Archive | April 9th, 2013

Europe waits for IsraHell response over efforts for release of hunger striker

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Samer Al-Issawi has been on hunger strike for 261 days

Samer Al-Issawi has been on hunger strike for 261 days

The political officer at the European Commission headquarters in occupied Jerusalem has revealed efforts for the release of Samer Al-Issawi, who has been on hunger strike for 261 days. Joris Van Winckel confirmed that the Commission is waiting for a response from the Israelis within the next 48 hours over Al-Issawi’s release from prison.The European diplomat said that ongoing contacts have been made between the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, and the Israelis demanding the release of the hunger striker. Al-Issawi is protesting against conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails and the use of so-called administrative detention to keep people locked up without charge or trial.

Winckel made his comments during a sit-in organised by campaign groups in Jerusalem on Monday, in front of the Commission headquarters. Members of Al-Issawi’s family took part as protesters called on the Europeans to intervene for the release of all Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails, including Al-Issawi.

 

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Campaign for Presidency Kicks-off in Venezuela: An Interview with Carmen Hidalgo

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by jodymcintyre

 

For Upside Down World:

 

It is Tuesday, April 2nd; music and people fill the streets of Caracas.  This is the official opening day of the campaign for Presidential elections in Venezuela, due to take place on April 14th after the death of Hugo Chavez, a popular leader who had won a total of fifteen elections during his fourteen years of rule.  Nicolas Maduro, former bus driver, ex-Vice-President and the man Chavez personally named as his successor, kicks off his tour of the country in Barinas, the state where Chavez was born and the heart of the Venezuelan countryside.  Henrique Capriles, the main opposition candidate who lost to Chavez last November, had originally announced that he would start in the same place, but changed his plans after his local team warned of the tensions such a clash of dates could cause.  But, as journalist Reinaldo Iturriza once told me, these are not “normal elections” that take place here in Venezuela.  From the beginning, the political campaigns are vibrant, colorful and visible everywhere you turn.

Carmen Hidalgo, aged 23, was born in Barinas, but currently lives and studies in the Andean city of Merida.  She has worked for Mision Ribas, an educational program set-up by the government in 2003 to provide classes and qualifications for people who had never completed high school. Carmen describes her home-town as “tender and sweet Barinas, full of friendly and very hard-working people.  Where the struggle every-day is to grow, and not only economically but also intelligently, always united together.”  Huge crowds turned out to greet Maduro in Barinas on Tuesday, a sign that opposition claims that the Bolivarian project will cease to exist without Chavez may not be as accurate as they wish to portray. Nevertheless, Chavez’ images does continue to dominate the government’s re-election bid; indeed, their campaign is named after him!

A couple of weeks before we spoke, Capriles had visited and spoke in Merida.  In reality, neither candidate waited for the date of April 2nd to begin rallying their troops.  In Carmen’s view, Capriles’ speech was “Chavez, but without the socialism.”

“Capriles understands that the majority of people like socialism; that is why we speak of a system of “inclusion.”  We remember that in the governments of the Fourth Republic [i.e. before the first election of Chavez in 1998] the country was full of exclusion and few had the opportunity to live well, due to the robbing of the country’smoney and resources. First [Capriles’ election campaign] has chosen to use the name Simon Bolivar.”  This suggests that they approve of “Bolivarianism,” whilst in the coup of April 2002, in which Capriles participated in the attack on the Cuban embassy, the first thing they did was to remove the word “Bolivarian” from the name of the country.  Secondly, they are using a t-shirt withCapriles eyes and signature, exactly the same as the Chavez t-shirt we designed during the last election campaign.  A political leader should be more serious and not copy the designs of the sovereign people.”

Many people believe that the opposition know that they will not win the upcoming elections.  Indeed, every single poll in the last two weeks, including those conducted by firms traditionally considered as opposition supporters, have given Maduro a lead of between ten and twenty-three points.  Accusations of external forces attempting to use the elections as an opportunity to destabilize the country flared up once again when US Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson recently stated that although they were not favouring either candidate, “Capriles would make a good President”.  Venezuela Foreign Minister Elias Jaua responded by breaking off communication with the US, adding, “Mrs. Jacobson, when you learn that we are a sovereign country, then give us a call.”

Carmen says that everyone knows that Capriles is “totally immersed” with the US government, and claims the opposition candidate recently travelled to the country to “plan a campaign of destabilization”.

Nevertheless, it is largely a spirit of positivity that has been prevalent in Caracas in recent days.  On April 14th, millions of Venezuelans will go out to vote for their next President, possibly in larger numbers than ever before.  The central hope is that the results of the elections will be adhered to and respected.

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Bangladesh Awards at the Cost of Pakistan

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By Sajjad Shaukat

With the acceleration of propaganda campaign by the external elements against Pakistan and its army, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid who has pro-Indian tilt has also been maligning Pak Army. Unfortunately, some prominent persons of our country also speak in the tone foreign anti-Pakistan entities.

In this regard, unlike the past years, this time a ceremony was held in Dhaka on March 24, 2013, with full pump and show to honour ‘Foreign Friends of Bangladesh Award,’ in relation to the crisis which led to the separation of East Pakistan. The recipients of awards from Pakistan were mainly those personalities whose deceased fathers had opposed army action in the East Pakistan and had totally ignored the Indian supported secessionist movement led by Mukti Bahini. In this respect, Ms. Salima Hashmi received the award on behalf of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ms. Asma Jahangir on behalf of her father Malik Ghulam Jilani, who was Vice President of West Pakistan Awami League. Tahira Jalib received the reward declared for Habib Jalib. Begum Tahira Mazhar Ali Khan, Ahmed Salim, Dr. Iqbal Ahmed, Sindhi poet Inwar Pirzada and Qazi Faez Isa were also given rewards for opposing military operation in the then East Pakistan, while the late Mir Ghous Bakhsh Bizenjo was posthumously given ‘Bangladesh Liberation War Honour Award’ which was received by his son Mir Hasil Bizenjo.

Besides, Hamid Mir, a renowned media anchor and columnist of a top media group also got the award.

It is notable that on the instruction of India, in December, 2012 when the names of participants in the said ceremony were announced, Bandladeshi Prime Minister Hasian Wajid had refused to attend D-8 conference in Islamabad unless Pakistan tendered apology for the alleged genocide of Bengalis. While following her language, Salima Hashmi, said, “The Pakistan government should formally apologise to the people of Bangladesh for the atrocities committed by Pakistan occupation army during the War of Independence in 1971.” And without grasping reality, Asma Jahangir has always expressed her misperceptions against Pak Army and its security agencies.

In this context, a book titled, “Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: The Unfinished Memoirs” written by the Bengali leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as his autobiography has been released in the recent past. While speaking in line of the book, Hamid Mir reproduced its contents in his article, “Mujib’s Memoirs,” published in daily, ‘The News’ on November 24, 2012. He wrote, “One-sided history books tell us that Mujib was a traitor who broke up Pakistan…in fact, the political intrigues and blunders of military dictators broke up Pakistan—Bengalis were massacred and their women were raped.” He added, “It is time now to apologise officially to the people of Bangladesh.”

However, these prominent persons and their fathers, the late including Hamid Mir left no stone unturned in distorting the historical facts about 1971 war and Pakistan’s armed forces. So we must see other side of the coin so as to know reality in this regard.

As regards the debacle of Dhaka, a well-known Bengali journalist Sarmila Bose authored a book, “Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War” after thorough investigation. Her book was published in 2011. While countering exaggeration of the Indian and Bengali Journalists, Bose argues that the number of Bengalis killed in 1971 was not three million, but around 50,000 while Bengalis were equally involved in the bloodshed of non-Bengalis.

In fact, during 1970 election campaign, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of Awami League left no stone unturned in manipulating the situation by creating differences between East and West Pakistan.

Notably, before the 1971 war, Mujibur Rahman, had announced a separate national flag for East Pakistan in his six points which also included that currency of East Pakistan should be different along with a separate military.

His six points created prejudice among Bengali people especially against West Pakistan. The famous slogan, during his addresses and rallies was, “Punjabi dogs go back.” It was due to Mujib’s instigation that besides Punjabis, Bengalis had also tortured and killed Biharis, Pashtoons and Balochis, while their women were raped.

Majib was already in connivance with India for separation of East Pakistan. In this regard, Asoka Raina in his book, ‘Inside RAW: The Story of India’s Secret Service’, discloses, “Indian intelligence agencies were involved in erstwhile East Pakistan…its operatives were in touch with Sheikh Mujib as the possible ‘Father’ of a new nation-Bangladesh, who went to Agartala in 1965. The famous Agartala case was unearthed in 1967. In fact, the main purpose of raising RAW in 1968 was to organise covert operations in Bangladesh. Indian army officers and RAW officials used Bengali refugees to set up Mukti Bahini. Using this outfit as a cover, Indian military sneaked deep into East Pakistan…the story of Mukti Bahini and RAW’s role in its creation and training is now well-known.”

Majibur Rahman was already biased against West Pakistan, and started misguiding the people of East Pakistan by preparing their minds for separation of Bangladesh. In this respect, when in 1948, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah addressed Dhaka University; he declared that Urdu would be national language of the country. Majib stood up and said emotionally that Bengali should also be national language.

In this connection, Manib’s pre-planned conspiracy could be judged from the fact that when East Pakistan was occupied by Indian Army in 1971, he stated with pleasure that his 24 years old dream of an independent Bangladesh had been fulfilled. So, he had earlier developed his contacts with Indian rulers and training camps of Mukti Bahini, established by Indian army and RAW which also funded Mujibur Rehman’s general elections in 1970. Meanwhile, India welcomed the refugees from East Pakistan, and provoked them against West Pakistan.

Nevertheless, Majibur Rahman was just playing a double game by displaying his faithfulness during Pakistan movement. Undoubtedly, all this provides solid evidence about the separation of East Pakistan and the negative role, played by Majib and his Bengali supporters who perpetrated atrocities on the non-Bengalis to fulfill sinister designs of India.

But, it is regrettable that by pursuing the new turn of external propaganda, our on internal entities who received the awards, misinterpreted the facts in this respect, while implicating Pak Army.

Meanwhile, some reliable sources have disclosed that on the direction of New Delhi, Bangladeshi government also wanted to invite some leaders of Indian fundamentalist parties, BJP and RSS at the ceremony, but it changed the decision. These sources also suggest that Indian RSS elements resorted to some sort of bickering as they felt to have been ignored and left out in the awards ceremony, while claiming that they had arranged training camps for Bengali militants, provided them with arms and financial support to fight against their own legitimate government. So finally their awards went to somebody else.

In the recent past, Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde confessed the nexus between BJP and the RSS, disclosing that organised training camps run by these fundamentalist parties were promoting Hindu Terrorism. They also revealed that these parties were behind the Samjhauta Express, Meccca Masjid and Malegaon blasts including Gujarat and Babri Masjid incidents.

Nonetheless, besides other Pakistani persons like Hamid Mir and Asma Jehangir, the crimes committed by Indian backed Mukti Bahini have totally been ignored especially by Saleema Hashmi who was so overwhelmed by the award she was receiving. She obliged her host by resorting to anti-Pakistan rhetoric in the award-ceremony, and pleased India through her ill-conceived thoughts. Virtually within days of her hostile statement in Bangladesh, she was selected as a minister in the interim government of Punjab led by Najam Sethi. In these terms, she got double awards. No doubt, some of our own famous figures received the Bangladesh’s awards at the cost of Pakistan.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Affairs

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Rift between Baloch Militant Groups

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By Sajjad Shaukat

Although some foreign elements have been maintaining unanimity among various Baloch militant groups to continue subversive acts in the province of Balochistan in order to dismember Pakistan, yet besides other insurgent outfits, rift has especially been widened between the leaders of Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA) and United Balochistan Army (UBA) due to personal rivalries and jealousies.

Harbiyar Marri’s lust for power and desire to exercise total control over BLA so as to project himself as its absolute leader compelled Zarman Marri to establish his own militant outfit, namely, UBA which was formed with the approval of Khair Bux Marri. And formation of UBA has diluted the collective power of BLA.

It is notable that Zarman is brother-in-law of separatist leader, Brahamdagh Bugti, having close relationship with him, while the BRA-UBA nexus through Brahamdagh, has resulted into the joint militant activities such as targeted killings, suicide attacks, bomb blasts, hostage-takings and assaults on the security personnel including Hazara communities. Their militants kidnapped and massacred many innocent people—teachers, professors, lawyers etc. Besides targeting Punjabis and other ethnic minorities in the province, they also kidnapped Iranian and Chinese nationals. They arranged subversive acts in the Iranian Sistan-Baluchistan. In this regard, Tehran had directly named CIA for funding of terrorist attacks.

However, these insurgent groups which are being supported by American CIA, Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad have claimed responsibility for many acts of sabotage. Based in Afghanistan, these secret agencies also supply arms and weapons to these separatist elements, as Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has repeatedly disclosed this fact. In the recent past, Rehman Malik disclosed that during his trip to Afghanistan, he insisted upon President Hamid Karzai to close Baloch training camps. In that background, Brahmdagh Bugti and some other Baloch so-called nationalists left Afghanistan and went to some western countries. Especially, on July 23, 2008, Brahmdagh Bugti told the BBC that they had the right to accept foreign aid and arms from anywhere including India.

Nevertheless, there are various reasons of growing differences between BRA and UBA. Previously Zarman Marri was more active on media for projecting Balochistan issue and was less inclined towards militancy, while Harbiyar Marri who favours militant activities rather than popular politics, strongly opposed Zarman’s stand.

Another cause of rift between BLA and UBA is over arms and ammunition. Militants who joined UBA took along with them weapons and ammunition, while arms dumped in Kahan area were also taken by UBA. Harbiyar tried his best to retrieve these arms, but his efforts failed.

Reports indicate that there is a trust deficit between Brahamdagh and Harbiyar over Rs. 60 million, which Harbiyar reneged, while divergence exists between the leaders of BLA and UBA over foreign-funds which were provided by the US and India.

In fact, majority of Baloch feudal lords (Sardars) are struggling against each other to have lion’s share out of enormous resources of Balochistan. For this purpose, many militant groups have developed linkages with anti-Pakistan secret agencies and foreign countries which have rivaling eyes on the resources of Balochistan. Nevertheless, it is also the major cause of fracture between BLA and UBA.

Notably, foreign supporters of Baloch separatists have accelerated acts of sabotage in the province through their affiliated-militants, as recently Pakistan has handed over the control of Gwader seaport to China. Therefore, propaganda campaign against Islamabad has also been intensified by the external entities.

In this context, with Indian support including other foreign elements, every year, anti-state Baloch insurgent groups launch a protest demonstration in London against Pakistan, and country’s security agencies, raising false allegations of death squads and human rights violations in the province. In this respect, arrangements for the pre-planned rally in London which was executed recently, made on larger scale by anti-Pakistan forces, especially India.

Besides rallies in some western countries, in 2012, a demonstration was held outside the United Nations in Genva on the occasion of the 19th Session of UN Human Rights Council to condemn human rights violations in Balochistan. The demonstrators accused Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies of extrajudicial killings. Apparently, the demonstration was organised and led by Mehran Baloch, Balochistan’s representative at the UN and Noordin Mengal, but, in fact, it was arranged by the anti-Pakistan NGOs, human rights groups and Indo-Israeli lobbies with American covert help.

Baloch so-called leaders like Mehran Baloch and Hyrbiyar Marri, while interacting with foreign media stated that for the independence of Balochistan, they would also welcome help from India. Like Americans, they also opposed Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline project. Notably, by rejecting US growing pressure and defying the threat of sanctions, on March 11, this year, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the gas pipeline project with Iran.

Particularly in February, 2012 three American Congressmen, Dana Rohrabacher, Louie Gohmert and Steve King tabled a bill before the US Congress, calling for the right of self-determination for Balochistan, while blaming Pakistan’s security institutes for extrajudicial killings. American government distanced itself from these Congressmen, but the move had covert support of some US officials.

While, speaking in tone of foreign elements and their propaganda, Baloch leader, Sardar Akhtar Jan Mengal who returned to Pakistan, raised similar accusations against Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), and emphasised the right of self-determination for Balochsitan.

It is mentionable that a Gallup survey of the UK official body, DFID, conducted on July 20, 2012, disclosed that the vast majority of the Baloch people oppose the idea of an independent Balochistan.

Nonetheless, tribalism is firmly rooted in Balochistan because ethnic and tribal identity is a strong element for both individuals and groups. Hence, deep polarisation among different groups exists, as they have different rules of social organisation.

Now, instead of resolving this issue with other Baloch sub-nationalist leaders including his father Khair Bux Marri and his brother Zarman Marri, Harbiyar Marri reportedly relies on the counsel of their commanders for reconciliation. But differences have so deepened among them that there is no chance of reconciliation.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Affairs

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Kerry Suggests Palestinians Change Arab Peace Initiative to Suit IsraHell

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Palestinian officials say Kerry proposed two small changes to make API more palatable to Israel. (Photo: WAFA)
Palestinian officials say Kerry proposed two small changes to make API more palatable to Israel. (Photo: WAFA)

By Ira Glunts

Various news sources report that the Obama administration has notified the Palestinian Authority that the new U.S. approach to peace negotiations will be based on the Arab Peace Initiative (API) of 2002. The plan, which was unanimously adopted by the Arab League, is sometimes referred to as the Saudi Peace Initiative since it was presented at the Beirut Arab summit by then Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Sheera Frenkel, at McClatchy Newspapers, quotes an unnamed source who stated,

‘It [the Arab Peace Initiative] was raised directly by Obama during his visit and during his closed-door discussion with the Palestinian leadership,’ said a senior Palestinian official directly involved in the talks. ‘It was made clear to the Palestinian leadership that this would be the new direction of U.S. diplomacy in the region.’

The Arab Peace Initiative offers Israel a comprehensive peace and normal relations from all nations in the region, in exchange for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the occupied territories and the return to Syria of the Golan Heights.  The relevant paragraphs of the initiative are:

2. I. – Full Israeli withdrawal from all the territories occupied since 1967, including the Syrian Golan Heights, to the June 4, 1967 lines as well as the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon.

2. III. – The acceptance of the establishment of a sovereign independent Palestinian state on the Palestinian territories occupied since June 4, 1967 in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

When the API was proposed, it was summarily rejected by then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and following Israel’s lead was mostly ignored by the Bush administration.  Although Benjamin Netanyahu has” blasted” the Saudi proposal in 2002 and 2007, now “Israel’s government is suddenly claiming it has always ‘publicly praised’ the API and looks forward to the talks,” according to Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com The Israeli Prime Minister’s sudden warming to the Arab Peace Initiative is not surprising if reports of the U.S. desire to revive the plan are true.  This is because the United States always makes its proposals known to the Israelis and U.S. strategies are coordinated with Israel before they are presented to the Palestinians.

What makes little sense is that the Israelis would agree to base negotiations on a document that demands full withdrawal from all occupied territories when Netanyahu publicly reprimanded Obama in May of 2011 for stating that the pre-1967 armistice lines should be used as a basis or starting point in any Palestinian-Israeli negotiation.  In addition, why would Obama now support the API, with its demand for complete Israeli withdrawal, when he has backed away from his call for just basing negotiations on the pre-1967 borders?

The answer may be found in the Fox News account of the April 7th meeting between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and a Palestinian delegation which included President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

[Palestinian officials say Kerry has proposed two small changes to make it more palatable to Israel, saying*the 1967 lines could be modified through mutual agreement*and pressing for stronger security guarantees.

Calling these small changes is ridiculous since allowing negotiation on borders negates one of the defining proposals of the API; that there be a full Israeli withdrawal from all territories Israel conquered in 1967.  Secondly, requiring stronger security guarantees is a euphemism for less Palestinian sovereignty.  Its application usually is understood to include Israeli control of Palestinian air space, borders, water resources, as well as long-term permission to station Israeli troops in the Jordan Valley.

It is not clear if the characterization of Kerry’s words as “small changes” is his or that of Fox News.  Either way, they were not well-received in Ramallah.

Speaking to the Voice of Palestine radio station,[Palestinian official, Saeb Erekat said the plan could not be changed. ‘Kerry asked us to change [a] few words in the Arab Peace Initiative but we refused,’ he said.

The Palestinian Authority has always supported the Arab Peace Initiative.

Despite the apparent initial rejection of the proposed American changes, the API will be on the agenda at the upcoming Arab League meeting in Qatar. Abbas, who will attend, has been rumored to be interested in finding a way to restart the talks with Netanyahu if only to please his American patron and give the impression to his constituents that his administration is working to achieve Palestinian statehood.

The U.S. involvement in the “peace process” has been more about supporting Israeli occupation and less about achieving any tangible results. The Israelis love to appear to be conciliatory and are willing to negotiate with the Palestinians for the foreseeable future as long as they are not forced to make realistic territorial concessions or significantly interrupt expanding Jewish-only West Bank settlements.  Proposing negotiations based on the 2002 Saudi initiative may make the U.S. appear engaged diplomatically, but by trying to force the Palestinians to accept a gutted Arab Peace Initiative, the Obama administration will continue to show that only the Israelis benefit from American intervention.

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Assad; Syria Crisis marks the End of the Uni-polar World and the Rise of the BRICS as Global Power

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nsnbc.me

In an recent interview, Syria´s President al-Assad stated that the Syria crisis indicates an end to a uni-polar, US-dominated world. On Friday, insurgents shelled the predominantly Christian Damascus suburb Jaramana, killing one, injuring seven, and causing structural damage to several buildings. Meanwhile, the Syrian military continues operations throughout Syria, including the north-eastern areas of Damascus. Assad blamed Turkey for sponsoring terrorism.

In a televised interview with the Turkish channel Ulsal Kanal, the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad accused Turkey of supporting terrorists in Syria. In the interview, al-Assad stressed, that western countries have no right to establish democracy in Syria as they bear responsibility for homicide in the country and the region.

The Syrian President continued the interview, stating, that the crisis in Syria is not a local but an international crisis, and that he believes, that the crisis is an artifact of a struggle between large countries of the world, for changing the existing state borders in the region. The crisis in Syria is as much an international crisis, Assad said, as it is a war that is being waged against his country by the international community.

Al-Assad emphasized, that the establishment of the BRICS has sent the signal to the whole world, that the USA no longer can remain the sole pole of global power, and that others will now have to bear in mind the opinion and interests of the BRICS countries. He continued stating, that the BRICS countries were not assisting his government or the Syrian state per se, but that they instead made an effort for stability in the region.

Al-Assad stressed, that there was a need to fully understand, that if the crisis leads to the breakup of Syria, or if it fills the country with terrorists, then the crisis will inevitably spill over into neighboring countries. He continued stating, that he believes, that “that is why the BRICS is facing up to the West and is foursquare behind the principle of a political settlement in Syria.”

Tayyip Erdogan

On Wednesday al-Assad blamed the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, stating, that he has not uttered a single word of truth since the beginning of the crisis, and blamed the Turkish government for being a key backer of the Syrian opposition and state sponsored terrorism.

In a statement released on Thursday, al-Assad criticized the Arab League for handing a seat to the Syrian opposition´s National Coalition, and stated that the Arab League lacks legitimacy. It is a league that represents the Arab states, not a league that represents Arab people. It cannot grant or retract legitimacy, he said.

Al-Assad´s statement, that the rise of the BRICS implies an end to a uni-polar world, dominated by the United States came shortly after the 2013 BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, and the BRICS member states decision to, among other initiatives, create a BRICS Development Bank as an alternative to the World Bank and the IMF.

The red line, which the BRICS has drawn with regard to Syria, and with the establishment of a BRICS Development Bank are two among a series of red lines and signals which the BRICS has issued over the past month. Some of the western nations however, have responded with covert acts of aggression, which could not only aggravate and widen the conflict in Syria into a wider war, but result in a global currency war as well.

Subsequent to the failure to reach an agreement between the EU and Russia over the European Union´s Third Energy Package, Russian top diplomats have become increasingly assertive and open in their warnings against a widening of the conflict over energy security, which includes Syria.

Emerging Economies at a Crossroads: Yi Gang

In early March the Deputy Governor of China´s National Bank, Yi Gang, called on international players to avoid a currency war, stating, “China is fully prepared in terms of monetary policies and other mechanisms, to deal with a possible currency war, and China will take full account of the quantitative easing policy conducted by the central banks of some countries“.

The western response however, seems to be a continuation of aggressive military and economic politics, including among other, the continued aggravation of the crisis in Korea and Syria, the continuation of economic protectionism, enforced by military proxies or direct military intervention in central Africa.

Shortly after the BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, western media initiated a campaign, positioning the South African President Jacob Zuma as a potential war criminal over the involvement of South African troops in the Central African Republic (CAR), where 13 South African soldiers were killed during attempts to help the government and military of the CAR to prevent a western backed coup d´etat with the help of a “rebel alliance” as proxy.

The concerted campaign against the 2013 BRICS Summit host, South African President Jacob Zuma, led the Russian expert on international law and governance, Alexander Mezyaev, to voice his concerns, that the western backed coup in the Central African Republic may have been a precursor for a coup d´etat in the Republic of South Africa.

There is a general consensus among analysts, that the statement of the Syrian President al-Assad, that the BRICS increased assertiveness spells an end to a US-dominated, uni-polar world. Whether the world will be heading to a global currency war and a widening of the worlds simmering conflicts into an open and direct military confrontation between the two blocks however, is far more uncertain and for the time being difficult to assess.

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Why Margaret Thatcher is hard to mourn

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In private she was said to be warm but in public Thatcher remained, for many, the wicked witch of the south.

Spitting Image Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher as unflatteringly portrayed by Spitting Image puppeteers. Photograph: ITV/Rex Features

‘It’s a wonder nobody has taken a gun to that woman.’ This was my mother speaking at some point in the middle 1980s. She was a gentle and peaceable woman – my mother, that is – and said few hard words about anyone, but in certain parts of the United Kingdom, and among certain social classes, Mrs T was detested, and not just for what people thought were her policies but for her persona – for what she was. At the Citizen’s Theatre in Glasgow, the pantomime featured the Wicked Witch of the South; everyone knew her real identity.

I met her just once, as a reporter in the press pack that followed her tour around Greece and Yugoslavia in 1980. She was immensely brisk. We watched as her high heels went click-click-click across the stones of the Acropolis and the cement floors of Tito’s steel mills. I was just behind her at the civic museum in Dubrovnik when the local guide explained a model showing the elaborate system of ancient wells and tunnels that had provided the city with fresh water no matter how fierce the siege. “You see,” she announced in her self-satisfied way, “it just goes to show what people can do when they have to.”

This was the great leader in her favourite pose as Samuel Smiles: human beings didn’t need to be helped – they needed to help themselves. There were rumours of a different philosophy, at least in personal relationships. At a banquet in Belgrade the press sat next to the so-called “Garden Girls”, who were the secretaries at No 10. “She’s jolly nice,” one of them said, “much better to work for than [James] Callaghan.” He’d been a bully, she said, whereas Mrs T was warm and understanding. The late Benazir Bhutto later gave me much the same account. A meeting in Downing Street had left the Pakistan leader besotted with the older woman’s wisdom and generosity: ‘”I tell you, she’s such a kind person.”

Yet her understanding of Britain was alarmingly crude. There had been Churchill and his defiance; there had been Kipling and his If; there had been her father in his grocer’s shop in Grantham. Capitalism flourishes on debt, but she insisted that economics were best understood as Mr Micawber’s formula in which happiness and misery were separated by a shilling. Keith Joseph was her guru. Interviewing him, I was struck by a Victorian sort of kindness; as an Oxford student in the 1930s he’d worked in his vacation helping families of the unemployed in the Yorkshire coalfield – one of them had even named their baby Keith in his honour. The economic crisis that Britain faced had been created not by the working class itself, these wholesome people that Sir Keith remembered from his vac weeks in Barnsley, but by a working-class leadership that was determined to bring the whole system crashing down.

Mrs T shared the same reductionism. The organised working class, almost alone, had put Britain on the skids. Not the loss of imperial markets, not lazy management, not the education system, not the decline of the industrial ethic: bitter men standing on platforms and asking for a show of hands to down tools were solely to blame.

It may be wrong to imagine that she intended to de-industrialise Britain, but the policies followed by her government had that effect. A strong pound crippled exports and emptied factories. Having no social or political connection with the class most affected, she gave a very good impression of not caring. The south of England and the City of London were the future; the revenues from North Sea oil would pay for the unemployed in the old zones of manufacturing industry.

The day before she died I passed through Greenock on the train. In 1979 it had a mile or so of shipyards, a sugar works and factories that still made rope and ship’s fittings. On Sunday, looking down at the waterfront, I could see how these had been replaced by a housing estate, a supermarket, and sometimes by nothing at all.

We can’t blame (or credit) her for all of this, of course. But she personified the change from meaning to meaninglessness in so many settlements and lives, and for this reason she is hard to forgive.

Strident, divisive, and in her own view infallible, and for these reasons hard to mourn.

Posted in UKComments Off on Why Margaret Thatcher is hard to mourn

Martin McGuinness tells republicans to stop celebrating Thatcher’s death

NOVANEWS

The former Provisional IRA chief of staff says republicans should not allow Lady Thatcher’s death to poison their mind.

Martin McGuinness

Martin McGuinness has told republicans to stop celebrating Lady Thatcher’s death. It would be a mistake to let it poison our minds, he said. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Martin McGuinness has called for an end to republicans organising parties to celebrate Margaret Thatcher‘s death, even though she was the IRA’s No 1 target when he was the Provisionals’ chief of staff during the 1980s.

In a move that surprised many republicans, the Sinn Féin deputy first minister said on Tuesday that people should not celebrate Lady Thatcher’s death.

Celebrations were held in McGuinness’ home city of Derry: dissident republicans held a party close to the spot of the Bloody Sunday massacre on Monday, the night of her death.

In republican West Belfast, people gathered near a mural dedicated to the memory of the IRA hunger strike Bobby Sands to celebrate the former prime minister’s death. People drank beer and released Chinese lanterns into the air, while passing motorists on the Falls Road honked car horns.

But McGuinness, who was once one of the most powerful figures in the Provisional IRA, implored republicans and nationalists to “resist celebrating the death of Margaret Thatcher”. Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator during negotiations for the IRA ceasefire and the peace process said: “She was not a peacemaker, but it is a mistake to allow her death to poison our minds.”

Unionist politicians denounced the partying as ghoulish and disgustingy. Further celebrations in republican redoubts of Northern Ireland are planned for Lady Thatcher’s funeral next week.

Jim Allister, a hardline Traditional Unionist Voice member of the Stormont Assembly, said: “What an insight into the depravity of IRA supporters: their ghoulish street parties to celebrate the death of Mrs Thatcher.”

Jonathan Bell, a Democratic Unionist Assembly member for Strangford, said: “While many will differ on policy, such is the nature of the democratic process, all right-thinking people will regard the carnival celebrations following Baroness Thatcher’s death deeply inappropriate. At a time of bereavement there should be human compassion for those in mourning.”

Unionist politicians were not the only ones denouncing the street parties. David Ford, the leader of the centrist Alliance Party and the justice minister of Northern Ireland, said that while many people disagreed with Baroness Thatcher’s policies, “this is no cause for the scenes we have witnessed”.

Ford added: “There can never be any justification for the celebration of the death of another human. It is wrong and they should not have taken place.”

Alan Shatter, his counterpart in the Irish Republic, also criticised Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, for claiming Lady Thatcher caused huge hurt to the Irish people. Shatter said Adams should remember that the Provisional IRA caused a great deal of hurt during the Troubles.

Shatter said: “I think those who comment critically on Margaret Thatcher, in particular those in Sinn Féin who do so, shouldn’t be allowed to forget that they were directly responsible, and the Provisional IRA, were responsible for a murderous bombing of a Conservative Party conference that resulted in the death of a number of people.”

The Irish Justice Minister was commenting on the IRA’s attempt to kill Lady Thatcher and her cabinet in the 1984 Brighton Bomb. Following the explosion at the Grand Hotel during the Tory Party conference, the IRA warned that it “only had to be lucky once” in its bids to kill the prime minister. The IRA blamed Thatcher for the deaths of 10 republican prisoners during the 1981 hunger strike. Brighton was seen by many, both republicans and their enemies, as a revenge attack.

Republican leaders have subsequently claimed that it was Lady Thatcher’s stubborn refusal to bend to the prisoners’ demands for political status that prolonged the 1981 hunger strike. However, some republicans, including Richard O’Rawe, the former press officer for the IRA inside the Maze prison in 1981, have claimed there is evidence that the Thatcher government offered a compromise on the prisoners’ demands in early July 1981 that could have ended the hunger strike and saved six lives.

The suggestion appears to be that Thatcher, while instinctively pro-unionist, was far more pragmatic than ideological in directing Northern Ireland policy. Four years after the hunger strike, she stunned unionists by signing the Anglo-Irish Agreement which gave the republic a say in the running of Northern Ireland. Her decision provoked widespread anger within the unionist community, who accused her of betrayal. Later at a mass protest involving more than 200,000 unionists at Belfast City Hall, her effigy was burned alongside that of the Irish tricolour. For that reason, while the union flag will fly half mast next week during her funeral, there is likely to be no mass outpouring of grief, even in unionist strongholds, where many have never forgiven her perceived treachery.

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Left unity must be linked to real action

NOVANEWS

The crises and splits in the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and Respect have spurred more talk about left unity. The left needs systematic unity in action where we agree, and honest dialogue where we differ, in order to reinstate socialist ideas as an option in the working class.

On 26 March the Coalition of Resistance (within which the key force is the SWP splinter Counterfire) held a press conference to promote a “People’s Assembly Against Austerity” for 22 June (previously announced in a letter to the Guardian on 5 February). Workers’ Liberty supports all such gatherings; but, worryingly, the press release described the event as a “rally” rather than a conference.

There is a back-story. In late 2010 and early 2011, as anti-cuts campaigns flourished in the first angry response to the Tory/ Lib-Dem government, a number of left groups called conferences to try to make themselves the hub of the anti-cuts movement. The SWP called one (Right to Work, since morphed into Unite the Resistance), and the SP called one (National Shop Stewards’ Network). Counterfire’s effort, the Coalition of Resistance, was the biggest.

More than 1,000 people attended the Coalition of Resistance conference on 27 November 2010. Listening to many platform speeches from celebrities calling for militancy against the cuts, including from Unite leader Len McCluskey (who also backs the June event), some of those thousand must have felt they were in on the start of a real new movement.

But not much came of it. CoR has run an informative website, and some useful stunts; but for local anti-cuts committees usually the best contribution that CoR has been able to make is to refrain from organising CoR local groups as rivals to the main committees (and CoR has not always refrained).

The CoR conference was dominated by top-table speakers, 20-odd of them in the opening and closing plenaries. Little came of most workshops. At the workshop billed as dealing with political representation, speakers were a Green Party councillor; Liz Davies, who declared herself a critical supporter of the Green Party; Billy Bragg, whose speech was a straight plea to vote yes in the May 2011 referendum on AV; and Guardian contributor Laurie Penny. It was chaired by a Green Party member and allowed little debate.

The conference applauded a call from the platform for a week of action from 14 February 2011, but there was little action that week. CoR faded.

There is also a back-story to the “People’s Assembly” trope with which Counterfire hopes to revive CoR. They did it first on 12 March 2007, as a People’s Assembly Against War, when the people who now run Counterfire were in the leadership of the SWP. That event drew a good crowd, too — 1,000 or more — but its contribution to unity in action or to serious dialogue on differences was smaller than the attendance. There were almost 40 celebrities speaking from the top table.

On 25 March, film-maker Ken Loach and writer Gilbert Achcar co-signed a letter to the Guardian promoting the “Left Unity” initiative started in December 2012 by Andrew Burgin and Kate Hudson after they had quit George Galloway’s Respect movement. The initiative’s website claims that 3000 people have signed up on the web to back Ken Loach on this. No conference has been announced, but the website reports on local groups.

If those local groups can act as left forums, bringing the left together in joint action where we agree and honest debate where we disagree, then they will make a contribution.

Again, there is a back-story. Burgin had previously been active in Gerry Healy’s Workers’ Revolutionary Party as well as Respect; Hudson, in the Communist Party of Britain before she joined Respect. Loach was close to the Workers’ Revolutionary Party, and then in Respect.

There have been quite a few other unity initiatives in recent years. A weary shrug (“not another one!”) would be wrong; but so would the idea that we need not think about and learn from why they didn’t work.

In 2009, both AWL and SWP made proposals for left unity (only, it turned out that the SWP’s idea of left unity didn’t include talking with AWL…) The Convention of the Left, launched in September 2008 by John Nicholson (previously Labour deputy leader of Manchester City Council, and then in the Socialist Alliance) won wider endorsement than any of the current efforts — Morning Star, Red Pepper, LRC, Respect, Labour Briefing and Socialist Worker, as well as Workers’ Liberty. It agreed to set up local left forums. Trouble is, the forums never really got going, and the “convention” turned into a series of conferences, of diminishing vitality.

The Left Unity Liaison Committee, set up by activists from the Socialist Alliance, brought together different groups to discuss, but also petered out (in the end, AWL was the only one of the activist groups attending regularly). According to the Socialist Party, their electoral vehicle, the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition, is the best hope for left unity. AWL was able to get a loose alliance with the SP and the Alliance for Green Socialism — the Socialist Green Unity Coalition —up to 2008-9, but the SP and AGS then pulled out in favour of No2EU and what became TUSC.

The Anti-Capitalist Initiative, in which the main force is splinters from the Workers’ Power group, also promotes itself as the way to left unity.

None of these, not even CoL which was perhaps the best effort, has had enough substance of agreed united action or of real open debate.

Paradoxically, it often happens that the smaller and more splintered the group which proposes itself as the hub for left unity, the better the initial response it gets. But it’s not necessarily easy sailing from there on!

If an activist group with a known record of political activity makes a call for unity, then people judge it partly according to their opinion of that record. If a splinter of a split of a splinter (just two people initially, as with Burgin and Hudson, or a few dozen, as with Counterfire) makes an appeal, and puts it in the vaguest terms — Burgin and Hudson suggest no more political definition than “rejects austerity and war, advocates a greater democratisation of our society and institutions, and poses a new way of organising everyday life” — then everyone can read into it what they want.

Everyone who wants to build a socialist organisation, but is unsure about how to do it, and so holds back from joining any of the existing groups, can believe they have found a short cut. Just a click on a website, or a “like” on Facebook, and they’re already part of the big movement they want!

Burgin and Hudson cite Syriza in Greece and Die Linke in Germany as their models. But neither of those dropped from the sky in response to a few activists writing a letter to the Guardian, or doing a press conference. Syriza builds on a long political tradition — that of the Greek Communist Party, since the 1920s the main force in the Greek workers’ movement – and on sharp political battles which separated Syriza’s core both from the old Stalinists and from the soft reformists now in Greece’s Democratic Left. Die Linke rests on having been able to take over a chunk of what was the old ruling party in East Germany.

Also, neither of them is adequate. If Syriza did not have organised left groupings like DEA and Kokkino battling within it against its mainstream leadership, then there would be no hope for it doing anything other than collapsing into reformist adaptation. Die Linke is more Keynesian than socialist, and has supported cuts where it is in provincial coalition governments.

Unity is good. But talk about unity will be just a way of floating yet another left splinter unless it is translated into specific unity in action and specific dialogue about differences.

To the credit of Burgin and Hudson, they have posted on their website a thoughtful contribution from SWPer (or ex-SWPer?) Keith Flett. “However, and however frustrating some may find it, there is no way of by-passing the weight of Labour and perhaps in particular Labour activists in the unions and localities in all this…. The electoral support of Labour and its impact can’t be ignored.

It may be argued that membership is hardly what it was in the 1950s but that is true of all political parties. It may also be argued that the hold of Labour’s approach to political change is less, but it is an argument not an historical fact.

“Even if we accept time scales change with context, historically it has taken time to build left parties”. Not just time, but effort, argument, education. And politics! Talk of unity is good, but only if it leads to specific united action and specific dialogue. Not if it becomes only a way to float yet another left splinter making its claim as being the one which is really for unity…

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE TOWERS GONE?

NOVANEWS
by Dr Kevin Barrett

Source
Presented with pictures and captions by Lasha Darkmoon

“In this devastating critique of 9/11, Dr Kevin Barrett unravels the shocking truth: that this was a terrorist attack on innocent Americans by their own government — a government that has now morphed into an axis of evil with Israel and the NATO countries.” — Lasha Darkmoon

WHERE HAVE ALL THE TOWERS GONE?
AND WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE 1,116 MISSING 9/11 VICTIMS?

More than 11 years after the catastrophic destruction of the World Trade Center, New York City’s government is finally asking: What in the world could have happened to the missing 1,116 victims?

In every building collapse in history, all of the victims’ bodies have been recovered more or less intact. That is because falling buildings crush human bodies. They do not shred them into tiny pieces, or cause them to vanish into thin air.

Yet on September 11th, 2001, the most famous “building collapses” in history somehow caused the bodies of more than 1,000 victims to magically disappear. Not even a shred of skin, a fragment of fingernail, or a shard of bone from any of these bodies was ever recovered, despite meticulous “sifting and bucketing” efforts.

But that’s not the only mystery. Hardly anything was left of the 1,634 WTC occupants who did not completely vanish. Most of the human remains discovered and DNA-identified were in the form of tiny, shredded pieces, not intact bodies.

What happened to the nearly 3,000 human bodies that were annihilated during the ten-second disappearances of the 110-story Towers? Answer: The same thing that happened to the office furniture, filing cabinets, telephones, computers, and other contents of the Towers. Virtually no remains of these objects were ever recovered, either. They – like the human bodies – were somehow transformed into a mixture of tiny shards and sub-100-micron dust, which floated out to sea and slowly settled into the Atlantic. As one of the sifters-and-bucketers remarked, the biggest piece of office furniture recovered from Ground Zero was a tiny fragment of a telephone keypad.

“What happened to the 3000 human bodies that were annihilated during the 10-second disappearances of the Twin Towers?”

Now, more than 11 years later, the New York City government is finally acknowledging the mystery. In a memo to the 9/11 victims’ families, NYC official Casey Holloway announced that this Monday, April 1st, the city’s Chief Medical Examiner will begin sifting through 60 truckloads of World Trade Center construction debris at Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island. The city says it hopes to find remains of at least some of the 1,116 missing victims.

Unfortunately, the chances of finding remains of more than a few additional victims seem remote. After all, the Twin Towers debris – which amounted to less than 50% of the mass of the Towers (what happened to the rest of the mass?) – was already meticulously sifted and bucketed more than a decade ago. The city’s decision to sift through recent construction debris beginning April 1st bears more than a passing resemblance to George W. Bush’s decision to get down on his hands and knees to look under his desk for the missing Iraqi WMD. Is this some kind of cruel April Fools’ Day joke?

The absence of crushed-but-intact human bodies, office furniture and equipment, and 50% of the Towers’ mass suggests that the Twin Towers did not collapse – they exploded. (See the Youtube film “North Tower Exploding.”) This would explain why tiny human bone fragments were discovered scattered all over the roof of the neighboring Deutsche Bank building in 2006. No simple gravitational collapse, like the one posited by US government’s official NIST Report, could possibly blast human skeletons to smithereens and deposit those smithereens all over the roof of a neighboring building.

Were the Twin Towers, and the thousands of people inside them, blown to bits by explosives? That is what many of the 9/11 victims’ family members believe. Robert McIlvaine, whose son Bobby was murdered in the Twin Towers on 9/11, has stated that roughly half the family members share his suspicion that the Towers were explosively demolished in a false-flag attack. William Rodriguez, the famous 9/11 hero who has spoken to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, is another representative of the 9/11 survivors who asserts that the evidence for “controlled demolition” is an open secret.

Scientist Carl Sagan once pointed out that “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” But sometimes absence of evidence IS a smoking gun. The absence of intact bodies, office contents, and half of the mass of the Twin Towers is a smoking gun proving that the Towers were explosively demolished.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS OF 9/11 ENJOYING A PRIVATE JOKE

The missing contents and mass of the Twin Towers are not the only mysterious “absence” connected with 9/11. Other notable “missing evidence” includes:

* The absence of the US government’s 80-plus videos of the attack on the Pentagon, some of which were confiscated by FBI agents just moments after the attack. Only a few frames have been released, and those frames show an explosion at the Pentagon but no big airliner.

* The absence of the 100,000 kilos of Boeing 757 airliner that supposedly entered the Pentagon. No record exists of those 100,000 kilos of airliner debris, or the plane’s luggage and passenger remains, ever being removed from any of the three widely-separated damaged areas of the Pentagon.

* The absence of the 100,000 kilos of Boeing 757 airliner that supposedly buried itself in the soft earth beneath a shallow fifteen-foot-diameter crater in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. There is no evidence of 100,000 kilos of airliner debris, along with passenger remains and luggage, being recovered from beneath the ground at the alleged crash site.

* The absence of the official airline passenger lists, security video footage, ticket stubs, testimony from airline employees, or any other actual evidence that the 19 young Arabs blamed for 9/11 were even on the planes.

* The absence of the audio recordings of FAA personnel debriefing each other about what they experienced on 9/11. These recordings were confiscated by an FAA supervisor and shredded into tiny pieces, which were discarded into many widely-separated trash receptacles so they could never be collected and reconstructed.

* The absence of the indestructible “black boxes” of the planes that hit the Twin Towers. The US government claims these flight data recorders were never recovered, but first responders say they were present when they were found and taken away by FBI agents.

* The absence of the government’s most important cited evidence: The audio and video recordings of the lengthy torture sessions and scripted false confessions of mentally-retarded “9/11 mastermind” Abu Zubaydah and his fellow “mastermind” Khalid Sheikh MohammedThe CIA admits that it illegally destroyed these recordings, anonymous second-hand reports of which are cited in the 9/11 Commission Report as its only evidence for the 19-hijackers scenario.

* The absence of any plausible innocent explanation for the BBC’s premature report of the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7, Larry Silverstein’s confession that he demolished WTC-7, and (of course) the obvious controlled demolition of that building.

In every one of these cases — as in the case of the 1,116 missing victims — the absence of evidence is a smoking gun.

The US government now faces a complete absence of legitimacy.

SEARCHING FOR CLUES AMID THE RUBBLE OF 9/11

LD: Nothing that could have embarrassed the US government survived the explosions. Even the “indestructible” black boxes containing key flight information had been complete vaporized, contrary to the laws of physics. Even more miraculously and conveniently for the US government, two charred passports of alleged Al Qaeda terrorists, one of them ringleader Mohammed Atta, had been found intact in the ruins — almost as if someone had placed them there on purpose to be found.  (See here)

The passport of Mohamma Atta… found intact in the rubble of Ground Zero  

Among the many missing items, $2.3 trillion, for which Rabbi Dov Zakheim had been personally accountable at the Pentagon, mysteriously disappeared into thin air. People are asking: what happened to this enormous sum of money? Did it end up in Israel? Was it perhaps Israel’s “payment” for services rendered on 9/11?

Altogether, 9/11 has proved to be a very successful heist: with over 1 million Iraqis dead and the warmongers of the military-industrial complex incomparably richer — and now eager for new conquests and money-making opportunities in Iran.   

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