Archive | October 30th, 2014

Concerned About ISIS, But Also About Endless War? Back Limits on the Use of Force

NOVANEWS

The US House of Representatives in this 2013 file photo.

In response to the U.S. bombing of Islamic State [“ISIS”] fighters in Iraq and Syria, which Congress has never explicitly approved, Members of Congress long concerned about presidents and Congresses skirting the Constitutional role of Congress in deciding when the U.S. will use military force have introduced H. Con. Res. 114, “Urging Congress to debate and vote on a statutory authorization for any sustained United States combat role in Iraq or Syria.”

When Congress returns from recess after the election in November, it will still not have debated and voted on a sustained U.S. combat role in Iraq or Syria, even though a “sustained combat role” is obviously what the Pentagon is doing and plans to do. Polls have shown that the majority of Americans think that Congress should debate and vote. Members of Congress can show that they back the public’s desire for a Congressional debate and vote by supporting H. Con. Res. 114.

The resolution, which currently has 23 (co-)sponsors, says that Congress:

  1. should debate and vote on whether the U.S. should be involved in sustained combat in Iraq or Syria;
  2. does not support the deployment of ground combat troops in Iraq or Syria;
  3. should ensure that any grant of authority for force is narrowly tailored and limited; and
  4. should ensure that any grant of authority for force includes robust reporting requirements.

These points in the “resolved clause” of H. Con. Res. 114 provide a set of four principles that the president, Members of Congress, and the American people can agree on for considering any authorization of force against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

1. Debate and Vote: The president claims that he has authority under existing law to do what he’s doing without new Congressional action; whether we agree with that or not, Congress should debate and vote. The public have said they want it. The president has said that he would welcome Congressional action. A debate and vote will hold Congress accountable, forcing our elected officials to take positions on the record, which is a key part of their jobs.

2. No U.S. Ground Combat Troops: The president has said that he will not use U.S. troops in a ground war in Iraq or Syria. Most Democrats and many Republicans agree that he shouldn’t; but some Republicans have suggested that U.S. ground troops should be deployed to combat, and many Americans fear that that the president will be pressured into abandoning his commitment not to use U.S. ground troops. Enacting the president’s promise into law will kill the pressure for using U.S. ground troops by showing that it’s not just the president: Congress doesn’t want to use U.S. ground troops either.

While U.S. Special Forces are being used near combat, and that certainly does create serious risks, most Members of Congress and the public correctly see that as fundamentally much less risky than a large deployment of regular U.S. soldiers to combat. If the use of U.S. ground combat troops is barred, far fewer U.S. soldiers will be at risk, the risk that they are taking will be much smaller, the risk to foreign civilians from the U.S. military presence will be much smaller, and the relative role of U.S. forces relative to other forces will be much smaller, as it should be.

The president has rightly insisted that the struggle against ISIS is not going to be won by the U.S. militarily; diplomatic, political, and financial efforts to weaken ISIS, and military action by U.S. allies, will determine whether ISIS is defeated. Barring the use of U.S. ground troops will help ensure that the role of U.S. military force does not become too great relative to non-military means and military action by U.S. allies.

3. Authority for the use of force should be narrowly tailored and limited: Congress should not hand this president or any future president a “blank check” to use force in Iraq and Syria however he or she might want, as Congress gave President George W. Bush before he started the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003.

President Obama himself has said that an authorization of force should be targeted and focused. Many in Congress and the public support the president’s actions so far but worry about “mission creep” and a “slippery slope” that could lead to a war in Syria against the Syrian government. Congress can prevent that by limiting the targets of an AUMF to ISIS, Nusra, and other Al Qaeda-type groups, as Democratic Senator Tim Kaine and others have proposed. Senator Kaine and others have also proposed including a time limit, or “sunset,” on any authorization of force. This will ensure that the war can’t drag on and on without Congress having to debate and vote on whether the war should continue. Senator Kaine has proposed a “sunset” of one year.

4. Any grant of authority for force should include robust reporting requirements:During in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and also in the policy of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, Congress, the media, and the public have had trouble getting access to basic information about what the U.S. military and intelligence agencies were doing – basic information that Congress, the media, and the public have the right and need to know to be able to judge the effectiveness, wisdom and morality of U.S. military actions.

For example, there is no official public record of how many civilians have been killed in U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, although we know that the U.S. government collects this information. U.S. officials have claimed that reporting by media and human rights groups has overstated civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes, but these U.S. officials haven’t had to “show their work.” Already since the U.S. began bombing Syria, accounts of civilian casualties from U.S. airstrikes by U.S. officials have diverged from accounts by independent human rights groups.

The more Members of Congress support H. Con. Res. 114, the stronger will be the bloc of Members preparing to limit the use of force. You can urge your Representative to co-sponsor the resolution here.

Posted in Middle East, USAComments Off on Concerned About ISIS, But Also About Endless War? Back Limits on the Use of Force

Are FBI and NCTC Trying to Pressure Prosecutors to Charge the Second Intercept Source?

NOVANEWS

As it raises questions about whether the Obama Administration has the “appetite” to prosecute another inside source for journalists, the lastest reporting on the so-called “second leaker” seems designed to generate pressure to do just that. (Image: Leaked slide with overlay)

Citing “law enforcement and intelligence sources who have been briefed on the case,” Michael Isikoff reports that the government has identified “the second leaker” — a source of information on drone targeting and terrorist watchlisting for The Intercept.

The FBI has identified an employee of a federal contracting firm suspected of being the so-called second leaker who turned over sensitive documents about the U.S. government’s terrorist watch list to a journalist closely associated with ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden, according to law enforcement and intelligence sources who have been briefed on the case.

The FBI recently executed a search of the suspect’s home, and federal prosecutors in Northern Virginia have opened up a criminal investigation into the matter, the sources said.

Because it raises questions about whether the Administration has the “appetite” to prosecute another source for journalists, the article seems designed to generate pressure to do just that — to get Congress (among others) to demand that the Justice Department prosecute this source.

But the case has also generated concerns among some within the U.S.intelligence communitythat top Justice Department officials — stung by criticism that they have been overzealous in pursuing leak cases — may now be more reluctant to bring criminal charges involving unauthorized disclosures to the news media, the sources said. One source, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter, said there was concern “there is no longer an appetite at Justice for these cases.”

While Isikoff outlines the content of The Intercept’s watchlist story, he leaves out several details that may make DOJ less interested in prosecuting this leak.

First, two courts have ruled that people on the No Fly List receive due process regarding their status. Significantly, in June, an Oregon judge presiding over an ACLU lawsuit on behalf of 13 people on the No Fly List ruled the process unconstitutional and ordered the government to come up with a more meaningful redress system for people on the list.

In [the] ruling, the court agreed with us that the redress procedure “falls far short of satisfying the requirements of due process,” and is “wholly ineffective.” The court warned that “without proper notice and an opportunity to be heard, an individual could be doomed to indefinite placement on the No-Fly List” – precisely what has happened to our clients and many others on the List.

[snip]

The court ultimately concluded that the lack of any meaningful opportunity to contest their placement on the No Fly List violates our clients’ constitutional due process rights. The government now has to come up with a new process that satisfies the Constitution, including officially telling our clients whether they are on the No Fly List, providing reasons for their inclusion, and giving them the ability to contest the basis for that inclusion before a judge.

Earlier this month, 7 of ACLU’s clients in that lawsuit got cleared to fly. The government will have to start providing ACLU’s other clients some kind of redress process by January.

Whatever process the government develops going forward, it will bring more transparency to precisely the system disclosed in The Intercept’s watchlisting story.

At the same time, a number of other disclosures have raised questions about the watchlist. Most notably, Dick Cheney’s biographer, Stephen Hayes, briefly got put on the Selectee watchlist requiring additional screening; he believes that’s because he booked a one-way flight to Turkey for a Mediterranean cruise. Hayes is probably correct: as the document disclosed by The Intercept make clear, the government may, in fact, watchlist a person for “Travel for no known lawful or legitimate purpose to a locus of TERRORIST ACTIVITY.” Just this week, Hayes announced he appears to have gotten off the list.

Additionally, senior officials have had to explain that the numbers — in the hundreds or even thousands — routinely offered for the number of Americans who have traveled to fight with ISIL are inflated for precisely that reason: anyone who travels to Turkey without a known reason gets watchlisted — and counted as an ISIL fighter. In reality, there are maybe 20 to 30 Americans fighting in Syria.

Perhaps most amusing is the story behind the Jetsetting Terrorist,” a blog started in June. As Forbes recently revealed, the “terrorist” is Peter Young, an animal rights activist convicted of a misdemeanor for freeing minks in 3 states in 1997. Young’s blog documents the he gets as a frequent flier on the Selectee treatment, including how he invoked his Selectee status to jump to the front of a very longTSA security line. Young has also provided more significant details (details that mirror those in the leaked document), such as that TSA Agents have to call the FBI every time a selectee flies.

The point is, many more details about the No Fly and Selectee processes will be coming out in upcoming months — both through the ACLU lawsuit and related new redress policy and through Young’s blog (unless blogging about being a Selectee gets one removed from the list!). Those details will be coming out against the absurd background of Cheney’s biographer being branded a terrorist because he took a Mediterranean cruise.

Not only will aspects of these lists become less justifiable, but they will become public, one way or another.

That likely provides another reason why DOJ may hesitate to charge The Intercept’s alleged source: by the time any case went to trial, the alleged source’s disclosures would look banal by comparison. Any such prosecution would look like overkill.

That may well be true. But it appears that those requesting and carrying out the investigation want to push for precisely that kind of overkill.

Posted in USAComments Off on Are FBI and NCTC Trying to Pressure Prosecutors to Charge the Second Intercept Source?

Investigation Reveals Uptick in ‘Snail Mail’ Surveillance

NOVANEWS

New York Times investigation finds government tracking of Americans’ mail ‘more extensive than previously disclosed’

In 2013, state and federal agencies submitted 50,000 requests to scrutinize and track American's mail. (Photo: Adam Burt/cc/flickr)

In 2013, state and federal agencies submitted 50,000 requests to scrutinize and track American’s mail.

Though over a century old, one often overlooked aspect of government surveillance continues to expand and evolve: the tracking of Americans’ mail by the U.S. Postal Service. Highlighting a “little-noticed” 2014 audit of the mail system in conjunction with a number of interviews and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, a New York Times investigation published Monday reveals the scope of government monitoring of “snail mail.”

According to the 2014 Inspector General audit, in 2013 the USPS approved nearly 50,000 requests for surveillance from law enforcement agencies and its own internal inspection unit, the Postal Inspection Service, to monitor the mail of Americans for use in criminal and national security investigations.

The surveillance program, officially known as “mail covers,” permits the scrutiny of information on the outside of letters and packages before they are delivered to a person’s home at the request of state or federal law enforcement agencies. This is in addition to a program called “mail imaging,” under which the USPS photographs and stores the exterior information from every package and letter sent through their system.

Whereas opening mail requires a warrant, this “deceptively old-fashioned method of collecting data provides a wealth of information about the businesses and associates of their targets, and can lead to bank and property records and even accomplices,” the Timesreports.

The Times investigation found that from 2001 through 2012, local, state and federal law enforcement agencies made over 100,000 requests, amounting to roughly 8,000 requests a year.

Compared with requests reported in 2013, this number does not include requests made for national security investigations or those requested by the Postal Inspection Service. This substantial disparity, Times reporter Ron Nixon notes, “shows that the surveillance program is more extensive than previously disclosed.”

The IG audit further revealed that “in many cases the Postal Service approved requests to monitor an individual’s mail without adequately describing the reason or having proper written authorization,” writes Nixon, who added that this information shows that “oversight protecting Americans from potential abuses is lax.”

Theodore Simon, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, told Nixon he was troubled by the audit. “It appears that there has been widespread disregard of the few protections that were supposed to be in place,” Simon said.

Posted in USAComments Off on Investigation Reveals Uptick in ‘Snail Mail’ Surveillance

At Current Rates, Global Gender Pay Gap Won’t Close for More Than 80 Years

NOVANEWS

Women currently have just 40 percent fewer economic opportunities that men have worldwide, says World Economic Forum

Closing the gender pay gap may not happen for another 81 years on our current trajectory, the World Economic Forum found. (Photo: State Library of Victoria Collection/flickr/cc)

Closing the gender pay gap may not happen for another 81 years on our current trajectory, the World Economic Forum found. (Photo:State Library of Victoria Collection/flickr/cc)

No single country has closed the income gap between men and women, according to a newreport by the World Economic Forum, and if current trajectories hold it will be nearly another century before pay equity for women is finally achieved.

Among the key findings in WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report 2014 (pdf), women currently have 60 percent of the economic opportunities men have worldwide, an increase of just four percentage points since WEF began its study in 2006.

“Much of the progress on gender equality over the last 10 years has come from more women entering politics and the workforce,” said Saadia Zahidi, head of the WEF Gender Parity Program and lead author of the report. “While more women and more men have joined the workforce over the last decade, more women than men entered the labor force in 49 countries.”

Globally, gender gaps persist across all four sectors studied in the report: economy, politics, health and education.

Out of the 142 countries studied, the U.S. sits at number 20 in the overall gender gap index. Among the sub-indexes, the U.S. is 4th in economic participation, 39th in educational attainment, 54th in political empowerment, and 62nd in health and survival. Notably, the health and survival index does not take reproductive health into account.

Despite some advances in closing the pay gap over the past nine years, the U.S. is still struggling with the less visible issue of unpaid work—such as cleaning and caring for family members—a responsibility which most often falls on women, as United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Magdalena Sepúlveda told the General Assembly last year. WEF found that the average amount of time spent per day on unpaid work in the U.S. is 248 minutes for women, 161 for men.

Elsewhere, the U.K. slipped in the rankings, falling below the U.S. to 26 in the overall global index, down six points from the last WEF report.

In many parts of the world, progress on education has not only stalled, but reversed, WEF found. Some countries, such as Norway, New Zealand, Botswana, and Namibia—which have vastly differing rankings in health and economic opportunities for women—have all completely closed their educational attainment gender gap. But six countries have actually lost prospects for women’s advancement: Sri Lanka, Mali, Macedonia, Croatia, Jordan, and Tunisia.

“Achieving gender equality is obviously necessary for economic reasons. Only those economies who have full access to all their talent will remain competitive and will prosper,” said Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman. “But even more important, gender equality is a matter of justice. As a humanity, we also have the obligation to ensure a balanced set of values.”

Nordic countries continue to lead the world in creating equal opportunities for men and women. Iceland, which is number one in narrowing the gender wage gap—to 85 percent—tops the list, followed by Finland (2), Norway (3), Sweden (4), and Denmark as the top five.

Despite those rankings, some of the most remarkable advancements belong to developing nations. Saudi Arabia is the most improved relative to its starting point in the sub-index of economic opportunities, while Burkina Faso has made the most gains in educational attainment, Angola for health and survival, and the United Arab Emirates for political empowerment.

Zahidi added, “These are far-reaching changes—for economies and national cultures, however it is clear that much work still remains to be done, and that the pace of change must in some areas be accelerated.”

Posted in WorldComments Off on At Current Rates, Global Gender Pay Gap Won’t Close for More Than 80 Years

Shell Wants Five More Years to Carry Out Arctic Plunder

NOVANEWS

Oil giant asked Interior Department ‘to skirt rules,’ get more time after it spent fruitless $6 billion

“We are, unfortunately, no longer capable of being surprised by either Shell’s efforts to skirt rules or the company’s inability to recognize its own role in failing to complete planned exploration activities in Arctic waters,” stated Oceana’s Susan Murray. (Photo: Greenpeace Switzerland/flickr/cc)

Shell has urged the Obama administration to give it five more years to fulfill its quest for Arctic oil, citing the $6 billion the oil giant has already invested in the effort and circumstances it said were beyond its control.

Shell made the request in a letter (pdf) dated July 2014 and made public Monday by ocean conservation group Oceana.

Peter Slaiby, Vice President of Shell Alaska, writes in the letter to the Interior Department’s Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSSE) that “despite Shell’s best efforts and demonstrated diligence, circumstances beyond Shell’s control have prevented, and are continuing to prevent, Shell from completing even the first exploration well” in either of its Chukchi or Beaufort Sea lease holdings.

“Circumstances Shell could not have anticipated at the time it acquired its leases significantly impede Shell’s utilization of its lease rights to proceed with exploration and development of its Alaska leases before they are due to expire.”

Among the unanticipated circumstances Shell cites are lack of regulatory-compliant and Arctic-ready rigs, shortened operating windows, legal challenges, and the need to accomodate Native community whaling activities.

Developing the area’s reserves “is plainly in the national interest,” Shell’s letter states.

The oil giant urges the BSSE to grant the extended time now, as waiting until the current lease period ends in 2017 could cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars in needless expenditures, the letter states.

The letter does not include reference to the company’s series of mishaps which environmental groups said was indication of the risks of drilling in the fragile area.

The letter states that “the few short annual drilling seasons that remain are inadequate to make up for the many years that Shell has lost largely due to circumstances beyond Shells’ control.”

Oceana said Shell was asking for unwarranted rule-bending.

Susan Murray, Oceana’s deputy vice president, Pacific, said in a statement: “Though this letter is somewhat shocking in its tone and request, we are, unfortunately, no longer capable of being surprised by either Shell’s efforts to skirt rules or the company’s inability to recognize its own role in failing to complete planned exploration activities in Arctic waters.”

“Shell spent billions of dollars fully aware of the risks to that investment, and the government should not bend the rules to allow the company to continue business as usual. Shell deserves no special treatment and, to the contrary, has a track record of irresponsible choices that warrants close scrutiny and the highest standards,” Murray stated.

Shell’s justifications for extra time “are incomplete and, at best, disingenuous,” she stated, adding that they “are further indication that the company cannot or will not do what is necessary to operate safely in the Arctic Ocean.”

Greenpeace stated earlier this year: “Shell’s decision to gamble on the Arctic was a mistake of epic proportions.” The environment group added that Shell’s continued barriers and blunders should be a sign to other oil companies “that this region is too remote, too hostile and too iconic to be worth exploring.”

Posted in USA, Campaigns, HealthComments Off on Shell Wants Five More Years to Carry Out Arctic Plunder

Hundreds of people killed and injured in Libya over weekend

NOVANEWS

banner_1

… from  ITAR-TASS,  Moscow

General Haftar

General Haftar

[ Editor’s note:  Late in the day, one of the commanders for rebel General Khalifa Haftar reported that his air force was responsible for the surprise air strikes.

The Libyan government has gotten no foreign government takers on their request for military help to deal with the out-of-control gunmen.

The country has turned into a basket case, and all at their own hand, as they got control of it on a silver platter with modest destruction.

Libya had an oil revenue per-capita that was the envy of Africa. These are the oil revenues that the hard left claimed would all be stolen by NATO and Europe. Gosh, not a bit of that happened.

The current new devastation of the country stems from the fight over money, one that included knocking down the country’s oil revenues by 80%, by taking them hostage in the internal fighting.

At the end of the day, not having the foreign military go in to secure all the weapons depots just sealed the fate of the free, but inexperienced, country. Too many guns and too many egos, plus the usual greed do not make a good foundation for building one’s country… Jim W. Dean

 

Libyan militias just refuse to build their country

Libyan militias just refuse to build their country

CAIRO, August 18. /ITAR-TASS/. Hundreds of people were killed and injured in fierce fighting in the Libyan capital over the weekend, local mass media said on Monday, citing medics in Tripoli.

On August 16 alone, some 60 people were killed and about 400 wounded. The Health Ministry refused to publish exact casualty statistics.

Fighting for the city’s international airport between Zintan Brigades which control it and Islamic militants from the Misrata-based Central Libya Shield has been going on since August 13, with oil tanks containing millions of tonnes of petroleum burning along the road to the airport.

Electricity and water supplies have been disrupted, there is a shortage of petroleum and diesel fuel. People are leaving the city. Over 700 families have fled the shooting and shelling to Bani Walid 180 km southeast of Tripoli since Friday

In the middle of July, the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies began Operation Libya Dawn against the supporters of beleaguered Major General Khalifa Haftar who has been leading Operation Dignity against terrorists since the middle of May.

The radical groups were reported to have been tasked with taking the capital under control and taking additional precautions in case of unforeseen events related to the inauguration of a new permanent parliament called the House of Representatives and the transfer of power to it from the temporary legislative body, the General National Congress.

After that, the fighting in Tripoli and Benghazi, the second largest city in the country and the cradle of revolution, intensified.

Last night, warplanes without insignia were seen barraging over the capital. Eyewitnesses said they had attacked the warring militias’ positions on the southern and western outskirts and then flown away. It is not clear yet who had sent the aircraft.

Libya Dawn representatives said a jet fighter had fired at least two missiles at the militants’ bases, killing five rebels. Local media said the planes might have belonged to NATO, but these reports were immediately denied by the security services in Tripoli. However, they could not say where the aircraft had flown from, how many there were of them and where they had retreated after the bombing.

On August 13, the newly elected parliament voted for immediate UN-led international interference to protect civilians. The decision was made after the groups fighting against the government troops had refused to surrender and stop fighting.

The parliament also passed a bill outlawing irregular armed groups and cancelled all the previous resolutions and decrees concerning ex-revolutionaries, ordering their dissolution by December 31, 2014.

Militias are controlling large stocks of arms, including heavy weapons. But the regular army is too weak and has not been able to become a combat capable force that can restore law and order in the country.

Posted in LibyaComments Off on Hundreds of people killed and injured in Libya over weekend

The Power of Fantasy: Bioterrorism, ISIS and Ebola Mania

NOVANEWS

Global Research

 

Does demagoguery have an inventive side? Only if you assume semi-literacy is virtuous, and that imagination lies in the name of the manipulative. The combination of both Ebola and terrorism are the evil twins of the same security dilemma. It is manufactured. It is a confection. And it is, at the end, worthless in what it actually suggests. The effects of it are, however, dangerous. They suggest that politicians can be skimpy with the evidence yet credible in the vote.

Historically, disease and culture share the same bed of significance. Notions of purity prevail in these considerations. Bioterrorism has become, rather appropriately, another mutation in the debate on how foreign fighters arriving in a country might behave. Individuals such as Jim Carafano, vice president of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy at the Heritage Foundation, continue insisting on the need for presidential administrations to form a national bioterrorism watch system.

While [Ebola] is a dangerous disease that Washington needs to take seriously, writes David Inserra of The Daily Signal, America could face an even greater medical threat in the future: the threat of bioterrorism.[1] While the language here seems to draw distinctions that those suffering Ebola pose one set of problems, while the use of a bioterrorist agent is another the ease of placing the two side by side is virtually irresistible.

In the wake of the Ebola outbreak, that old horse of potential bioterrorism has emerged with a convenient vengeance. This is not surprising, given the spectre of WMD fantasies that captivated the Bush administration in 2003. It is not sufficient that there are terrorists with a low probability of waging actual attacks on home soil, be they returning citizens, or simply foreign fighters wishing to stir up a good deal of fuss. Throwing in the disease component is hard to resist.

Rep. Mike Jelly of Pennsylvania decided to direct the bioterror genie the way of Islamic State fighters, suggesting that returning jihadists might cause Washington a good deal of headaches, not merely by their radicalisation, but by carrying the virus as a strategic weapon of infliction. Think about the job they could do, the harm they could inflict on the American people by bringing this deadly disease into our cities, into schools, into our towns, and into our homes. Horrible, horrible.[2]

This exotic lunacy was also appealing to Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, who even suggested that Hamas fighters might be daft enough to infect themselves with Ebola and make a journey to freedom land in order to engage in acts of infectious mayhem. Their venue of safe passage would be from the South, where the evils of an open border with Mexico risk allowing a dangerous pathogen into the country. Now that, dear readers, is exactly what such figures think about Mexico.

The moral calculus operating with Wilson is that of irrational, dangerous death those who value death more than you value life. Those with such a creed are bound to get up to any old and lethal mischief. It would promote their creed. And all of this could be avoided by sealing the border, thoroughly. Cmon, this is the 21stcentury.[3]

As to whether the idea of using such an agent would be feasible is quite something else. Weaponising such a pathogen has proven to be a formidable challenge. Such groups as the Aum Shinrikyo cult attempted to collect the virus while ostensibly on a medical mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a failure of some magnitude. As Dina Fine Maron argues, the financial and logistical challenges of transforming Ebola into a tool of bioterror makes the concern seem overblown at least as far as widespread devastation is concerned.[4] Even the FBIs James Corney suggests that evidence of Islamic States involvement in an Ebola program is highly dubious.

This tends to get away from that old problem that the biggest of trouble makers in the business of death remain states rather than non-state ideologues. States have done more than their fair share of dabbling in the business of rearing microbes of death in the armoury. Be it small pox, botulism, and tularaemia, these have found their way into inventories and laboratories with disturbing normality.

Much of this has also been allowed to get away because of the Obama administrations open confusion on the subject of how to handle the Ebola problem. The excitement has become feverish (dare one say pathological?) in the US, suggesting the double bind that the Obama administration finds itself. The President did not do himself any favours by on the one hand denying there was a grave threat, and then proceeding to appoint an Ebola Czar by the name of Ron Klain. This was classic bureaucracy in action we create positions of unimportance to supposedly fight the unimportant, while admitting their gravity in creating such positions.

Certainly, the President found himself railroaded by events with the unilateral decisions of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) to implement mandatory 21-day quarantines for those returning from Ebola hot zones. This has always been the federal, and one might even say federalist headache: what is done in the White House and Washington often stays there. The response by states can often have a foreign sense to them. The US Centres for Disease and Control and Prevention has regarded such quarantine measures as unnecessary, but the CDCs attempt to defuse the situation has not worked.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest had to face the music of disease on Monday, with a reporter suggesting that, if Klain was actually an Ebola response coordinator, it seemed that you have a need for some coordinating here.[5]

William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University, a long time student of infectious diseases, sees this as a matter of information, in so far as the more one gets, the less anxious one is bound to feel. I would like not to call it irrational. When people are just learning about something, something that they regard as a threat, and they havent integrated all of this information still into their thought process, their sense of anxiety obviously increases.[6]

Schaffner is unduly wedded to the rather unfashionable belief that knowledge somehow enlightens. But it is not knowledge that is driving this debate, but supposition. Facts are the enemy, and they continue to play the roles of silent, some might even say murdered witnesses.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

Posted in Middle EastComments Off on The Power of Fantasy: Bioterrorism, ISIS and Ebola Mania

‘A Generation Cast Aside’: Child Poverty On Rise in World’s Richest Countries

NOVANEWS

Since 2008, child poverty has increased in a majority of the 41 most affluent nations, UNICEF report finds

UNICEF report finds erosion of social safety nets has fueled child poverty crisis. (Image courtesy of UNICEF report)

Children remain “the most enduring victims” of the recession in the world’s wealthiest nations, where 2.6 million children have fallen below the poverty line since 2008, a new report from UNICEF reveals.

The annual study, Children of the Recession: The impact of the economic crisis on child well-being in rich countries, was released Tuesday in Rome. It finds that in the 41 richest countries at least 76.5 million children live in poverty.

“Many affluent countries have suffered a ‘great leap backwards’ in terms of household income, and the impact on children will have long-lasting repercussions for them and their communities,” said Jeffrey O’Malley, UNICEF’s Head of Global Policy and Strategy.

In 23 of the 41 wealthy countries examined, the rate of child poverty has increased since 2008. In some countries, this rise was drastic: Ireland, Croatia, Latvia, Greece, and Iceland saw child poverty climb by more than 50 percent. The report notes that the young are hit harder than the elderly, and among children, the “poorest and most vulnerable… have suffered disproportionately.”

The recession has created “a generation cast aside,” where unemployment for people aged 15 to 24 has increased in 34 of the 41 countries, the report states.

The United States is no exception. In 2012, 24.2 million children were living in poverty in the U.S., an increase of 1.7 million since the 2008 recession. In 34 out of 50 states, child poverty has risen since 2008.

While the authors claimed the report was not intended as a “comment on austerity,” their analysis finds that the decimation of public services has fueled the crisis.

“Extreme child poverty in the United States increased more during the Great Recession than it did in the recession of 1982, suggesting that, for the very poorest, the safety net affords less protection now than it did three decades ago,” states the report.

“Governments that bolstered existing public institutions and programmes helped to buffer countless children from the crisis – a strategy that others may consider adopting,” the report notes.

Posted in WorldComments Off on ‘A Generation Cast Aside’: Child Poverty On Rise in World’s Richest Countries

Ukraine’s Election Results Are Good for the Jews — But What Comes Next?

NOVANEWS

good for the jews

Sam Kliger, director of Russian Jewish community affairs at the American Jewish Committee, said this was the first Ukrainian election he could remember in which no political party had played the anti-Semitic card. Kliger, who recently returned from several months in Ukraine, said that if anything, the election’s big winners were “mostlyphilosemitic rather than anti-Semitic.”

Ukraine’s parliamentary election delivered a stinging rebuttal to Russia’s claims that this year’s pro-Western revolution was galvanized by fascism and anti-Semitism.

Far-right and nationalist parties, long singled out by Russia as prime evidence of the revolution’s extremist character, suffered a series of stunning setbacks.

The nationalist Svoboda party, which two years ago won more than 10% of the vote, failed to reach the 5% threshold necessary to win seats in parliament. The newly formed Radical Party, led by the firebrand Oleg Lyashko, had been widely tipped to emerge as the country’s second-largest party. But it came in fifth, with less than 8% of the vote.

Meanwhile, moderate, pro-Western parties, led by Ukraine’s interim prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, swept up 44% of the vote combined.

Sam Kliger, director of Russian Jewish community affairs at the American Jewish Committee, said this was the first Ukrainian election he could remember in which no political party had played the anti-Semitic card. Kliger, who recently returned from several months in Ukraine, said that if anything, the election’s big winners were “mostly philosemitic rather than anti-Semitic.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian state-sponsored television have consistently accused Ukraine’s new leaders of “neo-Nazism, fascism and anti-Semitism.”

There were several anti-Semitic incidents in towns and cities across Ukraine during and after this year’s revolution. They included physical attacks on Jews, and the firebombing or vandalism of synagogues.

But Ukrainian Jewish leaders said the attacks had nothing to do with the revolution and that the revolution was neither fascistic nor anti-Semitic. “It’s all a lie,” said Josef Zissels, chairman of the Association of Jewish Organizations and Communities of Ukraine, in a phone interview from Kiev on October 28.

Jewish leaders blamed the anti-Semitic incidents on pro-Russian provocateurs.

No one has been arrested for any of the attacks. But Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on the European far right, said that Ukrainian nationalists do differ from the majority of far-right parties in Europe. Shekhovtsov, a research fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences, in Vienna, said that for Ukrainian nationalists the enemy is “not national minorities, not immigrants, but the Kremlin.”

Ukraine has a mixed parliamentary election system. Half of the seats up for grabs in the October 26 election were based on party lists. The other half were based on direct elections in individual districts. Though the nationalist Svoboda party failed to reach the threshold for entering parliament on the basis of the party list poll, six of its candidates did win seats running in individual districts.

Vyacheslav Likhachev, an expert on anti-Semitism for the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, said that in total there would be 13 ”radical” politicians in the new Ukrainian parliament.

As if to underline the complexity of Ukrainian history and politics, one of those radicals includes Borislav Bereza, a member of the far-right group Right Sector, who is also a Jew.

Although radicals are fewer in number, Likhachev said those extremists who won seats threaten to be more extreme than before. He said that out of the 450 members of the previous Ukrainian parliament, only one could have been described as a neo-Nazi. For the new parliament, Likhachev said, “I think three from this group could be identified as neo-Nazi.”

Russian aggression appears to have played a large part in boosting the popularity of moderate, pro-Western parties. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, its support of pro-Russian separatists in East Ukraine and its threats to cut off Ukraine’s gas supply cast a patriotic glow over pro-Western politicians who oppose Putin. That left less room for the strident nationalism of groups such as Svoboda and Lyashko’s Radical Party.

Nationalist groups might have performed even worse in this election had Crimea and separatist-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, with several million voters combined, been able to take part in the election. Historically, those regions were strongholds of the Communist Party and of former president Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

Although the war cut into nationalist support, it also made heroes out of some far-right nationalists. The ill-equipped Ukrainian army relied on voluntary battalions during much of the fighting in the East. One of the winning candidates in this parliamentary election, Andriy Biletsky, was commander of the fascistic Azov Battalion, which fights under a symbol similar to the Wolfsangel insignia worn by Waffen-SS units during World War II.

Even so, observers noted the almost total absence from the election campaign of anti-Semitism. Candidates widely known to be Jewish ran with no problems on several party tickets or as independents. They included Vadim Rabinovich, head of the All-Ukrainian Jewish Congress, who won a seat on the Opposition Bloc ticket, made up mostly of former supporters of deposed president Yanukovych.

“The Jews are not a useful enemy at this time,” said David Fishman, an expert on the Former Soviet Union at the Jewish Theological Seminary, in New York. “You are not going to gain votes, and there is no public appetite for anti-Semitism now.”

Fishman added that it is hard to paint Jews as unpatriotic when one of the most famous Jews in Ukraine, the oligarch Igor Kolomoisky, is “a model of Ukrainian patriotism.”

Kolomoisky, governor of Dnipropetrovsk, has maintained calm in the vast industrial region he controls in the East, less than 200 miles from separatist-controlled Donetsk. Kolomoisky also arms and finances volunteers fighting pro-Russian separatists.

Rabbi Andrew Baker, director of international Jewish affairs for the American Jewish Committee, said that throughout this year, most Jewish leaders in Ukraine have been “guardedly optimistic” that a new government could “pave the way for an even more open, inclusive, pluralistic Ukrainian society.”

“I think there are a lot of reasons to share the optimism Ukrainian Jews feel with the election results,” Baker said.

But Baker also struck a note of caution. Ukraine faces a battery of problems, he noted. Its economy is contracting. Inflation is at 14%. Vast swathes of East Ukraine remain under the control of pro-Russian rebels. Russia itself continues to threaten military and economic action. And corruption is endemic.

The results of the election point in one direction. The question is, will events on the ground follow.

Jewish Forward

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Ukraine’s Election Results Are Good for the Jews — But What Comes Next?

Canada criminalizes criticism of Zio-Nazi regime

NOVANEWS
The pro-Zionist Canadian government is modifying the country’s criminal code to ban any criticism of the Zio-Nazi regime for atrocities against Palestinians.

In a column for Press TV website, Brandon Martinez has analyzed the proposed cyber-bullying law (Bill C-13) by the administration of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“The Zionist ruling clique of Canada, through their front-man Stephen Harper, is seeking to beef up the already-existing Orwellian ‘hate propaganda’ law, which has been primarily used to curtail criticism of Zionists and Israel,” wrote Martinez.

He said Canada’s criminal code is to ban criticism or promotion of “hatred” against people distinguished by “national origin.”

“This means, say, if you condemn Israelis for their inhumane treatment of Palestinians, you could find yourself in court facing down the self-appointed thought police and commissars of political correctness,” wrote Martinez.

He singled out the case of German-Canadian publisher, Ernst Zundel, who has been facing court and jail due to his criticism of Zionists who are “the self-appointed architects of public discourse, the self-declared arbiters of truth and morality.”

The analyst said the Canadian police have refused to provide any protection to Zundel, whose Toronto home has been “torched by Zionist terrorists.”

“Zundel’s story is a testament to the power and control of Jewish extremists in Canada,” wrote Martinez.

Harper is under criticism for its violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in Canada.

Many native Canadians remain among the poorest members of the Canadian society, with most of them suffering poor educational, economic and social conditions.

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, CanadaComments Off on Canada criminalizes criticism of Zio-Nazi regime

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING