Archive | June 22nd, 2010

OBAMA & BP OIL SPILL

NOVANEWS

President Addresses Nation on the BP Oil Spill, Vows BP Will Pay Costs

June 15, 2010

by Michael Leon

 

President Obama’s Oval Office Address on BP Oil Spill & Energy

Following news that the Oil-spill flow rate estimate surged to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day and declining poll numbers on the administration response, President Obama’s remarks to the nation last night on the BP Oil Spill from the Oval Office is fraught with political crisis control.

From the White House, below  are the President’s remarks:

Remarks by the President to the Nation on the BP Oil Spill
8:01 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. As we speak, our nation faces a multitude of challenges. At home, our top priority is to recover and rebuild from a recession that has touched the lives of nearly every American. Abroad, our brave men and women in uniform are taking the fight to al Qaeda wherever it exists. And tonight, I’ve returned from a trip to the Gulf Coast to speak with you about the battle we’re waging against an oil spill that is assaulting our shores and our citizens.

On April 20th, an explosion ripped through BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, about 40 miles off the coast of Louisiana. Eleven workers lost their lives. Seventeen others were injured. And soon, nearly a mile beneath the surface of the ocean, oil began spewing into the water.

Because there has never been a leak this size at this depth, stopping it has tested the limits of human technology. That’s why just after the rig sank, I assembled a team of our nation’s best scientists and engineers to tackle this challenge — a team led by Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and our nation’s Secretary of Energy. Scientists at our national labs and experts from academia and other oil companies have also provided ideas and advice.

As a result of these efforts, we’ve directed BP to mobilize additional equipment and technology. And in the coming weeks and days, these efforts should capture up to 90 percent of the oil leaking out of the well. This is until the company finishes drilling a relief well later in the summer that’s expected to stop the leak completely.

Already, this oil spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced. And unlike an earthquake or a hurricane, it’s not a single event that does its damage in a matter of minutes or days. The millions of gallons of oil that have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico are more like an epidemic, one that we will be fighting for months and even years.

But make no mistake: We will fight this spill with everything we’ve got for as long as it takes. We will make BP pay for the damage their company has caused. And we will do whatever’s necessary to help the Gulf Coast and its people recover from this tragedy.

Tonight I’d like to lay out for you what our battle plan is going forward: what we’re doing to clean up the oil, what we’re doing to help our neighbors in the Gulf, and what we’re doing to make sure that a catastrophe like this never happens again.

First, the cleanup. From the very beginning of this crisis, the federal government has been in charge of the largest environmental cleanup effort in our nation’s history — an effort led by Admiral Thad Allen, who has almost 40 years of experience responding to disasters. We now have nearly 30,000 personnel who are working across four states to contain and clean up the oil. Thousands of ships and other vessels are responding in the Gulf. And I’ve authorized the deployment of over 17,000 National Guard members along the coast. These servicemen and women are ready to help stop the oil from coming ashore, they’re ready to help clean the beaches, train response workers, or even help with processing claims — and I urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.

Because of our efforts, millions of gallons of oil have already been removed from the water through burning, skimming and other collection methods. Over five and a half million feet of boom has been laid across the water to block and absorb the approaching oil. We’ve approved the construction of new barrier islands in Louisiana to try to stop the oil before it reaches the shore, and we’re working with Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to implement creative approaches to their unique coastlines.

As the cleanup continues, we will offer whatever additional resources and assistance our coastal states may need. Now, a mobilization of this speed and magnitude will never be perfect, and new challenges will always arise. I saw and heard evidence of that during this trip. So if something isn’t working, we want to hear about it. If there are problems in the operation, we will fix them.

But we have to recognize that despite our best efforts, oil has already caused damage to our coastline and its wildlife. And sadly, no matter how effective our response is, there will be more oil and more damage before this siege is done. That’s why the second thing we’re focused on is the recovery and restoration of the Gulf Coast.

You know, for generations, men and women who call this region home have made their living from the water. That living is now in jeopardy. I’ve talked to shrimpers and fishermen who don’t know how they’re going to support their families this year. I’ve seen empty docks and restaurants with fewer customers -– even in areas where the beaches are not yet affected. I’ve talked to owners of shops and hotels who wonder when the tourists might start coming back. The sadness and the anger they feel is not just about the money they’ve lost. It’s about a wrenching anxiety that their way of life may be lost.

I refuse to let that happen. Tomorrow, I will meet with the chairman of BP and inform him that he is to set aside whatever resources are required to compensate the workers and business owners who have been harmed as a result of his company’s recklessness. And this fund will not be controlled by BP. In order to ensure that all legitimate claims are paid out in a fair and timely manner, the account must and will be administered by an independent third party.

Beyond compensating the people of the Gulf in the short term, it’s also clear we need a long-term plan to restore the unique beauty and bounty of this region. The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that’s already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats. And the region still hasn’t recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That’s why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment.

I make that commitment tonight. Earlier, I asked Ray Mabus, the Secretary of the Navy, who is also a former governor of Mississippi and a son of the Gulf Coast, to develop a long-term Gulf Coast Restoration Plan as soon as possible. The plan will be designed by states, local communities, tribes, fishermen, businesses, conservationists and other Gulf residents. And BP will pay for the impact this spill has had on the region.

The third part of our response plan is the steps we’re taking to ensure that a disaster like this does not happen again. A few months ago, I approved a proposal to consider new, limited offshore drilling under the assurance that it would be absolutely safe –- that the proper technology would be in place and the necessary precautions would be taken.

That obviously was not the case in the Deepwater Horizon rig, and I want to know why. The American people deserve to know why. The families I met with last week who lost their loved ones in the explosion — these families deserve to know why. And so I’ve established a National Commission to understand the causes of this disaster and offer recommendations on what additional safety and environmental standards we need to put in place. Already, I’ve issued a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling. I know this creates difficulty for the people who work on these rigs, but for the sake of their safety, and for the sake of the entire region, we need to know the facts before we allow deepwater drilling to continue. And while I urge the Commission to complete its work as quickly as possible, I expect them to do that work thoroughly and impartially.

One place we’ve already begun to take action is at the agency in charge of regulating drilling and issuing permits, known as the Minerals Management Service. Over the last decade, this agency has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility — a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it’s now clear that the problem there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow. And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency — Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and Inspector General. And his charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry’s watchdog — not its partner.

So one of the lessons we’ve learned from this spill is that we need better regulations, better safety standards, and better enforcement when it comes to offshore drilling. But a larger lesson is that no matter how much we improve our regulation of the industry, drilling for oil these days entails greater risk. After all, oil is a finite resource. We consume more than 20 percent of the world’s oil, but have less than 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves. And that’s part of the reason oil companies are drilling a mile beneath the surface of the ocean — because we’re running out of places to drill on land and in shallow water.

For decades, we have known the days of cheap and easily accessible oil were numbered. For decades, we’ve talked and talked about the need to end America’s century-long addiction to fossil fuels. And for decades, we have failed to act with the sense of urgency that this challenge requires. Time and again, the path forward has been blocked — not only by oil industry lobbyists, but also by a lack of political courage and candor.

The consequences of our inaction are now in plain sight. Countries like China are investing in clean energy jobs and industries that should be right here in America. Each day, we send nearly $1 billion of our wealth to foreign countries for their oil. And today, as we look to the Gulf, we see an entire way of life being threatened by a menacing cloud of black crude.

We cannot consign our children to this future. The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now. Now is the moment for this generation to embark on a national mission to unleash America’s innovation and seize control of our own destiny.

This is not some distant vision for America. The transition away from fossil fuels is going to take some time, but over the last year and a half, we’ve already taken unprecedented action to jumpstart the clean energy industry. As we speak, old factories are reopening to produce wind turbines, people are going back to work installing energy-efficient windows, and small businesses are making solar panels. Consumers are buying more efficient cars and trucks, and families are making their homes more energy-efficient. Scientists and researchers are discovering clean energy technologies that someday will lead to entire new industries.

Each of us has a part to play in a new future that will benefit all of us. As we recover from this recession, the transition to clean energy has the potential to grow our economy and create millions of jobs -– but only if we accelerate that transition. Only if we seize the moment. And only if we rally together and act as one nation –- workers and entrepreneurs; scientists and citizens; the public and private sectors.
When I was a candidate for this office, I laid out a set of principles that would move our country towards energy independence. Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill –- a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses.

Now, there are costs associated with this transition. And there are some who believe that we can’t afford those costs right now. I say we can’t afford not to change how we produce and use energy -– because the long-term costs to our economy, our national security, and our environment are far greater.

So I’m happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party -– as long they seriously tackle our addiction to fossil fuels. Some have suggested raising efficiency standards in our buildings like we did in our cars and trucks. Some believe we should set standards to ensure that more of our electricity comes from wind and solar power. Others wonder why the energy industry only spends a fraction of what the high-tech industry does on research and development -– and want to rapidly boost our investments in such research and development.

All of these approaches have merit, and deserve a fair hearing in the months ahead. But the one approach I will not accept is inaction. The one answer I will not settle for is the idea that this challenge is somehow too big and too difficult to meet. You know, the same thing was said about our ability to produce enough planes and tanks in World War II. The same thing was said about our ability to harness the science and technology to land a man safely on the surface of the moon. And yet, time and again, we have refused to settle for the paltry limits of conventional wisdom. Instead, what has defined us as a nation since our founding is the capacity to shape our destiny -– our determination to fight for the America we want for our children. Even if we’re unsure exactly what that looks like. Even if we don’t yet know precisely how we’re going to get there. We know we’ll get there.

It’s a faith in the future that sustains us as a people. It is that same faith that sustains our neighbors in the Gulf right now.

Each year, at the beginning of shrimping season, the region’s fishermen take part in a tradition that was brought to America long ago by fishing immigrants from Europe. It’s called “The Blessing of the Fleet,” and today it’s a celebration where clergy from different religions gather to say a prayer for the safety and success of the men and women who will soon head out to sea -– some for weeks at a time.

The ceremony goes on in good times and in bad. It took place after Katrina, and it took place a few weeks ago –- at the beginning of the most difficult season these fishermen have ever faced.

And still, they came and they prayed. For as a priest and former fisherman once said of the tradition, “The blessing is not that God has promised to remove all obstacles and dangers. The blessing is that He is with us always,” a blessing that’s granted “even in the midst of the storm.”

The oil spill is not the last crisis America will face. This nation has known hard times before and we will surely know them again. What sees us through -– what has always seen us through –- is our strength, our resilience, and our unyielding faith that something better awaits us if we summon the courage to reach for it.

Tonight, we pray for that courage. We pray for the people of the Gulf. And we pray that a hand may guide us through the storm towards a brighter day. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

 

 

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IS THE GOVERNMENT PUTTING SOMETHING IN THE WATER?

NOVANEWS

June 16, 2010

 by Eric L. Wattree

BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE

Is the Government Putting Something in the Water?

When I was a teenager my grandfather once told me that when you start thinking that everyone else is crazy, it’s time to look in the mirror. Well, it must be my time, because this country is looking more and more like a Stepford society to me every day.

It must be something in the water, because every since the Reagan era the American people seem to be walking in their sleep, allowing the government and multinational corporations to cut their throats at will.

During Iran-Contra we simply stood by while Ronald Reagan sold arms to the very people that our troops are now facing, and there is strong evidence that suggest that he made a deal with the Iranians to hold American hostages until after the election. Then we watched in complete and utter silence as he flooded our inner cities with drugs in order to support his illegal excursion into Nicaragua. We also stood idly by while under Reaganomics he allowed speculators to dismantle our industrial base and sell off some of our largest corporations one piece at a time to benefit a small handful of people.

But the Republicans told us to not to worry. They said, if you’ll just give up the right to write off the interest on your credit cards and other debts temporarily, the rewards that the rich are enjoying will eventually “trickle down,” and you’ll all be showered with the benefits of a robust economy. But their promise never came to past. The only thing that trickled down was our having to pay the tax burden of the rich – and even as I write, the rich are enjoying additional tax breaks while we still haven’t regained the simple right to write off the interest on our debts.

As a direct result of our apathy, we’re still suffering from the effects of our stupidity today, thirty years later, and due to the assault on our educational system we haven’t learned a thing. So now the Republican Party and their corporate cronies have an entirely new generation of victims in which to feed that nonsense. They recycle their crap about every ten years, after the American people have time to forget the disaster they created previously. A simple review of history will show that going all the way back to 1900, with few exceptions, every time the Republicans come into office the middle class has to pay a price. Republican policies were responsible for the Great Depression, but let’s just look at recent history.

Due to the freewheeling fiscal policies of conservative Republicans, between 1986 and 1989, spanning the presidencies of Reagan and Bush Sr., the FSLIC had to pay off all the depositors of 296 institutions with assets of over $125 billion, while the American people just stood around and watched.

In 1988 Silverado Savings and Loan collapsed, costing the taxpayers $1.3 billion. It was headed by Neil Bush, brother of George W. The investigation alleged that he was guilty of “breaches of his fiduciary duties involving multiple conflicts of interest.” The issue was eventually settled out of court with Bush paying a mere $50,000 settlement. Yet, again, we just stood by and watched.

In 1989 there was the Lincoln Savings and Loan scandal, involving Charles Keating and John McCain. Lincoln went bankrupt, and it resulted in over 21,000 investors losing their life savings. Most of the investors were elderly, and the loss amounted to about 285 million dollars. Thereafter, John McCain was censured by the Senate for trying to use his influence to protect Keating, who ended up going to the federal penitentiary. Yet, again, we simply stood around with a blank look on our faces.

We also stood by and watched while Dick Cheney, under Bush Sr, reconfigure our military to sell off many of its most vital functions to private corporations. The Republicans are always talking about wasteful spending. Well, consider this – we now spend billions of dollars to have the most awesome military force in the world guarded by private security guards. How does that make any fiscal sense?

Well it certainly made sense to Cheney, because he walked right out the door into the arms of Haliburton to make a killing on the windfall profits from this scam. And if that wasn’t enough, he then returned as vice president to expand the money-making potential of the scam by lying to the American people in order to invade Iraq.

That led to the death and maiming of thousands of American troops, and nearly a million Iraqi citizens – and all in the name of exhausting our national treasury and transferring the nation’s wealth into the pockets of his friends, cronies, and colleagues. But still, the American people didn’t say a word. We simply continued to walk around like zombies with a blank look on our collective faces as we stared into the void of MTV, BET, and ESPN.

The level of our stupidity must have even shocked them. So they looked at one another and said, “What the Hell, we’ve exhausted the national treasury, but they still have a few dollars in their pockets.” So they hit us with the Wall Street scam. Yet, even with that, we’re still walking around in a stuporous daze.

They’re able to get away with what they have because our current population is so undereducated and distracted by our hedonistic pursuits that we have no sense of history. Also due to our lack of education, they’ve been able to convince many of us that any attempt to protect ourselves and our families from this corporate fraud constitutes socialism. It’s the American way to allow Haliburton to raid our treasury to electrocute our troops and provide them with contaminated water, but it’s a socialist plot to spend a dime on putting Americans back to work, or provide our families with affordable healthcare.

Thus, the American people are rapidly sliding down a slippery slope where corruption is considered the norm. That’s why I’m weighing in so heavily on the corruption that’s taking place in the postal service. In the past, the government protected the American people from fraud and abuse, so private corporations had to steal from us covertly. But gradually the mores of our society changed to where private corporations could do it openly. But now, the government has gotten in on the act. The United States Postal Service has now embraced the philosophy that it’s perfectly alright to commit acts of abuse, intimidation, and actual felonies against American citizens – and many the victims of these moral atrocities are the very veterans that this nation claims to honor. 

When are we going to say enough is enough? It had better be soon, because at the rate that America is descending into the despotic abyss, it won’t be long before Washington’s corporate puppets outlaw our right to dissent.

Where are you, President Obama? The postal service is a United States government agency. You could improve the lives of over 600,000 Americans with a simple phone call. Why hasn’t that call been made, Mr. President? Where is that change you promised that we could believe in?

The Postmaster General, and Inspector General, must go!
 
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Chairman Edolphus Towns
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-5051

Eric L. Wattree
wattree.blogspot.com
Ewattree@Gmail.com

Religious bigotry: It’s not that I hate everyone who doesn’t look, think, and act like me – it’s just that God does.

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SURVHOLOCAUST IVORS VOW TO BREAK THE GAZA BLOCKADE

NOVANEWS

Survivors of Israeli massacre vow to break the blockade

June 15, 2010

 by Michael Leon

 

Freedom Flotilla: Massacre at Sea

President Obama has made it clear that he is taking sides in this macabre campaign carried out by Israel.

And he may soon learn that the righteousness of a human rights group carries with it political and well as moral power.

Hope, idealism and belief in change are not just campaign slogans.

As Peter Beinart writes in the New York Review of Books, “(T)o suggest that Palestinian and Arab behavior fully explains the growing authoritarian, even racist, tendencies in Israeli politics is to don a moral blindfold, a blindfold that most young American Jews, to their credit, will not wear.”

No, the world, the young, and most of American Jewry refuse to wear blindfolds for reasons that ought to be obvious to our president.

From Greta Berlin:

As survivors of Israel’s brutal attack in international waters begin their testimonies of murder and mayhem on the sea, every one of them reminds us that, although they were imprisoned and brutalized for three days, Palestinian prisoners have no voice, no public forum to tell their stories. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uG91kRI7z8Q

And Israel also arrests and tortures Palestinian children, throwing them into the adult prison population, more than 350 of them at any one time, some as young as 12.

Israel imprisons Palestinian activists who have no voice, holding them in administrative detention for months or charging them with resistance to occupation.

When you listen to the stories from the six ships that were hijacked and the passengers who were kidnapped, remember that Palestinians don’t get to stand in front of a microphone and talk about the brutality of Israeli prisons.

We must continue to break the siege of Gaza and raise our voices against the occupation in the West Bank. Donate to the Free Gaza movement, join the BDS movement, support our voyages by calling your representatives and insisting that Israel abide by international law.
Greta Berlin, Co-Founder

witnessgaza.com
www.freegaza.org

http://www.flickr.com/photos/freegaza

 

 

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DISMANTLING ZIONIST STRANGLEHOLD ON MEDIA NARRATIVE

NOVANEWS

Independent Journalists Dismantling Israel’s Stranglehold on Media Narrative

June 15, 2010

by Michael Leon

Independent Media Defeats Zionist Corporate Controlled Media
Corporate-Controlled Media Under Attack by Truth Tellers and Independent Journalists Seeking to tell the Real Story

The Age of Information Wages War with Old Skool Control of Media 

Israel’s discredited video and audio fabrications of the Massacre on the Mediterranean outlined in Gordon Duff’s Dancing Israeli Film Studios Present Fake Attack Videos and The Meaning of Go Back to Auschwitz demonstrate clumsy attempts to manipulate public opinion by the old, narrow, corporate-controlled media that has been feeding the American people distortions and lies necessary to wage war.

The dubbed audio into the Flotilla tapes that Israel confiscated and then released after some creative video and audio editing made for some chuckles in intelligence circles as Israel tried to fake human rights and aid workers into raving anti-Semites yelling, “Go back to Auschwitz”. 

Clearly, Israel and it’s supporters aim to drag our troops into harm’s way for their own ends. In cahoots with American Neocons and Neoliberals, the lies and propaganda have always gone along with the territory and American public, in absence of objective information, has with good faith, purchased the ruse.

Now, thanks to the internet and rise of true independent journalism, the infamous Lobby that onces ruled the corridors of power at the narrow American corporate-controlled hallways in medialand is losing its political and media supremacy and the winners are the American people who see the ruse exposed in the light, now beginning to get objective information delivered in ways that make the old guard cringe with anger and disdain.

The following article written by Abraham Greenhouse and Nora Barrows-Friedman outlines what actually is going on … .

From the Electronic Intifada:

Independent Journalists Dismantling Israel’s Hold on Media Narrative

By Abraham Greenhouse, Nora Barrows-Friedman 

Israeli naval ships trailing the Mavi Marmara. (Cultures of Resistance)

“The systematic attempt and very deliberate first priority for the Israeli soldiers as they came on the ships was to shut down the story, to confiscate all cameras, to shut down satellites, to smash the CCTV cameras that were on the Mavi Marmara, to make sure that nothing was going out.

They were hellbent on controlling the story,” commented Australian journalist Paul McGeough, one of the hundreds of activists and reporters who witnessed the deadly morning attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla on 31 May (“Framing the Narrative: Israeli Commandos Seize Videotape and Equipment from Journalists After Deadly Raid,” Democracy Now, 9 June 2010). McGeough was one of at least 60 journalists aboard the flotilla who were detained and their footage confiscated.

Within hours of the Gaza-bound aid flotilla being intercepted and besieged in international waters by Israeli commandos, who killed at least nine — some at point-blank range — aboard the Mavi Marmara, news of the bloody attack had spread across the globe. Rage, condemnation and calls for an international investigation followed.

Meanwhile, Israel’s campaign to spin the attack, distort the facts and quell an outraged public was already in full swing. Concurrently, activists and skeptical journalists began deconstructing the official story and assembling evidence to uncover the truth behind the violent deaths of activists on a humanitarian mission to the besieged Gaza Strip.

From the time the Israeli military apparently jammed the flotilla’s communications, and for the next 48 hours as survivors were held incommunicado, their cameras and potentially incriminating footage seized, Israel’s account of the raid dominated international headlines.

Central to Israel’s media strategy was the rapid release of selected video and audio clips which, the government said, validated its claim that passengers had violently attempted to kill troops without provocation — thereby forcing the soldiers to use live fire in self-defense.

However, the initially and most widely-distributed clips bore signs of heavy editing, including the obscuring or removal of time stamps.

Although the clips apparently depicted passengers aboard the Mavi Marmara hitting Israeli troops with poles and other objects, the context of the images was completely unclear. It was impossible to determine at what point during the assault the clips had been filmed, raising questions about exactly which party had been acting in self-defense.

Al-Jazeera’s Jamal Elshayyal, among others, corroborated accounts by other flotilla passengers, including Israeli Knesset member Hanin Zoabi, that the Israeli commandos had allegedly started firing before commandos began rappelling to the deck of the ship (“MK Zoabi: Israel wanted highest number of fatalities,” YNet, 1 June 2010; “Kidnapped by Israel, forsaken by Britain,” Al-Jazeera, 6 June 2010).

These clips were quickly supplemented by footage put on YouTube, also heavily edited, which Israel said had been taken from the ship’s security cameras and from the journalists whose equipment had been seized (“Flotilla Rioters Prepare Rods, Slingshots, Broken Bottles and Metal Objects to Attack IDF Soldiers,” 2 June 2010).

The Israeli military spokesperson’s office also distributed numerous still images allegedly documenting fighting on the deck.

After the commandeered flotilla ships were brought to the Israeli port of Ashdod and were unloaded, on 1 June the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) began distributing via the Flickr website photographs of objects it said were found aboard. Materials the MFA classified as “weapons”– thus supposedly supporting its claim that activists had planned to conduct a “lynching” of Israeli troops — were identifiable to the public as standard nautical equipment and kitchen utensils (“Weapons found on Mavi Marmara”).

In addition, the ships were inspected multiple times prior to setting sail for Gaza, both by Turkish customs authorities and by an independent security firm, and had been found at both points to contain no weapons, according to a Free Gaza Movement press release (“Did Israel deliberately murder civilians aboard Freedom Flotilla?,” 3 June 2010).

 Participants also say that all passengers were subject to thorough security checks before boarding, regardless of where they embarked.

These photographs of “weapons” became the first flashpoint in the effort to analyze and expose inconsistencies in Israel’s claims. Shortly after the release of the images which appeared on the MFA’s official Flickr page on 1 June, commentators began calling attention to the fact that several of the images included digitally-encoded information indicating that they had been shot several years prior.

The MFA responded to this by modifying the dates, and issuing a statement that one of its cameras had been incorrectly calibrated.

While this claim can be neither confirmed nor disproved, the gaffe exposed the fact that Israel’s rush to promote its version of events in the media was leading to significant mistakes and oversights. As surviving flotilla passengers began to be released and expelled following detention in Israel, the accounts they gave of events aboard the ships — and on the Mavi Marmara in particular — clearly diverged from the official Israeli narrative.

Journalists aboard the ship, some of whom had been able to broadcast via satellite for a limited time during the assault, told interviewers that they had been singled out for attack by Israeli troops. “We had cameras round our necks and our press cards in our hands, but the soldiers kept aiming the lasers of their guns at our eyes in order to intimidate us,” Turkish journalist Yuecel Velioglu of the AA news agency told Reporters Without Borders (“As Turkish photographer is buried, other journalists aboard flotilla speak out,” 9 June 2010).

In addition, much of the footage released by Israel (after heavy editing) was taken from journalists aboard the ship after their equipment had been confiscated. The move was strongly denounced by Israel’s Foreign Press Association (FPA), which stated on 4 June: “the use of this material without permission from the relevant media organizations is a clear violation of journalistic ethics and unacceptable.”

Determined not to allow the Israeli government to continue dominating public discourse on the flotilla attack with its questionable version of events, independent journalists around the world analyzed and identified inconsistencies with the Israeli narrative.

This work played a pivotal role in making a more complete and accurate picture of the events available to an English-speaking audience: the vast majority of English-language corporate media outlets, with the notable exception of Al-Jazeera English, simply took Israeli statements at face value and conducted little or no investigative work to ascertain their validity.

Images and the elimination of context

Another photograph released by the Israeli military spokesperson’s office aroused additional controversy when it began appearing in news articles about the incident. The image, which featured an anonymous, bearded man holding a curved knife, was generally presented with a caption, also sourced from the Israeli military, claiming that the knife-wielder was an activist aboard the Mavi Marmara photographed after Israeli troops boarded the ship.

Ali Abunimah, co-founder of The Electronic Intifada, immediately noticed clear inconsistencies with the context of the photo, casting its veracity into doubt. Abunimah pointed out on his blog that behind the man, natural light could be seen streaming in through a window — despite the fact that the raid was conducted during pre-dawn hours.

Additionally, the man was surrounded by photographers who seemed unusually calm for onlookers in the midst of a firefight (“Israeli propaganda photo in Haaretz of man with knife make no sense #FreedomFlotilla,” 31 May 2010). Finally, a few days after the image first appeared, the image was re-used in a video montage, published on YouTube under the newly-registered handle “gazaflotilliatruth”, but this time with less cropping. In the new version of the image, the bearded man can be seen to be sitting down, not standing — again, an unusual physical position to display during a melee (“Gaza Flotillia – The Love Boat,” 2 June 2010).

Investigative journalist Max Blumenthal reports that the Israeli military-sourced caption — repeatedly used by media outlets such as the Israeli daily Haaretz — indicated that the bearded man was holding the knife after the commandos boarded the ship (“Nailed Again: IDF Description of Suspicious Photo It Distributed Is Retracted,” 8 June 2010).

Following his query to the Israeli military spokesman’s office, Haaretz “scrubbed its caption of the suspicious photo.” Blumenthal adds that Haaretz “did not mention the retraction, probably assuming no one would notice.

 The retraction raises disturbing questions about the level of coordination between the IDF [Israeli army] and the Israeli media.” Nor did they mention that the bearded man was Yemeni Minister of Parliament Mohammad al-Hazmi, who was displaying his ceremonial dagger — an essential part of traditional Yemeni dress — to “curious journalists and foreigners on the ship,” as Blumenthal points out, obviously well before the attack.

New accusations instantly dismantled

As the accounts of surviving passengers began receiving increased attention in the mainstream Western press, Israel retaliated with a series of increasingly dire accusations to discredit them. The serious nature these accusations makes it difficult to understand why the Israeli government would have waited so long to issue them.

As journalists began evaluating the new claims, they found Israel’s supporting evidence to be flimsy and periodically even nonexistent.

One such accusation, published in a 2 June MFA press release, was that 40 Mavi Marmara passengers had been identified as mercenaries in the employ of al-Qaeda (“Attackers of the IDF soldiers found to be Al Qaeda mercenaries,” 2 June 2010).

Later that day, US State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said that his office could not validate Israel’s story, and independent journalists on the ground in Tel Aviv promptly set out to investigate for themselves.

Blumenthal and his colleague Lia Tarachansky were told bluntly by the Israeli army’s press office that the military didn’t “have any evidence” to support the MFA’s contention. By the morning of 3 June, all references to al-Qaeda had been removed from the online version of the press release (“Under Scrutiny IDF Retracts Claims About Flotillas Al Qaeda Links”).

More significantly, on 4 June, Israel released a YouTube clip which it claimed was an excerpt from radio communications between the Israeli navy and the Mavi Marmara. The clip included a voice telling the Israelis to “go back to Auschwitz,” and another voice stating “We’re helping Arabs go against the US,” in response to Israeli statements that the vessel was “approaching an area which is under a naval blockade” (“Flotilla Ship to Israeli Navy:

“We’re Helping Arabs Go Against the US, Don’t Forget 9/11 Guys,” 4 June 2010). The latter statement was made in an accent resembling that of the American south, despite the fact that no one from that region was present aboard any of the ships.

Numerous bloggers commented that the accents sounded as though they had been faked, and ridiculed the quality of the apparent forgery.

One of the flotilla organizers, US citizen Huwaida Arraf, was astonished to find that the clip included her own voice as well — even though she had not been aboard the Mavi Marmara, but was on a different vessel.

Tel Aviv-based journalist and blogger Mya Guarnieri noted that Arraf told the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency that the clip of her voice, saying “we have permission from the Gaza Port Authority to enter,” seemed to have been excerpted from communications during a previous flotilla trip (there have been nine trips since 2008) (“Israel under fire for doctoring flotilla recordings,” 5 June 2010). “When they radioed us [on this trip], we were still 100 miles away,” Arraf remarked.

Blumenthal called attention to the mysterious presence of Arraf and other discrepancies in the clip in an article he posted on 4 June. The following day, the MFA issued a statement admitting that the clip had been substantially edited (“Clarification/Correction Regarding Audio Transmission Between Israeli Navy and Flotilla on 31 May 2010,” 5 June 2010).

However, the clip including the “Auschwitz” statement remains on the MFA website in a new “unedited” version of the alleged transmission.

High-tech sleuthing uncovers a web of deceit

Perhaps most damaging to the credibility of Israeli accounts was a map published by Ali Abunimah on his blog and which was produced by using archived transmissions of Automatic Identification System (AIS) data to plot the position of the Mavi Marmara as it sailed on the morning of the raid (“Did Israel press on with bloody attack on Mavi Marmara even as ship fled at full-speed?,” 7 June 2010).

Using the map, Abunimah was able to determine the location and heading of the ship as it broadcast updates on its status. The map also plotted the position of the Mavi Marmara at the exact points when surveillance camera footage from the ship — which Israel had released without obscured time stamps — was apparently recorded.

According to AIS data, the Mavi Marmara had been heading south — parallel to the Israeli coast and more than 80 miles from the shore — until approximately 4:35am local time. At this point, the ship abruptly turned west, heading away from the Gaza coast.

The attack, which surviving passengers say began shortly after 4:00am, was reported to Greek activists in direct communication with the ship at some point before 4:51am. However, the time stamp seen in the released security camera footage and described in a caption as being the point at which “rioters initiate confrontation with Israeli soldiers,” indicates that the clip was filmed at 5:03am.

This is reinforced by the fact that the sea is apparently lit by natural light, which would not have been possible an hour earlier.

This evidence directly contradicts Israeli claims regarding the sequence and timing of events, and throws its overarching narrative into doubt. While the vast majority of footage of the raid has been seized by Israel, along the flotilla’s Voyage Data Recorders (VDRs, the nautical equivalent of aircraft’s “black boxes”), activists have been diligently archiving all available evidence to prevent Israel from altering or destroying it.

As more time stamped data becomes available, it will be aggregated by activists and plotted on mapping applications not only to help reveal what happened aboard the Mavi Marmara, but guarantee a greater level of accountability when Israel responds to future flotillas.

A significant amount of data is already emerging. Several of the survivors managed to conceal memory cards from their Israeli captors, the contents of which they proceeded to make available to journalists upon their return home. Some photos, published in the Turkish newspaper HaberTurk, depict passengers administering medical care to wounded Israeli soldiers and even protecting them from being photographed — which seemed to contradict Israel’s claims that passengers were intent on a premeditated “lynching” of the Israeli commandoes (“İsrail’den kaçırılan fotoğraflar,” 4 June 2010).

Recently-released video clips from flotilla survivors show Israeli soldiers kicking, beating and shooting passengers, including footage which Turkey’s Cihan News Agency says depicts the close-range killing of Furkan Dogan, a 19-year-old US citizen, with automatic weaponry (“Israeli Soldiers Murdering Man Identified as Furkan Dogan,” 10 June 2010). An autopsy determined that Dogan was shot five times, including once in the back and twice in the head from almost point-blank range.

 Other footage shows helicopters hovering above the flotilla, with apparent muzzle flashes and sounds of gunfire, supporting the survivors’ contention that commandos were already firing before boarding the vessels, thus prompting the limited resistance demonstrated by terrified passengers.

International vs. internal investigations

The Israeli government continues to reject the idea of an international investigation in favor of pursuing its own. On 5 June, the United Nation’s Secretary General proposed an international panel to examine the killing of nine flotilla passengers, but Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, announced on FOX News the next day that Israel would refuse “to be investigated by any international board” (“Transcript: Amb. Michael Oren on ‘FNS’,” 7 June 2010).

Those who demand an international probe have good reason to doubt Israel’s ability to investigate itself. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), which cited statistics from the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, between 2000 and 2008, “Israeli soldiers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories killed more than 2,000 Palestinian civilians not involved in combat.

Of 1,246 criminal investigations initiated during the same period into suspected offenses of all kinds by soldiers against Palestinian civilians, only 6 percent (78 cases) resulted in indictments. Only 13 of those indictments charged soldiers with killing civilians.

As of September 2008, five soldiers had been convicted for the deaths of four civilians” (“Why No Justice in Gaza? Israel Is Different, and so …,” 1 October 2009).

HRW found a similar pattern in cases stemming from Israel’s infamous three-week attack on Gaza beginning on 27 December 2008. The invasion, which caused the deaths of more than 1,400 Palestinians, resulted in only one criminal conviction — for the theft of a credit card belonging to a Palestinian family after soldiers looted their home.

Regarding the flotilla attack, some sources in the Israeli government have indicated that they would consider permitting one or more international “observers” to be included in their internal investigation. Governments around the world have insisted that this is not an acceptable alternative to a genuine international investigation.

 However, even a completely impartial group charged with investigating the raid would be analyzing “evidence” (such as seized footage and VDRs) that had been under the full control of the Israeli military since the time of the assault.

Accountability and independent journalism

With little hope for a formal investigation with any degree of credibility, independent journalists around the world have recognized the need to mount their own. The work of independent journalists is achieving a growing level of influence in the mainstream. And the story of the Mavi Marmara killings, despite the unwillingness of many professional reporters to publicly challenge Israel’s version of events, is no exception.

“This is an issue where, in the flotilla incident, the legal and moral circumstances of Israeli abuse were so flagrant and visible that independent media have a greater opportunity of being heard,” said Richard Falk, international law expert and United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Should the UN or another impartial body mount an international probe, it would “benefit greatly from [independent media’s] active undertaking to reinforce whatever investigation took place,” Falk commented for this story.

Independent journalists were able to crack the wall of Israel’s narrative in the corporate media, like how they were able to circumvent Israel’s restrictions on establishment journalists during the winter 2008-09 attacks on Gaza.

 For nearly an hour on the morning of 5 June, most mainstream reports about the status of the delayed fourth ship in the flotilla that had included the Mavi Marmara relied almost exclusively on information gleaned from messages shared between activists and independent journalists via Twitter.

The work of Abunimah and Blumenthal in debunking much of the Israeli narrative was cited extensively in a post by The New York Times blogger Robert Mackey (“Photographs of Battered Israeli Commandos Show New Side of Raid,” 7 June 2010).

On 10 June, a United Nations press conference was devoted to presenting uncensored footage of the assault captured by filmmaker Iara Lee, which promises to make global headlines with countless images contradicting the Israeli version of events.

Paul Larudee, a San Francisco Bay Area-based activist who participated in the flotilla and endured a severe beating which required him to him to be hospitalized, believes that the success of independent journalists in unraveling Israel’s disjointed narrative has had a transformative effect on the popular consciousness.

“Something’s happening here. Perceptions begin to move,” Larudee said. “People are getting it — they understand that a humanitarian aid convoy was attacked, and the passengers were defending themselves, despite the spin that Israel is creating in the media. Israel is not going to be able to keep this up much longer. It’s all starting to crumble.”

Abraham Greenhouse is founder of the Palestine Freedom Project (palestinefreedom.org), which specializes in studying and providing support for the work of grassroots Palestine solidarity activists worldwide.

Nora Barrows-Friedman is an award-winning independent journalist, writing for The Electronic Intifada, Inter Press Service, Truthout and other outlets. She regularly reports from Palestine, where she also runs media workshops for youth in the Dheisheh refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

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OBAMA: WEAK & HELPLESS

NOVANEWS

The article demonstrates (brilliantly, in my view) that the president of the US is anything but weak and helpless.
Racheli.

http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/06/21/obama/index.html?source=newsletter

Glenn Greenwald:  The weak, helpless, impotent presidency

As I noted earlier today, there is a newly minted Obama apologist meme that has been created and is being disseminated by Obama-defending pundits far and wide:  namely, liberals are blaming Obama for too much because the Presidency is actually quite a weak and powerless office, and he’s powerless to do most of what liberals advocate. 

This claim was articulated by Jonathan Bernstein in response to my post documenting how Barack Obama — by supporting Blanche Lincoln rather than remaining neutral or supporting her primary challenger — likely swung the election in her favor.  I argued that the central role Obama played in Lincoln’s race illustrates that Presidents possess substantial means for influencing members of Congress. 

In describing my argument as “ignorant nonsense that betrays a deep lack of understanding of how the government of the United States works,” Bernstein did not bother to address, let alone refute, that extremely formidable presidential leverage that Obama just used to help Lincoln win in Arkansas.

Instead, he broadly asserted that “the idea of an ‘Impotent, Helpless President’ . . . [is] basic American politics,” that “the presidency is a very weak office,” and that Obama has no real leverage to influence Democratic members of Congress to support legislation he wants. 

Since then, a whole slew of Obama defenders have cited Bernstein’s “Impotent Helpless Presidency” excuse to argue that progressives expect too much of Obama and that their criticisms of him are unfair, irrational and unwarranted. 

Today, Jonathan Chait complains that I have only derided and mocked but not responded in detail to this argument.  That’s basically true, as I find the argument self-refuting, but permit me to change that by responding in detail now.

Initially, this issue arose in the context of the health care debate, when progressive critics were complaining that the Obama White House was doing nothing to ensure passage of the public option.  In response, Obama defenders insisted that the fault lay not with Obama, but with Democratic members of Congress over whom Obama had no leverage. 

All year long, they told their readers not to blame Obama for the lack of a public option because there was just nothing the helpless, powerless leader could do.  Except now it is conclusively clear that Obama never wanted the public option from the start — Russ Feingold said as much, and The New York Times revealed that Obama secretly negotiated away the public option in deals with industry representatives very early on in the process. 

Thus, critics who were complaining that Obama was publicly claiming to want to the public option while ensuring it would not be enacted were correct, while those who kept telling their readers that the fault lay with Democratic members of Congress — not Obama — were engaged in pure apologia.

More broadly, after 8 years of Bush/Cheney, the very idea that the Presidency is a weak and largely powerless office is laughable on its face.  It’s Barack Obama — not the U.S. Congress — who is detaining innocent people without trials, targeting U.S. citizens for due-process-free assassinations, secretly ordering covert wars via Special Operations Forces, ordering a “surge” in the nine-year-old war in Afghanistan, and launching cruise missile strikes with cluster bombs in Yemen. 

The more honest commentators who are invoking this “weak presidency” defense on behalf of Obama — such as Matt Ygleisas, Ezra Klein, and Scott Lemieux — acknowledge its basic inapplicability to Terrorism and foreign policy, which accounts for a substantial part of the liberal critique of the Obama presidency. 

 And, for that matter, many of the positive steps Obama has taken — changes in drug policy, an improvement in tone with the Muslim world, release of the OLC torture memos — were also actions taken unilaterally using the power of the Presidency.

Apparently — to hear Bernstein, Chait and their “weak presidency” excuse-makers tell it — the country, once every four years, spends twenty-four straight months completely fixated on who is going to be elected to a weak and powerless office.  What a strange thing to do.  And we probably all owe George Bush and Dick Cheney a huge apology for blaming so many of America’s problems on them when — as it turns out — they really had very little power over our political system (and were Bernstein, Chait and friends chiding Democrats during the Bush presidency for excessively blaming Bush and Cheney for problems that they couldn’t possibly solve [or cause] given their powerless positions?). 

And all Democratic anger at Ralph Nader for helping to elect Bush and defeat Al Gore surely must be misplaced, since the presidency is just a weak and impotent office without much influence anyway.  And I guess all that stuff about the “imperial presidency” we heard so much about over the last decade was pure fantasy; it turns out the office is so weak it barely has any purpose beyond the purely symbolic.  Who knew?

This “weak presidency” excuse-making rests on an incredibly naïve, Schoolhouse-Rock-level understanding of our political system.  Yes, it’s theoretically true — just like we learn in the Sixth Grade — that the Congress is the body that introduces and enacts laws, while the President has no vote in that process. 

But the reality is that the President has vast and unfettered control over a sprawling Executive Branch.  More important, he presides over the Democratic Party and exerts extreme influence over its fund-raising infrastructure on which virtually every Democratic incumbent relies. 

 The means he has to exert influence over members of Congress when it’s important to him — as he just demonstrated in the Blanche Lincoln race and in other instances — are numerous and formidable, as set forth below.

None of this is to say that the President is omnipotent.  It’s certainly possible that he could truly devote himself to inducing the Congress to do something he wants, but fail.  The fact that the President fails to get something he wants is not proof that he failed to try. 

 The complaints have never been that the Obama White House failed to force Congress to enact progressive legislation it claimed it wanted, but rather, that they never really tried using the substantial leverage and influence they have, thus illustrating that they never really wanted it in the first place.  To claim that they have no such leverage is to ignore reality:

(1) The Obama White House has proven empirically that they have leverage over recalcitrant members of Congress.  When progressive House Members were refusing to vote for Obama’s unconditional war-funding bill, this is what happened (though the White House, unsurprisingly, denied it):

The White House is playing hardball with Democrats who intend to vote against the supplemental war spending bill, threatening freshmen who oppose it that they won’t get help with reelection and will be cut off from the White House, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.) said Friday. “We’re not going to help you. You’ll never hear from us again,” Woolsey said the White House is telling freshmen.

Though it seemed very unlikely at the beginning of the process, the White House succeeded in whipping enough progressive votes to secure approval for this war package.  That’s what the President can do when he actually cares about a particular bill, such as war-funding.

(2) As Obama just proved in the Arkansas race, his endorsement carries significant sway with large numbers of Democratic voters, including in conservative states.  As The Washington Post documented, Obama’s endorsement of Lincoln is likely what enabled her victory.  In 2006, the Democratic establishment’s actual neutrality in the Connecticut Senate race — paying mere lip service to supporting Democratic nominee Ned Lamont but doing nothing meaningful to help him win — is what helped Joe Lieberman to win that race.

Lieberman and Ben Nelson are up for re-election in 2012, and Lincoln is this year.  Does anyone actually doubt that an Obama threat to support a primary challenge against any Democratic incumbent, to encourage Democratic fund-raisers to send their money elsewhere, or to refrain from playing any role in their re-election, would influence their votes on matters important to the White House?  Again, that’s not to say it would guarantee compliance, but the fact that the White House did exactly that on the war-funding vote, but not on the public option, reflected their priorities.

(3) There is a huge and critical Democratic Party fund-raising apparatus that relies on the White House for access, influence, jobs and a whole variety of other benefits over which the President exerts great influence.  Is there anyone in D.C. who doubts that the most important priority of virtually every progressive and liberal political group — to say nothing of major corporate donors — is to stay in good standing with the White House?  If the White House subtly directs the major Party fund-raisers and its money apparatus to refrain from supporting a particular incumbent who impedes Obama’s agenda, that would be a serious impediment to that incumbent’s re-election bid.

(4) Using his control over his Party, the President exerts substantial influence over the various perquisites which Senators have.  It was Obama’s decree that Lieberman should retain his Homeland Security Chairmanship despite his support for John McCain which led to his keeping that important position.  In 2004, after Arlen Specter suggested he might impede Bush’s anti-abortion nominees to the Supreme Court, he had to beg and plead to keep his position as Judiciary Committee Chairman.  There are countless ways for a Party — and its leader, the President — to severely diminish the influence and power a recalcitrant member wields.

(5) One of the principal aspects that make the “weak presidency” claim so laughable is that the post-World-War II presidency has done virtually nothing but expand in power.  The President controls virtually the entire Pentagon and intelligence industry, and all administrative agencies, with very few limits.  That includes a massive amount of jobs, contracts, access, and projects the White House single-handedly directs, and the President can expand or cancel a whole slew of pet projects for various members of Congress and their home states or districts.

(6) It is extremely common for the White House to horse-trade with members of its own party to secure support for legislation it wants.  It can and does trade appointments, concessions on other bills, pork projects in the Executive Branch’s discretion, and favors for political allies in exchange for a certain vote; conversely, it can threaten to impose all sorts of political costs on incumbents using those same measures.  Again, anyone whose understanding of the political process has advanced beyond Saturday morning cartoons recognizes this is the case.

(7) With regard to matters such as the BP spill, which many Obama defenders have cited to argue that liberals are unfairly criticizing the weak and impotent President, it is the Executive Branch which exerted full control over the approval of BP’s off-shore leases and which has serious statutory authority to exert real control over the response to the spill.

(8) Because the President is far and away the dominant political actor, he can exert far more influence on our political debates than anyone else using the proverbial “bully pulpit,” and can bring substantial pressure to bear on incumbent members of Congress through that advocacy and public pressure.

Let’s repeat:  to argue that the President has substantial leverage over members of his own Party is not to claim that he can exert total control.  Even when he tries his hardest, he’s likely to lose in some instances (although you can count on one hand the instances when Bush/Cheney failed to control members of their Party). 

 But this debate first arose in the context of the stimulus package (when the White House never tried to secure a greater amount of funds), and then reached its peak in the health care debate (when the President not only failed to try to win support for the public option, but actively worked against it from the start). 

 Whatever else is true, to posit that the Presidency is some sort of weak, powerless, impotent office — all as a means of claiming that no problems can be laid at Obama’s feet, because his office is barely above that of a functionary when it comes to Congress — is patently absurd, and it’s Obama himself who, when actually motivated, has proven that to be the case.

* * * * *
Note the revealing irony that Chait, while complaining that I failed to address the “substance” of this “weak presidency” excuse, completely ignored — as in:  pretended it did not exist — the argument I made:  that cases such as Obama’s knowing imprisonment of innocent detainees is purely his own doing, and reveals the moral and political bankruptcy of the claim that progressive criticisms of Obama are grounded in unrealistic views of his power. 

Obama defenders like Chait studiously ignore abuses like this one because they do not want to defend such things (who would?) but also do not want to acknowledge the profound flaws of this President and the vast power he asserts.

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ZIONIST HUMOUR

NOVANEWS

1. Another Glimpse into ‘Jewish Humour’

by Gilad Atzmon

As the rest of the world is becoming aware of Israel being an outlaw terrorist state, the Hasbara jokers in Tel Aviv are determined to save their doomed State by the means of ‘Jewish humour’.

To read more and watch video follow the link:

http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/another-glimpse-into-jewish-humour-by-gilad-atzmon.html

2. Invitation to olive picking [Palestine, October, 2010]

Invitation to olive picking [Palestine, October, 2010]
(Starting Saturday 16th October 2010 for  9 nights)

http://visitpalestine.webs.com/oliveharvestoct2010.htm

Click to read more …

3. This is far beyond politics. Humanity Rises Against the Israeli Crime

 Anti-Zionist Protestors Stop unloading of Israeli Ship in the port of Oakland  (a video)

http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/this-is-far-beyond-politics-humanity-rises-against-the-israe.html  

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KILLING AFGHANS FOR ZIONISM

But whether or not we should be “at war” at all should be challenged when confronting our Talmudic Zionist Commander. Then we must consult the writings of Sun Tzu to see if an enemy should EVER BE IDENTIFIED as some vague abstraction.

If so, (Sun Tzu would roll over in his grave if we were ever to ascribe to him such a ridiculous conception of warfare), this would mean endless Zionist  wars. Of course, that would be just fine with the Zionist senator and his Zionist friends.

Concluding his rant, Lieberman enlists his co-religionist into the fray, David Benjamin, the “ambassador-at-large” for counterterrorism.

Quoting from a recent speech by Benjamin who warned that “al Qaeda is not the only Islamic group with global ambitions that we have to worry about,” the senator willfully excludes the obvious group with global ambitions that Americans REALLY have to worry about, namely, Lieberman’s own kind.

With total dominance over America’s political life, banking, the press, the media, academics, and the Military/Industrial complex, Zionist, like Lieberman, are part of a centuries-old plan of global conquest.

Little wonder then that Lieberman deflects our focus on his own tribe to a wider scope of “international Islamic terrorists.” As the saying goes, “when the heat is on don’t let your adversaries see you in the kitchen.”

The pot keeps calling the kettle black. But it’s time to take a closer look at the pot.

With more and more Americans removing the Zionist smoke from their eyes, Mr. Lieberman may soon find himself and his co-religionists at the top of the list of America’s enemies.

___________________________________

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IS REALY THE ISLAMIST OUR ENEMY?

__NOVANEWS________

“AMERICA IS A NATION AT WAR,” wrote Zionist Senator Joseph Lieberman in Monday’s Wall Street Journal op-ed, titled, “Who’s the Enemy in the War on Terror?”

Referring to Obama’s new National Security Strategy released by the White House last month, Lieberman faults the president for not clearly identifying America’s enemy.

According to Lieberman, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, that enemy is “violent Islamist extremism.”

Bolstering his battle cry by quoting the ancient military strategist, Sun Tzu, who taught that the “first rule in war is to know your enemy so you can defeat him,” Lieberman fans the flames of bloodshed so that more Gentile mothers can weep for their fallen sons.

Then continuing on his war path where Gentile boys die for Jewish causes, Lieberman chastises Obama for removing the identification of the enemy as specified in Bush’s 2006 Security Strategy: “Muslim terrorists who exploit Islam to serve a violent political vision.”

Obama, instead, as Lieberman points out, uses an alternative term, “violent extremists,” to specify America’s foes, leaving out “Muslim.” This does not suit Lieberman at all. It’s “too generic” for his tastes. (Obama is actually expanding the war on terror to domestic foes. Indeed, Homeland Security now targets “anti-Semitic extremists.”)

“We do not fight international Islamic terrorists in the same way we fight White Supremacists at home,” argues Lieberman.

Piling fault upon fault on Obama’s strategy, Lieberman censures the president for saying, “Our fight is against al Qaeda” — since this means for the senator that America is waging a war “against an organization” rather than “against an ideology” — namely, violent Islamist extremism.

“This war will not end when al Qaeda has been vanquished,” says Lieberman, “but only when the ideology of violent Islamist extremism that inspires al Qaeda is destroyed.”

Thus, according to General Lieberman, we are at war with an ideology rather than a terrorist organization, and this is what American Gentile boys must die for.

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SURROUNDED BY IMAGINARY ENEMIES

NOVANEWS

June 15, 2010

by Dr. Ashraf Ezzat

 

An Israeli soldier pointing his weapon at a Palestinian child.

THE brutal raid on the freedom flotilla carrying humanitarian supplies that was trying to break the blockade of Gaza was bound to provoke outrage—and rightly so.

The Israeli government arrogantly declared that Israel had the right to defend itself, in justification of the massacre of unarmed humanitarians.

And this ” right to defend itself ” jazz seemed as some kind of ” reverse logic”, to almost everybody who were following the updates of this terrible incident on TV screens, including the people with impartial view on the Arab – Israeli conflict, but this Israeli raid somehow helped them to take sides.

The Israeli statement failed to gain any worldwide sympathy this time, it failed to delude people.

This time, Israel looked as the aggressor, and only an act of god could convince people otherwise. And actually this is what the Israelis needed, a divine intervention, maybe another parting of the sea, which would have swallowed up the aid flotilla and spared the Israeli commandos the trouble of confronting enemies in international waters.

Anyhow, the Israeli commandos must have killed those civilians with a clear conscience, for they were assured that God was on their side, at least that how the Rabbis must have brainwashed them beforehand, the same way that happened in the inhumane Israeli war on Gaza2008- 2009.

To those commandos, they were not engaged in a military mission but in holy war. And speaking of holiness, let’s go back in time and take a look at the Israeli conflicts in the bible.

The holy conflict scenario

Scholars failed to trace the Jews to any affinity to an ancient cultural tradition other than the Ibraheimic tale. And agreed that being Jewish is solely a religious affiliation?

Remove the old bible with all its fancy tales of the Israelites and you’ll be literally left with nothing, absolutely nothing worth mentioning regarding the Jews or their heritage as if they never existed outside the narrative of the Old Testament. Or maybe they did, but in a far different manner from the biblical story.

That’s why most scholars of ancient near eastern history relied primarily on the bible to study the ancient history of the Israelites but that is no longer the case. In the last quarter century or so, archaeologists have seen one settled assumption after another concerning who the ancient Israelites were and where they came from proved false.

If you examined the history of the Israelites in the ancient near east, from a biblical perspective, you would be surprised by the fact that Israel had always been depicted as the one nation exclusively chosen by their God, but on the contrary to that unjustified and weird divine attitude, the Israelites had commonly been persecuted by their neighbors.

Intolerance of the Jews has always been the most commonly shared feature of every tribe or culture or even kingdom that came to deal with Israel as far as the old bible is concerned.

Conflict due to intolerance of Israel has been a biblical reality whenever Israel has existed as a nation in the old testament. Whether it was the Egyptians, Amalekites, Midianites, Moabites, Ammonites, Amorites, Philistines, Assyrians, Persians, or Romans, the nation of Israel has always been surrounded by and persecuted by its neighbors. Why is this?

There are two possible answers to this question;
1 – The biblical narrative could be correct, and all the above cultures, authorities and monarchies acted antagonistically to the Jews.
2 – The biblical narrative could be corrected and refuted by another and more solid vision of the ancient Israelites era, namely modern archaeology.

Early biblical archaeology was conducted in “bible and spade “approach with the presumption that the bible must be true, finds only being considered as illustrations for the biblical narrative, and interpreting evidence to fit the bible.

The first biblical archaeologists were thus guilty of one of the most elementary of scientific blunders: rather than allowing the facts to speak for themselves, they had tried to fit them into a preconceived theoretical framework. Another layer of political mystification was added in the twentieth century by Zionist pioneers eager for evidence that the Jewish claim to the Holy Land was every bit as ancient as the Old Testament said it was.

But since the 1970s most archaeologists have begun instead to interpret the evidence only in the light of other archaeology, treating the bible as an artifact to be examined, rather than as an unquestioned truth.

Israeli archeologist, Ze’ev Herzog born 1941, professor of archaeology at The Department of Archaeology and Ancient Near Eastern Cultures at Tel Aviv University , is considered one of the leading figures in that modern field archeology along with his colleague archeologist, Israel Finkelstein.

In 1999 Herzog’s cover page article in the weekly magazine Haaretz “Deconstructing the walls of Jericho” attracted considerable public attention and debates. In this article Herzog cites evidence supporting that “the Israelites were never in Egypt, did not wander in the desert, did not conquer the land in a military campaign and did not pass it on to the 12 tribes of Israel. Perhaps even harder to swallow is the fact that the united monarchy of David and Solomon, which is described by the Bible as a regional power, was at most a small tribal kingdom.

And archaeologists noticed that ancient chronicles and records of all the above mentioned authorities and kingdoms were silent and devoid of any record of a conflict with the ancient Israelites.

And if modern scientific history and archaeology managed to refute the bible claims to history, and showed that Jewish bible scribes were keen on portraying Israel as the nation surrounded by imaginary enemies,who held them in enslavement and captivity, In an attempt to keep the conflict scenario going, and keep the sympathy with Israel going.

But what does that say of the legitimacy of the holy war that the Israeli military is now waging on alleged enemies, especially that the pro-Palestinian sympathy is considerably gaining momentum worldwide.

For Israel, this aid flotilla tragedy should be the starting point for deeper questions—about the Israeli list of potential and alleged enemies, about the Jewish state’s increasing loneliness

Israel is caught in a vicious circle. The more it tends to shoot opponents first and ask questions later, the more it finds that the world is indeed full of enemies.

 

Posted in UncategorizedComments Off on SURROUNDED BY IMAGINARY ENEMIES

AGENT ORANGE & CONGRESS VETERANS CLAIMS

NOVANEWS

No One has proven that Agent Orange was NOT used on Guam

June 15, 2010

by indythinker

Agent Orange

Mike Leon on our staff has done quite a few recent articles on Agent Orange and how members of Congress, from both political parties, but surprisingly the Democratic Party want to place limits on NOT enhance Veterans claims for Agent Orange related diseases.

The last articles I did on Agent Orange were back on April 11, 2010, VA Proposes Change to Aid Veterans Exposed to Agent Orange. AND January 25, 2010, VVA’s THE FACES OF AGENT ORANGE.

Between January 2010 and now, I was kind of optimistic about the prospects for Vietnam Veterans filing Agent Orange claims with the VA. However, much of what Mike is writing about now has shattered any illusions I had about our government doing right by those who not only have been exposed to Agent Orange and related Rainbow agents in Vietnam proper, but also those exposed to or may have been exposed to dioxins outside of Vietnam.

Another momentary illusion and optimism overcame us when Larry Scott at VA Watchdog announced way back in 2006 that Agent Orange was used outside of Vietnam. In an August 2006 article, Larry wrote, “AGENT ORANGE OUTSIDE OF VIETNAM – A look at DoD’s use of Agent Orange and other herbicides outside of Vietnam…Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Hawaii, Texas, Indiana, Utah, Maryland, Rhode Island, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Arizona, New York, Washington, California and more…

“I thought you would find it interesting to take a look at DoD’s use of Agent Orange and other herbicides outside of Vietnam,” said  VA Watchdog.

In fact, the VA now uses the DoD listing of locations outside Vietnam to decide VA Claims and appeals. Unfortunately, the VA is using the official DoD listing to delay and deny more claims than enhance support for Vets who claim Agent Orange exposure on Guam. The problem is that not all locations where Veterans claim Agent Orange has been used, or Vets have given sworn testimony of using the herbicide themselves is on that list – Guam has been in contention based on the simple fact the Air Force, and DoD cannot find any documented evidence confirming Agent Orange use on Guam ever!

It is not the Air Force, or DoD’s obligation to confirm or deny Agent Orange exposure on Guam or anywhere else, that is the obligation of the Department of Veterans Affairs to make such determination. Not only that, but such determinations should be based on confirmation or denial ‘beyond a doubt’ that Agent Orange was NOT used on Guam, not some vague excuse from DoD or the Air Force that they cannot find records except probably stored on Guam during the Korean War for use on the Korean Peninsula.

The DoD, and Department of the Air Force are not responsible for America’s Veterans that is the obligation of the VA who should not be collaborating with the Air Force or DoD as if they all have something to hide.

This story came to Veterans Today from several Retired Air Force Senior NCOs who filed claims with the VA providing evidence and ‘sworn testimony’ that Agent Orange was used at Anderson AFB, Guam. Guam is not on the official DoD listing that the VA overly depends on to make claims or appeals decisions.

Unsavory Trends at the VA from Regional Office to Appeals Board = incompetence and lack of accountability or responsibility.

We at Veterans Today did a review of 156 VA Appeals documented on the VA website for noted trends in adjudication, delay, or remanding, and eventual denial. I did several articles about the Negative Anti-Veteran Attitudes found the the mainstream media and at the VA among Associated Press Reporters, VA adjudicators and other VA employees covering the period of the mid to late-1990s up to 2010.

May 7, 2010 Associated Press spreading RUMORs about PTSD fakers

May 9, 2010 PTSD is Real, PTSD Fraud is Not – Veterans rebuttal to AP

May 14, 2010 Hostile Attitude toward America’s Veterans Using the VA is Nothing New

Although the focus of the articles was on PTSD, we believe that this anti-Veteran attitude spreads to Agent Orange, Gulf War Illness, Depleted Uranium, and whatever else will kill our troops 10, 20, t0 30 years after they leave Iraq and Afghanistan.

However, we believe that such an entrenched anti-Veteran attitude continues today regardless which political appointees run the VA and that given the evidence provided by these Veterans in relation to Agent Orange and Guam, our review of the 156 VA Appeals reflects not so much a negative anti-Veteran attitude but a callous impersonal attitude to Veterans in which the word remand is thrown around like a buzz word for “let’s wait for they to die,” despite of Congressional correspondence from Senators and Congressman to expedite a decision or finding.

See for yourself readers, glance through just half of these 156 cases, and note how many time an Appeals Judge will slam a VA Regional Office then remand an appeal a second, third, or even more time with the caveat that the case has a Congressional expedite as it Congress were a JOKE. Well???

A review of 156 VA Appeals by Veterans Today staff reflects several unsavory trends at the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). the Air Force, and DoD that continue today:

a. VA Appeals Board has a bad habit of remanding [delaying] claims of Veterans who allege exposure to Agent Orange on Guam over and over, and over again, despite the consistent errors usually being on the VA’s part usually at Regional Office (RO) level. Despite having Congressional expedites, the VA tends to ignore the Congress and still remand a case two or three times, sometimes more before denying it.

b. Several appeals were remained with the RO (not the Veteran) tasked to determine if there was a possibility of exposure to Agent Orange on Guam. In cases where the Appeals Court remained a case back to the RO it chastised the RO for ignoring procedures the VA had in place to determine Agent Orange exposure outside Vietnam. Veterans Today will be investigating what those procedures are, how efficient and accurate they are, for records show that Regional Offices have not been using these procedures, so there must be a reason.

c. In at least one case, the VA Appeals Court remanded an appeal back to RO concerned that a Physician’s Assistant had done the Veterans’ record review and made the decision to deny co-signed by a MD who did not examine the patient. The Appeals Court was upset that someone at the VAMC not qualified to review the Veterans case had made a determination to deny. The Appeals Board kicked the appeal back with direction to have a qualified medical examiner (MD) do the evaluation.

d. Each time the VA makes an error, VA employees, be they at a VA Hospital, VA Regional Office, or even on the VA Appeals Court are not held responsible or accountable, but the Veteran or Veteran’s family pays in having their claim delayed, delayed, delayed again until the Veteran dies.

e. Don’t take our word for it, skim through these 156 Appeals, and these are only appeals, we are sure that the number of Veterans who served on Guam claiming exposure to Agent Orange is much higher than this and likely to increase regardless what the VA, the Air Force, or DoD says about not finding any records of Agent Orange use on Guam.

f. As you look through these 156 cases yourself, one thing becomes glaringly clear, and this is despite quite a few of these appeals having Congressional expedites, which literally are meaningless. The slogan that critics hit the VA with, regardless if we are speaking about the Bush administration or Obama administration, “delay, delay, deny until they die become much more than a bias slogan from whining Veterans.

Given these Veterans have either already passed on, or have medical conditions that are terminal in nature, all a VA adjudicator has to do is look at the date of birth of the Veteran, note what illnesses the Veteran is claiming, and simply out wait the Veteran until he/she dies. These 156 cases speak for themselves.

g. Lastly, no one, we repeat no one, at VA, the Air Force, or DoD has stated unequivocally that Agent Orange WAS NOT used on Guam. The Air Force, and DoD conveniently point to an excuse that since there are no records of Agent Orange aircraft or operations being flown out of Guam, nor any records of storage of the chemical on Guam it stands to reason that Agent Orange never existed on Guam. However, the Air Force, DoD, and VA conveniently place the Veterans in a Catch-22 situation in which everyone can “neither confirm or deny,” except America’s Veterans.

The fact that no one has officially stated or documented that Agent Orange or related dioxins never existed on Guam is what this series of articles will be about. For we at Veterans Today contend that Veterans who served on Guam have provided enough documented evidence that Agent Orange and related dioxins were present on Anderson AFB, Guam during the Vietnam War, and may even have been stored there after given that the Air Force has been ordered to clean-up toxic waste disposal at several land fills on base that date back to the Vietnam Era, and contain trace elements of dioxins.

We have sent a request into The Research Branch of the Air Force Historical Studies Office, but in the event we get no response, get ignored, or get the same non-committal answer, we will follow up with a Freedom of Information Request demanding all supply, herbicide, and chemical records related to Ranch Hand and Guam, or Agent Orange and Guam, or one of the many Rainbow colors and Guam or for the Air Force to officially state Agent Orange never existed on Guam.

As I tried, and I highlight tried, to research this topic, we’ve had lawyers who challenge the VA contact us, Agent Orange advocates (real ones) contact us, and of course the Veterans involved anxious for us to do this story given the timing when Congress is fighting against expansion of Agent Orange presumptions in order to save money to continue fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on the backs of America’s Veterans.

That is my opinion only and may or may not be shared by all writers or editors on Veterans Today or the Veterans below.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News

There is strong evidence that Agent Orange was present on Guam during the Vietnam War.

No One has proven that Agent Orange was NOT used on Guam, including the Ari Force or DoD, but we intend to prove that indeed dioxins related to Agent Orange and other Rainbow agents were not only used on Guam for Vegetation Control, but that trace dioxins remain at several land fills on Anderson AFB, Guam that continue to be cleaned up and monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA cannot say unequivocally or definitively that Agent Orange was or was not used on Guam but dioxins related to the various Rainbow Agents remain in the soil of Anderson AFB long after the Vietnam War. However, EPA reports on Guam indicate the presence of significant amounts of tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) remain in soil samples at the Urunao Land Fill on Anderson AFB that would make the probability of Agent Orange storage high.

During the manufacturing process of Herbicide Orange (Agent Orange) 2,4,5-T, a contaminant 2,3,7,8-was produced in small quantities (ATSDR 1998). Many of the health effects resulting from exposure to Herbicide Orange are attributed to the presence of this contaminant.

In relation to the dioxins found on Anderson AFB, the EPA notes that many effects have been observed in animals following exposure to TCDD, and this contaminant is considered more toxic than the pure components of the herbicides used in Vietnam (NAS 2000).

The second part of my article will provide more detail on the current clean up of toxic waste at Anderson AFB, Guam which sites on base have traces of dioxin and which time frame the sites were used. This time frame will include the Vietnam War Era.

At this point I’d like the Retired Senior NCOs who approached us to tell their own stories in their own words. Most of the evidence pointing toward the probability of Agent Orange in Guam during the Vietnam War comes from both Veterans who have served but one tour on Guam and career Air Force NCOs.

MSgt. LeRoy G. Foster, U.S.A.F.-Retired

“I am ashamed that our leaders did not have the decency to do something, anything about admitting the use of Agent Orange on Guam. The first step is acknowledgment. I am looking for acknowledgment from our leaders in Washington, the Department of Defense, and the United States Air Force. I would like an apology from Dow Chemical and Monsanto, and I expect them all to do the Christian thing to do Honor and Cherish Human Life.” LeRoy G. Foster, MSgt, U.S. Air Force – Retired

MSgt. LeRoy Foster is someone I can relate to in many ways beyond being a fellow military retiree, he can articulate himself, tell his story, and make readers understand this situation is not just about LeRoy Foster.

When MSgt Foster first contacted me, he had this story to tell by way of making a point. Major Hanafin, My step son lost his father in 2006 to esophageal cancer, prostate cancer and dementia. He was Blue water – Brown water Navy Vet during the Vietnam War. He was denied by the VA his entire life. He ended up in a nursing home paid for by Chautauqua county social services in New York state.

 He died without knowing anyone even his son. His grave went unmarked for more than three years when I began writing Congressmen and Senators to get him a headstone marker as a Vietnam Vet. The local VSOs wouldn’t do anything include the New York state veterans affairs department. I finally goaded them long enough and embarrassed them to the point of doing something for a fellow Vet who had passed on.

 Sir, his grave was just a piece of dirt blowing in the wind. No stone, no flag, nothing. You wouldn’t even know a man was buried there near a cow pasture.

My point Sir is that we have Vietnam Veterans dying every day from Agent Orange exposure without one blink of the eye from those who are our leaders in DoD, the Air Force, Army, Navy or Marine Corps much less the VA or Congress.

Not one apology nothing. The Governor of New York did make a proclamation for Flagman Harold C. Bentley, Jr. to recognize his death and the Order of the Silver Rose given to his son. But to the day he died the VA denied him.  He served aboard the LST 1122 and the ammo ship USS Pyro AE24 which 90 % of the crews are dead now from cancer and heart disease. MSgt Foster.

Veterans Today Editorial Comment: When we at Veterans Today read the DD-214 for the Sailor mentioned above, we noted that he EARNED the Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal. Yet, because of a bureaucratic technicality that he never set foot in Vietnam proper his VA Claims for Agent Orange were consistently denied.

In fact, the VA takes the position (probably supported by some VSOs) that just because one has the Vietnam Service Medal, and Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal does not necessarily mean one stepped foot on Vietnamese soil. SO WHAT?

This is what happens when the intent of VA bureaucrats is to save money (cost savings over American Veteran saving, supporting, or helping) .

It unfortunately is too late for this loyal member of the Blue Water-Brown Water Navy, and the collective we have an uphill battle for those Vietnam Era Veterans who remain, left behind, their service slighted,  by us other Veterans to do battle with a corrupt and inefficient VA system most Vets know little about.

Especially now given the climate in DC when Congress wants to limit Agent Orange presumptions, it is clear that the politicians in Washington, even one who served in Vietnam wants to save money at the VA in order to help defray the cost of Obama’s continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We suspect that members of Congress may even be putting pressure on mainstream VSOs chartered by Congress to lay low on Agent Orange.

Nope it is not too late to go to bat for MSgt Foster, and others who served on Guam, they will all testify under oath that they were exposed to or actually handled Agent Orange on Guam, if they are found out to be liars then the VA and courts have recourse for this called the Stolen Valor Act among other legal remedies. Simply throw the bums in jail if Veteran lie to our government.

The VA in fact makes the lame claim that Veterans who allege Agent Orange exposure or use on Guam are not qualified to even recognize what Agent Orange looks like let alone know they were using it even if they were.

This while at the same time an unqualified VA nurse practitioner is taking the word of the Air Force that there is no record of Agent Orange use on Guam.

Take note that the never ending response from DoD and the Air Force is a convenient one. They do not specify or state Agent Orange was not used on Guam only that there is no record of it. That is about the same as the Military Records Depository, Air Force, or DoD telling the VA that since they cannot find a record on a Veteran, or it was burned in some fire, he/she never existed.

MSgt Foster: It is living my life in pain and suffering all those years, even on active duty, and being treated incorrectly for those diseases and illnesses, because the medical staff of the United States Air Force was kept in the dark as well as those handling the crap (Agent Orange).

They didn’t know we were exposed to that crap and the first appearances for me were the chloracne and sterility on the onset as shown in my Air Force Medical Records, and then the degeneration of my body and the onslaught of the dioxin in my body with an undetectable autoimmune disease Mixed Connective Tissue Disease.

Veterans Today Editorial Comment: The EPA reports coming out of Guam indicate that one of the ways that dioxins are introduced to the body is vie injection through the skin. MSgt. Foster will swear under oath that he sprayed herbicide in areas around Anderson AFB, he has the evidence to prove it including Airman Efficiency Reports that reflect he carried out Vegetation control.

Though it could be argued that MSgt Foster used Weed B Gone, or some other commercial product available today, Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto, and a few other companies with Air Force and Army contracts were producing Agent Orange not Weed B Gone. The dioxins in the soil on Anderson AFB reflects that toxins were used in both herbicides and pesticides used on Guam that would eventually be outlawed in America.

One long time Agent Orange legal advocate said it this way, “I think everyone knows that dioxin is still used in commercial herbicides, but is diluted to what legally meets an acceptable parts per million. The concentrated brands require dilution under penalty of law, with warnings etc. Actually, I would love to have a VBA or BVA lawyer or judge argue commercial exposure, it would blow the “tactical herbicide” argument out of the water forever.  I can hear them now, “Your honor, the VBA’s stance is that despite the DOD expert inventing the term “tactical herbicide” which we have used repeatedly to deny legitimate claims, we would like to make a motion that the Board accept that exposure to Ortho Weed-Be-Gone is sufficient to have the Board deny direct exposure to herbicides.”

I will cover the EPA reports in more detail in the second installment of these articles, as we consult with lawyers representing Veterans who have served on Guam during the Vietnam War and believe they have been exposed to Agent Orange, and other Rainbow colors produced by the U.S. Chemical Industry for profit during Vietnam.

The most damning evidence we found that refutes the 2003 DoD position that no records exists of Agent Orange use comes from then Agent Orange producer Monsanto that in a 2004 risk assessment to investors indicated that Agent Orange not only was used on Guam but trace elements are showing up in the population of Guam outside of Anderson AFB.

MSgt. Foster: The Erie VAMC tested me for Mixed Connective Tissue Disease a few months ago, the VAMC said, but I don’t think they really did, or they didn’t know how to test for it. It should have come up positive. The only disease in the world that connects other Vets claiming exposure to Agent Orange on Guam and I is Autoimmune Disease MCTD because of their related lupus, diabetes II, lymphoma, peripheral neuropathy, heart disease,anklylosing spondiolitis, spinal stenosis, osteoporosis, and my heart disease, spinal stenosis, edema, anklylosing spondiolitis, osteoporosis, peripheral neuropathy in my limbs, eye sight loss, hearing loss, immune problems, anaphalactic shock air way closure, constant hives, etc.

Major, it is a progressive degenerative attack on the human body killing it just like it does the jungle overgrowth. It speeds up the growth to reverse it and kill it which is how it was developed in England but was originally developed to enhance growth of plants and vegetables and make them bigger so we could feed the world and instead we killed entire generations of humans.

Veterans Today Editorial Comment: I ran across a VVA Media Release that I got from Agent Orange Zone in which John Rowan at VVA stated (among other things) that, “VVA contends that many Vietnam-era veterans were also exposed [to Agent Orange] in their service elsewhere in Southeast Asia during the war, including in Thailand and Laos , and aboard Navy vessels off the coast of Vietnam , as well as certain military bases located in the continental U.S. and its territories.”

Although VVA did not mention Guam specifically as a U.S. territory, we believe that it is a recognized territory of the United States. VVA of course may have been referring to Puerto Rico and or Johnson Island. Agent Orange had to logistically be stored somewhere in proximity to Vietnam for operational use in Vietnam. The closest territory to S.W. Asia, and a logistics pipeline during the Vietnam War was Guam and Okinawa. I believe the collective we need to hammer this point – Agent Orange had to logistically be stored somewhere in proximity to Vietnam – more than we do unless I’ve missed something.

A one to two sentence mentioning of Agent Orange being sprayed outside of in-country Vietnam in a media release that is about 10 paragraphs long IS NOT enough for VVA to hammer the point. More needs to be done NOW.

VVA and the other Veterans groups, ‘no ALL Veterans groups even those not recognized as ‘politically correct’ by the Congress or VA (VVAW, Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) an so on,’ WE better set aside our differences over how we view our wars and begin looking out for one another, because as the precious few (what less than one percent of the U.S. population now?) become even fewer with attrition from Agent Orange, Gulf War Illness, PTSD, and so on. However, I’m not too optimistic that will ever happen for obvious political reasons.

Mark my words, no one else in our American society is going to watch our backs.

MSgt. Foster: Major Hanafin, The plight of every veteran exposed to these dioxins is not in the hands of the VA or Congress. We know what they will do which is “NOTHING”. The record of the last 40 years speaks for itself. They are waiting for the Vietnam War army to die, and their children, grandchildren, etc will become extinct with disease, sterility, birth defects, etc.

Where these descendants will realize that like the Vietnamese people have chosen to do with forced sterilization and abortion of fetuses none to be carrying the defective Agent Orange DNA Altered Genes, and the resulting human suffering.

I am Ashamed of Our Government, the Air Force, DoD, and the VA

I am ashamed that our leaders did not have the decency to do something , anything, the first step is acknowledgment. I am looking for acknowledgment from our National Leaders in Washington, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the United States Air Force.

I would like an apology from Dow Chemical and Monsanto, and I expect them to do the Christian thing to do – Honor and Cherish Human Life.  They should be held just as accountable as BP OIL. It is the same scenerio with massive environmental contamination and loss of life.

We need our government to be on America’s Veterans side. I want our leaders to be on our side We Veterans that stool up and answered our country’s call to duty, and the Vietnam War Draft. We stood up for the American people, our government, and our nation. We do so HONORABLY, so why does our government behave so DISHONORABLY?

We stood up for America, and we got blamed for doing so. Please, please stand up for us and our children and grandchildren.Don’t leave another Veteran behind like we did Navy Flagman Harold C. Bentley, Jr.

It is not our government’s financial responsibility for the BP Oil spill no more than it is for Agent Orange to some degree. This shared responsibility must be taken on by Dow Chemical and Monsanto. They know in their investor risk reports that they are liable and accountable. If is our U.S. Congress that must bring the chemical companies to hearings to help our children and future generations they have poisoned. Please.

I believe the key to our collective problems as American Veterans is that we are our worse enemy. There remains lack of support from our fellow Veterans I am a member of the Air Force Association (AFA), the Air Force Sergeants Association, and the American Legion. It was because of all the support these VSOs failed to give me that I hired an attorney for my fight with the VA.

MSgt. Ed Jackson, U.S. Air Force-Retire

Good morning sir. It is always good to hear from another USAF Retiree. I am Ed Jackson, a retired USAF MSgt. I got your e-mail address from e-mails I receive from retired USAF MSgt. Leroy Foster. Like Leroy, and many other veterans from all of our military forces, I was exposed to Agent Orange while I was assigned to Andersen AFB, Guam.

Other veterans were exposed there on Guam’s other military installations, or in Okinawa, Thailand, South Vietnam, US Navy and US Coast Guard ships off the coasts of SEA countries, South Korea, Johnston Island, Hawaii, CONUS bases, and other places we all were sent to.

What is at issue is the political position taken by the VA to ignore and deny the health issues of America’s Veterans.

To me the legacy of Agent Orange (AO), or the other “Agent Rainbow” herbicides is not the real issue. What is the issue is the political position taken by the VA to ignore and deny the health issues of veterans, and the US Governments responsibility and collaboration in this, and a host of other causes of health issues caused by other wars and other causes.

In addition to the AO exposure issues, there is the unaddressed issue of confirmed hazardous chemicals that polluted some 59 US CONUS bases, also.

It is here that the VA forces America’s Veterans to jump through a host of hoops set up by bureaucrats, many of whom never served and can not relate to us. I understand the need to address fraud in claims, but what is the percentage of fraudulent claims to legitimate ones?

I suspect it is very low. The VA is faced with some 2 million pending claims, or appeals from veterans from all services and every war and military experience since the 1930s. Only a very few claims seem to be found to be fraudulent each year, in numbers that always seem to be less than about 20, or so, that seems to make the news media, and even many of those are fraud activities committed by VA employees.

The current “wait until they die” attitude at the VA

The VA has EARNED a negative reputation among most America’s Veterans by maintaining a never ending wait until they die” attitude entrenched within the VA system when addressing claims by veterans that is shameful and disgusting.

But the primary motivation for this, by the VA, is to ensure future work and employment of its bureaucrats and keeping its hard working employees busy. The average employee who receives a claim from a veteran simply becomes a collection receptacle for the information, it is their managers who make the decisions on claims, not them.

The mangers have a budget to watch, and a career to protect. Political appointees of the Bush administration made of secret of the emphasis on COST SAVINGS OVER VET SAVING, and the Obama political appointees who now run the VA seem impotent to do anything about this entrenched attitude within the VA Claims adjudication system. In fact, the Obama political appointees are about as impotent at cleaning up the anti-Veteran attitude at the VA as they are about cleaning up the BP Oil spill

Veterans get no help from the Congress, either. All of the Congress, or people running for Congress give us is unfulfilled campaign promises and speeches. Well, even with the advanced technology of health care in the US, a speech has never provided the care our veterans need, either medically or financially.

Even President Obama ran on a platform of “hope and change”. Well Veterans have always had hope, but the change has increased our public debt pass some $13 Trillion in inept programs and proposals to include a bloated defense budget that does nothing for America’s Veteran except collaborate with the VA in denying VA Claims. But, this is not just President Obama or the Democrats who control the Congressional checkbook today.

The Republicans also have ignored the veteran too. The Republican controlled Congresses of the 1990s and early 2000s and Presidents Bush 41, and Bush 43 (along with Democrat President Clinton) did nothing either in regards to AO.

At lease Clinton initiated an open door policy allowing more Vets access to the VA that was quickly shut once the Bush appointees took over the VA with COST SAVING on their minds. What mainstream VSO does not remember the disdain most American Veterans had against the Veteran on the House Veterans Affairs Committee they love to hate – Congressman Steve Buyer of Indiana.

 Buyer was sent in as Bush point man in Congress to cut cost at the VA encouraging the spread and entrenchment of the anti-Veteran attitude by VA bureaucrats and even a few Veterans. How many times have we heard the refrain from a few partisan politically oriented Veterans that so and so Veteran thinks our government owes us something. Most of us tend to be of the consensus DAMN right our government owes America’s Veterans something for all the lies and deceit.

There has been nothing passed by the Congress about AO exposure since 1990 when the “presumption” of exposure was granted only if the veteran stepped foot on Vietnamese soil according to the VA’s very strict interpretation of the act.

Was that really the “intent of Congress”?

Government agencies of the DoD, EPA, and others have conveniently not been able to find any documentation or records on AO or other chemical pollution by our government or military. Why?

The VA maintains that because of this convenient lack of documentation or records from the Air Force, Army, Marines or DoD in general there must not have been any chemical pollution at all. Nothing is further from the truth.

The fact that official Air Force or DoD documents have not been “located” does not mean anything, except they were somehow lost or destroyed because of a political decision made years ago to sweep Agent Orange under the carpet. It is far from meaning those documents and records never existed. No one really knows what records are stored in the national archives, not even the government. One thing is for sure no one including the VA, Air Force, or DoD has looked very hard for such records either. Why?

My own experience and claim is consistent with all other claims from Guam, and elsewhere. So, how can as you note 156 Veterans, who did not know of the other veterans experiences and locations ever manage to tell similar stories?

We all can’t be lying, and the simple truth as even most lawyers who successfully challenge the VA, Air Force, DoD, and our government is that AGENT ORANGE HAD TO BE STORED SOMEWHERE.

Major Hanafin you have hit the nail on the head as to why the mainstream VSOs cannot, or will not, help and I quote, “The reason I seriously believe that none of the Military Retiree or Veterans groups are going to go beyond lip service on this is that: Taking a position that our government cannot be trusted to take care of America’s Vets runs counter to the war efforts of the precious few we depend on to now fight our wars (THE DRAFT will never again happen).

Major, what I think is most disturbing is all of us answered our government’s call, and our government(s) made promises they knew they could never keep politically. Yes, the federal government has limitations and political priorities keeps it from doing what it needs to do for those who have made sacrifices for this great nation.

Does that mean people like these Veterans like you, and me, or others here on Veterans Today, military.com or elsewhere would not do what were told to again, knowing what we know today? Of course not. But the military would also have to provide more protection for each of us from hazardous materials and chemicals

Veterans are a small voting block, compared to other groups, and getting even smaller, so we have a small voice. This leaves our only recourse to bring attention to our problems with the VA is to use “the squeaky wheel gets all the grease method”.

It is a method I personally dislike, but this may become necessary. That means the loudest group gets its demands heard. Using news media outlets is one way to begin, writing Congress critters and Senator critters helps to.

MSgt Foster is very good at this, much better than I am. The plight of all veterans will only get worse, and the numbers of future veteran claims will further slow the VA wheel, which is already inefficient at best.

Of the 59 bases that are know to be polluted with chemicals and bad water, every base I was assigned to during my 22 year USAF career is on that list (Castle AFB, CA, Plattsburgh AFB, NY, Pease AFB, NH, and Carswell AFB,TX). I was assigned to Pease and Castle twice, and yes, I spent my whole career in Strategic Air Command, first as a Transportation truck and bus driver, then 18 years as a Boom Operator on KC-135s.

Ed Jackson, MSgt (RET), USAF

Posted by: Robert L. Hanafin, Major, USAF-Retired, Veterans Today News

(The next installment of this series will detail the evidence provided by Veterans claiming Agent Orange was used on Guam. Major Hanafin)

 

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