Archive | April 14th, 2013

They have a “home”/English and Arabic

NOVANEWS
These Palestinians in the above picture are “fortunate”.  They have a “home”.  Yes, it has no roof.  The remaining walls may collapse at any time.  They sit and sleep on the debris.  All their belongings are crushed deep under the rubble.  But it is a “home”.
 
The man is enjoying his tea.  The little boy is enjoying his rope.  The two young girls dream of the future.  The three women think of the present.  But they have a “home”.  No place is better than home.
“Thanks,  all the thanks” to Jewish settlers.  They did not evict this Palestinian family from their home as the chosen people normally do.
I “envy” this family.  In 1948, my mother, 3 sisters and I escaped Jewish mortar shelling of the “holy” city of Jerusalem.  We ran to Jericho.  We slept in the open. Palestinian sand was our mattress.  The beautiful stars were our cover.  The shining moon was our lamp.  But it was not our home.  We were “intruders”, running for our lives, wandering Palestinians seeking to survive “.
Ali Baghdadi
(Arab Journal, Chicago)

هؤلاء الفلسطينيون في هذه الصورة “محظوظون”. لديهم “بيت” يأويهم، نعم، بيت ليس له سقف، وقد تنهار جدرانه المتبقية في أي وقت. من تبقى من هذه الأسرة بعد القصف الصهيوني بالقنابل والصواريخ برا وبحرا وجوا يجلسون وينامون فوق الحجارة وقطع الإسمنت، حجارتهم وإسمنتهم.  كل ما كانوا يملكونه من أثاث وغيره أصبح حطاما تحت الأنقاض. ولكن لا يزال هذا هو “بيتهم”.

الرجل – كما ترى – يتمتع بكأس من الشاي. الصبي الصغير يلعب بحبل وجده بين الأنقاض. الفتاتان تحلمان بمستقبل مجهول.   النساء الثلاث يفكرن في حاضر مؤلم. ولكن لديهم “بيت”. ولا مكان أفضل من البيت.

“شكرا، كل الشكر” للمستوطنين اليهود، فهم لم يقتلعوا كغيرهم من “شعب الله المختار” هذه العائلة الفلسطينية من بيتهم.

أما أنا فإنني أحسد” هذه العائلة. ففي عام 1948، نزحت من بيتنا  مع أمي، وأخواتي الثلاث، هربا من قصف قنابل الهاون اليهودية المرعبة لمدينة القدس القديمة. ركضنا شرقا إلى أريحا. نمنا في العراء. كان التراب الفلسطيني فراشنا. كانت النجوم الجميلة غطاءنا. كان القمر الساطع مصباحنا. ولكن رغم روعة المكان لم يكن هذا هو بيتنا. كنا “دخلاء” مشردين تائهين ننشد الحياة.

علي بغدادي
(عرب جورنال، شيكاغو)

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on They have a “home”/English and Arabic

Family Research Council’s Boykin: Bachmann and Gohmert on mission from God to hunt Muslims

NOVANEWS

Is ‘Jewish’ Michele Bachmann stealing Mitt Romney’s funders?

loonwatch.com

The Family Research Council’s President Jerry Boykin said this week that U.S. Reps. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Louis Gohmert (R-TX) are “standing on the word of God” in their mission to find and punish Muslims and Muslim supporters in the U.S. government.

According to Right Wing Watch, Boykin made the remarks at a panel discussion at this week’s National Religious Broadcasters conference featured Boykin alongside alleged former Islamic terrorist Kamal Saleem. The panel was moderated by Christian radio host Janet Parshall.

After portentously warning that the U.S. justice system has already been infiltrated and overcome by Sharia law, Boykin called on Americans to support Bachmann, Gohmert and Rep. Ted Franks (R-AZ) for their efforts to drive Muslims out of the U.S. government.

“There’s a lack of leadership in America today,” Boykin said. “Leaders are intimidated, they’re afraid and they will not confront the Muslim Brotherhood. They will not face up to what is really happening in America. Those who will are people that are standing on the word of God. Start with Michele Bachmann, Louie Gohmert, Trent Franks. They are a very small number who are standing on God’s word and because they have the spirit of God, they see this for what it is.”

Boykin is a retired U.S. Army Lt. General who was a plangent voice in the effort to keep President Barack Obama from overturning the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, which forbade military service by openly LGBT people.

In talks to churches around the country, Boykin has characterized the post-911 world as spiritual conflict between Muslims and “Christian America.” Boykin has warned of a “stealth jihad” in the government and has said that Islam does not deserve the same protections enjoyed by other religions in the U.S. because it is “a totalitarian way of life with aggressive political goals.”

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People with disabilities want Venezuelan revolution to continue: ‘We need even more of a voice’

NOVANEWS

by jodymcintyre

For Rabble magazine:

 

Disabled people have always positioned themselves at the forefront of the Bolivarian project in Venezuela, but their role is often understated.  I took a trip to the Metropolitan Council of Popular Power for People with Disabilities, an independent organisation campaigning for the rights people with disabilities, and spoke to Luis Roja.  It appeared that he was one of the leading figures of the Council, but he tells me that he is “just another one”, gesturing towards the many people who come and go as our conversation develops.  Luis spoke to me as a passionate supporter of the political process taking place in his country, but was adamant that more needs to be done.

 

“Por ahora [a ninety-second, televised speech made by Hugo Chavez immediately following the failure of his attempted coup in 1992, which propelled him into the public eye for the first time] for us, was an awakening.  Chavez was saying that people needed to organise, and so we organised ourselves.  The governments of the Fourth Republic [those that came before Chavez’ first electoral victory in 1998] had a badly-named law, the law for in-capacitated people; just with that law they assassinated our rights as disabled people, as if we weren’t supposed to leave our houses.  I believe that the por ahora was an internal revolution for people with disabilities.

 

We have this organisation, but disabled people need to be given much more of a voice.  What we are asking Maduro for is a new government ministry to be created for people with disabilities.”

 

Ramon, a blind man who I meet as he walks along the street near Plaza Bolivar, agrees with Luis’ sentiments.  “We need disabled people in the National Assembly, disabled people in the regional governments, disabled people speaking on every platform, because we are the people who know how to solve the problems that we face!”

 

It is all too easy to take the small privileges in life for granted.  For people with certain physical disabilities, for example, a wheelchair can be an essential item.  You can try to imagine having no way of getting from A to B, but unless you have been in such a situation, you will not be able to imagine.  The first few times I met Ofel, a young man selling telephone calls, sweets and cigarettes in the centre of Caracas, I assumed he had always used a wheelchair.  In fact, he told me, now aged 30, he received one from the government just two years ago.

 

“Before that, I never had one!  I got one from Mision Jose Gregorio Hernandez [a government program set-up in 2008 to help people with disabilities], and thanks to that, now I am able to work, to get around… before I couldn’t even leave my house.”

 

Opposition supporters say that the government “missions”, designed at helping to alleviate problems for disadvantaged sections of society, are inefficient and need to end.  At an opposition stall in Parque Central, I speak to Mrs. Ferreira, who has lived in Caracas for the last thirty years.

 

“The problem is, if you just gift people things, they don’t know how to take care of it, because they didn’t have to pay anything!”

 

Despite his supporters views on the missions, opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who will come head-to-head with Nicolas Maduro in Presidential elections on Sunday, has been promising to keep them in place.  His claims have failed to resonate with many voters who have benefited from them, and who believe that with the opposition in power they would never have existed in the first place.

 

“If Capriles wins,” Ofel tells me without hesitation, “the missions will be gone.  The benefits for disabled people… out!”

 

It is a commonly-held sentiment amongst supporters of the Bolivarian process.  In a speech in the state of Nueva Esparta this week, Nicolas Maduro warned against the dangers of “triumphalism”, whilst recognising the near-certainty of his victory in upcoming elections.  However, for people who have lived without wheelchairs, homes, medical care and education, the choice they have to make on Sunday is a very real one.  Maybe some citizens here believe that things “handed out for free” will not be appreciated by those who receive them, but if I got my first wheelchair at the age of twenty-eight, looking after it would certainly be a priority.

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VENEZUELA:683

NOVANEWS

by jodymcintyre

For the New Internationalist:

 

Things are heating up in the centre of Caracas. The heat is sweltering and Venezuela’s presidential elections are fast approaching on 14 April. It is hard to find a quiet moment in between the seemingly endless ‘red points’ which hand out posters and information in support of Nicolás Maduro’s election campaign.

However, Henrique Capriles too has his supporters, who are intent on speaking out against what they see as an undemocratic government. In Plaza Candelaria, 18-year-old Yelis, is working handing out Capriles’ leaflets, but she agrees to take a few minutes out to be interviewed.

‘This government isn’t democratic, because they use power and they use the people.  They want to make a revolution and they criticize capitalism, but they are the capitalists. I think that Capriles has better intentions than the government does,’ she tells me.

‘What is your opinion of capitalism?’ I ask.

‘I think capitalism is a good thing and can help provide give people the opportunity to work. This government talks about a revolution based on equality, but equality isn’t the same thing is justice. Because there are some people who work really hard for many hours, and the government want to take their money away and give it to people who don’t work at all.

‘For example, the system of the misiones [Bolivarian missions] needs to change. There is one called Mision Vivienda, which is a government programme that builds houses and gives them to people who have lost their homes or have problems, but it isn’t just that, because if you get an apartment from the Mision, you have to vote for the government! It’s like buying peoples votes. They don’t vote for the government because they like them, but because if they don’t they can’t get a home.’

‘But how does the government know who they are going to vote for?’ I reply.

‘Well, people are scared that they’re going to lose their job or home if they don’t vote for the government. For example, my dad lost his job just because he voted against the government!’

It’s difficult to know how to get to the bottom of such a claim, especially when it is presented without evidence to support it. Despite Yelis’ view that the system of voting doesn’t work, it is votes for Capriles on Sunday that she is campaigning for.

‘I think we need to improve our relations with the US. What happened is that Chavez was always criticizing the ‘Yankee capitalists’, but the government were still buying clothes and everything.

‘In truth, I really think that Capriles is going to win. Maduro doesn’t want to improve the country.’

This overwhelming confidence has been prevalent amongst opposition supporters in the run-up to the elections, not least due to the rhetoric of their presidential candidate. I ask Yelis what has changed since the last election, only six months ago, when Capriles was badly beaten.

‘Well he’s made the same campaign as last time, but this time he’s speaking more to the people’ she explains. ‘In every state he’s visited, Capriles is talking more about people’s problems, with the lights and with jobs, and he’s proposing more solutions.’

In the La Paz Mision Vivienda complex, there are two huge blocks of brand-new apartments with a children’s playground in front. Although progress hasn’t been as quick as hoped in a country with a severe shortage of housing, this week alone has seen hundreds of bungalows being delivered to families from the poorest sections of society in several states. Here, I come across a different set of opinions.

‘If I tell you how we were living before,’ says Paola, a woman in her late forties, ‘you won’t even believe me.’

When I ask how things would change if Capriles were to win the elections, I am met with radiant smiles and a chorus of responses.

‘We’d be back living in the hills,’ says Teresa, ‘where we were before! We are going forward with this process, and Capriles can never win!’

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ISRAHELL CHANNEL 2 PROGRAM ON ANTI-SEMITISM (MUST WATCH)

NOVANEWS
GILAD ATZMON

Israel defines itself as the Jewish State, its tanks are decorated with Jewish symbols, it commits crimes against humanity in the name of the Jewish people, and yet, Israeli TV can’t understand why people out there express some anger towards Israel. Zionism or Jews. I can’t make up my mind whether this is tragic or just sad -time is overdue for Israel and Jews to self-reflect.

The TV program fails to define what ‘anti Semitism’ is. It also fails to suggest since when Jews are Semites.
In spite of being an Israeli  (Hebrew) TV program, many of the segments are in English.

Interestingly enough, just a year ago, Ethnic Cleanser enthusiast Alan Dershowitz crowned me as the ‘biggest danger to the Jewish people.’ This time I am not mentioned at all.   I guess that our Zionist, AZZ and their Palestinian Sabbath Goyim grasped by now that the Anti Semite/Racist label is not going to work with me. I easily survived the smear.  They will soon try something new. I can see them  working hard.

 

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Operation Destabilize Venezuela and the Secret US Embassy Cables: Infiltrate, “Divide Chavismo”, “Isolate Chavez Internationally”

NOVANEWS
Global Research

Wikileaks has done it again. I guess the US will really have to get tough now with Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.

In a secret US cable to the State Department, dated November 9, 2006, and recently published online by WikiLeaks, former US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to destabilize the government of the late President Hugo Chávez. The cable begins with a Summary:

During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.

USAID/OTI = United States Agency for International Development/Office of Transition Initiatives. The latter is one of the many euphemisms that American diplomats use with each other and the world – They say it means a transition to “democracy”. What it actually means is a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.

OTI supports the Freedom House (FH) “Right to Defend Human Rights” program with $1.1 million. Simultaneously through Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), OTI has also provided 22 grants to human rights organizations.

Freedom House is one of the oldest US government conduits for transitioning to “democracy”; to a significant extent it equates “democracy” and “human rights” with free enterprise. Development Alternatives Inc. is the organization that sent Alan Gross to Cuba on a mission to help implement the US government’s operation of regime change.

OTI speaks of working to improve “the deteriorating human rights situation in” Venezuela. Does anyone know of a foreign government with several millions of dollars to throw around who would like to improve the seriously deteriorating human rights situation in the United States? They can start with the round-the-clock surveillance and the unconscionable entrapment of numerous young “terrorists” guilty of thought crimes.

“OTI partners are training NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to be activists and become more involved in advocacy.”

Now how’s that for a self-given license to fund and get involved in any social, economic or political activity that can sabotage any program of the Chávez government and/or make it look bad? The US ambassador’s cable points out that:

OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas, with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo. We have supported this initiative with 50 grants totaling over $1.1 million.

“Another key Chavez strategy,” the cable continues, “is his attempt to divide and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working together on issues of importance to the entire community.”

This is the classical neo-liberal argument against any attempt to transform a capitalist society – The revolutionaries are creating class conflict. But of course, the class conflict was already there, and nowhere more embedded and distasteful than in Latin America.

OTI funded 54 social projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing [the] Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate US concern for the Venezuelan people. This program fosters confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a ‘unifying enemy.’

One has to wonder if the good ambassador (now an Assistant Secretary of State) placed any weight or value at all on the election and re-election by decisive margins of Chávez and the huge masses of people who repeatedly filled the large open squares to passionately cheer him. When did such things last happen in the ambassador’s own country? Where was his country’s “concern for the Venezuelan people” during the decades of highly corrupt and dictatorial regimes? His country’a embassy in Venezuela in that period was not plotting anything remotely like what is outlined in this cable.

The cable summarizes the focus of the embassy’s strategy’s as: “1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.” 1

The stated mission for the Office of Transition Initiatives is: “To support U.S. foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy in priority countries in crisis.” 2

Notice the key word – “crisis”. For whom was Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela a “crisis”? For the people of Venezuela or the people who own and operate United States, Inc.?

Imagine a foreign country’s embassy, agencies and NGOs in the United States behaving as the American embassy, OTI, and NGOs did in Venezuela. President Putin of Russia recently tightened government controls over foreign NGOs out of such concern. As a result, he of course has been branded by the American government and media as a throwback to the Soviet Union.

Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.

For our concluding words of wisdom, class, here’s Charles Shapiro, US ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2004, speaking recently of the Venezuelan leaders: “I think they really believe it, that we are out there at some level to do them ill.” 3

The latest threats to life as we know it

Last month numerous foreign-policy commentators marked the tenth anniversary of the fateful American bombing and invasion of Iraq. Those who condemned the appalling devastation of the Iraqi people and their society emphasized that it had all been a terrible mistake, since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein didn’t actually possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is the same argument we’ve heard repeatedly during the past ten years from most opponents of the war.

But of the many lies – explicit or implicit – surrounding the war in Iraq, the biggest one of all is that if, in fact, Saddam Hussein had had those WMD the invasion would have been justified; that in such case Iraq would indeed have been a threat to the United States or to Israel or to some other country equally decent, innocent and holy. However, I must ask as I’ve asked before: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? He had no reason, no more than the Iranians do today. No more than the Soviets had during the decades of the Cold War. No more than North Korea has ever had since the United States bombed them in the early 1950s.

Yet last month the new Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced that he would strengthen United States defenses against a possible attack by [supposedly] nuclear-equipped North Korea, positioning 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska and California at an estimated cost of $1 billion. So much for the newest Great White Hope. Does it ever matter who the individuals are who are occupying the highest offices of the US foreign-policy establishment? Or their gender or their color?

“Oh,” many people argued, “Saddam Hussein was so crazy who knew what he might do?” But when it became obvious in late 2002 that the US was intent upon invading Iraq, Saddam opened up the country to the UN weapons inspectors much more than ever before, offering virtually full cooperation. This was not the behavior of a crazy person; this was the behavior of a survivalist. He didn’t even use any WMD when he was invaded by the United States in 1991 (“the first Gulf War”), when he certainly had such weapons. Moreover, the country’s vice president, Tariq Aziz, went on major American television news programs to assure the American people and the world that Iraq no longer had any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons; and we now know that Iraq had put out peace feelers in early 2003 hoping to prevent the war. The Iraqi leaders were not crazy at all. Unless one believes that to oppose US foreign policy you have to be crazy. Or suicidal.

It can as well be argued that American leaders were crazy to carry out the Iraqi invasion in the face of tens of millions of people at home and around the world protesting against it, pleading with the Bush gang not to unleash the horrors. (How many demonstrations were there in support of the invasion?)

In any event, the United States did not invade Iraq because of any threat of an attack using WMD. Washington leaders did not themselves believe that Iraq possessed such weapons of any significant quantity or potency. Amongst the sizable evidence supporting this claim we have the fact that they would not have exposed hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the ground.

Nor can it be argued that mere possession of such weapons – or the belief of same – was reason enough to take action, for then the United States would have to invade Russia, France, Israel, et al.

I have written much of the above in previous editions of this report, going back to 2003. But I’m afraid that I and other commentators will have to be repeating these observations for years to come. Myths that reinforce official government propaganda die hard. The mainstream media act like they don’t see through them, while national security officials thrive on them to give themselves a mission, to enhance their budgets, and further their personal advancement. The Washington Post recently reported: “A year into his tenure, the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has proved even more bellicose than his father, North Korea’s longtime ruler, disappointing U.S. officials who had hoped for a fresh start with the regime.” 4

Yeah, right, can’t you just see those American officials shaking their heads and exclaiming: “Damn, what do we have to do to get those North Korean fellows to trust us?” Well, they could start by ending the many international sanctions they impose on North Korea. They could discontinue arming and training South Korean military forces. And they could stop engaging in provocative fly-overs, ships cruising the waters, and military exercises along with South Korea, Australia, and other countries dangerously close to the North. TheWall Street Journal reported:

The first show of force came on March 8, during the U.S.-South Korean exercise, known as Foal Eagle, when long-range B-52 bombers conducted low-altitude maneuvers. A few weeks later, in broad daylight, two B-2 bombers sent from a Missouri air base dropped dummy payloads on a South Korean missile range.

U.S. intelligence agencies, as had been planned, reviewed the North’s responses. After those flights, the North responded as the Pentagon and intelligence agencies had expected, with angry rhetoric, threatening to attack the South and the U.S.

On Sunday, the U.S. flew a pair of advanced F-22s to South Korea, which prompted another angry response from the North. 5

And the United States could stop having wet dreams about North Korea collapsing, enabling the US to establish an American military base right at the Chinese border.

As to North Korea’s frequent threats … yes, they actually outdo the United States in bellicosity, lies, and stupidity. But their threats are not to be taken any more seriously than Washington’s oft expressed devotion to democracy and freedom. When it comes to doing actual harm to other peoples, the North Koreans are not in the same league as the empire.

“Everyone is concerned about miscalculation and the outbreak of war. But the sense across the U.S. government is that the North Koreans are not going to wage all-out war,” a senior Obama administration official said. “They are interested first and foremost in regime survival.”6

American sovereignty hasn’t faced a legitimate foreign threat to its existence since the British in 1812.

The marvelous world of Freedom of Speech

So, the United States and its Western partners have banned Iranian TV from North America and in various European countries. Did you hear about that? Probably not if you’re not on the mailing list of PressTV, the 24-hour English-Language Iranian news channel. According to PressTV:

The Iranian film channel, iFilm, as well as Iranian radio stations, have also been banned from sensitive Western eyes and ears, all such media having been removed in February from the Galaxy 19 satellite platform serving the United States and Canada.

In December the Spanish satellite company, Hispasat, terminated the broadcast of the Iranian Spanish-language channel Hispan TV. Hispasat is partly owned by Eutelsat, whose French-Israeli CEO is blamed for the recent wave of attacks on Iranian media in Europe.

The American Jewish Committee has welcomed these developments. AJC Executive Director David Harris has acknowledged that the committee had for months been engaged in discussions with the Spaniards over taking Iranian channels off the air. 7

A careful search of the Lexis-Nexis data base of international media reveals that not one English-language print newspaper, broadcast station, or news agency in the world has reported on the PressTV news story since it appeared February 8. One Internet newspaper, Digital Journal, ran the story on February 10.

The United States, Canada, Spain, and France are thus amongst those countries proudly celebrating their commitment to the time-honored concept of freedom of speech. Other nations of “The Free World” cannot be far behind as Washington continues to turn the screws of Iranian sanctions still tighter.

In his classic 1984, George Orwell defined “doublethink” as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” In the United States, the preferred label given by the Ministry of Truth to such hypocrisy is “American exceptionalism”, which manifests itself in the assertion of a divinely ordained mission as well in the insistence on America’s right to apply double standards in its own favor and reject “moral equivalence”.

The use of sanctions to prevent foreign media from saying things that Washington has decided should not be said is actually a marked improvement over previous American methods. For example, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.” 8 And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-bombing of the Balkan country which posed no threat at all to the United States, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage. Notes

  1. Read the full memo. 
  2. USAID Transition Initiatives Website 
  3. Washington Post, January 10, 2013 
  4. Washington Post, March 16, 2013 
  5. Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2013 
  6. Ibid. 
  7. PressTV news release 
  8. Index on Censorship online, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001 
  9. The Independent (London), April 24, 1999, p.1 

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Venezuelan Government Foils Destabilisation Plans with Salvadorian Mercenaries

NOVANEWS

Ryan Mallett-Outtrim (VA),- Venezuelan security forces have foiled a plot to violently destabilise the country, Vice-president  Jorge Arreaza announced this afternoon. “The Bolivarian National Armed Forces and state security agencies have dismantled a plan that would affect the election or post-election,” Arreaza told Venezuelan media.

Military and government officials have stated that Colombian paramilitaries procured Venezuelan military uniforms, C4 explosives and 50 high capacity magazines for use in an attack on Venezuelan soil (YVKE).

Military and government officials have stated that Colombian paramilitaries procured Venezuelan military uniforms, C4 explosives and 50 high capacity magazines for use in an attack on Venezuelan soil (YVKE).

He further stated that the plot involved Salvadorian mercenaries who “wanted, but could not, intervene to disrupt the peace of the republic at the last minute”. The government first announced the presence of two groups of Salvadorian mercenaries operating in Venezuela on April 6.

Internal Affairs and Justice Minister Nestor Reverol warned that the groups were funded by drug trafficking, and have links to far right terrorists including Luis Posada Carriles. Currently living in Miami, Carriles has been convicted in Panama of a number of terrorist attacks, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airline that claimed 73 lives.

Arreaza also stated that a group of students have been arrested after attempting to “storm” the Generalisimo Francisco de Miranda Airbase in Caracas. The same group previously tried to enter the National Guard headquarters in Paradise, near the capital, according to Arreaza.

Yesterday, security forces  also arrested Colombian paramilitaries operating in Venezuela, interim President Nicolas Maduro announced last night.

In a series of early morning raids, authorities reported that the paramilitaries possessed Venezuelan military uniforms, and were stockpiling C4 explosives and other material.

Among the confiscated materiel, the Bolivarian Guard seized 50 high capacity magazines, Defence Minister Diego Molero Bellavia said today.

Maduro has stated the paramilitaries “came to kill”, and urged Venezuelans to be vigilant, “without falling into provocations” of violence. Within hours of Maduro’s announcement last night, an employee of the state run oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) died in a Caracas hospital from gunshot wounds.

According to VTV, the employee was gunned down outside PDVSA’s La Campina offices, where a number of workers were engaging in a pro-Maduro celebration. VTV reported that witnesses believe the attack was politically motivated.

Mining and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez warned earlier this week that the oil sector is a potential target for destabilising forces.

“We are aware of destabilisation and chaos attempts, and we are committed to maintaining peace and stability,” AVN reported Ramirez as stating on Tuesday. Today, however, Arreaza praised the work of security forces, stating that a peaceful vote on Sunday is “guaranteed”.

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Zionist Writers Ask Palestinian Hunger Striker to End Fast to Death

NOVANEWS
by RICHARD SILVERSTEIN
Samer issawiSamer Issawi, Israel’s intellectuals tell him to “eat cake” of exile

Samer Issawi is a Palestinian hunger striker who is on a fast to the death. He is currently being treated at Kaplan Hospital and floats in and out of consciousness. Yesterday, Israeli peace activists smuggled from his hospital room, where he is chained like a dog, a letter from his death bed. It is a deeply moving document that must be read. Thank you to Gideon Levy for translating it from Arabic and publishing it.

Among the profound observations he makes is:

Israelis, I’ll die satisfied. I won’t be driven off my land and homeland … you won’t enter my spirit that refuses to give in … maybe now you’ll understand that a sense of freedom is stronger than a sense of death. Don’t listen to your generals and to the dusty myths. The defeated will not remain defeated and the victor will not remain victorious. History is not measured only in battles, massacres and prisons, but in stretching out a hand in peace, to yourselves and to the other.

These are words lost on Israel, I’m afraid, which seems prepared to let him die and absorb the repercussions that will result from yet another Palestinian prisoner death due to Israeli callousness.

But even more callous and inexcusable is a letter published by a bunch of Israeli literary cowardly lions, the liberal Zionist Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua. They don’t call for Issawi’s release. They don’t note the injustice of Israel releasing him as part of the Shalit exchange only to rearrest him for some unspecified violation of the terms of his release. They don’t address at all any of the issues of the conflict.

Instead, these moral pygmies and hypocrites beg Issawi to give up because there is very real progress (of some unspecified character) that would be spoiled by his death:

…There are “new encouraging signs that the negotiations between the sides will resume,” adding that these measures may secure Issawi’s release alongside other Palestinians imprisoned in Israel.

“We urge you to stop your hunger strike and choose life, because we are committed to tirelessly striving toward peace between the two peoples, who will live side by side forever in this country,” the authors concluded.

How heartless of Issawi to go and die when these doyens of Tel Aviv cafe high society have the whole conflict figured out and are on the cusp of settling it. Or at least they trust their visionary leaders to do so on their behalf. How can Issawi or any cynic among us doubt their sincerity!!

How dare they infer that negotiations resuming between the PA and Israel’s settler government will offer hope for the Palestinian prisoner’s release? This is less than hope they offer. It’s a cruel hoax of hope. They say nothing about the overall conflict. They merely mean to say that there is some rumor that Israel may be willing to exile him to a foreign country.

That is supposed to satisfy a man who’s given his life for the Palestinian cause. A man mistreated by an Israel, which released him from years in prison only to take him back for another indeterminate sentence in violation of the Shalit deal.

This man, who is ready to face death, should be happy with the scraps offered to him by the Israeli liberal Zionist elite, who offer him the crumbs of exile. One of the signatories of the letter had the chutzpah to deny that the effort was patronizing! Of course it is the height of noblesse oblige. Why didn’t they merely go to his hotel room with a piece of cake as Marie Antoinette would’ve done?

If Samer Issawi dies, then these moral charlatans will have played their role in making Israel’s tender-hearted elite look fine and reasonable when they are merely part of the Occupation machinery of death.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Zionist Writers Ask Palestinian Hunger Striker to End Fast to Death

Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood

NOVANEWS

Kamran Wazir/Reuters

Nek Muhammad, center, was a Pashtun militant who was killed in 2004, in the first C.I.A. drone strike in Pakistan.

By 

The C.I.A. has carried out hundreds of strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas.

On a hot day in June 2004, the Pashtun tribesman was lounging inside a mud compound in South Waziristan, speaking by satellite phone to one of the many reporters who regularly interviewed him on how he had fought and humbled Pakistans army in the country’s western mountains. He asked one of his followers about the strange, metallic bird hovering above him.

Less than 24 hours later, a missile tore through the compound, severing Mr. Muhammad’s left leg and killing him and several others, including two boys, ages 10 and 16. A Pakistani military spokesman was quick to claim responsibility for the attack, saying that Pakistani forces had fired at the compound.

That was a lie.

Mr. Muhammad and his followers had been killed by the C.I.A., the first time it had deployed a Predator drone in Pakistan to carry out a “targeted killing.” The target was not a top operative of Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani ally of theTaliban who led a tribal rebellion and was marked by Pakistan as an enemy of the state. In a secret deal, the C.I.A. had agreed to kill him in exchange for access to airspace it had long sought so it could use drones to hunt down its own enemies.

That back-room bargain, described in detail for the first time in interviews with more than a dozen officials in Pakistan and the United States, is critical to understanding the origins of a covert drone war that began under the Bush administration, was embraced and expanded by President Obama, and is now the subject of fierce debate. The deal, a month after a blistering internal report about abuses in the C.I.A.’s network of secret prisons, paved the way for the C.I.A. to change its focus from capturing terrorists to killing them, and helped transform an agency that began as a cold war espionage service into a paramilitary organization.

The C.I.A. has since conducted hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed thousands of people, Pakistanis and Arabs, militants and civilians alike. While it was not the first country where the United States used drones, it became the laboratory for the targeted killing operations that have come to define a new American way of fighting, blurring the line between soldiers and spies and short-circuiting the normal mechanisms by which the United States as a nation goes to war.

Neither American nor Pakistani officials have ever publicly acknowledged what really happened to Mr. Muhammad — details of the strike that killed him, along with those of other secret strikes, are still hidden in classified government databases. But in recent months, calls for transparency from members of Congress and critics on both the right and left have put pressure on Mr. Obama and his new C.I.A. director, John O. Brennan, to offer a fuller explanation of the goals and operation of the drone program, and of the agency’s role.

Mr. Brennan, who began his career at the C.I.A. and over the past four years oversaw an escalation of drone strikes from his office at the White House, has signaled that he hopes to return the agency to its traditional role of intelligence collection and analysis. But with a generation of C.I.A. officers now fully engaged in a new mission, it is an effort that could take years.

Today, even some of the people who were present at the creation of the drone program think the agency should have long given up targeted killings.

Ross Newland, who was a senior official at the C.I.A.’s headquarters in Langley, Va., when the agency was given the authority to kill Qaeda operatives, says he thinks that the agency had grown too comfortable with remote-control killing, and that drones have turned the C.I.A. into the villain in countries like Pakistan, where it should be nurturing relationships in order to gather intelligence.

As he puts it, “This is just not an intelligence mission.”

From Car Thief to Militant

By 2004, Mr. Muhammad had become the undisputed star of the tribal areas, the fierce mountain lands populated by the Wazirs, Mehsuds and other Pashtun tribes who for decades had lived independent of the writ of the central government in Islamabad. A brash member of the Wazir tribe, Mr. Muhammad had raised an army to fight government troops and had forced the government into negotiations. He saw no cause for loyalty to the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, the Pakistani military spy service that had given an earlier generation of Pashtuns support during the war against the Soviets.

Many Pakistanis in the tribal areas viewed with disdain the alliance that President Pervez Musharraf had forged with the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. They regarded the Pakistani military that had entered the tribal areas as no different from the Americans — who they believed had begun a war of aggression in Afghanistan, just as the Soviets had years earlier.

Born near Wana, the bustling market hub of South Waziristan, Mr. Muhammad spent his adolescent years as a petty car thief and shopkeeper in the city’s bazaar. He found his calling in 1993, around the age of 18, when he was recruited to fight with the Taliban in Afghanistan, and rose quickly through the group’s military hierarchy. He cut a striking figure on the battlefield with his long face and flowing jet black hair.

REMOTE Wana, in South Waziristan, where Pashtuns live independent of the Pakistani government’s authority and have given shelter to militants.

TARGET Mr. Muhammad, a Pashtun militant leader, reached a truce with the Pakistani military in April 2004. But the truce was a sham and two months later he was killed in a C.I.A. drone strike at Pakistan’s behest.

When the Americans invaded Afghanistan in 2001, he seized an opportunity to host the Arab and Chechen fighters from Al Qaeda who crossed into Pakistan to escape the American bombing.

For Mr. Muhammad, it was partly a way to make money, but he also saw another use for the arriving fighters. With their help, over the next two years he launched a string of attacks on Pakistani military installations and on American firebases in Afghanistan.

C.I.A. officers in Islamabad urged Pakistani spies to lean on the Waziri tribesman to hand over the foreign fighters, but under Pashtun tribal customs that would be treachery. Reluctantly, Mr. Musharraf ordered his troops into the forbidding mountains to deliver rough justice to Mr. Muhammad and his fighters, hoping the operation might put a stop to the attacks on Pakistani soil, including two attempts on his life in December 2003.

But it was only the beginning. In March 2004, Pakistani helicopter gunships and artillery pounded Wana and its surrounding villages. Government troops shelled pickup trucks that were carrying civilians away from the fighting and destroyed the compounds of tribesmen suspected of harboring foreign fighters. The Pakistani commander declared the operation an unqualified success, but for Islamabad, it had not been worth the cost in casualties.

A cease-fire was negotiated in April during a hastily arranged meeting in South Waziristan, during which a senior Pakistani commander hung a garland of bright flowers around Mr. Muhammad’s neck. The two men sat together and sipped tea as photographers and television cameras recorded the event.

Both sides spoke of peace, but there was little doubt who was negotiating from strength. Mr. Muhammad would later brag that the government had agreed to meet inside a religious madrasa rather than in a public location where tribal meetings are traditionally held. “I did not go to them; they came to my place,” he said. “That should make it clear who surrendered to whom.”

The peace arrangement propelled Mr. Muhammad to new fame, and the truce was soon exposed as a sham. He resumed attacks against Pakistani troops, and Mr. Musharraf ordered his army back on the offensive in South Waziristan.

Pakistani officials had, for several years, balked at the idea of allowing armed C.I.A. Predators to roam their skies. They considered drone flights a violation of sovereignty, and worried that they would invite further criticism of Mr. Musharraf as being Washington’s lackey. But Mr. Muhammad’s rise to power forced them to reconsider.

The C.I.A. had been monitoring the rise of Mr. Muhammad, but officials considered him to be more Pakistan’s problem than America’s. In Washington, officials were watching with growing alarm the gathering of Qaeda operatives in the tribal areas, and George J. Tenet, the C.I.A. director, authorized officers in the agency’s Islamabad station to push Pakistani officials to allow armed drones. Negotiations were handled primarily by the Islamabad station.

As the battles raged in South Waziristan, the station chief in Islamabad paid a visit to Gen. Ehsan ul Haq, the ISI chief, and made an offer: If the C.I.A. killed Mr. Muhammad, would the ISI allow regular armed drone flights over the tribal areas?

In secret negotiations, the terms of the bargain were set. Pakistani intelligence officials insisted that they be allowed to approve each drone strike, giving them tight control over the list of targets. And they insisted that drones fly only in narrow parts of the tribal areas — ensuring that they would not venture where Islamabad did not want the Americans going: Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, and the mountain camps where Kashmiri milit

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The ISI and the C.I.A. agreed that all drone flights in Pakistan would operate under the C.I.A.’s covert action authority — meaning that the United States would never acknowledge the missile strikes and that Pakistan would either take credit for the individual killings or remain silent.

Allah Noor Wazir/European Pressphoto Agency

Tribesmen praying at Mr. Muhammad’s grave days after his killing.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

SPY CHIEFS George J. Tenet, left, director of the C.I.A., and his deputy, John E. McLaughlin, are sworn in before the 9/11 panel in 2004.

T. Mughal/European Pressphoto Agency

“In Pakistan, things fall out of the sky all the time.” PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, the Pakistani president whose government reached a deal with the C.I.A., allowing it to carry out secret drone strikes in Pakistan.

Mr. Musharraf did not think that it would be difficult to keep up the ruse. As he told one C.I.A. officer: “In Pakistan, things fall out of the sky all the time.”

A New Direction

As the negotiations were taking place, the C.I.A.’s inspector general, John L. Helgerson, had just finished a searing report about the abuse of detainees in the C.I.A.’s secret prisons. The report kicked out the foundation upon which the C.I.A. detention and interrogation program had rested. It was perhaps the single most important reason for the C.I.A.’s shift from capturing to killing terrorism suspects.

The greatest impact of Mr. Helgerson’s report was felt at the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, or CTC, which was at the vanguard of the agency’s global antiterrorism operation. The center had focused on capturing Qaeda operatives; questioning them in C.I.A. jails or outsourcing interrogations to the spy services of Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt and other nations; and then using the information to hunt more terrorism suspects.

Mr. Helgerson raised questions about whether C.I.A. officers might face criminal prosecution for the interrogations carried out in the secret prisons, and he suggested that interrogation methods like waterboarding, sleep deprivation and the exploiting of the phobias of prisoners — like confining them in a small box with live bugs — violated the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

“The agency faces potentially serious long-term political and legal challenges as a result of the CTC detention and interrogation program,” the report concluded, given the brutality of the interrogation techniques and the “inability of the U.S. government to decide what it will ultimately do with the terrorists detained by the agency.”

The report was the beginning of the end for the program. The prisons would stay open for several more years, and new detainees were occasionally picked up and taken to secret sites, but at Langley, senior C.I.A. officers began looking for an endgame to the prison program. One C.I.A. operative told Mr. Helgerson’s team that officers from the agency might one day wind up on a “wanted list” and be tried for war crimes in an international court.

The ground had shifted, and counterterrorism officials began to rethink the strategy for the secret war. Armed drones, and targeted killings in general, offered a new direction. Killing by remote control was the antithesis of the dirty, intimate work of interrogation. Targeted killings were cheered by Republicans and Democrats alike, and using drones flown by pilots who were stationed thousands of miles away made the whole strategy seem risk-free.

Before long the C.I.A. would go from being the long-term jailer of America’s enemies to a military organization that erased them.

Not long before, the agency had been deeply ambivalent about drone warfare.

The Predator had been considered a blunt and unsophisticated killing tool, and many at the C.I.A. were glad that the agency had gotten out of the assassination business long ago. Three years before Mr. Muhammad’s death, and one year before the C.I.A. carried out its first targeted killing outside a war zone — in Yemen in 2002 — a debate raged over the legality and morality of using drones to kill suspected terrorists.

A new generation of C.I.A. officers had ascended to leadership positions, having joined the agency after the 1975 Congressional committee led by Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho, which revealed extensive C.I.A. plots to kill foreign leaders, and President Gerald Ford’s subsequent ban on assassinations. The rise to power of this post-Church generation had a direct impact on the type of clandestine operations the C.I.A. chose to conduct.

The debate pitted a group of senior officers at the Counterterrorism Center against James L. Pavitt, the head of the C.I.A.’s clandestine service, and others who worried about the repercussions of the agency’s getting back into assassinations. Mr. Tenet told the 9/11 commission that he was not sure that a spy agency should be flying armed drones.

John E. McLaughlin, then the C.I.A.’s deputy director, who the 9/11 commission reported had raised concerns about the C.I.A.’s being in charge of the Predator, said: “You can’t underestimate the cultural change that comes with gaining lethal authority.

“When people say to me, ‘It’s not a big deal,’ ” he said, “I say to them, ‘Have you ever killed anyone?’

“It is a big deal. You start thinking about things differently,” he added. But after the Sept. 11 attacks, these concerns about the use of the C.I.A. to kill were quickly swept side.

The Account at the Time

After Mr. Muhammad was killed, his dirt grave in South Waziristan became a site of pilgrimage. A Pakistani journalist, Zahid Hussain, visited it days after the drone strike and saw a makeshift sign displayed on the grave: “He lived and died like a true Pashtun.”

Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan, Pakistan’s top military spokesman, told reporters at the time that “Al Qaeda facilitator” Nek Muhammad and four other “militants” had been killed in a rocket attack by Pakistani troops.

Any suggestion that Mr. Muhammad was killed by the Americans, or with American assistance, he said, was “absolutely absurd.”

Posted in Pakistan & KashmirComments Off on Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood

Nazi soldier shoots disabled man in Hebron

NOVANEWS

maannews.net

Israeli forces on Thursday shot and injured a disabled Palestinian man in the southern West Bank city of Hebron in an act the Israeli army described as defensive.

Motaz Faraj Ibedo, who was already confined to a wheelchair after a shooting two years earlier, was critically injured and transferred to an Israeli hospital for treatment, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said in a statement.

An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed that a Palestinian man was hospitalized after being shot during an arrest operation. She said a soldier fired at the man when he tried to steal a weapon.

She said he threw objects including a gas can at soldiers. Two were injured, she said.

Amjad al-Najjar, the director of the PPS office in Hebron, denounced the arrest raid targeting a man who is already unable to walk without assistance.

Al-Najjar said that the Israeli authorities were responsible for Ibedo’s life. He called on the Israeli side to allow the man’s family and lawyer to visit him in custody.

An army spokeswoman denied Ibedo was under arrest and said he was still undergoing treatment in hospital.

Ibedo has been unable to walk on his own since he was shot in 2011 with a so-called dum dum bullet to the abdomen, which ruptured several internal organs and left him permanently disabled.

Since that incident, which Ibedo said happened while he was already in custody, he has not been able to walk due to a paralyzed left leg.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, Human RightsComments Off on Nazi soldier shoots disabled man in Hebron


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