisals on Ukraine's economy, the government renounced signing the Association Agreement. However, two gas deals currently in the works show that, far from being sucked forever into Russia's orbit, Ukraine will continue to flirt with both East and West and, most of all, move towards energy independence.

While the exact details of the deal Yanukovych has hammered out with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi last Saturday remain unknown, Edward Lucas, the international editor of The Economist claims that gas prices for Ukraine will be brought down to $200/1000m3 while $5 billion cherry payment on top. Lucas also claims that Yanukovych has promised that Ukraine will join Russia's customs union as part of the deal, though this has been virulently denied by the Russian administration. At the same time, payments for Russian gas transferred from Gazprom to Naftogaz between October and December 2013 have been deferred until the Spring of 2014, all of which gives Ukraine some much-needed breathing room.

On the Western front, however, Ukraine agreed on the conditions for a gas deal with Slovakia for importing European Union gas through Slovak pipelines. These new flows, including gas from Poland and Hungary, could exceed 10 billion cubic meters annually, enough to meet Ukraine's entire import needs. The move, which has long been heralded as a strategy to curb Ukraine's energy dependence on Russia, comes less than two weeks after negotiations with the EU broke down, questioning the dominant narrative that the Ukrainian government is content to sign itself away to Moscow.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What a Year the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Had - Doing Nothing on Salmon File

What a year!

by Alexandra Morton

In the final weeks of 2013, the CFIA got reassigned to the Minister of Health and I finally got an answer my question. The CFIA never did retest my samples.

Now what - how do we evaluate the ISA virus risk to British Columbia?

Despite their commitment to offer wholesome food, I found Whole Foods uses standards that exceed WHO toxin recommendations to sell Norwegian farmed salmon in some stores.

These two incidents have shaped my course of action for 2014.

If you think I should keep going I need your help. Here is a summary of 2013. Thank you so much for your encouragement, help and brilliant ideas!

Political careers and markets are critically compromising themselves to accommodate this industry. 2014 is the year we move on to a much more brilliant form of aquaculture and relationship with wild salmon.

TO DONATE TO THE RESEARCH - mail a check to Raincoast Research Society and we will provide you with a tax receipt

A Well Too Far: Making a Steal Leviathan-Style

Israel’s High-Pressure Leviathan Gas 4 Miles Down and Too Costly To Develop

by Peter Chamberlin

Israel is having problems trying to profit from the Mediterranean gas field that it has been trying to steal from some of its neighbors. Drilling has been stopped since May 3, 2012 (SEE: Leviathan Oil Well Drilling Postponed) by Noble Energy’s “Homer Ferrington” rig, which had been working in the Leviathan gas field. Drilling stopped because of the unexpected high gas pressures encountered at the greatest depths.

Development of high-pressure gas, or “sour gas” (high sulfur content plus high pressure) requires deeper wells (new deep-drilling rig has been held-up in S. Korea until late next year) and extra facilities for reducing the pressure and lowering the sulfur content of the gas, in addition to the missing infrastructure that will be needed to be built for moving the gas from the Mediterranean to Israel, or to LP gas facilities, for shipping the product elsewhere.

As things now stand, Israel will “face a natural gas shortage from 2015.”

In addition to the drilling problems, there have also been legal hang-ups (court challenge to monopoly ownership of Leviathan), as well as financing difficulties in acquiring partners. The major oil companies are afraid to invest in Israel, for fear of pissing-off the Arabs. Even companies like Dutch giant Shell will only consider investing in gas and oil exploration through third party partners, like Woodside Petroleum(Shell holds 23% of Woodside stock), which is allegedly a conglomerate composed of Chinese, Texas and Australian interests, in order to have deniability about any investment which might develop.

According to this interview in MoneyWeek, with Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, he claimed in 2006 that he “owned Woodside Petroleum,” The Woodside Energy company is currently at the center of an international spy scandal after having just acquired drilling rights off East Timor. That acquisition is at the center of an international stink storm that is now being generated by govt. leakers. A cloud of suspicion hangs over the drilling contract which may have relied upon insider information, obtained through espionage conducted by Australian spy agency ASIS, Australian Secret Intelligence Service (SEE: Australia’s Timor Spying Scandal. More Whistleblowers Emerge).

Here we have a very clear example of a national spy agency serving the interests of the corporations, confirming the evidence that Steve Kangas died for to bring it to the Internet. Steve died of a gunshot wound to the head in the home offices of conservative leader Richard Mellon Scaife. Mr. Scaife was Kangas’ favorite research subject (SEE: The Origins of the Overclass). His focus was upon exposing the nexus between the CIA and the rich and powerful and the corporations which they owned.

Are NSA spies acting as mentors to other intelligence agencies, manipulating them to align their interests with theirs, to facilitate their search for insider information for the big oil companies and corporations?

Shadows of Liberty: Exposing and Disappearing Bad News

Shadows of Liberty


Shadows of Liberty reveals the extraordinary truth behind the news media: censorship, cover-ups and corporate control.

A film by Jean-Philippe Tremblay, featuring Amy Goodman, Julian Assange, Danny Glover, David Simon, Janine Jackson, Jeff Cohen, Robert McChesney, Chris Hedges, John R. MacArthur, Dan Rather, Dick Gregory, Daniel Ellsberg, Kristina Borjesson, Bob Baer, Norman Solomon, John Nichols, Roberta Baskin


Japan Puts Lid on Fukushima (Information): New State Secrets Law Called "Recreation of Fascist State"

Japan’s New ‘Fukushima Fascism’

by Harvey Wasserman

Fukushima continues to spew out radiation. The quantities seem to be rising, as do the impacts.

The site has been infiltrated by organized crime. There are horrifying signs of ecological disaster in the Pacific and human health impacts in the U.S. But within Japan, a new State Secrets Act makes such talk punishable by up to ten years in prison.

Taro Yamamoto, a Japanese legislator, says the law “represents a coup d’etat” leading to “the recreation of a fascist state.” The powerful Asahi Shimbun newspaper compares it to “conspiracy” laws passed by totalitarian Japan in the lead-up to Pearl Harbor, and warns it could end independent reporting on Fukushima.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been leading Japan in an increasingly militaristic direction. Tensions have increased with China. Massive demonstrations have been renounced with talk of “treason.”

But it’s Fukushima that hangs most heavily over the nation and the world.

Tokyo Electric Power has begun the bring-down of hot fuel rods suspended high in the air over the heavily damaged Unit Four. The first assemblies it removed may have contained unused rods. The second may have been extremely radioactive.

But Tepco has clamped down on media coverage and complains about news helicopters filming the fuel rod removal.

Under the new State Secrets Act, the government could ban—and arrest—all independent media under any conditions at Fukushima, throwing a shroud of darkness over a disaster that threatens us all.

By all accounts, whatever clean-up is possible will span decades. The town of Fairfax, CA, has now called for a global takeover at Fukushima. More than 150,000 signees have asked the UN for such intervention.

As a private corporation, Tepco is geared to cut corners, slash wages and turn the clean-up into a private profit center.

It will have ample opportunity. The fuel pool at Unit Four poses huge dangers that could take years to sort out. But so do the ones at Units One, Two and Three. The site overall is littered with thousands of intensely radioactive rods and other materials whose potential fallout is thousands of times greater than what hit Hiroshima in 1945.

Soon after the accident, Tepco slashed the Fukushima workforce. It has since restored some of it, but has cut wages. Shady contractors shuttle in hundreds of untrained laborers to work in horrific conditions. Reuters says the site is heaving infiltrated by organized crime, raising the specter of stolen radioactive materials for dirty bombs and more.

Thousands of tons of radioactive water now sit in leaky tanks built by temporary workers who warn of their shoddy construction. They are sure to collapse with a strong earthquake.

Tepco says it may just dump the excess water into the Pacific anyway. Nuclear expert Arjun Makhijani has advocated the water be stored in supertankers until it can be treated, but the suggestion has been ignored.

Hundreds of tons of water also flow daily from the mountains through the contaminated site and into the Pacific. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen long ago asked Tepco to dig a trench filled with absorbents to divert that flow. But he was told that would cost too much money.

Now Tepco wants to install a wall of ice. But that can’t be built for at least two years. It’s unclear where the energy to keep the wall frozen will come from, or if it would work at all.

Meanwhile, radiation is now reaching record levels in both the air and water.

The fallout has been already been detected off the coast of Alaska. It will cycle down along the west coast of Canada and the U.S. to northern Mexico by the end of 2014. Massive disappearances of sea lion pups, sardines, salmon, killer whales and other marine life are being reported, along with a terrifying mass disintegration of star fish. One sailor has documented a massive “dead zone” out 2,000 miles from Fukushima. Impacts on humans have already been documented in California and elsewhere.

Without global intervention, long-lived isotopes from Fukushima will continue to pour into the biosphere for decades to come.

The only power now being produced at Fukushima comes from a massive new windmill just recently installed offshore.

Amidst a disaster it can’t handle, the Japanese government is still pushing to re-open the 50 reactors forced shut since the melt-downs. It wants to avoid public fallout amidst a terrified population, and on the 2020 Olympics, scheduled for a Tokyo region now laced with radioactive hot spots. At least one on-site camera has stopped functioning. The government has also apparently stopped helicopter-based radiation monitoring.

A year ago a Japanese professor was detained 20 days without trial for speaking out against the open-air incineration of radioactive waste.

Now Prime Minister Abe can do far worse. The Times of India reports that the State Secrets Act is unpopular, and that Abe’s approval ratings have dropped with its passage.

But the new law may make Japan’s democracy a relic of its pre-Fukushima past.

It’s the cancerous mark of a nuclear regime bound to control all knowledge of a lethal global catastrophe now ceaselessly escalating.

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR page for more related news on this topic.

Harvey Wasserman edits, where petitions calling for the repeal of Japan’s State Secrets Act and a global takeover at Fukushima are linked. He is author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth.

Palestine's Mandela: Future President Barghouti Languishing Still in an Israeli Prison

Where is Palestine’s Mandela?

by Alan Hart

The answer to my headline question is that he, Marwan Barghouti, is in an Israeli jail where he has been since his arrest in Ramallah by an IDF unit in 2002, after which, in 2004, he was sentenced to five life terms in prison. Some months before his arrest one of Israel’s security agencies tried and failed to assassinate him. A missile was fired at his bodyguard’s car and killed the bodyguard. (If the attempt on Barghouti’s life had succeeded, his killers would not have been brought to justice because as well as bulldozing Palestinian homes and stealing Palestinian land and water, Israel kills, murders, with impunity).

Regular readers of my occasional thoughts and analysis will know that I am in favour of the dissolution of the impotent, corrupt and discredited Palestine National Authority (PNA) and handing back to Israel complete and full responsibility for the occupation. As I have previously said, this could make calling and holding the Zionist monster to account for its crimes something less than a mission impossible. But...

If putting the PNA out of its misery is not an option, what the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip need, urgently, are elections to give them the opportunity to bring on a new and credible leadership. If there were elections, and if Barghouti was pardoned, released and allowed to run for the office of “President of Palestine”, he would almost certainly win.

I’m also happy to speculate that in office he would do what collaborator Abbas, more or less under orders from the U.S., has failed to do - unite Fatah and Hamas, to enable the occupied and oppressed Palestinians to speak with one voice.

As I have written and said in the past, it bears repeating, there is no secret about Hamas’s real position. While it is not prepared to recognise Israel’s “right” to exist, nor should it do so, it is prepared, with Arafat-like pragmatism, to recognise and live with the actual existence of an Israel inside the pre-1967 war borders with, probably, mutually agreed minor border changes, and Jerusalem an open, undivided city and the capital of two states. Assertions about Hamas’s real position to the contrary by Greater Israel’s hardliners and the neo-fascists to the extreme right of them are Zionist propaganda “bs” (President Carter’s code for bullshit), out of the same stable as Netanyahu’s nonsense about Iran representing a threat to Israel’s existence.

Now 54, and fully fluent in Hebrew, Barghouti joined Fatah at the age of 15. He co-founded the Fatah Youth Movement on the West Bank and became Secretary General of Fatah in that territory. He is widely believed to have been the leader on the ground of the first and second intifadas. (Once it was underway the oversight director of the first intifada was actually Arafat’s number two, Abu Jihad, from the bedroom of his home in Tunis; and that’s why Israel assassinated him, in his bedroom, on 16 April 1988. If he had not been assassinated, Abu Jihad would have succeeded Arafat and the Palestinian cause would have been in the best possible hands at leadership level).

At about the time of his arrest Barghouti’s position on ending the conflict was in this statement:

"I, and the Fatah movement to which I belong, strongly oppose attacks and the targeting of civilians inside Israel, our future neighbour. I reserve the right to protect myself, to resist the Israeli occupation of my country and to fight for my freedom. I still seek peaceful coexistence between the equal and independent countries of Israel and Palestine based on full withdrawal from Palestinian territories occupied in 1967."

In jail Barghouti has continued to condemn attacks on civilians in Israel but also stressed that he supported armed resistance to Israeli occupation. (In international law all occupied peoples have the right to resist occupation by all means including armed struggle).

Even in Israeli political and media circles there has been some debate about pardoning and releasing Barghouti. Following his January 2006 re-election to the Palestinian Legislative Council (he was first elected to it in 1996), Yossi Beilin, a foreign policy specialist and former Israeli government minister, and a voice of some sanity, called for Barghouti to be pardoned. And it was probably on advice from Beilin that in January 2007 Shimon Peres, then deputy prime minister, declared that if elected to the presidency he would sign a pardon for Barghouti. He has not yet done so and I think it’s reasonable to assume that Netanyahu said to him something like, “Don’t even think about it!”

The last thing Netanyahu wants is a Palestinian leader who commands the respect of his people and will not accept crumbs from Zionism’s table.

In his tribute to Nelson Mandela at the memorial service in Soweto’s FNB stadium, President Obama said that he, Mandela, “understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet.” Barghouti understands that, too.

What a real peace process needs is an Israeli leader who understands that an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians is an idea that can’t be destroyed by military might and oppression of all kinds. Such a leader would pardon and free Marwan Barghouti.

To the Zionist argument that he can’t be freed because he is a terrorist, there can be only one response.

Whether Barghouti was or was not a terrorist is an irrelevance. Mandela was described as a “terrorist”, and so were many of those who became prime ministers and presidents of Britain’s former colonies when they gained their independence. And what about Zionism’s own, Menachem Begin for example, arguably the most successful terrorist of modern times if not all of human history? (Begin had a leading role in driving out of Palestine by terrorism first the occupying British and then three-quarters of its indigenous Arab inhabitants).

To that response could be added the fact that Israel sometimes resorts to state terrorism.

There is good reason to believe that if Barghouti was pardoned and freed and became the president of Palestine, he would pursue a Mandela-like path of reconciliation to the extent that he would be committed to the wellbeing and security of Jews in a state of Israel inside more or less its borders as they were on the eve of the 1967 war. So there is a case for saying that Israel needs Barghouti as much as the Palestinians do.

There is now one thing (apart from Netanyahu!) that neither Israel nor the occupied and oppressed Palestinians need. It was drawn to my attention in an article by Abdel Bari Atwan, the former editor-in-chief of Al Quds, the only Arab newspaper while Abdel Bari was in charge of it that was required reading in the foreign offices of the Western world. Abdel Bari is no longer with the paper because its principal Gulf Arab funders were not prepared to tolerate his truth-telling any longer and demanded his departure. That didn’t come as a surprise to me because when three years ago I interviewed him for my Heart of the Matter series for Press TV (which can be found on my web site, he told me that the chair in which I was sitting opposite him at his desk had been occupied some weeks previously by a Saudi royal who offered him a vast amount of money to take his leave of the paper.

Abdel Bari’s article which commanded my full attention was headlined Al-Qaeda Arrives In The West Bank. It included this:

When I met Sheikh Osama bin-Laden in Tora Bora caves in the 1996, I conveyed to him people’s criticism that the organization focuses on fighting in Afghanistan, Southeast Asia (Thailand and southern Philippines), Bosnia-Herzegovina, Chechnya, Daghistan, and elsewhere and that it did not carry out any operations against Israeli targets in and outside Palestinian territories. He told me the reason was the difficulty in crossing the border and the vicious security measures that the Arab security agencies adopted against his organization... It appears (mainly because of the mayhem in Iraq and Syria) things have now changed, at least partially.

About how things are changing Abdel Bari wrote this:

The Mujahedeen Shura Council, which is affiliated with al-Qaeda, yesterday announced in a statement that the three young men killed by the Israeli army in Hebron on Tuesday were members of one of its cells. The statement, posted on the internet, said: “As we announce the martyrdom of this group, we bring to the Muslim nation the glad tidings that, praise be to God, global jihad now has a foothold in the proud West Bank after everyone tried to foil every seed planted there.” Shin Bet (Israeli internal security) officials said the extremist network had established a safe haven in the West Bank, stored weapons, and planned attacks against Israeli targets and against the PNA.
If this information is true - and it appears to be true - it will shock both the PNA and Israel because al-Qaeda’s arrival in the occupied West Bank is a very serious security breach that will have repercussions because, judging from al-Qaeda’s activities in other regions, it means martyrdom-seeking operations and booby-trapped cars.
I personally do not rule out such a breach. Hamas has not carried out any military attacks against Israeli targets and settlements in the West Bank because it has a sort of “truce” with both the Israelis and the PNA in the West Bank and Gaza, and with it refraining from launching any systematic operations in order to evade an Israeli incursion into Gaza, which it rules, I believe it is inevitable that al-Qaeda and its supporters will try to find a foothold; and that they will likely succeed in recruiting enthusiastic young men dismayed at the state of deadlock and influenced by the Arab revolutions.

If al-Qaeda (and/or affiliates) did succeed in establishing enough of a foothold on the occupied West Bank from which to launch attacks to kill Israeli Jews, that could trigger a final Zionist ethnic cleansing.

It also could be that a credible Palestinian leadership headed by Marwan Barghouti after elections would represent the very last chance for stopping the countdown to catastrophe for all.

My plea to all who campaign for justice for the Palestinians is - give a priority to calling and lobbying for the release of Marwan Barghouti, the man who could become the Palestinian Mandela in terms of the reconciliation needed if the two-state solution is to be resurrected from its grave.

If it was, my guess is that that Barghouti would entertain the same hope as Arafat - that one or two generations of a two-state peace would lead by mutual consent to a one state with equal rights for all.


James Robbins, the BBC’s diplomatic correspondent, made what I thought was a most perceptive comment a few days ago. He said words to the effect that maybe it was not Mandela who had been in jail for 27 years but most of South Africa’s whites - in the jail of apartheid ideology. In the case of Marwan Barghouti, I say maybe it’s not him who is in jail but most Israeli Jews - in the jail of Zionism’s ideology.

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, and, along the way, another great turning against the Jews – for nearly 40 years…
As a correspondent for ITN’s News At Ten and the BBC’s Panorama programme (covering wars and conflicts wherever they were taking place in the world).

As a researcher and author.

As a participant at leadership level, working to a Security Council background briefing, in the covert diplomacy of the search for peace.

Prawer Play: Palestine Peace Hopes Pinned to Negev Bedouin's Fate

As Bedouin villages are destroyed, so too are hopes for Palestinian peace deal - See more at:
As Bedouin villages are destroyed, so too are hopes for Palestinian peace deal - See more at:
As Bedouin villages are destroyed, so too are hopes for Palestinian peace deal - See more at:
As Bedouin villages are destroyed, so too are hopes for Palestinian peace deal - See more at:

As Bedouin Villages Are Destroyed, So Too Are Hopes for Palestinian Peace Deal

by Jonathan Cook

As United States envoys shuttle back and forth in search of a peace formula to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a matter supposedly settled decades ago is smouldering back into life.

In what was billed as a “day of rage” last month, thousands of Palestinians took to the streets to protest against a plan to uproot tens of thousands of Bedouin from their ancestral lands inside Israel, in the Negev (Naqab).

The clashes were the worst between Israeli police and the country’s large Palestinian minority since the outbreak of the second intifada 13 years ago, with police using batons, stun grenades, water cannon and arrests to deter future protests.

Things are only likely to get more heated. The so-called Prawer Plan, being hurried through parliament, will authorise the destruction of more than 30 Bedouin villages, forcibly relocating the inhabitants to deprived, overcrowded townships. Built decades ago, these urban reservations languish at the bottom of every social and economic index.

Bedouin leaders, who were ignored in the plan’s drafting, say they will oppose it to the bitter end. The villages, though treated as illegal by the state, are the last places where the Bedouin cling to their land and a traditional pastoral life.

But the Israeli government is equally insistent that the Bedouin must be “concentrated” – a revealing term employed by Benny Begin, a former minister who helped to formulate the plan. In the place of the villages, a handful of Jewish towns will be erected.

The stakes are high, not least because Israel views this battle as a continuation of the 1948 war that established a Jewish state on the ruins of Palestine.

Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, argued last week that the fight over the Negev proves “nothing has changed since the days of the tower and stockade” – a reference to heavily fortified outposts the Zionists aggressively built in the 1930s to evict Palestinians from the land they had farmed for centuries.

These outposts later became land-hungry farming communities, such as the kibbutz, that gave the Jewish state its territorial backbone.

Mr Lieberman’s view reflects that of the government: “We are fighting for the lands of the Jewish people, against those who intentionally try to rob and seize them.”

The labelling of the Bedouin as “squatters” and “trespassers” reveals much about the intractability of the wider conflict – and why the Americans have no hope of ending it as long as they seek solutions that address only the injustices caused by the occupation that began in 1967.

Doron Almog, who is in charge of implementing the Prawer Plan, observed last week that the Bedouin were not resisting it to save their communities but “to create territorial contiguity between Hebron and the Gaza Strip”. In other words, in Almog’s paranoid thinking, the Bedouin’s struggle for rights is really a cover for their ambition to serve as a bridgehead between the West Bank and Gaza.

In truth, both Israel and the Palestinians understand that the war of 1948 never really finished.

Suhad Bishara, a lawyer specialising in Israeli land issues for the Adalah legal centre, has called the Prawer Plan a “second nakba”, in reference to the catastrophic events of 1948 that stripped the Palestinians of their homeland.

Israel, meanwhile, continues to conceive of its 1.5 million Palestinian citizens – however peaceable – as just as alien and threatening to its interests as the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

The roots of the Prawer Plan can be traced to one of Zionism’s earliest principles: “Judaisation”. There are cities across Israel, including Upper Nazareth, Karmiel and Migdal Haemek, founded as Judaisation communities next to large Palestinian populations with the official goal of “making the land Jewish”.

Judaisation’s faulty premise, in the pre-state years, was the fantasy that Palestine was “a land without a people for a people without a land”. Its sinister flip side was the cheery injunction to Zionism’s pioneers to “make the desert bloom”, chiefly by driving out Palestinians.

Nowadays, the term “Judaisation”, with its unpleasant overtones, has been discarded in favour of “development”. There is even a minister for “developing the Negev and the Galilee” – Israel’s two areas with large concentrations of Palestinians. But officials are interested only in Jewish development.

Last week, in the wake of the clashes, the Israeli Haaretz daily published leaked documents showing that the World Zionist Organisation – an unofficial arm of the government – has been quietly reviving the Judaisation programme in the Galilee.

In an effort to bring another 100,000 Jews to the region, several new towns are to be built, for Jews only, dispersed as widely as possible in contravention of Israel’s own national master plan, which requires denser building inside existing communities to protect scarce land resources.

All this generosity towards Israel’s Jewish population is at the expense of the country’s Palestinian citizens. They have not been allowed a single new community since Israel’s founding more than six decades ago. And the new Jewish towns, as Arab mayors complained last week, are being built intentionally to box them in.

For officials, the renewed Judaisation drive is about asserting “Israeli sovereignty” and “strengthening our hold” over the Galilee, as if the current inhabitants – Israeli citizens who are Palestinian – were a group of hostile foreigners. Haaretz more honestly characterised the policy as “racism”.

Judaisation casts the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in zero-sum terms, and thereby makes it unresolvable. In considering its Palestinian citizens, Israel speaks not of integration, or even assimilation, but of their enduring status as a “fifth column” and the Jewish state’s “Achilles heel”.

That is because, were principles of justice and equality ever to be enforced, Palestinians in Israel could serve as a gateway by which millions of exiled Palestinians might find their way back home.

With the policy of Judaisation revoked, the Palestinian minority could end the conflict without violence simply by pulling down the scaffolding of racist laws that have blocked any return for the Palestinians since their expulsion 65 years ago.

This is why Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu demands as part of the current peace negotiations that the Palestinians sanctify the Judaisation principle by recognising Israel as a Jewish state. It is also why the talks are doomed to failure.

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

A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.