Archive | October 29th, 2013

The Piper Report

The Piper Report Oct 28, 2013

by crescentandcross

mcp1

Tonight’s program–Agents within the movement, literally under every bed, some of them knowing who they are and what they are doing, others who simply do the enemy’s dirty work while believeing they are doing something good.

tpr-oct-28-2013.mp3

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THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM

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USPCN Strongly Condemns Arrest and Indictment of Rasmea Yousef Odeh

NOVANEWS
The United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) strongly condemns the arrest and indictment of Rasmea Yousef Odeh by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  She is a founding member of […]

The United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) strongly condemns the arrest and indictment of Rasmea Yousef Odeh by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  She is a founding member of the Chicago chapter of USPCN and a mentor to all of its organizers, and we pledge to fight this injustice with all of our strength.

Rasmea has dedicated her whole life to Palestine and Palestinian communities across the world, from her case management and social services work with internally displaced refugees after the 1967 Israeli occupation to herlegendary status as an advocate for women’s rights and empowerment in Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and now Chicago.  Her career spans close to five decades and her influence spans continents.

Early morning Tuesday, October 22nd, Rasmea was awakened at her home by a number of federal law enforcement agents, and then taken to federal court in Chicago, where she was charged with Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization for allegedly lying on immigration application questions back in 1994.  According to the U.S. Attorney’s office in Detroit, Michigan (which has jurisdiction because that is where she applied for citizenship), Rasmea failed to mention an arrest from over 40 years ago.  That arrest was ordered by an Israeli military court, the same system that allows almost no right to due process, and today holds hundreds of Palestinians without charge, under “administrative detention,” amongst over 7,000 political prisoners, including 179 children, in total.  That arrest was by an army in Palestinian territories that even the U.S. government says is illegal for Israel to militarily occupy.  And that arrest led to Rasmea being subjected to years of unspeakable, inhumane, and illegal torture by Israeli prison authorities.

USPCN unequivocally rejects all the charges against Rasmea, as they are nothing but a pretext to criminalize her and her continued work on behalf of our community, including the leading role she played in helping to organize both USPCN national popular conferences in 2008 and 2010, each attended by over 1,200 people.  This arrest proves, as in the cases of the Holy Land 5Sami Al-ArianMuhammad Salah and Abdelhalim Ashqar, and countless others, that yet again, federal law enforcement in the U.S. is working in coordination with Israel and its Occupation Army to harass, repress, and sow fear in Palestinian communities and their supporters here.

In addition, the lead prosecutor in the Holy Land 5 case, and career anti-Palestinian ideologue and racist, Assistant U.S. Attorney Barry Jonas, was present at Rasmea’s hearing on the morning she was arrested.  This proves beyond a doubt that this case is not about any alleged immigration violation, but rather a witch-hunt against another community leader who has dedicated her life to organizing for the Right of Return and Palestine’s decolonization.

Rasmea Yousef Odeh is a living legend in the eyes of thousands across the world.  In the past 9 years in Chicago, she has been a leader in defending the rights of immigrants and promoting equality and legalization for all.  She is the founder of the Arab Women’s Committee, which provides social services, English language and civics instruction, organizing training, and social, personal, and leadership development to over 600 Arab immigrant women in Chicagoland.  She advocates for the civil, economic, and political rights of Arabs, Palestinians, Muslims, Africans and African Americans, Latinos, Asians, and all other immigrants, communities of color, and marginalized people.  And she is one of our precious elders, a 65 year-old woman who still leads by example and organizes block to block and house to house.

In the U.S., witch-hunts, FBI raids, phony “material support for terrorism” charges, and other attempts to silence Palestinian community members, students, academics, organizers, and activists, as well as our supporters, are not working.  The Palestinian-led Boycott Divestment Sanctions Movement is in full swing, gaining more support and strength across the world everyday.  National Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) just wrapped up its largest conference ever at Stanford University in the Bay Area of California.  The Presbyterian Church in the U.S. is poised to pass a divestment resolution next year.  Israel’s supporters and apologists for its Apartheid policies are confronted everywhere they try to spew their racist propaganda.  USPCN held a successful national strategic planning meeting just two weeks ago.  And, of course, our heroic people in all of historic Palestine, as well as our refugees in surrounding Arab countries, are courageously resisting capitulation, occupation, and colonization in the belly of the Israeli beast.  Israel and its U.S. patron are reeling and on the ropes.  Keep the pressure on!

If convicted, Rasmea faces up to 10 years in prison, being stripped of her U.S. citizenship, and probable deportation.  We cannot allow this to happen!  USPCN calls on all people of conscience everywhere to support Rasmea and all Palestinians in our fight against these charges.  We are asking our members and supporters to:

  • Call Barbara McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, at 313.226.9501 or313.226.9100, or email barbara.mcquade@usdoj.gov, to demand that she Drop the Charges Now! 

Example script and talking points to use:

“Hello, my name is ________ and I am calling from _________.   I am calling to demand that U.S. Attorney McQuade drop the immigration charges against Rasmea Yousef Odeh.  She is a beloved leader in the community and has worked tirelessly to serve and help empower Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim families throughout the Chicagoland area.

Rasmea is a community icon and was recently awarded an “Outstanding Community Leader” award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance for her over 40 years of dedication and service to people across the Arab World and the U.S.

These charges are a political attack on her as an individual, and on Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities across the U.S. as a whole.  I stand in unequivocal support of Rasmea and demand that these charges be dropped immediately!”

  • Send statements of support and solidarity to cppr@aaan.org.
  • Join us to pack the courtroom on either November 13 or 14 for Rasmea’s first hearing in Detroit.  And if you cannot make it to Detroit, participate in a national day of action to support Rasmea wherever you are. Stay tuned for the specifics.
  • Like this Facebook page and tweet with the hashtag #justice4rasmea.
  • Send us your pictures holding up the following message:

“I am ________ and I support Rasmea!”

You should fill in the blank with a self-identifier: your name, your occupation, or any other description.  Some examples are “I am a stay-at-home dad and I support Rasmea!”  ”I am a youth organizer and I support Rasmea!” and “I am a supporter of Palestinian human rights and I support Rasmea!”

Hold the sign up and snap a selfie, then send it to cppr@aaan.org.  Put it up as your Facebook/Twitter profile pic, Google Account image, or anything else!  Just remember we may use your image in future publications and informational pamphlets that get published online or distributed as hard copies.

  • Stay tuned to www.stopfbi.net for updates on the case, and for more information about our work upholding Palestinian rights to Equality, Self-Determination, and Return, and defending Rasmea and other Palestinians under attack, go to www.uspcn.org.

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ZIO-WAHHABI REGIME: Releases a Blogger, Convicts an Activist

NOVANEWS

For a brief moment today, there looked to be some respite to Saudi Arabia’s relentless crackdown against independent activists.  But the moment, like too many in Saudi, quickly passed.

The day started with the surprise announcement that authorities had released blogger Hamza Kashgari in Jeddah after 625 days in a jail cell without charge or trial. Kashgari was detained in February 2012 after he posted three tweets that some conservative religious figures deemed disrespectful to the Prophet Mohammed. Saudi officials went so far as to extradite him from Malaysia as he sought to flee the local hysteria that clerics had stirred up against him.

Upon his release, Kashgari made his first tweet in a year and a half: “mornings of hope and undying spirits … praise to God whose grace is eternal.”

Saudi Arabia did the right thing by letting Kashgari go, but his release is an exception in an otherwise depressing march of human rights and civil society activists to prison cells.

Does Kashgari’s release signal a greater tolerance of independent bloggers and activists?  A Jeddah court quickly dispelled that notion within hours of his release by issuing a conviction against human rights lawyer Waleed Abu al-Khair, sentencing him to three months in prison for merely signing a statement in support of a group of Jeddah-based reformers and Saudi Arabia’s Shia citizens in the Eastern Province town of Qatif.

Though Abu al-Khair intends to appeal this verdict, he is also contending with two other ongoing trials against him based solely on his peaceful activism, including one before Saudi Arabia’s terrorism tribunal, the Specialized Criminal Court, on vague catch-all charges including  “breaking allegiance with the ruler” and “inflaming public opinion against the ruler,” and others. If convicted, he could face more than 10 years in prison.

Saudi authorities should drop the ongoing prosecution of Abu al-Khair and release other activists jailed for exercising their rights to free expression and assembly, including Mohammed al-Qahtani, Abdullah al-Hamid, Abd al-Kareem al-Khudr, and Raif Badawi.

We can say progress has been made when all the activists are free from their prison cells.

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Nazi Jews: licensed to be Racist

NOVANEWS
Racism ruins lives

By Nureddin Sabir

Here’s some food for thought for advertisers and brand-builders thinking of peddling Israel to an unsuspecting world.

The Jews-only state is not just “the only democracy in the Middle East” (but only if you’re a Jew), and it’s not the only surviving apartheid state, now that South Africa has switched colours. It is the only society that allows openly racist groups to spread their poisonous racial hatred without hindrance.

Readers of this website will already be familiar with the activities of some of these groups and individuals, which we reported in, for example:

Two of the racist groups, Lehava and Yad L’Achim, have been actively operating to thwart contact between Jews and Arabs. As +972 Magazine reports,

Lehava, which runs a hotline encouraging callers to inform on Jewish-Arab couples, was reportedly behind a campaign to pressure Israel’s National Service Administration to stop allowing Israeli Jewish females to work night shifts in hospitals – presumably to make it more difficult for them to socialize with the Palestinian citizens of Israel with whom they work.

Yad L’Achim – whose mission is to fight “assimilation” (read: miscegenation) and whose slogan is, “We don’t give up on a single Jew” – claims to collectthe identification cards of Jewish women seen socializing with Palestinians.

report published today by +972 Magazine highlights the fact that these two organizations “have posters circulating on the streets and in social media that are racist, sexist and offensive”.

The flyer below, for example, which has been posted in Jerusalem, says in Hebrew and Arabic: “Don’t even dare think about a Jewish woman!’

Lehava poster: "Don't even dare think about a Jewish woman"

“Don’t even dare think about a Jewish woman” – Lehava poster in Jerusalem (Courtesy TF)

Another posted, by L’Achim, circulating on social media asks: “In a relationship with a citizen belonging to an ethnic minority?” It then goes on to say: “You know it’s not it, but having fun in the meantime? Don’t waste your time! You are wasting the most beautiful years. Your life is not a game! Turn to Yad L’Achim’s 24-hour hotline now.”

Yad L’Achim poster: "In a relationship with citizen belonging to an ethnic minority?"

Yad L’Achim poster: “In a relationship with citizen belonging to an ethnic minority?”

As +972 Magazine reports, the barcode in the flyer takes you to this video, in Hebrew, produced by Yad L’Achim.

It shows a Jewish Israeli woman telling other Jewish women about the dangers of dating an “Arab” – how they are obsessive, and take over your life, and she implies that all Arab men abuse Jewish women verbally and physically. The last message of the video is: “You deserve one of us” – one of us Jews, that is.

Whether you’re in the United States, Canada, somewhere in Europe, Australia or New Zealand: imagine what the reaction would be to this sort of racist and sexist filth being peddled in public.

What would the media and politicians say, especially if the racism targeted Jews?

Yet, as usual, the silence is deafening. Jews – especially Israeli Jews – it would seem, have  unrestricted licence to be as racist or sexist as they like.

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Surprise, Surprise–U.S.-Based Iran “Experts” Promoting I$raHell Policy

NOVANEWS

poison

By Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett

As the new round of nuclear diplomacy between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 unfolds, an informal coalition of forces is coalescing in the West to oppose any prospective deal in which the United States would “accept” safeguarded uranium enrichment in Iran. Of course, Israel and the pro-Israel lobby are at the heart of this coalition. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s remarks about the Iran nuclear talks on NBC’s Meet the Press this past Sunday, see here, are emblematic of the “zero enrichment” camp:

The question is not of hope; the question is of actual result. The test is the result. The result has to be the full dismantling of Iran’s military nuclear program. If that is achieved, that would be very good. If it’s achieved peacefully, it’s even better…I think the pressure has to be maintained on Iran, even increased on Iran, until it actually stops the nuclear program—that is, dismantles it. I think that any partial deal could end up in dissolving the sanctions. There are a lot of countries waiting for a signal, just waiting for a signal, to get rid of their sanctions regime. And I think that you don’t want to go through halfway measures…

As far as the freezing of assets—as far as I remember, those assets were frozen for three reasons: one, Iran’s terrorist actions; two, its aggressive actions, particularly in the Gulf; and three, its continued refusal to stop the production of weapons of mass destruction. You know, if you get all three done, and they stop doing it—well, then, I suppose you could unfreeze them…Those sanctions weren’t Israeli sanctions. I’ve always advocated them, but the international community adopted very firm resolutions by the Security Council, and here’s what those resolutions say: they said Iran should basically dismantle its centrifuges for enrichment (that’s one path to get a nuclear weapon) and stop work on its plutonium heavy-water reactor (that’s the other path for a nuclear weapon).

It’s very important to stress that it’s for nuclear weapons. Nobody challenges Iran’s or any country’s pursuit of civilian nuclear energy. But seventeen countries in the world, including your neighbors Canada and Mexico, have very robust programs for civilian nuclear energy, and they don’t enrich with centrifuges, and they don’t have heavy water plutonium reactors.

Here comes Iran and says, ‘I want civilian nuclear energy.’ I don’t know why, because they have energy, with gas and oil, coming out of their ears for generations. But suppose you believe them. Then you ask, ‘Why do you insist on maintaining a plutonium heavy water reactor, and on maintaining centrifuges that can only be used for making nuclear weapons?’ And the answer is because they want to have residual capability to make nuclear weapons. And you don’t want that, and UN resolutions don’t want that, Security Council resolutions. And I propose sticking by that.

Anyone who has been following the Iranian nuclear issue with any measure of objectivity will note that Netanyahu mixes up U.S. secondary sanctions with sanctions authorized by the United Nations Security Council; likewise, he misrepresents what the relevant Security Council resolutions actually say about Iran’s nuclear activities, and misstates basic facts about fuel-cycle technology. Never mind all that. Notwithstanding his myriad factual errors, Netanyahu gives authoritative voice to the main rhetorical tropes of the “zero enrichment” camp:

–Iran has to dismantle its current infrastructure for uranium enrichment, and stop work on the heavy-water reactor currently under construction at Arak.

–Moreover, even if Iran does these things, this is not enough to warrant a lifting of sanctions. The Islamic Republic must also terminate its relations with democratically validated resistance/religious/social service/political movements like Hizballah in Lebanon, and stop suggesting that disenfranchised Shi’a populations in countries like Bahrain actually have political rights.

In the wake of Netanyahu’s Meet the Press appearance, we were struck by the similarity between his positions and those espoused in an Op Ed, titled “The World Must Tell Iran: No More Half Steps,” published earlier this week in the Washington Post, see here:

Despite its softened rhetoric, the new Iranian regime can be expected to continue asserting its nuclear ‘rights’ and to press its advantages in a contested Middle East. The Islamic Republic plans to remain an important backer of the Assad dynasty in Syria, a benefactor of Hezbollah and a supporter of Palestinian rejectionist groups. It will persist in its repressive tactics at home and continue to deny the people of Iran fundamental human rights. This is a government that will seek to negotiate a settlement of the nuclear issue by testing the limits of the great powers’ prohibitions.

Washington need not accede to such Iranian conceptions. The United States and its allies are entering this week’s negotiations in a strong position. Iran’s economy is withering under the combined pressures of sanctions and its own managerial incompetence. The Iranian populace remains disaffected as the bonds between state and society have been largely severed since the Green Revolution of 2009. The European Union is still highly skeptical of Iran, a distrust that Rouhani’s charm offensive has mitigated but not eliminated. Allied diplomats can use as leverage in the forthcoming negotiations the threat of additional sanctions and Israeli military force.

Given the stark realities, it is time for the great powers to have a maximalist approach to diplomacy with Iran. It is too late for more Iranian half-steps and half-measures. Tehran must account for all its illicit nuclear activities and be compelled to make irreversible concessions that permanently degrade its ability to reconstitute its nuclear weapons program at a more convenient time. Anything less would be a lost opportunity.

Who is the author of this Op Ed? An AIPAC spokesperson? One of the many neocon firebrands to whom the Washington Post long ago turned over its Op Ed page?

No and no. The author of the remarkably Netanyahu-like Op Ed cited above is: Ray Takeyh, the mainstream media’s long-time “go to” (if also perennially mistaken) Iran “expert” who advised Dennis Ross’s destructively incompetent handling of the Iran nuclear file during President Obama’s first term and is now back at the Council on Foreign Relations.

We have no reason to believe that Ray is coordinating his public positions with the Israeli government. But it is remarkable how congruent his views are with those of the most hegemonically-minded Israeli prime minister in living memory.

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The Iranian “Smoke and Mirrors Threat” and Washington’s “Human Rights Card

NOANEWS
Global Research

In a cycle of habit borne out repeatedly in the mainstream western media, demonization and fear mongering against Iran is picking up pace again in the face of attempts by the new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to rebuild relations with the west and work toward international cooperation. The techniques and methodologies used by the west in perpetuating the geopolitically-motivated, neo-imperialist, agenda against Iran often come across in the media as clumsy and awkward in their reasoning. Before delving into the hard geopolitical reality, a much needed word on the disingenuous leveraging of human-rights against countries such as Iran is critical.

Iran and the Western “Human Rights Card”

In a recent Fox News report, Iran’s human rights record is criticized by Benjamin Weinthal, a Berlin-based fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD). His arguments are employed to argue against the feasibility of pragmatic negotiations with Iran as according to his logic, Iran is not a regime “worthy” of practical negotiation with. To use the reported human right violations against religious minorities and Christians and particular as geopolitical leverage to argue against diplomacy and negotiation with Iran wreaks of compromised, corporate-financier motivation, especially when juxtaposed with the intimate collaboration of the United States and its allies with one of the most repressive regimes in the Middle East (and the world), Saudi Arabia.

While Iran is often berated for its short-comings, these short-comings pale in comparison to the atrocities perpetuated by the Saudis. In Saudi Arabia, no Jewish or Christian worship is allowed and possession of a Bible could warrant you various brutal punishments. Saudi Arabia has been notorious for rigid campaigns against Bible possession and religious symbols, especially in airport customs searches including the shredding of any Bibles found and in one case, harassing a nun who was passing through Jeddah on a transit flight.

Saudi Arabia, in cooperation with the United States, is currently promoting a sectarian-extremist-driven destabilization campaign in Syria whose byproduct has resulted in nightmarish lives for people across religious lines which can be described as nothing less than premeditated genocide with former CIA official Robert Baer predicting campaigns against Christians in Syria and Lebanon during an interview with Seymour Hersh for his excellent 2007 article, “The Redirection.”

What is rather ironic in light of western focus on Iran is that Baer stated that joint US-Saudi-Israeli machinations in Lebanon, which were generating radical Islamist groups, would necessitate the protection of Christians which would be done by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah of Hezbollah and the Shiites as opposed to the US and France. Iran is predominantly Shiite and while conservative Islam is the norm, this conservatism is distinct from the twisted inventions and atrocities of radical Wahabism in Saudi Arabia which serve as the hotbed of global Al Qaeda activity.

Let it not be forgotten that Saudi Arabia is the primary underwriter of Al Qaeda’s proliferation throughout Eurasia, done admittedly and particularly in line with western imperialist designs of isolating Iran and serving as geopolitical pawns. It is noted that the Taliban and the Wahabi fundamentalists that constitute its ranks and the ranks of extremists from Nigeria to the Philippines would not exist without Saudi financing done purposefully to create a twisted brand of Islam and produce a “Swiss-Army knife” to be used against the targets of western foreign policy such as Syria today and previously against Afghanistan during the 1980s; it has since formed the cornerstone of the fake “war on terror” driven by western neo-imperialist interests. Thelargest arms sale in U.S. history has been to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia regularly conducts brutal executions through the means of hooded swordsmen including on religious charges of being accused of “sorcery and witchcraft” in the grimly-dubbed “Chop-Chop Square.” Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and foreign women cannot visit the country without being accompanied by a male guardian. In addition to toeing the line of western corporate-financier geopolitical agendas in cooperation with Israel such as in Syria, the Saudi establishment interlocks with these interests as noted in points “6” and “7” in the article “Introducing the Gulf State Despots” by Tony Cartalucci.

Iran, which may have its shortcoming, has an unprecedented standard when compared to Saudi Arabia. Iranian Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians are guaranteed their own seats on the Iranian parliament in proportion to their population. Iranian Jews, roughly 30,000 in population, enjoy relatively peaceful lives in Iran with a Jewish hospital, two kosher restaurants in Tehran, 11 synagogues, many with Hebrew schools, and a Jewish library including 20,000 titles. Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued edits in the 1980s stating that Iran’s Jewish and Christian populations be “protected.” Many of these points are noted by Benjamin Schett’s article “Debunking Anti-Iran Propaganda” which conflict with the gravely austere picture painted by western media. This short documentary by Journeyman Pictures gives a candid picture of Jewish life in Iran.

It is often claimed that Iran promotes institutionalized anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial but Benjamin Schettexplains why this is not true. Ahmadinejad has made accusations against the reliability of the Holocaust but this does NOT represent the position of the Iranian state or people whose state-media even broadcasted a popular, Hollywood-quality film commemorating the suffering of the Jews and featuring the story of Abdol Hossein Sardari, an Iranian diplomat who helped save Jews from the Holocaust by giving them false passports to flee Nazi-occupied France. Iran’s former Jewish Member of Parliament, Moris Motamed, hascriticized Ahmadinejad for his statements on the Holocaust and even held a press conference to denounce those statements. However, such sentiments must not be seen as reflecting the entirety of the Iranian society as clearly is not the case.

Criticism against Israel is mainstream and expected but not because of any religious animosity towards the Jews, as Ahmadinejad himself stated in a speech in Esfahan cited by Schett, but rather because of the complicated political issues surrounding the Palestinian plight.

Benjamin Schett notes that it is impossible to give 100% insight of life as a religious minority in a religiously conservative country without being in that position oneself but unlike in Saudi Arabia, at least such minorities openly exist. Of course, such minorities must not settle for the bare minimum and as a westerner, I’m in the tradition of the equality for all. If and where any cases of rights violations exist, such as those noted in the original Fox News article by Benjamin Weinthal, they must be openly addressed but done so in a manner unlike the western media’s purpose which is to highlight certain facts, at the expense of others, and use any incident they can as propaganda fodder for the sake of western geopolitical objectives aimed at stifling peace and diplomacy, substituting it with war-mongering, and covering up the west and its assets’ own serial crimes against humanity.

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD): Is it Really About Democracy?

Of particular interest in the Fox News article is that the author, Benjamin Weinthal, is listed as a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), an organization with a vested interest in promoting western corporate- financier objectives around the world with human rights simply employed as an easily-leveraged cloak for naked imperialism. I will assume good faith on the part of Benjamin Wienthal as many people drawn into organizations and NGOs that served western subversion are drawn it by honest intentions which is something that imperialist systems exploit as they have in history. Nevertheless, the overall bulk and existence of the FDD cannot be casually excused when one gets an insight into the interests and networks propping it up. Tony Cartalucci in his excellent article, “The War on Terror is a Fraud”, explains the FDD:

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) is a corporate and US State Department-funded policy institute that claims to be dedicated to promoting “pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that threaten democracy.” It is decidedly “Neo-Conservative” and focuses almost exclusively on starting and maintaining wars at America’s expense.

FDD’s “executive team” includes James Woolsey and Clifford May, while its “leadership council” includes Bill Kristol – all signatories of a recent Foreign Policy Initiative letter addressed to House Republicans asking them to discard the UN mandate for NATO’s Libyan intervention and commit more support specifically for regime change. Acting Senator Joseph Lieberman also can be found on FDD’s “leadership council” and has been a chief proponent of war with Libya, as well as Syria and Iran, alongside John McCain. FDD has a myriad of publications expressing the elation of the “Neo-Conservative” establishment over current operations against Libya and the possible springboard the Libyan war serves toward US intervention in Syria and Iran. FDD’s only criticism of Obama is that more should be done, faster, and at a greater expense to America. Michael Ledeen, a “freedom scholar,” expresses this well in his article titled, “Lessons of Libya (and Syria, and, Some Day, Iran),” where he throws in his organization’s collective desire to intervene in both Syria and Iran, for good measure.

The Atlantic article, “Al-Qaeda Is Winning,” written by FDD “senior fellow” Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, expresses the true contempt these individuals have toward their audience. In this piece reflecting on the last 10 years of the “War on Terror,” Gartenstein-Ross claims that Al Qaeda’s ability to use cheap means to provoke the United States into a multi-billion dollar defense is rendering an Al Qaeda victory through a “strategy of a thousand cuts.” Of course, the x-ray machines and other security apparatuses being installed across the United States and the tremendous amount of money being used to sustain combat operations around the world “hunting terrorists,” doesn’t go into a black hole. Instead, it goes into the pockets of the very people funding the work of Mr. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and his peers throughout his and other US and British think-tanks.

 

Those who have read my recent article on Libya will note the entirely illegitimate nature of the NATO campaign against Libya and the intellectually bankrupt mentality of those who shamefully perpetuate its talking-points. The FDD, at the top of the organization, is not merely concerned with human rights themselves but rather leveraging such concerns for their own sake, something the US government and the corporate-financier interests it represents have clearly done before with regards to China. It should be noted that the FDD is just one element in the neo-imperialist racket. Other corporate-financier, “globalist” think-tanks, who are the true underwriters of western policy, includes the Council on Foreign Relations, Chatham House, the International Crisis Group, and the Brookings Institute. In “Naming Names: Your Real Government”, Tony Cartalucci points out who truly controls the United States/NATO and lists the prominent individuals and corporations financing and directing them.

Iran and the Western Geopolitical Struggle

The Brookings Institution is of particular concern among these think-tanks as it has been the primary facilitator in the drive for war against Iran founded on distortion and geopolitically-motivated propaganda. Contrary to media reports portraying Iran as an immediate, existential threat to US and Israeli security, theBrookings Institute released a policy report that was basically a handbook for overthrowing nations titledWhich Path to Persia? (.PDF). It was written by six prominent analysts within establishment circles, includingKenneth Pollack, admitting that Iran poses not a threat to the survival of the United States and Israel’s security but their collective regional and geopolitical hegemony and interests across the region. It was noted that Iran was playing a strategy of firmness and even aggressiveness but not recklessness in combating western hegemony and imperialism as can be seen in its recent economic endeavors in the pipeline and gas politics of the region. It was also noted that Iran was deliberately avoiding a conflagration with the west and that any possible nuclear weapons capability for Iran (which is noted as unconfirmed and nonexistent in other reports) would be used as a deterrence for attack and protecting regional ambitions Iran has for the region (pg. 24-25).

This is reconfirmed by the recent 2013 RAND Corporation report Iran After the Bomb which while noting that no evidence exists that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons according to the US intelligence community, envisions a post-nuclear scenario of Iran. RAND is another “globalist” think-tank that hosts compromised interests but manages to give an honest synopsis of the Iranian reality. It is also noted that Iran’s “supreme leader” Ayatollah Khamenei has issued religious decrees labeling nuclear weapons as “against Islamic principles.” Contrary to recent reports circulation by MEMRI TV and mainstream media, these fatwas are not fake and actually do exist. And contrary to some critics, they are not an example of taqiyya (deception) as Juan Cole notes. One thing that is very revealing is the following statement by RAND which sums up their insightful report:

The Islamic Republic [of Iran] is a revisionist state that seeks to undermine what it perceives to be the American-dominated order in the Middle East. However, it does not have territorial ambitions and does not seek to invade, conquer, or occupy other nations. Its chief military aim is to deter a U.S. and/or Israeli military attack while it undermines American allies in the Middle East [which includes the economic interests of the totalitarian kingdoms of Saudi Arabia and Qatar whose atrocities in human rights dwarfs anything Iran is guilty of]… Iran’s possession of nuclear weapons will lead to greater tension between the Shi’a theocracy and the conservative Sunni monarchies [Saudi Arabia, Qatar, etc.] However, Iran is unlikely to use nuclear weapons against other Muslim countries…The Islamic Republic views Israel in ideological terms. However, it is very unlikely that Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel, given the latter’s overwhelming conventional and nuclear military superiority. (pg. vii)

The Brookings Institution not only enumerates transparently the similar points that Iran is not an existential threat but goes further to enumerate a list of strategies for US provocations against Iran to initiate a war that, according to the report, Iran does not want. It is even noted that an Iranian retaliation in the case of American airstrikes would not be inevitable and that Iran may deliberately refrain from retaliation in order to strategically “play the victim” (pg. 84-85, 95) Let it not be forgotten how the US and Britain staged the CIA “Operation Ajax” in 1953 to oust the democratically-elected Iranian president Mohammad Mosaddegh, who nationalized the country’s oil, in favor of the pro-American Shah who ruled as a brutal dictator. Similar plans for regime change are enumerated in the Brookings Institute report where it is admitted that the opposition “Green Movement” in 2009 was orchestrated by the US government through “civil society and NGOs” in order to provoke Iranian belligerence through regime change operations, capitalizing on internal dissent. This is not to deny any legitimate aspirations and calls for reform in Iran which are prevalent among student groups but merely to point out how such ambitions are co-opted and used by western interests for their own agenda (103-105, 109-110). See this excellent summary of all these critical points.

Other means proposed included playing upon sectarian and ethnic divisions inside Iran to destabilize the country and even funding radical Sunni militant groups, specifically the MEK, which has killed Americans in the past and is labeled by the U.S. state department as a “foreign terrorist organization”. Its ideology is described by analysts as radical “left-wing” Islamic-Marxism which makes it interesting to consider the US plans to fully employ this group as political assets. MEK has also collaborated with Saddam Hussein’s forces in guerilla warfare against Iran in the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s (113, 117-118). The group is against the dominant Iranian establishment and it is noted that the US has worked covertly with them in the past and that in order to work overtly with them, the group had to be removed from the terrorist list (118). Regarding the MEK on pages 117-118, Brookings states:

“Perhaps the most prominent (and certainly the most controversial) opposition group that has attracted attention as a potential U.S. proxy is the NCRI (National Council of Resistance of Iran), the political movement established by the MEK (Mujahedin-e Khalq). Critics believe the group to be undemocratic and unpopular, and indeed anti-American.

In contrast, the group’s champions contend that the movement’s long-standing opposition to the Iranian regime and record of successful attacks on and intelligence-gathering operations against the regime make it worthy of U.S. support. They also argue that the group is no longer anti-American and question the merit of earlier accusations. Raymond Tanter, one of the group’s supporters in the United States, contends that the MEK and the NCRI are allies for regime change in Tehran and also act as a useful proxy for gathering intelligence. The MEK’s greatest intelligence coup was the provision of intelligence in 2002 that led to the discovery of a secret site in Iran for enriching uranium.

Despite its defenders’ claims, the MEK remains on the U.S. government list of foreign terrorist organizations. In the 1970s, the group killed three U.S. officers and three civilian contractors in Iran. During the 1979-1980 hostage crisis, the group praised the decision to take America hostages and Elaine Sciolino reported that while group leaders publicly condemned the 9/11 attacks, within the group celebrations were widespread.

Undeniably, the group has conducted terrorist attacks—often excused by the MEK’s advocates because they are directed against the Iranian government. For example, in 1981, the group bombed the headquarters of the Islamic Republic Party, which was then the clerical leadership’s main political organization, killing an estimated 70 senior officials. More recently, the group has claimed credit for over a dozen mortar attacks, assassinations, and other assaults on Iranian civilian and military targets between 1998 and 2001. At the very least, to work more closely with the group (at least in an overt manner), Washington would need to remove it from the list of foreign terrorist organizations.”

The compounded criminality of western and Israeli collaboration with MEK is emphasized here. It should be noted that the MEK has recently been removed from the US list of terrorist organizations as part of the next phase of using them as a proxy. MEK claims to have killed 40,000 Iranians in the past and has been trained on U.S. soil in a secret base in Nevada, published on the Huffington Post and cited here by Kurt Nimmo in an excellent and well-sourced article emphasizing the coordinated western agenda against Iran.

In culminating these abhorrent proposals, Brookings further notes the option of a military invasion and conventional war against Iran if the above proposals failed to accomplish western interests. This is the most alarming option especially in context to the following admission:

If the United States were to decide that to garner greater international support, galvanize U.S. domestic support, and/or provide a legal justification for an invasion, it would be best to wait for an Iranian provocation, then the time frame for an invasion might stretch out indefinitely. ..However, since it would be up to Iran to make the provocative move, which Iran has been wary of doing most times in the past, the United States would never know for sure when it would get the requisite Iranian provocation. In fact, it might never come at all (65)… it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes [as a catalyst for an invasion] before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it (85).

In all this certified criminality, which has obviously been at play even as the report was being published in 2009, it must not be forgotten that the Brookings Institution is of, for, and by big business and their collective agenda of integrating Iran into their international consensus and exploiting its 76 million population for their unipolar order. This is opposed to Iran’s attempts to foster national self-sufficiency and develop ties with nations strategic to western interests including India, Thailand, China, and Russia. Brookings Institution is funded by the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, The Carnegie Foundation, Goldman Sachs, and the Carlyle Group among others; their report even includes a special acknowledgement of financial support from the Smith Richardson Foundation upon which Zbigniew Brzezinski sits as an active governor as pointed out by Tony Cartalucci and easily verifiable in the report’s preface.

Such international criminality is magnified when Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh revealed in his article “Preparing the Battlefield” that the U.S. is cooperating with their anti-Iranian terrorist asset, Saudi Arabia, in order to fund radical, Al Qaeda-linked, Sunni-groups like the Jundallah to destabilize and destroy Iran as a viable geopolitical opponent. Al Qaeda, directed by the Saudis in cooperation with western geopolitical objectives, has been leveraged as a “Swiss army knife of destabilization” across the Middle East in the fake “war on terror” as Seymour Hersh exposed in another report titled “The Redirection” published in 2007. In that report, Hersh reveals that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been working since 2007 to destabilize Syria and Lebanon with a wave of sectarian-extremists currently being marketed in the media as a “political uprising” and a “revolution”. This is different from the legitimate internal political opposition in Syria that has collaborated with the Syrian government in a reform initiative and maintains distinctiveness from the extremist and terrorist elements that clearly constitute the bulk of the “Syrian rebels” supported by the west. In his report, Seymour Hersh states:

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda…[Saudi Arabia’s Prince] Bandar and other Saudis have assured the White House that “they will keep a very close eye on the religious fundamentalists. Their message to us was ‘We’ve created this movement, and we can control it.’ It’s not that we don’t want the Salafis [Al Qaeda] to throw bombs; it’s who they throw them at—Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Iran, and at the Syrians, if they continue to work with Hezbollah and Iran.

There is no doubt that there is an anti-Iranian proxy conflict being waged in Syria by a joint US-Saudi-Israeli effort to further the Wall Street-London geopolitical consensus. Undermining and destabilizing Syria would further isolate Iran and perpetuate the united geopolitical front against Iran that has been the objective of western politicians and think-tanks. Iran would ultimately serve as a vital door into central Asia and a springboard against Russia and China who are the ultimate target for absorption within the western design of a unipolar world order. Former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, who is an active agent in the networks of these machinations, makes it no secret in his book The Grand Chessboard that U.S. “global pre-eminence” (a euphemism for Wall Street/London geopolitical domination and a unipolar world order) is the agenda along with American influence in central Asia to which Iran is a doorway. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also spoken of hegemonic ambitions on the part of the west to establish a unipolar order at a 2007 Munich conference.

In addition to this evidence of open subversion, it must be noted that Clinton Bastin, former director of US nuclear weapons production programs, has sent an open letter to President Obama in December 2011 claiming that there is no nuclear weapons threat from Iran, stating the following on Iran’s nuclear weapons program:

The ultimate product of Iran’s gas centrifuge facilities would be highly enriched uranium hexafluoride, a gas that cannot be used to make a weapon. Converting the gas to metal, fabricating components and assembling them with high explosives using dangerous and difficult technology that has never been used in Iran would take many years after a diversion of three tons of low enriched uranium gas from fully safeguarded inventories. The resulting weapon, if intended for delivery by missile, would have a yield equivalent to that of a kiloton of conventional high explosives.

As warmongering against Iran is expected to drastically pick up pace as western designs for domination across the Middle East show increasing signs of faltering, it is absolutely critical to be educated on these matters in order to undermine and extinguish the effects of the media propaganda echo-chamber. This is not to deny any human rights accusations against Iran altogether but one must guard themselves from being misguided and swayed by disingenuous corporate-financier, globalist interests seeking to expand their empire. It is imperative for people around the world to recognize the corporations and institutions perpetuating systematic atrocities and genocide across the planet and realize that once they eliminate the sovereignty of other countries, they will then turn their attention fully to the people within their own borders in the west.

real revolution will come by boycotting the degenerate corporations and financier interests seeking to enslave humanity and building up our own communities to create a world order in our own image and not in the image of Wall Street and London.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on The Iranian “Smoke and Mirrors Threat” and Washington’s “Human Rights Card

Our Invisible Revolution

NOVANEWS

(Image: Shutterstock)“Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?” the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay “The Idea Is the Thing.” “If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.”

Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define itself. Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal. It is a question of which ideas will capture the public’s imagination.

“It is certain now that a popular revolt is coming.”

Revolution usually erupts over events that would, in normal circumstances, be considered meaningless or minor acts of injustice by the state. But once the tinder of revolt has piled up, as it has in the United States, an insignificant spark easily ignites popular rebellion. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows where or when the eruption will take place. No one knows the form it will take. But it is certain now that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, along with the abject failure to remedy the mounting state repression, the chronic unemployment and underemployment, the massive debt peonage that is crippling more than half of Americans, and the loss of hope and widespread despair, means that blowback is inevitable.

“Because revolution is evolution at its boiling point you cannot ‘make’ a real revolution any more than you can hasten the boiling of a tea kettle,” Berkman wrote. “It is the fire underneath that makes it boil: how quickly it will come to the boiling point will depend on how strong the fire is.”

Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected. This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed only after it has largely been completed. Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites and construct alternative ideas for society, ideas often embodied in a utopian revolutionary myth. The articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny—as attempted by the book “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA” and the website Popular Resistance—is, for me, paramount. Once ideas shift for a large portion of a population, once the vision of a new society grips the popular imagination, the old regime is finished.

An uprising that is devoid of ideas and vision is never a threat to ruling elites. Social upheaval without clear definition and direction, without ideas behind it, descends into nihilism, random violence and chaos. It consumes itself. This, at its core, is why I disagree with some elements of the Black Bloc anarchists. I believe in strategy. And so did many anarchists, including Berkman, Emma Goldman, Pyotr Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin.

By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas—in our case free market capitalism and globalization—that sustain the structures of the ruling elites. And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, “the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent,” as Berkman wrote. “Evolution becomes revolution.”

This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left. Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police—to get them, in essence, to defect—nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. Violent revolutions usually give rise to revolutionaries as ruthless as their adversaries. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote. “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

Violent revolutions are always tragic. I, and many other activists, seek to keep our uprising nonviolent. We seek to spare the country the savagery of domestic violence by both the state and its opponents. There is no guarantee that we will succeed, especially with the corporate state controlling a vast internal security apparatus and militarized police forces. But we must try.

Corporations, freed from all laws, government regulations and internal constraints, are stealing as much as they can, as fast as they can, on the way down. The managers of corporations no longer care about the effects of their pillage. Many expect the systems they are looting to fall apart. They are blinded by personal greed and hubris. They believe their obscene wealth can buy them security and protection. They should have spent a little less time studying management in business school and a little more time studying human nature and human history. They are digging their own graves.

Our shift to corporate totalitarianism, like the shift to all forms of totalitarianism, is incremental. Totalitarian systems ebb and flow, sometimes taking one step back before taking two steps forward, as they erode democratic liberalism. This process is now complete. The “consent of the governed” is a cruel joke. Barack Obama cannot defy corporate power any more than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton could. Unlike his two immediate predecessors, Bush, who is intellectually and probably emotionally impaired, did not understand the totalitarian process abetted by the presidency. Because Clinton and Obama, and their Democratic Party, understand the destructive roles they played and are playing, they must be seen as far more cynical and far more complicit in the ruination of the country. Democratic politicians speak in the familiar “I-feel-your-pain” language of the liberal class while allowing corporations to strip us of personal wealth and power. They are effective masks for corporate power.

The corporate state seeks to maintain the fiction of our personal agency in the political and economic process. As long as we believe we are participants, a lie sustained through massive propaganda campaigns, endless and absurd election cycles and the pageantry of empty political theater, our corporate oligarchs rest easy in their private jets, boardrooms, penthouses and mansions. As the bankruptcy of corporate capitalism and globalization is exposed, the ruling elite are increasingly nervous. They know that if the ideas that justify their power die, they are finished. This is why voices of dissent—as well as spontaneous uprisings such as the Occupy movement—are ruthlessly crushed by the corporate state.

Posted in USAComments Off on Our Invisible Revolution

Did Lying NSA Chief Alexander Just Accuse Obama of Lying?

NOVANEWS

noted the other day the reason the non-denial confirmation that NSA wiretapped Angela Merkel raised the stakes for what President obama told the Chancellor in June about the spying. Did he give assurances she hadn’t been tapped?

NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander. (File)

If he did, anonymous leakers from the NSA’s vicinity suggest, he knowingly lied.

In Germany, Der Spiegel reported that the NSA’s Special Collection Service (SCS) had listed Merkel’s phone number since 2002. The number was still on the list – marked as “GE Chancellor Merkel” – weeks before Obama visited Berlin in June, raising the possibility that the German leader had been under surveillance for more than a decade. In an SCS document cited by the magazine, the agency said it had a “not legally registered spying branch” in the US embassy in Berlin, the exposure of which would lead to “grave damage for the relations of the United States to another government”.

The White House refused to comment on that report – or others that emerged in Germany overnight, raising questions about how much Obama personally knew about the spy operation.

[snip]

The German tabloid Bild reported that Obama was personally informed about US surveillance against Merkel by the director of the NSA, Keith Alexander, in 2010, and allowed the operation to continue. The newspaper cited “a secret intelligence employee who is familiar with the NSA operation against Merkel”. The Bild article also claimed that intelligence gathered by US spies based in Berlin was not channelled to NSA headquarters in Forte Meade, Maryland, but directly to the White House.

The newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported that when Obama spoke to Merkel over the phone on Wednesday, he assured the German leader he had not previously known her phone had been monitored. [my emphasis]

Much of this is obviously coming from Germany’s own national security establishment. But the Bild leak is clearly identified as a US source. The NSA is now denying it (in language that seems desperate to deny that Alexander was Bild’s source).

NSA chief General Keith Alexander “did not discuss with President Obama in 2010 an alleged foreign intelligence operation involving German Chancellor Merkel, nor has he ever discussed alleged operations involving Chancellor Merkel,”

That said, any certainty about what Obama got briefed would move likely come from ODNI, which is likely just as tired of taking the fall for the Snowden leaks.

Nevertheless, someone at NSA and/or associated with the Embassy in Germany is trying to hang this on the President.

Obama’s public line has already been that his Administration will assess whether we should be doing something, whether or not we can. I’m not all that convinced, particularly given the puffery of his Committee to Make You Love the Dragnet, he really means that. But even the hint that some at NSA want to hang this on the President might make him much more critical of what its doing.

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Screens, Screens, Screens: The Worrying Childhood Impact of the Digital Revolution

NOVANEWS

New reports show the growing trend of mobile media as pediatricians warn families to get grip on their kids’ digital diets

– Jon Queally

(Photo: Paul Mayne/Flickr/Creative Commons License)That children in the U.S., from newborns to 8-year-olds, are spending less time in front of traditional television and computer screens than they were two years ago is the good news found in a new report released Monday.

The bad news? Most of those children are now spending increasingly more time in front of newer—and more mobile—digital screens that a growing number of people carry with them nearly everywhere they go. And worse still, according to new guidelines from the pediatric medical community, also released Monday, both the short-term and long-term impact on these children could be devastating

.

Click to expand. (Infographic: Common Sense Media)

According to the first new report, Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America 2013 (pdf), presented by Common Sense Media, one of the most striking developments is the rapidly increased access to and use of portable devices by kids in the younge.

From the report:

“Among families with children age 8 and under, there has been a five-fold increase in ownership of tablet devices such as iPads, from 8% of all families in 2011 to 40% in 2013. The percent of children with access to some type of ‘smart’ mobile device at home (e.g., smartphone, tablet) has jumped from half (52%) to three-quarters (75%) of all children in just two years.”

“This is quite an extraordinary shift for our young children,” said James Steyer, CEO and founder, Common Sense Media. “In the past we could measure and control exactly where, when, and how they were engaging with screens. Now, mobile devices follow our kids from room to room.”

“The media children consume can have a profound impact on their learning, social development, and behavior,” Steyer continued, “and the only way to maximize the positive impact—and minimize the negative—is to have an accurate understanding of the role it plays in their lives. These kids are true digital natives.”

According to development experts, the real and deep concerns about learning and health impacts this trend is having on children in the U.S., especially as the duration and kind of use varied along socioeconomic lines, should trigger a deep warning to parents, educators, and the society at large.

Digital Lives of the Haves and Have-Nots

Dr. Susan Linn, director of the advocacy coalition group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, was troubled by a finding in the report showing that though 54% of high-income families surveyed claimed that overall “screen time” was for educational purposes, only 28% of low-income families did.

“Given the negative association between excessive screen time and school achievement,” said Linn in a statement, “it is worrisome that children from lower income families continue to spend more time watching television than their wealthier peers.”

“For these reasons, it is important that reducing screen time for young children and promoting healthy alternatives continue to be priorities for anyone who cares about children’s health and wellbeing,” she said.

What the doctors are saying: ‘Families Need a Media Plan’

Also on Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued an updated version of theirmedia usage guidelines for young children and adolescents.

Though the APP guidelines indicate that media use is not by itself a leading cause of any health problems among U.S. children, it warns that unhealthy digital habits can contribute to numerous health risks, including obesity, lack of sleep, school problems, aggression and other behavior issues.

“A healthy approach to children’s media use should both minimize potential health risks and foster appropriate and positive media use—in other words, it should promote a healthy ‘media diet’,” said Marjorie Hogan, MD, FAAP, co-author of the AAP policy. “Parents, educators and pediatricians should participate in media education, which means teaching children and adolescents how to make good choices in their media consumption .”

And as NPR reports, citing Dr. Ari Brown—the doctor behind some of the APP’s previous research on childhood development and media—too much of the wrong kind of screen use, especially before the age of two, can be enormously detrimental.

“The concern for risk is that some kids who watch a lot of media actually have poor language skills, so there’s a deficit in their language development. We also have concerns about other developmental issues because they’re basically missing out on other developmentally appropriate activities,” Dr. Brown told NPR.

Additionally, researchers say that too little is known about the accuracy of claims made by many digital media companies and mobile app producers about the “educational” benefits of tablet or smart phone use.

According to Vanderbilt University developmental psychologist Georgene Troseth, also interviewed by NPR, parents should be “wary” of such claims.

“There’s nothing wrong with a toy being fun, engaging a child for an amount of time,” said Troseth. “But to promote it as being educational we really need to do research to find out. Is having it be interactive, doing anything to make it easier to learn from?”

The APP’s recommendations to parents include:

  • Parents can model effective “media diets” to help their children learn to be selective and healthy in what they consume. Take an active role in children’s media education by co-viewing programs with them and discussing values.
  • Make a media use plan, including mealtime and bedtime curfews for media devices. Screens should be kept out of kids’ bedrooms.
  • Limit entertainment screen time to less than one or two hours per day; in children under 2, discourage screen media exposure.

The group also released this video, featuring Dr. Victor Strasburger, summarizing the AAP’s position:

On ‘Being Alone Together’

In a recent interview with veteran journalist Bill Moyers, MIT developmental psychologist Dr. Sherry Turkle described the growing crisis of social disconnectedness that has emerged—both for children and adults—since the new arrival of vastly expanded digital and social media technologies.

Turkle, author of “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other,”  our devices are not only changing the way we communicate and interact with each other, but also who we are, fundementally, as human beings. “What concerns me as a developmental psychologist is watching children grow in this new world where being bored is something that never has to be tolerated for a moment,” Turkle told Moyers.

For more insight into her work and perspective, watch the interview below (or here):

Posted in HealthComments Off on Screens, Screens, Screens: The Worrying Childhood Impact of the Digital Revolution

In Spain, NSA Collected 60 Million Calls in One Month Alone

NOVANEWS

Latest revelations made possible by Edward Snowden reveal extent of surveillance on Spanish communication networks

– Jon Queally

Glenn Greenwald, working with journalist Germán Aranda at the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, is reporting Monday that the U.S. National Security Agency has been heavily monitoring telephone communications in Spain, citing one NSA document showing the tracking of over 60 millions calls in the span of just one month.

Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy (pictured) summoned the US ambassador, James Costos, as an EU delegation prepares to visit Washington to discuss the scale of US spying on its allies. (Photograph: Thierry Tronnel/Corbis)The document, part of a trove of internal NSA memos and slides leaked to journalists by whistleblower Edward Snowden, is the first to reveal that the agency’s operations in Spain match the level of surveillance already reported in other countries throughout the world.

Following the report, the U.S. ambassador in Spain, James Costos, was summoned by the Spanish government to account for the allegations.

As the Guardian reports:

An NSA graphic, entitled “Spain – last 30 days”, reportedly shows the daily flow of phone calls within Spain, and that on one day alone – 11 December 2012 – the NSA monitored more than 3.5m phone calls. It appears that the content of the calls was not monitored but the serial and phone numbers of the handsets used, the locations, sim cards and the duration of the calls were. Emails and other social media were also monitored.

The news comes as a parliamentary delegation from the EU prepares to visit Washington to discuss the scale of US spying on its allies. The EU’s civil liberties committee will meet members of Congress to express their concerns over the impact on EU citizens’ fundamental right to privacy.

Last week Spain rejected a move by Germany, which wants the EU’s 28 member states to sign a “no-spy deal” along the lines of an agreement wanted by Berlin and Paris.

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