Archive | May 21st, 2014

The United States is becoming a police state: Marjorie Cohn

NOVANEWS

Marjorie-Cohn

Marjorie Cohn

 

Kourosh Ziabari

Fars News Agency

 

Prominent American lawyer and legal expert Marjorie Cohn says that the United States is moving in the direction of becoming a police state that adheres to no legal principle and eavesdrops on its own citizens furtively.

According to Cohn, the US government is suppressing such whistleblowers as Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden to prevent the American citizens from being aware of what is not usually told them by the mass media.

“The United States is moving in the direction of becoming a police state with indefinite detention of people without charging them with a crime; conducting massive surveillance without probable cause or individualized suspicion; and targeted killing with drones off the battlefield based on vague suspicion of terrorist activity,” said Prof. Cohn in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency.

Marjorie Cohn is a professor of law at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and a former president of the National Lawyers Guild. She lectures globally on the international law, human rights and the US foreign policy. Prof. Cohn is a news consultant with the CBS News and her commentaries have been broadcast by BBC, CNN, NPR, MSNBC, Fox News and Pacifica Radio. Marjorie Cohn is the author of several books, including “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law” and the co-author of “Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice.”

FNA has conducted an interview with Prof. Cohn regarding the legal aspects of the US military expeditions, the US government’s campaign against the whistleblowers, humanitarian intervention as a customary practice of the United States military-industrial complex and some regional issues as the Syrian crisis and the anti-Iran sanctions. What follows is the text of the interview.

Q: You’ve written about the legal aspects of the revelations made by the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered Verizon communications company to monitor the phone calls of its users and collect the telephony metadata created by Verizon for communications. Would you please explain about the legality of this order? Is it compliant with the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution and the people’s privacy and civil liberties?

A: The Order violates the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, which requires that the police obtain a warrant from a judge based on probable cause the person is committing a crime. The metadata is being collected without any showing of individualized suspicion.

Q: Can the US government use the pretext of the Espionage Act of 1917 to silence the whistleblowers such as Bradley Manning and prevent the free flow of information in the mass media? Do you consider the US government’s treatment of Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden fair and just?

A: The Obama administration has targeted several whistleblowers under the Espionage Act. But whistle-blowing is not what the Espionage Act was aimed at. The administration is trying to make examples of Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden in order to discourage other whistleblowers from coming forward with information the US public should know. This does not constitute a fair administration of justice.

Q: Some political analysts and scholars have made the argument that the United States has moved toward becoming a police state, especially following the 9/11 attacks, through establishing the Department of Homeland Security, ratifying the PATRIOT Act, allowing the extrajudicial searches and seizures and suppressing social movements such as the Occupy Wall Street. What’s your take on that?

A: The United States is moving in the direction of becoming a police state with indefinite detention of people without charging them with a crime; conducting massive surveillance without probable cause or individualized suspicion; and targeted killing with drones off the battlefield based on vague suspicion of terrorist activity, just to name a few.

Q: The United States government has repeatedly threatened Iran with a military strike, and President Obama has stated that “all options are on the table” with regard to Iran’s nuclear program. This is while Iran has never posed any threat to the United States and never taken any action to harm the US national security or the interests. Can we say that the United States has violated the UN Charter by threatening Iran with a military attack? If so, then who is responsible for holding the United States accountable and investigating the violation?

A: By threatening the use of force, the US government is violating the UN Charter. It is highly unlikely that high government officials will ever be brought to justice, including officials of the Bush administration for torture and prosecuting illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The only chance for accountability is under “universal jurisdiction,” where a country can prosecute foreign nationals for the most heinous crimes when that foreign national’s government is unable or unwilling to bring its national to justice.

Q: As you note in one of your articles, the United States used cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and white phosphorous gas in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and the use of such materials and weapons are illegal according to several internationally-recognized conventions. But the United Nations Security Council, the International Criminal Court and other human rights organizations have never reacted to this illegal conduct. What’s the reason in your view?

A: Since the United States can veto any resolution passed by the Security Council, the council has not condemned the US for its use of these inhumane weapons. Prosecutions in the International Criminal Court have been limited, for the most part, to leaders of African countries, perhaps because that is less controversial than prosecuting US officials.

Q: What’s your viewpoint on the notion of “humanitarian intervention” and the fact that some world powers “feel obliged” to wage wars and militarily intervene in other countries to allegedly promote humanitarian objectives and prevent the leaders of these countries from “killing their own citizens?” Do you find this idea justifiable?

A: Today “humanitarian intervention” is called “Responsibility to Protect,” or “R2P.” R2P is not enshrined in an international treaty nor is it a norm of customary international law. The UN Charter requires countries to settle their disputes by peaceful means. No country can use military force against another country except in self-defense or when the Security Council approves the attack. R2P is a slippery slope because it will be the powerful countries that decide when the people of another country need protecting. The powerful countries can use this as a guise to maintain geopolitical hegemony or engage in illegal regime change.

Q: Let’s talk about the crisis in Syria. The United States has clearly taken sides in the bloody civil war in the Arab country and is funneling arms and weapons to the rebels and insurgents who find the killing of defenseless civilians the most important part of their modus operandi. Why doesn’t the US government take steps to help with the sustainable resolution of the Syrian conflict? Why has it excluded Iran from the talks for finding a peaceful way to end the civil war in Syria?

A: Fortunately, Russia – and US public opinion – stopped the Obama administration from using military force in Syria, which would have been illegal and made the situation much worse. There is a dispute about whether it was the Assad government or opposition forces, who used the chemical weapons. The US government is primarily interested in stability, in order to protect foreign investment. In order to appease the Israeli government, the US government is taking a very tough line on Iran.

Q: And finally, as a professional lawyer and legal expert, what do you think about the legality of the US and EU unilateral sanctions against Iran which are imposed outside the framework of the UN Security Council?

A: The sanctions against Iran constitute a crime against humanity.

 

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Pope Francis Goes Public With Support Of RFID Chip Implantation

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In a controversial move by the Catholic church, Pope Francis has come out in vocal support of RFID Chip technologies and the extraordinary potential they hold for mankind. The outrage stems from a belief held by many Evangelicals, Fundamentalists and Catholics, that RFID implants are the Mark Of The Beast,spoken about in their Holy Book’s chapter regarding the end of the world.

Pope Francis Goes Public With Support Of RFID Chip Implantation

During the Pontiff’s weekly general address, he spoke to the crowd about his view on the RFID technology, and assured his many followers that no spiritual harm can come from receiving an RFID implant.

“We have examined the scriptures thoroughly, and I can conclusively say that there’s nothing to indicate that RFID Chips are Satanic in anyway. If anything, these devices are a blessing from God himself, bestowed upon humanity to solve many of the world’s ills.”

He went onto urge his devotees to be open minded in this era where brilliant new technological advancements are being made everyday. The Bishop of Rome explained to those in attendance his excitement over making RFID implantation a mandatory procedure for all employees and residents of the Vatican.

Last month, NBC predicted that by 2017, every American will own a RFID implant. Not surprising, considering humanities ever increasing reliance on technology. With the advent of products like Google Glass, the merging of Man and Machine inches closer each day. Widespread implantation of the RFID chip would be an enormous and historic leap into that glorious, utopian future.

Late last year the citizens of Hanna, Wyoming helped to beta test RFID implantation. Everyone residing in the small town carries an RFID device between the skin of their thumb and forefinger, using it both as an ID and a method for paying for goods and services. Towns members state that the opinion of the RFID is overwhelmingly positive, and are proud to be the first Americans to have received the implant.

Several aspects of modern society can be improved with the implementation of RFID technology. Crimes such as kidnapping and identity theft would cease to exist. In medical emergencies where the patient is incapacitated, doctors can find life saving information by scanning the individual’s RFID chip, and for those people who love shopping, you’ll never have to carry money that can be stolen, or debt cards that can be lost; Now your entire banking information is literally in the palm of you hand.

With the Pope’s endorsement and blessing, interest in RFID implantation is sure to see a wider acceptance from members of the church. This could, hopefully, be the push that this agenda needs to gain household recognition.

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Feeling the hate at an American festival for I$raHell

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Submitted by Rania Khalek

On Sunday, I stopped by the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia’s annual Israel Street Festival. This year’s celebration took place in the Mosaic District, an up-and-coming commercialized retail spot located about 30 minutes outside Washington DC.

Having grown up in Northern Virginia, where activism is scarce and support for Israel is the norm, I was pleasantly surprised to find more than a dozen Palestine solidarity activists stationed near the entrance of the festival holding up giant banners that read, “Israel is an apartheid state.”

The activists hailed from DMV Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a coalition of Palestine solidarity organizations from college campuses across the DC, Maryland and Virginia metropolitan area.

As soon as DMV SJP got word of the festival, it released an open letter imploring festival participants to consider what celebrating Israel means for the millions of Palestinians Israel has forcibly displaced and subjected to a brutal occupation. DMV SJP followed up with a small counter demonstration at the festival, where it was met with hostility, bigotry and hate from pro-Israel ideologues.

Tareq Radi, a Palestinian-American activist and founding member of George Mason University’s Students Against Israeli Apartheid (SAIA), was at the protest and filmed hours of aggressive encounters between Zionists and Palestine solidarity activists, which he condensed into a 10 minute video montage (posted above).

No Palestinians allowed

The video opens with Mosaic District security personnel refusing to allow Radi and his friends into the festival, which was open to the public, because they were sporting Palestinian flags and kuffiyehs (checkered scarves). One of the security officers went so far as to equate symbols of Palestine with derogatory epithets.

“If you were at home and I walked in your yard with a shirt that says something derogatory towards Palestinians, would you allow me to stay in your yard?” said the security guard.

The activists later informed me that even after one of them offered to remove her Palestine paraphernalia, she was still denied entry to the festival.

Protesters were instead confined to the corner across the street from the festival’s entrance, turning the crosswalk that divided the counter demonstration and the Israel festival into an unofficial separation barrier that only Israel supporters could travel across freely.

Mosaic security also restricted the movement of activists’ cars decorated with “Israel is an apartheid state” banners after they realized activists were driving them on the street adjacent to the festival.

Radi was eventually permitted to enter very briefly to film the festival, but he told me he was threatened with arrest if he caused any disturbances.

While inside, Radi was approached by a man who was incensed by Radi’s Students Against Israeli Apartheid t-shirt. The man embarked on an incoherent rant about Palestinian inferiority, which begins at the 3:00 minute mark in the video. When Radi challenged one of his absurd claims, the man shot back, “Maybe you have trouble with the English language” — a jibe at Radi’s ethnicity.

Meanwhile, back at the festival’s entrance, DMV SJP activists were handing out educational brochures about the Nakba, the pre-meditated ethnic cleansing of 750,000 indigenous Palestinians by Zionist militias in 1948, without which Israel could not be a majority Jewish state.

This did not go over well with the festival-goers, who confronted the demonstrators throughout the day to express their hatred of Palestinians and Arabs more generally.

Around the 5:30 minute mark, a younger man with an Israeli accent informs a Palestinian-American activist that Palestinians “are not even people.” An even more charming fella, who appears at the 7:42 minute mark, stops his car on the side of the road for the sole purpose of yelling “suck my dick” and “Muslims are terrorists” at the demonstrators.

In front of their kids

One couple brought their three small children along to watch them antagonize the demonstrators. I was present during this encounter and recorded most of the exchange.

The mother shouted, among other things, “kus immik” (“fuck your mother” in Arabic) at the demonstrators after tearing up their fliers. “This is our festival,” she bellowed, demanding the activists “go back to Palestine.”

As she cursed at, threatened and shoved the activists, her husband, who was holding their baby, proceeded to shout over her about dead Syrians and the “schizophrenic” Arab mind.

“Israel is your friend,” he roared over and over again in a headache-inducing tirade that seemed to have no end.

When his wife realized I was recording her with my iPhone, she shoved me and tried to slap the device out of my hand, which made her threats to summon the police quite ironic.

Eventually a security guard came over to see what all the commotion was about and was forced to explain to the woman the meaning of free speech. Nevertheless, she continued to argue that leafleting and “taking pictures” did not qualify as free speech and then pointed to my camera and said, “This is the only thing they know how to do,” referring to the increasing use of recording devices by Palestinians to document the crimes committed against them by Israeli soldiers and settlers with absolute impunity.

The couple’s behavior was so repugnant, a complete stranger felt compelled to interject, reminding them that “this is America,” where free speech is a basic right.

Though this loving couple appears in GMU SAIA’s video (around the 6:05 minute mark) my iPhone recording offers a more revealing angle of their assault:

Family-friendly colonialism

Prior to my encounter with the angry couple, I spent about an hour inside the festival, where people were much friendlier. Consequently I was overcome with confusion from trying to reconcile the seemingly pleasant family-friendly atmosphere with the violent settler colonialism those in attendance had gathered to celebrate.

The laughter of children echoed throughout the festival, emanating from a carousel-shaped bouncy house parked in front of a booth promoting Friends of the IDF, an organization that raises funds for the Israeli military. On the opposite end of the festival there was a mobile petting zoo for children to enjoy while their parents perused a nearby table of Ahavacosmetics.

Ahava is a notorious occupation profiteer that manufactures beauty products in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, using stolen Palestinian natural resources.

When the man behind the Ahava counter saw me reading the ingredients on the back of a bottle of lotion, he asked, with delight, if I needed any help.

“Why does this say it was made in Israel if it was produced in an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank?” I asked. His smile instantly transformed into a silent scowl, so I repeated the question. He eventually retorted, “I’m not here to debate where it’s made,” and stormed off.

Erasing Palestine

jerusalem.jpg

Poster at Israel Street Festival declaring Jerusalem the “capital of Israel”.

(Rania Khalek)

Almost every booth was decorated with a poster that profiled a city or region under Israeli control. None mentioned Palestine, Palestinians or the occupation. The Golan Heights, for example, was advertised as part of Israel, when it is actually part of Syria which Israel has illegally occupied since 1967. Jerusalem was declared to be Israel’s capital, although most states officially do not recognize this claim, including the US.

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“Map of Israel” by the Alexander Muss High School (click for higher resolution).

(Rania Khalek)

In the booth promoting the Alexander Muss High School in Israel — a Jewish National Fund-affiliated study abroad program for high school students — there stood a giant “Map of Israel” that included all of historic Palestine, with the West Bank labeled “Judea and Samaria,” the biblical terms Israel employs to bolster its imaginary claim over the occupied West Bank.

As far as the festival was concerned, there was no such thing as Palestine or Palestinians, but this may have had more to do with appealing to the broader non-Jewish public.

Rather than promoting Jewish-only Birthright Israel trips and immigration to Israel, the main attractions were booths advertising and recruiting for programs that are theoretically available to all Americans, like the study abroad program and Volunteers for Israel (VFI).

“Sexy Israeli soldiers are waiting for you” 

When I approached the VFI booth, it was being staffed by a couple that looked to be in their sixties. Their eyes lit up when I requested a brochure.

“If you volunteer,” said the man, “the airline ticket is free!”

“That’s not the only reason you should go,” the woman interrupted, flirtatiously. “Those sexy Israeli soldiers are waiting for you!”

I went back to the VFI booth about twenty minutes later to inquire about the program. This time a middle-aged American recruiter droned on about how incredibly fulfilling the program was. He added that anyone, Jews and non-Jews alike, could volunteer, at which point I challenged him.

“Anyone?” I said.

“Well that depends,” he replied with growing suspicion. “What do you mean by ‘anyone’?”

“Well, what if I’m Palestinian?” I asked.

Uncomfortable with where the conversation was headed, he stuttered, “W-w-well, there’s an interview process and not everyone passes. Even Jews, if they’re jerks, can be rejected.”

Irritated with my prodding, he added, “Are you really interested in volunteering, or are you just trying to start something?” I responded that I was genuinely interested and thanked him for his time. He did not look pleased.

Despite the hatred on display in GMU SAIA’s video, I came away from the event inspired by DMV SJP’s action. Though it was small and took place in a politically apathetic suburban environment, their counter demonstration had a positive and educational impact. In between the hateful tirades were lengthy and productive conversations with people from inside and outside the festival about Israeli apartheid and Palestinian suffering.

Moreover, we have reached a point where Zionists can no longer publicly celebrate their ethnocracy, even in a pro-Israel stronghold like Northern Virginia, without being challenged.

As Radi told me after the festival, “Any time they have a presence, our presence needs to be there. Anytime they have a celebration, they need to know there will be some resistance.”

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University of Cincinnati pays for president’s propaganda junket to I$raHell

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Submitted by Ali Abunimah

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University of Cincinnati president, second from left, prepares to head up to the occupied Golan Heights by helicopter. (Facebook)

“Israel is an amazing place … So far we have visited Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the West Bank.” Those words were posted on Facebook last week by Santa Ono, president of the University of Cincinnati.

They may indicate that Ono is rather clueless about where he is (Jerusalem and the West Bank are not considered by any country to be part of “Israel”), or they may indicate that the Israel lobby junket on which he was traveling was having its intended obfuscatory effect.

Ono’s travel was financed by the University of Cincinnati, a public institution.

From his arrival in the country on 12 May – he was traveling with a group of “civic leaders” from Cincinnati, Ohio – dozens of photos have been posted on Ono’s personal Facebook and Twitter accounts and on the accounts of other participants.

Ono, a Canadian native and an accomplished researcher in eye diseases, has beencelebrated for his bold use of social media, which in this case provides valuable insights into how Israel activists court US elites.

There are photos of Ono and colleagues going up in a helicopter to visit an Israeli military post in the occupied Golan Heights and then being wined and dined at the Golan Heights Winery on occupied Syrian territory – in other words, inside settlements that are illegal under international law.

There is a photo of Ono in the occupied West Bank – apparently at an Israeli settlement. Other images are from a visit to Ben-Gurion University, where the delegation went to discuss “bilateral academic cooperation.”

The delegation went to the Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem and even met with Dan Shapiro, the US ambassador in Tel Aviv. And exhausted from their exertions, there are photos of Ono and his colleagues relaxing at the luxury King David Hotel in western Jerusalem.

Against academic boycott

Ono’s junket can be seen as part of his continuing education by the Israel lobby, or perhaps a recognition of services rendered. Ono was one of several dozen US university presidents to condemn academic boycott.

“I do not support the American Studies Association boycott of universities and research institutions in Israel,” Ono said. “Political issues notwithstanding, any such action runs counter to the intellectual freedom that lies at the very heart of the academy and the free exchange of ideas that build bridges across humanity.”

Organized by Israel activists

The trip was organized by Cincinnati area pro-Israel philanthropists Julie and Steve Shifman and Bobby Fisher and his partner Arna, a former board member of the national campus Israel advocacy organization Hillel and the Israel lobby group AIPAC.

Among the participants were area various businessmen as well as Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce CEO Brian Carley.

Based on his photos and social media postings, virtually every stop on Ono’s itinerary appears part of an effort to shore up Israel’s image amid mounting global criticism over its oppression and dispossession of millions of Palestinians.

Indeed the tour has been promoted and celebrated in The Times of Israel as part of Israel’s effort to present itself to US elites as a forward-looking “Start-Up Nation.”

Greenwashing or “techwashing” are Israeli strategies to market the country as an environmentally-friendly, high-tech haven to derail criticism of its atrocious human rights record.

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Itinerary was organized by Da’at, a firm specializing in tours that giving “political and security briefings” and promoting Israel’s image. (Facebook)

photo posted by Ono of the tour bus the delegation used reveals that their itinerary on the ground was organized by Da’at, an Israeli company that specializes in organizing tours for pro-Israel organizations.

(A sample itinerary for a 10-day “Political & Security Briefing” tour on Da’at’s website includes West Bank trips guided by settlers, numerous meetings with Israeli military personnel and visits to army bases and dinner with “Eitan Bronner of [T]he New York Times.” This is presumably a reference to the newspaper’s former Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner whose son notoriously served in the Israeli army.)

Inspired by the Israeli army

According to Shep Englander, chief executive of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati who is also on the current trip, the participants, including Ono, would be bringing back to Cincinnati ideas “from the culture of the Israeli Defense Forces.”

idf_man.jpg

Photo posted by Santa Ono shows Israeli military escort for Cincinnati “civic leaders” delegation in the occupied Golan Heights. (Facebook)

Englander did not specify if that included the Israeli army’s “culture” of solitary confinement and torture and wanton killings of Palestinian children with total impunity.

The junket fits well into the 2010 strategy articulated by the Israeli think-tank the Reut Institute in 2010 and adopted by the Israeli government and major pro-Israel organizations in the US for how to fight back against so-called “delegitimizers” of Israel.

As well as counseling “sabotage” and “attack” against the Palestine solidarity movement, the Reut Institute called for pro-Israel groups to focus on “maintain[ing] thousands of personal relationships with political, cultural, media and security-related elites and influentials” around the world, and “harnessing Jewish and Israeli diaspora communities” for this purpose.

Thus the Israel lobby’s courting of Ono can be seen as a model for how pro-Israel groups aim to shore up support and tamp down criticism by fostering such relationships with institutional leaders.

Funded by public university

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Golan Heights military post. (Facebook)

Englander claims that the “25 Cincinnatians with whom I arrived in Israel … came as individuals and paid their own way.”

But when I asked the University of Cincinnati who sponsored Ono’s trip, university spokesperson Marianne Kunnen-Jones wrote to me that the university is paying Ono’s expenses.

Where are the Palestinians?

I also asked Ono’s office if he was going to meet any Palestinians or visit Palestinian institutions in order to obtain a more complete view of the situation.

I was particularly interested in whether Ono would visit Palestinian universities so he could learn first hand how Israeli occupation and movement and travel restrictions stifled the academic and intellectual freedoms of Palestinian students and educators.

“The trip to Israel was organized by a group of Cincinnati alums, business leaders and civic leaders. It is a professional trip. The group is meeting with educational, business and civic leaders,” the university’s Kunnen-Jones replied on 15 May.

“President Ono indicates that today there was a meeting with Palestinian businessmen and a former Minister in the West Bank. President Ono is always interested in getting all sides of a story.”

In a particularly ironic moment, Ono wrote, “Looking forward to going to the West Bank with Linda Gradstein, long time Middle East correspondent from NPR … To understand the Palestinian perspective.”

From what has been revealed, it appears Ono made a brief foray into Ramallah – typical of such Israeli-guided tours – where he might have met Palestinian tycoons and present or former Palestinian Authority figures, but would have had no face-to-face contact with ordinary Palestinians, especially those hardest hit by Israel’s abuses.

Nakba Day killings

Ono’s visit to Ramallah happened to take place on Nakba Day – when Palestinians commemorate the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of their villages by Zionist forces in 1948 – and involved what he called “a momentary scare when we drove past fires and rock throwing youths near a security check point in the West Bank.”

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University of Cincinnati president drives by Israeli apartheid. (Facebook)

“A group of masked teens approached our bus with rocks. One rock hit one of our bus windows and we all ducked behind our seats. Very sadly, two Palestinian teenagers were killed north of that check point.”

The two teens, Muhammad al-Thahir and Nadim Nuwara, both from Ramallah-area villages, were shot dead in cold blood like hunted animals by Israeli occupation forces, as a shocking CCTV video released by Defence for Children International–Palestine Section has now revealed.

Following the killings, Amnesty International condemned Israel’s “continuing recklessness in their use of force against Palestinian protesters.”

“Israeli forces have repeatedly resorted to extreme violence to respond to Palestinian protests against Israel’s occupation, discriminatory policies, confiscation of land and construction of unlawful settlements,” Amnesty’s Middle East director Philip Luther added.

Ono is unlikely to have been given that perspective by the Israeli military personnel and PR operatives guiding the tour, and his “momentary scare” does not seem to have inspired much contemplation about the nature of the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians.

A couple of hours later, Ono posted a status and some photos apparently taken from the luxury King David Hotel in western Jerusalem: “It is amazing to see Jerusalem for the first time. Today I stood outside the room where Jesus had his last supper. Very moving.”

Millions of Palestinians, including Christians, are excluded from Jerusalem by Israel’s racist ID card regime and would be unable to share his sense of wonder.

Nor is Ono likely to have seen Jerusalem as its Palestinians residents experience it – a Jerusalem of systematic house demolition and forced displacement and a Jerusalem where Israeli occupation forces raid homes during the night to arrest Palestinian four-year-olds.

For the head of a university that aspires to be one of the country’s leading research institutions, President Santa Ono does not seem terribly curious.

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The Globalization of Special Forces

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Global Research

Special Forces have been designed to use military means to conduct unconventional warfare operations, mainly to cause riots and murder political opponents. Washington already secretly used them in 78 countries, while denying the very existence of their missions, although their budget exceeds 10 billion dollars annually. The globalization of these forces should enable it to expand its invisible dictatorship.

An accident, sometimes, permits the discovery of a “secret war”. This is what happened in Yemen, where, at Sana, a member of U.S. Special Forces and CIA shot two men and killed them. According to the official version, these were simply two Al Qaeda terrorists they wanted to remove. The incident, far from simple, sparked a wave of protests against the government, already under indictment because it allows CIA drones to operate in Yemen starting from a Saudi base.

The Pentagon ­ confirms the New York Times – has intensified the actions of its special forces in Yemen. Yemen is a country of great importance for its strategic position on the Strait of Bab el-Mandeb between the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea, crossed by major oil and trade routes linking Asia and Europe. Djibouti, in front of Yemen, 30 kms away on the African coast, is where Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa is parked, consisting of approximately 4,000 men of the U.S. Special Forces. With helicopters and special aircraft, they carry out night raids, particularly in neighboring Somalia and Yemen, flanked by elite contractors and technical experts of the assassination shooter category. Special forces available to the Africa Command (AFRICOM) operate in Nigeria and many other African countries. They are part of joint operations Command (USSOCOM ), which, after being used by the Republican Bush especially in Afghanistan and Iraq, has now taken on a new importance with the Democratic Obama.

The Obama administration – wrote the Washington Post – “prefers covert action rather than the use of conventional force.” USSOCOM commander, Admiral William McRaven, declared a month agot to a Senate committee that U.S. special operations forces operate in 78 countries worldwide, either by direct action or by training local units.

The admiral did not specify which countries, indicating only that in Afghanistan was established a new Special Forces Command, also including those of NATO. So Washington’s war in Afghanistan has not stopped, but has become “covert”.

Other official sources confirm that special forces were deployed in Jordan and Turkey to train and lead armed groups for the “secret war” in Syria (as had been done in Libya).

Special Forces are increasingly used in Eastern Europe. Especially to train the neo-Nazis used during the coup in Kiev, as confirmed by photographic documentation that shows Ukrainian neo- Nazis from Uno-Unso trained in Estonia starting in 2006. [1]

But USSOCOM looks beyond : in its “Vision 2020″, it foresees “building a global network of special operations forces ,” including those of allied countries, including Italy, placed under U.S. command. In this way, the decision to go to war becomes the more exclusive domain of power cliques, and parliaments lose the little decision-making power they have left. And war will disappear more and more in the eyes of public opinion, already widely accustomed to believing that what we see is all there is, or rather, what we are seeing in the mainstream media distorting and falsifying reality.

So it is with the campaign by the White House for the release of abducted young Nigerian girls while in Yemen, controlled by U.S. special forces, thousands of girl children and young girls from Africa are reduced each year to the state of sex slaves for wealthy Yemenis and Saudis, allies of Washington.

 

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Human Rights Groups Urge I$raHell to End Impunity for Killing of Rachel Corrie

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Accountability Sought for Killing of U.S. Peace Activist

by Israeli Bulldozer

 

May 21, 2014, New York, Paris, Gaza, Jerusalem, Ramallah – On the occasion of the appeal in the civil suit filed by the family of Rachel Corrie against the State of Israel for the death of the 23-year-old human rights defender, Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Al-Haq, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)  issued the following statement:

Eleven years after Rachel was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer, the Corrie family still awaits accountability from both the Israeli and U.S. governments.  In that time, more human rights defenders, including U.S. citizens, have been killed and seriously injured by Israeli forces while standing in solidarity with Palestinians, just as Rachel was, when she was killed trying to prevent the demolition of Palestinian homes in Gaza.  Yet neither the Israeli nor the U.S. government has acted to prevent or redress these human rights violations.

The impunity so far enjoyed by Israel and Israeli officials in the Rachel Corrie case is not an anomaly.  Impunity reigns when the victim is Palestinian or a foreigner working in solidarity with Palestinians. Israeli forces subject Palestinians throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory on a daily basis to serious violations of international law, and Palestinian civilians are killed each year without accountability and redress. Civilians and human rights defenders must be granted the protections of international law, and all governments must be held to account when they violate fundamental human rights. In Rachel Corrie’s case, the Israeli Supreme Court has an opportunity to turn that tide.

The United States government also has a clear responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens acting as human rights defenders, and we condemn the deference it has shown to Israel in the case of Rachel Corrie as well as numerous other U.S. human rights defenders killed or injured by Israeli forces.  The U.S. must demand real accountability in all cases involving violations against civilians by Israeli forces. No family should have to wait eleven years – or more – for justice.

CCR and PCHR served as co-counsel in the U.S. case, Corrie, et al. v. Caterpillar, brought on behalf of the parents of Rachel Corrie and four Palestinian families.  Many of these human rights organizations observed trial proceedings in Corrie v. State of Israel in the district court in Haifa. For more information on the case, visit the Rachel Corrie Foundation.

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The US Electoral System is Thoroughly Corrupt

NOVANEWS
Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr
John-WhiteheadKourosh Ziabari

Fars News Agency

A prominent American constitutional attorney says that the US citizens have lost many of their rights and civil liberties, especially following the 9/11 attacks.

According to John W. Whitehead, the American people have been subject to the disturbing consequences of the rise and growth of military-industrial complex, which the former US President Dwight Eisenhower had warned against back in 1961.

“In his final address to the nation, President Eisenhower warned the American people of the rise of the military-industrial complex. We didn’t listen. Our economy is now largely fueled by war, military spending, and arms production. There are obviously better things we could be spending our time, money, and energy on, but there are many powerful corporations and powerful government institutions which depend on this production to maintain their influence,” said Whitehead in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency.

On the influence of the interest groups and corporations on the media in the United States which drives Washington to more wars and military confrontations, John Whitehead said, “There is definitely a strain of entertainment in America which glorifies violence and war. This is in part because corporations that produce military products are also entertainment products. This is also in part because the Department of Defense actually influences the content of movies and TV shows by re-writing scripts or disapproving certain content if it’s not to their liking.”

John W. Whitehead is the President of The Rutherford Institute and the author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.” Whitehead founded The Rutherford Institute in 1982, and is a civil liberties organization that provides free legal services to people, whose constitutional and human rights have been threatened or violated.

Mr. Whitehead took part in an interview with FNA to present his viewpoints regarding the police state and the lack of democracy in the US, the restrictions imposed on the American citizens following the 9/11 events and the costs the American taxpayers pay for the US government’s military expeditions across the world. What follows is the text of the interview.

Q: Mr. Whitehead; you’ve argued that the United States is becoming a police state in which the civil liberties are restricted, the phone calls, emails and transactions are spied on, the financial transactions are monitored, the legal types of protesting are criminalized and the innocent citizens are killed in shooting rampages. These are the realities which exist in the American society, but there are many people in the Third World countries, who tend to think of the United States as a utopia in which everything is orderly, perfect and freedom is unrestricted and at its highest level. Is it really the case? What’s your response to such people?

A: Americans do enjoy a significant amount of freedom in some respects compared to people in other countries. Obviously Americans are freer than, say, people in North Korea, but that is just an extreme example. Americans have largely ceded their rights and freedoms to the federal government, particularly since September 11, 2001, and every day we’re giving up more and more of our individual freedoms to the government. Furthermore, our electoral system is thoroughly corrupt, such that the average American has no real chance of affecting government policy. I would agree that Americans are in some respects more free than people in other nations, but if we don’t take note of our quickly eroding freedoms, that won’t be the case for long.

Q: You once cited the Bureau of Justice Statistics as reporting that some 400 to 500 innocent citizens are killed by the police officers in the United States every year. This is a considerable figure, but is rarely mentioned in the US mainstream media. Why is it so?

A: Police officers in the United States tend to receive extreme deference, both among regular people and in the media. They are generally treated as heroes. When examples of corruption or illegal activity come to light, the accused officers are generally treated as bad apples, exceptions to the rule of good policing. However, people are now becoming more cognizant of the manner in which police agencies across the country have become unaccountable to the public. Combined with increasing media attention on police militarization, there is a significant portion of the public that is beginning to question the central role given to police in American society.

Q: It’s noted that since its declaration of independence, the United States has taken part, either directly or indirectly, in more than 50 military expeditions and wars that have claimed the lives of millions of innocent civilians. Why does the United States, as you write in your articles, spend so much lavishly and extravagantly on wars and military adventures? Why should the United States make up nearly 80 percent of the global arms export market?

A: In his final address to the nation, President Eisenhower warned the American people of the rise of the military-industrial complex. We didn’t listen. Our economy is now largely fueled by war, military spending, and arms production. There are obviously better things we could be spending our time, money, and energy on, but there are many powerful corporations and powerful government institutions which depend on this production to maintain their influence. It would take a bold, mass movement to bring down American military spending to more appropriate levels.

Q: What’s your viewpoint regarding the contribution of the entertainment industry to the growth of the culture of violence and warmongering in the United States, especially among the children and young adults who are most likely to be influenced by the Hollywood “blockbusters” and as Nick Turse puts it, the productions of the defense contractors like Sony, Samsung, Panasonic or Toshiba?

A: There is definitely a strain of entertainment in America which glorifies violence and war. This is in part because corporations that produce military products are also entertainment products. This is also in part because the Department of Defense actually influences the content of movies and TV shows by re-writing scripts or disapproving certain content if it’s not to their liking. This usually happens when movie producers want to use actual military equipment or military locations to shoot their films. We could certainly stand to have a less violent culture.

Q: You’ve extensively written about the US government’s use of drones and unpiloted aerial vehicles to purportedly target the Al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and also for reconnaissance missions inside the United States. Is this extensive use of drones which regularly results in the killing of innocent civilians legal and compliant with the international law?

A: The use of drones to assassinate certain high value military targets, particularly American citizens, is a blatant violation of international law. The precedent which America has set in this arena will become more troublesome as more nations acquire drones and begin using them for the same reasons that the American government has purported to use them.

As far as their use inside the United States, the constant surveillance of American citizens is a violation of the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Unfortunately, the precedent for mass surveillance has been set by the NSA’s wiretapping of various American communications, so there does not seem to be much hope that the courts or legislatures will work to reel in their use until the American people demand it.

Q: The seminal ideology of War on Terror initiated by President George W. Bush was to eradicate the Al-Qaeda terrorists and the extremists who posed a threat to the US national security; however, this project has got expanded in the recent years and is now turned into an all-out confrontation between the United States and the Muslim world in general. Is it fair to punish all the Muslim nations economically, politically and militarily simply because it is alleged those who attacked the World Trade Center towers were Muslims?

A: It’s obvious that whatever mandate the American government had in the days after 9/11 to bring to justice the group which perpetrated that attack has spun out of control. America is now occupying a number of countries in the Middle East and Africa, at a great cost to the American taxpayer and the lives and well-being of people in those countries. I think there is a strand of the American public which is becoming increasingly vocal in regard to wanting to pull out of these various military engagements, and only use the military for its true purpose: protecting the continental United States.

Q: Would you please explain about the recent laws and constitutional double standards in the United States which prohibit the Americans from gathering to protest at the elected officials for their policies, gives immunity to police officers who shoot unarmed civilians, and as you note, “gives government agents carte blanche access to Americans’ communications and activities?” How are these infringements upon the rights of the American citizens justified?

A: Most of the justifications for stamping out free speech and conducting mass surveillance relate to the War on Terror mindset which has gripped the nation since September 11. The government says they are enacting these policies to protect us, but there is very little evidence that they actually contribute to our safety. And even if they did, we as Americans cannot allow all of our rights and freedoms to go out the window in the name of safety.

Q: In some of your writings, you talk about the economic inequality pervasive in the United States and the fact that there is a large underrepresented, underprivileged majority that is in no way equal to the powerful, affluent minority in terms of income and the facilities it has. You say that the deprived majority works and makes money for the influential minority, and the influential minority spends what is earned for waging wars and militarizing the nation’s civil institutions. Doesn’t this inequality undermine the values which the US politicians have always boasted lay out the basis of the American society?

A: There is no doubt that extreme economic inequality harms the quality of life of all Americans, and seriously threatens our freedoms. With only a few people calling the shots in government and business, the rest of America simply must do what they can to get by while the economic elite continue to put forth abusive policies which most Americans are not in favor of. A forthcoming study to be published in the academic journal “Perspectives on Politics” confirms that a small economic elite controls public policy in America. As the authors put it, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

Q: As a final question, do you think that the United States government is currently providing its citizens with the absolute, unrestricted and unconditional freedoms and civil liberties, as the freedom of speech and press freedom, which the mainstream media and the Hollywood movies usually depict and claim?

A: No, the United States government is not living up to the standards and laws as set out in the Constitution, which the officials in the American government are sworn to uphold.

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India Suppresses Bangladesh on Teesta River Issue

NOVANEWS

By Sajjad Shaukat

 

Since the government of the Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid came

to power, she has taken various steps to appease India such as hastily-execution of her political

opponent, Abdul Quader Mullah-leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, the removal of some Islamic books

from academic courses to give secular orientation to the country, holding of the ceremony in

Dhaka on March 24, 2013 to honour ‘Foreign Friends of Bangladesh Award’ in relation to

the separation of East Pakistan in order to distort the image of Pakistan, refusal to attend D-8

conference in Islamabad and so on.

Particularly, to keep her in power with Indian backing, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid rigged

the general elections held on January 5, 2014. Violent protests took place in Bangladesh due to

rigging in the polls. The opposition alliance led by Begum Khalida Zia did not file nominations

for the elections, sticking to their stance of boycotting the elections over the failure of Hasina

Wajid to form a neutral interim government. Earlier, Ms. Hasina amended the constitution

for the holding of elections under a non-party set up, and the opposition had accused her for

manipulating the electoral process to establish a one party state.

On the other side, India has been employing various tactics to subjugate Bangladesh by

exploiting her pro-Indian tilt to fulfill its interests, not only at the cost of Pakistan, but also at that

of patriot Bangladeshis.

However, the ruling party, Awami League has failed to perform well during its term of

governance, and has brought about political instability, social strife and financial problem in the

country where people are facing acute poverty.

And Indian cross-border terrorism in Bangladesh has continued unabated. In this context, Brad

Adams wrote in the Guardian, “Over the past 10 years, Indian Border Security Force (BSF)

has killed almost 1,000 people in the border area between India and Bangladesh, turning it into

south Asian killing fields.” Despite the fact, New Delhi built a 2,000 km fence along the border

of Bangladesh, but BSF has continued “a shoot-to-kill policy,” even against unarmed local

It is notable that India’s plan for the construction of the Tipaimukh Dam on the river Barak is

part of its most dangerous scheme of bloodless warfare, being conducted against Bangladesh

so as to further harm all political, economic, financial and social fields of that small country. In

the past, India had already started its bloodless war against Dhaka when the latter had refused

to serve as satellite state of New Delhi which had played a key role in the dismemberment of

Pakistan. For this purpose, India constructed the Farakka dam on the Indian side of the Ganges

River to stop flow of water to Bangladesh. Inspite of the protest by Dhaka, Indian rulers used

various delaying tactics to resolve the issue of Farakka dam. In that respect, Indo-Bangladesh

Joint Rivers Commission (JRC) met many a times to settle the dispute, but could not produce

any positive results as India also violated various related-agreements by stealing the water, and

stopping its flow to Bangladesh.

But, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid directed her staff to close the chapter of water and border

conflicts with India. Besides, she has given transit trade facilities to Bharat—a move which has

been resisted by the Bangladeshi nationals for the past several decades. In this regard, a writer

has rightly said, “Hasina Wajid again started Honey Moon Period of relationship with India.”

Now, water sharing of Teesta River is one of the thorny issues between New Delhi and Dhaka.

In this respect, a water sharing agreement was supposed to be inked in 2011, but due to rigid

mindset and obstinate attitude of Indian leadership, it could not be implemented. Unfortunately,

Hassina Wajid led Awami League government of Bangladesh failed to persuade India to

negotiate the water sharing settlement of Teesta River at bilateral level.

It would not be wrong to state that Prime Minister Hassina Wajid has sold Bangladesh to India

just to remain in power. Consequently, unilateral drawing-out of water from Teesta River in

the upstream by New Delhi has badly affected more than 20 of its tributaries; many of them are

drying up in the northern part of Bangladesh.

According to environmentalists, owing to fall in water flow, these rivers have developed silts

and are drying up. Hence, native farmers are being deprived of irrigation water, causing adverse

impact on various crops and fruit trees. Farmers of Bangladesh have been protesting against

Indian intransigence for having shamelessly robbed them off their water share from Teesta River.

Indian tactics is to divert Teesta River water towards its dry region with a view to converting

Bangladesh’s agriculture land into desert. This is how the real enemy does to a nation whose

leadership remains in league with enemy, as Hasina Wajid to Indian leadership.

Nevertheless, Communist Party of Bangladesh (CPB) and Bangladesh Samajtantrik Dal

(BSD) have jointly launched long marches, rallies and protests against Indian rigid attitude

and hegemonic designs to steal their share of water. They launched a three-day march towards

Teesta Barrage on April 22, 2014 after holding a rally in front of Jatiya Press Club. Similarly,

Bangladesh National Party (BNP), the main opposition party of the country also protested

against the issue of Teesta River water sharing, calling it a failure of the Awami League

government. BNP conducted a long march for two days starting from party headquarters at

Naya Paltan in the city on April 22, 2014, holding a rally at Rangpur, after an overnight stay at

Rangpur—resuming the long march towards the barrage, followed by a protest rally at Dalia

point of Teesta Barrage on April, 23, 2014. The protestors demanded due share of Teesta River

Regrettably, Indian locals along Indo-Bangladesh border maltreat nationals of Bangladesh by

humiliating, torturing and killing them. In this connection, on April 6, 2014, three Bangladeshi

nationals were killed by locals in Tripura, while another was killed by locals in Meghalaya on

April 8, 2014. But, Hasina Wajid and her Awani League party go softer on such killings, thus

rubbing salt to the injuries of patriotic nationals of Bangladesh. On such continuous killings of

the poor persons, public sentiment in Bangladesh started getting harsh against India. Therefore,

Ministry of Foreign Affair at Dhaka officially protested to New Delhi. This was to cool the local

sentiments in Bangladesh, otherwise, Hasina led government of Awami League is passively too

It is worth-mentioning that a survey conducted by a local agency pointed out that 98%

Bangladeshis hate undue interference of India in Bangladesh’s affairs. They are quite aware that

under the cover of friendship, New Delhi wants to make Bangladesh its colony.

Nonetheless, India which has suppressed Prime Minister Hasina Wajid through shrewd

diplomacy, seems determined to subjugate Bangladesh on the issue of water sharing of Teesta

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants,

Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations

Posted in IndiaComments Off on India Suppresses Bangladesh on Teesta River Issue

Is The Military-Industrial Comples Invincible?

NOVANEWS

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

military-industrial

Kourosh Ziabari

Global Research

It was more than half a century ago that the then U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, in his farewell address to the nation, warned of the growing influence of a phenomenon that still continues to undermine and weaken the bases of American democracy: the military-industrial complex.

The military-industrial complex is a concept denoting a money-spinning and economically beneficial interaction between the war-planners and the arms industry. The government officials set the plans for a new military adventure with the apparent goal of “exporting democracy” to other countries and “liberating” them while the genuine, behind-the-scenes goal is to further some political interests and plunder the natural resources of the target country. On their part, the multinational companies get profitable and lucrative deals for manufacturing weaponry, and the whole process, which ultimately leads to unwarranted killings and irretrievable destructions, undercuts the government’s accountability before the Constitution and the international law.

To get an idea of what the military-industrial complex is, it would be helpful to take a look at the relationship between the legislative bodies of the U.S. federal government, i.e. the bicameral Congress comprised of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the arms manufacturing industry, the interest groups, political lobbies, the multinational organizations and the corporate media.

For a long time, this dreadful complex, which the only army general elected as the U.S. President has worriedly warned about, has imposed additional and unjustifiable costs on the American taxpayers. The U.S. citizens have been bearing the brunt of the government’s warmongering and bloodletting across the globe. It’s noted that the United States, since its independence, has either directly or indirectly taken part in more than 50 wars and military confrontations that have cost the lives of millions of innocent, unarmed civilians. The most recent example is the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which until the complete withdrawal of the U.S. forces in 2011, claimed around 1.5 million lives.

The American citizens, even those who usually approve of the government policies regardless of which party is in power, have always complained about the disproportionate and irrational spending of the successive administrations on militarism and wars. This concern was echoed in President Eisenhower’s farewell address delivered on January 17, 1961 where he stated, “three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.”

The people’s dissatisfaction with the U.S. government’s excessive spending on military projects and arms production has been manifested in different ways; from the millions-strong rallies and demonstrations in several U.S. cities preceding the Iraq War, to the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, which was seminally oriented on economic demands, but subsequently expanded to encompass the people’s political grievances regarding the U.S. foreign policy and its military expeditions in the Middle East. Needless to say the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was a purely democratic and popular uprising, was brutally crushed and suppressed by the U.S. police state, as the prominent lawyer Marjorie Cohn puts it.

However, as the military-industrial complex grows and becomes stronger, the American democracy turns more fragile and unstable. The military-industrial complex has been a serious challenge to the democratic values upon which the Founding Fathers have constructed the U.S. Constitution. As time goes by, the government finds it more difficult to rationalize its imperial, expansionistic and militaristic agenda and justify its war adventures to its people, and once a government ceases to be responsible, accountable and transparent, it would be the starting point of the enfeeblement and evaporation of democracy.

The military-industrial complex wins profits for the arm dealers and traders whose existence and survival is hinged on wars and military confrontations. These contractors control and manipulate the public opinion through their dominance over the mainstream media. The mainstream media rarely run stories that are critical of the war policies of the government, and instead function as the propaganda wing of the state. A notorious example is the joint collaboration by Judith Miller and her colleagues at the New York Times to lay the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by presenting false evidence of the non-existent Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction. The massive media propaganda campaign by the New York Times and other state-controlled newspapers and TV channels in the United States instituted this belief that a war was necessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from going mad and dropping its chemical bombs on the heads of the American citizens. It goes without saying that Saddam Hussein was the very puppet whom the United States and its European allies prodded into attacking Iran in 1980.

Although imperialism and militarism have been two inherent and characteristic features of the U.S. political establishment for a long time, the world has been witness to an extreme growth of the American greed for more wealth and political power in the recent years, especially following the 9/11 attacks that marked the beginning of a new era in the U.S. relations with the international community. The 9/11 attacks, which completely accidentally took place when the hawkish Republican George W. Bush was in power, underpinned the mindset of “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” and provided a good justification for invading and attacking the countries which are seen as potential threats to the U.S. national security.

Of course the role of lobbies and interest groups in the unrestrained growth of the military-industrial complex should not be ignored. The Israeli lobby is seen as the most powerful and influential external force in the U.S. political atmosphere and the foremost role-player that alters the major foreign policy decisions took by the White House.

The prominent investigative journalist Wayne Madsen believes that the Israeli lobby owns the White House, Congress, the Democratic and Republican parties and Hollywood. “The Israeli Lobby owns the Congress, media, Hollywood, Wall Street, both political parties, and the White House. This kind of talk will get people fired by this lobby, as we have seen recently with White House correspondent Helen Thomas and CNN anchor Rick Sanchez. However, many Americans are growing tired of the arrogance of the Israel Lobby and their bigoted attitudes toward anyone who challenges their influence-peddling and their ridiculous insistence that Israel must be supported because of some ancient fairy tales involving some tribes who wandered the deserts of the Middle East and saw and heard non-existent things because of sun stroke, drinking bad water, and smoking local hallucinogenic plants,” said Madsen in a December 2010 interview with the Veterans Today news and analysis website.

The military-industrial complex never cares for the morality or decency of the wars in which innocent people are massacred. It simply cares for the dollars that are earned through waging wars. The White House and Pentagon have also shown that they stride on the same path and take action whenever there are chances for winning some financial gains, even if the gain is insignificant and dispensable.

Nevertheless, even though the military-industrial complex seems enormously powerful and prevailing, it’s not invincible. The grassroots movements, the alternative media, progressive, anti-war intellectuals, scholars, authors, journalists and conscious citizens can resist the forces that are driving our world to more wars and unrestricted bloodshed. As Laura Eisenhower, the great granddaughter of the U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower, noted in an interview with “Exopolitics”, unity and consciousness can lead to the collapse of the military industrial complex. So, even a member of the presidential family tells us that what his great grandfather had warned against 53 years ago is not an unbreakable, undefeatable ghoul. It can be brought down.

Posted in USAComments Off on Is The Military-Industrial Comples Invincible?

Mental illness soars in Gaza

NOVANEWS
Posted by: TUT

Abu Ashraf, a 47-year-old Gazan, spends the majority of his time in his small room with no means of entertainment and only leaves to use the restroom. He sits on his bed for long hours, smoking, with no desire to see or talk to anyone.

Al-Monitor went to interview him. His wife tried to convince him to come out of the room and talk, but he refused. “He is more comfortable in his room, let us go to him,” she apologized.

Abu Ashraf, who seemed nervous and unsettled, worked for years as a contractor in a construction company in Israel. After the second intifada, when the Israeli government decided to prevent workers from coming into Israel, he became depressed as he could not find a full-time job in Gaza.

“As you can see, he has been like this for years,” his wife noted. “Even though he tried to find a job in Gaza, since the imposition of the Israeli blockade in 2007, he hasn’t found a stable job because of the decision of the Israeli occupation to prohibit the entry of cement.”

She said that she tried to take him to a clinic for psychological treatment, but he refused, and his psychological problems became chronic.

According to Fadel Abu Hein, the director of the Community Training and Crisis Management Center in Gaza, around 60% of Gazans suffer from psychological illnesses and are in need of treatment. He said that the deterioration of the political and economic situation is a direct cause of the spread of mental illness.

Abu Hein told Al-Monitor that the most common psychological illness in Gaza is anxiety, affecting 35% of his patients, followed by depression, affecting 25% of them. He noted that unemployment and lack of job opportunities are the main reasons behind these illnesses, followed by the internal division and the subsequent laying off of employees, high poverty rates, the blockade and successive Israeli wars on the Gaza Strip.

A report issued April 7 by the health department of the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organization Network explained that the negative economic and social effects of the Israeli blockade are leading “to the exacerbation of psychological problems in Gaza among a large spectrum of citizens, given the increase in poverty rates, unemployment, lack of opportunities and dim hopes for genuine and positive change in terms of their livelihood and humanitarian situations. This is why the levels of anxiety, depression and domestic and societal violence are on the rise.”

Social stigma

According to Dardah Shaer, a professor of psychology at Al-Aqsa University, the majority of patients with mental illnesses refuse treatment out of fear of social stigma.

“Palestinian culture considers whoever visits a psychiatrist as mentally ill, and this is a stigma the patients try to evade so that people would not say they are crazy,” Shaer told Al-Monitor.

This is the case of Nour, 27, whose husband divorced her over her psychological illness that resulted from a trauma she suffered after the Israeli war on Gaza at the end of 2008. She told Al-Monitor, “My brother died in front of my eyes during the war, and I was screaming at the top of my lungs when it was happening. Afterward, I was living in a vortex of anxiety and unending hallucinations until my husband divorced me, because he was not able to deal with my illness.”

Nour said that she completely refused to seek treatment, for fear of being called crazy, a label that would prevent her from ever getting married again. “Society’s view has led me to resort to psychics hoping to find a treatment,” she added. Her condition hasn’t changed, after having spent large amounts of money on “psychics.”

According to Abu Hein, it is hard for the patient to accept the idea of seeking treatment, “since acknowledging that one has cancer is a lot easier than admitting they have a psychological illness. Also, society accepts cancer patients, but does not accept patients with mental illness. The latter isolate themselves away from social relations such as marriage and friendship.”

He noted that the negative view of these illnesses leads patients to resort to “psychics” who work in secret, instead of going to psychiatrists who work publicly and within an official framework. This route, however, leads to the deterioration of their psychological state.

Neglect and lack of expertise

Shaer believes that since mental patients avoid treatment, the actual number of people suffering from psychological disorders might be a lot higher than officially recognized. He said, “Despite this, the provided government services are subpar and not in line with the seriousness of the crisis.”

“There are few psychological centers in Gaza and they are managed by teams that lack specialists and capabilities. Under normal circumstances, there should be one psychological center for every 50,000 people. But the situation of treatment for mental illness in Gaza is a far cry from this,” Shaer added.

According to an official report published in 2009 on the Ministry of Health’s website, the population in Gaza stands at 1.8 million, while there are only six psychological clinics with 35 nurses, 32 beds, seven specialists, six social workers and three rehabilitation specialists.

In light of economic and political hardships, social stigma and lack of government programs, mental patients in Gaza are limited to two options: resort to “psychics,” or become insane.

 

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