Archive | December 3rd, 2010

DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

Dear Friends,

This evening is a sad one here in Israel, particularly for those who have lost loved ones in the flames, and those who live in the areas hit by the raging fire, which till now refuses to be contained.  Thousands of trees have been destroyed, 42 people have lost their lives, others have been badly burnt, animals have perished

 

All this of course touches me deeply.  It is not pleasant to see so much go up in flames.

 

Yet, at the same time I cannot help in this difficult time but to think of all the 1000s of Palestinian olive trees that Israel has uprooted, of all the Palestinian homes that Israel has demolished, and of all the misery that Palestinians have suffered at Israel’s hands. 

 

The raging flames are a natural disaster, but Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is deliberate.  Both are disasters.  But whereas the fire was not of man’s making, Israel’s conduct towards the Palestinian’s is, and is inhumane.

 

Therefore, if you receive, as I have, a call from the Jewish National Fund to donate money to help reforest the charred areas, please if you are inclined to donate, make it conditional to Israel restoring land that it stole from Palestinians in both Israel and the OPT and also planting olive groves that it uprooted in the OPT.  Make certain to get a definite signed commitment, one that can stand up in court, before you give a penny.  

Thanks,

Dorothy

===================================

Published on The Nation 

http://www.thenation.com

 ——————————————————————————–

 Uprooting the Bedouins of Israel

 

http://www.thenation.com/article/156822/uprooting-Bedouins-israel

 

Neve Gordon

December 2, 2010

 

Despite the fact that it was the seventh demolition since last July, this time the destruction of the Bedouin village Al-Arakib [1] in the Israeli Negev [2] was different. The difference is not because the homeless residents have to deal this time with the harsh desert winter; nor in the fact that the bulldozers began razing the homes just minutes before the forty children left for school, thus engraving another violent scene in their memory. Rather, the demolition was different because this time Christian evangelists from the United States and England were involved.

 

I know this for a fact because right next to the demolished homes, the Jewish National Fund put up a big sign that reads: “GOD-TV [3] FOREST, A Generous donation by God-TV made 1,000,000 tree saplings available to be planted in the land of Israel and also provided for the creation of water projects throughout the Negev.” GOD-TV justifies this contribution by citing the book of Isaiah: “I will turn the desert into pools of water and the parched ground into springs.”

 

The Jewish National Fund’s [4] objective, however, is not altruistic, but rather to plant a pine or eucalyptus forest on the desert land so that the Bedouins cannot return to their ancestral homes. The practice of planting forests in an attempt to Judaize more territory is by no means new. Right after Israel’s establishment in 1948, the JNF planted millions of trees to cover up the remains of Palestinian villages that had been destroyed during or after the war.

The objective was to help ensure that the 750,000 Palestinian residents who either fled or were expelled during the war would never return to their villages and to suppress the fact that they had been the rightful owners of the land before the State of Israel was created. Scores of Palestinian villages disappeared from the landscape in this way, and the grounds were converted into picnic parks, thus helping engender a national amnesia regarding the Palestinian Nakba [5].

 

For several years, I thought this practice had been discontinued, but thanks to the JNF’s new bedfellows and the generous donation of Rory and Wendy Alec [6], who established the international evangelical television channel GOD-TV, within the next few months a million saplings will be planted on land belonging to uprooted Bedouins.

 

God-TV can afford such lavish gifts, since it boasts a viewership of nearly half a billion people, with 20 million in the United States and 14 million in Britain. The television channel regularly features evangelical leaders such as Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and John Hagee, at least some of whom espouse Christian Dispensationalism and believe that all Jews must convert to Christianity before the Second Coming. 

The viewers are asked to open their wallets in order to “sow a seed for God.” In this case, the donations seem to have actually been allocated toward sowing seeds, but these seeds are ones of hate and strife. They are antithetical to Isaiah’s prophecy about the people beating their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Indeed, if Isaiah were alive today, he would probably be among the first to lie in front of the bulldozers in an effort to stop the destruction of the Bedouin homes.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on DOROTHY ONLINE NEWSLETTER

TEARS OF GAZA

NOVANEWS

December 3, 2010

by Debbie Menon  

 

ED NOTE: Philip Shelley from Westminster, California, shares these moving speeches of  the blighted children of Gaza, narrated by bright young Palestinian girls.

Was it Emerson who said: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” ?

Can we telll these children of Gaza, tomorrow will be better ?

Philip J. Shelley

Just felt like I had to share this. I truly honestly hope somehow I can help and show the world to overcome and free itself from the jewish stranglehold Zionism has on it. I also hope to visit Palestine to help the children there who probably need all the protection and guidance they can get and maybe even one day (soon hopefully) help them take back all of Palestine. They inherited it from the Canaanites and I feel partially responsible because my government enables all this madness and I won’t be silenced.

Also see:

YES FOR FREEDOM! 

Source:Sabbah Report | Because Silence is Complicity!

Visit Alison Weir’s website for the truth about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict:

http://www.ifamericansknew.org/

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

HAPPY HANNUKAH!

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on TEARS OF GAZA

ZIONIST CYBER-TERRORISM UNTOUCHED

NOVANEWS

Here Comes the Homeland Security Internet Police, Leaving Israel’s Cyber-terrorism Untouched

December 3, 2010

by Michael Leon  

Militarism and bigotry do not play well as practical policy objectives in themselves, so it’s necessary for militaristic, bigoted states such as Israel to employ sophisticated intelligence and propaganda tools towards Americans for whom brute force used by foreign powers is politically problematic.

 

By now, any anti-Zionist writer has seen everything from obnoxious comments and personal defamation to Trojans and other viruses used by Israel intelligence against Americans.

Ask Jeff Gates, for example, what the criminal state of Israel is capable of with the assistance of what amounts to nothing short of acts of treason by Americans in service to a truly despicable state, if human rights and equality are your objectives.

On a related matter, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd has a piece in Alternet on “murky new Internet regulation laws could stomp out freedom of speech…and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has already begun.” But DHS is not going after Israel which is given free reign in cyber-terrorism.

If the state of Israel and its American traitors believe for a moment that Veterans Today, for example, will back down from its commitments to equality and a check on national security, geopolitical stability and domestic policy, then Israel is more foolish and short-sighted than even the most fervent human rights organizations assert. Hey Israel, you are messing with the wrong people.

Consonent with the Presidential Proclamation of October 2010 as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and in view of the pro-Israel domination of American foriegn policy one must ask: Whose side the Zionists in America in the U.S. Dod Cyber Command Cyber Security are on and for whom the DoD and DHS are securing the cyber network. America’s or Israel’s?

See also Joint Statement by Sec Gates and Sec Napolitano on Securing America’s Cyber Networks and Israel First: More on Dr. Lani Kass.

From Julianne Escobedo Shepherd has a piece in Alternet:

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security seized 82 domain names for allegedly hawking counterfeit goods ranging from knockoff Coach handbags to bootleg DVDs. Enacted under the auspices of its Immigrations and Customs Enforcement arm, the sites were wiped out and replaced with an ominous message from the DHS that laid out the stakes, including the warning, “Intentionally and knowingly trafficking in counterfeit goods is a federal crime that carries penalties for first-time offenders of up to 10 years in federal prison, a $2,000,000 fine, forfeiture and restitution.”

Most of the seized Web sites had names like thelouisvuittonoutlet.com and getdvdset.com, and sold reproductions of designer goods and hard copies of jacked movies. A few sites on the list, though, stuck out: Onsmash.com, rapgodfathers.com and dajaz1.com are popular music blogs that were generally involved in the promotion of artists, rather than outright piracy. Well-known among rap fans for posting the latest videos, singles and remixes (always hosted from third-party download sites), their seizure was shocking, not just to the hip-hop blogosphere, but to music sites everywhere. Their inclusion on a list of sites that profit from manufacturing hard goods seemed arbitrary and ignorant. Furthermore, these sites were directly involved with artists, widely viewed as outlets that could help artists build buzz and promote their upcoming albums.

And in what ICE termed its “Cyber Monday” crackdown, a statement on the official DHS site made it clear that this was only the beginning:

The coordinated federal law enforcement operation targeted online retailers of a diverse array of counterfeit goods, including sports equipment, shoes, handbags, athletic apparel and sunglasses as well as illegal copies of copyrighted DVD boxed sets, music and software.

But these rap blogs weren’t selling any music. They weren’t selling DVDs. In fact, the only thing you could accuse them of selling was ads — hardly big income, definitely not enough to turn a profit. They aren’t even close to the biggest music downloading sites out there. So why were they targeted?

The DHS seems to be tiptoeing in the music pool, testing its boundaries and seeing what it can get away with. ICE began seizing domain names mere days after Senator Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, blocked the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), a bill that would effectively allow the government to censor any Web site it sees fit, and one that is widely viewed as an attack on our free speech.

When you type an address into a browser, the browser doesn’t just know where to take you. For that it counts on the globally distributed DNS system, which takes you to the specific IP address where the site is hosted. The DNS system is built on a basic foundation of trust — a DNS provider can’t manipulate the results to stop you from going where you want to go on the Web.

COICA would subject DNS operators to government and industry pressure to intercept and block traffic to sites they don’t like, and gives the Department of Justice the power to sue DNS operators to effectively disappear a site from one-click access on the Internet. There are some sites out there that are devoted primarily to posting copyrighted material, like torrent-tracking Web sites, but serious concerns have been raised the dragnet could be extended to file-storage utilities like Dropbox or to services like Facebook where large amounts of copyrighted material are easily stored and posted by users.

Moreover, DNS blocking inherently targets entire Web sites, not just specific offending content, raising the troubling possibility that legal content and protected political speech on those websites would be censored in the United States.

Normally, when a music site unwittingly posts a song that is not cleared for release, it will receive a standard, cease-and-desist form letter from the Recording Industry Association of America. If the site then removes the link or song, which most do, it will generally have no subsequent trouble. This most recent action, though, is an example of RIAA’s ever-expanding involvement in legislation, and reflects its consistently paranoid, regressive conception of the Internet. COIAA is, of course, backed by the music industry. A November 18 statement by RIAA CEO Mitch Bainwol regarding the bill:

“We are proud to lend our voice to the chorus of supporters of this important bipartisan legislation. In a world where hackers and copyright thieves are able to take down websites, rip off American consumers and rake in huge profits operating rogue businesses built on the backs of the American creative community, the committee has taken a strong step toward fostering a more safe and secure online experience for consumers.

Bainwol’s language not only reeks of McCarthyist scare tactics, it’s simply misleading. While “hackers” may be able to “take down websites,” there have been no instances of a “copyright thief” — or, in more direct terms, music blogger — doing this. By offering free music, it’s unclear why he believes American consumers are getting ripped off. And as established, the types of blogs shut down by ICE last week do not rake in huge profits… most rake in barely enough to pay for their Web domain names.

Simply put, RIAA is vehemently against music blogs (and, it sometimes seems, the Internet as a whole) because it does not understand the music industry it purports to represent. This was established back in 2003, when RIAA made aggressive efforts to sue 261 individuals — including, notoriously, a 12-year-old honors student from the projects– accused of downloading music from the Internet on P2P services.

But that was seven years ago, and it’s astonishing that since then, RIAA has apparently made no effort to understand how the Internet works, and how blogs such as OnSmash ultimately help their artists’ buzz, posting videos based on their personal tastes and those that reflect their vast audience of potential hip-hop consumers. Or, perhaps, labels just really miss the days when they had to pour cash into the proffers of radio stations to get any airplay.

RIAA’s continued support of Internet censorship is a clear and desperate attempt to justify its existence in an ever-altering information society. You could call it an effort to stop time. Often, though, marketers and others employed by major labels will send out mp3s to blogs under the radar, knowing that ultimately having the music available will help their artists’ buzz and contribute to their bottom line, as income comes decreasingly from album sales and relies more on cross-promotion, marketing deals, tours and merchandise. That’s because RIAA doesn’t support artists — it supports corporations. It’s transparent about this; its mission statement explicitly states that it “supports and promotes the creative and financial vitality of the major music companies.”

Casey Rae-Hunter, a communications director and policy strategist for the artist advocacy group Future of Music Coalition (FMC), illustrates why an open Internet is, ultimately, much better for musicians in the long run:

“The two things that are most important to today’s musicians and creative entrepreneurs are innovation and access… For a decade, Future of Music Coalition has called for a straightforward Internet framework that lets artists compete in a legitimate digital music marketplace alongside the biggest companies. Open access to the Internet has led to tremendous innovations in the marketplace and inspired countless examples of creative enterprise.”

Of course, with COIAA, the music industry — and the takedown of relatively small sites like OnSmash and Rap Godfathers — is just the tip of the iceberg. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil liberties group, widely used hosting sites could end up in the government’s crosshairs as well; an act that would not only affect our ability to disseminate information, but would target our very outlets for free speech on the Internet.

If this bill passes, the list of targets could conceivably include hosting Web sites such as Dropbox,MediaFire and Rapidshare; MP3 blogs and mashup/remix music sites like SoundCloud,MashupTown and Hype Machine; and sites that discuss and make the controversial political and intellectual case for piracy, like pirate-party.usp2pnetInfoAnarchy,Slyck and ZeroPaid. Indeed, had this bill been passed five or 10 years ago, YouTube might not exist today. In other words, the collateral damage from this legislation would be enormous. (Why would all these sites be targets?)

With the recent firestorm surrounding Wikileaks, and the chorus of voices calling for its elimination (not to mention Julian Assange’s head) the state of COIAA is increasingly urgent. Wyden may have stalled it for now, but if it’s reintroduced next year with the conservative new Congress, it’s likely to pass. However, free-speech advocates do have an ally in FCC Chairman Julian Genachowski. On December 1, he announced an agendafor a meeting later this month that would include conversations about an Open Internet Policy, preserving the infrastructure and freedom that keeps the American Web from mirroring that of China. Clearly, net neutrality and blocking COIAA go hand in hand. Genachowski observed:

The Internet has been an unprecedented platform for speech and democratic engagement, and a place where the American spirit of innovation has flourished. We’ve seen new media tools like Twitter and YouTube used by democratic movements around the world.

Not only is the Internet becoming a central part of the daily lives of Americans, the Internet has been a strong engine of job creation and economic growth.

Internet companies have begun as small start-ups, some of them famously in dorm rooms and garages with little more than a computer and access to the open Internet.  Many have become large businesses, providing high-paying, high-tech jobs in communities across our country.  It’s the American dream at work….

Why has the Internet proved to be such a powerful engine for innovation, creativity, and economic growth? A big part of the answer traces back to one key decision by the Internet’s original architects: to make the Internet an open platform.

It is the Internet’s openness and freedom — the ability to speak, innovate, and engage in commerce without having to ask anyone’s permission — that has enabled the Internet’s unparalleled success.

Very important words. Let’s hope his colleagues and Congress hear them.

 Julianne Escobedo Shepherd is an associate editor at AlterNet and a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. Formerly the executive editor of The FADER, her work has appeared in VIBE, SPIN, New York Times and various other magazines and websites.

Posted in USA1 Comment

PHILIP GIRALDI: THIRTY-NINE CONGRESSMEN CAN’T BE WRONG

NOVANEWS

December 3, 2010

by Debbie Menon

“Netanyahu, who despises President Barack Obama, has rightly seen the cajoling by the United States as weakness and as the consequence of failure by Washington to articulate any coherent policy in the Middle East…”

 

Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer

A former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer has written a well reasoned op-ed explaining that throwing concessions and gifts to Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in an attempt to obtain relatively minor concessions on his part is precisely the wrong policy to pursue.  Kurtzer notes that the deal will be a major shift in policy “…the first direct benefit that the United States has provided Israel for settlement activities that we have opposed for more than 40 years” and he asks “Does anyone really believe that there is a substantive connection between a three month settlement freeze and Israel’s professed need for more airplanes?”

 

Netanyahu, who despises President Barack Obama, has rightly seen the cajoling by the United States as weakness and as the consequence of failure by Washington to articulate any coherent policy in the Middle East, meaning that he knows that Israel has been empowered to get away with virtually anything it might demand.  Netanyahu has obligingly gone to the whack jobs and wing nuts in his own rickety right wing coalition and asked them to present him with a wish list for Washington, confident that Hanukkah has already begun and Christmas is right around the corner.

The latest demand appears to be freedom for Israeli spy Jonathan Jay Pollard, who is an Israeli citizen, has a holiday named after him, and is regarded as a national hero in many right wing Zionist circles.  That Israel is completely dependent on Washington for its security and on the American taxpayer for its high standard of living has never inhibited the country’s security service Mossad from using agents like Pollard to steal everything not nailed down from the United States.  Pollard currently is spending his time in a federal prison in North Carolina for walking off with a roomful of American top secrets in exchange for money back in the 1980s. 

I have already described the astonishing damage that he did as well as the reasons why he should never be released but politicians have short memories and President Obama appears to have no memory at all, so if he is pressed by the friends of Israel to release Pollard he will no doubt contrive some weasel worded explanation why it is in America’s interest to do so.  And he will do it with a straight face, almost certainly saying something about peace on earth and good will towards men.

 

And Obama would not be alone in his beneficence.  For those who think it inconceivable that a large number of congressmen might petition seeking clemency for a convicted foreign spy who did enormous damage to the United States, think again. Pollard has recently obtained the services of Barney Frank and thirty-eight other Democratic congressmen who have signed on to a letter coordinated with a number of Jewish groups.  They apparently believe that the poor guy has suffered enough in service to his country, which is of course Israel, making one wonder why American politicians should feel the pain.  But no matter, as we all know where the faux compassion comes from.

 

Arguing that Pollard should be released because he was only helping a friend and ally, the incredibly plucky splendid little democracy in the Middle East, has not worked up until now, so the congressmen have adopted a slightly different line.  They are arguing that Pollard has shown “remorse” and that his punishment is disparate vis-à-vis others who have committed similar crimes.  They contend that the years already spent in prison have been “sufficient time from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence.”  They deleted a line from the first draft of the letter that suggested that the release of Pollard would help the Middle East peace process, possibly because even they realized that no one would believe it.

Well congressmen, the truth is that both Pollard and his wife Anne have bragged about the information he provided to Israel while he has never expressed contrition about spying against his country of birth.  He has persisted in the big lie that he provided the intelligence only to help Israel against its enemies instead of for money and has also incorrectly maintained that he merely stole information that would be of use in Israel’s defense.  If there is any remorse being expressed by Jonathan Jay Pollard, it is over his having to spend twenty-five years in prison.

And as for the deterrence value, it is somewhat hard to imagine what that might be as people who spy for Israel continue to be let off with a slap on the wrist or even less because the Justice Department refuses to prosecute even after FBI agents labor to make a viable case.  Ben Ami Kadish, who passed defense secrets to the same Mossad agent handler that worked with Pollard, was recently fined and freed without any jail time. 

Pollard is, in fact, the only Israeli spy to have done any hard time in a federal prison in spite of the fact that hundreds of Tel Aviv’s agents, including numerous Americans and Israeli “movers” detected red handed during 9/11, have been caught in the act.  There are no other spies from “non-adversarial” nations, to use the phrase employed in the congressional letter, who have done anything at all comparable to what Pollard has done.  Pollard is unique and, given the magnitude of the crime he committed and the fact that Israel is the major recipient of foreign aid from the US, he should rot in prison.

But a far better reason why Pollard should never be released is the failure of Israel to comply with the agreement it made with the United States Justice Department in the aftermath of his arrest.  Israel long denied that Pollard was an Israeli spy, claiming instead that he was being run by a rogue operation without official sanction.  Nevertheless, the Israeli government entered into a secret agreement with Washington because of concerns that the US might issue federal warrants for the identified Israeli case officers who had handled Pollard, some of whom were not protected by diplomatic status and might be seized by US Marshals anywhere in the world.

Key to US willingness to enter into the agreement was Israel’s agreement to return the documents stolen by Pollard so a damage assessment could be conducted. But it failed to do so.  The team sent to Israel by the US Navy to investigate the crime was harassed, intimidated, and threatened with violence.  Its luggage was clandestinely searched and personal possessions were stolen.  It returned to Washington with a few dozen low level documents that were among the Pollard haul, meaning that the US will never know the true extent of the betrayal.

The 39 congressmen who signed the Pollard letter might well first consider the failure of Israel to live up to its agreements before demanding yet another bribe to reward its bad behavior.  Rather than attempting to appease Bibi Netanyahu and the kleptocrats who surround him, they should first think of what the United States national interest might be. They should be reminded that they do not represent Israel, having been elected by American voters and supported in their posturings by the long suffering US taxpayer.  They should for once not seek more concessions for Israel but should instead demand that Tel Aviv comply with what it has agreed to do.  If they cannot do that, they do not deserve to sit in the Congress of the United States of America.

Source: www.antiwar.com

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer, is the Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest. His “Deep Background” column appears every month exclusively in The American Conservative

See: PHILIP GIRALDI: WINGNUTS ON PARADE

Posted in USAComments Off on PHILIP GIRALDI: THIRTY-NINE CONGRESSMEN CAN’T BE WRONG

BOYCOTT AMAZON

NOVANEWS  

http://readersupportednews.org/off-site-opinion-section/369-wikileaks/4129-daniel-ellsbergs-goodbye-letter-to-amazon

 

Daniel Ellsberg Says Boycott Amazon

Posted By Daniel Ellsberg

December 2, 2010 

 

Open letter to Amazon.com Customer Service:

December 2, 2010

I’m disgusted by Amazon’s cowardice and servility in abruptly terminating today its hosting of the Wikileaks website, in the face of threats from Senator Joe Lieberman and other Congressional right-wingers. I want no further association with any company that encourages legislative and executive officials to aspire to China’s control of information and deterrence of whistle-blowing.

For the last several years, I’ve been spending over $100 a month on new and used books from Amazon. That’s over. I ask Amazon to terminate immediately my membership in Amazon Prime and my Amazon credit card and account, to delete my contact and credit information from their files and to send me no more notices.

I understand that many other regular customers feel as I do and are responding the same way. Good: the broader and more immediate the boycott, the better. I hope that these others encourage their contact lists to do likewise and to let Amazon know exactly why they’re shifting their business. I’ve asked friends today to suggest alternatives, and I’ll be exploring service from Powell’s Books, Half-Price Books, Biblio and others.

So far Amazon has spared itself the further embarrassment of trying to explain its action openly. This would be a good time for Amazon insiders who know and perhaps can document the political pressures that were brought to bear–and the details of the hasty kowtowing by their bosses–to leak that information.

They can send it to Wikileaks (now on servers outside the US), to mainstream journalists or bloggers, or perhaps to sites like www.antiwar  [1] that have now appropriately ended their book-purchasing association with Amazon.

Yours (no longer),

Daniel Ellsberg

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US-ZIONIST FOREIGN POLICY

NOVANEWS

http://networkedblogs.com/boigf

MuzzleWatch–  Tracking efforts to stifle open debate about US-Israeli foreign policy.

Cecilie Surasky: Odious NGO Monitor smears Electronic Intifada, tries to cut funding
December 3, 2010

NGO Monitor was captured perfectly in The Forward by liberal jewish thinker Leonard Fine who said it was “an organization that believes that the best way to defend Israel is to condemn anyone who criticizes it.” But now, no longer satisfied with its McCarthyite efforts to not just condemn, but actually take down respected human rights organizations, it is seeking to stop critical funding of the Electronic Intifada, a key media source for information and analysis about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Electronic Intifada (EI) is a pioneering online news outlet that has been an essential resource for activists, scholars and journalists since its inception in 2002.  Its coverage is unapologetically sympathetic to the Palestinian struggle for human rights, grounded in an understanding of international law and universal human rights. Years before the current proliferation of blogs and alternate news sources, EI was there first, providing a much needed antidote to one-sided mainstream news coverage of Israel and Palestine. And they continue to provide original reporting and news and analysis you still can’t get anywhere else.

Which perhaps is why NGO Monitor has made the preposterous claim that EI is “an anti-Semitic website,” stunningly based on the fact that one staffer is a supporter of the BDS movement and executive director, Ali Abunimah, in his non EI-related speaking engagements, “calls for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and routinely uses false apartheid rhetoric.” Really?

This is what they’ve got? (They’d have to start throwing a lot of Jewish Israeli government officials into the anti-Semite dungeon if invoking ‘apartheid” is officially verboten… and Abunimah’s one state is different in substance but certainly similar in form to an increasing number of Israeli right-wingers who also push for a “one state solution”. And then there’s the entirely reasonable observation that we seem to already have a de-facto one state after 43 some years of occupation.. but I digress)

Yet another of thousands of such a ridiculous claims would be laughable if NGO Monitor didn’t have a card up its sleeve–EI gets about one third of its funding from a Dutch government-funded aid organization. According to the Jerusalem Post, NGO Monitor’s unsubstantiated charges

“prompted Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal to say on Thursday to the Post, “I will look into the matter personally. If it appears that the government subsidized NGO ICCO does fund Electronic Intifada, it will have a serious problem with me.”

As EI has documented in this must-read report, NGO Monitor has very close ties to the far-right. They use the language of NGO (non-governmental organization) transparency to go after funding of Israeli and other human rights groups and funders (including the New Israel Fund and Amnesty International) while remaining completely silent on Israel’s funding-dependent and law-breaking settler groups. EI writes:

NGO Monitor is an extreme right-wing group with close ties to the Israeli government, military, West Bank settlers, a man convicted of misleading the US Congress, and to notoriously Islamophobic individuals and organizations in the United States….

NGO Monitor’s attack on The Electronic Intifada is part of a well-financed, Israeli-government endorsed effort to silence reporting about and criticism of Israel by attacking so-called “delegitimizers” — those who speak about well-documented human rights abuses, support boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS), or promote full equality for Palestinians. Last February, The Electronic Intifada reported that a leading Israeli think-tank had recommended a campaign of “sabotage” against Israel’s critics as a matter of state policy (”Israel’s new strategy: “sabotage” and “attack” the global justice movement,” 16 February 2010).

NGO Monitor has already been at the forefront of a campaign to crush internal dissent by Jewish groups in Israel that want to see Israel’s human rights record improved.

The Jerusalem-based organization poses as a project concerned with accountability for nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), but as Israeli human rights activist and journalist Didi Remez has stated, “NGO Monitor is not an objective watchdog: It is a partisan operation that suppresses its perceived ideological adversaries through the sophisticated use of McCarthyite techniques — blacklisting, guilt by association and selective filtering of facts” (”Bring on the transparency,” Haaretz, 26 November 2009).

There is good news here- thus far EI reports that no action has been taken thus far to end their funding. Presumably anyone who does so would have to actually substantiate NGO Monitor’s spurious charges. Good luck with that.

Posted in USAComments Off on US-ZIONIST FOREIGN POLICY

VICTORY IN THE U.S HOUSE !

NOVANEWS

Dear,

 

Victory in the U.S. House!

JeffreyDalzell
Watch Jeffrey’s thank you and donate to help us win in the Senate.


 

The last 24 hours have been amazing, thanks to you.

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and Senator Tom Harkin spoke at our press conference on Wednesday with over 100 jobless workers YOU sent to DC.1

  • Remember TrueMajority/USAction member Edrie Irvine, from our email on Tuesday? She was interviewed on ABC’s “Good Morning America” the next day.2

  • Late yesterday afternoon, the House voted in favor of one half of our agenda – ending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires.3

This is one of the victories we’ve been working for.

Jeff Dalzell, another USAction member you helped send to D.C. yesterday, wanted to thank you for helping to deliver his message in person to decision makers in Congress. As he says, this fight isn’t over.

And we need you to chip in $35 so we can keep fighting.

Click here to see his message, and chip in to keep the victories coming.

https://secure.truemajority.org/o/2/t/56/shop/custom.jsp?donate_page_KEY=243

But, this fight is far from over. Next week, the bill moves to the Senate. By all accounts, this fight is just beginning.4 

So, we’re bringing in our leaders from the states, the Executive Directors of our powerful affiliates. People like Linda Teeter of Michigan Citizen Action, who leads a staff over 100 every day fighting for economic justice and equal opportunity in her state.

“I’m coming to D.C. to fight for a lifeline to the unemployed and jobless, NOT a tax break for wealthy CEOs. If you believe in social justice and economic opportunity for all, help me get to D.C. so my voice, and yours, can be heard in the U.S. Senate before it’s too late.”

Help Linda convince the Senate to do the right thing: don’t let Republicans hold unemployed Americans hostage while bailing out millionaires with tax cuts. Their behavior on this issue is unconscionable any time of year, but particularly right now during the holidays – Senator Harkin said it best  yesterday, “Where is the moral outrage?” 

We’ve done some amazing work this week. With your support, the Executive Directors of our state affiliates will 

keep the pressure on Congress and make sure Washington doesn’t ignore us.
 
Thanks for your support,
 
Japhet Els

TrueMajority//USAction

1 – http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/desperate-times-unemployment-benefits-expire-12293136?tab=9482931&section=4765066&playlist=&page=2
2 – http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/desperate-times-unemployment-benefits-expire-12293136?tab=9482931&section=4765066&playlist=&page=2
3 – http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/sc-dc-house-tax-vote-20101202,0,3604563.story 
4 –  http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/top/all/7320989.html

 

 

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LEBANON:THE UN INQUIRY INTO HARIRI’S ASSASSINATION

NOVANEWS

 3 December 2010



In 2005, the Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated. Suspicion fell, rightly or wrongly, on the Syrian state forces in Lebanon. The same forces that both Israel and the US gave a green light to when they entered Lebanon in May 1976 on the side of the Christian President Franjiyeh and the Lebanese Front, led by the right-wing and semi-fascist Phalange against the forces of the secularist Lebanese National Movement led by Kamal Jumblatt of the Druze, the Palestinians and Shi’ites.

The consequence of Hariri’s assassination was that the Syrian state was forced to remove its troops from Lebanon. The next part of the plot however didn’t go to plan. When Israel attacked Lebanon in the summer of 2006 it was forced to retreat ignominiously as rockets fell on Haifa and Israel’s army suffered a mauling at the hands of Hizbollah.

The United States, which has, unsurprisingly, refused to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over US war criminals, was in the forefront of establishing a tribunal whose aim, as it made perfectly clear from the beginning, was to find ‘evidence’ that would indict the Syrian leadership. The reasons for this are not hard to find. Syria, one of the few remaining secular states in the Middle East, is seen as a block on US ambitions in the region. It is too independent. It may have a nasty government, like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, but the problem is not its viciousness but its failure to adopt a suitably servile posture like Hosni Mubarak of Egypt.

What we are therefore seeing is a rerun of the Lockerbie trials. Those with a memory that goes back further in time than the BBC’s normal attention span, unless it is 9/11, in which case it lasts forever, may recall that originally the pro-Syrian Popular Front – General Command was blamed for the blowing up of Pan Am 101. But when Col. Ghadaffi became enemy number one, then it was essential to switch the target from the PFLP-GC to Libya. Suitable evidence from a Maltese shopkeeper was then fabricated and pliant Scottish judges were willing to convict an innocent man.

Likewise today there is an attempt to switch targets or focus on Hizbollah’s alleged involvement in the assassination. Evidence consisting primarily of mobile phone records is clearly and obviously suspect and open to manipulation and is, in any event, second hand and circumstantial. But if Hizbollah represents, as it does in American eyes, a threat to Pax Americana and its Israeli surrogate, then it is necessary that the blame for the assassination be focused on Nasrallah, Hizbollah’s leader. The hypocrisy of all this is only too obvious.

If there is any state and its leaders who should be in the dock of what is laughingly called the ‘international community’ it is the United States for genocide in Iraq, for the use of torture and deliberately encouraging its use, for the war in Afghanistan and its promotion of Political Islam (which would be the beneficiary of any destabilisation in Syria which was not led by the left). Bush and Blair would long ago have been hanged together with Saddam Hussein if international justice were really value free and neutral.

As it is what we are seeing is an attempt to eliminate or provide the pretext for elimination of Hizbollah as the precondition for an attack on Iran. The article below, from the excellent Middle East Research Project, is well worth reading for what the US and its allies are up to in Lebanon. Tony Greenstein

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A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

Nice crime wave across the Zionist state

3 December 2010

 

 Israel. 0 Comments Tags: , , ,

And the revelations continue:

US Ambassador to Israel James Cunningham expressed concern with the growing threat of organized crime in Israel in a cable from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv leaked this week on the WikiLeaks website entitled “Israel, a promised land fore organized crime?”

Cunningham questioned Israel’s ability to deal with the growing problem.

If this isn’t fascism in Israel, then what is?

3 December 2010 

Israel. 0 Comments Tags: , , , .

33% of Israelis support placing Israeli Palestinian citizens in concentration camps during wartime.

Australia is in Afghanistan to support this?

3 December 2010

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Oh what a glorious war:

Britain’s four-year military stewardship of the troubled Helmand province has been scorned by President Hamid Karzai, top Afghan officials and the US commander of Nato troops, according to secret US diplomatic cables.

The dispatches expose a devastating contempt for the British failure to impose security and connect with ordinary Afghans.

The leaked US embassy cables covering Afghanistan also reveal:

• Widespread suspicion of high-level corruption in the Afghan government, with one cable detailing how the vice-president was carrying $52m in his suitcase when he was stopped at Dubai airport.

• Iran’s growing influence in Afghanistan as Tehran finances senior politicians and, the cables allege, trains Taliban militants.

• Anger among America’s allies when they discovered that the US military was charging a 15% handling fee on hundreds of millions of dollars being raised internationally to build up the Afghan army.

The criticism of the British operation in Helmand centres on its failure to establish security in Sangin – the town which has become totemic as the place that has claimed more British lives than any other in Afghanistan.

Is Assange being an “anarchist” a bad thing?

2 December 2010

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Yet another mainstream media story focused on US “embarrassment” over the Wikileaks documents. What’s a corporate journalist to do when his/her main source (the government) is being pounding daily in the press?

The United States scrambled to contain the fallout from the slow-motion leak of cables from its embassies worldwide Wednesday as new documents showed American diplomats casting a jaundiced eye toward corruption’s grip on Russia.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton personally made “several dozen” calls to counterparts in other countries in an effort to mitigate the damage from WikiLeaks, a website that facilitates the anonymous leaking of secret information, a senior State Department official said.

In a CNN interview Wednesday night, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley called WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange an “anarchist.”

“He’s trying to undermine the collaboration, the cooperation, the system by which we engage with other governments, cooperate with other governments and solve regional challenges,” Crowley told CNN’s “John King USA.” But while Clinton is facing other world leaders, “trying to solve the world’s challenges,” Assange is in hiding, he said.

Wikileaks here to stay so take that

2 December 2010

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Looks like our censoring friends are going to have troubles bringing down Wikileaks:

SHANE MCLEOD: Wikileaks says its founder Julian Assange is going to stay in hiding because he may be at risk of being assassinated.

A spokeswoman for the website says the Australian citizen will maintain a low profile amidst calls by some for his arrest and prosecution for releasing sensitive diplomatic cables.

The self-styled whistleblower is starting to suffer setbacks on another front.

It has been kicked off its servers in the United States run by web-host Amazon.Com.

Amazon hasn’t made any comment – but the decision has been applauded by the US Senator Joe Lieberman — who heads the Homeland Security Committee.

He says Amazon made the ‘right decision’ and has set a standard for other companies that WikiLeaks is using to distribute its material.

WikiLeaks says it’ll move its data to servers in Europe.

Earlier I spoke to Professor Scott Silliman, an expert on national security law at Duke University.

I asked him what options the US had to try to force WikiLeaks offline.

SCOTT SILLIMAN: The options as far as trying to take the site down are very, very limited. As best we know, the site is licensed in Iceland, that’s where the server is and there is very little that the United States can do legally to shut down the site.

It has certainly a right operate on the Internet so there is not a really good legal option for the United States with regard to WikiLeaks itself.

What’s a few cluster bombs between mates?

2 December 2010

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Another revelation to confirm our belief in the robust democratic beliefs of the US and Britain:

British and American officials colluded in a plan to hoodwink parliament over a proposed ban on cluster bombs, the Guardian can disclose.

According to leaked US embassy dispatches, David Miliband, who was Britain’s foreign secretary under Labour, approved the use of a loophole to manoeuvre around the ban and allow the US to keep the munitions on British territory.

Unlike Britain, the US had refused to sign up to an international convention that bans the weapons because of the widespread injury they cause to civilians.

The US military asserted that cluster bombs were “legitimate weapons that provide a vital military capability” and wanted to carry on using British bases regardless of the ban.

Whitehall officials proposed that a specially created loophole to grant the US a free hand should be concealed from parliament in case it “complicated or muddied” the MPs’ debate.

Gordon Brown, as prime minister, had swung his political weight in 2008 behind the treaty to ban the use and stockpiling of cluster bombs. Britain therefore signed it, contrary to earlier assurances made by British officials to their US counterparts.

The US had stockpiles of cluster munitions at bases on British soil and intended to keep them, regardless of the treaty.

When the bill to ratify the treaty was going through parliament this year, the then Labour foreign ministers Glenys Kinnock and Chris Bryant repeatedly proclaimed that US cluster munition arsenals would be removed from British territory by the declared deadline of 2013.

But a different picture emerges from a confidential account of a meeting between UK and US officials in May last year.

It shows that the two governments concocted the “concept” of allowing US forces to store their cluster weapons as “temporary exceptions” and on a “case-by-case” basis for specific military operations.

Foreign Office officials “confirmed that the concept was accepted at highest levels of the government, as that idea had been included in the draft letter from minister [David] Miliband to secretary [of state Hillary] Clinton”.

US cluster munitions are permanently stored on ships off the coast of the Diego Garcia airbase in the Indian Ocean, the cables reveal. The base is crucial for US military missions in the Middle East. Diego Garcia, still deemed British territory, has been occupied by the US military since its inhabitants were expelled in the 1960s and 1970s. The British concept of a “temporary exception” to oblige the US does not appear to be envisaged in the treaty. But the British arranged that “any movement of cluster munitions from ships at Diego Garcia to planes there, temporary transit, or use from British territory … would require the temporary exception”.

Nicholas Pickard, head of the Foreign Office’s security policy unit, is quoted as saying: “It would be better for the US government and HMG [the British government] not to reach final agreement on this temporary agreement understanding until after the [treaty] ratification process is completed in parliament, so that they can tell parliamentarians that they have requested the US government to remove its cluster munitions by 2013, without complicating/muddying the debate by having to indicate that this request is open to exceptions.”

Lady Kinnock subsequently promised parliament that there would be no “permanent stockpiles of cluster munitions on UK territory” after the treaty as the US had decided it no longer needed them on British soil.

Where’s the media guts over Wikileaks?

2 December 2010

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My following article appears on ABC Unleashed today:

The rolling revelations of the WikiLeaks US embassy cables will continue for months but equally interesting is the reaction of the global media.

Many in the British media establishment, not given advance look at the documents, fumed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and repeated government spin that the release would endanger lives. This is from media groups who claim to believe in press freedom and there is no evidence that any WikiLeaks releases have harmed a soul, something even acknowledged by the US government.

It is expected that governments affected by the leaks would be upset but this week has seen a very clear fault-line expanding between those who endorse an authoritarian mindset towards leakers and others who understand the importance of airing America’s dirty tricks to the world.

Assange makes no secret of wanting to harm the image of the US and lessen American power. Indeed, in an interview this week

“US officials have for 50 years trotted out this line when they are afraid the public is going to see how they really behave”, Assange said.

Ironically, many of the public figures today allegedly worried about US lives being lost are the same people who wholly backed the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and drone attacks in Pakistan.

It’s unsurprising that Fox News-funded Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin both condemn the release (with the latter comparing Assange to Al Qaeda). Bill O’Reilly said the “traitor” who leaked the information to WikiLeaks should be “executed”.

The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol, a Jewish neo-conservative who backs endless war in the Middle East, wants Assange silenced and the Washington Post’s Charles Krauthammer argues for the prosecution of journalistic “collaborators” with WikiLeaks. A senior adviser to Canadian leader Stephen Harper states Assange should be murdered by drone attack.

Predictably, many in the mainstream media have mimicked the Obama administration’s concerns over the leaks.

It was painful on Monday listening to ABC radio’s The World Today grilling a New York Times journalist about his paper’s decision to publish some of the revelations. Virtually every question asked by host Eleanor Hall could have come from the State Department. The contents and implications of the cables were mostly ignored.

The ABC reporter in Washington also heavily featured official perspectives at the expense of real analysis of the release. It’s been left to astute bloggers to articulate the importance of establishment embarrassment at a time when US foreign policy under Obama has mostly continued the pattern set by the Bush administration.

One example is the litany of documents that prove Israel and the US looking to spy on Palestinian officials and gather information such as frequent flyer and credit card numbers. Many in the Israeli press are pleased that the documents prove that US-backed autocrats support the hardline Israeli stance on attacking Iran. Why a supposedly democratic nation like Israel would want to be in bed with one of the most brutal regimes in the world, Saudi Arabia, has gone largely unremarked.

But little of this has surfaced in the corporate press as they’ve been too busy repeating the talking points of outraged officials in Canberra, London and Washington. The reaction of Arab bloggers has also been mostly ignored.

The details of the WikiLeaks story are arguably the most interesting. For example, the New York Times supposedly had to rely on the Guardian for the documents because Assange had been displeased with a recent profile of him in the Times. Editor Bill Keller was keen to negotiate with the White House which documents would not offend American goals.

The Washington Post reports that the Wall Street Journal and CNN, offered the cables but refused, were told by WikiLeaks that they would be liable for $US100,000 if any embargo was broken.

But where is the bravery in the media assessing the fallout of the leaks? Slate’s Jack Shafer calls for the resignation of Hillary Clinton because of the hard evidence that she demanded her foreign-service officials to spy on friend and foe. Here was – in black and white – documentation that shows Washington engaged in a global network of espionage. When Tehran or Beijing acts similarly, it’s called terrorism.

And where are the legal and civil rights lobbies in Australia as growing threats against Assange and his website increase by the day? A handful are speaking out, including Sydney University’s Ben Saul, claiming that Australia’s priority should be asking America about its crimes revealed in the WikiLeaks dump. Few journalists are arguing similarly.

Rupert Murdoch columnist Andrew Bolt defends the spying as a necessary price to pay to maintain American hegemony in the world seemingly oblivious to the fact that Washington’s ability to influence the world has irreversibly declined since September 11, 2001, helped by a lessening of fear towards American power.

Indeed, there seems to be a major degree of jealousy within the mainstream media. Why haven’t more of them been leaked key documents? Why did sources rely on WikiLeaks instead of a major news organisation? As Assange told Forbes this week, in lieu of another major leak related to a major US bank in early 2011:

“We’re totally source-dependent. We get what we get. As our profile rises in a certain area, we get more in a particular area. People say, ‘Why don’t you release more leaks form the Taliban?’ So I say ‘Hey, help us, tell more Taliban dissidents about us’.”

Many journalists and editors would read that and wonder why Taliban dissidents hadn’t contacted them.

Perhaps somebody should examine what the motives of Assange actually are; he’s written a manifesto of sorts years ago.

But professional frustration isn’t the only key issue here. It’s the media’s overly-respectful posture towards authority. There is an overly-suspicious attitude towards people like Assange who refuse to play the traditional media game. He’s an outsider with exclusive information. He hasn’t spent years cultivating contacts inside the media tent. And he doesn’t spend most of his free time socialising with political staffers, editors and insiders.

John Kampfner, chief executive of Index on Censorship, reminds journalists of the truth:

“All governments have a legitimate right to protect national security. This should be a specific, and closely scrutinised, area of policy. Most of our secrecy rules are designed merely to protect politicians and officials from embarrassment.”

The Australian media’s performance this week has been mixed at best. There has been a fascination with the Gillard Government’s response and an attempt to mitigate the potential embarrassment for authorities.

The vast bulk of the local reporting – Paul McGeough in Fairfax was a notable exception though he mistakenly claimed the previous WikiLeaks drops on Iraq and Afghanistan were “relatively harmless” – has challenged the reliability of Assange and questioned his sanity and seriousness. A Fairfax video was entitled, ‘Assange reliability under question’ when in fact nobody credibly claimed the cables were falsified.

It’s as if the corporate press can’t quite bring itself to acknowledge the lies told by the US government, fearful of losing access in the process. Instead, many in the Australian press are giving valuable space to the US ambassador in Canberra who unsurprisingly condemns the leaks.

Moreover, one of the key take-away points from the revelations is the US contempt for democracy around the world. Public opinion can be essentially ignored for the perceived greater good; backing Zionist and Arab dictatorships in the name of oil security. We should care that US officials pressured nations not to investigate alleged human rights committed by the US post 9/11.

Interestingly, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) just announced that no part of WikiLeaks remains on the Australian blacklist of banned websites.

All WikiLeaks releases bring up questions of accountability of the organisation itself. This week leading human rights groups expressed concern that activists in repressive regimes, who may have had contact with US embassies, could be named in the cables and threatened.

Pentagon Paper’s leaker Daniel Ellsberg said this week that WikiLeaks had made “mistakes” in the past by inadvertently releasing names and personal details in previous dumps. He also stressed that the Pentagon was prone to exaggerating the threat posed to anyone listed in the documents. Quite simply, there is zero evidence of lives being threatened or lost over any WikiLeaks documents though a Canadian aid worker claims the cables will hurt dissidents in repressive regimes.

The job of real journalists is not to insulate officials or governments from embarrassment but to investigate legitimate stories relevant to the public interest. Note how many reporters are primarily worried about Washington’s loss of information, not the details contained within the files.

Damaging the “national interest” is a principle that should be questioned when policies of the state are deliberately designed to ensure secrecy over state-sponsored terrorism. Transparency and accountability are what WikiLeaks offers. Those who oppose it must be vigorously challenged. with America’s ABC he said that Washington simply wasn’t credible when they claimed the release of documents would hurt individuals.

Wikileaks unloads on the vestiges of our faux democracy

2 December 2010 

 

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The UK Guardian is doing wonderful work this week, publishing a litany of information over the Wikileaks dump.

Every day brings huge new revelations, leaving so many in the mainstream media simply ignoring the best bits (hello ABC Radio’s AM today, utterly shunning anything about the issues).

One:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wanted to expose China‘s and Russia‘s secrets as much as those of the US, and believes Hillary Clinton should resign if she ordered diplomats to engage in espionage.

“[Clinton] should resign if it could be shown that she was responsible for ordering US diplomatic figures to engage in espionage of UN activities, in violation of the international covenants to which the US signed up,” he said in an interview with Time magazine, published yesterday following the leak of secret US diplomatic cables that have caused huge embarrassment for the country.

Assange gave the interview via Skype from an undisclosed location after a warrant was issued by Interpol following rape allegations in Sweden, which his lawyer said amounted to persecution and a smear campaign.

While Assange has been accused by former members of the WikiLeaks project of obsessively focusing on the US, he said countries with less transparency, such as China and Russia, had the most potential to be reformed by whistleblowers.

“We believe it is the most closed societies that have the most reform potential,” he said. Assange said that while parts of the Chinese government and security services “appear terrified of free speech” he believed it was “an optimistic sign because it means speech can still cause reform.”

He added: “Journalism and writing is capable of achieving change which is why Chinese authorities are so scared of it.”

Assange argued that countries like China could be easier to reform than countries like the US and the UK, which “have been so heavily fiscalised through contractual obligations that political change doesn’t seem to result in economic change, which in other words means that political change doesn’t result in change.”

While secrecy was important, Assange said, in keeping the identity of sources hidden, secrecy “shouldn’t be used to cover up abuses.”

He said that revealing abuses could lead to positive changes in countries and organisations. “They have one of two choices … to reform in such a way that they can be proud of their endeavours, and proud to display them to the public” or “to lock down internally and to balkanise, and as a result, of course, cease to be as efficient as they were. To me, that is a very good outcome, because organizations can either be efficient, open and honest, or they can be closed, conspiratorial and inefficient.”

Turning back to the US, Assange said he believed American society was “becoming more closed” and its “relative degree of openness … probably peaked in about 1978, and has been on the way down, unfortunately, since.”

Speaking about accusations that he had singled out the US as a force for harm in the world, Assange said the view lacked “the necessary subtlety”.

“I don’t think the US is, by world standards, an exception; rather it is a very interesting case both for its abuses and for some of its founding principles.”

Assange said the media interest in the WikiLeaks cables had been tremendous.

“The media scrutiny and the reaction are so tremendous that it actually eclipses our ability to understand it,” he said, with “a tremendous rearrangement of viewings about many different countries”.

Assange also gave a glimpse into why WikiLeaks had chosen to partner with traditional media organisations to release the files, rather than, as might have been expected, amateur bloggers. In 2006, “we thought we would have the analytical work done by bloggers and people who wrote Wikipedia articles and so on,” he said.

But “when people write political commentary on blogs or other social media, it is my experience that it is not, with some exceptions, their goal to expose the truth.

“Rather, it is their goal to position themselves amongst their peers on whatever the issue of the day is. The most effective, the most economical way to do that, is simply to take the story that’s going around, [which] has already created a marketable audience for itself, and say whether they’re in favour of that interpretation or not.”

Now, he said, the analytical work was “done by professional journalists we work with and by professional human rights activists. It is not done by the broader community.” Social networks acted as amplifiers, he added – and, as WikiLeaks gained more publicity, an important supplier of source material.

Two:

Russia tried to block the extradition of the suspected international arms trafficker Viktor Bout from Thailand to America by bribing key witnesses, the US claims.

Diplomats in Bangkok alleged in cables released by WikiLeaks that Bout’s “Russian supporters” had paid witnesses to give false testimony during his extradition hearing.

Dubbed the “merchant of death”, Bout was seized by the Thai authorities in March 2008 but only extradited to the US on 16 November this year. The US accuses him of conspiring to sell millions of dollars of weapons to Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) rebels to kill Americans. The Kremlin strongly opposed his extradition.

The Russian businessman, accused of running arms-trafficking networks around the world, maintains he is innocent in a case that turned into an undignified tug-of-war between Washington and Moscow.

In a cable written on 13 February 2009, US diplomats said that in the year after Bout’s arrest, extradition proceedings in Thailand were “going in the way we want” – albeit at a “painfully slow” pace.

More recently, however, the case had taken a worryingly wrong turn: “There have been disturbing indications that Bout’s … and Russian supporters have been using money and influence in an attempt to block extradition,” the diplomats reported.

Three:

The WikiLeaks website exposé of the inner workings of American diplomacy continued Wednesday, with revelations that Berlin pushed for the U.S. to impose a settlement freeze on Israel.

According to a telegram published by the whistleblowing website, two weeks before Israel’s inner cabinet decided on a settlement construction freeze in November 2009, a senior German government official urged the United States to threaten Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that if he did not agree to a moratorium, Washington would withdraw its support for blocking a vote on the Goldstone Report at the United Nations Security Council.

Four:

A diplomatic cable from last February released by Wikileaks provides a detailed account of how Russian specialists on the Iranian ballistic missile program refuted the U.S. suggestion that Iran has missiles that could target European capitals or intends to develop such a capability.

In fact, the Russians challenged the very existence of the mystery missile the U.S. claims Iran acquired from North Korea.

But readers of the two leading U.S. newspapers never learned those key facts about the document.

The New York Times and Washington Post reported only that the United States believed Iran had acquired such missiles – supposedly called the BM-25 – from North Korea. Neither newspaper reported the detailed Russian refutation of the U.S. view on the issue or the lack of hard evidence for the BM-25 from the U.S. side.

The Times, which had obtained the diplomatic cables not from Wikileaks but from The Guardian, according to a Washington Post story Monday, did not publish the text of the cable.

The Times story said the newspaper had made the decision not to publish “at the request of the Obama administration”. That meant that its readers could not compare the highly- distorted account of the document in the Times story against the original document without searching the Wikileaks website.

As a result, a key Wikileaks document which should have resulted in stories calling into question the thrust of the Obama administration’s ballistic missile defense policy in Europe based on an alleged Iranian missile threat has instead produced a spate of stories buttressing anti-Iran hysteria.

Amazon crushes free speech and we’re watching

2 December 2010

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This is a disgrace and shows the utterly spinelessness of some in corporate America. We will not forget:

The United States struck its first blow against WikiLeaks after Amazon.com pulled the plug on hosting the whistleblowing website in an apparent reaction to heavy political pressure.

The main website and a sub-site devoted to the diplomatic documents were unavailable from the US and Europe on Wednesday, as Amazon servers refused to acknowledge requests for data.

The plug was pulled as the influential senator and chairman of the homeland security committee, Joe Lieberman, called for a boycott of the site by US companies.

“[Amazon’s] decision to cut off WikiLeaks now is the right decision and should set the standard for other companies WikiLeaks is using to distribute its illegally seized material,” he said.

“I call on any other company or organisation that is hosting WikiLeaks to immediately terminate its relationship with them.”

The department of homeland security confirmed Amazon’s move, referring journalists to Lieberman’s statement.

WikiLeaks tweeted in response: “WikiLeaks servers at Amazon ousted. Free speech the land of the free – fine our $ are now spent to employ people in Europe.”

The development came amid increasingly angry and polarised political opinion in America over WikiLeaks, with some conservatives calling for the organisation’s founder, Julian Assange, to be executed as a spy. Availability of his website has been patchy since Sunday, when it started to come under a series of internet-based attacks by unknown hackers. WikiLeaks dealt with the attacks in part by moving to servers run by Amazon Web Services, which is self-service.

Amazon.com would not comment on its relationship with WikiLeaks or whether it forced the site to leave. Messages seeking comment from WikiLeaks were not immediately returned.

Colombo starts to feel heat over killings of Tamils

2 December 2010

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Wow. What a Guardian headline: “WikiLeaks cables: ‘Sri Lankan president responsible for massacre of Tamils’”:

American diplomats believed that the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, bore responsibility for a massacre last year that is the subject of a UN war crimes inquiry, according to a leaked US cable.

Lawyers for Tamil activists in Britain are seeking an arrest warrant against President Rajapaksa for alleged war crimes committed last year at the bloody end of the long-running civil war against Tamil separatists. Rajapaksa, who is in the UK, is due to meet the defence secretary, Liam Fox, tomorrow and had an address to the Oxford Union scheduled for Fridaycancelled due to security concerns.

Thousands of Tamils are thought to have died in a few days in May 2009, when a large concentration of Tamil Tiger guerrillas and civilians, crammed in a small coastal strip, came under heavy bombardment from Sri Lankan government forces.

In a cable sent on 15 January this year, the US ambassador in Colombo, Patricia Butenis, said one of the reasons there was such little progress towards a genuine Sri Lankan inquiry into the killings was that the president and the former army commander, Sarath Fonseka, were largely responsible. “There are no examples we know of a regime undertaking wholesale investigations of its own troops or senior officials for war crimes while that regime or government remained in power,” Butenis noted.

“In Sri Lanka this is further complicated by the fact that responsibility for many alleged crimes rests with the country’s senior civilian and military leadership, including President Rajapaksa and his brothers and opposition candidate General Fonseka.” Fonseka was convicted of corruption by a court martial this year.

In her cable to Washington, Butenis seeks to explain why there is so little momentum towards the formation of a “truth and reconciliation” commission, or any other form of accountability.

Most Tamil Tiger commanders, also under suspicion for war crimes such as the use of civilians as human shields, had been killed at the end of the war.

President Rajapaksa had meanwhile fought an election campaign promising to resist any international efforts to prosecute “war heroes” in the nation’s army.

Not only was the Colombo government not interested in investigating itself, but Tamils in Sri Lanka – unlike those abroad – were also nervous about the issue as it might make them targets for reprisals.

Butenis wrote: “While they wanted to keep the issue alive for possible future action, Tamil leaders with whom we spoke in Colombo, Jaffna and elsewhere said now was not time and that pushing hard on the issue would make them ‘vulnerable’.

“Accountability is clearly an issue of importance for the ultimate political and moral health of Sri Lankan society,” the ambassador concluded, but she did not think it would happen any time soon.

All those private lobbyists in DC wondering if their money will come this month

on 1 December 2010

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Feel the fear as the political elites scramble for cover. The poor dears, having to find ways to defend behaviour by their well-paying clients:

Much has been written about the State Department’s intensive effort to deal with the release of secret diplomatic cables by the website WikiLeaks, but there is also a separate, massive effort to deal with the crisis by the embassies of foreign governments, aided by the paid lobbyists and consultants who represent them.

Working as a Washington lobbyist for a foreign country is usually a pretty sweet gig. These hired guns keep governments informed on anything in town that could affect their country’s diplomatic or political interests — for a hefty monthly fee, of course. Lobbyists apply added elbow grease when relevant legislation needs cheerleading on Capitol Hill. Consultants work harder when foreign officials are in town or there’s a pressing bilateral issue. But overall, crises are relatively rare.

Not this week, though: It’s all hands on deck on K Street, as firms are fielding frantic and constant requests from diplomats in foreign capitals, trying to make sense of the released and soon-to-be-released WikiLeaks State Department cables.

“When was the last time that every embassy and every consultancy in town went into crisis mode simultaneously,” one consultant with clients in Europe and Asia told The Cable. This consultant said that his firm has been totally swamped since Sunday’s initial document dump with panicked emails, rushed conference calls, and requests for information.

“Basically you have governments that have absolutely no idea what’s in these documents. And everybody from senior officials to embassy personnel to Washington consultants are in a mad scramble to go through each new batch of documents as they come out to identify items that are potential vulnerabilities, paint their bosses in an unflattering light, or reveal some sensitive information,” the consultant said. “The entire chain of command is in panic mode with every new release.”

“The spectrum goes from panicked to intrigued, optimistic to ape shit.”

Sarkozy, like Gillard, Cameron et al, long to look into the eyes of US President

1 December 2010

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Just what the world needs; another Western leader desperate to be loved by America:

President Nicolas Sarkozy is an unusually solid French friend of America. He is also a “mercurial” man operating in “a zone of monarch-like impunity” surrounded by advisers often too fearful to give honest counsel, according to leaked cables from the United States Embassy in Paris.

Last December, the American ambassador shared an anecdote with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: when the mayor of Paris had the Eiffel Tower lighted in Turkey’s national colors for a visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in April 2009, aides to Mr. Sarkozy, a staunch opponent of Turkey’s entry to the European Union, rerouted the presidential plane so he would not see it.

“Élysée contacts have reported to us the great lengths they will go to avoid disagreeing” with Mr. Sarkozy “or provoking his displeasure,” said the cable, signed by Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin. It was part of a trove of documents obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations.

Five years of correspondence between Paris and Washington chronicle a spectacular post-Iraq turnabout between one of the West’s most complicated diplomatic couples. Mr. Sarkozy, who took office in May 2007, was described even last year as “the most pro-American French president since World War II” and a “force multiplier” for American foreign policy interests.

President Nicolas Sarkozy is an unusually solid French friend of America. He is also a “mercurial” man operating in “a zone of monarch-like impunity” surrounded by advisers often too fearful to give honest counsel, according to leaked cables from the United States Embassy in Paris.

Last December, the American ambassador shared an anecdote with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton: when the mayor of Paris had the Eiffel Tower lighted in Turkey’s national colors for a visit by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in April 2009, aides to Mr. Sarkozy, a staunch opponent of Turkey’s entry to the European Union, rerouted the presidential plane so he would not see it.

“Élysée contacts have reported to us the great lengths they will go to avoid disagreeing” with Mr. Sarkozy “or provoking his displeasure,” said the cable, signed by Ambassador Charles H. Rivkin. It was part of a trove of documents obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations.

Five years of correspondence between Paris and Washington chronicle a spectacular post-Iraq turnabout between one of the West’s most complicated diplomatic couples. Mr. Sarkozy, who took office in May 2007, was described even last year as “the most pro-American French president since World War II” and a “force multiplier” for American foreign policy interests.

Zionist weapons tested on Arabs then sold to the world

1 December 2010

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A disturbing piece in the LA Times that shows how Israel is profiting from marketing “anti-terrorist” gear. And Palestinians are guinea pigs:

As the threat of terrorism spreads, Israel has moved aggressively to turn domestic security technology into one of its biggest exports.

More than 400 Israeli companies export about $1.5 billion annually in domestic security goods and technology, including biometric devices, tear gas canisters, anti-intrusion systems, airport screening machines, explosives detectors and remote-controlled vehicles.

“Israel’s domestic market is tiny,” said Alon Slonim, vice president for international marketing at Ispra, which manufactures tear gas and other riot gear. “The only way to grow is to export.”

Competing with mass-producing firms in nations such as the United States and China is challenging, Slonim said, so Israeli companies need to be creative to stand out.

For example, based on Israel’s experience in dealing with Palestinian protests and uprisings against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Ispra designed tear gas canisters made of softer plastic to reduce the risk of injury if the projectiles hit demonstrators. The canisters are also designed to blow up shortly after they disperse their gas, to discourage protesters from picking them up and tossing them back at police.

Then this quote is utterly offensive and isn’t even countered by an alternative point of view. Note the not so subtle connection between extremism and Islam.

Israel’s experience in combating Palestinian extremists has made Israeli companies somewhat expert in guerrilla tactics, rocket attacks and suicide bombers, said Doron Havazelet, director of the new Homeland Security Institute at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

“The proximity of Israeli culture to Islamic culture produces a better understanding of the issues,” he said. “Israel is a country that stood at this front line earlier than most others.”

How dare you look into our boys doing bad things, says US

1 December 2010

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Here are just two examples of Washington pressuring nations not to pursue investigations into alleged human rights abuses committed by the US post 9/11. Real democracy in action.

One:

US officials tried to influence Spanish prosecutors and government officials to head off court investigations into Guantánamo Bay torture allegations, secret CIA “extraordinary rendition” flights and the killing of a Spanish journalist by US troops in Iraq, according to secret US diplomatic cables.

Among their biggest worries were investigations pursued by the magistrate Baltasar Garzón, who US officials described as having “an anti-American streak”.

“We are certainly under no illusions about the individual with whom we are dealing,” they said after he opened an investigation into torture at Guantánamo Bay prison camp. “Judge Garzon has been a storied and controversial figure in recent Spanish history, whose ambition and pursuit of the spotlight may be without rival.”

The revelations contained in the leaked documents will be embarrassing to Spanish prosecutors who shared information on cases they were involved in, and whose identities the Americans wanted protected.

They included the attorney general, Candido Conde-Pumpido, national court chief prosecutor, Javier Zaragoza, and fellow prosecutor Vicente González Mota, responsible for the CIA flights affair.

Zaragoza is revealed as a valuable source who accuses Garzón of opening some human rights cases in order to “drum up more speaking fees”. He proved to be an ally as the US tried to stem a flood of investigations at Spain‘s national court – one of the world’s most vigorous courts in exercising international jurisdiction over human rights crimes.

A major worry was a torture case brought by a Spanish non-governmental organisation against six senior Bush administration officials, including the former attorney general Alberto Gonzales.

Senator Mel Martinez, a former Republican party chairman, and the US embassy’s charge d’affaires visited the Spanish foreign ministry to warn the investigation would have consequences. “Martinez and the charge underscored that the prosecutions would … have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship,” the officials reported.

Officials in Madrid discussed with Zaragoza ways in which a US investigation into the same allegations might be opened in order to force the Spanish court to close its own case. “Zaragoza has also told us that if a proceeding regarding this matter were underway in the US, that would effectively bar proceedings in Spain. We intend to further explore this option with him informally,” they said.

Garzón, who opened a separate torture investigation, was deemed to put self-promotion first. “We suspect Garzón will wring all the publicity he can from the case unless and until he is forced to give it up,” said the officials.

“Zaragoza said he had challenged Garzón directly and personally on this latest case, asking if he was trying to drum up more speaking fees,” they reported.

They noted that Garzón was already in hot water over his investigation into human rights crimes committed under Spain’s former dictator General Francisco Franco. As a result Garzón now looks set to be removed from his job by supreme court judges next year.

“Zaragoza doubts Garzón will risk a second such complaint,” they said.

But US officials worried he would go down fighting. “It is hard for us to see why the publicity-loving Garzón would shut off his headline-generating machine unless forced to do so,” they reported. “We also fear Garzón – far from being deterred by threats of disciplinary action – may welcome the chance for martyrdom, knowing the case will attract worldwide attention.”

When another Spanish magistrate began investigating the alleged use of a Spanish airport for secret CIA flights carrying terror suspects, officials noted that US policy was to deal with these cases in closed-door conversations with governments.

They were especially alarmed when magistrates and prosecutors in both Spain and Germany began comparing notes. “This co-ordination among independent investigators will complicate our efforts to manage this case at a discreet government-to-government level,” they warned.

Two:

So far, the 251,287 secret State Department cables leaked by Wikileaks have been more embarrassing to the United States than particularly revealing. But one exchange between U.S. and German officials reveals a sad reality about the tangled web woven by the Bush administration when it decided to engage in torture — and highlights how President Obama has kept the U.S. ensnared by that legacy.

According to this leaked document, the U.S. State Department in 2007 warned Germany that issuance of arrest warrants for CIA officers involved in the kidnapping of an innocent German citizen, Khalid El-Masri, imprisoned for months in Afghanistan and allegedly tortured there would “have a negative impact” on the two countries’ relationship. Indeed, Deputy Chief of Mission John M. Koenig reminded German Deputy National Security Adviser Rolf Nikel that a similar move by Italy, which a year earlier had prosecuted CIA officers for their involvement in the kidnapping from Milan and rendition to Egypt of Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, known as Abu Omar, had “repercussions to U.S.-Italian bilateral relations.”

According to the cable, which appears to summarize the two officials’ conversation, “The DCM pointed out that our intention was not to threaten Germany, but rather to urge that the German Government weigh carefully at every step of the way the implications for relations with the U.S.”

Scott Horton at Harpers adds details to this last case:

The El-Masri cable suggests that the Embassy in Berlin was trying to protect thirteen CIA agents then subject to an arrest warrant. These agents’ true names are now known, and an arrest warrant continues to hang over them–now issued by Spanish prosecutors after American diplomatic pressure effectively chilled the German investigation. But the most noteworthy thing about this cable is the addressee—Condoleezza Rice. Might she and her legal advisor, John Bellinger, have had an interest in the El-Masri case that went beyond their purely professional interest in U.S.-German diplomatic relations?

The decision to “snatch” El-Masri and lock him up in the “salt pit” involved the extraordinary renditions program, and it seems as a matter of routine that this would have required not only the approval of the CIA’s top echelon but also the White House-based National Security Council.

It’s highly likely that Rice and Bellinger would have been involved in the decision to “snatch” and imprison El-Masri. If authority was given by Rice, then responsibility for the mistake—which might well include criminal law accountability—may also rest with her, and this fact would also not have escaped Koenig as he performed his diplomatic duties.

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

WIKILEAKS SHUT DOWN-BUT FOR LONG

NOVANEWS

Wikileaks Shut Down — But Not For Long (Includes New Domain)

December 03, 2010

www.antiwar.com 

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos

U.S-based domain provider DNS.net shut down WikiLeaks Thursday night claiming relentless cyber attacks on the site, but WikiLeaks was up by the crack of dawn ET, on a new Swiss server, www.wikileaks.ch or  http://213.251.145.96/. WikilLeaks announced it via Twitter around 4:30: “Free Speech has a number…”

Pathetically, CNN International refused to include the new address in its own reporting of the event. Meanwhile, Jumpin’ Joe Lieberman has moved on from Amazon, and has  pressured another provider to drop a site carrying WikiLeaks-related content. This time, as Glenn Greenwald points out, the targeted website is independent from WikiLeaks and was merely publishing graphs based on WikiLeaks info on its site.

“(Lieberman) is on some kind of warped mission where he’s literally running around single-handedly dictating what political content can and cannot be on the Internet, issuing broad-based threats to “all companies” that — by design — are causing suppression of political information.”

Interesting times ahead.

Posted in PoliticsComments Off on WIKILEAKS SHUT DOWN-BUT FOR LONG

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