Saturday, May 12, 2018

A REAL Nuclear Threat in the Middle East

The REAL Middle East Nuclear Threat - Episode 337 

by James Corbett - The Corbett Report

May 11, 2018

There is in fact a Middle Eastern nation that is in fact in control of a vast, undeclared stockpile of nuclear weapons. This nation does have the capability of deploying those weapons anywhere in the region. It is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and its arsenal has never been inspected by any international agency. But this nation is not Iran. It’s Israel.

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A March That Will Continue: "Bullets Cannot Stop History Israel"

Death Toll for Gaza’s March of Return Keeps Rising, Call for International Protection


May 11, 2018

Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces and over 200 were injured on Friday, as thousands of Gaza residents swarmed the Israeli border, for the seventh week of the great return march protests.

SOT#1 Saqer – protestor: "We call upon the international community and the security council to take a humane reasonable action to protect the Palestinian protestors. As you can see behind me they are armless, However the Israeli side is full of snipers who directly shoot men, women, elderlys and children."

The demonstrators raised pictures of hundreds of Palestinians who were killed by Israeli forces, and political prisoners currently held in Israeli jails.

Around 49 Palestinians including two journalists have been killed, and over 7000 wounded, since the inception of ongoing protests on the Gaza-Israel border on March 30th.

Noor Harazeen reports from Gaza about the seventh week of the “March of Return” protests, which left two more dead and 200 injured from shots fired by the Israeli military at the protests.

False Choices, Real Dilemmas: US Partisan Game Playing on Iran/Syria Regime Change

Iran and Syria: Why Regime Change in One Means Regime change in Both

by Caitlan Johnstone - Rogue Journalist

May 12, 2018

Probably the weirdest, dumbest, most annoying thing about writing on US foreign policy right now is the fact that regime change in Iran and regime change in Syria have been falsely spun into the illusion of two separate issues along partisan lines.

People who are more aligned with America’s Democratic Party are a lot more opposed to the overthrow of the Iranian government and a lot more sympathetic to the idea of getting rid of Assad, and with those who are more aligned with the Republican party it’s the exact opposite.

Partisan politics turn people into such drooling idiots.

Democratic Party-aligned Americans oppose Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran deal because it was Obama’s baby, while Republican-aligned Americans support it for the exact same reason.

This is a deliberate provocation designed to enable crushing economic sanctions, which the US-centralized war machine always uses as a prelude to war, to weaken and destabilize the nation. Plan A will be for imperial intelligence agencies to stage a coup or fund a violent uprising in order to either throw Iran into impotent chaos or replace its government with a puppet regime (either one satisfies Plan A). Plan B will be something more direct.

We’re seeing the reverse in Syria: Democratic Party-aligned Americans are virulently opposed to Assad because Russia is actively fighting on his side, and the Russiagate psyop has Democrats hating anyone who they suspect might have anything to do with Vladimir Putin. They also need to justify the fact that the Obama administration helped stage a premeditated violent uprising and flooded Syria with terrorists with the goal of destabilization or regime change. Trump supporters, meanwhile, oppose regime change in that nation largely because it’s a secular government besieged by violent deep state-funded jihadists.

I am of course painting with a broad brush here; there are Democrats who oppose any kind of interventionism in Syria and there are Trump supporters who oppose it in Iran, but as someone who’s been writing about US-led interventionism in both countries I can say from experience that there is a clear partisan split in public sympathy for each of them. I’m getting liberals agreeing with me about Iran who’ve aggressively denounced my writings on Syria, and a bunch of conservatives who supported my Syria writings now loudly objecting to my writings on Iran. Which is absolutely insane, because it’s the same goddamn war.

Iran and Syria are plainly allies. They are both longtime targets for regime change by neocon think tanks and western defense/intelligence agencies, and they are both being aggressively targeted by Israel and Saudi Arabia. It is very clear that the tightly allied nations on the side of the United States (which I call “the western empire” or the blob) view both nations in the same light. If you ignore the babbling narratives and just look at the behavior of the blob, it is clear that it is working against both nations as though they are a single entity.

If the government of either Iran or Syria falls, it will either be replaced with a puppet government or allowed to collapse into a failed state, in either case unable to assist the other in defending itself from imperial regime change interventionism. Cheerleading for regime change in one nation is necessarily cheerleading for regime change in the other, and all the death, suffering and devastation that necessarily goes with it. You can’t install a puppet regime in one without facilitating the destruction of the other.

Conservatives who support the longstanding neoconservative agenda of regime change in Iran: you are supporting regime change in Syria. You are supporting the installation of a government that will no longer assist Syria in fighting against the western-armed jihadist factions, and you are helping to ensure that Damascus falls to violent Islamist factions. Consenting to American regime change interventionism of any kind in Iran is an endorsement of the enemies that Assad is fighting in Syria.

Liberals who support the longstanding neoconservative agenda of regime change in Syria: you are supporting regime change in Iran. You are supporting the collapse of a key Iranian ally which will no longer be there to help stave off the agenda to plunge Iran into chaos and terror. You are supporting the anti-Iranian agendas of warmongering neocons like Trump, Pompeo and Bolton.

One of the most unforgivably moronic things in US politics is the fact that there's a partisan split on regime change interventionism in Iran vs regime change interventionism in Syria. Can't these idiots see that it's the same imperialist power grab?
But watch American support for regime change in Iran will grow. Already, polls show more Americans are regarding Iran as a national security threat. 

Partisan minds may see Iran and Syria as two completely different situations, but the leaders of the western empire see them as one and the same. With the constantly fluctuating political leadership of Official Washington and the continued agendas of America’s permanent government, the unelected power establishment knows that if it takes out one nation it’s only a matter of time before it will be politically convenient to take out the other.

Fox News babbles nonsense about freedom and democracy and Islamic fundamentalism in Iran, CNN babbles nonsense about Assad targeting civilians with barrel bombs and chemical weapons, but this has nothing to do with any of those things. This is about a transnational alliance of plutocrats and intelligence/defense agencies targeting all governments which don’t bow to its interests, with the ultimate goal of world domination. They target the weaker and smaller nations first in order to weaken their bigger allies, Russia and China, which are the ultimate target.

A powerful group of plutocrats have built their kingdoms on a specific status quo, and they are therefore naturally opposed to rising governmental powers like China which threaten that status quo. These plutocrats have built up their power and influence to the point where they are able to use the governments in the western empire as weapons to attack, bully and subvert any potential geopolitical challengers of the status quo.

That’s all this is. All the propaganda, all the nonsense about Mullahs and chemical weapons and Russian hackers, all the war and terror and suffering, is all because a few sociopathic individuals have been able to claw their way up the capitalist ladder to such a height that they can use governments to advance their insatiable power-grabbing agendas. Different political factions are being propagandized in different ways along their respective paths of least resistance into supporting these agendas, but as always the fake partisan divide always benefits the same group of depraved ruling elites.

Oppose these elites by opposing interventionism across the board. It isn’t okay for a few wealthy oligarchs to use governments to destroy and subvert entire nations. It isn’t okay that governments which should be helping their people are instead stretched all across the globe bending over backwards to make sure a few plutocrats don’t get dethroned. It isn’t okay that oligarchic domination has taken precedence over the basic human impulse to survive and thrive. We must all cease consenting to this together, regardless of political ideology.

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Friday, May 11, 2018

Israel's "Genie" and Syria

Israel Grants Oil Rights in Syria to Murdoch and Rothschild

by Craig Murray

May 12, 2018
Every day several kind souls contact me to tell me I can't understand Syria without knowing about Genie Energy. Actually I was the first radical to spot and publicise it, in February 2013, when I analysed its illegality in international law.

21 Feb, 2013

Israel has granted oil exploration rights inside Syria, in the occupied Golan Heights, to Genie Energy. Major shareholders of Genie Energy – which also has interests in shale gas in the United States and shale oil in Israel – include Rupert Murdoch and Lord Jacob Rothschild.

This from a 2010 Genie Energy press release

Claude Pupkin, CEO of Genie Oil and Gas, commented,
“Genie’s success will ultimately depend, in part, on access to the expertise of the oil and gas industry and to the financial markets. Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch are extremely well regarded by and connected to leaders in these sectors. Their guidance and participation will prove invaluable.”
“I am grateful to Howard Jonas and IDT for the opportunity to invest in this important initiative,” Lord Rothschild said. “Rupert Murdoch’s extraordinary achievements speak for themselves and we are very pleased he has agreed to be our partner. Genie Energy is making good technological progress to tap the world’s substantial oil shale deposits which could transform the future prospects of Israel, the Middle East and our allies around the world.”

For Israel to seek to exploit mineral reserves in the occupied Golan Heights is plainly illegal in international law. Japan was successfully sued by Singapore before the International Court of Justice for exploitation of Singapore’s oil resources during the second world war. The argument has been made in international law that an occupying power is entitled to operate oil wells which were previously functioning and operated by the sovereign power, in whose position the occupying power now stands. But there is absolutely no disagreement in the authorities and case law that the drilling of new wells – let alone fracking – by an occupying power is illegal.

Israel tried to make the same move twenty years ago but was forced to back down after a strong reaction from the Syrian government, which gained diplomatic support from the United States. Israel is now seeking to take advantage of the weakened Syrian state; this move perhaps casts a new light on recent Israeli bombings in Syria.

In a rational world, the involvement of Rothschild and Murdoch in this international criminal activity would show them not to be fit and proper persons to hold major commercial interests elsewhere, and action would be taken. Naturally, nothing of the kind will happen.

Echoes of Eichmann: The Banality of Gina Haspel

Two Interrogations, Gina Haspel and Adolf Eichmann

by Brian Terrell - Voices for Creative Non-Violence

May 12, 2018

the evasions and obfuscations of these two willing technicians of state terror are chillingly similar”

On May 9, Gina Haspel, Donald Trump’s choice for head of the Central Intelligence Agency, testified at her Senate confirmation hearing in Washington, DC. Some senators questioned her about her tenure, in 2002, as CIA station chief in Thailand.

There, the agency ran one of the “black sites” where suspected al-Qaida extremists were interrogated using procedures that included waterboarding. She was also asked about her role in the destruction of videotapes in 2005 that documented the torture of illegally detained suspects. Her evasive answers to these questions, disconcerting and unsatisfying, are also hauntingly familiar.

Defendant Adolf Eichmann takes notes during
his trial in Jerusalem. The glass booth in which
Eichmann sat was erected to protect him from
assassination. (Photo credit: Israeli Government)

In 1960, Adolf Eichmann was kidnapped by Israeli spies in Argentina and brought to trial in Jerusalem for his part in the extermination of millions of European Jews during Germany’s Third Reich. In his interrogation with Israeli police, published as Eichmann Interrogated, DeCopo Books, NY, 1999, Eichmann stated that in the intervening years since the acts in question his own view of them had evolved and before the Senate on May 9, Haspel expressed herself similarly.

Haspel testified that while she can’t say what exactly might constitute an immoral order in the past, her “moral compass” would not allow her to obey one today, given the “stricter moral standard” she says “we have chosen to hold ourselves to.” She does not judge the actions that she and her colleagues took in the years after 9-11, “in that tumultuous time” of decidedly looser moral standards:

“I’m not going to sit here, with the benefit of hindsight, and judge the very good people who made hard decisions.” 

She testified that she supports laws that prohibit torture, but insists that such laws were not in place at the time and that such “harsh interrogations” were allowable under the legal guidance the CIA had at the time and “that the highest legal authority in the United States had approved it, and that the president of the United States had approved it.”

Likewise Eichmann was probed about his obedience when “ordered to do something blatantly illegal.” In a response that augured Haspel’s Senate testimony a half century later, Eichmann told his interrogators:

“You say illegal. Today I have a very different view of things...But then? I wouldn’t have considered any of those actions illegal... If anyone had asked me about it up until May 8, 1945, the end of the war, I’d have said: This government was elected by a majority of the German people...every civilized country on earth had its diplomatic mission. Who is a little man like me to trouble his head about it? I get orders from my superior and I look neither right nor left. That’s not my job. My job is to obey and comply.”

Not to compare the evil of the holocaust with the CIA rendition and torture (as if evil could be measured by quantity) but the evasions and obfuscations of these two willing technicians of state terror are chillingly similar. Eichmann’s cowardly protestations that he could not have known that facilitating torture and murder was illegal ring hollow.

It was only after Eichmann’s atrocities, though, that such crimes as torture were formally codified into law.

By 2002, however, along the precedents of the war crimes tribunal at Nuremberg, the United States was legally bound along with most nations in the world to the Geneva Conventions, to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention against Torture. Even the U.S. Army Field Manual, cited by Haspel in her hearing, labels waterboarding as torture and a war crime.

“We all believed in our work. We were all committed,” Haspel proudly boasted to the Senate, describing the morale and esprit de corps of her CIA comrades overseeing illegal detention, torture and murder in the years after 9-11.

Eichmann similarly praised the work ethic of his team. Inspired by Eichmann’s trial, Thomas Merton, in his poem, “Chant to be Used in Processions Around a Site with Furnaces,” put these words in the mouth of a condemned concentration camp commander:

“In my day we worked hard we saw what we did our self-sacrifice was conscientious and complete our work was faultless and detailed.”

An Israeli court did not buy Adolf Eichmann’s defense that he was following orders and obeying the law as he understood it and he was hung on June 1, 1962. We will soon know if the U.S. Senate will accept Gina Haspel’s appropriation of Eichmann’s alibi and confirm her as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Missing from the Gaza Great March of Return Narrative

Eclipsing Factionalism: The Missing Story from the Gaza Protests

by Ramzy Baroud  - Palestine Chronicle

May 10, 2018

The Gaza border protests must be understood in the context of the Israeli Occupation, the siege and the long-delayed ‘Right of Return’ for Palestinian refugees. However, they should also be appreciated in a parallel context: Palestine’s own factionalism and infighting.

Factionalism in Palestinian society is a deep-rooted ailment that has, for decades, thwarted any unified effort at ending the Israeli military Occupation and Apartheid.

The Fatah and Hamas political rivalry has been catastrophic, for it takes place at a time that the Israel colonial project and land theft in the West Bank are occurring at an accelerated rate.

In Gaza, the siege continues to be as suffocating and deadly. Israel’s decade-long blockade, combined with regional neglect and a prolonged feud between factions have all served to drive Gazans to the brink of starvation and political despair.

The mass protests in Gaza, which began on March 30 and are expected to end on May 15 are the people’s response to this despondent reality. It is not just about underscoring the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees. The protests are also about reclaiming the agenda, transcending political infighting and giving voice back to the people.

Inexcusable actions become tolerable with the passing of time. So has been the case with Israel’s Occupation that, year after year, swallows up more Palestinian land. Today, the Occupation is, more or less, the status quo.

The Palestinian leadership suffers the same imprisonment as its people, and geographic and ideological differences have compromised the integrity of Fatah as much as Hamas, deeming them irrelevant at home and on the world stage.

But never before has this internal division been weaponized so effectively so as to delegitimize an entire people’s claim for basic human rights. ‘The Palestinians are divided, so they must stay imprisoned.

The strong bond between US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is being accompanied by a political discourse that has no sympathy for Palestinians whatsoever. According to this narrative, even families protesting peacefully at the Gaza the border is termed as a ‘state of war’, as the Israeli army declared in a recent statement.

Commenting on the Israeli killing of scores and wounding of hundreds in Gaza, the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, repeated a familiar mantra while on a visit to the region: “We do believe the Israelis have a right to defend themselves.”

Thus, Palestinians are now trapped – West Bankers are under Occupation, surrounded by walls, checkpoints, and Jewish settlements, while Gazans are under a hermetic siege that has lasted a decade. Yet, despite this painful reality, Fatah and Hamas seem to have their focus and priorities elsewhere.

Since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994, following the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords, Fatah dominated Palestinian politics, marginalized its rivals and cracked down on any opposition. While it operated under the Israeli military Occupation in the West Bank, it still thrived financially as billions of dollars of aid money poured in.

More, the PA has used its financial leverage to maintain its control over Palestinians, thus compounding the oppressive Israeli Occupation and various forms of military control.

Since then, money has corrupted the Palestinian cause. ‘Donors’ money’, billions of dollars received by the PA in Ramallah has turned a revolution and a national liberation project into a massive financial racket with many benefactors and beneficiaries. Most Palestinians, however, remain poor. Unemployment today is skyrocketing.

Throughout his conflict with Hamas, Abbas never hesitated to collectively punish Palestinians to score political points. Starting last year, he took a series of punitive financial measures against Gaza, including the suspicious PA payments to Israel for electricity supplies to Gaza, while cutting off salaries to tens of thousands of Gaza’s employees who had continued to receive their paycheck from the West Bank authority.

This tragic political theater has been taking place for over ten years without the parties finding common ground to move beyond their scuffles.

Various attempts at reconciliations were thwarted, if not by the parties themselves, then by external factors. The last of such agreements was signed in Cairo last October. Although initially promising, the agreement soon faltered.

Last March, an apparent assassination attempt to kill PA Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah, had both parties accuse one another of responsibility. Hamas contends that the culprits are PA agents, bent on destroying the unity deal, while Abbas readily accused Hamas of trying to kill the head of his government.

Hamas is desperate for a lifeline to end the siege on Gaza and killing Hamdallah would have been political suicide. Much of Gaza’s infrastructure stands in ruins, thanks to successive Israeli wars that killed thousands. The tight siege is making it impossible for Gaza to be rebuilt, or for the ailing infrastructure to be repaired.

Even as tens of thousands of Palestinians protested at the Gaza border, both Fatah and Hamas offered their own narratives, trying to use the protests to underscore, or hype, their own popularity amongst Palestinians.

Frustrated by the attention the protests have provided Hamas, Fatah attempted to hold counter-rallies in support of Abbas throughout the West Bank. The outcome was predictably embarrassing as only small crowds of Fatah loyalists gathered.

Later, Abbas chaired a meeting of the defunct Palestinian National Council (PNC) in Ramallah to tout his supposed achievements in the Palestinian national struggle.

The PNC is considered the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Like the PLO, it has been relegated for many years in favor of the Fatah-dominated PA. The PA leader handpicked new members to join the PNC, only to ensure the future of all political institutions conforms to his will.

In the backdrop of such dismaying reality, thousands more continue to flock to the Gaza border.

Palestinians, disenchanted with factional division, are laboring to create a new political space, independent from the whims of factions; because, for them, the real fight is that against Israeli Occupation, for Palestinian freedom and nothing else.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is

Israel Attacks "Iran" in Syria

As Trump Takes Aim, Israel Hits Iran in Syria


May 10, 2018

In withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal, President Trump is not just reimposing sanctions on Iran, but threatening to impose them on any countries that continue to do business with it.

"We will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.any nation that helps Iran in its quest for nuclear weapons could also be strongly sanctioned by the United States. America will not be held hostage to nuclear blackmail." - Donald Trump

With the Iran nuclear deal on life support after Trump’s withdrawal, Israel has launched extensive strikes against Iranian positions in Syria. Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council discusses the escalating crisis.

The Other V-Day: Celebrating Russia's Victory in World War II

The Russian V-Day Story (Or the History of World War II Not Often Heard in the West)

by Michael Jabara Carley - SCF

May 10, 2018

Every May 9th the Russian Federation celebrates its most important national holiday, Victory Day, den’ pobedy. During the early hours of that day in 1945 Marshal Georgy Konstantinovich Zhukov, commander of the 1st Belorussian Front, which had stormed Berlin, received the German unconditional surrender. The Great Patriotic War had gone on for 1418 days of unimaginable violence, brutality and destruction. From Stalingrad and the northern Caucasus and from the northwestern outskirts of Moscow to the western frontiers of the Soviet Union to Sevastopol in the south and Leningrad and the borders with Finland, in the north, the country had been laid waste.

The Red Army’s losses were unimaginable, two
million soldiers lost in the first three and a half months of the war.

An estimated 17 million civilians, men, women and children, had perished, although no one will ever know the exact figure.

Villages and towns were destroyed; families were wiped out without anyone to remember them or mourn their deaths.

Most Soviet citizens lost family members during the war. No one was left unaffected.

Ten million or more Soviet soldiers died in the struggle to expel the monstrous Nazi invader and finally to occupy Berlin at the end of April 1945. Red Army dead were left unburied in a thousand places along the routes to the west or in unmarked mass graves, there having been no time for proper identification and burial. Most Soviet citizens lost family members during the war. No one was left unaffected.

The Great Patriotic War began at 3:30am on 22 June 1941, when the Nazi Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union along a front stretching from the Baltic to the Black Seas with 3.2 million German soldiers, organised in 150 divisions, supported by 3,350 tanks, 7,184 artillery pieces, 600,000 trucks, 2,000 warplanes. Finnish, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian, Spanish, Slovakian forces, amongst others, eventually joined the attack. The German high command reckoned that Operation Barbarossa would take only 4 to 6 weeks to finish off the Soviet Union. In the west, US and British military intelligence agreed.

Besides, what force had ever beaten the Wehrmacht? Nazi Germany was the invincible colossus. Poland had been crushed in a few days. The Anglo-French attempt to defend Norway was a fiasco. When the Wehrmacht attacked in the west, Belgium hurried to quit the fight. France collapsed in a few weeks. The British army was driven out of Dunkirk, naked, without guns or Lorries. In the spring of 1941, Yugoslavia and Greece disappeared in a matter of weeks at little cost to German invaders.

Wherever the Wehrmacht advanced in Europe, it was a walkover… until that day German soldiers stepped across Soviet frontiers. The Red Army was caught flatfooted, in halfway measures of mobilisation, because Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin did not believe his own intelligence reports warning of danger, or want to provoke Hitlerite Germany. The result was a catastrophe. But unlike Poland and unlike France, the USSR did not quit the fight after the expected 4 to 6 weeks. The Red Army’s losses were unimaginable, two million soldiers lost in the first three and a half months of the war. The Baltic provinces were lost. Smolensk fell and then Kiev, in the worst defeat of the war. Leningrad was encircled. An old man asked some soldiers, “Where are you retreating from?”

There were calamities everywhere too numerous to mention. But at places like the fortress of Brest and in hundreds of unnamed fields and woods, road junctions and villages and towns, Red Army units fought on often to the last soldier. They fought out of encirclements to rejoin their own lines or to disappear into the forests and swamps of Belorussia and the northwestern Ukraine to organise the first partisan units to attack the German rear. By the end of 1941, three million Soviet soldiers were lost (the largest number being POWs who died at German hands); 177 divisions were struck from the Soviet order of battle. Still, the Red Army fought on, even forcing back the Germans at Yelnya, east southeast of Smolensk, at the end of August. The Wehrmacht felt the bite of the battered but not beaten Red Army. German forces were taking 7,000 casualties a day, a new experience for them.

At places like the fortress of Brest, Red Army units fought on often to the last soldier.

As the Wehrmacht advanced, Einsatzgruppen, SS death squads, followed, killing Jews, Gypsies, communists, Soviet POWs, or anyone who got in their way. Baltic and Ukrainian Nazi collaborators assisted in the mass murders. Soviet women and children were stripped naked and forced to queue, waiting for execution. When winter came freezing German soldiers shot villagers or forced them out of their homes, dressed in rags like beggars, robbing them of hearth, winter clothing and food.

In the west those who predicted a speedy Soviet collapse, the usual western Sovietophobes, looked stupid and had to eat their forecasts. Public opinion understood that Hitlerite Germany had walked into a quagmire, not another campaign in France. While the British everyman cheered on Soviet resistance, the British government did relatively little to help. Some Cabinet ministers were even reluctant to call the Soviet Union an ally. Churchill refused to let BBC play the Soviet national anthem, the Internationale, on Sunday evenings along with those of other allies.

Western public opinion understood that Hitlerite Germany had 
walked into a quagmire, not another campaign in France.

The Red Army still retreated, but kept fighting desperately. This was no ordinary war, but a struggle of unparalleled violence against a murderous invader for home, family, country, for life itself. In November the Red Army dropped a pamphlet on German lines, quoting Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian military theorist: “It’s impossible either to hold or conquer Russia” That was real bravado in the circumstances, but also true. Finally, in front of Moscow, in December 1941, the Red Army, under Zhukov’s command, threw back the spent forces of the Wehrmacht, in the south by as much as three hundred kilometres. The image of Nazi invincibility was shattered. Barbarossa was too ambitious, the blitzkrieg had failed, and the Wehrmacht suffered its first strategic defeat. In London Churchill agreed, grudgingly, to let BBC play the Soviet national anthem.

The image of Nazi invincibility was shattered.

In 1942 the Red Army continued to suffer defeats and heavy losses, as it fought on nearly alone. In November of that year at Stalingrad on the Volga, however, the Red Army launched a counteroffensive, which led to a remarkable victory and the retreat of the Wehrmacht back to its start lines in the spring of 1942… except for the German Sixth Army, caught in the Stalingrad kotel or cauldron. There, 22 German divisions, some of Hitler’s best, were destroyed. Stalingrad was the Verdun of the Second World War. “It’s hell,” a soldier said. “No… this is ten times worse than hell,” someone else corrected. At the end of the winter fighting in 1943, Axis losses were staggering: 100 German, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian divisions were destroyed, or mauled. The president of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, reckoned that the tide of battle had turned: Hitlerite Germany was doomed.

Women soldiers during the Battle of Stalingrad.

It was February 1943. In that month there was not a single British, American, or Canadian division fighting in Europe against the Wehrmacht. Not one. It was sixteen months before the Normandy landings. The British and Americans were then fighting two or three German divisions in North Africa, a sideshow compared to the Soviet front. Western public opinion knew who was carrying the burden of the war against the Wehrmacht. In 1942, 80% of Axis divisions were arrayed against the Red Army. At the beginning of 1943 there were 207 German divisions on the Eastern Front. The Germans tried one last hurrah, one last offensive against the Kursk bulge in July 1943. That operation failed. The Red Army then launched a counteroffensive across the Ukraine which led to liberation of Kiev in November. Further north, Smolensk had been freed the month before.

The spirit of the Soviet people and their Red Army was formidable. War correspondant Vasilii Semenovich Grossman captured its essence in his personal journals. “Night, Snowstorm,” he wrote in early 1942, “Vehicles, Artillery. They are moving in silence. Suddenly a hoarse voice is heard. ‘Hey, which is the road to Berlin?’ A roar of laughter.”

Western public opinion knew who was carrying the burden of 
the war against the Wehrmacht

Soldiers were not always brave. Sometimes they fled. “A battalion commissar armed with two revolvers began shouting, ‘Where are you running you sons of whores, where? Go forward, for our Motherland, for Jesus Christ, motherfuckers! For Stalin, you whores!’…” They went back to their positions. Those fellows were lucky; the commissar could have shot them all. Sometimes he did. A soldier volunteered to execute a deserter. “Did you feel any pity for him?” Grossman asked. “How can one speak of pity,” the soldier replied. At Stalingrad seven Uzbeks were found guilty of self-inflicted wounds. They were all shot. Grossman read a letter found in the pocket of a dead Soviet soldier. “I miss you very much. Please come and visit… I am writing this, and tears are pouring. Daddy, please come home and visit.”

Women fought along side the men as snipers, gunners, tankists, pilots, nurses partisans. They also kept the home front going. “Villages have become the kingdom of women,” wrote Grossman, “They drive tractors, guard warehouses and stables… Women are carrying on their shoulders the great burden of work. They dominate… send bread, aircraft, weapons and ammunition to the front.” When the war was being fought on the Volga, they did not reproach their men for having given up so much ground. “Women look and say nothing,” wrote Grossman, “… not a bitter word.” But in the villages near the front, sometimes they did.

It was just a matter of time before the destruction of Nazi Germany

In the meantime, the western allies attacked Italy. Stalin had long demanded a second front in France, which Churchill resisted. He wanted to attack the Axis “soft underbelly”, not to help the Red Army, but to hinder its advance into the Balkans. The idea was to advance quickly north up the Italian boot, then wheel eastward into the Balkans to keep out the Red Army. The way to Berlin however was north northeast. Churchill’s plan was a failure; the western allies did not get to Rome until June 1944. There were approximately 20 German divisions in Italy fighting against larger allied forces. In the East, there were still more than two hundred Axis divisions, or ten times those in Italy. On 6 June 1944 when Operation Overlord began in Normandy, the Red Army stood on Polish and Romanian frontiers.

A fortnight after the Normandy landings, the Red Army launched Operation Bagration, a huge offensive which stove in the centre of the German eastern front and led to an advance of 500 kilometres to the west, while the western allies were still held up on the Normandy Cotentin peninsula. The Red Army had become an unstoppable juggernaut. It was just a matter of time before the destruction of Nazi Germany. When the war was over in May 1945, the Red Army had accounted for 80% of the losses of the Wehrmacht, and that percentage would have been far higher before the Normandy invasion. “Those who never experienced all the bitterness of the summer of 1941,” wrote Vasily Grossman, “will never be able fully to appreciate the joy of our victory.” There were many war hymns sung by the troops and the people to keep up morale. Sviashchennaia voina, “Sacred War” was one of the most popular. Russians still stand when they hear it.

Historians often debate about when the decisive turn of battle came in the European theatre. Some propose 22 June 1941, the day that the Wehrmacht crossed Soviet frontiers. Others point to the battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, or Kursk. During the war western public opinion seemed more supportive of the Red Army than some western leaders, Winston Churchill, for example. Roosevelt was better, a more pragmatic political leader, who easily recognised the preponderant Soviet role in the war against Nazi Germany. The Red Army, he said to one doubtful general in 1942, was killing more German soldiers and smashing more German tanks than all the other allies put together. Roosevelt knew that the Soviet Union was the linchpin of the great coalition against Nazi Germany. I call FDR the godfather of the “grand alliance”. Nevertheless, in the shadows lurked the usual haters of the Soviet Union, who were only biding their time before emerging again. The greater the certainty of victory over Nazi Germany, the more vocal and strident became the naysayers of the grand alliance.

Americans can be touchy about the memory of the Red Army playing the lead role in the destruction of the Wehrmacht. “What about Lend-Lease,” they say, “without our supplies, the Soviet Union could not have beaten the Germans.” In fact, most Lend-Lease supplies did not arrive in the USSR until after Stalingrad. Red Army soldiers facetiously called the Lend-Lease food tins the “second front” since the real one was late in coming. In 1942 Soviet industry was already out-producing Nazi Germany in major categories of armaments. Was the T-34 an American, or a Soviet tank? A polite Stalin always remembered to thank the US government for the jeeps and Studebaker trucks. They increased Red Army mobility. You contributed the aluminum, Russians famously replied, we contributed the blood… the rivers of blood.

The everyman in Europe and the United States knew very 
well who had carried the load against the Wehrmacht.

No sooner was the war over than Britain and the United States started to think about another war, this time against the Soviet Union. In May 1945 the British high command produced Operation “Unthinkable”, a top secret plan for an offensive, reinforced by German POWs, against the Red Army. What bastards, what ingrates. In September 1945, the Americans contemplated use of 204 atomic bombs to destroy the Soviet Union. The godfather, President Roosevelt, had died in April, and within weeks American Sovietophobes were reversing his policy. The grand alliance was only a truce in a Cold War which had begun after the Bolshevik seizure of power in November 1917, and which resumed in 1945.

In that year the US and British governments still had to contend with public opinion. The everyman in Europe and the United States knew very well who had carried the load against the Wehrmacht. You could not resume the old policy of hatred against the Soviet Union just like that without blotting out the memory of the Red Army’s role in thecommon victory over Hitlerite Germany. So memories of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression in August 1939 were brought out of the closet, although the memories of prior Anglo-French opposition to Soviet proposals for collective security against Nazi Germany and especially of the betrayal of Czechoslovakia were omitted from the new western narrative. Like thieves in the night, Britain and the United States burgled the true account of the destruction of Nazi Germany.

Already in December 1939, the British planned to publish a white paper blaming Moscow for the failure of Anglo-Franco-Soviet alliance negotiations during the previous spring and summer. The French objected because the white paper was more likely to persuade public opinion that the Soviet side had been serious about resistance to Nazi Germany while the British and French were not. The white paper was shelved. In 1948 the US State Department issued a collection of documents attributing the blame for World War II to Hitler and Stalin. Moscow fired back with its own publication demonstrating western affinities with Nazism. The fight was on in the west to remember the Soviet Union for the non-aggression pact and to forget the Red Army’s preponderant role in smashing the Wehrmacht.

By the end of the war, memories of the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression in 
August 1939 were brought out of the closet.

How many of you have not seen some Hollywood film in which the Normandy landings are the great turning point of the war? “What if the landings had failed,” one often hears? “Oh…, nothing much,” is the appropriate reply. The war would have gone on longer, and the Red Army would have planted its flags on the Normandy beaches coming from the east. Then there are the movies about the Allied bombing campaign against Germany, the “decisive” factor in winning the war. In Hollywood films about World War II, the Red Army is invisible. It is as if the Americans (and British) were claiming laurels they didn’t earn.

I like to ask students in my university course on the Second World War, who has heard of operation Overlord? Everyone raises a hand. Then I ask who has heard of Operation Bagration? Hardly anyone raises a hand. I ask facetiously who “won” the war against Nazi Germany and the answer is “America” of course. Only a few students—normally those who have had other courses with me—will answer the Soviet Union.

The truth is uphill work in a western world where “fake news” is the norm. The OSCE and European Parliament put the blame for World War II on the Soviet Union, read Russia and President Vladimir Putin, as the subliminal message. Hitler is almost forgotten in this tohu-bohu of evidence-free accusations. Behind the bogus historical narrative are the Baltic states, Poland, and the Ukraine, spewing out hatred of Russia. The Baltics and the Ukraine now remember Nazi collaborators as national heroes and celebrate their deeds. In Poland, for some people, this is hard to swallow; they remember the Ukrainian Nazi collaborators who murdered tens of thousands of Poles in Volhynia. Unfortunately, such memories have not stopped Polish hooligans from vandalising monuments to Red Army war dead or desecrating Soviet war cemeteries. Polish “nationalists” cannot bear the memory of the Red Army freeing Poland from the Nazi invader.

The veterans, fewer each year, come out wearing uniforms that often do not fit 
quite right or threadbare jackets covered with war medals and orders.

In Russia, however, the west’s mendacious propaganda has no effect. The Soviet Union produced its own films, and the Russian Federation also, about World War II, most recently about the defence of the Brest fortress and of Sevastopol, and the battle of Stalingrad. On 9 May every year Russians remember the millions of soldiers who fought and died, and the millions of civilians who suffered and died at the hands of the Nazi invader. The veterans, fewer each year, come out wearing uniforms that often do not fit quite right or threadbare jackets covered with war medals and orders. “Treat them with tact and respect,” Zhukov wrote in his memoirs: “It is a small price after what they did for you in 1941-1945.” How did you manage, I wondered to myself observing them on Victory Day some years go, how did you cope, living constantly with death and so much sorrow and hardship?

An Immortal Regiment march in Moscow

Now, each year on Victory Day the “immortal regiment”, the bessmertnyi polk, marches; Russians in cities and towns across the country and abroad, march together carrying large photographs of family members, men and women, who fought in the war. “We remember,” they want to say: “and we will never forget you.”

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Still Silent on Assange: Finding the Limit of Corbyn's Scruples

Jeremy Corbyn silent on persecution of Julian Assange

by Laura Tiernan - WSWS

9 May 2018 

WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has been held incommunicado inside Ecuador’s embassy in London for more than one month. His full period of confinement without charge—a crime under international law—stands at 2,710 days.

Ecuador blocked Assange’s phone and Internet access on March 28, depriving him of all visitors, after a meeting in Quito one day earlier with the US military’s Southern Command. Ecuador stated that Twitter posts by Assange on Catalonia and the Skripal affair had “put at risk” Ecuador’s relations with the United Kingdom, the European Union and “other nations.”

The circumstances of Assange’s political asylum in central London resemble a prison cell. Less than 200 metres from Harrods, conditions at 3 Hans Court fully conform to those of “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” outlawed under the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

It is more than two years since a United Nations human rights panel ruled that Assange’s persecution by the Swedish and British governments amounts to “arbitrary detention” and a violation of international law. Yet the noose around Assange is tightening. Ecuador’s gag order follows statements made last year by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the arrest and prosecution of Assange is a “priority.”

“Whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,” Sessions told reporters on April 21 when questioned about Assange. 

A secret Grand Jury empanelled in Virginia, home of the Pentagon and CIA, has prepared multiple charges against Assange and WikiLeaks, including under the 1917 Espionage Act.

In November 2010, after WikiLeaks published a selection of leaked US diplomatic cables that further exposed US political-military intrigue across the globe, the Obama administration launched a political manhunt against Assange without modern precedent.

The WikiLeaks Collateral Murder video had gone viral six months earlier, exposing atrocities routinely suppressed by the corporate media’s embedded journalists. WikiLeaks’ Afghan War and Iraq War Logs had followed.

Hillary Clinton and vice president Joe Biden responded with efforts to frame Assange as a “high-tech terrorist” who threatened “global security.” The New York Times and the Guardian served as willing media partners, churning out poisonous “profile” pieces on Assange and recycling propaganda and lies supplied by the Pentagon. They fomented hostility toward WikiLeaks stretching from erstwhile “liberals” to the far-right, including calls by prominent US politicians and Fox News hosts that he be executed.

Millions of workers and young people around the world are deeply concerned over Assange’s fate. On Saturday, WikiLeaks retweeted data showing 1.3 million tweets a day since March 28, by more than 20,000 contributors in 124 cities across the globe demanding #Ecuador #ReconnectJulian. But opposition to his treatment is being blocked and sidelined by the official “left”.

In Britain, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, along with Momentum, the Socialist Party, the Socialist Workers Party and the Stop the War Coalition have worked collectively to prevent any mobilisation of the working class in defence of Assange.

Since he was elected leader in September 2015, Jeremy Corbyn has made no public statement in Assange’s defence. Corbyn has refused to condemn the May government’s preparations to arrest Assange should he leave the embassy and has offered no guarantee that a Labour government will block his extradition to the US.

As a backbencher, Corbyn was relatively free to criticise policy issues without any danger this would become party policy. Even so, and despite his role as chairman of the Stop the War Coalition, his statements on Assange were few and far between.

On December 5, 2010, Corbyn spoke out in the House of Commons, criticising the potential use of a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) to extradite Assange to Sweden where he faced trumped-up sexual assault allegations, without any charges having been laid:

“It is not our business to protect criminals, but it is our business to ensure that people get a fair trial and that there is absolutely the presumption of innocence before any conviction is made.”

A few days later, on December 8, Corbyn tweeted:

“USA and others don’t like any scrutiny via wikileaks and they are leaning on everybody to pillory Assange. What happened to free speech?”

This would prove to be the high point—and pretty much the final word—in Corbyn’s efforts to protect the besieged journalist.

Corbyn’s wall of silence on Assange covers the period from mid-December 2010 to May 2018 (a minor breach occurred in July 2015, which we will come to shortly). This period includes: Assange’s 10 days of solitary confinement in Wandsworth Prison; his unsuccessful challenge to Sweden’s EAW proceedings; and Ecuador’s granting political asylum to Assange in August 2012 made necessary due to his persecution by the Australian, US, Swedish and British governments.

Assange’s barbaric confinement has continued for six long years, yet Corbyn has done nothing over this time to publicly challenge Assange’s oppressors.

It is possible that Corbyn “privately” opposes the anti-democratic treatment of Assange, just as he “morally” objects to nuclear war and the UK bombing of Syria. But Corbyn’s moral qualms are meaningless—he delivered a free vote on Syria that resulted in resumed RAF bombing raids and rubberstamped Labour’s official manifesto committing to the Trident nuclear programme. On every occasion Corbyn’s conscientious objections are subordinate to his unswerving defence of the British Labour Party and the capitalist state it defends.

The Labour Party is committed to Assange’s ongoing persecution.

In March 2013, Ecuador tried to win an assurance from Labour that it would not support his extradition if Assange were to leave the embassy. A source told the Independent,

“Ecuador wants to see the current situation resolved but has lost all faith in the current government’s willingness to do that. They have approached the Labour party in the hope of striking a deal for after the election. They do not believe that it is beneficial for Mr. Assange to be resident permanently in the London embassy.”

According to media reports, Ecuador’s ambassador Ana Alban raised the issue with Labour’s then Shadow Foreign Office Minister with a responsibility for human rights, Kerry McCarthy, who refused to give any such assurance.

“Labour were quick to distance themselves from the issue, maintaining that Assange is not a policy issue until after the election,” reported RT.

Despite Corbyn becoming leader, based on a promise to end the pro-austerity and pro-war policies of New Labour, there has been no change in Labour’s official policy on Assange.

An interview with the New Statesman in July 2015 is the last public statement by Corbyn on the issue this reporter has been able to find. It was made two months prior to his election as leader:

New Statesman: Do you still support Julian Assange, of WikiLeaks fame? Do you still think he’s ‘imprisoned’ in the Ecuadorean embassy in London?

Jeremy Corbyn: He’s taken himself into the embassy because he felt that, had he been taken back to Sweden, he would be taken forcibly to the US. The Swedish are unclear about what would happen to him in Sweden. I think it would be much better if the Swedish authorities investigated the case against him, decided whether there was a case for a prosecution or not, and dealt with it that way, while guaranteeing that under no circumstances would he be extradited to the US.”

Note the subtle elision “has taken himself into the embassy.” The New Statesman interview was part of a flurry of media engagements that followed Corbyn’s surprise nomination to Labour’s leadership contest. The process of moulding and self-remoulding had begun.

Were Corbyn a real workers’ leader, he would appeal directly to the millions of workers and young people who support him to rally in defence of Assange. He would explain that Assange has played a historic role in exposing war crimes and anti-democratic conspiracies by imperialist governments all over the world and that his freedom is a life and death issue for the working class, especially its younger generation.

But Corbyn is not a workers’ leader. In the current Labour Manifesto “For the Many, Not the Few”, the words “Julian Assange” and “WikiLeaks” do not appear once. Corbyn’s silence is based on political calculations that form part of the daily conspiracies of British imperialism against the working class. His silence on Assange, like his backing of NATO, Trident and the 2016 bombing of Syria, underscores a basic truth that there is no reformist answer to the capitalist drive to war and dictatorship.

The fight for Assange’s freedom can proceed only through an implacable fight against the pro-war Labour Party and its chief apologist, Corbyn. The only social force that defends democratic rights and opposes war is the international working class.

The Socialist Equality Party in Britain, along with its sister parties in the International Committee of the Fourth International, will do all in its power to fight for Assange’s freedom and urges workers and youth to attend our forthcoming meetings against war, lies and censorship: For the building of a socialist anti-war movement!

Ending TPS & Sending Hondurans to the Hell of America's Making

Trump’s Cancellation of Hondurans’ TPS Sends them into a ‘Very Dangerous Situation’ 


May 8, 2018

Last Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a temporary protected status, also known as TPS, of about 57000 Hondurans will be canceled. Hondurans now have until January 2020 to leave the United States. 

Over 50,000 Hondurans, plus their over 50,000 US-born children will face a very difficult choice of returning to one of Latin America’s most violent and poorest countries or becoming undocumented immigrants in the US, says Amnesty International’s Marselha Gonçalves Margerin

Canada's Silent Complicity: Saying and Doing Nothing While Israel Kills with Impunity

Canada's silence on Israel's crimes isn't surprising

by Andrew Mitrovica - AJE

May 8, 2018

Canada has always been silent when Israel decides to kill as many Palestinians as it wants to, for any reason.


That one word has defined Canada's response to the summary execution and maiming of hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza lately by Israeli thugs, otherwise known as soldiers, perched comfortably behind makeshift hills meters away in Israel.

Canada remains silent while Israeli snipers continue to murder Palestinian children.

Canada remains silent while Israeli snipers continue to shoot Palestinian children in the head and legs with "butterfly" bullets - meant to kill instantly and disfigure irrevocably - for waving Palestinian flags on what remains of Palestinian soil.

Canada remains silent while Israeli snipers continue to execute Palestinian journalists wearing vests marked "PRESS" as they record droves of Palestinians being wantonly murdered and maimed again and again and again.

Canada remains silent while Israeli snipers continue to target and gas thousands of Palestinian children, women and men for defending their dignity, sovereignty, and humanity during peaceful demonstrations on Palestinian soil since the Great March of Return began on March 30.

"Like their predecessors, Trudeau and Freeland believe that Israel has the "right" to kill as many Palestinians as it wants to, whenever it wants to, for whatever reason it wants to, for as long as it wants to."

Though shameful, Canada's silence isn't surprising. Canada has always been silent when Israel decides, yet again, to kill as many Palestinians as it wants to, at any time, for any reason.

What is slightly surprising, however, is the belief among many so-called "progressives" that a government led by a Liberal prime minister, Justin Trudeau, and a Liberal foreign minister, Chrystia Freeland, would think and act differently with regard to Canada's steadfast support for Israel's "right" to kill as many Palestinians as it wants to, at any time, for any reason.

On this lethal score, there is no difference between Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland and any other past Canadian prime minister or foreign minister.

Like their predecessors, Trudeau and Freeland believe that Israel has the "right" to kill as many Palestinians as it wants to, whenever it wants to, for any reason it wants to, for as long as it wants to.

These same deluded "progressives" believe, of course, that a Trudeau-led Canada is fundamentally different from a Donald Trump-led America. Canada, unlike America, they say, respects and protects human rights, territorial integrity and international law.

Fools. When it comes to the execution, maiming and gassing of unarmed Palestinian children, women and men on Palestinian soil by Israeli snipers, Justin Trudeau is a clone of Donald Trump and Chrystia Freeland is a cliche-spouting facsimile of US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo.

Recently, Pompeo told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in effect to keep killing as many Palestinians as he wants to, at any time, for any reason. "We believe the Israelis have the right to defend themselves, and we're fully supportive of that," Pompeo said in Amman, Jordan on April 30.

(Pompeo parroted Barack Obama, who, as the Democrats' "hope and change" presidential candidate, reassured Israel in May 2008 that: "As president, I will do everything in my power to help Israel protect itself from these and other threats. I will make sure that Israel can defend itself from any attack, whether it comes from as close as Gaza or far as Teheran.")

The Liberal Party of Canada used precisely the same recycled rhetoric and rationale to condone Israel's invasion of Gaza and the slaughter of more than 500 Palestinian children.

"Israel has the right to defend itself and its people," Trudeau said via a cryptic press release in July 2014.

Hence, Canada's silence today.

But Freeland's loquacious streak on Twitter has revealed a breathtaking hypocrisy and sanctimony that I didn't think even wily, ambitious politicians like Canada's perpetually effervescent foreign minister, were capable of.

Here's Freeland on World Press Freedom Day reminding her followers that, before she became a politician, she was a long-time journalist in Canada and abroad.

"As a former journalist and as Minister of Foreign Affairs, I will use every opportunity to raise concerns regarding violations of freedom of expression," she wrote on May 3.

In her tweet, Freeland linked to a Global Affairs Canada press release issued under her name that reads in part:

"In too many places, members of the media face constant and unacceptable threats. The numbers don't lie: last year 75 were killed, 81 were imprisoned, and one person is still missing. These attacks weaken democracy, silence the voices of the oppressed, and undermine public trust. We categorically condemn anyone who in any way intimidates and harasses journalists working in defence of the truth."

Attached to Freeland's statement is a map that highlights in black the places around the globe where journalists have been killed, threatened, imprisoned, silenced, intimidated and harassed for doing their job.

In Freeland's map, none of the "places" where Palestinian journalists have been killed, threatened, imprisoned, silenced, intimidated or harassed by Israel for doing their job "in defence of the truth" are painted black.

As a result, Freeland has never seized the "opportunity" to "categorically condemn" Israel's "injustices" since her ministry's map makes plain that Israel hasn't killed, threatened, imprisoned, silenced, intimidated or harassed Palestinian journalists in Gaza.

The historical record, however, is as bloody, as it is damning and clear. As many as 11 Palestinian journalists killed during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2014. Netanyahu’s smear of Al Jazeera and his brazen attempts in 2017 to shutter and, by extension, silence, the news agency’s Jerusalem bureau.

Their crimes include the recent murders by Israeli snipers of Ahmad Abu Hussein, a 24-year-old photojournalist who was shot in the abdomen on April 15 or Yaser Murtaja, (pictured) a 30-year-old journalist, husband and father who was also shot in the abdomen and succumbed to his injuries on April 7.

Freeland has said and done nothing about the executions of her erstwhile colleagues in Gaza not only because that's what Canada's de rigueur foreign policy vis-a-vis Israel demands, but because the ex-journalist likely isn't inclined to scuttle her barely camouflaged designs eventually to succeed her dauphin boss.

To win the crown, Freeland knows it's political suicide to offend or alienate the same institutional and corporate interests - inside and outside the establishment media - that habitually and unquestionably side with Israel in every way, on every count, and that helped propel Trudeau into office.

So, while Freeland is silent in the face of the flagrant brutality visited upon so many innocent Palestinians by Israeli soldiers, on May 2 she leapt at the "opportunity" to demand on Twitter that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas "withdraw" his "deeply offensive" remarks made in a bizarre address last week to the Palestinian National Council about the Holocaust (Abbas has since apologised).

It's no mystery why Freeland finds a foul, historically illiterate speech "deeply offensive," but not the murder of kite-flying Palestinian kids.

In her cynical calculus, the right of Palestinians - young or old - to march together peacefully to reclaim their stolen lands without being grievously injured or killed will always be trumped by Israel's "right" to defend itself.

Still, Freeland's transparent, self-serving hypocrisy and silence are not only contemptible, but anathema to any self-respecting "journalist."
Andrew Mitrovica is an award-winning investigative reporter and journalism instructor.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Israel Threatens to Bomb Neighbour Lebanon to "Stone Age"

Israel Threatens Lebanon After Hezbollah Makes Gains in Election


8 May 2018

After Hezbollah and political allies won seats in Lebanon's first parliamentary election in 9 years, Israeli minister Naftali Bennett threatened to retaliate against the Lebanese state for Hezbollah's actions.

Journalist Jamal Ghosn says this is the latest in a long string of threats, and Israel violates Lebanese sovereignty every day.

Visit for more stories and help support our work by donating at

Judge, Jurist, and Prosecutor: Mumia Appeal Draws Delays and Law Enforcement Full-House

Mumia Seeks to Show Top State Judge Doubled as Prosecutor and Jurist Reviewing his Appeals: Philly cops get priority courtroom seats

by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening

May 1, 2018

 Following a brief hearing in Philadelphia yesterday, Court of Common Pleas Judge Leon Tucker, learning that the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office had thus far failed find and turn over, in response to his earlier order, any documents showing a role by former District Attorney Ron Castille regarding the department’s handling of an appeal by then death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal, adjourned the hearing until Aug. 30.

The judge acted to give Abu-Jamal’s attorneys time to depose a former DA employee about a still unlocated memo apparently composed by her for then DA Castile concerning Abu-Jamal’s case.

Later, Tracey Kavanagh, the attorney from the DA’s office who represented the DA's office at the hearing, stood outside on the sidewalk outside the Criminal Justice Center amidst a scrum of TV cameras and said,

“We haven’t found any evidence so far that Judge Castille played any role as DA in Abu-Jamal’s appeal of his conviction. It was just a run-of-the-mill appeals process.”

If one wanted evidence of how absurd Kavanagh's assertion was — that the appeal of a 1982 murder conviction and death sentence for the slaying of a white police officer by one of the city’s leading African-American journalists, himself a police critic and former member of the city’s Black Panther Party, was anything but a prime political concern for District Attorney Castille, whose office had the responsibility of preventing any challenge to sentence — all one had to do was try to get into the courtroom on Monday. 

I tried. Some 100 or so supporters of Abu-Jamal had shown up at 7:30 in the morning outside the county courthouse on Filbert St. near City Hall to protest his continued incarceration. They then lined up when doors opened to shuffle their way through security in the court building and then up to the 11th floor to line up again at the entrance to the small courtroom Number 1108. By the time I got there, along with many other journalists and interested parties, we found ourselves unable to get into the courtroom. But a lot of police officers, even those arriving later than us, had no trouble gaining entry.

The sheriff’s deputy standing guard in her flak vest at the courtroom entrance, and another guarding a side entrance to the courtroom, saw to it that plenty of cops in uniform, fully equipped with their sidearms and tasers, were allowed inside to sit in the spectator benches and put pressure on the judge and the attorneys from the DA’s office. When anyone left the courtroom, the sheriff controlling access still barred other citizens waiting in the hallway from replacing them. But if a cop left the courtroom, another would freely enter. Over at the side door, other officers were also occasionally being allowed to enter. Clearly space was being reserved in the courtroom for police at this hearing.

In general, police officers are not supposed to wear their uniforms when they are off duty, although in some cities they are allowed to do so if they are doing some security job where the department has specifically authorized them to wear the uniform. Otherwise no. But here they were — even a burly Highway Patrol motorcycle cop decked out ostentatiously in his knee-high leather boots, motorcycle jacket, and ‘30s-era aerodynamic motorcycle officer’s cap.

So that raises the question of who dispatched these officers to sit in the courtroom and to hang out in the hallway. Philly cops don’t provide court security, a task assigned to Sheriff’s Department. So either the Philly Police Department sent them over and they were there on official duty, collecting paychecks to hang around in the hall or sit in the courtroom looking grim and angry, or they were organized by the Fraternal Order of Police, the police union which, like Ahab pursuing his White Whale, has been dedicated to having Abu-Jamal executed or, since 2011 when his death sentence was finally tossed out on Constitutional grounds, to seeing that he never gets out of jail.

Of course, if individual cops, or even a group of cops, want to go sit in a courtroom as citizens to observe the proceedings or to provide moral support to the slain Officer Daniel Faulkner’s widow (who was also in attendance), they can, like any other citizen. But that’s not what was happening here. Rather, these cops were being allowed to come into the court in their uniforms, either illegally if they were off duty, or at taxpayer expense if they were officially on the job (though off their beats), and they were being given special consideration in getting seats.

That’s not equal justice at work. But it is evidence that this case, even today, long after Ron Castille moved on from District Attorney to State Supreme Court Judge and ultimately to Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court, where he helped to reject Abu-Jamal’s appeal of his conviction, refusing to recuse himself despite his obvious role as DA from 1986-91 in overseeing the opposition to that appeal, (Castille was elected to the state’s Supreme Court in 1991, and retired as Chief Justice in 2014.)

This is important because back in 2016, in a case called Williams vs. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the US Supreme Court ruled that a Pennsylvania death-row defendant, Terry Williams, deserved a new sentencing hearing because Castille, who as DA had supervised the prosecution of his case when Williams was just a 17-year-old being tried as an adult for murder, later ruled on his appeal as a Supreme Court Judge — voting as part of the court majority to restore Williams’ death penalty after it had been revoked.

Now Abu-Jamal’s legal team is arguing that the Williams case precedent should also apply to both Abu-Jamal and a number of other cases where Castille corruptly played the role of both prosecutor or supervisory prosecutor and of appellate judge. They argue that Abu-Jamal should get a whole new round of appeals at least back to his initial Post Conviction Relief Act hearing in 1995.

If he can prove that case to the judge’s satisfaction, Abu-Jamal could restart his appeals with a new PCRA, where new evidence of his innocence could be presented, possibly leading to an overturning of his conviction or to a new trial.

The throng of cops sent to sit that courtroom Monday, all committed to seeing to it that doesn’t happen, give the lie to the Assistant DA’s curb-side assertion that during Castille’s tenure as District Attorney, Abu-Jamal’s appeal was just a “run-of-the-mill” affair and nothing that Castille as DA would have bothered himself with.

Sure he wouldn’t have. If the case is still such a hot-button issue today, 37 years after the Faulkner shooting and 36 years after Abu-Jamal’s conviction, it certainly was a hot issue in the four to eight years after the trial that Castile was serving as Philly’s DA.

DAVE LINDORFF is author of Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death-Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal [1] (Common Courage Press, 2003)