Archive | June 8th, 2015

Unfree Elections – The Corporate Media, UK General Election And Predictable Outcomes


The famous physicist Albert Einstein was fond of Gedankenexperimenten – thought experiments – which tested his understanding of physics problems and stimulated solutions to them. For example, when he was a teenager, Einstein asked himself, ‘What would the world look like if I rode on a beam of light?’ Pursuing this question, he eventually came up with the Special Theory of Relativity and the most famous equation in science, E=mc2.

Imagine, then, this thought experiment. Consider how a general election might turn out if the media spectrum ran the whole gamut from the right – the BBC, Guardian and Independent, for example – to the hard right (the Mail, Sun, Express and so on). Some readers might object that the BBC, Guardian and the Independent are not right-wing at all, but centre or even left-liberal. But, as we have shown in numerous books and media alerts, these media organisations are embedded in powerful networks of big business, finance and establishment elites. Naturally, these are the one per cent – or even narrower – interests that corporate media largely serve and support. Such media do not even deserve to be called ‘centre’, if the term is to retain any meaning.

In this case, of course, a thought experiment is not required because reality carried out the experiment for us, with the results being all too obvious last Friday. The Tories were returned to Westminster with a 12-seat majority. Notably, they only had 37% support from a turnout of 66%. That means only 24% of the eligible electorate actually voted for a Tory government. Such is the undemocratic nature of the electoral system in the UK. The establishment wins every time.

As Neil Clark observes in an article for RT, there is a long history of British press scaremongering to prevent any threat to corporate and financial interests come election time. As usual, the Murdoch press led the way, with the Sun warning on April 30:

‘A week today, Britain could be plunged into the abyss. A fragile left-wing Labour minority, led by Ed Miliband and his union paymasters and supported by the wreckers of the Scottish National Party, could take power… You can stop this. But only by voting Tory.’

The ludicrous warning about ‘left-wing’ Labour – a pro-business, pro-austerity party that has cut its roots from working people – was repeated across much of the press. Even the ostensible ‘liberal’ Independent, owned by the Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev, came out in support of the Tories.

After weeks of debate about the likelihood of a hung Parliament and permutations of possible coalitions, opinion pollsters and professional pundits expressed surprise at the relatively comfortable Tory win. But for investigative reporter Nafeez Ahmed, the outcome was predictable. In a piece titled ‘How Big Money and Big Brother won the British Elections’, published the day after the election, Ahmed noted:

‘The ultimate determinant of which party won the elections was the money behind their political campaigns.’

The Tory party was the biggest recipient of donations, ‘the bulk of which came from financiers associated with banks, the hedge fund industry, and big business.’

In summary:

‘the most important precondition for victory in Britain’s broken democracy is the party’s subservience to corporate power.’


The BBC’s ‘Love Letter’ To David Cameron

BBC News marked the Tories’ return to power with what read like a hymn of praise to David Cameron on its website. The Tory leader had ‘proved the doubters in his own party and beyond wrong by winning a majority of his own at the 2015 general election.’ The puff piece claimed that Cameron’s ‘presentational skills were never in doubt’ and pointed to ‘his easy charm and ability to appear “prime ministerial” at news conferences and summits’. A photo caption told readers that:

‘David Cameron took the traditional route to the top via Eton and Oxford.’

This was Tory PR dressed up as BBC journalism. The sycophancy was so laughable and transparent that it was rightly described on Twitter as:

‘A beautiful example of Toady Tory journalism’

Another Twitter user noted:

‘Anyone who thinks #BBC left-wing, read their love letter to David #Cameron … Dire excuse for journalism.’

Presumably there was no room in this ‘love letter’ to remind readers of Cameron’s inglorious role in Nato’s bombing of Libya in 2011.The illegal Western ‘intervention’ for regime change was built, as ever, on a campaign of disinformation and propaganda. Today, the suffering of Libya is immeasurable; not least as seen in the desperate plight of those fleeing across the Mediterranean and, all too often, drowning in the attempt. This is a damning indictiment of Western policy. If there truly was a left media in this country, Cameron’s record on Libya alone would have been scrutinised by journalists, his decisions challenged, and the consequences of those disastrous decisions for the suffering Libyans laid bare. Instead, in its shameful silence, the corporate media have effectively exonerated Cameron for his crimes.

Elsewhere on the BBC, there was extensive coverage of the 70th anniversary of VE Day, with militarism and imperialism not far below the surface. Along with the election coverage, it was all symptomatic of the sickness of a society under relentless establishment propaganda bombardment.

Meanwhile, the Guardian’s own love affair with that old war criminal Tony Blair shows no signs of abating. Blair’s piece of vacuous post-election ‘comment’ was heavily billed at the top of the Guardian website. He had the nerve to declare that ‘Labour must be the party of ambition as well as compassion’. Compassion, of course, was in short supply during Blair’s extended stay in power.

Apparently, Blair’s hands have not been dipped in sufficient blood to prevent him being regarded as a credible commentator by Britain’s flagship newspaper of liberal journalism. Should we describe this as surreal – or worse? This surely desecrates the memory of those who died in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere because of the many shameful decisions taken by Blair and the governments he led. But when we live under occupation by a troll army of corporate news media, war-criminal politicians are never beyond the pale; as long as they are our war-criminal politicians.

Another feature of life under this corporate media occupation is that those at the top of the political system are interchangeable. It hardly matters that Ed Miliband resigned in the wake of Labour’s pitiful showing in the election. Likewise, with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. Other figureheads will be appointed who uphold corporate-friendly, establishment-bolstering policies, with the requisite smattering of largely empty rhetoric about ‘tackling inequality’ and ‘protecting public services’.

The Independent even had the gall to assert in an editorial that:

‘Their two successors would do well to start thinking about a truly progressive coalition of their two parties.’

The reader is supposed to swallow the myth that, in a political system hammered into shape by corporate interests, ‘mainstream’ parties could possibly deliver anything ‘truly progressive’. But this low standard of journalism, indeed media deception, is par for the course. Likewise, a newly elected government – even, as in this case, the return to power of the same dominant party – is presented by the corporate media as having a fresh chance to prove itself. Every time this happens we are supposed to forget the state’s relentless promotion of the destructive aims of big business, while the majority of the public are squeezed and the poor, weak and vulnerable trampled upon.

One recent Guardian editorial took seriously the prospect that an unalloyed Tory government will live up to ‘Mr Cameron’s professed wish to unify rather than divide.’ How much more evidence does the Guardian need that Tory talk of ‘unity’ – ‘We’re all in this together’ – is a cruel sham? Unforgivably, even now the paper fails to point to the chasm between Tory propaganda and reality. Instead, the Guardian editors are giving the Tories yet another chance to demonstrate their bona fides by setting three ‘tests’ for them – on Europe, the future of the UK, and the challenge ‘to do far more to bring the country back together economically.’ As John McEnroe might have said, ‘You cannot be serious.’

Nowhere does the Guardian mention the Climate Armageddon towards which we are headed, and which puts these three ‘tests’ in the shade. So much for the Guardian’s much-vaunted commitment to put climate ‘front and centre’ of the paper.

As for Labour’s capitulation to corporate power, the Guardian has nothing to say and can do little better than come up with such anodyne remarks as:

‘Labour must again learn to tell stories, in a voice – and perhaps an accent – that speaks to the individual ear, and the country as a whole.’

It gets even worse, with inane comments that presumably came across as profound at editorial meetings:

‘In part, this is about ditching jargon, resolving the uneasy inheritance of the New Labour years and finding a new facility to deploy moral arguments instead of the dismal lexicon of technocracy.’

Labour and ‘moral arguments’? The mind boggles at the lack of insight that sees those words committed to posterity after all that Labour has done; not least the immoral arguments and deceits that launched the illegal invasion of Iraq. Attempting to brush the ‘supreme international crime’ under the carpet with the weasel words ‘the uneasy inheritance of the New Labour years’ is appalling. One wonders whether any senior Guardian staff have sufficient self-awareness, and the remnant shreds of dignity, to be squirming uneasily after the paper’s earlier declared support for Ed Miliband.

The embarrassment about Miliband was felt elsewhere too. Russell Brand promptly broadcast what sounded like a climbdown on his Trews YouTube channel, saying that he had ‘got caught up in some mad The Thick Of It’ moment. He as much as admitted that he had been swayed too easily by those around him:

‘People were telling me, journalists, people who know loads about politics….’

Given that Brand’s eve-of-election argument to support Labour echoed that of Guardian columnist Owen Jones, it’s not hard to guess who he was referring to here. Perhaps Brand might consider a no-holds-barred approach in future, and bravely expose the role of BBC News and the Guardian in preventing the revolution he, and many others, would like to see.

‘The Faulty Logic Of The Lesser-Evil Argument’

In Scotland, voters were able to vote for a major party that had explicitly rejected the ‘austerity’ mantra relayed endlessly by the unholy Tory-Lib Dem-Labour triumvirate. 56 out of the 59 Westminster constituencies north of the border voted for MPs from the Scottish National Party. Labour, who traditionally enjoyed strong support in the ‘heartland’ of Scotland, were almost entirely wiped out there, with just one Labour MP elected (one Lib Dem and one Tory made up the remaining Scottish seats).

As blogger John Hilley wrote:

‘Despairing people in England and Wales can take comfort from the tsunami of resistance that’s been unleashed in Scotland. Bereft of meaningful choices, the crushing of Labour may be hard to take, but the Miliband lifeboat was really just another pirate neoliberal ship, corporate owned and dutifully captained. Take heart from its sinking, and remember all those “radical” apologists who tried to sell it as a seaworthy vessel for meaningful change.’

Hilley added:

‘We also need a new assault on every part of the establishment-serving media, from the simpering Guardian to the gutter Sun.’

This election has made that clearer than ever before. Western politicians are fond of extolling Western ‘democracy’ and decrying electoral ‘charades’ in other nations, especially those lined up for possible future ‘intervention’. But there can be no truly ‘free’ elections in the West while corporate media shape and control what passes for news and debate, effectively limiting the choice of policies and politicians available to the public.

Jonathan Cook, a former Guardian journalist who is now independent, nailed the meaning of the general election outcome. First, he demolished the ‘lesser evil’ argument that is trotted out each time an election approaches:

‘The faulty logic of the lesser-evil argument is apparent the moment we consider the Blair case. If there is no political cost for committing the ultimate war crime, because the other guys are worse, what real leverage can the electorate ever have on the political system? The “left” vote will always gravitate to the slightly less nasty party of capital. No change is really possible. In fact, over time the political centre of gravity is likely to shift – as has in fact happened – ever more to the right, as the corporations accrete ever greater power.’

The reality is that any party hoping to claim power has first to ‘seduce’ the corporations which, of course, includes the major news media. As Cook observed:

‘Without most of the media on your side, no party stands a chance of winning because the media subtly controls the narrative of the election: what count as “the issues”, how the leaders and their platforms are presented, what and who is considered credible.’

Genuine change, made ever more necessary by the urgent threat of climate instability, requires no less than a revolution. This can never come from constantly recycling the ‘lesser evil’ argument. Central to this revolution is disentangling ourselves from the skewed, elite-serving perspective of the corporate media. Cook expressed it well:

‘We cannot imagine a different world, a different economic system, a different media landscape, because our intellectual horizons have been so totally restricted by the media conglomerates that control our newspapers, our TV and radio stations, the films we watch, the video games we play, the music we listen to. We are so imaginatively confined we cannot even see the narrow walls within which our minds are allowed to wander.’

This is why Media Lens believes that it is crucial to challenge the corporate media, to boost the public’s understanding of the reality of corporate news, and to promote independent journalism which is genuinely in the public interest.

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US VETERANS Gassed by US Army troops – 1932




In 1924, a grateful Congress voted to give a bonus to World War I veterans – $1.25 for each day served overseas, $1.00 for each day served in the States. The catch was that payment would not be made until 1945. However, by 1932 the nation had slipped into the dark days of the Depression and the unemployed veterans wanted their money immediately.

In May of that year, some 15,000 veterans, many unemployed and destitute, descended on Washington, D.C. to demand immediate payment of their bonus. They proclaimed themselves the Bonus Expeditionary Force but the public dubbed them the “Bonus Army.” Raising ramshackle camps at various places around the city, they waited.

The veterans made their largest camp at Anacostia Flats across the river from the Capitol. Approximately 10,000 veterans, women and children lived in the shelters built from materials dragged out of a junk pile nearby – old lumber, packing boxes and scrap tin covered with roofs of thatched straw.

Discipline in the camp was good, despite the fears of many city residents who spread unfounded “Red Scare” rumors. Streets were laid out, latrines dug, and formations held daily. Newcomers were required to register and prove they were bonafide veterans who had been honorably discharged. Their leader, Walter Waters, stated, “We’re here for the duration and we’re not going to starve. We’re going to keep ourselves a simon-pure veteran’s organization. If the Bonus is paid it will relieve to a large extent the deplorable economic condition.”

June 17 was described by a local newspaper as “the tensest day in the capital since the war.” The Senate was voting on the bill already passed by the House to immediately give the vets their bonus money. By dusk, 10,000 marchers crowded the Capitol grounds expectantly awaiting the outcome. Walter Waters, leader of the Bonus Expeditionary Force, appeared with bad news. The Senate had defeated the bill by a vote of 62 to 18. The crowd reacted with stunned silence. “Sing America and go back to your billets” he commanded, and they did. A silent “Death March” began in front of the Capitol and lasted until July 17, when Congress adjourned.

A month later, on July 28, Attorney General Mitchell ordered the evacuation of the veterans from all government property, Entrusted with the job, the Washington police met with resistance, shots were fired and two marchers killed. Learning of the shooting at lunch, President Hoover ordered the army to clear out the veterans. Infantry and cavalry supported by six tanks were dispatched with Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur in command. Major Dwight D. Eisenhower served as his liaison with Washington police and Major George Patton led the cavalry.

By 4:45 P.M. the troops were massed on Pennsylvania Ave. below the Capitol. Thousands of Civil Service employees spilled out of work and lined the streets to watch. The veterans, assuming the military display was in their honor, cheered. Suddenly Patton’s troopers turned and charged. “Shame, Shame” the spectators cried. Soldiers with fixed bayonets followed, hurling tear gas into the crowd.

By nightfall the BEF had retreated across the Anacostia River where Hoover ordered MacArthur to stop. Ignoring the command, the general led his infantry to the main camp. By early morning the 10,000 inhabitants were routed and the camp in flames. Two babies died and nearby hospitals overwhelmed with casualties. Eisenhower later wrote, “the whole scene was pitiful. The veterans were ragged, ill-fed, and felt themselves badly abused. To suddenly see the whole encampment going up in flames just added to the pity.”

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Arms companies are making money by taking over UK schools



By Andrew Smith 

Corporations have already established a growing foothold in many UK schools, but the idea of Europe’s biggest arms company running a school still seems like something out of an Orwellian nightmare.

However, it may be about to happen in Barrow, Cumbria, where BAE Systems is on the verge of taking over the faltering Furness Academy. The proposal is currently going through due diligence before being opened to a consultation with stakeholders, parents and staff, where it is expected to be supported. If it is agreed, BAE will become the school’s sole sponsor later this year. They will also take responsibility for the ‘strategic direction’ of the school.

Education isn’t just about grades, it’s also about promoting values, informing perspectives and expanding minds. Could a weapons manufacturer ever act in the best interests of school children? How can a company that profits from international hostility ever be trusted to teach about areas like conflict resolution or the human cost of war?

BAE has a shameful, inglorious history of corruption and deals with dictators. It has been the subject of investigations across a number of countries and was fined $400 million in the US for bribery. It has also sold weapons to human rights abusers and dubious regimes across the world, including Saudi ArabiaLibyaBahrain and Egypt.

Despite all of the ramifications for education, the move has been welcomed by local MP John Woodcock, who greeted it as a “really exciting” development. Furness Academy’s acting head called it a fantastic opportunity.

Arms companies and schools

If education is a public good, should it be given away to big business? Arms companies already spend a lot of time and resources on infiltrating schools and trying to influence the curriculum.

One way they are doing this is through their marketing and promotional materials. Raytheon, an arms company that has been linked to the production of bombs used against Gaza last summer, hosts competitions for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) students. Similarly, fighter jet manufacturer Boeing works with schools to design mock military planes and BAE runs a schools “ambassador” program, with the stated objective of improving its “corporate reputation at both a local and national level.”

Things will get worse this September, with the opening of a number of institutions that are directly tied to arms companies. These include South Wiltshire University Technical College, which will teach science and engineering to 14-18 year olds “in the context of the defence industries.” Its ‘sponsors’ include Chemring, which has been linked to the use of tear gas in Hong Kong and Egypt, and QinetiQ, which has applied for arms export licences to sell weapons to countries including Bahrain, Pakistan, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Israel.

Although these arms companies are described as ‘sponsors’, their roles will include “helping to construct the curriculum”, allowing them to build “close links with students who will be potential future employees.”

The end goal for these companies is not to help produce an educated, questioning cohort of young people, it is to normalise their business practices and influence potentially impressionable young minds, while making a profit.

The militarisation of classrooms

All of this represents a worrying expansion of militarism into our schools, but it’s not the first sign of it. Forces Watch estimates that around 900,000 young people come into contact with the armed forces every year through their schools.

A disproportionate number of these students are those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which is where many of the resources are targeted. Some of this is done through recruitment fairs, and some through the government’s own military ethos‘ programme, which brings military veterans into schools to “build character, resilience and grit in their pupils.”

The military also provides free support and resources for schools; these include promotional materials for classrooms and Armed Forces Day assembly plans for children as young as seven.

In simple terms the military wants to transform our schools into a recruitment ground. This is acknowledged by the head of army recruitment, who described army careers advisers as “skilled salesmen”, saying: “It starts with a seven-year-old boy seeing a parachutist at an air show and thinking, ‘That looks great.’ From then the army is trying to build interest by drip, drip, drip.”

As Turkish academic Serdar M. Değirmencioğlu has said: “Schools provide fertile ground for militarism: there is a captive audience, a comprehensive mandate, a hierarchical structure and a clear power differential between students and professionals.”

Groups such as Veterans for Peace and the Peace Education Network do crucial and invaluable work in promoting peace and non-violence in schools and countering the growth of youth militarisation by offering an alternative to the army’s pro-military messages. But neither has anywhere near the same level of access and support that is enjoyed by the armed forces or the arms industry.

What kind of education do we want?

Central to the debate is the wider question of what kind of values we want in our education system and what kind of future we want for young people.

Arms manufacturers would not commit to these kinds of programmes if it wasn’t profitable to do so. These companies may pay lip-service to encouraging critical thinking and promoting positive learning outcomes, but their shareholders will always be the main beneficiaries of any arrangement.

This kind of involvement gives them a chance to gloss over the human rights abuses they facilitate and to present themselves as legitimate businesses. It also gives them direct access to potential future employees and allows them to influence young people’s decisions and direction.

Schools are fundamental to our society. They are meant to be safer places for learning and should not be sold hotbeds for militarism and corporations. They exist to educate children and young people and to develop their ideas and understanding of the world. They should not be allowed to become training grounds for arms companies and those that profit from war.

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Turkish Daily: Ankara Smuggled Gunmen to Fight in Syria

Following reports about the weapons smuggling operations from Ankara to the takfiri groups fighting in Syria, the Turkish daily Jumhuriyyat reported on Friday that the government of Ankara helped armed takfiri mercenaries to cross the border into Syria.

“The Turkish intelligence hired two trucks used in January 2014 to transfer scores of fighters from “Atma” refugees camp facing the border town of Bukulmez in Turkey to the Syrian city of Tal-Abyad, carrying weapons and ammunition,” the newspaper stated.

It also published photos of two trucks carrying weapons and ammunition that were stopped by the Turkish security forces after the smuggling operation.

According to the Jumhuriyyat, the two drivers were arrested for a while, but they stressed during investigations that their trucks had been hired by the Turkish intelligence.

“The drivers were told that passengers were Syrian refugees,” it said.

Last week, the daily posted on its website photos of mortars hidden under medications inside trucks that were formally hired for a humanitarian organization.

The trucks were stopped by the Turkish gendarmerie near the Syrian borders in Jan. 2014.

Syria was hit by a violent unrest since mid-March 2011, where the western media reports accuse countries, mainly the USA, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar of orchestrating the civil conflict in the country and providing terrorist groups with money, weapons and trained mercenaries.

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Assad: Erdogan Represents Murderous Ottomans

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad lashed out at Turkish Zionist Recep Tayyip Erdogan, saying that he represents the Ottomans who committed massacre against Armenians.During a meeting with the visiting delegation of the Armenian-Syrian Friendship Association on Thursday, President Assad drew parallel between the dangers facing the people of Syria and Armenia, stressing that the two peoples have the same challenges.


Image result for Erdogan CARTOON


Ottomans who committed massacres against the Armenian people a hundred years ago are today, represented by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government, using the same tools, mainly terrorism, against the Syrian people, the Syrian leader said, according to official news agency, SANA.

He warned against the expansive threat of terrorism on the entire Middle East region and the world, saying terrorism “knows no border and doesn’t stop at the frontier of this or that country.”

Assad further called upon parliaments to take effective action to pressure the international community into adopting an efficacious policy to counter terrorism.

On his part, Vardapetyan stressed that the Armenian people stand by the side of the people of Syria in the face of the regionally-backed terrorist war waged on them, voicing confidence that Syria will get over this war and rout terrorism and its backers.

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China refuses to let its nationals work in West Bank


china israel handshake

China’s refusal is holding up an agreement on bringing thousands of Chinese workers to Israel

China is refusing to sign an agreement allowing its nationals to work in Israel, unless the Israeli government promises they will not be employed in the internationally disputed Jewish settlements of the West Bank.

Israel has been trying to negotiate the agreement for a while and has so far refused to give in to the Chinese demand, according to The Marker, the economic daily of Haaretz.

But the issue has taken on some urgency in light of plans by the newly appointed Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to speed up construction throughout the country and thus reduce housing costs.

Already a year ago, the previous government decided to increase the number of migrant construction workers, and is now seeking to almost double the number to 15,000.

The agreement being sought with China is similar to ones Israel has signed with other countries whose nationals work in Israel – Thailand, Sri Lanka, Romania and Moldova.

It is designed to regulate the “import” of Chinese laborers, who have been forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars in fees to mediators and earned Israel sharp criticism from the United States for failing to crack down on human trafficking.

According to The Marker, most of the disputes between Israel and China over the agreement have been ironed out. This includes Israeli acceptance of a clause allowing local provincial governments in China to tax the Chinese workers up to one month’s salary for allowing them to come to Israel.

Israeli law forbids such fees, but under a compromise reached between the sides, the Israeli contractors who employ the workers will cover the fee and not the employees, according to The Marker.

China and Israel enjoy extensive cooperation on military and technological projects. But China has consistently criticized Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. China’s then Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing called the Israeli West Bank barrier wall an obstacle to peace in a September 2006 statement during a UN Security Council meeting. In November 2008, then China Ambassador to the United States Yesui Zhang stated that the “continued construction of settlements on the West Bank is not only in violation of Israel’s obligations under international law, but is also detrimental to guaranteeing Israel’s own security.”

The foreign ministry told The Marker in response that contacts with China on the agreement were ongoing.

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AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A week in photos 24-30 May 2015



Pictured here: A Mexican tourist in Hebron was struck in the head with a rock, thrown from the Beit Romano Jewish settlement. The Red Crescent ambulance responded. (30/05/2015)


Pictured here: A young Palestinian girl looks through the wall of the Nazi soldiers. The weekly Jewish settler tour restricts freedom of movement for Palestinians in Hebron’s old city. (30/05/2015)


Pictured here: Despite the heavy military presence to protect them, some Jewish Nazi settlers walk to the Sanctuary of the Patriarchs armed with their own machine guns. No civilian is supposed to be allowed in with a weapon, yet every Shabbat armed Jewish Nazi settlers can be seen on their way to the sanctuary in Hebron. (29/05/2015)


Pictured here: ِAbu Shamsiyeh, a Palestinian resident of Tel Rumeida, is explaining to a CPTer the violent attack he and his family suffered from settlers on Saturday night. Around midnight, settlers set fire to a couch at his front entrance. It took a long time to extinguish the flames. The Nazi police haven’t charged anyone for the crime. The Abu Shamsiyeh family is one of the main targets of settler violence in Tel Rumeida, which almost always goes unpunished. (30/05/2015)


Pictured here: Nazi soldiers on top of a Palestinian rooftop in the Old City of Hebron. Soldiers also entered one house while providing escort for about 100 settlers and their visitors while they made a tour in the souq (old Market). (30/05/2015)


Pictured here: Last week was the end of the school year in Palestine. On the last morning of school, our Kindergarten friends sang for us. These children who are filled with joy, also brought us a lot of joy. (27/05/2015)


Pictured here: We are greeted with such warmth and kindness every day from this juice vendor in Hebron’s old city. (30/05/2015)

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Comic Larry David rancorously struck back at the Tony Awards judges on Sunday night from the show’s central podium, blaming antisemites for snubbing him a nomination for his Broadway show Fish in the Dark.

David made the comments standing alongside Jason Alexander, who long played David’s cantankerous alter-ego on the Seinfeld sitcom and who will take over as the lead character in Fish in the Dark following David’s final performance, also on Sunday.

David began his speech by explaining that “The true measure of a man is not to be nominated and still show up to read a list of names of those who are nominated. That’s a big man;. That’s a big, big man.”

Continuing, he said: “People who, if it were up to them, would put aside the obvious antsemitism — yeah, that’s right, I said it; I said it — the antisemitism that denies a nomination to a Larry David or a Harvey Weinstein. Then, yes, I am a loser.”

Neither Fish in the Dark — about fifteen relatives coping with a death in the family — nor producer Weinstein’s grandiose Finding Neverland productions received Tony nods this year.

Still, jokes aside, David obviously had something to be proud about in Fish in the Dark: the play’s advance sale, totaling $13.5 million, broke Broadway records.



Russia has better things to do than start WW3


Image result for putin photos

By Bryan MacDonald | RT 

Vladimir Putin said this weekend that “Russia would attack NATO only in a mad person’s dream.” Unfortunately, there are a lot of mad people working in western politics and media.

If the G7 were based on GDP, adjusted for purchasing power, it would be comprised of the USA, China, India, Japan, Russia, Germany and Brazil. Such a lineup would have remarkable clout. Members would boast 53% of the globe’s entire GDP and the planet’s 3 genuine military superpowers would be represented.

The problem for Washington is that this putative G7 might actually be a forum for a real debate about the world order.

Instead of a real G7, we have a farce. An American dominated talking shop where the US President allows ‘friendly’ foreign leaders to tickle his belly for a couple of days. There is no dissent. Washington’s dominance goes unquestioned and everyone has a jolly time. Especially since they kicked out Russia last year – Vladimir Putin was the only guest who challenged the consensus.

However, the problem is that this ‘convenient’ G7 is way past its sell-by-date. The days when its members could claim to rule the world economically are as distant as the era of Grunge and Britpop. Today, the G7 can claim a mere 32% of the global GDP pie. Instead of heavyweights like China and India, we have middling nations such as Canada and Italy, the latter an economic basket case. Canada’s GDP is barely more than that of crisis-ridden Spain and below that of Mexico and Indonesia.

Yet, the Prime Minister of this relative non-entity, Stephen Harper, was strutting around Bavaria all weekend with the confidence of a man who believed his opinion mattered a great deal. Of course, Harper won’t pressure Obama. Rather, he prefers to – metaphorically – kiss the ring and croon from the same hymn sheet as his southern master.

NATO and the G7 – 2 sides of 1 coin?

There was lots of talk of “Russian aggression” at the G7. This was hardly a surprise given that 6 of the 7 are also members of NATO, another body at which they can tug Washington’s forelock with gay abandon. Obama was at it, David Cameron parroted his guru’s feelings and Harper was effectively calling for regime change in Russia. It apparently never occurred to the trio that resolving their issues with Russia might be easier if Putin had been in Bavaria? The knee-jerk reaction to remove Russia from the club was hardly conducive to dialogue.

Meanwhile, Matteo Renzi stayed fairly quiet. It has been widely reported that the Italian Prime Minister privately opposes the EU’s anti-Russia sanctions due to the effects on Italy’s struggling economy. Also, Renzi’s next task after the G7 summit is to welcome Putin to Rome.

With that visit in mind, Putin gave an interview to Italy’s Il Corriere della Sera where he essentially answered the questions that Obama, Cameron and Harper could have asked him if they hadn’t thrown their toys out of the pram and excluded Russia from the old G8. Putin stressed that one should not take the ongoing “Russian aggression” scaremongering in the West seriously, as a global military conflict is unimaginable in the modern world. The Russian President also, fairly bluntly, stated that “we have better things to be doing” (than starting World War 3).

Putin also touched on a point many rational commentators have continuously made. “Certain countries could be deliberately nurturing such fears,” he added, saying that hypothetically the US could need an external threat to maintain its leadership in the Atlantic community. “Iran is clearly not very scary or big enough” for this, Putin noted with irony.

A world of ‘goodies’ and ‘baddies’

For Washington to maintain its huge military spending, it has to keep its citizens in a state of high alarm. Otherwise, they might insist that some of the armed forces’ cash is diverted to more productive things like hospitals and schools. These services, of course, are not very profitable for weapons manufacturers or useful for newspaper and TV editors looking for an intimidating narrative.

Following the collapse of the USSR, Russia was too weak and troubled to be a plausible enemy. Aside from its nuclear arsenal – the deployment of which would only mean mutual destruction – the bear’s humbled military was not a credible threat. Instead, the focus of warmonger’s venom shifted to the Middle East and the Balkans, where Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi, Slobodan Milosevic and Osama Bin Laden kept the general public’s attention occupied for roughly a decade and a half. However, they are now all dead and pro-war propaganda needs a new bad guy to play the Joker to America’s Batman.

Kim Jong-un looked promising for a while. Nevertheless, the problem here is that North Korea is too unpredictable and could very feasibly retaliate to provocations. Such a reaction could lead to a nuclear attack on Seoul, for instance, or draw Washington into a conflict with China. Even for neocons, this is too risky. Another candidate was Syria’s Basher Al-Assad. Unfortunately, for the sabre rattlers, just as they imagined they had Damascus in their sights, Putin kyboshed their plan. This made Putin the devil as far as neocons are concerned and they duly trained their guns in his direction.

Russia – a Middle East/North Africa battleground?

In the media, it is noticeable how many neocon hacks have suddenly metamorphosed from Syria ‘experts’ into Russia analysts in the past 2 years. Panda’s Mark Ames (formerly of Moscow’s eXILE ) highlighted this strange phenomenon in an excellent recent piece. Ames focused on the strange case of Michael Weiss, a New York activist who edits the anti-Russia Interpreter magazine (which is actually a blog). The Interpreter is allegedly controlled by Mikhail Khodorkovsky and a shadowy foundation called Herzen (not the original Amsterdam-based Herzen) of which no information is publicly available.

Weiss was a long-time Middle East analyst, who promoted US intervention to oust Assad. Suddenly, shortly before the initial Maidan disturbances in Kiev, he re-invented himself as a Russia and Ukraine ‘expert,’ appearing all over the US media (from CNN to Politicoand The Daily Beast ) to deliver his ‘wisdom.’ This is despite the fact that he appears to know very little about Russia and has never lived there. The managing editor of The Interpreter is a gentleman named James Miller, who uses the Twitter handle @millerMENA (MENA means Middle East, North Africa). Having been to both, I can assure you that Russia and North Africa have very little in common.

Weiss and Miller are by no means unusual. Pro-War, neocon activists have made Russia their bete noir since their Syria dreams were strangled in infancy. While most are harmless enough, this pair wields considerable influence in the US media. Naturally, this is dressed up as concern for Ukraine. In reality, they care about Ukraine to about the same extent that a carnivore worries about hurting the feelings of his dinner.

Russia’s military policy is “not global, offensive, or aggressive,” Putin stressed, adding that Russia has “virtually no bases abroad,” and the few that do exist are remnants of its Soviet past. Meanwhile, it would take only 17 minutes for missiles launched from US submarines on permanent alert off Norway’s coast to reach Moscow, Putin said, noting that this fact is somehow not labeled as “aggression” in the media.

Decline of the Balts

Another ongoing problem is the Baltic States. These 3 countries have been unmitigated disasters since independence, shedding people at alarming rates. Estonia’s population has fallen by 16% in the past 25 years, Latvia’s by 25% and Lithuania’s by an astonishing 32%. Political leaders in these nations use the imaginary ‘Russian threat’ as a means to distract from their own economic failings and corruption. They constantly badger America for military support which further antagonizes the Kremlin, which in turn perceives that NATO is increasing its presence on Russia’s western border. This is the same frontier from which both Napoleon and Hitler invaded and Russians are, understandably, paranoid about it.

The simple fact is that Russia has no need for the Baltic States. Also, even if Moscow did harbor dreams of invading them, the cost of subduing them would be too great. As Russia and the US learned in Afghanistan and America in Iraq also, in the 21st century it is more-or-less impossible to occupy a population who don’t want to be occupied. The notion that Russia would sacrifice its hard-won economic and social progress to invade Kaunas is, frankly, absurd.

The reunification of Crimea with Russia is often used as a ‘sign’ that the Kremlin wishes to restore the Soviet/Tsarist Empire. This is nonsense. The vast majority of Crimean people wished to return to Russia and revoke Nikita Khrushchev’s harebrained transfer of the territory to Ukraine. Not even the craziest Russian nationalist believes that most denizens of Riga or Tallinn wish to become Russian citizens.

Putin recalled that it was French President Charles de Gaulle who first voiced the need to establish a “common economic space stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok.” As NATO doubles down on its campaign against Moscow, that dream has never looked as far off.

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Ronnie Barkan of IASA Military Refusal Letter on Orly & Guy, ”VIDEO”

Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

Image result for Ronnie Barkan PHOTO

Ronnie Barkan

Last month over 50 alumni of the Israel Arts and Science Academy called on students at the prestige school to refuse to serve in the Israeli armed forces. The story has gotten wide coverage but very little in the U.S. till now. Here are some developments.

First, Moriel Rothman-Zecker was published on the New York Times op-ed page– “Why I Won’t Serve Israel” — where he points out that the ethos of service in Israel is being undermined on many sides, not just by the IASA letter. A tiny fraction of the 1.7 million Palestinians inside Israel serve in the army; hundreds of thousands of religious Jews don’t serve; and thousands of Jews are in a “gray area” of getting out of service. He sees this community as contending with Israel’s power structure:

In a recent interview, the Israeli author Amos Oz urged politicians to act as “traitors,” and make peace. But the type of traitors Mr. Oz wishes for — visionary ministers, peace-minded military men — are nonexistent. The most left-wing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s potential challengers in Israel’s coming election is the same Mr. Herzog who attacked the 8200 refusers.

Peace won’t come from the next Knesset, or the one after that. But some hope for a less violent, more decent future lies with the real traitors, the disregarded millions of Israeli citizens who have refused to serve in the army.

Of course, Rothman-Zecker also describes the monolithic social pressure to serve: “Refusal to serve is portrayed by politicians and pundits — many of whom began their careers through service in elite units — as treacherous and marginal.”

On that note, here is Ronnie Barkan, one of the signers of the IASA alumni letter, going on Israel television and speaking of massacres in Gaza and keeping his cool during an onslaught of hostile questions. Barkan shows real bravery as the hosts blow up at him for saying that Israel is not a democracy. Those hosts are Orly and Guy on Channel 10, who I am told are on the left side of the Israeli mainstream spectrum.

“Your call for refusal is illegal. Your call harms the state… I will not accept harming the state,” Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in Israeli actions, catechizes Barkan.

She cannot hear the word massacre– but of course many in the world regard Gaza as a massacre; it has had a huge impact on global opinion. While the male TV host loses his cool at 10:23, shouting at Barkan about “people who come through tunnels to kill children.”

At minute 11, Avi Wortzman, the acting Israeli minister of education, rebukes Barkan as representing a “radical element of reality.” “You stain the name of the school,” he says. And the principal there “washes his hands of you.”

“What you do here is anarchy. What you do here is undermining our most basic values of life here.”

So Barkan is excommunicated.

– See more at:



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