Archive | May 11th, 2014

I$raHell rejects US spying allegations as false, ‘malicious’


Foreign minister says entities seeking to harm Washington’s relations  with I$raHell most likely behind allegations



Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman on Wednesday morning shot down claims published by Newsweek that Israel was spying on the United States.

“First of all, these are malicious accusations,” he said in an interview with Israel Radio, adding that there was “no basis” to the report and that Israel was not doing anything even similar to spying on the US.

“I would not agree to any spying on the United States, neither directly nor indirectly,” he said.

The Newsweek report anonymously quoted senior US intelligence officials and congressional staffers who have been privy to information on Israeli spying activities. Staffers called the extent of Israeli espionage “sobering” and “shocking,” far exceeding similar activities by any other close US allies.

But Liberman insisted that while he was on a diplomatic trip in the US last month, none of the congressmen he spoke with in formal meetings or behind closed doors had any “complaints” about spying, adding that he believes the accusations are a plot by entities in the US who seek to sabotage relations between the US and Israel.

The foreign minister downplayed concerns that the report would affect the two countries’ relationship.

Intelligence Minister Yuval Shteinitz also denied the allegations Wednesday. The Israeli government resolved three decades ago not to spy on the US, and has not wavered from that decision since, he told Israel Radio. The minister also said that he met with the US intelligence chiefs multiple times over the past year, and the issue of the alleged Israeli spying never arose.

In Washington, after initially refusing to comment on the report, according to Newsweek, the Israeli embassy also categorically denied the allegations Tuesday night.

“Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period,” spokesman Aharon Sagi said. “We condemn the fact that such outrageous, false allegations are being directed against Israel.”

The issue of spying has come to the forefront in recent months as the possible release of Jonathan Pollard, a jailed American-Israeli spy, was brought up in connection with Israel-Palestinian peace talks.

Pollard, a US-born navy intelligence analyst, is serving a life sentence in a North Carolina prison for spying for Israel. He was captured in 1985.

The issue of Israel’s spying also became an issue in its bid to join the US visa waiver program. Reports have indicated that Israel’s covert activities were holding it back from achieving its goal of joining the program, which would allow Israeli citizens to travel to the US with much greater ease.

The requirements to get into the waiver program are already tough. According to a statement by the Department of Homeland Security quoted by Newsweek, these include “enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the United States; timely reporting of lost and stolen passports; and the maintenance of high counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, aviation and document security standards.”

Two obstacles are said to be a relatively high rate of visa refusal — caused by an increase in young Israelis seeking to enter America as tourists and then work illegally — and Israel’s alleged discrimination against Arab-Americans who wish to visit.

But while Israeli diplomats maintain that Jerusalem is taking concrete steps to meet the required standards, a former aide quoted by Newsweek disagreed. “They think that their friends in Congress can get them in, and that’s not the case,” he said. “The Israelis haven’t done s**t to get themselves into the visa waiver program.”

Even if they did did, the magazine said, US officials fear allowing Israel into the program would make it much easier for the Jewish state to spy on its ally.

“They’re incredibly aggressive. They’re aggressive in all aspects of their relationship with the United States,“ the aide said. “If we give them free rein to send people over here, how are we going to stop that?”

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Message to the Asia Wide Campaign Annual Meeting


Held in Seoul, South Korea on May 3-4

On May 3-4, anti-war organizations from across Asia gathered for the 17th Campaign Coordinating Body meeting of the Asia Wide Campaign. AWC was founded in 1996 in Japan, and now includes anti-war groups in countries throughout East Asia that are committed to fighting U.S. and Japanese imperialism. The CCB is the main deliberative and decision-making body of the AWC, to which the ANSWER Coalition regularly sends representatives.

The ANSWER Coalition – U.S. extends to all of the member organizations of the Asia Wide Campaign our greetings of solidarity.

This year’s meeting could not be taking place at a more important time.

President Obama’s recent trip to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines, and his implementation of the so-called “pivot to Asia” has the purpose of isolating China, threatening North Korea, and reaffirming U.S. military and economic dominance in the region, including shoring up its military relationships and reaffirming the semi-colonial status of the Philippines.

Japan is central to the “Asia pivot.” Very significantly, President Obama has now stated that that the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty extends to the disputed islands, thus reinforcing and even accelerating the confrontational position of the Abe government. He also gave support to Japan’s exercise of the right of collective self-defense, the code for the deployment of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces abroad, also a military threat against China.

In a complete defiance of history, the United States portrays China as an imperial bully. Of course, we know that the true history of the relationship between China and Japan is one where Japan invaded, conquered and colonized China, and humiliated the Chinese people.

The U.S. relationship with Japan is about militarization but it is also about access to Japanese markets, resources and labor for the purpose of exploitation by U.S. corporations. It is only the mass opposition by Japanese farmers that has forced the Abe government to take a reserved position with regard to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Thus, the Obama administration failed in one of its chief goals of the trip.

In South Korea, of course President Obama continued his threats against and demonization of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including the conducting of dangerous war exercises that simulate the invasion and bombing of the DPRK, including with the most advanced nuclear aircraft in the U.S. Airforce, and continually threatening even more economic sanctions.

The signing of the Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation between the United States and the Philippines provides the U.S. military access to the Philippines beyond that which it has had since mass protests evicted it from the Clark Air Base and Subic Bay Naval Base 23 years ago.

These are critical developments that our movement must analyze and to which we must mobilize a response. We salute the organizations who are gathered here who organized protests prior to and during the trip in Japan, the Philippines and here in South Korea, and who are continuing to organize against the plans of U.S. and Japanese imperialism.

These developments show the need to strengthen ties between the anti-war and social justice movements in the United States and Asia, and to deepen our solidarity and coordination as the U.S. government further works to isolate China economically and militarily, threaten North Korea and further militarize the Asia-Pacific in the interest of the Pentagon, U.S. corporations and banks.

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Ukraine, Russia and the United States at the brink


The neo-Nazi menace is real

Thirty-eight anti-fascist activists were murdered when a neo-Nazi militia set fire to a trade union building into which they had fled

By Brian Becker, ANSWER Coalition National Coordinator

Are we moving to civil war in Ukraine? Russia is trying to prevent such a catastrophe. A civil war in Ukraine would invariably draw into the conflict the United States and its NATO allies on the side of the right-wing Ukraine government that seized power in a U.S.-backed coup d’état on Feb. 22 and Russia on the other.

Since the United States and Russia both possess large nuclear arsenals that, if used, would lead to the deaths of many millions of people, it would seem impossible to overstate the potential danger of this newest military crisis. Yet, U.S. elected officials including the White House and Congress seem glibly unfazed by the far-reaching potential consequences caused by their own foolhardy and arrogant interventionist actions in Ukraine. This includes their actions between November and the Feb. 22 coup and in their subsequent “tough stance” against Russia for its refusal to accept the half-fascist coup government in Kiev.

The majority sentiment in the United States, according to most public opinion polls, is decidedly opposed to an escalation of the crisis by the U.S. government. That sentiment has been ignored as the White House has dispatched war planes and troops to the region, imposed new sanctions on Russia, and dispatched first Joseph Biden and then FBI agents and CIA Director John Brennan to Kiev to help the new government set up an internal security apparatus.

The fascist menace is real

The full U.S. embrace of the coup government in Kiev has emboldened it to launch a military offensive against its political opponents in eastern and southern Ukrainian cities. The fascist militias from the Right Sector, whose leaders occupy key positions in the new Ukrainian government, are so emboldened by the U.S. support that they openly murdered 38 political activists in the Black Sea port city of Odessa on May 2 by attacking their tent encampment outside of a trade union headquarters building and, after they fled into the building for protection, torched the structure. While the trapped activists were incinerated, the neo-Nazis sang songs and chanted taunts against Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister Avakov announced on May 6 that Ukraine’s military offensive in southern and eastern cities led to the death of 30 more anti-fascist activists, labeled “terrorists” by the U.S.-backed government.

The U.S. media and the Obama administration are assisting the government in Kiev in maintaining the fiction that those in Ukraine who oppose the government are strictly puppets of Putin and Russia. They claim that the protests and demands to vote in a referendum about the status of the eastern and southern regions are simply a Russian manipulation.

The dominant narrative in the media, following the line of the Obama administration, is that Russia’s agitation in defense of the Russian-speaking people in eastern and southern Ukraine is just fake propaganda. That there is no threat to Russians, Jews and other minority peoples from the new central government. They assert that there is no fascist menace and that Russian state media has created a caricature of Ukraine’s “pro-European” government merely as a pretext for Russia to separate that part of Ukraine and annex the region into Russia.

The massacre in Odessa, however, gives the clearest evidence of the role of re-born fascism in the unfolding struggle in Ukraine.

Journalist Robert Parry, a former Associated Press reporter now with Consortium News, has produced some of the most objective analysis of the Ukraine struggle. He published another excellent piece May 5 about the rising tide of neo-Nazi mobilization in Ukraine and the refusal by both U.S officials and the mainstream media to cover its significance.

Parry, who played a major role in examining and exposing the Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan administration in the 1980s, put the Odessa massacre in context:

“This brutal Nazism surfaced again on Friday when right-wing toughs in Odessa attacked an encampment of ethnic Russian protesters driving them into a trade union building which was then set on fire with Molotov cocktails. As the building was engulfed in flames, some people who tried to flee were chased and beaten, while those trapped inside heard the Ukrainian nationalists liken them to black-and-red-striped potato beetles called Colorados, because those colors are used in pro-Russian ribbons.

“Burn, Colorado, burn” went the chant.

“As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading “Galician SS,” a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front.

“The death by fire of dozens of people in Odessa recalled a World War II incident in 1944 when elements of a Galician SS police regiment took part in the massacre of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka, which had been a refuge for Jews and was protected by Russian and Polish partisans. Attacked by a mixed force of Ukrainian police and German soldiers on Feb. 28, hundreds of townspeople were massacred, including many locked in barns that were set ablaze.

“The legacy of World War II – especially the bitter fight between Ukrainian nationalists from the west and ethnic Russians from the east seven decades ago – is never far from the surface in Ukrainian politics. One of the heroes celebrated during the Maidan protests in Kiev was Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, whose name was honored in many banners including one on a podium where Sen. John McCain voiced support for the uprising to oust elected President Viktor Yanukovych, whose political base was in eastern Ukraine.

“During World War II, Bandera headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-B, a radical paramilitary movement that sought to transform Ukraine into a racially pure state. OUN-B took part in the expulsion and extermination of thousands of Jews and Poles.

“Though most of the Maidan protesters in 2013-14 appeared motivated by anger over political corruption and by a desire to join the European Union, neo-Nazis made up a significant number. These storm troopers from the Right Sektor and Svoboda party decked out some of the occupied government buildings with Nazi insignias and even a Confederate battle flag, the universal symbol of white supremacy.” Read the whole article at Consortium News

What Obama, McCain, the CIA and Pentagon want in Ukraine

Wars do not necessarily start because the principal antagonists desire war. President Obama acknowledged to the media Russia’s opposition to a new war, with a provocative barb: “They’re not interested in any kind of military confrontation with us, understanding that our conventional forces are significantly superior to the Russians. We don’t need a war.”

In this case, neither the United States nor Russia wants to go to war with each other. The U.S. goal is not war with Russia but regime change in Ukraine with the goal of absorbing all of Ukraine into a U.S.-dominated sphere of influence and eventually establishing Ukraine as a NATO country on Russia’s border.

Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s president who was ousted by the Feb. 22 coup d’etat, wanted to integrate Ukraine into an economic arrangement with the European powers but publicly opposed Ukraine joining NATO. He sought a balanced relationship between Russia and the EU countries. The anti-government protests in downtown Kiev began in November 2013 on the day Yanukovych rejected an ultimatum from the EU that would have imposed a harsh austerity program on Ukraine as a requirement to get new financing from the IMF and Western bankers. He was thus labeled as “pro-Russian” by the Western media.

The anti-government “pro-Europe” protest movement that started in Kiev was an eclectic mix of right-wing, centrist and some left-wing opposition to Yanukovych’s government. The movement grew with the active and vigorous support from Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the White House and from the EU countries. The imperialist backers of regime change in Ukraine turned a blind eye as the movement quickly came under the leadership of neo-Nazi parties that are virulently anti-Russian.

The February 21 Agreement – and the fascist-led coup

Under extreme pressure, Yanukovych agreed to meet with opposition leaders and sign an agreement, what became known as the February 21 Agreement, to end the crisis by making significant concessions to the demands of the right-wing opposition that were in turn supported by the United States and the EU powers.

The February 21 Agreement between Yanukovych and the opposition was signed in the presence of the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland and a special envoy from Russia, Vladimir Lukin.

The February 21 Agreement guaranteed early presidential elections, included a diminution of the constitutional authority of the office of the president, and provided a basis for ending violence from both the government side and the armed protesters.

The agreement read in part: “Both parties will undertake serious efforts for the normalisation of life in the cities and villages by withdrawing from administrative and public buildings and unblocking streets, city parks and squares. Illegal weapons should be handed over to the Ministry of Interior bodies within 24 hours of the special law, referred to in point 1 hereof, coming into force. After the aforementioned period, all cases of illegal carrying and storage of weapons will fall under the law of Ukraine. The forces of authorities and of the opposition will step back from confrontational posture. The Government will use law enforcement forces exclusively for the physical protection of public buildings.”

The day after the February 21 Agreement was signed, the fascist-led militias violated the agreement by storming the presidential palace and the Parliament building. In a hastily-called rump session of the Parliament they declared a new government and neo-Nazis took five of the 11 cabinet posts of the coup government including the Defense Ministry.

When the fascists scrapped the February 21 Agreement by their armed takeover of government buildings on Feb. 22, the U.S. State Department could not conceal their wild exuberance.

Putin’s Orientation

The Putin government in Russia was stunned by the reckless and wildly aggressive support given by the United States to an armed and fascist-led coup toppling the government of Russia’s most populous neighbor, a country that was a strategic and historic ally of Russia.

Ukraine has nearly 46 million people and was historically one with Russia as the largest non-Russian republic in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics until the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. The Crimean Peninsula was the home of the Soviet Union’s largest naval base and remained a Russian naval base after the dissolution of the Soviet Union based on a leasing arrangement between Ukraine and Russia. The absorption of all of Ukraine into NATO would inevitably have ousted Russia from its largest naval base.

Since the scrapping of the February 21 Agreement, the struggle has entered a new and highly dangerous phase. Putin has been searching for a way to blunt and mitigate the U.S.-backed offensive in Ukraine while simultaneously looking for a way find a settlement before a larger crisis fully emerges.

The speed of events is breathtaking. Crimea held a Russian-supported referendum that voted to affiliate with Russia. Other eastern and southern cities are mobilizing in opposition to the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev. Fascist militias are hitting back with a campaign of terror and murder. NATO is sending troops, equipment and fighter aircraft into the region. Even as the confrontation grows and assumes a life of its own that could  lead to an even greater struggle, the U.S. government and media continue with their smug arrogance. They approach the brink and no one in authority demands a pause and a sober evaluation of where this all ends.

The position today of the Russian Federation is to end the growing confrontation in Ukraine by going back to the February 21 Agreement, which would invalidate the legitimacy of the new semi-fascist coup government and reorganize nationwide elections following the end of the escalating armed confrontations initiated by Ukraine’s military in concert with armed attacks by the Right Sector militias. This position seems eminently reasonable. But it got no quarter in Washington where those who have become drunk with power demand that Russia and all others in the world accept their fate and simply bow and genuflect before the Empire.

Far from aggressively seeking to expand Russia’s power, Putin’s actions have been essentially defensive. His policy has centered on securing the Crimea from a NATO takeover and mitigating the Ukrainian offensive against the pro-Russian Eastern cities. Russia is not the driving force in the protests taking place in the south and east of Ukraine.

Fearing the recklessness of the U.S. and aware that some of the principal U.S. partners in NATO, and in particular Germany, are seeking for a way out of the crisis that Washington has been accelerating, Putin is emphasizing extreme prudence. Even now (as of May 7) he has announced that Russia has pulled its military forces back from its western border with Ukraine. He has also given a nod of approval to the May 25 elections in Ukraine that is being organized by the coup government in Kiev, reversing Russia’s official position from a few days earlier. Putin has now called on the eastern and southern cities referendum on their “status” within Ukraine to be postponed.

The next days will be of critical importance. Anti-fascist forces in Ukraine’s eastern and southern cities have felt the groundswell of support from Russia and the Russian people. They represent a real, indigenous political force that exists within Ukraine.

Some favor autonomy from Kiev but want to remain inside of Ukraine. Others want the area to be part of Russia. What unites them is their fear and hatred of the semi-fascist coup government in Kiev and the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian militias. They are not puppets of Putin or Russia, but the policy orientation of the Putin Administration cannot but have an impact on their struggle to defend their cities and towns.

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Take Action: Stop funds for neo-Nazis in Ukraine! Not another Odessa massacre!


Thousands of people in the United States have joined the effort

Far from their stronghold cities, a militia of fascists trap dozens of innocent civilians in Odessa’s trade union building on May 2, singing pro-Nazi songs to taunt those burning alive inside. Nazi symbols were spray painted on the ashes. At least 38 people died, including many who were beaten to death when they tried to escape the fire.

Join the nationwide grassroots movement to demand that the U.S. government cut all funds and military aid to the Ukraine government, which has a large number of neo-Nazis in its top positions.

During the past several weeks, thousands of people in the United States have joined the ANSWER Coalition’s “No funds for neo-Nazis in Ukraine” campaign.

People are using our Take Action: No funds for neo-Nazis in Ukraine internet tool to send thousands of emails to President Obama and members of Congress. We are also organizing street protests and other events in Washington, D.C., and around the country.

The menace of neo-Nazism for the people of Ukraine is very real.

Its rise there is  giving added momentum to other  European fascist parties in Greece, France, Austria, Netherlands and more. The revival of fascism poses a grave danger to all people everywhere.

On Saturday, May, 3 Neo-Nazi militias massacred 38 anti-fascist activists in the port city of Odessa after they chased them into a trade union building headquarters and then set the building on fire. As the trapped individuals unsuccessfully struggled to escape from the burning building, the neo-Nazi Right Sector militia sang pro-Nazi songs while shouting taunts and insults against Vladimir Putin and Russia.

“As the fire worsened, those dying inside were serenaded with the taunting singing of the Ukrainian national anthem. The building also was spray-painted with Swastika-like symbols and graffiti reading ‘Galician SS,’ a reference to the Ukrainian nationalist army that fought alongside the German Nazi SS in World War II, killing Russians on the eastern front,” Journalist Robert Parry, formerly with the AP and now with Consortium News, wrote in his vivid description of the massacre in Odessa.

The overthrow of Ukraine’s government on February 22 was part of an operation led by the same Neo-con politicians that brought us the Iraq war in 2003.

Victoria Nuland, who served as Dick Cheney’s principal foreign policy adviser, is the State Department representative to Ukraine who was caught on tape in January 2014 naming the individuals who would serve in Ukraine’s post-regime change government. She and John McCain joined the Kiev street protests where they had their pictures taken and gave U.S. credibility to the political opposition leaders who are in turn the leadership of the neo-Nazi Right Sector and Svoboda Party. Victoria Nuland is married to Robert Kagan, the co-founder of the Neocon Project for a New American Century, whose officials outlined and provided the blueprint for George W. Bush’s war on Iraq.

Nuland, who was openly promoting the fascist-led protests in Kiev as a State Department official, is virulently anti-Russian. She explained the importance of the Ukrainian protest movement to a reactionary anti-communist think tank in Washington, D.C., in a speech she delivered in December 2013, immediately following her return from the protests in downtown Kiev: “We have invested over $5 billion to assist Ukraine in these and other goals that will ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.”

The people of this country are being badly misinformed about the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, which began with a U.S.-backed regime change effort whose goal was to absorb all of Ukraine into NATO, and thus reverse Ukraine’s strong economic and political ties to Russia. Nuland, McCain and now the entire U.S. government seem content with the fact that it was the neo-Nazis who were the driving military force in their regime change operation.

It was neo-Nazi militias who stormed and seized the Parliament Building on February 22, torpedoing a political settlement between Ukraine’s elected government and a street protest movement, and established a new semi-fascist government that immediately banned Russian as an official minority language in Ukraine.

The people of this country are taking action. We do not support even one dime going to a regime that is loaded with neo-Nazis. Join the thousands of people in the United States have joined the ANSWER Coalition’s “No funds for neo-Nazis in Ukraine” campaign by taking action today.

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