Archive | November 12th, 2010



Nov 12, 2010

Man arrested over blog list of pro-war MPs

A 23-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of encouraging an act of terrorism in connection with a website that listed MPs who voted for the Iraq War, police said today.

The man was taken into custody at 9.30am in connection with the internet blog which influenced a student who tried to kill MP Stephen Timms.

Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit conducted a search of the man’s home address in the Dunstall area of Wolverhampton and arrested him under section one of the Terrorism Act 2006, West Midlands Police said.

A police spokeswoman added: “The website is the same one that was in the press last week in connection with stabbing of MP Stephen Timms.”

Detective Chief Inspector John Denley said: “We are treating the contents and implications of this blog very seriously, and have taken action this morning to progress our investigation.”

Computer and electronic equipment was seized for examination from the suspect’s home address, police said.

Obama extends emergency regarding Iran

U.S. President Obama signs the Iran Sanctions Bill in Washington
(UPI) — Iranian relations with the United States haven’t improved, prompting an extension a U.S. national emergency regarding Iran, the U.S. president said.

A national emergency regarding Iran was declared Nov. 14, 1979, 10 days after Iranian militants took U.S. Embassy employees hostage in Tehran.

The Iranian hostage situation was in part the result of the Islamic Revolution, which gave rise to a clerical leadership in Tehran.

The hostages were released under the partial terms of the Algiers Accord, a 14-page agreement brokered in January 1981 that lays out a series of diplomatic steps meant to repair bilateral ties.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he notified the Federal Register of his decision to continue the state of emergency beyond Sunday.

“Our relations with Iran have not yet returned to normal, and the process of implementing the Jan. 19, 1981, agreements with Iran is still under way,” he said in a statement. “For these reasons, I have determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared on Nov. 14, 1979, with respect to Iran, beyond Nov. 14, 2010.”

Obama reached out to the Iranian people in the early part of his presidency, though acrimony with the government lingers over human rights issues, alleged Iranian support for terrorism and problems associated with Iran’s controversial nuclear program.


China may be bigger economy than US within two years

 Barack Obama greets China's Paramount Leader, Hu Jintao (Photo: Getty)
Here’s a finding that will have any red-blooded American spluttering into his cornflakes. According to the Conference Board, a highly respected economic research association, China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy by 2012, or within two years.

OK, so in dollar terms, that’s obviously not going to be the case. It will be a lot longer than two years before China overtakes the US on that measure. But in terms of purchasing power parity, according to the Conference Board’s latest world economic outlook, China is already nearly there, and by 2020 will have reached a size of output which is nearly half as big again as the US.

Here’s the Wkipedia link explaining what PPP is
, but broadly speaking the idea is to measure output according to the volume, not the price of goods and services produced. The assumption made is that identical goods will have the same price in different markets. In practice, this is obviously not the case. A taxi ride in Beijing, for instance, will cost you approximately a tenth of what it costs in London. But it is essentially the same service.

In any case, in PPP terms, the Conference Board’s projections show China as 24.1 per cent of world output by 2020, and the US at just 14.8 per cent.

We all knew that the weight of economic growth had skewed dramatically since the crisis from advanced to emerging market economies, but many in the West don’t yet seem fully to appreciate the speed with which economic and geo-political power is shifting. This is a truly seismic change. How these once irrelevant economies choose to use their new found power is the overarching question of our times.


Iran blocked, but Saudi Arabia accepted for U.N. Women board

( This morning the U.N.’s new umbrella agency for women’s rights issues elected its board members. The election had attracted controversy because two of the candidate countries were among the world’s most notorious abusers of women’s rights, Iran and Saudi Arabia. 

This morning, with strong lobbying from the United States, Iran’s election to the board was blocked. Human rights groups had strongly opposed Iran’s election, pointing in particular  to the recent death sentence of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani for the crime of adultery.

The 54 countries who sit on the UN’s Economic and Social Council did, however, accept the membership bid by Saudi Arabia, where women are forbidden from driving and barred from many public places.

In fact, according to the U.N. Development Program’s own Gender Empowerment Measure, Saudi Arabia is actually a worse country for gender equality than Iran. Neither does particularly well, but of the the 93 countries ranked, only Yemen scores lower than Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s candidacy for the 41-member executive board had been part of a slate elected by the Asian region while Saudi Arabia was selected for one of the spots reserved for “donor” nations. Not a particularly auspicious start for an important new body.  

Prisoner Speaks Out From Israeli Jail

RAMALLAH, Palestine – Samer Hamdan*, a 26-year-old Palestinian prisoner, recalls being beaten until he bled. Seeing other prisoners covered in blood and screaming is the norm in the Israeli prison, he says.

Hamdan is serving a nine-year sentence in Ketziot prison in the Negev desert for membership of an “illegal organization”. 

“In the end you admit to stuff even if you didn’t do it just so that the beatings and abuse will stop,” Hamdan, a former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) told IPS. “I was only 17 at the time of my arrest and very afraid as I wasn’t sure how to deal with the interrogation.” 

Hamdan said he is only allowed to see his mother once a month for 45 minutes, and his father every four months. But his mother doesn’t take the long and tiring journey every month – it takes hours to travel from her village in the northern West Bank to the prison by Red Cross bus through several Israeli security checkpoints. 

“Sometimes, when my family brings clothes or educational books, I’m not allowed to receive them. It depends on the mood of the soldiers,” Hamdan said. “The soldiers also regularly abuse the prisoners, and clashes break out periodically.” 

Hamdan spoke to IPS on a mobile phone that he says was smuggled into his cell by a corrupt Israeli soldier. Several other phones have been smuggled into Israeli prisons by soldiers who sell the phones for up to ten times the market value. 

“In 2007, the Israeli police and soldiers raided our cells at midnight to search for mobile phones and other items which are banned,” Hamdan said. “This was despite a previous agreement between prisoner representatives and the Israeli authorities that there would be no midnight raids.” 

The ensuing clashes between prisoners and police made international headlines after beds were set on fire and a prisoner was shot dead. 

The Palestinian Authority (PA) pays a sum into the bank account of every prisoner each month. The prisoners depend on this money for their survival. “We are not given sufficient quantities of food, and the quality of the food is very poor. We have to use our own money to buy food from the prison canteen,” says Hamdan. 

Hamdan shares his cramped cell with five other prisoners. The bunk beds they sleep in have one thin, dirty mattress. But he says his conditions are dramatically better from the cell where he spent a month under interrogation. 

“I was interrogated day and night and deprived of sleep. During interrogation I was handcuffed and beaten. A foul-smelling sack was placed over my head. In between interrogation sessions I was placed in solitary confinement in an underground cell where a fluorescent light was on 24 hours daily. I was not allowed a change of clothes nor was I able to shower. A bucket served as a toilet and was emptied only periodically.” 

Last week two Israeli human rights organizations released a report based on the testimonies of 121 Palestinians held in an Israeli detention facility, which accused Israeli authorities of gross abuses of the prisoners. 

B’Tselem and the Hamoked Center for the Defense of the Individual said detainees were subjected to continuous handcuffing, sleep deprivation, solitary confinement, beatings and disgraceful hygienic conditions, amongst other severe human rights violations. 

“The violations begin from the moment of their arrest and continue until the detainee’s transfer from the facility,” the report said. 

The human rights organizations reported that despite hundreds of complaints by the detainees to Israeli prison authorities, no criminal investigations or charges had been pursued. 

Saeed Al-Haj from the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society in Ramallah told IPS, “The abuse of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention has been an ongoing issue for decades. 

“Some prisoners are placed in solitary confinement for months at a time. We have one female prisoner, Wafa El Biss from Gaza, who has been in isolation, handcuffed around the clock, for nearly two weeks. She is only permitted limited toilet visits during the day and has to wait until the wardens come to uncuff her hands. She has to sleep with the lights on.” 

Most of the cells in which the detainees are incarcerated are underground. Bright fluorescent lights are left on 24 hours per day, disorienting the prisoners and causing eye pain, vision problems, and headaches, the report says. 

Thirteen of the 121 detainees in the report spoke of sleep deprivation that lasted more than 24 hours. In all 36 percent of the detainees said they were humiliated and cursed by their investigators; 56 percent reported threats, and nine percent said they were treated violently. 

Clinton Makes Additional Security Pledges to Israel Over Peace Talks

US Reportedly Adding Large Amounts of Weapons to Israel Stockpile

by Jason Ditz,

Though for all intents and purposes the peace talks appear to be fully dead, the Obama Administration is continuing to make additional pledges to visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, assuring him of further US largesse in return for a peace deal that is seemingly not coming.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was up to make promises today, assuring Netanyahu of America’s “unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.” She assured that the borders of any Palestinian state would reflect Israel’s requirements.

More than what Secretary Clinton said was what she didn’t say, however. In the course of the talks she made no references to the Israeli settlements, nor to the issue of Israel’s continued expansion of those settlements, which is the reason the talks have stalled.

And while it is unclear if this is directly related to the US pledges of additional support, media reports suggest the US is dramatically increasing the number of weapons it is storing in Israel, adding a number of smart bombs to the stockpile. Though nominally America’s stockpile in case they need it, weapons in the stockpile have been handed over to Israel during its assorted wars.

Lieberman: Israel shouldn’t pursue peace talks with Syria

Israel should not enter peace negotiations with Syria, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said during a visit to the Golan Heights on Thursday, adding anyone who considered such an option a “political hypochondriac.”

lieberman - AP - Sept 15 2010 Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman seen against the backdrop of the Old City in Jerusalem on September 15, 2010.
Photo by: AP

Israel and Syria held four indirect rounds of peace talks with Turkish mediation in 2008, but they were suspended following the resignation of then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in September that year.

Syria said at the time of the Israeli offensive in Gaza at the end of 2008 that it ruled out a resumption of the indirect talks any time soon.

Speaking during a meeting with U.S. Senator Arlen Specter in Damascus late last month, Syrian President Bashar Assad said he believed there were no indications such efforts would bear fruit as a result of the “presence of an Israeli government which doesn’t want peace and doesn’t believe in it.”

Referring to the possibility to renewing the stalled peace talks with Syria on Thursday, Lieberman said that “better relations between Damascus and Iran and North Korea, and [Syria’s] becoming a terror hub are facts difficult to ignore and only a political hypochondriac would think that the current leadership is a partner for peace.

The FM, speaking during a visit to the Golan Heights, also said that Israel’s true goal, instead of pushing for peace with Syria, would have to be the further population of the city of Katzrin, the Golan’s largest settlement, saying the Golan Heights will always be an inseparable part of Israel.

Lieberman also addressed recent tensions between the United States and Israel over a recently unveiled plan to build more East Jerusalem housing units, saying that he “congratulated and supported the prime minister for his stance on the building issue.”

“The demand to cease construction in Gilo and Har Homa are unreasonable. Not for three months, not for one day” the FM said, adding that anyone who was “seeking to pressure into an agreement would be better off pressuring the other side.”

“This is a test of Israel’s leadership to see if it can take the pressure and defend Israel’s interests, the FM added.

Israel announced earlier this week it plans for 1,300 new apartments on land in and around Jerusalem which was annexed by Israel following the 1967 Six-Day War. A further 800 housing units were planned for the settlement of Ariel in the northern West Bank.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday said such plans were “never helpful”. A day earlier, the U.S. State department said Washington was “deeply disappointed” by Israel’s plans to build in the settlements.

The plans were published in Israel newspapers earlier this week while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in New Orleans, where he met with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Following the US criticism, Netanyahu’s Jerusalem office issued a statement late Tuesday, insisting that “Jerusalem is not a settlement. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel” and that “Israel has never accepted upon itself restrictions of any kind on construction in Jerusalem.”

US to boost weapons stockpile in Israel

AFP-JERUSALEM: The United States is to significantly increase the amount of military equipment held in Israel as part of a move to upgrade security ties between the two allies, press reports said on Thursday.

The move, which will see an extra 400-million-dollars worth of smart bombs and other precision weaponry and equipment moved to Israel over the next two years, was approved last week by the US Congress, the Israeli correspondent of Defence News reported.

The upgrade will see the value of US military equipment stockpiled in Israel rise to one billion dollars in 2011, with another 200 million to be added in 2012, the paper said. In 2007, the stockpile was valued at 800 million dollars. Such equipment can be used by US forces throughout the world but also by the host country, under the terms of the US foreign aid law governing reserve stockpiles for allies.

Israel made use of the stockpile during the 2006 war with the Lebanese Hezbollah militia—a conflict which killed 1,200 people in Lebanon, most of them civilians, and around 160 Israelis, most of them soldiers, the Haaretz daily reported. afp

Suspected US missiles kill 6 people close to Afghan border in northwest Pakistan

AP News

American missiles killed six suspected militants as they returned home to Pakistan after attacking a security post across the border in Afghanistan, local intelligence officials said.

The strike took place in North Waziristan just around three miles (five kilometers) from the Afghan border, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak to the media.

A volley of missiles landed on a house, killing six people who were either inside or arriving there, the officials said.

The identities of the victims were not immediately known.

The United States has carried out at least 90 attacks on suspected militant targets this year in northwestern Pakistan, close to double the number in 2009. They have been credited with killing scores of insurgents, though there are also accounts of civilian casualties.

Most of the strikes this year have been in North Waziristan, which is home to thousands of al-Qaida and Taliban militants as well as insurgents who use the area as a staging ground for attacks against U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani army, which has battled militants in other strongholds in the northwest over the last two years, does not aggressively patrol the area or attack insurgents there.

Independent reporting on the strikes is nearly impossible because the areas they fall in are mostly under militant control and out of bound to journalists, local or foreign. The United States does not officially acknowledge firing the missiles.

At Least 26 Killed as Karachi Police HQ Destroyed

Gun Battle, Truck Bomb Also Wounded 100 Others

by Jason Ditz,
November 11, 2010

At least 26 people were killed and over 100 others were wounded today when a group of militants launched an attack on the Criminal Investigation Department of the Karachi anti-terror police.

The attack started with a group of six militants sparking a gun battle with the police in front of the building. This was followed by a truck filled with explosives ramming into the building. The attack leveled the building.

It is unclear so far what group is responsible for the attack, but officials suggested the Lashkar-e Jhangvi (LeJ), responsible for a number of attacks earlier this year, may have been to blame. Arrested members of the LeJ were in court today in Karachi, just hours before the attack.

The attack is just one of countless incidents in Karachi over the past several months, ruining the reputation of Pakistan’s financial capital as a comparative calm point far south of the real fighting. Much of the violence has centered around political disputes between the MQM and the ANP parties, but the city has also seen major sectarian attacks, which are more likely to be linked to today’s bombing.

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November 12, 2010  Quantcast

Many have hailed the midterm elections as a victory for the Tea Party. The dramatic Republican Party gains in the House, the increasing self-identification of voters as “conservative,” and the widespread disillusionment for politics as usual seem to show that the Tea Party revolt has captured the nation’s zeitgeist.

However, while observers have gone to great lengths to divine what this new movement might mean for U.S. domestic politics, less analysis has gone into understanding the significance of the Tea Party on the politics of U.S. foreign affairs. This comes as no surprise — Tea Partiers, particularly those at the grassroots level, have voiced few positions on international issues. Nevertheless, the emergence of this new political force will impact the national discourse on foreign policy.

A case in point is the sharp contrast between what appear to be core Tea Party beliefs and those of the neoconservatives, the political faction most closely associated with the drive to attack Iraq and a vanguard force in hawkish policy discourse. While some commentators, like former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson, have argued that the rise of the Tea Party will lead to a “Jacksonian shift” in foreign policy discourse (led by “heavily armed realists” who scorn multilateralism), the isolationist tendencies of many Tea Partiers would appear to belie such an analysis, and present a direct challenge to the militarist go-it-alone internationalism of the neocons.

Thus far, the neoconservatives appear to be parrying the challenge effectively. The question is, can the neocons, as they have with other political factions in the past, successfully co-opt this new political force in such a way as to make it amenable to their goals?

Preventing a Republican Divide 

After the Iraq War proved no cakewalk, many Republican office-holders began questioning neoconservative foreign policy prescriptions, which were largely blamed for that overseas debacle (as well as for the GOP’s ensuing loss of the House in 2006 and Barack Obama’s election). At a March 2010 Cato Institute forum, Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) both concurred that nearly all GOP congressmen believed invading Iraq was a mistake.

Surely there is exaggeration for effect here. But by 2010, few national GOP officials spoke enthusiastically about the Iraq venture. Why is it then that the neoconservative wing within the party has seemingly emerged unscathed?

Add to this mix the Tea Party, an amorphous, populist, ideologically diverse explosion of anti-Obama activism, permeated with libertarian and quasi-isolationist sentiments. Could the Republicans be on the verge of a battle over foreign policy as divisive as the one Democrats experienced in the 1960s and 1970s? And will the neoconservatives emerge substantially weaker? Many on the paleoconservative and libertarian right hope so.

This battle has not broken out, and there is little reason to think it will soon. Neoconservative tactical flexibility and ingenuity is unmatched by their rivals within the conservative movement. And they have deployed a number of familiar tactics in their efforts to blunt the Tea Party challenge. 

These tactics can be grouped into several categories: strategic flattery from national media platforms; offers of technical advice (speechwriting, debate preparation); prominent placement of op-eds; appearances at Tea Party gatherings; subtle and not so subtle encouragements of anti-Muslim bigotry; and advocacy efforts such as circulating petitions to put congressmen on record as supporting a “strong America.” In addition, neocons are busy influencing the congressional staffing process and networking operations on Capitol Hill — both areas they excel at — to help shape the new class of politically inexperienced Tea Party lawmakers.

The Sarah Palin Precedent

Before there were Tea Partiers, there was Sarah Palin. The summer before John McCain put the Alaska governor on the ticket, she had been “discovered” on a Weekly Standard sponsored summer cruise to Alaska. She hosted Standard editor Bill Kristol and others at a luncheon in the state capitol, where she impressed them as a raw political talent. Kristol’s subsequent touting elevated her onto McCain’s vice presidential short list. One AEI staffer described Palin as a “project,” adding “[s]he’s bright and she’s a blank page. She’s going places and it’s worth going there with her.”

McCain enlisted influential neoconservative Randy Scheunemann as a policy advisor, and in turn Scheunemann brought on Steve Biegun as her chief foreign policy staffer. Palin’s previous foreign policy pronouncements had been vague and scattered, but she became an eager student. She made hawkish noises during the campaign: while she spoke more loosely than expected about the possibility of war with Russia, she forthrightly supported an Israeli strike on Iran. Despite efforts by paleoconservatives to reach out to her and provide some counterinfluence, she stayed on message — which would have considerable significance as she became a political star in her own right.

Palin was a difficult fit for many neoconservatives, who tend to be highly educated and urbane. The same held true for American Jews. In January 2010, Commentary explored the gap. Jennifer Rubin’s “Why Jews Hate Palin,” described the Alaskan as a national Rorschach test: she was viewed either as an exemplar of anti-elitist common sense and moxie, or as irredeemably anti-science and anti-intellectual. Most Jews, and no small number of neoconservatives, held the latter opinion. Ken Adelman, a prominent neocon who headed the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Ronald Reagan, said she was not qualified to hold a mid-level post there, much less serve as vice president.

But her readiness to represent neoconservative positions gave her staying power. Norman Podhoretz, Commentary‘s retired editor, positively likened Palin to Ronald Reagan in a Wall Street Journal piece, reminding conservative readers that Reagan was no great intellectual either. Weekly Standard editor Matthew Continetti rendered a flattering portrait of her in his book, The Persecution of Sarah Palin, which portrayed Palin as the victim of unfair “elitist” media.

For the neoconservatives, this alliance has paid off. Palin has become neoconservatism’s reliable vector into the Tea Party world. She reliably echoes neoconservative talking points about war with Iran. When addressing the Tea Party Convention in Nashville last February, she hit neocon talking points by citing Ronald Reagan, “peace through strength,” and “tough action” against Iran. She declared that the United States needed a foreign policy that “reflected our values” and denounced the alleged policy of treating terrorism as “a mere law enforcement matter.” Wearing an Israeli flag pin, she charged that President Obama was causing “Israel, our critical ally” to question our support by reaching out to hostile regimes.

Even David Frum, the prominent neoconservative writer and Iraq war enthusiast who has expressed deep skepticism regarding Palin and the Tea Party, praised the foreign policy segments of her speech, claiming that she sounded as “somebody who knew something of what he or she was talking about.” Live blogging her talk, Frum tellingly observed that Tea Partiers sat on their hands during these segments: “Interesting — no applause for sanctions on Iran. No applause for Palin’s speculation that democracies keep the peace.”

Mixed Messages

At least one Tea Party candidate during the recent midterm election, unsuccessful Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, used neoconservatives for speechwriting and debate preparation. On Sarah Palin’s recommendation, O’Donnell enlisted McCain aide and Weekly Standard online editor Michael Goldfarb and Randy Scheunemann for debate prep against Chris Coons.

In addition to policy guidance, neoconservatives have positioned themselves as an ally of the movement by flattering it. Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol is a noteworthy example. In two recent columns, Kristol has rhetorically embraced the Tea Party, while at the same time making clear that he was not really on the same plane as people who wear Revolutionary War costumes at their rallies and decry Obama as a totalitarian socialist. In July, he wrote an editorial telling Republicans to “fear not the Tea Parties” and to be open to their bold and impractical proposals — belt tightening and program trimming are not enough to get hold of the budget deficit. Kristol didn’t actually endorse any Tea Party proposals, merely the spirit of them.

The following month he closed an editorial critical of the Left with a Tea Party shout out: “Those of us on the pro-Tea Party wing (dare I say pro-American wing) of the American public need not respond to the left in kind.” There is clearly a certain slipperiness here: Kristol has edited a major conservative magazine for fifteen years which has never backed smaller government, and indeed touted “big government conservatism” as the vital and necessary direction for the conservative movement. But his stance is familiar one to politicians: the way to tame and influence a new social movement is to embrace it and if possible get out in front of it.

Still, there are obvious policy differences between the neoconservatives and most Tea Partiers. In late September, Danielle Pletka and Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute published a shot across the Tea Party bow in the Washington Post. They regarded a sharp return to fiscal discipline a “road backward”; accused Tea Party favorites Ron and Rand Paul and conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) of advocating a retreat from the “defense of freedom” and asserted that the “freedom of others were regarded as essential to secure and enjoy our own.” Pletka and Donnelly put forth a “road forward” that “embraces small government and private enterprise” as well as an “an equally exceptional American enterprise abroad.” They warned conservatives against abandoning the “robust American role in the world” or reinventing themselves as a combination of “Ebeneezer Scrooge and George McGovern, withdrawing to a countinghouse America.”

Soon after, Kristol, in a Wall Street Journal piece co-authored with AEI head Arthur Brooks and Heritage Foundation president Edwin Feulner, doubled down on the warning, claiming “peace doesn’t keep itself.” Cutting defense expenditures was not the way to go, as American power was necessary to deal with a nuclear Iran, a rising China, and “many missions ahead.” The three called for political leaders to make the case for military strength as a “key to the overall strategy of American leadership.”

While the piece was essentially platitudinous, the authors represented a significant power coalition — the two largest think tanks of the Republican Right plus Kristol. Sarah Palin has been the neoconservative establishment’s key cheerleader. In June, she spoke at Freedom Fest, stating that military spending should be exempt from any deficit reduction measures and criticizing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates attempts at cost-cutting. AEI’s Donnelly praised her speech, noting Palin had “tea party/small government bona fides” as well as “a lot of credibility in advocating for military strength.”

Competing Platforms

Until a new Congress convenes, there won’t be battles over the budget. Palin, the most prominent national politician with “tea party bona fides,” will argue for holding constant or increasing military spending. Incoming new congressmen will be greeted with entreaties to sign a “Peace through Strength” platform.

Didn’t the Republicans running for office already have a “Pledge to America”? They did, explained veteran neoconservative operative Frank Gaffney. But the Pledge to America, unveiled in late September by the House Republican leadership, “treats the Constitution’s obligation to ‘provide for the common defense’ as a kind of afterthought.” Only two of its 45 pages were devoted to defense and foreign policy.

In response, Gaffney and other neoconservatives produced their “Peace through Strength” 10-item platform, which calls for “a nation free of Sharia,” keeping Guantánamo open, and a foreign policy that “supports our allies and opposes our adversaries.” While the hawkish document has not yet attracted many GOP signers, early ones included Tea Party-associated Senate candidates Mike Lee of Utah (he won) and Christine O’Donnell, as well as seven current GOP members of Congress, including House Tea Party caucus head Michelle Bachman. Two Tea Party leaders, Judson Phillips of Tea Party Nation and Amy Kremer of Tea Party Express, have also signed.

The Sharia Card

A telling plank in the Peace through Strength platform is its “nation free of sharia” proviso. Neoconservatives hope to increase fear of Muslims by linking the use of the word “sharia,” which is Muslim law, to “terrorism.” Both Gaffney and former House speaker Newt Gingrich, have made fear of sharia a centerpiece of their outreach to the Tea Party and the populist right.

Last month Gaffney and colleagues from the Center for Security Policy released a so-called Team B report entitled Sharia: The Threat to America. It made some incredulous claims about Islamic law, like that all Muslims are duty bound to wage jihad against unbelievers. When questioned by reporter Matt Duss, Gaffney acknowledged that he had consulted with no actual Muslims or experts on Islam in preparing the document.

Since 9/11, Islamophobia has been on the rise in the United States, and recent months have seen the tendency explode — witness the opposition to the so-called Ground Zero mosque. While the United States has its xenophobic and nativist tendencies, the question remains whether neoconservatives can exploit it to win Tea Party support of their foreign policy agenda.

When Gaffney addressed two Tea Party meetings in Texas, he didn’t talk about the need to build democracies in the Middle East, support Israel, start a war over Iran’s nuclear program, or contain the Chinese menace to the sea lanes of East Asia — all standard Gaffney fare. Rather, he focused on the stealth campaign to bring sharia to America. Apparently, the Tea Partiers were receptive. Blogged Gaffney “If my experience in Houston is any guide, the Tea Party movement is every bit as outraged about such effort to insinuate the totalitarian ideology of sharia into America as they manifestly are about the better-known assault on freedom from socialist encroachment on our economy and society under the Obama administration.”

This claim of an internal sharia threat will strike many as fanciful as Joseph McCarthy’s charges about communists in the military or the John Birch society’s leader Robert Welch’s claim that Eisenhower was a communist agent. But this doesn’t mean it won’t gain traction, for religious fears are easy to exploit. It is plausible that Gaffney and other neoconservatives consider the “domestic sharia” threat a more viable way to reach nativist Tea Partiers than foreign policy arguments. Once open to neocon thinking, Tea Partiers may then embrace proposals for such military actions as an Israeli war against Lebanon or an American strike against Iran.

Judson Phillips, head of the Tea Party Express, is a Tea Party leader who seems to have absorbed the religious division argument. Prior to the election, he blogged that Minnesota Democrat congressman Keith Ellison should not be in Congress because he is a Muslim. Many neoconservatives would no doubt consider the bigotry in Phillips’ argument crude. They would nonetheless welcome the defeat of Ellison, one of several congressmen who visited Gaza after the Israeli attack and told Capitol Hill audiences what he saw. Ellison was reelected with 71 percent of his district’s votes.

Then there is Newt Gingrich, testing the waters for presidential run. The voluble former GOP House speaker retains some reputation as an “ideas man” in conservative circles. He’s now claiming that freedom in the United States is under a covert threat from radical Islamists wanting to impose sharia law. Liberal columnists have mocked him. Lee Smith, the hawkish Weekly Standard senior editor and Middle East specialist, has ridiculed his argument: “I can’t imagine how he sees this happening, short of the largest land invasion in human history of foreign Muslim soldiers, administrators, and religious scholars with the connivance of millions of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and pagan American collaborators.” So Islamophobic craziness is a bridge too far for at least some neoconservatives.

Tea Party Divide in Congress?

A few Tea Party wild cards on foreign policy have emerged as a result of midterm elections. It seems clear that Marco Rubio, the charismatic new senator elect from Florida, will advance hawkish neoconservative foreign policy positions. Ditto for Mike Lee, the victor in Utah.

On the other hand, Rand Paul, the son of the isolationist icon and early Tea Party favorite Ron Paul, has studiously avoided discussion of foreign policy issues in his campaign. In October, GQ article reported that after Paul’s primary win he met with prominent neoconservatives Bill Kristol, Tom Donnelly of AEI, and Dan Senor (cofounder of the Foreign Policy Initiative) in Washington to talk foreign policy. While he once criticized the Republicans’ “military adventurism,” opposed the war in Iraq, and “scoffed at the threat of Iranian nukes,” he may have begun changing his positions. Senor categorized Paul as “in absorption mode” and not “cemented in his views.” Paul later met with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, where he reportedly “told them what they wanted to hear” and distanced himself from his father, who has been critical of the extent of U.S. support for Israel.

In any case, Rand Paul, unlike his father, does not have an extensive record of foreign policy pronouncements. Many on the libertarian and non-interventionist right hope a Senator Paul might be the reincarnation of Robert Taft, the point man for a more inward looking American Right. Against that possibility, there is the example of George Bush the father and George Bush the son — the son departed from his father’s restrained, establishment-oriented, distant-from-Israel, realist foreign policy and ignited a war prepared for him by the neoconservatives.

Then there are figures like Ken Buck of Colorado, who narrowly lost his Senate quest. A small government conservative with Tea Party connections, Buck has voiced skepticism over the idea that the United States can spread democracy to countries like Afghanistan — a widespread sentiment among Tea Partiers.

But opposition to “nation-building” may be a red herring. Topping the  neoconservative foreign policy agenda is ending Iran’s nuclear capacity, which is more likely to lead the United States and Israel to destroy a country with bombing than to rebuilding failed states.

Asked at a recent Washington forum whether the new Congress would support or oppose an attack on Iran, Colin Dueck, author of Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II, quipped that if you do air strikes you don’t have to do nation building. In this sense, the budget constraints which Tea Party candidates worry about may be much less a barrier to near term neoconservative foreign policy ambitions than might be imagined.

“It’s Our Israel”

During the Reagan era, neoconservatives warily watched the rise of the Christian Right, whose Christian Zionist theology had strong anti-semitic overtones. However, Irving Kristol (father of the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol) tried to reassure his fellow Jewish readers of Commentary about points of compatibility between themselves and the Christian Right in their support of Israel. Kristol said succinctly, “Well, it’s their theology but it’s our Israel.”

In fact, neoconservatism accommodated itself quite well to the Christian Right — a movement that has failed to achieve any of its programmatic aims, despite being an essential part of the conservative electoral coalition.

The Tea Party movement may parallel the growth of the Christian Right, as religious conservatives now comprise its fastest growing element. In all likelihood, “religious” Tea Partiers will be more amenable to Islamophobia-derived arguments than “libertarian” Tea Party members. If that is the case, watch to see if neoconservatives accommodate themselves as easily to the Tea Party as they did to Jerry Falwell and John Hagee. But even if they don’t, the strategy of creating alliances with key Tea Party leaders — as exemplified by the neocons’ treatment of Sarah Palin — seems to be working well.

Posted in USA1 Comment




How much time would you need to evacuate your house? What would you take with you if you only had a few minutes to leave? I’ve asked myself this question many times, ever since I read a report from Amnesty International that said this:

“The destruction of homes is mostly carried out at night, with no prior notification. Usually, the only warning for the inhabitants is the rumbling of armored bulldozers and tanks approaching and beginning the destruction… The occupants of the targeted houses are almost without exception given no opportunity to salvage their possessions.” (1)

This was written in 2004 and the bulldozing of Palestinian homes has not stopped. Many of the bulldozers used by the Israeli army are made by Caterpillar. The company has refused to accept any corporate responsibility for the products it sells, despite knowing full well how they are used. And while a temporary halt in the sale of bulldozers to Israel was announced last month, Caterpillar refuses to acknowledge any change in its corporate policies.

If Caterpillar will not, others corporations will.

TIAA-CREF is one of the largest pension funds in the U.S., and it prides itself in doing “the right thing.” Their motto is “financial services for the greater good.” And yet, they invest heavily in Caterpillar. They even include Caterpillar in their socially responsible funds.

This has got to stop.

This December 10, many of us around the country will be visiting our local TIAA-CREF offices with a simple message: Stop profiting from the Israeli occupation. Will you join us?

Sydney Levy
Jewish Voice for Peace

(1) Under the rubble: House demolition and destruction of land and property. Amnesty International, May 2004. AI Index: MDE 15/033/2004 

Posted in CampaignsComments Off on TIME TO DIVEST FROM CATERPILLAR


November 12, 2010 Quantcast

By Murray Dobbin

November 11, 2010 “Rabble” — Watching and listening to Stephen Harper’s bizarre and unnerving speech about anti-Semitism and Israel raises the question as to whether or not the man is mentally fit to be prime minister.

In effect, Harper has taken the position of being Israel’s defender no matter what — in other words, this commitment comes before his duty as prime minister, before his duty to represent Canada’s interests abroad, before his role of elected representative. Harper is a defender of Israel no matter the consequences for Canada. He stated:

“[As] long as I am Prime Minister, whether it is at the United Nations, the Francophonie, or anywhere else, Canada will take that stand whatever the cost. I say this, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because history shows us, and the ideology of the anti-Israeli mob tell us all too well if we listen to it, that those who threaten the existence of the Jewish people are a threat to all of us.”

His dedication to that country supersedes his commitment to his own. That would be disturbing enough if Harper were merely a private citizen. But as prime minister it is beyond the pale and it isn’t much of a stretch to suggest it borders on the betrayal of Canada and certainly Canadian interests. For what does it mean that Harper will defend Israel no matter the consequences for Canada?

Harper referred in his speech to “the anti-Israeli mob.” I have to presume here that he is referring to all the Arab and Muslim countries which regularly criticize Israel at the UN. But, of course, not only them. UN resolutions criticizing Israel are regularly supported by virtually every country with the exception of Israel, the U.S. and — sometimes — El Salvador. Is the whole of the UN membership part of the “mob”?

Harper’s disturbing performance sends a clear message: Canada is prepared to sacrifice relations with all other countries if it has to defend Israel. Coming off the rejection of Canada for a Security Council seat, Harper deems determined to islate himself even more, and Canada along with him.

Harper’s speech was given to the Inter-Parliamentary Coalition for Combating Anti-Semitism an international pro-Zionist group whose sole task is to redefine anti-Semitism to mean virtually any criticism of Israel. It claims members from 40 countries and is holding its second conference — the first was held last year in London, England. The Canadian contingent is called the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism (CPCCA).

It is unofficial but had members from the four major Canadian federal parties until the Bloc members quit the organization last spring citing the “the inequality of opinions presented before the Coalition,” and “the refusal of the Steering Committee to hear groups with opposing viewpoints.”

Harper expressed the position of the organization perfectly — a position designed to counteract the global effort to de-legitimize the Israeli apartheid state. He said:

“Harnessing disparate anti-American, anti-Semitic and anti-Western ideologies, it targets the Jewish people by targeting the Jewish homeland, Israel…We must be relentless in exposing this new anti-Semitism for what it is.”

This declaration of the “new anti-Semitism” is pure hogwash and everyone stating it or using it to attack critics of Israel knows it. For one thing, thousands of North American and European Jews regularly attack Israel’s brutal treatment of the Palestinians in Gaza and West Bank. Of course, Zionists refer to these humanitarians as “Jew-hating Jews,” a clever bit of racist spin but far from the mark.

Israel’s flunkies have to come up with something to attack because the evidence is clear – actual incidents of anti-Semitism have been on the decline for years. Something had to be done to make it look otherwise. Harper claims anti-Semites, instead of actually targeting Jews here, attack them by criticizing Israel. The pretzel-like twisting of that argument is obvious. We are being asked to believe that thousands upon thousands of Canadian human rights activists are closet anti-Semites and have to limit their anti-Semitism to attacking Israel.

Like most of Israel’s hard-line supporters, Harper claims that no one is saying Israel can’t be criticized: “Israel, like any country, may be subjected to fair criticism,”

But in fact Harper is saying Israel cannot be criticized. He has had ample opportunity to make “fair criticism” but virtually never does. (The single instance I am aware of was a very mild rebuke over continued construction of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.) He has never mentioned the brutal assault on Gaza which killed over 1,200 civilians, called the wanton destruction of Lebanon “a measured response” and backs Israel in all of its patently phony “commitments” to negotiating peace while deliberately taking positions that no Palestinian leader could possibly agree to.

The Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism was originally going to issue a report last March. Then it was May. It was been delayed several more times and was supposed to be released at the meetings being held this week. It still hasn’t surfaced. On the organization’s website it still says “…we will be presenting a report of its findings in the late spring of 2010.” The group seems to have been inactive for sometime.

It was expected to call on the government to formally criminalize criticism of Israel. But perhaps its authors are beginning to realize that a document calling for the criminalization of free speech might not be the brightest idea they have ever come up with. Making a speech about the “new anti-Semitism” is one thing. Having it in a report, on permanent display for the whole world to see, is another. Personally, I hope they publish it. It might just be the last thing they do.

Murray has been a journalist, broadcaster, author and social activist for 40 years. A board member and research associate with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, he has written five studies for the centre including examinations of charter schools, and “Ten Tax Myths.” Murray has been a columnist for the Financial Post and Winnipeg Free Press and contributes guest editorials to the Globe and Mail, the Toronto Star and other Canadian dailies. He writes a regular “State of the Nation” column for the on-line journal which is published simultaneously on His blog is

Copyright © 2001-2010 the authors




November 12, 2010

By Paul Craig Roberts

November 11, 2010 “Information Clearing House” — — The United States Department of Justice (sic) routinely charges and convicts innocents with bogus and concocted  crimes that are not even on the statutes book. The distinguished defense attorney and civil libertarian, Harvey A. Silverglate, published a book last year, “Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent,” which conclusively proves that today in “freedom and democracy” America we have punishment without crime.

This same Justice (sic) Department, which routinely frames and railroads the innocent, argued in Federal Court on November 8 that the US government, if approved by the president, could murder anyone it wishes, citizens or noncitizens, at will.  All that is required is that the government declare, without evidence, charges, trial, jury conviction or any of the due process required by the US Constitution, that the government suspects the murdered person or persons to be a “threat.”

The US Justice (sic) Department even told US Federal District Court Judge John Bates that the US judiciary, formerly a co-equal branch of government, has absolutely no legal authority whatsoever to stick its nose into President “Change” Obama’s decision to assassinate Americans. The unaccountability of the president’s decision to murder people is, the US Justice (sic) Department declared, one of “the very core powers of the president as commander in chief.”

The argument by the Justice (sic) Department that the executive branch has unreviewable authority to kill Americans, whom the executive branch has unilaterally, without presenting evidence, determined to pose a threat, was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center For Constitutional Rights.

The outcome of the case will determine whether the neoconservative and Israeli stooge, president George W. Bush, was correct when he said that the US Constitution was nothing but a “scrap of paper.”

It is my opinion that the American people and the US Constitution haven’t much chance of winning this case. The Republican Federalist Society has succeeded in appointing  many federal district, appeals and supreme court judges, who believe that the powers of the executive branch are superior to the powers of the legislature and judiciary.

The Founding Fathers of our country declared unequivocally that the executive, legislative, and judicial branches were co-equal, However,  the Republican brownshirts who comprise the Federalist Society have implanted the society’s demonic ideology in the federal bench and Justice (sic) Department. Today the erroneous belief is widespread that the executive branch is supreme and that the other branches of government are less than equal.

If Americans have a greater enemy than neoconservatives, that enemy is the Federalist Society, a collection of incipient Nazis.

Disagree with me as you will, but now let’s look at this development from another perspective. I am old enough to remember the Nixon years, and I was a presidential appointee, confirmed by the US senate, in the Reagan administration. For those of you too young to know and those who are to old to remember, President Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment simply because Nixon lied about when he learned about the burglary of the Watergate office of the Democratic party.

Nixon lied about when he learned of the burglary, because he knew that the Washington Post would make an issue of the burglary, if he launched an investigation, to defeat  his re-election.  The military/security complex and the black ops groups in the US government were angry at Nixon for smoothing US-China relations. The Washington Post, long regarded as a CIA asset, hid behind its “liberal” image to bring Nixon down. Woodward and Bernstein wrote thriller-type reports of midnight meetings with “deep throat” in dangerous parking garages to get the scoop on the date of Nixon’s knowledge of the meaningless burglary.

Let’s assume that I have it all wrong. The fact remains that Nixon was driven from office because of the Watergate burglary.  No one was harmed. Nixon did not kill anyone or claim the right to kill, without proof or accountability, American citizens.  If the dastardly President Nixon had a Justice (sic) Department like the present one, he simply would have declared Woodward, Bernstein, and the Washington Post to be a threat and murdered them by merely exercising the power that the Obama administration is claiming.

Nixon might be too far in the past for most Americans, so let’s look at Ronald Reagan.
The neoconservatives’ Iran/Contra scandal almost brought down President Reagan. It is unclear whether President Reagan knew about the neocon operation and, if he did, whether he was keep in the loop. But all of this aside, what do you think would have been President Reagan’s fate if he, or his Justice (sic) Department, had declared that Reagan had the power as commander in chief to murder anyone he considered to be a threat?

Instantly, the media would have been in an uproar, law schools and university faculties would have been in an uproar, the Democrats would have been demanding Reagan’s impeachment, and his impeachment would have occurred with the speed of light.

Today in Amerika, approximately 25 years later, the ACLU has to go to federal court in order to attempt to affirm that “if the Constitution means anything, it surely means that the president does not have unreviewable authority to summarily execute any American whom he concludes is an enemy of the state.”

In reply, the Justice (sic) Department told the court that murdering American citizens is a “political question” that is not subject to judicial review. The “freedom and democracy” government then invoked the “state secrets privilege” and declared that the case against the government’s power to commit murder must be dismissed in order to avoid “the disclosure of sensitive information”

If the Obama Regime wins this case, the US will have become a dictatorship.

As far as I can tell, the “liberal media” and most Americans do not care. Indeed, conservative Republicans are cheering it on.

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.



November 12, 2010 Quantcast

By Laurence M. Vance

November 11, 2010 “Lew Rockwell” – – We’ve all seen the bumper stickers: “My son is in the Air Force,” “If You Can Read This in English, Thank a Marine,” “Proud Vietnam Veteran,” “Fly Navy,” and of course, “Thank a Vet.”

Why should we?

Why should we call them heroes, give them military discounts, grant them veterans preference, express our support for them with ribbons on our cars, honor them with a holiday, hold military appreciation church services for them, and thank them for their “service”?

Veterans Day began as Armistice Day to commemorate the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. It had nothing to do with honoring current and former members of the military like Veterans Day is celebrated today. And if the sole purpose of Armistice Day was to honor World War I veterans, it should never have been celebrated since no American soldier did anything honorable by intervening in a European foreign war. And it doesn’t matter if he was drafted or not.

Britain’s last World War I combat veteran, Harry Patch, died last year at the age of 111. He boasted that he hadn’t killed anyone in combat. “War isn’t worth one life,” Patch said, it is “calculated and condoned slaughter of human beings.” In his autobiography The Last Fighting Tommy, Patch wrote that “politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder.” In the last years of his life, Patch warned some young naval recruits that they shouldn’t join.

Frank Buckles, age 109, is the only American veteran of World War I still living. When asked while being honored for his service at a 2007 Veterans Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery what he thought about being there while the United States was at war, he replied: “I’m no authority, but I’m not in favor of war unless it’s an emergency.” I think that Buckles is more of an authority on the horrors of war and the folly and wickedness of war than the current members of the Joint Chiefs.

It is only because World War I did not turn out to be the “war to end all wars” that the holiday was changed to Veterans Day as a tribute to all soldiers who fought for their country.

Although I believe World War II to be neither necessary nor good, I come not on this Veterans Day to criticize the “greatest generation,” who, it turns out, were also great at pillaging and carousing.

For reasons I explained in “U.S. Presidents and Those Who Kill for Them,” World War II marks the permanent establishment of the American military as the president’s personal attack force to kill by his decree Koreans, Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, Grenadians, Panamanians, Yugoslavs, Serbians, Afghans, Iraqis, Somalis, Yemenis, and Pakistanis. Next on the list is Iranians. Sometimes these presidential decrees are rubberstamped by a congressional authorization to use force, but they are always preceded by presidential lies and warmonger propaganda.

So why should a Vietnam veteran be proud? He was typically young, ignorant, deceived, and drafted. He may have fought obediently, valiantly, selflessly, and fearlessly, but since he had no business fighting in Vietnam in the first place, I have nothing to thank him for. And I certainly can’t thank him for preventing the Viet Cong from turning America into a socialist republic. Besides, LBJ beat Ho Chi Minh to that anyway. Many Vietnam veterans have written me and expressed shame, remorse, anger, and resentment – not pride – for having been duped into going thousands of miles away from American soil to intervene in another country’s civil war. In fact, I have found that it is those who are not Vietnam veterans who are the most vociferous defenders of the war in Vietnam.

The most undeserved and oftentimes disgusting outpouring of thankfulness I have ever seen is over those who have fought or are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. The praise and adoration of those fighting in “the front lines in the war on terror” reaches its apex on Veterans Day, which has become a day to defend U.S. wars and recognize all things military. These soldiers certainly have done nothing worthy of thanks. Sure, they have rebuilt infrastructure – after bombing it to smithereens. They no doubt removed a brutal dictator – and unleashed American brutality in the process. And yes, they have rescued orphan children – after blowing their parents and brothers and sisters to kingdom come.

What is there to thank our soldiers for? They are not defending our freedoms. They are not keeping us safe from our enemies. They are not protecting us from terrorists. They are not guaranteeing our First Amendment rights. They are not defending U.S. borders. They are not guarding U.S. shores. They are not patrolling U.S. coasts. They are not enforcing no-fly zones over U.S. skies. They are not fighting “over there” so we don’t have to fight “over here.” They are not avenging 9/11. They are not safeguarding the American way of life. Oh, and they are not ensuring that I have the liberty to write what I do about the military.

What, then, should we thank our soldiers for? Should we thank them for fighting an unconstitutional war, an unscriptural war, an immoral war, an offensive war, an unjust war, or a senseless war? Should we thank our veterans for helping to carry out an aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and interventionist foreign policy? Should we thank the military for sucking $1 trillion out of the federal budget?

But, some will say, these soldiers are just doing their jobs. They can’t help it if the U.S. military sends them to fight in an unjust war in Iraq or Afghanistan. They are just following orders. They didn’t enlist in the military to kill people.

What would any sane man think about a doctor who takes a job at a hospital knowing that the hospital instructs its doctors to euthanize old and sickly patients – and then says he was just doing his job, following orders, and didn’t take the job to kill people?

Why are soldiers treated so differently? Why do they get a pass on committing or supporting those who commit murder and mayhem?

But, someone else says, the military has lowered its recruiting standards and is scraping the bottom of the barrel. Many soldiers are ignorant about the true nature of the military and U.S. foreign policy. Why should we fault them for their ignorance? Why should they be criticized for unjustly killing Iraqis or Afghans or Pakistanis? They are just following orders.

Let’s go back to the doctor I mentioned. Suppose that after he takes a job in ignorance at what he thinks is a reputable hospital he is instructed to euthanize old and sickly patients? What should he do? I don’t know of anyone who would say anything else but that he should quit his job or at least refuse to euthanize anyone.

Again, why are soldiers treated so differently? Why do they get a pass on committing or supporting those who commit murder and mayhem?

But, comes another reply, soldiers have a term of enlistment. They can’t just quit their jobs. Doctors can walk away from their jobs at any time. Then I guess it all comes down to morality: Be a mercenary and kill for the state or refuse to do so and suffer the consequences of dishonorable discharge and/or imprisonment.

It is high time that Americans stop holding veterans and current members of the military in such high esteem. It is scientists, engineers, inventors, businessmen, industrialists, software developers, and entrepreneurs that made America great – not veterans of foreign wars. It is doctors, iron workers, taxi drivers, bricklayers, writers, electricians, and cooks that positively contribute to society – not soldiers.

I would like to be able to thank a vet – on Veterans Day and every other day of the year – but I’m still searching for a reason.

Laurence M. Vance writes from Pensacola, FL. He is the author of Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State and The Revolution that Wasn’t. His newest book is Rethinking the Good War.

Posted in USAComments Off on THANK A VET ?



School staff take action against Academy proposals

School staff in a number of areas are taking action against Academy proposals.

Hackney NUT has held indicative ballots in Clapton, Haggerston and Stoke Newington Schools, over opposing Academy status. In each staff voted overwhelmingly for action. More here

In Lancashire NASUWT members have declared an industrial dispute against an Academy proposal and expect other school unions will do the same. More here
Wakefield Council votes to oppose Academies

On Wednesday 10th November Wakefield Council passed a motion which opposing Academies. This is a part of the motion
“That the Academies Bill will transfer extra funding not to the weakest schools but to the strongest, creating a two tier system of education, with the strongest thriving and the weakest left to drift.”
Full text
New Statesman

Several excellent articles in the New Statesman this week
Anti Academies Alliance Financial Appeal

The Anti Academies Alliance has launched a Financial Appeal to help build the opposition to Academies and ‘Free’ Schools.
Read our Appeal, and download the leaflet, here
How can the Anti Academies Alliance help your school?

We continue to be approached by schools asking us to help them campaign against Academy proposals that are being pushed on them.
The Anti Academies Alliance is happy to work with head teachers, governors, parents and staff to develop a campaign to prevent your school becoming an Academy.
Please contact the office if you need help.
CASE conference
Campaign for State Education conference Saturday 20th November. 
TUC conference: The future for our schools
The TUC have organised a major conference on education on Saturday 27th November.
More details and registration here
Anti Academies Alliance AGM
The Anti Academies Alliance AGM will be held on Saturday 15th January in Central London. More information to follow.

Andy Burnham, “there would be no more free schools.”

Michael Gove is bullying us into becoming an academy, says head

Private firms could take share of underperforming schools fund

Gems chief executive Zenna Atkins quits after just seven weeks

Academy schools, who benefits?

Council promises public will have a say over bid by Birstall, Birkenshaw and Gomersal Parents’ Alliance for a Free School

More news stories here
Anti Academies Newspaper
Over 60,000 newspapers have now been despatched around the country and are being distributed to parents, teachers, governors.
Please download the order form and post in your order here
Or email in your order and we will send you an invoice.
Anti Academies DVD
We have an excellent new 13 minute DVD outlining the case against Academies and ‘Free’ Schools.
It is perfect for union meetings / parent meetings / campaign meetings.
If you would like a copy they are £10 to union groups / £2 to parent and campaign groups. Send orders to the office and we will despatch them with an invoice.
Campaign materials
Make your campaign stall / meeting complete with Stickers / Balloons / Mugs / T Shirts
Having trouble keeping up with the news on Academies and Free Schools?
You can follow the Anti Academies Alliance on
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Posted in EducationComments Off on TAKING ACTION AGAINST ACADEMY


November 12, 2010


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By Philip GiraldiThere is every indication that the new Republican majority in the House of Representatives will support an open ended policy to “win” in Afghanistan, whatever that means, giving President Barack Obama a free pass to pursue any option he chooses, even if it entails an endless series of escalations. The Republicans would also support extending the war on terror to include the most recent bête noir Yemen and the perennial favorite Somalia. The only fly in the ointment is the presence of a substantial bloc of Tea Party Republicans in the new majority, a group that might be inclined to reflexively support American imperialism in all its glory but will almost certainly be opposed to paying for it through higher taxes and an expansion of the military to actually do the fighting.

Before actually voting on any continuing resolution or new budget, it would behoove the Tea Partiers to do some loss versus gain budget analysis on the nine years of war on terror. The Obama Administration has recently revealed that it is budgeting $80 billion for intelligence programs for 2011. That figure is almost certainly too low, probably by at least 25%, as many programs are hidden in other budgets or secretly funded because of their sensitivity.

And it is reasonable to assume that the intelligence budget has been at that elevated level since 9/11, meaning that something close to a trillion dollars has been spent. If one also includes part of the defense budget, which has doubled since 2001 based on the terrorist threat, the numbers are staggering, with Washington spending a minimum of two to three trillion dollars countering the terrorist menace, creating a massive governmental and private sector infrastructure ostensibly dedicated to keeping Americans safe.

And now, in the wake of a series of letter bombs which did not explode and did no damage, the call is for increased security, almost certainly costing many more billions of dollars which will enrich former senior officials like Michael Chertoff. Chertoff, who headed the Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, now is a partner in a company that sells security equipment for airports.

He has been on television frequently since the first letter bomb was discovered, recommending better and more intrusive security without revealing in any way his own ties to the industry that provides the necessary equipment. He is not alone. Security has become a vast and lucrative enterprise for those in position to cash in. If America’s visible empire is its string of hundreds of bases and deployments worldwide, the hidden empire is the military industrial complex with tentacles into nearly every congressional district that supports the endeavor.

And what about the terrorist threat itself? To note that it has been greatly exaggerated would be the understatement of the century. Most Americans would be surprised to learn that no US citizen has been killed in the United States since 9/11 by an actual member of any of the groups that the State Department defines as “terrorist.” Recent attacks were carried out by “loners,” individuals who wanted to get even for US attacks on Muslim civilians worldwide, not members of militant groups or motivated by any desire to convert the world to Islam. As Ron Paul has noted, they have attacked us because we are over there, in foreign lands killing civilians.

If, as FOX news pundits frequently claim, terrorism is all part of a worldwide “Islamofascist” conspiracy to establish the Caliphate and kill unbelievers, it is all pretty lame. Underwear, SUV, and letter bombs have all failed to explode and experts are divided on whether they can work at all given the limitations of the technology.

If I were a terrorist wannabe, I would be laughing all the way to the bank as the US and Europe prepare to pour more money into preventive measures in response to chemical bombs that are often mixed together in somebody’s kitchen. Usama bin Laden once predicted that he would break the United States economically and it now appears that he understood very well that every American response to even the most minor threat would be a massive overreaction and overkill, eventually bankrupting the country.

And the Tea Partiers should look at both sides of the balance sheet before casting their votes on a continuing resolution to continue the war on terror. Assuming that Washington has spent some trillions of dollars against terrorists, it is important to note what the actual threat is and to evaluate what has been accomplished. It is undeniably safer to fly today, but identifying other areas in which national security has been improved continues to be elusive in spite of the expenditure of vast amounts of money. The fact that both Democratic and Republican administrations have been able to repeatedly cite “terrorism” to justify nearly everything should suggest that either there are millions of terrorists running loose or that the policy to restrain them has failed.

In spite of the most intensive manhunt in history, Usama bin Laden might or might not be still alive, but even if he is dead it has not been due to any effort by Washington to kill him. And the money poured down a vast pit called government has not exactly hit the target. The terrorist groups operating in 2001 are still around, possibly by design to justify spending still more money in a never ending cycle until the cash runs out.

The Tea Partiers should be asking themselves what exactly all the money is buying and should begin to question the bipartisan national security policy that has the United States invading and occupying country after country in an attempt to fix other people’s problems.

They should begin to ask just what would happen if the American voters were to finally demand that the Pentagon close its seven hundred bases overseas and bring our people home as part of a policy of non-intervention as envisioned by the Founding Fathers. Would the so-called terrorists rally and follow our soldiers home to wreak havoc? Somehow, I just don’t think it would work out that way. America might then become free to be a hegemon based not on military might but on values and good example. Just imagine what that would be like.

Philip M. Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer who served 19 years overseas in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Spain. He was Chief of Base in Barcelona from 1989 to 1992, was designated as senior Agency officer for support at the Olympic Games, and served as official liaison to the Spanish Security and Intelligence services. He has been designated by the General Accountability Office as an expert on the impact of illegal immigration on terrorism.

Posted in USAComments Off on ZERO BASED TERRORISM


By Audrey Farber,

crossposted at


Photo by Audrey Farber


My neighborhood doesn’t have street signs. And when it does, they don’t refer

to names of streets anyone is familiar with. House numbers, too, are scarce.

I didn’t know my own street address until yesterday – four and a half months

after my arrival. My neighborhood doesn’t have the big plastic-and-glass street-

side recycling cages that are conveniently placed around the rest of the city.

Its streets are narrow and winding, and children on bikes navigate the obstacle

course created by their siblings and cousins and neighbors playing soccer

between doorway goal posts. There is one bus stop, few taxis, and I’d be surprised

 if there were street lights.


But it does have public restrooms (see photo), and signs directing adventurous

tourists towards them in no less than three languages. It’s featured in all the

guidebooks as the neighborhood in which the best falafel can be found, down

a side alley in an unassuming hole in the wall. Although if you ask me, I think it’s

on a pretty average street in a pretty average storefront. I guess it depends on

 your perspective.


My neighborhood is the location of the “Middle Eastern bazaar” and outdoor

market, obligatory shawarma “stalls” and baklawa shops, and deliberately-placed

public art pieces by, for the most part, Jewish artists depicting various themes of

cooperation and coexistence. But no Jewish Israelis live in my neighborhood –

indeed, most Jewish Israelis I know are shocked that I live here. “Is it safe?”


My neighborhood is condescendingly? patronizingly? affectionately? referred

to in Lonely Planet as “Haifa’s grizzled old Christian-Arab quarter” and all signs

(literally) point to it being maintained as such to lend the city an air of authentic

Middle Eastern-ness, as long as it stays within its confines and preset boundaries.

This is where the tourists go to get a taste of the old-school Middle East, a little

Arab flavor in a Jewish-only melting pot. It is smack dab in the middle of one of

Israel’s few examples of pseudo-co-existence; one of the only places the Israeli

government could stomach such a blatant display of the persistent existence of

non-Jewishness. Throwing a tired old gnawed-out bone to all the civil rights

defenders out there: look at our diversity!


Come visit the Jewish state and while you’re at it, look at these primitive Arabs

in their small, confined space – just like they lived before we swooped in and

civilized this desert wasteland with milk and honey and fruits and wine and all

 that jazz. And guns. (Never mind the decades of British rule and before that

centuries of Ottoman administration that preceded us.)

We are preserving their heritage for them … by denying them opportunities to

advance and succeed and confining them to their narrow, scuzzy alleyways, selling

 eggplants at a discounted rate and smiling and nodding ahlan wa sahlan for tour

buses full of middle aged Americans. (You know they aren’t birthright kids

because birthright kids aren’t allowed near Arabs: danger, danger!) Of course,

not one of Haifa’s several museums – dedicated to everything from Japanese Art

 to Clandestine Immigration to the Israeli Oil Industry – represents Palestinian

culture, art, or history.This is a community on display. It is

the famous Wadi Nisnas whose charming alleyways have turned it into a tourist spot.”

It’s the only remaining part of its Middle Eastern-ness that Israel can exploit without

fear of criticism or retaliation, because the Orientalist inside all of us doesn’t

see the ghettoization of the Arab as something that needs to be rectified.

This community

is stuck inside its bars, fed scraps of economic opportunity to pacify it but never

allowed to forget that it is not equal in the eyes of the state. Capital S State.


Overshadowed by the imposing hotel towers at the top of the hill (read: affluent

 Jewish neighborhoods) and bound at its base by the militarized industrial port,

it’s a small haven of an increasingly smothered culture, a segment of society whose

 rights are diminished by the day. And the best part is, living here makes you feel

like you’re a part of the zoo, too. On display with the pita bread and fresh-caught

fish, for the enjoyment of tourists everywhere. And they can even find the


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It is very easy to criticise the Tea Party for putting up or backing some plainly idiotic candidates, Christine O’Donnell and Rich Iott are just two examples. But the Tea Party’s problems extend slightly further than a one time Witch and a Republican candidate that likes to dress up in an SS uniform.

It is the Tea Party movement’s association with the fringes of the American Far Right and active antisemites that illuminates these issues.

There is a marvellous report by the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights on Tea Party Nationalism.

Here are two extracts from the section dealing with the Tea Parties – Racism, Anti-Semitism and the Militia Impulse:

“Tea Party leaders have promoted and provided a platform to known racists and anti-Semites on multiple occasions. Dale Robertson, the chairman of the 1776 who displayed the infamous “n****r sign,” for example, brought Martin “Red” Beckman on as a guest to the Tea Party Radio hour that he co-hosts with Washington state talk show host Dr. Laurie Roth. Beckman has been known for over twenty-five years for his anti-Semitic writings and his defense of militias.

In 1994, Beckman was evicted from his property in Montana by the IRS for refusing to pay taxes. He now resides in southwestern Washington State.

In a separate incident, Robertson endorsed Pastor John Weaver on the 1776 Tea Party Meet Up website. According to Robertson, “John Weaver is a very knowledgeable Christian leader who presents scriptural basis for Constitutional Rights.

The Church has not exercised these rights and consequently is in decline. The Constitution is founded on the principal of God and a moral people, without either then the Church and the people of this land will fall victim to an oppressive government.”[203] Robertson also used this Meetup site to advertise an August 29, 2009 “family retreat” with Pastor Weaver in Magnolia, Texas.[204] The site also indicates that Robertson attended that retreat.

Weaver, of Fitzgerald, Georgia, has a sprawling set of connections to neo-Confederates and those preaching the so-called Christian Identity doctrine. He is the former Chaplain in Chief of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.[205] He has spoken at “Christian Identity” gatherings in Branson, Missouri in 1998 and 1999.[206] According to this particular theology, Jews are considered a satanic force (or the incarnation of Satan himself), and people of color are considered less than fully human.

By contrast, the white people of northern Europe are considered racial descendants of the Biblical tribes of Israel, and the United States of America is considered their “promised land;” a theory descended from a theology known as British-Israelism. Although Weaver describes his particular outlook as a variant of “Dominionism,” his essay, “The Sovereignty of God and Civil Government” was listed in a book catalogue published by the British-Israel World Federation. As such, this would place Weaver just one step to the right of the most radical forms of Christian fundamentalism.[207] “


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