Archive | June, 2012

Russia, US key to last-ditch Syria talks in Geneva


Russia’s determination to preserve its last remaining ally in the Middle East collides head-on with United States desire to replace President Bashar Al Assad with a democracy at today’s pivotal United Nations-brokered conference seeking a political solution to the violence in Syria.

Efforts at bridging the Russia-United States divide hold the key to international envoy Kofi Annan’s plan for easing power from Mr Assad’s grip, and ending 16 months of violence in the country before it erupts into full-blown civil war.

Without agreement among the major powers on how to form a transitional government for the country, Mr Assad’s regime – Iran’s closest ally – would be emboldened to try to remain in power indefinitely, and that would also complicate the US aim of halting Iran’s nuclear goals.

At talks last night, top US and Russian diplomats remained deadlocked over the negotiating text to agree on guidelines and principles for “a Syria-led transition”. Mr Annan, a former UN chief whose efforts to end the Syrian crisis have thus far fallen short, arrived this morning without speaking to reporters.
Hopes have centred on persuading Russia – Syria’s most important ally, protector and arms supplier – to agree to a plan that would end the 4-decade rule of the Assad family dynasty. But the Russians want Syria alone to be the master of its fate, at a time when Mr Assad’s regime and the opposition are increasingly bitterly polarized.

“Ultimately, we want to stop the bloodshed in Syria. If that comes through political dialogue, we are willing to do that,” said Mr Khalid Saleh, a spokesman for the Syrian National Council, a coalition of Syrian opposition groups based in Istanbul, Turkey. “We are not willing to negotiate with Mr Assad and those who have murdered Syrians. We are not going to negotiate unless they leave Syria.”

The negotiating text for the multinational conference calls for establishing a transitional government of national unity, with full executive powers, that could include members of Mr Assad’s government and the opposition and other groups. It would oversee the drafting of a new constitution and elections.
But the text that would serve as the framework for Annan’s peace efforts also would “exclude from government those whose continued presence and participation would undermine the credibility of the transition and jeopardize stability and reconciliation.”

Foreign ministers from all five of the permanent, veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the US – have converged at the UN’s European headquarters. Russia and China have twice used their council veto to shield Syria from UN sanctions. For his “Action Group on Syria”, UN-Arab League envoy Annan also invited Turkey, UN secretary-general Ban Ki Moon and the European Union, along with Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar as heads of three groups within the League of Arab States.

Major regional players Iran and Saudi Arabia were not invited. The Russians objected to the Saudis, who support the Syrian opposition. The US objected to the Islamic Republic, which supports Mr Assad’s regime. Much of the work remains to be hammered out by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who met for an hour in St Petersburg yesterday, and then had dinner before Mrs Clinton left Russia. Mr Lavrov predicted the meeting had a “good chance” of finding a way forward, despite the grim conditions on the ground.

Russia insists that outsiders cannot order a political solution for Syria, while the US is adamant that Mr Assad should not be allowed to remain in power at the top of the transitional government. They also disagree over what steps could be taken next at the Security Council, such as calling for an arms embargo, after today’s meeting.

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Information overload? Don’t tune out… Get informed! Know where to turn for the real news


Global Research


In today’s news: war… poverty… crimes against humanity…

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Posted in EducationComments Off on Information overload? Don’t tune out… Get informed! Know where to turn for the real news

Obama’s War on Democracy


by Stephen Lendman


In June 2009, Obama orchestrated Honduran President Manuel Zelaya’s ouster. A US supported fascist despot replaced him.

For good reason, Honduras is called the murder capital of the world. Independent journalists are killed. So are protesters for democratic change.

After its calamitous January 2010 earthquake, Obama militarized Haiti, plundered it freely, opposed Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s return, orchestrated the nation’s rigged elections, and prohibited the emergence of democracy.

On September 30, 2010, his attempt to oust Ecuador’s Rafael Correa failed. Coup plotters shut down airports, blocked highways, burned tires, and roughed up the president.

They also took over an airbase, parliament, and Quito streets. They acted on the pretext of a law restructuring police benefits. Ignored was that Correa doubled their wages.

Obama’s fingerprints were all over the scheme to oust a business-friendly leader who fell short of a neoliberal perfection.

If Correa grants Julian Assange amnesty, perhaps his long knives won’t fail next time.

In the interim, he added another democrat to his trophy collection. On June 22, he plunged a dagger into Paraguayan democracy. Parliamentary impeachment was his weapon of choice.

A former Roman Catholic Bishop, Fernando Lugo was elected president in August 2008. Noted liberation theologian/philosopher/author Leonardo Boff attended his inauguration.

He said it was “an extremely happy moment.” He called Lugo a “true bishop of liberation. We are celebrating the rise to power of one more liberator of Latin American.”

Called both “the Bishop of the Poor” and “the Red Bishop,” his election ushered in hope for change. Ordained in 1977, he worked as an indigenous community missionary until 1982.

He spent 10 years studying at the Vatican. He was appointed Paraguay’s Divine Word head. In 1994, he became Bishop of the Paraguayan San Pedro Department.

Three of his brothers were exiled. Conservative Paraguayan Catholic leaders pressured him to resign because he supported landless family settlements on large latifundio estates.

On Christmas day 2006, he announced his presidential candidacy. Popular support made him a threat to Colorado Party rule. In September 2007, he formed a multi-party opposition coalition. He registered as a Christian Democrat Party (PDC) candidate. He ran as the Patriotic Alliance for Change (APC) nominee.

Winning nearly 41% of the vote, he failed to gain an absolute majority. Colorado’s Blanca Ovelar got 31%. He pledged a government “characterized by honesty and not by corruption.”

He called for “unity” and extended “a very special invitation to the entire political class, to all without exception” to participate in his government.

Colorado leaders vowed to regain power as soon as possible. With others on the far right, it controls parliament.

Lugo said “Latin America is living a different moment.” His inauguration ended six decades of right wing Colorado rule.

Paraguay’s population is around seven million. It’s one of South America’s poorest countries. Nearly half the population lives on less than $2 a day. Unemployment or underemployment runs almost 40%.

Social inequality is among Latin America’s highest. Powerful interests run the country. One man alone can’t change things. Governing as a centrist, he tried, but now he’s gone. He called himself a proponent of “socially responsible” capitalism. Washington considers him a closet communist.

He vowed to be a uniter, not a divider. “I will not be a Paraguayan Morales,” he said. He promised “a middle path between Chavez and Lula.”

From 1947 – 1989, mostly junta power ran Paraguay. General Alfredo Stroessner was in charge from August 1954 – February 1989. After falling out of favor with Washington, General Andres Rodriguez’s coup ousted him.

In May 1993, Colorado’s Juan Carlos Wasmosy became Paraguay’s first civilian president in four decades. Lugo’s ouster reestablished hardline neoliberal rule. Right wing parliamentarians assure it.

After a five-hour trial, 39 senators voted to remove him. Washington controlled things behind the scenes.

Ahead of proceedings, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro traveled to Asuncion with 11 other regional foreign ministers. He denounced them as a “new type of coup.” He called it a “truly shameful act…”

Lugo didn’t attend. He watched on television. His lawyers spoke on his behalf. They got virtually no preparation time. Their request for 18 days was denied. Doing so violated Paraguay’s constitution.

Their arguments on behalf of Lugo fell on deaf ears. Proceedings were rigged to convict. Orders came from el norte.

Ahead of his ouster, Venezuela’s Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) Secretary-General Ali Rodriguez denounced the attempted coup.

He said “UNASUR’s greatest concern is the legitimate exercise of democracy, and within that, that there be a guiding principal of the administration of justice and conditions, (that’s) absolutely indispensable.”

Following the coup, ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas) countries condemned it. Lugo attorneys got one day’s notice and two hours to defend him. Charges against him were spurious.

Ahead of them in mid-June, clashes between landless peasants and police left 17 dead. Lugo named a new interior minister and national police chief.

The confrontations followed weeks of peasants occupying wealthy latifundista land. They called it illegally acquired public land.

The combination was pretext to act. Parliamentary palace coup proceedings followed.

Charges brought included signing a Mercosur Southern common market Protocol for Democracy, allowing a military installation youth meeting, clashes described above, deaths resulting from them, and failure to capture leftist guerillas.

The indictment said evidence supporting charges wasn’t necessary. Lugo was guilty by accusation. Ousting him was prearranged. Latin American democracy sustained a body blow.

Lugo called his removal “a parliamentary coup against the will of the people.” He called the new government illegitimate. He said democracy must be restored.

ALBA members expressed solidarity. Liberal Party member Federico Franco replaced him. He served as Lugo’s vice president. His neoliberal advocacy is business friendly. Recognition wasn’t extended.

He’s extrajudicially forming a new government. He promised to respect big money’s private property and honor Paraguay’s foreign commitments. He meant those benefitting elite interests.

He asked other regional leaders not to call him a pariah for spurning the rights of impoverished Paraguayans desperate for help to survive.

Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua blamed Washington and elitist Paraguayans for what happened. He denounced efforts to weaken revolutionary Latin American change, saying:

“The battle of the Paraguayan people is that of the Venezuelans, and we are committed to thwart this new attempt by the oligarchies and imperialism as we did in Venezuela in 2002….”

He added that regional popular struggles are about “letting imperialism know that our Latin America is no longer their backyard.”

At the same time, ending its last vestiges takes time. Lugo’s ouster set things back.

It’s for regional campesinos to regain lost ground. It’s crucial they continue struggling against neoliberalism’s death grip. It’s that or perish. There is no other choice.

Posted in USAComments Off on Obama’s War on Democracy

Abe Foxman in Search of Enemies


by Philip Giraldi

Abe Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, would be unemployed if he couldn’t demonstrate that the world is awash in anti-Semitism. In his latest foray in self-justification, he was interviewed by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on June 12.

Foxman states that 30% of Americans believe that Jews are more loyal to Israel than they are to the United States. He does not cite the evidence for that statement and fails to indicate how exactly the question was phrased or the poll conducted. There are many possible ways to frame the issues related to the connection that American Jews feel with the state of Israel. Was the query really “Are Jews more loyal to Israel than to the United States?” That is a question that deliberately elicits an answer without any nuance.

One wonders why anyone should be asking these types of questions anyway and to what purpose, and it might well be that Foxman himself commissioned the polls to keep support for his organization at a high level. If anything has become clear over the past several years, it is that there is a diversity of Jewish opinion, most particularly about the relationship of Jews to the state of Israel. Many Jews do not relate to Israel at all, while others, like Foxman, are unbalanced in how they regard it. I suspect that if Foxman’s poll had been conducted with questions that were more nuanced, a large majority of Americans generally would agree that most American Jews put U.S. national interests first even if some do not, and the polling might also reveal that most understand that there is no such thing as a monolithic Jewish viewpoint on the subject of Israel.

Foxman, of course, represents an organization that is a major component of the Israel Lobby. Jewish organizations, like their Christian Zionist counterparts, tend to line up behind what the Israeli government does no matter what. Foxman’s simplistic polling and the Haaretz interview have a political purpose, which is to suggest that Israel and the Jewish people are constantly under threat, a contention that inter alia supports the existence of Foxman’s organization. It also enables Foxman to avoid the sometimes devilishly difficult task of defining national interests in terms that everyone will accept.

A different series of questions, breaking down the U.S.-Israel relationship by various interests or priorities, would have revealed that many Americans — both Jews and Gentiles — believe that Israel and the United States have largely identical concerns, at least in foreign and security policies. That result would not be surprising, given the narrative that has prevailed in the United States since 9/11, and it makes the issue of loyalty itself somewhat fuzzy. The “we are fighting terrorism together” argument is certainly a wedge issue that the Israeli political leadership and its supporters in Congress and the media have exploited to the fullest to paper over the idiosyncrasies in the Israel-U.S. relationship.

There is certainly strong evidence that the United States does not exactly embrace anti-Semitism. Jews are the best-educated and wealthiest segment of the U.S. population, statistically overrepresented in the arts, professions, media, universities, and politics. Thirteen senators and 27 representatives are Jewish. The head of the Democratic National Committee is Jewish, as is the majority leader in the House of Representatives. There are three Jews on the nine-member Supreme Court. Four out of six Federal Reserve Board governors and seven out of 12 Fed District Bank presidents are Jewish. If there is rampant anti-Semitism in the U.S., it is difficult to discern from the numbers.

And lest there be any confusion, Foxman also explained to Haaretz how he defines an anti-Semite. It is someone who criticizes Israel but doesn’t say anything good about it. By that standard, he calls Professor John Mearsheimer, co-author of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, an anti-Semite. He has also stated that former President Jimmy Carter has been “engaging in anti-Semitism.” Foxman conveniently conflates most criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. And by Foxman’s (il)logic, anyone who criticizes any politician or political party without saying something good is “not sincere, not honest … certainly biased.” Half the punditry in Washington would fail the Foxman litmus test on any one of a number of issues.

Foxman is also reportedly appalled that people are discussing everywhere and even in the mainstream media whether American Jews control the country’s foreign policy and “that Israel and the Jews are pushing American into a war with Iran.” Well, Foxman has basically set up a straw man, as I don’t know anyone respectable who claims that Jews control U.S. foreign policy. Many observers do claim that the Israel Lobby, which is not all Jewish, essentially defines what is acceptable in terms of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Effectively promoting a special interest, which has been demonstrated in books like The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, is not the same as controlling U.S. foreign policy. And as for Israel pushing America into war with Iran, one would have to ask if Foxman has listened to repeated demands coming from the Israeli government? Or has he attended the annual AIPAC conference recently? If he has done either, he knows that is precisely what the organized Israel Lobby is doing even though many American Jews themselves oppose the call for war.

Foxman sees prejudice against Jews everywhere he looks, but has trouble seeing bias within himself. He was one of the leaders in the fight against an Islamic center being located near Ground Zero in New York City. He defended his opposition by saying that “survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational. Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would characterize as irrational or bigoted.” He later called his statement an “inarticulate quote,” but he has never backed away from his contention that he believes himself to be not exactly bound by the rules in place for the rest of us because of his unique suffering.

More recently, Foxman has criticized race riots in Tel Aviv targeting Africans, who have been described by leading Israeli politicians as “infiltrators” and a “cancer,” while carefully and repeatedly noting that the violence was in response to crimes committed by the refugees, his way of always exonerating Israeli actions while delivering the mildest possible slap on the wrist.

In contrast to his generous understanding of what he sees as the Israeli dilemma on immigrants, he is tough on his fellow citizens who oppose illegal immigration in the U.S. In May 2010 he referred to Arizona’s illegal immigrant legislation as an example of “nativism” and “bigotry,” manifestly “mean spirited” and xenophobic. He has not commented on the recent statement by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai that Africans must learn that “Israel is for the white man.” Even Foxman might find it difficult to explain that one.

Posted in USAComments Off on Abe Foxman in Search of Enemies

Time to abandon never-ending futile talks with Israel


By Jamal Kanj

Jamal Kanj calls on the Palestinian National Authority to abandon its commitment to the pointless perpetual negotiations with the Israelis which while achieving peace for the Jews-only state of Israel are permanently eliminating the prospects of justice for the Palestinian people.

It has been more than 20 years since the Madrid talks and the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis started. Thus far their abject failure has surprised even the most pessimistic of observers.

Diplomacy of distraction

In June 1992, about one year after the Madrid talks, then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told the newspaper Maariv: “I would have conducted negotiations on autonomy for 10 years and in the meantime we would have reached half a million people in the West Bank.”

He was lamenting his election defeat and declared: “It’s very painful… I will not be able to… complete the demographic revolution… Without this… there is no reason to hold autonomy talks as there now is a risk of a Palestinian state.”

Two decades later, all subsequent Israeli governments with no exception, from the spurious left to the devious right, have demonstrated their commitment to the Judaization roadmap through protracted negotiation, “demographic revolution” and land appropriation that benefit Jews only.

When negotiation started in 1991, the illegal settler population in the occupied West Bank was 110,000. Today, as Shamir prophesied, their number in the Jews-only settlements has swelled to half a million.

Israel sees negotiations as a means of detraction rather than a route to a just peace.

Nahum Goldman, a Zionist leader in the 1970s, said: “Diplomacy in the Middle East is the art of delaying the inevitable as long as possible.”

One-sided concessions

Sadly, the Palestinian Authority has been powerless. It has never missed an opportunity to prove to the world its best intentions by complying with every senseless Israeli demand without reciprocity from the Zionist state.

It annulled the Palestinian charter, changed books in schools, coordinated security arrangements that led to the arrest and killing of many Palestinian activists, stifled free media under the pretext of clamping down on “incitement” and subdued the second Intifada.

In return, the world’s powers could not even get a temporary freeze on illegal settlement.

For 20 years, the international community, mainly Israel’s chief sponsor the US, has missed no opportunity to prove its incompetence in dealing with Israeli intransigence.

Time was never on the side of the peace process.

While Jews-only colonies are mushrooming in every neighbourhood, Palestinians are refused building permits, their homes are demolished and the permits of the native population of East Jerusalem are revoked at an unprecedented level.

These Israeli actions are an omen for war, not peace.

No incentive for peace

Under the current de facto peace, Israelis have no incentive to stop guzzling Palestinian land and the international community lacked the motivation to interfere forcefully as it did in other conflicts.

Undeniably, the majority of Israelis would rather keep things as they are than have a meaningful peace process.

A 2010 poll by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung revealed that a “majority of Israelis in the age group 15-24 favour a continuation of the status quo over an invigorated peace process”.

It also showed that the majority of Israelis would “choose a Jewish state over a specifically democratic one”.

Indeed, why should Israelis alter their roadmap to a “Jewish state” if they already enjoy a de factopeace, especially since the Palestinian Authority seems to have opted to surrender its will to endless negotiation?

The Palestinian leadership must rethink its strategy and viable options.

Doing nothing is not an alternative. Winning over the world’s public opinion brings empathy, not justice.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Time to abandon never-ending futile talks with Israel

Syria: We thought downed Turkish plane was Israeli


Information minister says Syrian forces may have mistaken Turkish jet they shot down for Israeli plane. Adds: We don’t want crisis


A Syrian minister is quoted as saying his country’s forces may have mistaken the Turkish plane they shot down for an Israeli one.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi was quoted as telling Turkish news channel A Haber in a telephone interview Wednesday that his country did “not want a crisis between Turkey and Syria.”

Al-Zoebi said Turkish and Israeli fighter jets were mostly US-made, which may have led the Syrian forces to mistake it for an Israeli jet.

Turkey warned Syria on Tuesday to keep its troops away from the countries’ troubled border or risk an armed response, an angry reply to the downing of the Turkish reconnaissance plane last week.

Syrian news outlets quoted a military expert as saying that the anti-aircraft weapons used to down the Turkish fighter jet last weekend were made in Iran, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported Wednesday.

According to the Arabic newspaper, the Syrian expert said Damascus purchased an Iranian-made anti-aircraft gun two years ago. He said the gun can be mounted on armored vehicles.

The expert said the downed Turkish jet flew at a low altitude so as not to be detected by the Syrian radar. However, the expert said, the Turkish crew was not aware that the Syrian air force was in possession of a weapon capable of intercepting planes flying at such a low altitude.

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TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem

TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem LIVE today 4m eastern

by crescentandcross

Once again we will be LIVE at 4 pm eastern time. Sammi’s guest will be writer Israel Shamir who converted to Orthodox Christianity and now warns of the dangers of Judaism.

Those wishing to listen live can do so by clicking here–

Those wishing to participate in the discussion can do so by calling 503.881.1300 and then punching in the access code 179164#

We also have a NEW chat room that accomodates as many as 100 people which you can access here–

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TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem

TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem LIVE today 4m eastern

by crescentandcross

Once again we will be LIVE at 4 pm eastern time. Sammi’s guest will be writer Israel Shamir who converted to Orthodox Christianity and now warns of the dangers of Judaism.

Those wishing to listen live can do so by clicking here–

Those wishing to participate in the discussion can do so by calling 503.881.1300 and then punching in the access code 179164#

We also have a NEW chat room that accomodates as many as 100 people which you can access here–

Posted in InterviewComments Off on TUT Broadcast with Palestinian Journalist Sammi Ibrahem

Mask of Zion: Is The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign ‘PSC’ Another Form of Controlled Opposition ?

Mask of Zion Report with Jonathon Azaziah June 28, 2012

by crescentandcross


The Palestinian Solidarity Movement–the real deal or just another form of controlled opposition on the part of organized Jewish interests to make sure it goes nowhere?

Jonathon is joined by writer/researcher extraordinaire Martin Iqbal from the UK


Download Here


Posted in InterviewComments Off on Mask of Zion: Is The Palestinian Solidarity Campaign ‘PSC’ Another Form of Controlled Opposition ?

Desperate jobseeker sets himself alight outside Selly Oak jobcentre

  • by Nick McCarthy,
  • Birmingham Mail
The Jobcentre Plus in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak

The Jobcentre Plus in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak

A DESPERATE job seeker set himself alight outside a Birmingham Jobcentre in an alleged row over his benefit payments.

Horrified eyewitnesses saw the man douse himself in flammable liquid after tying himself to railings at the Jobcentre Plus in Harborne Lane, Selly Oak, at around 9.20am.

Cops rushed to the aid of the 48-year-old man and sprayed him with fire extinguishers after he suffered burns to his lower legs.

The sign on the jobcentre door

The building remained closed throughout the day and claimants were told that payments would be made directly to banks. One eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: “The guy came into the Jobcentre with petrol and made threats, so they evacuated the whole building.


I think it was something to do with a payment he had not received.

“He tied himself to the railings and tore open the bottom of his trousers. You could smell the fumes from the liquid he used, but the police arrived by the time he had set himself alight and they managed to put him out quite quickly.

“He would have to have been very desperate to have done something like that.

“It’s shocking that somebody could have been driven to those depths.”

*** Do you know the man who set himself on fire? Contact our crime reporter ***

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said: “Officers were called at around 9.18am to reports that a man had tied himself to railings and was threatening to set himself on fire.

“The man doused himself in liquid and set himself alight.

Read More

Posted in UKComments Off on Desperate jobseeker sets himself alight outside Selly Oak jobcentre

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